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I Hate You - Bryan's Side

"I hate you," were the last words spit at me as Justin slammed the door closed on me and our friendship. To say I was stunned would have been an understatement. I didn't even notice when Tina slipped on her clothes, kissed me on the cheek and left, saying, "I'd better go." My best friend had just stormed out of my life, and I didn't know why.

Taking English 201 while the sun was shining, and there was a soft breeze, and the temperature was 85 degrees, was torture. Don't get me wrong, I loved language, I spoke three fluently. Of course, being a Theater Major, my primary interest was the spoken word. That was why I was taking English 201 over the summer; I wanted to clear up my schedule for more performance credits.

Most everyone else was there because they were retaking the course. I thought that was pitiful. There were three of us who really cared about the subject. One was Gloria; she was from Argentina and English was her second language. The other was Justin; he was a freshman who had CLEPed his way through his 100 level English courses and came to the University a semester early. He wanted to be a writer and we hit it off from the beginning.

Of course, we were an odd pair. I'm "Mr. Social". Nearly everyone in the theater program knew me or knew of me. Hell, I was recognized all over campus. If someone had me in their class they remembered it. Justin was a geek. Saying Justin was a geek was like calling a trout a fish. He was almost the classic, academic nerd. Justin was a short, wiry guy with unruly brown hair, glasses that did nothing for his face and clothes that were best described as "skater geek". His one non-academic pastime was his board. It was the only part of Justin that broke the geek mold. His board was as much a fixture for him as his book bag and laptop.

The first time I saw him really skating, not just using the board as a quick ride from class to class, was about mid-semester. I was heading down to the fields for a Saturday morning game of Frisbee when I caught sight of a small group of skaters using one of the twisting sections of the back lot to do tricks.

I'd been so impressed by one guy catching air off the steps that I didn't notice I was walking into a "skate zone."

"Look Out!" I spun out of the way and hit the grass. When I looked up, ready to curse the careless son-of-a-bitch out, I saw Justin looking down at me. "Hey, Bryan, you ok?"

He looked so different standing there, shirtless without his glasses, that I almost hadn't recognized him. He was a wiry little fuck. He had laughing eyes that were all but hidden when he wore his glasses.

"Damn, Justin." I got up and brushed myself off. "I know you like me, but you don't have to plow me into the dirt to get my attention."

Justin looked down. "Yeah, sorry Bryan." He turned to head back to the start of the skate run.

Why'd it bother me that he thought I was mad at him? "Hey, how long you going to skate?"

Shrugging, he looked at his watch. "Another half hour I guess. Asphalt will be too hot to do anything after that."

"Some guys are getting together for Frisbee down on the field. Why don't you come down after you're done?" He was a bit short but if he had the moves that'd make up for it.

He blinked at me. "Really?"

"Yeah, I'll even hang while you finish your freaky shit." The smile he gave me in response just melted me. It wasn't sexual, I like girls, but he was just such a cute kid that it was like having a puppy.

He impressed me that morning. Justin was an ace on four wheels. He could do spins, jumps, twists, ride railings, and there didn't seem to be anything he couldn't do on a board. That sure blew away my original idea that he was a simple geek. I think he was showing off, but it worked. I couldn't stop complimenting his skill as we got down to the games field.

"I just can't believe a bookworm like you can skate like that."

He beamed. "Dad insisted that I had to be outside doing something 'physical' any day it wasn't raining. I hated team sports so I just rode my board around. After a while, I just got into it."

I laughed and waved at the guys. "Hey guys, this is Justin."

They all greeted Justin with smiles. I looked at our group and realized we could play teams of three.

"Want to do teams?" The affirmative nods went all around but Justin looked a bit unsure. I smiled and put my hand on Justin's shoulder. "Well, since Just's already shirtless, we'll be skins."

Tony decided he'd go skins since he was shirtless too. Teams were set. Smiling, I handed my Frisbee to Justin and peeled off my shirt. When I tossed my shirt beside his board, he just watched with a wide-eyed wonder. He probably couldn't believe I'd just take him on my team sight-unseen. I laughed and mussed his hair. "Come on, squirt, let's teach these lard-asses that brains and beauty always wins over brawn."

Everyone laughed but I think I put Justin on the spot. He blushed. He did play like a pit bull though. His throwing arm sucked, but he wasn't afraid to dive and roll so he could catch a hell of a lot of tosses the others would let go by. We didn't win, but it was not for a lack of effort.

That was when we started hanging together more. We made Saturday morning board and game a ritual. Justin would skate till the asphalt got uncomfortably hot and then we'd head for the fields for a Frisbee or V-ball game. He tried to get me on the board a few times. All I ended up doing was breaking my ass on the pavement, and trying to look like I meant to do it. Of course, I got him back. I got to spike him into the sand more than a couple times in V-ball. It was kind of like sibling rivalry; I loved it. I'd always wanted a kid brother, and Justin fit the bill perfectly.

It was near the end of the summer session when I got my room assignment and realized I'd lucked out; I didn't have a roommate. Justin had gotten placed in one of the older dorms, Brownstone Hall; the place sucked. We were having lunch just before exams week when I decided I didn't like the idea of living alone.

"Just," I asked between bites of my hotdog, "would you like to room together?"

I thought he was going to choke. I should have waited till he'd finished swallowing his bite of burger. He dropped his burger on his plate and took a huge swig of Coke. He blinked back the usual tears from just having something try to dive down the wrong pipes and coughed. "You mean it?" He looked at me like I'd just offered him a winning lottery ticket.

"Yeah. My freshmen roommate sucked, and since you didn't sign up for anyone you know you're going to be in a crapshoot for whom you get." I shrugged. "We get along, and there's a chance they'll stick me with some jerk at the last minute. At least with you, I know this year I'll like my roomie."

He smiled; the only thing ruining his puppy-dog look were those fucking glasses. "You don't mind rooming with a freshman?" For a guy who really had decent, if odd, taste in clothes, why he wore glasses out of the sixties was lost on me.

Laughing I punched him in the arm. "Nah, you're a geek but you make me laugh!"

Stafford Hall was a major step up from Brownstone. In Brownstone, there were two community bathrooms per floor. The rooms were like sardine cans. The only saving grace was the ceilings were high enough for people to loft their beds. Rooms in Stafford were larger and one bathroom was shared between two dorm rooms. As with every college student with obsessions, Justin and I had to decorate our halves of the room with examples of our interests. My half had posters of Shakespeare in the Park, Le Miz, Phantom, and Rocky Horror. Don't ask me why I love Rocky but I do; something about the expressive freedom and audience participation was just a natural high for me. Justin put up a poster of Mark Twain, one that listed the requirements of creativity, and a couple pro skater posters. Along with the picture of his parents, he had a picture of a skater catching air. At first I thought it was a picture of Justin, but the guy had darker, longer hair.

"Hey, Justin, who's the skater?" I nodded to the picture as he stuffed his socks and underwear into his dresser.

He came over and picked up the picture. His fingers traced it. "That's Matt, Matt Thompson. He was my best friend." I don't know why, but the whimsical, almost longing smile that touched his lips when he said it made me jealous.

I bit back the stupid feeling. "Was?"

He just sighed and set the picture back down. "Yeah. He was a year ahead of me in school so I haven't seen him in over a year." Shrugging, he grabbed some shorts and opened a drawer. "We still email, but he went to school up north. Since I started University in the summer, I haven't seen him since Christmas Break."

"That's less than a year." I smirked and tried to keep the mood light but it didn't work.

"Yeah, but he'd met someone and all he could do was think and talk about 'love'." He sounded a little bitter as he stuffed his shorts in the drawer. "I'm happy for him, but it felt like I wasn't even there."

The way his shoulders seemed to sag with the memory got me down. I liked his normal, bouncy self. He was a puppy, and when he moped it was just as bad as having a golden retriever pup that looked lonely. I draped my arm over his shoulders and mussed his hair. "Well, you've got me now. I won't be graduating and leaving you behind."

His smile nearly sparkled as he looked up at me. "You're the greatest, Bryan."

I laughed and went back to my unpacking. "Yeah, it's hard to be perfect, but someone has to do it." Oh yeah, I'm modest too.

Rooming with Justin was perfect. We had enough common interests to never have boring conversations but we were individual enough to have lives outside of the dorm room. Once I got him used to being somewhere other than the library or the room, Justin made friends easily. There wasn't any of the glomming that can happen when a new student makes friends with an older one. We just clicked.

One great thing was neither Justin nor I brought anyone back to the room. It was a sanctuary of study, relaxation and camaraderie. I'd dated a lot in high school. Sex was great, but I just couldn't seem to warm up to anyone as more than friends. Being in theater I'd never thought much about who was gay and who was straight. It was never an issue for me; I liked girls. If a guy liked me, I didn't freak and usually I'd be flattered, but I was sincere in my disinterest.

Of course, just because I liked girls didn't mean I had time for one. I was as fanatical about my theater studies as Justin was about his writing. Neither of us dated, though we both had a handful of girl friends that might have wanted us to ask. I wasn't alone; I had Justin. I didn't feel sexually frustrated because my hand was one damn good lover. Life was good. Girls could wait.

We were kicking back, looking at the autumn leaves after a game of Frisbee, when Justin turned to me. "You don't date."

I laughed. "No time."

Justin looked at me curiously. Something about the way he'd do that, his head cocked to one side and his lips set in a thoughtful pout, just made me want to hug him. He was just that damn cute; especially after games without those fucking glasses.

I grabbed him around the neck and nuggied him as he laughed and half-heartedly tried to get away. "How can I have time for dating with you around? You're such an attention hound!"

He pulled out of my hold and stuck his tongue out at me. His face was flush and he studied his toes for a second before smiling. "Ok."

We were best friends. That was enough.

I don't think I could remember when I was happier than I was with Justin as my roommate. We were buds. Nothing was ever an issue. We could just be honest and talk about anything. The other great thing was that we were just like brothers; personal space was a non-issue.

Justin really was a brain. He studied, he researched, he wrote constantly and he skated. The only breaks to his routine were my performances. He didn't miss any. It was like having my own cheering section. His only area of academic weakness was exams. The boy totally freaked over tests. Away from a test he could tell you everything about the subject in complete detail, but in the test he was lucky to put four sentences together that made sense. He never felt he'd done them right, though he never received a grade below a B. The week of Finals had him in a total panic.

I tried to ignore Justin's frantic search for some obscure note he was certain would be the focus of his Philosophy exam. After his third attempt to destroy his notebook I finally couldn't take it. "Justin, chill out!" I tossed my textbook down and got up. "You're driving me nuts."

Watery eyes looked back at me and his chin was shaking. "I'm sorry, Brian. I'm so fucked up."

How do you stay mad at someone like Justin? I certainly can't. I went over and massaged his neck. He was as tense as a board. "All you need is a good night's rest, bud. You've been drinking Coke like water and falling asleep at the desk for days. You're going to be fried by finals."

He bowed his head and nodded. "Yeah. I've always been like this. I used to drive my parents nuts."

"So, how'd they deal with it?"

I was digging into one of the knots in his shoulder and he moaned. "It was really stupid."


"How Mom dealt with me." He shrugged off my hands and stood up. "Thanks, Bryan." He looked embarrassed.

"You didn't tell me what they did." I smirked. "How can I help my bro out if I don't know what to do?"

"Drop it; it doesn't matter." He was looking more uncomfortable by the moment.

I reached out and mussed his hair. It was always fun to do. Justin's hair was soft and felt almost like silk. "Come on, Just. What?"

He couldn't meet my eyes. "Mom used to hold me and sing me to sleep when it got bad."

Normally I would have laughed if someone told me that. Instead, I thought it was just too adorable. I'd long lost my image of Justin being a geek. He was just Justin, the guy who wore his heart on his sleeve and could still be cool about it. "Oh."

He blinked at me. "Oh? I'm a fucking wimp and all you can say is 'oh'?" His voice was trembling.

"It's weird, but I accepted you're weird when we became friends." My first impulse was to hug him but that seemed a bit presumptuous. "I'm just trying to figure out how to get your Mom up here to help."

Justin blew. "Oh, fuck you! I don't need my Mommy to kiss my booboos!" He grabbed for his stuff and made like he was heading for the door.

"Hey!" I grabbed his arm. "I didn't mean it that way."

He tried to pull away but I'm a hell of a lot bigger and stronger. I had a wildcat on my hands as he tried to get loose. His books went everywhere as the struggle overturned his unzipped book bag. Landing on his bed, I held him to me and didn't let go till he stopped fighting.

He started to cry into my shirt. "I'm sorry, Bryan." By the way he was shaking; I knew he was scared. I think he was scared I'd laugh at him or reject him.

I looked at the clock. It was nearly ten, early by our standards, but not too early to catch up on some well needed rest. "Let's get some rest, Just. I don't think either of us could study any more tonight."

I let him go and stood up. He nodded absently and got off the bed. We stripped down to our boxers and took turns brushing and using the toilet. I waited till he was back before I pulled back the sheets and climbed into his bed.

He just blinked at me. "Bryan, what are you doing?"

"You're Mom's not here; I thought I'd help my little bro' out." I don't know why I was worried he'd say no. It wasn't like I wanted to have sex with him. I just wanted my best friend to keep from losing it completely by Wednesday.

"You don't have to..."

"Oh shut up and get in." I snapped at him but kept a grin on my face. "I'm not going to threaten your virtue!"

That, at least, made him laugh. "Not that I could stop you if you tried."

"Yeah, I could have had you any time I wanted; I'm such a stud. Now get in here before I change my mind."

Justin got in, and I reached across him to turn off the desk lamp. It was a little weird at first. I wasn't sure what would be comfortable. Finally I just wrapped my arm about him and pulled him up to me. Spooning felt too intimate but in single beds you don't have much space. Justin seemed to be holding his breath.

I couldn't think of any lullabies. Finally I just started humming a love song from one of the plays I'd been in. It was a soft, relaxing tune so I hoped it would work. After a couple minutes, Justin relaxed and just sank against me. He murmured something I couldn't make out and his body trembled for a moment before he fell asleep. It took me a lot longer to get there myself. I really liked how it felt to hold someone. I fell asleep wondering if it was time to start dating again.

I woke to the horrible feeling that something was missing. I felt around the bed while my brain booted up. Justin wasn't there. I actually had a moment of panic before I heard the toilet flush. Chastising myself, I stretched and tried to get the rest of my brain engaged.

Justin came in. He looked a lot more rested but he avoided looking at me. "Morning."

I got out of bed, reached out and mussed his hair. "Feeling better?"

"Yeah, thanks." He rummaged around, picking up his books while I got rid of my morning woody and had a piss. His eyes followed me as I went back to my bed and flopped down. "Are you ok with me?"

I blinked. "Sure, we're cool." I smiled at the ceiling. "It was kind of nice. I've never sung someone to sleep before."

He was giving me that puppy-dog smile again. That was the Justin I'd become friends with. He didn't say anything but I think he was a lot happier.

Finals came and went without a hitch. Justin and I were having our breakfast ritual; Starbucks coffees, muffins and fruit out in the park. It was cold but we didn't care. We'd started it last summer and had no intention of stopping. I realized this would be our last meal together till the next semester. We were both packed for the holidays and would be heading home to our families for Christmas.

I raised my coffee to him with a smile. "To a semester survived!"

He laughed and raised his cup. "To not freaking out in exams."

That made my smile broader. I hadn't thought about it all week. I picked up my muffin and brought up my idea between bites. "I think we should start dating next semester."

Coffee spewed everywhere as Justin tried not to choke. He gasped a few times and stared at me. "What?"

I shrugged. "You know, girls, dating? I think we're becoming hermits. Maybe we need some more social outlets, you know?"

When I looked back at him, he looked like someone had killed his dog. He just stared at me for a few moments and then looked back at his coffee. "Yeah, sure."

I draped my arm across his shoulders and gave him a quick hug. "It'll be great, Just. You'll see." Or at least, that's what I thought.

Things started getting tense when we came back from Winter Break. I couldn't put my finger on it. Justin's normal "easy going" smile seemed more strained. We never did get around to dating. Justin added another course to his load at the beginning of the semester, taking him to twenty-one credits, which was insane. I had been accepted into the "University Players," the campus performance troupe, so I was too busy to think about it. We didn't talk as much and we'd spend more time in the room in silence or with background music as the only sound.

I noticed Justin's smile was gone again when I was trying to pick out something to wear for an audition for Romeo & Juliet. His eyes seemed to almost push at me. "Why do you do that?"

I had no idea what he was talking about. "Do what?"

He grunted. "Wander around nude all the time." He rolled over and went back to reading his textbook.

I suddenly felt self-conscious. I mean, I didn't care if he wanted to look at me or not but I didn't think I was exactly unpleasant to look at. Hell, I liked what I looked like when I looked in the mirror. Tall, black hair, strong jaw, lean body, wide shoulders, I was put together pretty well. I didn't exactly spend time ogling myself, but an actor should know what his physical appearance lends to for parts.

I looked down. Yeah, I was naked. I'm a thespian; we have to change in all conditions back stage; at a certain point you just stop worrying about it. "I didn't know it bothered you."

He made a dismissive sound. "Did I say it bothered me? I was just curious."

"Never thought about it, really, you rather I keep the towel on?"

Justin shut his book and jerked off the bed in a huff. "Why the fuck should I care what you wear, Bryan?" He grabbed his textbook and board. "I'm gonna hit the library."

He brushed past me and left before I could get a word out. Something was wrong. I just wish I knew what it was. I didn't have time to run it down. I had auditions to get to.

I was so stoked. I'd been cast as Romeo for the Shakespeare performance during "theater week". What was even better was that Tina was cast as Juliet. We were perfectly matched for the parts. Tina was one of the best actresses in Campus Theater. I couldn't think of someone else I'd rather be working with on the performances. We had a month to get our parts perfect, and like the consummate professionals we were, we dove in feet first.

I had to tell Justin. We got back to the room after we received the rehearsal schedule and I couldn't contain myself. Justin looked up, his face a mixture of bewilderment and annoyance as I dragged Tina in with me. "Justin, I got the part!"

For a brief moment, that puppy dog smile curled his lips. "Which one, you only rehearsed a half dozen?"

"Romeo!" I stepped back and gestured to Tina. "This is Tina; she's Juliet."

His smile tightened and he looked her over, assessing. "You'll make a great pair."

"We're going to have to rehearse a lot; we've only got a month." I couldn't wait to get going.

Apparently, neither could Justin. He just nodded and tucked his laptop into his backpack. "I've got some research. You guys can use the room."

I hadn't wanted to banish him from the room. I'd wanted to share my happiness with my best friend. That kind of killed the fun. "Ok." He was almost out the door before I asked, "See you at dinner?"

He paused. "Yeah, sure, I've got to eat anyway. Thanks."

I just didn't get it, so I cornered him at dinner. "Ok, Justin, what gives? Last semester you didn't mind when I rehearsed in the room."

He frowned at me. "Well, last semester I wasn't taking twenty one credits."

I shrugged. "Granted, but that hurt when you just walked out like that. I thought you'd be happy for me."

Stabbing at his mashies he sighed. "I am. But look at it from my point of view; Romeo & Juliet is a romance."

"So?" I couldn't see how that would affect anything.

His eyes were sad when he looked back up at me. "It'd feel like I'm the third guy on a date, Bryan. I know it's just a play but you guys are going to be declaring your love and kissing and stuff." He shrugged and looked at his plate again. "It'd be too distracting."

"It's not like I'm dating Tina or anything, Just. It's just acting."

He shrugged. "I know. Let's drop it, ok?"

I sighed. "Ok."

Either I was over at Tina's room or she was over in ours every day. I should have seen something was really wrong. Last semester Justin had enjoyed when I rehearsed with others in the room, but from the first day he kept ducking out when we used the dorm room. I honestly thought it was that he needed to study for finals and didn't need the distractions. Exams were only a couple weeks after "theater week" and he was taking the course load from hell. I thought that was all it was.

Justin had ducked out to hit the library, as usual, just after Tina arrived. We went over the scenes again, fine tuning our tone and inflection and trying to be two people in love. Maybe we did that too well. I don't actually remember which one of us didn't stop the kiss, but it had kept going and going. It didn't stop for longer than a few moments when we were stripping out of our clothes. Sure, our lips were a lot of places other than our mouths, but I think it was just one long, ecstatic kiss from the point we stopped talking to the point Tina was under me, crying out from her second orgasm, as Justin walked in.

The look on his face was indescribable; if you mixed horror, heartbreak and betrayal together you might get close. I was scrambling off the bed, stammering, while Tina was trying to cover herself. Justin just glared at me with that look and finally blew. He didn't actually say anything in English; it was more like some primal sound of pain. It made me feel like I'd betrayed him.

"Justin, wait!" I grabbed his arm as he tried to get out the door. The look of raw pain in his eyes caused me to flinch back.

That's when he said it and left. It felt like my life was over.

I was still sitting on the bed, staring at the floor and trying to understand why I hurt so much when Justin came back in. It was after 1am. He looked like he'd been sick, or crying, or both.

He didn't say anything. He just pulled out a bag from under his bed and started putting some clothes in it. I stared at him in stricken disbelief. "What are you doing?"

He shrugged. "Jeff said I could room with him till the end of the semester."

That hurt worse than when he walked out five hours before. The first time had a good dose of shock in it to numb the pain. The idea that he would just walk away from our friendship was like a slow, burning acid that seemed to eat its way from my heart to my gut. "Why?" I think it was the fact I had to choke it out that made him look at me. "I thought we were friends."

He was crying again. "I guess that's all we were, Brian. It's not your fault I thought it was more."

I blinked at him. All the times he'd looked at me and smiled at me came flashing back. The puppy-dog smiles, the private jokes, the times we'd just sit and talk till all hours, they all looked different when viewed at from that point of view. The first time he saw me shirtless over the summer, the times I came out of the shower without worrying about a towel, all those shy, flustered looks suddenly had new meaning. The most surprising thing was I'd been playing along. Me, Mr. "thanks but I'm not interested", had been flirting right along with him. God, I was such a fucking dick.

He had turned back to his bed during my revelations and had finished stuffing what he'd need into his bag. I looked at his back and had to ask, "Do you really hate me?"

Justin looked at me again; it was as if I'd slapped him. He didn't say anything, but I could see his answer in his eyes. His eyes didn't leave mine as I stood up and crossed the gap between our beds. He was trembling as I bracketed his face with my hands. Fuck Romeo and Juliet, the volumes being spoken by the way he trembled said more than a thousand flowery diatribes about love. I bent down and kissed him.

He whimpered as I pulled back, and looked at me like I'd just punched him. "Bryan..." I put my finger to his lips. I didn't want any words. I didn't want to talk myself into or out of this. I'd spent so much time focusing on words and speeches and dialogue that I'd missed all the rest of what was being said. I wanted to listen to the rest of the conversation; I wanted to feel what we were saying with our bodies all the way to my soul.

I kissed him again and he responded. His hands, gripping my hair, were gasping I've wanted this for so long. My hands, sliding down to find the hem of his shirt, moaned Let's not wait any more.

The shirt, however, said You're such a fucking klutz. It nearly strangled him and caught on his glasses before I got it over his head.

His cheeks were flushed with excitement and more than a little embarrassment as he settled those ugly-shit frames back on his nose. Slowly pulling the specs off, I set them on the desk and studied his face. My fingers traced under his eyes, brushing away the tears and whispered though their awe filled touch, You have such beautiful eyes.

His lips sought mine out, begging Please, tell me you meant it. I think the chill that ran down my spine and the moan that escaped my lips said enough.

He didn't say anything; Justin was as hooked as I was. To anyone listening you'd have thought we were "trying to stay quiet," but we weren't, we were communicating on so many levels that words would have ruined it.

Can I? His eyes were searching mine as he brought his hands to my chest. I nodded and closed my eyes as Justin's lips began searing my skin with tentative but hopeful kisses. It was all I could do to keep standing as he got to my abs. I was achingly rigid and his tongue kept brushing my tip as he tasted my navel.

Then he licked me. The only part of me that didn't scream was my voice. My fingers were digging into his shoulders as he lathed around my head like it was an ice cream cone in danger of melting. He was killing me. After only a minute I had to drag him back up. He looked disappointed, but when he saw the sweat and tremors his lips curled into a smile that said Oh, you liked it.

I pressed the smartass little bastard back on the bed and fought with his jeans. The desperation in my fingers snarled Just wait till I get you back! I yanked off his jeans and briefs in one motion and stopped. He was so pretty; ok, pretty wasn't the right word because there really wasn't anything effeminate about his features. That's the problem with trying to find words, sometimes there simply aren't ones that work.

My body stretched out over his and I just lay there, trembling, as every place we were connected sighed, Yes.

He began kissing my neck again; his hands wandering as his lips asked, Is this ok? My fingers smoothed away his concerns as I marveled in the silkiness of his hair. His hands made it to my ass and elicited a moan as they squeezed. My hips were panting, God, yeah, as we ground against each other. I shuddered as his fingers brushed between my cheeks and touched me. It wasn't unwelcome but I wasn't ready.

Sorry, was what his hands whispered as he started pulling back.

I clenched my cheeks and held his fingers there. The reassuring pressure promised, Next time.

That had him looking at me. His eyes were so full of emotion that I couldn't understand it all. I just nodded and let my lips pressing against his say the rest. Yeah, there will be a next time.

He suddenly gripped me and he couldn't hold back the startled cry as he flooded our bellies with his release. Biting my shoulder he rode through the shock of it. His teeth hissed, Oh fuck, oh god, oh...

That did me in. Just the idea that I could do that to someone without saying a word threw me over the edge. I clenched my eyes shut and exhaled my own strangled surprise as I joined him. When we both stopped shaking, I sank down against him and nuzzled his neck. Justin's fingers played sleepily in my hair, saying, I don't want this to end.

Rolling over on my side I pulled Justin to me and spooned against his back. As my arms held Just, the soft tremble that passed through him sank into my heart. With my cheek resting against his hair, I looked at the wrecked sheets of my empty bed. I had no intention of going back to it. My nose brushed his ear, asking, Forgiven?

His contented sigh and rapid descent into sleep was all the answer I needed. Body language, who knew?

The applause was deafening as Tina and I took our second bows. As the curtain fell for the last time, Tina hugged me and kissed my cheek before practically dancing toward the dressing rooms. We had a new understanding after that night of release. It was more honest, more real, and I was sure it would be a friendship to last a lifetime.

Justin smiled at me, his eyes moist, as I came off stage. The curl of his lips and the tense excitement in the way he stood said, That was awesome. I didn't need to ask. Everything he did spoke volumes on how he felt about the performance; but we had our game, and I enjoyed it. "What'd you think?"

I looked into his eyes and couldn't help catching my breath. Without his glasses, he really did have the most beautiful eyes. His lips curled into the most mischievous smirk I'd ever seen. "I hated you in that scene."

I snaked my arm around him and his body did that tremble that will always make my stomach do flip-flops. I nuzzled his neck and hoped everyone was watching. They knew me as Mr. "thanks, not interested", but the way our bodies fit so effortlessly together affirmed, Thanks, I'm taken. I kissed my way back up to his lips before smiling into Justin's misty eyes. "Yeah, I know; I hate you too."