WHEREVER I MAY ROAM
CHAPTER SEVEN - "LOVEBITES AND RAZOR LINES"
"Hey Chris, James, how's it going?" Luke dropped into the seat next to me, Rhiannon following quickly, taking up residence on his lap. It didn't take a rocket scientist to work out what they'd been doing in the few hours before the party from the idiotic grins plastered over both of their faces.
"Not bad. You guys not drinking?"
"I'll get one later."
"No fucking way, Macauley. You're drinking," I said, running off to get Luke something to drink.
"Oh man, I woulda thought that Vince could have had a party without inviting queer boy and his boyfriend! Like we need fags like him around." No mistaking that voice, is there?
"Hey Mark, good to see you too."
"Fuck off Robinson."
"Articulate as ever, I see."
"Whatever. Fuck off and crawl back up your boyfriend's ass."
"He's not my boyfriend, ok?" That one really hurt to force out. But I couldn't have them know. No way.
"Yeah, right! So how come you're always up in my face about him? Got something to tell us, Robinson?" I so want to knock that sneer off his face. Maybe with a baseball bat.
"I'm always up in your face," I said, slowly, walking towards him, my eyes locked onto his, "because someone needs to tell you how much of an out of line, arrogant, slimy fucking asshole you are."
"Slimy asshole, huh?"
"Sounds like something you'd know all about, doesn't it?"
"I told you, he's not my boyfriend."
"Yeah, whatever. If you're anything like the rest of your family, you take it from anyone, anywhere."
"You wanna take that back, Mark?"
"How about 'fuck you'?"
"Hey, hey, guys, break it up." Vince shoved in between us, looking about as pissed as I've ever seen him. "What the fuck's this all about?"
"Oh, standard kinda thing. Pussy boy here thinks he can get in my face and not get his ass beat for it."
"You? Beat my ass? Oh that's so fucking good, Masters. Maybe if I had both hands tied behind my back, you might get close."
"GUYS!!! Look, this is a party, which means, for those of you too hard of thinking to work it out for yourselves, you're supposed to have fun. Not beat the hell out of each other. That can wait til tomorrow, ok? No fighting in my house."
"Yeah, whatever," said Mark sullenly, turning his back on me and grabbing Martina's hand, leading her out of the room.
"You ok, Chris?"
"Yeah, Vince, I'm ok, it's just sometimes I wanna break his fucking neck."
"We all do, buddy, but try and get along with him for me. For tonight? At least keep out of his way?"
"Sure." Vince pushed a beer into my hand, flashing me a little smile. "Uh, Vince, you got anything a little harder?"
"Uh, yeah, you need to get wasted in a hurry or something?" Now he just looked concerned.
"No, it's just Luke turned up and... Well, you know what he's like."
"Yeah, I got ya. There's a bottle of vodka somewhere over there, some other shit too, I think, but don't give him too much."
"Don't worry, I won't, I can handle him," I said, turning away, grabbing the bottle of vodka and a glass from the kitchen table before going back into the living room.
"There ya go, shit for brains," I said, thrusting the bottle into Luke's hands and plopping down next to James.
"You ok, Chris?"
"Well, kinda. Mark's here."
"Oh God. You guys have an argument?" James asked, a concerned look on his face.
"Well, you could say that. Thankfully Vince stopped us breaking each others' necks."
"Chris, promise me you and him aren't gonna... you know," James whispered, his arm slipping around me, even though there were people all around us. Thankfully, I don't think anyone could actually see where his arm was, my body was in the way. Which was a good thing, to say the least.
"James, if I need to smack down his ass, then I'm going to. C'mon, tell me he's not asking for it."
"Well, I guess so, but... I just don't want you to get hurt."
"Well, if he hurts me, then you'll just have to kick his ass for me, then, won't you?" I said, smiling just a little bit.
"Seriously, Chris, don't get hurt ok?"
"I really don't plan on it."
"Good," he murmured, giving my waist a gentle squeeze. I just love his touch. So gentle, loving, caring...
"Seen Kat yet?"
"No, she said she'd be here though, didn't she?"
"Yeah, I think so. I dunno, she'll probably be here in a bit."
"Hey Chris?" Martina's voice. Now there's someone I didn't really want to talk to, after she dumped me for Mark, but considering what happened to me after, meeting James and everything, I might be prepared to give her another chance.
"Yeah? What's up?"
"Can I have a word with you?"
"Yeah, sure. What about?"
"Uh, I can't really say, but if you come with me..." Her tone of voice was really pleading, and even if she did dump me, I can't just tell her no. I stood, with an apologetic look at James and followed her out of the room. We went upstairs and into what I suppose what was one of Vince's sisters' rooms.
"Look, Marty, what's this all about?"
"I can't stand him. Good enough?"
"Chris, he's so... pathetic. Just cause you're the better basketball player and cause you seem to be able to make friends with people, he resents you. Well, actually, hates you, but you get the idea."
"Yeah. Well, I had enough of it, and... I just had to tell you. He treats me like shit, he never does anything for me, everything's always him, him, him. I know I'm not exactly Miss Selfless, but if there was an award for most arrogant, self-absorbed asshole, he'd win it hands down."
"Well, uh, thanks. It's good someone can see him for what he is."
Martina gave me a quick hug and peck on the cheek. "Oh, by the way," she whispered, laying her hand somewhere that only James' belongs, "I liked yours better." She gave it a little squeeze before mouthing 'Mark' and holding her thumb and forefinger about two inches apart in front of my face and winking before turning away, walking out of the room. I couldn't stop laughing all the way downstairs! Sure, she probably only said it to make me feel better, but I still found it pretty funny.
"Uh, Chris, what was that all about?" Asked Luke, looking up from Rhiannon again.
"Oh, Marty just wanted to talk about Mark."
"Marty? Since when was she Marty? What happened to 'bitch,' 'whore' and 'slut'?"
"I dunno, let's just say that we reached an agreement about Mark."
"Oh, we both think he's the lowest form of life on this planet."
"SHE thinks that?"
"Yeah, apparently he treats her like crap, she doesn't like the way he's always in my face and he's got a small wiener. Makes me wonder how you keep a girlfriend, really."
Luke made to smack me round the head, trying not to throw Rhiannon off his lap in the process. "Nine inches baby, you know it."
"You wish, Macauley, you wish. Nine centimeters maybe."
"That's after the enhancement surgery," James piped up from beside me.
"Give me one good reason why I shouldn't kick both of your asses right now."
"Er, cause Rhiannon wouldn't approve, right Rhiannon?"
"Don't mind me, boys." Fucking hell, she spoke!
"Ok, well, try the fact that you can't actually get up right now," I said, reaching over and pouring him another drink, putting it into the hand nearest me.
He knocked it back in one, grimacing briefly. "Good point."
"Hey guys," trilled Kat, before unceremoniously dumping herself onto my lap.
"Hey, where did you come from?"
"Well, don't act glad to see me or anything, will you, Robinson?"
"Don't mind if I don't. What kept you?"
"My mom wouldn't let me out of the house. She was all 'you're going to get drunk, aren't you? I know you are, and you'll end up sleeping with some boy, and...' She never quit. She thinks I'm totally irresponsible. Like I'd be interested in any of the guys around here! Present company excepted, boys," she said, patting me, James and Luke on the arm.
"You really need to tell your mom to just butt out, Kat. You're 15 now. I mean, is she still going to be like this when you get to 18? Or 21?"
"Until I get married, probably," she said, resentfully.
"Aw, don't get sad, Kat," I said, putting one arm round her, pouring her a drink with the other hand. Which reminded me, I left a beer around here somewhere...
"Looking for something?" smiled James, pushing my beer back into my hand.
"Thanks ba... James." I really need to watch my mouth. It's pathetic though, all I want to do is hold my boyfriend's hand without everyone I know hating me. Personally I think that's not too much to ask, but most of the male population of the planet doesn't seem to agree. And that really fucking sucks. Seriously. How can people be so bigoted to see what me and James are as wrong? I'm not gonna pretend I'm in love with him, I've only known him for a few days, but he's such a beautiful person, it could easily become love. And we could never ever show it like a heterosexual couple could. When was the last time you saw a guy holding his boyfriend's hand walking down the street? Exactly. I drained my beer quickly, grabbing the vodka bottle and Luke's empty glass, pouring out a 'generous' measure for myself, which I knocked back pretty quickly.
"Uh, Chris, you sure you're ok?"
"Yeah, don't worry bout me," I said, pouring myself another one, disposing of it in similarly quick fashion. I dunno, if it was the best idea I ever had.
My vision blurred up a bit, but my head felt pleasantly light, so I grabbed the glass to fill it up again, before I felt James' hand on top of mine.
"I think you maybe had enough."
"Yeah, whatever," I said, taking the glass and pouring some more. "Want some?"
"No, I'm just fine," he said, maybe a little bit distantly. Well, whatever. It's not like I can't take my drink, I reasoned.
I'm not totally sure what happened next. I know that when me and Luke had finished up the last of the bottle I went looking for some more. Some friend of Vince's gave me something, which burned my throat, made me a bit dizzy and a lot tired. All I remember after that was making my way back to the living room somehow and collapsing next to James on the sofa. Then blackness.
That smell. I knew that smell. Loved it even. So familiar from recently. Made me feel happy. Could do with all the feeling happy I could manage right now, my head was throbbing so bad and my throat hurt like a bitch. Attempts at opening eyes only resulted in pain. Light shouldn't be that bright. Leave me alone. Back to my darkness, and that comforting smell, the smell of... James. That's it. But there was something else there too. Something that really didn't make me feel too good. Something sharp smelling...
"Hey sleepy." Mmm, sexy voice.
"Did you have a good sleep?"
"Not really. My fucking head..."
"You want me to get you something for it?"
"Not sure it'd be a good idea to put something in my stomach right now..."
"Hmm, maybe not. You want some water or something?"
"'M be ok. What's that smell?"
"Uh, Chris, you kinda... were pretty ill last night."
"You mean I threw up."
"Uh, yeah, once or twice..." I flicked my eyes open, fighting my instinct to shut them again. I hauled myself into a sitting position, fishing in my pocket for my cigarette packet.
"Hey, who the fuck smoked all my cigarettes? I had like 15 left last night," I said, showing my only remaining cigarette to James before sticking it in my mouth and lighting up.
"Uh, you did."
"Oh. Maybe that's why my throat feels like it's got a family of frogs living in it."
"That could have something to do with it, yeah," James murmured with a shy little smile.
"Hey, no making fun of the hung-over guy."
"Aw, but it's fun..."
"Bastard. Where did Luke go?"
"Upstairs with Rhiannon I think."
"Oh man. And Kat?"
"No idea. I saw her talking to your ex. Uh, Martina, right?"
"Yeah, that's her."
"I think they went upstairs too. About 2, maybe."
"Not for the same reason though, I expect."
"Probably not," he smiled. "Anyway, you wanna go get a shower? Your mom called your cellphone, she's gonna be here in maybe 25 minutes. I found a shower if you wanna jump in."
"Thanks, James," I said, trying to get to my feet, finding that my legs didn't totally want to co-operate. James was there to steady me though, and soon I was feeling a lot more human. Even if I didn't have any clean clothes, I was washed and I didn't smell of my own vomit any more. I really should stop drinking so much.
We wandered downstairs to find my mom talking to Vince, trying to find out where I was. I think Vince was a little more distracted by his girlfriend, Charlotte, who had her arms round his waist, wearing only a tshirt that was only JUST long enough.
"Christopher, you haven't been drinking again, have you?"
"Uh, a bit. I'm ok though."
"What's that down the front of your shirt?" Uh, tell me, how do you tell your mom you drank so much you puked and passed out?
"Uh, I spilled some food."
"I see..." She said, wrinkling up her nose a little bit. "Anyway, come on, your father wants your help clearing up leaves. They're all over the yard. Are we giving James a ride home?"
"Yeah, if that's ok."
"I suppose so."
"Thanks, mom," I said, following her out to the car and throwing myself into the back seat. James slid in next to me giving my hand a quick squeeze.
"How long you gonna be working with your dad for?"
"I dunno, til he's done with me I guess."
"Wanna do something after maybe?"
"That'd be cool. Have anything in mind?"
"I dunno really. Maybe go see a movie or something?"
"That'd be cool. Is that ok, mom?"
"Me and James were thinking about going to see a movie or something this evening."
"I don't know, Christopher... Ask your father."
"I'll call you and let you know?"
"I'm fine," he murmured quietly.
"Yeah, I'm sure," he said, still not meeting my gaze. The trip to his house was made in pretty much silence, I really didn't know what to say and he didn't seem like he felt like talking.
"I'll call you later, ok?" I said as he got out of the car outside his house.
"Sure, talk to you later," he said, in that same quiet, indifferent voice. What the hell did I do?
Yard work with my dad was... Pretty much non-existent. I was pretty much zombified, just thinking about James and why he went all quiet on me, sweeping leaves on automatic.
"Are you ok, son?"
"You don't look it. You look like your girlfriend left you! Did something happen at your party last night?"
"I guess. I'm not sure."
"Well, if it's anything you want to talk about, son, you can talk to me."
"I dunno, dad."
"Just offering. I understand that it's private, but sometimes people need to talk about things."
"I'm fine," I said, walking inside, throwing my broom into the closet, snatching up the cordless phone and walking down to my room. I automatically dialed James' number, holding the phone up to my ear, half desperate to hear his voice, half dreading it, just in case he didn't want to know.
"Hello?" Not him.
"Yeah? Who's this?"
"Chris. James' friend."
"Oh. He said you might call. Hang on."
I lay back on my bed, just waiting to hear his voice.
"Hey James. Howya doing, babe?"
"Cool, uh, look, do you still want to do something this evening?"
"Ya wanna come over and watch a movie or something?"
"I guess that'd be cool."
"In about an hour or so?"
"You need a ride?"
"I can walk, I guess, it's warm enough out."
"Ok, if you're sure. Seeya in an hour?"
"Ok." And that was that. Not once did he raise his voice above that low murmur. Not once did he express any noticeable interest. I don't know what I did wrong, but I was used to feeling like I was kissing the stratosphere after I'd talked to James. And now I felt as bad as I ever had. I felt bad that I'd obviously hurt him somehow, bad that I didn't know what it was and bad that I could do nothing about it. All I wanted was for him to smile again. More to the point, to smile at me. And for everything to be the way it was. I just felt numb. I lay there for the best part of an hour, tears even welling up in my eyes at one point.
I eventually dragged myself into the shower and cleaned up a bit from my yard work. My back was still really stiff after the shower. Weird, I'd hardly noticed it before.
"Yeah, mom," I shouted, hauling myself up the stairs.
"Your friend James is here for you." He was there, behind her. He looked so small. Timid. Scared even. But cute even so. The look on his face, a look of apprehension that was breaking my heart.
"Hey James," I said, trying to sound as upbeat as I could, in spite of how I felt inside.
"Hey." Still nothing.
"Ya wanna come downstairs?"
"Ok." STILL nothing.
I lead the way downstairs, a million things running through my head. I had to know what I'd done, and how I could sort it. Cause... to look at him like that was breaking my heart. His face looked so much better when he smiled. He was gorgeous anyway, but the thought of not seeing that smile again made up my mind that I had to do something.
"Ya wanna sit down or something?" I said, dropping down onto my bed.
"'K," he said, sitting on the chair by my desk.
"Well, I kinda meant over here," I said, patting the bed beside me.
"Uh, ok," he said, cautiously sitting down beside me.
"James, we need to talk."
"Yeah. You've been totally shutting me out ever since we left Vince's party. Was it something I did?" He didn't speak. "James, I need to know, this is hard for me."
"Hard for you?"
"You think that party was easy for me?"
"You remember I told you about that guy, Craig, right?"
"Yeah." How could I forget?
"Well, he used to do that a lot."
"Go out, get drunk, pass out, end up throwing up, and always his mom would give us a ride home. It just reminded me of that. And it really hurt. I couldn't look at you without thinking of him, and I don't want to do that. It just reminded me of that. I'm so sorry to screw you around."
I laid my hand on his and he basically collapsed into me. I kissed the top of his head softly, holding him tight. "James, that's ok. I'm sorry that what I did reminded you of that."
"You couldn't have known."
"I know, but I still hurt you, and that hurts me."
"It was just me being stupid."
"Nothing you do is stupid, James," I murmured, giving him a soft kiss on the lips. He responded, kissing me back, crushing himself against me as hard as he could. His hands snaked up inside my tshirt, trying to pull it up over my head. We broke our kiss, allowing him to get my shirt off. I quickly returned the favor, letting his shirt fall to the floor. As he wrapped his arms round me again, I caught sight of something red on his arm. I pulled away, holding his hand gently. Anything elation I might have felt evaporated when I saw the ten or so cruel razor marks on his forearm.
He looked down and couldn't look back up again. "I... I couldn't help it, ok? I felt so wretched, so useless, at feeling like that. Something just had to come out."
"Does it hurt?"
"Not really. Not if I don't touch it."
"James, please, please tell me you won't do that again."
"No, babe, look me in the eye and tell me."
"I won't, Chris, I really won't," he said, his tear-filled eyes locked on mine. "I swear to you."
"I believe you James, it just really scared me to see it. I know what you've been through hasn't been easy on you. But I'm here to help you through. You know you can tell me anything you want."
"Thanks Chris," he said, snuggling up to me.
"You wanna watch that movie we talked about, then?"
"Sure," he said, finally smiling. I swear I floated over to the shelf where I kept all my videos.
"We got... Con Air, Star Wars, Stand By Me, Mosquito Coast..."
"You're a River Phoenix fan, then?" he asked, a devilish little smile on his face.
"Uh, yeah," I said quietly, blushing.
"It's ok. I thought he was cool too. Wanna watch Stand By Me?"
"Cool. It's like one of my favorite movies ever." Now was that cause it was a great film or cause it had River Phoenix without a shirt in it? I know I loved it for both reasons!
I slipped the cassette into the VCR and lay down on my bed, beckoning James to lie beside me. He snuggled back into me, the creamy, soft skin of his bare back rubbing against my chest. I put my arm round him, and he laced his slim fingers through mine, looking up and smiling shyly at me. We lay like that until the movie was over, and a long while after that, not even talking, just staying close and cuddling.
"Babe, what time you gotta be home?"
"But your mom..."
"Don't care. I wanna stay here with you."
"You wanna stay over?" I said, maybe a little bit surprised.
"Uh, well, yeah, if that's ok," he replied, defensive all of a sudden.
"Of course it's ok, I just don't want you to be in trouble with your mom, that's all."
"It wouldn't be the first time." And that was that. I told my parents that he was staying, and even though it was a Sunday night and we had school the next day.
That smell. I knew that smell. Loved it even. So familiar from recently. Made me feel happy. I felt warm all down my front, and very happy. I opened my eyes gradually and saw the most beautiful sight I've ever seen. James was cuddled right up to my chest, his breath gently tickling my skin as he slept quietly.
"Uuhhh? Whosat?" How cute is he when he's half asleep?
"We gotta get up and go to school, sleepyhead."
"Believe me, I wanna stay here too. But my mom will be down to throw me out of bed in a minute, and I don't think we want her to find us in bed together."
"Point," he said, getting out of bed.
"You gonna go shower?"
"Sure. You coming?" he asked, winking at me.
We couldn't spend too long fooling around though, cause we really did have to get to school. We grabbed a quick breakfast and rode to school with my mom.
Luke was actually there before us, smiling like an idiot. Much as I suppose me and James were.
"What's up with you guys? You look like you just spent the night together or something."
"Uh..." Me and James looked at each other guiltily.
"For fuck's sake, guys..."
Copyright Hayabusa 2002
This chapter of Wherever I May Roam was made possible by the following:
Chris G, the song 'Drug Ballad' by Eminem (it's pretty obvious which bit it inspired!), the song 'Disarm' by the Smashing Pumpkins, 'Nastradamus' by Nas, 'The Eminem Show' by Eminem, 'Facelift' by Alice In Chains (RIP Layne Staley), 'Earth vs The Wildhearts' by The Wildhearts, EP1 by Serafin, 'The Butterfly Collection' by The Nerve Agents, 'The Sinister Urge' by Rob Zombie, my economics exam, Comicality's 'On The Outside', Coningsby's 'The Moon In Your Eyes' and a load of other stuff I can't really remember. Oh, and Jamie, who didn't actually have anything to do with me writing this, but hey, he's Jamie ;)
Write to me at Hayabusa17@hotmail.com if you wanna tell me what you think of the story, or just to chat. I'd love to hear from you.