K. J. Pedersen
LUKAS SLEPT EASY. We so seldom had any real time to ourselves, and the privacy we needed, that the opportunity to watch him sleep was too good to be missed. He was a beautiful young man and I admired not only his beauty, physical and athletic prowess, but also his warmth, intelligence, playfulness, and independence of thought and action. One may lust after a handsome face and fine body, but one falls in love with a kindred soul.
Stirred by emotions I usually tried to keep in check, I reached over and gently touched his brow; traced it with the tips of my fingers, then down and along the side of his perfectly smooth cheek, to his square jaw and chin. He never stirred. Then I touched his full lips.
It has been said we choose friends who remind us of family. Perhaps that’s true; I don’t know. But in many ways, Lukas reminded me of my brother, Mattæus. It wasn’t that they looked alike. They shared certain similar features — the pronounced brow and long, straight nose — but those were features common to men of Scandian roots generally. No, they really did not look alike. Both were quite handsome, true, but Lukas was always smiling. He looked perpetually cheerful, innocent, happy, and the corners of his mouth would always dimple. Mattæus, on the other hand, wore a serious expression that made him seem more aloof, somehow patrician, though he too frequently smiled. Looks aside, they had similar personalities. Both were independent, willful, yet egalitarian-minded.
I ran my fingers through Lukas’s hair, stroked it, and enjoyed the sensuality of it. He had thick hair, soft, but much thicker than one would suspect for the color.
More than any other physical similarity between Mattæus and Lukas was the likeness of their hair, the considerable length, the way it parted and fell when they wore it loose, or, when they wore it up, that they wore a topknot, the same style, and the color too was so similar. Matti’s hair was brown with reddish highlights; it was like bronze. Lukas’s hair was brown, lighter than my brother’s, also reddish; it was like copper.
It’s odd ... Mattæus and Lukas looked like brothers; Mattæus and I did not. Nobody saw any common traits — other than height — between Matti and I though we shared our mother’s womb for nine months. I took after our father — the honey-colored blond hair and pale blue eyes — while Matti took after our mother — the dark hair and darker blue-gray eyes.
The moon was barely visible through the clouds, and whatever light it offered only slightly augmented the yellow light coming from the attached bathroom. The bedroom was a bit chilly because Lukas had left the sliding doors to his balcony all the way open, and it was through them I could see the moon and clouds. It was like being in the open because the balcony and sliding doors ran the entire length of the eastern wall of his bedroom. Every movement was sensual, so intensely erotic, as we made love in the freely moving air, in the moonlight, and in that pale glow emanating from the bare bulb above the bathroom sink. I seriously doubted any of the neighbors had a view into Lukas’s room, but still, the risk, the thrill, was very much a part of the pleasure.
Lukas had a firm bed, soft sheets, and warm comforter. Since June and Lukas’s bold, unabashed declarations of love, and the physical assertions of his affection, I became very familiar with (and very fond of) this bed, especially with the scent of his body on the sheets. I’d come to think of it as our bed, though, in truth, we had made love there only a dozen times or so.
I laid there beside him, propped up on one elbow, and lost myself looking at his beauty, enjoying the warmth of his body against my own, and all the myriad sensations of skin to skin contact, even to the occasional brush of his feet against mine.
We were in love, and that could get us in serious trouble. At least theoretically. It wasn’t fair....
For the moment, at least, we were together.
North Lancascir, and particularly Sceofeld, was at the very heart of conservative — no, reactionary — Liberian Christendom. The Conservative Party dominated the Landsthing and Senate here, and the local party was dominated by its theocratic right-wing. In fact, the positions they held were frighteningly similar to those espoused by Christian Nationalists. As one might imagine, homosexual love was ‘not acceptable in this community.’ Heterosexual activity outside of marriage was not appreciated either. (Unmarried girls who became pregnant were often more severely castigated than male homosexuals!) In both cases there were laws against all sex acts outside of marriage. Naturally, there were laws against cohabitation. There were specific laws against all things homoerotic too. But these intrusive acts went unenforced because the courts of the Anglian Federative Republic (AFR) had a tendency to overturn such illiberal laws when challenged at the federal level.
So, perhaps it was merely the defiance of youth that made so many of our comrades on the football team revel in homosexual activity. As far as I knew, Lukas and I were the only homosexuals on the team, but fully half of the other boys were bisexual, or rather, they had their fun with each other nearly as often as they did with either their girlfriends or other willing girls. Though I was not open publicly about my sexual preference for young men, the other boys on the team probably suspected the truth. After all, I never showed any interest in finding a girlfriend, or even a hook-up. But nobody had ever said anything one way or the other. Maybe that came with being the team’s star and captain. Who knew? They also probably knew, or suspected, Lukas and I were a couple, or, at least, friends with benefits, because Lukas was frank about his desire to have sex with other guys — had, in fact, slept with a good number of our friends on the team — and our ‘special loyalty’ to one another was well known. Perhaps they assumed though he was merely bisexual because he had girlfriends his second and third years at the academy, including Nicola Marii, who was very popular and sexy. Aside from Lukas though, the only other people in the world who knew I was a ‘man’s man’ was my brother, who had caught us in the act the only time we ever made love in my bed, and Mikael Lundmark, my first.
Honestly, it was not something I wanted to get out. Mattæus accepted the fact Lukas wasn’t just my best friend, but that he was my lover as well. And I think my mother too would have accepted it simply as my nature, and my free choice to be true to that nature. My father wouldn’t. He took a hardline with all such things. Sex outside of marriage was immoral in his eyes, and homosexual love was ‘an abomination before Iehova, the Lord of Hosts.’ Yes, he once said exactly that. Never mind that he was a pious hypocrite who cited Scripture, but wore his Faith like a coat, and sloughed it off as the climate demanded. I loved my father — unlike Matti, who had neither love nor respect for him — but I could not please him, could not prove myself to him, and that made me resentful ... angry. It hurt. No, I certainly did not need the world to know that Lukas and I were in love.... My life was complicated enough as it was!
Lukas opened his eyes. They were dark green, almost hazel, and bright. “Johannes?” He lifted himself onto his elbows. “Sorry, man, I must’ve fallen asleep.”
“Me too,” I said. “I woke up just a few minutes ago.”
“What were you just doing?”
He smiled. “As always.”
“What time is it?” He sat up in bed, leaned across me, looked at the clock, and answered his own question. “11:09 ... we were asleep for less than an hour?”
He bolted out of bed. “Fuck! Have my mum and sister come home yet?”
“Nah,” I said and sat up. “Isn’t that why you locked the bedroom door, just in case?”
He nodded, then his eyes met mine. “Johan?”
“I love you, man,” he said.
“I love you too, Luki,” I replied.
Lukas stood in the yellow light naked except for his briefs, yawned, and stretched. I loved the way his muscles moved under his tanned flesh. He was tall. At 6' 3", he was two inches shorter than I was, but still very tall. And where I had a hard, sharply defined body and musculature, the muscles on his arms, chest, and legs were also defined, yet smooth; he possessed a lithe body. I was stronger; he was more agile. Watching him, studying every inch of his body, it was very hard to keep still.... I wanted to jump off the bed, grab him, wrestle him to the floor, and kiss him head to foot.
He saw the lust in my eyes, I think, and teased me. The boy pushed his briefs down as low on his hips as he could without exposing himself. Not that he was shy. He had no troubles whatsoever with being naked. But I did — I was shy, very shy. An hour or so ago we’d made love wearing our underwear, and only when we were safely under the covers had I pushed my briefs down around my thighs so we could fuck cock to cock. Lukas would occasionally get me naked, but after making love, I’d always get right out of bed and put my underpants back on. Lukas would just laugh at that, and tell me that neither Markus Eiriksson nor Tórsten Ceorlson were such shy lovers.
“Think we might have time to go at it once more?” He threw aside the bed covers, and straddled my thighs, then leaned forward and kissed the tip of my nose.
I put my hands on his waist. “I doubt it. Your mum and Inga will be back any moment. I mean, Inga’s got a sore throat, it’s not like she had to go to the emergency room.”
He moved off of me, and sat at my side. “At least we managed to finish our homework.”
“Yeah, well,” I said, “we would have finished a lot quicker if you knew how to keep your hands to yourself.”
He laughed. “Where’s the fun in that?”
We sat on the bed together for a long moment. Neither of us wanted to move. Neither of us wanted to be separated from the other. But I had to go home.
“Hey, Luki, I really should go now. My curfew is past.”
“Your father giving you an eleven o’clock curfew is just plain petty, man.” He put his arm around my shoulders, nuzzled my neck, kissed my jaw, my cheek, and whispered, “Matti doesn’t obey it, does he? So why should you?”
“Matti is his own man. He doesn’t give a shit what our father thinks,” I said. “Sometimes I wish I was more like him. But I’m not.”
“I wish you would spend the night.” He put his hand on my belly, rubbed it — lower, lower — then traced the waistband with his fingers. “It’s difficult with my father being in the city every night since the WCLW took strike action. He feels the need to be down there almost all the time with his fellow workers on the picket line. I’m worried about him.” He yawned. “Stay here with me. Spend the night.”
The evening before, the two of us went down to the Niew Lifrapol docks, talked to his father, and saw the men from Oxnaford Services who were hired to break the strike. There were about fifty of them. They had rifles and nightsticks. The World Confederation of Libertarian Workers had been on strike for almost a week, had turned away the scabs, held the docks and their work posts, and brought everything to a halt. There were strikes in other cities all over the world. Pay had been cut, the hours were long, the working men and boys were tired, skilled and unskilled alike. Things had to change. This was the time. My mother, herself a Libertarian Worker, was with them in spirit all the way; my father thought the union should be broken, and its delegates arrested.
“I can’t sleep over,” I said. “We’re not boys any longer; we’re young men. My father would suspect the truth if I stayed. I think, maybe, he already suspects you are homosexual, and that you’re trying to get into my underpants. He’s said things that allude to that, you know.”
“Because you have no shame,” I said. “You throw your arm around my shoulders so casually — at my house, at the mall, in the theaters, at the library, all over in public — that your feelings are plain.”
“So what? I’m not the only jock at Sceofeld who behaves that way with his best buddy. What about Tórsten and Matthias-Paulus? Markus and Godric? Andreas and Wolfwig? Huh?”
“The difference is that we aren’t just buddies, Lukas.”
“Every one of them has fooled around, with each other, with other guys on the team. Every one of them. Why should it be different for us?”
“Because they’re bisexual and we’re homosexual, that’s why. For the two of us it’s special. If social pressure mounts against them, they have girlfriends to fall back on. They can take it or leave it.”
“That’s bullshit. Do you think that bisexual men don’t — can’t — love each other?”
“I didn’t say that.”
“But you implied it.”
“I did not. Hear me out, Lukas. Society here — in Liberia — doesn’t accept us. It might be different if we lived up north in Nova Scandia, or on the east coast, in Nova Anglia, or in almost any of the other member states of the Anglian Federative Republic. But Liberia is different — a different culture with different values.”
“Liberia — the name means ‘land of Liberty,’ does it not?” Lukas said. “What a joke. These fine, upstanding folk are a bunch of hypocrites. They claim we are free men and women, and may live our lives as we please, that we have freedom to speak, to assemble, and that we have freedom to worship God in whatever way our conscience guides us. And yet it was here, in Liberia, that the movement to end universal suffrage was proposed; it was from bases here that such a vile negation of Liberty was propagated. It is here where, in the name of religious freedom, Conservatives try to rule the State from the pulpits of their churches.
“And it is not so different at the federal level, with the Anglian Federative Republic, and even with the Terran Republic itself, where Liberty is such a sacred — yet nebulous — term. These statesmen club striking workers into submission, and oust them from their jobs — their means of living — because they do speak and because they do assemble. My father has been fired six times in the last eight years because he is a Libertarian Worker; because he believes property that is jointly utilized should also be jointly owned, and democratically governed; and because he has the courage to stand up himself and assert: I am a free man! We need to stand up for ourselves too, Johannes. The freedom to choose a willing lover is no less a freedom than the right to worship. Liberty is merely privilege unless enjoyed by all!”
“You remind me of my brother. You’re both outspoken. You have so much in common, I’m surprised the two of you didn’t hook up.” I teased him: “Too bad for you he’s not into man on man loving, huh?”
“Believe me, Johan, I’ve tried to get him naked and into bed,” Lukas said with an impish sparkle in his eyes.
“You’re full of shit,” I said.
“Okay, so I want to, but haven’t actually tried,” he said. “I bet he’s bisexual though.”
“He is not.”
“Bet he is.”
“I don’t think so,” I said. “I’d know it by now if he was. We share a bedroom. If Matti’s bisexual, he’d have given some indication; he’d have said something; he’d have given some accidental, subtle clue by now. He hasn’t.”
“He hasn’t, and so, therefore, he isn’t,” Lukas said and shook his head at my logic.
“Lukas — ”
“Listen, my whole point about us in relation to the other guys on the team is: It doesn’t matter that they like girls too. Or even that they prefer girls. When they are with each other, that’s what matters to them. That connection, that moment of intimacy, and friendship, and trust. Bisexuality was widespread among the Kelts and Spartans and Athenians, you know. It’s nothing new.”
“I don’t really like Markus and Godric all that much,” he admitted, “even though Markus and I hook up sometimes — ”
“Yeah, like that’s something I need to hear.”
He smirked and shrugged it off. “Markus and Godric are meanspirited; they’re bullies. I mean, look at the fight Godric got into today with that friend of yours. I heard what Godric called Shane — White trash. Godric can be an asshole, Johannes. I don’t deny it,” Lukas said. “My point is that even though Markus and Godric are creeps, you know they have feelings for each other. Markus is as important to Godric as his girlfriend is. So, again, bullshit. Being bisexual doesn’t make the love between two guys anything less than real.”
“I guess that’s true,” I said.
“Laws that discriminate against homosexuals discriminate against bisexuals as well.”
Lukas grabbed me by the hand playfully and pulled me off the bed. “If you won’t spend the night, then at least come with me for a moment.”
He led me out onto the balcony. I wrested my arm away from him. He grinned at me, this really sexy grin. “Don’t be shy,” he said. “We may be out under the open sky, but it’s private. Nobody can see us.”
The tiles were cold under my feet, but Lukas’s arm around my waist warmed me. Actually, the chill felt good, even if my skin was covered in goose bumps. He drew me closer, obviously wanting to keep warm himself. He kissed my ear, and whispered, “I can’t wait until this year is finally over.”
“It’s just started.”
“After we graduate we can move away from our parents, go to the University, and move in together.”
“My brother will probably be needing a roommate,” I said.
“So what? He knows how we feel for each other,” Lukas said. “We can get a two-bedroom flat. He can have one room; we’ll share the other. Well, just so long as he doesn’t invite Jakobus van der Hoff to move in too. He’s suddenly so churchy.... It’s creepy.” Then he turned me, ran his hands through my shoulder-length hair, kissed my chin, my throat, and then up again to my lips.
“I should go.”
“You’re so jumpy ... such a shy lover.” He slipped his hands under my briefs and grabbed my buttocks. “Loosen up, Johan.”
“Yeah, yeah,” I said, and returned his warm embrace. I played with his hair. God, I must admit, it felt wonderful. He was hard now, and I felt my own cock grow against his, separated only by our underwear. I sucked on his lower lip. His tongue slipped between my lips.
We must’ve stood kissing, rubbing together, exploring with our hands for some time before he broke off. “Sorry,” he said. “You’re getting me too hot, man. If we don’t stop, I’ll shoot my load.”
He leaned forward against the balcony railing. I did the same. We were shoulder to shoulder. “I love you, Johan.” He turned and kissed my shoulder.
“I know,” I said. “You say it often enough.”
“I’ve always loved you.” Lukas paused, and went on, “Last winter I was pining for a certain someone. I fell for him hard. You might know him, I think. I was longing for the blond Kirkagárd brother, the taller, more muscular, more athletic of the two. The really shy, smiley one. The captain of the football team.”
“You’ve always loved me?”
He nodded. “I think so.”
“We’ve been friends since we were ten,” I said.
He nodded again.
“I guess I really started to feel that way for you last year. No, maybe two years ago now. But I didn’t realize it was love until last year. Last winter, I was pining for you too,” I said. “I was scared to death though. I didn’t want to lose you as a friend just because I wanted more than to play football, mess around at the mall, and do our homework together.”
“You don’t know how hard it was for me, Johannes,” he said. “It drove me crazy when we’d wrestle in the gymnasium. Or when we’d undress in the locker room. I hated it when the other guy’s would swat your bottom. It meant nothing more than, ‘Hey, comrade, good game,’ but I was jealous — ”
“You were jealous? How do you think I felt, knowing that your girlfriend at the time was stroking your cock — Nikki’s hot; I can’t deny it — and that Markus, Matthias-Paulus, and Tórsten were doing the same to you? Your casual bragging made it all the worse.”
“Sorry,” he said. “Nikki Marii knows how to handle a guy’s cock. I’m sure she’s making old Tórsten a very happy boy these days.” He made this pumping motion with his fist. “But between us, there was no emotional connection. I mean, sure, she’s beautiful. Italian girls are. But, as with all the other girls I’ve dated, the offers of sex didn’t interest me. It was available, you know — Nikki spread her legs more than once — but I didn’t want it, and wouldn’t take it. If you’re going to fuck a girl, you should love her. That’s my feeling anyway. And I’m just not into girls.” He shrugged. “With the guys, it was different. Especially with Markus. I don’t know why. Fucking cock against cock with Markus ... that was what I wanted. Except, most of the time, I was thinking about you, wishing it was your cock against mine, your chest against mine, your lips on mine.”
“I used to fantasize about you too ... all those jerk-off fantasies in the shower.”
“I was too scared to approach you all winter, all through the spring and A-ball season,” he said, “and then after school let out, I knew it was going to be one very long and lonely summer unless I let you know how I felt. Friendship just wasn’t going to be enough any longer, Johan. But knowing your father, knowing how he’d react if he found out nearly made me bite my tongue that June morning. What if you rejected me? What if news of my advance got back to him? I was scared to death. He’d throw my carcass to the wolves, wouldn’t he?”
I grinned. “Yeah. And that’s why I’ve got to go. I’m late, man. Really late.”
We went back into the bedroom. He sat on the bed and watched me dress. I sat beside him, tugged on my socks and shoes, and then before I left, leaned forward and kissed him quickly on the lips.
“See you at school tomorrow,” I said.
“I rather see you in bed beside me tomorrow morning.”
“Yeah, yeah,” I said, and left.
* * *
It was a quarter to midnight by time I got home. I parked the car Mattæus and I shared on the circular drive out front, fumbled with the keys, and tried to sneak inside and up to my bedroom without making any noise. I didn’t count on my father still being awake, much less up and about. He emerged from his study as I made my way up the stairs.
“Johannes,” he said.
I turned, faced him. He was still dressed in his business suit — the knee-breeches, silk stockings, white silk shirt, black necktie, embroidered vest, and formal business coat. (Our school had a dress policy that required we dress in kind.) He had a fine wardrobe, one which must have been worth at least 1,500RS. His vanity disturbed me, but it went with the territory — one had to dress well in banking business, after all. He wore his hair shorter than mine, an inch or two shy of his shoulders, it was loose, and that was the only sign of informality. Otherwise, he looked as though he was still at the office. Well, sometimes he stayed up late, spent the evening in his study and read, or watched business and/or political programming on the television. He never dressed down — not even on the weekends — unless he was on vacation.
“Do you know what time it is?”
“It’s nearly midnight, father.”
“Yes, it is,” he said. “Your curfew is at eleven.”
“Where is Mattæus?”
“How would I know? We’re fraternal twins, not conjoined.” I couldn’t believe I just said that. It wasn’t my habit to talk back to him. That was Mattæus’s thing. He even called our father by his first name, Eadmund. I didn’t back down though, or apologize.
“Yes, I see,” he said. “And where have you been?”
I knew he did not approve of my friendship with Lukas to begin with. He claimed Lukas was a bad influence. (He was prone to say that of my friends, of Mattæus’s, even of Susanna’s.) On the surface it was ridiculous. Lukas’s scores on the standard grading scale averaged 92-93; he was never in trouble; he was at Sceofeld on an Athletics Scholarship just as I was. But under the surface, most certainly, his disapproval of Lukas was due to the fact that his father, Grundtvig, was a vocal member of a labor union, the WCLW, and his uncle Sigurd — Grundtvig’s brother — had run for the Landsthing on the Social Democratic Workers’ Party ticket in 2070. Even his mother, who was the chief editor for the high society women’s magazine Cybele, and who earned and could enjoy for herself fine living, was a supporter of the Democratic-Republican Party, the return of universal suffrage, free public education, and the right of unions to collective bargaining.
“I was with Lukas,” I said.
“Naturally.” This tight, thin-lipped smirk crossed his face. “Wash your hands before you go to bed.”
* * *
To be continued....