The last time I'd seen that expression I had put my hands on the sides of his ribcage and pressed him against the wall. I remembered how I'd kissed him until we were breathless. I remember he had sighed with resignation and how his arms crept around my back to pull me close. Moreover, I remembered how much I had liked it.
My right hand moved before I could order it otherwise. I felt Gary’s shocked inhale through his stomach. We stared at each other for a moment—it was the first time that I had really looked at Gary, studied him, noticed how dark his brown eyes were in comparison to his pale lashes and strawberry brows. His narrow shoulders made him look scrawnier than he felt through his sweater. He must have grown into his looks; he had a fierce chin and sharp nose that would have been awkward on a boy.
Gary broke the charged silence. “What are you doing?” he asked in a whisper.
“I don’t know,” I responded just as quietly. “I’m trying not to analyze it.”
“Uh…” He looked ready to bolt into the bedroom and lock the door behind him.
I turned slowly so that my back was against the wall opposite his. The heat from his body was reaching through his shirt to my chilly fingers. Come warm me up, some echo from another time, and a fleeting view of bare-chested Gary pulling me down this very hallway.
“Can I try something?” I asked.
With an look of worried anticipation, Gary replied, “What?”
I stepped closer and put my hands on either side of Gary’s head so he couldn’t run. Don’t think, I ordered myself as I lowered my head. Don’t think, don’t think, don’t think. And my mouth was on his.
That first kiss, the first sober kiss, felt ages long. My heart was racing and I was a little afraid that Gary would shove me away or hit me. I didn’t have a playbook for this. All I had were two handfuls of Gary’s coat, his gentle lips against mine, and sparks behind my eyelids.
He blinked when I pulled back. “Uh, wow, um,” he cleared his throat. “That was…Are you—”
“I meant to do that.” What a stupid thing to say.
“So, are you trying me on for size?” he joked, flicking his gaze to the side. "Feel any gayer?"
No, but I felt a good kind of terrified and a little turned on. I took a deep breath. “Show me what we did.”
He laughed disbelievingly. “You mean, you want to have sex? Now?”
Shaking his head yet again, Gary asked, “Do you want a beer or two first?”
Yes. “No.” God, yes.
Gary sighed. "I really don't know if this is a good idea. Do you want to think about it?"
"What? Fuck no!"
Narrowed eyes and a slight flare in his nostrils were the only sign that Gary was perturbed by my hasty retort. It wasn't that I was gung-ho I'm-gay-now. I clearly was out of my depth and scared shitless. "Seriously, Nick, I'm not sure you can handle it right now. I'm not trying to be funny, I'm just saying."
I can't believe I'm doing this. "We could just make out for a bit," I suggested.
"Do you not want to?"
Gary threw his arms wide. "Do you really want to fuck me, full on, no take-backs, queer style? Can you, even?"
He was avoiding the question, and I needed him to make some decisions for me. “What do you want, Gary?" I hit the wall beside his head, just enough to make him jump and meet my eyes. "Enough about what I want, why did you let me come back? Why did you tell me the truth? What do you want from me?”
Gary rolled his eyes, shifted his weight and huffed. His mouth opened and quickly shut again, and to my surprise his eyes welled up with tears. “I don’t know,” he said in a wobbly voice. “I’m a normal human being; I want something real and reliable. I want someone I’m sure of.”
“You can’t be sure of me?”
“When you’re drunk I could, yeah. That was predictable. There was a pattern. Now, who’s to say? Either you like me or you don’t. Or really, you like me and you don’t." He gestured between our bodies. "You didn’t even know—you can’t remember the things you said to me, or how you acted around me. Nothing transferred, obviously, so I think that drunk Nick was probably just horny and willing to take what he could get.”
Ah, how the truth hurts. "Gary, I'm not drunk now," I reminded him.
"I know, I know, it's just..." He sighed and rubbed the bridge of his nose. "I don't want to get hurt."
"I won't hurt you," I promised. I wasn't sure what prompted me to say that, but I meant it.
"You don't know that," Gary replied, but he smiled a little.
I stepped back a little. "How about this: you sit me down and we neck like kids in an eighties horror movie. If we aren't feeling it, we'll stop," I offered. I meant me, though. If I wasn't feeling it I would run like my ass was on fire.
"Who says 'neck' anymore?"
"No one. So? Are you in?"
Gary rolled his eyes to the heavens and opened his mouth; I was sure he was about to tell me to leave. This is oddly humiliating, I thought, but then Gary pulled me into the bedroom by my elbow.
"This is maybe the worst idea ever," he told me as we removed our coats.
I let him push me onto the bed and kicked off my shoes. "You're probably right."
"You're going to freak out in the middle of it," he assured me, crawling up to where I sat against the headboard, "tell everyone at work that I slipped you a mickey and tried to get in your pants, then I'll be fired and gay bashed in the parking lot."
If Gary was trying to distract me from how close we were, it wasn't working. Our lips weren't touching just yet, but I could feel his body heat and his dark eyes filled my field of vision.
"What fucking soap operas have you been watching?" I retorted. Shit, but I was nervous. What the hell was I doing? And why, again? Why couldn't I be content with the numerous outs that Gary had given me? My heart was pounding madly; my breath already coming short.
“Just kiss me, damn it,” Gary groaned, and to stop the possible "and get it over with," I did.
It was so different and yet so familiar. Gary's nose brushed against my cheek and his breath feathered over my upper lip. The kiss was practically chaste; aside from knowing it was Gary the feeling wasn't much different from any other kiss I'd had. There's more than this, I thought. This wasn't enough to make me throw my sexual preference out the window. I tried again, catching Gary's lip between mine, pulling him to me a little. His hand came to rest lightly on my arm, then trailed to my shoulder, then to the back of my neck. The sober, clear-headed part of me thought it was weird to have someone else’s thumb on my jaw, tilting my head back. The other part, that werewolf in me that had already had sex with Gary, was getting excited. He’s like this, I half-remembered. Aggressive.
Gary kissed down my neck, pulled my shirt collar down to suck on my collarbone, trailed his tongue up again, and nipped at my earlobes. It shouldn’t have been a surprise that he knew where I liked to be touched, but all I could think was how hot it was, how good it felt. I chased his mouth, determined not to be left behind, and tasted the spicy musk of his soap and the savor of his skin. Swinging his leg over mine Gary straddled my lap and grabbed my chin. I was about to say something, I don’t know what, but he interrupted by dipping his tongue into my open mouth. I could feel that in my toes. Suddenly Gary pulled back and looked at me nervously.
“We’re not finished,” I informed him. Gary’s throat worked when I leaned in, but then he broke into a grin so that when I kissed him my lips hit his teeth. That made me laugh, which gave him the opportunity to lick at the corners of my mouth. We weren’t drunk, we weren't high, and I couldn’t remember the last time I had so enjoyed just making out with somebody.
“Take your shirt off,” Gary ordered.
I blinked. “Already?”
He narrowed his eyes playfully. “Now.”
I did as requested and then watched Gary remove his sweater. He lifted it from the bottom, revealing row after row of tight muscle on his narrow frame. He was pale but warm; he flinched a little when I touched his side with my cold fingertips. Was it strange because I was uncomfortable, or because I had done it before? Gary had all the same body parts, provided there wasn’t an extra nipple hanging around somewhere. Sure, he was a good kisser, but had that merited sleeping with him whenever I got hammered?
“You’re thinking too much,” Gary said. “You asked to do this, so quit analyzing me.”
I made a face. “I can’t help it.”
“It’s because you keep pausing,” Gary retorted. “Nut up, Nicholas.”
That struck a chord somewhere in my subconscious. A memory, this one clear as glass, of us together in this bed. After crawling into bed with him, complaining that the couch was cold and lonely, Gary had let me touch him with clumsy hands. I think that time I was hungry for skinship, horny, and honestly just looking for another body. However, as soon as Gary responded in kind, slipping his hand under my shirt, some switch flipped in my brain. I had been voracious, embarrassingly so, now that I thought about it. Everything had flowed like it was the most natural thing in the world, right until we had gotten to the actual sex. "I want to suck you off." Had I really said that? Couldn't have. I wasn't the type.
"Go ahead," Gary had laughed. "I won't stop you.
"But I don't wanna be gay."
Gary had rolled his eyes and given me a titty twister. “Nut up, Nicholas,” he had said then. It had worked; had he already known it would? Holy fuck, I really had instigated all of this. Had I been repressing something? Why was this happening now?
Two fingers tweaking my nose brought me out of my reverie. “And lighten up,” Gary added, “before I lose my boner.”
I giggled like a schoolkid—Heh heh. Boner—before I realized that Gary wasn’t kidding. The bulge stared back at me through his dorky khaki pants, running long and thin toward his hip. Even as my hand reached for it my brain reeled. That's from Gary and me making out. I helped make that. I ran my thumb around the outline to the sound of Gary’s inhalation.
“Wow,” I said softly. Such a lame word for a consumingly profound moment. I knew how to touch a dick, sure, but this time it wasn’t mine. For a moment I forgot about my vacillating sexuality, the blackouts, and the toothbrush in the bathroom. It was so firm in my hand, searing, I half expected it to burn through the fabric.
Gary stroked the back of my neck and kissed the top of my head. The intimacy was likely left over from the night before, from all those nights I couldn’t remember, but it fit. It all fit, really, from the way Gary ran his hands over my bare shoulders to the pressure I used to squeeze his cock. Whether his lips on my skin or his erection hot under my palm, a switch flipped on. While my rationality tripped and stumbled to keep up my body sprinted ahead, doing what it recalled from the most carnal of kinesthetic memories.
I grabbed Gary by the neck and pulled him down.