If you haven't read part 20, do so here. Or you can start from the beginning.What helps is the knowledge that there is someone else who will be affected by my moroseness is myself. Not since before Mr. Hale has anything I've felt had impact on those around me. It brings a great sense of responsibility that spurs me to, as Brandon puts it, "get out of the funk." The first week away from Mr. Hale is retrospectively humiliating. I shudder to remember how I moped and lay around, wondering what on earth had made me think I was capable of autonomy.
"The dumbbells are working," Brandon announces as he walks through the door.
I'm at the kitchen counter, preparing a sandwich. "Pardon?"
"The dumbbells," he restates, gesturing towards my bare arms. "I can see a difference."
I duck my head. "Oh, thank you." His roommates had a few pieces of gym equipment that they left in a corner of the living room. I had used them, having little to do when I wasn't working at the library or coffee shop.
"Seriously," Brandon says; his tone tells me that he enjoys how much I blush, "you don't look like such a scrawny street waif anymore."
"That is for what I was hoping."
"You'll be a male who models in no time."
I smile at that. The syntax makes me think he's quoting yet another movie that I've never seen. "I just want to look normal."
Brandon gives my stomach the fisheye. "Normal guys don't have abs like yours."
I am positive that my face is cherry-red, especially when Brandon bursts into laughter. "You are so easily embarrassed."
I clear my throat loftily. "I took a message from your mother. She thinks you are ungrateful and wants you to call home every once in a while."
"Did she talk to you or your abs?" Brandon ducks when I throw a spoon at him.
I will put on a shirt and deal with the June heat. "Me. She's doing well, by the way. I would tell you about her funny knitting story, but she'll probably do it herself when you call her."
"Ass," Brandon says cheerfully. "You're not invited to my birthday party."
Two months together has taught me how to reply. "Then no one will be there," I retort, returning my attention to the sandwich. I duck down to pull a skillet from the cabinet. Grilled reubens are a beautiful addition to my life.
"Hey," Brandon's voice comes from above me. I look up to see him leaning over the counter, dangerously close to my sandwich. His brown eyes are mischievous and his full mouth is parted in a smile.
"Wha—" the word is halfway out of my mouth before Brandon presses his lips to mine, slipping his tongue inside slowly to lick the roof of my mouth. Oh, my god. I grip the cabinet doors and damn the sandwich.
Brandon pulls back before I can press back. He strikes a victory pose. "Toooongue!" he sings triumphantly, then gallops into his room.
"Bastard!" I yell. I have to lean on the counter for a moment.
He pokes out his head. "That's what you get for running around shirtless," then slams the door.
I ignore my penis as I finish making my lunch. I have been waiting for him to do more for two, nearly three months. I thought for the first month, at least, that Brandon was simply sensitive to my recent breakup, if that's what it could be called. Though I've never been an instigator in a relationship I tried to touch him, to let him know that I wanted us to be more than roommates. Hadn't that been the plan all along?
I don't want to appear overeager, but as I replay the feeling of Brandon's tongue sliding past my lips I realize something I've missed. Though he may bestow playful kisses on me every so often, he only does so when he has an escape. He runs to his room, out the door, into the bathroom, from the bathroom, or we're passing each other in the hall. He has been presenting himself as willing prey, and I've been too inexperienced a predator to see a meal when it throws itself in front of me.
Brandon's a bottom, and he's scared shitless.