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Hey There Dalila

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"Look, you can't just, you know, in the middle of, without!" Your hands fly around to illustrate your point. "All right? You understand what I'm saying?"

"No idea," comes his reply over the blasting of the shower. He can't see your illustrations. You never should have gone with the frosted glass doors.

You knock a couple of times. "Seriously--"

"Hey, did you know they tested this shit on animals? This Irish Spring soap? They put it in their eyes and everything, it's really, really terrible."

The rush of water stutters, then stops altogether as he slides open the shower door. You knit your eyebrows sternly, chuck a towel at his head.

He grins but says sincerely: "No, but honestly, though, I'm sorry. I was definitely not intending to freak you out, I just didn't know--I mean, I didn't realize you changed your mind."

"Whoa, hang on a second. Who said I changed my mind?"

"It's cool if you have."

"Well, that's nice, I appreciate that. But I actually haven't."

"Oh. Okay, great." He's attempting to wrap your extra-large bath sheet around his hips; you could wrap it handily around three of him with room to spare. "But, uh, so then why did we--not--?"

"Because. I just.... Listen, you know that normally I'm not averse to a little improvisation, right? It's not like I'm standing here saying--"

"Oh, yeah, yeah. Absolutely."

"--run practice drills before the fact, or something." You follow him into the bedroom. "But I think in this particular instance, it might make some sense if we sat down and talked it over first. You know, not to be a woman about it--"

"Yeah?" His smile is easy and sweet. "But you wanna block it?"

"That? Is exactly it," you tell him. "That's just what I want to do. I want to block the anal."

His chin drops right down, rocks languorously up again. "Oh, my God," he sputters, "yes."

"Also the working title of my upcoming memoirs, coincidentally. Blocking the Anal: The Bryan Cranston Story."

"Oh, my God." You've gotten him to the hand-clapping stage. The bath sheet gives up the ghost, piling behind his heels. "There's so unbelievably many levels to that? It's like I can't even--"

"Mmm, yes. I had a feeling you'd like that one," you grumble, and roll your eyes at him and shake your head, as if a naked and laughing Aaron weren't the embodiment of everything that was precious to you in your life.

**

The problem with talking about it first is that you have to talk about it first. Eleven minutes in and no amount of baseball will ever mitigate the trauma.

"But you said you've done it before, right?"

"Um." Your eyes are fastened shut, your knuckles attached to your face at your cheekbones. "I did, with a woman. That was a long time ago, though."

"We talking eight-track, or like--?"

"I don't think music had been invented just yet, come to think of it."

"Oh, wow. And, what...you didn't like it?" he guesses. "The sex, I mean?"

"No, it wasn't that...." He waits for you. "She didn't like it."

"Oh. Well, I can pretty much guarantee that that's not going to be an issue here. Still, though, like I said--I obviously don't want to do it unless you want to do it."

"And like I said, I do want to do it."

"You're kind of not sounding like you want to do it."

You are not about to go around in circles with Aaron on this. So you open your eyes and drop your knuckles and say what you know will work: "I genuinely do, I'm just--I'm a little nervous about it, quite frankly."

The confession sends him clambering more or less into your lap right away, and right away you feel like a jerk even though you haven't said anything that isn't true.

**

Your pulse trips. The nape of your neck and your scalp feel clammy. Your brain peels through a flip book of ugly corpuscular forms, reds and flesh tones and then gone.

You swing your legs over the side of the bed, march out of the bedroom and into the kitchen. You find him already showered and dressed, curled up in the breakfast nook with a travel mug of coffee.

He looks up at you. You look back at him, then look down.

You march back to the bedroom and through to the bathroom. You piss and put on pants, leave the bedroom and come back to your mark.

"Good morning?" he suggests.

"What? Yeah, okay. Aaron, how come you haven't ever bothered to ask me if I'm clean?"

"Clean? As in...?"

You gesture impatiently. "Clean as in disease-free."

"Okay, um.... Are you?"

"That's not the...of course. Of course I am! That's not my point. You've never asked to take a look at any of my test results, for instance."

"Your test results?" Bryan's lost his shit, blinks a road sign over his forehead. Expect major delays. "Why would I...? Did you have a dream, or--?"

"Would you just answer the question for me, please?"

"I would honestly love to, but I have no idea what you're.... I mean, you've never asked me if I was clean, either."

"No. But I don't suck you off, so that's--"

"Yeah, no, I know. Believe me, I know." He smiles over the lip of his coffee. "But you did take sex ed, right? Back in the olden days, with the dildo chiseled out of stone? It's not like you still can't--"

"I took sex ed, thank you, and if we're comparing my odds to yours--"

"Uh, how about, we're not." He plops the mug down suddenly. "No offense, but brother, you are insane. If you had something I needed to worry about, you would've told me, right? I trust you. That's why I haven't asked."

Your anger spikes. "That's--you can't just go around--trusting people!"

What. The. Fuck, blinks the road sign for a good couple of seconds. "Are...you wanting to know whether that's usually how I roll?" he asks slowly. "Because it's not. It is definitely not."

It had better not be--but you can't take it there, he's an adult. You turn around and march away silently, leaving him alone in the kitchen.

**

You're sitting in bed again reading the sports page. Well, technically you're reading yesterday's sports page because that's what's in here, and you've made too much of an idiot of yourself to venture back into the kitchen.

You've left the bedroom door wide open but he raps softly on it anyway. "Hey. I gotta get going. My flight leaves in about an hour."

"Oh, right. Okay."

He ambles over to the foot of the bed, loops his hand around the nearest bedpost. "You're how I roll now. Nobody else," he informs you, and just like that you've graduated from idiot to monumental asshole.

You ditch the newspaper inside the blankets, curl your fingers toward yourself in invitation. "Aaron, you are free to roll with whoever you want, whenever you want," you tell him earnestly. "Just as long as you're careful! And I mean that purely for your sake, not mine."

"I still don't...I mean, does this have something to do with--?"

"No, no, of course not." You completely mistime your reaction; you see him transpose it on the spot.

"'Cause I'm totally okay with condoms, if that's what you'd rather do."

"I'm not advocating for that, no, unless it's something you're wanting. Seriously, this isn't about protection, it's--I mean--" you shake your head, "--it's not about anything, it's fine. You had it right to begin with. Nasty dream."

"Well, you know, possibly," he proposes gently, "like, for the future, it could be good if you just said that in the first place."

"No, you're right, I should've. Sorry about that." You thumb the inside of his wrist, follow up with a kiss to the same patch of skin. "Have fun at the show. Don't do anything I wouldn't do."

"I think it's actually not physically possible for both those things to happen at once. Hey, no, don't!" he laughs as you hook an arm around him and try to topple him onto the bed.

**

He knows that you kind of get off on driving him to and from work if you can get away with it. So when his car breaks down in the parking lot of Q Studios on a Friday night, he has no compunction about declaring you a saboteur.

"I will neither confirm nor deny that accusation." But you will put in a call to Hakim in Transportation, who drives out and takes a few unsuccessful stabs at jump-starting the battery.

Aaron suggests building a robot. Hakim suggests calling the AAA. You're too busy cracking up at Aaron to suggest much of anything at all.

The sky is pitch black and heavy as you wait with him for the tow truck. The driver is from Utah and a huge Big Love fan and probably thinks you're Aaron's father. "Could be the fan belt," you advise them, and now Aaron's cracking up at you. He tips the guy and the two of you book it across the lot to your car, making it into the front seat just as raindrops start popping against the roof.

You end up stuck behind an accident on University Boulevard near the freeway. You've got KUNM on low, the bad weather frazzling the reception.

"Hey, you know that woman?" he asks. You squint out between the wipers. "The one you were telling me about last week. The one you had--"

"Oh. Right, okay, what about her?"

"What was her name?"

"I really don't remember." Jesus Christ, your timing--you might as well be back in summer stock. But now Aaron just nods his head placidly, turns his face toward the passenger window.

Ugly corpuscular forms, reds and flesh tones and then gone. "Dalila."

"Yeah?" He turns his face toward you again. "Like 'Hey there Delilah'?"

"Yeah--uh, no. How's that one spelled?" His brow furrows. "Oh, no, wait--silly me. I forgot who I was asking." You elbow him gently.

He elbows you back. "So was she hot or...?"

"I wouldn't necessarily say hot, no. Or at least I wouldn't think of her that way, or describe her that way. Looking back on it objectively, I guess other people would probably.... But she was--she had red hair."

"Aw, man, beautiful. Everywhere?"

"I think so. She shaved, though."

"Fuck, I love that," he sighs. "What else?"

"Um...." You frame the shot in the air: "Tiny hips."

You get stuck in that position like you're stuck behind the accident. You feel him watching as you stare into the tiny space between your hands.

"Hey," he says quietly. "They're waving us through."

**

It's still pouring pitchforks when you pull the car into his driveway. You switch off the ignition but give him an apologetic look. "I need to head home for the night."

"What? Why? It's Friday. We're both in town all weekend." He pauses. "There's a reason we're both in town all weekend."

"I know, I know, I remember. Tomorrow, I promise. I'm completely zonked."

"Well, come inside and we'll just go to sleep."

"Oh, good, okay. Totally plausible."

"No, no, c'mon! I've got respect for my elders."

"Tomorrow, sweetheart. Okay? We'll go see what the deal is with your car first."

"I'm 'sweetheart' now, huh?" He parks his chin on the crown of your shoulder. You smile helplessly into his eyes.

"A little debonair, I thought. A little Bogart. No?"

"I dunno, let me just think about it for a--"

He slips his tongue in your mouth. You put some nominal effort into not going from zero to sixty too fast, but frankly that's...no. He's unbuttoning your pants in record time--but as soon as you make a move to do his, he purposefully bumps your wrist away.

Not sure if he's playing or what, you reach out to go for it again. He abducts your entire hand this time, physically deposits it onto your kneecap.

"Stop," he whispers, so you do.

He jerks you off with that confluence of precision and passion you've never experienced with anyone else. He leans back into the darkness as you finish, his eyes glittering, to gaze at you: with deliberate, heavy strokes of his tongue, he licks your seed off his palms and his fingertips.

**

"This is nuts," you mutter, and instantly he starts getting the giggles. "No, no, now, stop it! There are no punny thoughts permitted in this situation! This is a pun-free zone! Swim away from the pun-insula!"

Directly in your sightline is his abdomen, the dimple of his innie and the squiggle of his hair all quaking with his laughter. Right below that are your hands, red and ugly and colossal around the soft flesh of his hips.

**

"What's wrong?" he's asking you urgently; you're balls-deep inside of him, paralyzed. "Bryan. What is it, what's going on?"

"I--uh, love you."

"I know." He also knows this isn't all. You try to find enough breath to tell him, nearly choke on a mouthful of air.

"I don't--oh, God. Sorry. Don't want to hurt you."

His expression illuminates suddenly. You shut your eyes and twist your head away from him, the understanding too pristine to bear.

"You're not, baby--you won't." He cradles your jaw, turns you. "You won't, believe me."

He strokes your ass with the edge of his foot, lifts his hips up toward you--lifts them. You feel yourself gasp from your chest--in arousal, against emotion--and the next thing you know you're moving, working out of him, working in.

"C'mon, harder. You can go harder."

"Aaron--"

"Need you harder, Bryan, need you--c'mon, need you to fuck me so hard--"

Oh God oh God oh fuck; your biceps tremble as you change your angle; his howl of pleasure ignites you like jet fuel.

**

You're pounding into him instinctually, your head tucked under like a bull. Corpuscular forms, reds--no please please please please please.

"Look at me," he murmurs, and you do, and you explode inside of him.

**

There's a bizarre sort of cognitive dissonance where you're convinced you're crying like a baby when you're not. You're hearing those humming noises he makes afterward when it's been particularly good for him, but that could just be bound up with the misinformation, too.

You slide yourself out of him gingerly. The sound effects are impressively gross, but he gives no indication of distress.

"Did you...?" you ask him hesitantly.

"Huh? Oh, fuck yeah. Almost right when you did." You must look bewildered. "Yeah, I think you were a little out of it there for a minute."

Your stomach muscles contract. "But--I...you're okay?"

"I'm okay. I'm fantastic."

"You're sure?"

"Am I sure I'm fantastic? I am absolutely, one hundred percent sure."

"Oh, my God." You nestle your face into his, forehead to forehead and nose to nose, instinctively seeking out comfort. "Shit."

"Shh, shh, I know. I know, it's okay."

"Yeah.... No, I know. I know it is."

You roll yourself onto your back, pulling him with you, enfolding him. After a while he cranes his neck to check up on you, then stretches, apparently satisfied.

"Hey," he says, "you wanna come in the shower and, like...inspect me?"

"You know, there's a gun in the footlocker in the garage. If I ever say no to that question, I want you to use it on me."

"Modern Family represent!" he intones--evidently you'll need some more original material. He kisses you and tumbles away, sitting upright on the edge of the bed.

You frame the shot in the air: the compact muscles of his hips. The perfect curves and crevice of his ass, pinks and flesh tones and then--

He's weaving in and out of frame, heading away from you and toward the shower. You scramble out of the bed to catch up with him.