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The Taste of Love

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Chiron doesn’t know much about love. He knows hate, has danced with those demons for years, first as a child with his mother and bullies, then as an adult with himself. He knows sorrow, has laid down with it since he was old enough to dream. There was a time thought he knew love.

His first taste is in the middle of a crackhouse with a tall stranger with kind eyes and a gentle smile. His second taste is with brown skin and big, fluffy curls as Teresa watches him with too-knowing eyes.  His first taste is a lie that sells his pain to a mother that won't love him.  He cherishes the flavor anyway.  His second taste isn't his to savor.  She is not his own, will never be his own.  His mother is sure to tell him this many times over.  The first dies and leaves him wishing for something he can't acknowledge. He longs for his second, but he doesn't allow himself to have.  He'd never bring her down with the burden that is himself.  

His third taste of love is enough to leave him gasping for more.

It tastes like acrid smoke and mint and the light salt of ocean breeze and he can’t sleep that night for all of the flavors dancing on his tongue. He closes his eyes and sees Kevin. He opens his eyes and himself and Kevin, dancing across his walls, disguised as moonlight. It’s pure and bright and he almost doesn’t want to fall asleep for fear that he might forget even a second of if. He gets dressed with a smile the next morning because for the first time in a long time, he feels hope.

His third taste of love is enough to leave him gasping.

It tastes like copper and shame and heartbreak. He doesn’t close his eyes, stares straight ahead. The Kevin when he closes his eyes is a lie and he’s tired of lies. Instead he stares into the soul of the boy who has his heart and he knows that Kevin isn’t anywhere near as strong as he thought. He gets angry. Not because of what happened, but because he was stupid enough to think for even one second that he could have something good. There is no good for him. There is no good in him. He’s the child of hate and sorrow. There is no love.

His fourth taste of love isn’t much of a taste at all.

It’s the feel of raw power as he slams the chair down over Terrell. It’s the feel of accomplishment and pride as he stands over his tormentor and for once isn’t filled with fear. His fourth taste of love is all for himself, because he finally did something to stand up for the scared little boy that lives in his chest.

His fourth taste of love isn’t much of a taste, and it ends as soon as he feels the bite of steel around his wrists.

He sees Kevin as he’s lead away. He doesn’t let himself think about what must be going on behind those deep, brown eyes. He doesn’t let himself think about what might have been if he’d allowed Kevin the chance to apologize. He doesn’t let himself think about whether or not Kevin would have apologized. Instead he glares at the boy who dared give him hope. As the car pulls away, Chiron tastes smoke and mint and the light salt of ocean breeze.

He swallows it down.  

He'd rather not taste at all.