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You Think You Know

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You've heard my story, now, and I guess you think you've got me all figured out. You think you understand why I am the way I am, you think you know me.

I told you the truth. About the important things, I mean – about my disease, the family curse. About the farm. About Pete, and Yayeko, and the Greats. About Zach. That part – every word was true, I swear to you. I swear. But there's a lot you can say, in between the lines. I didn't lie to you – I didn't. I promised you that. But all the same, you're too easy to fool.

I told the truth about what my life is, now. The university, the single room; the scholarship, the running, the regular injections, even the friends. I have all of those things, I didn't lie to you. But did you really believe that they all fit together so easily? Did you really believe that Micah, the girl who can turn into a wolf – did you really believe that I would have a normal life? You didn't look past the surface of things, just nodded your head and believed that all the crazy parts of my life were over now.

I'm still me. I don't turn into a wolf every month anymore, I've stopped lying like I breathe – most of the time. That doesn't mean the rest of me has changed.

I met the girl who would have been my roommate on the first day of college. We talked, a little, or she talked to me, the kind of questions people ask when they don't actually care about the answers you give. She was nice, friendly; normal. Not like me.

She asked me about my boyfriend; I told her he was dead. She asked me how it happened; I told her that he was killed by dogs in Central Park – torn apart.

I guess she didn't believe me – she was right not to believe. I told you that the lies would stop; only you. And there are some things that you aren't supposed to tell to strangers. Strangers just want to hear that you loved him and you miss him every day, strangers only want to know the cause of death when it's something simple and tragic and understood, cancer or a car crash or a tragic accident. A death like Zach's – it's ugly, messy, complicated. What could she say, when I stared out the window while I told her it was a week before they found his body? That it was completely unrecognisable? That he was buried in a closed coffin so that none of us could say goodbye?

Maybe I was trying to get rid of her; maybe I knew already that we weren't going to get on.

Either way, it worked. Now I live alone.

Friends – sure, I have a few. People I talk to, sometimes, on the track team, or lab partners from my classes. People I'll meet for coffee, occasionally, or tag along with to a party for an hour or two. I try not to talk about myself to them, it's the only way I know to stop myself from lying, but it doesn't always work.

There's a lot of people who think I'm a freak. No-one says it to my face anymore, but I know.

I still always run alone.

And as for the rest of it – did you really believe that things ended that simply between me and Tayshawn, me and Sarah? That Sarah never writes – oh, you believe that part, I can tell. But Tayshawn? Tayshawn's nice. He writes to me, regular, funny emails and posts on Facebook; we've even met up a few times, when we're both back in the city at the same time.

It's harder than you think to spend time with someone, when you remember what it was like when you could smell their desire for you on their skin. It's not like that anymore. Tayshawn is friendly and Tayshawn is nice; it's because of me that we stopped meeting in person. He still keeps in touch.

And Sarah? I told you, she doesn't write anymore. That's the truth. I hadn't seen her for eighteen months when she showed up one night outside Yayeko's apartment building, miserable and so angry

You don't believe me, do you? You know I've lied to you before about Sarah and Tayshawn and what's happened between us, and you don't trust me. I can't say I blame you. But do you really think I would lie about this, now? Now that I've finally managed to move on from them all, Zach and Sarah and Tayshawn and everything that happened that autumn? Now that I've finally managed to forget?

I don't date. There's been no-one, since Zach. But I'm in college – you think I can't get sex, when I want it? Can't go to a party and prowl around until I find someone that likes the thrill of danger they get from me – times like that, usually even ordinary humans can tell that I'm different – and take them home, fuck or get fucked. I don't need Sarah, don't need sex that comes with all these emotions and all these memories.

I don't need Sarah, but that night I got her anyway. Sarah's the kind of girl who cries and mopes, but this night she was angry. I never asked her why, I just went along with it – why not? Back to her parents' apartment – yeah, you can guess what I was thinking. Who could blame me, the way Sarah was looking at me, eyes gone hot and dark with arousal and the sweat-scent rising off her skin? She can't lie to me, not about that.

Except we didn't fuck. Not then, not yet. I was so desperate for it, desperate for her, all the way down the stairs, into the cab she called, up into her apartment; and then as soon as we'd gotten behind the closed door to her room she just looked at me.

"Micah," she said. "Take off your clothes."

I wanted her so bad. A year and a half since we'd last spoken, two since that season of weird friendship and that one kiss, and I was as desperate for her as I'd ever been. I couldn't even think; there was no fucking way I was going to start talking about it, feelings and what it would mean and why the two of us hadn't spoken for so long, what had happened that she'd come to me that night.

I guess that was why it took me so long, once I was naked, to realise that Sarah wasn't reaching out for me. She walked across the room to her dresser – a long fucking walk, but it gave me time to look at her, take in the curves of her body under her dress. I could smell her sex from right across the room.

I wasn't thinking about why I was just following her orders, either. That's not my style at all, but that night I just did it.

She came back from the dresser with her arms full of clothes; I was confused, for a minute. Wasn't thinking. But then I looked closer, put it all together – they were men's clothes. She handed them to me piece by piece. Loose jeans that would hang baggy around my hips, disguising them; they looked new, and more expensive than anything I'd ever bought. Designer underwear, soft silk boxers with a logo – they were new too, still in the packaging when she brought them over, with shreds of giftwrap caught on the edges from where someone had roughly torn it off. And a man's button-down shirt, a little creased, the kind that women in movies take from their partners and wear around the house after sex: it smelt like a stranger, lingering at the underarms and collar, and like expensive cologne, and a little like Sarah. His smell was on the jacket too, and the soft flat cap.

There was a story there. I didn't care.

And yeah, I know what you're thinking now too. You're thinking about the girl who told everyone she was a boy, the girl who spread the rumour that she was born a hermaphrodite herself, the girl that never gets her period – you think you're clever, don't you? Because you're repeating everything that Yayeko already said about me?

Maybe it's even a little bit true. I like to pretend, but that's not all it is. My life is truth and lies all mixed together, and sometimes it's too hard to tell them apart. Yeah, maybe it's true.

I always thought it was the body underneath I cared about changing – you want to be something you're not, it's your body you lie with. Put Sarah in these clothes and no-one could ever mistake her for anything but what she is. But I still felt a shiver run up my spine when I had those clothes in my hands, when I looked Sarah straight in the face, at the challenge in her eyes, and started to put them on. Mostly I wear things that are neither male nor female, make me look half one thing and half another. But it always felt good when I was naked with Zach and he looked at my breasts and my belly and my hips and told me I was beautiful. It felt good, watching Sarah watch me, with the reflection of a well-dressed boy in the mirror at the corner of my eye.

I was still half-crazy with wanting her, but I'm getting better at controlling myself – not much, but enough. But then she turned away from me again, looking at herself and her dress in the mirror, and stripped it off. Looking at her like that, curtain of hair – she still had the same hair – falling down her naked back…

I kissed her. I moved first, I lost control first – again. But I was too worked up to care. She kissed me back, deep and hard and wet, and we were moving against each other, pressed so tight from shoulder to breast to hip. Touching – yeah, you want to hear about this, don't you? Gives you a thrill, to hear what Micah gets up to – or what Micah thinks she gets up to. Don't think I don't know you're thinking that too.

But either way – you want to hear this. Want to hear about how I slid my hand across her thigh and tongued the hollow of her throat and kissed her so hard our lips bruised, want to hear about how she bit my nipple through the shirt and unzipped my fly to slide her hand up inside.

It was over so quickly for both of us – just taking off the edge, really. A few minutes of fingers working and hungry kisses and then she was making those little high girl noises; I'm quieter, but it was over so quickly for me too.

That wasn't the end though. We didn't strip me down together and crawl into her bed to fuck and sleep and fuck again; that wasn't the reason Sarah had crossed the city to find me. Not the only reason.

Instead she got dressed again herself. A different dress this time, deep dark red, little straps crisscrossing her bare back and the hem just barely clinging to the tops of her thighs; jewellery and makeup and five different products to be rubbed into her hair, all the rituals of being female I'd never cared to learn. In her heels Sarah was taller, just barely fitting under my arm.

You can see where this is going, can't you? We're city girls, Sarah and I, we know where to go to get a fake I.D or where I.D doesn't matter at all. We went out together, to a club Sarah knew; just a beautiful girl and her tall good-looking date, like ten thousand others in the city that night.

We both knew what everyone saw when they looked at us. Both playing our roles – I make a good-looking guy, and I know how to be one, know how to move and speak and gesture just right. Sarah played right along with me. When she paid the cab driver, when we passed the bouncer – we knew what they thought I was. Sarah caught my eyes, grinning at the thrill of it with a hard wild look in her eyes, and I couldn't help but bare my teeth right back. I'd never known, back in high school, that Sarah could be like this; maybe in high school, she'd never let herself. Zach's death changed us all – all of us who knew him. All of us who – well, Sarah loved him.

Back in high school, I couldn't have done this either. Danced with Sarah like that, pressed just as tight together as we had in her bedroom. We caught people's eyes – Sarah caught people's eyes, men's eyes, dancing angry and beautiful in that red dress. And me? I knew my part: glared a threat at any other man who came too close as I ran my hand, slow and possessive, up her thigh and under the dress.

We danced, fucked, danced again, everything blurring together as we moved from low lights and pounding bass of the clubs to the cold dark alleys outside and back again. It was crazy, I guess – yeah, even I can admit that. Neither of us were drunk, and I still don't know what had happened to Sarah before she came to me that night. Still don't care.

Once we were in the bathroom, late, four or five am; her mouth was swollen and bruised under mine, and she gasped when I bit her lip, then moaned. Zach was crazy about me, just as hungry as I was, but I used to wear him out: just like when we were running, he could never quite keep up. Even then I knew I could outlast Sarah too, but she was different that night, almost as crazy as me.

I liked it. I didn't mind Sarah pretty and friendly and put-together, Sarah the perfect Harvard girl, but I liked her better like this: rough and jagged at the edges, the Sarah who loved the boy who cheated on her, who kissed the girl that fucked her boyfriend on the day of that boyfriend's funeral.

The Sarah who took that girl out, dressed her in men's clothes – in her boyfriend's, her lover's clothes – and danced with her all night.

It was that Sarah under me now, caught between my body and the bathroom wall as I kissed her. When I caught her wrists and pinned them over her head she moaned again and ground against me. It was all over her, how much she wanted; after that night I could have tracked her across half a city, could know her scent everywhere. Her desire was in everything, her quick rough breaths and the heat rising off her skin, in the pound of her heartbeat I could feel. It's the wolf in me, that finds these things so exciting; after a night of it I wouldn't have cared if half the city had been watching, it was only her that had stopped us fucking again right in the middle of the dance floor.

So maybe that was why I did it: leaned down with my mouth against her ear, voice gone low and rough, and whispered.

"This how Zach used to do it? I know he liked it rough."

I'd said it. Brought up the forbidden name, the forbidden thing – the terms of our long-ago friendship meant that we could talk about him, but not that we'd both – not what we'd both really felt about him. And never, never about what we'd both done – oh, Sarah knew, deep down, what Zach and I had done with each other; I lied to her, but not well enough. She knew.

Any other time, she would have hit me – wouldn't have done much good, I could dodge any punch she'd give me without even trying, but she still would have meant it with every fiber of her being. Any other time – but we'd been fucking all evening, and sex and anger have always been so tangled together for us.

Instead – well, it was good. It's – it was – almost effortless for me to hold her down, make her even madder, make her come. She liked it, she really liked it, despite herself. So did I. Blurring the lines between what you should think, should feel, and what you really do - are you surprised, that I like it like that?

Ah, you're thinking. So that's what it is – yeah, there you go again. I say one thing and you think you've got it, think you've understood everything there is to know about me and finally solved the mystery of Micah, again. Micah and Sarah, just getting all their feelings out of the way – dealing with their unresolved tensions, because you think we never resolved them, because you think this is some kind of feel-good teen novel where every thread left hanging is solved by the last page? Or maybe you're thinking that I just wish they had been, that this never happened at all. That I can't cope with the fact that Sarah left me, that I wish she hadn't, and this is just my attempt to deal?

You really think you can know me, what I think and what I feel, when you've only spent these few hours hearing my story? I've been me all my life, and I still don't know.

So I won't tell you, how it ended. Did I go home with her, spend the night feeling small and uncomfortable in her beautiful deserted apartment before she dressed me in my own clothes again and sent me out the door? Did I take her back with me to Yayeko's walkup to give her a taste of how us lesser mortals live before I brought her out shamefaced in front of Yayeko's family the next morning? Did I ever see Sarah again?

It's unbelievable – more unbelievable than for this night to have happened at all – to think that Sarah and I see each other like that again. To think that it becomes – not a regular thing, but an occasional meeting when she and I are back in the city at the same time. To think that she goes shopping in high-end districts alone sometimes, comes back with discreet bags of men's clothing to wait in the back of her closet for the next time. To think that we can talk – about everything, about Zach, about what it means that we both loved him, what it means to still be grieving and to have no-one else understand. Yeah, I talk to people, when it's important - when they're important. Have you forgotten already, all the things I used to tell to Zach?

I told you that about him. That I loved him. That I still – will always – miss Zach, with everything that is in me. It wasn't a lie, that part least of all. That part will never be a lie.

Is it my fault, that you believed all the rest?