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Three Points Circumscribing Mourning

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     Bug leaned back against the opening to the hotel bathroom, by the sink, resting his hand on the jut of her hip, trying to make the gesture feel meaningful. But it wasn't, although she cocked her head to the side a little, staring down at him with what he supposed was a look of desire. Or perhaps mockery. Her full lips pursed slightly, and he still tasted her lipstick when he licked his own lips, slightly sweet and waxy. Expensive.

More likely both, he decided, letting his hand shift backwards to trace down the curve of her buttocks. His hand skimmed and skidded over her shiny leather pants, the fluorescent light above the sink humming quietly and casting harsh shadows as it faded into the darkened room. She was slim, but with more pronounced curves than the models Nigel dressed on his off hours, with a very small waist, so that her hips balanced out her shoulders. Not beautiful, except in that way some insects were, symmetrical, to a point, then suddenly askew. Elongated, her body's exaggeration of limbs had drawn him to her from across the bar at the convention--something about the way she stood, arms crossed, pelvis thrust out enough to be both suggestive and aggressive. The green cast to her skin and the pointed ears looked good on her. And then she had leaned in, that motion exaggerated too, as if he were several feet beneath her, though he knew it was because the room was noisy, and she was being polite. Only later would she pat him on the head, caressing the latex tips of his ears, dismissive affection, and that, too, was irritatingly familiar....


He glanced up.

She stared back, but didn't say anything more, but she didn't look away, either, until finally he did, because she'd taken his other hand and placed it on her breast. Her shirt, already unbuttoned, gaped open as he slid his hand inside, rubbing his thumb across her fair skin, undoing the front clip of her bra. Her breasts, released from the black lace, were larger than he'd imagined they'd be. They were real, the breasts of a well-kept woman in her late forties, the harsh light reminding him too much of the light in the morgue as he traced the blue veins and few freckles, her roseate nipples pointed upward, coming erect under his touch. He traced the circumference of her darker areola. She said nothing, and barely moved, but she was breathing faster, and her skin was warm, and he tightened his other hand until she shifted her legs apart, broadening her stance, her high heels clicking on the tile floor.

He drew his hand back around her hip, unsnapped and unzipped her, his fingernails scratching lightly over her black, nylon panties as he tugged downward, dragging the leather as far as it would go over her shapely thighs. His own breathing was becoming ragged, his hands perspiring as he traced the slick outline of her labia in time with his other hand, still on her breast. The ledge of the sink dug into his back.


He nodded, though her eyes had fallen closed now, her lashes fluttering slightly under the high curve of her penciled-in brows. He fought the urge to use the sink to wash her makeup off, to try to see the face underneath, not sure why he cared. Instead, he pushed her backwards through the doorway and into the room proper, and she opened her eyes and stared at him again, her eyebrows arching higher as he urged her onto the bed, climbing up on top of her and kissing her again. She bit at his lips, and he moved down her body to pull her pants all the way off. He had to stop to remove her shoes, exotic devices whose tiny buckles tormented his fingers before giving way into a loose tangle of leather straps. He pressed his fingertips into the arch of her right foot, then removed the other shoe, and then she was naked except for the black shirt, the unhooked bra riding up into her armpits. He was still fully dressed, and considered remaining so, thinking about what it would be like to unzip and simply take her now, treating her like the whore she was playing at with every subtle gesture--more of her kinky mind games, most of which he could appreciate now that they'd gotten them this far.

The ugly hotel bedspread was bunched under her shoulders. He thought about restraining her, about the symmetry of a leather gag, and how her breasts would move, how her already flat belly would grow concave, how her ribs would define the space above her abdomen as she drew her arms up as he cuffed her to the bed.

He did none of this, though, only kneeling down at the end of the bed and parting her legs further, pushing at the inside of her knees roughly, then opening her up, exposing her. And then he stopped, waiting for something--for her to beg or say something to remind him who he was with--but she just pinched his arse as the sudden roar of the hotel plumbing came on, her breath catching as his fingers brushed across her clitoris, then further back, slipping easily into her. He leaned in, tasting her, breathing in the scent of a woman's sex that was at once familiar and strange. It had been a very long time, so long that he'd feared his body had forgotten what to do next, and he thought about Anna Shah, who had yet to call and with whom he could never imagine something this base. Anna's eyes had been coy, offering tentative flirtations--her body shrouded in grief and sounding like home. He thought about Lily, in brief, guilty flashes that still came to him when he took himself in hand. He pictured her ankles, which he liked to imagine braced against his shoulders, and the now obscured tattoo on her forearm he would have liked the chance to kiss, and the soft, pale skin of her shoulders, and her breasts under those angora sweaters with the pearl buttons

--and when did he begin to notice a woman's buttons?

"Hmm, Buggles."

It was sudden, altogether too sudden, and he sat back on his heels, moving away from her because he was coming, and he clutched himself through his trousers, not sure if he was intent on urging himself onward or trying to stop, but it was too late to decide, and he could only gasp and shudder, his body remembering after all. He hadn't even noticed he was close. He hadn't even touched himself yet, but now--

"What--what did you just say?" Roz was sitting up, leaning on her elbows.


"Did you say 'Nigel'?"

"What? Wh--"

"You did. You little freak."

If she'd sounded angry, he would have suspected she was having him on, but she was amused, clearly, "freak" more admiration than insult, and he felt himself flush, as much because of the damp stain in his lap as at what she was saying, which hadn't quite settled in and made sense yet, because it didn't make sense. Obviously, he hadn't said that. Or if he had, it was because he was thinking about buttons before--

Buggles. Only her voice was low, throaty, and he'd been thinking about buttons... women's buttons... and hands--Nigel's hands--long-fingers cleverly sewing buttons on a woman's dress, in and out, steady movements while Nigel chattered on about the texture of various weaves and the distinctions between buttons in the patterns and design and number of holes, and Bug had realized that this was why they wanted the idiot on television but not Bug himself; When Nigel spoke, you felt compelled to listen as he made a drama of the most inane bits of information, and because of the fall of shiny, black hair across his face as he leaned forward, the lines of concentration evident in his forehead, between his eyes, in the set of his mouth, which narrowed to a tense line, and the flare of his nostrils as he breathed, panted, crying out, "Buggles," as he came and came and came.

That last part, of course, he'd never seen, though Bug imagined it must have happened somewhere--Nigel coming--perhaps not while sewing, and certainly not shouting out his name. Though you couldn't be sure what turned a man like that on.

This was it, then. What he had been reduced to. Stupid, inept fantasies about a man whose pretensions at wildness seemed only to have masked a hidden conformist--a man who apparently longed for a house in the suburbs and children. Somehow, it was that last he couldn't quite bring himself to forgive, though Nigel had apparently forgiven him, and they were back where they always were, now, too close, not close enough, all you bloody well can eat, but nothing you want. It was all so... tasteless.

Bug closed his eyes, listening to the banging of hotel doors, and the television in the next room, wondering why they had chosen to come here, instead of going to his flat, or hers. Why had they done this at all, and why had he taken that first step of finally buying her that vodka gimlet--his own codeine punch, perhaps-- knowing it had to lead here, as if all his humiliations were simply a matter of destiny. Doctor Stiles would probably know. Doctor Stiles would probably imply that he, himself, knew, and would demand that he speculate.

It wasn't so much the premature ejaculation that bothered him as the suspicion that Roz had very little interest in intercourse to begin with, and so wouldn't be at all disappointed if he couldn't. Or perhaps worse, that she would wait for him, though why that was worse he didn't care to know.

"Do you want to continue or not," he said instead, taking the offensive, because it was either that or sulk out of the room only to have to face her over someone else's dead body. Possibly with Nigel himself in the room, gushing about the latest in polyester technology.

She shrugged slightly. "You sure you wouldn't rather be doing something--or someone--else tonight?"

"No," he said, then noticed that she could read that either way. He stood up, awkwardly, the desire that had driven him to this point now spent, and he was merely uncomfortable, and he shifted to pull his pants away from his body, then stopped, telling himself that he looked idiotic enough as it was.

"Ah well. Raincheck it is, Buggles. It was fun while it lasted, and all that. Thank God for batteries, though. Speaking of which, have you seen my purse?"

She was propped back on the pillow, her hands resting on her hips, her glossy fingernails forming a "V" around the shaved triangle of her pubic hair. He tried not to stare, then gave up, because looking up meant meeting her eyes and that mocking grin.

"Don't call me that." Batteries, indeed. As if he had any doubt at all that she viewed him as a toy, a distraction who was apparently not even that.

"Riiight," she nodded, and he shook his head, reaching out reluctantly and taking the hand she offered him, pulling her up from the bed. She stood beside the bed and draped her long arms over his shoulders, pulling him towards her as if he was a child, and he rested his head on her breasts as she stroked his hair.

"I should go."

"Go get him, Tiger." She kissed his forehead and pushed him away, and he nodded, then shook his head, taking a step back, putting some space between them again.

"I'm not--not what you think." A weak, half-arsed protest, especially given that he had no idea what she thought. He rather desperately wished he could still insist he was entirely heterosexual, but it was one thing to lie to yourself and another to lie to other people.

He wondered whether Nigel would agree. Not that it mattered, not that he'd spent hours thinking about it, speculating right along with everyone else and resenting the fact that he was reduced to speculating, forced to admit that it mattered and wondering why he hadn't ever come out and asked Nigel outright. Wondering whether, deep down, he'd called Woody because he was angry, and wondering what he would've done if things had turned out differently--if he'd killed another child, through his own negligence and bad judgment. Doctor Stiles would be so proud.

Some days Nigel had left work scented with aftershave, his face smooth and pale when Bug's own was rough and dark with stubble. On those days, Nigel had looked... eager, practically rubbing his hands together, with an extra bounce in his already entirely too bouncy step. Nigel had looked as if he finally knew exactly why he was alive. Some of that bounce was gone, now, but now Bug knew what Nigel wanted. They'd apparently swapped fantasies, somewhere down the line.

And despite Nigel's observation months ago that they weren't spending as much time together as they used to, they were now spending even less time together. It had started with Nigel spending more time with his "soulmate," or perhaps it had started even before that, when Nigel had nearly died, while he had gone about his day blithely unaware. Now, Nigel had drawn back into himself,or perhaps into some other woman. Bug hadn't had the heart to ask, nor the courage to draw him out again.

"Ah," she said, as if he had said it all aloud--had confided in Framus, of all people, admitted that yes, he was bloody well confused, not to mention somewhat horrified at the betrayal of his own body as it responded to what--merely the thought of his best friend? Bad enough to be tortured by his actual presence at work, by the near-constant flirtations that were part and parcel of Nigel's persona--a man who, ironically, meant nothing particular by it, who flirted both when he was happy and when he was depressed, and thus it was ridiculous to take him seriously, as Nigel was oblivious to his charms, oblivious to the fact that he was standing too damned close, resting his heavy hands on Bug's shoulder often enough that Bug imagined Nigel believed he'd float off into the ether if Nigel didn't hold him down.

And with that--the thought of Nigel holding him down--his desire was enflamed again, as if he was sixteen, still, and looking twelve, with no refractory period to speak of, only near-constant desire for the inappropriate--nay, impossible--men who looked at him curiously when they caught him staring, or looked at him with something more than that--something that quickly scared him into keeping his eyes on his feet, only to find that he tripped himself regularly that way.

He'd learned, eventually, to fight back. He'd learned how to open a body and reveal its secrets. He'd learned, as well, to appreciate girls, though he never really learned to talk to them, apparently.

Now he wanted to leave--wanted to have left already--but couldn't bring himself to let go of her, still enjoying the soft skin of her waist and hips, and the scent and taste of her still clinging to him, grounding him. It was reassuring, the very last thing he'd expected from a woman who wore her gun as if it was just another strap-on.

"Please," he said, by way of apology, and Roz--a smart woman, perhaps motivated purely out of self-interest, or curiosity, or something else he couldn't fathom--drew him back with her onto the bed, so that they were side by side, her knee raised and pressing into his erection.

"I'm good at games," she whispered in his ear, rubbing her length against him.

"What a surprise."

"I mean, Bug, that I can be whomever you want me to be. Just for tonight, that is. Tomorrow, the fairy dust wears off and I'm just another bicurious boy-toy."

"I could fall in love with you, Framus."

"Story of my life. All the good boys are either married, or gay."

He kissed her, then, afraid she was about to tell him which he was. But she didn't, and when she pulled away from him, it was to undress him, unbuttoning his shirt, sliding off his trousers, using the bedspread to clean the semen away. Strangely enough, he'd felt naked for awhile now, and to be free of everything at last was a relief. She raked her fingernails over his stomach, and he sucked in a breath, holding it, then she moved lower, perilously close, her nails at last retracting like a cat's as she wrapped around him and worked him over with her fist.

He was erect again, but had reached his climax once already, and now felt loose-limbed, the tension gone out of him for the first time in months, replaced by something else. He felt... taller.

Then she rolled over onto her stomach, tucking a pillow under her hips and parting her thighs, and he saw that she'd taken the other pillow and put it over her head. He patted her arse approvingly, pulling the blanket up over her legs to the rise of her arse, framing it, muttering, to himself, "This is hot."

"So fuck me, already, bad boy."

He touched himself, a light stroke that was more promise than fulfillment. "You want fingers?"


He took that for assent, and eased his fingers inside, until he no longer met with any resistance.

And he was glad--very glad--he hadn't left, at last putting on a lubricated condom, slicking some more lubricant over it, then positioning himself and thrusting in, fitting easily, then moving in and out of the tight hole, his chest pressed down, skin to skin, holding himself up on trembling arms and listening to his own laboured breathing and that damnable nickname over the slick sound of sex and sweat and flesh and the hell of it was, if he closed his eyes, it was almost enough.

And once, he thought he heard "Mahesh," though it could have been his imagination, just the sound of their bodies whispering against the sheets, telling so many secrets.