Sexual behavior can be understood both as physical contact as well as purely psychological phenomena: physical attraction, desire, and sexual fantasy...
He had notes on the subject, like he had all the others. 22 year old male. Just started graduate studies. Sexually active for ten years, high frequency of sex, few to no repeat encounters. A self-proclaimed ladies' man.
On paper, the young man was like so many others. Sowing his wild oats with mad abandon. Little thought to consequence.
In person, however, he was more than the cliché. There was intelligence behind the sybaritic façade, a sense of humor that probably won him more partners than his forced charm did. Perhaps even more than the appealing package it all came in.
Not that Kinsey didn't like the package. He was definitely attracted to it. He doubted that there were many that wouldn't be, at least not superficially. Not with eyes that defied classification as either blue or green, all the more striking against hair that was a deep brown, like old wood stained dark. Coupled with the dimples, the cleft chin, and the moles that seemed almost placed to be beauty marks, the boy would be noticeable for his looks alone. Wedded with a silver tongue, the almost sly cunning, and an urbanity that was remarkable in one so young, and the subject would stand out in any crowd. He had Kinsey's notice.
"Have you ever engaged in any type of sexual conduct with another man?"
It was a standard question, but one Kinsey was interested in. The attraction was mild at this point, superficial, but he could imagine it going deeper, sliding into desire. It would be nice if the desire would be returned.
The subject laughed, almost a giggle, but it was a false note, and Kinsey noted the heightened color in his cheeks even while the boy shook his head. A little too much vehemence.
Kinsey raised an eyebrow, letting a mild disbelief show through, but not yet ready to count it as a lie. "None at all? Not even a kiss, or light touching?"
"No. Never even thought of it. Plenty of women around, right? Why go out of your way to fish in an ocean, when there are plenty to be caught closer to shore?" The subject laughed again, easier this time, not as shocked, but it still rang false, at odds with the rest of his performance.
Still not quite ready to count it a lie, Kinsey decided to experiment first. Moving on to the next question on his list, he let his body slide forward in his chair a little, let his legs fall open. The subject's eye was drawn down, taking in the way Kinsey's pants now hugged tighter across his groin, but he pulled his eyes back up quickly, and determinedly held them there.
Interesting, but not conclusive. Kinsey let a little more time slip by, then started chewing on the end of his pen, sliding it up and down through his lips in a subtle movement, trying not to be obvious in his intent. It earned him another quick glance, then a protracted stare out the window, as if the subject needed to seek his answers out on the quad. Which might have been believable if the question hadn't been, How often do you masturbate? Hardly one that needed prolonged thought.
Kinsey sighed to himself. It really was a shame, but the data he collected was always being questioned as it was, and he couldn't allow samples where he knew the subject to be lying. He would like to get to know the boy better, though, so he offered the question once again. "Have you ever engaged in any kind of sexual activity with another male?"
A hesitation, then, "You already asked me that, Prok."
Well, it wasn't as if he hadn't known the subject was intelligent; it hadn't been likely he'd be able to slip something like that right by him. Deciding that bluntness was better, even if he wound up having to exclude the results, he answered, "Yes, I did. And I'm asking it again, hoping for something a little closer to the truth."
Kinsey wasn't sure what he'd expected then, if he'd expected anything. He hardly knew the subject; just some casual interaction from a couple of classes, and what he'd inferred from interviewing him here, but it wasn't a lot of data to extrapolate from. However, he was sure he hadn't expected the bitter laugh he got. "Fair enough. So you want the truth? Well, then, yes, I've engaged in sexual activity with another male. Fucking, sucking, you name it, I've done it."
It was obviously a memory that he didn't find pleasant, at least not in retrospect. Kinsey knew he should end the interview now, let the boy keep his secrets. There was no way he could trust all the data he'd been given, not with someone as glib as this, who he'd only known was lying because his question had caught the boy by surprise. And if he weren't going to include the data in his results, there was no point in continuing the interview.
No point but curiosity. No point besides the fact that the boy had been looking at him. He had noticed the way Kinsey's pants had pulled tight over his groin, had noticed the way Kinsey had pushed the pen between his lips… and he hadn't been unaffected by it. The heightened color that even now graced his face, the way he kept licking his lips, the pupils that were far wider than they should be, all tell-tale marks of sexual desire. Kinsey was sure he had them himself. Whatever had made the boy bitter about his previous same-sex relationships, it certainly hadn't turned him against the idea altogether. At least not right now.
Not even kidding himself that this was clinical questioning anymore, Kinsey asked, "Did you enjoy it?"
That washed away the bitter look, replacing it with a mix of amusement and speculation. The subject licked his lips again, slowly, obviously knowing the effect he was creating with it. He paused for another beat, as if making up his mind, and then asked in return, "Does it really matter, Prok? I think the only question either of us cares about at this point is do I want to do it again?"
Kinsey had always been an independent thinker, going places and seeing things that other people couldn't, or wouldn't. But there was no hesitation on his part as he obediently asked, "Do you want to do it again, Catcher?"
Their first time was more like a battle than sex. Catcher hardly waited for the hotel door to close before he was pushing Kinsey up against the wall, his kiss full of force and teeth, his hands moving under clothes with little regard for the material.
In one part of his mind, Kinsey was aware this was a test of sorts. There was something going on here other than sexual desire, but he still didn't have enough information to even guess what all of it was. And it wasn't like that part of his mind was having a great deal of luck urging for caution, not when there was a tongue down his throat, and a hand on his cock.
But some instinctive part of his brain warned him not to be passive here, that that would be the mistake. Maybe it was some subliminal awareness of what Catcher needed from him, or maybe it was his own desire that was driving him on, but he wound his fingers through that dark hair, nothing of gentleness in them, pulling Catcher closer before spinning them around and driving the boy hard into the wall.
He took control of the kiss, biting Catcher's bottom lip, smiling at the moan it gained him. He licked over the indentation his teeth had left, tasting a small hint of iron, and thrilling in it.
Catcher wasn't just rolling over for him, though, his fingers working up under Kinsey's shirt, nails scratching along his back even as he pressed his hips closer, both of them groaning when their erections ground against the other.
Kinsey was shoved backwards, but didn't resist, letting himself be pushed back onto the bed that was right behind them in the scant space the cheap room had. His own hips strained upwards when Catcher unzipped his pants, and their fingers kept getting tangled as they tried to bare flesh as quickly as they could. Giving up on the clothes once their cocks were out, Kinsey took both of them in hand, almost laughing at the thought of how they must look; still dressed, down to their coats, ties, and shoes that hung off the end of the bed, faces red, cocks red, and both of them sweating like they'd ran a race. But the laughter died away as he felt Catcher buck against him, felt their cocks slide together, the friction sharp even past the pre-come that was starting to slick them both.
He could feel his own orgasm approaching when Catcher tensed against him, spilling across both their hands. It was almost enough to send him over, and it might have if Catcher hadn't said, "Fuck me," his voice harsh with need. And, God, Kinsey wanted to, wanted to be buried balls deep in the boy, especially when this might be his only chance, but it was almost beyond him not to come at just the thought, at just the sound of that voice and need, and he had to think every disgusting, inhibiting thought he could to hold back.
Catcher didn't seem to understand that he was too close, though, wanting it right then. He toed his shoes off and pulled his pants down in mad abandon, turning over on his hands and knees, looking back over his shoulder at Kinsey while almost chanting, "Fuck me. Fuck me now."
He'd always tried to do be as careful in this act as he could, knowing how much damage could be done if caution wasn't used. He had petroleum jelly in his pocket that he used as lubricant, and he'd found that it would make things easier if he took time before penetration to loosen things up. But Catcher didn't want to wait -- fuck me, fuck me now -- and Kinsey couldn't, his fingers digging deep into those hips, his cock sinking deeper into that amazing ass. He didn't even stop when he heard Catcher gasp at the penetration, thrusting in so hard he drove the boy to his elbows, which just made his ass lift higher, and it all felt so good, so right. He had just enough thought to reach one hand around, to jack Catcher's cock, already hard again, in time to his own thrusts, but then there wasn't time for thought, only sensation, the feel of Catcher's second orgasm, the muscles tightening around him, drawing out his own release.
Afterwards, they both lay on the bed, trying to regain their breath. Kinsey was taking his time, a little worried for his heart, trying to remember a time he'd come so hard, and debating with himself if he could survive another encounter with the boy. Wanting to try, at least.
He looked over, wondering if Catcher was thinking the same, and found himself being studied intently. "Are you all right?" he asked, thinking it was a little late in the game to be concerned for the boy's welfare, but a little worried all the same.
Catcher nodded and smiled, and Kinsey felt his breath catch for a moment. He'd thought the boy attractive from the first, even with the smooth façade in place, but he hadn't been prepared for what he'd look like when he smiled for real. He reached out without thought, wanting to touch that bright face, and smiled himself when Catcher kissed at the tips of his fingers. It was sweet, intimate, something more than what they'd just shared, and it gave him hope that there might be more.
As if knowing what he was thinking, Catcher said, "Well, Prok, regardless of how little or much I might have enjoyed my previous sexual activities with men, I have to say I certainly enjoyed that."
Kinsey nodded, trying to look serious, but feeling far too happy to maintain any somber air. He gave it up and laughed, saying, "As did I. But what was the question that was of interest to us again?"
Catcher didn't return the laugh, his own face gaining the seriousness that Kinsey hadn't been able to attain. "Do I want to do it again?"
"Yes." It was both a question he was asking, and Kinsey's own answer to the question, and he was almost afraid to hear what Catcher's reply might be.
Who finally said, "Sure, Prok. As soon as you can manage it."
They spent hours in the little room. Neither of them noticed the fading wallpaper, the cheaply made furniture, both too busy just enjoying the throes of new desire, of fresh passion.
As night drew near, and Kinsey had to get home, they both got dressed again, moving far more slowly putting on the clothes than they had getting them off. They tidied themselves up as much as they could, but Kinsey's shirt was never going to be the same, and Catcher was far from his usual dapper self. Kinsey combed his fingers through Catcher's hair, trying to put it somewhat back in order, thinking it only just, considering all he'd done to mess it up. He tried for casual as he asked, "Are we going to do this again?", but he wasn't sure he made it.
Catcher just stared at him for a moment, the smile on his face nothing but window-dressing now. But then he nodded. "Sure thing, Prok. Anytime."
Kinsey remembered how the afternoon had started, the test he still wasn't sure he'd passed. He remembered the bitterness that Catcher had showed when he'd first admitted to having sex with a man, and he wondered if together the two different things added up to 4. He also remembered the results he'd gotten by being blunt before, and decided to try it again. "The previous sexual activity you had with a man… did you enjoy it?"
The smile broke for a moment, sadness coming through. So Kinsey was surprised when Catcher answered, "Yes. I did. He was my first, actually. The only one that I was ever serious about."
Catcher had stopped there, but Kinsey knew there was more, so he asked, "But?"
"But… nothing. Not really. It's all past, isn't it, and who cares anymore. Just… just don't do to me what he did, and we'll be fine, okay?"
He didn't wait for whatever Kinsey might have said to that, drawing him close again and kissing him with all the tenderness that they hadn't shared before.
And then he left before Kinsey could ask what it was that he wasn't supposed to do.
He asked at odd moments at first. The first time he bit Catcher hard on the nipple, drawing blood, he'd asked, getting nothing but a laugh in answer, and a hand on the back of his head, drawing him down to the other nipple.
The first time he had Catcher on his knees before him, fucking his mouth, and coming so strongly he thought his knees would give out, he'd asked then as well. His answer had been a push down on the bed, fingers in his hair drawing his head up, and a hard cock pushing deep into his mouth, his throat. He'd hummed around it, taking as much as he could, and though he wished sometimes that the sex could be softer, slower, he still reveled in the feelings of power and helplessness that Catcher brought out in him. He didn't even notice when he got no other reply.
He asked those times, and more in between, as first times turned to next times, turned to months, and then the winter they'd begun in was nothing but a memory, and spring had long given way to summer, with fall fast approaching. Then he had Catcher on his knees again, but with his face pushed into the mattress hard, his hands bound behind him, clinched tightly into fists as Kinsey pulled his ass up higher. He whimpered, "Please don't hurt me, I've never done this before," even as Kinsey thrust in hard, sinking deep without pause.
Kinsey laughed then, trying to make it sound cruel and uncaring, to stay in the character he was playing, but he couldn't keep his amusement out of it, hide his pleasure over the game they were playing. He'd played it before, but never with someone who was willing to act it out like this. Who had trembled and cowered as he'd torn off his clothes, as he'd bound his hands tightly, as he'd pushed his face down, pulled his hips up, hands rough and grasping, and no prep at all before he started fucking him.
Catcher mewled piteously at a particularly rough thrust, moaning as if in pain. It made Kinsey's rhythm falter for a moment, wondering if maybe the pain was real, but then Catcher pushed back against him, trying to get him to speed up, and it was too good, too good, and his orgasm scoured through him, leaving nothing but empty flesh behind. He didn't even have enough strength left to hold himself up, collapsing on his partner, who huffed in annoyance. "Hey, get off me, you big oaf. Or at least get me off if you're going to crush me like this."
He rolled off, laughing. "Innocent virgins who are being ravished don't talk that way. They don't care in the least about coming, I wouldn't imagine."
Catcher rolled over to give him an answering grin. "What can I say, I'm a quick study."
It was while he stroked his hand over Catcher's cock, thinking about how familiar the act was, but lacking none of the initial excitement, that he asked again, "Is this what he did to you?"
There was no pause in the way Catcher pushed into his hand, but the grin faded, replaced by what might have been pain as he came all over Kinsey's hand.
Kinsey had long gotten used to not getting an answer, so he was surprised when Catcher said, "No one's ever done that to me before."
He had a moment to believe that he might finally know what it was that he was supposed to be avoiding, what he wasn't supposed to do if he wanted to keep this relationship going, which, lately, he wanted more and more, but Catcher, in his inimitably smart-ass way, fluttered his eyes, finishing in an appallingly bad Southern accent. "After all, I'm just a poor little virgin who's just suffered a fate worse than death at the hands of a base defiler."
He laughed, as he was supposed to, amused at the antics, but hoping that one day he'd get a real answer.
… but love is impossible to measure, impossible to quantify.
Catcher never did tell him the answer. Not in words anyway. Kinsey only found out after it was over.
It had been the weekend after Thanksgiving, all their family obligations met, with Mac smiling benevolently at him as he left to go meet Catcher. It had given Kinsey hope. He loved Mac, more than anything, but Catcher… well, he was special, too. Mac had had problems with the sharing, at first, but they'd grown past that. She'd understood then, understood now. And she'd maybe do more than understand, once she met him. Mac wasn't exactly immune to the charms of personable young men herself, after all.
It gave him hope enough that later, after the slow, lazy hand jobs they gave each other -- that rare soft sex -- followed by deep, wet kisses that went on and on, Kinsey pulled away and put to words what he'd been feeling for months now. "I love you."
Catcher didn't reply for what seemed like eternity, and Kinsey had begun to think he'd screwed things up beyond repair when Catcher whispered back, "I love you, too."
He didn't think anything of the struck look on Catcher's face at the time. If he'd even thought about it, he'd probably attributed it to fear. After all, society was hardly accepting of their type of love. And then there was the age difference, and Mac. It was all complicated, and they'd have to work hard at keeping a low profile. But it would be worth it, Kinsey thought, as he talked about Mac, and how much he knew she and Catcher would get along.
It was only later, after he'd woken up to a note in bed beside him instead of Catcher, that he realized he'd finally done the thing the man before had done. The note didn't say that -- I'm sorry, but I can't do this. I thought I could, but I can't. I don't think I'm meant for commitment. I'm sorry. -- all rambling apology, without any real information, one of Catcher's trademarks, but Kinsey could read between the lines.
He's been around enough psychologists over the years, those who vilified him, and those who'd been fascinated, and he'd picked up a lot from both kinds. He understood that Catcher had intimacy issues, fear of commitment, and probably a host of other problems that those psychologists would love to put a name to. And Kinsey had always known it, from that first day when he'd seen past the charming façade to the real man beneath it. But it hadn't stopped him from trying for what he wanted. And he couldn't even say that he regretted it, not with the memories that he had.
Kinsey could only hope that one day Catcher would meet someone who would not only be able to see past the façade, but who would be able to mend whatever it was that had broken in Catcher when he was young. Would be able to tell him that they loved him without him running.
Going home to Mac, and the love he knew he'd find there, he could only mourn that it hadn't been him.
Okay, it's over. You can go on home now. What do you mean it's kind of an unhappy ending? What did you expect? The man dies something like 4 years after this story takes place, how happy could it have been? So go away now.
Are you still here? Okay, I'll give you a happy ending. Of sorts. ;)
Fandom: Down With Love
Title: The I Hate Unhappy Endings Epilog
Category: nope, that would give it away, so you'll just have to read. ;)
Warnings: allusions to underage sex
Disclaimer: I really wasn't on crack when I wrote this, I swear
Summary: Every ten years, like clockwork, he became another kind of fool
Catcher felt the gravel of the rooftop of his apartment building digging into his back, but he didn't care. He liked to lay up here, smoking, watching the stars. And laughing at himself. He really was the biggest kind of fool.
He'd learned young that love was a lie. Learned the lesson hard and well. He'd almost slipped up once before, letting someone in further than he should have, but he'd escaped before it had hurt too badly. Before he'd let himself go too far.
Until Barbara, anyway.
He laughed at himself again. Maybe it was age creeping up on him. Maybe it was fate. After all, that first lesson had come at 12, the second near miss at 22, and here he was 32… well, he really should have known.
Smoke swirled up from the end of his cigarette, obscuring the stars for a moment, and he wondered why he'd done it. He wasn't even really sure he'd loved her. He'd certainly admired her; her cunning alone had made her a worthy foil. And he'd been entertained by her, that was true. But he thought now that might have been almost like Narcissus seeing his reflection and being enamored of it. She had been very like him in the end.
Catcher thought of all the times he'd waved goodbye to one of his women, with a jaunty salute and a charming smile, never even really caring, past surface admiration, if he saw them again. Barbara had looked a lot like that when she left, saying she'd call when she reached Paris.
He had to admit that she'd kept her promise. She'd called. Several weeks late, and now in Greece, where she and the new love of her life had swept off too when France became too boring. She'd sounded so sincere when she apologized. When she'd said that she'd thought she'd been in love with him, that she had been, really, still was to a degree, but Pierre…
It had been John the first time, when he was twelve, the boyfriend that Simon had conveniently forgot to mention. John who Simon had gone back to, saying he'd thought he'd been over him, and surely Catcher understood. He was just a kid, it could never have worked anyway. It had just been a good time.
And Catcher had understood. And he'd learned. But not well enough. What was the expression, about fools and shame? He had certainly been a fool.
Catcher heard footsteps approaching, and he sat up, wondering how he could get whoever it was to go away. When he saw it was Peter he lay back down again, taking another puff on the cigarette, getting more filter than tobacco. He stubbed it out as Peter lay down beside him, looking up at the stars with Catcher without saying a word.
But silence and Peter were never a comfortable mix, and he eventually blurted out, "When are you going to get over this. It's been months now, and you know she's not coming back. This isn't like you. And don't tell me it's because you love her, because I don't really think you do. Not enough for this, anyway."
Catcher laughed at that. Everyone else tap danced their way around the subject, trying to be polite, but he could always count on Peter to tell him the truth. "No, you're right. It's not thwarted love that's got me up here. Though I think I did love her, at least to a degree. Unfortunately, for both of us I think, the real allure was more in the not having than in the attainment thereof. It's just… I thought I was over this foolishness, and yet here I went again. It's like part of me wants to be in love, even though I know how badly it'll turn out. And if I'm going to be so dumb about it, I keep thinking that at least I should enjoy it more when I'm doing it."
He waved his hand as if to illustrate some point, though even he didn't know what it was. He did know that he wasn't making sense to Peter, but he still just needed to talk it out, and his friend was always good about listening. "I'm starting to regret things, and I hate that, because there's no point. It doesn't do anyone any good. But this thing with Barbara, it just made me think about someone I knew before, and how maybe I'd hurt him when I'd left. Thinking I was playing it so safe, and protecting myself, and what did it get me anyway? It makes me wish that I'd at least given… but that's foolish. I would have been a widow years ago if I'd stayed then."
He looked over at Peter, seeing he was confused, but, yes, still listening. For Peter, all it took was knowing that Catcher was upset, and that was enough for him to worry, regardless of the reason.
Catcher had missed his friend these last few months, when Peter was so caught up in Vikki's plans for him that he'd had little time for Catcher. Or perhaps he'd stayed away to give Catcher some time alone, but that would have been one of Vikki's idea, too, because Peter would never have thought of staying away from him on his own.
Thinking of Vikki, Catcher frowned, remembering what day it is. "Aren't you supposed to be at that shindig that Vikki's holding for Barbara's new book?"
Peter looked a little embarrassed at that. "I was supposed to, but Vikki and I… well, we decided it was best that I not be there."
"It was decided, and by that I mean Vikki decided, that it might be a bit of a faux pas to have the best friend of the author's recently jilted husband at the party. I can't say I mind, really. And, actually, Vikki and I get along much better when we spend less time together, anyway."
Catcher smirked at that. "Why marry her, then? Aren't you going to have to spend more time together when that happens?"
"Oh, no. Vikki was very firm on that. Just the occasional nights together, some parties, some holidays. Enough to not be alone, you see, but not enough that we can't each have a life of our own."
He thought about that for a moment. It seemed a cold way to get married, but who was he to say? Prok and Mac had had an open marriage and seemed happy in it, and maybe Peter and Vikki would, too. He shook his head. It wasn't any of his business if they weren't, anyway. Yeah, Prok and Mac had liked being together, and Vikki and Peter didn't really, so he wasn't sure it would really compare, but, again, not his business.
Still, he couldn't help but ask, "But won't you be unhappy if you meet someone you fall in love with one day, and then can't be with them because that would leave Vikki alone?"
Peter just looked at him, wearing one of his wistful smiles. "Oh, that won't happen to me."
That wistful smile tugged at his heart for some reason, and for the first time in months, Catcher found himself paying attention to someone else's problems. He looked at his friend, really looked at him, seeing the care and concern that were always there when he was around Catcher. Seeing the pain that was always there, too. He knew what it meant, once he let himself look. He'd seen that expression before, on his own face, when he'd been young and foolish.
At that thought, the expression came to him. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Looking at Peter, Catcher realized that here was the one person he didn't mind talking to when he was upset. Here was the one person that always cared about him, and that could slip past Catcher's guard and make him care, too. It was too quiet a realization to call it an epiphany, and he was more than a little afraid that he might find out what shame there was in being fooled a third time, but all he said was, "I don't want you to be unhappy."
Peter looked at him with those large, puppy-dog eyes, full of what looked like tears and hope, and answered, "I love you, Catcher. You know that, don't you?"
Vikki might hate it, though knowing her, she already knew. And it might not work, even with her acceptance. God knew that sometimes Peter could be exasperating, and Catcher knew he himself was no prize once you really got to know him.
There were other problems, too, though he wouldn't have to date as much. Not after Barbara, when people would just believe that being jilted by his wife had changed him, but he'd still have to be careful. They both would, would both have to keep playing their parts.
But for all that, and for the first time in twenty years, hearing those words didn't frighten Catcher. Lighting another cigarette, letting his arm brush against Peter's as they watched the stars together, Catcher answered, "I love you, too," and stayed.
There, now it's really over. :P