"Does Alice know you fuck your brother?" Jack says it entirely too casually, leaning out the window with the parched air blowing his hair back, a lit cigarette propped between two fingers. Peter's jolted rudely from his thoughts, tries not to let his irritation show.
"Which one?" he deadpans, not turning to face Jack. Not just yet.
"That's pretty funny." Francis is off somewhere in another part of the train attending to some inscrutable Francis business, and Peter's feeling sort of ill and overheated and contemplating taking a nap, when Jack of course has to start up with this shit. "I was being serious. I want you to tell me. Does she know?"
"Of course not. You really think I'd tell her? You think I'm proud of this? What you've done to me?"
"What I've done?" Still staring out the window at the dusty twilit landscape flashing by. "Don't you remember? You're the one who came into my room at night. Got into bed with me and touched me. You're the one making things difficult for yourself. It's always been you."
"I don't think so." Peter feels another sharp twinge of pain between his eyes, reaches up and tenderly rubs his temples with both hands. It doesn't do much good.
"I think you've got a guilty conscience," Jack presses on. "That's why you can't stand the sight of me."
"I can't stand the sight of you because I find you physically repulsive. Now leave me the fuck alone, I'm gonna take a nap."
"What happened, Peter? We used to be so close."
"I said leave me alone." Peter wheels around and catches Jack by the wrists, causing him to drop his lit cigarette. "Look. We're not doing this again. Ever. So just leave me alone. Let's forget it, okay? Move on with whatever's left of your life after I ruined it or whatever it is you think I did."
"I don't think that's really what you want." Jack doesn't move, doesn't try to pull away, still doesn't meet Peter's eyes. "Actually, it kind of seems like you want to fuck me right now."
"I don't get it. I really don't understand what you want me to do." Peter can feel Jack's pulse beating in his wrists, warm blood just under the surface of the skin, quickening as Peter pulls him closer. Since Jack's so goddamn short, Peter has to stoop awkwardly to kiss him, but he does. He crushes his lips against Jack's, tightening his grip on Jack's wrists, turning to press his groin against his brother's hip.
"Maybe I just want you to admit it. For once."
"Will you shut up?"
"I think you should try to make me."
"Challenge accepted, you little bastard." Peter presses Jack forcibly back into the wall, one hand still at his wrist, the other leaping to his throat. He holds Jack's head in place, feeling Jack swallow frantically against the palm of his hand. His breathing is labored, his nostrils flaring as he snorts and struggles for air. Peter could kill him like this, or at least make him pass out. He kisses Jack instead, his tongue forcing its way past his brother's lips as Jack starts to wriggle in his grasp, clawing at him with both hands. He beats his fists ineffectually against Peter's chest, his face visibly red now, spittle showing on his lips. Peter releases his throat, and Jack slumps forward, still choking. Peter props him up as he regains his breath; they lean on each other, both breathing heavily, the air seeming to collapse in on them in the cramped train compartment.
Peter grabs Jack's arms again, drags him down onto the pulled out bunk under the window. They sit there looking at each other for maybe half a minute before Jack makes a grab for Peter's dick. There's nothing the least bit shy or tentative about it; he knows what he wants from Peter, and how to make Peter give it to him. That's the way it's always been.
"Say please, you little brat. Don't just start grabbing."
"Fuck you, Peter."
"Oh, what's this, now? Fuck me, huh?"
"Honestly, fuck you. I can't stand you acting like you're totally blameless, like none of this shit is your fault. Like you weren't the one who started it. Like you're somehow not the reason I'm so fucked up." Jack has his hairy little hand all the way down the front of Peter's boxers now, grasping his cock like he's trying to choke the life out of it, and it's not like Peter can really blame him. It's not like Peter doesn't get off on exactly this sort of thing, Jack wrenching his dick and accusing him of being a sick incestuous child-molesting piece of shit. Being torn into like that, confronted with the recriminations he knows he deserves, hasn't once failed to give him a magnificent boner. And that's yet another reason why he's a piece of shit and should probably be in prison or something, or at least restraining-ordered away from ever coming in the slightest bit of contact with either of his brothers again.
At the very least, Francis shouldn't have to find out. Peter doesn't think he knows, but then, it's pretty hard to tell what Francis knows, goofy son of a bitch that he is. Jack is convinced that he's known for years and is just playing dumb, but Peter prefers to take a more optimistic view of things. "How could he not know?" Jack's said on more than one occasion. Jack and his goddamn guilty conscience. He sees signs everywhere, is convinced it's obvious every time they speak to each other, every time they so much as look at each other, every time they occupy the same room for more than two minutes at a time. "He's not an idiot," Jack's always saying. "He can put two and two together." Whether Francis is an idiot or not is beside the point. There is no two and two to put together, no math whatsoever to be done here. Peter's not an idiot, he knows how to cover his tracks. He's been doing this for twenty years. Jack is right about one thing; Peter technically started it.
It had been when they lived in the city, in that old apartment with the clanking radiators and the hexagon-patterned pea green wallpaper. He remembers it was after Francis had gone to college the first time- whatever it was he'd been doing, some philosophy degree that never really panned out-- and he and Jack shared a bedroom wall and pretended not to hear one another's stereos and loud masturbation noises. One night in August- it was hot, legendarily hot, broiling asphalt and trees that looked as if they might burst into flame-- Peter had lain awake long enough listening to Jack's desperate grunting and muttering. He slipped down the hall in his boxer shorts, slipped out of his boxers when he got to Jack's room. He got into bed with his sweaty naked brother, placed a hand over Jack's mouth and kept it there as he jerked him off, hot and fast and rough. Jack's lips had been dry and trembling under his fingers, Jack's warm tongue had come out and wet his palm...
And that was when Peter realized he had an erection. He was hard, undeniably hard, achingly, implacably hard; and so he did the only thing he could do, which was jerk himself off right there in Jack's bed, his free hand still employed as an impromptu gag. He was sixteen, Jack was thirteen. They were too young to know anything, too young to know so much about each other. They grew up and apart, but went on meeting. Silently, in some kind of unspoken agreement, Peter in Jack's bed or Jack in Peter's, or sometimes they'd hump each other on the couch or the fire escape or up against the kitchen sink. They got bolder, more inventive, got naked with the lights on and looked at each other before their hands headed south.
Peter noted Jack's first chest hair, the developing musculature of his body, his shoulders broadening and his ass rounding into this perfect shelflike shape that Peter couldn't keep his fucking hands off. Jack grew up handsome, with his moody deep-set eyes, his cheekbones, the long fine arc of his nose. Though he never topped five and a half feet and started growing a bit of stomach pudge in his indolent twenties, Peter remained intensely proud of him, looked at him with a sort of admiring possessiveness; wondered with an exhibitionist thrill if anyone who passed them on the street might guess they were fucking. Not boyfriends exactly, not lovers, but double-bonded nonetheless, sealed for life as both brothers and bedmates.
"I never said that. God, Jack, I never actually implied that I wasn't to blame."
It's started to actually get a bit uncomfortable now, Jack yanking on his dick, and Peter grabs him by the hair with one hand and by the wrist with the other, tightens his fingers warningly.
"Oh, well, I guess if you want to try to do the right thing now, that's fine. Now, after everything's been ruined."
"If you're ruined, it's your own damn fault. Who else did you give it up to back then? Ditching class to go suck dick in the boys' bathroom. Getting triple-teamed by football players out behind the fieldhouse. I touched you, yeah, I started something, but I didn't turn you into a whore." Jack looks up at him, eyes dark and serious, his lips pressed together hard, pink skin going white at the edges.
"So why do you have to punish me? This was always about getting back at me, wasn't it? Fuck, Peter, why couldn't you ever leave me alone?"
“Shit, I mean... it's just something that's wrong with me. That's wrong with both of us. I'm sorry, Jack, all right? It was the only thing that made me happy, sometimes. Being with you like that. Sleeping with you, touching you. Feeling like somebody loved me even if I didn't deserve it.”
“I did. I loved you, didn't I? I worshiped you.” Now Jack reaches for Peter's hand, picks it up gently, places it on his own knee. Peter's lightheaded, as if this is the first time anything like this has happened. As if Jack is still what he wants, the only thing he could imagine wanting.
“I loved you too. I know I was a shithead sometimes.” Jack laughs; he's looking at Peter now, looking at him the way he used to, appraisingly, as if Peter's body is still capable of turning him on. Middle-aged, worn and scrawny, his bare chest slack and sunken under his open bathrobe, and Jack's looking at him like that; a little glazed over, eyes slightly crossed, tongue caught between his teeth.
“You're so fucking gorgeous,” Jack says. “You really did ruin me, you know that? There's no comparison. It's always going to be you.”
“I would say I'm sorry about that. If it would make a difference.”
“And you're modest, too. No fucking kidding. It's too late now. I want you, remember?” Of course it's too late; the ship's sailed, the cat's out of the bag, you can't unring that bell. He'd unwittingly gotten Jack to imprint on him, or hell, maybe they both imprinted on each other as horny adolescents, and that's what's responsible for their skewed perception. This attraction that's fucking hormonal, something in the blood, rising warm from Jack's skin when Peter leans in and kisses him. He thought this would be different, obviously, he'd thought that under the circumstances they could refrain from messing around with each other, but when has denial ever worked? Jack's a bad habit, always at the back of his mind, waiting around every corner of every corridor of his thoughts. Unavoidable, here in the flesh, in Peter's personal space with his overgrown hair and his stupid mustache and his stench of French cologne.