They are laid in bed, and the circus season is finally over; Tommy loves the trapeze, there isn’t almost anything out of it that makes him feel alive, but right now, with Bart smoking silently by his side, Tommy is just glad to have some time to be outside a trailer and drink something. Normally Tommy won’t drink, the years under the Santelli’s iron discipline made him sober and rigid, but here at Bart’s house, he knows there won’t be no one frown or yell.
Tommy likes the off-season, almost as much as the proper season. Bart is here to hold him and give free touches, or they will take a shower together, the hot water running to the drain without anyone thinking about saving and if they will have enough the next day to wash in a bucket. The sex is languid, in a way Tommy never thought he could have, they take their time and he can’t believe how naive he once was.
Don’t spit in the plate you still eat, Tom Junior. Tommy can still hear his dad’s words echoing in his head. He been naive, of course he was, Mario was his first and his only for a long time: Tommy loved him and only after the army he got how much Mario needed him to lead. Now, Tommy knew he could not leave Mario, but that didn’t mean he felt less for Bart or that he was sorry for the times he needed to run away and feel other men against him.
“Will you shower, before bed?” Bart voice is low and Tommy knows it’s the start of a game that will end with them back at the bed.
“In a minute, and I want to do it alone.” Bart turns to his side and let’s his eyes rest on Tommy’s face. For someone people think loud and reckless, Bart is always calculating, be it a the bedroom, in scene or his car races.
“I will eat something then, do want anything?” His voice is softer now, and Tommy know it is because Bart knows he needs a few moments to wind down and let Mario, the trapeze and the Santelli’s behind;here he is only Tommy Zane, not Tommy Santelli, trapeze extraordinair.
“Chilli, if you have some.” Bart smiles and slides out of bed, every time he comes by there is a large pot of chilli, a memento of their first outing.
Tommy likes to give a few minutes before following to the bathroom, just so he can start shedding the Santelli in him. Tommy Santelli is focused, sober and masculine, Tommy Zane is relaxed, slightly drunk and less sharp, he still can’t think himself as feminine. Santelli is all Mario’s, his trapeze base and friend, brother most of the times and the quick, strangled affections at night. Zane is mostly Bart’s, sometimes Mario’s and once or twice Barbie and other men; he is also a race car driver and quick to let loose in his lovers arms. He doesn’t like more of one or the other, but it takes some time to transfer his mind to one set to the other.
In the shower, Tommy takes his time, letting the water wash the sweat from the travel, and the odor of chalk, rubber and orange spice. The pressure of the water is unique, Bart being a renowned Hollywood actor has the best of the best, and Tommy isn’t ashamed of sometimes coming to his house with sole purpose of taking a long bath. Instead of the rustic soap bar, Bart uses a liquid soap, that he buys in Paris or New York, the one he goes to faster, it has a lemon scent and Tommy really likes it, in his skin or out.
With his eyes closed he only hears Bart opening the door and leaning heavily against the doorframe, the soft gasp that comes next is one Tommy is well used to. Doesn’t matter how many times Bart sees him training, on the big top or coming from the end of season trip, he never gets used to the bruises that spread through all of his body. At first, Bart had thought Mario was roughing him up, as he used to when they were younger or that their bedroom activities had passed to more hardcore ones. He still looks at Tommy expecting him to tell about one or another abusive trait of Mario.
The thing is that been years since Mario fought him, and even when they still didn’t know well how to deal with the queer aspect of their lives, Mario would almost never leave a mark, and when he did usually was a black eye or fingers around his wrist: it would wreck them both to hurt each other and they would spend months torturing themselves for it. Mario continues to be a irritated son of a bitch, his temper rising and plumping again, without any prompting of the outside world, but Tommy, normally, only lays a hand in his shoulder and it’s like watching to stove flame go off when you put the damper on.
Bart comes close and touches his wet skin as soon as Tommy closes the faucet and the water stops. It’s a ritual they will follow and Tommy thinks is part of his transition as well. Bart will reach for a fluffy towel, drying him slowly, so different from Mario’s quick, sharp dabs. He will make Tommy tense and relax, touching gently the fabric to his face, collarbone and breast, moving to his arms and torso in a sensual caress, it will take a few hours for them to fall in bed, but this will start the process of exciting each other.
After drying him, Bart will pull one of his night clothes from the bathroom cabinet, dressing Tommy and softly kissing one or another bruise as he slides the top and them the bottom, mindful that Tommy prefers sleeping naked, but feeling the urge of seeing his lover with his own clothes. The bruises will be almost all covered, only his face, hands and feet still marred with blemishes; later Bart will massage his body, holding him close, pressing the fragrant oil to skin, marking him.
They eat the chilli together in the stools old the bar, once again remembering their first chilli together and letting their eyes roam, being sure the other is well and in front of them. Bart is probably recounting the bruises, focused and willing them to pass from purple to green and then yellow and finally disappearing from Tommy’s skin.
They are bruises from falling to the net and from bracing Mario, Clay or Stella. Sometimes they come from a fight or another when he has a day off and men will approach him willing to bed him or against all men that bed other,he will repel both, knowing that on the road he can’t let anyone see him committing indiscretions. There are rips from the trailer, being so small he and Mario always receive or two bruises a week and then when the trailer breaks his hands and knees suffer trying to fix it. One or twice he will get bruises playing with Suzy, and he knows now she is almost a teenager, they will come from holding her on the trapeze and not from the runs they still take around the circus’ lot.
Bart leans against him, the chilli long gone and Tommy opens his legs to accommodate him between them. Their lips meet and it’s a dry kiss, right now it serves the purpose of Bart’s comforting, his need to take care and guide and Tommy let’s him, because here he can relax and be taken care. Bart never bruises him while they have sex, he is gentle and frantic, but never violent or demanding, it is probably the closest Tommy will get to making love.
They breath into each other and Bart rests a hand between Tommy’s shirt and his skin, rolling it in a circular motion, soothing and waiting. When finally Tommy gives in, pulling Bart to a proper kiss, Bart smiles and lead them to the bedroom: it’s time to let the bruises fade to the background.