previous: He needed to repeat some well-used mantra of love just one more time

Eight: Describing Love in Dirty Pictures

Kelly leaned forward, picked a pebble and threw it across the sidewalk into the algae sludge at the edge of the pond. It barely rippled and he smiled, satisfied "So, Ryan was a psycho-control freak."

Jacob sat against the bench and twisted a piece of grass in his fingers until it was a series of tiny threads. "Ryan had a way of taking control of a situation even when it appeared it was the last thing he wanted."

Kelly moved his bare knee against Jacob's and left it there. They were dissimilar in many ways. Jacob's skin was pale white compared to Kelly's dark, reddish tan. Kelly's body was more delicate and defined than Jacob's – and far more delicate than Ryan's. When Jacob looked at Kelly, he heard the word beautiful in his head – and it wasn't just a physical thing. He reminded Jacob of Legolas in the Lord of the Rings movies; he somehow imagined that Kelly could walk on snow without leaving footprints.

"Did Ryan manipulate everyone that way?" Kelly looked back and Jacob nodded. The mirrors on his eyes reflected Jacob's face into an elongated shape. "Everyone must have hated him."

"They hated him, yea, but everyone wanted to fuck him." Jacob looked at his fingers. "I knew they hated him- they told me that- but he fucked a lot of my friends – no one told me; it was obvious."

Kelly mouth pressed tightly. "He must have been quite a catch if you tolerated that."

Jacob grinned. "I didn't really think that much about it, I was an idiot. I'm not really sure if I know how to describe him other than fucking gorgeous."

"Well, you said you found that picture, I'm sure you can show someone that."

Jacob laughed loudly. "No, that's not something that I would share just to describe him. It's a little too revealing, plus, I'm in that picture and I'm not exactly an exhibitionist."

Kelly leaned in closer, his sunglasses slid down on his nose as he stared at Jacob. "What were you two doing?"

Jacob wasn't sure how to describe it and shook his head. While he didn't think that this was 'first date' discussion material, he realized that he liked the feel of the conversation. He glanced down as he realized that Kelly was the kind of guy from which he couldn't keep a secret. His face turned red.

"That picture was like this physical manifestation of the beginning of the end of us... the fucked up thing being that I was so fucking happy in it – and I thought he was too. That's why it's not easy to figure out. So much of what happened seemed to reveal itself in that moment. I don't know how everything about how we were or the way I felt about him, could end up boiled down to a dirty picture. I don't even know how to describe him anymore afterward because it's like having two or three faces for the same person – which one do I describe?"

"Well, you've already described a lot about his personality - in the fact that I think he was fucking insane."

Jacob smiled despite the uncomfortable twinge. "No, he wasn't crazy... just fucked up." He wasn't sure how to proceed.

Kelly leaned back and stared at the sky above him through the overhanging branches. His hand was on Jacob's forearm and he seemed to be smiling about something.

Jacob's eyes narrowed. "What?"

"OK, Ryan was a little fucked up and it was this interesting moment for you but I don't see how a dirty photo can be so important." Kelly smiled. "It seems pretty innocent, honestly. I was expecting a lot more... dirt, you know?"

"Well, I haven't told you all of it yet." Jacob blushed. He sighed heavily and tapped his feet on the sidewalk. He'd told Kelly almost everything that took place earlier in that evening and that wasn't too scandalous. He shrugged. "I'm terrible talking about sex."

Kelly pushed his mirrored sunglasses back closer to his eyes and grinned, his teeth were very white against his tanned face – he was effortlessly sexy. Ryan would have despised him. "You don't have to tell me this story if you don't want to. I'm not trying to put you on the spot – we're not setting any time limits here, are we?"

"I know, and no, we're not." Jacob stared again at the green slime that covered the surface of the pond and then looked up the bank to the trees and white gazebo beyond. A few cars moved along Park Street and another couple walked hand in hand by the gazebo. He wasn't certain if he wanted to continue.

"So, The guy who took the picture..." Kelly asked after a few moments of silence. His hand fell away from Jacob's arm as he sat forward, his fingers clasped together. He pushed his shoulder playfully against Jacob. "You said it was that Frank guy, right? He was the one with the camera."

"Frankie." Jacob replied then smiled. "Frank, Frankie, yea, whatever. I alternate all the time depending on how I feel about him at the moment." Jacob thought for a moment about how things were. Frank had a great job as a buyer for Express Stores, had great taste in cars and was one of the best friends Jacob had. Frank was reliable and stable, honest. Frankie didn't hold his alcohol well, always seemed to pursue guys who would eventually treat him badly, guys too young, guys who only wanted to be around him for his money. Frankie was a great fuck-buddy, a fantastic dancer, always knew where to buy the best pot. Frankie had it bad for Jacob – bad enough that it showed frequently in how he treated Ryan - who knew and loved flaunting it in front of him.

He hadn't talked to him since leaving Texas and Jacob regretted it. He was starting to build up quite a list of things he wished he could undo in his life.

"Later on at that party, Ryan and I snuck back into the guest room. While everyone else drank and sat around the pool, we were inside talking."

"Did Frank follow you?" Kelly seemed a little miffed at the thought. "Or watch you guys through the window?"

Jacob laughed. "No, it wasn't like that. Frankie wasn't that kind of guy." Jacob's cheeks reddened and he tilted forward to look between his knees at the ground. "Frankie was in the bathroom in the guest room. Since Ryan pulled my swim trunks off before we closed the bedroom door he was kind of trapped in there until we finished."

Kelly's face broke into a wide, grin. "Oh, that's rude."

"Yea, we were all pretty rude." Jacob said. "I mean, Frankie could have said 'Hello... motherfuckers! I'm in here – get off my fucking bed!' and let us know but he didn't say a word." Jacob mused. "Of course, the door was closed so he might not even have noticed right off the bat – neither of us even noticed the toilet flushing." He tapped his fingers on his knees. "It didn't last that long, anyway. I was really horny from earlier when he tried to get me to fuck him. Of course, Ryan was ready for sex only when he really wanted it. We were both pretty consumed at that point."

"So, in the picture, you two were fucking?"

Jacob shook his head. "No." He pushed his face in his hands, laughing. "I mean, it was sex enough." He stopped, sighing. "There is no way I can describe this delicately."

"Oh, come on." Kelly prodded teasingly. "You're into it this far, you might as well tell me... in for a penny..." he grinned again. "Just be blunt."

Jacob turned his head, his hands still by his face, toward Kelly and grinned back. He sighed. "Goddamn..." He leaned back and made himself flat against the back of the bench. He cupped his hands toward his crotch, palms together. "Well, Ryan was kind of straddling me on the bed and holding our..." Jacob stopped and sat forward, realizing how silly he might look from a distance while trying to describe that situation. He could picture the moment perfectly but words started to fail.

Kelly smirked and nodded. "Oh, I know this... hot. Go on. I think cock rubbing qualifies as dirty after all."

"You know..." Jacob's face burned. "I could probably describe it better if I wrote it down or something." Jacob figured it might help if he removed the blatant sexuality from the act. "Maybe I'm doing this wrong." He took a deep breath. "Ok, you know how sexual situations change depending on how you feel, about the person, the moment?"

"Yes, of course. Everything is situational."

"Right." Jacob smiled. "Something that might seem incredibly dirty or... or bizarre changes in that moment. It has a meaning that goes beyond how it looks or... sounds."

Kelly's voice sobered. "Yes, I understand completely."

"Ok." Jacob nodded. "I think this will make more sense if I back up a little and talk about what got us to that point – where we were emotionally."

"That's fine." Kelly nodded. "Although, I personally like all the dirty little details."

Jacob saw a fine line at the edge of Kelly's mouth as he smirked.

"At the party, my friend, Sheila, announced that she and her husband, Jamie, were going to have a baby." Jacob thought briefly and calculated that she'd give birth sometime in January. "Sheila pulled me aside to tell me. She didn't want me to hear about it as one of the people in the group but wanted to tell me, personally, what was going on. She thought I'd get my feelings hurt if I just found out like some generic friend.

"Ryan overheard that conversation and I saw this expression on his face, I was just shocked. It was this look of total dismay. He just turned away and went inside."

"Why was he angry?" Kelly asked.

"He used to get really touchy about kids, I don't really know if there was anything about them in his past but when I saw how mad he became I followed him inside and tried to calm him down."

Jacob remembered the conversation, Ryan cried. This had been a strange moment for Jacob because he'd never seen Ryan cry about anything. Drunk or not, Ryan never cried.

"I was like 'what the fuck is your problem?' but he wouldn't tell me for a while, just sat there." Jacob pictured Ryan sitting on one of the bar stools in Frankie's kitchen with an expression that was a mixture of drunken anger and loss. His eyes were red from whiskey and rimmed with tears – he looked unstable and scary - unattractive. For a moment, Jacob had thought 'what a fucking child' in frustration, but decided to try to understand what was happening.

"I kept pushing him to talk and he finally started. God, he drove me fucking nuts sometimes." Jacob clenched his fists and put them beside his temples as he spoke. "Finally, he said he was upset at the fact that he would never have kids.

"And I was like: 'But you hate kids. Why do you even care?'

"'I'll never have any children.' He looked at me. 'Doesn't that ever bother you?'

"And I really didn't know what to tell him. I mean, I'd wanted kids when I was younger. But, you know, it's one of those things that kind of fall off the map when one realizes he's gay. I accepted that I would have to really want to have a kid if I were going to go though what it would take to get one."

"Wait," Kelly interrupted "I know a guy who just adopted two great kids, he's gay and it wasn't that difficult."

Jacob shook his head. "It wasn't like that, not adoption. I told Ryan that maybe we could get a nice lesbian to have two kids for us, one of mine and one of his – I joked that she could have an extra if she wanted." Jacob's rolled his eyes. "And he got pissed about that one because he thought I was just fucking with him. He pouted like 'that's not what I fucking mean! I mean you and me'" Jacob pointed at Kelly and then himself to illustrate Ryan's actions. "He said that Sheila and Jamie didn't need an intermediary. They could..."

Jacob paused. "And I remember this distinctly because it sounded like he was quoting from a book. He said 'those two don't need anyone else. They can mingle their genetic material at will.'" There was an odd silence and Jacob squinted over at Kelly. "I just thought it was a little heavy handed. It almost sounded... like someone else's line."

"But you said he was drunk, right?" Kelly asked.

"Yea, well that could have been it." Jacob said. "I guess the weird thing is that he never talked that way. I mean, he was smart and all, but since he didn't really have a job or have to actually do anything, he never seemed to have a need for a large vocabulary. I was surprised he could even pronounce "genetic material" let alone know what it was. He could be such a complete muscle head. Sometimes it seemed like he worked out all the time. Like that was his job."

Kelly stopped Jacob. "Wait, he didn't have a job?"

"He didn't really need one. He's loaded - well, his family is loaded, they paid his part of the rent on our apartment and I think they sent him money pretty often."

"Damn, that would be nice." Kelly whistled. "Not to have to work."

"He said he hated it, said he was always out looking for a job but I don't think he ever really tried. Sometimes I wonder if he was just too stupid or too lazy." Jacob paused, tried to get back on track. "Where was I?"

"Genetic material." Kelly replied distinctly.

"Yea." Jacob went on. "He said they could have kids anytime they wanted." Jacob turned toward Kelly. "Then he grabbed my hand like this." He pulled Kelly's warm hand up, clasped his fingers in Kelly's and pressed the back with his other hand. "Ryan said 'Look at us, Jacob. This is the closest we'll ever be. My skin - your skin.'

"He called us dinosaurs, the end of the line, the sign of the end of things and people, that kind of shit. It was stupid but it made sense to me at the time."

"It's not far off from the way some gay people feel."

"I don't." Jacob said. "Maybe it's just that I've not been in the same place as Ryan. I could see what he meant but I thought he was talking more about him and me rather than gay people in general."


"He said he wished that there was a way to merge us together, to make something from just the two of us." Jacob shook his head. After a long pause, he chuckled. "It was all very melodramatic and weird."

Jacob noticed that he hadn't let go of Kelly's hand and suddenly found himself in an awkward situation. He felt the rough calluses on Kelly's fingers, the smooth skin on his knuckles and the fine hairs across the back. His fingers were strong and thin – in Jacob's large hands; they appeared tiny and delicate – what he noticed most was that they were surprisingly relaxed and tensionless. Whenever he touched Ryan's hands in public, he could sense this constant pulling away – Ryan would never have tolerated even this in such a public place. Something about taking Kelly's hand here seemed to push Jacob's safety boundaries a little. While it made him feel good, he felt a surge of insecurity and he slowly released it, pulling away. He refocused on his words and wove his fingers together in his lap.

"I guess it's good that we aren't able to have kids by ourselves. I'd hate to see what the custody battle would be like- I probably would have had to fight to even get visitation."

Jacob stared at his clasped hands."Ryan started kissing me in the middle of the kitchen and tried to take off my shorts right there." Jacob smirked. "Frankie had these glass doors that led out to the pool. I'm sure everyone out there saw my ass hanging out.

"He dragged me back into the guest room and I didn't put up any fight." Once again, Jacob stopped his story and tried to piece things together.

Thinking back, putting it all together, he felt as if he'd missed something important. That night was important – it always had been but he wasn't sure why it was so pivotal. He started to wonder if it even meant what he thought.

Remembering Ryan, focusing on intimacies between them, sent his emotions coasting up and down.

He stared at his clasped hands, spoke slowly and tried to explain it in a way that wouldn't sound ridiculous. He felt as if even describing it made it cheap... or sound cheap it - but it didn't feel that way at the time.

"The more emotional we got the less into actual fucking we got. I mean Ryan liked to fuck- get fucked – whatever - but that wasn't where we went. He was totally into sex but when it got intense emotionally, it changed. We..." He pictured it in his head and his heart pounded. Jacob hadn't discussed sex with Ryan with anyone else and for some reason he felt as if he was giving Kelly a piece of Ryan's Kryptonite. "We never fucked that night. Sometimes we couldn't stop being in each others' faces. Ryan would be all about body contact. He just kept pressing his skin against mine, kissing me as hard as he could and moving our cocks together."

"It wasn't... he wanted us to somehow..." Jacob stopped talking, it was difficult to encapsulate it into words. He stared out over the lake again at the trees and shook his head slowly. He wasn't certain what he was feeling but he started to understand more about that night than he remembered.

Jacob had always felt remote from Ryan– save that exact moment. They'd had intense sex before but he'd never had any sexual experience with Ryan in which he felt as if Ryan was completely open to him – that time it was as if Ryan held nothing back.

He spoke again after a long time.

"Fucking or getting fucked always had a one of us as a dominant and submissive person." Jacob's voice took on a clinical quality. "When things got intense for us we didn't deal with the concept of dominant and submissive – granted, Ryan could be a pretty dominant bottom – we had this constant back and forth battle for dominance in everything." He looked up at Kelly, his demeanor uncharacteristically frank. "It reflected often in sex – that was mostly his domain because it had to be under his conditions. But once we were past foreplay and the initiation, we were never equals. One of us always became the person in charge of the situation, the sex, the cock – I know that sounds strange."

"I've known a few dominant bottoms in my life." Kelly shrugged. "I'm not a big fan of conditional sex or sexual battles for dominance. If someone wants to be in charge I don't really fight it – unless they get a little too rough."

"We didn't get rough too often when it came to that, but I think we'd ended up bruised and bloody a few times." Jacob continued, "That's what was really amazing about that night. There wasn't that fight at all. It was as if he gave into something with me, suddenly gave up some kind of internal fight and was just with me for a while.

"We were just there, though... You know what I mean? Pressed there together, rubbing cocks tight, kind of fucking each other's dick. There was no submissive or dominant person at all; we were just face and eye, mouth, cock, skin."

Kelly nodded and then grinned. "Hot."

Jacob broke into a devilish grin. "Exactly. When straight people fuck it's primarily genital-to-genital, so every movement has meaning, every reaction has an effect. Ryan was the only guy who ever did that with me that it worked on any level beyond simply jerking off together. Ryan pushed it the idea: 'this is the closest that we can ever be, that skin to skin – even more so than when we fucked each other. This is my cock, this is my skin and they feel good together.' It was pretty intense."

Jacob realized that his clasped hands had opened slightly as if he were actually performing that particular act. He whipped his hands apart and put them on his knees and tapped his fingers. He wasn't certain if Kelly noticed how he used his hands to describe as he spoke – his face burned.

"So... that's what that night was. It was this amazing, open and emotional moment between us – and then Frankie took that picture." Jacob paused. "And it vanished as soon as he took the picture. So yea, it was an x-rated picture, we had no fucking clue he was there and there was nothing left to the imagination."

"Well, the picture doesn't sound that bad." Kelly argued. "I mean, it was probably pretty intense but two hot, naked guys rubbing cocks really isn't that scandalous in this day and age. Did Frankie at least let you have a happy ending?"

"Ah... yea. He did." Jacob looked skyward for a moment. "Then he snapped the picture and Ryan just transformed. He was furious. Frankie just fanned the Polaroid and yelled at us. Ryan jumped up and went after the photo. He's built and can be intimidating but it's difficult to take anyone seriously when they're naked and covered in cum."

"Shit." Kelly laughed. "OK, so it was like a really dirty picture."

"It was like a fucking, porn video still-shot."

"No wonder he was pissed." Kelly looked puzzled. "He didn't burn it or anything?" Kelly paused. "YOU didn't burn it? You weren’t pissed?"

Jacob shook his head. "At the moment I wasn't pissed about the picture, I was pissed that the moment evaporated – I saw his face and... Ryan just closed up after the flash went off. There we were in this totally open moment and the next I was laying there by myself in bed and Ryan was yelling at Frankie. The whole situation was surreal – uncomfortable... anticlimactic, so to speak." Jacob relaxed against the bench. "The picture captured the look in both of our faces, that intensity for both of us... I don't know, sometimes I'm glad that I have that picture because it's like the only real proof that Ryan actually loved me- actually wanted me."

"But it was over as soon as he snapped the picture, that's terrible." Kelly said. "Was it worth it?"

"I guess now it is." Jacob said sadly. "Photograph or no photograph, we still wouldn't be together would we?"

"You're probably right."

"Yea... well, anyway, Ryan was upset and threatened to beat the shit out him. Frankie just gave him the picture without any argument- or even any expression. Frank was never afraid of Ryan so it had nothing to do with the threats. He said we two deserved to be a 'little fucking humiliated' and scolded us for not checking the 'fucking' bathroom before we came in. Then he threw one of those stupid lavender towels at me and said 'you'd better not get that shit on my fucking comforter, asshole.' And walked out." Jacob pressed his lips together as he remembered the look on Frankie’s face. They'd hurt him; Frankie hadn't told anyone else about it that night- he didn't speak to them about it either.

“Ryan kept looking at that picture, that night, as if there was something about it he liked.” There was a long pause. “Hell, Ryan probably just liked the way he looked in it.”

"Maybe he liked the way you looked." Kelly's eyebrows rose over the edge of his glasses.

"I don’t know if he did - I don't know if he ever did, really." Jacob admitted. "We cleaned up, he tucked the picture away. I drank more that night afterward and pretty much forgot about it too... Frankie and I haven’t talked a lot since then either."

"I don’t get it, most people wouldn't forget about that photograph. If it were me I would have probably broken Frankie's 'fucking' camera,” Kelly grinned.

The photo hadn't been the kind of thing on which Jacob dwelled. "It was of me and my boyfriend taken by an ex-fuck-buddy. It was embarrassing, yes, but not a huge deal to me... I can't say that I'm upset that it ended up in my hands though. At least I got a picture of him – in a way I don't mind seeing. And it's not exactly something I can show it to someone unless I’m already serious about who I'd show it. By the time I get to a point I could show someone that picture, we’d already be past the insecurities and jealousies surrounding Ryan."

"I guess that's true." Kelly said. "I can take it then that it'll be a while before I get to see this picture?"

Jacob smirked. "I'm not going to show this picture to anyone for a while."

"Oh, come on... I've already seen you in some pretty compromising positions."

Jacob sat upright and laughed. "What? When is that?"

"Ummm, how about passed out naked in my bed." Kelly raised an eyebrow. "Does that count?"

"Oh." Jacob was surprised that he hadn't thought of that.

"There's also the matter of you collecting your clothes as you tried to sneak out of the apartment."

Jacob grinned. "That was just..."


"Self preservation." Jacob said. "I didn't remember how I got there and was just trying to get out with the least possible drama."

Kelly nodded. "Is self preservation your primary motivation here?"

Jacob thought for a moment on this. He could boil much of what motivated him down to self-preservation but not everything. He looked over at Kelly and grinned. It felt nice to be open with him and, while it didn't feel completely dangerous, he realized that Kelly didn't feel entirely safe to him.

"I don't know." Jacob studied Kelly's face, acknowledging that he knew nothing about him of any real value. He didn't know his parents, his life, how he felt about anything, his politics. He knew nothing about him at all- but he seemed trustworthy and open. Jacob had been with Ryan for a little more than a year, knew so many intimate details about his life – but didn't feel as if he knew him at all. The most telling proof that Ryan had felt anything at all for him was in that stupid, dirty picture.

Jacob had played it very safe with Ryan and all he had to show for it now was that picture, some memories and an unpleasant ending.

"At least at the moment..." He looked up at Kelly and wondered if his quick infatuation with Kelly meant anything. "Maybe it is... was. I guess it means that I need to start living my life a little more dangerously from now on."

"So, it means that, next time, you'll stay there in bed?"

"Yea," Jacob nodded and smiled. "If we ever get to that point again, I guess it does."
next:I could lie like this forever

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