Chapter 23: Churning FearMature

Narrator: Junior Archvale


I felt like we were drowning. The plastic beneath my feet just didn't feel real. Water surged around us, and the wind blew at our wet hair. It blew the empty clouds away to expose the stars. They had been hiding from us, all night. Now the sky held a beautiful, naked twilight. It was breathtaking.

We were both looking up, my arms embracing her neck and hers clinging like vines to my back. She held me so close, as if she was afraid I'd slip away like a fish.

I felt more like flotsam after a shipwreck of utter heartbreak. I didn't know whether love was the right thing, morally and logically, to let myself -- or Crystal -- feel towards each other at this time. My mind said no, but my heart said yes. My compassion for her had morphed into something else, beyond my understanding. And I wasn't sure if I liked it, trusted it, in this time and place.

The vines had thorns. She dug them into me, all ten, and ran them down my back. I gasped, and a chill followed them. I tried to keep dancing at that same, slow pace. I tried to stay focused. It was a struggle. I looked down at her, and was shocked to realize how much she had taken delight in what she'd done.

Then she did it again, slower. This time, pulling us against each other. I struggled to stay silent as she tried to drive me wild.

We had the hot tub to ourselves again, and the half of the pool nearest to us remained strangely vacant. Even Kieth's window had been shut.

For the moment, it felt like we were the only ones left at the party. But I knew it was far from over. It couldn't have been much past nine-thirty, yet.

As her palms pushed us together, on my lower back, I couldn't help but keep my hips away from hers any longer. Damn. My erection poked against her abs, through my swimsuit.

"Sorry," I whispered quickly.

"Hmmm?" Crystal queried. She had been unfazed, downright expectant. That was intimidating. She knew what she was doing.

"Nothing," I said, as we swayed back and forth in the water as one.

"Am I finally hurting you?" she asked, letting her hands leave my back in what felt like a graceful gesture.

"No," I answered, as confused by it as she was. But you sure are scaring me.

"Heh, I'm pretty sure I almost drew blood, though," she paused, thinking. "You said to Kieth: you wouldn't love him enough for it not to hurt."

"And when he put his hand on my shoulder, I didn't feel the same warmth I feel when you or Penny touch me," I told her.

"Why did you make that assumption, that this feeling can stop pain? Did Penny try to hurt you?"

"She didn't. I guess... I just knew. I suppose that's a bit of a personal question, though."

"You knew you were... a masochist?" she ventured.

"What!? No! It's just... hard to explain." It was hard to come to terms with the word she used. But, given its definition, I didn't know what else to call that way I was feeling.

She grinned, "What if I punch you, right here, right now?"

"I don't think it works like that," I said nervously. "Digging your nails into my back is one thing."

She sighed, pretending to be disappointed. But after a while, she finally broke the eerie silence, "Good."

And as we continued to sway together in the water, I feared not just what she might do next, but what she might ask. However, I couldn't think of anything I had to be ashamed of. Then again, I was pretty sure I'd heard a strange voice earlier in the night.

"Are you always this submissive?"

"No, I can be a chauvinist pig when I want to be," I muttered sarcastically. Pig, bad choice of words.

"What do you fantasize about?" Crystal asked. "You don't have to tell me if you don't want to. I'm just... trying to get inside your head."

"There are a lot of eclectic things I could answer that question with," I said, trying to evade a good answer until I had time to think clearly.

"I don't think I've ever seen you happier than when I pinned you down," she remarked.

My face became redder, "That doesn't mean part of me doesn't think like your 'Average Joe': dominant, forceful, hard and fast, with utterly no concern for whether the woman reaches a climax."

She laughed, "You mean Greg?"

"I wouldn't know," I said.

"Oh please, you did see something when you knocked on Kieth's door."

"Not relevant, and not a visual I want to resurface in my mind, okay?"

"Hah, so there is a bit of a homophobe in there after all!"

"Maybe," I said reluctantly. "Y'know, I don't know what I'd do if you weren't so talkative. I think I'd go out of my mind. Seeing someone so gorgeous and admirable and not knowing w-where to start..."

"I know the feeling. My first time being this intimate with someone was pretty nerve-grinding. I mean, not that it involved any grinding. And I imagine it must be worse, knowing I have some experience."

"It's intimidating," I acknowledged. "Very intimidating."

"Oh, so you don't mind at all?"

I laughed, pressing my right cheek against hers, our shoulders just above the water. "And given the statistics that in most relationships, the man is older... while you've got two years on me."

"Meh, you've got three inches on me."

"Is that intimidating?" I asked.

"Nope!" she said, jumping up and pressing her weight against my body.

My head went under and I gasped for breath as I came up for but a second. I dared not open my eyes beneath the water. She was pushing me against a ledge, and grabbing my arms by the wrists once more. I tried to turn my wrists and grab at her forearm with my hands, but it was useless.

"You don't put up much of a fight," she said, once she had my head above the water. "Do you remember anything from the self-defense unit in Grade 9 gym?"

I shook my head, face and hair spraying water at her. I was surprised at my ability to look at her face, and never at her breasts.

"Holy shit, you're trembling," she noticed, quite proud of what she'd achieved. "Are you okay?"

"I'm fine," I whispered, and gave her a broad smile. But inside, I was completely and utterly afraid of what she might do before I could bring myself to say 'no'.

I was pinned down, not in control at all. And for all I knew, she might make me angry enough to do something I'd regret -- even if she enjoyed it.

My mind clung to the fact that nobody was watching, as she began to grope violently at my chest, and I found my hands moving slowly towards the ties that held her top on.

What on earth was I doing?

I seemed to be powerless to stop either of us. I had turned against myself. I was praying, in my mind, for Michelle to walk outside and lecture us. Or maybe Ashley, screaming at me for taking advantage of Crystal who was probably only on the rebound...

"Are you a pig?"

I don't know if I was hearing it a second time, or if she said it, or if my mind had chosen now to dredge it up. But I was scared. I was entering the unknown at a startling rate, and I had my own secrets buried underneath...

Where were the compliments?

Where was the timing and etiquette?

Where was the romance I had imagined?

Where were the poems and memories of past dates?

Had someone spiked the punch before Adam even got to it?

Who'd have thought that pain for pleasure somehow applied to me. Of all the people I know... why me? I'm no bad ass. I don't fantasize about leatherclad women with whips. I mean, I've only read a Catwoman comic once in my life! I was the shy, mild-mannered, mildly effeminate, self-righteous straight guy that almost everyone happens to wrongfully assume is gay; bullies and gossipers be damned. What was I after all this?

I looked up at the stars.

What was my identity now?

The End

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