"It's a surprise," I tell Eff, as I turn on the TV screen, where I've left the DVD set to start immediately after the opening, and to avoid the menu.
The show starts.
"I've seen it before," says Eff. "It's one of my mother's favourites. She makes me watch it with her, says it'll keep me open-minded. And, now, I'm guessing that... you've seen it before."
I grin, as I hit the stop button on the remote. Inside, though, I'm nervous. So, I get up and open the boxes to put the disc away and take out Serenity to watch instead.
Am I now doomed to sit through an entire feature film with this awkward silence between us? As the menu loads, I dare to look over at him. His eyes are on the screen, trying to take everything in, but I see that he is deep in thought. It's obvious by the furrow of his brow. Surely, he is putting the pieces together, analyzing the similarities between character and friend.
Except, he isn't one of the pieces himself. The rest of my message has to be conveyed another way. So, as I hit play, I lean in closer.
And a moment later, so does he.
So, had I been right? Or am I just catching him at a heart-broken moment that put down his guard and let me tug at every shred of bicuriosity that he possessed?
Minutes passed, and we watched.
"I can't watch this, Jesse. Inara makes me think too much of..."
He never said her name, but inside I knew. Another character drawn parallel to another friend. No, Onley was more than a friend. Denial ran strong, though. I pushed my guilt and unwillingness aside. I pretended he, too, was like me. And I fooled myself. Or was it self-sabotage, on my part, to pursue things further?
Again, I lean in towards him, slowly filling the empty space on the couch between us. And I whisper, "Promise me you'll give this a try, for our sake."
Would those words set the evening in motion? I wondered. I also longed to know what was going on in his head. There was obviously some rich, inner turmoil. Was he reassessing his values? Putting a price on our friendship? Weighing his options? Wondering why things hadn't worked out with her?
Despite his lithe physique, he'd always been the last one picked for teams in gym class. There was something about him that made them label him as a softy. A highly sensitive individual. A writer. Someone with talent they could hardly comprehend.
Before high school, they teased him, called him gay. And how many times did he hear that probable lie before part of him started to believe it?
I knew the odds. 10% of the world population. One in ten. It didn't matter how sensitive or artistic he was. None of that changes the odds. It didn't make anyone any more gay or straight than anyone else, Tschaikovsky be damned.
I keep denying it, even now as I kiss his neck. I tremble, upon him, unsure of what to do. I'm too attracted to stop. And suddenly, I feel denim pressing against me. It makes me feel less guilty. In an instant, everything is calm again. It's like one of my fantasies I thought for so long I'd never have the guts to remotely fulfill. It's always Eff. Always.
His hands that have been lying dead on either side of him jump to live, and he, too, begins to caress. Eff's touch feels warm against me, but it's not about the temperature. It's something I've never felt before. Elusive and illusive at the same time. A lover's touch. His nails dig into my back, beneath my shirt, and I feel pain that is not pain. It is pleasure, of a different sort.
I am overwhelmed. And I wonder, does he feel it too, that lover's touch that drives me wild? I am afraid to ask. I am afraid to know.
The body is a funny thing. Sometimes, it's aware of things that the conscious mind is not. It told me that my love for Eff was far greater than I knew.
And what did it tell Eff?
We go through the motions. Clothing is shed. A packet is opened. I don't feel the need to give you every detail. I'm on my back, hours later, sore in a satisfying way that confounds me. With one hand, I'm using tissues to wipe four or five loads of ejaculate off my stomache. Each one was mine. I wasn't sure if I'd be able to walk. I felt sore and tired, to my very core. He wasn't gentle with me at all. Eff was angry and frustrated. Silent, though. Oddly silent. Surely, I had bled.
I was still up. So was he. That was the nature of teenage lust. It was tireless. He cries, now, as he walks to the bathroom. And as I finish cleaning myself up, I notice it.
The condom he used. Lying, discarded and shriveled on the carpet. It's empty. Devoid of substance.
Confusion strikes a devastating blow.
And in the silence, I hear the repeated slapping of foreskin from beneath the bathroom door. And then he begins to moan. He's calling out, oh, what a sound...
I am confused. Five hours. He must have had a priapism. Never came. Never reached a climax.
It's her name.
He cries out, again. For her.
I cry, alone, in the darkness.
Eff felt nothing. He told me afterwards. He was numb. Try as he might, he felt as if he was nearly anesthetized. Something was wrong. Some little voice in the back of his head, that he'd been trying to ignore, had been crying out, "Jesse's not the one!"
Eff was just following through with a promise.
After he told me this, reluctantly, it shut off. I could feel pain again as pain is usually felt. As something that hurts. The welt on my back from the whip of his belt stung as it hadn't in the last two hours. And the marks from his nails. And the torn and ravaged hole. But most of all, my heart. An inner, endless ache.
Eff now knew with certainty that he was straight. He had taken my virginity, but he still had his very much intact in an odd sort of way.
And I began to wonder if I'd ever find my Onley. My own love.
How our friendship was to stay intact after that night is a miracle I'll forever cherish. Eff is my best friend. Nothing more, nothing less.