Jensen realized that homosexual did not mix well with his hometown of Dallas. That's why he moved out of his house at the age of eighteen. And believe him, it was very difficult living on his own, hard to find work, a place to sleep, something to eat. Then he met Lars, his savior. They should have lived happily ever after...they didn't.
August 29, 2009
It’s hard to read a Bus Book with a broken finger. Sure, there is a multitude of things that he can do just by substituting his other hand, but this was not one of them. The pages were just so floppy that if he tried to hold it up with one hand at least half of the damn thing would sink into his lap like “fuck you, hold me properly!” and it pissed him off. He could try to fold it in half, but then he’d end up needing to look at the other page and flipping the book over would make the pages fly out in a disorganized “I’m free!” All the growling under his breath that he could muster wasn’t enough to intimidate the thing into submission. Eventually, Jensen just glanced around for anyone who might see him and chucked the thing halfway across the empty street.
At that, the man next to him looked up from his textbook and paper and pencil. Staring distantly at the fallen magazine, he considered going and picking it up just for the sake of his principles, but that would be stupid. It was in the middle of the street and just because you couldn’t see the cars, they were just hiding and waiting for someone to jump out to be hit. With a quick, curious glance at his bus stop companion, he returned to his studies.
Jensen wasn’t one for crappy small talk. He even hated the doctor’s office—which he’d just come from—when the man tries to distract him from the pain of getting his finger set and braced. Hospitals are a bad place to be when you’re desperate. Bus stops are even worse. Proof of that came when the other man lifted his head to look at him once more. Jensen knew it was coming, but tried to act like he wasn’t paying attention anyway.
“Do you know how to do this?” was the last thing he expected.
Looking up, slightly confused, Jensen met green-gray eyes and a nervous smile. For a moment, he didn’t know what to make of the long, brown hair that hung boyishly over the guy’s forehead, and as much as he wanted not to, he noticed a pink tongue sneak out over his lips as evidence of his nerves. This obviously was a first of him—the whole, talking to strangers, thing. Maybe Jensen misjudged his age and he was really just a fricken tall twelve-year-old who only looked twenty-three.
“Do what?” Immediately, he felt like an idiot for overlooking the fact that the other was gesturing to his textbook with a pleading “help me” look that usually only came from victims of deep, emotional trauma…or a math final coming up.
“I’m not sure how to do this and my professor’s going to have my head if I don’t pass this next test.”
Ah…so that was that, then. He was a student, probably at the community college just up the street from the stop. “Well, we wouldn’t want that,” Jensen stated with a light tone. Mentally, he cursed himself because he knew where this was going, where it always went. With a psychological kick in the ass, he reminded himself not to be flirtatious with the college boy. “I’ll see if I can help.”
Taking the book, he looked at the problem that was circled—over and over again as if this guy’s solution to not knowing what to do was taking it out on the book. It was pretty much high school algebra, but Jensen wasn’t going to hold that against him. Some people just aren’t good at math. “Conditional statements?” he read, “Do you understand what p and q are?”
After a short pause, the man cleared his throat awkwardly. “He explained it, but…no, not really.”
“Okay, then…” It took a bit for Jensen to get into a “teacher” mode. He wasn’t too good with explaining things, so he hoped he could help a bit. “P leads to q. P is the hypothesis and q is the conclusion.”
“Yeah that’s what Prof. Morgan said.”
Nodding in understanding, Jensen looked at the page and tried to think of laymen’s terms for it. What’s another word for hypothesis? Then again, what is a hypothesis? “Okay, think of it this way, ‘If p(as a statement), then q(as the result).’ Any better?” According to the digesting, almost lost look on the other dude’s face: no, not really. “Try an example. If today is Thursday, then tomorrow is Friday. ‘Today is Thursday’ is p because it presents q.”
Staring at the page for a moment, the guy nodded slightly. “So q relies on p?”
“Basically, yes. What’s your name? and your major, if you don’t mind me prying.”
“Oh, sorry, I’m James.” Reaching out, the younger man shook hands with Jensen and smiled widely. “I understand, you’re probably thinking that I can’t possibly be majoring in anything that involves Math, right?” The shrug and light chuckle was all the answer he needed. “Theatre Arts. Mostly acting and choreography.”
“Hm, that’s cool,” in all honesty, it was awesome. Jensen used to love to act way back when. Back before he got involved with other things, and people… “I’m Jensen, math tutor.”
Jensen couldn’t help but laugh at James’s almost shocked expression. “No, not really, I work in a garage, fixing up cars and such.” His smile lingered a bit and he idly tapped the book before he remembered why it was spread across both of their laps. “Oh right, conditional statements.”
“Eww…” James muttered light-heartedly.
“Hey, you asked me for help. I wouldn’t sleep well if I thought I hadn’t made you understand the subject so completely that you speak it in your sleep.” At this, he grinned his trademark, teeth-flashing, “I totally want to get into your pants” grin. Once he realized what he was doing, he made a note to smack himself later and cleared his throat to recover from stupidity. I’m so shameless sometimes, it’s scary. “Anyway, you get that q relies on p, so it inversely doesn’t come from not p, or ~p.”
Holding his head and using a hand to cover the page to stop the other for just a moment, James tried to process that. “Wait, wait, what?”
“Back to examples…Our original statement will be: If James auditions for a play, then he will get the lead role.”
Immediately, the younger man blushed a deep shade of red and hid behind his hand for a moment. “Don’t make fun of me, Jensen,” he mumbled shyly, but all Jensen did was laugh.
“I’m not making fun of you, I’m sure you’re great. Why else would you major in it, and not Math?” Then, even James had to giggle a bit, so they were solid and Jensen went on. “If James auditions for a play, then he will get the lead role. Now, assuming this is true, then the converse will have to be true. The converse is simply q leads to p. So that would mean that the converse of your statement would be: If James will get the lead role, he auditions for a play. Grammatical errors aside, it is pretty much sound. The inverse will also have to be true, which means that it will work negated. Being that q is reliant on p, negating p will also negate q. So…If James does not audition for the play, then…”
Awkwardly, James took a moment to understand and then process. Once he’d successfully digested it, he spoke. “Wait…what’s negating?”
Frowning lightly, Jensen’s brow furrowed. He’d never actually had to think about that before, it was just self-explanatory to him. “Um…negation is putting your statement into the negative. It changes p to ~p. Like changing ‘James has long hair,’ to ‘James doesn’t have long hair.’ You get it?”
“Yeah, sure.” James’s flushed cheeks hadn’t quite cooled down as this man made him feel like a statue to be gawked at in some museum somewhere. Sure, it wasn’t a bad feeling, but he was pretty sure that this guy was gay, and James wasn’t.
“So…” Jensen went on, oblivious to the younger man’s discomfort. “If James doesn’t audition for a play, then…”
It took a minute for things to click and the clockwork fashion of his brain to fall into place properly, but once it did, he was cool. “Then he doesn’t get the lead role…?” For a moment, Jensen’s smile widened and he nodded and James looked at the book. All of what had looked like Arabic just an hour before now made a lot more sense. “I see…I still don’t get what this has to do with math.”
“Well, it’s more a geometry-type thing,” Jensen explained with a shrug. “You’ve done proofs already?”
With a slight growl, James rubbed the back of his head as if it hurt. “Yeah, unfortunately. I barely survived that.” Suddenly, he smiled something wide and adorable so that Jensen had to wonder if he didn’t know just how hard it was to keep his hands off of him. “But during that, my theater movement class was doing combat, so it was all good.”
Trying to ignore every naughty thought and suggestion his mind threw at him, Jensen figured he’d try for another conversation. Maybe if that smile stuck around for a while, he’d become immune to it and better control himself. “I have good memories of stage combat,” he said, remembering back in high school when he used to be a theater nerd. “I mean despite the bruises and the breaks. I’m used to stuff like that, though.” He raised his hand with a wry smile and motioned to the brace on his finger. “I was born a klutz or something.”
“Holy crap, what did you do to you finger?” For some reason, James’s concern seemed a bit out of place. Hell, Jensen had only met him a few minutes ago.
All in all, Jensen tried to laugh it off like he always did. “I guess since we’re at the bus stop, you won’t fall for the whole ‘closed it in the car door’ bit.”
When Jensen got home that evening, he was bushed. It wasn’t the bus ride that had made him so tired, though that was part of it. The thing was, every minute he spent on the bus was a minute closer he was to Lars. That wasn’t necessarily a bad thing; Lars was his boyfriend. All that Jensen had to worry about was that Lars would notice how hard Jensen would be trying to avoid talking about the man he’d met at the bus stop today. Lars always asked about his boyfriend’s day and he always knew when Jensen was lying; which meant that he would know all of the questionable thoughts that he’d been having over that straight college boy. It would do no good to lie; that was for certain. So Jensen decided, when he got home, that he wouldn’t lie about anything he’d done that day. He’d just omit certain details.
With only a minute dread in the fingertips that held the key in his pocket, Jensen wandered up the stairs to his apartment and took small steps to the door. If he was lucky, Lars wouldn’t be home yet and he would have time to work himself out of the condemning thoughts he was thinking. If Jensen just got a few moments to think before he faced his boyfriend, he would fair a lot better. Just before he got the balls to take his key out of his pocket, he lifted hurt hand and let his forlorn gaze fall over that brace once more. He’d gone to the hospital just this morning to get it fixed. It wouldn’t do for him to get it screwed up again so soon.
Sighing in self-rebuke, Jensen tore the key from his jeans’ pocket and jammed it in the knob. He convinced himself that he was being silly. Lars wouldn’t be so angry today if Jensen just side-stepped his temper for once instead of running headlong into the fire half the time. Still, he was a bit alarmed when the door swung open. It wasn’t locked, which meant that Lars was already home. With a gulp, Jensen hung his head just slightly and walked in.
“You’re home!” Lars called from the TV room. The windows were open, letting the glow of the afternoon sun flow in over the tan furniture and Lars’ black slacks.
“Yeah,” Jensen replied sheepishly. His hesitation in the hallway was short, but he would have been stupid to think that Lars wouldn’t notice. Once he’d realized that he’d lingered just a moment too long, it was too late. Lars was pushing himself up in the lazy-boy in the middle of the room to look over the back of the chair. Instantly, Jensen got a hold of himself. “You should have been there,” he began, trying to be nonchalant, “It took me about two and a half hours to get out of the damn waiting room. I bet you would have been able to get me in faster than that, right?”
As he spoke, Jensen walked from the hall into the living room. He knew that he would have to keep Lars filled in on enough of his day that he wouldn’t need to ask questions. “And some of the nurses in that place, I honestly don’t know how they got their jobs. And there was no way that they could have pulled the ‘Bettie Page wink’ either.”
There was a sense of success in Jensen’s gut when Lars smiled and chuckled slightly. Feeling just a bit safer, and slightly bolder, he sat down on the arm of the chair. “But you did get your finger taken care of, I see,” Lars commented, turning down the volume on the TV where Jim Gaffigan was giving his Christmas bit to a live audience.
“Yup,” Jensen replied, “All’s well that ends well.”
“That’s good. C’mere, Jenny.” With that, Lars slipped his arm around Jensen’s waist and tugged him off the arm to sit, splayed awkwardly on his lap. “I missed you. It took you a lot longer to get home than I thought it would.”
For a moment, Jensen had to fight the urge to look away. That’s how Lars always knew that something was off, so he kept his gaze set on his boyfriend’s face—defiant of himself. “Yeah, you know what? I was planning on getting out in time to catch the twelve-thirty bus, but wouldn’t you know that the moment I got to the stop, the bus was already pulling away.”
When Lars nodded, his face calm, Jensen thought that he was in the clear. “Luck is like that,” Lars agreed with a shrug, “Now why are you rambling?”
Just like that, Jensen’s throat tightened and his pulse quickened even slightly. It was everything that he could do to keep slow, even breaths coming in and out of his lungs. All he could think was that he’d been caught, Lars knew. Hell, Lars always knew when Jensen felt guilty, and Jen did feel guilty. “What do you mean?” Trying his one, last attempt at winning, he reached up with his good hand to touch Lars’ cheek.
“You never talk so fast when you aren’t hiding something,” the other observed calmly. Nothing was worse than when Lars was calm like this, calmly reaching up and gripping Jensen’s hand to take it away from his face. “What did you do, Jenny? I promise I won’t get mad if you’re just honest with me.”
As much as he wanted to, Jensen knew that he couldn’t trust Lars to that. Of course, this wasn’t anything like what he’d done yesterday, but Lars didn’t usually get the whole “lesser of two evils” thing and Jensen wasn’t good at keeping his hands to himself. Jen didn’t want to answer; in fact, he wanted to be in the other room now, somewhere not near Lars’ condescending gaze.
It wasn’t so easy as wishing, however. When Jensen didn’t answer, Lars got a bit peeved, his anger showing through a little. “Jensen, you know what happens when you lie to me.” As an example, he reached around and grabbed Jen’s other hand and held it firmly to show off the braced finger. “Tell me what happened today, what did you do? I don’t want to have to punish you, Jenny.”
On very seldom occasions, Jensen got a bit suspicious that that wasn’t true; that Lars was a Sadist and wanted nothing more than his submissive boyfriend in pain and torment. Those thoughts were fleeting. Lars cared about him, loved him and Jensen returned those feelings as best he could. “I met a guy at the bus stop,” he mumbled, lowering his head. “All I did was help him with his math work. He goes to the college up by the hospital.”
“What’s his name?”
Judging by the dark tone that Lars adopted, that question was a trap. Answering truthfully most likely meant that he’d be rebuked for knowing a stranger’s name, but lying meant something worse. So, choosing what he hoped would save his skin, Jensen stuck to the truth. “James,” he muttered, more than just a bit ashamed.
Before Jensen even finished that breath, he felt something harsh and firm slam against his throat, cutting him off. Out of reflex, he reached up and gripped Lars’ arm to try and move the offending hand away, but no cigar. The struggling part came out of an unbroken, bad habit that Lars didn’t like one bit. It just pissed him off a bit more and he tightened his fingers, pressing his thumb painfully into a pressure point. With an alarmed whimper, Jensen settled down to just holding on, nails digging into his boyfriend’s forearm as an example of the tension he was feeling right now. His other hand, mindful of the broken finger, latched into the other’s shirt. And they sat there like that for a few moments.
“Say his name again,” Lars challenged, suddenly showing his fury through the look in his eyes.
Choking on the small amount of air that was passing through his obstructed airway, Jensen tried his best to make sound a possibility. “I’m sorry, baby, I didn’t—”
“Shut up.” Lars squeezed tight enough to strangle him just for a moment. “I don’t want to hear excuses, and don’t you dare call me ‘baby’ when you wanna fuck someone else. That is what you want, isn’t it? Cause I’m not good enough for you or something?”
“No,” Jen tried not to let the lightness in his head slow him down. His eyes had trouble staying open, but he didn’t feel like he’d die in the next few moments, so he was good for now. “I admit it, Lars. I wanted to touch him, maybe even fool around a little, but I wouldn’t make a move. I promise, please believe me. He was straight anyway. Just some straight, nerd of a college student that I helped with Geometry. I swear.” Abruptly, his whining was silenced when the hand on his throat squeezed tighter again.
“You’re a slut, Jensen,” Lars snapped coldly. Times like these, he meant what he said, no matter how harsh, and Jen had no other choice than to believe that it was true. “Such a fucking whore, and you lie like a street vender.”
In a panic, Jensen realized that he wasn’t getting any air at all. Fingers dug into the sides of his neck and he was certain they would be bruises by tomorrow. “Please,” he mouthed, hand unconsciously tugging at Lars’. “Stop.”
“Don’t try to tell me what to do.” In this household—or apartment…um, hold—Lars was the monarch and Jensen was the bitch he got into bed with every night. “I would never try to kill you, Jenny, so stop squirming. You know better. However, you do deserve punishment tonight. I’m going to let you go and I want to you go straight to the bedroom, strip and lie on the bed. Wait there until I come. Understood?”
Trying his best to stay focused on the words being spoken so harshly to him, Jensen managed and awkward nod. The pounding in his skull was getting so bad that he could feel his ears move. Even his fingertips twitched with the force of his struggling heart. Despair washed over his face for the short moment that Lars didn’t seem to trust him. No matter how many times he’d been assured that he was as safe as he could be in Lars’ arms, he couldn’t help the gnawing fear that if Lars made him pass out he wouldn’t wake up. This in mind, he nodded more vigorously.
“Okay,” Lars said, returning to his eerie, unfitting to the situation calm. “Go.” With a shove, he tossed Jensen down off of the chair and onto the floor.
Coughing, hacking and breathing in too much air at a time to try and make up for his deprivation, Jensen held his chest and stayed on the carpet for a few moments. There was a dull pain in his ass where he’d fallen, but that was nothing to the fear in his chest. As he looked up at Lars, the man towering over him, staring straight at the TV, he shivered inwardly and forced himself up.
“I’m sorry,” he mumbled as he stumbled out of the room. The fuzziness hadn’t gone away and his eyes were seeing spots where there weren’t spots to see. Still, he managed to find his way across the small hallway and grope around for the bedroom door.
Once he was inside, staring at the bed in wonder and only slight resentment, he caught himself contemplating locking the door. It would be so easy to just lock him out for maybe an hour or two before he calmed down—before he went back to the way Lars was for real. What a way to piss him off, though. Looking up at the door frame, he stared at the bloodstain and winced. In the morning, he decided, he would try to get that off, just so he wouldn’t have to look at it anymore. For now, however…
Obediently, he unzipped his coat and shimmied it off of his shoulders, letting it pool around him on the floor before removing his T-shirt and doing the same with that. His eyes automatically avoided the mirror above the chest of drawers. The last thing he wanted to do was the see bruises, the mere shadows of what was to come. Undoing his jeans, he sat down on the edge of the bed and toed off his shoes. He wanted to take his time, drag out pulling his clothes off. Judging by the program that was on TV, he had a while to wait before Lars came in. It was when he stopped undressing and looked up, however that he found himself staring wide eyed at his own, bare chest.
For the longest time, Jensen had always been proud of his body and took good care of it. All through high school, he’d been into sports and working out and he still maintained a well-toned, muscular form to this day, but the dark marks over his chest were recent additions. The deep, still-healing scratch on his lower abdomen made him shiver and he did his best to look away. It was such a waste of a good body that he had to keep it hidden, cover it up like a dirty, little secret from the world around him. He honestly couldn’t remember the last time he’d gone outside without his shirt on since he’d graduated.
“Stop it,” he mumbled to himself. Hooking his thumbs in the waistband of his pants, he shoved them over his hips and let them fall down. Then went his socks and he stood in front of the dresser in his boxers and apprehension. Turning his back to the depressing image, at last, he slipped his shorts down and off and hoisted himself onto the bed to lie face down.
There wasn’t much on his mind as he lay there, by himself in that room. At least, nothing he lingered on for very long. His meeting with James had brought back some memories of high school and how much fun he’d had as a student. He’d done so well in his classes and had excelled in all his extracurricular activities as well. These were the things he missed from his life before everything went to hell. Before he’d lost everything in a matter of minutes and had to find comfort somewhere—in other words, Lars. Back then, he had loved Lars, and everything about him, for the things that he did for him. Now, Jensen wasn’t sure if that love was there anymore.
One thing he was certain of, however, was that he didn’t like thinking like that. The only thing he clung to that glued him like cement to his boyfriend was that he had nothing else in the world to stick to. If he let go, he’d fall and never stop falling. And so he waited, alone in that dark room, adjusting his arms under his chin.
When Lars finally did enter, Jensen remained woefully silent. At first, he was looking straight up at the other, but after a few moments, he had to look away. He couldn’t stand the anger in Lars’ gaze. So he listened patiently for that sound, the slipping sound that came when Lars took his belt off. Then, Jen felt soft, gentle fingers trace up and down his back, probably checking out the marks that were there from the last time. With slightest hitch and whimper, heart thumping maniacally in his chest, so hard that it hurt, Jensen looked back at Lars. “I’m sorry,” he mumbled, hopeful that this would end soon.
“Shh… You deserve it,” was all Lars replied with. Jensen vowed to himself that he would not scream.