|My Boyfriend Makes Me Feel Inadequate
Author: JHeartbreak PM
Tyler's boyfriend, in spite of everything, makes him feel inadequate. What's a boy to do? This one's not depressing! Quite sweet in fact. Slash.Rated: Fiction T - English - Chapters: 13 - Words: 31,610 - Reviews: 106 - Favs: 34 - Follows: 39 - Updated: 11-10-12 - Published: 06-17-12 - Status: Complete - id: 3033174
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
My Boyfriend Makes Me Feel Inadequate
Tyler sat against the cold side of the school. The stone wall was at his back; in front of him was the generator, constantly humming. He huddled out of the wind with Craig not far off. Every once in a while, one or the other of them would flick a piece of gravel at the generator, to hear the ting noise.
Tyler's nose was red from the cold. It was itchy, and he would scratch at it.
"Are you applying to schools for next year?" Craig asked him.
"Whatever," Tyler said. "I don't know. Not yet."
"I'm applying. I'll probably have to move away for university."
"Yeah?" Tyler turned to look.
Tyler felt awkward. He scratched the back of his neck and looked around, and said, "Well, if you're going away next year… I hope you have, you know. A good time, and everything."
Tyler squirmed a bit, trying to get warm. "I hope we're playing badminton in gym. I like badminton."
"Do you want to go hang out after gym?"
"Uhh." Tyler closed his eyes. He wanted to go back home and go to bed. "Doing what?"
"You know, whatever." Craig was picking up another piece of gravel.
Tyler rubbed his closed eyes with his palms. He didn't want to make this decision. "Yes." It was curt.
. . .
Craig's mother was a very obliging host whenever Tyler came over. She had snacks prepared today for him, offered him drinks, asked him if he'd like anything else more times than he could recall. She was a very wide woman, obese to the point where she could be mistaken as pregnant; she was also devastatingly beautiful. She dressed and made herself up like a beauty queen.
She served chips and pop, bustled around. Tyler was shocked when she dropped a plate of nachos on the coffee table for him and Craig. And then a half-hour later, still further surprised by her chocolate milkshakes. "Just a little something," she would always say.
Craig flipped through TV channels, never watching one for very long. He didn't blink at his mother's constant food-serving, and ate with his hands absently hovering over dishes while watching the flashing lights on the TV.
Tyler wished he were back at home, that he hadn't agreed to come. He chewed his lips, and sometimes the nachos. He sat high and stiff in his cozy chair.
"Ha," Craig said. Tyler watched the TV closely to try and see what was so funny, but couldn't find a thing.
Things continued this way for over an hour.
"Tyler," Craig said, and Tyler kind of startled in his seat.
"Are you having fun?"
"You look… tense."
"No. I'm good. I just… need to go to the washroom."
"Okay, you know where it is." Craig turned back to the TV.
Tyler got up and walked stiffly out of the room. He shook out his body a little, once he was out of sight. He did know where the washroom was, but he didn't really have to go.
Looking for something to do, he stopped in front of the hall mirror. His face looked kind of worn out to him, but he turned it side to side. He still had that wonderful little nose he thought was so great. And his cheeks were nice looking. He was beautiful. He smiled a little at himself. Nobody can resist you, he mouthed to himself.
"Talking to yourself there?"
Tyler turned; it was Craig's mother. He blushed fiercely.
"Ha, don't worry. We all do it." She put down the book she'd been carrying, laying it on a side-table that held a vase and flower.
She joined him in front of the mirror, touching up her hair, smoothing strays back into the fold. "You're a pretty one, Tyler. I'm sure you'll find someone."
Tyler just blushed more, and looked away. It was what he wanted to hear.
"You know, when I met Craig's father, I had two boyfriends." She didn't change her expression, tilting her head and looking at herself from different angles. "They knew about each other. I said to them, if you want me, you gotta earn it. So they were both there proving their love to me… doing stunts, like, bringing me flowers and things. It was like a fairy tale."
She scratched an eyebrow. "And then I met Wayne – that's Craig's father – and it didn't matter at all. I was in love."
Tyler looked up at her, the real her and not her reflection. She turned to him and smiled.
"What does it mean?" he asked.
"Oh, who knows, it's just what came to mind." She ruffled his hair, and turned to get her book from the table. She walked away without looking back once.
When he got back, nothing had changed. "Hey, Craig," he said, "Um, do you want to… play video games?"
"Okay," Craig said, his glazed eyes not leaving the screen. He blinked a few times and set up the system. Tyler sat down and breathed deeply. Things would be different now. He could relax.
"You know, Tyler," Craig said, returning to the couch, "our team barbecue is next weekend."
"Oh?" he said, his voice suddenly cooler.
"Yeah. I mean, listen, you should come."
"I'm not going there, Craig." It was resigned, like a sigh.
"Listen. You were on the team. You were captain last year! You can just come and say hello. If people have problems with it, those are their problems."
"But I have problems with it!" Tyler said vehemently. "I don't want to see any of those people again."
"I just," Craig said, letting his controller fall into his lap, "I think it would be good. It's like you're trying to cut soccer out of your life, but… it was so important to you before. Nobody hates you or anything."
Tyler sat silently, controlling his characters on screen.
"I mean really. Most people think you're great. They wonder why you're gone."
"Fuck," Tyler said, as Craig's team scored a goal. "Fine. Whatever. You ask coach though."
"I will. Don't worry Tyler, you won't regret it."
"That's up to me," he grumbled.
. . .
Of course, the barbecue was being held on the beach. When Tyler and Craig where getting out of Craig's mother's car, it was brutally bright, that bright that you can only get in fall and winter when the air gets thin. The wind, too, was blowing like crazy, so it was aggravating to face into it. Tyler holds his coat closer and looks out on the choppy grey waves of the river.
"This is such a depressing day for a barbecue," he says, shouting a little over the wind.
"It's like this every day." Craig was already walking towards the little camp-out down the sand.
Tyler, taking one glance at Craig's mother's retreating car, followed him. The scrubby grass was looking destitute in the chilly weather, pale and gross. The crabs or bugs or whatever that was there in the summer was gone. This is why Tyler hated going to the beach anytime other than summer.
When he took the chance to look up, the camp-out was much closer than he would have liked. Jarringly close. He gulped. He couldn't see Craig's face, because the guy was walking in front of him, but he was sure that Craig was not very concerned about this.
The guys looked up. They seemed surprised to see Tyler; that's what Tyler thought, anyhow. Nobody jumped up, nobody looked to another in rage or alarm, but there did seem to be a ripple among them of something like surprise. Tyler realized he was holding his shoulders incredibly tight, and tried to loosen them.
The smoke from the barbecue was blowing over towards his face, a raw charcoal scent mixed with cooking meat.
"Hey guys," Craig said. "I brought Tyler."
"Hey Tyler," one guy said. A couple others nodded.
His friends were on the team, too. The ones who used to be his friends, the ones he blew up at. Tyler kept his eyes on the ground.
He felt sick. He regretted letting Craig bring him. What could it accomplish anyway? Even under the best circumstances. He accepts a cup of something from Craig.
It was like walking among the ghosts of people he once loved. Eerie, and some curtain irrevocably between them. Looking up for a second, he was sure nobody was looking at him. That was perfect. That was what he wanted. Maybe he would be gone soon.
"Yo Craig," said that dreadful voice. Tyler couldn't stop his eyes from flitting over. Neil, looking smug. No, thought Tyler, that's just his face. He just looks like a douche no matter what. Neil nodded to him, "Tyler."
He ducked his head again. His felt himself blush with embarrassment. His skin was prickling and rough-feeling. His hands clenched and unclenched.
"I thought up a new idea for a way for getting past a touch defense, like last week," Neil said. He motioned that he wanted to talk to Craig alone.
"Have you talked to coach about it?"
"Thought I'd run it by you first." He motioned with his head.
"Yeah, alright. I'll be back in a sec, Tyler," Craig said, and walked off with Neil.
Neil made Tyler angry. Anger – because he seemed so sure of himself. He stood tall and acted so unconcerned about what had gone on between the two of them. He didn't even taunt or jibe at Tyler, like a way of saying "I'm so much better than you that it doesn't even need to be said."
Tyler looked up at the gray sky. His breathing was shallow. When would he get to go home?
"Hey look!" one guy said, standing up and pointing. "It's him!"
There was a collective murmur, and Tyler looked over his shoulder. A figure was walking up the middle-distance, looking lonely against the grey sandy shore. It was a familiar figure: Tyler's breath caught and his skin shivered. It was Kieran.
He was paralyzed. Kieran was drawing closer, and now Tyler could see the resolution on his face. Kieran knew he would be here, came for him – did he come for him? Tyler was equally terrified that Kieran had come for him or had not come for him at all, had been invited for some reason – people do that right? Invite speakers and stuff? – but why a basketball player? Why at the barbecue?
The team was circling around Kieran, now that he had arrived. The way they looked at him was creepy, thought Tyler. It was adoring. They looked at him like an angel on earth. And Kieran soaked it up, his facing looking now glowing and approachable instead of the sort of stone-like resolution Tyler could make out before.
So he stood on one end of the camp-out, still as a statue, while Kieran consorted with his adorers. It was a kind of welcome pause, where Tyler could start to breathe again. As if everything was meant to be frozen like this for all time.
And then… Kieran's eyes soaring over the crowd and making contact with Tyler's. He scarcely withstood it. The look on Kieran's face cut him all up and down his cheeks and jaws. It was a look that couldn't be denied, it was like an assault all over his body.
Because it wasn't a reproachful anger; it wasn't a pitying sadness; it wasn't a cute dove-look; it was worse and worse and worse. It was a tender sadness, and a kind of absolving love. The beautiful face of the man that Tyler still loved – yes, he loved – was playing out a message that couldn't be denied. You've hurt me. I want you. You are wonderful. You'll be okay.
Tyler's eyes were stretched to the rim. He shook his head, trying to shake Kieran's sight, and turned. He wanted to run away, it was too much, but his body was still frozen. He was moving slowly, in a kind of sleep-walk.
Behind him, Kieran was excusing himself. He moved through the soccer team, following Tyler. He needed to reach him before he got away. The whole mission of his love was upon him.
Kieran reached a ridge in the earth just behind the barbecue, a ridge that led into a hollow. A little cove was there, and Tyler was walking slowly across the sage-brush that covered the side of the gentle slope. He followed, not too quickly, but much more quickly than Tyler.
Tyler knew that Kieran was coming and couldn't do anything about it. He just kept putting one foot in front of the other.
It was a shock when Kieran's hand fell on his shoulder; his body shuddered. It struck him heavily, as if it had been a fist, but then it was lighter than air. It was calm and smooth and warm. Tyler thought suddenly of his memory. Of course he wouldn't shrug off this hand… who could shrug off this hand.
Tyler brought his hands to his face all of a sudden. He didn't want to cry. And when Kieran's arms surrounded him he let out one long shaking breath.
"Tyler," murmured Kieran. "Tyler."
Tyler's breathing was loud and still shaking.
"Just tell me if you want me to let you go."
"Don't," he said.
"I'll never let you go." Kieran was holding Tyler very close, their warmth so bright against the gloomy cold around them. He felt as Tyler's hands crept around his sides, holding him too. "You hold on too," he said, and kissed Tyler's forehead. He couldn't resist.
They stayed like this for a moment. Kieran's eyes scanned the ridge to make sure they were alone. When Tyler began to tug away, he let him.
Tyler looked up at him with an overwhelming sadness. It was not a regretful sadness. And he gave one little delicate smile.
"Are you going to avoid me anymore?" Kieran asked. He had to ask.
"No," he said. Tyler's eyes hooded themselves. "I couldn't." He looked around, and coughed. "I love you."
"I'm glad. Me, um, too."
They just stood in this glittering silence. There was potential. It was the long release of breath after surfacing, and the long intake of air after that.
Tyler reached out and held onto Kieran's hands, pulling him closer. He held his head up, and moved to kiss him. Kieran's head bowed, and the act was done.
"Let's go back, now," Tyler said. "And… don't let them know, okay…?"
As he spoke, his eyes had darted to the ridge. He trailed off when he saw that Neil was there, staring at them, face white. He was rigidly still, his posture intense. Then, suddenly, he was gone back over the ridge.
Tyler made a few steps in the direction that Neil had left in, but Kieran's hand fell over his arm. "Let him go. It'll be okay."
Tyler turned to Kieran, and grimaced. Kieran went to kiss him again, and was allowed. "This sucks," he sighed.
"Don't worry, it'll be okay." Kieran held him closely for a moment.
"Let's go see," Tyler said. He looked over his shoulder at the ridge, and started walking slowly. The sagebrush was scratching at his jeans.
The barbecue seemed unchanged. Neil wasn't immediately in sight; he must have been in the crowd. People were laughing, horsing around, eating the hot dogs and burgers that were just coming off the grill now.
The two of them walked further in. Tyler was beginning to think there was no point in looking for Neil; what would they say to him anyway?
Then he saw the boy they were looking for; he was turned away with some friends, his face hidden, his shoulders hunched. Tyler paused for a second, then approached.
"Neil," he said.
Neil looked over, still shocked. His eyes were wide.
"Sorry about that," Tyler said. "I'm, uh, sorry if we embarrassed you."
Tyler felt like he was on fire. People knew. Neil knew. Why was he doing this? Everyone would know now.
But then, spiraling through him was the feeling of beautiful pride. He reveals himself… and not hollow. Not insignificant. He has Kieran. He has nothing to be afraid of.
"So, it's true?" Neil said. His friends are looking suspiciously at Tyler, but not in a way that suggested they knew what had happened.
"Yeah. It's true."
Tyler swallowed, felt dizzy, but still took Kieran's hand. Kieran rubbed one rough thumb over his knuckles.
"Are you guys together?" one of Neil's friends asked, incredulous.
"Yeah," Tyler said, challenging.
The guy's mouth opened, only to shut again. People were starting to look. And for once, their attention only made Tyler feel stronger.
He looked around, to take it all in. Then he saw Craig. Craig, shocked. Tyler let go of Kieran's hand to go and see Craig, to tell him about it.
"Craig he said," walking up to him. "Sorry for not telling you before."
Craig just looked at him.
"I'm, um. Well." He sighed. "I'm gay, I guess. Kieran's my boyfriend."
"I would have told you, but. It's just so hard, you know? It's hard," Tyler said. Feeling desperate. He reached out to touch Craig's arm.
"Okay," Craig said at last. "Alright."
"I'll tell you about it later."
"I'm serious Craig. You know I've been hard to understand… that's what you told me. But I'll explain myself."
"Later. What are you doing now?"
Tyler looked back to Kieran, who was watching him, while still fielding the attention of his fans. "Well, I'd like to go and be with my boyfriend, for now. Okay? I'll call you?"
"Okay. Bye," Tyler said, walking backwards.
The crowd parted for him. By the time he got to Kieran, his boyfriend was finishing up. "Gotta go, guys. I'll see you around. Keep practicing!"
One arm snaked across Tyler's shoulders, and they walked across the sand back to the car. "I didn't get anything to eat," Tyler said to himself. It was a surprise to him.
"Well, let's stop someplace nice. Spend some time together. A make-up date."
"Yeah. I know this diner, not too far from here…"
A/N: Hey guys. Sorry for the super-long wait. I was going through a story crisis. This is the second last chapter. And there's still an epilogue. The synaesthetic things that show up here were unexpected. I swear I'm not trying to be weird when I write things like "glittering silence", it's just how it looks in my brain.
I've written a couple of stories since I last updated this story. "I Was Meant To Hold Your Hand" is kind of surreal, but people say it's my best work yet. It's four chapters and finished. I also wrote a one-shot about a guy who gets in a car crash and falls in love with his physical therapist, called "Bodily Recovery".
I also wrote some articles for "That Body of Work". The latest one is pretty interesting, it's about slash tropes. Those things that just keep showing up. Then I ask myself, why? What is the significance of 'coming out', more than just that a lot of gay guys have to do it? It's a pretty interesting piece, if I say so myself.
I've published a guide for reviewing and writing here on FP. It's called the "New Writing Tips Catalogue". I asked you guys here earlier if you were interested in writing advice from me, and this is it. Hopefully it will be helpful.
I've been keeping up my music blog. Maybe you care.
Yes… that's it, mostly. This chapter was so hard to get out partly because I was so nervous about it. I stressed myself out to the point where I didn't even want to try to write it. I thought, I have to make it good. Very, very good. So good that I couldn't attempt it unless I was at maximum power and maximum capacity. It's silly.
Thanks for reading. I hope you enjoy the next chapter and epilogue, when they come!