A Tale for George Chauncey
Charles would have inspired the great European artists of the nineteenth century with his chiseled cheekbones and hair the color of autumn's fiery gold if it weren't for his colorless eyes. They were as gray as an industrial city and tended to look upon any open, rural landscape with aching boredom. The family and friends he was visiting in Georgia's countryside frankly disliked his eyes – thought they were a touch too modern and untraditional from the basic brown or blue; but for him, they were his best feature. All of his New York gentlemen agreed.
He'd forgotten his lighter in the city, so his dry and unlit cigarette hung uselessly between his lips as he slouched over, his elbows resting on the elaborate white stone railing of the balcony – his temporary sanctuary. His mother always scolded him for his bad posture ("You're a grown man, Charles! Only children slouch," she would say), but standing straight for the better part of the evening was tiring. His jaw, too, was tired from the forced smiles. Honestly, he wasn't sure why he had to come to the isolated Barrett villa. It was already apparent that it was his decided fate to marry the dreary and uninspiring Elizabeth Barrett, who – for the better part of the evening – commented on how awful it was that George Orwell passed away; yet when asked if she liked any of the man's works, she tittered and declared that proper women didn't read – as though she were still stuck in the Victorian era! If it was already decided that Charles should marry her (because by the way his mother spoke of the matter, it was quite clear that he would), then why should he have to spend more time with her than necessary? And with her obnoxious father, too!
"You don't seem to be very happy, Mr. Johnson," a light voice suggested behind of Charles. He was surprised, but never liked showing that he was caught off-guard, and so only stood straighter and patiently turned to face whoever it was that interrupted his moments of peace. "You seem rather bored, in fact."
Charles eyed the man's sarcastic smile, remembering clearly that he was Elizabeth's younger brother – of a mere 19 years, he was but a child really – but it took some moments for the boyish man's name to become fresh in his memory. He took the dangling cigarette from his lips between two fingers before murmuring, "I only needed some moments alone."
The man didn't seem to pay Charles's words any mind – didn't seem to care that there had been a slight insinuation – as he came closer, out of the light emanating through the glass door. Why, he looked younger than he really was, with his flushed cheeks framed by curly dark hair and mischievous dark eyes; and the smooth tanned, caramel skin was proof he spent too much time under the sun, something he was surely scolded for. He came into the shadows with Charles, lips that had a permanent color of amusement still twitched into a smirk. He took the cigarette from Charles's fingers and slid it between his own lips unhesitatingly, a lighter coming from his breast pocket and putting his soft face and slender lips into glow for the spark of a moment before the light was replaced by the shadow of thin blue smoke. Suddenly, he stuck out his hand, which seemed much too small, and said pleasantly, "I'm Nicholas."
"We already met," Charles stared at the steady hand.
"Under stiff and formal circumstances, yes," Nicholas agreed with a smile. "But I mean to meet you now with a much more friendly air."
Charles hid his surprise, looking away from Nicholas's kind eyes and instead watched the cigarette Nicholas held in between his quick fingers. He took the small hand firmly and said his name softly; and with the brief touch, the two men reached an immediate understanding. Nicholas acknowledged the understanding with an obvious smile before he handed the cigarette back to Charles and turned away. Hands in his pockets, he left the man for the bright sitting room. Charles slouched back on the railing again, breathing in the smoky mist, careful that the ash not crumble to the tiles beneath his feet.
It was all too obvious that Nicholas was still young; only youth could inspire such a bold move. Yet Charles had always taken a liking to such boldness; it was something that could be found in the charming gentlemen he'd made rather good friends with back in New York. Such boldness was something he secretly admired and envied – and perhaps for him, becoming well acquainted with these men made him feel as though he was rather bold as well.
Taking a deep breath, he took the cigarette back through the glass door and into the light of the sitting room, the gleaming gold and white and high-pitched laughter and chimes of wine glass immediately stifling him. He saw his stern mother in a small group of women with her white dress and long, exaggerated red hair and immediately straightened as he walked past her, making sure to nod to the kind and patient Mrs. Barrett. He saw Mr. Johnson with his self-assured chuckle and cane and forced a smile as Mr. Barrett clapped him on his shoulder with a stout grin. He heard a clip of their conversation: his father's well-educated opinions on the disgusting inverts he studied, the disgusting men who have women's desires for other men; and of course, the opinionated but not so educated Mr. Barrett eagerly grunted in agreement. Elizabeth was near by– oh, she looked nothing like her brother. Her blonde hair was pale, her blue eyes were pale, her cheeks were pale – perhaps she hadn't had enough sun in her lifetime. She was turned to her good friend whose nose rivaled Cyrano's, and so he easily managed to avoid her gaze and buried the cigarette into a black ashtray he passed by.
He reached the hall where he saw Nicholas patiently waiting – and followed the younger man into the maze of yellow floral wallpaper and golden chandeliers until they reached a dim bedroom with walls of dark, natural green. There were bookcases too, but Charles hardly noticed them, never having had much patience for books. He passed by a long mirror against the wall and stood by the dresser, unsure of whether he should get undressed or whether Nicholas would want to have a conversation for politeness sake. Nicholas closed and locked the doors behind them, kicking off his shoes and pulling off his suit all the while, revealing his tanned, boyish chest – there wasn't a single hair, although he was already 19 – and the ridges of his ribs and the smooth dip of his abdomen. He didn't ask that Charles do the same; in fact, he seemed to like that the other man merely watched. When Charles realized he was staring, he swallowed – his Adam's apple wavering up and down – and looked away to the mirror, his gray eyes darker with his infringing pupils.
"I never fight to be in control," Nicholas let him know. "I hate being in control."
"That's fine," Charles murmured. He'd simply assumed that Nicholas would take the woman's role anyway, seeing that he was so much younger and smaller than Charles was – similarly to all of his New York gentlemen. None of them ever desired being in control, though a few of them pretended to want to – they thought fighting for control made fucking more exciting, though for Charles it was really just a silly bother. He preferred to get on with it instead of wasting time.
"Come on, then," Nicholas took Charles's large hands and guided them to his waist, which looked so fragile but felt so firm. "Not a single man but my father's disgusting friends have passed by here in months," he muttered.
"I imagine you must feel lucky that I turned up, then." His hands moved down, into the younger man's pleated slacks and into his drawers, over his hard thighs, kneading his round bum, liking the feel of the softness give in to his fingers.
He breathed his agreement into Charles's shoulder, drawing closer so that the man's clothes scraped against his naked skin, and murmured, "Especially because you're from New York. I've never had the chance to be with a man from New York before – only a few farm boys and a prat cousin. None of them were very satisfying. Step out of those clothes already, will you? Let me have a look."
"Are you sure we're safe in this room?"
"Quite – even the maid hardly ever comes by here."
Charles slipped his suit off and began to unbutton his white undershirt, but perhaps he was moving too slowly for Nicholas's tastes, for he impatiently brushed the larger hands aside and quickly and skillfully managed to get it off of Charles's shoulders. Small, warm hands brushed over his larger chest, taking their time to trail from the edge of his rigid collarbone and over a pale scar from a nasty fall he'd taken as a child; and to his stiff brown nipples, liking that they bent when he pressed them; down to his beating heart that vibrated against his skin and ribcage, over his tense stomach that twitched under his touch, and to his abdomen, where already was becoming more exposed as Charles was pulling down and stepping out of his slacks.
His growing erection was restricted by his drawers, but Nicholas's first instinct was to yank those down too and to take the older man's person into his hand; and before Charles knew it, Nicholas had crouched down, eagerly pulling him into his mouth. Small hands went to Charles's legs for support, and both stumbled to the bed, Charles sitting with Nicholas's head in between his thighs, the younger hardly hesitating for a second. He was licking and sucking as if he liked the taste, but Charles had tasted another man's dick before, and he knew they didn't taste that great – too salty for him, really – but Nicholas was going at it as if he liked it, nipping a bit at the balls then running his wet tongue up to the top, then going back down again – couldn't say he was taking his time with it. He tried to put the whole thing in his mouth a few times, but always had to pull back whenever it went too far into his throat – didn't seem ready to give up on it, though.
"Christ, you've done this before, haven't you?" Charles muttered, slouching back to rest on his elbows, closing his darkened eyes.
Nicholas mumbled something, his voice sending tremors that made Charles let out a sharp breath. He pulled back. "Practiced on my cousin a bit, but he's not as big as you." He almost looked a little put off that he couldn't take it all in. Charles rested a large hand on the top of Nicholas's head, feeling the rich locks between his fingers, and urged him back down, but Nicholas pulled away out from underneath Charles's touch. "I'm not going to spend the whole evening licking balls," he said sarcastically before adding, "Don't let yourself go soft, all right? I'll just get my oil."
Charles struggled to hide his surprise this time. It was rare that someone was willing to go much further than "licking balls" with a man he hardly knew. Frankly, Charles wasn't too sure himself if he wanted to take a boy he'd met only a few hours ago. That's something that a rough trade might do with a fairy back in the city, but Charles wasn't some trade; he was a respectable gentleman, no matter who he preferred to fuck. But Nicholas had already crossed the room to the dusty dresser and was rolling out a drawer and reaching inside, only to take out a hidden, elaborate clear vial of honey-colored oil. "I always keep it in here," he said, looking rather pleased with himself. He tossed it to Charles without much warning, but he managed to flinchingly catch it and cradled it in his hand. There wasn't much left. "Go ahead, put some on yourself."
Charles faltered and looked up from the vial, but Nicholas didn't seem to notice his hesitance as he pulled off his slacks and his drawers and revealed himself – and Christ, Charles wasn't one to be romantic, but Nicholas suddenly reminded him of Bagoas, Ganymede, Bacchus, or any young beautiful legend, the type who Roman emperors would dedicate entire shrines to; the type who would be forever carved into marble; the type who would ruin a man's life just by looking at him. His confidence as he held his hairless body – so poised, so dignified – the small upturn of the corners of his lips almost seemed mocking as he massaged his small dick, the skin moving beneath his fingers. He looked at the oil expectantly.
Charles unscrewed the vial, fumbling slightly, and dabbed some of the amber fluid into his palm; and for a moment, they both worked their hands over themselves, watching each other, listening to their heavy breaths. "You've done this before, right? You've been inside of other men."
He nodded, not quite trusting his voice, and motioned for the boy to come closer – his hands desperately wanting to feel the tanned skin, wanting to know if it was really as soft as it looked. When Nicholas came to stand over him, he was pulled down, lips touching before pressing harder and opening, tongues rolling together – Charles could taste his saltiness in Nicholas's mouth – and their hands clutched and grasped at each other's moist skin, sliding over shoulders and arms and nipples and thighs. Nicholas lied down on his back, pulling the larger man by the arm so that he leaned over him. Long legs swiftly hooking over Charles's shoulders, Nicholas shifted his hips so that the other could see the tiny pink opening. He wondered, for a second, if he could really fit into that; but Nicholas seemed convinced he could, guiding the rigid dick to it, slick with oil. "Just go a little slowly."
Charles could feel the warmth at the tip of his head, considered for a second to just shove himself in and be enveloped by that warmth – to move back and forth, controlled by the pulsing pleasure – but already he could see traces of hurt coloring Nicholas's face. He bottom lip, already swollen, looked like it was about to bleed, he was biting down on it so hard; his eyes were clenched shut, and his brow shook slightly. So Charles forced himself to push slowly, controlling the waves of pleasure and the instinct to move hard and fast. When he gasped in pain, Charles stopped and looked down worriedly, but Nicholas only grabbed his shoulders and muttered, "Keep moving – I'll tell you when to stop." And soon, he was making a deep sound every inch Charles moved, so that the man couldn't tell if he was crying in pain or pleasure, but he hadn't said to stop – so he just kept going, burying his face into Nicholas's shoulder – "Move faster," he breathed. "Fuck me like you fuck your men back in New York." And whatever respectability his mother taught him, Charles lost in those moments, thrusting his hips desperately, trying to muffle his groans in the hallow of Nicholas's neck – Nicholas's fingers dug into his shoulders, every thrust ramming a strangled cry from his throat.
Usually, Charles would slow down when he felt himself reaching the end – slow down so he could really savor the feeling – but this time, he pulled out of Nicholas and flipped him over onto his stomach so that it would be even easier to move inside of him. Not a few moments later, Charles let out a strong yell as he shoved as deeply as he could into Nicholas, his hips shuddering. When it was over, he pulled out, a sticky white trail still connecting them, as Nicholas rolled over and pulled at his own dick until he splattered a mess all over himself and Charles.
"God," he moaned. "Good God, that's all I needed."
Charles rolled onto his back, forearm against his forehead, breathing heavily – still feeling the aftershocks roll through him. He closed his eyes for a second's rest, but opened them as Nicholas grabbed his arm and told him not to go to sleep. "That's boring – and besides, we have to go back out to the dinner party soon, or everyone will begin to wonder where we've been."
"Can't we just come back much later and tell them we were having a smoke?" Charles muttered and turned his back to Nicholas, a bit annoyed with the man's insistence.
"You can if you like, but I have to warn you, they'll still be rather suspicious – my parents especially. I've been caught at it before, you know."
"Have you?" Charles turned back to face him.
"With my prat cousin, I was. I hadn't even wanted to have sex that time – it was in the gardens, and it's hard for me to enjoy myself when we're out there, like that, where anyone can see. They did see, too."
"What'd they do?" Charles sat up.
"What could they do?" he laughed. "They forbid my cousin from visiting again, and hardly let me around other men – fear I'll seduce them. They wouldn't like to know that I got to you," he added. "They think the world of you. To them, you're the handsome, rich, Columbia-educated man with a good Southern upbringing who'll be marrying my sister by the end of the summer. They're old-fashioned, don't think too much of falling in love first."
"I suppose that's why my parents and yours get along so nicely."
"You aren't in love with her, are you?"
"How could I be? I only met her once before, briefly in the city, and tonight's the first I've actually ever had a conversation with her."
"Do you think you could fall in love with her?"
"Does it matter?" Charles shrugged, clearly at the point of exasperation once again.
"It does to me," Nicholas frowned. "I can handle you marrying my sister, but I wouldn't like it if you fell in love with her. I think you should only love me."
Now Charles couldn't help but laugh. "Is that so?"
"I'm not saying we're in love right now – but we will be. If you marry Elizabeth, we'll see a lot more of each other – and we will fall in love."
He spoke as though this was a fact, something neither could change even if they wanted to. As they got out of bed and got dressed, Nicholas asked about the city, and Charles described the fairies and queens in bars and on the streets – all who Charles never really liked to see or be around. He preferred to stick to the private clubs with his good mates. "You might like that crowd, though, if you ever make it to the city. Even if you decide not to dress up, you could probably make some fairy a happy gal." Once they got back to the dinner party, Nicholas immediately went off to pour himself a drink. Charles was about to go back onto the balcony, but his mother and Mr. Johnson caught his eye and gestured for him to come over.
"Charles, what do you think of Miss Elizabeth Barrett?" his mother asked as he came to her side. She emphasized the Miss, as though to remind him that she was unmarried.
"She's a fine young lady," he said courteously. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Nicholas lean against the wall in solitude – suddenly realized that it had been his isolated position for the better part of the night. "I wouldn't mind seeing more of her."
"Really?" his mother seemed surprised. "You've hardly spoken to her for the entire night."
"That's only out of nervousness – you know how shy I am around girls."
"How would you feel about marrying her?" she asked professionally.
"Nothing would make me happier," his gaze connected with Nicholas's – they shared a small smile.
Mr. Johnson followed Charles's gaze and barely hid his glare as it landed on Nicholas. "I'm not sure about the family."
"You've already told me this, dear."
"Mr. Barrett is an obnoxious idiot," Mr. Johnson said scathingly. "And the son – Nicholas was his name, wasn't it? – reminds me of the inverts I study. He may not be wearing makeup or a dress, but he's clearly effeminate."
"Oh, now you're just looking for issues," his mother dismissed flippantly, before turning back to Charles and resting her hand on his arm. "Now, dear, I imagine that Elizabeth is deeply in love with you. I suggest that you offer your hand in marriage before another man does."
Charles wasn't listening; he'd been wondering if it would be possible to signal to Nicholas so that they could return to the bedroom, even if it was just for a small kiss or a little chat. "Oh – why, of course, mum," he nodded and smiled. "Of course, that won't be a problem."