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MIDDLE by: Caisele

We sit at our usual spot, sprawling across the top of three wooden boxes in the middle of our field. We don't know who built the boxes or what they're for, but they're sturdy and can hold our weight, so we don't care. The coastal wind combs through the long grasses, bringing with it little grains of sand from the beach to the south. Little pieces of colorful paper flutter around the grasses. They come from the ugly black building atop the hill behind us, and dance in the wind like butterflies. From where we sit, the ocean is only a thin band of blue, separating the sky from the land.

Kyle is lying on his stomach, arms drumming the side of his box, going on and on about Gina. They've just broke up. Rainer is sitting cross-legged atop the box in the middle, shoulders slack, head tipped back, and a lit joint between his fingers. It's weird to see his handsome face vacant and expressionless, with no roguish glint in his eyes, and the usual feral smirk wiped from his lips.

"Are you guys even listening?" Kyle whines, looking up at us.

Rainer says nothing. I trace the line of his jaw with my eyes. "What do you want to do tonight?" I ask him.

Kyle snorts loudly, giving up. I ignore him. He thinks for a minute. "We can go down to Cammor."

"Why would you pay to sit on the sand in Cammor when Rainer has a beach behind his house?" I ask.

"Because the waves behind Rainer's house are pathetic."

"You know you can't surf, Kyle."

Rainer laughs, straightening up. Kyle opens his mouth to argue. "Don't," Rainer says simply. "We were all there the last time you tried, remember?"

Kyle scowls. I grin. "Hey, maybe that's why Gina dumped you," I say brightly.

"You know I can't actually be good at surfing," Kyle says, "or they'll label me as a beach bum and kick me off the football team."

"With the way you played at practice today they might as well kick you off the team," Rainer says brusquely.

"I just got dumped," Kyle snaps back.

Rainer looks over at me. Our eyes meet for a second. "We can go to your house," I suggest. Rainer thinks about it for a minute, then, "No."

"Kyle's then?"

"No."

Kyle sits up. "Can't we go to your place, Jamie?" he says, glancing at me.

Rainer shakes his head, raising the joint to his mouth. I watch his lips close around it as he takes a drag. He lets it out slowly, and the wind steals away the tendrils of smoke before they can snake upward toward the sky. Rainer turns towards me, his eyes trained to some distant spot over my shoulder.

"I'm not in the mood to watch Jamie's dad beat him to the ground today," he says easily.

I glare at him. "Your dad should beat you more often," I say.

Rainer grins. "I'd like to see him try."

I watch a piece of little blue paper waltz between the grasses. "So what do you want to do tonight?" I repeat.

Rainer shrugs, tossing away his joint. "We can throw a couple of bricks through Belmon's windows. Maybe we can figure out where their dance studio is this time, and spray paint all their mirrors."

Kyle folds his arms across his chest. "But they've only just replaced the windows we smashed last time."

Rainer's eyes flicker over to him. "So? What's it to you?"

"So it must suck for them to have to pay for so many windows."

Rainer pulls my lighter from his pocket and chucks it at Kyle. It hits him on the temple, hard enough to bruise. Kyle yelps and clutch at the side of his head as the lighter falls into the grass.

"Are you listening to yourself?" Rainer demands, "This is why I told you Gina was a bad idea. I don't care how hot she is. She's from Belmon. You're from Danshaul. Guys from Danshaul don't ask out girls from Belmon. That's fraternizing with the enemy. Next thing you know you'll be painting flowers and wearing a tutu like the rest of those ass fuckers."

We sit there in silence until Rainer speaks again. "Pick up the lighter."

Kyle obeys.

I watch Rainer as he props his arms behind him again and leans back. He didn't bother changing out of his gym uniform when practice ended earlier. The t-shirt is thin and his shorts ride up his thighs as he re-crosses his legs. The red letters of 'George Danshaul School for Boys' emblazoned across his chest highlight his wiry, feline muscles. He has always reminded me of that panther from the Cammor Zoo. Rainer's sinewy frame exudes silent grace and power. He has the body of a fighter, a warrior, a predator.

Rainer on the hunt is a sight to behold. He usually goes after the freshmen; finds them alone in out-of-the-way places, and leaves them bleeding on the sidewalk. Kyle would hold the kid down, Rainer would raise his fist, I would look away, and there would be the sound of bone crunching resonating down the empty street in the darkness of the night. The brutal nature of his dark side is only apparent in times like these. Other times he's like how he is now, indulgent, regal, bewitching.

I find myself watching him so often that I've almost memorized the curves of his neck, the hollow between his collar bones, the flat expanse of his pects, the hard nubs of his nipples just visible through his t-shirt, the hardness of his abdomen, and down, down-

"Jamie."

My eyes snap up to Rainer's.

"Jamie," he gives me an unreadable look, "don't be a faggot."

I freeze. The blood in my veins has suddenly hardened into ice. Rainer's gaze stabs into me, piercing right through me.

"I'm, no, I'm not," I say immediately.

Kyle looks up at my tone of voice, and I want to kick myself.

"Don't be a faggot," Rainer repeats, and a smirk tugs at the corners of his lips. I relax and feel my heart thumping against my ribs again. I didn't know it had stopped.

Kyle stares at me. "Do you know what the team would do to you if you turned out to be gay?" He's grinning but there is no humor in his voice.

Rainer laughs. "Forget about the team." His stunning eyes find mine and I can't look away. "If you were, I'd kill you myself," he smirks. His eyes releases mine and I look out to the ocean.

The little piece of blue paper from earlier tumbles into my view. The wind carries it upwards, above the tips of the grasses swaying in the breeze, and then – flap – it's plastered against the side of my box. I stare at it. I can feel Kyle following my gaze.

"What is it?" he asks.

I bend to pick it up. It's a flimsy little square of tissue paper. There are black block letters printed on one side. I scan it quickly. "It's a flier for a birthday party. Some kid named Dillon."

"Oh, I know him," Kyle says, perking up, "He goes to our school, a junior."

Rainer raises an eyebrow. "Who?"

Kyle makes a vague gesture. "You know, Simon's brother."

"Ohh," Rainer looks at the paper in my hand. "Him."

I frown as I read the address. "He's having the party there," I point to the black building behind us.

Kyle turns to look. "Seriously?" he asks, surprised.

"Why?" I say, "What is that place?"

"That's Belmon's new studio. They just bought it a couple weeks ago."

"How'd you know that?"

"Gina."

Rainer pushes himself up into a kneeling position, surveying the building. "Trashing up Belmon's new studio, hm? I like it. But leaving fliers around everywhere? Not smart," he looks at me. "When's the party?"

I glance down at the paper. "Tonight. And it's an open invite. Looks like it's gonna be a huge deal."

Rainer grins. "Alright. So let's go."

Kyle gawks at him. "What?"

Rainer shrugs. "The kid needs to learn a little discretion."

I recognize the ringing finality in his tone, and I wonder if I should be worried about the birthday boy.

We sit around for some more, until the sun dips low in the sky, staining the ocean orange. We pile into Kyle's car with Rainer at the wheel. He drives east, back to the suburbs, and we pull into the parking lot of a strip mall, sprawled low along the side of the main road, across from a gas station. Kyle digs out his brother's ID from the glove compartment and disappears inside a liquor store.

It's always Kyle who buys the booze. He's the biggest of the three of us. People tend to think twice about contradiction him once they see the size of his arms. Rainer tried his luck once, but got kicked out before he even took two steps into the store. Kyle says it's the way Rainer carries himself, it's almost like he's got a neon sign above his head, flashing 'Don't Trust Me'.

Rainer's never even let me try. "You?" he had laughed when I asked, "You're like a little girl."

Kyle returns with a large bulky paper bag in one arm and a six-pack in the other. We drive back toward our field, then past it, to the beach. Rainer brings the football he finds in the trunk, and Kyle and I bring the booze. We lie on the sand and drink.

We make Jagerbombs and pass around the vodka, drinking it straight from the bottle. I gag on the beer and Rainer laughs, mirth lighting up his attractive face, while Kyle pounds me on the back. We play a bit of ball, stumbling all over the place and getting sand in our underwear. Rainer tackles me, and I fall on my face, almost biting off my tongue. I get him back by pushing him into the water. He gets drenched.

We hear a couple having sex behind some bushes. Rainer tells me and Kyle to shut up and we watch him crawl toward them. He disappears behind the tall grasses and reappear a moment later with a bundle clothes in his arms. We run away giggling.

As night falls we return to our usual spot, atop the boxes, with Rainer in the middle. I try to look away as he peels off his wet gym uniform and pulls on the stolen jeans and the ripped black t-shirt. We can hear the music pounding from the black building behind us. I tear my eyes away from the way the purloined shirt stretches tight over Rainer's chest and gathers around his narrow waist, and look up at the inky sky. Stars were beginning to appear.

"Should we go?" Kyle slurs drunkenly.

The heavy beats thumping from the studio quickens. Rainer cocks his head to the side. "I love this song," he groans, and he staggers up, standing lopsidedly on his box, staring towards the building.

"Okay," he says after a moment, "let's go."

We trek up the grassy hill, staggering and laughing. Rainer pulls me into him as we near the black doors. "We split up," he tells me, and I'm painfully aware of his arm, tight around my waist, "we find the kid, then we get out, got it?"

I nod. He lets go of me and Kyle pulls open the doors.

And I'm blasted away by the loudness of the music, the roar of the crowd, and the heat of what must be hundreds of bodies, grinding, writhing, moving. When I look around again both Rainer and Kyle have disappeared. I feel myself sobering a little as I push my way through the mob after them.

The dance floor is barely lit by the colored lights that throb at infrequent intervals from the high ceiling, dangling off the metal beams. The deep bass thundering from the speakers jolt through my entire being and vibrate off my fingertips. There are bodies on my every side, pulling me forward with their every movement. I spot a few familiar faces from Danshaul, and even a couple from Belmon. The majority of the people here are strangers, sporting gimmicky jewelery, or shirtless and sweating. By the look of some of these guys, the shortness of some of the skirts, and the amount of skin bared everywhere it's safe to assume that this has stopped being a high school junior's birthday party a while ago.

I let the crowd carry me across the dance floor. I spot Kyle's familiar bulk hunched near the wall and I make my way toward him. He sees me and shakes his head.

"What?" I mouth. There's no point trying to yell over the deafening music.

Kyle says something but his voice is drowned out.

"What?" I repeat.

He waves me away, pointing at a gaggle of blonde girls nearby. "Gina."

I roll my eyes. So much for finding the kid. I give up and the bodies around me pull me under again. A girl slings her arm around my neck. I raise my hand to push her away. Someone grabs my wrist. I'm tossed upwards and I glimpse a sea of heads as a beam of colored light flashes by. Then I'm pushed onwards again, back across the floor. I manage to stay afloat in the crowd, letting the current take me where it goes. After what feels like hours there is no more buzz in my head, and the alcohol has drained me. I zone out, losing myself in the music and the crowd, and the pulsing of the bass becomes my heartbeat.

Hours pass before I resurface.

It's stifling hot.

I stumble.

A pair of arms grabs me from behind. Strong hands cup my ass. I lunge forward, startled, and I find myself pushed against a sweaty body. I look up and recognize the dark curls, the arch of the neck, the shape of the sinuous muscles-

Rainer.

He has his bare back turned to me. He must have lost his shirt somewhere. He's grinding with a girl. She is clutching his shoulders, eyes closed, hips rolling. He has one hand up her skirt and another in her shirt. His lips are leaving a trail of kisses down her neck. She is really pretty.

The crowd plasters me against him. I tense, hands raised above my head, scared to touch him. He doesn't notice. Another body presses against my back. Rainer is moving to the music. He's a good dancer. The girl grinds harder against him, and he backs up against me. I look down. His borrowed jeans are too loose and they slide down his hips, revealing the top of his briefs.

The bass trembles and the beat picks up. My chest is pressed against his naked back, and the body heat rolling off him in waves is enough to boil my blood. His lower body is planted firmly against mine, and as he moves I feel electricity throbbing through my body, pleasure spiking up my spine. And I'm hard.

The girl runs her hand down his chest, down to his groin. I see his jeans sag lower, and he lifts his head, lips parted. I see the vibration of his throat and I can almost hear his guttural moan. My hips jerk on their own accord, I'm rubbing against him, my hands lower, and my fingertips skip down his spine.

A hand slips around my side and presses against the front of my jeans. I twist around. A tall boy is breathing heavily against my neck. I stare at him for a moment, confused. He smiles seductively. "I like how you dance," he says, lips pressing against my ear. I shudder. His smile widens. "My name is Andy."

I know. I've seen him before from afar. He's from Belmon. I try to pull away from him. But he's insistent. He wraps an arm around my chest. "What's your name?" he asks.

I don't reply because I don't want to lie. I can feel his hardness pressing against me. His hand finds the bulge in my pants, and he kisses my jaw. My vision narrows into a tunnel.

"Come," I say urgently, turning towards the door, pulling him after me.

The wind is wild outside, and we're whipped sideways. Andy pins me against the black wall and presses his mouth against mine, his tongue forcing its way inside impatiently. I hook my hands behind his neck and groan against him. His hands find their way up my shirt, and I push him away. "Come," I grab his hand and we stumble down the hill. He trips, I fall on top of him. We roll to the bottom. I hit my head against Kyle's wooden box.

Andy tries to kiss me again. I yank his shirt over his head. He unzips my pants. I sit up unsteadily, then drag him to his feet. I lead him to the box in the middle. He hoists me up. I lie on my back. He climbs on top of me and pulls my jeans down my hips. I whimper as he pulls out a condom and drops his pants. I look away as he leans down again, slipping the condom over two fingers. Then he's inside me.

I raise my hips, cringing in discomfort. All I see is his naked chest above me. My lips find the juncture between his neck and shoulder and I bite down. He tastes like how I imagine Rainer to be, sweet skin salty with sweat. I close my eyes and press my forehead against his collar. I trace my fingers down the supple muscles of his arms. I lick his hard nipples and he groans into my ear. I run my hand down his hard, feline body, drinking in his strength, his power, his grace.

I touch his erection, and he buckles. His fingers slide out of me and he rolls the condom onto himself. Then he's pressing into me, stretching me, his hands on my chest, teasing my nipples, rubbing against my stomach, squeezing my ass. I growl, kissing him. He thrusts into me. I'm breathless.

He burns me from the inside out. Little shocks of electricity spark wherever he touches me and bursts of heat sends my body into spasms. As he thrusts a thousand volts rips through my body, and I shout out in pleasure. He lowers his head onto the hollow of my neck, and I run my hand through his dark hair, fingers clutching at his soft curls. He slams into me again and I grit my teeth, overwhelmed.

He fucks me hard and fast, with single-minded, unyielding thrusts. I buck and shake under him. My brain threatens to shut down. The pleasure is like nothing I've ever felt. I moved my hips, rotating, urging him to fuck me harder, harder, harder. He wrapped his fingers around my erection, and my vision goes black. He grips me tightly and pumps his hand to the rhythm.

I thrash in his arms. He gasps. The throbbing pleasure coiled in the pit of my stomach erupts. I scream as I come, delirious. I see nothing but the stars behind my eyelids as my muscles clench and my body erupt into flames. He takes my breath away with one last mighty thrust, then he disappears from above me. Rainer, Rainer, Rainer-

The wind chills my exposed stomach, My limbs are tingling, and I'm tender, sore, aching all over.

"Fuck." The voice slices through me like an axe.

Rainer.

I sit up so fast my head spins.

Andy is crumpled on the ground, twitching. Kyle is standing over him, face expressionless. Rainer is staring up at me, arms folded across his bare chest. "Did he–"

"No," I say too quickly.

Rainer's eyes flicker down my body. My heart sinks, and I hastily pull down my shirt.

"Shit," he growls.

I tumble off the box, fall on my knees. "I didn't. It's-it's not what you think." I don't think about the way I sound or the tears stinging my eyes. My throat closes up, black spots cloud my vision, and I feel like throwing up. I'm shaking. I can hear my bones rattle and my heart sputters. There's no air in my lungs. My world is ending.

Rainer is silent.

"Please, p-please," I wheeze, collapsing at his feet. The set of his lips sends panic tearing through me. I'm unable to meet his narrowed eyes. I wish I am dead. "Please, Rainer, you know I wouldn't, I'm not a– I'm not," I choke on a sob, "I was drunk. It won't happen again, never again..."

Rainer's shoe collides with my chest.

I fly backwards, my shoulder blades slamming against the box. I cough, doubling over. The pain is sudden, brutal. I crumble. Rainer grabs me by the hair and violently jerks my head up. I feel my scalp ripping. I'm crying, my tears flowing unchecked. His face is only inches from mine.

"Rainer–" I gasp, retching.

"Don't," he snarls and I feel his warm breath on my face. I fall silent. He looks over at Kyle. For a while, there's no sound, save the whistling of the wind.

Rainer turns to me. His eyes hold mine. "I look out for my own," he says quietly.

My breath catches in my throat. "I-I know."

His fingers tighten painfully in my hair. "Do you really? I don't think you get it, Jamie."

"No-o, I do." One last tear rolls down my cheek. "I-I get it."

Rainer loosens his hold. I scramble up. I don't wait to be told. I turn away, half-running, half-crawling, going as quickly as my shaking legs would take me. But I know what's coming next, and I can't help but hear Rainer's lowly voice.

"Do you know who I am?"

"Oh, god, yeah," Andy's muffled reply. "Shit. I'm sorry."

"That's not good enough."

"I didn't know– I didn't, I'm sorry. I'm so sorry."

"You know what I'm gonna ask."

"I won't tell. I won't."

"Of course you won't."

A heartbeat, then, I hear the sound of bones crunching. I close my eyes.


Constructive criticism welcome.