IYLS CH 17: TO CAMP OR NOT TO CAMP THAT IS THE QUESTION

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Hi Everyone,

Here’s my flash with the Free Fiction Friday Group!

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IF YOU LOVE SOMETHING

( IYLS )

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SUMMARY

David and Jesse are childhood friends who get separated in their teens but meet up again at university in Newcastle, Australia.

They soon find out that though some things remain the same, other change… oh boy, do they change.

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 Previously

“That’s it, Davie,” Fantasy Jeremy rasped in my ear. “Come for me.”

I moaned, my movements now frantic, but just as my climax was about to thunder through me, overwhelming me, I stilled, and for one sweet, agonizing moment I balanced on the precipice, before his final imaginary words sent me rocketing over the edge.

“Give it to me, David. Give it all to me.”

And I did, giving him wave after wave of my seed.

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CHAPTER 17: TO CAMP OR NOT TO CAMP THAT IS THE QUESTION

God, I knew it! My being gay has freaked him out after all.

We were sitting in Mrs. Gilmore’s kitchen and Jeremy was scoffing down her scones like there’d be no tomorrow. Mrs. G. was beaming happily—she liked nothing better than seeing someone enjoying her cooking—and I was trying to match her mood, but I was struggling, really struggling.

Jere had been acting off for three days. Distant and weird.

Gone were the hugs, and casual touches.

Gone, the easy banter and teasing.

In its place was a stiff awkwardness that clamped itself about my heart like a vice. It was like he didn’t even know how to speak to me anymore. Never, in our entire friendship, had we been at a loss for words around each other, and yet, here we were with long, uncomfortable silences forming the better part of our time together.

I was convinced it had to be because he’d caught me checking him out, or maybe spotted one of my seemingly endless parades of hard-ons and guessed what inspired them. I’d missed the nearness of him that I’d known the first two nights of our reunion by sleeping across from him on his couch, and idiot that I am, I’d stepped out on a limb the previous morning and asked him to unzip my wetsuit. What a fucking mistake that was!

Munching on another scone, and for the first time ever, barely registering how good it tasted, I silently cursed myself for succumbing to my need to feel his fingers upon my flesh, tracing a line down my spine. I was as pissed at myself for asking as I was with him for refusing. God, I’d obviously made him feel nervous and uncomfortable because he couldn’t bring himself to touch me at all anymore. One minute he’d been hugging me every five minutes, and the next he was keeping himself at a safe distance. He’d even resorted to cold outdoor showers after our surfs rather than risk being naked around me. He probably thought, like so many straight men did, that my being gay meant I’d try and jump him as soon as he let his guard down for even the briefest of moments.

God, how can I go camping with him now? Fuck, I mean, we’d be sharing a bloody two-man tent!

Dread at the awkwardness I felt sure we’d both be experiencing at being cooped up in a confined space for three nights in a row had the scone I was chewing feeling as if it had turned to sawdust in my mouth.

What if he suggests I share a tent with Garth or Tony instead? The mere thought of his possible rejection had a sharp pain piercing my gut, and a lump forming in my throat, making it impossible to swallow the last of my scone. I can’t go. I’ll make an excuse.

Mrs. Gilmore’s words, directed at me, pulled me from my depressing reverie. “Oh, David,” she chirped. “You are so lucky to have new friends that will get you out of the house.” She was frowning a little, and I wondered if it was because she’d deciphered my mood as she had so many times in the past. Turning her gaze back to Jeremy, she continued, “He’s been working too hard, cutie, far too hard. All he does is work and study; the only fun he has is his flying—”

“That’s not really true, Mrs. G,” I snapped, immediately regretting the sharpness of my tone—she meant no harm, but I hated how her words made me sound like a lonely, boring loser.

“Yes, David, dear. It is very true. You’ve been extremely mopey ever since Erik left.”

Fucking great, now she’s brought up Erik. Just what I need—Jeremy being reminded of my gayness.

She reached over, patting my knee reassuringly; her next words quiet but firm. “You and I both know I’m right, and we both know you’re very lucky to have found Jeremy again right now.”

At that precise moment, I wondered if bumping into each other again was such a good thing after all. What was the point of finding him again if he was just going to reject me and leave because he was at best uncomfortable around me, or at worse, repulsed by me?

Jere piped in, his gaze flitting between Mrs. Gilmore and me. “We’re both very lucky, Mrs. G., I really can’t explain just how lucky. It’s like I’ve been missing one of my limbs, and now I have it back and I’m balanced again. That’s the only way I can explain it.”

Yeah, right, that’s why you’ve been acting so strange and avoiding any physical contact with me.

Instead of feeling pleased or reassured by his words, the hurt and anger that had been simmering just below the surface since our previous morning’s surf, increased its hold on me, growing despite my efforts to beat it down.

His pretty words didn’t match his actions of the last few days, and I was sick of the bullshit. I was sick of walking around on eggshells with a knot of anxiety in my gut. I was sick of filtering and second-guessing everything that came out of my mouth, and of analyzing every word that came out of his until my head ached. I was sick of having lain awake for two nights, stewing for hours on end, wondering how to make things right again. I was sick of not knowing for sure what the hell was going on inside his head. I was just fucking sick of it all.

“All I want to say, boys, and then I’ll drop it, is you both need to look after each other. One day that might make a lot more sense,” she said, somewhat cryptically, giving me a brief hard stare. If I had any doubt at all that she was alluding to her words from a few days earlier about my not giving up on Jeremy, her turning to him, placing her other hand on his knee, mirroring the one she had resting on mine, dispelled it. I nearly snorted—if only she knew he couldn’t bear to touch me, even in the most innocent of ways.

A small frustrated sigh tried to work its way up my throat, but I pushed it back down. He’d charmed her. Of course, he’d charmed her, he charmed everyone. Hell, he’d charmed me, and I knew him better than anyone, maybe even his mother. Sitting in Mrs. Gilmore’s cozy kitchen, my gaze moving from one to the other, I realized he always had; I’d always struggled to say no to him.

Well, I will now. I can’t go camping with him. Not when everything feels so queer between us. The irony of my internal word choice was not lost on me. It seemed obvious to me that Jeremy had a problem with homosexuals, with queers, or perhaps more accurately, with me being queer. Well, I’d be damned if I was going to apologize or feel ashamed for whom and how I was.

Suddenly feeling as if the four walls were closing in on me, I rose, pushing my chair back a little more forcefully than I’d intended. I needed to get out of the room before my anger boiled over, and I said something I’d probably regret. Leaning down to give Mrs. Gilmore a kiss on the cheek, I thanked her for the tea and scones and made my way to her back door, not bothering to check if Jeremy was following me or not. It would probably be best for him if he wasn’t, as I could feel my self-control slipping a bit more with each step I took. As the screen door closed behind me, I could hear his chair scraping against the tiled surface of the floor, and his hurried thank you to Mrs. Gilmore coupled with a quick goodbye.

“Hey, Davie, wait up!” he called, the door making a faint clicking sound as it shut behind him.

I ignored him, lengthening my stride as I marched across the small expanse of yard that separated Mrs. Gilmore’s back door with the entry to my flat.

“Jeez, mate, what’s got up your arse?” he asked, frowning as he drew up alongside me.

“Nothing,” I replied shortly, indicating for him to enter first.

“Doesn’t look or sound like ‘nothing’ to me.”

He turned to face me, his hands deep in his pockets, his eyebrow raised, and his stance cocky and confident. Shoving my balled fists into my pockets, I fought the part of me that wanted to close the gap between us and deck him. He was always so fucking sure of himself, and for once I hated it. For once I wanted him to know what it was to be scared or unsure, to know what it felt like to be rejected and alone. I wanted him to know what it felt like to be abandoned and unwanted. To hurt. Really hurt.

With the last bit of my restraint I possessed, I bit out, “Let it go, Jeremy. Just let it go.”

Silently we stood, facing each other as he sized me up, gauging my mood and its seriousness.

A long moment later, he lowered his gaze from mine and cleared his throat. “Right then, I suppose we’d better get your gear in the car.”

“No.”

“What do you mean, no?” he asked, his brow furrowed. “It makes sense to load it now. It’s all packed,” he continued, waving his arm vaguely in the direction of my duffle and sleeping bag as they rested upon the blue coverlet of my bed. “If we pack it now that will save doing it tomorrow, and we’ll be able to leave straight after I hand in my assignment.”

“I’ve changed my mind. I’m not going camping with you,” I told him bluntly, rocking on the balls of my feet, ready for a fight whether it was verbal or physical.

“But you have to—” he began, before I cut him off.

“No, I don’t.”

“But I’ve told Garth and Tony you’re coming… I—” he tried again, obviously taken aback by my vehemence.

“Well, un-tell them.”

“But they both want to meet you and—”

I snorted dismissive, running my hand impatiently through my hair. “I doubt life as we know it will end because I’m not there, Jeremy.”

Being the persistent, never-give-up-until-he-got-what-he-wanted guy that he was, he took another tack. “But Mrs. Gilmore said you need to get out more, and—”

“I don’t give a rat’s arse what Mrs. Gilmore said. I’m not some fucking damsel in distress needing you to ride in on your fucking white charger to rescue me,” I ranted furiously. Had it been possible, I’d have scorched him with my look.  “I was doing just fine before you and your smug dial popped back into my life!” I was on a roll, the venom in my words searing like acid in my throat, the burn almost welcome as the heat of my pent up anger fired through my body, making my blood boil and pound in my ears. “I’m not some charity case for you and your fucking mates to earn yourselves some humanitarian brownie points on!”

“Dav—”

“Besides, I need the money,” I interrupted, trying to calm myself before I said too much. “I should be working. This might be news to you, but some of us actually have to work our way through university.” I knew I was being unfair. It wasn’t Jeremy’s fault he had wealthy parents and my father was a bastard who had always welched on his parental responsibilities.

“David, what’s wrong? What’s really going on here?” he asked, flopping down on the end of the bed, beside my camping gear. The way he looked told me he wasn’t yet convinced I wasn’t going camping with him and his mates, and that deep seated assurance he always had about him kept my anger simmering away, ready to boil over at a moment’s notice.

“What’s really going on here? What’s wrong? Maybe you should be telling me,” I fumed, giving my hair another tug, the slight pain of it feeling good.

“Me? What?” he exclaimed, staring at me, obviously frustrated.

“You want to play dumb, Jere? Okay. I’ll spell it out for you,” I spat, my anger spiking at his continued pretense that there was nothing odd about his behavior toward me. “You come waltzing back in my life, just expecting me to drop everything and accommodate you, and like a stupid idiot, I have. But you wax fucking hot and cold. One minute hugging me and the next avoiding touching me as if I have the plague.”

“David, I’m—” He began, but now that I had well and truly opened the gate, the flood was spewing forth.

“It seems three feet is your ‘safe distance’ marker, Jere. So you reckon you’re safe, do you, if you keep me at least three feet away?” I hissed at him furiously. “What do you think I would do, Jeremy, if you got any closer? What do you think I would do if you touched me, or maybe bent over in front of me? Do you think I’d ram my cock up your arse and fuck you senseless?”

“No!” he cried, rising to his feet, a look of horror on his face.

“I’m gay, Jeremy. I like arse and I like cock. I get excited by cock. I like to suck cock. I like it a lot. Same way you like tits and a pussy, and all the things you could do to, and with them. I’m sure you would say you can be trusted not to fuck every bloody woman you meet. Well, just ’cause I’m gay doesn’t mean I would fuck anyone and everyone with a cock dangling between his legs!”

“David, God, I’m—”

“What, Jeremy? You’re sorry? Well, I’m not. I’m not sorry for who I am. I like who I am, and I’ll be damned if I apologize for being me to you, or anyone else, for that matter!”

Suddenly, the fight left me, replaced by a bone-deep weariness. I sagged down onto one of my dining chairs, my elbows on the table, and my head in my hands. I felt so tired I could barely raise my voice above a whisper. “Just go, Jeremy. I don’t want to tiptoe around you anymore. I don’t want to have to edit my every thought before I utter it anymore. And I most certainly don’t want go camping with you, feeling like you’re worried I’m going to pounce on you as soon as you let your guard down for thirty seconds. Please, just go. I don’t want to see or talk to you right now. I want to be alone.”

Only the sounds of our labored breaths filled my little flat as part of me prayed for him to tell me I’d gotten it all wrong, and the other part prayed for him to leave.

I needed space.

He took a step closer to me, resting his hand on my shoulder, but I flinched away. It felt a lot like; too little, too late. I didn’t want him to touch me out of pity or a sense of obligation. I wanted him to feel comfortable around me. Fuck, if I was being totally honest, I wanted him to want to touch me. Yeah, like that’s ever going to happen.

With a sigh, I heard him turn and walk away from me, followed by the distinctive click of my front door closing.

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Authors Note

And so begins the roller coaster…

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