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Chapter 3: “I like that you’re broken, broken like me.”
(from broken by lovelytheband)
Liam slumped onto one of the patio chairs and looked out onto the lake, shining back at him with colors he didn’t know the names of. He swiped a tongue over his lips, still tasting Caleb on him. He could smell that scent of vanilla that felt permanently washed into his clothes. He didn’t know what to make of it, but the intensity that ran through their bodies made it hard for him to breathe. He felt his weight push down on the fabric; sighing as the scent of lake water wafted into his nostrils and licking at the base of his lips to taste Caleb once more.
Caleb opened the French doors and stepped onto the deck, barefoot and rubbing his shoulder. He walked towards Liam, laying himself down on the extended chair and pulling his hands behind his head. The two were in the same position, looking up at the evening sky with neither wanting to face the other.
“Everything go okay with your mom?” Liam said in a voice that barely carried over.
“She spent the first ten minutes apologizing and telling herself that she was a horrible mother, followed by another ten minutes of promises and planning out how she’s going to make it up to me.”
“At least you have that to look forward to,” Liam said, plainly.
Caleb nodded in approval and the two of them continued to lie back, silent. They were planets in two parallel orbits- so close that they could reach out and touch the other, yet never destined to converge. Caleb sat upright, unnoticed. He watched him: with his hands cradling the back of his head like a memory foam pillow, covered by a long sleeve shirt that rode up his stomach, exposing the waist band of his boxers and a few stray hairs that grew past his belly button. A pair of black jeans frayed at the edge and black sneakers that looked both worn and comfortable at the same time rounded out the boy’s look.
He called out in a concerned voice, “Tell me what’s going on in your head.”
“I feel like we tore down the Hoover Dam and have no idea what to do with all this water.”
“You picked the longest way of saying you’re overwhelmed” Caleb said, finally getting Liam to crack his straight face.
The older boy sat upright, facing him with their knees barely touching. “Don’t tell me I took you completely by surprise.”
“No, you didn’t.” Liam said with a chuckle, “I just always thought I’d be the one to make the first move.” He said, half truthfully. Liam honestly didn’t know if he’d ever work up enough courage to act on his desires, but the younger boy and his cute smile sure tempted him.
“So why didn’t you?”
Liam unfolded his palms, “I didn’t want you to think I came all this way and got all that stuff just to make a move on you.”
Caleb nodded in gratitude, “Then you did all of this because?”
“Because I care about you.” It was the most simple answer there was: the only thing that Liam believed with enough passion to set a forest ablaze. He didn’t fully understand his feelings for Caleb, but that statement held true regardless of that.
“Let’s go for a drive.” Liam said, getting to his feet as the lights of the wooden deck illuminated his face.
“Right now? Why?”
“Whenever I get caught up in my thoughts, I escape for a bit to figure things out.” He extended his hand out to the younger boy. “What do you say?”
Caleb stood up, “Sure beats the awkward silence we’ve got going on.” He replied with a nudge.
The younger boy swiped his keys from the kitchen counter and the two headed off outside. “Mine or yours?” he asked, looking at the two cars out on the driveway.
Liam raised an eyebrow, “When’s the last time you took the top off that Jeep?”
“I’d say tonight’s the best time as any.” He said with a wicked smile. Caleb nodded in agreement. He’d had the car for months now but never so much as took it down a dirt road. He walked over with Liam and the two of them started to unlock each of the little levers that held the hard top in place. A few twists later and the top came undone, and was immediately shoved into some free space in the garage. They hopped in, rolling down every window so only a metal frame kept them inside. Caleb eased into the driver’s seat, regaining that excitement he felt when he was first handed the keys and, putting the car in drive, sped out of his suburban prison and headed towards the hills.
Caleb took deep breaths, nearly rolling his eyes back at how comforting the evening breeze was on them. That new car smell that permeated through the polished leather was soon replaced with the scent of pine as they weaved through the dirt roads with Liam telling him exactly where to turn. Once the road straightened up, he looked over to the older boy, catching sight of the widest smile he’d seen on him yet. Dancing through the breeze, with his brown hair flowing about like maple leaves- he was happy and young. Caleb himself didn’t remember the last time casino siteleri he’d felt so free- as if being barely eighteen and living under their parents rooves meant they could no longer feel joy.
“Where exactly are you leading me?” He yelled out over the slaps of air on his face.
“Just a little longer down this road. There’s this spot that’s got the best view of the city.”
Caleb nodded and continued to drive. At this point, he’d follow Liam just about anywhere without question. The road eventually opened up with the city unfolded before them. Caleb slowed to a stop as the gravel ended and turned into fresh grass, untouched by civilization.
He could barely close his mouth as Liam explained, “This is kinda my spot. I come here when I need to think.” He said as he unbuckled his seatbelt and fixed his hair.
“God it’s so beautiful.” Caleb said as he turned his head in all directions. At his left, he could see the edge of Lakeshore, ready to be swallowed whole by the deep blue water that reflected back against the night sky. On his right, Clover stood out: a patch of buildings in every shade of grey, dotted with clotheslines of laundry and incandescent lights that cascaded down the apartments like the ornaments of a Christmas tree. And where the two neighborhoods converged stood a brick wall, funneling people in and out as if one needed permission to cross. Liam looked at Lakeshore and saw promise; the ease of wealth and safety of a home you didn’t rent and belongings that couldn’t be repossessed. Caleb on the other hand, stared at Clover- the self-contained ecosystem of interdependence where the sense of family stretched past walls and floors. Both of them wanted some semblance of what the other had.
The boys were sitting at the edge of the tailgate, with their legs dangling below, kicking up the winds that blew threw the city. “Thank you for bringing me here. It really is such a special place.”
Liam flashed a bashful smile and shrugged. He didn’t really know how to act around Caleb now that the ice was broken into a million indecisive pieces.
Liam brushed his fingers through the soft carpet, trying to find the right words to say. “How long have you known that you-” he asked, turning to Caleb, hoping he’d finish the question.
“Were into guys?” he added, leaving Liam blushed red.
The older boy snickered, “Yeah, that.”
“I’ve known for a while. Once high school started, I found myself looking at guys in different ways. I’d latch onto things: the way they styled their hair or how they smelled when we’d walk past each other.” He said, taking Caleb’s sight, “It’s like everything I was supposed to notice about girls, I saw in other guys around me.”
He choked up a bit, “And it terrifies the fuck outta me.”
Liam reached out and held the younger boy’s hand, stroking the inside of his palm with his thumb. He could feel his fingers trembling with every brush, but he didn’t turn to face him. Liam knew that if he caught sight of those brown eyes, he’d never get these words off his chest. He’d disintegrate into a pool of unfinished business.
“I think I’ve known for a while.” He admitted, working up the courage as their hands continued to touch. “I’ve just tried to push it far into my list of things to deal with, that here I am: 18 years later, shoved into a box placed at the tallest shelf of the closet.” He finally looked Caleb in the eye to find an endearing smile.
“And I came along and forced you to unpack.” He said as a matter of fact.
“It’s not like that.” He said, rubbing at the boy’s exposed shoulder. “I didn’t think I had a shot, that was until you showed interest.” He said with a wicked grin.
Caleb lay down until his back was met with the soft fabric of his trunk. Liam followed suit, with only a few agonizing inches separating the two of them. He looked up to see the night sky, something he’d examined a lot more times than he’d like to admit. Truth was, he found himself here in this place a lot these past years. Even before he could drive, he’d ride his thrift store bike all the way up here and rest along the untouched grass. And then he’d breathe: taking in the air like helium. He’d breathe so much in, hoping he’d be light enough to float off away from this town and everyone in it.
“It shouldn’t have to be this hard” Caleb said, just as Liam was getting deep into his thoughts.
“What shouldn’t be?”
“This.” He said, flicking his finger between their bodies. “You and me.” He propped himself up, looking down at the boy outstretched with his feet sticking out past the bumper. “It’s like trying to fit together two broken pieces of clay.”
Liam pulled Caleb closer, nestling his arm underneath the back of the boy’s neck. Though awkward at first, their bodies eventually melded together: flesh where the other was absent, warmth taking place of cold.
“I like that you’re broken, broken like me.” He smiled at Caleb who rested his head against his bicep. Stroking his arm, canlı casino he continued, “Maybe that makes me a fool.”
Liam drove the two of them back, partially because he knew the roads in the dark better than Caleb did, but also because he saw the way he nuzzled into the nape of his neck when they were lying down. As he continued that straight shot back to Lakeshore, he saw the younger boy leaning against the edge of his car while Liam drove slowly, so to avoid any pot holes that would disrupt his rest. It was an emotional rollercoaster for him, with so many highs and lows rolled into an afternoon that would surely leave anyone with whiplash. So he let the boy sleep, watching the way the street lights reflected on the side of his face whenever he got the chance to look over.
Caleb woke up right as the car was put in park. He wiped the fatigue from his eyes and stretched his arms, sticking far out past the car frame. Looking to his left, he saw Liam watching him from the driver’s side. “My bad. Didn’t mean to fall asleep on you.”
“Nah it’s cool man.” Liam said with a bashful grin. He rubbed his palms against the inside of his thighs as he looked over to Caleb. Truth was he wished he’d stay asleep longer so he could steal a few more minutes of watching him. He wondered if he himself slept that peacefully: nestled against the headrest after going two rounds with his absent parents.
They stepped out of the car and, for the first time, Liam admitted that Caleb’s house wasn’t as beautiful as he’d previously thought. It sat among the rest, without a single light on inside. It was like the one bulb in a string of Christmas lights that refused to turn on. It looked empty; not littered with children’s toys or personalized mailboxes. If he hadn’t known, he wouldn’t believe that Caleb had been living here by himself for the past week.
The younger boy stretched, exposing the ridges of his worked out body as he let out a loud yawn. Liam slipped the keys back into his hand and the two of them stood there, not knowing how to part ways.
“Liam?” Caleb asked, finding the boy’s face under the streetlight.
“Can you stay tonight?” Looking into those deep green eyes, he clarified, “With me?” Caleb’s voice was soft, almost as if the words danced around his lips, deciding whether or not to escape. He wanted Liam to stay because he wanted to be there, not the other way around. If this whole thing between them was going to work, he needed to tread these foreign waters as carefully as possible.
“Yes.” Liam said, rubbing the back of his head. It was a nervous tick that, in his mind, made up for his lack of words. “I’d love to stay.” And with a flashing of his white teeth, the younger boy pulled him by the arm, holding onto his bare wrist as he pulled him in.
Caleb led them through the house, passing the ruffled throw, chairs in the dining room that had been pushed out, and a sink with only a pair of glasses and two forks. Liam watched as he followed Caleb up the stairs, looking at the soles of his feet as they kicked off every step. He stood at the doorway of Caleb’s bedroom, having not been here in many years.
Setting his phone down by the desk, Caleb let out a yawn, “I’m pretty beat, dude. I think I’m gonna get ready for bed.” He looked over at Liam who hadn’t moved from that spot he was digging into the rug. God he looked cute, Caleb thought, fumbling with his hands like a boy who’d never been kissed before. “Hey I can get the other bedroom set up if you’re not cool with this.”
“No.” Liam replied, almost too quickly. He tamed his enthusiasm, “I’m fine right here.” A sincere smile told Caleb that he was telling the truth.
The younger boy walked towards the closet and shucked off his shirt. Taking off his pants, he placed the clothes into his hamper as he did every night. Liam watched, biting down on his plump lip as the boy undressed, seeing his body stretch as the clothes slowly disappeared until only his beautifully tanned skin remained.
He turned his head slightly to his visitor, “I can get you some clothes to change into so you can be more comfortable.”
“Uh- that’s alright.” The older boy managed, keeping his vision from wandering down below Caleb’s backside. He took off his own shirt and pulled off his jeans. Folding them slightly, he placed the discarded clothes on the desk chair. Liam didn’t have many friends growing up, so sharing a bed with a boy was new to him. It didn’t help that Caleb wasn’t just some boy.
He found the logo of one of the Home Depot boxes stacked along the bedroom wall and focused on it as Caleb slipped under the covers, leaving the creases of his body left only to Liam’s imagination. He followed suit, letting out a soft moan as he felt his weight on the mattress, keeping him suspended over air it seemed. There he lay on the left side of the bed, staring at the door; finding the closest exit to him in case of an emergency. He could feel the bed move slightly as Caleb tossed, kaçak casino trying to get comfortable, but he couldn’t. So he lay there, perfectly still with a stifled breathing- hoping that exhaustion would take over and he could sleep in peace with another boy a few inches away.
Liam shut the inner voice in his head that warned caution. He turned, shaking the bed significantly to make his actions known. The sight of Caleb’s bare backside made him stop for a second, wanting nothing more than to trace his fingers along the valley that stopped at the waistband of his grey boxers. Getting back on track, Liam slid his body and draped a furred arm over Caleb’s shoulder. He dug the other underneath the boy’s warm flesh until it peaked out on the other side of the bed.
Caleb couldn’t form words as he felt Liam’s embrace, so instead he moved, nuzzling into the older boy until he could feel his warm breath on the back of his neck. “Goodnight Caleb” Liam muttered as he brushed his lips against his bare shoulder.
“Goodnight, Liam” he managed, mustering up the last bit of energy he had left before falling far into sleep. The dam was broken and each boy was left with the choice: either tread water or drown.
Liam woke up first, softly shaking the bed as he opened his eyes without the sound of car horns or Mrs. Caswell downstairs who taught piano out of her one bedroom apartment. Wisps of Caleb’s hair brushed against his lips as the heat between their bodies burned through his skin. He’d held the boy all night, with a thin layer of sweat between their touching skin as evidence. He extracted himself from Caleb whose arms draped himself in loose covers as the cool air washed over his body. He turned slightly, exposing his face and pouting lips that made Liam’s mouth water.
Brushing his fingers against Caleb’s tan skin, he felt the boy stir. He traced that finger along the crease between his abs, all the way up the side of his neck until he stopped at the smooth jawline. He cradled that edge, rubbing his thumb against the boy’s cheek, thinking that he could somehow get his three wishes granted.
Caleb finally opened his eyes: a pool of hazel, that reflected against the morning sun, turned into a shade of gold. A smile formed as he caught Liam’s sheepish grin. “No awkwardness?” he asked, rubbing the tiredness from his eyes.
Liam shook his head, “I’m fighting the urge to overthink right now.”
“And how’s that working out for you?”
Caleb’s question was met with a kiss as Liam leaned down and pressed their lips together. He settled his weight over the boy, planting soft pecks along his cheek and pulling back the raven hair that had fallen over his face. Having had his fill for now, he sat up on his knees and looked down at Caleb who’s face wore an expression that battled desire with innocence.
A wide smile formed at the younger boy’s mouth as he licked his lips, trying to get the last bit of Liam on his tongue. “I guess that answers my question” he admitted as he stretched his body along the oversized queen mattress.
Liam sunk his mouth down, dipping his tongue back on Caleb’s neck. He could taste the boy’s skin and loved the way he writhed beneath him, twitching his body as he found every ticklish spot like they were x’s on a map. Caleb chuckled about, trying to pin the older boy down but his strength was unmatched. He grabbed onto the blades on Liam’s back, pleading, “Okay quit it. I’m way too hungry to try and wrestle with you right now.”
Pulling off, he looked at Caleb, dumbfounded, “Really? Food is all you can think about right now?”
A grumble from Caleb’s stomach answered for him. Liam laughed aloud, falling onto the boy who nuzzled against him. “Fine, we’ll have it your way.” He managed, in between laughs.
The boys eventually pulled off each other- after a few more rounds of complaining on Liam’s part. The boy had been so closed off to the idea of even being with someone else that the minute Caleb made his intentions known, it was like a fire hydrant that couldn’t be turned off. If this morning was any indication of what a relationship with Caleb would be like, then Liam knew he’d do whatever it took not to mess it up.
Liam slumped into the desk chair, tapping on the hardwood as the faucet ran. He could hear the humming of a rock song he didn’t know the words to as Caleb sang so loud it carried through the thick drywall. Liam smiled to himself, trying to remember the lyrics as he tapped along to the beat. The faucet turned off just as the song came to a close and Caleb walked out, strolling over to the closet doors. He stood there as Liam watched from a distance- it was like déjà vu from the day before as he felt that same flush of heat throughout his body as he watched the younger boy: from the waves of jet black hair to the ombre tones of his skin as his eyes traveled to parts of Caleb’s body that hadn’t seen as much sun.
Not wanting to watch another opportunity pass him by, Liam walked over to the shorter boy and curled his arms around his narrow waist. Caleb would have flinched had he not wanted this all along- to feel Liam touch him like he mattered and like his body wasn’t some porcelain doll too fragile to play with.
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