Bruce was bottom. And I had bottomed most of my gay life.
He was a month older. But I had more experience out of life than he did
We were similar, but different in a lot of ways.
I was bigger – his kind of man, he said. I was not sure if he was my kind of man, but I was sure I liked him because he had an aura that was connectable. We had both just come out of relationships, and while I was certain that I was not yet completely tired of looking for love, he was convinced that he did not want any more relationships. He needed time to pursue other relevant things, he said.
Things between us escalated quickly, from the first visit’s sidelong glances to cooking together. And then our first kiss, as we stood by the door. He clung to my body, wrapping himself around me while we kissed, till we were both rock hard.
Bruce was petite in frame, with an athletic build and very defined features. His eyes had this squint that was either an expression of suspicion or sexiness – and it made him irresistible. He was very smart. But he had no fashion sense whatsoever, something I initially thought was a bit odd for an effeminate man. In fact, he showed no interest of ever being interested in being fashionable. So, after taking forever in the bathroom to shower and pamper his skin, which he said was his most favourite part of himself, he would throw on a packet shirt over chinos or plain trousers, put on Shifuren dockside loafers and be on his jolly good way. No extras.
And whenever he was not going out, he’d always be covered up in some sort of clothing. Big shirts and trousers. There was no room for showing skin, or “giving clues”, as he liked to call it – never mind that his walk down the street revealed a huddled-shoulder, hip-swaying gait that was clue enough for anyone who was keen on finding about him.
And for some reason, I really liked him.
They say it is weird for a Bottom to have feelings for another Bottom. To me, who had scoffed at such same-role romances like this in the past, it did not feel weird at all. Bruce was innocent, but not naïve. He was fragile, yet very decisive. In a way, he was different from me. He had no vices, and no anger or pain from a heartbreak, just disappointments. It made me want to hold him, protect him. He told me he liked it when I policed him, protected him. I liked his compliments. I liked that he noticed.
But what he did not know was that whatever I did for him was what I wanted as a Bottom too.
As Bruce and I got along, we discovered a lot about each other. He had no tolerance for pet names. His senses (sight, smell, taste, touch and hearing) were ultra-sensitive, so hardly did anything get past him. There was also a no-sex policy, which had come after a game of truth and dare, when he asked if I’d ever treated an STI and I said yes. It turns out he was something of a hypochondriac. He had a phobia for sexually transmitted infections, and it did not matter if you’d been declared healthy by the World Health Organisation, he would still think of you as unclean. Before we kissed, I had to brush my teeth, not using a mouthwash, but with a toothpaste and brush.
He also feared that his walls were too thin, and that his neighbours could hear him breathing. But the truth of the matter was that he’d gotten so afraid of giving out clues, of having them be suspicious of his sexuality that he had become conscious of his activities even in the privacy of his own home. Not only was it impossible for anyone to hear anything coming from his room except he had a very loud visitor, but they probably did not care to know because he was too young for any of those neighbourly squabbles.
The no-sex policy would have put a wrench in the progression of our relationship if it was sex that we wanted. It was more than that. It was the company, the fondling and play and pillow fights and water squirting at each other, the cuddles at night and conversations about our individual futures. So instead of sex, we humped. It was not the most comfortable thing, but it was a mood for us and we enjoyed it. We started with doing it with our clothes on, until we agreed it was okay to get naked. He was very good at it, too good for someone who had attempted penetration only twice. Because he was not comfortable using his mouth for anything other than kissing or at most licking my ears, I did all the other stuff that required the mouth and tongue, and he loved it. I could tell by the way he twitched and trembled and thrashed about with his body, grabbing the sheets, stifling his moans and parting his legs for more of my oral invasion, pulling at my head as if he didn’t ever want me to stop. Our bodies lubricated by our own sweats and overuse of lubricants. Our breaths heavy but controlled. Our fingers interlocked as he rode me or I humped or lap-fucked him.
We were going good, because he told me so. He told me I was unlike the other men he’d been with. That I was patient and kind, and offered attention and assistance, and I was very considerate and was not too proud to apologise. I looked into his eyes, and thought that with him, I could manage my fears, find an anchor. Be safe.
But I would come around to realizing how very wrong I was about him.
Things between us began to take a nosedive when he told me about why he had his reservation for penetrative sex. He called it dirty and ungodly. I sat up on the bed in the dimly-lit room, pondering on his comments, startled by what he’d said. I wondered if he was even gay. It was shocking that these words were coming from someone who had more gay porn collections than Pornhub, all of them carefully arranged into categories in his laptop like an online store.
After that was him talking about “demons” – his belief that demons possessed people, and that since our intimacy intensified, he’d been having dreams where he was attacked by hefty men. Dreams he hadn’t been having when he was “strong”. Strong being the way he described his state of mind when he hadn’t met me.
Sometimes you like someone so much, you find yourself making compromises just so you can remain around him. I liked Bruce like that. I made the sacrifices, asked him every time I could for his permission or approval. Obeyed every rule and was aware of his boundaries. I felt stupid at some point, like I was allowing myself to be manipulated. To be used. And for a moment, I realized how this must be the way those Tops with Grindr profiles that read “I do not have the time for drama” must feel. I felt exactly the same way one would feel when a relationship begins to take the twists and turns that they didn’t see coming, and I didn’t like the feeling. A part of me wanted to do him dirty; persevere until I fuck him, and then I leave him. But I knew how that felt too – to give yourself to someone and have them walk out on you with the whole of you under their shoes.
A saying goes that it is better to try and fail then to fail to try, so I hung on. At least until he revealed himself as someone who wasn’t worth the effort.
It was a weekend when he phoned, asking me to come over, that he was bored. I gathered my stuff into a backpack and took a cab to his apartment. We talked and laughed, me forever cautious around him because he had ruled against body contact of any sexual kind whenever we weren’t being sexual with each other. We played a game, he beat me. The night was far spent, 10 PM precisely.
Then he looked at me, doe-eyed, looking like a little lost angel, and said to me, “Do you mind if I sleep alone tonight?”
I stared at him, as though scanning his face for proof that he was joking. But I found nothing. He was serious. This was him asking me to leave.
“It is late,” I said, gesturing first at the clock and then the window, beyond which was the night. “Can’t I just stay the night? I’ll be gone early tomorrow.”
His response was mumbled nonsense. It was something he did whenever he did not want to expressly state his dissent; he would say a bunch of things under his breath. He resumed the game he was playing on his phone while I went back to the movie I was watching. We’d both been watching it before he took to the game.
A couple of minutes passed, and my heartbeat was racing. It was not a normal feeling, especially not when I hadn’t done anything wrong. But his silence accused me. It wasn’t normal. He loved to call for my attention every now and then, and he was not doing so.
Then the lights went out, as though NEPA was in agreement with my suspicion that all wasn’t well.
“Bruce,” I called, turning to him as he turned on a rechargeable lamp, “are you uncomfortable with my staying over?”
He went into another rumble of words, this time words I distinctly heard, mumbling about how I was asking him about his comfortability when it was obvious that he was not, and how he was a private person and just needed his space. He said these things in the politest way, that even the most selfish person would see reason with him.
And I wasn’t selfish. Not with him. I began to think about going back home that night. The route to my apartment was risky. It was a path where guys hide in the cover of darkness to smoke and rob pedestrians. That was my fear, having to walk through them or take a very long walk around them to get home on a route whose safety I wasn’t sure of either.
It was now 10:28 PM. I had gathered my gadgets that I came with to charge – my laptop, Bluetooth speaker, phone. Tucked them all securely in my backpack so they wouldn’t get damaged should I suddenly break out into a run.
I hugged him goodbye.
At the door, he asked, “Are you angry?”
“No,” I said.
It was the truth. I was not angry. I had no right to be with his choices. But I was disappointed and vulnerable. My mind was consumed with the worry of getting robbed, because I’d never been out of my apartment this late. And even when I was, it was never with my devices.
I stepped out into the airy stillness of the night, made my way to the junction where I could find a cab. The road was almost scanty of human and vehicular traffic, but I was grateful for the street halogen lamps lined up all to way to a far distance. I walked along the road, hoping a taxi going my way would come along.
One did, and I got in, beside the driver. He was young, rough looking, which was not unusual. But the guys behind him were still. Very watchful. I felt the eyes of the one directly behind the driver burning through the back of my head. Sweat trickled from my underarms. I cursed the night while the driver sped like he was auditioning for the movie, Fast and Furious.
The next time Bruce flashed through my mind, I heard a voice in my head saying: “You will never have to see him again.”
That was before the guy behind the driver leaned forward and grabbed me by the shoulder.
Written by Peaches