Part Four: Drowning in Tide Pools
The narrative is flowing better now. Progress is being made. The hero’s stubbornness could still be an issue but at least introductions have happened, and honestly a little sullenness isn’t a bad thing. The story’s earliest heroine might have been a devotee of the practice of turning the other cheek, even though her prince wasn’t, but that particular trait is the hardest to fill with each new iteration. A certain amount of resistance has been built into the fabric of the tale at this point, but it rarely ends up detracting from the effect. Messiah figures, after all, are meant to be rare and special, not to pop up in every story floating around the world at the drop of a hat.
Not that this protagonist is entirely without those selfless traits. He’s capable of giving a great deal with very little expectation of return. He’s so good at lying to himself about what he wants that he can barely remember what his own precious desires are. He has untapped reservoirs of adoration inside of him, passionate feelings that haven’t really had an outlet for years. Every greater emotion exists as a separate little tide pool in his soul, only combining and being expressed under crushing waves of duress.
It would be better if he were a little more willing to work with those big emotions, actually. The narrative demands more than stubbornness, it demands the heights of love and despair as well. This…this could take some prodding.
Asher gets his tunic back in the morning, just as the eastern edge of the sky is starting to lighten. Work begins early on a farm, apparently, and that’s an excellent thing, because he hasn’t been able to catch a minute of sleep all night. Every time he curled up just enough to start feeling his own body warmth, the wind would kick up and drive his comfort away. He’s exhausted, but a chance to sleep is not forthcoming. A kick to the shin is.
“Up, boy!” It’s the cook. Asher doesn’t think she actually sleeps. She looks exactly the same as she did when she kicked him out last night, the same clothes, the same hairstyle. There’s nothing mussed or wrinkled about her severe appearance, and that’s just not right. She throws him his tunic, which he gratefully puts on, itchiness be damned, and follows it up with sandals. The tunic has a rough pouch sewn into the front, where he puts his tiny passenger. He hopes the mouse has the good sense not to try to jump out. I’m thinking about sensible mice…I’ve probably fucking lost it.
The cook motions to him curtly and he follows her in to the kitchen. The fire is going, and Asher gravitates immediately toward its warmth.
“Breakfast,” the cook says, pointing at a chipped ceramic plate at the end of the long table. On it is an unevenly-cut hunk of bread, a pot of something that looks like crumb-flecked Vaseline (and God, not the image Asher wanted in his mind when he’s hungrier than hell) and a cup of milk. The milk looks fresh. The bread is from yesterday, but it’s still more than he’s eaten in the last fourteen hours or so.
“Eat quickly,” the cook admonishes before turning to another table and picking up a big knife. She’s chopping something up, something that’s leaking what is probably blood off the end of that table. Asher is uncomfortably reminded of the Cubist pigs in the backyard. He could have been feeding that piece of meat just yesterday. To someone who is accustomed to eating his protein in the form of bacon and burgers, it’s more than a little off-putting.
Asher bites a piece out of the bread. It’s tough and dry, throwing crumbs everywhere, so he dips it into the milk to soften it up before having another go at it. His stomach is so empty it’s hugging his spine, and any food is a welcome addition. He goes through the bread way too fast, drains the milk and goes so far as to pick up and sniff the little pot. It smells edible, kind of like Thanksgiving in a weird way, but he’s not about to stick a finger in and taste. Especially not after he’s been holding onto a mouse all night. Belatedly Asher remembers basic hygiene and figures he should have washed his hands before eating. And speaking of the mouse… Asher brushes the breadcrumbs into his hand, then dumps them into the pouch. He can feel the mouse twitch with interest.
He clears his throat and the cook turns to look him over. She grunts once, then points towards the fire. “Use that bucket to wash up, then bring it back and pick up the scraps. The pigs need feeding.”
“That bucket” has apparently been sitting by the fire for some time, because it’s miraculously not freezing cold. Asher takes it outside, to an abandoned corner of the yard that stinks of piss, and sluices his hands off. After a moment’s thought he does his face too. There’s enough left that he can just barely make out his reflection with the help of the rising sun. It doesn’t look like he’s missed any huge clumps of dirt or anything, but he looks so rough trade right now. Kind of feels it too, although obviously he hasn’t had any sex since he got here. Hadn’t had any for a few days before he got here either, at least not the kind he wants. That would be any and all versions of sex with Ty, but it’s getting harder to let himself go with Ty now that Ty’s not in the game anymore. It makes Asher feel kind of guilty, where it never did before. And it’s not like Ty ever gave him any real signals about how he felt other than enjoying it in the moment.
The mouse sticks its nose out of the edge of the pouch. “You still hungry?” Asher asks. When it doesn’t answer he counts that as a win and keeps going. “Go hang out by the pigpen, there’s bound to be more crumbs around there after they get fed.” He carefully grabs it and then sets it on the ground. “Go on, go forage or nest or make baby mice, or whatever it is that rodents do all day. And stay away from that fucking cat, because it will end you, little man.”
The mouse doesn’t move. It just keeps staring at him. “What?” he says. “What, you want to hang with me? Seriously?” He reached out and nudges the mouse with his muddy sandal, just in case it’s frozen with fear or in some kind of shock. It twitches, and its tail sweeps from side to side. Otherwise it doesn’t move. “Dude, no, really? You want to ride around with me all day? You might get crushed!” He nudges it again. The mouse doesn’t go anywhere.
“Fuck it.” Asher runs one hand through his hair, which feels kind of tacky with oil and old gel. “Fine.” He puts his hand down and the mouse hops onto it. “But you better not piss on me, little man. I mean it.” He replaces the mouse in the pouch, then heads back to the kitchen, feeling just a little bit better about something—someone—needing him enough to stick around, even if it is a mouse.
The morning is rough, but again, Asher manages to avoid the ladies (although personally he’d really like to let the mouse out on the formal table, just to see how those stuck-up bitches react, but he’s afraid they’d kill the mouse before he could remove it) and he even catches a nap after lunch. It isn’t exactly a restful nap, but the dream more than makes up for that.
“Fuck, God, fuck, ah…” Ty was a talker, a babbler when he was getting it on. That was good; a lot of clients liked to hear how much you enjoyed it, and learning to fake it or exaggerate would be that much harder if you didn’t already have a natural propensity for dirty talk. Asher would have returned the favor if his mouth wasn’t full right now.
Ty had finally caved, acknowledging that for now, Asher’s way was the best way. The question then became how to get him comfortable with the work itself. Asher had just been thrown into it, and once he learned how incredible sex could be he had regretted the way he lost his virginity, to a man who stank of chewing tobacco and used spit for lube. Ty had technically lost his virginity, sort of, but he wasn’t going to be fucking pretty girls to make the rent. Asher decided throwing him into the deep end would only freak him out, and so he started them off with mutual masturbation.
Ty had been awkward at the start, so embarrassed it took almost an hour to get hard the first time they got naked together. A few vodka shots later and the process was easier, and by the second night of practice he was already much better, much more at ease. He didn’t balk at exchanging hand jobs, and with a little direction he got really fucking good at that really fast. It made sense; his hands were Goddamn gigantic. He’d be leaving some johns feeling really inadequate after handling them, but Asher liked the way Ty could grip him tight all over. Coming into that kind of constant pressure was fucking amazing.
Blowjobs were the next big hurdle, and Asher was doing his damndest to ease Ty past any difficulties he might have with it by going to town on him. Ty had the hands but Asher had the mouth, and he knew it. Ty was proportionately big and his dick swelled even further in Asher’s mouth as he got closer to coming, but Asher still managed to brush the base of Ty’s cock with his lips, sucking hard.
“Ash!” Ty’s hands gripped the sheets tight, and his hips bucked hard up into Asher’s warm grip. He came like a fire engine, and Asher broke one of his personal rules and swallowed for Ty. This was Ty; he wanted to taste him. He wanted him to know it was okay, that you could enjoy it. He would talk to him later about safety and spitting, or preferably using a condom.
He leaned back when Ty started to shudder, overstimulated, lay down next to him and waited for Ty to open his eyes. When he did his pupils were huge, almost blotting out the warm brown of his eyes, which looked too big for his thin face. His hair was damp, sweaty, and his naked body gleamed. He looked at Asher like Asher was everything, like he was something incredibly important. Asher wanted desperately to hold onto Ty and never let him go, but he couldn’t. He couldn’t make this any harder than it already was.
“So,” he said with a grin, propping his head up on one hand. “You enjoy your first blow job?”
Ty exhaled deeply, releasing the last of the tension from his orgasm-spent body. He smiled his sweet, goofy smile and then reached out and pulled Asher closer by his shoulders. Before he could say anything Ty leaned in to him, and their lips touched in a kiss.
Asher jolts awake with a groan and a raging hard-on. His dick is so hard it’s almost purple, and he really, really needs to come. Thank God he’s taking his nap in the barn. It might smell like horse crap (and fuck, does everything around here smell like crap? Seriously, you can’t escape it) but he’s alone, and he jerks down his trousers and take a hold of himself, and imagines its Ty’s hand. He tries to imitate the way Ty touches him, short, fast pulls that encompass everything and suck him towards inevitable release. Asher pictures Ty in his mind, looming over his body like some ancient Greek hero, too fucking beautiful to be human, using his hands and his mouth and saying all those things that Asher knows are nonsense, just stupid sex talk, but fuck it he loves to hear them, fuck, ah—
Asher rolls onto his side and ejaculates all over the straw, moaning as the orgasm rips through him. He strokes himself until it’s just this side of painful, keeping his eyes closed the whole time because, damn it, he wants to preserve the illusion. He wants to imagine Ty is really there with him right now. No matter how they fight, no matter how annoying Ty is, Asher misses him like crazy. He always misses him, even if they’re just apart for a few hours. He’s been ignoring how awful Ty’s absence has been the last few days, mitigated by the sheer fucked-uppedness of his situation, but right now Asher feels his absence more than ever. God, he wants Ty. He wants him so bad he can barely breathe for a few seconds, but that’s not a sob, those aren’t tears; Asher shoves it all away and takes back control. He’ll get out of this. He’ll see Ty again. He has to.
He has to.