Note: This is part 2 of 4. Any similarities to real people or events are unintentional and coincidental.
* * * * * *
I spent the weekend hiding in my bed. I couldn’t face leaving the house in case I was recognised, and I didn’t want to see any more newspapers. I still couldn’t believe that Ben had thought we could get back together after he hit me, or that he and my agent had engineered a photo that ended up in the papers to go with him telling the world he was gay. I heard on the radio that his coming out had been greeted well by friends and the industry, but there was thankfully no mention of me, and even more importantly, no mention of why we had broken up. I could only hope that my part of the story would fade into obscurity pretty quickly.
I got a taxi to work on Monday, not wanting to face any more people than I had to. The driver didn’t comment so either didn’t know or didn’t care. I was dreading facing all the cast and crew that afternoon but I couldn’t sit at home feeling sorry for myself when I had work. There was no reason not to go in, and I was going to have to face the world at some point. I was also nervous of seeing Matt again, knowing that he had seen me in a complete state. Still, I must have looked awful so it would help me knowing that there was no chance of him wanting anything more from me. I didn’t know if he would be back to normal, or would still be friendly and kind, and I didn’t know which I preferred either. Knowing he could be like that, kind of made me want him more.
I saw emotion on his face as soon as I walked in the room, and he met my eyes immediately. There was something odd in them, perhaps nerves, and maybe a little concern like he expected me to break down again. I tried smiling to reassure him, but he looked even more worried.
“Have you seen today’s papers?” he asked, slowly.
I know I went white. It didn’t even matter what it said, clearly I was in there again, and whatever peace I had found over the weekend vanished. I sank down onto the seat next to him.
“No. I hoped there wouldn’t be any more.”
He looked very scared as he picked up a paper from the floor, folded so I couldn’t see the story on the front page.
“Do you want to see?”
Part of me didn’t. But it was obviously about me, and I couldn’t not know. I unfolded the paper and saw Ben’s face again, this time looking more sombre. The headline told me all I really needed to know, but I had to read every last word. He had told them all about what he did to me, and just like our agent suggested, a positive spin on how he’d been through therapy and rehab and addressed his anger issues, and how sorry he was. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.
It was like some weird dream, reading his side of the story, how he’d been so stressed keeping his secret and his drinking had escalated. How one night he had been drinking heavily and finally snapped, and how he had taken it out on me with his fists. It even detailed the injuries he left me with, the broken ribs and bruises and the split lip and black eye. Thank god they didn’t have a photo of that, if any existed. They’d repeated the picture of us together the other night, just so anyone who hadn’t already seen me would now know me as the battered boyfriend.
This time I didn’t go to pieces, I just felt strangely numb. I knew this story was about me and him, but it felt like I was reading some work of fiction that I was totally divorced from. I had enough about me to realise that it wasn’t a good sign that I didn’t feel anything. Actually, I did feel Matt’s eyes on me, as I sat and stared into space. Yet again he took control, and I silently thanked him for it. He was fast becoming a rock as I was stranded in some strange reality.
“I’ve already spoken to the director, and he understands if you don’t want to work today. I think you should go home, because you won’t be able to concentrate on work if this is on your mind.”
I didn’t know what to say, but I stammered out “I’m sorry,” without thinking.
“Sorry for what? No-one is going to mind you taking time off.”
“I’m sorry for being weak.”
He looked at me strangely, and then seemed to realise what I was saying, although I didn’t fully understand it myself.
“You’re not weak. You left him, and that takes strength. You couldn’t have changed him, the only thing you could do was help yourself.”
A shadow passed over his features as he said it, and I had the sudden feeling that he knew exactly what he was talking about, because at some point he had been in the same situation. Our eyes met and it seemed that he knew what I was thinking. We had something in common, as bad as it was, and we now knew it. The way he spoke made me think he had taken more abuse than I had and he wished he had left sooner, but I wasn’t going to ask anything, it was up to him to tell me if he wanted. I hadn’t wanted anyone to know, and if it wasn’t splashed all over the paper, probably no-one but Ben, Tim and I would ever have known. Tim had been the one to take me to the hospital, encouraging me all the gaziantep escort way to lie and say I had been attacked outside the house and didn’t know who had done it. Even then, protecting his assets and his income.
“Yes, I would like to go.”
He just nodded, and led the way to his car, not acknowledging the moment of understanding we had shared, but it was hard to admit you had been a victim. It explained a lot about him and why he didn’t interact with others, or take up the many offers he was given. I hadn’t wanted to let people get close to me for a long time, still didn’t trust easily, and he had just taken that further. He’d already let me in a lot more than he was probably used to, and I wondered why.
Again, we travelled in silence. I kept running over what I had read in the paper, still not quite believing he had done that after I had asked to be left out of things. Everyone would know, and now they would not be jealous that I had bedded a man a lot of people wanted, they would pity me. I found it reassuring that Matt wasn’t doing that, but I had a feeling he would be just about the only one that didn’t, and that was due to some dark secret in his past that he hadn’t faced up to, he’d just shut himself down. When I got over this, I planned to make it my mission to get him back into the world.
I heard him swear, quite a surprise, as we turned into my road. My heart sank when I saw what he had already seen. There were reporters outside my flat, cameras and even a film crew. I let out a curse as well, panicked by the sight. He took it in his stride.
“Crouch down. We’ll drive right past and they’ll never know you were here.”
I did as he suggested, not able to think straight. I didn’t realise I had been holding my breath until we got around the next corner and I started to shake again. Matt kept on driving, and it was about five minutes before I even questioned what he was doing.
“Where are we going?”
“My place. They won’t look for you there and you can work out what you are going to do in peace.”
There didn’t seem much to say to that, it was the best plan and one I probably wouldn’t have thought of in my confused state. I just knew I couldn’t face those people now, and I didn’t want to talk about it to anyone, let alone some randoms just after a good story. I wasn’t going to sell my side of it, I just wanted all of this to go away, but there was nothing I could do.
* * * * * *
His house, when we got there, was what I expected. Everything was ordered and had its place. He had whole walls of books in his living room, and I figured he didn’t have much life outside work. He had an extensive collection of music as well. I followed him through to his kitchen and it was spotless. Not that my place was filthy, but I had washing up on the side and things out of place. I could imagine him washing each item up after every meal and making sure it was all back where it was supposed to be.
“Would you like a drink?”
“Tea would be great, thanks. I’d like to say something stronger, but the way I feel right now I’d end up having far too many.”
He nodded, probably glad I had suggested something soft too. I was probably going to be unpredictable enough without adding alcohol to the mix. He made himself the same and took them through to the living room, where I promptly collapsed on his couch. He sat down much more carefully, and looked like he fitted there perfectly. I was half sprawled on the thing and the only thing out of place in the room. He looked kind of nervous again though.
“I’ve got a spare room, you’re welcome to go have a lie down, and stay as long as you need to hide out.”
“I appreciate the offer. I need to get my head straight right now. I don’t know what to do. I could shout at Ben and my agent again, but that’s kind of redundant now they’ve splashed all that shit in the papers.”
“That was why you were so angry. They actually wanted you to tell this to the papers?”
“Yes. Apparently it would make great publicity for both of us. It seems to have been decided for me.”
“It’s not right. If you want people to know you have to tell them yourself. You were the one who should have made the choice.”
“I haven’t told anyone, and now the world knows. You’re right, it isn’t fair. He put me through that and now it feels like I’m going through everything over again.”
“Just when you thought you were free?”
“I guess. But it hasn’t left me yet. I don’t think you can just forget about these things and go back to normality, it takes time to heal emotionally even when the physical signs are gone.”
He went silent after that, but we knew that this conversation was the barest of admissions he knew what I had been through from bitter experience. He wasn’t ready to talk, and I wouldn’t push him. If it was up to me he wouldn’t know about me either. I wished that it hadn’t taken something like this to bring him out of his shell a little and let me get to know what he was really like.
“I really do appreciate this. It can’t be easy for you either, dealing with a nervous wreck.”
He actually smiled at my lame attempt at humour. “It’s okay, I’m glad I can do something to help.”
It reminded me of how I had accused him, when we had our first dance lesson, of not being the type who would want to help. Now I realised I had been very wrong, it’s just that he was shut up too tight to let anyone see it. He was a really nice guy, and I didn’t know if I felt better or worse that I had been crushing on him as a result. It made more sense to me that I wanted him, but on the other hand, I’d been fantasising about doing all kinds of things with someone who I now realised was very vulnerable because of something that had happened in his past. Just like I was, and that was a recipe for disaster if anything were to happen between us in reality. All I needed from him was some friendship and I hoped that would help him a little too, and no matter what, I was not going to make a pass at him.
* * * * * *
We spent a comfortable day together, cooking and cleaning up after, watching some tv although he made sure we avoided the entertainment news and I appreciated his foresight in changing the channel fast when we realised that was next. I wanted to pretend that none of it was real for the moment, and live in a little bubble where I was normal. I managed longer and longer periods of time when it was all forgotten, and then reality intruded despite my best efforts. I developed a far away look when I was thinking about him, and Matt noticed, but it was only after quite a few of those moments that he asked.
“How is it going in there?” he asked, pointing at my head.
“Still hoping it’s a bad dream. I could have coped before today, but this is too much. I mean, Sunday I was the guy that had got to have Ben, any straight woman or gay man’s dream and I’d be the envy of all of them. Now I’m his victim. Everyone is going to want to know about it.”
“I don’t. I’d rather focus on the first bit,” he said grinning. “Like you said, everyone’s dream. So what does he really look like naked?”
I smiled back, amused that he was trying to take my mind off it this way.
“Pretty good. All those muscles and his tight ass, I could play with that for hours.”
He pulled a weird face and I wondered what I had said wrong until he made it obvious I’d not told him what he wanted to know.
“Come on, you’re talking to a gay guy. What’s his cock like?”
I was shocked but still laughing. What the hell, the guy had told the world I had been his punchbag.
“Real easy to give a blowjob to, if you get my drift.”
“You can’t ruin a dream like that. He should be hung like a donkey.”
“Sorry. I would have said there has to be something wrong with someone who looks that perfect. I’m being a bit harsh, but he’s average, nothing to get excited about. Just with the rest of that package it doesn’t matter.”
He still looked a bit miffed, like I had spoiled some fantasy for him.
“I could lie if it would help? You’ve got a thing for him?”
He blushed slightly, and then looked horrified.
“Not now. He is cute, but I never thought he was gay. Rubbish gaydar is my curse. Didn’t have you worked out, it took the newspaper on Saturday.”
I was surprised at that. “Seriously? I’ve only ever hidden it when I was with him. Mind you, I guess that was a long time, and since then I’ve not exactly been looking. Although, I did think you were trying to freak me out taking me to a gay club, so perhaps I did realise you weren’t sure.”
“Yeah, that was a bit mean of me. It was kind of a test, to see if you’d be bothered about going and also to see if you would do as you were told.”
“You’re a control freak?”
I could have kicked myself as soon as I said it, and then when I saw his face I knew I had fucked up. Of course he liked to have control of things, he’d had it all taken away from him at some point and now he lived his life to his own rules to make sure it didn’t happen again. I knew that feeling, I just didn’t take it as far as he did. Maybe whatever lurked in his past was worse.
“Sorry Matt, I wasn’t thinking.”
“It’s okay. I’m oversensitive sometimes. I know you were joking. The club night was about lots of things, but I’m most glad I got to prove you can dance when you just chill out a bit.”
“Chill out? I was pissed! Has to be the most interesting dance lesson I’ve ever had though, and the most effective.”
He blushed and looked away. Was he thinking, as I was as the words came out of my mouth, of how closely we had danced and how we had touched each other? Remembering that had me reaching for my drink to cure my suddenly very dry mouth, almost able to feel his hands on me and the little jolts of pleasure they sent through my body. Dry mouth soon became the least of my problems and I excused myself to the bathroom, hoping he had not seen the tent growing in my trousers as I left the room. Suddenly relying on him seemed like a very bad idea. I didn’t know if I could be here like this and still keep control of myself. I was going to let something slip and destroy all the ease we had created.
I didn’t have time to get rid of my erection in a good way, and I wanted to get back to Matt now that we were making progress on a friendship. That was too important right now for anything else to get in the way, and I was just going to have to keep telling myself that. I splashed a little cold water on little Aaron in the hope it would keep him under control for the time being, and then went back to the living room to spend the most pleasant evening I had had in a long time with my new friend. We laughed at silly movies and it was just comfortable all night, and any time I had other thoughts I concentrated on why we were in this situation in the first place and that stopped them.
It was quite late when our director rang, and I felt bad for wishing that we wouldn’t have to go back to work just yet so I could revel in having Matt all to myself, no matter what the reasons for wanting that were. I put him on speaker so we could both talk and listen.
“How are you doing?”
“Okay. It was the people outside my flat that really freaked me out. I’m not happy about any of this, but the least they could do is leave me alone.”
“I’ve had quite a few calls asking for you. I haven’t told them where you are, and frankly I think it’s worth you keeping a low profile until this blows over. I’m not worried about the play, I just think you need some time. I’ve also torn your agent a new hole for doing this in the first place.”
“My ex-agent. I fired him.”
“Glad to hear it. If it weren’t that it would drag everything out for you I’d sue him too.”
“I’d rather forget about it.”
“Fair enough. Anyhow, we’ve had rehearsals without you two today, and for starters I wanted to say that everyone sends their best wishes, and no-one thinks any different of you, okay?”
“I appreciate that.” Didn’t know if I believed it, but it was still a nice thing to say.
“We are going to keep at the group rehearsals for the rest of this week. If it’s okay with you and Matt, I reckon the best thing is for you to do the same there. Most of your scenes are with him anyway, and then next Monday we’ll run through the whole thing all together, before the writer comes on Tuesday. Have you got a script there?”
Matt confirmed he did. Private rehearsals with him for the rest of the week sounded fantastic. Including the one thing we had not rehearsed so far, the kiss. Would it be good or bad that we were alone for that? As much as I had hated the dancing part, the kissing bit was seeming increasingly like a good idea.
“That’s it then guys. I’ll see you Monday. Any problems, give me a call.”
We went to bed not long after that, separately of course, although I was acutely aware that Matt was only in the next room. I was still scared about what would happen about the newspaper article, but I was also unable to stop thinking about what was happening and what I wanted. It had taken about three days for me to stop seeing the negative in Matt, because he had shown me everything else he had in him. If it weren’t for the emotional trauma I had been through I’d probably be yet another of the guys throwing myself at his feet and begging for more. And yet I knew that wasn’t going to work, and I wasn’t sure that anything would. Could he let anyone in to his life even further than he already had?
I couldn’t stop myself from stroking my cock as I thought about the day I had spent with him. It had been so good, he’d been caring and compassionate when I needed that, teased me when I needed a laugh, and had catered to every need I had. It just made him even more of an angel than he already looked. I wanted to get up and go into his room, erection bobbing in front of me, and get him to do something about it, but I had far more sense than to do that. It didn’t stop that being my fantasy as I stroked harder, imagining him sucking me before I did the same to him, and shooting all over myself in the process. I felt bad about it, but there was nothing I could do to make my feelings go away, I just had to make sure I didn’t show them or act on them.
Next morning we ate breakfast and it was just as nice as the companionship the day before. We smiled our hellos when we met in the kitchen and I tried not to think how cute he looked when he was smiling, his hair still messed from a night in bed. And I definitely tried not to think about how messy I could make that hair if we writhed together naked. Those thoughts had me diverting my attention, suddenly very interested in buttering my toast and not daring to look at him.
In fact, all was fine throughout the morning, as we rehearsed our lines and scenes where we were acting together, and read other parts for those we weren’t. It was really different to be doing this at home rather than on stage, and we giggled through some bits that shouldn’t have been that funny. When it got to the point of doing the dance part we had to move his sofa first so we had room to move, and I helped lift it over to one of the walls. He even had the right music at home, but I guessed we would have had to dance to something if he hadn’t.