Things were very awkward the next morning.
Things had never before really been awkward in the morning. But this morning? They were painfully, irrevocably awkward.
They usually slept with Damien wrapping himself around Levi, Levi’s back to his front. Even if Damien shifted sides in his sleep, his arms braced about Levi usually brought Levi, as if on some type of roller, over to the other side of the bed, where he would sleep within the framework of Damien’s arms. On those occasions when this spooning did not take place, Damien would find Levi facing him, Levi’s head snugly wrapped under Damien’s arm or sometimes using Damien’s pecs as a pillow. They never slept apart, in the same bed; their bodies were always entangled with the other.
This morning was no different; Damien had two arms surrounding Levi, palms flat on Levi’s chest, his crotch grinding hard up against Levi’s firm buttocks, their legs laced together, Damien’s lips in Levi’s blond hair. But there was a silence alien to them filling the room.
And so Levi whispered, “I’m so sorry.”
“Ssssh,” Damien whispered. He moved his lips to Levi’s ear, overenunciating so his lips would caress him. “You were tipsy.”
So that was how Damien was going to dismiss it. Levi was stoned. Said something that shouldn’t have been said, proposed some crazy, silly idea, and, rather than discuss it, would eject it from the room and memory with a “You were tipsy.”
“It’s not my place to ask that,” Levi said. “I’m sorry.”
“You like to be in control. That question is in your hands. Not mine. I shouldn’t have asked.”
“Sssh. That’s nonsense.”
“But you do like to be in control’ Levi stated. It was a fact. Damien was not passive, even when in rare moments of being passive-aggressive. Damien was full-on, frontal attack, taking charge of dinner plans, travel plans, even pretty much deciding for Levi that Levi would live with him. Yes, there had been a request made and yes, Levi had maintained that he still needed to keep his own apartment, but Damien was indeed the more powerful of the two. It was a power Levi had also granted him, thankful to have someone to whom the more complex decisions could be given while Levi dealt with his own personal shit. Thankful to have someone he could trust without question or reserve.
“I only like to be in control because you’re pretty uncontrollable, you little devil.” Damien punctuated his comment with a kiss on Levi’s ear and the tickling sensation made Levi’s shoulders come up about his neck.
“I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have asked it and—”
“Sssh.” Damien told him. “If I had asked you. . .knowing how hard it was to convince you to move in with me and Track. . .what would you have said?”
“What do you mean?” Levi asked.
“Now that you’re sober. . .If I had asked you to marry me, what would you have said?” Damien repeated, his lips tickling Levi’s ear.
“Are you asking or asking hypothetically?” Levi asked. “If you’re asking hypothetically, I can’t answer because that’s a question you only answer when asked.”
“Well, you might notice, Levi Hastings, holder of my heart. . .When you asked me to marry you, I didn’t say, ‘no’.”
“True. You didn’t say no. What you told me was,” Levi reminded him, “To suck your cock.”
Damien flinched with shame. “I am so sorry—”
“I asked you to marry me and you told me to suck your cock?” Levi asked, reluctantly laughing at the ludicrousness of it. “Who does that?”
“A simple, ‘No, I have sufficient’ would have sufficed!”
“I didn’t know what to say—”
“So you tell me to suck your cock? What is that—your go-to? ‘We’d like you to be in this movie?’ ‘Suck my cock.’ ‘How would you like your steak prepared?’ ‘Suck my cock.’”
“You were holding my hard-on and asking me to marry you and—”
“I thought it was a microphone.”
“The alcohol. My pills. I thought we were at a big reception somewhere and I was asking in front of the whole—”
“You thought my cock was a microphone?”
“Don’t change the subject. I asked you to marry me and you—”
“I didn’t know how to get you stop asking—”
“Most people would say, ‘No’. That would stop the proposal mighty fast.”
Damien sighed, “This sounds awful. And I’m sorry. But you were. . .down there. You had my cock in your hands. You asked me to marry you. I didn’t know how else to quiet you up so I—”
“Told me to suck your cock.”
“Yes.” Damien said, sighing. “And you did.”
Levi shook his head at himself. “And I did.”
“For the record. . .it was the nicest proposal I ever got, once I could understand you were saying, ‘Marry me.’” Damien’s hands took hold of Levi’s and pulled him even closer. “But yes. . .I like to be in control. I’ll admit it. Damien Lanchester: Control Freak at your service.”
“Levi Hastings. Crazy person in need of domination.”
“Nice to meet you,” Damien said, kissing him once on each eyebrow. “Honey. . .I’m not saying I won’t be asking for a long time. . .I’m just saying. . .let me ask. In the near future, maybe. And then—” Damien added, “If I’ve made you mad for taking so god-damned long to ask you to be my husband, you can turn me down, break my heart, and smash me into pieces.”
Damien’s fingers stroked Levi’s lips into a small smile.
“Kiss me,” Damien asked.
“I have morning mouth,” Levi reminded him.
“So the fuck what?” Damien asked. “I could kiss you for all time.”
“Will you,” Levi asked, after risking that his own atrocious breath might make Damien run for the bathroom, in his small, pleading voice, “Will you do your little male stripper dance for me?”
“Oh, not now!” Damien cried, laughing in embarrassment.
“Come on! I need all this seriousness broken. A mood change that’s intentional, not chemical. Plus–It’s so fucking hot.”
“It’s broad daylight out!” Damien said, waving to the drawn curtains and shades that let in daylight unimpeded.
“What’s that got to do with it? Come on—let me see those moves!” Levi felt under the comforter. “You don’t have to get all dressed up like normal. Just put on a pair of briefs, Damie. Black ones. All you’ve got to do is dance for me. Come on!” Levi reached over to the nightstand and grabbed his wallet. “Let me throw some dollar bills atcha!”
“Oh for Christ’s sake,” Damien muttered, throwing the blankets aside and stepping shyly out of the bed. “The shit I do for you. . .”
The truth was, as much as Levi loved to see it, Damien loved to do it. Late at night one night long ago, cuddled up in bed at Levi’s apartment, Levi had asked Damien what had brought about his strict refusal to perform nude or naked on camera. “Not that I think you should. I respect you for holding your line. But, after all,” Levi said, “Most actors in your league have shown ass if not cock and balls in some serious movie or a comedy, or some indie film. DeNiro, Skaarsgard, Gyllenhaal? They’ve all done it. Hell, regular, non-famous guys have dick pics all over the internet.”
“No, not me.” Levi said. “But that’s because I’m a prude.” He had smiled flirtatiously at Damien, “But, in your case, Mister Handsome, Mister Muscular, Mister Mmm-Mmm Good. . .Why not flash them some of that goodness you’ve got?”
Damien had sighed and explained that, when he was a child, his mother had worked as a model or a local photography company that took photos for a local department store chain. “And so, in all the Sunday papers, there’d be the circular—the weekly ad—for Capton’s Department Store. And there, on the third or fourth page, would be my mother in bras, and on the next page, my mother in panties. Now. . .I love my mom. I do. And having Track now? I assure you, if it meant putting food in his mouth or him going hungry, I’d whip out my cock for a paycheck without question and put my obsessive modesty aside. But I don’t have to. And I don’t want Track to be embarrassed like I was. I know now my mom was just doing what she had to; she was gorgeous but we lived in bumfuck, Colorado. So what was she going to do? And what little she earned kept a roof over our heads and food in my brother and my mouths. But, Jesus. . .it’s something else when you know all your friends and friends’ fathers are jacking off to pictures of your mom. And the neighborhood ladies treated her like she was a prostitute. I mean, it wasn’t like she was spread eagle; she was modeling underwear for Christ’s sake.”
“Is that why, even though you’re a briefs guy, you only wear boxers on camera? Because they’re not very revealing?”
“You got it. Because people get off on shit like it’s porn. Look—I got lucky. Unlike most people, I’ve had an easy career in a lot of respects. I started in a serious film, immediately hit it off, and had a lot of ability to say ‘No’ right away. Never had to do a slasher flick where I get an icepick through my forehead mid-orgasm, never had to run around in a sex comedy, covering my crotch while mooning the camera or flashing my dick for comic relief. Never had my pants yanked off on-camera to a cheering crowd. Never had to suffer those indignities and claim ‘It reveals something about my character, saying those lines nude.’ My mom didn’t have that choice. So I refuse because I can. And. . .I’m an actor. I take what I do seriously. If I wanted people to jack off to me, I’d go over to the valley and make some pornos.”
And yet. . .Levi knew that though Damien refused to appear nude publicly. . .he secretly loved the idea (but just the idea, appalled as he genuinely was by any screenplay promising a possibility) of showing off and having ogled that body he worked so hard—several hours a day, at least five days a week—to maintain. Loved the idea of someone watching the two of them make love, or even getting stripped naked on-camera in a b-level sex comedy. He would never do such a thing, but it was a fantasy. And Levi, being a bit of a voyeur, was more than willing to make his fantasies come true. They often role-played: Stripper (Damien) and Horny Customer (Levi) or Bookish Professor (Damien) stripped by Horny Student (Levi) or Hunky TV Repairman (Damien) molested by Horny TV Owner (Levi) or any other variation on a similar theme which involved one or the other stripping the clothes off a playfully reluctant other. And so Levi spent that morning cheering a d hollering as Damien danced for him, arousing Levi—and himself—through their sexual partnership of exhibitionist and voyeur. And as Levi watched Damien’s body move and felt his hands, held in place by Damien, move over Damien’s amazing chest and hard abdominal muscles, he asked Damien, “Am I still your Savior?”
“Am I still your God?” Damien whispered, gyrating his crotch in Levi’s beaming face.
“I worship you,” Levi murmured, sliding a ten into the waistband of Damien’s briefs. “Consider this a tithing.”