Thursday, July 13, 2000

In/Exhale - February 11, 2001 - Part IV

February 11, 2001 - Part IV

By the time Kai got back to his car, the panic he’d barely held back through most of the evening took hold, and he felt like he was drowning. As if every time he thought he found the surface and took a huge gulp of air, his lungs filled with water, instead. The past tore at his mind, trying to pull him back. The phantom touch of an unwanted hand on his face that made Kai physically jerk away. Another on his thigh. His throat. Tears sprung to Kai’s eyes and he fought through it, dizzy and certain he was going to pass out. He ripped open his bag and dug through it until he found the bottle of Xanax he’d stolen from the safe. Shook it. It was almost completely full.
Kai stared out into the dark winter night. Then glanced back at the bottle in his hand. He wondered if he took them all and drove out into the middle of nowhere, what would kill him first: asphyxiation or the cold? How long would it take anyone to find him? Kai removed the lid. His hand was shaking so badly some of the tablets threatened to jump out as if they were suicidal. Jon, David, and Renee would be filled with worry, and probably guilt, but that would pass, wouldn’t it? It’d morph into anger as they realized Kai was the only one at fault. He was the one who was so selfish he couldn’t let himself be locked up when he needed it, right?
Kai popped one whole tablet--he normally only took a quarter to half per dose--and shut the bottle, tossing it back in his bag. Just enough to calm him down, and if it plus the wine was enough to kill him, then so be it. He’d call someone, like he’d promised he’d do, to talk. Jon didn’t answer, and Kai remembered then that he’d rushed to the hospital for an emergency; he was probably trying to save that kid right this moment. David didn’t know all Kai had gone through, and neither did Renee, and he wasn’t ready to tell her. Not yet. Frankie’s kiss still shook Kai to his core. Part of him worried he’d actually liked it, but then he remembered how fucking horny he was. It was probably just like some of those animals who would flaunt their plumage to anyone passing by.
Kai knew he needed help. Tonight. Or he was going to do something terrible. It was inevitable. Could he call Dr. Miller on a Sunday night? No. No, he needed to do much more than talk. Kai scrolled through his contacts almost manically, searching for the one and only person he could go to right now.


#


Nikki opened her door, wearing only a T-shirt, surprised by how her heart leapt at the sight of Kai, his face half covered with a scarf, leaning heavily on his crutches. No matter how crazy and out of it he’d been, seeing Kai the other night had been like an appetizer after a long stretch of hunger. God, she wanted him. She didn’t even care how panicked and desperate he’d sounded on the phone, or why he was here. All that mattered was that he’d come to her instead of anyone else.
She waved him in. She noticed he was walking stiffly, slowly, as if he were tired or his muscles were tight. Probably both from the look of his eyes. She heard the clatter of his crutches as she shut the door and noticed he hadn’t taken them off, just slipped his hands off the handles as he tore off his scarf, gloves, and unzipped his jacket. He was breathing hard, his chest heaving, and he looked so goddamn sexy with his long hair a mess over his face.
Nikki stepped forward to help him with his coat, and he grabbed her, pulling her to him, almost lifting her off the floor to meet her lips in a kiss that felt like he was both suffocating and starving at the same time. He ended the kiss as abruptly as he’d started it, shoving her away and yet gripping the front of her shirt as if to keep her close. He hadn’t said a single word since he’d arrived. His eye gaze darted from her around the room, perhaps surveying it. She’d moved into a new apartment, this one a nice, newer, modern one bedroom instead of the shit studio she’d lived in before. The living room was large and the kitchen open, with a small island, and across the room was a tiny hall that led to the bathroom and her bedroom.
“Kitchen,” Kai growled, pushing her in that direction.
She glanced back as he finally took off his crutches so he could strip away his coat and sweater. He was wearing a nice white button-up, the kind of shirt Kai never wore. He looked distinguished and older with it on, and although she could see how thin he was, it still stretched tight around his upper arms and chest. He undid just enough of the top buttons so he could pull it off, letting it fall to the floor on top of his jacket. Now, from the waist up, all that remained was a white undershirt that defined the muscle he still had, and his dog-tag medical alert necklace. His arms were a rash of cuts of various ages and size, some looking fresh, others healing scabs, and faint scars beneath them all, as if he’d played a disturbing game of Tic-Tac-Toe with his skin and a knife. He glanced down at them, then met her eyes and growled. Actually growled, as if in warning not to fucking ask. So she didn’t.
Kitchen,” Kai said again, a firm command, his eyes fiery, his right hand waving in what may have been the signed equivalent. He then grabbed his crutches from where he’d leaned them against the wall, slipped his arms back in, braced them, and then pushed off hard so that he made a long step using his upper body to do most of the work. His movements were still more effortful than she’d seen from him before, but he moved faster, with more intent than when he’d first arrived.
Fortunately, the apartment wasn’t large despite being a step up from her last digs, and it didn’t take long for Kai to reach the kitchen. She was about to ask him what he wanted when he backed her up to the island, dropped his hands off the handles of his crutches, and literally ripped her shirt off. He grinned when he realized she was totally naked now. He slipped out of his crutches in a move so careless and quick she thought he was going to hit her with them, and set them horizontally on top of the island. Then he leaned one hand on the counter and the other forced her legs apart, shoving two fingers in without warning.
It hurt. But it was Nikki’s instinct from years selling herself to moan as if she liked it. And she did before she caught herself. Kai wasn’t a client. She didn’t have to pretend with him. It was a huge reason she’d fallen so hard for him. She reached down and pushed against his forearm. He resisted her, and he was still stronger than she, but finally he relented. Without warning he lifted her onto the island, and a second later buried his face in her breasts, sucking and kissing and even biting as if he couldn’t get enough of her.
She gripped his hair half to brace herself and half to protect herself. Kai had never been this rough with her before. Part of her was turned on and part of her was terrified. The Kai of the other night had been something she’d never seen in him before. Tonight she was convinced he’d be one thing for certain: unpredictable.
He pulled away, his chest heaving, the front of his undershirt soaked in sweat. He looked at her the way a hungry wolf eyed an injured deer, and Nikki’s heart picked up. She tried to inch back, lean so she could get to a drawer and find something to protect herself should it come to it. She hadn’t survived the life she’d led without knowing how to defend herself. But Kai either sensed what she was doing or simply didn’t like her moving from where he’d placed her. He grabbed her and yanked her toward him, holding her with one arm while his other hand undid his jeans and pushed his boxers down just enough to expose his cock. Somehow he looked bigger than she remembered. But Nikki didn’t have long to muse on that before he pulled her onto him, shoving inside of her deep.
Nikki couldn’t remember the last time she’d fucked bare, and gasped at the fullness, the explosion of every nerve in her body that reminded her how good fucking could be. She struggled to speak as Kai used the leverage of the island to aid his thrusts, his hands gripping the edges as he bent over her. “Kai. Kai. Stop. We can’t.” She didn’t want to speak. She wanted him to fuck her into oblivion and then fuck her again. But contrary to most people’s impressions of her, she wasn’t a total selfish cunt. “What about your girlfriend?”
“I need this,” Kai said, grunting. He kept shifting his hands as if hoping to find a better angle, more power to grind their bodies together. “I don’t want to hurt her.” Considering if Nikki survived the night she was going to be sore everywhere, she suspected he was being literal.
“But you don’t care if you hurt me?”
Kai straightened, pulling her with him, making him sink even deeper, and they both gasped. “You can take it.” Kai couldn’t maintain this position long and lay her back down, but it meant they lost some depth and Kai grunted in frustration.
“We should use a condom,” Nikki panted out. Her head kept banging on the countertop as Kai pulled her toward him with rough, jerking movements.
“Need to feel. Need to come.” Kai was sweating profusely, his hair matted to his head and drops gathering on his forehead and threatening to fall. He was shaking as if his muscles were beginning to give out or even spasm from the rough sex, from standing so long without his crutches, even if he was supported by his braces. “Need,” Kai almost sobbed as his movements slowed and his breathing became more labored. His whole body seemed to tense, and he let out a loud grunt, his eyes tightly shut. Then he relaxed, panting, and if they’d been using a condom she may have suspected he’d come, but she hadn’t felt the rush of heat inside her.
She loved Kai, and she’d always enjoyed sex with him, but his record was maybe five, ten minutes before he blew his load. He was young and he wasn’t cut. The fact that he’d learned to hold out that long was testament to his amazing abs and his strong will. The last time she and Kai had fucked, if they’d done it like this he would have shot in thirty seconds. They were going on almost twenty minutes, Nikki realized, as she saw the clock on the microwave. Something was wrong, and she suspected it was why he was here.
Kai grunted again and stopped. He was trembling visibly. “I need this. Please. I need this.” Kai wasn’t quite sobbing, but he seemed on the verge. Then he screamed, making Nikki start. “Goddammit. I need this. I fucking need this.” Kai was acting like a wounded animal, furious and confused and feral.
Nikki held up one hand in a pacifying gesture and used the other to push herself up and slide back.
Kai didn’t prevent her from moving. His braces seemed to be keeping his underwear and pants from falling to his ankles, and he was still hard. He touched himself a few times, sliding a palm over the crest of his cock, running fingers over the head a few times, then groaning in frustration. “I need to come, Nik. Please. I need to. I’m . . . it’s all I can think about. Please.”
Nikki scooted closer to him and laid a hand on his cheek. “Let’s go to the bedroom. I have a few tricks that should help.”
Kai seemed to relax, even if it was only for a few seconds, and leaned his forehead against hers. “I’ll pay. I don’t care. I need this.”
“Shh,” Nikki soothed. “You never have to pay.” She kissed him, a long but chaste touch of lips. “Nikki’ll make it all better.”


#


Nikki had helped Kai undress--she’d never get over all the leather straps of his braces--but he’d insisted on leaving his undershirt on. Kai had always been sensitive about his scars, and if his arms were any indication, she suspected he might have fresh ones he was trying to hide. She didn’t fight him. Simply urged him to lie back on her bed. It wasn’t the most ideal position, but especially with Kai’s disability, it would do.
Nikki crawled onto the bed, urging Kai’s legs a bit farther apart. Kai tensed--whether it was voluntary or not--when she touched his thigh. He finally nudged her away and moved them himself using his hands. He was still half hard, but his hands were fisting the sheets as if he were bracing for pain. Maybe he thought that was how she was going to get him over the top, since she knew he liked it, at least in small doses.
Nikki tried to smooth a hand over his thigh again. Kai shirked, his upper body tensing and trying to pull away from her. “This won’t work if you won’t let me touch you. Relax.”
Kai blew out a forced breath. “Only way that’s happening is if you dump half a bottle of Xanax down my throat.” He groaned low and squeezed his balls, then stroked his dick a few times before letting out a whine of frustration.
Nikki climbed over him, sitting just above his crotch, teasing him. She bent forward and sucked his collarbone through his shirt until she felt his breathing shift. That had always gotten him. “Relax,” she said when she sat up, perched on his stomach.
He swallowed audibly and tried to reach around to shove his cock into either of her holes, but Nikki swooped away, lifting a leg over him and sliding back down to between his thighs. “Please. Please,” Kai begged. “I just want to come. I need it. I need it to be over so I can think without all the noise.”
Nikki grabbed the small bottle of lube she’d taken out and squirted some onto her hands. With her right she started to stroke him, long, slow movements. “Relax,” she soothed again, running her left index finger along the underside of his scrotum.
Kai hissed, and his balls jerked, and then he panted for a few minutes. He draped his forearm over his eyes. Was he in pain? That had kept him from coming before. And yet today felt very different from any other time together.
Nikki continued the hand job while her left finger slid along his taint. Kai didn’t seem to respond. She tried a few different touches, the kind that had pushed many a man over the edge in her experience, but Kai didn’t react. So she found the spot just behind his balls and pushed up, gentle but firm pressure while she increased the speed of her hand on his cock. Kai pressed his head into the mattress and arched his back, grunting. He still didn’t look like he was enjoying this. Watching his face, Nikki tried a few more techniques, alternating her finger movements and positions, squeezing and sliding, all the while maintaining the pressure on his “G” spot, hoping she was stimulating his prostate enough to finally get him over the edge.
But she finally had to stop because his dick had evidently gotten too sensitive. Kai was nearly in tears, still hard. She felt for him, and the “professional” in her was determined to finish what she’d started. “Relax. Slow, deep breaths. I have one more thing to try.” Nikki coaxed him through a few more breaths while she lubed her hands again.
“What is this? X-rated yoga?” Kai laughed but it was cut short. He was in pain, whether it was from the exertion of earlier, because he couldn’t come, or something else, Nikki couldn’t be sure. But he followed her guidance to attempt to slow his breathing.
“Deep breath in. Hold it.” Nikki circled his hole, surprised when Kai didn’t react. He had his eyes tightly shut. Nikki pressed against his entrance. “Now out. Push all the air out.” The force of his exhale relaxed his sphincter and let her finger slip in. Shockingly, Kai still didn’t seem to notice. “Good. You’re getting there. Just a few more breaths.” Nikki’s finger slid in all the way over the next couple minutes, far easier than she’d expected. “Now picture me and your girlfriend sixty-nining,” Nikki said with a small chuckle. She formed the fingers of her free hand into a circle and very gently slid along his shaft, careful since he’d become so sensitized. As she did so, she curved her finger inside him, searching for his prostate. When she found the firm organ, she pressed against it, gentle pressure.
Kai had been mid-inhale and choked. His entire body tensed; Nikki felt his hole squeeze tightly around her finger. His eyes shot open. Shock and fear. “No. No. No. No.”
“Relax. Most guys are afraid of this but it works. Every time.”
Kai shook his head and shifted, pushing up with one hand, trying to pull away while his other reached down to grab Nikki. He shoved her off him so violently she not only separated from him but went crashing to the floor.
A sudden, sharp pain shot through Nikki’s arm where she’d landed on it, and when she tried to use it to help her sit up, the pain magnified to such a point she felt dizzy.
“No. No. No. No. No. No.” Kai sounded less like he was speaking words than chattering his teeth, a repeated click, click, click, click.
Nikki finally got to her feet, holding her arm close to her body. Kai was curled up against the headboard, gripping his legs tightly to his chest, trembling and doing that clicking while shaking his head. She tried to touch him.
“No!” Kai stared up at her with pure terror in his eyes, but she also saw the vacancy and confusion of the other night.
Nikki sighed. Left him as she went back to the kitchen. Washed her hands, then grabbed a towel and a bag of vegetables from the freezer. She wrapped the veggies as she walked back to the bedroom. Kai had pulled the blankets around him but otherwise hadn’t moved. He’d gotten quiet, but he was breathing short and fast punctuated by long pauses in which he didn’t seem to breathe at all. “Kai. Kai, look at me.”
Kai ignored her, although he did flinch when she spoke.
“Kai. Talk to me.”
“No. No. No. No. No.”
Nikki sighed. She should have recognized the other night for what it was. She’d had her suspicions about Kai from the first time they’d had sex, but now all the pieces seemed to snap into place. She braced herself and stretched out to press the towel-wrapped veggies against Kai’s cheek.
Kai silenced. Stiffened. Then, a moment later, he pulled away, sucking in a deep breath. He blinked and finally turned his head to look up at her. He shoved the bag away from him, but without the violence of earlier.
“You back?”
A flicker of fear in Kai’s eyes and it was gone. He looked around the room, down at himself, then back at her, his gaze roving over her body although without lust; it was almost scientific. “Where are we?”
Nikki let out a short, relieved sigh, set the veggies on the nightstand and sat on the edge of the mattress, facing Kai. “My apartment. You came over. Remember?”
Kai laid his legs down, carefully, wincing, and then used both hands to push himself up a bit more against the headboard. He shoved a hand through his hair. “Did we . . .” He made a sign with both his hands, his index and pinkie fingers standing up, bashing them together, palms inward.
“Fuck?”
The word seemed to make Kai cringe. He nodded.  He leaned back, seemingly exhausted. “I’ve ruined everything with Renee.” Kai looked devastated.
Nikki stared at him, hesitating.
He signed angrily, perhaps forgetting she couldn’t understand. Then he burst into violent sobs, burying his face in his hands.
Shit. She touched him, lightly, jerking away just in case he’d lash out.
Kai wiped his eyes with his arm, his nose on his shoulder, before looking at her.
“We didn’t. Have sex.”
Kai swallowed. His eyes narrowed. “We’re both naked. I’m in your bed. My dick’s wet.”
Nikki sighed, more heavily this time. “Nothing happened. Not really,” Nikki lied. “You weren’t yourself. Like Friday night.” Nikki rose and walked around the bed to the other side. Reluctantly, she grabbed a shirt off the top of her hamper and slipped it on. Then she curled up on the mattress, her legs tucked under her, facing Kai. She stared at him, and very seriously, she asked, “How old were you? The first time?”
Kai’s eyes widened before he masked his expression. “I don’t understand.”
“You do. How old? When it started?”
Kai grit his teeth; his Adam’s apple bobbed. He stared back at her warily. Shook his head. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“I was six when my stepfather started ‘visiting’ me at night.”
Kai swallowed audibly. He looked away.
“When I finally told my mom, she slapped me and said I would do whatever he wanted, because she wouldn’t let another man leave her.”
Kai hugged his stomach, his thumb digging into his arm, but he said nothing, and he barely looked at her.
But Nikki kept talking. “He left her anyway. So my brother filled in.” Nikki felt her sinuses start to burn and she sucked in a breath to keep the tears at bay. “When I was fourteen, my periods stopped. I was terrified. I thought I was going to die. I told my mom, because I had no one else, and she kicked me out for being a whore and getting pregnant.”
Kai finally met her eyes. She couldn’t read his expression. “Your brother’s?” Kai’s voice was barely audible, hard to understand, like he couldn’t remember how to work his tongue right.
Nikki nodded. “My first abortion,” she said with a half-smile, as if it were no big deal. As if she hadn’t cried for days, weeks, years afterward. It had been the right decision, she knew, but it didn’t mean she didn’t sometimes long for the child who could have been. “I recognize a flashback when I see it.”
Kai shook his head as if he were going to deny it. He covered his mouth. A few stray tears fell he didn’t fight. “I can’t. I can’t talk about this.” Kai was shaking. He started to gasp, as if he couldn’t breathe.
Nikki rose, slinked to the bathroom. She opened the medicine cabinet. First, took out her birth control, just to check. Fuck. She’d missed a day. How could she have forgotten? This had been part of her routine for years. The ebb of panic in her stomach ignited, but she tried to calm herself. She’d take it now. Kai hadn’t come. She’d be fine. She swallowed the pill, then searched for the bottle she’d come to retrieve for Kai. A brown prescription vial with a faded label with the words, Alprazolam and Dr. Angela Miller on it.


#


Kai was sleeping deep. Maybe too deep. He was barely breathing, and it made Nikki nervous. She had no idea what or how much Kai had taken before he’d shown up at her door, and even though she thought two whole Xanax tabs was too much, he’d insisted because of his tolerance it was fine.
Kai lay beside her, on his side, and she’d occasionally smooth his hair even though he’d flinch each time she touched him. Bad dreams, maybe. She knew enough about those. Kai’s phone buzzed again, and Nikki finally decided to find it and turn it off. Kai wouldn’t be waking up until the morning, and she needed to get some sleep. She’d found a waitressing job at a truckstop outside of town. It was shit work, and she had to work crap hours. Truckers tipped for shit, but it meant she could afford to take only the johns she wanted and still live better than she ever had before.
As Nikki searched the floor for Kai’s jeans, the brief thought of somehow getting him into his car and taking off popped into her head. Just the two of them. Maybe if they drove far enough they’d leave all their problems behind. Maybe Kai would change his mind about her. A cloak of sadness drew itself over her as she found his phone and saw he had a dozen missed calls and double that of text messages, all from someone named Renee. His girlfriend. The pretty petite thing with the gorgeous dark curly hair who had cast daggers at Nikki the other night when she’d brought Kai home safe.
Kai would never choose Nikki over someone like Renee. And they could drive until they hit ocean and their demons would still be with them. Nikki’s finger hovered over the power button when the phone buzzed in her hand and another message popped up. I love you. I’m worried. Please text back. Nikki stood up, and noticed Kai was gripping the sheets, grunting as if in pain, panting. He let out a small cry and then went still for a nauseatingly long moment. Then he exhaled and pushed against the mattress to roll over onto his back. His legs didn’t move with him, but Kai stretched up as if he were reaching for something above and behind him and that pulled his pelvis in line with his spine so that his legs fell open, still bent at the knee. Kai whimpered, but his eyes were firmly shut and it was clear he was still asleep. Nikki knew that position was painful for Kai so she dropped the phone on the mattress and crawled toward him, intent on straightening his legs for him.
Nikki’s arm still hurt; it wasn’t swelling up so she hadn’t broken it, but she’d be nursing it for a week at least. It would make waitressing a bitch, but it wasn't Kai’s fault. Still, she was in no hurry to risk round two so she kept her distance, staying near Kai’s feet knowing he couldn’t kick her. “You’ll thank me for this, I hope,” Nikki said as she gripped Kai’s calf.
Kai let out a sound like a small, panicked child would make, not quite a cry or scream or whimper but something in between.
“Shh. You’re safe. It’s OK,” Nikki said in a soothing voice as she massaged the muscles near his knee, hoping they’d relax enough she could at least partially straighten his leg. It took her several minutes to get both legs arranged and throw a blanket over him.
Kai let out a long sigh, arched his back, moaned, and then went still again. It was the most relaxed he’d looked since he arrived, and Nikki hoped the rest of his sleep would be restful.
The phone buzzed yet again, and Nikki picked it up. More messages from Renee, of increasing worry. She’d started texting him hours ago, asking how the dinner had gone and to call her when he got home, and escalating in urgency and worry until now. I really hope you fell asleep and forgot to check your phone. I’m scared and I’m worried about you.
Nikki sighed. She read through more of the messages from days before, mostly banal stuff like Renee checking on Kai or Kai telling Renee when he’d get to class. Nikki noticed that while Renee frequently told Kai she loved him in some form or other, Kai never returned the favor. Not even to say something like, “same.”
“Either you’ll thank me for this, too, or hate me,” Nikki mumbled as she typed out a message, doing her best to duplicate Kai’s tendency toward abbreviations and spelling errors. Sry. Fll aslep. Im hme. Ttyl.
The phone buzzed almost as soon as Nikki sent the message. Renee said, Phew. Glad you’re safe. Call me in the AM. Love you <3.
Then Nikki powered down Kai’s phone, set it on the table, and curled up under the blankets beside Kai to get a few hours’ sleep.

######

5 comments:

  1. OMG... I can't wait to read more.

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  2. I love this story. I am happy to see Nikki back in the game.

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  3. WOW. Powerful story. I loved every word of it.

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  4. No matter how often you update, or not, I will never stop following your story. Your stories are often unpredictable and taking turns that I never expect. I love it!

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  5. Really intense chapter

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