Friday, July 28, 2000

In/Exhale - November 17, 2000 - Part II

November 17, 2000 - Part II

“So, what did you think of the movie?” Kai asked. They were settled in a quiet back corner of The Chipped Mug, the little coffee shop near campus where they’d met way back at the beginning of the semester so Renee could give Kai a copy of her notes. It felt like forever ago, even though it had only been a few months.
“It was . . . intense,” Renee hedged, sipping her coffee. She was curled up in a chair, her feet tucked up, but Kai sat across from her, his long legs stretched out, slouched slightly, looking tired, his crutches leaning against the wall within easy reach, his coat and scarf in his lap. Initially, he’d opted for a hot chocolate, but after a second’s contemplation had changed it to herbal tea. He’d explained that caffeine made him jittery (even in small amounts), and that for most of his life he’d taken a drug--theophylline--that was related to caffeine, so it was dangerous to combine them. As a result, he’d grown up not drinking anything caffeinated, and even though technically he could drink those things now, it was partially habit and partially not liking the way the drug made him feel--restless and agitated.
Kai laughed. “I take it you never read the book.”
“And you have, of course.”
Kai shrugged. “A couple times. It’s pretty brilliantly crafted.”
Renee smiled. “So tell me about it, Professor Fox, because honestly, I was lost in the chaos.”
Kai chuckled. “Basically, it’s a comment on the ideal of the American dream, and how all these characters were trying to achieve it, but instead of doing so through hard work and sacrifice, they each took drugs as a shortcut. And that, of course, led to their downfalls.”
“Wow,” Renee said, sitting up a little straighter. “I never would have gotten that.”
Kai shrugged. “Growing up Deaf, I don’t know much about music, but a ‘requiem’ is a song for the dead. So the book is basically saying how the American dream is dead. It’s a myth that can’t be achieved. At least that’s my interpretation of it, and you probably already know my cynic meter is pretty high.”
Renee let this sink in a moment. “Wow,” she said again when no other words would come to her. “That totally puts the movie in a new light. Remind me to make sure I take my required lit course with you.”
Kai smiled shyly, visibly uncomfortable with the praise, a rare show of emotion he normally would have hid. “Jon’s the smart brother. I’m the handsome one,” he said with a self-mocking grin, trying to take control of the conversation again and making light.
“You are handsome,” Renee said with a flirtatious smile. “But you’re also smart, Kai. Like your makeup paper. I could never have written anything like that.”
His face twitched, like he couldn’t decide on an emotion, before hiding it in his cup as he sipped some tea.
“You’re also pretty awesome, the way you handled those jerks in the theater.”
Kai shrugged.
“Really. You were all ninja cool.”
That made Kai laugh, a sudden, sharp sound. “In high school, I did break a guy’s nose with my crutches once.”
Renee rolled her eyes, but she was smiling, wishing she were closer, laying her head on one of his strong shoulders. “I don’t think I’d believe that coming from anyone else but you.” Renee shifted in her seat, set her coffee aside, then attempted to sign, fingerspelling the last word, since she didn’t know the sign for it, “You make me feel safe.
Kai smiled faintly, but sweetly, demonstrating the sign for “safe”: arms crossed at the wrist in front of his body, then breaking apart, away from him.
SINCE LONG TIME I DON’T FEEL SAME,” Renee signed, hoping that meant what she’d intended: she hadn’t felt like that--safe--in a long time. Not like she did with Kai.

Apparently it was enough Kai understood her. “I’m sorry.” He set his drink aside, then continued, all in sign, slowing down for her sake, “It’s silly, but you make me feel safe, too.” His shy smile reappeared again.

Renee’s heart swelled, not only because she’d understood him, but because of what he said.


Renee clutched Kai’s crutches as he propelled himself into her apartment, letting the momentum take him into a slight glide before executing a smooth turn to face her, smiling. “After all that walking, this feels wonderful,” he said, spinning around once, making Renee laugh. “You sure you want me to spend the night?”
She nodded, approaching him, taking one of his hands and placing it on her hip.
Kai checked her eyes before letting his palm slide along her curves, up toward her breasts, then down to her ass.
“I want you to stay,” she said, her voice breathy as he caressed her, though he was cautious, keeping his hands on top of her clothes, watching her eyes for any sign of panic or fear. “I want to spend every last minute I can with you.” Her voice hitched as he teased her nipples. He wouldn’t push her, but oh, God, if he could touch her, taste her, have her touch him. . . .

His cock strained against his jeans. He’d taken his meds earlier, but he still had his braces on, though he’d settle for a quick hand job at this point. Anything to lessen the chance Renee might change her mind.

“Diane’s already gone home, so we have the place to ourselves,” Renee added, squirming beneath his touch, her face delightfully flushed, her lips pursed and head tilted back just a bit.

“Mmm,” he said, drawing her closer, spreading her legs so she stood over his, lifting the hem of her sweater to expose her pale belly, planting kisses there. “Let me make you feel good, Re,” Kai said between kisses.

She didn’t respond immediately, but one of her hands fisted his hair and she arched into his touch as he teased lower, one hand supporting her, the other still tickling at one of her nipples.

She let out a sigh and pulled away, so he immediately stopped, his head foggy, his cock and balls aching, but he forced himself to focus. He’d made her a promise, and even if it drove him insane with frustrated lust, he’d keep it.

“We don’t have to do anything except sleep,” he said when he couldn’t read her face.

She nodded, leading him toward her bedroom. He followed.

Renee’s bedroom was more or less what you’d expect for a 19-year-old college girl, feminine but practical, and tidy. A small desk and a queen-sized bed dominated the room, but Kai noticed a couple rugs rolled up and stacked in a far corner--she’d given this thought. That was good, because he didn’t want her to freak out and shut down on him as she had the other night, even if they did just sleep together.

She laid his crutches against the wall, then approached him, tugging at his shirt. He smiled, reached back and pulled it over his head, loving the way her eyes lit up with appreciation and lust at the sight of his bare chest. Loving how he didn’t need to hide it from her anymore.

She dragged a finger along his shoulder and collarbone, using it to lift up the chain of his medical ID jewelry. “Do you sleep with this?”

Kai nodded. He didn’t like to, but not wearing it while he was sleeping defeated the purpose. His breathing shifted as she teased his skin, following the chain, tracing his scars. “Re, my braces--”

She shushed him with a kiss, leaning forward, a hand sliding over his thigh, not quite reaching his crotch, but close, making him melt, his breathing quick and fast. Her fingers curled along the top strap of his braces, bunching the fabric of his jeans. Kissing him more hungrily, pulling a long, low moan from somewhere deep in his chest.

Finally, she stepped back, smiling, looking almost relieved, which confused his lust-addled brain initially until he realized she might be glad Jude wasn’t ruining another chance for them to be together. She patted the bed.

Taking this as his cue, Kai pulled himself onto it; not the easiest feat since it was higher than he was used to, and the mattress soft, but he managed, finally. He noticed Renee was watching as she began to shyly slip off her shoes.

He smiled at her, then proceeded to remove his own shoes, relieved when she accepted them and set them aside, out of the way. Her fingers may have lingered a little longer than necessary on the footplate, tracing up along his foot toward his ankle. Normally, he didn’t like his feet to be touched; they spasmed really easily, the arch particularly painful, but he didn’t want to say anything to ruin the mood. She wasn’t just OK with the hardware; like his scars, she accepted and maybe even loved (as crazy as that was!) them because they were part of who he was.

Once she was back within his reach, he pulled her close, forcefully, but sure to grip her loose enough she could escape if she wanted to. Yes, he wanted to fuck her, the primal part of his brain raging, but more than that, he wanted to make this good for her, to forever erase any memories of the man who had hurt her. To make her sigh and moan with pleasure until she looked over at him through half-lidded eyes, a content, satisfied smile on her face.

To make her feel safe.

So he kissed her, losing himself in her mouth, her tongue still tasting faintly of coffee. After a few minutes, he gently broke the kiss, placing a peck on her nose, his thumb smoothing her cheek.

“I’ll need time to take off my braces,” Kai reminded her. “And we won’t do anything you aren’t comfortable with.”

Renee nodded again, stepped back, and adorably, snagged some pajamas out of her closet and disappeared into the bathroom. Kai wasn’t sure if she was giving him space or if she needed it herself, but he didn’t waste too much time thinking about it, slipping his jeans off one hip at a time, sliding them down to his knees. He reached into his boxers and gave his hard, leaking cock a few quick tugs, grazing the palm of his hand over the head. If Renee wanted to keep things relatively platonic, he was going to need a few minutes first. He groaned as he returned to his task, reaching down to yank off his pants the rest of the way.

He heard water running in the bathroom, like she was brushing her teeth, as he hurriedly worked to undo the myriad straps that kept each leg in place. Leather was a pain in the ass, but it fit better and was more comfortable than velcro and plastic, especially around his bad left knee. He was grateful to be walking again, but he had become a little spoiled by the relatively brace-free past few weeks.

Soon, he’d freed his legs, straightening and locking each brace before leaning them against the wall, not far from where Renee had left his crutches. Thank God for long arms.
His feet were spasming as he rolled off his brace socks, as if in protest of having used them all evening, and Renee still hadn’t re-emerged, so he pulled himself back and began his stretching routine.


Renee stared at herself in the mirror for a long time, water dripping from her chin. She’d wanted this, planned for it, even, but was she really ready? In her mind, the idea of having sex with Kai for the first time before she left for Thanksgiving would be a lovely way to keep him with her--in a manner of speaking--all week long. He’d been exactly what she’d needed last week, when she’d wanted him, desperately, yet the shadow of Jude had left her sobbing in his arms. How he stopped, cold, like throwing on an emergency brake, at the slightest hint of hesitation or fear from her. And his touch was so wonderful--not the harsh, impatient grip of Jude or some of the other men she’d been with, but instead, delicate, tender, loving.
Still, the way his eyes darkened with lust set her pulse racing, and not due to arousal. She trusted Kai on an intellectual level, but still . . . her body didn’t.
Renee dried her face and stared down her reflection one last time. They'd napped together more than once, and she'd even been OK lying skin to skin, both shirtless. Maybe it was too soon for sex sex, but that didn’t mean they couldn’t fool around. And the prospect of seeing Kai totally naked. . . . Which, she realized, meant a lot. He wore his clothes in a size too big to hide his body, and he’d only bared his chest to her after great reluctance, as a sign of trust. Renee smiled, built up her courage, and adjusted the straps of the negligee she’d picked out for the purpose. Totally impractical for a mid-November Iowan night, but that just meant she’d have to cling closer to Kai to keep warm.
Renee eased back into the bedroom. Kai lay, partially under the covers, on his side, his chest rising and falling in slow, even breaths. As she drew nearer, she could see his eyes were shut, his golden lashes fluttering endearingly, his lips pursed.
She couldn’t help the flare of disappointment that hit her as she shut off all but her nightstand light and climbed in on the opposite side of the bed. But his eyes opened when he felt the mattress shift, smiling a sweet, if tired grin. Lopsided. “Her” smile.
He nodded. “Walking is hard work,” he said, reaching for her. “But I can stay up a little longer if you want to play.”
She laughed, any unease she had melting away. Kai still had his boxers on, but otherwise, was completely free of clothing, looking more relaxed than she’d ever seen him before. Comfortable, like they slept together every night instead of this being their first time.
She knee-walked closer, sinking down onto her calves, smoothing her hand along the angle of his hip, onto his thigh. She couldn’t explain why she found the stillness of his legs--except for the occasional minor involuntary twitch--so arousing. Maybe because it was Kai, and she loved--yes, loved--everything about him. She danced her hand inward, toward the flap of his boxers.
Her fingers slipped inside, gently teasing the skin of his cock, making it jerk and him sigh. He used his hands to shift his body so he lay on his back, his legs spread to give her access, pulling her hand to him again, rubbing him now through the fabric of his underwear.
“I should take care of you first,” he said, his words halting. “If I come, I’ll fall asleep.”

Renee giggled, stroked him a few more times before moving back on the bed.   
He pushed himself up, so he was sitting again, then back against the headboard. He removed his boxers, first by pressing up on one side to lift his hip, yanking the fabric down, then repeating for the other side. She helped him slide them off the rest of the way, loving the feel of his long legs beneath her palms, coated in a light dusting of hair, the way he sighed softly as she did this.
“I love how tall you are,” Renee said, almost to herself.
He chuckled softly, pulled one of his legs up with his hands so she could ease his boxers off completely.
It was strange, yet oddly erotic to help him slip his underwear over each foot, more obvious now than ever that Kai had no control over them. He had beautiful feet, too: large, but narrow, with long toes that curled slightly, whether naturally or from spasms that held them there, she wasn’t sure. Tossing his boxers aside, Renee carefully set each foot down, giving into the urge to smooth her hands over the bridge of each. Her thumbs snaked under his arches, and she could feel tension there, though she kept her touch light. His face betrayed nothing, but his eyes held a wariness barely shrouded by his obvious arousal, his breathing rapid.
His cock was completely different from Jude’s, the skin a pale pink only slightly darker than his body, perfectly proportional to his tall, slim frame: long, but not too thick, uncut, resting against the angle of his hip, the base covered in a nest of dark gold hair. She’d never seen someone as blond as Kai completely naked before, and she found herself transfixed. He really was blond everywhere. She licked her lips unconsciously. She could hardly believe he was offering to take care of her before himself. Jude had never really cared about her pleasure.
“What do you like?” he asked, beckoning her closer.
She felt herself blush. “I . . . like when you touch me,” she said, embarrassed to say more.

Kai guided her into his lap, having her straddle one thigh. “Good thing I like touching you.” He ghosted his lips along her arm, his fingers dancing over her exposed skin, making her tingle. His hands roamed to her hair, smoothing the curls between his fingers. He did so gently, reverently, as if he were conscious that unlike straight hair, pulling them through would be painful and destroy their integrity. His breath was hot against the edge of her ribs. “I love your hair,” he whispered.

His hand lingered in her curls before arching down her neck, her chest, her stomach, her thighs, his touch leaving a fire in its wake. Kai eased the smooth fabric of her nightgown up, over her legs, higher, higher, exposing her belly, then her breasts, bending forward to kiss and lick her skin. “Say stop any time you want me to, and I will,” he reminded her again, before sliding her negligee off the rest of the way, leaving her exposed.
His eyes flashed with hunger, which made her pulse race, but she didn’t stop him. She reminded herself she wanted this, that Kai wouldn’t hurt her. Kai pressed her closer, blowing hot breath on her nipple before taking it in his mouth, rolling it on his tongue, then sucking softly.
She let out a short whimper, gripping his shoulder, her eyes falling shut as she sank into the pleasure. While his mouth focused on one breast, his hand found the other, and soon she was moaning and writhing against him, desperate for more sensation.
He chuckled, but then groaned when her hand wrapped around his cock, sliding up and down the skin. He pulled back so he could speak, “Oh, Re, that feels so good.” He let her stroke him awhile, but then he pulled her hand away and lifted her off his lap. Gesturing for her to lie on her side, he soon mimicked her pose. His cock had grown even harder and larger, the foreskin stretched around the shaft now, the head, deeply flushed, unmasked, beads of pre-come collecting on the tip. Fully erect, he was much longer than Jude; suddenly, he looked enormous and terrifying, and a flare of panic overtook her. Renee pressed her hands against his chest, desperate to keep him away, though she knew, even without being able to really move his legs, he could easily take her if he wanted to.
“Not inside me. Not today. I’m not ready,” she said in a rush.
“Shh,” he said, sliding his hand along her arm to calm her. “I know. Just my fingers, if that’s OK? You’ll like it.”
Renee felt herself shudder. But Kai’s hands were grounding, tenderly stroking the skin of her side and hip, giving her a chance to decide. She found his eyes, saw him smile faintly at her, knew his words weren’t hollow. “OK,” she said in a small voice, spreading her legs for him.

Kai spoke softly to her as he arranged her carefully, one leg between his, so that if she bucked, she’d rub against his cock, her chest close enough to his mouth he could resume his attention to her nipples. He kissed the skin between her breasts, cradling her body firmly but tenderly. She let out a soft sigh, and he laughed into her skin, which drew up goosebumps and tightened her nipples, making her desperate.

“More,” she found herself demanding.

Without a word, Kai took a nipple in his mouth, and as soon as she felt the moist heat of his tongue on her breasts, she began sinking away again, letting out a moan of pleasure when she felt his fingers first tease, then gently slip inside her. She worked her leg hard into him, loving the pressure of his cock against her and his fingers inside her, his thumb tickling her clit while his tongue laved her nipple. She was floating, more in tune with her body than she’d ever felt before, and yet somehow apart from it, tightness coiling in her belly. His fingers moved faster as he nibbled gently on her nipple. Just when she thought she’d burst, her orgasm hit her, powerful and loud, a scream she would never have recognized as her own escaping her lips, leaving her boneless and trembling on the bed beside him. But he held her firmly in his arms, and though it was like falling, she felt secure. Safe.
Her leg, where she’d been pressing into him, was hot and sticky, but when she managed to recover herself, she realized he’d taken his arms off her. One hand was sliding over his length, his head back, reaching for his own orgasm. She’d never watched a guy touch himself before, and honestly, if someone had asked her if she’d like it, she would have responded with a disgusting and firm “No!” But Kai was so hot right now, long, lean body stretched out on her bed, eyes closed, pulling on his cock, the skin sliding with his movements.
She saw his stomach jerking; he was close, so she pushed his hand away and struggled to mimic him, focusing on the head. He was watching her, a mixture of amazement and arousal in his eyes, his hand on his belly. She squeezed the tip experimentally and his whole body seemed to jerk as he let out a low groan that immediately made her wet again.
“Don’t stop, I’m so close,” Kai begged, his eyes tightly shut now.
She smiled, pulled her thumb over the slit, which drew out a whine before she pumped harder a few more times. Her arm was sore, but she wanted to be the one to make him come, to give him pleasure the way he had for her.
She twisted her grip as she passed over the tip, once, twice, three times. That seemed to push him over the edge, because suddenly, he grunted, his body grew stiff, his skin from collarbone to crown breaking out in a flush, his mouth dropping open, almost in surprise. With a few jerking spasms, he shot over her hand and onto his chest and stomach, one, two, three, four, five jets of come, until he let out a whoosh of air and grew still. God, he was strangely beautiful when he came.

“Oh, fuck, Re. I needed that. Thank you.”

It surprised her how incredibly turned on she was, watching him lying there, white pooling on his stomach, his eyes struggling to stay open, a hand with his long fingers resting on his belly, his cock still half hard between his legs.
She reached over for a tissue, then wiped them both clean, not resisting the urge to plant tender, wet kisses over his belly and chest, as if to mark where each splash of come had been. Her kisses made him shiver and sigh, and when she’d pause between each to glance up at his face, she’d see his eyes half-lidded, smiling, sweet and sated. Yet another smile she’d never seen before, and perhaps a new favorite. His skin was warm and salty, his natural scent strong, mixed with sex and musk, his usual “clean” smell of soap just below the surface. She trailed up to his clavicles, teasing licks and tiny pecks tracing the outline of bone that led to the scar he hated so much. Just beside it, she sucked gently, and he arched into her touch subtly, letting out a foreign sound of shocked pleasure.
She chuckled with satisfaction and snuggled up beside him, draping a leg over one of his as she continued to kiss him, enjoying how he let his head loll to one side to expose more of his neck to her ministrations. She paused, shocked when she felt his legs spasming actively against her.

Before she could say anything, he explained, “Coming sometimes sets off spasms, but it’s worth it.” His voice heavy with sleep, he rolled his neck so he could smile up at her. Sweet, content, as if he had everything he could possibly want right here in front of him. He blinked, and for a moment she saw that beautiful gaze shadow before his lids fell. He was exhausted.
But Renee couldn’t sleep just yet, her mind racing. Lying naked in her bed, in the semi darkness, with a man whom she’d just had sex with (even if wasn’t sex sex) should have left her feeling hollow, empty, guilty, used, and a myriad of other negative emotions. Instead, she felt surprisingly peaceful. Content. The only damper on it the fierce ache in her chest of how terribly she’d miss Kai over the next week. Of how much she loved lying here in his embrace, secure and warm.
She stole a quick kiss, savoring the taste of his mouth now, before gathering the covers and wrapping them both up, turning on the heated blanket and draping herself over him, needing to be as close to him as possible.
“What are you going to do this week?” she asked him.
He didn’t answer right away, and for a moment, she feared he’d fallen asleep. But finally, he replied, his voice slow and drowsy, “Take you to the airport tomorrow, then go swimming. My first time since I hurt my leg.”
“I didn’t know you swam.”
He chuckled, which turned into a yawn. “This sexy body doesn’t come free.”
She knew he was being self deprecating, but she couldn’t help smoothing her hand from his knee up his thigh, onto his belly, stopping just at the base of his sternal scar. His legs were coated in dark golden hair, but his chest was almost hairless, and his arms had only a faint dusting of hair so blond it was nearly invisible. “I know you don’t think so, but you are sexy. I love your long legs, your belly, your arms, your hair, your eyes, your scars. . . .”
He made a strange sound, like a stifled laugh, like he was going to say something else sardonic but stopped himself. Instead, he continued, as if he hadn’t been interrupted, though his sentences were abbreviated, like a telegram, punctuated by yawns, “David’s on Tuesday, see if I fit in his house. Time with Jon, and maybe my friend Jake. Nothing too exciting,” he said, his voice fading. “Hope Deaf Thanksgiving won’t have too many people. Don’t want wear mask all day.” Kai sighed, nudged her away so he could shift onto his side, reaching down to adjust his legs.
Renee kissed his chest, drew the blankets up closer around them. “My family has a dressing contest every year.”
Kai laughed, a low chuckle. “Like a fashion contest?”
Now it was Renee’s turn to laugh. “No. Cooking. Dressing is stuffing. But not in a turkey. A bunch of my family members make their own recipe and then we all vote for the best one.”
Kai pulled her closer. She could feel his legs still twitching subtly, though they had begun to calm. “More kind stuffing? Didn’t know.” It surprised her how much she loved the sound of his voice when he was sleepy, his grammar growing strange and his pronunciation becoming less crisp, softer.
“Oh, every kind you can possibly imagine. Dressing is a big deal in New Orleans.” She sighed. “I’d make you some, but I don’t really want to be responsible for the next biohazard disaster.”
He didn’t laugh, and she realized, tuning into the sound of his breath, not quite a snore, that he’d fallen asleep. She laughed to herself at how he could fall asleep so abruptly. His legs kicked subtly, and so she wrapped her own around his to help still them.

“I could get used to this,” she whispered.

He could have taken her, any time, but he hadn’t. She knew, based on how hard he’d come, how badly he’d wanted her, but he’d been willing to stop, just as he’d promised. And he hadn’t fucked her, the way Jude or others had. He had made love to her, a phrase she’d always found silly and incomprehensible. It was strange to think the “L” word so soon, but tonight--that had been love--she’d felt it--and she knew by the way he held her and looked at her, that he’d felt it, too.