Damian and Justin
By Abi Z.
When I was twenty-one, I dropped out of Stanford mid-semester and
never went back. My academic performance there had never been stellar, and
I didn't see it as any great loss. My parents were disappointed and
encouraged me to go back, assuring me that I could weasel readmission via
recommendations from the few professors who had liked me, most of whom had
been in the Asian Languages and Creative Writing departments. But instead
I moved back to Michigan, into the second bedroom of a friend's apartment,
and took a job doing technical support for one of the local internet
service providers. It paid enough to give my friend rent every month, and
I lived off macaroni and cheese and tried to climb out of the hole I'd dug
My parents, as well as the rest of my family, had been particularly
proud of Stanford: few if any of them had made it past high school, and the
fact that I was not only going to college but to a fantastically exclusive
one was a point of pride. They couldn't understand why I'd dropped out:
they thought I was throwing away the greatest opportunity any of us had
ever had. It was a chance to get away from the factories and the plants.
They had a point.
But I'd been miserable at Stanford, though not through any fault of
the school's: California was foggily, dramatically beautiful, and my fellow
students were friendly, athletic, and intelligent, the kind of people you
see in movies about college. I was none of the above: I haunted my
classes, attending when I could slither out of bed, generally creeping out
my classmates. I bought razor blades and cut deep, marking any piece of
skin which wasn't readily visible around a T-shirt and jeans. One morning,
after my Japanese class, I started walking and wound up south of Berkeley
in the Napa Valley. Disoriented, I called someone to come get me, and the
next day I went to the dean and made arrangements to leave.
I didn't tell my parents what the past two years had consisted of;
I just told them that I wasn't putting enough effort into my studies to
justify the amount of money they were spending. I promised that I'd go
back when I could concentrate better, though they didn't seem convinced. I
lived in my old room for a few months before moving into Damian's
apartment. He was my oldest friend in Detroit, and after I moved in with
him, some of the gloom ascended from my life. I made a few friends at
work, started going out occasionally, and took a night class in Java
programming at the local community college.
Wednesday nights were our kick-back time: I didn't have to work
until four the next afternoon, and Damian was off Thursdays. So one
mid-week night after my class, we sat as we often did on his bed, drinking,
heads on his down pillows and feet on chairs or bedside tables. The TV was
on, but it was muted, and the stereo was quietly playing Kraftwerk. We had
just watched one of our favorite movies, Woody Allen's "What's Up
Tigerlily," and we were doing much the same thing with the television:
making up our own dialog and turning game shows into cattle auctions,
newscasts into pornos, and whatnot. It was an old amusement, dating back
to the junior high origins of our friendship.
We were drinking bourbon-I'm not sure why, though I know that
Damian's grandfather had been partial to it while alive-and laughing, and I
remember thinking that Damian's eyes looked particularly green. He was
dark-haired like me, and we'd been the same height, just over six feet
tall, since eleventh grade. Lacrosse, though, had given him muscle, while
the height had just made me lanky, bonier than I'd been as a kid. It
seemed natural to shimmy around a little and rest my head on his stomach,
and it didn't seem odd that instead of pushing it away, or at least
laughing, he instead began to gently stroke my hair, not pausing in what he
The CD flipped to Massive Attack, and I shifted, too, rolling onto
my side, head still on Damian's belly, and now, casually, a hand on his
thigh. The sleeve of my shirt slid up a bit and I felt a finger trace one
of the lines of scar tissue on my upper arm. "That from Stanford?"
"That and the rest of them."
"Your arms and where else?"
"My chest, and a few on my legs."
Damian's touch was as gentle and as impersonal as a doctor's. It
felt half-ticklish on nerve endings that had never completely healed. "Can
I see the other ones?"
"Yeah, sure." I pulled up my shirt a little bit, and Damian moved
out from under me so that he could see better.
"That's a lot of scars, man."
"It was a pretty bad time."
"I can tell." His hand moved up my ribcage from my navel to my
collarbone. He bent his head and gently kissed one of the scars, then
another. "I never want you to do this again. Wherever you are, just find
me and we'll work it out. Nothing ever warrants this."
Another kiss. Another. On my hand, my wrist, my elbow, my throat.
And then on my mouth, and it was absolutely normal to kiss back, to cup his
face with one hand, move the other one to the soft skin on the back of his
neck. I'd never kissed a guy before but it didn't seem strange, just me
and Damian and a tangle of arms and legs. I'd seen his body any number of
times-swimming, working out, changing clothes after work-but it was a
different feeling to be lying halfway under it. And it wasn't soft like a
girl's: it was solid and heavy and roped with muscle.
I kissed Damian until my lips were swollen. His back was sleek
under my hands and just the slightest bit shirred with sweat. I wanted to
put my hand on his ass and push him against me-any number of girls had done
it to me-but I didn't. I wanted to know what all of him would feel
like-naked hips, thighs, legs around mine-but I didn't dare find out. We
kissed until we were too sleepy to continue, at which point we fell asleep
in an amorphous many-limbed shape. I slept without waking.
When I did wake up, we'd reverted to much the same position we'd
started in, my head on Damian's stomach, arms around him, his hands in my
hair. When we'd started out like that, it hadn't seemed strange, but in
the leaden light of a winter morning, it did. I lay there for a little
while, relieved that most of my clothes were still on, and listened to the
quiet noises of Damian's body. Then I rose and dressed, and drove around
the city until my shift started, wondering what the hell I was doing in
When I got home at close to one a.m., Damian was washing dishes-the
first time anyone had touched them in at least two weeks-and DJ Shadow was
pulsing from our stereo. Except for the dishwashing, it was a perfectly
normal situation; nevertheless shuffling into my room and avoiding Damian
seemed like the best option. But evading your oldest friend in the world
is a pretty lame-ass thing to do, and so I hoisted my bag over my head and
onto the table, and said, "Good morning."
Damian echoed it. "Your mom called. So did Lexie."
"Just to tell you that they called."
I'd known Lexie for years; so had Damian. "Did you talk to her?"
"For a little while. I think she might actually dump the Creep."
The Creep was Scott, who unfortunately had been around for three years.
I wanted to ask if I had come up in the conversation. I didn't.
"Do you want some help?"
"Thanks, but I'm almost done. The mold on the plates was starting
to become sentient."
I widened my eyes and cocked my head at an improbable angle. "I
see- that you are becoming- SENTIENT- my young creation!" I staggered
forward a few feet and cackled; it was an old joke.
"And now," Damian continued, "like all- SENTIENT- creatures, you
must learn to know- PAIN!"
We both laughed.
"Want a beer?" Damian asked.
The snowstorm hit that night, the one that had been predicted for a
month and had never appeared. It was snowing lightly when I went to bed
around three, and I woke up at six, shivering, and in pitch black. I tried
to turn on my light, but to no avail. No light, no heat: no power.
Shit. The apartment was in the basement; it was cool in the
summer, but mid-February without heat meant that the bulk of the old
building's dank cold would sink onto us. I got up, pulled on wool socks
and a sweatshirt, and looked outside. There was already what looked like a
foot of snow on the ground, and more falling steadily. I crawled back into
bed, wrapping myself up as tightly as I could in my covers. I pulled my
head under my blankets. My breath warmed me slightly, but it was still
Through the many inches of cloth, I heard a knock at my door. "You
I poked my head out. "Come on in."
Damian sat down on the edge of my bed, his old quilt wrapped around
him. "Fucking heat's out."
"Yeah, I noticed. It's so Goddamn cold. I understand why my
parents thought I was crazy to leave California."
Damian spread the quilt on top of the mound I'd made. "Shove over.
You're going to share the warmth."
I did, and Damian curled up into his own fetus beside me. Several
minutes later, he and I were still shivering, and we reached for each other
at the same time.
"You were crazy for leaving California."
My head against his chest, I could feel the words vibrate as they were spoken.
"Who in their right mind would come back to this?"
I turned over, and a small exposed part of my stomach met up with
Damian's hand. "Christ, your hands are cold. Jesus, Damian! Warn me
before you do that!"
The hand had found its way under my shirt, joined by
its equally frigid counterpart. I lay still and breathed while Damian's
hands slowly regained a normal temperature. I felt like I'd just melted
two large cubes of ice against my skin.
Damian wrapped his fingers around mine, and I realized how cold
mine had gotten. "Your hands are cold, too, Justin. Here. Now it's your
The skin of his belly was warm against my palms and taut with
muscle. It reminded me of exactly how much I hadn't touched the night
before. Damian's hands burrowed back under my clothing, resting on my
back. We were still for quite some time, not quite warm enough to sleep
but not so cold as to get frostbite. The Damian factor aside, it was
enough to make me consider reapplying to Stanford.
A gentle finger began stroking the length of my spine from the
small of my back to the nape of my neck. "You awake?"
"I can hear you breathe."
"I can hear you, too."
The other hand made a gentle path through my hair. "So what was
that about, last night? Were we just really drunk?"
"Yeah. I think so." A pause. "But we've been drunker before, and
nothing like that ever happened."
"We were a lot younger, though, before. Maybe stupider in some
"You don't think what happened was stupid?"
"Justin, we've done some stupid shit in our lives. Remember
breaking into the junior high school when we were freshmen?"
"Oh Jesus. And it turned out the janitor was asleep in the
cafeteria and almost busted our asses?"
"I mean, maybe what happened never happens again. Or maybe it
does; I don't know. But either way I don't think it was stupid."
I closed my eyes. It was dark, so the effect was the same, but it
didn't matter. I couldn't talk about this with my eyes open. "I've never
done anything like that with someone who wasn't female."
"Neither have I."
"But you seem OK with it."
There was a long pause. "I guess I am. I mean, maybe I wouldn't
be if it wasn't you. But it is you, and I'm not worried. I know that
nothing will ever happen between us that isn't right."
I kept my eyes closed. "I'm glad it happened, too."
Damian shifted, and suddenly, instead of comfortably curled into
him, I was lying on top of him. His hands moved up my body, found my face,
and then we were kissing again. I broke away to trace Damian's ear with my
tongue, and he arched up against me, moaning, and it was then that I could
feel his erection through the soft flannel of his pajama bottoms.
Technically it was nothing we hadn't done before-all we were doing was
kissing-but the previous night might have been two friends in a drunken
stupor, nothing more, but this was a second chance, stone cold sober, and
Damian moved again, and then I was underneath him. More kisses,
and I wrapped my legs around his, and we both gasped. "Let me undress
you." Damian's voice was hoarse.
I was so warm I was sure I'd never need clothes again. I guided
his hands, first to my sweatshirt, then his, then my sweatpants, then his
pajama bottoms, and even my socks. And then we were naked and twined
around each other, breath coming quickly, moving to touch skin and Damian's
mouth on my nipples and I surrendered to him.
And then there was his hand on my cock, and I couldn't keep back
the moan. I moved with him, gasping, my hips thrusting into his fist, and
the sounds I was making could have been his name. And then he stopped. It
took me a full minute to be able to ask, "Why are you stopping?"
"I want you to touch me, Justin."
"Oh God... OK. Just keep doing that."
Damian didn't answer. He curled down and kissed my navel, then ran
his tongue down my belly and over the crease of my hip. He kissed the
inside of one thigh, then the other, and I moaned, "Please," before I
realized I had said anything.
But then he stopped, and his face appeared back near mine. "Touch
me, Justin. And then I'll suck you." His hand back on my cock, stroking
gently. "Imagine what my mouth will feel like on you. Do you want that?"
"Yes... oh..." I leaned up for his mouth, and we kissed as we
turned over onto our sides. I explored the smooth skin of his upper body,
the light fur of his chest and the hard nubs of nipples. I wished I could
see him better, watch his face when I caressed him. He took two of my
fingers into his mouth, and it was then that I grasped his cock-shaped
remarkably like mine, thick and soft-tipped-and slid my fingers in and out
in the same rhythm as my strokes.
I never thought I would see Damian helpless to anyone, and I
wondered if his girlfriends had gotten to see this, his body curving and
releasing as he whimpered for more. "Please Justin... make me come."
I couldn't believe the words as they came out of my mouth. "You
left me hanging; why should I?" I kept my stroke steady, and Damian bucked
"God that feels good... oh don't stop. Please. I'll suck you
dry." He was leaking pre-come, and I gathered some for lubrication, and I
jerked him with slow, wet strokes, and then Damian didn't talk at all.
Small wordless sounds came from him, and I went faster.
He came shuddering, semen spilling over my hand. When the last of
it had passed, I wiped my hand on one of our shirts, and we held each other
for a long time as Damian caught his breath. "Thank you," he whispered.
"You're welcome," I whispered back.
I listened as Damian's heart slowed down. "I still owe you
something in return," said after a few minutes. Gently, he pushed me onto
my back. This time it was his mouth on my nipples, warm breath and then
mobile tongue. I buried my hands in his hair as Damian's head moved down
my body, licking chest, torso, and finally pausing between my legs. "I
want you to ask for it, Justin."
Getting air in my lungs was enough of a challenge; I couldn't
imagine that I'd have to request a blow job as well. I lay there,
silently, and tried not to moan.
A sly finger circled the head of my penis and the moan came out.
"If you can't ask for one," Damian said, "I don't think you're old enough
to have one."
I took a breath and tried to steady my voice. "Please... please
And he did, and the moans turned into cries as nonverbal as
Damian's had been. It felt insanely good, warm and wet and mobile. I came
so hard I could barely breathe, arching up and then collapsing to curl into
Damian's chest. He tucked the covers around our bodies, and I listened to
my heartbeat slow next to his. I didn't think I could ever sleep, but I
did, deeply, and dreamlessly.
The next morning, I woke to the rumbling of the heater, and
breathed happily as it shuddered and then came back on. I opened my eyes
to see Damian smiling at me. "Take a look outside," he said.
I did. The morning was clear and blindingly brilliant, a snowstorm
like I hadn't seen in years. I realized what I'd missed when I'd been in
California, which was, at its best, sunny and warm. The happy yellow West
Coast sun could never compete with the breathtaking brightness of waking up
to an ocean of snow outside. There had to be at least two and a half feet
on the ground, probably closer to three. Damian and I were seasoned
Detroit drivers, but no way were we stupid enough to try and get to work
through this. I got back in bed next to a naked body that was unmistakably
male and belonging to my best friend. We didn't cuddle, but his hand
settled on my hip as though it had always belonged there. "What do you
want for breakfast?" Damian asked.
"French toast," I said.
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