songfic to "if i were gay" by stephan lynch
Here we are, my dear old friend
You and I, drunk again
Laughs have been had and tears have been shed
Maybe the whiskey has gone to my head
Ichijouji Ken is sitting at my bar, sloshed. He comes here often; despite the fact that he and I have taken highly divergent paths in our professional lives (he of the Foreign Service, I of the pub trade), we remain extremely close.
I get him drunk whenever I can.
Really- he's the most amiable drunk I've ever seen, cheerful and extremely talkative. However, it's strangely difficult to get him to this state. He fancies himself a whiskey connoisseur, disdaining the popular Cutty Sark and Johnnie Walker in favour of Isle of Skye.
He drinks slow, taking the whiskey straight… with only ice for garnish. He never makes faces when he drinks… he always sips in a slow and thoughtful manner, as if it were tea and he was sitting cross-legged in a field of lotus blossoms, contemplating his mortality.
It's a busy night as I supervise and assist my junior bartenders in serving the customers, so I don't reply to Ken's toast right away, at least not verbally. But I catch his eye, and give him a big wink. He nearly falls over laughing, apparently finding me hilarious.
This makes me grin.
At my first chance, I slip over to the corner of the bar where Ken sits alone. He never brings workmates or the other Digidestined with him when he comes to harass…er, encourage me; Sometimes they show up anyway (although far more rarely then Ken, who's truly a frequent flyer), and pull him away from his favoured stool to join them in a shadowy corner of the bar, far away from me. They do this because they know that I'll have to come serve them all, because Ken's MY personal project and it has become understood that he will drink no alcohol that is not specifically served by me.
If it weren't for the fact that I work here, I suspect that Ken wouldn't drink at all. But when I took my first job tending bars, he would come and ask me all sorts of difficult questions about the drinks, treating me like a respected master of the trade. "What's the difference between bourbon and whiskey? How is vodka made? Which sake is best for meals? Which region of Germany makes the best beers?" It used to annoy me immensely, because at that time I was a shiftless punk who only took the job as a way to impress girls and pay for E.
Despite the irritation I worked hard at pleasing him, because he was my most reliable customer and gave me generous tips. He knew I was using the money to score, but never breathed a word of reproach, never scolded me. At least, not until the one time I dragged him to one of my club raves and behaved stupidly, oh so stupidly, and he cried.
I'd never seen Ken cry before. It shocked me enough to quit the drugs altogether.
"Whatcha toasting?" I sidle up behind Ken and place one hand on his shoulder, reaching around with the other hand to snitch his empty glass. He jumps a little and then twists, stretching his neck up so that he can smile at me. His eyes are lidded, drowsy and relaxed.
"You," he says simply.
"Me, the great Motomiya Daisuke? What for this time?"
Ken always toasts me when he's drunk, always praises me extravagantly. It used to embarrass me for such a brilliant and well put-together guy to shower me with complements. I used to think he was faking it.
"I saw a girl checking out your ass, so I looked too. Smashing."
Ah… did I forget to mention that he's gay?
"Smashing. Uh-huh. Riiight." I squeeze his shoulder and motion to Yui, a cute teenager who has been working for me for about a year now. "More of the same," I direct, handing her the empty glass. She nods and has a replacement ready in less then a minute. She's scarily competent that way. I take the drink from her, and hand it to Ken.
I'm so beyond letting it freak me out that Ken is gay. Even the fact that he hits on me with regularity is something that has long since ceased to disturb me. It's… nice… in a way. Hikari has given me several tiresome lectures, accusing me of selfishness, saying that I keep Ken hanging around as a way to bolster my self-esteem.
It's true. But that's not the whole story.
But if I were gay I would give you my heart
And if I were gay you'd be my work of art
And if I were gay we would swim in romance
But I'm not gay..so get your hand out of my pant
I gave up trying to draw him years ago. He's too… too… Daisuke.
I haven't given up art, however. It's my little hobby, which keeps me from taking my work home with me. I don't really want to stress about my latest row with the Chinese Ambassador (a hard woman with a steely gaze and stone constitution), or the shrewish consulate from Papua New Guinea who flirts with me to the very bottom of his dark and borderline evil heart. And don't get me started on Abebe from Kampuchea. If that Zambian wannabe tries to push his ridiculous trade proposal from Phenom Penh one more time, heads will roll and I mean that in the most basic sort of way…
Ahem. My need for distraction is obvious.
Watching Daisuke reminds me that I will always find it impossible to be attracted to a static man. His face and mouth are so mobile, and he is immensely beautiful in a furious, frentic kind of way. Completely undrawable.
It's not like I'm an artist or anything. Not really. I take classes every other Thursday evening, but it's taught as a hobby and most of my classmates are upper-crust housewives. I've become a fairly decent technician, because the tricks of art are simple: laws of perspective and shading, negative space and foreshortening. But a technician I will always be, because I lack the one vital thing that makes a true artist sing: creativity.
The reason I took up art in the first place was because I wanted to explore the limits of my own alleged genius. It is very dangerous to believe one's positive spin uncritically, and although my parents meant well, they spoiled me with indulgent praise. I needed to know, what =couldn't= I do?
Lots, of course. I was pretty young when I first asked this of myself, and I remember how Daisuke mocked me for my pseudohumility. He's always been one for sardonic self-deprecation, and I think he always knew that ego was my big failing. With customary Ichijouji-centric acuity, he brushed off all of my own ideas for personal challenges. I wanted to build a kit car, or maybe try my hand at architecture. He told me these ideas were unacceptable.
Then he told me why.
"Look, Ken. I love you and all, but please spare me the mental masturbation of exploring a skill that you already know that you will be good at. Any brainless fool can build a car. Any former Kaizer could design the next Empire State Building."
I remember how he looked when he told me this, wearing one of his inexplicable vests and fingering his rough-cut hair absently. This is always how I think of him, Daisuke the Young. He was so beautiful then. He may be more beautiful now, but when he was young I saw him as untouchable and that merely increased his value in my eyes.
When he told me this, I didn't reply. I was too furious.
He continued: "I know what you should do. Paint a picture. Write a sappy love poem. Take dance lessons." He smiled faintly, rakishly. He knew he had me.
"Dance?" I'd like to say I growled, but to be honest I think I screeched. I know I'm gay, and by then he knew it too. No need to rub it in.
"Well, maybe not that. I don't think the world can handle the image of you in tights. I know =I= can't." He made as if to swoon. I always hated when he did that. I thought he was making fun of my sexuality. I was so touchy and self-conscious back then. I used to think he was faking it.
"Thanks." I said coolly.
He just leaned his cheek against his knees and looked at me. That look of his could always tame me, no matter what he said. I always felt like he was really seeing me, you know?
"There's no difference between art and architecture," I said slowly, maybe a bit loftily.
"None at all, except in the one you have to be creative…"
"Any former Kaizer can do =that=." I said. Was I bitter? On the inside, yes. But maybe I didn't let it out in my voice. I don't think he caught it. I hope not.
"Create? Mmm…" He continued to evaluate me searchingly, those poppy-brown eyes as sultry and as dangerous as any opiate. "Create =me=, then."
"Draw me. Get it right, capture me. I think you'll find it harder then you think."
How true that was. I could never capture him. But that is another story.
It's not that I don't care..I do
I just don't see myself in you
Another time, another scene
I'd be right behind you, if you know what I mean.
I was looking for Clarity.
Ecstasy has many names, but I always liked that the best. It always made my drug-seeky behaviours seem ever so slightly zen. Clarity.
Yeah, I wanted it. Bad.
The only problem was Ken. I'd invited him along for the ride, but I should have known from the start that my scene was not right for him. He bled into the club, he was a clot and a stain to my otherwise perfect evening. Standing next to my posse, he made them all look cheap, and I resented him for that. How dare he show up my lifestyle by looking so good? It seemed like hundreds of boys and girls were lining up to hit on him, and I was offended to the core as he shot down each and every one of them, looking too damn good doing it.
Resentment. I wanted clarity, but was only finding resentment instead. Not even the bright jolly smile-faced pills that Nan-chan slipped under my tongue were helping.
I was in a bad way those days. My parents were continually on the verge of throwing me out of the apartment, I fought with Jun all the time, and holy motherfucker if I hadn't alienated all of my old friends in the bargain. Ken was the only hanger-on, so I'd gotten it into my head that he was somewhat pathetic for still believing in me.
Seeing him that night, in his beauty and with that grace, pitched my whole "pathetic" theory right out the window. He could exist sublime in ALL worlds, and yet not succumb to the grime and degradation of any. Even in my neon sublit underworld he was at home. Without drugs. Without injected confidence.
I hated him.
"Sooo… Ken baby? Let's flip."
My two most babelicious friends du jour, Kaori and Indira, were having a field day. They were intrigued with Ken's innocence, and like any good hoochie girls, set out to corrupt him instantly. Because they were introduced to Ken as my =especial= friends, they were not treated to his charming cut-downs, but were instead indulged and petted like children. Ken was exceedingly nice to them. He refused to let the "Datura twins" sneak any mysterious substance into his mouth, but otherwise set out to win them.
He even danced. It was amazing.
Ken is the most closeted dancer I've ever seen, most of the time. I tried to get him to take up dance once, but he seemed embarrassed (if not outright offended) by the idea. I guess I understand why. Shame, though… he's very good at it. He dances like a =man=, all smooth. Most of the time it's like pulling teeth to get him even to sway to the music, but those occasional times that he lets loose?
I can't even describe it.
Anyway—- I can't tell you why he decided to dance with those girls, throw-away girls that I was in love with for a season. But he allowed them to stroke him, and returned the gesture in spades, taking his hands and sliding them over their curvy bodies in a sexy way. The music was techno and trance, hyperkinetic and vibratory. He had even dressed for the occasion, totally gear. His pants were grey nylon cargos, slashed with white stitching that glowed purple under the blacklight. He matched that with a simple v-necked white tee that snugged tight to his body, exposing the thinnest line of pale belly.
There are things that meth does. It totally makes you happy, for one thing. And then it makes you feel this extreme empathy, with is somehow all horny and cuddly. When I was doing E, I depended on it so much to make my scene, to give me that joy with somehow seemed to be slipping out of my unsatisfyingly dead-end life.
Ken was ruining it.
After watching Ken dance with my girls for a good hour, I became fed up. I couldn't take my eyes off the way he was twirling with them, touching their bodies in the most incidental ways. Several times they waved to me, trying to get me to join the fete, but I simply glowered at them from my spot glued to the wall, and all too quickly they forgot about me. Ken didn't, though. He kept glancing my way, looking amused.
*I can even do STRAIGHT better then you…*
…that's what his eyes seemed to transmit.
Ken's not religious, but he does "straight-edge" better then most. No drugs to corrupt the purity of his soul. I appreciated the irony; he might be the one with the sexual kink, but when it came to everything else there is in this world, I appeared to the one who was bent. Watching him dance with the girls underscored a new reality for me, a surprising one. Ken is perfect, I am not.
*Ken is perfect…*
*I am not.*
I guess I still feel that way, after all these year. The fight we had that night has long since been resolved, but despite all the changes I've gone through, it's hard not to feel that the only reason I have done anything positive with my life was because of him. Him, with the laughing, mocking eyes, daring me to do better, BE better.
This is how I made him pay.
"My turn," I snuck up behind Ken and placed my hands on his waist, pulling him back slightly. He shrugged, and moved as if to give space for me to get down with the twins, but I negated that by pulling him even closer to me and shaking my head. "Go get Nan to give you some Clarity," I directed Indira, and when she blinked indecisively, I smiled. "My treat."
I was going to make a point. Indira knew a bargain when she heard it, and soon dragged a happy Kaori over to my fav supplier, leaving me alone with Ken, his back to mine. He had become unnaturally stiff, and I knew why… he didn't know how to be quite so =cool= around someone he was genuinely attracted to.
I wrapped my arms around his waist, and pressed my groin against his upper thighs. "Let's dance," I commanded.
Let me tell you, it felt weird to hold him that way. But E makes everything acceptable, even grinding against your best friend's body as he becomes…
"What are you doing?" Ken said hoarsely. No-one
was paying us any mind… two boys dancing wasn't even =nearly= the
naughtiest thing going on that night.
I was honest. "Feeling you up," I whispered into his ear. I had to lift my whole body up to do so, but he helped me out by tilting his head towards me.
It's hard for me to say what my exact plan was. I don't know… maybe I just wanted to show him that if he could play straight, I could play gay. Perhaps I thought that would make us even.
"Stop it," he said, but he still leaned towards me and soon he was arching his neck back and became completely unresisting… I actually started to feel him up. I can't believe I did it, but there it is.
"Why? Don't you like me, Ken?" This really was unfair.
Ken squirmed a little, as if he wanted to turn and face me, but I didn't let him. I knew what that was about. He wanted to kiss me, to indulge in whatever little fantasy he'd had about me. This was his big chance to create a Hollywood moment, hoping for an instant that this was a precursor to something insanely romantic and tender.
He wanted to kiss me.
I didn't let him, though. Sometimes I dream about that night, and it's funny, because whenever I do my subconscious enters a whole fictional kiss into the exchange…and things seem to end up quite a bit differently, because Ken never cries then…
"…yes. I do like you, Daisuke." He said at last. His voice was not at all sticky with emotion, I'll give him that. He just sounded… tired.
"A lot?" I touched his face.
"What if I were gay?" I said teasingly, and I allowed the tiniest blush of my lips against the back of his arm. It wasn't a kiss. Let me be very specific here… despite some of my dreams, I didn't kiss him. It's no use re-writing history, and pretending that I didn't hurt him. I did.
"I'd… I'd…" It was so obvious, so pathetically obvious, that he was weighing whether he should take the risk and confess his feelings, or back off and pretend that he had nothing but standard gay-man lust for me and my ass. I guess I'd wanted to degrade him, show that he could be imperfect too.
"You'd what?" I prompted. The music was very repetitive, a Phillip Glass sortof riff latched onto a dark club beat. He was relaxed but hardly moving, so I began grooving into him. It didn't feel strange at all, which should have warned me that the Clarity that I'd been looking for had really started to kick in.
Ken's totally brave. He chose the risky path. "I'd… make you mine…" he said quietly.
"Oooh… so confident! I have a secret for you, then…" He was trembling in my arms. He said nothing, and waited.
"What if I AM gay, and just don't want you?"
If I were gay I would give you my soul
And if I were gay I would give you my hole (being)
And if I were gay we would tear down the walls
But I'm not gay, so won't you stop cupping my..hand
We never talk about it.
He gave up drugs the next day, cut his hair short, actually apologized to his family for every rude thing he'd ever done, signed up for an evening business class, paid his taxes, sold his bong, and a whole bunch of other things that don't require detailing. I didn't find out about this all until quite a while later, because I quit talking to him.
I didn't see him for a whole year. It was agonizing for me, but I had to do it. Actually, the plan was for me to remove Daisuke from my life altogether… but that was damn difficult, because of all the people that we had in common. And then there were the Digimon…
Wormmon never let me forget that Daisuke existed. He loved him too, you see, and he was a lot less willing then I to accept my anger towards him. Besides, he missed Veemon.
There was absolutely NO serendipity in my reunion with Daisuke. It was all the result of a devious plan, originated by none other then Wormmon himself. He always betrays me in the nicest ways. What he did (which was really insanely clever) was to trick me into porting into the Digital World one boring winter evening. I don't even remember what ploy he used; everything that happened after kind of overshadows the original insult. It doesn't matter. All I know is that the gate opened and I found myself stranded on the shore of a dark, dark ocean at night.
At first I panicked… Wormmon was supposed to be with me, but he wasn't. And I always get chills whenever I see a digital ocean. But this wasn't the place where I originally had my digivice "upgrade" to black. Stars swirled overhead, bright pulsing jewels far more colorful and near then anything you could imagine on earth. The air was warm… Wormmon had sent me to one of the summer regions. It was lovely.
And I was not alone.
How could I not recognize that voice? I didn't turn to look at him.
"I'm going," I said flatly.
"This wasn't my idea," he said, and what forced me to pause wasn't the slight desperation in his voice, it was the unhappiness. I can never turn away from his pain, no matter what it costs me. "I promise, it wasn't… so don't go, Ken-chan. Please."
"Nothing has changed," I said, but I found myself sitting down in the warm sand, which glittered under the light of stars, and the rising moons.
"It has!" He said eagerly, and I heard the sound on him shifting in the sand, probably walking closer to me. I flinched. I didn't want him near me, but I was far too weak and struggling within myself to forbid it. My fatal flaw. "I gave up the meth, Ken, all because of you. I felt so bad, I really did, I wanted to make it up to you, even if you never saw it, I wanted to see you, but I'm so unworthy and God, am I sorry… oh, Ken please forgive me…"
I was being harsh, because I was so scared. I knew that he wasn't going to do or say of the rude things that came out when he was intoxicated with amphetamines. But… but… it seemed inevitable to me that he would eventually have to get around to rejecting me again, and now because he was sober and good, he'd be very kind and understanding. Faultless. And then all my hopes would be forever dashed.
Daisuke is so different, though. Unpredictable. There was silence for a few minutes as he processed what I said, and I imagined him struggling to find the right words to justify himself. But instead, all he said was, "thanks."
He accepted my forgiveness, no matter how ungraciously given.
Soon he was standing near me, and I could see his legs out of the corner of my eye. I didn't look up, or say anything. He wasn't going to come down here and start hugging me. He would never let me kiss him. It hurt to be so close to him, but I stayed put… after all, I could accept any pain if it could somehow be credited to him. If he needed my pain, he would have it.
"Do you know what this place is?" he asked quietly.
"No." It was just an anonymous beach, a place of no significance whatsoever. Wormmon probably picked it because it was pretty… that's his style, after all.
"I do." He said, his voice slightly less hushed.
I waited for several long minutes before the curiosity finally took hold of me. "What?" I asked at last, sounding a bit irritated. I dislike seeming to beg.
"This is where you will catch me, Ken. Make me a better man, create me like you promised."
I thought he'd forgotten all about that. It was such a minor conversation, and I thought that all of the meaning lay totally within my own tortured mind. "I'm sorry, Daisuke," I said quietly. "I just don't have it in me." And I never had promised.
Somehow, that just didn't seem to matter to him. He can be so… strange. Without any preamble, a worn-threaded shirt was tossed at my feet. It was that inexplicable shirt that I loved so much. Surprised, I glanced up at him.
He was stripping.
"Wha…what are you doing?"
"This is silly! Get your clothes back on this instant. I can't draw you, I don't have the tools and besides, I'm no good anyway…" My voice trailed off as he dropped his boxers over my face, covering my eyes. They smelled just like him.
"I don't understand you," I breathed. "You're weird." I took the underpants off my face slowly, and then held them in my lap, twisting them nervously as I kept my gaze trained downwards.
"It's true you aren't the best creator in the world… otherwise I would have turned out better… but I'm trying Ken, I really am. I can't lose you. I need you."
"But you're not… you're not…"
"Gay? Of course not." His tone was so smiling, so triumphant, like he'd figured out something really special. "I don't have to be gay to love you."
"I'm not going to sleep with you," I said hastily. This was so bizarre. I was the one who wanted =him=.
But it was more then that.
I needed him. He said he needed me. And it was true. We'd just have to find a way to make things right, because we =had= to be together. It didn't have to be sexual. It didn't.
"No, you aren't." He said. "But you WILL go swimming with me. This I vow." In an instant, he was off, and I looked up to see his pale-skinned, perfect body as he flashed towards the waves.
I stood up. I dropped my pants.
No, I could never capture him. But maybe, just maybe… I could go along beside him.
We've never hugged, we've never kissed
I've never been intimate, with your fist
But you have opened brand new doors
Get over here and drop..your..DRAAAAWERS
It had been a quiet night, a regular weeknight… people just don't usually stay potted through the 2am closing time. Most people just aren't that dedicated.
Not Ken, though. He sat in his corner, waiting for me. Like he always did. I had let everyone else leave about twenty minutes earlier… there wasn't a lot of work left to do, and besides, having Ken around while I polished glasses and swept the floor was… nice. It was always nice.
In a way, he couldn't leave. Not yet… In my breast pocket I held his ID, his proof of existence, his proof of age. He needed it to drive, but I always took it when he came to my place. I took responsibility for him. He could get drunk or not as he chose, but it was up to me to serve him.
Yeah, yeah… I appreciate the double entendre there. I'm not a complete idiot.
"You WILL take me home, right?"
I looked up at him, saw the anxiety and desire there. It didn't bother me. I nodded, and he became visibly relaxed. He didn't often get this drunk; maybe something really stressful happened at work? No matter. His drinking was my signal, telling me what to do.
I finished cleaning up, and then went on got our coats from where they hung up, behind the bar. Placing them carefully on the bar stool just next to Ken, I turned him around so that he faced me. He took my hand.
It always happened this way. I let him touch me, and because he was so gentle I didn't hardly mind. He would kiss my mouth, and I would taste the breath of whiskey there, like a piece of sky. He needed to be drunk for this; I needed to be sober. That way, there'd be no misunderstandings, no blame… because he's gay, and I'm not.