Easy Like Summer Morning
The kid is a hurricane, an earthquake, a tsunami, Roy thinks. Heís a fucking natural disaster and all of a sudden Roy's spinning shaking drowning and thereís nothing he can do but think, God help me. God help me.
The first time is in the library, up on the highest level where no one comes up because thereís too many damn stairs and nobody wants to read back issues of obscure medical journals in Xingian, anyway. It's easy to fall asleep behind the stacks with the warmth of the sun on your face and the dust motes circling in a faintly spice-scented haze around your head.
Roy sits there in an armchair by the window napping with a journal open across his face. Suddenly itís knocked off and this kid, this short fiery crash of a boy, says to him Hey. Hey, youíre in my fucking space, you shithead of a Colonel, like heís spoiling for a fight. And who knows, maybe he is, and maybe Roy is too, but before Roy can wake up enough to say anything the kid clenches his metal fist and yanks his other hand through his bangs and hisses, God, you scare the goddamn shit out of me.
And all of a sudden Royís got a lapful of kid, a lapful of this glorious flaring boy whoís pulling at his clothes and kissing him like itís the end of the world. Or at least a pretty major global disaster.
And the sunlight hits everything.
Royís got one of those leather armchairs in his office, this big creaking black monster of a thing, dull everywhere except the shiny indentation where his ass rests. Heís sitting in it hunched over his desk, maybe doing paperwork but in all likelihood just dozing off, when thereís a bang and a squeak and he starts upright. Then the kid is in front of him, boots leaving dirty black marks on the floor, yelling something about what do you mean the report was incomplete, I fucking signed it, didnít I?
Royís about to say something about how building fell down, asshole thwarted isnít a complete report by any stretch of the imagination, but he gets distracted by the way the sunbeams get caught in the kidís hair. Then heís lost in a place where spoken language has never existed and there is nothing but color and light, clean and pure. The kid must see the look on his face or something because time trips, catches, then breaks when the kid claps his hands against the floor and the door seals itself shut. And then the kid is climbing over Royís desk, red overcoat abandoned on the floor and desperation written all over his features.
No no no no, Roy thinks wildly, even as his hands come up to push up the kidís shirt and run over heated flesh and sun-warmed steel. The chair swings around with a creak to face the open window behind him and the sounds of the city pour in around them like molasses. Please, the kid says and Roy is gone, heís gone heís fucking dying and it doesnít even matter anymore. He can smell the sunshine and the machine oil on the kidís back and the only thing he can say is yes, yes, muffled by the soft skin on the kidís neck. Yes, anything.
You can take anything you need from me.
Theyíre all at this seedy bar, celebrating the promotion or birthday or whatever of Second Lieutenant Whatís-his-face; Roy doesnít remember because all he can think about is the hot press of the kidís thigh against his own under the dirty wooden table. The waitress turns to Roy and says something, but he canít hear her, all of a sudden he can barely remember his name because the kid has grasped Royís hand in his own small, sweaty one and is pressing it against the leather on his crotch. Royís entire body is swamped in heat, spreading from his palm like the poison from a lethal injection. The kid throws his head back, parts his lips, and closes his eyes and Roy nearly groans aloud even though no one is touching him.
Then the waitress clears her throat and the boyís eyes snap open. There is something there in that moment when he comes back to himself that makes Roy feel like maybe the world has collapsed in on itself (or maybe just his, just for a second). Then the heat against Royís thigh is gone and he sees a flash of red coat disappearing behind the tables through his smoke-watery eyes. He wipes the tears from his face and stands to follow, even though heís sure everyone is wondering.
He finds the boy in the washroom, splashing water on his face and muttering angrily to himself. At his name, the boy turns, flinging droplets everywhere, his flush a dull purple under the harsh blue light. What are you doing here, he snaps, and Roy doesnít know what to say (he wants to touch him, wants to touch this furious alabaster idol, but he canít; heís frozen, pinned under the weight of the wind and the water and the storm).
Why are you still here, the kid says louder, wet hands now caught in the collar of Royís uniform. Why canít I get rid of you why wonít you leave donít you know Iím dangerous?
And in that moment, in the moment when he is holding a sweaty sticky kid who smells like beer and cigarettes and bar and sunshine, always sunshine under everything, Roy has an epiphany. He fucking gets it now, he understands and he shudders and he splits straight down the fault line for this glorious, terrible boy. No, he thinks, I could never hurt you; youíve already broken me.
Ed, he whispers, and itís like a prayer, like a benediction, Ed, come home with me.
And after the storm when everythingís been razed clean and heís standing in the sunlight and the ruins he thinks, he thinks God what a glorious morning.