“So when did you first find out you were gay?”
“Umm.. isn’t that a little personal?”
“I’m sorry, I just, umm.. it’s just that you’ve never been so open and inviting before, I’ve gotten more words out of you in the last thirty minutes, than I think I’ve gotten in the last year and a half. I don’t know, sometimes I get the feeling that maybe you don’t like me too much.”
“Well, that’s far from the case..”
“What do you mean by that?”
“Uh, don’t worry about it.. If you really want to know, I found out I was gay in the ninth grade, my first year of highschool.” I replied, deciding to answer his question, in an attempt to avert the topic away from explaining how I’d always been infatuated with him.
“Yeah, it was kinda early I guess.. I had two best friends at the time, Cedric who you know, and a guy named Solomon who was new to our neighborhood from across the tracks. Solomon and Cedric really didn’t like each other much when we first started to hang out but both of them were friends with me.. so we made the threesome work somehow. More often than not, I was the peacekeeper, Cedric was the mouthpiece that got us in heaps of trouble, and Solomon, he was always the savior and wisest of our trio.”
“That sounds nice, at least you had some friends you could trust to have your back..”
“Yeah, about that..” I sighed, reminiscing about those days past, thoughts of the first heartbreak I’d ever go through flooded my mind. “Solomon was a bit of a ladies man, which was normal for guys that looked like him, he was beautiful like a movie star or some kind of royal Disney prince. He had the most handsome face, these welcoming bright brown eyes, and smooth skin the color of licorice.. it was hard to look at that boy without swooning. Him and Cedric always chased after the same girls, it was a large part of the beef between them, while I stuck to what I did best. Keeping my head down in my books, studying for the sake of studying, avoiding the people who all thought I was a weirdo because I was into anime and comic books instead of rap music and sports.”
“Weird? Where I’m from that’s normal.. I was considered a troublemaker because I was more like the people you’re describing. Nas, Method Man, and RZA was all I listened to growing up, football and basketball was all I liked to play. ”
“Well, I’m Black and you’re Asian, sounds like we were switched at birth..” I mused, shaking my head, as I stuffed more of the delicious steamed veggies and noodles into my mouth, savoring it as I collected my thoughts. “You would have been as much of a prized commodity then as you are now, as for me, I had to make do with being the side serving of Broccoli on a plate with a juicy t-bone Steak and double cheesy baked Macaroni.. Cedric and Solomon were pretty much two of the most popular kids in school. None of us had any idea of what gay was, we just knew we didn’t want to be a ‘Fag’..”
“I hate that word.”
“Likewise, I despised it.. especially since it was the go to word the neighborhood kids used to describe me when they got tired of Coon, Uncle Tom, African Booty Scratcher, etcetera, etcetera kids were just cruel as hell. Cedric was my longtime childhood friend, but Solomon was the only one that stood up for me when the bullies came around, he beat up his fair share of juniors and seniors in my defense..”
“Sounds like he was a good friend, he must have really cared about you.”
“Tell me about it.. but to get back to the point, I didn’t know I was gay, I didn’t even know two boys could be into each other that way. It wasn’t until one particular instance where I was being heckled by the biggest bully in school and his group of friends, Solomon was once again my Savior but this time they’d learn to take him as a team, we both got jumped pretty badly.”
“Oh my god, were you seriously hurt?”
“I was just bruised up with a bloody lip, but Solomon was in slightly worse shape.. I took him to my house, which was always empty because my Dad worked long hours and my mom was a military combat medic on year long tour of duty. I patched him up, and couldn’t help but notice the way he looked at me, it made me nervous, causing fluttering butterflies in my stomach. I asked him why he always stood up for me, why he never just let them beat me up like Ced did?.. That was when he kissed me, I just remember how his lips were so soft, his touch was so tender, and I finally knew what the weird chemistry between us meant.”
“That’s awesome, sounds kinda romantic, in spite of the circumstances.”
“It was, but it didn’t last long.. my mom came home, intent on surprising me and dad, but got an eyeful of her only son making out with the neighborhood boy from down the street. She flipped, kicked Solomon out, and I was grounded for the last two months of freshman year.”
“Holy shit, that’s sounds fucked up..”
“Solomon and I would still see each other in school, and I joined the football team with him and Cedric to have some extra time with him.. but what I didn’t know was that my mom had been paying Ced double what my weekly allowance was to spy on me. He caught Solomon kiss me one afternoon after practice and told her about it. She was livid, and as soon as the summer started, instead of football training for the upcoming school year, I was shipped off to a strict Bible summer camp in Virginia Beach, which was as close as I’d gotten to Hell before working at Arkham.”
“Well, what about Solomon.. did he wait for you?”
“Yeah, he waited, but unfortunately it wasn’t long enough.. I had come back from camp, and the first thing I did was sneak out the house that night to visit Solomon, he had a treehouse that was situated right outside his bedroom window. I started tossing some small rocks to get him to come out, but when I looked inside, it looked like he was wrestling someone in the dark.
When the light came on, I got my first look at what Gay Sex looked like.. and my first taste of heartbreak. Him and Cedric were butt ass naked and drenched in sweat, looking like they were having the time of their lives, it sickened me that they even looked good with each other, like a Ken doll and a GI Joe..”
“Yea.. I know, it was like my whole world ended at the time.” I replied sullenly, trying not to tear up at the thought of my first glimpse of betrayal from a man, oddly I couldn’t keep thoughts of my night with Shawn out of my mind, even tho I sat here with the man of my dreams, Famous Aemous. “I avoided them for weeks, but finally, Solomon was able to catch up to me, intent on trying to explain himself. Apparently, he’d waited for me all summer, but about a week before I came home Cedric had come out to him.. and the two of them started fucking before either knew what they were doing. He told me how Cedric admitted he was in love with him, and how he was confused about his feelings after they slept together. I told him he would would have all the time he needed to figure it out, cause I was done with both of them, and I didn’t want to see him again. We didn’t speak for the next two and a half years..”
“Wow, I didn’t realize you were capable of holding such a grudge Cydnee.” Aemous commented with a small laugh, he reached over to rub my hand reassuringly.
“I’d come to regret it Senior year though.. I had very few friends, and the ones I did have were social pariahs, but they were loyal. Solomon and Cedric still tried to speak to me, but I was having none of it, not even when the two of them had a high profile break up, unintentionally outing each other.. Cedric had moved on quickly, like he always does, started dating some high profile jock from the basketball team, but Solomon seemed to take it hard, I figured he was still in love with him. I would come to find out how wrong I was, when Solomon showed up to my door the night of prom, flowers in hand, arms open begging for forgiveness.. the problem was I already had a date, and she was on her way. I told him we could talk later, after the dance, and he seem kind of excited about that. He gave me the flowers, so I’d have something for my date, and he told me not to read the note he wrote for me till he left. Thinking back, I should have read it right away, that very minute.. but I didn’t.”
“What did it say? Did you ever go to meet him that night?”
“No, I didn’t read it till the next morning.. my date that night was intent on having her first time on prom night, which failed miserably, but made me forget to meet up with Solomon. That day, just before noon, Cedric was at my door crying his eyes out, there had been an accident..” I paused a moment to collect my thoughts and settle my emotions, it was still hard to think back to the day my childhood ended. “Sol had been texting me, when he was pulled over in his vehicle by a police officer who had mistaken him for a bank robbery suspect that barely fit his description. The guy had assumed the phone in his hand was a weapon before he even asked him to roll down his windows, and he felt the need to use sixteen shots to put him down without warning, at least that was according to the witnesses present. I immediately went to check my phone, already seeing his name was the latest police brutality hashtag going viral across my social media timeline, and it didn’t take long to find his last text message.. in it, he expressed how he’d loved me from the first day he saw me and promised how he would spend the rest of his days proving to me how much.”
“Cyd.. I’m so sorry.”
“No, it’s fine Aemous.. it’s been a long time, I’ve gotten over it and moved on, even forgiving Cedric in the process of overcoming my grief.”
“Well, I apologize for bringing up such sad memories, how about I make it up to you over dinner tonight?”
“Sure we can go over the ReGen project and you can catch me up on the..”
“Umm.. I was thinking something more casual, like a date.” He remarked, bringing his hand up to sheepishly scratch his head, his cheeks reddening.
“Seriously?.. I mean sure, uh.. yeah, dinner sounds great.”
“I was thinking maybe using a favor to get into Zion.. “
“Ugh.. No, please, anywhere but there.”
“Wow, okay, I’m sure I can think of something else haha.”
He smiled, revealing those pristine ivory teeth of his, almost making me swoon. I was sure he didn’t realize the effect he had on me, even now as we were getting up to leave I felt weak in the knees. Mama Ghina came over to us, planting kisses to our cheeks as we bid her goodbye, she pinched my booty as I followed Aemous out the door, giving me a wink and a wave when I looked back at her in shock.
“You make sure you come back again now, don’t neglect the PuPu Spot.. we treat you good so you come back for more.”
I was in my office, rushing through the finalisation of last minute odds and ends, knowing I had to get all my work completed before I could muse over what I’d wear tonight on my date with Famous.
This had been something I’d imagined would have never happen, no matter how much I might’ve prayed for it, I figured a blessing like this would forever elude me, for old Cydnee the cards were just never in my favor.. yet, when YOU change, It seems so do the circumstances. I may not have liked the person I was becoming, but boy did I enjoy the benefits, people were finally taking notice, and I was determined to make them recognize my potential.
My phone alerted me to a new email, and after checking my messages, it seem everything was in approval for the Annual Retreat, even booking for the lodging space. I had to admit I was kind of excited, it was great to finally feel in control, there was a certain comfort in it. I sent Yurika the invoices and provided Jynx’s head of staff, Saundra Dee, with a copy for his records, then I remembered to update the company calendar with the last minute changes, per our employers request, we’d be leaving in four and a half weeks.
I started to look over the files Aemous had sent to my office, on everything detailing the ReGen project, some of them were as thick as a King James Bible, damn near overflowing. So many of them were marked Highly Confidential or Top Secret, it shouldn’t have surprised me to find a non disclosure agreement attached, seems this was a government funded research project.. one that was almost exclusively back channel, while we often secured foreign accounts, Arkham had a tumultuous relationship with our own home country’s leadership.
Still, it wouldn’t be the first time Arkham made billions on the American taxpayer’s dime, but usually it wasn’t so secretive, reading through some of the notes I could tell I was slightly in over my head, I could tell immediately why the project was headed by biochemical technicians like Zachari and Karishma, because this was some heavy shit. I had just started to read the review of the latest lab results, trying to get a grasp on what the hell we were actually doing, but there was a knock on the door, it was Cedric, looking more put together than he did earlier. I knew he kept a spare change of clothes in his office, because I usually picked up the dry-cleaning, so it was good to see him looking more like himself, after all, he was still my lifelong friend.
“Success looks good on you Cydnee, I admit, I still almost don’t recognize you, but then again, I think I always saw this potential in you.. a diamond in the rough, finely chiseled into flawlessness, I’m proud of you finally stepping up.”
“Thanks, I’m happy you feel that way.” I said, smiling at his approval, a reassuring word from Ced was rare, so I couldn’t help but take it to heart. “Look, about earlier, I want to apologize for..”
“For sticking up for yourself? For finally standing tall and accepting your place among greatness? There should be no apology for that, it should be celebrated..”
“Really?” I asked, surprised he could be so benevolent, but then again, we always forgiven each other in the past.
“Of course, you stepped it up to ride with the big dogs, it’s only natural you become a bad bitch in the process, I mean look at you.. the fine clothes, the hair, the posture, and lest not forget that fierce new firecracker personality to go with it. This is the greatest incarnation of Cydnee Tyson I’ve ever witness in all our years of knowing each other.”
“That’s probably the nicest thing you ever said to me..”
“Oh come on Cyd, I’ve said nice things before.”
“Yeah, but you always spat it out with a forked tongue, you know how you can be.” I jibed with a small laugh, honestly and truly happy to have mended our relationship, we’ve been through too much to be mad at each other for long.
“You’re right about that one, I need to learn to check myself, before YOU check me, hahah. Now come on, some of the team decided to throw you a small celebration downstairs on the common floor, there’s a cake and everything.. hell, you are the only one to get their project completed on time, you deserve it.”
“You guys did not have to do that, oh lordt..”
“We know, but we wanted to.. it’s time you knew how much we all appreciate you, even Famous is down there I think, he couldn’t stop talking about you when two came back from lunch, dare I say, the man is smitten over you.”
“We had the nicest meal over in Chinatown.. I even met his mom, she’s a whole story of her own so I won’t get into it, but absolutely the loveliest woman though.”
“I bet, her vagina must be magical to have birth such a fine man like Famous Aemous.. now c’mon, everyone is waiting!”
“It’s about time you two got here, let’s get this party started!” Pastel yelled, hitting some buttons on his phone, and throwing his hands in the air as music started blasting out of the speakers on one of Arkham’s newest contraptions.
It was sitting on a nearby table, and the audio was loud enough to be heard throughout the entire conference room, despite its compact small size, yet it didn’t seem to overpower any of the conversation going on.
“You two, get over here.. we were just telling Shawn about that time Cydnee fell off the balcony and into the champagne pool during Mr Ellison’s birthday party last year.” Grayson called out from the small huddled group he was in, it was the usual ‘cool kids’ that sucked all the energy out of the workplace, I guess him and McCreed had made up over lunch because they look like the best of friends with Grayson’s arm slung over his shoulder. “Man, you wouldn’t believe the sound that belly flop made, it stings just to even think about it.”
“Cydnee sunk to the bottom like a cement brick, how could any of us forget it.” Cedric chimed in, immediately joining in the laughter.
“All I remember is the look on Mr Ellison’s face.. I was almost sure it would be the end of his employment, it was a pity the boss thought he was part of the entertainment package with the rest of the clowns and Cirque Du Soleil freaks in attendance.” Karishma commented, with her snobby posh attitude.
“I didn’t find it all that funny, he could have been seriously hurt.. or worse, he could have been fired.” Famous scolded them, looking unamused at the topic of conversation at what’s supposed to be a congratulatory celebration.
“Aemous is right, this is supposed to be about Cydnee’s accomplishments.. we can save the comedy show for happy hour later this evening.” Shaw agreed, not finding much humor at my expense either, he gave me an apologetic look while the others seem to roll their eyes at the ‘party poopers’ raining on their parade.
“It’s fine, I’m used to the antics.. must be the reason why I was able to get my accounts completed and the rest of them are playing catch up.” I replied, brushing off the embarrassment coolly, and stinging the appropriate parties. “Anyways, what’s this about a happy hour gathering?”
“We decided to take you out for drinks after this, for a proper celebration, Mr Ellison caught wind of what we had planned and secured a VIP section at club Elysium, he literally bought out the place for us!” Pastel exclaimed excitedly, and everyone ooh’ed and ahh’ed appreciatively.
“That sounds amazing but Aemous and I were gonna..”
“Don’t worry about it Cydnee, we can always reschedule, this sounds way more fun than going over business and paperwork.” Famous said, cutting me off unexpectedly, I look at him surprised and honestly hurt but he didn’t seem to pick up on it.
“Oh, umm.. sure, we can always reschedule.” I replied, feeling slightly detected at the cancellation and ‘cover up’ of our date, I was really looking forward to it.
On that note, I decided to take a breather from the group, and make rounds with the rest of our co-workers, especially since I was the guest of honor. Everyone was ecstatic at my success, and seemed excited about the after party at club Elysium, it had been the premier exclusive party spot of the elites of New York City for the last several years, and it was almost impossible to get on the guest list.
I went to try and get a piece of the cake they’d procured for me before it was all gone, a three tier red velvet covered in sour cream butter whipped white frosting and macadamia nuts sat on a nearby table. It was as beautiful as it was delicious, and I was compelled to take a bigger piece than I should have, since I was under pressure to preserve my waistline for my new wardrobe. Feeling a sudden tap to the back of my shoulder caused me to turn around, and I was sheepishly ashamed to be caught licking my fingers, finding Shawn standing there with a small smirk on his lips.
“I take it the cake is delicious?”
“Mmhm..” I replied, mouth too full to answer coherently.
He reached a hand up to my face, gently wiping a dollop of frosting from my lips with his thumb, he slipped the finger into his mouth, his smirk rising into a full toothed smile.
“Damn.. it is good.” His voice was deep and thick as the velvety cake in my mouth, making me swallow hard, and redden with blush.
“Shaw.. I wish we could just..”
“Start over? No, I don’t want us to start over.. I have to own my mistakes and I know I have allot to answer for, but I just want to ask you for a chance to explain.”
“Is there a problem here? You okay Cydnee?” Aemous asked, walking up to us looking suspiciously at Shawn, like he’s have another violent episode like the one we’d seen earlier.
“Everything is fine, Mr McCreed was just offering his congratulatory sentiments to my success, since he didn’t get a chance to this morning.”
“Well, a few of us are going to head on to the club in a little bit, do you want to ride with me?”
“Umm.. I kinda wanted to head home first to change, this suit feels kinda restrictive for a club setting.”
“I can take you home if you wish.. my car is right outside, we can shoot over to your place and then right over to Elysium.” Shawn offered, seemingly in a stare off with Famous, daring him to inject an opinion to sway me.
“Yeah, that sounds coo.. let’s get a head start to beat the afternoon traffic.” I replied, surprising both of them, especially Shawn.
“Aight, so let’s head out.. I’ll meet you downstairs.”
“Okay, I’m gonna catch up in a sec, let me say something to Aemous real quick.”
He nodded and walked away, while Aemous kept a stern eye fixed on his back, I had to snap my fingers a few times to get his attention.
“I’m getting a bad feeling about that dude, he is definitely up to something..”
“Famous, what has gotten into you? If I didn’t know any better, I’d say you were jealous or something..” I knew Aemous was used to being the center of attention and the golden boy here at Arkham, but I thought he was better than the petty and divisive behavior, my other peers were known for. “Look, I know they placed him and I on the ReGen project with you, and Yurika has given him the reigns while she’s away.. but still, that’s no reason to treat him like an outsider, he is one of us now, he’s part of the team.”
“When we got back from lunch I caught him snooping on Zachary’s terminal, the files on that computer were ‘Top Secret’.. only Karishma and myself have the other passcode. I’m starting to think he’s a plant..”
“By who.. The Russians, the Chinese, Oracle Co? Last I checked all those aces were in our back pocket and highly invested in the success of Arkham in all its endeavors. If anyone would be trying to infiltrate the company, it’d be our very own government.. and they know better, hell, they are funding the project.”
“He could be working for them, you never know..”
“Look, Arkham is lockdown tight and we haven’t had any leaks, not even between department heads. I’m only just finding out now how far behind you guys are on the ReGen project, and you guys are so deep in the red, I’m afraid you’ll bleed out before I can do anything to help salvage it. Maybe that’s what you should be worried about Aemous.. you need to focus your efforts, and not on Him.”
“Cydnee, I think this guy is bad news, we need to be careful.. YOU need to be careful.”
“Aemous, I’m a big boy, I can take care of myself, and I can handle Shaw McCreed.”
“No, the other one, the red brings out your skin tone.. and those pants fit your ass just right.”
“I solely asked about the shirt, thank you very much.” I replied, checking myself out in a full length mirror while Shaw splay himself all too comfortably on my bed, I would have complained, but there was no time for argument’s being we had to meet up with the others.
“I’m just trying to give you full unadulterated commentary, don’t you want to be a showstopper from every angle?”
“I don’t think anyone would ever describe me as such, but it is Elysium and I do want to look good.”
“You did this morning.. you looked real good, that outfit put everyone on pause and made them check themselves at the door, the whole delivery was stunning.”
“I’m glad I had your approval..” I remarked snidely, not forgetting what our boss had said about the ‘situation’ between us, this man was a player but this shit was not a game to me, and I had to make that very clear.
“This new Cydnee Tyson doesn’t seem to need anyone’s validation.”
“You damn right, he sure as Hell doesn’t.”
“Where was he to put me in my place the other night?”
“Little did I know, he was there all along.. he just had to be set free from a cage made of others expectations. I sorry to say, that old Cyd is likely dead and passed on, and the new me is rising like the sun of a new day.”
“A shame, I liked the other guy better.”
“Why, because you could use and manipulate him to your fancy? Or was it because you figure he was an easy lay? At the rate we were going that night, you’d have gotten in my draws without even soiling the sheets of your bedspread, I’m sure it would have made for a no frills clean up as you ushered me out the door the next morning without even offering breakfast or a coffee to ease my walk of shame.”
“It wasn’t like that..”
“Then what was it like? You didn’t defend me to Mister Ellison, you didn’t dispute what he said about you, nor did you try to stop me on the way out the door.. so I ask again Shaw, what was it suppose to be like, hmm?”
He pulled me sharply into his arms, pressing his mouth to mine, nearly cutting off my air intake. His lips were smooth, and taste like a small piece of heaven with a dash of ambrosia, every inhale of my shallow breath seem to only heighten the experience. When his tongue gently beg for entry, I let him in, to dine on the succulent flavor his mouth had to offer. He tried to situate himself between my legs and press me up against the wall, but this time I felt more fierce and aggressive.
I pushed him back onto the bed, straddling his waist, all too aware of his generous hardness pressed beneath me, the length and girth too ample to ignore. Shaw’s hands had a full grip on my ass, as he pulled me tighter to him, like he wish to meld our bodies into one. I removed his glasses, cradling his face in my hands as the kiss intensified, and the passion ignited into a fervor.
It felt like a clash of Titans or more like a last kiss before the World’s End..
Whatever it was, it felt life changing and I knew then without a doubt, whether good or bad..
There was something different about Shaw McCreed..
And God was tryna tell me somethin’..