|Primary Characters:||Thomas, Pierre, Martial, Bertrand, Fatia|
|Warning:||m/m sex, some strong language|
|Description:||Pierre and Thomas fight, then Pierre bumps into Martial. Martial, as always, has an unsettling effect on Pierre. For a while, things seem to work out, but Martial is a very complicated person. Most of the students at the dorm end up getting hurt before the situation is resolved.|
Martial remained unmoving, his mind racing. His eyes stung, but he knew it couldn’t be tears, because he never cried. Not since he was eight or so. The man he knew as his father had cured him of that early on.
It was true. He’d crushed Bertrand with his rash actions that night. What he’d seen tonight was his doing. Martial wasn’t normally retrospective. What was the use of looking back? What was done was done. Now he couldn’t get that night out of his mind. He’d tried to rationalize it away, but the fact remained, he cared about Bertrand, yet he’d hurt him, just like he was hurting Pierre, except in an even worse way.
All he’d wanted was to show Bertrand a good time. He’d felt protective of him and – a sort of affection he’d never felt for anyone before. It was – or had been from the start – totally unrelated to his relations with others, including Pierre. Sure he’d felt sorry for Pierre and he had been turned on by the admiration and attraction Pierre clearly felt for him. Being desired was always the biggest turn-on for him.
With Bertrand, all he’d wanted was to be a good friend. Then Bertrand’s unconscious sexiness had grown on him and his affection had confused him. Even that night, he’d fought the lust stirring inside him, struggling to keep his hands away from Bertrand. He hadn’t wanted to do anything to spoil that innocence. It was so rare for him to meet a guy who didn’t either hate him on sight or tried to get into his pants. Women did it too. Fatia hated him, most of the others wanted him. It was easy to use their feelings against them, or to give in and let them have what they wanted, depending on whether he felt attracted to them or not.
Bertrand – had confused him. Affection had been mixed with physical desire, which didn’t usually happen. But explanations didn’t change anything and nothing could excuse what he’d done. It was unforgivable.
Then there was Pierre, with his questions and unspoken demands. To begin with it had seemed so uncomplicated. Pierre’s repressed sexuality, his obvious attraction for him. It had seemed like fun to awaken that sexuality and give it an outlet. None of that had reached further than skin deep. Until Pierre had found out his secret and – even after that – demanded more than just sex. That had never been the deal. Ever. They could have his body, but not his feelings. Until now, he hadn’t even wanted to change that and even if he had, he’d never dared. It would hurt too badly.
At last, he regained his power of movement, but he couldn’t face Pierre again and he didn’t want to run into Bertrand or Fatia either. Besides, the guilt just wouldn’t be suppressed again. Because of what he’d done, Bertrand would never be able to trust him again. Maybe he’d never trust another guy again.
He’d hurt Pierre too, by his refusal to accept his love and return his feelings. Pierre, who loved him enough to accept his lifestyle and still want him. How was that possible? He was right. It was sordid and cheap and shameful, but what else was he to do? What else could he do to pay his way? He loved to study, to expand his horizons beyond the crowded, run down slums he came from, to escape inside his mind. It helped him push the thoughts of his other life away. The one he didn’t like, despite what he’d told Pierre.
Without making a conscious decision, he found himself stumbling blindly towards the stairs going up to the roof. He was about to set his foot on the first step when he heard Pierre calling his name.
“Where are you going?”
He couldn’t tell him. Martial wished Pierre hadn’t come, but if he had to, he’d disappoint him now, rather than causing him more pain later.
How could he explain? A guy like Pierre could never understand and besides, the explanation would hurt more.
Pierre sounded so alarmed and concerned about him that Martial couldn’t help turning and facing him one last time.
“I’m sorry, Pierre. I never meant to hurt you. Or Betrand.”
“It’s ok. Please don’t go.”
“No, it’s not ok. You’re right. I – I’m someone you shouldn’t be with. You deserve better. Forgive me.”
“Wait. Don’t go.”
“It’s too late for that. I should have done this a long time ago. This – the university – you – everything – was just too – tempting. But someone like me doesn’t deserve to be happy.”
This time, he was able to shut his ears to Pierre’s pleading. It was time he did the right thing for a change. No more compromises. A quick, clean end. At least he’d be left with some dignity.
Pierre swerved the wheelchair around and automatically made for Thomas’ room, forgetting that Thomas had gone with Julie to visit her parents. He kept banging on the door for far longer that it would have taken Thomas to get out of bed and come to the door.
Fatia hadn’t fallen asleep yet, so she ran to the door to find out what the disturbance was about. If it was Martial again, she’d – Instead, she found Pierre, completely distraught, frantically banging on Julie’s door. Julie wasn’t even there, or Thomas, who had to be who Pierre was after.
“They’re not there. Don’t you remember? They’ve gone to visit Julie’s family. What’s wrong?”
“It’s Martial. He’s -”
“What’s he done now?”
“He’s – I don’t know – I’m afraid he’ll try to – Fatia, go up and see that he’s ok. Please. You know I can’t get up the stairs. I’ll never ask for anything again, just go and make sure he’s ok. I think he’s going to jump.”
“Martial? That creep. Pierre, you really don’t want me to go up there. You know how I feel about him. After what he did to Bertrand -”
Pierre hadn’t known Martial had done anything to Bertrand, but somehow it made sense. Martial would have made a pass at him and Bertrand, being the square he was, would have lost it. He hadn’t suspected Fatia would take it that personally, but that was girls for you. You could never figure out what went on in their pretty heads. Not that Fatia was his type really. Too tough, too proud, too disapproving.
“Please. I – love him. I don’t want him to die.”
Normally, Pierre hated to grovel like this, but he would have done literally anything to save Martial’s life.
By now, Elodie stood in the corridor, eyes squinting against the light. She’d been asleep, but the noises had woken her. She’d listened to the conversation between Pierre and Fatia and her heart had gone out to Pierre. So distraught, so concerned about his lover. It was really romantic and it was obvious that the conventional Fatia didn’t approve of their love. Typical prejudiced reactionary. She wouldn’t be surprised if Fatia voted conservative or at least liberal. Such a selfish and unfeeling person.
“I’ll go. I’ll talk to Martial and -”
Pierre whirled around, a fierce look on his face, his dread momentarily forgotten.
“Not you, you dumb bitch. You’ve broken Thomas’ heart. I don’t want you anywhere near Martial. I don’t want to see you again either. Just fuck off.”
Elodie’s mouth opened and closed. She’d never been treated like that in her life. It was obvious that Pierre was a closet anti-Semite and to think she’d actually thought she’d cared about him. Turning on her heel, she vanished into her room, an offended look on her face.
Neither of them had heard Bertrand approach. Suddenly, his voice startled them out of their respective moods.
Fatia drew herself up.
“Never. You’re not going anywhere near him.”
“Please. It could be too late already. If Bertrand wants to go, let him.”
“It’s ok, Fatia. He’s not going to do anything to me now. I’ll be fine.”
“Just talk to him and tell him to come down. I – love him. Tell him that.”
Bertrand stared at Pierre. That was news to him, but maybe he hadn’t been paying attention lately.
“Uh – ok.”
“Fine. If you’re going up, so am I. I’m staying in the doorway, but if he tries anything, I’ll -”
“Ok. Come on. We’d better hurry, if he really is planning on doing something drastic.”
They arrived at the top of the stairs, breathless and stunned. Only now did it dawn on them that Martial might – if Pierrre’s anguish was anything to go by – have already jumped off the building. Fatia’s anger was faltering. Even after what Martial had almost done to Bertrand, she didn’t want him dead. That was just too – terrifying. She found herself hoping that Pierre had overreacted. People tended to do that when there was love involved.
She stayed inside the doorway, looking out as Bertrand proceeded on his own, searching the roof for any sign of Martial.
Bertrand recalled which was Martial’s favourite spot and headed that way. Despite everything, he didn’t want Martial to die. He’d been so nice to him, before that night, that even now, Bertrand couldn’t completely shake the idea that it had all been a bad dream, nothing more.
When he finally caught sight of Martial, he was standing so close to the edge, it made Bertrand draw in breath. Careful, so he wouldn’t startle him, he moved a little closer.
He spoke quietly, to avoid spooking him. There was no reaction.
Bertrand raised his voice a little.
“Martial. Take it easy. Could you move away from the edge, please? It’s making me dizzy, just watching you. Ok?”
Slowly, Martial turned his head and faced Bertrand. It was clear that he hadn’t expected him.
“What are you doing here?”
“I could ask you the same thing.”
“Just go away again. Stay away from me. You know you’re not safe around me.”
“I think I am. At least I’m not drunk now. Could you step away from the edge, please? We can talk about it instead.”
“There’s nothing to be said. You know what I did.”
“Yes, but I’m fine. Nothing happened.”
“I didn’t mean to do it, I swear. All I wanted to do was – be your friend. You won’t believe me, but it’s true. Even that night, I wasn’t going to do anything. Just – kiss you. Nothing more.”
Bertrand’s unease was growing. He didn’t want Martial to jump, but he really didn’t want to listen to this talk about what had been in Martial’s mind that night. It was unnerving enough as it was.
“Uh – it’s ok. Never mind. Let’s forget about that.”
“But I betrayed you. Tonight, I saw how badly I’d hurt you and -”
“I was startled, that’s all. I just didn’t expect to see you. Come on down from there now.”
“Yes, ok. Just don’t jump.”
“I have to. It’s all over now. After what I did to you and – to Pierre – and – the rest of it, I can’t – ”
“Oh, right. Pierre. He wanted me to tell you that he – uh – loves you and he wants you to come back. So you see, no one wants you to do this. You’re just overreacting. Come on. Don’t do this. It’ll be ok.”
“No, it won’t. If you’d known – about Pierre – and the rest of it – you wouldn’t even have wanted to be my friend, would you? You hate me. Who wouldn’t?”
“Hey. Slow down. Yes, I’d want to be your friend. Jeez. Do you all think I’m some stupid homophobic hick? My best friend from school – my only real friend – was gay, and I knew that. He came out to me first, before he told his family.”
Martial stared at Bertrand. Somehow, there had been a subtle change in their relations. Bertrand was no longer the innocent, helpless kid and Martial – felt he had no control over the situation at all. He found himself stepping backwards, away from the edge. By now, he’d lost his resolve and only felt a numbness, making it hard to focus.
Bertrand sighed with relief. He noticed that his forehead was damp with sweat and rubbed it with the back of his hand.
“You’re coming down with me now, right? Pierre’s really upset. You’d better – uh – calm him down or something.”
As soon as the words were out of his mouth, Bertrand realized that it would probably work both ways. With the way Martial had to be feeling, judging by his face, Pierre would probably have to comfort him too.
He was glad he wasn’t the one who would have to try. This had been embarrassing enough as it was. ‘I was just going to kiss you, nothing more.’ Please.
After all these years of trying to get a date with just about any girl, he had to run into a guy who wanted to kiss him – or worse. The guys from school would really have loved that. It would just confirm their opinion of him and Gael. The two homo nerds. Great. Of course, those guys didn’t know anything about Fatia, and what the two of them were up to at night.
Martial nodded, as if he couldn’t quite believe what he was doing. He walked ahead of Bertrand down the stairs and let Pierre herd him into his room, without making any trouble.
Gentler than he’d ever sounded, Pierre tried to talk to Martial. It was a while before he began to pay attention. When he did, there was a sheepish look on his face.
“Wait. Don’t say it. It was a stupid thing to do. You just don’t understand. I wanted to – get out while I still have some diginty left. Of course, that’s too late. Has been for years.”
Pierre studied him anxiously. At least he was talking, even if he had a defeated look to him. As if he’d given up. It was odd. In the time Pierre had known Martial, he’d never seen him lose the initiative. He’d always been so sure of himself and so – arrogant. It was what had attracted him to Martial in the first place. Strangely enough, he still felt the same about him, only more – love and less passion. The arrogance wasn’t all there was to Martial and Pierre wanted to discover the rest of it. He was sure there was much more.
“How long have you been -”
He immediately regretted his question. Martial didn’t need to be reminded of – all that. All he wanted was to comfort him, to do something to get rid of the awful lethargy.
Martial’s eyes fastened on him, making Pierre wince, but there was no reproach in the gaze, just a strange clarity. He shrugged.
“I don’t know. It happened so gradually. I think the first time I was – twelve or thirteen. It didn’t seem like much. Not compared to -”
Martial shook his head.
“Never mind. You don’t want to know.”
“Yes, I do. If you want me to know.”
“Oh, what’s the difference? You know everything else. It was the guy my mom was living with. Gaspard. After my mom died he’d come to me at night. I guess he felt it was my duty to take over after her. And in the daytime, he beat me. So you know – the guys who were willing to pay me, seemed really nice. It didn’t matter anyway. I had my plans. That’s why – it was ok to do it even now. You know, so I could get my degree. Until – I saw it with your eyes.”
“I didn’t mean to – you don’t look any different to me. Don’t you understand that I worry about you? That’s all. I don’t – judge you.”
The look in Martial’s eyes was so naked, Pierre had a feeling he had finally reached inside him, underneath his skin. Martial looked exhausted and he dropped down, laying his head on Pierre’s lap. Pierre put his hand on Martial’s head and began to stroke his hair.
It was funny, but ever since he’d found out Martial’s secret, he’d felt the stronger one of them. What a joke. A pathetic cripple in a wheelchair, a real freak show. Still, he felt exhilarated. Martial had come back to him. To him, not Bertrand or – anyone else. Pierre had a feeling that Martial had never opened up to anyone but him. That had to mean they were making progress.