“Wow…I didn’t guess that you liked me either.”
I didn’t hold back on Timo at all with information. He nodded when I said I’m currently on a curfew and I don’t want anything serious yet and had the perfect girlfriend in the states. He could have had strict parents, or preferred casual boys to committed after all. But I didn’t care! I wanted to get laid in Germany while waiting for my probation to end! It turned out to make a lot of sense. I’d be even with Thu (but with an actual hot guy) and could explain everything later.
We talked that all over in my “office”, and it would have been boring if he didn’t kiss me before he left. Right on my lips, quick and before any student could catch us.
“I hope everyone tells you that you have gorgeous lips,” he said.
“Uh…it’s a gamble?” His were nice too. They weren’t as plump as mine, but that meant that they fit on his freckled face better. He also moisturized them, I could tell. It was a difference that I used to feel on Thu as well.
If anything, I wanted to learn how to be nicer to him. It would help me be nicer to everyone.
“Well, no matter what, I want to spend time with you,” he said. “I’m so happy that someone finally messaged me back on Tinder.”
“Do you keep falling in love with straight men?” I asked him. He reluctantly nodded yes.
When the students for a 3D design class started coming in, I was no longer their semi-miserable lab assistant. Granted, it never took long for a computer to disconnect from the licensing server, or for the computer to freeze while rendering. Those made me miserable. But I spent most of my time pretending to study, but really looking at my calendar. I wanted Timo immediately.
It was so strange having someone reciprocate my feelings as soon as I spoke up. In hindsight, Ragnhild did too, back when we first met at that nightclub. Perhaps they opened early enough for me to spend a couple hours there without pissing off my probation officer. Plus, it wasn’t a gay club. My location was tracked constantly, and while there were no rules against being at a gay club within curfew, I didn’t want to have that conversation.
Oh my god, I was going to have a date with Timo! And I didn’t even feel bad thinking about him. Surely the bigger problem with Thu was keeping the obsession up when she didn’t want me…
…until you’re fucking him surrounded by garbage, you one-track mind little cretin–
“Mr. Hahn, you can’t be making that kind of face during my class.”
Dr. Krause loved to ruin my fun, didn’t she? And why was adding garbage in still kind of hot? Was I accepting that Timo was a nasty pig who happened to be a hot date?
“I didn’t even notice that the other class ended,” I said. “Blame the chemo brain fog?” I swore that it was a thing. Perhaps it could even follow me for my whole life, if I wasn’t lying about my health for sympathy.
“Not this far out. I took responsibility for my own life too,” she said. “Go to a therapist if you’re getting distracted so much. We even have counseling on campus.”
“Yeah, that’s a good idea,” I mumbled. But at least I could be honest about my appointments with Dr. Kovarik from that point on. I was finding other excuses for when I was scheduled during work hours…
“So, is it healthy to fantasize about other people? I…I’ll be honest, I got a date, this guy wants me too, but while I’m waiting for him I can’t stop thinking about him.” I also couldn’t believe that this was how I chose to come out to my therapist.
“Are you asking me if you can be attracted to other people? That was never the problem. If this is someone from work, then be careful about work,” said Dr. K. Being in her cramped office was even less pleasant now that it was an hour away from where I lived. I had to coordinate it with both Istvan and one half or the other of Archer’s commute. I took a bus over but Archer was going to drive me home that evening, and it was a day off for Istvan.
“Sure, whatever.” I didn’t want to out Timo to a stranger, especially because the staff base at the university was large but certainly not infinite. So I was going to be vague. If he went to therapy, I’d hope that he gave me the same privacy.
“Okay, as long as it isn’t that Karl Fitchner. All my sons say he’s creepy,” she said, backing into her seat a little. “Well…forget I said that. About all of them.”
“I never need to hear about your family.” It made her uncomfortable and bored me.
“Good. Why are you concerned, though?”
“…because I don’t trust myself alone, and I don’t trust myself with another person. They both go wrong.”
“You shouldn’t have expected me to say that you should be celibate forever,” she said. “Why don’t we go over some tips to avoid that?”
A lot of my clothes stayed with Remi or in California, and were probably burned in either place. I had a bit of money from my job for new ones, of course, but I wasn’t as happy with how I looked. I missed pieces like most of my pajamas, my mesh t-shirt, and formalwear from my job for Thu.
And that was all I was worrying about for a whole day.
“No one dresses up that much for a hookup.” It was Friday evening, and Ragnhild must have finished the lunch shift. At least she would get a few hours to sleep without me next to her if she was tired. We had to share the bed for space reasons, but if she had a date, I got kicked out. It usually was onto the futon. Trent and Istvan snored even worse than Ragnhild, and she had the pregnancy excuse.
Was she even tired, though?
“Are you tired?” I asked.
“I’m not dying, I’m just pregnant.” She rolled her eyes at me again. “We also got a letter back from the lab.”
“Oh…thanks for reminding me.”
I would be lying if I said that I wasn’t scared to open the envelope. Even scarier was what I could say. I didn’t prepare myself well for the consequences, no matter how well Ragnhild and I got along. There wasn’t a good scenario where I was the baby’s father and responsible for it, and there wasn’t a good scenario where she was lying. Or simply mistaken.
But Dr. K started by telling me to give time for other people to speak. To engage them about their lives too. At least Ragnhild and I would have a two-sided conversation about this ahead.
To Herr Axel Hahn,
Thank you for using our services. We work hard every day to use the greatest technology we have to help children and families […]
You ordered a paternity test for you and the unborn child of Ragnhild Myrhe. You are a 99.8% match and most likely the father. Unfortunately, we cannot help you further with issues regarding childcare and custody…
They went on and on about that. I wasn’t expecting shit from them besides that simple answer–
–46XX, no broad chromosomal issues present.
“So, we’re having a girl,” I said to Ragnhild, putting a hand on her belly. Finally, I had something to help visualize her. An identity for the meantime, regardless of what her future would hold.
“Please don’t do that again,” said Ragnhild, pushing me away. “We are?”
“Yeah…they said that she’s normal and healthy. Isn’t that exciting?” But in all fairness, I didn’t think that was the word to describe it.
“It’s fine. And I knew you were the father anyways.”
“You were right.” This wasn’t going as I planned. It wasn’t as two-sided or as long of a conversation as I wanted. As it turned out, our daughter was still nothing more than a little bean inside of Ragnhild with no awareness. So there wasn’t that much to talk about.
“Are you bored?” I asked her.
“Remember the nightclub where I met you? That’s where I’ll be with Timo, but I want you to have some fun too.”
“Okay…I can finally call Jörg. That sounds fun.”
I decided that I wanted a lot of backup that night, and also, that it was wrong to exclude anyone from this date. There were places Timo and I could go if we needed to be alone. But I also had only about an hour to assemble a crew.
As it turned out, almost everyone wanted to be at the club.
“So you went here all the time while at uni?” Jackie asked. He got two drinks and bragged about it, though I thought he would be used to the German drinking age by now.
“Not really, but I…”
“…I once thought that I fell in love here.”
I shouldn’t have been surprised that Ragnhild would officially get over me here too. Wasn’t I doing the same thing too with Timo? We both changed so much from when we first met anyways. Our hair changed, our jobs changed, and my mental health certainly had.
But I still had trouble sitting down and watching Ragnhild and Trent and Jörg and that girl I still hadn’t learned the name of. Not only did dating come so easily to them, but their dates arrived on time. Timo was nowhere to be seen. He didn’t even send me a message.
“Well, you’re less of a virgin than I am,” Jackie said.
“And I can drink more than Ragnhild right now, but that doesn’t make me feel better either.”
“Good thing you got Mr. Karahalios, because he’s definitely a sad boi who loooooves depressed assholes like you. Why else would he listen to Elliot Smith and lo-fi?”
“Thanks a lot, arse-trumpet,” I said. “But you’re probably right.”
I was growing impatient because I didn’t have all night to spend, unlike Trent and Ragnhild. They would deal out their own consequences for staying out past midnight, surrounded by house and EDM beats. But the hours I had with Timo were limited to two, and fewer if he was any later.
Is this what I spent the week dreaming about? He was lucky to be hot.
I stayed at our table while everyone else danced. Even Jackie danced, though he looked like a complete moron in the act of it. I had the privilege of being a slender goth, or at least once being one. They could dance. I was halfway there. And of course, I could disown Jackie as my cousin for the night at any time.
Was Timo good at dancing, or was he only a physics geek? It was hard to tell by looking at his clothes or physique, but he was gay after all. If only he was there to prove it me–
“You look great tonight,” Timo said, waving hello.
You do too, but in all honesty, I was fucking speechless. For one, he looked even better in casual clothes, with a graphic tee over a long sleeve shirt. Who knew what else he could pull off? It was Thu all over again; guess there’s no room for doubting this bi thing anymore.
But for the shortest second, I had him in my strongest hug. I was also a weak little thing though, and he pushed me away with ease.
“I’m sorry Axel, but they can’t get that idea about us.”
“Didn’t we kiss in a glass-walled classroom?” I asked, drowned out by the music.
“Yeah, but…was there a crowd like this? I can’t know what everyone here thinks.”
It finally hit me that I still had to deal with unsure, homophobic bullshit if I wanted to be with him. Archer didn’t even bother to warn me, but it should have been obvious anyways, like in the way that he had the good foresight to keep us fucking in his apartment.
“Sorry…I’m still getting used to this,” I said, defeated. I probably wouldn’t even get laid that night unless I beat Ragnhild home. She seemed confident in being seen as the sexiest pregnant woman at Jörg’s office, and without the history, I’d agree too. It felt better to live with her now that she could see what the breakup did to me.
And some of what it did was amazing.
“I’m not a good storyteller,” said Timo. “I think it’s obvious that I’m good in only one thing.”
“I was going to say weightlifting.”
“Well, you deliver on that too.” My cheeks were getting warm again. And jeans could keep my pathetic boner mostly concealed, if that was going to be an issue. I could already feel it becoming one. “Can you at least show them?”
And boy, did he roll up his sleeves to show them. His upper left arm was covered in a tattoo as well, which was almost never visible. Timo, despite his soft voice and kind temperament, paid money for a tattoo artist to etch a skeletal hand on his arm.
“Fine, you have something to be proud of,” I said. “That’s…more than I can say about myself.”
“You talked about food in your profile,” he said.
“Yeah…I guess it’s the immigrant’s kid’s experience.” Judging by his last name, I thought that I had his dad’s history mapped out, as long as I didn’t assume he was from an island that he wasn’t. I wanted something to talk about that wasn’t about wanting to get dicked by him, or the other way around. This was the same desperation I had with Thu as well, but Timo agreeing to a date so fast and arriving at all also made it entirely different.
“Right? But my mum and I can’t cook at all. It’s cool that you can…it’s kind of sexy too.”
“I’m glad to be of use to you.” Oh god, he was going to expect me to cook like a yiayia who had her own olive tree. Or whatever Mutter Karahalios cooked. As Timo said on Tinder, he was a man of many flags.
“Which ones are your friends?” He asked. He didn’t know how awkward of a question it would be. But I resolved to be honest, another Dr. K suggestion, and it was like Timo could read her mind.
“That’s Trent and his date of the week. We met in inpatient care last month…”
“…and that’s my cousin Jackie. He’s American and studying here, and kind of hated my guts after I lived with him for a few months…”
“…and that’s Ragnhild, who’s my ex-girlfriend that I knocked up at a friend’s wedding. She’s not the American one, though.”
“You have interesting friends,” Timo said. And that was it.
“No judging me for acting like a straight man or something?” I asked him.
“Oh, well, lots of guys have baggage. I was expecting a little bit of it.”
We talked for a little longer and I even got a beer, just to ease away any awkwardness between Timo and myself. But even beyond trying to look like a good patient at my next physical, I didn’t want to be soft if things got more sensual with him. He was impressed enough with me for this date and a quick kiss at my desk, and I wanted to keep him.
It was a lot better falling for a man who wanted me as well.
It was our first date and he danced with me too. Or at least near me. I had never seen Thu dance ever. She swore she danced at her wedding, but deep down, it crushed my dreams with her and should have stopped me so I could think.
That whole feeling was stupid too. I didn’t feel like I was in anyone’s shadow while with Timo. Granted, there was still the uncertain gazes of the whole club that covered us like a dark shroud, but we would eventually leave. There was my apartment and wherever he lived as well, after all.
Argh, that guy was too much! I knew I wasn’t the first man to masturbate in the bathroom if it came to that. I used to walk in on some stranger things.
I washed my hands first, which sounded like a good idea, until I saw that same man in the mirror.
“I don’t see anyone in here,” Timo said. His delicate voice almost perfectly blended into the muffled beats from behind the door. And he was right. No feet stuck out from the bottom of the stalls.
“You’re right.” I embraced him from the side and got a hug back, and I didn’t want to leave Timo ever if that was what he felt like. There was a reason I wanted a man with his physique. He was strong and exclusively took selfies at the gym, but very soft in the middle. It stunk that I couldn’t stop comparing everything to Thu, but I finally understood why she liked her tall pedo husband. Everything about us that was crazy and unhinged was kept safe in the arms of someone twice our size.
“I don’t think I’ve told you how cute you are,” he said, trying to run his fingers through my mess of hair. “I think it’s something to do with repairing computers…I can’t do it, so it’s kind of sexy like cooking is.”
“Apparently I find being helpless sexier than anything,” I said. “I’m serious.”
“Do I sound like your perfect ex?”
“So much, but in all the best ways.”
I had to stand high on my toes to kiss Timo, but he was worth the work. He instantly read my mind, grabbing me and trying to find the fastest way to unzip my pants. God, I really did miss the feeling of being pursued, of someone doing the work in starting a relationship. I knew that Thu had problems, and I thought I understood them better than anyone…
…but for once, I forgot about her while being pushed against a dirty bathroom wall, smothered between graffiti and Timo’s shoulders.
I should have figured this bisexuality thing out earlier. I always loved men’s shoulders.
He didn’t hear me when I tried to whisper and ask what he liked and wanted. Timo wasn’t violating me in any way, not at all, but I was stuck on what to do next. What I wanted next, and what he wanted next. Archer made it look too easy. He gave me instructions and told me not to overthink about the angle of my thrust or anything. But it was easy for me to overthink.
“I don’t think I’m ready,” I said out loud. “Can we stop?”
Thankfully, Timo did.
“We can meet another time, I promise,” I said. He looked sad, though.
“We can.” He walked out into the crowd at the club, and I didn’t say goodbye.
Ragnhild lead me out. It was already 21:00 and I needed to get home and call my probation officer anyways. Granted, I would have had time to swallow Timo’s cum, but I didn’t know how he liked it or how many circles my tongue had to make.
“Do you remember when you used to pester me for sex?” Ragnhild asked. We passed by the restaurant where she broke up with me. I felt a lump in my throat.
“It’s different. Everything is different now, and you haven’t helped.”
She took a look at the building and sighed.
It was still strange to sleep in the same bed again. We kept as far away from each other as possible, and being pregnant kept Ragnhild warm enough to not need half of the blanket.
She wasn’t making fun of my date for being a catastrophic failure, which was an improvement. But Ragnhild also was never my harshest critic. Deep within my mind, it was myself.