Chad got up when it was still dark and quiet, and went out onto the balcony to smoke a cigarette. The days were still long, hard and hot, but the nights were cool and clear, causing Chad to shiver a little as a stray breeze played across his bare chest. He saw Tibial through the window, softly illuminated by the light of a single lamp, asleep and curled up on his side, burrowed deep into the blankets. Chad smiled as he drew on his cigarette. Tibial looked very young asleep and enticing with his dark hair tousled from earlier and his lashes sooty dark against his smooth cheek. He would make some young lady very happy and Chad found himself disconcerted and confused at the sick aching feeling the thought caused in his gut. Protective reaction, he guessed. He was proud of the boy.
Chad took another deep drag on his cigarette, watching the cloud of exhaled smoke as it broke apart and drifted. He let out a shaky laugh as he ground the cigarette out against the wall. He leaned against the balcony railing, resting his weight on his forearms, still chuckling. Goddess, he had been so concerned about the kid, how scared and nervous Tibial had been, that he had never given a thought to how he himself had fared the entire experience. Now here, deep in reflection with the cold and nicotine as lonely companions he realized he had been just as nervous and scared as the kid had been.
He grinned into the darkness. His skin was puckered and tight against the cold and he knew he would start shivering soon. Still, he stayed out there for a few more minutes, drinking in the quiet solitude.
Tibial was young, almost sixteen. Chad himself was nineteen--only six more years left to make a child before he was doomed to forced bachelorhood. He had been seventeen when he had gone through the initiation, from a boy to a man, and was hardly old or experienced enough to teach another. He hoped he did an acceptable job. He had been surprised when he learned that Tibial had requested him. They hadn’t been real friends. Tibial had often come tagging along with his sister when she went to Chad's house to study in high school. He had been a fun kid, talkative once you drew him out of his shyness, entertaining, energetic and he was delighted that Chad would always take ten or fifteen minutes to play with him before Tibial's sister and himself sat down to study. As Chad had gotten older, started to work and moved into his own place, they had drifted apart. It would have been normal for Tibial to choose someone closer to him--or maybe, in some cases, it was good not to. Chad had meet with him a few times before agreeing making sure the boy was making the right choice. Tibial was still energetic and high-spirited but in a more mature, more refined manner. And he was extremely good looking.
Chad smiled a bit bitterly and closed his eyes. Thoughts like that were useless and would get him nowhere. He stepped back inside his home and shut the door firmly behind him. The warmth inside tingled over his too cold skin as he padded back into the bedroom, sat down on the bed and watched Tibial sleep. It was a long time before Chad lay down to join him.
Tibial woke up when the first brushes of dawn were painting gold on the horizon, sitting up and stretching. His body was full of aches and tightness, the same feelings he often had after a long day in the fields during harvest. He got out of bed and went to the bathroom. He supposed he should feel different--older, maybe? Grown-up?
He was sore down there, he noticed, but no more than the rest of his body. And it was over, at least. He was a man now, able to take a girl and hopefully produce a child. More than one, if he was lucky, the way his mom and dad had been.
He flushed the toilet, washed his hands, then searched in the dim light for his pants, which were easy enough to find, but his shirt was a lost cause. He had no idea where it might be.
Chad was still sleeping and Tibial glanced at him again, taking a good look. He had changed since Tibial knew him several years ago. Back then, when Chad was a teenager, he had been stocky, almost overweight, with acne and aggressively red hair, painfully shy and awkward. Tibial had chosen him because he was nice and, in all honesty, Tibial thought he would be a pushover, someone easy to control and influence if he didn't like the way things were going.
That nice illusion had been shattered as soon as they had the first meeting after Tibial’s request.
The awkward, unattractive teen that Tibial remembered was gone. This Chad was taller and the bulk that he had carried around had developed into muscle. The flaming red hair had mellowed into a soft copper gold that grew on the long side while his pale skin had bronzed from working outdoors. The acne was gone and the silent awkwardness was replaced by a quiet confidence. Worse of all, he was no longer the pushover Tibial had expected him to be. But when Tibial had been sitting there with Chad across from him, flashing that easy smile, it was hard to come up with a reason to change his mind.
And now here he was. Tibial sighed and turned around, walking into the living room, wanting to look at anything but that face. Yeah here he was, kissed, fondled and fucked by another man.
He didn't see how someone became a man by being fucked like a girl, but there you go. It had been done. And not only had Chad fucked him, but he had made him enjoy it. Bastard. If Chad touched him again, he was going to break his fingers.
Tibial looked around curiously. He had seen the room yesterday but he had been too preoccupied to really take it in. It was a small room, dominated by a large couch and an easel set up on a drop cloth. A nearby table was covered with bottles of paint and the bookshelf near the wall was cluttered with a combination of art supplies. There was additional paint, brushes and a miscellaneous collection of other tools.
The easel was facing away from him, toward the sliding glass door leading to the balcony and Tibial found himself increasingly curious. He didn't know Chad had been into art. He crept around to the other side of the easel to take a peek.
"Wow," he said in open admiration. It showed a rough, wooden wall, surrounded by long overgrown grass fringing the bottom, with ivy creeping up the wall. There was an old rusted bicycle forgotten on the ground and a shovel leaning up against the wall. There was an empty square in the middle of the wall, what would end up being a window probably, but was now only a blank piece of canvas not yet filled. Tibial wondered what would be going there. Despite the painting not being finished, Tibial could see Chad’s talent.
"You're awake," a voice, warm with sleep, came from the bedroom doorway.
"Uh…yeah,” Tibial blushed and stepped away. "Sorry. I was just curious."
Chad gave him an amused grin. "Do you like it?"
"I'll tell you once it's finished," Tibial said.
"Shower's free, if you want one," Chad said. He had obviously just gotten out, his hair was damp and drops of water beaded his shoulders and arms. "I'll make breakfast.”
Tibial felt a little better after the shower--cleaner. And he had done a little self-examination in the shower; apparently nothing was damaged. Chad had found his shirt and laid it on the bed. As he buttoned it up, he could smell bacon frying and hear eggs sizzling. With a fresh shower and normal breakfast smells filling the air, Tibial felt like last night was something far away, some kind of hazy dream.
Chad was carefully turning over a slice of bacon when Tibial came into the kitchen. "I have orange juice or coffee, if you've started a caffeine addiction like most teenagers," Chad offered.
Tibial opted for the orange juice. He hated the bitter taste of coffee, but he liked the smell of it brewing. He wolfed down eggs, bacon and biscuits as quickly as Chad could fill his plate up.
"Damn," Chad said as he cracked the last two eggs open on the skillet. "They're not kidding about teens and their appetite." Chad looked off into space momentarily. "I wonder if I ate this much when I was your age."
Probably more, Tibial thought unkindly, then felt bad about it. Chad was feeding him food from his own fridge and last night he was at least gentle and kind. It wasn't his fault that their town had this ridiculous, humiliating custom.
"You alright?" Chad asked and Tibial pulled himself back to the present moment. No use thinking about spilled milk, as his mom was fond of saying.
"Yeah," Tibial said. Chad watched him with careful eyes as he ate. When Tibial was done, Chad took the dishes and put them in the sink. "Do you want to talk about last night? Have any questions?"
"No," Tibial said almost instantly.
"Okay. Do you want to--hold on." Chad reached for him and Tibial jerked away as Chad's fingers brushed his cheek.
"What the hell?"
"You had some egg on your face," Chad said. "Goddess, does my touch disgust you that much?”
Tibial stared at him, shocked. “I never said-”
“You don’t have to, it’s written all over your face,” Chad said, leaning back against the sink and taking a drink of coffee. His eyes took on a darker shade. “You didn’t seem to mind last night.”
Tibial felt his entire face burn red, the tips of his ears felt so hot he was sure they were going to burst into flame. “You didn’t have to do that.”
“Make me--make me--”
“What? Orgasm? Why not?”
“Be-because,” Tibial spluttered.
“I thought you should know what it feels like. There’s nothing wrong with orgasming, Tib, that’s how women get pregnant. Don’t you know the mechanics?”
“Of course I do, but I'm not a woman.”
“A fact I’m well aware of. Did you not like it?”
“I did! That’s the problem.”
“Well we can do it again, if you want and I can make it feel not quite so good," Chad said. His eyes held a dark amusement. "Is that what you want?”
“Why don’t you just tell me what you want?”
“I don’t know.”
“Do you want to do it again? We can if you want."
"I don't know!"
"Well, you better figure it out. I can’t make all the decisions for you.”
Tibial crossed his arms. “I'd rather not."
"Okay." Chad carried his cup back into the bedroom and pulled a shirt from his closet. "Put your shoes on," he called out to Tibial. "We're going out."
* * *
Chad took Tibial downtown, where they walked through the streets, looking at the window displays and wandering inside shops that looked interesting. Chad stopped by an art boutique to buy supplies and they had lunch at a sandwich shop, went to the small theater to see a movie. Tibial was enjoying himself, forgetting about that morning's awkward confrontation. He wasn't poor, but his family kept him working so hard, either at school or in the fields that he rarely had time to go out to eat or just hang out and he was very envious of Chad, for who this was apparently a common thing. The clerk at the art shop had called Chad by his first name, even.
When Chad pulled up to Tibial's house at five o clock, a full twenty four hours from when he had picked him up, Tibial was almost disappointed. It had been a fun day and Chad was a pretty okay guy to hang around with. That was if he could ignore the fact that the man had taken his virginity.
"Shit, hold on, I almost forgot. Here, take this." Chad reached into his pocket and pulled out a slim silver band. It was the final one of three that a boy got when he had completed the initiation. When worn all together, they made a weaving, interlocking pattern that showed that he was available for coupling. Tibial slid it onto his finger, adjusting it until he could see the design formed.
"There you go," Chad said. "Are you going to one of the dances?"
"Next weekend," Tibial said. Coupling dances were events where young men and women of coupling age gathered together to dance and check out potential partners. It was the easiest way to meet someone and popular among a younger population who didn't exactly have great freedoms under their parent's roof.
"Good luck then," Chad said. He looked over Tibial's shoulder, saw a young woman darting out the door. Tibial followed his gaze. It was Terrasa, his older sister.
"Thanks," Tibial said quietly. Terrasa ran up to them and wrenched open the door, embracing Tibial before he could even get out of the truck.
"You're back!" she squealed, hugging him tightly. "I'm so glad. Mom's been having fits. Go in there so she can see you're alright." She looked over Tibial's shoulder and released him, leaning into the truck. "Is that you Chad?"
Chad smiled at her. "Long time no see Lady Terrasa."
"Oh please, call me Tessa like you used to. It's been a while. You've grown up."
"So have you."
"Thanks for taking care of Tib for us."
"No problem.” Chad grinned. “He's a good kid."
"That he is. Well, better get inside. See you around?"
"Bye," Terrasa said and watched him drive away before following Tibial in to the house. Yes, Chad had grown up, grown up very nicely indeed.
Inside the house, Tibial had been instantly accosted by his mother's overwrought concern.
"Oh my dear Tib. Oh thank heavens you're alright." Lady Eva hugged him tightly, surrounding him in a deep cloud of perfume and powder, a smell he always appreciated not because it was pleasant, but because it reminded him of home. "Goddess, I was so worried about what horrible depraved things that man would do to my baby, are you really alright?"
"I'm alright Mom. It was fine," Tibial reassured her, untangling himself from her arms. "Don't worry."
"Oh, you're wearing the ring," Lady Eva cooed, bending down to examine it, running a smooth finger over the twisted bends and loops. Terrasa came back in and looked over her mother's shoulder.
"You're a man now. My baby is all grown up," Lady Eva said, her voice cracking and a hand going up to her mouth. "All my babies are grown up now."
"Now, now," Terrasa said, patting her mother tenderly on the shoulder. "Tibial's still just a teenager. And aren't you always telling me how immature I am? We're not grown up at all." Tibial did nothing. Men in the household were not allowed to touch Lady Eva without permission.
"I suppose." Lady Eva stood up, ran a hand over her eyes, then kissed Tibial on both cheeks. "I'm so proud of you. I made your favorite dinner. It'll be ready soon."
"May I have permission to go wash up?" Tibial asked.
"Of course you may."
* * *
Tibial lay in bed that night on his stomach, his sheets pooled on his lower back. He was trying to get to sleep, without much success. Dinner had been an uncomfortable affair. Terrasa, who was curious about all the rituals her brother had to go through when she had so few, had bothered him with carelessly tactless questions about why he had to go see Chad until Tibial's father had sternly told Terrasa that a man's business was still a man's business and not hers. Terrasa, who was not used to being scolded, blushed and muttered an apology.
Lady Eva and his father had both taken him aside privately after dinner and told him how proud they were of him and after Lady Eva had left, his father looked at him solemnly and asked if he had any questions.
Tibial shook his head mutely, his mind turning with plenty of questions, none that he wanted his dad to know about. Why did he have to do this? Why did he have to do this now? Terrasa didn't have to couple until she was eighteen.
This was so fucking unfair. He wasn't even sure if he wanted to have sex. Not that it had felt all bad. Once the pain was over, it had been alright.
He felt his face grow warm in the darkness, but he made himself think about it. Kissing had felt good, nice. The way that Chad had touched him had been okay. He could remember the sharp bite of pleasure as fingers teased his nipple, could still remember hearing Chad's voice, speaking of arousal, filtering in through the pleasure, pulling his concentration in two different directions.
Tentatively, almost shyly, even though he was alone, he rolled over onto his side and slid his own hand up inside his shirt, pressed his palm against the rapid thundering of his heartbeat, then carefully caressed his own nipple, feeling it grow hard and stiff. He kept his eyes closed, let himself remember more, the heat of Chad's hand when he pressed it against his erection through his pants. Tibial let his hand replicate those actions, not allowing himself to think too deeply about what he was doing. He pressed his hand against his erection through his pajama pants, then slid his hand inside, gripping the hot flesh. He remembered how Chad had done this as well, how he had gripped him and stroked him until he came, spilling his seed everywhere, all over Chad's hand and his own stomach. How Chad had his face pressed against the side of his, breathing harsh and heavy in his ear as he came shortly afterward.
Tibial worked his own hand over his shaft, bringing all those memories hot to the surface. The breath against his skin, the way Chad's hand had gripped his so tightly, the press of his chest against his own, the wet sticky warmth of Tibial's own cum smeared between them...
Tibial let out a strangled groan and he climaxed, arching up off the bed a little bit, cum spurting against his hands and dribbling down onto his hip and thighs. He lay there panting for a moment, then kicked off his sheets. He wanted to go to the bathroom now and wash, but he knew Terrasa would still be up and see him as he passed her room. Instead he got up and grabbed a towel out of his laundry and cleaned up the best he could then got back into bed, sated, tired and a little bit angry with himself. Masturbating was not a novel experience for him, but he usually had a slightly different focus for his fantasies, like one of his sister's female friends or the models from his sister's lingerie catalogues. Not a guy.
Not ever a guy.
It was his first sexual experience he reasoned. It was normal to think about it. Soon he would be with a woman and could think of her.
Satisfied with that logical conclusion and ignoring the real one that lurked deep somewhere where the rest of his secrets hid, he fell asleep.
* * *
Chad stood outside, smoking another cigarette in the cold. He was feeling tense and anxious, not sure why. He had completed his latest painting, could see it through the balcony door if he chose to turn around and study it. But he didn’t, his brain needed a break.
He smiled. He had been warmly surprised when he had come into the room to see Tibial looking at his work; it had done well to counteract his coldness later. He had been inspired to finish it because of Tibial’s interest.
Interest did more than anything to drive a piece to completion. He wondered if Tibial would ever come by to see it. He snorted and flicked the remainder of his cigarette away, blowing the last lungful of smoke into the air. He doubted it. Kid probably hated him right now.
Couldn’t blame him.
Activities like the one last night weren’t the ones to build friendships, but ruin them. Chad knew that the situation was getting serious. Not enough offspring, not enough willing women and a crippling mutation that rendered more and more men sterile with no discernible cause, and therefore, no discernible cure. Desperate times called for desperate measures but this... custom, it bordered on cruelty. The focus had been on women, those beautiful, gorgeous, sexy women for so long.
On women and making sure they enjoyed sex enough to keep having it as often as possible, that nobody seemed to remember that men were men and that they were people too, not sperm producing machines. There was a better way to educate men about sex. But no-one wanted to be bothered with figuring out how.
Welcome to the age of the Goddess.
He stretched before going inside. He felt full of energy, wanted to go for a long hard run, but it was dark and cold and the worst possible idea at this hour. Instead he set up a new canvas, mixed a new set of paint and thought about his next piece. He had been struggling for ideas lately, but this one opened up bright and full in his mind’s eye immediately and he set to work.