by Jen

"Romanian place woulda been primo."

"Nah, I think I like the burger and fries better."

Front seat of a car. Outside of his building. Real swanky surroundings. Love to be 16 again, take a hop in the backseat. Can't, being adults and all. Least one of us is.

Let my hand slide behind the passenger headrest.

"Tim, you shoulda let me pay my half of the check."

Drop the hand, too goofy.

"Consider it my 'make up for being a fuck-up' card."

"Oh holy shit pal, you gotta lot more miles ahead before that debt is paid in full."

He smiles when I chuckle, knows I don't mean it. Knows I can never stay mad at him. Tapping from his foot on the floor makes thump sounds all through the front seat. Nice to see Tim with energy to burn, 'specially after the last few months.

"I have to piss."

Throw my arms out, bumping against the dashboard.

"This ain't your personal shitter."

Hitting the unlock button with a bony finger, he steps out, view of his jean-clad ass making me wanna steam up the windows. Tim doesn't have the cutest butt, when you see it, can't force your eyes away.

Shuts the door behind him, body set toward the front door. Some way to end a date. I almost start the car up when I see him race back, tapping on the window. I roll it down.

"Where are you going? My conversational skills can't be that bad."

He grins again, and I follow him. Tempted to push him onto the ground, kick some dirt in his face, or maybe...

"Real funny Tim."

He thinks those games are cute. I don't, but I put up with 'em. One of his less self-destructive traits.

Go in the elevator, creaking every step of the way. Fumbles with the key in the lock, drops it, curses and tries again. I just stand to the side, propped against the wall, fascinated by the knitting in his eyebrows.

Finally notices when he hears the lock click.


Any peeking neighbors might not want a show. Their own fault though. I move in close, cupping his chin, pressing my lips to his, eyes open to see that scraggly, beautiful, ordinary face react. Only kiss for a second, not long enough to get him all indignant about public affection. Nothing but a big hole between my knees, he'd probably fuck me on the front stoop.

Can't hide my dopey grin, grab the shoulder of his brown shirt when he moves to go in, so I can see the blush creep up. Think of the first day, he was arguing with the warden about conjugals. More hair, same old prune face. Attica never was as bearable after he quit.

He goes in, flipping a light. Nice, clean place. Now this is for Ripley's Believe It Or Not.

"Maid service?"

He shakes his head in wonder as he tosses me a beer.

"I called them after the first therapy session. Fuck, that's amazing. How'd you guess?"

Used couch, minimal CD collection. Haven't been here since right after I came to Oz.

"I'm a mind-reader Tim."

Take a long sip off the beer, liquid burning my throat. Classical, Talking Heads, Tupac..


"Yeah." Pause for his next gulp of brew. "I wanted to relate to the African-American prisoners."

"Guess that's why it's unopened."

Need some music to unwind. Where's that CD I got him for Christmas '96? Rummage through the two dozen titles. Found it.

"You never even peeled the plastic off my Sade CD?"

Another chug off his Budweiser.

"No time."

Pop the disc into the player, voice floating around the living room, soulful tones with grittiness. Hint of the unspoken.

Stare at him with want that gnaws in my belly, shrugging off my coat, pulling at a few buttons. Tim looks on like he's clueless, me and him know better.

Standing beside the couch, I brush against his fingers, taking his beer. Feel the cool ice on my big paws, over my forehead. Last third drains into my mouth, stuck between cold and lukewarm. That buzz better start soon.

"Wanna dance?"

Pull him into my arms, wrapping around him, bald head laid on my neck.

"This is a date, isn't it?"

Whispered into me. I rub his neck, fingers still frosty.


Love is Stronger Than Pride comes on. Dicks are pressed together, I press my lips next to his ear, hand tracing inside his shirt while the other stays on his waist.

"I miss her."

He looks up to say that, pain drowning his eyes. And I wanna hurt him so bad, for showing me heavy-duty longing without even noticing my hard-on. Good 'ol Murph, best pal and de facto fuck buddy, great shoulder too.

I wanted to hate Diane for splitting, breaking his heart. Shitty thing to do. But Tim drives people away. He's too open, rage, blame, judgemental sonuva bitch. Or completely withdrawn, shutting out anyone who cares. No middle ground that lasts longer than a month or two. Tim hurts us, fact that he doesn't give a fuck at the time makes the pain seem worse.

Music begins to stop, I pull away, running my thumbs under his eyes.

"I know."

Why can't I shut him out? Pretty easy with the rest of my life. Never as simple to break away from Tim McManus. Addictive, trying to help him through the angst, pitying, gnawing on your lower lip to wait out his latest crisis.

He's so pathetic, face going from old to young and back again. Kiss him without thinking, lips brushing, tongue flicking out to push his mouth open.

Tim guides us to his room, lifting his shirt over his head. Not a bad chest, as usual, on the frightening side of skinny.

His nipples fit in my mouth, so tiny and strong. I go for his pants, sliding a hand around the buckle.

Being second best sucks. It kills. Only thing more painful is not mattering at all.

I do matter to Tim, but not in this way.

I push Tim on the bed, pulling his shoes as he grabs for the socks. He pats the bed.

"Join me?"

Constant sorrow. Fucking wonders of therapy. More tempting than every prisoner bribe combined....toss off my shirt, throwing it onto the blanket beside him. When I see the look on his face, so distant, I know I can't do this.

"I'm not a pity fuck Tim."

I walk out, dreaming of another beer, not wanting to see him if he bothered to look at me. Turn the player off, shut my eyes in a nearby easy chair. Screw the beer.

Wake up a few hours later, mouth dry. Empty my bladder, not too far away from his room. No snoring. Never heard him snore. He's so frail when he sleeps, saving up the fire to fight for people who'd shank him first chance they get. That and fucking any ladies on premises.

I hate living the old straight crush cliche. One of those boys who wants what he can't have. Used to think I had a crush. A crush doesn't last a decade, doesn't break your heart a million times and then come back with a few pieces of tape. It's love that makes me go back to his room, wrap my arms around him so, *maybe*, he won't feel as lonely when he wakes up.

I've wanted to say the words for thousands of days. Never can in the way I mean them. Not even when he's asleep, case he wakes up. Cause Tim would push away at the first sign of any real stuff between us. He knows how I feel, he doesn't want confirmation.

Gotta have the balls to spit it out. I shake him out of sleep, hands on his shoulders.


I love you Tim. I'm an aging, sagging mick who ain't good enough for a Diane groupie, but I still love you more than anyone I've ever fucked or known.

"Thanks for the date."

He lifts his head a fraction off the pillow, disoriented and half-listening.


Drifts into sleep again.

*No fuckin' balls Murphy. Absolutely no fuckin' balls.*

I spoon him some more, knowing we got a few hours. His denim buns against my cock, not sexual, just familiar. Fitting each other, like pieces in a puzzle. That feeling I never even knew I needed 'til the morning after we fell into bed together.

Goes back to Unit B tomorrow, to add more lines to his face. Probably dreaming of Em City, place that makes him crazy, more important to him than I'm ever gonna be. And I'm glad when I begin to nod off, sick o'hearing myself whine and bitch when things could be a whole lot worse. Least he's in my arms. Least he ain't scraping me off the bottom of his shoe any more.

Head grooves into his neck, hand pressed against his belly. Too sleepy to care, I let the words go, part of me almost hoping he hears in his yellow brick slumber.

"I love you."