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***Hey y’all. It’s been a while, last few months have been hard. Anyway…
This is the last chapter of Carlin and D’Metrius’s story. At some point I may write another chapter of them later in life, but for now, consider this series completed.
I hope you enjoyed this series. Thanks so much for reading.
Without further ado…
Jimmy sighed and leaned back in the deluxe massage chair. D’Metrius could hear the motor parts inside moving, a soothing ‘whom-whom-whom’ sound in the background. “Shit, Metri, but this is the shit. All the dude-bros don’t know what they’re missing.” He lifted one foot from the basin of steamy hot water. Water dripped back into the basin as he examined his toes. “I’m going for baby blue today. What’d you pick?”
“Hmm?” D’Metrius hummed. “Sorry, spaced out for a minute.”
“Lover, that’s the whole point. What color for your toes? Are you doing your nails?”
“Can’t,” he said, pursing his lips to the side. “My boss would have kittens.”
Jimmy rolled his eyes and lowered his foot back into the water. “Yeah, I know. Samesies, for that matter. Having painted nails, unless they’re gel, is a big no-no in health care.”
“You could get gel, then, if you wanted?” he asked.
Jimmy shrugged. “Yeah, I guess, but they make my fingers feel hella weird, and ruin your real fingernails when they come off. So, ah, yeah, no thank you.”
D’Metrius smiled. “I was thinking about hot pink, but do you think that’s too loud?”
Jimmy looked into D’Metrius’s tub. “Maybe, but it’s winter so who the fuck cares. You want hot pink, you get hot pink, lover.”
“Nah, actually not feeling it now. What about something darker, like cranberry or something?”
“Oh, that might be nice,” Jimmy agreed, then leaned his head back as the massage chair hit a good spot. “Hmm, that’s nice.” Without looking he reached over and picked up his glass of wine and sipped it. The pale yellow liquid swirled in the glass as he put it back on the small shelf next to his fancy chair.
“This place is so posh,” D’Metrius noted. “I don’t feel like I belong here.”
“Relax, lover,” Jimmy encouraged, looking across their huge massage chairs at him. “You’re a Queen, you belong anywhere you go. Treat yo’self, yeah?”
“Yeah,” he agreed, still feeling less than adequate. He leaned back and closed his eyes as his feet soaked in the almost, but not quite too hot water. The massage chair freaked him out, he didn’t like how artificial it felt, and the new anxiety medication he was on advised him not to drink alcohol, so Jimmy was more than happy to accept his complimentary serving, too. “Sure.”
“You had your therapy appointment this morning?” Jimmy asked after a short silence between them.
He nodded. “Yeah, I guess.”
“You guess?” Jimmy snorted. “How’d it go?”
He shrugged. “I dunno how it’s supposed to go. It’s weird, right? Like, talking to someone about being gay, about, you know, all the stuff with Alex. Doing drag. About my mom, and my sisters. My dad. And, she’s a lady, like, I dunno. It’s hard, I guess. To open up, and to talk about all the stuff. All the little things it makes me remember.”
“How many times have you gone? Do you like your therapist?”
D’Metrius nodded, sucking on his lower lip. “Today was the eighth one, I go twice a week. I didn’t wanna like her, right? Like, I didn’t think a lady would understand me, but she knows shit, Jimmy. Like, she sees right through me, knows how I feel and… I dunno.” He sighed, slipping deeper into his chair.
“Isn’t that her job?” D’Metrius shrugged and Jimmy chuckled. He was glad at least Jimmy could find humor in it all. “Is she gay?”
“I don’t think so. Maybe? I dunno, I didn’t actually think to ask. We don’t talk much about her.” Jimmy looked over at him, amused. “Yeah,” he admitted. “I guess we’re not there to talk about her.”
Jimmy sat up and D’Metrius realized the chair’s massage noises were silent. A few seconds later their pedicurists came around the corner, big, fake customer service smiles on their faces. He and Jimmy shared pleasantries with the women until they settled into their work of making their feet absolutely fabulous, speaking some type of Chinese between themselves.
“You think it’s going well, though?” Jimmy asked after another sip of his wine. “The therapy?”
The woman working on his feet was rubbing minty smelling scrub up and down his calves and feet. It was ticklish, and tingly, and he fought the urge to jerk his foot away. “I guess. Been taking anxiety medication for about three weeks now, but I don’t exactly feel different. She said it’d take a while before it started working, that it was part of my long term strategy. Gives me terrible dry mouth, though. I’ve started carrying mints around with me everywhere.”
Jimmy leaned closer. “I heard they can make you unable to, ah, perform,” he whispered, sort of, but not quite modestly nodding down at his junk while also watching their pedicurists.
The ladies paid them no attention. His lady put his Bostancı Escort Bayan feet back into the water and the combination of the heat and tingling had him rolling his eyes back in pleasure. “No problems there so far, not that there’s been much performing.”
“I thought you were dating that guy from your building now,” Jimmy said, frowning.
“I am. I mean, sorta. Like, um. I’m doing the therapy thing twice a week, and work, and he’s a coach and… We keep missing each other. My work schedule’s up in the air since I’m doing the therapy now, and he’s been so busy with coaching and teaching that, like…”
“Are you telling me your relationship is totally chaste? Cause that isn’t the Metri I know.”
“A little. I mean, not, but kinda yeah.”
Jimmy snorted. “That’s not an answer.”
He sucked in a deep breath of air, gauged the interest level of his pedicurist, then blew out slowly. “We do stuff. But, we haven’t gone all the way.”
“Why not? You’ve been dating for, like, a month now or something.”
He nodded, fiddling with the hem of his shirt, unsure where to look. “It’ll be a month next Tuesday. We, ah, do stuff, but he never, um. He’s really good at redirecting, and he’s really good with his,” he leaned closer to Jimmy, face on fire, “mouth.”
Jimmy snorted a laugh. “Of course he is. You just need to turn on the charm, I think.”
“He gets me all messed up. I mean, in a good way, but then we’re done and I’m feeling high as shit, but also I somehow missed the opportunity again.” He couldn’t help but smile as he thought about laying in Carlin’s arms after they’d both come, as he remembered the heat of his skin and the strength of his embrace.
“Are you in love with him? You’re in love with him, aren’t you? Cause I never thought I’d see the day where Metri finally fell in love…” Jimmy was watching him in a way that made him super uncomfortable and he looked away, his face feeling hotter, if that as even possible.
“You pick color?” his pedicurist asked, startling them both.
“Huh?” he blinked, not understanding the question.
“Color? For toes? You pick color? No paint here. You want clear?”
“No, no. Um, light pink?”
He shook his head. “No, pink. Please.”
“Pink?” she repeated. She said something to the woman beside him, who’d already started filing and clipping Jimmy’s toenails. The other woman nodded and said something back in their language. His pedicurist looked annoyed for a split second, then smiled at him and stood up. “I getchu pink. Pretty toes, in pink. Like girl.”
“Yes, perfect. Like a girl,” Jimmy agreed before he could get embarrassed. He looked at D’Metrius and winked. “Better than a girl. A Queen.”
Somehow Jimmy always made him feel better, always made him feel accepted. He wanted to hug his friend, but held it in as the woman came back with a pink polish that screamed femininity. The woman held it out to him as if calling him out on it.
“Perfect,” he said, and Jimmy nodded.
“It really is,” Jimmy agreed. The woman looked surprised, then shrugged her shoulders and said something that felt derogatory, but not in English. He couldn’t understand it, so he let it go. It didn’t matter, he decided, since he really did love the color. Zion had a wig almost the exact same color, he wondered idly what dress he could wear to tie it all together.
“Shit, Metri, that color contrasts your skin perfectly,” Jimmy said, sounding jealous. He looked at his own finished toes and frowned. “I mean, I like this color, but your toes are freaking awe inspiring.”
They went to separate stations for their manicures, so he didn’t really get to talk to Jimmy again until they left. Even then, they didn’t talk about anything serious on the ride back to D’Metrius’s apartment.
“You coming up?” D’Metrius asked as Jimmy found a spot behind his building.
“You wanna dress up for fun?”
“Come on, you need a break. And I’m dying to accessorize those fabulous toes of yours… Pleeeeeasssseee lover? I’m begging you.”
D’Metrius chuckled despite himself. “Yeah, actually been thinking about what dress to pair these with since she started painting. You know my strawberry cotton candy wig?”
“Already picked that, I’m thinking about that hot little white mini you got paired with the black tank top and your silver long sleeve fishnet overshirt?”
He shook his head. “I was thinking about embracing pastels so my toes really pop. You’re always so dark, were you goth in another life?”
“Tragic, but true,” Jimmy said with dramatic flair. “It was during my drama club phase. You can’t hold that against me. Learned all my best blending techniques during that time of my life.”
“I would never,” he agreed. He unlocked the door and they began the trek upstairs. Unconsciously he held his breath when they hit the top of the steps even though he knew Carlin wouldn’t be home yet.
Still, he couldn’t help but feel disappointed when he saw Carlin’s empty İstanbul Escort spot. They walked by it and it took all the willpower he had not to look at Carlin’s empty seat, or his door, as they walked to his own apartment.
He hadn’t dressed up as Zion since the New Year’s Eve party, now over two months ago, and it was intimidating at first. Somehow Jimmy broke the ice, normalized things in a way that D’Metrius hadn’t been able to manage himself, and the anxiety over Zion shattered. He’d forgotten how much fun it was to dress up, how amazing he felt when he and Jimmy transformed themselves from regular guys into beautiful creatures of the night.
“Did you ever watch that show I told you to watch, Dragula?” Jimmy asked as he lined D’Metrius’s lips, squinting as he focused.
“Not yet,” D’Metrius admitted. “It’s on my list, but, to be honest, I haven’t watched TV much at all.”
“Jesus, Metri, what are you doing with your time if not wasting it on trashy TV?” Jimmy asked, mock offended. “What do you do with yourself?”
“I’ve been reading a lot, books Dr. Collins has suggested. To help me understand what I went through, and heal from it. To read about other people, who went through shit like me. That kinda stuff.”
Jimmy pinched his lips together as D’Metrius spoke, then leaned back to inspect his work before diving in again. “Well, I guess I’ll let it slide this one time.” D’Metrius chuckled and Jimmy stopped working, then started again. “But, seriously, lover. You’ll love this show, it’s nothing like RuPaul’s bitch-fest.”
Jimmy leaned back again, then nodded. “You want me to do your eyes, too?”
“Kinda,” D’Metrius admitted. “It’s, ah, it feels like you’re pampering me, and, I feel like I need pampered, if that makes sense.”
“Absolutely,” Jimmy agreed. “Teal?”
“Lovely. So, Dragula.”
He rolled his eyes playfully. “Like dracula?”
“Yup. If you don’t watch it yourself I’m gonna commandeer your weekend and force you to binge watch it with me. It’s a horror-glam drag contest, and I totally can’t wait for halloween to try some of this shit out.”
“Halloween? Like, dressing up in costumes kinda stuff?”
“Yeah, but also super drag style. You’ll see. It’s gonna be fun. The whole show is campy, catty, and full of amazing drag. And, like, the hosts, the Boulet Brothers? They always dress identically, and I totally wanna do that with us, but in opposite colors. Like, me in dark colors and you in light colors. Fun contact lenses, fake blood, pasties, hooker heels-“
“I got it, I got it,” D’Metrius said with a laugh. “I’ll watch it this week.”
Jimmy frowned, then got to work on his eyes. “Now I wanna come binge it with you,” he pouted.
D’Metrius laughed. “Well, there’s more than one season, right?”
The glam session was eventually topped off with a dusting of glitter for both of them, their chatting ranging all over the place, but never quite going back to Carlin. Every time the conversation lulled he found himself thinking about Carlin, about how he smelled, how his calloused hands felt in his own, about his gentle smile.
Jimmy was right, he had fallen in love, even if he hadn’t realized it. Instead of feeling oppressive it felt… freeing, similar to how his drag felt. It felt empowering.
“Let’s get dinner,” Bambi suggested. “You hungry?”
“As Bambi and Zion?”
Bambi shrugged his bare, glitter-dusted shoulder. He didn’t keep a lot of clothing at D’Metrius’s place, so he’d had to settle for a slinky little blue dress with spaghetti straps and a new pair of Zion’s silky-white stockings. “Of course.”
Zion looked over Bambi’s dress and frowned, then headed back into his closet. “Sure, sure. I got something to go with that,” he called over his shoulder as he delved into his closet.
“What do you wanna eat?”
“Don’t care,” he called back, digging through his several cubby boxes full of accessories until he found what he was looking for.
He emerged from the closet and held out his hand. Bambi’s eyes widened in surprise. “Nah, too messy to eat in drag.”
“You sure?” Bambi asked, reaching out for the pale blue cashmere shoulder wrap he’d retrieved from the closet. “This, it’s your mama’s, isn’t it?”
Zion nodded. “It was. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to wear it, to be a hundred percent honest. I want you to, like. I dunno. Just take the freaking thing, don’t make me cry after you spent so much time dolling me up, bitch.”
Bambi laughed, then picked up the blue wrap and carefully arranged it over his shoulders. He was only mildly jealous, Bambi could make anything look amazing. “So what, if you don’t want Italian.”
Zion thought for a second. “Tacos.”
“Jesus, Zion, that’s as messy as Italian!”
“Don’t care,” he retorted. “I want tacos. You asked, and I decided. No take-backsies.”
Bambi laughed. “Fine, fine.”
They cleaned up the make-up mess, then strapped on heels. He was checking his little clutch purse to Anadolu Yakası Escort make sure he had keys and a phone when Bambi opened the door and stepped into the hallway. A breeze of cooler air snaked around Zion and made him shiver.
“Your boy is out there,” Bambi noted. “You okay? Like, as Zion? He knows you do drag, right?”
Zion nodded. “He does,” he replied, unease snaking through his chest. It was one thing for Carlin to know, but he hadn’t dressed like this since they’d gotten together. He wasn’t sure if he could handle it if Carlin didn’t like…
He cut off that line of thinking, swallowing it down deep. He was Zion, and Zion didn’t let little shit like other’s disapproval bring him down. “You sure you’re okay?” Bambi asked again, his concern bolstering Zion’s confidence. Just knowing how much Jimmy/Bambi cared and valued him had him standing a little taller.
“Yeah,” he agreed. “I’m a fucking Queen. Of course I’m okay. I’m better than okay.” He stepped out of his apartment and closed the door behind him, trying his best to leave D’Metrius’s insecurities and anxiety back in his apartment.
Carlin was working at the table, a steaming mug of tea next to him. He looked up as Bambi and Zion paraded past, and he couldn’t help but meet his steely gaze. Once they made eye contact he felt like he had to say something, had to acknowledge Carlin in some way.
“Grading tests tonight, Caesar?”
Carlin nodded, a smirk on his lips. “It’s a never-ending cycle. Good evening ladies, you’re looking beautiful as usual. Big plans?”
“Just tacos,” Bambi replied, taking Zion’s hand. “Come on, lover. Bye, Teach.” Bambi tugged and Zion stumbled after him before catching his balance in his three inch heels.
“See you later,” Carlin said. Zion wanted to look back, to see what look he was wearing, but then they were down the steps and out the door, the cold wind stealing away anything he was going to say.
“He doesn’t look your type,” Bambi complained when they got into the car and shuttered themselves away from the wind, but not the cold.
Arms wrapped around himself for warmth, he couldn’t stop himself from smiling. “He’s totally my type. But, not Zion’s type, I suppose. D’Metrius’s type. Pre-Zion.”
Bambi started the car and adjusted the seat. “I shoulda brought flats, I hate driving in heels.” He adjusted his seat until he found the right spot. “I guess I never did see what ‘he who shall not be named’ looked like.”
“You don’t have to call Alex that anymore,” Zion said. “I’m done hiding from him, and hiding from my past. But, to be fair, Carlin’s his own type, and somehow exactly my type. He’s, like, did you see that messy man-bun? Mmm. The little bit of stubble on his chin? Right? Those big, calloused hands? How broad his shoulders are? The way his-“
“I get it, I get it,” Bambi interrupted. “You’re sickeningly sweet, you know that?”
Zion chuckled. “I’m trying,” he admitted after a moment of silence. “It’s so hard, though.”
“I know, lover,” Bambi said, tone softer. “It’ll get easier, but it’s gonna get harder, first. Healing is like that, you gotta cut away the infection before the real healing can happen.”
“Hey, like, um…” He hesitated, feeling incredibly emotional, but also incredibly emotionally open. “Thanks so much, for, like, saving me. Back then. And now. And, like, for helping me discover Zion. And um. Just stuff.”
Bambi bit his lip, eyes locked on the road. “Listen, lover, you can’t just spring that shit on a Queen while he’s driving!” Bambi sniffled, then pulled over and put the car in park before reaching across the cabin and grabbing Zion into a painful hug. “You’re gonna ruin my make-up.”
All of the feelings hit Zion at once, then escaped as tears. “I just had, I mean. I needed to say it.”
“Fuck, lover,” Bambi said, squeezing harder. “You’re my drag sister, I’d take a bullet for you. I love you, you goob.”
Zion hugged back. “I love you, too, bitch.” He tried not to cry, but the tears kept coming, and Bambi joined in. After a while the tears stopped and Bambi pulled away, then opened the mirror on her visor.
“Fuck, my make-up’s a mess.” He looked at Zion. “Your is, too.”
Zion laughed. “I kinda like it, like messy drag. It’s raw.”
Bambi looked back at himself and chuckled, which ended up as a hitch in his breath as he recovered from their emotional outburst. “Sure, at least we still match. Drag sisters for life.” Bambi held up a fist and he bumped it with his own, then they both broke down into watery laughter. “Just for the record, lover, I would never go out looking like this if you weren’t right here with me.”
“Ditto,” Zion agreed, then turned and smiled at Bambi. “Lets get those tacos, shall we?”
A margarita for Bambi, a virgin daiquiri for him, three tacos, two baskets of chips and guac, and two cheese quesadillas later he found himself getting dropped off back at his apartment. “You want me to come up?” Bambi asked.
He looked back, Bambi’s runny mascara somehow still beautiful on him, then shook his head. “Nah, I’m good. Like, thanks, yeah? I, ah. I needed this.”
“I know,” Bambi replied. “But to be honest? I did, too. I missed you, goob.”
Zion snorted. “Whatever, bitch. But, yeah, I missed you, too. Like this, I mean. I’m still trying to figure out who I’m supposed to be, you know?”
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