NOTE: Romance 18+ characters.
He did see a lot of Bastian after that, almost every damn day.
He’d saunter onto the pool deck in that same red Speedo, all tucked up neat, then slaughter the rest of the kids. As captain, he was supposed to alternately yell at and encourage them, but he never did. “Just do your goddamn best,” he’d shout some days across the pool. “They’d say that’s enough for the Good Lord, so that’s enough for me.” The team would laugh, because they all knew Bastian didn’t believe in God. But other days, he ignored everyone, swam like a demon, and went home without speaking to anyone. You never knew, with Bastian, which you’d get.
Being captain didn’t earn him much fame, but it did earn him some popularity, especially among the younger kids, who thought he was funny, despite his propensity for moodiness, and with the girls, who liked his Speedo almost as much as Rob. “You gonna let us see what’s under there?” he overheard Katie Brooks asking one day. (God, the whole school was Katie, Kates, Katherines, Catherines, Marys, Mary Catherines, Sarahs, Elizabeths, Beths, SaraBeths, and Merediths).
Bastian gave her a half-smile. It was one of his good days. “You gonna show me what’s under yours?”
So he did go both ways. But after that, Rob noticed Bastian disappearing regularly, usually coinciding with one of his female swimmers disappearing, then both of them reappearing, separately, a while later. Different ones, never the same girl. If the girls minded sharing him, they never showed it.
“You working your way through the girls’ team then?” Rob asked one afternoon while they planned a meet: another of Bastian’s good days. “Because you’re starting to miss too much practice doing it.”
“Aw, hell, Daddy-O, they ask for it. Tell me you’d say no.” He grinned wickedly. “Or maybe you would.”
“Beside the point. Keep it out of the pool.”
“Oh, we keep it out of the pool, all right.”
“You know what I mean, boy.”
Bastian lounged in a leather chair, feet up on the desk, wrapped in a towel, still in that fucking Speedo, Christ come down in glory, he needed his ass turned red. Still that lopsided grin, the one that wasn’t quite a smirk, or quite a straight smile, either: like Bastian was laughing at the world and everyone in it. It made Rob melt and he hated himself for it. “Keeps team morale up. Anything for team morale, Daddy-O.”
“Keep it in your pants and keep it out of my practice.”
He snickered. “You mean keep it in my suit.”
Rob stumbled. “Yeah, that’s — exactly — you know what I mean.”
“You’re as red as my Speedo, Daddy-O.”
Rob sighed. “Quit it with the cute comebacks. You need your ass spanked red to shut you up. Christ, I wish we still had corporal punishment. I might not write you up, but I’d send you down to get paddled so fast your head would spin.” It’d work, too. Rob had gone to an all-boys school and he knew the humiliation of it: the way your ass burned afterwards, shifting in the hard chairs, trying to find a comfortable position that wouldn’t come, knowing everyone knew, and the worst part: if someone you sort of liked had done it, you had sort of liked it too, maybe even gotten hard, and that made it so much worse.
Bastian rested his elbows on the wooden desk. “Would you send me down to get paddled?” he asked, clearly interested.
Rob didn’t look up, eyes fixed on what he hoped Bastian thought was the desk. “Damn right I would. And off the record, as a friend and not a priest, I hope you wrap it up.”
Bastian snorted. “I’m not an idiot. Can we get back to planning this meet instead of discussing my sex life, and possibly yours?”
“You heard me, Daddy-O.” He grinned, the lopsided one that made Rob melt.
“I’m going to pretend I didn’t.”
A hundred little moments, death by a thousand cuts. Bastian holding his hand out: “Help me out of pool, Padre! I swear you swam me so hard Imma collapse!” And Rob taking his hand, helping him up and out. Bastian,with that perfect ass, dripping water, turning, yelling, “Hey, can you toss me that towel?”
Bastian blinking up at him, water on those enormous lashes, asking, “Do we need to plan a meet today?” And when Rob said yes, Bastian curling into a ball in the leather chair, head resting against its back, knees drawn up, towel wrapped around him, eyes closed. “‘M tired and cold.” Rob had thrown him an extra towel. A goose-bumped arm slipped out from under Bastian’s towel and grabbed the one Rob had thrown. Bastian’s eyes widened. “Thank you.” His words were deliberate and careful. “Thanks, Father.”
Rob would glance up to find Bastian already looking at him. Bastian’s eyes would always drop, oh god, that submissive little move Rob had always loved.
When he got in the pool with the kids, Bastian didn’t seem to look. But Rob caught him at odd moments. He would blush, actually blush, and look away.
Bad enough to want him. Worse to want it reciprocated. The very worst to know that, for some strange reason, it probably was.
Bastian broke him, finally, the day before the state finals. He was slated to swim against some hotshot kid from Macon, a blond who’d broken records left and right. That afternoon, as usual, Rob had to hear student confessions, and he slid open the grate.
“Bless me father for I have sinned, it’s been forever since my last confession and these are my sins,” a familiar voice rambled.
Oh hell. But Rob couldn’t chase Bastian out or cause a scene or tell him to leave. He might believe it, for once. Or he might be fucking around.
Bastian rattled through a list of sins, Commandment by Commandment, and how he’d broken them all, including sex with multiple girls. Last of all, he said, “I’ve had lots of same-sex desires but I haven’t acted on them. Because… well… there’s this one guy I like. I like him a whole lot. And I shouldn’t like him and I don’t know what to do, Father.”
“Pray,” Rob bit off. “Stop liking him. You know those desires are intrinsically disordered and contrary to natural law.” He clung to the old words of the Catechism. They’d taught him well. Even if he didn’t believe it, he could mouth the responses.
“But what if they aren’t?” Bastian asked.
“Are you here to confess or argue theology?”
“Then get on with it.”
“So I torment this guy intentionally just to get — just to bait him, I guess? But I can’t stop thinking about him. I like girls okay, Father. But I like guys so much better. I get myself off thinking about this guy every night. I can’t get him out of my head. I don’t know where to start.”
“I’ve tried. It doesn’t work.”
Rob finally cracked. “You don’t believe any of this, Bastian. Get the hell out of my Confessional.”
“I believe it today and you’re in no place to say what I do or don’t believe so do your goddamn job, Father. And I’m not finished.”
“So you’re confessing to intentionally lustful, disordered thoughts, about a man —”
“Never said it was a man instead of another kid, but yeah.”
Fuck. “And this man, you’re confessing to intentionally tormenting him. Plus masturbation.”
“Yes. And I keep pushing him to see if I can get him to admit he wants me.” Bastian paused. “I think he does. I really, really think he does.”
Suddenly the air in the small confessional became too close, too stifled; his stole too hot around his neck. “Are you finished now?”
“Get down on your knees and beg for mercy, you unmitigated brat. Two rosaries to the Virgin Mary asking for chastity,” the harshest penance he’d ever given — Rob, like everyone else, was a “Two Hail Marys and tell-Jesus-you-love-Him” type. “And never come to me for Confession again.” He mumbled through the words of absolution and traced the Sign of the Cross in the air.
“Now get out.”
The Confessional door opened, then shut. Rob peeked through his own grate. Bastian McCarthy walked out of the chapel without kneeling at the altar to pray.
Date to Be Published: 1/10/2020