A suitably large enough number of his family had spent time behind bars, and for this reason he understood that sometimes, in times of drought, men turned to other men for sexual release, but love and affection were entirely different matters. Love and affection were to be bestowed on females, and females only. He wasn't exactly sure where and when things had changed. The blurring of the line between hetero and bisexuality had occurred over time, influenced by the burgeoning experience of life, sights and sounds normally excluded from the heterosexual population. No, not excluded from the heterosexual population, it was the opposite, the exclusion by the heterosexual population of homosexual options.
His best mate, Brett, had been the catalyst for his friendship with Terry and, he supposed, Terry was the catalyst for his current state of mind.
Terry was tall and slim, femme and professional. Sometimes Jamie thought it ridiculous, the way they had become close friends in a relatively short period of time, but mostly he considered it entirely reasonable. After all, he and Terry had both been curious about the other and Terry had become his token gay friend and he, Terry's token straight friend. Curiosity, mingled with loneliness and a love of motorbikes had developed into one of the closest relationships he'd ever known. There were no secrets between them, nothing was sacred and where one went, the other was almost certain to follow. They became each other's daily business, did almost everything together, and were always there to pick each other up whenever life sent a few kicks their way.
Despite their closeness, he may never have considered the possibility of a sexual relationship had it not been for Luke. Luke was one of Terry's friends who, at the age of twenty-eight, reclassified himself as bisexual.
'But you can't change from gay to bisexual,' Jamie had argued. They'd been in Terry's car at the time, driving home from a night out, and the 'changeover' had been playing on his mind for hours.
'I wasn't aware we had to pick early on,' Terry had replied, obviously pissed off. 'I used to hate beer, now I drink it. People's tastes change.'
'What a load of shit. He must have been bisexual to start off with,' Jamie had responded. 'I thought you couldn't change people's sexualities?'
'You can't,' Terry retorted, ignoring the sarcasm in Jamie's question. 'Sexuality is entirely individual.'
'Then Luke's individually bisexual and always has been.'
'Luke is whatever Luke knows himself to be,' Terry had rejoined tiredly. 'Don't get all narrow-minded, it doesn't suit you.'
The conversation had annoyed Jamie; he'd been irritated that Terry assumed sexuality to be so fluid and moving when everything he'd been told to date suggested the opposite. After all, wasn't that the whole gay rights campaign? That you can't change your sexuality? But when he'd tacked this on as an afterthought, Terry lost his temper.
'Sometimes the bullshit that comes out of your mouth astounds me,' he'd spat . 'Eighteen months I've known you and you still don't have a clue, do you?'
'Obviously not,' Jamie replied sarcastically. 'Do explain to me, Gaylord Focker.'
The crack had only bought the tiniest of smiles to Terry's face.
Luke was married six months after his announcement. By then, the subject of sexuality and GLBT rights had been discussed countless times and remembrance of his ignorance bought a twinge of guilt to Jamie whenever he thought of the matter. Terry, however, seemed unperturbed.
'You live and learn,' he offered diplomatically.
'I do,' Jamie grinned. 'Where would I be without you?'
'Without cute men hitting on you every Friday night.'
They laughed, but something inside Jamie ate away at him uncomfortably. It was true; he was by now more than accustomed to unwanted come on's, and there'd been a few occasions where he'd felt so guilty, like an intruder into a society that had accepted his sexuality more than his community accepted non-heterosexuals.
'I'm sorry,' he apologised. 'For being such a prick.'
'Aww,' Terry teased. 'You're forgiven. Can I grope you now?'
Jamie grinned and tried to find the right response, but nothing came to mind. Once upon a time, he'd have rolled his eyes and made a smart-ass crack, but now all he wanted to say was 'yes'. 'Yes', because he was almost completely certain he was in love, and he wanted to touch, to kiss, to make love. All he could think about was Terry, the way he spoke and moved, the effeminacy, the jokes and conversations and teasing. He loved to stare at his smooth white skin, olive green eyes and dark brown hair and wonder what it was like to be with someone who didn't feel obligated to act like the typical Aussie bloke but instead revelled in who he was, without caring what others thought.
If only he could find some way to hint that he was feeling increasingly uncertain about his sexuality. If only there was some way he could pull Terry aside and tell him he loved him, without the fear of losing one of the best friendships he'd ever known.
It was a pity he was so staunchly heterosexual. He looked so damn good it wasn't funny, and he was overtly masculine, a trait Terry had always appreciated. Tall and muscular, with tanned skin, close-cropped hair and a pointed goatee, he was almost impossible to resist and several pairs of eyes followed him as he made his way back from the bar, five drinks balancing between large, strong hands.
'Crossover,' Jamie grinned, staring at Coke-stained Midori and lemonade. 'Sorry.'
His long, lean legs were clad in dark blue denim and the arms that protruded from the white singlet were works of art. Too bad that not only was he heterosexual, but unbelievably good-looking, and far beyond the reach of mere mortals, let alone those mere mortals inflicted with HIV.
Shit. He hated thinking about HIV and the fact that one day, he'd die a long, slow and painful death. How long did he have before he started getting sick? His doctor's were optimistic-what doctor wasn't? - and always reminded him that he had years of good health ahead of him, if only he'd look after himself. But it was so damn hard not to drink, or smoke, or stay out late when you knew life was going to be cut short and you felt the need to cram as much as possible into the short period of time left. It would be easier if he had a calendar to look at, and say 'yes, I have four years of certain health ahead of me, or eight years if I quit smoking', but there were no certainties with HIV, no rules and regulations the virus adhered to.
Terry glanced up, wrenched from his thoughts, to find his table mates headed inside for more dancing, leaving him sitting outside with Jamie and a young, female couple who he didn't know too well.
'Okay,' he agreed, seconds too late, because the decision had already been made and it was too late for his acquiescence to be heard, anyway.
He smiled and nodded and commented politely as Jamie struck up a conversation with the women, his hand resting affectionately on Terry's thigh. Jamie had become noticeably more comfortable with male/male affection, and when in mixed or accepting company, they'd touch each other in a friendly sort of way. It amused him the way his friend showed affection; almost as though Terry were not just effeminate, but female. Sometimes he wondered if, were he in a healthy, female body, Jamie would consider him as a potential partner. Maybe, the two of them were exceedingly close friends, and Jamie did have an inordinate amount of trouble finding girlfriends. Exactly why this was eluded Terry, because as far as he could see, the guy was a prime catch; good-looking, employed and an all-round great bloke. Why women didn't fall at his feet was indeed something of a mystery.
'Terry,' Jamie prodded, a puzzled look on his face. 'Are you with us tonight, buddy?'
'Sure,' he replied, smiling quickly. 'Wanna dance with me, sexy?'
Jamie rolled his eyes and cocked his head towards the dance floor. 'Ladies first.'
The response relieved Terry. Jamie had been a little funny for the past few months, slowing down on the bad jokes and lapsing into periods of silence.
He had worried, on and off, that perhaps Jamie wanted to end the friendship. Terry may not be able to have Jamie as a lover, but having him as a friend was the next best thing and he wasn't about to lose that if he could help it.
It was a quiet night, and they were dancing together, bare-chested and taunting. Terry had taught him to dance, to tease, to flirt and sometimes he suspected he'd been a little too efficient in his instruction. It wasn't fair, in that childish, immature sense of propriety, to have such a good-looking straight guy in a mixed club. It was de rigueur that the men here were bisexual or gay - straight men tended to utterly avoid any place where another man might hit on them - and he had bought in Jamie, who was such a damn tease it wasn't funny.
'Are you alright?' Jamie yelled, pulling Terry close.
'Yeah.' Terry replied, puzzled. 'Do I look sick?'
'A bit,' Jamie replied, sounding embarrassed. 'Don't worry. Sorry.'
Terry forced a grin and slid his arms around his friend's waist, pulling him close. To his surprise, Jamie's face was free from amusement as he moved closer, and he wrapped his own arms around Terry's back.
This wasn't right. Jamie didn't initiate this sort of behaviour, this was too close, too intimate for him.
Certain his mind was playing tricks on him, Terry reached up and pulled his friend's head down, quickly, teasingly, kissing him before moving away, his heart thumping, waiting for Jamie to get angry and tell him he'd gone too far.
Instead, Jamie pulled him close and pressed their lips together once more. Terry was just about to laugh, thinking it must all be some kind of joke, when Jamie's tongue slid into his mouth.
At Terry's townhouse, they had coffee. They'd left the club soon after the kiss, both flushing red with guilt and hoping nobody had seen them. There were no kisses or affection exchanged on the journey home and now they sat, alongside one another, studiously drinking their coffee and chain-smoking.
'Why?' Terry asked.
Jamie shrugged. 'I had to. Um...'
Terry gave his friend an expectant look.
'I want to reclassify my sexuality,' Jamie offered, laughing weakly at himself. 'Is it too late?'
Terry shook his head. 'Only you can make that sort of decision. What everyone else says and thinks isn't going to change anything.'
Jamie nodded, raising his coffee cup to his lips. The warm liquid slid down his throat without calming him, but he doubted there was a sedative available that would ease his stricken nerves. He'd done it now, come clean and hit on one of his best friends. Somewhat sadly, he wondered when Terry was going to do the 'I'm not the man for you' talk and convince him to find another lover. Truthfully, he didn't want another man, he didn't feel any great attraction towards other men, the only man he wanted was Terry. The only person he wanted was Terry.
'Have you got any cuts on or in your mouth?'
'Huh?' he replied stupidly. 'Oh, no. I don't think so. Well, no.' Bumbling idiot that he was, unable to answer even a simple question with any modicum of respect. He flinched a little as Terry shifted closer, running a long, thin finger along Jamie's lips.
'Should I kiss you again?'
This time, he knew the right answer. 'Please.'
The kiss was awkward, neither entirely sure what sort of kiss this was to be. Shutting his eyes, Jamie tried to figure out what he should do about the cup in his hand as the object of his affection deepened the kiss. Breathing in Terry's scent, he felt himself grow hard, and wondered if they'd be making love tonight.
'You're spilling coffee,' Terry mumbled, pulling away. 'Put that down.'
He acquiesced without comment, smiling stupidly and reaching out, laying one hand on Terry's waist. The second kiss was better; beautiful really, an expression of love and lust and hope and slowly, they moved to their sides, shuffling closer and closer, becoming braver with every second, caressing each other's smooth, hard body.
'I love you,' Terry whispered in between kisses.
'I love you too,' he replied, stroking his lover's hair. 'I don't think I'm a very good example of heterosexuality.'
Terry smiled quickly, comfortingly. 'Sexuality doesn't matter; love does. That's why I got so angry over your comments about Luke.'
'Would you love me if I was a woman?' Jamie asked, confused. Terry nodded.
'Absolutely. But you're not; you're Jamie.'
They ceased their discussion, instead slowly undressing one another, revealing their chests and exploring bodies hitherto forbidden grounds. It was with relief that Terry noted Jamie's erection, his arousal creating a tempting bulge in his jeans, but it was too early too touch. He had to move slowly, lest he push things too fast and too far for his friend's comfort. Bowing his head, he gently nipped Jamie's neck, smiling at the resultant moan.
He was being given more than he had ever dreamed off; the man he wanted, love and the chance for a life together. He continued to nibble the smooth brown skin, working his way down to the small, hardened nipples, his tongue flicking over the hardened peaks, drinking in the slightly salty taste. It was difficult to shift lower on the couch and regardless, Jamie's arms were heaving him up, preventing his mouth from pleasuring anywhere below the waist.
Terry was physically larger than Jamie had imagined, broader and more muscular, his flesh hard and masculine, but wasn't unattractive; on the contrary, it was strangely aphrodisiac to have a male body alongside his. There was a level of familiarity and understanding, he knew how his partner's body functioned and he used this to his advantage as he guided Terry to his feet, his hands immediately fumbling with the button on his jeans.
'Need help?' Terry laughed nervously.
Jamie nodded, his breathing heavy. 'Thanks.'
Their hands worked together to unzip the fly and lower Terry's jeans and boxer briefs, the layers carefully eased over the man's erection. Stepping out of his clothing, Terry reached towards his lover, seeking to return the favour.
'I'll do it,' Jamie smiled, embarrassed. 'Do you, um, have condoms?'
Terry nodded and headed to his bedroom, his heartbeat rapid and his palms sweaty. He collected condoms, leaving the lubricant on the bedside table, not wanting to risk anal sex. Penetrative sex would be too intimidating for a previously 'straight' man, and regardless, he didn't want to risk a broken condom, not with his HIV status.
Jamie was sitting on the couch when Terry returned, hunched forward to cover his 's gaze followed Terry's movements, as the lattermade his way across the room, naked and unashamed, his arousal tight against his stomach.
'Here,' Terry whispered, pressing the foil packets into Jamie's hand.
'Thank-you,' Jamie replied stiltedly.
Pulling Terry onto his lap, Jamie gazed into the man's green eyes, a faint smile playing on his lips. As they kissed, he reached out to stroke his erection, only to have his hand quickly moved away.
'Condom,' Terry ordered, ripping open a foil package and efficiently sliding the latex on. 'Safe. Safer, anyway.'
He nodded, again reaching for the man's arousal and gently stroking it. It felt surreal to have the man he loved on his lap, naked and waiting to be pleasured, and it wasn't an occasion Jamie was prepared to rush. Sliding from underneath the more effeminate man, he moved to the floor in front of the couch and gently parted Terry's legs.
Terry inhaled deeply as Jamie nuzzled his thighs, lightly kissing the delicate skin. It had been nearly two years since he'd been intimate with another person and suddenly it was all worth the wait. He could feel his arousal mounting as Jamie took his cock into his mouth, gripping his length with one hand and fondling his entrance with the other. With lust-lidded eyes he stared at his lover, leaning back and wrapping his legs around the younger man's muscular back.
The loving was slow and tender, arousing and teasing and they both revelled in the languorous lovemaking. Terry sighed with satisfaction when Jamie withdrew one of his hands and started pleasuring himself as he performed fellatio, the rhythms identical, bringing both men closer and closer to orgasm. Realising his orgasm was imminent, Terry's eyes flew open and he slid further down the couch, tightening the grip of his legs and thrusting in Jamie's mouth with an impassioned plea for more.
As the onslaught of climax began, Terry cried out, fighting to control his body as wave after wave of pleasure shook him. It was more than he could bear and he lost himself to the moment, his hands flying out in a thwarted expression of unbelievable satisfaction mingled with an almost overwhelming sense of gratitude. Collapsing into an exhausted heap, he nudged Jamie away and smiled down at his lover.
'Sit here with me.'
Obeying without comment, Jamie sat alongside him, desire coursing through his veins. He shut his eyes and swallowed hard as he was masturbated to orgasm, semen splattering over his stomach as he thrust into Terry's hand.
After what seemed like an eternity, his body stilled and he glanced down, embarrassed, at his sticky chest. 'Thank-you.'
Jamie glanced down at his chest for a second, before shrugging helplessly and pulling his lover near. 'I love you.'
'I love you too,' Terry whispered, kissing him. 'Can I taste you?'
The taller man smiled briefly and flushed red. 'It's pretty nasty.'
Shaking his head, Terry ran a finger over the stickiness and raised his hand to his mouth. Noting Jamie's expression, he laughed and offered the remainder to it's owner.
'Get real,' Jamie retorted. 'Your perversion has nothing to do with me.'
They laughed and Jamie stood up, muttering under his breath and heading to the bathroom to clean off. He was standing under the hot water when Terry slipped in, naked and hesitant. Without a second thought, Jamie kissed him, thus cementing their relationship.
That night had been the beginning of the end. Within months they were living together, under the premise that Terry would need someone to take care of him when his HIV developed into full blown AIDS. Neither dared mention their relationship, both of them terrified that their relationship would anger their friends and family. It wasn't so much Jamie's 'sexuality', rather it was Terry's HIV status.
To fall in love with a 'straight' man was one thing, to be a HIV positive gay man in love with a formerly straight man was another. It wasn't that they weren't cautious; in fact the opposite was true. Terry was terrified of infecting his lover and so the sex was never penetrative. There were too many horror stories about unlikely infections for him to feel comfortable taking a more lax view, because the last thing he wanted was the guilt of knowing he'd taken another man's life.
After all, the man who'd infected him was a boyfriend, a supposedly 'clean' boyfriend, one who'd lied to him and told him his test had come back clear when it obviously hadn't. He didn't stew on the past, though. As he knew well enough, he could have twenty years, he could have two, but he was determined that every damn last year he had left was going to be spent having the time of his life, with the love of his life.