It was awful, just awful—not just crying in front of someone else, but in front of Jesse. It was like I have just buried whatever chances I had to impress him, and now every uncontrolled sob and whimper that escaped my lips was like a shovelful of earth thrown onto the coffin. Yet I couldn't control myself. It had been so long since the last time I cried that it felt like an avalanche that just couldn't be stopped, and all I could do is bury my face in my hands to hide the worst of it from his view.
"Holy crap," he said.
I briefly removed my hands to find him still sitting next to me on the floor, gaping at me, although his exact expression was blissfully blurred by my tears.
"Why are you crying, man?"
"I'll just leave." My tongue felt thick in my mouth and I'm not sure he could make out the words. "I'll just --"
I made an attempt to get up but he grabbed me by the shoulder and easily jerked me back to the floor.
"Sit the fuck down," he muttered, and then I heard rather than saw him move, and then something landed on my knees. I felt the object. It was a box of tissues.
"Is it because I said you're a bad lover?" he said. "Come on, I was joking. You just got overexcited. Happens to the best of us."
I pulled out a couple of tissues, trying to get my breathing under control. "I'm sorry. I'm so sorry."
"For…" I blinked the rest of my tears away and wiped my face, then blew my nose and dared to look at him again. He watched me curiously but thankfully wasn't laughing anymore. He looked like someone who'd prepared himself for a boring lesson and was surprised to find the topic of the class unexpectedly engaging.
"You're cool," I said. "I'm not. I'm sorry for that."
He blinked, then laughed and shook his head.
"If you think you can buy me with compliments, then, well, you're right." He moved over to me and threw the tissue box away before sitting down next to me, the metal side of the lower bunk pressing into our backs. "It should be me apologizing. I didn’t expect that you'd get that turned on. When did you last do it?"
It took me a moment to decipher the question.
"You mean, had sex?" I cleared my throat. "I never did."
"I've figured that out," he said impatiently. "I mean masturbation. People who jerk off regularly don't come right away from just making out."
I shook my head. "I don't do that."
He made round eyes at me. "You're kidding, right?"
"I don't. It's…wrong and…unhygienic."
He snorted. "Says who? Your mother?"
I shuddered at the suggestion. "No! I don’t talk about such things with my mother."
"Your father, then?"
I sighed. "He just always says that I should concentrate on my education, and sexual stuff is something you do when you grow up and meet a proper girl, and you have a job and something to offer her, you know? Until then you just keep your junk in your pants."
Jesse snorted. "Sounds like your father is trying to raise a serial killer. By the time you have something to offer her you'll be so fucked up in the head from the constant frustration she'll run away screaming. You can't keep 'sexual stuff' bottled up for ages. Just like you can't keep emotions bottled up," he added in a different tone, "because then they burst out one day and people start, say, crying out of nowhere."
"You're smart," I said.
He waved me away. "You and your compliments." He reached out and picked his unlit joint from the bed, then turned it around in his fingers.
"So," he said, not looking at me. "Do you intend to wait for the right girl and do it the right way? Or do you prefer to do it with a wrong boy in a wrong way?"
I watched his beautiful profile, wondering why he hasn't given up on me yet.
"You're the right boy," I said. "And I want to do it the right way. With you."
He flung the joint aside and smiled, his eyes bright in the dark room.
"Okay, then let me explain you a couple of things."
He moved and straddled my legs, pinning them to the floor with his weight. His hands dove into my still unzipped pants.
"Shhh," he whispered, probably sensing me tense. "Look me in the eye. There you go. You like it, don’t you?"
I nodded, hypnotized, looking at him but not quite seeing, all my senses turned inward to the sensations of his hand slowly moving up and down my length.
"Shhh." He leaned over and kisses me again, not the hectic, passionate kissing from before, but slow and tender one, and my lips opened to him, my mouth somehow knowing what to do, my hands finding their way to his hips, squeezing them.
"There you go," he whispered. "Nice and slow. We have a few more things to learn today, so pay attention."