There’s no Diego. No Sorrento. Rain is no doubt asleep so he can be up for his early bus, and Leon is unwilling to wake his lover of less than one day over a fight with his son. He tries to think of the list of other friends he could look for, even if they were awake, and comes up empty.
He stands there, under the tree where his son and best friend left him, for a long time.
When he finally decides to move, he looks around. His sleeping cabin is across the field, but he can’t imagine how he would fall asleep right now. Quaaludes, maybe. But when he takes them from his pocket and considers them, the idea is unappealing. He can’t face the fake smiles and mocking whispers up at the main hall, so he does the only other thing he can think of: he goes into the Dark Room.
The dungeon room, where the leather daddies do their whipping and flogging, where Chain had cuffed and fucked him earlier, is empty. The door to the middle room is closed. In the hookup space, porn splashes across the cabin wall while Nate and Sinclair writhe on one of the beds. There’s no-one else. No-one he might have random sex with, even if he’d wanted it. Not anyone he can talk to. The images of cocks being sucked and assholes being fucked, projected larger than life, seem so bright they burn his eyes.
Quietly, he sits down on a bunk. Nate and Sinclair ignore him. He does the same.
The sounds of sex – both taped and real – blur together, and he lets desperation and loneliness and despair settle into his skin, flood his veins, and fill up his bones. Rain loves him, and in this moment that’s the single point of light that pins him to the world, but it also reveals the rest of the truth: Rain is the only one. His throat swells with tears, but there are so many things to cry for that they simply clog up, unshed, forming an unbearable heavy aching weight behind his eyes.
He couldn’t really say how much time passes.
Men emerge from the closed middle room and voices drip over him, muddy and meaningless. “Oh god,” one says, though he doesn’t really hear it. “I cannot deal with sad Leon right now.”
Nor does he see as Enrique puts his arm around the glaring Simon and leads him from the cabin.
It’s only the sensation of hands on his arms and shoulders that brings him, finally, swimming up from the black depths. “Leon?” Chain’s handsome face floats before him, brows knitted with concern. “Are you okay?”
He tries to open his mouth. Tries to flash his seductive grin and say, “Yeah, baby, I’m fine.” Instead his head betrays him and shakes from side to side, long and slow and sad.
Chain’s smile is gentle, and his eyes are unexpectedly kind. “Come on,” he says, taking Leon’s hands into his own. “Come with me.”
Leon finds himself powerless to resist as Chain stands him up and leads him out of the cabin. They walk down the path, away from the main cabin, down toward the hippies and the spirituals in their Pillow Room, the place where his eyes were opened and all this shit began. He doesn’t want to go. They’ll just mess him up some more. But the arm Chain keeps wrapped around Leon is so comforting, so warm. He wants more of that. Not sex, not drugs, not to fuck or be fucked. Just to be held. So he’ll go wherever Chain goes.
Andrew, one of Chain’s leather brothers, and Bret, a fresh-faced kid he met briefly earlier, are already there. They aren’t doing much of anything, just lying on the heap of blankets and pillows, Bret’s back to Andrew’s chest and Andrew’s arm draped over the younger man. “We’re joining you,” Chain says, not leaving it open to question. “Lay down,” he tells Leon.
Bret raises his arm. “Come on in.” No sooner does Leon move into the boy’s embrace than Chain is in his own, the four of them lying front-to-back like spoons nestled in a drawer. He is surrounded, enfolded, safe and cocooned. Bret’s arm does nothing more than wrap around his waist and hold him, and he does the same to Chain. He sinks into a sea of bodies and blankets and lingering incense and soft red light, and something inside him breaks.
The sorrows in his head line up, forming a single burning thread that unspools as the tears find their way free. They slide hot and silent down his face from under closed eyes, and are accepted without judgement by the pillow where they land. He breathes through his mouth, shallow but steady, keeping his chest from shaking, burying the tears as he lets them go.
More men wander in. “Are we having a leather cuddle?” one says. “A leather cuddle with a Leon,” Chain tells him, and the others join. Yet more arrive, and soon Leon couldn’t really say how many men are lying together, only that they form an unbroken chain of acceptance and care. He thinks of Rain’s arms. He thinks of the first boy he ever kissed. He thinks of his mother, engulfing him in her unconditional love. Eventually the well of his tears runs dry, and he breathes. Just breathes.
“Do you need to go to bed?” Chain whispers over his shoulder.
Leon shakes his head. “No. I’m good here.” He shifts until his head is cradled in the space between his own shoulder and Chain’s. “I’m good right here.”
Silence steals over the cabin, and soon behind it, sleep.