Auburn Ski Camp / Brian’s Embers

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Brian

We slept together last night. It was just, sort of, natural. We have fallen into one another and we have found our perfect fit, Snowflake and I.

I . . . I really can’t believe this! I never thought I’d find anyone who was, well, the One! But he and I – we breathe with the same breath, our hearts beat with the same beat, my heat and his cool comfort one another perfectly.

We made love even despite my knee injury in a way that was completely tantric. I have never experienced such feelings. Those heights of ecstasy went beyond the merely physical! We touched in deep places neither of us knew we had.

Snowflake completes me and I am no longer the person I was. That person was a boy seeking boyish things. I am truly a man, now. Yes, even at 24, I was not yet a man until last night. I know there is something more than what I had known before because I have now experienced it.

I now understand every love song I’ve ever heard. They take on new meanings and they have a fullness of feeling that makes me want to cry! Because, before last night, I had never experienced true love. Honestly, I didn’t think such a thing even existed. I am thankful, so very thankful . . . that I was wrong!

Snowflake is the other half of my soul and I am the other half of his!

We had sex about 6 times last night. Each time was different. Each time was at a height of feeling I thought reserved for drug-induced euphoria!

I woke up stunned with the rush of feelings as I looked over at him . . . just sleeping. Looking, I feel a little like a kid on Christmas morning, but that isn’t even a sufficient description. My heart squeezes, my lips tremble, and my breath shudders as my eyes rest on this angel of the snow.

Snowflake lays in stately repose, turned on his side and facing me. His rosy lips are open slightly and his narrow nose flares gently as he sleeps. He has one hand a little behind his head and the other seems to be in mid-reach between us like it had been holding me for a good portion of the night. A hand that possesses, a hand that guards, and a hand that gives. It is unconscious wanting. A longing so deep it causes the muscles that make the arm reach work even in the deepest delta sleep.

He wants me every bit as much as I want him. Now, the pearly white face changes expression ever so slightly. It is a look of discontent like distantly perceived pain or loss. The hand clutches the red bottom sheet upon which I had been sleeping. It must still be warm from my copious body heat. Snowflake makes a soft whimper, not unlike a fussing infant. His mouth works and I sense awareness rising in him.

Those grey-blue eyes open and fix on me and the sun rises in my heart! I feel as if I am in a dream where I am more alive than when I’m ‘awake’. His hooded eyes reflect the pale light filtering through the drapes. Shadows cast upon the bright irises give the light in them halos that circle the perfect black pupils like gem fires.

My angel smiles at me and I am taken back to yesterday afternoon and the time we spent together.

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Earlier

Well, despite the meal I made of Snowflake in the hot tub, I was still starving. Those tree branches he calls food weren’t very appetizing at all. So after our fun in the bath and later in the sauna, he about dragged me over to the dining mess.

It was a cafeteria/buffet affair not unlike Golden Corral but with much better food. Upon Iceman’s earlier recommendation, I did go for the prime pib. Boy, I don’t know where they get their beef, but it was some of the best prime rib I’ve had and that’s from somebody that goes to the House of Prime Rib on Nob Hill in the City almost every birthday and holiday! That place used to do the best prime anywhere . . . until this place. Fucking unbelievable!

Now, it might have been the company that made everything seem better because Snowflake is probably one of the most entertaining dinner companions I’ve ever met. It was all I could do to not wet myself laughing at him much less eat. I have never in my life seen anyone eat so fussily!

He got a little annoyed with my mirth, but I couldn’t help it. His look of utter consternation with me while ‘doing his thing’ just makes me laugh worse.

He cut his steak into bite-sized pieces BEFORE ever getting any of it in his mouth. Each morsel had to be just so or he would push it off to the side and eat it later. Of course, by the time he was done with his mutilation of the meat all the juice had gone out of it and was puddled in his plate. This didn’t bother Snowflake, though. He just blotted it all up with a piece of bread. He relished that more than the steak, really.

Of course, the bread thing, Holy fuck. I mean he tears it up into little bits and puts it on his bread plate and then takes his fork, stabs a piece, and then dips it into his juices and sauces it like a fondue. I was amazed! My own food nearly got cold because I was too busy watching this sitcom across the table from me rather than eating my own dinner!

He was like ‘What? Have you never seen someone eat before?’ It was so unbelievably cute! He had no idea how oddly entertaining he was just trying to eat!

Because we must have burned a billion calories today we went the full five courses. Salad and soup, some kind of lobster croquet thing for an amuse-bouche, our prime rib, some fantastic crab legs with drawn butter, chocolate mousse cake for me, and some kind of fruit tart for my fruitier companion.

The cost was on the house too! Snowflake has some pull around here, let me tell ya! Actually, I need to correct myself: its part of his per diem. Um, like . . . wow!

After lunch, he insisted we take a nap. Now, mind you, I haven’t taken a nap since my Lad n’ Lassie Preschool days. So, instead, I hobbled into the bar while Snowflake headed upstairs. He really wanted me to sleep a bit, but I just can’t manage that in the day time. I think he had ulterior motives, honestly, hehehehe!

Upon my entry, I looked around and saw that the semi-dark bar was pretty deserted. It was only mid-afternoon, so I shouldn’t have been surprised. Everyone was still out skiing.

So, being one of maybe three other occupants in the “Liquor Lodge” as the neon bar sign declared itself, the bartender focused on me.

“Whoa, Mister! Didn’t you just get here yesterday? How could you be busted up already?” the bartender asked with good-natured ribbing. He was an older fella who was in his late fifties or early sixties and kind of chunky. He wore a spiffy tucked in shirt and dress pants while sporting a tie. It was old-school and I liked that. He was polishing a beer stein as he grinned in my direction.

“You want me to make a short story long?” I threatened.

“Sure! I ain’t got nothin’ but time here until six o’clock comes around and Pete here is not much of a conversationalist, are you, Pete?” The Barkeep turned to a snoring man drooling on the bar with an empty stein in front of him. He was probably just fifty, but he looked eighty. I had a feeling Pete took most of his nourishment through hydraulic sandwiches.

I managed to park myself on one of the bar stools and when my crutches fell over and crashed on the floor it disturbed Pete not at all. The Bartender, though, was very spry for his weight and age and quickly scooped up my crutches for me and leaned them against the bar.

“Well, obviously you need some pain killer. What kind of medicine can I get ya?” he asked.

I thought I’d go conservative and just get a beer, but as the throbbing in my leg picked up I felt the need for something with a bit more kick. My Irish roots called to me and I ordered: “Gimmie a Jameson and Ginger.”

“Ginger ale or ginger beer?” he asked. Wow! He actually stocks ginger beer?

“Ginger beer, by all means!” I said with enthusiasm. He chuckled at my pleasant surprise.

“Good! I like a connoisseur of fine mixers! My name is Albert, by the by.” He smiled as he turned away to mix my drink. Literally, within seconds, he’d iced, poured and mixed my drink with a deftness that just left my mouth agape. No ice cubes either! It was crushed ice and not too much of it. Albert could tell I was impressed.

“You boys from Frisco are always so easy to impress. Get me a Reno man and he thinks I’m too slow! Ha Ha!” Albert laughed. I winced a bit at the use of ‘Frisco’ for The City, but I understood that he was part of the less enlightened part of California.

Typical of a gay boy, I actually used the straw supplied and sipped daintily with both hands as if I was drinking an ice cream shake. I guess its one of the few ‘fem’ things I do that gives me away. This caused Albert to wink at me and grin even wider.

“Yup . . . Frisky Frisco boys. I’m never wrong! Ha!” He chortled as he went to collect Pete’s stein. “Pete? Pete! Time to tie this one-off. You’re making a mess outta my bar!” Albert spoke a bit loudly to penetrate Pete’s inebriation. Pete finally aroused enough consciousness to grumble some expletive.

“Now, Pete! You don’t want me to get Sabrina in here! You know she’ll kick your ass from here to next Sunday!” Albert said sternly as he went around to help Pete off the stool. He guided the old sot to a booth towards the back. One, that I suspected, had hosted Pete many a day and night. I had to wonder who he was and why he lived in this bar. This was a resort, not a dive down in Chinatown.

Albert returned just as I felt the unexpectedly smooth burn of strong whiskey snaking down my throat. I almost wanted to cough! Albert doesn’t spare the liquor apparently. He caught my sudden shock.

“That’s a good boy! That should put some hair on that chest of yours! I don’t believe in water. If you are going to drink water, drink water. If you are going to drink whiskey, by damned drink whiskey!” He laughed and went back to his steins.

After just a couple of swigs, I already felt the buzz going! Wow!

“I have to admit, Albert, you pour a stiff one,” I comment offhandedly. I noticed his eye divert from mine and over my head and his expression changed to one of awe and a little fear. Then I felt a hand lightly placed on my shoulder and saw something sparkling sit upon my left-hand side.

“Hey, Babe? Buy a girl a drink?” Sabrina asked with that sweet gender-neutral lilt. Deep like a man’s but crisp like a woman’s and not ‘Gay’ but truly feminine. She was wearing a cocktail dress, even at that hour. It sparkled in the half-light with sequins and rhinestones. She looked like a ghost from a Sixties martini bar. Flamboyant but somehow not tacky! She had fixed her makeup to a point of absolute perfection.

She looked at me for a moment in silence which was portentous of something and I probably knew what it was, unfortunately. To break the tension I waved Albert over and he came though not without some hesitancy in his gate.

“Pour my lovely companion here whatever she usually takes, Albert.” I plopped my credit card on the bar to start the tab. He waved the card off.

“Sabrina . . . she always drinks for free here. Always . . .” and now I understood Albert’s behavior. He is deeply in love with the spectacular Sabrina.

“I’ll just take a Shirley Temple, Albert. I don’t feel like anything harder right now,” she favored Albert a winsome smile but then turned back to me as Albert scurried off to get her order.

Sabrina’s smile melted into an unreadable expression. Sad might be the closest I can come to it. She dropped her lovely eyes to the bar and her semi-broad shoulders sagged a bit. With an effort, she returned her gaze to me and the look was one of quiet determination and perhaps a little anger.

“Ya know, Jimmy’s heartbroken, Mr. Chesney. May I call you Brian?” She asked softly.

“Brian, please!” I tried to think of another wisecrack but seeing her penetrating gaze shorted out my humor fuse.

“He’s, well, Brian . . . Jimmy is very young. He’s just a teenager really. He’s in his twenties, but he’s still a kid really. Ya know?” She searched my eyes for a hint of understanding. Finding a glimmer she continued.

“Now, I get it. I really do. I grew up in Marin County so I know San Francisco like the back of my hand. So, basically, I’m saying that I know the score. I know the game.” Sabrina says knowingly.

I kind of got lost and it must have shown in my reaction because Sabrina sighed with a little irritation. She clasped her hands in her lap and nodded at Albert as he brought her drink and then, sensing the tenor of the meeting, promptly went into the backroom to get more liquor for later.

“Guys like you are a dime a dozen on Castro and Mission, Brian. You are the hunters and you are the hunted. Cruising is second nature to you. Casual sex is as simple as breathing. It’s a world unto itself there. Out here, people don’t know the game! They basically take serious what’s done poked at em in fun, dig?” Sabrina mimics a Southern African American accent. It causes me to smile nervously.

“Jimmy is not a game-player, Brian. He doesn’t know how to play games like that and he takes things to heart so easily. Now, he’ll recover. I’ve seen him fall for guys before like this and he comes out of it fine and a little wiser for the wear. But, don’t encourage him anymore, ‘kay? Please?” Sabrina begged with her eyes.

“Got it. I’ll leave him be and hope he leaves me be.” I left the last part because, after all, it was Jimmy who came on to me like gangbusters. I hardly had a chance! But, that aside, I got where Sabrina was coming from. I do forget sometimes that I’m not back on Castro and Mission. I forget that I’m that jaded to things that a casual experience for me is often a very intimate and special thing for most other people. I felt a sudden pang of sadness over that. Where did my life go that sex was no longer that special anymore?

“Naw, Jimmy won’t be sniffing around you again. I think . . .~sigh~ . . . that he gets you now.” She had to look away at that last part.

“But, though Jimmy is part of why I’m here I’m mostly here to talk to you about Snowflake.” At that, she looked up with great worry in her eyes. Enough that I could just see the sheen of tears there. My stomach dropped and I caught myself swallowing a big gulp.

I looked away and down into my drink. I regretted the ginger beer and ice now. I downed what I could in a deep sip. Dutch courage is a great thing. Sabrina is practically psychic. I saw that in her reaction to my sudden discomfort. I was never good at masking my feelings. She draws back as she looks at the side of my face.

“You . . . you really like him don’t you?” She sounded surprised. I glanced quickly at her and then over at Albert who caught my eye and gave his attention.

“Where’s that bottle of Jameson? Put it on my tab, Albert, if you would.” I croaked. Albert complied.

“Wow . . .” Sabrina said with a creak in her voice. She sniffed a bit because she no longer could control the feelings of loss inside of her.

Like mercy from the angels, Albert put a fresh full bottle next to me and a new shot glass. Funny how bartenders often know just what you need before you even do. I poured myself a stiff one and shot it down in one swallow. I let the burn punish me as the whiskey blazed its trail through my insides.

With the artificial warmth spreading through my center, I could feel some of the knots in my stomach unwind. It allowed my voice to find itself again as I tried to come to terms with something I couldn’t put a name to or wouldn’t.

“Like him? Yeah . . . I, kinda, do. If you mean ‘like him, like him’ I . . . dunno.” I poured another and downed it so fast it made Sabrina blink in utter astonishment.

“Whoa, Babe! You better slow down! You’ll be falling off the stool if you keep that up! Don’t be nervous, Brian. I’m just asking so that I can understand things.” She laid a hand gently on my shoulder.

That and the added inebriation relaxed me more. I knew this was dangerous because one of the best truth serums ever invented was 80 proof Irish whiskey.

“I just want you to know something about Snowflake. I’ve been with him for 5 years now. We are casual lovers, we aren’t, like, ‘together, together’. I’m sad if he’s found someone new, but I’m not devastated, Ok? So, I just wanted to clear that up a bit.” Sabrina’s reassuring tone caused me to look over at her.

I suddenly reminded myself that Snowflake would be completely crazy to take me over someone as outrageously beautiful as she is – both inside and out! What could I ever be that could replace that?

It’s then that a small voice that must have been the Leprechaun that lives at the bottom of every golden bottle of Jameson told me:

“Sabrina is not replaceable, idiot, but she is also not Jusse’s soulmate either! The one in six billion souls that matches his own! That’s you, ya dumb fuck!”

I blinked off the haze and my eyes sharpened and focused on Sabrina’s. I knew she was here for something more than this half-hearted permission to date Snowflake. She was holding something back.

“What is this ‘something’ that you want me to know about Jusse?” The use of his true name seemed to snap Sabrina like a rubber band because she gasped. It’s almost like I said the forbidden name of God! The fact that I could suddenly pronounce it with absolute perfection also gave Sabrina pause. It conveyed a bit more truth than I meant it too. I showed how seriously I take Snowflake. That this, actually, was no longer a game for me.

“Um . . . just that Snowflake isn’t all he appears to be. He is not the stoic block of ice he lets on. That’s a mask for a deeply sensitive and rather . . . troubled soul.” Sabrina had to look down and away from me at that last part, ‘troubled’. That troubled me too, to be honest.

“Troubled! How so?” I asked rather crossly and defensively.

Sabrina winced at my sudden sharpness, but the truth behind that visceral reaction opened her eyes further about what embers burn inside of me for Snowflake. The fact that any sign of trouble for him can frighten me and make me want to fight for him, burns in me! That just the slightest inkling of suffering on his part can ignite those embers inside and set then into roaring flame!

Sabrina exhales a breath she’d been holding and draws back from me on her stool. “Just . . . uh . . . just that he had a rough childhood, Brian.” She spoke hesitantly seeing my unfortunate short fuse burning too quickly.

“Like I asked, how so?” I pressed.

“Snowflake isn’t like Jimmy, ok? He’s got deep feelings and deeper wounds.” Sabrina rolled her eyes as I just stared at her.

“I caught him crying over you, OK?” she said a little louder than necessary. Albert looked sideways at us wondering if we were going to start throwing things.

I swallowed hard and my eyes must have grown wide as my mouth worked agape to form words that wouldn’t come. He . . . cried over me?

“He’d kill me if he learned I told you about that! He’s very proud, Brian. VERY proud! This morning was a really rare show of weakness. He was totally mortified by his feelings and his behavior. But he did. He cried like a baby thinking you didn’t like him anymore!” Sabrina’s body sagged as she spoke.

She seemed so dejected that I wanted to hold her, but resisted. Somehow, I felt she would have thought that inappropriate and somewhat suspicious. I’m a ‘Player’ after all, in her estimation.

My male instincts toward what I perceived as a female in distress were overwhelmed by a tsunami of conflicted feelings regarding Snowflake. He had cried over me? Why? What could he have possibly been thinking that . . .

Then, I remembered that cold look and that robotic walk as Snowflake left my door this morning. I was so self-absorbed that I didn’t let my neuroscience/psychiatry inform me of profound reaction formative behavior! A behavior that is so opposite to what you are actually feeling that it’s overboard to the point of being ludicrous.

Snowflake’s sudden shift in personality and his over-board ‘professionalism’ were shields hiding his agony. Oh God, how could I have been so blind!

Then I remembered something else: he and I have only known each other for less than 48 hours! How could I possibly know anything about anyone in that short amount of time, especially someone as seemingly complex as Snowflake?

This whole thing is bizarre in the extreme! I’d almost think that Cupid had shot us both in the ass with his love arrows!

“Anyway, I just want you to be careful of him – for me if for no one else. I love the guy. I love him a lot. I don’t want to see him hurt again. He might not . . . make it this go around.” Sabrina commented mysteriously.

“Honest to God, Sabrina, the last thing I ever want to do is hurt anybody! I’m always so confused by people that seem to be burned by me and I don’t even know what I did to them? But, that said, I’ll keep it level and keep things professional. I don’t want him to suffer. I mean, I’m only here to learn a little about cross-country skiing and to have a kinda-sorta relaxing vacation before I have to go back to the grind.” I really am not trying to hurt anyone. I never want to hurt anyone. I don’t know how come I keep doing so. I’d love to know how to stop it.

I’d love to learn how to stop burning people and leaving them as burnt out embers! It’s always the same! It never fails. Someone always ends up hurt by me or around me somehow. Its a curse!

A fucking curse!

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Of course, we didn’t keep it professional. Not by far!

He came and got me as Sabrina and I was just finishing up. He was surprised I was drunk already. Seeing me sloppy brought that big smile back and then it turned into this mock stern look.

“You shouldn’t be getting drunk! Especially at this hour! What about your leg, you fool?” He clapped his hands heavily on my shoulders and squeezed. I became instantly erect.

He was so bright and cheery after his short nap. I should have taken his advice and followed him to bed . . . though I don’t think much sleep would have happened.

Snowflake’s cheer was soon weighted down when he saw Sabrina’s tear softened eyes. She looked up at him and smiled bashfully and then stood ready to take her leave.

“Where are you off to so soon, Söpöliini? Did you want to make plans for our vodka this evening?” Vodka was like saying ‘tea time’ for Snowflake, I gathered.

“Ah . . . not tonight, Blanco. I’ve got a little headache. I’ll catch up with you two tomorrow. Have fun.” Her smile was well-practiced and forced. Snowflake must have only seen her use it on new patrons, I observed. It unsettled him.

As she walked away with all the grace she is heir to, I turned to Snowflake to break his worried trance. I wanted that smile back. I am addicted to it!

“Hey, Iceman, show me some stuff. I may not be able to practice right now or try them out but you can at least show me some of your moves when driving the skis.” I said with a wide sparkling smile of my own.

It was more than enough to break Snowflake’s fixation on Sabrina’s tears. He looked down at me and then got a little giddy and nodded and that smile came back!

“Ok! This we can do! The cold will also sober your drunk ass up! We can then warm up later with vodka and get properly fucked up. Come on!” He helped me to my feet and handed me my crutches in two strong smooth moves and then walked slowly with me out the side exit. I was relieved I would not have to pass Jimmy who would still be manning the concierge desk.

Out on an isolated part of the track where no one else was allowed, I witnessed the workings of a god among men! I was humbled as Snowflake showed me aspects of Olympic level skiing that I had never even thought of before. How to posture for different effects. How to engage the core muscle groups so that you can actually lift yourself off your skis enough to negotiate a bumpy track. Things like this.

Finally, he showed me the ‘Skate-Skiing’ technique – what I had waited for. It required a lot more coordination than I thought it would and an entirely different set of muscles than what you normally use in traditional cross-country. I was astounded! I actually applauded his presentation!

It made me excited to try the new techniques myself and I double-cursed my weak knee and crutches that I couldn’t try them right there and then. Snowflake gave me that shining smile at seeing my excitement over the prospect of trying these new power-skiing skills. He looked genuinely overjoyed that someone finally shared his enthusiasm for his lifelong vocation.

He helped me to my feet. I looked at the time and was shocked at the fact that we had been out there for 2 hours! Time went by so fast!

“Ok, Brian. Another round in the bath and sauna. Going from cold to hot should send your blood surging with healing powers!” Snowflake had his arm around my shoulders supporting me. But he held me closer than necessary to accomplish this.

I didn’t mind. I didn’t mind at all!

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