#70 The talk
“Booze or weed?” Aston asks, rifling through his kitchen cabinets. “I’ve got a bottle or red wine, some beer, and a few joints.”
“Beer is fine.”
He’s obviously a little uneasy, just like I am. He’s never asked me what I want. Usually, he just hands me his own joint to take hit if I want to. I’m used to getting my own drinks and food from his small kitchen. I’ve spent so many hours here over the years that it feels like a home away from home. I’m pretty sure that I’ve still got some panties and toiletries in a drawer of his from back when I spent many nights on his couch after drunken nights in a club. Suddenly he’s being the perfect host? Weird.
He gets some water for himself since he’s still got to drive me back home, and hands me a beer. I take a swig from the cold bottle and take off my shoes so I can sit on his couch with my feet pulled up beneath me, snuggling into the pillows. This is probably going to be a long, awkward conversation, so I might as well make myself comfortable.
“So…” he starts, looking at me with a lopsided smile and raised eyebrows. “Care to tell me what’s going on here?” He gestures from himself to me and back. “Did I do something wrong?”
“No, not at all,” I assure him. “I just… I don’t know. I feel… anxious around you.”
“Why?” He leans forward in his chair, studying my expression. The fact that he is on a chair is odd, since we’re normally on the couch together. We’ve seen each other in our underwear, in pajamas, and – by accident – I’ve seen him naked. We don’t normally keep this much distance between us. I’m used to him just flopping onto the couch with me, our feet often ending up on the other’s lap.
“The motorcycle thing…” I say quietly, looking away from his face. “I don’t know, I just felt like… like that was something that… I’m not sure. I’m just being stupid.”
“You thought that if you were ever going to have sex on a bike, it would be with me,” Aston says, understanding flashing in his dark brown eyes that are almost the exact same color as Dshawn’s.
I shrug. “Maybe. When you asked me if it was what I expected it to be, it just felt like I had robbed you of an experience or something, like you sort of wished it would have been you instead of Dshawn.”
“Yeah, well, maybe that’s because I did.”
“W-what?” Surely I misheard him. “You did?”
Aston laughs at my shock and leans back in his chair. “Come on, babe. Don’t tell me you never considered it. We’ve been making jokes about hooking up ever since we met seven years ago. I always figured it would happen eventually. Didn’t you?” He says it like it’s no big deal, like it’s not a bombshell to drop on me.
“Maybe,” I admit, deciding to go for honestly. “I mean, yeah. Obviously, you’re hot, and if you weren’t my friend but just some random guy at a club, and I was still single… Yeah, I’d fuck you. But like I’ve told you many times before, I don’t see you as anything other than a friend and you’re way more important to me than one night of hot sex could ever be.”
“Oh, I know,” he assures me. “And it’s not like I’ve been pining for you or anything, if that’s what you’re scared of. I’m not in love with you. It just took me a moment to wrap my head around the fact that you’re not like me.”
“Not like you?” I have no idea what he’s talking about, but I’m relieved to hear that he’s not been harboring feelings for me. I don’t want to lose him as a friend, especially since he’s also Dshawn’s best friend since childhood. And Francesca is still getting over him. Him wanting me… that would be a horrible thing for so many reasons.
“You’re the only person who understands me,” Aston says with a shrug. “For years, we’ve been hitting the clubs together, finding hot people to go home with, dance and drink and fuck and tell stories about it the day after. I don’t have a single monogamous bone in my body, and I thought that you were like that too, but now look at you and Dshawn…” He smiles and I can tell he’s genuinely happy for me. “It took me by surprise. I’m happy for you, of course, and a little jealous, and I’m sorry if I made things awkward for you. I genuinely thought we were fine, you and I.”
“We were!” I assure him. “I don’t know what happened, why I suddenly started feeling weird.”
“You saw my massive dick,” Aston jokes, winking at me. He’s so at ease even though I am spazzing out on the couch. “Of course you need a few days to get over the shock of something so awesome even existing outside of porn.”
I can’t help but laugh and I pick up a pillow to throw at him. “Don’t be stupid, you smug bastard. Yeah, you’re huge, but that’s not the point. Did you… did you just say that you’re jealous?” I replay his words in my head. “Jealous of me? Or Dshawn?”
He shrugs. “Both, I guess? When Dshawn first told me that he had a thing for you, I was annoyed that I missed my chance to sleep with you. Like I said, I always figured that we’d end up fucking one day, even if it would take us a few more years. I’m not saying that I thought we’d fall madly in love or anything, but even you just said that you figured that it might happen someday. But then Dshawn fell for you, and I knew that even if the two of you never became a couple, I could never go there, because he’s my best friend. My brother.”
“That makes sense,” I say, nodding along. Aston never made it a secret that he thought I was hot and that he’d like to get me into his bed, but he also never made moves on me unless he was drunk as a skunk, so I’d never paid much attention to it.
“And…” Aston hesitates. “I’m a little jealous of what the two of you have. You were just as big of a player as I am, and now you’re a wifey.”
“I’m not a wifey!” I roll my eyes at him. “And I thought you just said you don’t want that? You don’t do monogamy, remember?”
“Yeah, I know. Sometimes I wish that I could be like you. Have my fun for a few years and then find the one a settle down. I wish I could find my Dshawn.” He frowns. “Okay, that sounds gay. Find my Shaughna. The one. You know what I mean.”
“You could!” I say, excited to hear him say that. “You could have had that with Franny, remember? Why didn’t you go for it with her?”
“Because I didn’t want to,” he says, sounding a little annoyed. “You slept with over a hundred guys before you found Dshawn. Surely a few of them wanted you to settle down, right?” When I nod, he goes on. “You told them no and moved on, no matter how sweet or good some of them surely were. Remember Joshua? He wasn’t the one, even though there was nothing wrong with the guy. Francesca is a great friend and fuckbuddy, but I’m never going to fall for her.”
“Annabel, maybe?” I press on. “She seems to like you.”
He grimaces. “Annabel is… complicated. I’m not sure what to do about her, to be honest. I think I should have cut her off weeks ago, but I don’t seem to be able to go through with it. She’s… different, and I like her, but I’m not in love with her.”
“How do you know?” I ask him, giving him a stern look. “You’ve never been in love before, have you? If you don’t give someone a chance, you might never even get to that point.”
“Fair enough.” He gives me a wry smile and takes a sip of water. “Maybe not. I just… I get bored easily. Move on to the next one. And I’m okay with that. I don’t necessarily want a girlfriend or a wifey, or someone living with me. I like my independence. Lately I just…”
“You just what?” I ask, leaning forward eagerly. I feel like we’re finally getting somewhere.
“If I tell you this, you have to swear to never tell anyone,” Aston says, looking at me with the most nervous look on his face I’ve ever seen. He doesn’t do nervous. Never. “You can’t tell Dshawn, or Caroline, or Franny, or anyone.”
“I swear,” I say immediately.
He takes a deep breath and runs a hand over his short hair, just like my boyfriend does when he’s nervous. “I want kids.”
“Okay…” I’m not sure what the big deal is. I had no idea he wanted to be a father, but it’s not like this is something that Dshawn or anyone else would be weird about if Aston told them. Why is this a big secret?
“Shaughna,” Aston grunts, getting annoyed. “I don’t do monogamy. I don’t want to settle down with one girl and never sleep with anyone else for the rest of my life. I just… I don’t think I will ever find my Dshawn, turn around my life the way you did. But I do want kids. I’m turning 29 soon and the closer I’m getting to 30, the more I’m starting to think about what I want in life. And I want to be a dad, but that’s obviously never going to happen if I can’t settle down with a girl.”
“Oh,” I realize. “Yeah. That sucks. But still… it could happen. I’m sure that there’s a girl out there who would be into having an open relationship with you. Not everyone needs monogamy to settle down and have kids.”
Aston nods. “I’ve thought about that, but I don’t think that’s the answer for me. I’d still have a girlfriend or wife to answer to, and I’m not sure I will ever want that. And I…” He sighs. “I know that what I’m about to say might alter our friendship forever, but as long as we’re talking about this, I might as well just spit it out.”
“Spit what out?” I ask, a little taken-aback.
“I thought that maybe…” He takes a deep breath and looks down at the floor. “This may sound crazy, but the only girl I could ever see myself living with and raising kids with… is you.”
“M-me?” I repeat, feeling like I might faint. What the fuck is he saying?
“Yeah, you.” Aston looks up and his expression turns even sadder when he sees the shock on my face. “Don’t freak out, okay? I just… I thought that you might get it, before you settled down with Dshawn, that is. You were like me in so many ways that I just figured that if we both wanted kids but not the commitment of a monogamous relationship or even an open one, we could always just have kids together, buy a house, and live our separate lives while still being a parenting unit. We’re friends, there’s enough sexual chemistry to have a great time trying to get you pregnant, and we can both separate sex from love, so things wouldn’t get messy.”
Oh wow. What the hell am I supposed to say to that? Never in my wildest dreams did I ever even consider having kids with Aston. I never even seriously considered sleeping with him, that was just a fun, stupid thing that might or might not happen one day. And now he’s saying that for years now, he’s been thinking about making me his baby momma? What. The. Hell.
“Look, obviously I get that it’s never going to happen,” Aston says quickly, smiling a little at my panic. “It was just an idea I had. You’re with Dshawn and it’s like the two of you are made for each other. I’m happy for the both of you. I just… I get a little jealous sometimes. I lost the only person who understood me, the person who never judged me, and it feels like a part of a possible future I envisioned disappeared right along with it.”
“You didn’t lose me.” My voice breaks when I say it, and I clear my throat before going on. “Aston… You’re one of my best friends. I still understand you. I don’t judge you. Nothing between us has changed. And that future…” I swallow. “Even if I’d still been single and Dshawn and I had never happened, I don’t think I would go for that. I want one or two kids one day, but if that doesn’t happen, my life will still be pretty great. I don’t feel the overwhelming need to procreate.”
I can’t help but think about Nathan and Caroline. They are so sure about wanting to fill their house with a bunch of kids, even though they don’t quite agree on the timing yet. I can’t imagine being that sure about wanting to have kids.
“Maybe that will change when I get older,” I go on. I’m only 25 after all. Some people are already parents at my age, but I still feel like a teenager sometimes. “I don’t know, but it’s not that important to me right now. And the only reason I’m even feeling like I might want to be a mom one day is the fact that I’m with Dshawn and I love him and I think that one day, I will want to have a kid with him. Not just a random kid, but his kid. And I love you very much, but not like that.”
Aston nods and lets out a deep sigh. “I know. That makes sense. And in a way, it’s not even about you. No offence, but I don’t see you like that either. When I hear Dshawn talk about you… I never think about you the way he does and I never will. I just… I had this weird idea that maybe you were the answer to my problems, that you could make me a father without expecting me to be a faithful boyfriend or any kind of boyfriend, really. Ugh, it sounds stupid saying this out loud!”
I laugh and take a sip of my beer. “No, it doesn’t. I get that it’s hard to figure out what you want and how to get it. Luckily, you’re only 28. You’ve still got time. Guys are fertile until they’re ancient, so you don’t have to find a girl to have your babies until you’re old and gray.”
Aston doesn’t find that funny. “I don’t want to wait until I’m 60 and need a goddamn pill to get my dick to work.”
“Maybe you’ll accidentally knock up someone,” I say, trying to keep things light. “You sure sleep with enough women.”
He rolls his eyes. “I’m far too responsible for that. If I wasn’t, it would have happened already. Besides, I don’t want that. I don’t want to get some poor girl stuck with me and a kid. I want to make the conscious decision to have a kid with someone who wants the same things I want. I’m just not sure that such a woman even exists.”
That’s a tough one. I’m not sure either, to be honest. “Maybe you could be a donor to a woman who wants to have a kid on her own?” I propose. “Or to a lesbian couple?”
“Maybe.” He closes his eyes for a moment, looking drawn. “I don’t know. You don’t have to fix this for me. You can’t. I just wanted to explain why I may have been weird around you sometimes. I’m sorry.”
“You weren’t weird,” I assure him. “If anyone was being weird, I was. Caroline thinks that it’s because I always figured that you and I would end up in bed together and that after seeing you’re dick for the first time and having sex on a motorcycle – which was sort of our fantasy, in some weird way – that I’m starting to realize that it will never happen. That Dshawn might be the last man I’ll ever sleep with.”
Aston nods. “That makes sense. And how do you feel about that?”
“Pretty good, actually.” I smile just thinking about Dshawn. “I love him and there’s no one else I want. I honestly don’t find it difficult to be faithful to him. I don’t miss sleeping around at all. I don’t know why this thing between you and me threw me off. I guess I was just scared that I’d lose you as a friend.”
“Never.” Aston gets up and sits down next to me, on his usual place on the couch. “You may be Dshawn’s girl now, but we were friends before you even knew he existed. I’ve got dibs on you.”
I laugh and put down my beer so I can hug him. “Good to know.”
The embrace is perfectly innocent, just two friends comforting each other. He rubs my back soothingly and I squeeze him tightly, glad that I didn’t lose him. When I think about his fantasy of having kids with me, I get a little uncomfortable, but I do see where he was coming from. It was never truly about me, it was about him and figuring out how to get the future he wants without having to give up on his independence and wicked sex life.
“Please don’t tell Dshawn that I thought you might be my baby momma,” Aston tells me sternly when we break apart. “He may be my best friend, but he’s going to kill me in the most painful way possible if he thinks for even a second that I’m trying to take you from him.”
“Like anyone could ever take me from my man,” I reply, rolling my eyes. “And I already promised, Aston. I’m your friend and I just swore to you not to tell anyone about our conversation. You can trust me.”
“I know.” He ruffles my hair with a smile. “I just don’t want anyone to know that I actually have a heart. “
“Honey, everyone already knows that.” I kiss his cheek and hug him again. “You’ll figure all of this out, I promise. And if Dshawn and I ever get around to having kids, you could always move in with us and be their third parent. I’m sure we could use your help.”
He laughs and pushes me off of him. “Nah, I’ll just be cool uncle Aston. I honestly feel better getting all of this off of my chest. You good now? No more weirdness?”
“Yeah, I’m good.” I grab the remote and put on the TV. “How about we watch a cheerleader movie before you take me back home, huh?”
He grins when I put on one of his favorites and takes off his shoes and sweater so he can get comfortable in socks and a T-shirt. I drape a blanket over the both of us and we snuggle up the way we always do, not a trace of awkwardness left between us.
“Annabel has a cheerleader outfit from back in college that she still fits into,” Aston tells me after a few minutes. “You can’t even imagine how hot she looks in it.”
“I’ve seen her naked,” I reply dryly. “So I think I have a pretty good idea of just how hot she is.”
He grins and gives me a playful shove. “Please, you weren’t looking at her at all. You were too distracted by Vlad The Impaler.”
I burst out laughing at that stupid nickname. We watch TV for a while, but then I get curious and decide to just ask him. “Doesn’t it hurt girls?” I ask quietly. “Sleeping with you?”
Aston laughs and leans over to the coffee table to pull open the left drawer. He takes out a large bottle and puts it on top of the table, gesturing to is with a flourish. “Lube is my best friend.”
I laugh along with him. “Seriously though… I mean, we both know that I’ve seen a lot of penises, and I’ve had rather large ones inside of me, but yours is without a doubt the biggest I’ve ever seen.” I roll my eyes at his wicked grin. “Don’t get all smug now. A lot of girls don’t care how big it is. Sure, a tiny little thing may be a bit of a turn-off, but as long as it’s big enough to feel it go in, I don’t care what size it is. I know for a fact that some girls are even scared when a penis looks as big as yours.”
Aston nods, serious now. “Yeah, trust me, I know. I can’t just slam into someone the way some guys can. I don’t want to hurt someone like that. Why do you think I’m a big fan of foreplay? And when a girl gives me oral she’s got to use her hands as well, since I never fit properly. And I don’t like making someone gag too much.”
“But you’ve been with a lot of girls,” I reason. “So I guess it helps that you know what you’re doing.”
“Right.” He smirks. “I really, really do. Too bad I can’t show you, huh?”
I swat his arm and laugh. Thank God we’re back to our normal banter. “Annabel didn’t seem to have a problem with your huge tool.”
His smile turns almost fond now. “Yeah, she’s something else, that woman. With her I usually don’t even need lube. When I find someone like that, I tend to keep them around for a while.”
“Francesca,” I realize. “She likes her dicks big.”
He nods. “Yeah, she sure does. I wish it was just my penis she liked, though. She and I still aren’t back to normal, even though we’re both trying really hard to get back to being friends. I never should have slept with her, no matter how good it was with her.”
“Maybe we should go out,” I say, an idea hitting me. “Franny is at her best when she’s out dancing, and so are you. I could use some fun as well, with all the shit that has been going on. Why don’t we head into town?”
“Hell yeah!” Aston jumps up, already pumped. “You call Franny, I’ll call Dshawn.”
Two minutes later, it’s settled. We’re going dancing. Screw all the awkwardness. Screw being adults. Screw having to get up early in the morning. Dshawn is the only one who doesn’t have to work on Sunday, but Fran, Aston and I don’t give a shit about being tired for our shifts tomorrow. Tonight is going to be epic.