17. The things you can't google

Love - we can't live without it
Why do we go out and get it, just to turn around and doubt it?
Like we're scared to care - it's hard to talk about it
Aw... it's only a dance
Tonight the shadows had their say
There's a sucker born a day, I heard them say, born to lose
Am I a sucker to love you?

"Sweet Sucker Dance"
(Joni Mitchell)

Upper lip, bottom lip. My lips had kept each other company all my life, together in perfect harmony. I never knew a pair of lips could feel lonely until Kiddo cupped my face and gently pressed his lips on mine to complete them. They gave in to his kiss without hesitation, parting all too willingly. His tongue swept against mine, not invading but wooing, almost shy, asking for permission. And it was granted, with all my heart.

"Thank you," he whispered, pausing just long enough to get those two words out.

For what?

I meant to ask it aloud, but I felt too inebriated to speak. The kiss was tender and sweet, and right now I didn't care enough for an answer to break it. His thumbs caressed my cheeks; his fingers brushed the sensitive spots behind my ears. I blissfully sighed into his breath.

"Thank you for forgiving me," he answered my unspoken question as his mouth brushed along my jaw. I wanted to turn my head in an attempt to couple my lips with his again, but my neck was like jelly in his hands. Bending me into shape at his convenience, he kissed my cheek, my temple, my earlobe, and breathed against my ear, "I'm so thankful you're here. I'm so god-awfully thankful you didn't run away, Annie."

I staggered a little and stumbled against his chest. One of his hands quickly went to the small of my back, steadying me. "What... hey, don't fall!"

I fall for you, Kiddo...

"Sorry," I mumbled. With my nose in the dent between his collarbones, I inhaled deeply, delighted with his scent, and giggled. He kissed the top of my head. "I got you, Annie. Are you drunk?"

Punch drunk. Love drunk.

"Beer," I said. Though I knew it wasn't because of the alcohol in my system. This was different. I was getting high on his pure presence and drunk on his ministrations. As if the few hours away from him had zeroed any desensitization to his touch I might have gained during the last two days. His hands and his mouth were poison and medicine all at once, intoxicating and healing. He was…

like a drug to me. My own, personal brand of heroin.

I felt him shaking his head, and he snorted, "Law!"

"Yes," I said, "he was so warm..." Kiddo stiffened. "It!" I hastily clarified, "I meant 'it' – the beer, it was warm!" Kiddo relaxed.

I felt his head move again, this time he nodded yes. With his face still nestled in my hair, he said, "The fridge is broken." And after a moment, he added, "This is a weird conversation."

"Yes, it is." I answered, and the next moment we both shook with suppressed laughter.

I looked up at him, and when I saw the smile in his beautiful face, the words slipped out from me before I knew it, "I missed you."

His smile faltered and he blinked a few times, just as surprised as I was about my confession. Then his green eyes grew soft; he exhaled loudly and pulled me into a tight embrace. "Annie, I... God, I missed you too!"

Immediately, I felt less like a ragdoll in his arms. My body finally remembered there were arms attached to it too, and knew how to use them. I hugged him back, happily.

Now... am I being good to him, or what?


"Whatever it says, just know, it is ten times worse. I'm a freak even among the freaks."

I let go of Kiddo's laptop and threw my hands up in the air, moaning in mock exasperation, "God, give me a break of that 'freak' shit, will you?" I turned my head to where his chin rested on my shoulder. "Really, it gets boring!"

He took a deep breath. "Can I have an 'ok'?" I asked, hands still up in the air.

"Ok." he said. I leaned back into his chest, reached over my shoulders to pull his head down for a kiss.

"You're not a freak. And now let's get over with this," I said firmly. Then I resumed typing the word 'synesthesia', and hit 'enter'.

After I had filled him in on what Law basically had disclosed to me, Kiddo had been surprisingly calm. He seemed relieved, for whatever reason. Maybe it was because it saved him from telling me those unpleasant stories himself, or maybe it was because hearing about his fucked-up childhood and his current legal problems hadn't scared me away; I couldn't tell. I was just glad that he was cool about it, for a change.

It wasn't even my idea to finally Google his condition. It was him who insisted on doing it. He wanted to get everything straight, or so he had said.

And I am here to be good to him, right?

So here we were. Failing to find any appropriate furnishing for two people to sit, we had settled on Kiddo's bed. He was leaning against the headboard; I was sitting between his slightly bent legs, with my back against his chest and his laptop on my knees. His hands rested on my waist, and as the Wikipedia website popped open on the screen, his thumbs nervously started to draw small circles on my hipbones.

I skimmed through the first paragraph quickly; I wasn't very interested in learning about the Greek origin of the word. There was also an illustration, showing multi-colored letters and numbers. The caption said this might be how a person with synesthesia would perceive them. I pointed at it, but before I could even ask, Kiddo shook his head and said, "Kid stuff!"

I scrolled thru the next paragraph that mainly dealt with the 'kid stuff' form of synesthesia, but got stuck when the article pointed out the difference between the neurological synesthesia that was supposed to be genetic, and an acquired condition that could arise after drug abuse, a stroke or temporal lobe epilepsy.

Again Kiddo seemed to sense what's on my mind. "Genetic," he croaked.

"So it's always been like that? As long as you remember?" I asked.

"Always," he answered.

I nodded and kept on reading, getting more and more confused. This was seriously some scientific shit, and it didn't help me to understand kiddo's particular situation any better. I was getting impatient, but just when I was about to utter my discomfort, I found the following:

'Synesthetes often report that they were unaware their experiences were unusual until they realized other people did not have them, while others report feeling as if they had been keeping a secret their entire lives...'

I remembered what Law had told me and began to understand how hurtful it must have been for the child to discover that he was not only different, but that his being different was considered to be wrong, and even worse: his own fault! I could see his ongoing hard effort to keep it a secret, and it saddened me. Without thinking I reached behind myself to stroke his hair. He sighed. Without a word he brought his hand up and put it on mine on the track pad, guiding my fingers to scroll further down the page. When he stopped and highlighted one single sentence, I read:

'Most synesthetes report that their experiences are pleasant or neutral, although, in rare cases, synesthetes report that their experiences can lead to a degree of sensory overload.'

"Sensory overload?" I asked, "Is that what you are afraid of, when we..." He nodded yes. "And that 'black' thing, when you lose your temper? Sensory overload, too?" Another nod. "Edward, all this is still so confusing, I don't know if I really understand what it is like for you."

His fingers on mine started to move again. This time the cursor on the screen stopped at a paragraph about the various forms of synesthesia; the part he highlighted was headed 'sound/color synesthesia'. This was it?

'...something like fireworks: voice, music, and assorted environmental sounds such as clattering dishes or dog barks trigger color and simple shapes that arise, move around, and then fade when the sound stimulus ends. For some, the stimulus type is limited (e.g., music only, or even just a specific musical key); for others, a wide variety of sounds triggers synesthesia.
Sound often changes the perceived hue, brightness, scintillation, and directional movement. Some individuals see music on a "screen" in front of their face...'

I stopped reading and pointed a finger at the paragraph in question, "Is it like that?"

"Worse," he answered, "but yes, pretty much like that. When I keep it under control, that is."

Relieved that he finally had found his voice again, I clapped the computer shut. I was fed up with all that scientific gobbledygook anyway. "But how do you control it? They say," I tapped on the laptop lid, "those perceptions are completely involuntary!"

"They are wrong," he stated adamantly. "I told you, I'm a fr... special case."

I didn't need to look at him to know that he was frowning his 'special case' frown now. But if he thought he could fall back into his goddamn annoying self-loathing just like that, he didn't know me very well. I was not going to have that. I put the computer aside and turned around, positioning my legs over his and interlacing my fingers in the nape of his neck. "To me, you are a special case for sure, and not in a bad way at all," I told him, smiling. "You know that, right?"

His brows remained furrowed.

Oh come on, Kiddo!

"Can I have a smile, please?" I cooed, wrapping my legs around his hips. "In exchange for a kiss, maybe?" Reluctantly, as if against his will, one corner of his mouth curled up.

There we go!

I didn't know where this girlish tease persona suddenly came from, but if that's what was needed to get what I wanted, I was willing to just blame it on Law's warm beer and bat my lashes all day, if necessary. "That's so much better," I said softly, and leaned forward to kiss him. God, I loved to kiss him! His hands were stroking my thighs, and the familiar heat started to build, not only in my stomach but also...

Focus, Portman!

I pulled my head back a little to break the kiss before I lost my ability to think, and whispered, "Not all of your synesthetic sensations are unpleasant, right?" He licked his lips before he answered, "Right."

I kissed his neck, right under his chin, "Like this, for example... does it have a color?"

He moaned quietly. "No, it is... it has a sound."

I let my hands glide down to his chest, placing more open-mouthed kisses on his neck. "A sound then," I mumbled as I started to unbutton his shirt, "is it a nice one?"

He closed his eyes, and his breath quickened. "Yes, it is." The first button was open.

Without taking my mouth off his skin, I opened button No 2. "But no color, huh? That's too bad, don't you think?" I shoved my hips a bit forward. "What was it the last time, violet? I like violet," I purred and proceeded with button No 3.

His eyes fluttered open. "Please don't do this to me," he sighed, but his body offered no resistance whatsoever. His hands had made it to my waist by now, and he was stroking my ribs with his thumbs.

"Why not?" I asked, finishing button No 4. "Give up control, just for a moment, will you?" And feeling like a true minx, I added pointedly, "LOVE?"

Immediately, his grip on my waist tightened, and he let go a deep groan. "God, Annie... stop. You don't know what you're asking."

I pulled his now open shirt out of his pants, and slowly kissed a path down from his chest to his toned stomach, whispering against his skin, "Why is this so hard for you? What do you need to do in order to put the walls down?"

"Nothing. Just quit the effort to keep them up," he murmured. His chest was heaving. I stopped the kissing and straightened myself to look at him in disbelieve. "That's it? That is all?"

"But I can't, Annie. I will hurt you or… I don't know. It's impossible, I just can't do this." He seemed so very troubled, my girlish playfulness dissolved into thin air. Apparently disgusted with himself, he made a move to lift me off of him. I grabbed both his hands, trying to stop him, and after a small brawl he gave up and slumped against the backrest. "Annie, please…"

He wriggled one hand free from my grip to rub his face and rake through his hair, but his other hand held on tight to mine. He was shaking, or actually more like vibrating, his breath rapid and shallow. I couldn't imagine what he was dreading. "Edward, talk to me."

He kept his eyes on our hands, as he interlaced his fingers with mine, and croaked, "I have no defense for you anyway, Annie. It's such a fine line that keeps me from sensory overload when I'm with you. I'm afraid to lose control. I'm afraid to lose myself altogether, and-"

"But that's how it's supposed to be, don't you know that?" I leaned forward to make him look at me. "It's all about losing yourself, giving up control, and giving yourself away… to the feeling, to the person you're making love to."

He let out a shaky breath, "I don't think I can do that."

"Won't you just try? For me?" He closed his eyes and his forehead crumpled as if he was in pain. "What if we go very slow, step by step?" I suggested. "You don't need to do anything, just relax and let me do all the work, ok?"

A shiver went through his body. "God Annie, I wish I could."

"I know you can. You say that sounds are the strongest trigger? I will not say a single word, I won't make any noises, I promise. I'll just touch you, and..."

I can do that... I think?

"...you can tell me if it is too much. Or you can tell me to stop altogether, at any point."

He kept his eyes closed. A single tear ran from the corner of one eye and down his cheek, as he nodded yes. I gingerly kissed it away. "Don't be afraid," I whispered.

And please... please, don't cry!

It broke my heart to see him like that. In this moment, I wanted nothing more than to take his pain away and to make him feel free. Free of fear. Free of guilt. Free of restraint. I wanted him to be free to feel pleasure, to feel wanted and special in a good way. I wanted him happy.

I kissed the hand that was still interlaced with mine. "Let go for a moment, I need to lock the door, but I'll be right back, ok?" He did as I had said, and I climbed off the bed. As I crossed the snowscape of his room, a bright red spot on the white desk caught my attention. Kiddo's notebook. Its red cover seemed to be screaming at me, as though trying to tell me something important. And when I turned the key in the door that was green only from the outside, but as white from the inside as everything else in this place, it hit me.

I turned around. "Edward?" He opened his eyes, and I spread my arms in a gesture that enclosed the whole room, "Why is everything white in here anyway?" He didn't answer at once, so I slowly walked back to the bed, holding his gaze. "It is a screen, isn't it? This whole room is a screen!" I sat down on the edge of the mattress. "You give up control when you're alone in here, right?"

He swallowed, and then he said, "Yes."

Holy shit!

"So you can do it. You're doing it all the time."


I was dumbfounded. Why hadn't I seen this the moment I had entered this room? It was so obvious what all this white was for. The absence of any color... no distraction, no interference. He had created a space where he could close himself in to secretly relish his visions and sensations, as if they were illegal drugs.

"And you enjoy it when you're all alone here, don't you? You enjoy being able to give up control?"

"I can be... myself for a little while."

God, Kiddo...

I was close to tears. What for Heaven's sake had they done to him? I reached over and pulled the shirt off his shoulders. "Lay down, baby," I said, as he slipped out of the sleeves, "I want you to be yourself with me now."

He sank down onto his back and laid his forearm across his eyes. His hands were clenched into tight fists. I sighed. This wasn't going to be easy.

If he would only stop shaking like that...

I climbed onto the bed and started to unbutton his jeans. "Try to relax. Everything will be alright," I spoke softly, as I pulled his jeans and boxers down. Other than his troubled mind, his body seemed to know there was nothing to be afraid of. He was rock-hard, and I needed to remind myself to go slow. I stripped off my own clothes, pulled the rubberband out of my hair and lay down next to him. Bracing myself on one elbow, I let my hand ghost over his stomach. "Are you ready?"

"No," he said.

"You look ready enough to me," I teased. He said nothing. "Do you want me to be silent now?"

"No, please... if it is not asking too much, keep on talking to me."

I gently touched his arm. "Edward, love..." I heard another groan rumble through his chest, "please look at me." Reluctantly, he lifted his arm off his face, turned to me and opened his eyes; they were moist with tears.

"Do you trust me?" I asked him.

"I don't trust myself, Annie."

I stroked his face. "Please do. Don't you know how adorable you are, inside and out? That beautiful mind of yours... so captivating. It's just part of what makes you lovable and desirable. You're such an utterly good person, Edward, and you deserve happiness."

With a gasp, he knit his brows and squeezed his eyes shut. Worried that he was about to cry again, I continued, "Let me try to make you happy, Edward. I want it so bad, but I need your help. I need you to open up to me. Please try to relax, just like you do when you're alone in here. Will you?"

"I'll try," he promised.

"That's all I'm asking." I climbed on top of him to straddle his hips. Immediately, his breath became labored and his shaking increased. "Shhh... it's alright. Remember how great we were together in my apartment; remember how good it felt..."

Although the memory got me worked up, it actually seemed to help Kiddo to calm down. He gave me a faint smile and whispered, "Yes." For a moment, I was totally absorbed in the sight of him lying under me... the rise of his chest when he inhaled deeply through his open mouth, and its fall when he exhaled with a quiet, but audible little moan. The slow rhythm was hypnotizing…

With some effort, I turned my attention back to his face. His green eyes pierced into mine, intense. And although his trembling had considerably decreased, I could tell his 'walls' weren't down yet. I knew his gaze wouldn't be that steady, but rather wandering around restlessly, following fireworks and patterns only he could perceive. I had seen him doing it before. But right now, he was still clinging to the bars of his self-made prison.

"Will you tell me when they're down?" I didn't need to explain 'they' for him to know what I was talking about. He nodded yes and licked his lips. Then he reached out his arms for me.

I let myself fall forward and hungrily devoured his mouth. His hands weaved through my open hair that fell around our faces like a heavy, dark curtain, sheltering us from the blinding white outside. For a few moments, we were nothing but lips and tongues. He moaned and bucked his hips under me, and I could feel the velvet skin of his erection twitch against my bottom, the sensation sending hot sparks down my spine.

Easy, Portman... slow...

I pulled my mouth off of his, and once again, I locked eyes with him, silently willing him to surrender. We both stayed perfectly still, even his hands in my hair had stopped moving, and I more mouthed than whispered, "Let go, baby. Please... for me. We will be alright."

He took a deep breath and exhaled through pursed lips, three times, in quick succession, like a free diver preparing for the deepest depths of the ocean. And then I saw it happen. His eyes lost focus and his jaw slightly dropped. His hands in my hair resumed their movements and he pulled my head down to kiss me. When our tongues met, he moaned loudly into my mouth, and the sound made my insides explode with heat.

When the kiss ended and I pulled back, we were both gasping for air. His eyes were hooded, and the familiar wandering began... I could see him focus on spots to the left and to the right of me, above and behind me. He was glowing, his angel face more beautiful than ever, registering serene delight in one second, and amazement and wonder in the next. It was a sight to behold.

His hands went to my face, grazing along its features like the hands of a blind man; touching, exploring, learning, drawing a memory map of my face. His gaze was now fixed on a spot three inches in front of me, and a single sound fell from his smiling lips, half a laugh and half a gasp. He was in rapture, and time seemed to stand still as I watched him, entirely enchanted.

I was dying to know what he was seeing, but I didn't dare to ask, too worried to interfere. After a while, his hands seemed to be saturated with knowledge about my face and continued their journey down my neck and shoulders, until they came to rest on my breasts. I felt it was ok to move and straightened myself up a bit to give him easier access. His breath hitched, and so did mine as I reached behind myself and wrapped my hand around his hard length. When I started to stroke him, a great moan erupted from his chest. His eyes widened, drawn to some visual wonder somewhere at the ceiling, and then he sighed, "Oh..."

Encouraged, I lifted myself up a little until I felt the tip of his cock skim my soaking wet entrance. His hips were rocking underneath me, and I knew it would be alright. I wanted him badly; the thought of him cumming inside of me made me dizzy. I took his hands and guided them to my hips. His gaze, which had been fixed on a distant spot somewhere above me, was now slowly following some invisible trail back down to my face. When it arrived there, I slowly pressed down, and with a quiet whimper I buried him deep inside of me.

I struggled to keep my eyes open at the sensation of him stretching me, filling me completely. It was just too good, I couldn't keep myself from moaning.

And that was it –I saw something flicker in his eyes; he blinked a few times rapidly and then he gasped loudly, "Stop!" His hands gripped my hips, hard, forcing me to freeze. Adrenaline flooded my system and I was back down to earth in a blink.

No, please no...

We stared at each other, panting heavily.

"Don't move," he said.

"Ok," I answered.

The seconds were ticking by. I couldn't believe the blissful bubble had burst just like that. I tried to shift my hips, but his grip was viselike. "Edward, you're h..."

Don't say 'hurting me', Dumbass!

"...you're holding me too tight. Please?"

He let go immediately and pulled his hands back as if something had burned them. I reached out for them and interlaced our fingers. "It's ok, I'm alright," I assured him. "What happened? Have I done something wrong?"

"God, no!" He closed his eyes. "I'm so sorry, Annie. I just... I need a minute. Please, I can't -"

"Shhhh," I said, and he stopped his apology and swallowed. "You were doing so great, Edward. It was absolutely wonderful to be with you like that. It's ok, just take your time." A brief shudder went through him, and he opened his eyes. I could see doubt and fear in them, but also a silent pleading.

I guided his hands back to my hips and said, "I won't move, unless you tell me to, ok? But baby, I won't give up on you either. I want you to relax and to be yourself, because..." I bent forward and rested on my elbows, the curtain of my hair fanning out around our faces again, and continued, "because your true self is the most beautiful thing I've ever seen, Edward."

He let go a shattered breath, and whispered, "Annie... you don't know the meaning of 'beautiful' if you haven't seen yourself the way I do." His eyes grew darker and began to glaze over again. He was breathing calmly now, slow but deep breaths, in... out... in... "You are breathtaking, Annie. I have no words to describe the beauty of your true colors, the way they are wrapped around you, woven through you..."

Oh, Kiddo...

I tilted my head down to kiss him and his lips welcomed me, soft and warm. His hands on my hips came to life, lifting me up a bit, and his own hips started to move in a slow rhythm. He moaned quietly and pulled his mouth from mine. This time he whispered so low, I had to read his lips to understand what he was saying. "You are sparkling like a thousand diamonds, and your body sings to me."

God yes, my body is singing operas...

My eyes fluttered close. The sensation of him finally moving in me, together with those words that flowed from his lips like honey, captivated my entire being. I was his, head to toe. And I could tell he had submitted his body and soul to me by the same token, eventually trusting in himself, in us.

He kept on moving underneath me, maintaining the gentle rhythm, but entering me deeper now, and I rocked my own hips to meet his thrusts. It was a different sort of lovemaking... slow, intimate and incredibly intense. Not even our breathing would pick up pace; it just got louder, intensified and more an more mingled with quiet noises of pleasure.


With some effort, I opened my eyes.

Kiddo was looking at me... and then again, he wasn't. His eyes were moving rapidly, not only following whatever miracles his exceptionally gifted mind projected onto the white screens of his room, but also shifting back and forth between his visions and reality. I saw his pupils dilate and contract alternately, deliberately meeting my gaze again and again. Tears were rolling down his temples and got lost in his hair. His chest was heaving.

"Annie..." he whispered again.

"What is it, love, are you ok?" I asked between heavy breaths.

"Oh, God..." he moaned, "Annie... "


"I love you."

I rested my forehead against his and whispered to him, "Of course you do..."

His eyes fell shut. "Annie... I love you, I love you so much... oh God... oh, my God..." I straightened myself as he thrust into me forcefully one last time. He drew in a deep breath, and then he stopped breathing at all and threw his head back. His mouth opened wide, as if to cry out, but no sound emerged. I felt his cock pulsate and pump inside of me, again and again. Without taking my eyes off of his face, which had come undone in ecstasy, I reached down to rub against myself, and within seconds, I was close.

When his long, unbridled cry finally forged ahead, it was all I needed to fall over the edge. I whimpered his name and collapsed on top of him, before his cry ended. But when it did, he wrapped his arms around me, clinging onto my body like a drowning man, with his face nestled against my shoulder. I put my arms around his neck and held him tight, while he still moaned and panted.

After a while, our breathing slowed down and he rolled us onto our sides, but didn't let go of me. I stroked his hair, and asked softly, "Are you alright, Kiddo?"

He didn't move, and it took him a few moments to answer. And then he simply said, "Yes." After yet a few more moments, he whispered, "Thank you." And then his shoulders started to shake, slightly first, but more frantic by the minute.

I kissed his hair and said, "It's alright; cry if you must, it's a good thing." His embrace grew tighter, and he gave a brief groan. "You have to get this out of you, it's ok..." I continued softly, "don't hold back, don't ever hold back again... let it all out. I'll be here as long as you need me."

When he finally went to pieces in my arms, he kept on sobbing helplessly for a long time. I knew it was necessary. And I knew it was healing. I had no idea how many tears were needed to wash away years of painful self-denial and constant fear and misguided attempts to be a 'normal person'. But I knew it was a start. He would be better after this.

He had said he was alright. He had said, 'thank you'.

He had also said that he loved me.

But people say a lot in the throes of passion.

Don't they?

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