Old Carter is at the Pontiac Silverdome in Michigan catching Pink Floyd’s final tour when he decides it’s time to take his own virginity. He’s been saving this experience for a special occasion, but he feels in his bones that now’s the moment. Maybe it’s the music. Maybe it’s the fact that he’s gently stoned. Maybe it’s just being wedged into a space with so many happy people, so many perfect, beautiful people, all bathed in the same sublime noise.
Whatever it is, he wants it to happen now. He wants to do it. He can’t stand the thought of leaving his younger self confused and unfucked a day longer.
After the concert he hitches back to the patch of wasteground where he hid the time machine and punches in August 3rd 2006. There’s a fizzing sensation, a light crackle, and the world around him bends. The next thing he knows, he and the time machine are sitting out front of his younger self’s LA mansion on a glorious, blazing hot summer day.
Old Carter climbs out and stretches. It’s always odd, going from night to day in the space of a couple of seconds. Jet lag times a hundred. He’s still a little stoned and a little spacey and a little tired. Sometimes, he thinks, traveling in time can feel like a dream.
Before he has a chance to get himself oriented, Young Carter appears at the door of the mansion, pulling on a dressing gown. “You’re back!” he cries, ecstatic. “God am I glad to see you!”
Old Carter plays it cool. He’s 38. Young Carter is 19. It’s up to him to set an example. He offers a hand to shake, trying to look suave and unphased – the way a seasoned time traveller should look, no matter the situation.
“Good to see you,” he says. He thinks for a moment, calling to mind the timeline of his life. “Bit of a dicey year since last I checked in, right?”
Young Carter shuffles, awkward. “Yeah. You could say that.” Last time Old Carter checked in it was to give Young Carter the winning lottery numbers for a £15,000,000 jackpot, and to tell him to move to Los Angeles and start researching time travel. To his credit, Young Carter has set up a lab and made a few inroads since then… but he’s also spent a lot of time hungover or with a nosebleed.
Having your life turned upside down like that – it’s not easy on anyone.
“I know the feeling,” says Old Carter, and claps him on the shoulder. A little buzz of electricity every time they touch. Maybe that’s his imagination, but he’s always been able to feel it. “Don’t suppose I could get a cold coffee, could I?”
They go into the air conditioned, pristine kitchen, and Young Carter rambles. Tells Old Carter about his latest research like a student reporting to their teacher. Not that it’s not good to hear. If Young Carter doesn’t knuckle down he won’t ever discover time travel, and none of this will ever happen. It’s good that he’s doing the work.
“I think it’s a temperature problem,” says Young Carter as he sets a glass mug of cold brew in front of Old Carter. “That’s got to be the key to it, right?”
Old Carter holds up a hand. “I told you before, didn’t I? No spoilers. Not when it comes to the research. Don’t want to mess up the timeline.”
“Right. Right.” Young Carter scuffs his slipper-clad feet. Casts about for a change of subject. He’s at the age where he can’t just be quiet, can’t let conversations germinate slowly. He’s at the age where everything’s got to happen now. Where he’s always got to be driving forwards. Exhausting. “Where have you been? Since you were last here, I mean?”
“Just come from 1994,” says Old Carter.
Young Carter wrinkles his nose. “Why 1994?”
Old Carter laughs. “You’ll find out. I don’t want to spoil it for you. It was leisure, not work, suffice to say.”
“Cool.” Young Carter pours himself some kind of bright green smoothie from a glass bottle. “Are you gonna stay?”
“For a while,” says Old Carter. He turns to his younger self. He can feel it coming – the moment when it happened. Was it here or was it out on the deck? He can’t quite remember, but he knows that whatever happens will be what was meant to happen, so he’s not too worried. “We’re gonna have a kind of… personal discussion.”
They do go out to the deck in the end. Young Carter switches his Blackberry off, which almost never happens. They recline on a pair of sun loungers. You can almost see the sea from here. Old Carter doesn’t look at the sea, though. He checks out his younger self. Can’t help it. Having sex with himself is one of his absolute favorite time traveller pastimes.
Before he invented the machine he could never get enough of it. Sometimes it would be months or years between visits from his older self – and he never got to choose when they were, although birthdays and holidays were a pretty sure bet. Older selves would turn up out of the blue every couple of months. He never told any of them how much he loved it, but he did love it. Sex with yourself made every other lover you’d ever had seem fumbling and lumpen.
Now that Old Carter is Old Carter – now that he finally has the time machine – he can get laid any time he wants. He’d worried that it might dull the edge, being able to fuck himself whenever he liked, but it didn’t. Not a bit of it.
Young Carter, right now, doesn’t know any of this. He still thinks he’s straight, bless him. In the bright sunshine he looks quite pale. He’s got the look of someone who works in tech: cerebral, vascular. He works out, sure, but he’ll never be ripped. Just rangy, hair wild, a gleam in his eye: his mind’s always somewhere else, working on some other problem. Looking at him, Old Carter feels a powerful urge to see his face when he comes.
“Who’re you seeing right now?” says Old Carter. The sky is a perfect, uninterrupted blue. Birds circle lazily. Vultures? They sure look like vultures.
“Bonnie,” says Young Carter. The name brings to mind the image of a hugely fussy woman from Arkansas, as utterly gorgeous as she was dim. Old Carter sighs.
“How’s that going?” he asks.
“Oh. It’s going… um… fine.”
“You slipped it to her yet?” says Old Carter. Watches his younger self blush. “Of course you haven’t.”
“It’s just…” says Young Carter. Stops. Starts again. “It’s not been the right time. You know I haven’t… you know…”
“Lost it yet?” Old Carter sips his cold brew. It’s good. Damn good. He’d forgotten. “It’s never going to be the right time with Bonnie,” says Old Carter. “Trust me.” It’s dangerously close to a spoiler, but what happens next will make it irrelevant anyway.
“For real?” says Young Carter, sounding crestfallen. “I thought things might… work out. Who then? Don’t tell me I never lose it-”
“You lose it, all right,” says Old Carer. “Don’t worry about that.”
“But when?” Young Carter sounds pained. It’s the pain of a boy who doesn’t like to be left behind on anything. Doesn’t like not knowing anything. It’s a pain Old Carter recognizes all too well. “I know you can’t tell me about the future, but still… I just feel sometimes like-”
Old Carter clears his throat, interrupting the flow of angst. This is it. This is the moment. He remembers it perfectly. The sunshine and the sudden throb of shocked arousal, precipitated by what he’s just about to say. The feeling of everything coming sharply into focus. The pounding of his heart against his ribs than ensued. Old Carter opens his mouth.
“Today,” he says. “You lose it today. To me.”
And he sees it in his younger self’s face: shock and embarrassment and puzzlement and a sudden slating tide of fucking lust, too. It’s been there a while, although Young Carter has only just recognized it for what it is. The boy gapes for the longest time. Old Carter doesn’t blame him. It’s a lot to process.
Old Carter nods. “You want to, don’t you?”
Old Carter looks up at the sky. “I remember being you, remember?” he says, slowly. “No use pretending.”
Young Carter swallows audibly. “Yeah,” he says. “Yeah, I guess I do want to. But. R-right now?”
“If you want to.”
Young Carter takes a shaky breath. “But I’m… I’ve always been…”
“Straight?” says Old Carter. He doesn’t mean it to sound mocking but it comes out that way. To soften the blow he sets down his coffee and moves to Young Carter’s sun lounger, perching on the edge of it alongside his younger self. He kisses him on the lips, very gently, very slowly. Feels him stiffen at first, tense up, then relax into it. Melt.
They kiss for a while, and Young Carter puts a hand on his leg, then takes it away again. “Can I touch you?” he asks.
“Do,” says Old Carter, and the boy puts a hand in the middle of his chest and puts his forehead against Old Carter’s forehead and shuts his eyes. He’s thinking. Old Carter is patient. He knows exactly what wheels are turning. Right now Young Carter is thinking about every time it didn’t work with Bonnie, and with the girl before Bonnie, and the one before that. He’s seeing every situation in a new light. It’s like just having read the ending of the best mystery novel ever, except the story is about him. Always has been about him.
For a long time there’s silence. Just some insect chirping in the long grass, a car revving on a road somewhere. Young Carter’s hand in the middle of his chest, right there where he can feel his own heartbeat, twenty odd years on.
“Okay,” says Young Carter. “Okay.” Like he’s psyching himself up to something. Which he is. He’s never kissed another man before, and he’s kind of clumsy when he does it, bumping jaws with Old Carter before their lips lock. But after that initial fumble, it’s like the floodgates have opened. He throws himself into that kiss: a man who’s been wandering the desert all his life, and has just now stumbled into an oasis.
That’s what Old Carter remembers. The sheer fucking relief of kissing someone and actually feeling something. Of feeling his own body react.
And on the subject of reacting, Young Carter is hard already. Old Carter puts a hand on him, feeling him through the material of his boxers and his dressing gown, and Young Carter breathes into his mouth. “Fuck,” and, “Yes,” and, “God, please, please, please…”
Out there on the deck in the sunshine Old Carter splays open the dressing gown and pulls down the waistband of his younger self’s boxers. His cock is rock hard, twitching. Visible veins and a glistening drop of pre-come at the tip already. He pushes Young Carter back on the sun lounger and straddles him, and puts his mouth on him, and it is good.
From the first moment he can feel the boy quivering underneath him, arching up. He’s on the edge already, and it doesn’t take long to get him the rest of the way. Old Carter wraps his hand around the base of his cock and squeezes. Swirls his tongue, lapping up that pre-come. Dips his head a couple of times, sucking gently, long and slow… and Young Carter comes explosively. Shoots his load in a series of rapid spurts. Old Carter swallows it down.
“Fuck,” says Young Carter, gasping. “Fuck. I’m sorry, I… I’ve never…”
Old Carter keeps his cock in his mouth for a minute, milking out the last drops of come. Then he pulls back and wipes a wrist across his mouth. “It’s cool,” he says. “I didn’t last a minute either when it was my first time.”
They laugh at that, both of them. Mutual, almost hysterical laughter. It was so hard to believe this was actually happening back then, but it’s happening again. It’s happening right now. “You want to go inside?” says Old Carter.
They do. Old Carter’s skin prickles as he enters the air conditioned cool of the house. He doesn’t need to ask where the bedroom is. He leads his younger self there by the hand. They stop at the doorway.
“Are you going to… fuck me?” asks Young Carter.
Old Carter looks at him. “Do you want me to fuck you?”
Young Carter nods. “Yes. Please.” But still he hesitates at the door. “It’s just… I’ve never… you know…”
“Never taken it in the ass before?”
Young Carter’s eyes go kind of funny, unfocussed. “Yeah. That. Will you… um… be… you know… careful?”
Old Carter sits on the edge of the bed. It’s immaculate. Visitors to the house include a housekeeper who comes every day, a gardener who sees to the grounds, Young Carter’s research team, and Bonnie. After today there won’t be Bonnie. He makes a mental note to remind his younger self to get out there and make some friends who aren’t himself.
“I’ll be careful,” says Old Carter. “There are times when I give it to you pretty rough. Not today. You need time to get used to it. But in the future. We spend a couple of weekends together, I remember. You get real good at taking it.”
Young Carter comes into the room. Sheds the dressing gown, and his boxers too. He stands awkwardly by the door. Hard again already, Old Carter notices. Ah, to be young again. “What should I do?”
Old Carter stands. Kisses him. Steers him effortlessly towards the bed, where he puts him face down and kisses the back of his neck for a while, inhaling the scent of the designer shower gel he uses: fresh and complex, a hint of polish. He’s so receptive, pushing up into every kiss, rubbing his body against Old Carter’s like a cat in heat. Eager for it. Hungry for what he’s never had in his life so far.
Old Carter sheds his clothes – the jacket he always wears when traveling, the shirt, the jeans. Young Carter turns on his side and looks at him. Looks at his cock. Reaches for it so tentatively that Old Carter almost wants to laugh. He’s used to his younger self being more self-assured. More slutty. The boy grabs it, strokes it, pumps it in his fist a couple of times, presses his thumb against the glans… plays with it for ages before putting it in his mouth.
Young Carter’s not all that good at sucking cock yet. He doesn’t use his tongue. Doesn’t know what to do with his hands. But the sight of him, eyes closed, lips wrapped around his shaft, a little frown of concentration creasing his forehead… it’s hot. Old Carter enjoys it for a minute or two before reaching for the bedside table and retrieving the bottle of lube.
It was purchased, he recalls, for use with Bonnie. It’s completely full. Lack of lubrication wasn’t the problem. He and Bonnie never got to the stage of lubrication being a problem.
He pumps some out onto his fingers, rubs it between them to warm it and then applies it to Young Carter’s asshole. He hears the boy gasp as he does. Feels him shiver with pleasure, although he doesn’t stop sucking Old Carter’s cock.
Old Carter plays with his asshole. One finger, then two. Caressing at first and then pushing in a little way, in further. Further. He’s so tight, so tense around just two fingers, but Old Carter is patient. He takes his time, applies more lube, pushes his fingers back in. Young Carter holding his cock and sucking it gently all the while, moaning softly, almost silently as Old Carter plays with him.
When he thinks the boy is ready he wipes the lube from his fingers on the duvet and retrieves a condom from the drawer. They’ll go bareback later on in their relationship, but he figures it might be a bit much first time out. He slips it on and lubes it up generously. Young Carter arches his back and grips a pillow, pressing his face down into it. Old Carter can see every breath the boy takes.
He straddles him. “Just relax,” he says. “It might hurt for a minute but then it’ll feel real good.” It takes more than a minute to get even the tip of his cock inside, but he does. He’s so tight. It’d feel incredible just to push all the way in, thrust himself into that tightness. He holds back, though. It’s easy to hold back. He can remember the utter vulnerability of being there on the bed, face down, face buried in a pillow. He can remember biting the pillow just to have something to chew on – not to stop himself screaming but to stop himself moaning in pleasure. Why did he want to stop himself moaning in pleasure? It wasn’t shame, exactly. It was just hard, back then, to let himself go.
Old Carter pushes a little deeper. And after a minute or two Young Carter is pushing back against him too, urging him deeper, snugging his hips into Old Carter’s. Old Carter starts fucking him in earnest, long slow strokes. One arm around his shoulders, hugging him tight, the other gripping his hip, edging around it as Young Carter lifts himself up off the bed, inching towards his cock.
He finds it erect, throbbing, shuddering as he’s fucked from behind. And Old Carter really is fucking him now, harder than he would have thought possible first time out. But here he is, it’s happening. He’s fucking Young Carter and jerking him at the same time. He can feel the pre-come that drools from his younger self’s cock. He can feel him shaking. The tension in his body.
“Fuck,” says Young Carter. “Oh fuck, fuck I’m gonna come, I’m gonna… fuck… I… fuck…” And then he comes. Spurts across the bedspread, his asshole tightening spasmodically around Old Carter’s cock as he does so. And the ghost memory of the sheer excitement of that moment is enough to make Old Carter finish too. He fills the condom, pushing a little deeper into Young Carter’s ass as he does so. As he comes he buries his face in the back of Young Carter’s neck and drinks in that scent. Shuts his eyes.
Afterwards they shower together. Young Carter touches Old Carter’s body, explores it, examining every scar and bit of skin and tan line and inch of stubble that he will one day come to inhabit. He fondles his cock too. Not in the half-hungry, half-tentative way he did before, but idly and contemplatively. Old Carter lets the boy touch him, wash him. It feels incredibly right.
Once they’re clean, Young Carter wraps a towel around himself and goes out into the kitchen so Old Carter won’t see him crying. Old Carter lets him go. He remembers weeping, and hiding it, wiping his eyes, but weeping just with the sheer relief, the fucking relief of knowing that he had that in him after all. That he could feel proper lust. That he could kiss someone and fuck someone and that he wasn’t some broken genius who’d never have that experience.
He gives Young Carter a couple of minutes then goes out to join him. The boy’s recovered by that time. You’d never know he’d been crying if you hadn’t once upon a time been him. “Can we do it again before you go?” he asks.
Old Carter laughs. “I might need a few minutes, but yeah.”
“Cool,” says Young Carter. He pours them both some whisky with ice and they go back out to the deck again. The sun has calmed down a little. The heat is lazy now, like an afterglow. The sky above the sea is tinged with pink.
Which reminds Old Carter. “You got any records?”
“You mean, like, music records?” says Young Carter, wrinkling his nose. “Nah. I don’t listen to much music.”
Old Carter sighs. “I’ll bring you some. Next time I come visit.”
“Next time,” Young Carter says. “Is that gonna be… soon?”
Old Carter lies back on the sun lounger. Shuts his eyes. If only he could tell the boy everything he would in a heartbeat. All the struggles that lie ahead. The lonely years. The bad ones. The good. But the future isn’t his to give away like that. “You’ll have to wait and see,” he says.