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The Realm Where Everything Before Is Nothing

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Six Months After Timmy and Armie Meet at The Automat Where Boys Meet Boys

Armie rakes his nose over Timmy’s tee, not once, but twice—two titillating times. When he feels Timmy’s nipples harden beneath the soft cotton-hemp fabric, Armie nuzzles in deeper, until he’s comfortably settled on Timmy’s chest. Just the way he likes. A perky nub pressing nourishingly into his cheek. His towering warmth curling around Timmy…Timmy, who’s come to mean more to him than the other realizes.

“Come on Armie. Let’s do this now, or we won’t do it at all,” Timmy pleads half-heartedly. He moves his head in the direction of the coffee table and eyes the unit sprawled out across it. “I lugged that thing all the way across town for you to try,” he continues. But he doesn’t move as Armie snakes his arm tighter around his waist; instead, Timmy instinctually leans in to the towering warmth and cradles it.

The two are now swaddled around each other on Armie’s ridiculously oversized sofa in his dimly lit living room. When Armie had bought the sofa, Timmy smirked and insisted that the monstrosity didn’t belong in his Manhattan-sized apartment. In response, Armie had simply rested a hand on his hips and stated, “Have you seen me.” Before Timmy knew it though, the warm chocolatey sofa had become one of his favorite places to be.

To cuddle just like they were doing at the moment.

To tuck his feet, which were always cold, under Armie’s downy sweats.

To wiggle his toes into Armie’s firm backside, while they dined casually on take-out meals or worked together in peaceful and companionable silence—Timmy crafting or illustrating scenes for his latest adaptation, Armie drafting legal briefs for his cases.

Or simply to do the needful when they couldn’t quite make it to the bedroom, which by the way, occurred more often than not, hence that tube of lube tucked in a hidden compartment beneath the cleverly constructed coffee table, made from wood and metal reclaimed from some place far away.

Armie is so comfortable he begins to drift away in Timmy’s embrace. Timmy nudges him. He knows that if Armie gives in to sleep, he’ll have a hard time waking him up. Well, he knows one sure way to awaken him, but if he does that, then they’ll definitely get nothing else done for the rest of the night.

Timmy is tempted by the idea of getting a rise out of Armie, but shakes it off; he has to remain firm if they’re going to get through what they’ve planned.

“Come on. It won’t take too long,” Timmy promises. “Besides, you said that you wanted to see this VR thing for a case that your firm is taking on.”

“Okay, okay,” Armie says, stirring about reluctantly.

Timmy sits up slowly on the sofa. As he pulls Armie up, Armie leans in and bumps him playfully. Timmy bumps him back, smiles, but does not engage further. He’s proud of his resolve because he knows how quickly a little bumping leads to a little wrestling, which leads to, well, a lot of grinding.

“How does this thing work?” Armie claps his hands together loudly and asks. He’s now awake and ready to get on with business.

Timmy scoops up the console from the coffee table, inserts the dongle, and flips the device on. At startup, the thing plays a tinny, futuristic melody and the words—THE REALM—light up boldly on the screen, projecting a soft glow onto the couple’s faces, as they huddle together, shoulder to shoulder, in the center of the oversized sofa. The words begin to blink slowly. Timmy taps the screen and an extensive selection of realms appear. He scrolls through them until he settles on the one he’s searching for—the realm for men. REALM X.

“So, who do you want to be?” Timmy turns to Armie and asks.

“What do you mean?”

“Well, you can be anyone,” Timmy explains.

Armie thinks for a few moments and responds, “I want to be me.” Timmy nods knowingly.

“Okay then, what do you want to change?”

“Change? Change how?”

“About yourself...like your physique.” As Timmy clarifies this, he checks out Armie’s recent haircut—a French crop with faded sides. According to Armie, the cut was just a little polishing up for an upcoming court date. Timmy notices how the cut brings out the youthfulness in Armie's face. Despite this, Timmy can’t wait for the tresses to grow back, for the moment when he can wring his hungry fingers through them again and clasp tightly at the roots.

Armie purses his lips and thinks for a few moments. Finally, he answers, “Nothing.”

Timmy shakes off his lewd thoughts of Armie’s innocent hair.

“Of course.” He smiles. “Because you’re perfect,” he continues. He pinches Armie’s chin between his thumb and index finger, pulls him forward, and pecks his lips quickly. “Okay, then let’s create a profile for you.”

Timmy pounds away at the console and creates a virtual version of Armie. His fingers fire away so rapidly that Armie can't follow what the heck he’s doing. Armie just settles back into the sofa and lets him do his thing.

“Okay, where do you want to be for this session?”

“Be?” Armie asks. Timmy smiles. He gets a kick out of the way Armie throws out a question into the dim room, as he ponders his responses. It must be a lawyer thing. “Where do you usually do this?” Armie continues.

“Depends.” Timmy says, then adds shyly, “This may sound a little silly. If I’m choosing the location and working on a play, then I set the session in a location from my play.”

“That’s not silly. Sounds immersive,” Armie rationalizes. “Okay, you select the place.”

Timmy pounds away again at the console, exhibiting that same intensity that usually settles on his face when he’s focused and determined to get something done. He unwittingly bites on his lower lips as he taps away and pulls up image after image and constructs the space where he’ll introduce Armie to his first virtual reality sexcapade. When he’s finally done, he holds the console up like it’s a coveted award he’s just won and turns to Armie with a proud, excited smile on his face.

As Armie watches Timmy’s excitement, he begins to feel a slight poking around the edges of his chest cavity and somewhere in the nether regions of his gut. This feeling is unjustified, he knows; Timmy hasn’t done anything for him to be concerned about. But he wants to know, so he asks, “How many of these sessions have you actually had Timmy?” He tries to keep his voice neutral, casual even, but he’s not so sure he’s successful when the smile on Timmy’s face slowly fades.

“A fair amount,” Timmy admits honestly. “But it’s not real,” he continues hurriedly.

“You’re real though?”

“Well, yes.”

“And the other person, in this case, in this realm at least, the other man, he is real.”

“Yes...but what we’re doing, that isn’t…well...not real...not really.”

“Do you do this with the same men over and over?”

“You know that I don’t do this anymore, not since, us,” Timmy points out, his eyes wide and concerned, because Armie has to know this. Timmy pauses and waits until Armie gives him a nod. “To answer your question, yes, with a few repeaters...only a handful,” Timmy adds hesitantly.

“Then, the overarching question is why.” He points to the console. “Why do men do this?”

Timmy shrugs. “To get off.”

“So, you get pleasure from this other person, you feel something with the person you’re intimately interacting with, repeatedly. And that’s, well, active and very real.”

“Armie, this isn’t really a thing I think deeply about.” He holds up the console. “This is nothing. For me, everything that happened before in this realm is nothing.”

“Yes, I know. I’m just examining what this is. This case the firm is taking on is going to examine whether boundaries should be placed around these kinds of realms, this space you say isn’t really real.”

“It’s not,” Timmy argues. “Besides, if I wanted something real, something physical and in person, I wouldn't do this.”

“What would you do?” Armie asks, very interested.

Timmy tosses the console back on the coffee table. It slides across it, crashing into the other components of the unit. He holds his head down and confesses softly, “If I was in a pinch, I would go to the Village automat and pick someone up.” He peaks over at Armie, guilt plastered across his face.

That’s how they met. At that same automat in Greenwich Village, the one where boys are known to meet other boys.

Armie studies Timmy. He sees confusion play out on his face. Then, as if to show an act of mercy, he reaches out and caresses Timmy’s face. He doesn’t want to see Timmy in distress. As usual, Timmy loses himself in the warmth for a few precious moments; he’s grateful for the touch, after his confession.

“All questioning of my VR subject matter expert concluded, for now,” Armie jokes. He smiles at Timmy. “Show me how this thing works.”

Timmy perks up. “Well, the sphere goes over your head.” He picks up the first ringlet and finagles with the ductile attachments until it’s ready. He wreathes it on Armie’s head like a crown, as if, bestowing it a coronation. He gently pushes it down until it veils Armie’s ears and his blue eyes. He tugs on a small pull down and drapes it over Armie’s nose—that mischievous nose that likes to do things to him.

“How does it feel?” Timmy asks. Armie gives him an affirmative thumbs up. “Don't you want to know where you’re going?”

Armie shakes his head. “Surprise me,” he says. If this was anyone else pulling him into some orchestrated machine realm, Armie would have a million questions. He’d have scrutinized every detail of the session. But this is Timmy. His Timmy. His, from the moment he saw him at that darn automat. He trusts him and places himself completely in his hands.

Timmy runs through how the session is going to work. This goes quickly because it’s quite simple at this point and there isn’t much to explain. Once the session is initiated, either says abort to pause it and session over to end it.

That’s it!

Timmy places the second ringlet on.

Start session.

~ ~ ~

Armie looks around, taking in the pale rose colored rock circling him. He spies basic tools, weapons of old, and all sorts of ceramics. He notices a carved lyre, made of wood so polished that it gleams against the prismatic rock. Eventually his eyes settle on a bowl of ripe figs, resting idly, like ambrosia, a few split open—pinkish, meaty and succulent on the inside. A curious scent of cypress wafts through the air.

He’s in an ancient time and place, a cave of some sort.

And boy does it feel real, perhaps more than real.

The space before and around him is exhilaratingly vivid, in full technicolor. He marvels at the technology, how it has evolved. Years ago, he’d tried a virtual reality game; it was lackluster and lo-res, nothing like the crystal clear multi-dimensional experience surrounding him.

He notices that his right hand is gripping a bronze-colored shield. It’s hefty and weighty in his hand. Then, he looks down and is shocked to see that he’s naked. But he really shouldn’t be surprised. Isn’t that what this realm is for? For men to be with other men. Despite knowing this, he instinctively shields his nakedness. He’s no prude, not by any means. But this feels slightly disconcerting; he doesn’t really know where he is. And it’s his naked body that he’s looking at, after all—his chest, his abs, his exposed circumcised cock. Isn’t it?

“Armie!”

It’s Timmy calling out his name, from just outside the mouth of the cave, the sound of birds and cicadas not far behind him.

“Timmy?” Armie says phrasing the name as a question. Timmy steps confidently into the cave.

“Where are we? Is this ancient Greece or some place?” Armie continues, still looking around.

“Yes. We’re in the rose quartz cave at Mount Pelion.” Timmy says and begins to strolls proudly over to Armie. “I’ve started an adaptation of the story of Achilles and Patroclus. What do you think of my creation…well, replication of my scenic illustrations?” he asks. He halts in front of Armie, grins, and waves his hand around the cave as if presenting a masterpiece.

Armie doesn’t say a word though.

He blinks a few times and then just stares wide-eyed and confused at Timmy.

What is this? Better yet, who is this?

Stunned, he inadvertently drops the shield, and it crashes down on his big toe. “Ow!” he yelps. But just as quickly as he feels the sting of pain; it disappears. Was the pain real? He felt it, and it felt real, if only for a beat.

Timmy lunges forward, picks up the shield and tosses it to the side. It bounces against something in the cave and falls to the ground with a clang.

“Are you okay?” Timmy asks. He looks Armie over—like a parent checking a child after a bad fall—and makes sure that he’s still in one piece.

Armie is incredulous. He doesn’t address the shield; instead, he asks the question screaming in his head.

“What’s all this?”

He waves a hand back and forth in front of Timmy’s body. The move is histrionic, he knows, as if Armie is the one who works in the theater, not Timmy.

Timmy’s face is his. Armie knows those glinting green eyes from his dreams. He’s felt those soft curls around his fingertips, along his chest and in between his thighs. He’s tasted those perfect pink lips. They’re so soft. But now Timmy is almost as tall as Armie. Even in the dress boots that Timmy loves so much, Armie should easily have more than a half a foot on him. And now, Timmy’s arms, chest and legs have transformed completely, doubled (tripled perhaps) in size, with bulging muscles everywhere. Armie’s eyes cascade down Timmy’s body for a second time, traveling from his neck, thick like some competitive bodybuilder, over his Herculean pectorals, until they rest on his even thicker and massive crotch, and then back up to his eyes with their mischievous gleam.

Armie’s look says—REALLY!

Timmy’s flushes, deep red rose clusters settling on his cheeks

“So, I made a few little tweaks to my physique,” Timmy says and shrugs.

Tweaks!

“Don’t you want to have me like this?” Timmy asks, waggling his eyebrows.

No!

Armie wants his Timmy—beautiful, cocky, charming, wild, and slim. He wants his Timmy, because his Timmy is frankly perfect for him.

Armie knows there’s only one thing left for him to do.

Abort.

~ ~ ~

Timmy convinces Armie to try again.

He admits that maybe—just maybe—his physique tweaks may have spooked Armie (just a little). But he doesn’t want Armie to give up on this virtual reality, not yet. Timmy believes the technology can fulfill a spot in people’s lives. It certainly has in his life, even helping him to figure out his own desires and preferences. He may not need REALM X and places like the automat now that he’s with Armie and is fulfilled by their relationship, but given the number of sessions in his history library, there was obviously a time when he did lean on the realm.

This time, they’re going to try a place near and dear to Armie’s heart.

Timmy pounds away rapidly at the console. He constructs a new session using the copious images that he insists Armie air drops to his photo library. The process takes a while. Perhaps they won’t get any sleep that night after all. When he’s done, he feels that the effort was well worth it, and he holds up the console proudly once more.

Before they start the session, Armie has one key demand—Timmy has to go as is. No more hulky Timmy.

Au naturel, it is.

~ ~ ~

Timmy and Armie stand surrounded by luscious gardens, at a grand villa, somewhere in the Northern Italian countryside.

Their bodies, winter pale, are clothed in flimsy summer wear—colorfully short shorts and thin light cotton tees.

“So why is this place so special?” Timmy asks, looking around, momentarily consumed by the breathtaking charm of the place. There’s a vividness and sparkle to the place; he’s never seen anything like this in all the frisky years he’s been playing around in this realm.

“After my junior year in college, I interned here with a renowned archeology professor and his family. It was a perfect sun-drenched summer. The professor and his wife were good to me. Everything about them was so different from my own parents. It was eye-opening. I’m forever grateful for the experience.”

Armie takes Timmy’s hand into his own and squeezes it. Even in this realm, Timmy’s flesh is cool to the touch.

They stroll hand in hand down a winding path, cross the portico and enter the old-world mansion, built centuries before either of them entered the world. They continue down the hallway and move through the space as if it was a museum. They graze their hands over tapestry, antique furnishings, tomes, and decorative objects. They lift their heads up and admire the timeless paintings that adorned the walls and ceiling.

While in the salon, Timmy is drawn to the focal point of the room, a grand piano. He pulls out the artist bench, plops down on it and tinkles with the keys. Of course, it’s tuned, he thinks. He’s built enough of these virtual sessions to know that these details matter; he must always be prepared to flatter or woo. He looks over at his guy and he wants to do both. Satisfied with the sound, he launches into a Debussy piece popular with lovers. When he’s done, he looks at Armie and he’s certain that he’s achieved both objectives. Armie doesn’t just look moon-eyed. He looks like he’s also seen the sun and the stars and may have even discovered the heavens beyond that.

“I didn’t know that you play the piano,” Armie marvels.

“I took lessons for many years. These days I only dabble a little,” Timmy says and shrugs.

“You write. You illustrate your own scenic designs. And now I find out that you can play the piano. Is there anything you can’t do?”

Timmy warms when he sees the admiration on Armie’s face and hears it in his voice.

Hey, who’s wooing who here, he wonders.

They exit the mansion. As Armie shows Timmy around the grounds, he speaks about his past, in a way that he never has before. About his parents and how rigid they were, when he was growing up. About how he later felt pressured into his career, his marriage, but how he did not have any regrets, because it opened his eyes to a lot of things.

“I never forgot that summer here, witnessing how nurturing the relationship between the professor and his wife was. I’ve always wanted that type of relationship and never thought I would ever have it,” he says. Then he looks at Timmy and adds sotto voce, “Until now.” The warmth now swirls in Timmy; for the first time ever in this realm, he finds he can’t say anything, as heat coils around his vocal cords, leaving him unusually speechless.

Timmy is sorry they wasted so much of the evening in their earlier session. He feels silly now showing up like he did, not preparing Armie, especially when Armie had never seen him like that before.

He peeks over at Armie and has never seen him so relaxed, carefree and open before. He supposes that with their busy New York schedules, it isn't easy to find time to be this way. He makes a mental note to book a getaway for them as soon as he can. At an actual place, calm and bright, preferably by the seaside.

They cut through a small orchard, the aromas of ripe fruit and the sound of bees buzzing rich in the air. Armie looks at the peaches on one of the trees, at how they dangle in the soft breeze, tantalizingly, in plump curvaceous perfection, ready to fall; his mouth waters.

What is it about this realm that makes its fruits so damn alluring?

“I can see why these VR realms are so popular. This has been…very moving for me,” Armie says. He gives Timmy’s hand a gentle squeeze.

“Well, men don’t usually stroll around 17th century mansions, admiring art and listening to Debussy in this realm. There's a nostalgia realm for that…but it’s all the same underlying technology.”

Moments later, they arrive at the outskirts of the property by an old wall. Well, it’s not so much a wall as it is a partial gate, split in two, flanked by statues and made of concrete.

“My wall!” Armie exclaims. “My spot...”

He lets go of Timmy’s hand and leaps easily up on the wall. He reaches over and pulls Timmy up to join him. They both straddle the wall and sit facing each other.

“I used to come here and think all the time,” Armie explains. “About the future.”

I used to come here and dream of you, he thinks, but he doesn’t dare say the words out loud.

Armie learned quickly—from the first night they met—that he could ravage Timmy’s body all he wants and in any manner he desires. Armie smiles to himself, when he thinks of the many glorious ways he has done so. But when it comes to Timmy’s heart, he has had to tread carefully, handle it like a precious gemstone, tip toe around it, like there’s a sleeping newborn in the room. He’s had to chip away at an old pain that has stayed with Timmy like a shadow.

No, he can’t tell him how strong his feelings are. Timmy will be ready soon, but not yet, he thinks, as his determined eyes rest on Timmy. Don’t scare him!

Timmy studies Armie. He’s certain that Armie is reminiscing about another time. He watches as emotions wash over Armie’s handsome face. That faraway look, then that sly smile. But Timmy doesn’t like that final look; it’s a little bit too impassive for him.

He wonders and hopes that Armie is not hung up about the things that he has done in this realm before him. He also has to admit that showing up as some Herculean version of himself in the earlier session did not help things.

What was he thinking?

He has to make this up to Armie.

He wants Armie to know that everything before is nothing. Everything in this realm. The men from the Village automat. Everything. As he gazes at his guy, his handsome Armie, Timmy comes to a realization. It stabs him in his chest, like an arrow, bursting through nimbus clouds and misty grey skies, striking him, its unaware target, with intention, and as planned. Everyone before Armie is no one. Timmy immediately places a hand over his guarded chest and gently rests it there. When had this happen? When had he fallen?

Timmy removes his hand from his chest. “Come here,” he says, tapping his lap. “And yes, I’ve seen you.” He smirks at Armie.

“Are you kidding? I don’t want to hurt you,” Armie replies.

“Come here,” he repeats, firmer this time. “Besides, you can’t hurt me here,” he continues confidently. “Not really.”

Armie scoots closer to Timmy and climbs into his lap. Given his size, relative to Timmy (that is), he feels that this should feel silly, but it doesn’t.

Nothing is silly between like minds.

Armie wraps his arms around Timmy’s neck in a sweetheart hug. Timmy clasps Armie’s hips and tugs him closer. Their lips meet naturally, and before they know it, hunger explodes within them—they are assaulting each other’s mouth, colliding tongues, nipping on skin and cartilage, and inflicting bruises on each other’s flesh. They are after all in REALM X.

“Why am I so…so hungry?” Armie asks, face buried in the curve of Timmy’s neck.

“This is how this is, once you get started,” Timmy explains. “Especially the first time, but somehow this seems…”

Timmy doesn’t finish what he’s saying. Instead, he claws at Armie’s hair.

“My hair? It's back!”

“A small tweak, for me,” Timmy confesses.

“Trying to tell me something Chalamet,” Armie jokes.

Timmy smiles, then decides he doesn’t want to joke around, he wants Armie, now.

“Armie, I’m not going to fuck you today, not here on your spot, you’ve been through a lot tonight, but I am going to get you off,” Timmy whispers.

“Fuck, Timmy!”

Timmy slides a hand down the waistband of Armie’s short shorts. With an arm still wrapped around Timmy's neck, Armie raises his body slightly, allowing Timmy to cup him in his hands. Timmy tugs at warm flesh and Armie moans. Timmy moves his other hand into Armie shorts and slides it along Armie’s length. This gets another lusty moan from Armie. Then with the same agility and intensity Timmy uses to create his plays, illustrate designs, ease out Debussy movements and even program virtual sexcapades, Timmy begins to work Armie over.

“Baby, I’m sorry about earlier,” Timmy whispers, his strokes slow and steady.

“Don’t worry about that,'' Armie breathes. At that moment, he’s trying to concentrate only on what’s occurring in his shorts.

“You know that everything before is nothing…right?”

“Yes,” Armie breathes out absently. “Everything, you’re everything,” he exhales.

“You too.”

Timmy smiles (his wicked smile) and speeds up his pace, his hands sliding up and down Armie with familiarity, ease, and purpose.

Armie feels his cock flood with moisture.

“Where’s all that…slickness coming from?” he asks and tries to look down and around.

“Don’t worry about that,” Timmy shushes him and Armie stills.

“This place, no, this space is…real and unreal.” Armie feels the intoxicating, pliable power of the space, and in a cogent moment, he’s certain that some boundaries are needed around these realms.

The moment is only a brief one, because slippery heat is now moving through him, consuming and overwhelming his senses.

Timmy tugs and slides, his hands accelerate, moving relentlessly in wild and utter frenzy, like the conductor of a thunderous symphony. Armie isn’t quite sure where his cock ends and Timmy’s hands begin, or where he begins and Timmy ends.

“Baby, tell me you forgive me for the past, for earlier, for everything.”

Timmy is everywhere, all at once.

This is becoming too much for Armie; he tries to hold on.

But his man and his hands. They’re too much!

“Baby,” Timmy urges as he strokes.

Armie’s body tightens.

“Baby!”

Armie makes one last effort to hold on, to make this last.

But he fails.

His body erupts all over.

Tears well in his eyes, and sweat streams down his tingling body.

Words carefully tucked away in a secret chamber for a later time fly uncontrollably and unstoppably from his mouth.

“Yes, yes. The past doesn’t matter. You're with me now. And you’re perfect. And I love you. I love you. Just as you are.”

Come spills over them, drenching their shorts and Timmy’s hands, portions seeping slowly down Armie’s long pale sweaty legs.

Armie slumps over, resting heavily on Timmy, his throat dry and his breath raggedy.

This is the most rapturous hand job he’s ever had.

In this place, with his man, and his hands.

Armie floats aimlessly for a while, sensations rippling through his body and his mind, Timmy stroking his back reassuringly and planting wet kisses idly wherever he can.

Eventually Armie’s breath evens out.

“Armie?”

“Yes.”

“Did you just say you love me?”

Shit!

“Armie?”

Silence.

“Armie, look at me,” Timmy says firmly.

Armie sits up in Timmy’s lap, and the men’s mirrored eyes—passionate and hopeful and nervous—lock together like magnets.

“Armie, did you just say that you love me?” Timmy asks slowly, enunciating the words carefully, for both Armie and himself.

“Yes,” Armie confesses at last. He gives him what he’s come to coin the ‘Timmy shrug’—the one that says, no big deal. This makes Timmy smirk, and Armie is relieved that Timmy seems to still have a sense of humor about their situation—a revelation that must eventually be reckoned with, not virtually in some simulation, but in the real world. Armie takes Timmy’s smirk as a positive sign that he won’t withdraw, that Armie’s confession won’t scare him away.

“When did this happen?”

“Philosophically speaking?”

“Armie!”

“From the very beginning Timmy. For me, it was always a coup de foudre,” Armie admits. “I can probably argue that I knew even before then. Perhaps that moment in Buffalo when I realized who I was. Or perhaps even a moment on this very spot when I dreamt of the future.” Armie caresses Timmy’s cheek. “Timmy, I’ve always known.”

“We need to talk about this.”

“Yes, I understand.”

“We need to talk about our future.” Timmy nods as he says this, his head bouncing up and down in quick succession, his brown curls moving in wild agreement, like a playful sidekick.

“Yes.”

“We need to get out of here.”

“Okay.”

“Now!” Timmy insists.

“Okay!” Armie responds hurriedly.

Session over, they turn their heads up and say simultaneously.

~ ~ ~