A Story of the Infected Universe – Pride, Part 2

Considering all the awfulness that has happened since I wrote the first part of this story, I just wanted to write something nice. So that’s all this is. Something nice.

**
Weirdly enough, Roan thought he could get into this, especially if a mosh pit formed. He was hoping maybe he could create one if nothing else. He ended up talking to some guys with Mohawks and band t-shirts, and they discussed music for a bit, especially the local scene. They were all despairing the upswing in twee bands, and were probably too down to start a mosh pit. Also, the music playing right now was dance music, as Holden had said, and it was impossible to mosh to that.

Roan enjoyed this, until he realized he was at least ten years older than these guys, and he got depressed. Goddamn it, he was a punk fossil.

He was about to rejoin Dylan, who was talking to some of his art friends that really didn’t like him – Dyl could sugar coat it all he wanted, but the side eyes he was getting from them were epically nasty – when Roan saw a couple of people he recognized. “Hey! You got dragged here too?”

Dropkick frowned, while Kim, her wife, grinned at him. It suddenly occurred to him that they were essentially the distaff version of him and Dylan. Kim was pale and Dropkick wasn’t, although Kim was a blonde and not a redhead. But still it seemed an apt comparison. “We like to come and remind you guys you aren’t the only gays in town,” Kim said.

Dropkick sighed. “If I hear one more Katy Perry song I’m going to start arresting people.”

Kim grabbed her arm and gave it a friendly squeeze. “All you cops are this grumpy, aren’t you?”

“I wouldn’t say that’s a grumpy response,” Roan said. “I’m done with Katy Perry too.”

Dropkick nodded. “I saw you talking to silver Mohawk over there. Should you be corrupting the youth, Grandpa?”

Holden suddenly appeared, draping an arm over Roan’s shoulders. “Corrupting people is my favorite thing about him. Well, that and the ass kicking.”

Dropkick rolled her eyes – he got the impression she didn’t care for Holden very much – but Kim, who didn’t know him, eyed him curiously. “Did he corrupt you?”

“Ha! If you look up corrupt in the dictionary, you’ll find my picture beside it. Wearing a strap on like a unicorn horn.”

Kim laughed, and Dropkick stared at him like he was a crazy person, but all Roan could do was shake his head. It was possible that Holden was simply making a joke, and he never actually wore a strap on that way … but he really didn’t want to know. “Don’t encourage him,” Dropkick told Kim.

“He actually thrives on lack of encouragement,” Roan said.

Holden nodded at this. “I don’t seek outside approval. No one should. We’re all beautiful unicorns.”

Dropkick gave him a withering stare. “Are you drunk?”

“No, I am comfortably numb.”

Roan studied his profile. “If you start singing, I’m leaving.”

“Party pooper. Besides, I’m not singing yet. I’m saving that for karaoke.” Holden gave Roan’s shoulder a squeeze and wandered off into the crowd.

“You’d better be joking about that,” Roan called after him. Holden didn’t respond in any way.

“Oh come on, I bet you have a great singing voice,” Kim teased.

Dropkick was trying – and failing – to swallow a smile. “I can’t wait to hear what you pick. Something noisy, I suspect.”

“And what would your karaoke be, Dropkick?” he replied.

“Probably Joan Jett,” Kim said. “Or AC/DC.”

Dropkick shot her wife a hard look, and Roan smiled. “AC/DC? Really?”

“That’s her guilty secret,” Kim said, with the cheery confidence of a wife deliberately making her wife uncomfortable. “She loves old butt rock.”

Dropkick shook her head.. “Some, I like some. And you won’t let me live it down, will you, world music woman?”

Kim gave her a sunny smile. Roan hadn’t really noticed how pretty she was until now. “Nope.”

Dropkick pointed at her as Kim took her arm. “She listens to Enya. She likes her. Non-ironically.”

For some reason, Roan found this all very cheering. “Wow. You think you know people, and then you find out something so horrible about them.”

“Coming through,” a man proclaimed, as he rollerbladed up beside them. He was wearing a rainbow colored Afro wig and sparkly gold short shorts, with a sash across his bare chest that read ‘Stupid Cupid’. He was probably thirty five pounds past the point of reasonableness with such a skimpy outfit, but clearly he didn’t care, and there was a sort of nobility in that. He had a whole bunch of rainbow colored paper flower leis on his arm, and he gave one to Kim and a reluctant Dropkick as he said, “You gals look so cute together.”

“Thank you,” Kim said, still beaming at her grumpy wife. Oh God, they really were the distaff version of him and Dylan.

Cupid looked him up and down, assessing him skeptically. “You alone, sweetie?”

Before Roan could lie and say yes – or maybe no, he honestly didn’t know how he was going to respond to that – Kim said, “He’s married to him.” She pointed at Dylan, who was currently talking to a woman he didn’t recognize, with one of those pieces of jewelry that connected a fine chain from her pierced ear to her pierced nose.

Cupid looked between him and Dylan in obvious shock for several insulting seconds. “You’re with Hottie McHotface? Wow. Aren’t you lucky?” Roan was still pondering how to respond to that – should he be offended or not? – when Cupid draped a lei over his head, and skated off before Roan could remove it.

“Wait ‘til Dylan hears his new nickname,” Dropkick said.

“It suits him,” Kim said, nodding.

Roan couldn’t believe this. “Can I protest you two objectifying my husband?”

“No,” Dropkick said.

“You men do it to us all the time,” Kim added.

“I don’t.”

“Yes, but you’re a complete weirdo.” Dropkick said.

Roan could only shrug. He couldn’t argue that point at all, she was correct.

The revving of some very loud engines told him that Dykes on Bikes had arrived, and Roan couldn’t help but admire some of their motorcycles. None of them had a Buell, but he felt like maybe he could actually go and talk to them about it, and not be looked at like a crazy person for knowing different kinds of bikes, and having a preference.

Dylan joined him, snaking an arm around his waist. “Are we admiring motorcycles?”

“Am I that predictable?” he replied.

“When it comes to bikes, yes.”

Roan rested his head on Dylan’s shoulder, and took a moment to enjoy the moment. It was a sunny day, not too warm, and there were a lot of people out. Having never been to a Pride parade, he really didn’t know what to expect, but it wasn’t what he feared.

He realized he hesitated, mainly because any public displays of affection left him uncomfortable, but why was that exactly? Roan knew, even if the straight people grinding on each other in public didn’t, that PDA was itself a kind of political act. You were declaring you were straight and didn’t care who knew it, or you were gay and didn’t care who knew it. (Nuances, such as bi and poly, weren’t as easy to communicate in a quick moment.) One might get you a few tuts, but was accepted. The other could get you killed.

Of course, he had no worries about that. He was the world’s only – currently known – monster man. There wasn’t an ass he couldn’t kick, and kicking a homophobe’s ass was honestly delightful. He used to do it before he knew he could turn into a bigger freak than he already was.

But just because he could kick everyone’s ass didn’t mean he should. Roan knew that before the lion ever threatened to take him over, and he knew that now. Besides, as Dylan once said, using violence to stop violence didn’t solve anything. Might have felt good at the time, but that was about it. Otherwise the problem continued, just with a slight delay.

Declaring himself openly gay and refusing to hide it for his police superiors was a political act. Roan knew it at the time, and knew it might cause him to be the target of a lot of shit. It didn’t stop him. Pride parades were now corporate branded, and there were a few high profile gays, but it still somehow was a political act. In this day and age it shouldn’t have been, but it was.

He took off the lei and draped it around Dylan’s neck. He deserved it more, and the colors suited him anyway. Only other redheads and albinos would understand the pain of being so pale and yet so clash-y with almost everything. Dylan looked at him and smiled, and Roan could have basked in the view all day.

“Hey, tell him his new nickname,” Dropkick said, ruining the moment.

Dylan raised an eyebrow at that. “Should I be worried?”

“Whenever Roan’s involved, it’s usually a good idea,” Dropkick teased.

Roan rolled his eyes, but if pushed, he would have to admit it was true. But at least this time, he could blame Cupid.

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