The rhythm of routine is a comforting one in a world that no longer makes sense to me.
I see hate in so many places and cruelty where there once was kindess. I admit that I hade in the welcoming arms of my community. I mark, I protest, I growl with the rest of them, and then I run back to my land of misfits to dance another day.
My routines are simple, and exhausting. And I suppose, simply exhausting. I go to BaGG every week, managing to show up hours early to sit across from the stubborn asshole I love while he works and I work.. and then we dance.
We have yet to physically play, James and I. Not since he took my collar, slave ring, and pendant. I often wonder about the box they’re placed in. Is it plain, decorated. Does he take it out, along with photos and momentos, love letters and notes, and godde knows how many gifts, or does it stay locked away in some corner of his closet, another mistake he doesn’t want to look at? I don’t know. It’s eight months today, and I still don’t know.
What we do end up doing is dueling. Trading cards. An old game called Yu-Gi-Oh that he’s been into for eons, and that I enjoyed as a kid. I never played before him. I ‘built’ decks in the loosest of terms, with the childlike mindset of “Oh, this is pretty! Let’s put this with this!” and never had anyone to actually play with. Eons ago, a world ago, he tasked me with learning the game again. I did…and then the world exploded. And exploded. And exploded, and playing cards was the furthest thing from my mind.
After I was released, there was a time when playing cards was…all we ended up having. He shoved the fact that I hadn’t build a deck in my face during our breakup, and my rebuttle was to show up at the Citadel two days later with my skeleton of a deck, ready to duel. Since then, it’s been the only thing guaranteed safe to talk about. When he’s in a foul mood during a ride I bring up Yu-Gi-Oh. When he’s overly stressed and obviously needs a break from work, like he did today. When the dungeon is slow on a work night and I can seek him getting stressed. We duel.
It’s become such a lovely ritual as time has gone on. The banter has increased, to the point where there is quite a bit of sexual tension with our duels. There’s more joking, more teasing, more… comfort, and slowly, bit by bit, we have begun to feel like our old selves. He’s more approachable and less intimidating, and things like sitting in silence together have stopped feeling so uncomfortable. They are, in many ways, oddly comfortable. I know why he’s quiet some nights; I can still read his body like a book and can tell when he’s stressed, or sore, or in a mood.
That being said… the duels are all I get. I can’t touch him. I can’t snuggle him, or kneel at his feet, or go in for the big, long hugs that other can. I still am only permitted a hug goodbye most days, and I am touch starved. We spend so much damn time together that in certain ways it can be cruel smelling him, hearing him, being surrounded by him and yet being unable to reach him. There are times when he looks so damn fucking good… and I curse that he still pushes all of my fucking buttons. All of them. He always has, and I have no clue anymore what I push of him, if anything good.
Today, we dueled as always. He brought out his Blue Eyes deck, I my Lightsworn, and he destroyed me like he always does. He topped me through cards, because he could. Any progress I make he lets me do. I’m well aware of this. It’s always been that way with James. Any progress I’ve made, it’s because he’s let me. The banter, the dance, lasted until a friend mentioned that she played.
This friend is not a threat in any way. She doesn’t make me jealous, at all. She is safe, a beautiful soul who still calls James my person and is well aware at just how complicated she is. And the truth is, I love watching James duel. It’s fun sometimes when it’s not me. It wasn’t that they dueled… it’s that they interrupted the ritual that triggered some brain squirrels in my mind.
He doesn’t top me right now, in any way but the cards. That’s all I get. I don’t get swatts at BaGG. He won’t pull my hair, or bring me to my knees. I’ve forgotten, for the most part, what his lips feel like. I don’t get casual kisses or bites. He still won’t even just… poke me in the arm in a friendly way. Touch was so much a part of our love language that it was one of the main things taken away when we ended, and so I cling to the cards. I cling to the ritual of every Wednesday I get my dance with him. He will give me time, top me, and then go off to the others.
Today, that wasn’t the case. He played a few rounds with me, and then moved on to someone else. It was bound to happen. The nature of games is that you play other people. It’s a silly game; it’s fun. But… it’s our fun. It’s our thing, and for an hour I sat and watched while they played. I watched the bit of time I normally get with him tick away, and as it did I felt more and more invisible to him.
Emotions rarely have logic, and unfortunately for me my emotions are almost always written on my face. If anything, I’m sitting and writing this all out to get the kicked puppy expression I know I’m wearing to disappear. I am posessive of the few points of connection that I consider mine with him, logical or not, and I don’t think I realized how posessive until tonight. I felt.. inferior. Our friend is a better duelist than I am, with more experience. She was more of a challenge for him, and he and others commented that despite having months of practice now, she played better than I have. She lasted better.
There was a moment, hearing all of this, that I realized how easily replacable I could be. I wonder what value I still hold to him, this man that never seems to want to know his own heart. Over a silly game of cards that have been our safe-zone.
Maybe it’s the time of year; that Valentine’s Day is fast approaching, and I remain without a primary. Maybe it’s looking around and seeing other people valued by partners, and finding myself at war with my self-imposed loneliness. Maybe it’s that fear that… I’m just another background piece for him now.
None of this is logical. Time is gold to James, and more than anyone else I get his time.
Except, for when I don’t.
When the dance gets interrupted, the partners changed out, and you find yourself doubting if it was a dance at all.
It’s time for BaGG. Perhaps I will be brave and approach him for a different type of dance.
Yours, in routine