Man To Man Talk
Carlton was barely eight when he began to live with the Spencers. His mother was single, penniless, and could only work so many jobs to feed her three children. She began leaving the three of them with a family friend, but he finally had to inform the authorities that she was unfit to care for her kids. The cop who picked them up said they could call him Henry, and, after a long process he couldn’t remember, they went to live with Henry and Madeline Spencer and their little boy Shawn.
That was a long time ago, nearly thirteen years. In the meantime, Carlton’s older brother abandoned the family to run off to chase good waves, Carlton began attending UCSB to study Criminology, and Lauren went off to art college as a film student. Carlton still saw his biological mother from time to time, but largely, he saw himself as part of the Spencer family. Even as it began to fracture and break.
During a long, hot summer, Carlton came home from his summer job to find Henry and Madeline gone, a note left behind for him about them having a romantic night out. Lauren was away at a college friend’s home to help shoot an independent movie they wrote together. Carlton looked up the stairs towards Shawn’s bedroom.
Shawn may have been the only one of his siblings not related to him by blood, but Carlton felt closer to him than to the others. Where the others looked upon his eccentricities and interests as something to be ignored, Shawn had always welcomed them. Encouraged them. Had his own to go along nicely hand-in-hand.
He didn’t mind being left alone with him. Maybe they’d invite Gus over for pizza and some scary movies. Carlton knew the stress of his parents fighting was starting to get to him; he’d probably be grateful for the chance to be distracted from it for a few hours.
Shawn was being unusually quiet in his room, and so Carlton opened the door quietly, not wanting to wake him if he was asleep. What he saw would probably stay with him until his dying day; there wasn’t enough alcohol or other substances he might have been willing to abuse that could have erased it from memory, from the arch of Shawn’s body as his hands clutched at the headboard to the solid rhythm of his best friend pounding into his body, both of them quietly snickering at some stupid joke and wasn’t that just like them.
Shawn must’ve noticed – because Shawn noticed everything – that the door was open, because he turned his head and then shouted, reaching down to pull Gus on top of him and get Carlton’s eyes off of him. “Carly! Get out!”
He obliged. First of all because he never wanted to see his younger brother having sex with anyone, much less with the person they both considered their best friend. Secondly because he needed to prepare. The gun wasn’t loaded, he checked and checked and checked, but bullets weren’t the point. It was the message that mattered most of all.
"Guster," he snapped as they emerged, shamefully walking down the stairs. He gestured towards the couch with his free hand, the other on the gun itself as he sat in Henry’s chair. "Sit."
"Carly," Shawn attempted. "Come on, man; not cool."
Carlton glared at him, “Go away, Shawn.”
Shawn crossed his arms and sneered, flipping his long hair out of his eyes before he pointedly took the seat next to Gus, tangling his fingers with his friend’s. His boyfriend’s. “No way.”
Carlton gave a resigned sigh and leaned back in his chair. “I’m not going to lecture you on safe sex because I know you would never dream of doing what you were doing without a condom.” Gus nodded meekly. “But let me warn you: I don’t care that we’ve been friends since I moved into this house. All of the years that have gone by and all the memories we’ve made. If you purposefully hurt him in any way, I will hunt you down.”
"Hurt me?" Shawn laughed. "Gus can’t even kill like bugs that crawl into his house!"
"The point remains," Carlton said evenly. "I will find you, and I will make you suffer. Are we clear?"
"Yes," Gus said, his voice quiet but confident. "Yes we are."
"Good," Carlton got up to put the gun back in the safe he’d gotten it from. "I’m going to take care of this. Gus, order pizza; Shawn, pick a movie."
Shawn held up his hand, “Question for the bossman. Are you gonna let me sit next to him during the movie?”
"I assumed you would eventually find your way there even if I tried to keep you from it."
"Damn straight," Shawn said with a grin. "Oh, and, uh. Don’t tell Dad?"
"My lips are sealed." Besides, he didn’t think there was much else to say that he hadn’t already.