Summary: Ben and Michael investigate their animal alter-egos.
Archive Date: 15 February 2006
Michael came home from the store to find Ben sitting on the couch, reading a book Michael had never seen before. Ben was so engrossed in the book he didn't even hear Michael come in until he plopped down next to him on the couch. "What'cha reading?" he asked.
Ben took off his glasses and rubbed the bridge of his nose, then said "Exploring Native American Lore. It was referenced in one of my books on Buddhism, and I was intrigued. It's so amazing; I don't think I've moved in the last two hours." With that, Ben stretched his arms up over his head, giving his lover the chance to once again become enthralled with his strong, muscular chest.
Michael saw his opening and snuggled up close, loving the sound of Ben's heartbeat as it quickened just a bit. "Tell me more," said Michael.
"Well," said Ben, "For starters, the Native Americans believed that everyone has an animal 'totem' or guide in their lifetime, sometimes several guides. They feel that this guide is an animal that you connect with or feel a deep affinity toward. This guide will instruct and protect you in your spiritual and physical life, help you get back to your roots and reconnect with nature."
"Interesting," Michael interjected. "Do you suppose that applies to the 'bears' that hang out at Babylon?" he asked with a big grin on his face.
"Actually, it probably does" Ben said seriously. He looked down to see that Michael looked crushed, and quickly said "Baby, I'm sorry I jumped on that question so strongly. What I meant was that the people in the gay community that identify themselves as 'bears' do tend to look and act like bears, so there's probably at least some connection. This book has just been so fascinating that I automatically defended it, instead of having fun with it. I'm really sorry if I hurt your feelings." With that he put a finger under Michael's chin to raise his face up, and looked deep into those beautiful chocolate brown eyes, then planted a soft kiss on his lips to back up his apology.
Michael smiled and kissed him back, saying "Apology accepted," and sealed it with a kiss.
Just then Michael's stomach growled, reminding them that it was well past dinner time. They both laughed, then pushed themselves up off the couch and into the kitchen to find something to make for dinner. It was quickly decided that stir-fry sounded the best, as it was quick and simple to make. Ben got busy cooking up some chicken while Michael cleaned and cut up the vegetables. While eating dinner they filled each other in on the events of the day, including Michael's description of some new kids who had stumbled into his comic book store for the first time, and were immediately thrilled by all of the comics available, and excited about Michael's knowledge of the subject. When they finally left, he knew they'd be back, armed with more questions meant to test his memory, so he was going to have to keep on his toes.
After the meal was finished and the dishes were put away, Michael asked "So what's your totem?"
"Good question," Ben replied, "I've never really thought about it. Let's go see what we can find on the Internet." They headed upstairs to the computer and started their search.
"Ooh, this looks like a good website" Michael said, pointing to www.animaltotem.com. They started reading some of the descriptions, trying to find good matches for each other. All of a sudden, Michael said "Ding, ding, ding! We have a winner!" Ben looked up, trying to see what had caught Michael's attention.
"The Elk," Michael read, "is strong, handsome, and proud, but can be aggressive if challenged. The Elk finds security through possession of things with lasting value, and reminds us that if we are confident, we can claim our Empowerment." Michael looked from the computer screen to Ben's bright blue eyes, and saw both the pride and humility that he felt when Michael described him that way.
"I like it," Ben said, loving the happiness he saw in Michael's face. "Now we need to find your totem," Ben said, looking over the descriptions, trying to find a good match for his lover. "Aha!" he said, "there it is. The Otter".
Michael made a face at him, expecting him to say he was kidding.
"I'm serious," Ben said, "just hold on for a second. The Otter is playful, prophetic, creative and logical. He has high ideals, and tends to seek more from others than is reasonable, but seeks truth above all else. He is small, but has a huge appetite. He brings out the child in others, encouraging them to rediscover their playful side. He advises us to nurture our talents, and make good use of them." Ben looked up into Michael's face, curious as to what he'd see there. The thoughtful look on Michael's face gave him pause, but he waited to see what the end result would be.
"It hits a little too close to home," Michael said, "which means it's probably right on the money. I do like the bit about encouraging others to use their talents, and my mom would probably agree with the 'big appetite' part. Plus, I do like to watch the otters when we go to the zoo, zooming all around in the water, playing. I like my totem, too" he said, with a smile that made Ben's heart race all over again. Ben leaned over to whisper in Michael's ear, "Let's go to bed now, and see what we can learn from these new discoveries..."
A week later, Michael got to the comic book store to find a small gift bag hanging on the door handle. In it was a small carving of an otter, lying on its back, holding a rock and shell on its chest. Michael smiled, because he knew that at that very moment across town...
Ben got to his office to find a small package leaning against the door. He unwrapped it to find a beautiful photograph of an elk in a simple black frame. He was constantly amazing at how in synch he and Michael were, and couldn't wait to get home that night to thank him properly.
End of "Totems" by Kirsten (firstname.lastname@example.org)
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