Jean's house has termites.
They are, as it happens, very polite termites. They stay scrupulously away from load-bearing beams, so that he never has to worry about his roof collapsing onto his head. He does have to replace the non-load-bearing walls occasionally -- and the porch railing, and the interior doors, and the kitchen table -- but they stay away from the bookshelves, so overall he counts it as a win.
The bedbugs are polite enough not to bite. Jean is pretty sure this should not be physiologically possible, but he's learned better than to ask too many questions. The mosquitoes do bite, but they don't bite him, and they're careful about only biting one animal so they don't spread disease.
He didn't have silverfish until he designated a bookshelf to devote entirely to a collection of really, truly terrible books. It features Fifty Shades of Gray and To Train Up A Child and Dianetics and tie-in novels for various franchises. Now he does have silverfish, but only in the one bookshelf, so that's okay.
His favorites are the bees. (The spiders are his sister's favorite, but she doesn't mind that he likes the bees best. Bees are good too.) He has hives and hives of them, and none of them ever sting him, which is good, because if they did they would die and that would be awful. They make more honey than they need, so every so often he gets to go open up one of the hives (he warns them first, politely, so none get squashed by accident) and fish out jars and jars full of honey. He has a pantry full of it, all different colors, shades of gold and brown and pale and even auburn. Sometimes he shares it with the bugs.
The bees need flowers, of course, but he has forty acres all to himself, and when the grasshoppers know to stay away and the worms know to come and thrive, that can grow a lot of plants. He gets monarch butterflies every fall when they migrate, and he stands outside counting them and crying. He doesn't love them quite as much as he loves the bees, but he still loves them, and there's fewer every year.
They miss him, when he's gone, traveling to act or to attend conferences or to do other things, and he misses them. There's bugs everywhere, but his house has so many, and such good ones. His sister sends him all sorts of strange and foreign creatures: dung beetles with carapaces that shine like jewels, long-legged spiders that weave him clothes of strange fabric, African termites that build clay statues at his command.
They're letting him be, right now, so he can focus on his work, but he can still see them moving out of the corner of his eye, and it makes him smile: small winged things darting irregular paths through the air, or heavier bugs scuttling across the floor, going about their business. He never has to be alone.
Jean clicks out of the ninth article on bee depopulation and squints at the screen, tired-eyed. increasing bee population, he googles.
Ten minutes later, after working through a fruitless page of results: getting bees to breed more
After another ten minutes: bee mating
what do bees think is sexy
how to seduce a bee
Jean's house has termites.
The setting is inside some kind of rustic building: authentically rough-cut red brick floor, smooth white plaster walls. Jean is sitting cross-legged, his whole body in view, softly illuminated by a warm light that avoids casting anything into shadow. He's naked, but unselfconsciously so, like a child or an animal might be naked.
He's holding a glass, with a little water and the last melting remnants of some ice in it. The video appears to have caught him in the middle of drinking it, relaxed, paying no attention at all to the camera.
He tips the glass up, drinking the last of the water; the film catches the way the condensation glistens on the sides. The last of the ice lingers on his lips for a moment, melting there, before slipping into his mouth to be swallowed.
When he takes a bite out of the glass, it's with so much of the same casual relaxation that it's almost impossible to notice, for a moment, what he's doing. The glass on his lips looks just like the ice, until his lips begin to bleed.
He chews the glass slowly, meditative, like someone absentmindedly crunching ice on a hot summer day. Blood runs down the corners of his mouth; he opens his mouth to show the shards on his tongue, draws them out with his fingers, paints the blood down his neck and collarbone in streaks.
Another bite. His eyes are closed; he's attending to the sensation, fascinated. He sucks on the fragments of glass, shivers, lets them fall into his lap in a bloody rain.
He makes his fingers bleed, breaking off a larger shard; holds it to his lips, licks and caresses it, somehow more sensual than sexual. He's almost infantile, wide-eyed, exploring the world with his mouth, feeling out the different shapes and textures as blood drips down his chin.
The video is almost half an hour long; the only noise is the soft crunching and tinkling of glass. He never speaks, never looks at the camera; it's not until the last few minutes that he begins to be, visibly, slightly aroused, and he never reacts to that at all.
[20:50] foggy: what
[20:51] deadleaf: wowww o///o
[20:52] deadleaf: this is really good
[20:53] lollicabra: this is the weird shit
[20:53] pikograf: what the fuck is this chat. who are you people
[20:54] palais: you’ve got such a first-timer face, it’s cute. how’d you do the lighting
[20:55] foggy: okay but
[20:56] foggy: crunch crunch
* z has changed their nick to z|editing. *
[20:58] secondsting: Lights at four o'clock and eight o'clock, just out of frame, with diffusers.
[20:59] secondsting: Thank you!
A few more compliments roll in, a few more bemused comments.
[21:07] z: https://pic.ly/vd/9347299 @secondsting
His turn to click.
The link leads to what looks to be webcam footage.
Z is sitting in a battered desk chair, leaned forward with an elbow on the desk, in a room just cluttered enough to look like someone lives there – covers pulled down on the bed, door slightly ajar, yesterday's clothes tossed on the floor. There's the occasional noise of a click, not much else, for the first ten seconds.
An alert sound – a faint smile – another click.
He plays with his hair a little as he watches the screen, gaze focused just past the camera.
There's a faint crunch, slightly distorted, recorded audio recorded again.
He grins into his hand, leans forward further in his chair.
When his hand pulls away his fingers linger on his lips.
It plays on.
Z watches raptly, fingers flitting over his neck and collarbone, back up to his face.
He starts to bite at his lip – gently, at first, but then harder, enough to leave marks, little indents from his canines that linger.
He looks yearning, wanting, worshipful, hungry.
Blood is just beginning to trickle down over his bottom lip when the video abruptly ends.
(He wants to give him more.)
[21:30] secondsting: I'm glad you liked it.
[21:31] z: it's so fucking genuine
[21:32] z: like, acted some, but real
[21:32] z: glad i got to see it <3
[21:33] z: mouth's doing ok?
[21:33] secondsting: Kind of a mess right now but it'll heal.
[21:34] secondsting: You have a nice smile.
[21:34] z: mine too ❤️
[21:35] z: ...aw you think?
[21:36] foggy: can't believe you're being cute in here
[21:36] lemontired: just finished watching. this is some art film stuff
[21:37] secondsting: Pics or it didn’t happen.
[21:39] z: https://pic.ly/pc/20847471
It’s a picture from just below the eyes — his lip is shredded, actually slashed in one or two places, and he’s sticking out his bloodied tongue to show the deep bite mark at the end. The one hand onscreen is holding a stained knife.
[21:39] secondsting: See? Nice smile.
[21:40] z: thanks, you should kiss it
[21:41] z: xoxo
[21:42] secondsting: There might be some practical obstacles to that.
[21:43] z: a guy can dream
[21:44] z: maybe someday you can redo it and we'll try
[21:45] secondsting: You don't dream of electric sheep?
[21:46] z: sometimes
[21:47] z: i contain multitudes
[21:47] foggy: are you gonna do this all day or are you gonna show us your dick
[21:48] secondsting: Are the two mutually exclusive?