Because a certain segment of the fandom really enjoys The Beard, I wrote this story for the The Man in June 2013. This was quite the stretch for me since I’m in the Anti-Beard Brigade. Enjoy.
The man knew it was wrong the moment he saw the three women, but he couldn’t help it. He’d spotted them as he left the studio, tired from a long day on the set. From the sudden intense whispering and shy smiles his way, he knew they were fans. Ordinarily, he felt pleased and a little gratified to meet fans, making small talk, scrawling autographs and posing for pictures. But this promised something more – naughty. A thrill of anticipation rushed through him as he approached.
He scanned their faces, judging who could be The One. The slight blonde, standing behind the two older women, didn’t seem a likely prospect. She smiled and eyed him in a polite detached manner, lacking the “fan” aura. She likely accompanied her friends to the studio just to observe. The youngest of the trio looked ready to burst with excitement, shoulders scrunched in tension, hands clasped in front of her tightly, and the widest smile he’d ever seen. He would have been able to see her shining eyes but she could barely look him in the eye. No, she wasn’t “it.”
As he turned to the oldest of the trio, his heart sped up. The tall brunette stood nearly eye to eye with him. She regarded him in a more subdued fashion with a crooked uncertain grin and cocked head. The eyes gave her away: they darted from his and away. Ordinarily, he’d think she was stealing sneaky glimpses of his mouth, but he knew that wasn’t it. It was the BEARD.
He reached up reflexively to touch it. This was the beard’s second stretch for his character. After four weeks, it had grown in but hadn’t reached it’s full potential. Commentators on Alia’s blog called it “the baby beard.” He smirked. When the itchiness of the growth subsided, he quite liked the surprising silkiness of it. He also liked another thing: the fans touching it. That discovery occurred when a fan had asked to touch it on a dare. He’d posed in amusement for the photo but had been secretly shocked by one thing; the frisson of tension he’d felt the second her fingers stroked his face. It was as if another part of himself had leaned forward figuratively to luxuriate in her touch. It had felt so – sensual. He hadn’t regarded himself as a particular tactile person in this touchy-feely business, so he’d been caught out by the fleeting intense surge of pleasure. Friends did not produce the same effect; the touch of a fan seemed somehow thrilling and – forbidden, yes, deliciously forbidden.
His hand’s motion quickly drew her eyes. Her top lip sucked at the bottom. Surely news of the earlier fan had gotten out; she wanted to touch his beard too. Her eyes darted back to his questioningly. His smile widened as that naughty part of him tempted her by leaning forward. She took the bait.
“Would you like to?” He leaned tantalizingly close, marveling how he could invade her personal space like this. Who was he and what was he doing?
“May I?” She didn’t seem to mind.
Her hand seemed to move in slow motion as it rose from her side. The anticipation stretched as she came closer and closer and then – just the barest, lightest touch. His eyes fluttered closed as her fingers left a trail of subtle sensation across his cheek and along the jawline. He slowly exhaled breath he’d not realized he’d been holding and he shuddered lightly. Delicious. Simply delicious. The hand fell away suddenly. His eyes opened. Good grief, had she noticed? She smiled, thanked him, and glanced in amazement at her friends. No, she’d probably remembered she’d been stroking the beard of a stranger. She’d been too enthralled in her own experience do notice his. He collected himself and posed for the group photo, pretty sure that his eyes possessed a bit more twinkle. He sent them off with a nod and smile.
He turned away, heading for his bike. Tonight, he would relive the moment over and over. Maybe Alia would write a post about it – beard stroking by strangers as pleasure. He reached the bike and stopped in his tracks. Good grief. What was fandom doing to him?
He had a fetish.