“Okay, we’ll start simple,” McMath says, taking Henn by the shoulders and pressing him down onto the couch. Henn squeezes his lips together to smother a laugh as McMath turns on the stereo and sets a record on the new turntable. It was a wedding present from McMath’s father, who had innocently let Henn hook up his iPod in the car on a drive to Exeter and swore he would never recover.
“Okay. I think you’ll recognize this song, I’ve played it before, but you’ve got to listen to listen to the whole thing.” Henn raises an eyebrow. They had tried to get through Chicago’s “25 or 6 to 4” a few days before, but the combination of McMath’s mimed bass-playing and somewhat surprising tenor range had caused Henn to miss the entire point of the lesson. In about a minute and a half.
“This is the song … Okay, how to explain it? If someone came in and asked me to explain rock and roll, this is the song I would play, okay? Does that make sense?” He always gets nervous when he’s in instructor mode, like he can’t believe Henn is actually listening. When he’d walked in on Henn going through his vinyl collection two weeks after the wedding and Henn had raised those big blue eyes and said “Teach me,” you probably could have knocked McMath over with a feather. It helped that Henn was just out of the shower and … that’s another story. The fact remains, McMath can be very easy to distract.
Henn leans forward, resting his elbows on his knees. “Yes, sir.”
McMath stares at him.
“What?” says Henn innocently, leaning back and spreading his feet. “I had a crush on every instructor during training. It’s sexy. You should be in uniform, though. The beret at least. What?”
McMath stares for another moment, then shakes himself. “Anyway. Um. This song. Right. Here, pop quiz.” He picks up the album cover and holds it in front of Henn, covering the title with one hand. Henn leans forward again, concentrating.
“I know this one.”
“We did this one last week.”
“It’s the one with that one song. The … you know. Do do do do do do do do—”
“Good, good. Come on, you know it—”
“The Who! Who’s Next!” Henn cries, and McMath gives a whoop before diving down to reward him. He gives him one deep and dirty kiss before pulling back a few inches.
“Billy!” Henn whines, lunging forward again. McMath’s hands firm on his shoulders stop him.
“Drums,” he says sternly. Henn growls.
“Keith Moon. Choked on his own vomit. Come on, Billy!”
“Uh-uh. Study first. Guitar.”
“Pete Townshend. Also keys. See, look, I remember.”
“Very good. Lead vocals.”
“Ummm. I know this one. I do!” Henn tries not to get distracted by McMath’s eager face and fails. He looks up to the ceiling to ignore the temptation to just tackle him and thinks. “Dartmouth. No. Daltrey. Yes? Roger Daltrey!”
“That’s my boy,” McMath positively crows, giving him a quick peck. Henn growls again. “Okay. Bass.”
Henn wrinkles up his face and groans. “I don’t—”
“Yeah, you do. Come on, man, you got it.”
He makes another frustrated noise and McMath gives a short whistle.
“What? Whistle— Entwistle! John Entwhistle!” McMath takes Henn’s hand and raises it above his head like a prizefighter. Henn takes the opportunity to pounce, twisting McMath onto the couch. McMath goes along for a few minutes, then firmly disentangles himself. Henn whines and McMath gives him a stern look.
“The Who. Who’s Next. You have to listen, Tom. Eight-and-a-half minutes of the greatest—”
“Eight and a half minutes! Are you fucking kidding me?” Henn gestures to his crotch, which is significantly more interested in McMath than the history of rock and roll. McMath grins at him.
“Focus. And seriously, the crescendo in this song is like half an orgasm.”
“You are such a nerd,” Henn groans, throwing himself back on the cushions. McMath sticks out his tongue and smiles evilly. He turns to the stereo and starts the music.
Henn will never get tired of the way McMath’s body transforms when it’s given a rhythm. He’s always coordinated, graceful in his own way, but when music is added to the mix it’s like every part of his body wakes up and just—. Henn can’t really explain it. Except that it’s crazy sexy.
He likes the song, though, finds himself bobbing his head along with the beat. He likes Keith Moon, he decides, drumming along on the cushions beside him. McMath is trying to contain himself, Henn knows it, because he’s not singing along or moving very much. But still, he tosses his head and mouths “I know that the hypnotized never lie” and his neck is right there and then the drums stop and he kicks his hips at each accented beat and there’s a reason they have carpet in here, anyway. Roger Daltrey screams “Yeah,” which Henn takes as the okay to go to work on McMath’s jeans. And McMath’s hands roam over his back, picking out keyboard, bass, and guitar parts and his hips echo the snare and Henn fucking loves rock and roll. And then the drums stop again and McMath just holds him for a moment and looks him square in the face and turns them over and then starts moving again, slowly and sweetly and Henn’s breath is getting lost somewhere between his mouth and his lungs because he’s getting really light in the head and then they start speeding up and speeding up and by the time Daltrey screams again they’re crying out with him. And the last verse is, in Henn’s opinion, the greatest musical work in the history of mankind, although that might just be the record cracking and popping at the end of the song, fuck if he knows, it’s fucking brilliant, and then they collapse next to each other on the floor and try to remember how to restart their own nervous systems.
McMath looks over to him and grins. Henn’s entire skeleton flips over inside his skin and he swears if he hadn’t just come that look would send him over the edge all over again.
He’ll say it again: Henn fucking loves rock and roll.