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When Love Fails

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Adam pins his boyfriend with an irritated look. The restaurant is crowded, and it’s loud, sure, but they’ve been chatting all night without a problem. Jake’s just not paying attention. Adam follows his gaze and finds their waiter--cute, dark-haired, skinny--at the end of it. He sets his fork down on the table, pulls his napkin off his lap, and leans forward.

“Are you even listening to me?”

Jake turns back to face Adam, smiling a little guiltily. He makes what should be an unattractive expression look like something in a TV commercial, something enticing and seductive, but Adam can see right through it. He rolls his eyes. He’s known Jake for too long; those false expressions, those acts don’t work on him anymore.

“Did you hear anything I just said?”

Jake hesitates and flashes Adam a smile full of bleached white teeth. This smile is even more fake, and anger flashes through Adam’s chest as Jake says, “Um. No. Sorry. Tell me again, baby.” His voice is charming and sweet, but Adam doesn’t want charming and sweet. He wants honest, the one thing Jake hasn’t given him yet.

“No. Not if you’re just gonna ignore me like that,” Adam snaps. Jake huffs and looks away, and Adam relents a little, sighing. “Come on, this is supposed to be a fun night out. Let’s have fun, okay?”

Jake nods and downs the rest of his glass of wine before standing up. “Yeah, of course. I’m having fun.” Adam sees him catch the waiter’s eye again. Adam looks over and sees the waiter--what was his name again? Matt? Mark?--watching them leave and blushing, and he reaches down to grab Jake’s hand in a tight grip, glaring back. Matt-or-Mark’s face falls, and he quickly busies himself in a stack of dirty dishes. Good.

“Jake, come on.”

Adam weaves through the tables, pulling Jake along with him. There’s a knot in the pit of his stomach, and he grits his teeth hard against the feeling, hoping the fresh air outside will clear his head a little.

Jake stumbles behind him and curses under his breath. “Jesus, Adam! I can fucking walk on my own, you know,” he hisses, pulling his hand away.

He’s got a cigarette between his lips before they even get out into the back alley, and Adam pulls his lighter out of his pocket, a motion born of old habit. Their usual posse of paparazzi is standing across the street, surrounding Adam’s car. He shakes his head a little and rubs his eyes. He’s gotten used to them in the past six years, but the paps are the last thing he wants to deal with right now.

Jake’s lips purse around the cigarette as he takes a shallow drag, and Adam feels his blood heat a bit despite his annoyance. Even after all this time, all the glossy magazine covers and black-and-white fashion spreads, he hasn’t quite gotten used to that face. He presses his body close and rests a hand on the back of Jake’s neck, leaning in to whisper in Jake’s ear.

“Have I told you today how much I love your mouth? Can’t wait to get in the car, get that mouth on me...”

Jake hums, sounding profoundly uninterested. “Couldn’t that wait until we get home? I hate tasting like come all night.”

The smoke in the air suddenly tastes sour, choking and thick in Adam’s throat, and he moves away, taking a deep breath and narrowing his eyes. “I’ll buy you a fucking breath mint.”

The movement takes him into the yellow light of a streetlamp, and he hears a sudden rush of noise from across the street as the paps recognize his face. They’re swarmed in seconds, and suddenly flashbulbs are going off left and right, blinding them. Adam reaches for Jake’s wrist.

“Don’t,” Jake snaps, snatching his hand out of Adam’s reach.

Adam grabs him by the arm and yanks him close to hiss in his ear, “Not now, do not do this now.”

He lets Jake go and they both push their way through the crowd--easier than it used to be. They know Adam’s reputation. He and Jake make their way around to either side of Adam’s car, and Jake throws Adam a heated look over the roof before ducking inside. Adam rolls his eyes again as he follows.

“You always fucking do this,” Jake says as soon as the doors slam shut. “I can handle myself, okay? You don’t need to always protect me or guide me around or whatever. I’m a grown fucking man, Adam.”

“Yeah, a grown fucking man who was eyefucking the waiter from the minute we sat down.”

“Jesus Christ, would you chill the fuck out? I was not ‘eyefucking the waiter’, I was trying to get a refill. You read way too much into everything I do, especially if there’s another guy involved.”

Adam lets himself sink back into his seat and thinks about everything he’d rather being doing. Anything. Anything but this. “Baby...I’m trying, okay? I just want you all for myself.”

“I’m my own person, Adam. You can’t have me all to yourself. I belong to myself. And to my career. I thought you understood that.”

There’s a long, heavy pause, and Adam forces himself to meet Jake’s eyes. “What were you doing last week in Paris? I called you. A lot.”

“I know. Why do you think I didn’t answer? I can’t be in constant contact, for fuck’s sake. I was there on business. You knew that. You knew I’d travel a lot when we started this.”

“Travel, not cut me off completely! I worried. You didn’t have to make me worry for no reason. Or is there a reason? Something you’re not telling me?”

“Adam, there’s nothing.” Jake takes out his pack of cigarettes again but he doesn’t light one. He doesn’t have a lighter. Adam doesn’t give him his. “Not that it matters, because--and let me say this again, since you don’t ever get it--I don’t belong to you. If I want to go and fuck some guy in Paris, it’s really none of your goddamn business.”

Adam’s stomach drops through the floor, and his hands clench into tight fists, fingernails digging into his palms. His voice is soft when he speaks again. “Jake...why are you even with me? Sometimes you really seem like you don’t want to be.”

“Well, I did, once. Before I found out how fucking crazy you are,” Jake snaps. He crosses his arms over his chest, fist clenched around his cigarette pack, squishing it out of shape.

“I opened my house to you. I wrote songs for you. That’s what people in relationships do. That’s not crazy, you asshole, that’s love.” It’s the first time Adam’s let himself say the word in a long time, and he immediately wishes he hadn’t. It feels almost slimy in his mouth, distasteful.

“Yeah, people in relationships totally tell each other what to do, where to go, who to talk to, who not to talk to... I can see it now!” Jake’s voice is getting shrill and it’s grating on Adam’s nerves. “You are the most controlling asshole I’ve ever been with.”

“Maybe I wouldn’t be so controlling if you could just fucking control yourself,” Adam barks. He grabs the steering wheel with both hands and stares straight ahead. He doesn’t want to see Jake’s beautiful fucking face. Not right now. “I don’t feel like dancing. Let’s just go home.”

But Jake shakes his head, vehement enough that Adam can see it even out of the corner of his eye. “No. I need a drink--god, do I need a drink. We’re almost there anyway.”

“I don’t think we should be out in public right now--”

“Well, I want to be in public. I’d rather be in public than locked in your fucking house with you all night. Come on, pull over. Let me out.”

“This is the middle of the--”

“Then take me to the fucking club. You don’t have to come in.”

They drive the rest of the way in uncomfortable silence, only to be met with more flashbulbs and annoyingly persistent men shouting their names. Adam shields his face with one hand, groaning. “I seriously can’t do this right now, Jake.”

“This is the only time to do it, because after this, we’re over.”

“What?” Adam lunges, reaching for Jake and bruising his ribs on the gearshift, but he’s already out of the car, out of reach. Adam throws open the door and races around, trying to catch Jake before he disappears into the club. “You can’t just--Jake, wait, stop! Jake!”

Jake whirls around right in front of the door, cheeks flushed with anger, and Adam nearly runs into him. Jake puffs himself up to his full height and glares, and even in six-inch heeled boots and hair perfectly coiffed, Adam feels small. “You want to know what I was doing in Paris? Jaques. That’s what I was doing in Paris. Or should I say, who I was doing in Paris.”

Adam feels all the air leave his lungs. He can’t even focus on Jake’s face anymore; he feels faint. “You... How could you do this? How could you--”

“Because I got tired. I got tired of your clingy fucking bullshit, and I got tired of being ‘America’s Gay Sweethearts’. I got tired of being Adam Lambert’s fucking boyfriend,” he shouts, punctuating it with a shove right in the middle of Adam’s chest, sending him tripping a few steps backward as the cameras flash wildly. It takes a moment for Adam to regain his footing, but Jake hasn’t stopped ranting, and his words make Adam feel even more off-balance. “That’s not who I am, and I’m done. I didn’t love you. I wasn’t your soulmate. We were supposed to have fun, and it stopped being fun a long time ago. So...I’m out. This is over.”

The frantic clicking of all the flashbulbs and shutters finally filters back in through the fog clouding Adam’s brain and instinct takes over. He stumbles back to his car in a daze, ignoring the questions shouted his way. He needs to get home, get somewhere private, where he can let himself feel his whole world collapsing.

He speeds away from the club, blowing through stop signs and traffic lights in his rush to get home, but he doesn’t quite make it before what Jake said catches up to him. This is over. Adam looks at the empty passenger seat, the crushed cigarette pack lying there, and the tears start flowing down his cheeks, hot and angry. By the time he parks his car in the driveway, he’s sobbing uncontrollably, clutching at the leather-covered steering wheel like it’s a life preserver.

His phone beeps, signalling a new text message. Of course--Jake couldn’t have dumped him anywhere more public. He needs to go inside. He needs to change out of his clubbing clothes and take a shower and wash his face. Instead, he buries his face in his arms and lets himself cry, lets the memories come as they will. Jake’s quick, flashing smile. The sinuous way his body would arc just as Adam thrust into him. How it felt to welcome him home after a long trip away.

Adam pulls out his phone and deletes the three new texts without even reading them. He can’t deal with his friends’ questions tonight, and he certainly can’t deal with Chad bitching him out for not controlling his image. Realness, he thinks to himself, and even in his head it sounds like sarcasm. Right now he thinks he’d rather have the fantasy.

Once he’s cried himself dry, Adam unbuckles his seat belt and stumbles up to the front door, feeling numb all over. He fumbles his keys three times trying to fit the right one in the lock, and he trips over Jake’s shoes where he’d left them in the foyer. He kicks at them roughly, knowing it’s stupid, not caring. Fucking shoes. Fucking Jake.

He slumps against the wall and lets his keys fall to the floor with a clatter, trying to summon the energy to get up the stairs and into bed. In his pocket, his phone beeps again, and he wrenches it out, wanting to hurl it against the wall, break it into tiny, non-beeping pieces. He takes a deep breath and glances at the screen, fully expecting another panicked message from Chad.

Instead, the screen glows with a name he hasn’t seen, hasn’t really even thought about in, god, well over a month, and his mouth twitches involuntarily into the tiniest ghost of a smile. He clicks the message open.

ur song on the radio babyboy, fuckin sick!!!! :)

Adam laughs. The sound is too loud, echoing in the empty house, but his smile is stronger, and he’s standing up straight again. He doesn’t think he can hold up a conversation right now, but he knows Tommy will understand when he just sends a smile of his own back.

By the time he’s made it through an abbreviated version of his nightly routine, Adam feels numb again, and he falls into bed heavily, not even bothering to get under the covers. For the first time in a long time, he doesn’t set an alarm, and he turns his phone all the way off. The bed feels too big without another body in it, but Adam’s almost glad of the space. He spreads himself out, rubs his cheek against his pillow, and tries not to think about anything, staring out into the familiar darkness of his bedroom until sleep takes him.


*

Tommy doesn’t look up when he hears Maddie come in through the garage door, just listens to her bustling around the kitchen, setting her keys on the counter and opening the fridge for a bottle of water. She’s always thirsty when she gets back from rehearsal. Tommy spares a glance for her long, slender legs when she pads into the living room still dressed in her tights and gauzy skirt, but the TV catches his attention again and he mumbles hello while Maddie sits down beside him and plants a kiss on his cheek.

“Hey, baby, what’re you watching?” she asks in a tone entirely too bright for the dark evening.

Tommy grabs the plastic cup sitting on the side table and takes a long drink to keep himself from sighing. He hates it when people talk during movies. But this one actually kind of sucks, and Maddie’s all flushed and warm, and Tommy knows she’ll be limber -- she’s always extra flexible when she’s been practicing every day like this. He licks his lips and smiles at her and says, “Saw 2. But I can turn it off if you want.”

“No, that’s okay. I’ll watch with you,” she replies, sliding right up against his side and resting her head on his shoulder. Her hair’s pulled back in a tight bun, little wisps escaping here and there, and they tickle where they brush against his neck, making him smile.

She sits with him for a few minutes, but Tommy can tell she’s bored with the movie already. It’s not really her thing, even though she says she doesn’t mind. He puts his hand on her knee, all gentle and smooth, hoping she won’t take it like he’s coming onto her right away. He likes to ease into these things -- they both do. It’s almost like a private language between them, a look here or a touch there, so easy to read after all this time, and she reaches down to run soft fingers over his knuckles, a clear yes.

They’re only about three deaths into the movie before Maddie’s sliding her thigh over Tommy’s lap and pressing up tight against him, nuzzling his throat with her nose and soft, glossy lips. Her breath feels warm, blowing across his skin, but it makes the rest of his body feel cold, and he shivers, bringing one arm around her back to pull her more fully into his lap. She’s even smaller than he is, and he can lift her easily, like one of her ballet partners throwing her high into the air, but she feels fragile next to him, and he’s always afraid of being too clumsy with her, too unbalanced. Breaking her.

But Maddie doesn’t hesitate, just leans in to kiss him again, pressing the length of her body to his, and he groans at the brush of her breasts against his chest. Her lip gloss tastes like strawberries, and Tommy licks it off his teeth when she pauses for breath, watching her chest rise and fall, the stretch of her thin sweater. He brings his hands up to touch her through the soft knit, feeling himself starting to get hard as her nipples rise to points under his palms.

Her hips find an easy rhythm, and his fingers slide down to her waist, squeezing in tight. She’s so tiny he can almost wrap his hands all the way around, and he loves how small she is, but he can’t help but feel like they don’t quite match, like he should be bigger for her, stronger. He shifts one hand to the base of her spine, his fingers stretching down to her ass, and pulls her down against him as he thrusts his hips up. His dick grinds against the inside of her thigh, and she feels so warm even through Tommy’s thick jeans. She must be wet by now, and he wants to feel it, wonders if she’ll drag him to the bedroom or if she’ll ride him right here on the couch with screams echoing out from the TV in the background.

His attention is diverted when his pocket starts to vibrate, right in the crease of his thigh. He startles and tries to hide it, shifting his weight so his phone isn’t pressing against Maddie, and tries to fish it out without her noticing. He thinks his tongue is doing a pretty good job of distracting her, so he lets her take control of the kiss while he swipes the phone on over her shoulder, squinting to read through the glare.

The name on the display makes his breath hitch, just for a split-second, and he realizes he’s been waiting for this text all day long. Longer. Ever since the news hit.

i need a drink, u busy?

He thumbs a response one-handed, clumsy and misspelled, but Adam will understand. Adam always understands him. Adam’s reply comes less than a minute later.

can i pick u up? i can be there in a few min.

“Tommy, who are you texting?” Maddie murmurs, breathing hot against the hollow of his throat. Tommy flinches, startled.

“Nobody. Adam. Sorry.”

Maddie sits up and gives him a disappointed look. “Please don’t lie to me, Tommy. I’ve had enough of that, okay? Just tell me the truth.”

Tommy feels his face go stony, and his hand falls away from her body. “Adam just texted me. He wants to hang out. It’s just Adam.”

“You don’t have to lie, Tommy. If we’re having problems, just tell me and we can fix them.”

“We’re not having problems! I love you. I’m not cheating on you. It’s just Adam, I swear.”

Maddie climbs off his lap, then, and Tommy deflates. “Stop fucking lying!” she snaps, and Tommy feels her words like a slap to his face. She never swears, not unless she’s totally furious. “I know you’ve been with Lindsey. I know it. Don’t try and--I’m not an idiot. Is that her? Are you going to see her?”

He stands up and turns the phone back on, turns it around so she can see. “Maddie, just look. Look!”

She looks at the phone. Then she looks at Tommy. “You just agreed to go out with Adam while we were... What is wrong with you, Tommy? What is even going on in your head?”

“Nothing!” Tommy insists, then realizes what he said. “I mean... I didn’t mean to. He just needs me right now. He’s like, my best friend. His boyfriend just dumped him...what do you want me to do?”

She huffs and repeats, “Boyfriend,” and her tone makes Tommy feel like he’s covered in something dirty, like he wants to go brush his teeth and get her taste out of his mouth.

He grits his teeth. “It’s just Adam. It’s not like anything’s going to happen with us. And I’m not going to see Lindsey anymore, okay? I promise. I won’t.”

“Well, at least I know you don’t want to fuck him,” she mutters under her breath. She stalks around the coffee table and flings her sweater off over her head. She looks so much more powerful standing across from Tommy in her tank top, with the strong lines of her biceps showing as she crosses her arms. Tommy runs his teeth over his lower lip and starts to feel awkward, standing there with his phone still clutched in his hand.

“You’re going drinking with him?” she asks, and Tommy’s eyes cut to the plastic cup on the table before he can stop them. Maddie’s still staring at him when he looks back. “Yeah, don’t think I can’t taste it on you, Tommy. Are you even fit to drive?”

“He’s picking me up,” Tommy murmurs.

“Why do you have to meet at a bar, anyway?”

“He just... wants to.” Tommy rubs a hand over his eyes, suddenly weary. “I’m sorry. I didn’t think about it. He needs me right now.”

“And you always fucking go to him, don’t you? You’re like his pet. You always come when he calls.”

Tommy’s phone vibrates again and he automatically swipes his thumb across the screen to unlock it. Maddie glares at him. Tommy resists looking at the text, just stares back at her, until he hears a car horn honking from the street.

Maddie sighs and reaches up to untie her hair, shaking it out and running her fingers through it. She probably has a headache. Sometimes Tommy lies in bed with her for hours, just listening to music and rubbing her neck and stroking his fingers across her skull. She probably doesn’t want him to touch her right now.

“Just...please don’t drive home. Get a cab or something,” she says, resignation in her voice. “And don’t kiss me when you get back. I hate the taste of whiskey.”

Tommy doesn’t look at her as he heads to the door and pockets his keys and his wallet. Just before he leaves, he calls back to her, “I’m sorry. I’m gonna be better. I really will.” He leaves before she has a chance to argue.

Adam’s waiting at the curb, the car running, and Tommy slides quickly into the passenger seat and takes a deep breath. Adam revs the engine a couple times, which Tommy thinks is supposed to impress people, but to him it just sounds growly and loud. He looks over at Adam, and even in the twilight he can see the bags under Adam’s eyes, the determined set of his jaw. Tommy reaches over and touches Adam’s hand where he’s clutching the gear shift and Adam seems to relax, just a little bit. It’s enough. Tommy smiles at him and Adam returns it.

“Is Maddie home?” Tommy nods. “Sorry. Didn’t meant to interrupt your evening, I just--”

“Oh, whatever,” Tommy interrupts smoothly. “I’d rather hang out with you right now.”

“Are you sure? I just don’t think I can be alone tonight. The past couple days have been... bad. It was really awful, Tommy.”

Tommy squeezes Adam’s hand. “So let’s go get fucked up.”

At that, Adam grins, sharp and bright. “Fuck yeah. Have I told you lately how much I love you?”

Tommy laughs, ignoring the tight, happy feeling twisting in his gut. “Never tired of hearing it!”

Adam’s fingers flex on the steering wheel, and he turns to face front, staring at the road like he wants to attack it. Tommy feels a sudden thrill, and he can’t help smiling. His guilt at leaving Maddie behind is fading fast, but just as they peel out and away from the curb, he hears her voice in his head again, something she’d said that had caught and stuck in his memory like a burr.

At least I know you don’t want to fuck him.

Adam’s leather-clad thigh is right there, three inches to his left. Tommy carefully keeps his hands in his own lap and stares at them the whole way to the bar. He’s never needed a drink so badly in his life.

*

Tommy’s on his second rum and coke when Adam finally starts talking about the brand-new ex, just starting to feel the blur of alcohol in his brain. He gestures for the bartender to bring Adam another mojito and turns to watch Adam as he speaks.

“I just...I keep thinking I should have known, you know? I mean, I did know. Some part of me did, at least. He was never really into it. The relationship part. Not the sex part. That part was fucking fantastic.”

Tommy bites his lip and turns away to take a deep drink. He knows the feeling, except...he thinks he’s maybe been on the other side of it a time or two. Maddie pops into his head again, and he pushes her away before she can ruin his buzz. Sometimes he gets the creeping feeling that he’s a really shitty boyfriend, and that he’s not giving his best to his relationship. Not even the sex. Maybe he’s just not meant to be a relationship guy.

Adam sighs, pulling Tommy’s attention back to the present, and god, he looks so sad, like someone’s kicked his puppy, or told him Halloween was cancelled. Tommy leans over until their shoulders touch.

“Good thing that asshole’s not here -- I’d punch his teeth out. See how many magazine covers he gets then!” he says, only half teasing. People shouldn’t be allowed to hurt Adam like this. There should be a law.

“Yeah, well, it’s over now. Maybe it’s for the best, you know? At least now I don’t have to worry about him. Did I tell you he slept with someone else while he was in Paris? God, it was always this little nagging thing in the back of my mind, and now... I guess now it doesn’t matter. It’s kind of a relief,” Adam says, swirling his the ice cubes in his glass. After a long moment of staring down into it, he takes a sip, and then another, and then drains the whole thing.

“It’s still not cool,” Tommy mutters. He follows Adam’s lead and finishes his own drink, even though he’s two or three drinks ahead of Adam, and wonders if Adam can tell. He’s pretty good at hiding it these days, especially if he doesn’t have to talk too much, and leaning against both Adam and the nice, sturdy bar is doing wonders to keep him from listing to the side.

“So I guess I’m back to ‘single and mingling.’ Fuck, I hate answering those questions. But it’s like Chad’s always saying, people wanna know. Personal shit sells.”

“But...” Tommy hesitates, trying to find words for his thoughts. “Isn’t that like exploiting yourself or something? I don’t think I could do that. It’s so, like... personal. You know?”

Adam shrugs. “Part of the job. I mean, even on fucking Idol, everyone’s got their sob story. It’s what gets people interested.”

Tommy groans. “Why can’t it ever just be about the music? It’s like it doesn’t even matter sometimes. Everything’s about who you fuck and how you look. Fucking sucks.”

Adam nods miserably and rubs his forehead. Tommy stares at the little smudge of moisture left over from his fingers. It looks funny on Adam’s face, like sweat, or like... like he’s wet. Tommy has a vivid flash of Adam right after a shower, all soft skin and dripping hair. He blinks hard and shakes his head, trying to clear the image.

“You all right?” Adam asks.

“Fine, yeah. Cool.”

“Because we can go if you want. I mean, I don’t want to keep you if you’re getting tired...”

“No, no. I wanna stay. I want to stay with you. I’m commiserating, right?”

Adam laughs mirthlessly. “What do you have to commiserate about?”

Tommy’s face heats and he ducks his head low, hunching up his shoulders to hide it. “I don’t fucking know, man.”

“Trouble in paradise? Join the fucking club. I don’t even have paradise anymore.”

That’s pretty self-pitying even for Adam, even for Adam in a mood, and Tommy lets himself fall against Adam’s arm so he can look up and bat his eyelashes. Adam always smiles when he does that. This time, though, Tommy falls a little bit too far and his head hits Adam’s chin, and Adam has to grab him to keep him off the floor.

“Maybe we should get out of here, baby,” he murmurs against Tommy’s hair. “Don’t wanna make a scene. We’re supposed to be playing me up to the paps, right? Not looking like drunk assholes.”

“I don’t wanna go home,” Tommy mumbles. “You’re not fucked up yet. You said we should get fucked up.”

Adam squeezes him in a little half-hug and says, “What about my place? I have this awesome rum that...well, fucking Jake brought it back from Jamaica, and I really don’t want any of his shit in the house any more, but it’d be a shame to throw it away. Help me drink it?”

Tommy rubs his face into Adam’s shoulder, pausing a moment before he speaks. He doesn’t want Adam to move his arm yet; he’s way too comfortable tucked here against Adam’s side to even think about getting up and walking. Finally, he nods and says, “I like rum.”

Adam laughs again and says, “You like everything.

Tommy tries to think of a clever response to that, but what comes out of his mouth is, “Well... yeah. It’s like... just... you know. Good.” He smushes his face against Adam’s arm again, embarrassed. “Whatever. Let’s go.”

Adam pulls a couple crisp bills out of his wallet and leaves them on the bar. Then he stands up and offers a hand to Tommy, pulling him up off his bar stool and onto unsteady feet. Outside, they’re met with the blinding flashbulbs of the paparazzi, but Adam doesn’t stop to acknowledge them. He ushers Tommy straight through the crowd and pushes him into the passenger side of his car before walking around to get to the driver’s seat. Tommy leans back and lets his head loll against the window. He wonders if the cameras can see him through the tinted glass.

Suddenly, the car is filled with loud music, something full of pulsing bass and whining sirens, and he flops his head around against the seat to see Adam with his eyes closed, breathing the music in, letting it steady him. One of those little tricks he’s learned since his days of jumping paps on the beach, Tommy thinks, and he dissolves into laughter at the memory. He had no fucking shame that day. Neither of them did, really. Tommy almost wishes he could feel like that again.

Fuck it, he thinks, and as they drive away, he turns back to flip the flashbulbs a deliberate double bird, not caring if they can see it or not. It’s the thought that counts, and Adam can see it, laughing as he reaches over to slap Tommy’s hands back down.

“Be good! I’m trying to repair my image, here!” Adam scolds, but he sounds too amused to really mean it, his voice lighter and higher than Tommy’s heard it all night. He behaves himself the rest of the drive back to Adam’s, nodding along with the radio and listening to Adam half-sing the songs and wishing every night could be like this one.

By the time they reach Adam’s house, Tommy’s buzz has faded a little, and he’s mostly feeling mellow and calm. Adam parks the car up close to the front door, and he comes around to open Tommy’s door for him and help him out of the car. Tommy shoves his hands in his pockets and shuffles his feet, a little nervous. He hasn’t been to Adam’s new house very often, and it’s a little bit intimidating, huge and clean and hidden behind a big iron gate. It reminds him of just how famous Adam really is now.

Adam just smiles and rests a hand on the small of Tommy’s back, warm even through his jacket, guiding him up toward the front door. Tommy leans against Adam, just a little, just to prove a point to himself.

“Nothing’s changed,” he says under his breath as Adam lets them into the house.

“Hmm?” Adam asks, raising an eyebrow. “What’d you say?”

“Nothing. I’m thirsty. Let’s get some drinks,” Tommy replies brightly, leaving Adam’s gentle touch and heading for the kitchen. He opens the fridge and digs around until he finds a couple cans of diet Coke, way in the back, and when he turns around again Adam’s got a mostly-full glass bottle in his hands. Tommy grins. “Perfect.”

He mixes with the ease of long practice, and if he goes a little heavy on the rum, well...Adam just got dumped. If there was ever a time for a strong drink, it’s now.

He watches as Adam takes a sip, the pink of his lips against the smoothness of the glass, and a dozen sense memories assault him at once, summer kisses that tasted like salt and sweat and heat, that left glitter behind.

Adam purses his lips for a second. “Whoa,” he says, then laughs. “You trying to get me drunk, Tommy Joe?”

“Sorry, I just--”

“I guess I was a few drinks behind you anyway,” Adam continues, as if Tommy hadn’t said anything. “Come on, let’s go out back. It’s too nice to stay inside tonight.”

Adam’s view is amazing, especially at night, and Tommy can’t take his eyes away from the lights of the city as they settle into the soft cushions of Adam’s deck furniture. Adam sits in an upright chair, while Tommy stretches out, trying to take up as much of the lounge chair as he can. They drink in silence for a little while, just enjoying the night and the coolness and the relative quiet.

When Tommy glances over at Adam again, though, his mouth is turned down at the corners, and his eyes are vague, lost in thought. Adam’s always doing that, always thinking too much, and Tommy says the first thing he can think of to distract him.

“Remember that one time on that first tour, when we got drunk in that hot tub?”

It startles a laugh out of Adam, and Tommy flushes with pride. “I’m not going swimming with you tonight. This pool is fucking freezing.”

“What, you wussing out on me, Lambert?”

Adam kicks Tommy’s chair, nudging it a few inches. “I should just dump you in, clothes and all.”

Tommy grins and stretches his arms wide, sloshing a bit of his drink onto his knuckles. He licks it off. “You wouldn’t.”

“Sure I would. I’d get wet Tommy out of it. Fuck yeah, I would.” Tommy watches him take a long sip, his throat working as he swallows, and Tommy’s smile softens. “You’d come out looking like a drowned kitten.” He pauses, sighing, then one of Adam’s hands goes to his head, brushing back roughly through his hair. “I don’t even remember the name of the guy I was with that night.”

He sounds regretful, and Tommy bites his lip. “It was tour, man. It’s different. I don’t remember half the chicks I...” He doesn’t feel like finishing the sentence, so he just trails off into silence again.

“God, I can’t believe the next one starts so soon. What, three months until rehearsals? And what then, I’m supposed to go back to fucking fanboys?”

Tommy doesn’t even think, just says what’s been at the tip of his tongue all night. Longer. “You’re not...you can have anyone you want, Adam. You can do better than fanboys.”

“Apparently I can’t,” Adam mutters bitterly. “At least they wanted to be there, you know?”

“Did Jake...” Tommy trails off again, wondering for a second if he’s prying. “I mean, did he not like it? The... you know. Sex?”

Adam sighs noisily and turns sideways in his chair to face Tommy, resting his elbows on his knees. “That’s not what I meant. He just didn’t want to be with me.” When Adam raises his head, Tommy sees a streak of wetness on his cheek. His stomach twists into a tight knot.

“C’mere,” he murmurs, setting his drink on the ground with a dull thunk. He reaches for Adam with both hands. “Adam, come on. Come here.”

Adam leaves his own drink on the arm of his chair and comes to fall next to Tommy in a graceless slump, his head down and his breath shaking, and Tommy’s there in a second, wrapping himself around Adam as tight as he can.

Adam mutters something too softly for Tommy to hear, and Tommy has to ask him to say it again. He takes a deep breath and gives it another try. “You don’t have to do this. Be here. I’m totally depressing right now.”

“Actually, I really kind of do have to be here. I mean, I want to be. That first tour...don’t you remember? All the shit I went through that summer, with...with my dad and everything. You were there for me every fucking night.”

Adam sniffs and wipes roughly at his eyes. “Just returning the favor then, huh?”

Tommy sits up and waits until Adam turns to look at him, and he gives Adam his most serious stare. “There is nowhere else I’d rather be right now than here. With you.”

Adam’s face kind of crumples, and he’s crying again, and he grabs onto Tommy and pulls him back down and close. “I’ve fuckin’ missed you, Tommy.” His face is wet against Tommy’s cheek, and his arms are wrapped around Tommy’s body so tight it almost hurts. Tommy lets his hands come up and fist in Adam’s hair, pulling him in, and it feels good to have something to hang on to, something tangible, especially when Adam tilts his head and closes the distance between them, pressing his lips to Tommy’s.

Tommy’s frozen in place, his hands tightening in Adam’s hair, and then Adam’s fingers crawl up to his throat, and it’s so familiar that Tommy just sighs and relaxes into the touch. Adam presses his thumb to Tommy’s jaw, angling him exactly right and urging Tommy to open his mouth for Adam’s tongue.

It’s different than when it was for show, desperate and heated and better now, and Tommy sits up straighter, pushing back against Adam’s lips hard enough to bruise. He wants this, has wanted it, for so long now he can’t even remember when he didn’t. He knows he won’t be able to say it, even now, rum-drunk in the twilight, and every single thought goes out of his head except one: show him.

Tommy lets his fingers relax and slide through Adam’s hair, bringing them down to cup the back of his neck. Adam pulls back a few inches, just enough to put some space between their bodies, and somehow twists his hips so that Tommy is beneath him and Adam’s arms are braced on either side of Tommy’s head. Adam’s body is flush against his, all the way down, and Tommy can feel everything, his chest rising and falling as he breathes, the way their legs tangle together, and, oh god, how hard Adam is, grinding down against him in a smooth, sinuous rhythm, driving everything higher, harder.

“Oh...” Tommy doesn’t realize he’s moaning until Adam breaks the kiss and stares down at him, eyes glittering in the darkness.

“Thought about this, god, so many times, Tommy, and I never...”

“What, never what?” Tommy asks, panting. He doesn’t even know how he’s still managing to talk -- it feels like he’s burning, like his skin is lighting up everywhere Adam’s touching him.

“Never thought you’d let me,” Adam growls. “Fuck, Tommy, I wanna suck you off, I wanna see your fucking cock.”

“Yeah, yes, please, yeah.” No way in hell is Tommy turning that down. He grabs for Adam’s hair again, then his thick biceps, but Adam easily evades his grasp and shuffles down on the lounge chair until he’s perched at the very end, between Tommy’s legs. The shadows that cling to Adam’s face make his smile look sharp and ghoulish, and Tommy bites his lip hard to keep from moaning again. Adam’s not even touching him yet.

Adam stretches over him like a cat, all jutting shoulder blades and predatory eyes, and Tommy finally has to stop watching. He already feels like he’s about to come. Adam lays his palm over Tommy’s dick, cupping him through his pants and pressing his thumb right along the head, and Tommy didn’t think his pants were that tight, that Adam would know exactly how to touch him, but maybe Adam has some kind of sixth sense. A dick sense. He can’t stop himself from laughing out loud, and Adam cuts his eyes up to give him a questioning look.

“Drunk. Happy. Drunk,” Tommy says, and thrusts his hips up toward Adam’s hands. “C’mon, Adam, please, I can’t...I want...”

“What do you want, baby?” Adam asks, still staring hotly up at Tommy’s face, still stroking him through his pants, slow and deliberate.

“You’re gonna make me come if you...” Tommy gasps. “Please, I want... Just...”

“Fuck, yeah, come on,” Adam murmurs breathlessly. “Let me see you, baby. I want to see your face.”

Adam nudges Tommy’s knees a little wider, pushing them up so his feet are firmly planted on the cushion, and slides one hand beneath Tommy’s thigh. He doesn’t lift Tommy up, but Tommy can feel the intent there. He thrusts his hips up in anticipation, and Adam shifts his knees under Tommy’s thighs to prop him up. His hand dips down and cups Tommy’s balls firmly, his touch almost too hard, too rough, but it makes bright spots of light flash behind Tommy’s eyelids. He tosses his head to the side and stares at the bright windows of the house, and that burns his eyes too. He finally just squeezes them shut and grabs the edge of the cushion with both fists. He doesn’t dare breathe. It feels like the moment’s on a knife-edge, fragile, and Tommy desperately doesn’t want to shatter it.

“Stop, baby, stop holding back. I wanna see you come,” Adam purrs, his voice floating down through the thick haze of pleasure clouding Tommy’s head, the harsh sound of his own gasping breath. “Come for me, Tommy. Let me see you.”

Tommy throws his head back, a loud moan catching hard in his throat, and obeys, coming hot and wet and messy in his jeans, and Adam keeps pushing and guiding and holding him until the tension bleeds from Tommy’s limbs and he falls flat to the chair, his thighs draped over Adam’s lap and one arm hanging off the side of the cushion.

“That’s good,” Adam murmurs. He pets Tommy’s thighs. “That’s good, Tommy.”

Tommy’s tongue feels thick and clumsy in his mouth. He swallows and tries to form a sentence, but it doesn’t quite work. “That... I didn’t... What about...”

Adam looms up over Tommy and leans down to murmur in his ear. “Don’t worry, baby, I’m still gonna get my mouth on your pretty little cock. Didn’t want it to be over too fast.”

And Tommy thinks he should probably be offended by “little,” but he can’t quite muster the energy, blissed-out and floating and reaching clumsily for Adam’s face, pulling him down into a kiss.

Adam concedes for a moment, thrusting his tongue into Tommy’s mouth and stealing his breath away, but then he sits up and starts working at Tommy’s fly, dragging the zipper apart and yanking the clingy denim down Tommy’s thighs. Tommy lets himself sprawl, boneless as Adam struggles to get the jeans pulled down to his ankles.

“Fucking shoes,” Adam mutters. Tommy looks down at the pants all scrunched up over his boots and starts laughing. Adam throws him a look. “Fuck you too,” he says.

“Yes please,” Tommy replies, not thinking. In the next instant, his eyes go wide and he has to resist the urge to cover his mouth with both hands, because all of a sudden it’s not a joke any more, not a fantasy. That is Adam staring down at him like a tiger with a slab of meat. That, right there, is definitely Adam’s cock, hard and straining against his zipper. Tommy blushes hot and licks his lips.

“Would you let me?” Adam asks, quiet and dead serious.

Tommy licks his lips again, breathes, and nods, unable to force the words out of his mouth. Adam yanks on his legs, not playing or drawing it out anymore, pulling his shoes and pants off and dropping them to the ground, and Tommy slides a few inches down the lounge chair. Towards Adam, who climbs right off the chair and pulls Tommy toward him again, so his legs are hanging off the end.

“You gotta say it, baby.” He sinks to his knees on the ground and arranges Tommy’s legs around him, with one hooked over his shoulder. “Take off your shirt.”

The night air is cool on all Tommy’s newly-exposed skin, and he feels very aware of parts he usually doesn’t give much thought to. The backs of his knees. The creases of his thighs. His ass, fuck, his ass, and Adam’s face right there, looking up at him over the whole stretched-out line of his body. Adam doesn’t move, and Tommy shakes his head, trying to clear the post-orgasmic haze and the nerves, and reaches up to strip his shirt off over his head in one quick motion.

Adam palms Tommy’s soft, wet cock and raises an eyebrow. “Think about it.”

“About what?” Tommy asks dazedly.

“You know what.”

And Tommy does. He thinks about Adam unzipping his pants, crawling over him and pushing Tommy’s legs up to his chest, sliding his wet dick down along the crease of Tommy’s ass, the stretch and pressure and pain, maybe, of Adam pushing in. His cock is definitely bigger than one or two of Tommy’s fingers, and he’s never really considered how big Adam is before now, except maybe in a vague, theoretical porn-like way when he’s just about to bring himself off, one hand on his cock and fingers in his ass and brain remembering Adam’s heat, Adam grabbing his hair and kissing him and towering over him, big in every way.

Adam drags his fingers through the mess of come left on Tommy’s stomach, slicking them until they’re shining. Then he slides his hand down and rubs over Tommy’s asshole with two fingers, then his thumb, all gentle and careful even though he’s looking at Tommy like he wants to devour him whole. Adam’s tongue pokes out between his lips, wetting them, and his gaze drops to Tommy’s ass like he just can’t help it. Heat rushes through Tommy’s body in quick contrast to the cool night air. He tells himself not to be embarrassed about Adam looking at his ass. This is what he wanted. Wants.

“Have you done this before?” Adam asks. He pushes one finger in, just the very tip, then takes it away. Tommy exhales sharply through his nose. “Tommy, answer me,” he commands, then spits on his fingers and brings them back to Tommy’s ass. He pushes in one finger again, twists it, then takes it back. “Have you fingered yourself before? Have you played with your ass? Does it get you off?”

Tommy squirms and spreads his legs further, Adam’s teasing pushing him way past the edge of embarrassment and right into desperate need. He’s just come and it doesn’t even seem to matter, and now Adam isn’t even touching him, the bastard, just waiting again. Fuck.

He groans and shuts his eyes. “Yes, I did, I have, I just--I like it. Please, I want--”

When Adam doesn’t say anything, doesn’t touch him again, Tommy opens his eyes to see Adam grinning at him, his lips stretched wide and his teeth glinting white in the half-light. He looks like a predator, about to pounce on his prey. Tommy shudders, and Adam keeps him pinned under his gaze as he leans down and takes Tommy’s cock into his mouth.

It’s too soon, way too soon--Tommy’s not even hard--and he can’t hold back a cry, oversensitive almost to the point of pain, even though Adam’s mouth is hot and wet and good. His body can’t figure out what it wants, simultaneously trying to thrust up into Adam’s mouth and pull away, and Adam’s hands come to rest on his hips, holding him down for it. Every touch gets translated to pain, even though he knows Adam’s lips are soft and his fingers are gentle. Adam just keeps licking, keeps up with that gentle pressure, and everything blurs together in Tommy’s head, until too much becomes not enough, and fuck, apparently it isn’t too soon for him to start getting hard again.

With one hand splayed around Tommy’s cock, holding him steady while Adam slowly bobs his head, Adam drags the other down from Tommy’s hip, scratching lightly with his fingernails across Tommy’s thigh and down to his ass. Tommy clues into what’s coming just a moment before it happens, but he still jerks with surprise when Adam pushes a finger all the way into him and angles it, somehow, stroking him from the inside out--and holy fucking fuck, it’s never felt like that before.

Tommy bites his lip hard and writhes on the chair, torn between grinding down on Adam’s finger and pushing up into his mouth, and a high moan escapes him, wrenched from his throat. “Ohhh, fuck. Adam. Adam.” He feels like he’s about to come again, already, too soon. He wonders if he can, what it will feel like if he does. If Adam will let him rest, then, or if he’ll just keep going, licking and sucking and looking at him with those eyes for as long as it takes to pull everything Tommy’s got out of him.

“Tommy.”

Jesus, how can Adam sound so calm? “Motherfucker, what?” Tommy groans, and he would be ready to strangle Adam right now if he didn’t think it would interfere with the most intense blowjob he’s ever had.

“You can come now or you can come on my cock. Your choice.”

“Fucking what the fuck? I want to--”

“You have to choose, Tommy,” Adam cuts in with a smug, evil grin.

Tommy pounds a fist on the cushion weakly. “I can’t, don’t make me choose, I can’t, I need...”

Adam opens his mouth and turns to the side, scrapes his teeth along the inside of Tommy’s thigh, leaving faint red marks. He kisses them, soothing, then flashes Tommy a grin. “I know you need it, baby. But tell me, do you want me to fuck you?”

“Yes,” Tommy replies immediately.

“Do you want to come while I’m fucking you? I can do it, Tommy. I can get you there, all stretched out and open around my dick, so fucking full and needy. Or...do you want to come now? Want me to take my time with you, opening you up and fucking you so long and slow you can’t even remember what came before? You have to tell me...” Adam trails off and presses his face in against Tommy’s skin, and Tommy’s about to answer when all of a sudden Adam’s pulling him apart and licking, one long hard swipe of his tongue right over Tommy’s asshole, and he’s going to come right the fuck now if Adam does that one more time.

“Oh, fuck, stop,” Tommy cries. “No, I want you to fuck me, please, I want to wait. I need you in me, Adam, please. I can’t wait, I need you.”

Adam pushes Tommy’s legs off his shoulders and Tommy slides a bit further off the chair as Adam drops him, sprawled halfway on the ground now and so high on the rush in his blood he can’t even bring himself to move. He watches Adam strip, his eyes following every new sliver of exposed skin until Adam’s shirt is all the way unbuttoned and hanging off one arm, and his jeans are pooled around his ankles. Adam steps out of them, kicks all his clothes into a pile, and reaches down for Tommy, grasping his arms firmly and pulling him back up onto the chair, tossing him towards the other end so he can stretch out all the way.

Tommy lands with a muffled whump on the soft cushion and stares up at Adam, breathless and hard and now blushing at how easily Adam can move him around. His eyes slip down Adam’s bare, freckled chest to the waistband of his briefs, and he’s almost scared to look further. He can already see Adam’s cock outlined through the dark material, and Adam notices him watching, reaches down to palm himself through the cotton, pulling it tight.

“That’s right, that’s what you fucking need, isn’t it, baby? Come on, show me how much you want it--get up here and take it out for me.”

Tommy moves without thinking, rolling up onto his knees and nearly doing a faceplant right off the edge in his rush to crawl to the end of the chair. He sits there, with his feet tangled under him, and stares up at Adam’s face. Adam’s watching him, and he looks dark. Dark everywhere. Dark hair framing his face, dark eyes narrowed at Tommy. Dark smile. Confident. Confident that Tommy will do what he asks. For a quick second, the image of Adam as he’d been just a span of minutes ago flashes through Tommy’s head, Adam slumped and crying, and a surge of warm pride goes through him. He did that, brought Adam back to himself, if only just for tonight, and he’s smiling when he reaches up and hooks his fingers in Adam’s briefs, pulls them down over his hips.

Adam’s cock spills out in Tommy’s hands and he’s shocked, for a long moment, at how different Adam is to himself. How big. He’s hard, and so, so blood-hot, and wet where his precome has smeared down past the head. Tommy tentatively wraps his fist around Adam, a little scared now, but his senses are overwhelming him, the sight and the feel and the smell of Adam, and lust punches him in the gut. He leans forward before even thinking it through and sucks a kiss to the head, letting Adam’s taste wet his lips. He needs to know.

At that, Adam groans, long and loud and low, reaching down to grab Tommy’s hair and pull, wrenching him back. The spike of pain runs down his spine and right into his cock, driving his need higher, and he can’t breathe, can’t think, can’t do anything but wait for Adam to put Tommy wherever he wants him to go.

Adam doesn’t make him wait. He pulls harder, and Tommy lets him, lets himself fall back onto the cushions again as Adam follows him down. Adam stretches out on top of Tommy, pressing against him, so much skin sliding against skin. Tommy arches his back, exposing his throat for Adam to kiss, and Adam does, but he follows it with his teeth, and that’s almost better, because it distracts Tommy from the feel of Adam’s cock grinding into his thigh. Adam shoves a hand beneath Tommy--beneath the cushion of the chair, and pulls out a little travel bottle of lube and a folded strip of foil-wrapped condoms.

Tommy closes his eyes and waits, forces himself to keep breathing. He’s tempted to watch Adam get himself ready, because now that’s he’s seen it, tasted it, Adam’s cock is sort of fascinating, big and dark and hard and so very not Tommy’s. But it’s too much, too fast, and instead he focuses on the sound of tearing foil, the clicking cap of the lube bottle, the obscene sound of Adam stroking himself wet.

After a moment, Adam’s hands come back to Tommy, spreading his legs and leaving slick traces of lube on his skin. Tommy curls his body up at Adam’s urging, wraps his legs around Adam’s torso, and reaches for the sides of the chair with both hands, needing something to hold onto. Adam’s too far above him to kiss, now, so Tommy licks his lips and stares up at him instead, at the intense concentration on Adam’s face. Adam’s tongue darts out, a flash of pink against his lips, and he looks down between them. Tommy doesn’t follow Adam’s gaze. He can’t make himself look, as much as he desperately wants to see Adam’s cock pushing into him.

Suddenly, Tommy feels Adam against his ass, blunt and thick and way too much. Tommy gasps, absolutely certain that it’s not going to work, Adam’s not going to fit, but Adam grabs Tommy’s hip with one hand and pushes past that resistance, slow and steady.

Then Adam looks at him again, and the intense confidence melts into something both softer and more primal, and Tommy can’t, has to shut his eyes against the nameless, overwhelming feeling building in his chest.

But Adam’s right there, his voice soft and insistent. “No, baby, look at me. Let me see you. Come on...”

He reaches up and pets Tommy’s forehead gently until he opens his eyes again, letting Adam’s gaze burn into him as he holds his breath, waiting, waiting. Adam smiles and braces himself on his knees and thrusts, and oh fuck, it hurts. Tommy wants to cry out, almost can’t hold it back, almost tells Adam to stop, that it’s too much, that he can’t take it after all.

It’s the look on Adam’s face that stops him. He’s never used the word ‘rapture’ before in anything but a snarky jab at religion, but there’s no better way to describe the look on Adam’s face. He understands it now. He blinks back the tears before they can escape, and he opens his mouth wide and throws his head back and moans, because there’s nothing else he can do.

Adam settles into a rhythm of deep, slow strokes, and Tommy can feel everything, every inch of Adam inside him, the grounding sensation of Adam’s hands on him, the flex and release of Adam’s muscles with every thrust. It’s not even close to the way Tommy fucks, quick and desperate and always rushing toward the finish--it feels like Adam could do this for hours, all night if he felt like it.

Tommy gets lost in the constant sensation, lost in Adam’s thrusts, and he can’t make himself let go of the cushion even though his cock is still so fucking hard, begging for attention, bouncing against his stomach in time with Adam’s rhythm. He clenches his fists tight and closes his eyes, and then he feels Adam’s hand on his cheek, the only bit of stillness in their entire bodies.

Adam’s thumb rubs at the corner of Tommy’s eye and it’s wet--those tears seem to have escaped after all--then underneath, probably smearing some of Tommy’s eyeliner, and he leans close enough for Tommy to feel his breath against his face when he whispers, “Baby, look at me. I need to see that you’re here, with me. Look at me.”

Tommy obediently opens his eyes and Adam’s face is blurry above him, so close now but still not close enough. Adam slides his hand down and pushes his thumb to Tommy’s lips, shoving it inside Tommy’s mouth to stroke his tongue, and Tommy closes his lips around Adam and sucks hard. There’s a foreign, unfamiliar taste on Adam’s skin, and Tommy realizes belatedly it’s the lube leftover from Adam stroking himself, and with the image of Adam’s cock fresh in Tommy’s mind, he comes, his whole body tensing, squeezing around Adam’s cock deep inside him. It feels like Adam is forcing the orgasm out of him, tearing it out of his body with words and fingers and cock, and Tommy gives himself up to it, to the pleasure and the alcohol and the night.

He’s only vaguely aware of the rest, of the mess he’s made of himself, come streaking all the way up over his chest. Unconsciousness is hovering around the edges of his vision, blurry blackness he recognizes all too well, but he can’t let himself go just yet, wanting desperately to feel Adam finish, be there with him for that moment, see his face.

Adam’s saying something, but Tommy can’t bring himself to decipher the harsh, desperate whispers, focusing instead on the quickening pace of Adam’s hips, the tightening of his fingers. And when Adam finally breaks, Tommy knows by his face, by the open ring of his mouth and the tensing of his brow, the gasping, hitching breath he takes as his whole body goes still.

He’s aware of Adam eventually shifting them around, getting rid of the condom, moving his weight off Tommy to let him breathe. Tommy doesn’t try to rearrange his limbs into a more comfortable position; he’s not sure if he even can. He stays where Adam puts him, and Adam snuggles up beside him, so it’s pretty great overall, even though he can feel his come drying on his stomach, and the lube is still slippery inside him, and his arm hurts from where Adam’s lying on it. His ass is sore in a very distant way that Tommy can ignore for now, because Adam’s lips are against his cheek and his arm is around Tommy’s waist, and those are much more pleasant things to focus on.

He laughs, not really knowing why, and Adam smiles against his cheek. “What’s funny, baby?”

Tommy burrows his head into Adam and says the first thing that comes into his head. “Good fucking rum.”

Adam laughs back and replies, “Yeah. It really was. Thanks, Tommy.”

Tommy struggles around and frees his trapped arm so he can face Adam. “For what?”

“For tonight,” Adam says, smiling. He kisses Tommy’s nose, almost playful, and Tommy’s stomach twists. He doesn’t ask what Adam means--the drinks, maybe, or meeting up with him at the bar. Or...the sex. He’s not sure what to think, or how to feel, and he wishes they hadn’t said anything at all. Adam turns onto his back, not looking at Tommy anymore, and Tommy dazedly watches him drift off to sleep.

He stares at Adam’s profile, the slope of his nose and the slackness of his lips, until everything goes blurry and all the lines are swimming before his eyes. Even after he closes them, it seems like forever before he can relax, before the sleepiness of good orgasms and too much alcohol finally takes him.

*

Adam wakes up with a start, feeling damp and cold all over, except for along his side, where another body is pressed close against his own. He looks around, surprised to find himself outside, naked and damp with morning dew, and he reaches over to pet Jake’s hair and shake him awake--but it’s not Jake’s dark hair he sees by his shoulder.

“Shit,” he groans, and pushes himself upright. Tommy flops into the warm spot he leaves vacant, his hair limp and his mouth open, still mostly asleep.

Adam springs up like he’s been bitten, stumbling over his own discarded boots, and rubs at his eyes, staring down at Tommy like he can’t quite believe he’s really there. “Holy shit.

Without Adam keeping him warm, Tommy starts to shiver, and he sits up, holding his head and blinking blearily at Adam. “Um. Hey,” he says, smacking his tongue in his mouth like he tastes something bad.

Bits and pieces of last night come back to Adam in flashes. Moments. Tommy falling against Adam’s shoulder. Tommy sprawling naked on the lounge chair. Tommy kissing Adam’s cock, Jesus.

“Last night...” he starts, then has to wet his lips before they crack open and bleed. He doesn’t want to ask, and when he looks down at Tommy, he finds he doesn’t need to. The evidence is all over him, in the pink marks on Tommy’s thighs and the flaking come dried on his stomach. “Shit, Tommy...”

“What time is it?” Tommy asks blearily. Adam doesn’t know, but it looks pretty early. He shrugs. Tommy shivers again, wrapping his arms around himself, and Adam’s heart clenches.

“We should get inside. You’re freezing.”

Tommy moves wordlessly, reaching for his clothes where they’re laying in a heap on the wet grass, but Adam snatches them out of Tommy’s hands when he tries to pull them on.

“No, Tommy, don’t. Come on. I have a dryer. And a shower.”

“I need to go,” Tommy mumbles.

“I’m not letting you put this shit back on. You’ll freeze to death. Come on. Inside. Let’s go.”

Adam leads Tommy inside, using his damp clothes as bait. He pushes Tommy toward the nearest bathroom--he has to be getting itchy by now--and tosses everything into the dryer, pulling a clean towel off the shelf for Tommy and a pair of jeans for himself. He zips them up and stands uncomfortably outside the bathroom door, not even sure he wants to knock, and it’s weird. More and more of last night is coming back to him as he becomes more awake, the easy closeness of it, the trust in Tommy’s eyes as Adam had pushed into him for the first time. Everything looks different now, in the light of the morning, even those memories. Something is nagging at the back of his mind, something important, but he can’t quite put a finger on it. Not yet. His head is pounding and he can’t think straight.

He knocks quietly, and then, before Tommy can answer, pushes the door open just wide enough to slide the towel through. “I, uh...this is for you. While your clothes dry,” he calls through the gap.

He feels Tommy take the towel, and waits for a response, but none comes. Adam listens to the toilet flush and the sink run, and then Tommy opens the door all the way, standing silhouetted by the yellow light with the towel wrapped around his chest and hanging to his knees, arms crossed to hold it up. Adam almost reaches for him, wants to slide his hand over the sharp point of a bony shoulder, but everything about Tommy’s stance is telling him to back off.

“I’ll make some coffee,” Adam says. He turns around, trusting Tommy to follow. The kitchen is through the living room, and Adam pauses on the way, flipping a switch to create bright flames in the mostly-unused fireplace. “Here. Sit. Warm up.”

Tommy looks like he’s going to argue, and Adam has to force himself not to roll his eyes. This isn’t some hookup, some random rebound sex with a nameless guy he’ll never see again. Tommy deserves better than that. “Look, you’re stuck here until your clothes dry, anyway. Might as well be comfortable, right?” he says.

Tommy nods dully and just stands there in front of the fire. Adam waits for him to sit down, but he doesn’t. Adam finally takes him by the arm and leads him to chair closest to the fireplace. Tommy stands in front of it for a long moment, then, at Adam’s raised eyebrow, lowers himself down. Adam watches him carefully, noting both Tommy’s reluctance and the very slow, deliberate way he moves.

“You okay?” he asks.

“Fine,” Tommy replies under his breath. He shifts his weight and leans against the armrest, and that’s when it hits Adam.

“You’re hurt,” he realizes. “I hurt you.”

“No!” Tommy says, more forcefully than anything Adam’s heard from him yet. “You didn’t hurt me, I wanted it!”

“Why didn’t you tell me?” Adam asks. “It’s not supposed to hurt, Tommy--I don’t care what anyone says. It doesn’t have to.”

Tommy shrugs and looks away, back at the flickering flames behind the glass, and something clicks in Adam’s head -- something he should have thought about, should have realized before any of this happened at all. It’s not like he’s ever asked Tommy too specifically about his sex life -- never thought it would matter, much -- but still, he should have known.

“Tommy,” Adam says slowly. “You haven’t done that before, have you?”

“Done what?”

“Don’t play stupid. You haven’t been fucked by a guy before.”

“It was fine,” Tommy says, still not meeting Adam’s eyes. “I...I’m glad it was you. Really, I...wouldn’t have wanted anyone else.”

“You’re glad it was me,” Adam repeats flatly. “Are you fucking serious, Tommy? You don’t think that’s the kind of thing I needed to know? Beforehand?”

“Would it have stopped you?”

“It--” Adam has to stop and actually think about that for a second. Would it have stopped him, to know Tommy was a virgin? Would he have cared? Most of what he remembers is hot jealousy, a dozen faces blurring together, pretty, petite girls hanging on Tommy and eventually leaving him. He remembers wanting to erase the memory of every single one of them, fuck Tommy senseless, until he couldn’t remember anything but Adam’s name. He remembers it feeling like...like he’d won.

“Would it, Adam? Would you have fucked me if you knew?”

“Yeah,” Adam breathes. “Yeah, I would’ve.”

“So it doesn’t matter.”

“But it does, Tommy!” Adam cries. “It matters. You can’t keep that shit secret.”

Tommy shrugs. “I trusted you.”

“You had no right.”

“No right to trust you?” Tommy gives him an incredulous look. “I know you, Adam.”

“No, not--” He sighs. “No right to lay that responsibility on me. I didn’t want it.”

“You just said you did,” Tommy replies quietly.

“Not last night. I was drunk. You were drunk. It wasn’t... how it should be. That’s not how I do things. It wasn’t real.

Tommy snorts. “Feels pretty fucking real to me. And you know what? You kissed me. So don’t try to pretend like this was all my fault. Asshole.”

“Fuck,” Adam breathes. “I can’t even deal with this right now.” He has to take himself out of the room before he says something else he shouldn’t. He heads for the kitchen and goes directly for the cabinet above the sink and its assortment of prescription bottles. Something for his head, and for the twisting in his stomach, and definitely, definitely something for the unnerving jittery feeling under his skin every time another image from last night pops into his brain. He closes his eyes as he swallows and says a silent thanks to Chad. The guy might be a pain in his ass, but he’s never denied Adam anything he’s asked for, and he doesn’t ask questions. Good fucking manager, when it comes down to it.

He should have known, he thinks, watching the coffee start to drip into the pot and waiting for the artificial calm to kick in. He’s been with virgins before--hell, it hasn’t been so very long since he was one, and the memory’s still as clear as if it had happened yesterday. The half-empty bottle of rum is still sitting out on the counter, and Adam glares at it. Maybe he can’t blame it all on the rum, but it’s at least partially responsible. Fucking Jake. This is really all his fault. Obviously.

He leans over so he can see into the living room and bites his lip. A memory sparks in his head: the two of them on a beach sometime last summer, Tommy hiding under about three towels until nothing but his face was showing. He’s still hiding himself now, he just has fewer towels to do it.

Adam rubs his forehead and listens to the gurgling of the coffeemaker. The drugs and the smell of fresh coffee are already helping, but this headache--hangover--is going to be persistent, he can tell. Tommy must be feeling the same. Worse, even. Shit, he must be feeling awful, after everything Adam did to him last night. There’s only about half a cup’s worth of coffee in the carafe so far, but Adam’s patience is thin this morning, and he grabs the pot and pours. He can get a cup for himself later. After an apology.

Tommy’s exactly where Adam left him, still in the same position and everything. He looks up when Adam walks in, but he carefully avoids meeting Adam’s gaze, which makes Adam feel like total shit. Adam offers the coffee and Tommy takes it, but he doesn’t drink.

“I’m sorry,” Adam says. “Last night... shouldn’t have happened. Not the way it did. I never wanted to hurt you, Tommy. I’m just so glad that you’re... here. I’m glad you’re my friend. You’re a really good friend, and I’m sorry I fucked it up.”

Tommy bites his lip and drags his gaze up toward Adam’s face, still not quite meeting his eyes. “So...it really was just the alcohol, I guess?”

“A big part of it, yeah,” Adam says, thinking about everything he would have done differently, better, if he’d been even a little bit more sober.

But Tommy looks crushed. “Oh...” he says quietly. “I thought...”

Adam leans in close, rushing to comfort him somehow. “Tommy, I’m sorry. I just... really think this was a mistake. You should’ve told me. I could’ve made it better for you.”

“It’s fine,” Tommy replies, and when he looks up this time, he does look better. “I’m glad I could help, last night. And I’m glad my... first time. I’m glad it was you.”

“Are you really okay?”

“I’m fine. I definitely remember coming at least twice...can’t have been that bad, right?” Tommy flashes a smile, and Adam decides to believe him. After all they’ve been through together, after last night... Tommy wouldn’t lie to him. Not about something this important.

He smiles back, just a little, and blushes. “I hope not. I tend to get a little...Aries...when I’m having sex. Especially when I’m drunk. You know, bossy.”

Tommy looks up at him through his lashes. “You, bossy? Never.”

It startles a hoarse laugh out of Adam, and for the first time, he thinks maybe this isn’t a complete disaster after all. “Well, I don’t remember you complaining!”

Tommy looks down at his lap, his smile fading fast. “Yeah.”

“Tommy?”

“It’s just that I’m good at, like, you know, dealing with things.”

Dealing with things? Is sex usually something you just put up with? ‘Cause if that’s the case, baby, I think you’re doing it wrong.” The pet name slips out unintentionally, and Adam winces at the look on Tommy’s face when he says it. Fuck. He buries his face in his hands, wondering how he could possibly dig himself a deeper hole. Surely he’ll find a way, if he just keeps talking.

“It’s not something I just put up with,” Tommy says in a low voice. “Last night, that was what I needed, too. Don’t take that away from me.”

“Tommy...” Maybe Adam’s still just hung over, but he’s really not understanding Tommy this morning, even less than usual. And this--he feels like he really wants to understand this. “Why are you acting like this? I don’t--I don’t understand you.”

“Acting like what?” Tommy snaps. “How am I acting? How am I the one that’s being weird, when you’re all...” Tommy waves his hand in a complicated gesture. “Eh.”

“What the hell does that even mean?”

“Do you always give your fucks the third degree in the morning? Because I’d like to skip that part, if it’s okay with you.”

“I’m not trying to--”

“Also the part where you said you didn’t even want to fuck me. Could’ve done without that. I’m just sayin’.”

“Fucking hell, Tommy Joe. What is the matter with you? I’m not trying to be weird about--”

“Well, neither am I!”

Adam pauses. “Jesus fucking Christ, Tommy. You’re like my best friend, and now... Everything is fucked up, and I hate that. I didn’t want that to happen.”

“It’s not my fault,” Tommy says quietly.

“Well it’s not my fault, either.”

“You just...you make it so hard, Adam. All those years of your flirting--how was I supposed to react? All that time... did you ever think about what that was doing to me?”

Adam stares, and Tommy stares back, and for a second Adam really doesn’t know what’s supposed to happen next. He kind of feels like he wants to punch Tommy in the face, and another part of him wants to drag Tommy upstairs to his bed and not let him out for at least a week. Tommy’s right about one thing: five years is a long time for foreplay with no release.

“I should go,” Tommy says after a moment. He gives Adam the coffee, untouched, and slowly gets to his feet.

“Your clothes--”

Adam’s interrupted by the buzz of his dryer, and Tommy looks unfathomably relieved. Adam lets him go get his clothes alone.

Tommy comes back, disheveled but dressed, and asks, “Have you seen my cell? I need to call Maddie...”

Only then does Adam remember picking Tommy up last night, interrupting Tommy’s evening with his girlfriend. His girlfriend. Motherfuck.

“Shit, Tommy. I’m sorry. Don’t call her. I can drive you, or...you can borrow one of my cars. Just say...”

“I know how to lie to her, Adam,” Tommy whispers.

Adam’s mouth freezes mid-word, and his stomach rolls sickly, even though he knew, he knew Tommy had done this before. It’s different to watch it happen. To be a part of it, fuck. Adam’s never been the “other woman”, and he always swore to himself he never would be. He closes his mouth and swallows, stealing a glance at Tommy and wondering what about him makes it so easy to just...forget everyone else.

“We got drunk and I slept over,” Tommy says. “She’ll understand.”

“Take my car,” Adam murmurs. “The keys are--”

“The hook by the door, I know. Same as always.”

Tommy leaves without another word. Adam listens to him go out the front door, listens to the car start and back down the driveway. Listens to the deafening silence that comes after. The fire isn’t keeping him warm, and he suddenly can’t bear to drink the coffee Tommy hadn’t even touched.

He goes back to the kitchen to pour it down the sink, and notices his cell blinking manically on the counter. Sighing, he picks it up and glances at the screen. And really, what could possibly have happened in one night to justify fifteen texts and seven missed calls? Sometimes--well, a lot of the time--he really misses Lane.

He sits down at the kitchen table and settles in to listen to Chad’s voice drone on and on about whatever Adam’s supposed to be doing today, completely unable to focus. He wonders how long it’ll be before he can get Tommy out of his head, naked and pleasure-drunk and pliant under his touch. If he ever will. He had one chance with Tommy, and he ruined it.

Worn out, he runs his hands through his hair, and winces when he finds a few strands stiff and glued together with what has to be either lube or come--he can’t even tell. He can’t get into the shower fast enough.

He turns the water as hot as he can stand it and just leans into the spray for a long time, letting the heat get deep into his muscles, finally chasing away the morning’s chill. He can still feel the phantom warmth from Tommy lying against his side like a portable heater, the scratchy-softness of his cheek under Adam’s lips. He has to admit--it had felt good to wake up like that again, with someone so close. Jake was never much of a cuddler.

Adam finds himself thinking about the night before, about all the ways Tommy is different from Jake. There are a lot, but there are similarities too. They’re about the same size, and they feel the same with their legs wrapped around Adam. But Tommy... Tommy had an instinct that Jake never showed; it was like he knew exactly what Adam wanted, and he did it without question. Adam remembers the moment Tommy crawled towards him, naked but shameless, and kissed Adam’s cock. Jake had never done that, never done anything even close to that intimate. And honestly, if someone had asked Adam yesterday if he thought Tommy would ever do something like that, he would have laughed. But Tommy’s not shy in bed like Adam had imagined he would be, the times he’d thought about it, not exactly. He’s something more than that, something...exciting.

Adam’s hand drifts down to his cock, and he pictures Tommy under him, on his knees. Staring up with those gorgeous eyes and eyeliner smeared halfway down his face. That didn’t happen until later, last night, but Adam liked that look on Tommy. He liked the messiness of it. And if he’s really honest with himself, he liked the tears. He remembers those tears so clearly. He remembers touching them, tasting them, licking the salt off Tommy’s cheek. He did that.

He lets himself relive it, stroking himself harder as he imagines what it would have been like if he’d pulled Tommy down further onto his cock instead of pushing him back to fuck him, what it would feel like to come inside the warm, velvety clutch of his throat. If Tommy would choke on it. If he would spit and curse and wipe roughly at the tears in his eyes, not wanting to let Adam see. Jesus fuck, Adam wants to see.

His fingers grasp at the slick tile of the shower wall as he comes, sweet relief, and his moan of pleasure is already turning into one of frustration almost before it’s over. He has three months before he goes on tour with Tommy again, and now...now he’s not just fantasizing. Now he knows. He thinks about the easy, comfortable friendship that he’s not sure they’ll ever be able to find again, and wishes, for what he’s sure won’t be the last time, that he could give that knowledge back.

*

Tommy comes home to find Maddie asleep on the sofa, still dressed, her phone clutched in one hand, and for a second he wants to turn around and walk right back out. But honestly, he’s just glad to have made it back in one piece, and anyway, it’s not like he has anywhere else to go. He goes to the couch and sinks down to his knees beside it, so he’s eye-level with Maddie’s sleep-smooth face. She looks so peaceful and kind like this--all the time, really, except Tommy knows what’s coming as soon as she wakes up. He knows how worried she’ll be, how annoyed and angry. He wants to enjoy Maddie like this for just a little longer.

It feels wrong, thinking about Adam when Maddie’s right here, right in front of him, but he can’t get the--fight? Is that what just happened? He can’t get it out of his head. He thinks back over what he can remember through the pounding headache and overwhelming tiredness, trying to make some sense of it, but in the end, he’s just as confused as when he started.

Only one thing Adam said really stands out. Mistake. It was a mistake. Tommy leans his head down on the arm of the couch and takes a deep breath. At least...at least he knows.

He wedges himself onto the sofa as carefully as he can, not wanting to wake Maddie up but needing the comfort of her body next to his. He’s sore all over, and his head feels like it’s about to crack open, and all he wants right now is to close his eyes and feel the warmth of another person. One who does want him.

He falls asleep easily, too exhausted, too worn to hang on any longer or to worry about what the world will look like when he wakes up.

When he feels gentle fingers combing through his hair, Tommy only knows time has passed because his headache has lessened from imminent death to a more reasonable pounding. He doesn’t want to open his eyes, but Maddie somehow senses he’s awake.

“You feeling okay, baby?” she asks quietly.

“Hungover,” Tommy mumbles.

“When did you get back last night?”

Tommy shifts one shoulder in a half-shrug. His back feels tense and knotted; he falls back into his previous position. “Late. Early. Slept over.”

Maddie makes a noise in the back of her throat, like a cough. “Slept over where?”

“At Adam’s. Sorry. Meant to call.”

“I was worried about you. I didn’t know if you were out drinking or passed out somewhere or if you crashed into a ditch or something.”

“I know, I suck. I’m sorry. We were just...up really late talking. I lost track of time. And then he was too drunk to drive me home.” Tommy tries to sit up, but the room sways unsteadily as he does, and Maddie sighs and pushes him back down.

“Here.” She reaches for the side table and comes back with pills in one hand and a water bottle in the other, and Tommy looks up at her gratefully as he takes them.

“God, thank you. You’re way too good to me...I don’t deserve you.”

She stands up and shakes her head. “You’re right. You don’t.” And Tommy wants to make it up to her, wants to hold her close and rest his head on her shoulder and ask what he can do...but she’s already walking away, and he can feel sleep pulling him back under. He rolls over and stares at the back of the couch, picking at stray fibers with one fingernail. She’ll forgive him. Or maybe she won’t and he’ll have to find a new place to live. He’s been through it all before. Nothing changes.

And then he shifts and feels the soreness in his ass, the not-quite-bruises where Adam’s hands have been, and he realizes that he’s wrong. This is different. This is new.

He hears Maddie come back into the living room a few minutes later, stepping softly, almost soundlessly on the carpet. Tommy blinks himself awake again, thinking she’ll want to talk, but she just leans over him and kisses his cheek.

“I’m going to be at rehearsal all day today,” she tells him. “Will you be all right?”

“Just gonna sleep.”

“Okay. Will you try and call your mother today, if you feel up to it? She left me another message last night,” Maddie says, and Tommy holds back a groan. He loves his mom. He does. But ever since the move, she’s been wanting to talk to him all the time. She calls him more from Hawaii than she ever did from a half-hour away.

Maddie gives him a look, but eventually she relents and kisses his cheek again. Her lips are soft, and Tommy rolls over onto his back, trying to chase them with a real kiss. His thighs rub together and Tommy can feel the bruises there. He remembers Adam’s teeth scraping across that tender skin, and he can’t keep his face neutral. Maddie strokes Tommy’s hair away from his face and asks, “Are you sure you’re all right?”

“I’m fine, baby. Don’t let me make you late, too.” She gives him one last searching look, and for a second he thinks she’s going to press the issue. He closes his eyes and prays to no one that she just goes. He can’t...he just can’t right now. The words leave me alone are on the tip of his tongue, dying to escape, and he knows they’re cruel, knows he’ll hate himself even more if he says them. If she doesn’t go right now, he’s going to anyway.

But Maddie just turns and picks up her bag, heading out and leaving Tommy alone with an empty house and his own too-busy mind.

He means to go back to sleep, he really does. Instead, he gets up and stumbles his way to the kitchen, finding the coffee Maddie’s left for him and pouring a long shot of whatever the nearest bottle in the liquor cabinet happens to be into the mug with it. Hair of the dog and all that.

He takes a deep drink and recoils at the taste, forcing his eyes to focus on the bottle still sitting on the counter and staring at it like it’s done him wrong. Why does he even have raspberry vodka?

Still, it’ll work, and it beats making a whole new pot. Tommy shrugs and takes the mug right into the shower with him, letting the heat work him from the inside out, hot coffee and hot water and warm rush of fresh alcohol combining to finally let his muscles relax.

He scrubs hard at the sticky spots on his stomach, soaping himself up and rinsing off until his skin is squeaky clean and smooth, and he tries to do the same with his ass, but rubbing the loofa there just hurts, and the soap suds sting, and he has to hold onto the tile wall to stay upright. He turns around and lets the water run down his back instead, exploring with tentative fingers, half expecting to see blood when he pulls his hand away. But his fingers are clean when he looks down at them, and he decides he must just be sore--doesn’t know how anyone wouldn’t be after...Adam. He wonders if it always hurts like this, or... Adam said it shouldn’t. But how could it not? Maybe he’s just not meant for this, too small or too tight, just wrong. Maybe his body is telling him that it’s better to just stick to chicks. They don’t push him like Adam did. Much easier. Safer. And he doesn’t hurt the next day.

After washing his hair and his face, Tommy steps out of the shower and stands, naked and dripping, in front of the full-length mirror on the back of the door. He looks himself over slowly, carefully, trying to pick out any suspicious marks on his skin. There’s a bit of red right at the corner of his jaw--he remembers Adam biting him there, but not hard--but it’s nothing Maddie would notice unless she was looking for it. It almost looks like razor burn. Most of the rest of his body looks innocent enough, flushed pink from the shower but otherwise normal. Twisting around, he tries to catch a peek at his back, hardly believing that there could be so little left behind after last night. He feels like it should be written all over him. Like Adam’s fingerprints should be right there, burning into his skin, marking him as...something. He doesn’t know what he’s supposed to call himself now. None of the words sound right. He didn’t have sex with a man. He had sex with Adam. It seems different, in his head.

He wishes there was someone to ask. To explain it to him. Instead, he finishes up the last of his drink and goes to collapse in bed, burying himself under the covers and pretending that he never has to come out.

The hours pass quickly, between napping and watching episodes of M*A*S*H on his laptop. He tries to remain as still as possible on the bed, because moving hurts, but a combination of alcohol and Advil does wonders. By the time Maddie comes home that evening and finds him in the bedroom, Tommy’s feeling mostly normal again. He puts his laptop on the nightstand and sinks deeper into the nest of pillows and blankets he’s built himself.

“You look better,” Maddie says.

“Feel better,” Tommy agrees. “Missed you.” He reaches for her, but she’s not actually all that close to the bed, and she just laughs at him. He drops his hands to his sides, then burrows under the blanket until it’s pulled to his chin.

Maddie walks around to the closet and takes off her gauzy skirt, then the leggings underneath. She bends at the waist to pull the leggings off her ankles, and that leotard doesn’t leave anything to the imagination. She looks back at him, catches him staring, and grins, pulling on her lower lip with her teeth.

“You are the most obvious man in the world,” she says, and Tommy feels a little thrill because she doesn’t even know how wrong she is--or so he hopes. He reaches for her again, clawing at the air like it can pull her closer.

“You’re so pretty like this,” he says. “Don’t change. C’mere.”

She smiles softly at the compliment and crawls onto the bed, settling herself in his arms. She’s so light he barely feels the weight of her, and he wraps his arms around her body and pulls her in tighter. He needs to feel her tonight.

She leans down to kiss along his jaw, and when she gets to his ear, she murmurs quietly to him. “Now why does this feel familiar?” He laughs a little, like she expects him to, but suddenly it feels like he can’t breathe. He doesn’t want to talk about last night.

But Maddie obviously doesn’t want to let it go, and it’s not like he can tell her to stop. He buries his face in her neck and tries not to listen.

“Now, isn’t this better than being with Adam? He can’t give you this, can he? He can’t make you feel like this. Not like I can.”

He shakes his head, mutters, “No.” But fuck, now he’s thinking about it, thinking about exactly how Adam can make him feel, and he can’t help thrusting up against her, half-expecting her to push back, hold him down, force him still. But she’s smaller than he is, and she just arranges her legs on either side of his hips and rides the motion like they’d planned it together, and Tommy’s frustrated, suddenly, because that’s not what he wanted at all.

“You wanted to make it up to me,” Maddie whispers, leaning low to speak into his ear. “Fuck me tonight, Tommy. Like we could’ve done last night. Like it never happened.”

That sounds like a perfect idea to Tommy. He nods and plants a sloppy, wet kiss on her cheek--realizing belatedly that she doesn’t like it when kisses are sloppy and wet, but it’s too late now--and she climbs off him to strip out of her leotard. Then, in just her sports bra and panties, she slides under the covers with him and reaches for the switch on the bedside lamp.

Her legs are so smooth and thin, sliding against Tommy’s thighs. He reaches down with one hand, cups her ass, pushes his thumb underneath the waistband of her panties to drag them down, and she squirms helpfully, twisting this way and that until she can kick them off and shove them to the bottom of the bed. Tommy moves to her bra next, and it’s kind of a trick to get it off, stretching it over Maddie’s head, but it’s so worth it, all that soft skin right there in his face, his hands fitting perfectly over her as she pushes her chest into his touch. Not so gay, he thinks to himself. He’s still pretty fucking happy to have his hands full of tits.

He teases at her nipples until they start to harden, and darts up to lick at one, and this is familiar, this is good. But then he’s remembering last night again, memories that are at once hazy and sharp, and this is what it had felt like to lean up and kiss Adam’s cock, except that instead of salt-wet hardness under his mouth, it’s sweet, plush skin, moulding to the shape of his lips. There’s no visceral, sharp taste there, nothing that sends a white-hot jolt of lust through his body. She moans and throws her head back, clearly enjoying herself, but Tommy only has a sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach. This is what they do. What he likes. This is what gets him off, Maddie’s tits in his hands, against his lips, her legs sprawled around his hips.

Tommy distracts himself by reaching out of the blankets for his nightstand drawer for condoms. The moment he has the little square in his hand he remembers Adam above him, the shiny foil flashing in the low light, sparkling in his hands as he ripped it open. Tommy’s fingers slip on the wrapper--he can’t do it, he can’t even open it. Maddie takes it from him.

“Take your pants off, baby,” she murmurs. “I’ll do this.”

And it’s easy enough to relax back into the pillows and just...let her. His body knows what to do, and that’s all she seems to be looking for tonight, sinking down onto him with a low moan. He rests his hands on her hips but doesn’t try to guide her, and she’s just as hot and tight and wet as she always is, feels just as good. But his thoughts are elsewhere, and as much as he tries, he can’t seem to bring them back to the moment, to focus on the sensation.

For a second, he’s not sure he’s even going to be able to get off like this, and it sends a panicky shake all through him. There’ve been times before, when he’s been way, way too drunk, when it’s been...difficult. But he’s hardly had anything today, only that one shot of vodka in the morning and nothing more than beer for the whole rest of the day, and that can’t be enough to... He’s just tired, that’s all. Adam just wore him out, keeping him up all night like that, and he hadn’t slept well either.

But Maddie knows him, knows all the tricks of his body, and eventually she leans down to plant a gentle kiss on his neck and then bite, tiny, sharp teeth digging into his skin and sending a jolt of pain into him, just enough to push him over the edge, gasping and tightening his grip on her hips as he comes.

She hardly waits until he’s finished before raising off of him and sliding up his body in one smooth motion, kneeling right on his pillow and grabbing his hair with both hands. Tommy doesn’t realize just what she’s going for, still hazy from coming, until she’s right in his face, radiating heat and so wet.

“Come on, baby, you’re not done yet,” she growls, sounding more determined than he’s ever heard her in bed. She tugs hard on his hair, pulling him up toward her, and Tommy feels something tense inside him finally relax. It’s the easiest thing in the world to let himself be directed, and he doesn’t hold back, flattening his tongue and licking a long stripe all the way up through her folds, pressing his face in, getting her wetness all over his face and not caring, wanting it even, wanting her scent on him.

It’s been a while since he’s done this for her--not that he doesn’t always try to make it good for her, but she’s just so shy sometimes, hardly wanting to spread her legs for him at all. Tonight is different. Tonight she’s grinding down into his face, riding him, her clit right against the point of his nose as he fucks her with his tongue, his hands gripping her ass hard.

She’s chanting up at the ceiling, and fuck, he wishes he could see her face right now, see the expression that goes with those mindless words.

“Oh god, Tommy, that’s right, that’s just right, right there, don’t you dare stop...oh fuck, fuck fuck fuck, I can’t...I...” And then her fingers go painfully tight in his hair, and her thighs shake against his ears, and she comes with a scream. He works her through it until she goes still, and even then he can’t quite let go of that taste, laying little kitten licks all up and down her sensitive flesh, feeling her twitch and jerk above him as he does. Finally, she lifts herself off him with a groan and stretches out next to him, head pillowed on his shoulder and one arm thrown over his chest.

She looks up at him and smiles, blissful, satisfied. And Tommy smiles back, glad to have pleased her, to have done a good job. It’s not until she’s drifted off to sleep that he realizes what the other feeling nagging at the corners of his mind is. He’s...jealous. He wants to feel the way she looks, and it doesn’t seem to matter that he’s come--he still wants. And as he watches Maddie sleep, he realizes that what he wants isn’t her. He doesn’t know exactly what it is, but it’s not her. It’s just... more. He wants more, and he keeps waiting for more, but it never comes.

Tommy slides out from beneath her arm and fishes around under the comforter for his pants. He thinks about texting Adam but discards that idea as soon as it pops into his head. He wanders around the house for a few minutes, drifting from room to room, and ends up in the kitchen, where he cracks open a beer to slow down his racing mind. He finishes the beer on the couch, so deep into his sprawl that he’s almost horizontal, but he’s still not tired. He still wants more.

He wipes his mouth with the inside of his wrist, feeling sticky all over, and he knows his hair is a mess, but it doesn’t even compare to what he felt with Adam. How dirty, how satisfied he felt with Adam. Sex has never felt like that, not ever. He wants...he wants to see Adam again. He wants Adam to fuck him again. But Adam won’t, not even if Tommy stripped naked and asked him point-blank. There’s no way Adam will let last night happen again, no matter how much Tommy begs for it. Tommy groans and lets the empty bottle slip from his hand and roll around on the floor. It doesn’t break, which is kind of unsatisfying too. Tommy kicks it and shoves himself up from the couch to head back to bed.

The next few nights bring him insomnia like he hasn’t experienced in months. He goes to bed with Maddie but never stays long, never fucks her. Instead, he retreats to the couch, or the kitchen, or even the front yard, hoping the deep expanse of night sky will trigger his body to sleep. Counting stars doesn’t help--there just aren’t that many in LA, and the boredom of counting doesn’t make him drowsy at all--so he ends up, without fail, drinking enough to put his mind to rest and crawling into bed in the early hours of morning, trying not to disturb Maddie as he clumsily navigates the bedroom.

He’s frustrated, even days later. Unsatisfied. Still. He’s convinced he’s going crazy. But maybe...he takes a deep breath and gets out of bed one more time. Maybe this is the kind of crazy he knows how to fix.

He doesn’t think too much as he pads around the bedroom and pulls on a pair of jeans and a black long-sleeved shirt. He finger-combs his hair into something faintly stylish, quickly smears a line of black beneath his eyelashes, and pulls on his creepers. He wants to look the part--the part of what, he’s just not sure.

Fully dressed with his jacket thrown over his arm, Tommy stands at the bedroom door, watching Maddie sleep. She’s calm, peaceful in her deep sleep, and Tommy loves her.

“I gotta go,” he whispers, low enough that she can’t hear him. “I’m sorry.”

Adam’s car keys are by the front door. He takes them and his wallet and nothing else.

It feels weird to sit at a bar without his phone in his hand. He’s used to burying himself in a game, or scrolling through his endless twitter feed, and without that little bit of separation between him and the rest of the world, he feels awkward and exposed.

He’s two drinks in and getting restless, impatient. He looks at the door every time he hears it open, scanning the newcomers for some unquantifiable potential. He’s honestly starting to get worried that he won’t find what he’s looking for--he doesn’t even know what that is. He brings his thumb to his mouth and nibbles at the edge of his nail, flaking off a bit of black nail polish.

There’s a man at the door who reminds him of Adam: tall, dark hair, strong torso. But he’s with a friend--a boyfriend, by the looks of it. Tommy’s heart sinks. Then someone taps his shoulder and he whirls around, startled.

“Hey,” says a tall guy in a black leather jacket. Tommy’s gaze automatically skips down his body, lingering on the slice of skin that’s visible between the dude’s shirt and jeans. “Haven’t seen you before,” he continues, and Tommy has to wrench his eyes back up to the man’s face.

“Never been here before,” Tommy tells him.

The man leans close. “You should definitely let me show you around, then,” he says. “I’m Brian.”

“Okay,” Tommy replies.

“What’s your name, kid?” Brian asks. He’s looking at Tommy like Tommy’s a little stupid, and Tommy bristles.

“I don’t think my name is what you’re interested in,” he says coolly, and Brian arches an eyebrow at him. It’s so like one of Adam’s expressions, and Tommy stares, fixated on Brian’s face, on the cut of his jaw and the curve of his bottom lip.

Brain suddenly grins, flashing his teeth, like he just decided to be amused. “Oh, mystery,” he says. “I like that. You’re a feisty one, aren’t you?”

“I could be,” Tommy answers, even though he thinks the question was probably rhetorical.

“What do you say we get out of here, then?” Brian asks, leaning close, and all trace of amusement has disappeared. He looks like Adam looked last night, like he wants to eat Tommy alive.

Tommy swallows again and licks his lips. He nods. Brian smiles slowly, confidently, and slides his hand around the back of Tommy’s neck to lead him out of the bar.

Brian fucks him on his knees, and it’s nothing like it was with Adam, no overwhelming eye contact, no orders he’s expected to follow. No falling asleep wrapped around each other or waking up just as close. Still...it’s better than being with Maddie, and if it doesn’t quite satiate the nameless desire inside him, it at least damps it down for a while, makes it easier to bear.

Two nights later, he’s back at the bar again, and this time Brian ignores him. A few guys hit on him, though, so Tommy has his pick. He chooses an older guy with sandy blond hair and a thick accent, which is pretty much the exact opposite of Adam, but Tommy figures he should test the waters in any way possible. The man’s name is Sean, and he fucks Tommy’s face, nearly choking him when he comes without warning. He’s not nearly as big as Adam, though he is fairly thick, but Tommy’s throat feels bruised and sore anyway. He tells Maddie he might be coming down with something and she makes him chicken soup. He can hardly keep it down. His stomach churns with guilt.

The very next day, he goes to the bar right when it opens and spends the entire evening there, waiting and drinking and picking at the bits of nail polish still left on his fingers. He meets Johnny and Jeffrey and Sam, but he doesn’t go home with any of them, and he’s feeling both proud of himself and like he failed somehow. At the end of the night, Tommy can barely stand up straight--he can’t, in fact, without holding onto the bar. Nobody’s caught his interest, and he’s kind of sad about that. He says as much to James, the thin, wiry bartender who’s been serving him all night, and James gives him a slow once-over.

James takes him home and kisses him sloppily, and Tommy has to hang on for dear life because he can’t keep up--probably couldn’t even if he’d been sober. He ends up straddling James’ skinny hips and riding him, leaning back against James’ bent knees and grinding down on James’ cock, taking what he thinks he needs because he’s not sure James can give it to him.

The next time Tommy heads to the bar, he doesn’t even make it through the door before catching a glimpse of a guy standing outside, smoking under the neon sign. He’s actually kind of tiny, even shorter than Tommy, and with more tattoos, and Tommy grins. It’s the first time he’s seen someone here he’d want to talk to even if he wasn’t looking to get off. He wanders over to stand next to the guy, leaning back against the brick wall behind them and putting on his most unaffected look.

The guy glances over at him, then asks, “You need a smoke, man?”

Tommy shakes his head. “No thanks. I don’t really do cigarettes.”

“Oh, are you looking for...” The guy glances around. “Seriously, out on the street like this? Come inside, we’ll talk.”

His name is Frank, and he plays guitar. Tommy’s pretty sure he’s in love. They get pretty drunk at the bar, and then they stumble over to Frank’s apartment the next block over, with the promise of weed and more beer. Frank puts on some obscure demo tape from a band Tommy’s never heard of, but he likes their sound. Frank says they’re on the rise and to keep an eye on them. Tommy can’t even remember the band’s name two minutes after Frank tells it to him; he doubts he’ll be keeping track of their career.

Frank lights up as soon as they get settled inside, and Tommy’s eyes almost roll back into his head at the first hit--it’s been way too long since he had the sweet-sour taste of pot in his mouth. He’s floating contentedly, almost not even caring about the beer next to him, or the way Frank’s teeth catch on his lip ring, when Frank’s voice cuts through the fog.

“Hey, asshole, you let that beer get flat and I’m gonna steal it back,” Frank says teasingly, reaching for Tommy’s half-full can of Bud.

Tommy snatches it up and holds it to his chest protectively. “No! Mine!” he whines. It’s been a while since he’s been this wasted--last night’s buzz hadn’t really gotten a chance to wear off before tonight started--but fuck if he’s gonna let free booze out of his hands.

“You are so fucking shitfaced,” Frank says, giggling. “Bet you can’t keep up with me, drink for drink. Lightweight.”

“I so can,” Tommy shoots back. “I’m a fuckin’... I’m a fucking... champion beer drinker.”

That sends Frank off into another wave of giggles and he takes a while to recover. By then, Tommy’s finished his can of beer and pulled another from the cooler situated between the two recliners.

“Falling behind, Frankenstein,” Tommy says, and has a little giggle fit of his own. That sort of rhymed. He is awesome. He has seriously missed smoking up.

Tommy thinks he’s doing pretty good until he’s actually puking, leaning over the arm of the recliner and clutching his stomach, which is twisted up in knots. He has no control over his mouth, and he realizes that he hasn’t eaten much of anything all day when all that comes out of him is liquid. He feels awful while it’s happening, but as soon as it’s over, Tommy sits up again, panting for breath and trying not to concentrate on the disgusting taste clinging to his mouth, and he feels almost fine. Still drunk, but that’s probably good, because otherwise he’d be trying to disappear into the furniture in embarrassment.

“Dude,” Frank laughs. “Fuckin’ lightweight, what did I tell ya.”

“Fuckin’ lightweight,” Tommy mumbles. “Your face is a fuckin’ lightweight.”

Frank giggles shrilly and leaps up from his chair. “Come on, man, I can’t fuckin’ look at that all night, it’s disgusting. We are moving this shit to the bedroom.”

He grabs Tommy’s hand and yanks him up, and Tommy’s stomach turns again, but he doesn’t feel sick, just dizzy. He stumbles along after Frank down a narrow hallway, and Frank stops short and shoves him through a door on his left.

“You smell like ass,” Frank says. “I have mouthwash.”

“Fuck you,” Tommy mutters, but mouthwash does sound really good right now. He opens the mirrored cabinet and grabs the bright blue bottle, and he considers just chugging it, washing the foul taste out of his mouth and his throat and his nose, and out of his stomach too. Out of his body completely. He just wants everything out and clean and perfect again, and he can’t remember when things changed so much, when he stopped being clean inside. He takes a mouthful and swishes it around, cringing at the icy-hot mint flavor burning his mouth, but it beats the alternative by a long shot.

He stays hunched over the sink after spitting for a long time, leaning hard on his hands, feeling too unsteady to get all the way back on his feet again. And then Frank’s right there, standing behind him and wrapping tattooed arms around Tommy’s middle, laughing and saying something too loud for Tommy to understand and pulling him toward the bedroom. Tommy makes it most of the way, but his feet get tangled at the end and he falls back onto the bed in a boneless sprawl, legs splayed, one arm hanging off the edge.

Frank bounces onto the bed, half on top of Tommy, and kisses him like he wants to pull that horrible minty-fresh taste out of his mouth. He grabs Tommy’s hair and his chin and holds him steady, and right when Tommy’s getting into it, giving over to the intensity of Frank’s style, Frank’s gone again, tumbling off the bed and grabbing at Tommy’s ankles. He yanks off shoes, socks, then Tommy’s pants without even unbuckling his belt, and when Tommy’s lying naked on the bed, Frank strips with casual efficiency, obviously comfortable in his own skin.

He has more tattoos than Tommy even imagined, and he reaches up automatically to touch the lines crawling over Frank’s chest in a spiderweb of black.

Frank grunts low in his throat and stares down at Tommy. “Way too fuckin’ pretty,” he complains, and Tommy almost wants to apologize. But then Frank is kissing him again, and pressing his body down into Tommy’s, lining up their cocks and moving his hips ceaselessly, a faster and faster beat.

Frank’s hard, and his body fits better against Tommy’s than anyone he’s been with yet, and his kisses are just the right amount of overwhelming. He reaches down, going for Tommy’s cock, and it’s not until he gets his hand wrapped around it that Tommy realizes he’s not hard. Not even a little bit. Frank squeezes him too-tight, too-much, like he’s trying to coax it out of him, but it hurts, and Tommy’s suddenly sure that it just isn’t going to happen tonight. Too drunk, too high, too fucked-out, he doesn’t know. Maybe it’s a combination of everything.

“You not into this?” Frank asks breathlessly, still massaging Tommy’s cock but more gently now. “I thought--”

“I am, I really fucking am,” Tommy says, and it’s too much. The humiliation and the emptiness and the throbbing bruises from the entire week, and Frank looking down at him like he’s disappointed, and Tommy chokes up, his eyes welling with tears. “I’m sorry,” he gasps. “I want it, I promise, I do. Please, Frankie, I need you in me. I want to feel you.”

Frank sits up, bewildered and swaying a little, and he touches Tommy’s face like he’s not sure the tears are real. “But you’re... Are you sure?”

“I’m sure, I’m so sure, don’t even...just...fuck me. Please.”

Frank’s eyes narrow, and he leans close again, and his breath smells like pot-smoke. “You want it that bad, that you’re fuckin’ begging for it? You’re so fucking easy, Tommy. So fucking desperate for my cock, aren’t you.”

Tommy moans and bares his neck and spreads his legs. Yes. Finally. It’s so, so close to what he’s been looking for, and he can’t let it go now. “Dying for it, Frankie, please, please, don’t even want your fingers, just do it. Fucking do it, fucking take me.”

Frank shoves three fingers into Tommy’s mouth and Tommy’s glad of it, doesn’t want to keep begging, even though it hurts his jaw to hold it open so wide. At least this time he doesn’t have to be so careful of teeth, and they drag against Frank’s knuckles and catch on his skin and Frank moans, curling the tips of his fingers to push down against Tommy’s tongue.

He gets lost in the taste of Frank’s fingers, smoke and sweat and salt, and when they disappear he almost whines, feeling empty without the solid weight of them between his lips. But Frank is back in an instant, pressing his hands into Tommy’s soft, bruised thighs, spreading him open. Frank ruts up against him, sliding his slick cock against Tommy’s thigh, and reaches down to position himself.

“Fuck, fuck,” he gasps, and backs away completely. “Need a condom. Fuck. Hold on.”

“No, fuck, come on,” Tommy groans, but Frank doesn’t listen to him. “Come on, hurry. Need you.”

Frank rolls off the bed and crosses to the dresser, pulling open the middle drawer, then the top one, and digging through it with no thought to the socks flying out. “Shut the fuck up, hold on.”

Tommy closes his eyes and lets his hands wander slowly over his body, shivering a little, suddenly cold even though it’s warm in the room. Even the touch of his own hands is almost too much on oversensitive skin, and he gasps when he reaches his cock, soft and small. It’s so fucking weird, to be this turned on and not be hard. He’s never felt like this before, and he runs his fingertips up and down the length experimentally, wanting to feel more. But when Frank finally digs up a condom and turns around, Tommy whips his hand away, like he’s doing something wrong and doesn’t want to be caught at it. Instead, he looks at Frank through his lashes and says, “Fucking took you long enough. Come on, come on...

Frank clambers onto the bed, pushing Tommy’s legs apart roughly and shuffling forward on his knees until his cock is pressed up right against Tommy’s balls. Frank reaches for Tommy again, strokes his cock like he can’t even believe Tommy’s not hard, and Tommy can understand that. His body feels like a battle inside, half of him wanting so badly to come he’s shaking with it, and the other half just wanting to curl up in a ball and sleep. He bites his lip, breathing hard through his nose until Frank lets him go and slides his hands down to his own dick, which he lines up blunt and perfect against Tommy’s ass.

Tommy stares up at him, waiting, hoping, and he watches Frank lean back, his hips thrust forward and holding Tommy’s legs so wide his thighs start to ache. Frank presses his lips together and makes a face, and it’s on the tip of Tommy’s tongue to ask what’s wrong, why he isn’t just fucking yet, when Frank curls forward and spits on Tommy’s ass. Tommy gasps when the wet glob hits him, slides down his skin until it reaches the spot where Frank’s cock is touching him, and then Frank reaches down to rub the wetness around Tommy’s asshole. And then he doesn’t waste any time before pushing his cock in.

It’s hard and fast and it hurts--Frank’s nowhere near Adam’s size, but Tommy’s not really ready and it’s not wet enough and it shouldn’t be good at all. But Tommy throws his head back onto the bed and pounds his fists into Frank’s back and pleads with him for more until his mouth goes dry and he can’t speak any more, just breathes through it, lets all his muscles go limp and gives himself up to Frank’s breakneck pace. He can feel a familiar blackness starting to creep in around the edges of his eyes, pulling him under, and for a while every thrust brings him up a bit, keeps him there, present. But eventually, the pull is too strong, too much alcohol and not enough clean blood, and Tommy can’t help but let the world fade out, Frank still moving inside him, spitting curses and digging his nails into Tommy’s ass.

He’s not sure how he gets home after--he doesn’t remember calling a cab, so maybe Frank did it for him--but he’s glad Maddie’s not home when he stumbles into their bed and passes out with his clothes still haphazardly zipped and buttoned wrong around him. When he finally wakes up the next afternoon, he spends a long time looking in the mirror, at the red crescents Frank’s nails pressed into his ass, and he’s surprised to feel so guilty. Frank was obviously a decent guy--he didn’t deserve having to deal with Tommy’s shit. No one deserves that, he thinks.

He resolves not to go to the bar again.

Three days pass before the craving gets too strong, and he greets the glowing neon sign with resignation. This is who he is, now. There’s nothing else he can do.

*

“Thanks for coming with me tonight,” Adam says, and Brad smiles brightly. Adam feels himself smile in return. He’s always had that reaction to Brad’s smiles.

“The New Media awards, are you kidding me? I own this thing. Well...I would if they’d given me an invite.” After a few seconds, Brad’s smile softens and he relaxes into the man Adam knows so much better than Cheeks. “Sorry about Jake, by the way. It was all over twitter. I should’ve called you when I heard...”

Adam looks down and takes a breath. It’s starting to get easier to talk about him, but slowly. Very slowly. He has other things on his mind to distract him. “We were supposed to come to this together. We had outfits picked out and everything.”

“Matching?” Brad asks, then bumps Adam’s shoulder with his own. “You can do so much better than him, baby.”

“I know that now,” Adam replies bitterly. “Where were you three months ago when I needed to hear this?”

Brad waves a hand. “You wouldn’t have listened. So tonight, I will help you find a rebound. We’re going out after, right? An unofficial afterparty? You know I love afterparties.”

Rebound. The word brings with it a flurry of images, flooding Adam’s head with blond hair and wide, brown eyes and smooth, pale skin, and he shakes them away roughly. Tommy’s not a rebound. Tommy’s a friend. Adam hopes he’s still a friend, anyway. Not all of his exes stay as amiable as Brad has.

Brad’s staring at him, eyebrows raised, waiting for a reply, and Adam coughs and says, “Yeah, totally. Afterparty. Whatever you want.”

“O--kay,” Brad says, stretching the word out and looking at Adam like he thinks he might be losing it. “Except when do you ever care what everyone else wants? What do you want to do? We can just go home after, if you want.”

“I don’t know what I want,” Adam snaps, then immediately regrets it. Besides, he knows exactly what he wants, and he fucked that right up. He sighs and rubs his forehead, hiding his face from Brad’s knowing look. “I’m just all over the place right now. I’m sorry.”

Brad glances out the tinted window of the car and says, “Well, sorry to tell you, babe, but you better pull it together quick. Let’s just get through the cameras, all right? We can decide about plans or whatever later. It’s not like we’re not gonna have plenty of time to kill. These things always run late.”

The car slows to a halt in front of a walkway crowded with photographers. Brad puts his hand on the door and reaches for Adam with the other.

“You ready?” he asks, his voice soft. Adam nods. Brad pushes the door open and steps out, then waits for Adam’s guiding hand at his back before moving forward into the spotlight, like a perfect date. They smile and pose and don’t hold hands, even though Adam could do with the comfort and familiarity of it, and Brad gives him encouraging looks from the sidelines when the photographers ask Adam to pose by himself. It’s an achingly long time before they’re allowed to escape into the main dining room.

Adam hardly tastes his food, just eats what’s put in front of him and tries not to look too sad. The cameras are more limited inside, but they’re still around, and if there’s one thing he’s learned over the past few years, it’s that he can’t let his guard down for a second. Beside him, Brad picks at his food and makes small talk like a pro, making everything look so damn easy. Adam wonders sometimes why Brad isn’t the more famous of the two of them. He almost says as much, then thinks better of it and closes his mouth again. Brad probably wouldn’t see it the same way.

“Okay, that’s it,” Brad says, letting his fork clatter down onto his plate. “I wasn’t gonna ask, because I know you just broke up. But seriously, what is your deal? There’s something you’re not telling me, isn’t there?”

“I don’t tell you everything anymore.”

“Yeah, but you tell me the important stuff, and something is bothering you. Tell me what it is! Let me help.”

“We haven’t even talked in weeks,” Adam says miserably.

“I know. Which is why I’m kind of freaking out over here. What has gotten into you? What’s going on?” Brad takes a careful sip of his wine and sets his glass down gently. “You obviously need lessons in catching up, because you’re totally failing at it right now.”

Adam closes his eyes and thinks about what a truly horrible idea this is. But he’s been not talking about it ever since it happened, and he doesn’t know how much longer he can go without telling someone. At least Brad’s discreet. When he wants to be. When it’s important. He rests his hands on the table and levels his gaze at Brad.

“Okay. Fine. But don’t get all...” Adam trails off, waving one hand in the air, searching for the right word.

Brad rolls his eyes. “I promise, I won’t be all...” He copies Adam’s motion and then catches his hand midair and gives it one squeeze before letting go. “I just wanna know that you’re okay.”

Adam sighs deeply and says, under his breath. “I already found my rebound.”

“That’s... great?” Brad cocks his head, obviously confused. Adam wants to shake him and make him understand how awful this is.

“I slept with Tommy.”

Brad’s eyebrows shoot towards his hairline. “You what? You do know he’s straight, right?”

“Yeah, I fucking know that,” Adam snaps. “It was a mistake. We were so fucking drunk, and all of a sudden we were kissing and I was on top of him and--”

“Jesus,” Brad hisses. “Shut up, this isn’t the place.”

“It just happened,” Adam tells him. “It was so fucked up, and... and it was his first time, and I didn’t know until after, and I just feel fucking awful and now me and him aren’t talking and I don’t even know if he got home okay, but now it’s been like a week and I haven’t seen reports of him turning up dead, so I guess--”

“What the hell happened?” Brad asks in a loud whisper. “What were you even--Just... What?”

“I don’t fucking know, all right?”

Brad leans close, pressed up against Adam’s side, almost sitting in his lap. “How did you not know it was his first time? What did you do?”

“He didn’t tell me. He didn’t even tell me after, I had to fucking guess, and--Brad.”

“What,” Brad says flatly, like he can’t believe it gets worse.

“He’s still with his girlfriend,” Adam whispers. He can’t bring himself to look at Brad’s face. He’s not sure what he’ll find there: pity or disappointment, or maybe anger. It could be anything, and Adam’s a fucking coward for not finding out. He feels like utter shit, and Brad feels amazing next to him--small and perfect and warm, and Adam’s missed him. He puts an arm around Brad’s waist so he won’t move away.

Brad tilts his head up until his lips are just brushing Adam’s ear, and Adam shivers, remembering so clearly what that mouth felt like on his neck, his mouth...everywhere. He can’t think, can’t react. He closes his eyes and waits. It’s Brad’s call.

Warm breath on him, and then... “You’re a fucking idiot. And I am so getting you laid tonight.”

Brad gets him through the next hour of unenthusiastic applause and boring speeches, and while they’re in the car on the way to a club, Brad texts... well, it seems like he texts everyone they know to come out and meet them.

“Like the old days,” Adam murmurs, and Brad nods happily.

“Remember what it was like?” Brad asks, grinning.

Adam smiles. “I can’t believe we went out in some of those outfits.”

Brad clutches his chest, mouth open in faux-offense. “Whatever, I always looked amazing! That’s on you if you couldn’t measure up.”

Adam narrows his eyes and lets his hand slide down to rest high up on his thigh, pulling his pants tight. “You were saying something about measuring up?”

At that, Brad laughs out loud. “See, better already! Now you just need a cocktail in hand and a twink on your lap and your cure is complete.”

“Do I have to call you in the morning, Doctor Bell?” Adam asks, stuttering over his own laughter.

Brad wrinkles his nose. “Please don’t. I think we’ve overshared enough for one night.”

Adam’s good mood lasts until they step out of the car at the club. There aren’t a ton of paparazzi there, but the few that are easily snap up all the energy Adam has to smile. By the time they make it inside, and they’re greeted by a handful of old Burner friends, Adam starts wishing he’d gone home. But Brad is at his side, and Brad notices everything, and he steers them to one of the VIP tables and shoves Adam into the back of the booth, away from anyone not in their party.

Brad scoots in next to Adam until they’re both facing out into the darkened club, a seething mass of scantily-dressed, sparkling people. Adam watches the dancers for a few minutes, and when he looks down again, Brad’s shuffling shot glasses and limes.

Adam sniffs, quirks an eyebrow, and asks, “Patron? Really?”

Brad pours and lifts the glass in a toast to Adam. “Your treat, baby. Big spender.”

Adam downs the shot and bites the lime, and every time he looks up there’s a new person sitting across from him. A few stick around, but most head back out to the dance floor, and their booth turns into a revolving door of people Adam hasn’t seen in months, or even longer. And every time he looks back down, there’s a new drink within his grasp. He takes the shots, and he sips the cocktails, and his head starts getting muddled. Mixing different types of alcohol always hits him hard. He squints at Brad, who’s laughing and shining and has a tall guy leaning against him. Adam doesn’t know him, and he tries not to get jealous when the guy puts a hand on Brad’s thigh.

“Adam!” Brad shouts. “I want you to meet David.”

Adam holds out his hand to the guy next to Brad, but they both laugh at him. Brad gestures to the other side of the table, where a half-naked boy is lounging on the opposite bench. He’s pretty cute: dark hair, tattoos crawling down his chest, insanely tight shorts. Brad has good taste.

“David,” he says, trying the name out. He’s not sure he’s pronouncing it right, and it’s not even a hard name to say. “Fuck. Hi.”

“Hey,” David replies, and his eyes look hazy when he crawls into Adam’s lap and gets right in his face. Adam hears the wet sounds of Brad and his guy kissing and decides to join the club. David’s lips are soft and his tongue is playful in Adam’s mouth and he feels amazing in Adam’s hands, but Adam doesn’t feel even the slightest spark of desire for him. He kisses David a while longer, though, because it’s fun and because Brad suggested this guy for him, but he knows they won’t be hooking up later, no matter how insistent David’s hands are on Adam’s crotch.

Between drinks, David disappears, obviously sensing Adam’s disinterest. He’s replaced by a more familiar face, though, and Adam breaks into a grin.

“Holy fuck, Brad, you didn’t tell me you invited Ziggy!” Adam exclaims, reaching out to grab the guy sitting next to him and pulling him into a hug.

“I didn’t.” Brad’s voice is flat behind him, but Adam’s too distracted to pay him much attention.

“Hey, man, yeah, I was doing the club crawl with Cass and heard you were out amongst the commoners. And you know me, can’t miss out on an opportunity like that.”

Ziggy’s hair is even longer than it had been the last time Adam saw him, hanging almost down to his waist in dirty blond waves, but other than that he looks pretty much the same--same dirty band t-shirt, same wide smiling mouth, same red eyes. Adam can’t remember if he ever knew the guy’s real name, or if his parents were just weird fucks and actually named him Ziggy, but that’s what he’s always called him, and Ziggy’s never corrected him.

“What have you been up to, man? It’s been, god, years,” Adam says, marveling at how fast the time has gone.

“Oh, you know,” Ziggy says. “This and that. Nothin’ much. Played drums for some band for a while, made lawn art for this old dude out of scrap metal. The usual.”

“Fuck, man,” Adam breathes. He almost wishes he could do that, just float from gig to gig, picking up odd jobs along the way. “Sounds awesome.”

“Guess I don’t even have to ask what you’ve been up to,” Ziggy laughs. “Mister Superstar.”

“Oh, don’t,” Adam groans. He slaps the table and smiles, but in the pit of his stomach, Ziggy’s comment twists and hurts like a spike. “I’m boring. Tell me more about you.”

“Well now this sounds like a first date!” Ziggy leans over and flutters his eyelashes, cackling. He stops when he catches Adam’s gaze, though. “Dude, you look dead. You need to relax, man.”

“Jeez, Ziggy, have a little tact,” Brad grumbles from Adam’s other side. He’s scooted in close, almost possessive with his arm stretching over into Adam’s space on the table.

Adam nudges Brad’s shoulder, a little more roughly than he meant to. “Why didn’t you tell me I look like shit? Shouldn’t real friends tell each other that?”

He’s fully aware how pathetic he sounds, but the words keep coming out of his mouth, and eventually Brad climbs out of the booth, his nameless friend in tow. “We’re going to dance,” he tells them in a flat tone that Adam recognizes, one that means he’s fucked up somehow. “If that’s how you’re gonna be.”

“Whatever, man,” Ziggy says, as soon as Brad’s out of earshot. “Come on, I got some shit that’ll chill you out.”

Adam looks for Brad on the dance floor but all he can see is the tall guy’s dark hair and Brad’s arms around his neck. “I shouldn’t,” he murmurs to Ziggy. He’s already pretty wasted. He doesn’t even know why Brad’s upset with him.

Ziggy leans in close and pulls a prescription pill bottle out of his jacket pocket, shaking it so Adam can hear the pills rattling around inside. He’d lay money that whatever’s in the bottle doesn’t even come close to matching what it says on the label. “Come on, man, one night. Who’s gonna know? It’s on me,” Ziggy says, and fuck, Adam wants it. The Xanax he’d popped before getting ready for the show this afternoon has definitely worn off by now, and the alcohol isn’t doing the trick. He can’t remember the last time he really felt relaxed--everything’s been stress on top of stress lately, with work and Jake and Tommy, and anyway, doesn’t he deserve this, just a couple hours to be his old self again and pretend no one even knows his name?

“Adam.”

Adam turns around, makes himself dizzy, and finally settles his gaze on Brad, who’s standing at the end of the table with a hand on his hip. “What?” he asks, feeling clumsy and self-conscious. He’s still not sure why Brad’s so angry, but he recognizes the signs and he knows how to deal with these moods.

“Me and Matt want to get out of here, are you coming? Or are you finding your own way home?” The way he says it makes it sound like he looks down on people who take cabs or who beg rides from friends, but that can’t be right because Brad does that all the time.

Adam looks back at Ziggy, then down at the drink that has appeared in his hand. He doesn’t know when he grabbed it, but it’s almost gone now. He finishes it.

“Adam,” Brad says again. “Are you coming?” He’s about two seconds away from tapping his foot, Adam can tell. He laughs and Brad looks at him like he’s crazy.

“Gimme your number,” he tells Ziggy. “We’ll hang out. Catch up.”

“Sure thing, dude,” Ziggy replies. “I make the rounds at all the hotspots. You should come out with us sometime. Now that you’re not all tied down and shit.”

Adam, come on,” Brad snaps. “Let’s go.”

Adam barely gets Ziggy’s number programmed into his phone before Brad starts pulling him out of the booth and towards the exit, where their car is waiting. Brad and Matt climb in after him, and they sit close together, but they aren’t kissing or even touching anymore. Adam feels like he should apologize for messing up their night, but he can’t figure out what he did, and he hates apologizing for things that aren’t his fault.

The car drops Adam off at his house, and the driver has instructions to take Brad wherever they want to go, so Adam stumbles up to his front door alone. His car is still missing, he realizes. Tommy must still have it. He should call Tommy. Maybe tomorrow. He needs his car back. He needs his friend back.

*

The guy’s name is Josh, and he’s got to be some kind of professional athlete or something to have muscles like that, but Tommy doesn’t know for sure. They really didn’t talk very much before leaving the bar. Tommy doesn’t really care.

Josh practically carries him into the house, and Tommy can’t decide if Josh just likes that he can do that or if Tommy is actually too drunk to walk on his own. His brain sort of isn’t working right now, and his feet seem very far away, way down there on the floor, and he giggles into Josh’s chest.

Josh doesn’t ask what he’s laughing about, which is good because Tommy can’t remember, doesn’t know. Instead, he just stares down at Tommy’s face, one big hand cupping his jaw, and growls. “Fuck. Gonna fucking take you apart, boy.”

Tommy shudders and closes his eyes, waiting for a kiss that doesn’t come. He finally opens them again to see Josh just towering over him, staring at him, so intense and so serious. Tommy opens his mouth.

“Where’s your bed?” Josh asks. “I wanna spread you out so wide, fuck you so hard...”

Tommy gulps in a mouthful of air and spins around, heading down the hallway. Josh stays close behind him, crowding Tommy against the wall and pushing him forward until Tommy reaches the door. He lurches through it, tripping over things and unsteady on his feet without the wall to hold him up, and collapses onto the wide bed. Maddie’s sweater is tangled around his ankle, and he shakes his foot to get it off, laughing, knowing he looks ridiculous.

Josh doesn’t look, doesn’t ask, just crawls over Tommy and presses him into the bed, holding him down by the neck and digging his teeth into Tommy’s shoulder, and Tommy’s brain whites out, everything else erased by the sharp jolt of pain-pleasure that shoots through him. He relaxes back into the pillows, content to let Josh lick and bite and do what he likes. He halfheartedly thrusts his hips up into the firm pressure of Josh’s body over him, but his body doesn’t react, too drunk, too exhausted. He doesn’t even care if he comes. It’s not about that any more. He doesn’t know if it ever was.

And Josh is fucking perfect right now, because he doesn’t seem to give a shit about Tommy’s cock at all. He just stands up and strips naked and sits up against the headboard of the bed, stroking himself and staring impatiently at Tommy. “Come on now, boy, I want you up here on my dick.”

Tommy flips himself onto his stomach, feeling like a fish out of water. His limbs don’t seem to move the way he wants them too, but he manages to get on his hands and knees to crawl over between Josh’s legs. He ducks down to lick Josh’s fingers, and the little spaces between them where he can taste Josh’s cock, and Josh grabs a handful of his hair and sits him up again.

“Want you on my dick,” Josh says again, his voice low and rumbly, and Tommy can feel it in his chest. He nods as best he can, ignoring the tight pull of his hair clenched in Josh’s fist, and flaps his hand in the direction of the nightstand.

“Got condoms,” he mumbles. His lips feel bruised and weak. He licks them. “Need a condom, hold on. Let go.”

Josh grips him tighter for a second, and in that moment Tommy realizes just how much bigger he is, how much stronger... He realizes that if Josh decides he wants to fuck him bare, there’s not going to be a whole lot Tommy can do about it. The thought should be terrifying, but Tommy just waits, looks back into Josh’s face. He doesn’t feel scared. He just feels numb.

Josh finally pushes Tommy’s head away and Tommy sways, nearly tumbling off the bed. He slaps clumsily at the nightstand drawer and pulls out a little foil square, but his fingers are too fat and weak and sweaty, and he can’t get the thing open. He puts it between his teeth and yanks hard and the wrapper splits, spilling the condom out into Tommy’s hand. He fumbles it and finally manages to get his fingers coordinated enough to push it onto Josh’s cock. Josh is big and thick--bigger than most of the guys Tommy’s gone home with recently, but not as big as Adam. Tommy hasn’t met anyone with a bigger cock than Adam. He finds himself almost disappointed.

He doesn’t have lube, hasn’t ever needed it at home, and he sucks Josh’s cock into his mouth instead, as sloppy and wet as he can make it. Josh swears and drags him off by his hair, and Tommy does as he’s prompted, letting Josh turn him around and lay him back against his chest, so they’re both leaning back against the headboard. Josh holds his cock steady as Tommy sinks down, and fuck, this is different, this position. He feels so exposed, like he’s on display, nothing to look at but the empty room, nothing to steady him but Josh’s hand on his hip, forcing him into a quick, brutal pace.

Tommy looks down at himself, at his legs splayed wide over Josh’s thick, muscular thighs and his cock, half-hard and bouncing hilariously against his thigh, and he feels so small. He closes his eyes against the sight and reaches back to hold onto Josh’s shoulder, and Josh is so firm and smooth everywhere Tommy can’t even get a grip. He groans and instead concentrates on the feel of that thick cock stretching him open. The pain of it, the pleasure spiking through him when Josh slams in just right.

He reaches down to get a hand on his dick, and he’s changed his mind, he really fucking wants to come, just like this, riding Josh’s cock. He can hear himself crying out, louder with each stroke, and normally he would be embarrassed, but right now he’s too far gone, too drunk to care. Josh slides down and gets both his hands on Tommy’s hips in a tight grip, fucking up into him fast and hard with all the power of those muscles behind him, and oh fuck, it’s exactly right, just enough to push Tommy over the edge, coming all over himself and Josh’s legs and the bed. He closes his eyes and throws his head back and strokes himself faster, and god, he wants to feel Josh come too, lose it inside him right as Tommy comes.

Josh keeps fucking him for a moment longer, keeps up the same steady, unforgiving pace, and then he falters. His grip on Tommy’s hair goes lax. Tommy moans, grinds himself down on Josh’s cock, but it doesn’t feel like Josh is coming yet.

“Come on,” he pleads. “Come on, come on, I wanna feel it, fucking do it, come on.”

“Fuck,” Josh gasps in his ear. He grabs Tommy’s hips and lifts him off, and Tommy’s eyes fly open. He looks around wildly, wondering why Josh stopped when he was so close--Tommy feels almost like he didn’t get to come either, deprived of Josh’s release.

“Tommy...”

Tommy doesn’t remember telling Josh his name; Josh never asked. He looks up over his shoulder, searching Josh’s face, but Josh isn’t looking at him. Josh is looking past him, at Maddie, who’s standing in the doorway. Tommy stares at her and she stares right back, and he’s suddenly very conscious of the come staining his stomach, and the bite marks on his shoulder, and the bruises on the insides of his thighs, all so exposed to her now.

Josh pushes Tommy off his lap and Tommy collapses to the floor, slamming his knees to the thin carpet painfully. He looks up as Josh makes a beeline for the exit, clutching his jeans and shirt in front of his crotch. Maddie doesn’t spare him a glance. She’s still watching Tommy, tears streaming down her face and her mouth dropped open.

“Maddie...” Tommy starts, his voice rough and broken, unsure what to say. If there is anything to say.

She holds out a hand. “Dont.

Cold, sobering disappointment surges through Tommy’s body. The reality of what’s happening is slowly dawning on him, and he’s more disgusted with himself with every passing second. He sits back on his heels, not even bothering to cover himself or all of the incriminating marks, and lays his hands flat on his thighs, palms facing up.

“I don’t know what to say,” he tells her. “I’m sorry? I just...”

“Shut up,” she snaps, her voice thick and choked. “You don’t get to talk right now. Fuck, Tommy.”

“I didn’t mean to--”

“I knew about the girls. I was willing to look past that, Tommy. I was willing to let it go, because I loved you, and I thought you loved me--”

“I do!”

“But this is too far. I can’t forget this, Tommy. I can’t just ignore it. This is... This is disgusting. You are disgusting.”

Tommy doesn’t contradict her. She’s right.

Maddie lets herself fall back against the wall and buries her face in her hands. “I can’t believe I was so stupid. I thought...I thought what we had was special. That maybe I was the one you’d change for. But you’ll never change, will you? You’ll be a lying, cheating asshole until the day you die.”

Tommy lets his tears spill over and clasps both hands in front of his chest. “Please, no, I’ll be better, I swear. I promise. Maddie, please don’t say that. I can be better. I’ll stop, I promise. I promise.” He’s breathing so fast he feels lightheaded, and his hands are slippery with sweat, his nails digging into his palm, and it hurts, but it doesn’t distract him at all from the punch to the gut Maddie’s words deliver.

He shuffles towards her, extending one hand as a gesture of peace, but she slaps his wrist and shoves it away. Shoves him away.

“Get the fuck out,” she cries. “Get out of my house.”

“No, Maddie, come on. Come on, please...”

He pushes himself to one knee, then up to his feet, and he feels her gaze track down his body. He feels her looking at the come on his stomach, and his pathetic, spent cock, and he wants to curl up and die.

Maddie bends down and snatches up a pair of Tommy’s jeans from the floor. She throws them at him. “Clean yourself up. You’re disgusting. Then get the fuck out.”

He knows he should do what she says--his skin is crawling, and he wants a burning hot shower and clothes that don’t smell like whiskey and smoke. But he can’t stay in this house one more minute, he cant. He yanks the jeans on, grabs the first shirt he finds, and goes for the door. He doesn’t even stop to put on shoes.

He’s three blocks away when the pain in his feet finally filters through the haze of alcohol and shock clouding his brain. He stands still, under the glow of a streetlamp, and looks up and down the street. He needs help. He needs someone. He pats his pockets, looking for his phone, suddenly immensely grateful that Maddie had picked up the jeans he’d discarded less than an hour ago.

“Mike?” he pants, listening to the phone ring on the other end. “Mike? Help me. I need help. Mike.”

Mike finally answers, groggily saying Tommy’s name until Tommy shuts up and lets him speak. “What the fuck’s going on?”

“Need help,” Tommy tells him. Now that he’s not moving, he feels sick. He feels like he’s about to fall over. He thinks his feet might be bleeding. He clutches the streetlamp, shifting his weight. “Can you pick me up?”

“Okay, sure, let me get dressed... Where are you?”

“Um... couple blocks away from home. I forgot my shoes.”

“You did not seriously just call me to drive you home when you’re three blocks away, right?”

“Can’t go home. Maddie’s home. Maddie--” Tommy’s stomach twists and he can’t finish the sentence. He starts breathing hard again, trying to keep himself from puking or crying or dying of guilt and humiliation.

“Fuck, man... I’m coming, all right? Gimme five minutes. Where are you, on the street? Sit down, Tommy, just sit down where you are, okay? I’ll be there in a minute.”

Tommy sits down right there next to the streetlamp, not letting go of it for a second. He turns his head toward it and closes his eyes. It’s late, and it’s unlikely anyone will walk by, but he can’t take the chance, doesn’t want to see the looks in their eyes. He concentrates on breathing through all the pain, and sooner than he expects, he feels headlights shining on his eyelids.

Mike opens the door for him and helps him in, and when they get back to his place, he climbs right into the shower with Tommy, holding him up while the hot water washes his skin clean. He falls against Mike’s sturdy frame as he’s stepping out of the tub, and for a second he can’t get his bearings. Everything goes dizzy, and he finds Mike’s face only after a whole minute of trying.

“Where...where’s Dave, did he make it back?” Tommy hears himself ask.

Mike’s eyes go wide. “Tommy...we haven’t lived with Dave in years. This is my apartment, mine and Gina’s. Remember? We moved out of our old place when you and Maddie got together.”

Tommy squints at Mike for a long time, and he wants to smile, reassure Mike that he’s fine, yeah, sorry for doing this to you again, man. But when he opens his mouth to speak, his body doesn’t give him the chance. He’s puking on the floor before he even realizes it’s about to happen, and Mike jumps back as far as he can and still keep Tommy from hitting the ground.

When his stomach finally stops clenching in agony, Tommy leans against his friend and breathes slowly through his mouth. He’s vaguely aware of another person coming in, and for one confused minute he thinks it’s Dave after all, but it’s a woman’s voice that speaks.

“Jesus, is he okay?”

“I think so,” Tommy feels Mike say. He likes the vibrations in Mike’s chest. It’s comforting to feel the words rather than hear them. Mike rubs Tommy’s back. “I think he’s just drunk.”

“M’sorry,” Tommy mumbles. “Didn’ mean to.”

“I know, Tommy,” Mike says quietly. “It’s all right.”

“I wanna go t’bed now,” Tommy tells him miserably.

“Oh, fuck. Tommy...” Mike looks around and pulls Tommy up until he’s standing straight. Tommy’s abs ache and he groans pitifully. “You can sleep on the couch tonight, but... Tommy, you’ve seen how small this place is. Are you sure you can’t go home? Maybe things will blow over...”

Tommy shakes his head hard enough to make himself dizzy again. “No. It’s not...it’s her house. I fucked up. I can’t... I can’t.”

Mike sighs and runs a hand through his hair, resigned. “Shit, man. Tomorrow we’ll find you another place to stay, okay? Somewhere with a bed.”

Tommy feels his face crumple and the tears start again. He sags in Mike’s arms. “Adam,” he mutters. “Can you take me to him?”

“Yeah, of course, Tommy, of course. We’ll call him tomorrow, all right? Let’s get you lying down, okay? Come on.”

He lies down on the sofa where Mike deposits him, with his head resting on a scratchy throw pillow and a too-warm blanket over him, but he doesn’t fall asleep right away. Instead, he watches the light spilling out of the kitchen and listens to Mike and his girlfriend talking.

“You don’t seem surprised to see him like this.”

“Fuck, Gina, I thought things were better. He and Maddie were good together. Last I heard, anyway. But...Tommy’s not really a relationship guy, y’know? This wouldn’t be the first time a girl’s tossed him out on his ass.”

It hurts to hear that said out loud, but it’s true. Maddie’s words echo in his head. Youll be a lying, cheating asshole until the day you die. He turns his face into the pillow and tries hard not to cry. “I’m sorry,” he whispers. “I tried.”

“Awfully nice of you to pick him up. In the middle of the night. When he’s falling down drunk. You’re too nice, baby,” Gina says.

“You don’t want him here?”

Tommy holds his breath, waiting for her answer. “No, I don’t mind, for one night, anyway. But I do wonder a little bit...why you do it.”

A sigh. “Sometimes I do, too. But I couldn’t just leave him like that, Gina. He’s my friend. He’ll always be my friend, no matter how many times this happens. He needs people that love him. He has... trouble on his own.” Tommy’s heart swells. He doesn’t deserve friends like Mike.

“Trouble how?” Gina asks, and Tommy wants to know what Mike thinks of him, but he’s fading fast, and he can’t hold his eyes open any longer. The voices blur into the background, and when he wakes up, he’s not sure what was a dream and what was real. If any of it was real at all.

*

Adam’s running hard on his treadmill, sweating through his shirt and burning all the alcohol out of his system. He felt awful this morning, and the exercise is helping, but he still feels like he’s gone wildly off-track. The treadmill is nice. He’s facing out to his backyard, and he can run for however long he needs, and the scenery doesn’t change. He listens to the steady thump of his feet on the belt and zones out, ignoring the blinking lights telling him how fast and how far he’s gone. He thinks instead about the things he has to do, but he gets distracted halfway through the list.

Call Tommy about the car. That thought leads to others about Tommy, and those lead back to that night, the one Adam’s scared to put a name to. He should have called Tommy the next day, made plans for the car and laughed off the night before, but he didn’t and now it’s been almost two weeks, and just the idea of calling feels wrong. It gets worse with every day he puts it off, but he still can’t force himself to pick up the phone.

He’s wondering if he can just adjust to life with one car, chalk that one up as a loss and forget about it, when the doorbell rings. Adam nearly falls off the treadmill in his surprise. He doesn’t get unexpected visitors, with the imposing coded gate at the front of his property. He shuts off the treadmill and grabs a towel and jogs to the door, trying to cool down a little on the way so his calves don’t seize up.

When he swings the door open, it’s Tommy standing there on his step, huddled into a thick hoodie even though it’s like ninety degrees outside. Adam looks past him and sees his car, and he opens his mouth to thank Tommy for bringing it back, but then he notices the familiar red suitcase at Tommy’s side.

“Going somewhere?” he asks, raising an eyebrow.

“Yeah, um. I was hoping, like... here. Can I stay here a few nights?”

Adam peers closely at Tommy’s face, but he can’t make out Tommy’s eyes behind his flashy sunglasses, and he can’t tell if Tommy’s upset or just casually asking to stay. His voice sounds so... blank.

Tommy fidgets on the step, clenching his fist around the handle of his suitcase, and Adam steps back and gestures him inside. “Yeah, yeah, of course. As long as you need...” Adam says.

Tommy laughs humorlessly and shoves his sunglasses up into his hair. “Thanks, but maybe don’t...anyway. Thanks.” He steps inside, and Adam closes the door behind him.

“Did something happen? Are you all right?” Adam asks, and instantly regrets it when Tommy’s face crumples. “Wait, no, never mind, you don’t have to...just come in. Relax for a second.”

Tommy’s eyes cut away to the floor, and Adam’s suddenly very aware of what he’s wearing, of every inch of sweaty, flushed skin his tank top exposes. He wants to wrap his arms around himself and hide. He doesn’t.

Instead, he says, “You look tired.”

Tommy laughs again, and honestly, he looks more than tired. He looks...thin. Stretched, almost. The bags under his eyes are heavier than Adam’s ever seen them, and his eyes look painfully red and bloodshot. “I shouldn’t. I slept like eleven hours last night.”

“Jesus.”

“Broke up with Maddie,” Tommy adds, like an afterthought.

Adam’s jaw drops. “Are you serious? It wasn’t... Was it because of me?” he asks carefully. Tommy shakes his head minutely and Adam instantly feels a rush of relief, but guilt quickly follows.

“I just can’t stay there anymore, so I needed, like... a place with a bed. I won’t get in your way or anything. I know you’re busy. I’ll just... hang out. Watch movies and sleep.”

Adam laughs and looks at the massive space around them. “I don’t think you have to worry about being in the way. Besides, it’s been...it’s been pretty quiet since Jake left. Feels empty,” he says. Tommy doesn’t answer, still doesn’t meet his eyes, and Adam knew this would be weird. Knew it.

“I’m sorry. About...you know. About last time.”

At that, Tommy finally looks up, his eyes wide. “No, it’s...I mean, I’m sorry too.”

Silence. Adam grits his teeth and looks down. Tommy’s still holding his suitcase, his fingers clenched tight and his knuckles white. “Come on, you probably want to put your stuff away,” Adam says, and turns to head up the stairs, toward the bedrooms.

“You totally don’t have to do this. I’ll understand.” Tommy’s voice is quiet behind him.

Adam closes his eyes and resists the urge to turn around and give Tommy a tight hug. He doesn’t want Tommy to...misinterpret. Tommy probably wouldn’t resist the offer of comfort, but he seems really fragile right now, and Adam doesn’t want him to think... whatever he might think about their relationship. Adam doesn’t want to dwell on it.

He continues down the hall past the bedrooms to the linen closet to get out a towel for Tommy, and when he looks back, Tommy’s still standing in the middle of the hall, stuck between the doorway to the guest bedroom and to Adam’s bedroom. He’s not looking at either one, and he’s not looking at Adam either, and Adam stamps down hard on the urge to invite Tommy into his room. They’ve shared beds on tour; it’s normal.

But it’s not normal anymore. Fuck.

Adam leads Tommy into the guest room and puts the folded, fluffy towel on the dresser.

“You can stay as long as you need.” He watches Tommy nod and push his suitcase into the corner, and then they’re both just standing awkwardly in the room. Adam clears his throat. “I, uh... I’m gonna go hop in the shower. You can get settled and... whatever. I’ll see you later.”

He flees the room before Tommy can answer, feeling like a coward but needing a second, just a second to think. He goes into his bedroom and shuts the door, falling down onto the bed and burying his face in his hands.

Bullshit, he thinks. Bullshit that they fucking slept together and Tommy randomly broke up with his girlfriend two weeks later. No way in hell are those events unrelated. Adam digs his fingers into his eyes and sighs. He can’t hear anything through the walls; not Tommy moving his suitcase around, not Tommy leaving the room, not Tommy crying into his pillow about his girlfriend. Nothing.

He only allows himself a moment to sit and wallow in the awkwardness of his situation. He sits up and looks at his reflection in the mirror above the bureau, trying to see what Tommy might see.

He sees his hair in clumps, sticking to his forehead with sweat. He sees soft arms and prominent freckles. He sees a bright pink flush of exertion and the sheen of sweat. Adam pulls his tank up to his face and gives it a cautious sniff.

“Jesus,” he mutters. “No wonder he didn’t want to be near me.” A shower will give him time to think, and give Tommy time to... settle. Rest, maybe. He looks like he needs it.

While he’s scrubbing his hair and letting the water wash the sweat from his body, Adam’s mind drifts to Tommy in the next room over. Adam hopes he’s sleeping--but that sends him into a downward spiral of thoughts that usually ends with his cock in hand. He puts a stop to that right now. Tommy’s counting on him to be a friend, and right now, anything more would feel almost like taking advantage. A betrayal of trust. He very carefully doesn’t think about that night a few weeks ago, how drunk they were, how needy he felt. How Tommy didn’t turn him away, didn’t tell him to stop even once, though Adam must have been hurting him. How he should have.

He wonders what he would do in the same situation, if Tommy came to him right now and kissed him. He doesn’t know if he’s strong enough to turn him away, no matter what his brain tells him is right.

But he won’t make that first move. He wont.

Finished with his shower and now smelling much more human, Adam finger-combs his hair into something resembling an intentional style and bends over the counter to rub some eyeliner under his lashes. He thinks, as he leans back, that he probably shouldn’t have put on the makeup, that it might make Tommy think he’s interrupted some wild night of partying, but Adam can’t bring himself to regret it. He wants to look right for Tommy. He wants to look strong and put together and capable of helping him through this rough patch, and this is the best way Adam knows how.

He paces up and down the hall about four times before finally psyching himself up enough to knock on Tommy’s door. It’s weird to knock in his own house. He can’t ever remember having to do that before.

“Um, Tommy? I didn’t know if you’d eaten yet...we could order something if you want,” he calls through the door.

Tommy opens the door and smiles shyly at him, and Adam feels better than he has in days. “Yeah, I...I guess I didn’t get a chance to eat today.”

Adam grins. “Mexican okay?”

“Always!”

They order way too much food and eat it in the living room, something droning away on the TV that neither of them really pays attention to, and Adam feels almost normal. Eventually, though, the conversation turns back around to the break-up. Of course.

“Will you tell me what happened?” Adam asks, trying to make his voice sound as casual as possible. “It’s okay if you don’t want to, I just--”

“She dumped me,” Tommy says dully. “Kicked me out.”

“Why?”

“She... found out about...” Tommy exhales sharply and falls silent, smiling with a morbid sort of amusement.

“Not about us, right?”

“No,” Tommy says. “It’s not about you, not... not that. She found out about me cheating. She, uh, walked in on me.” Tommy coughs. “With someone.”

Fuck,” Adam breathes. “Bet she was pissed.” I would be, he thinks. He decides not to comment on the fact that Tommy was pretty stupid to bring a girl home to the house he shared with his girlfriend.

“Kicked me out so fast I didn’t even have time to put on shoes,” Tommy tells him. “But I was kind of drunk, so... I didn’t think about it until I was four blocks away and my foot was bleeding.”

Adam’s silent for a moment. Then he says, “You could have called me. I would have come.” Anything to get out of that club last night, really.

“I didn’t want to bother you. Mike’s used to me, at least.”

“I could be used to you.” The words are out before Adam can stop them, and he wants to kick himself. “I mean, I am used to you. God knows we’ve spent enough time on a bus together. But what I’m saying is, I could get used to you. Easy. If you stayed.”

“Here? With you.”

“Here, yes. I mean, until you find another... whatever. Apartment, I guess. Another roommate.”

“I don’t want another roommate,” Tommy says, sounding sullen. “I fucked them up too. How do you think Mike got so used to picking my drunk ass up in the middle of the night?”

“Well, you’re welcome here. I honestly don’t mind. I could use the company. And, I mean, we’re gonna be on tour in a couple months anyway. You could just... stay until then. Look for a new place after.”

“Cool,” Tommy says. “Yeah, like, as long as I’m not in the way.”

Adam shakes his head, laughing, and hooks his arm around Tommy’s neck, pulling him sideways into a hug. “Baby, you’re never in the way.” He kisses Tommy’s hair, and it feels soft and clean. Mike must’ve pushed Tommy into the shower this morning. “This’ll be cool. Like, gearing up for tour again. Getting used to each other again.”

Tommy turns his face against Adam’s chest, his nose squashed and wrinkling Adam’s shirt. “I missed you. I don’t like not talking.”

Adam laughs. “You love not talking. Hermit.”

Tommy punches Adam’s side weakly. “You know what I mean. I don’t like you not talking to me. I don’t like... being so apart.”

“Well, you’re stuck with me now.”

They’re quiet for a moment and Tommy relaxes in Adam’s arms. He reaches up and pets Adam’s shirt flat again with the tips of his fingers. Adam concentrates hard on keeping his breathing slow and even. “I don’t, like... want us to be scared of each other, you know? I don’t like that,” Tommy says quietly.

Adam kisses the top of Tommy’s head again and this time it doesn’t feel weird or forced at all. “I’m not scared of you, Tommy Joe.” He’s actually more scared of himself. And he can’t help noticing that Tommy doesn’t answer.

Eventually, Adam says good night and retreats to his bedroom alone. He falls asleep listening to the faint sounds of the TV in the living room, and for the first time in weeks, he doesn’t reach for Jake in his sleep.

*

Tommy wakes up on the sofa, blinking at the flood of morning sunlight and wondering for a second where he is. Adam’s laugh brings it all back, and he twists around to see Adam grinning down at him and holding two steaming mugs of what is hopefully coffee and not some fancy herbal shit.

“I thought you wanted a place with a bed?” Adam asks playfully, holding out a mug.

Tommy takes it and drinks deep, burning his tongue and not caring. He can’t remember the last time he woke up without a hangover. He feels pretty fucking awesome, actually.

“Sorry, bad habit. Sometimes at home I just pass out with the TV on.” He says it without realizing, and then remembers that it’s not home any more. He doesn’t have a home. Homeless.

Adam must see something telling in his face, because he clucks his tongue and sits down next to Tommy, pulling him into a one-armed hug. “Come on, we’re not gonna do that today. Today we’re gonna go shopping. And then we’re gonna come back here and drink wine and watch movies. I have it all planned out.”

Tommy rubs away the sleep in his eyes and smiles at the floor. “That sounds fuckin’ awesome.”

“It totally does. Go on, go get dressed. We’ve got shit to do!”

Adam takes him to store after store and makes him try on everything he touches, and Tommy leaves with new boots and jeans and a completely amazing leather jacket that he’s never taking off again. It’s a little weird for Adam to buy him so much, but when Tommy pulls out his wallet, Adam just raises his eyebrows and gives him this look until Tommy puts it away again, and he really can’t feel guilty after seeing how much fun Adam has dressing him up in progressively tighter and flashier outfits.

Adam falls completely in love with two similar but different necklaces for himself, and he agonizes back and forth over which one to get for ages until Tommy finally rolls his eyes and tells him to just get both. Adam grins down at him and says, “This is why I love you,” and Tommy blushes all the way home.

They have dinner on the couch again, but this time it’s a full meal, with green side dishes that Adam insists on and Tommy doesn’t touch, and gigantic, round glasses of wine. Tommy likes how they look when he swirls the wine and watches it drip down the curved sides of the glass. Adam has the coolest shit. Adam even pulls some candles out of a closet and lights them on the coffee table, smiling at Tommy as he does, almost embarrassed.

“Jake always made fun of me about these.”

“I love ‘em,” Tommy replies. “We’re all, like, classy and shit.”

“Wine and candles,” Adam agrees. “All we need now are flowers.”

“Black ones?”

“Goth realness.”

“I prefer the term ‘vampire’. Vampire realness. Hey, man, you still got those teeth laying around? We should go as vampires again for Halloween. It’s like a tradition now.”

Adam levels a gaze at him over his wine glass. “Seriously? Who do you think I am, Tommy Joe? I have a whole drawer of them upstairs. Had to keep trying different ones to see what I could sing through!”

That sets Tommy off in a giggle fit he can’t recover from. He falls sideways on the couch and Adam pulls Tommy’s legs up and into his lap. His thumb drawing little circles on Tommy’s knee eventually quiets Tommy’s laughter and the giggles taper off until he’s just panting for breath. He lets his head fall against the back of the couch and watches Adam’s face.

“You seem better,” Adam tells him, and Tommy isn’t quite sure what that means. Was he so bad, before?

“Better than what?” he asks.

“You looked tired, before.”

“I was tired.” Tommy thinks that’s not what Adam really means, but Adam’s too nice to dig any deeper, at least to Tommy’s face. “Anyway, you look better too.”

“I feel better. It wasn’t just the break-up, you know, with Jake. Things weren’t good with us for a long time. Ever, maybe. I don’t know.” Adam doesn’t look particularly sad, just thoughtful.

“Maddie really loved me,” Tommy says, and his eyes well up a little. It feels like a confession. “She didn’t do anything wrong. It was all me.”

“Oh, baby...” Adam reaches out and rubs at Tommy’s cheek with a gentle thumb. “It obviously wasn’t right. When it’s really right, you don’t need...you don’t want anyone else.”

Tommy allows the touch for a moment before pulling away from Adam’s hand. He picks up his glass of wine and swallows the rest, barely even tasting it. “Then it’s never been right,” Tommy mutters, and he’s a little ashamed of how utterly sad that makes him. If it’s never been right, then what were all those relationships for? What was he doing with those girls? Why couldn’t he love them enough? “It felt right, at the time,” he admits. “I thought it was right.”

Adam glances away. “It's hard to know. I mean, back when...when Brad and I were together, I thought that was it. I thought that would last forever.”

Tommy bites his lip, but he's curious enough to ask, “What happened? Why didn't it?”

“Apparently it wasn't right for him,” Adam replies stiffly.

Tommy's heart sinks. “Did he...”

“I couldn’t be with him after that,” Adam says.

Tommy scoots down the couch and curls himself around Adam. “I can’t imagine anyone doing that to you.” Adam wraps his arm around Tommy’s back and Tommy smiles up at him. “I don’t see how anyone could think you aren’t enough.”

Adam breaks into a grin. “You’re so sweet to me, baby.”

“I love you, you know,” Tommy says. “You’re like, the best person in my life.”

Adam doesn’t answer, just looks overwhelmed, and it’s a little embarrassing to lay it all out like that, but not wholly unexpected that Adam wouldn’t feel the same. Of course Tommy’s not the best person in Adam’s life. He knew that already. But it hurts a little to have the confirmation.

They sit together for only a little while longer before Tommy makes his excuses and retreats to his guest room. The next day, Adam lets him sleep in. Tommy wakes up to the sound of Adam’s voice--it sounds like he’s on the phone with someone important. Maybe his manager, or a producer. Somebody famous, even. Tommy rolls onto his back and stares up at the ceiling, letting the low murmur wash over him.

Tommy spends the day in front of the TV. Adam doesn’t have anywhere to go, but he does have calls and emails to answer, so Tommy leaves him alone. He drifts in and out, watching a show but zoning out and tuning back in for the next one. He’s always awful at keeping track of time, but with nothing to tether him, he feels even more adrift.

“You hungry?” Adam calls suddenly. Tommy jolts awake and sits up straight, taking stock of his body. He’s not really hungry, but when he looks at the clock he sees it’s well past six and he hasn’t eaten anything since the fruit salad Adam pushed on him this morning. But if Adam’s asking, it means hes hungry.

“Sure, what do you want?” Tommy calls back.

Adam ends up ordering Chinese food, because, he says, it looks healthier than it actually is, and it’s all about the appearance. Tommy laughs and makes room for Adam on the couch amongst the pillows and blanket, and he’s pleased when Adam cuddles up right next to him.

It feels easy, familiar, and Tommy relaxes into Adam’s warmth without a second thought. Adam’s right, this is sort of like being on tour again, living right up in each other’s space. Adam eats with one hand and draws his fingers through Tommy’s hair with the other, over and over, and eventually Tommy is ignoring his food entirely, lost in the calming petting sensation.

Adam nudges him. “Hey. Your food’s gonna get cold.”

“Don’t care. Keep doin’ that,” Tommy says. Any tension remaining in his body slips away until Tommy’s dozing against Adam’s shoulder. They watch the end of a movie and sit through the next one--at least, Adam does. Tommy falls asleep within the first ten minutes.

Adam leaves the next morning for a meeting, before Tommy’s even really awake, and he comes home annoyed and grumbling about Chad. Tommy’s only met the guy a handful of times, but he totally understands Adam’s frustration. Tommy sits Adam down at the kitchen table and fixes him a bowl of spaghetti, which Adam resists because of carbs but Tommy ignores him.

“It’ll make you feel better,” he says. “Stop with that juice fast and salad shit. You gotta have food. Like, real food.”

“Says the boy who’s thin as a rail,” Adam grumbles, but he digs in anyway, and Tommy sits down across from him, smiling. “You’re not hungry?”

“I ate before,” Tommy says, then steals a bite of Adam’s pasta.

Adam gives him a skeptical look. Then he leans way back in his chair and pulls another fork out of the silverware drawer. “Come here, share. I can’t eat all this anyway.”

Tommy thinks about arguing, but honestly, it does look good. He makes a pretty rad bowl of pasta. He moves his chair around next to Adam’s and takes a bite, and he can’t help wondering what’ll happen if they start eating the same strand at once, if it’ll end in a kiss like they’re animated dogs or some shit. It’s a ridiculous thought, but then again, Disney moments seem to follow Adam around.

“Remember the first show on Glam Nation?” Tommy asks, licking tomato sauce off his fingers.

Adam laughs. “God, it seems so long ago now. I was so nervous I thought I was gonna puke.”

“I’m pretty sure there was glitter somewhere on my body for the next six months after that.” Tommy wrinkles his nose. “It could still be there, hiding. Like herpes, man.”

“Tommy! Glitter is not like herpes. Shut your blasphemous mouth.”

“Blasphemy is kind of my thing.”

Reminiscing about the early days of touring eats up the next three hours, and at some point Adam starts telling Tommy about the things he has planned for the upcoming tour. Dozens of costume ideas, complex stage designs, troupes of dancers -- he’s even pushing for pyrotechnics. Tommy has to laugh. Adam always was one to plan big. Eventually, the wine comes out again, and they end up sitting in front of the fireplace, drinking and talking about the past and the future.

“And you’ll be there with me, right, Tommy?” Adam says, fluffing up the blanket over their laps. “Right there in the spotlight at the front of the stage.”

“It’s your spotlight,” Tommy tells him. “But that’s the only place I want to be. On a stage with you.”

“I’ve had enough of the spotlight for a while,” Adam says quietly. Tommy turns to him, sees him staring into the fire.

“What happened this morning?”

“Interviews. People talking shit. Meeting with Chad. It was a mess. I’m just... glad to be done. Glad to be here with you.”

“Don’t think about it,” Tommy says firmly. “It’ll be better soon.”

“Everyone keeps asking me about Jake, and what happened between--”

Tommy puts his hand over Adam’s mouth. “Don’t think about it right now.”

Adam stares at him for a second, eyes wide. Then he touches Tommy’s wrist and gently pulls his hand away. “Did you just shut me up?”

“Sometimes you need it,” Tommy says, shrugging.

Adam doesn’t hesitate, just closes his eyes, leans down, and kisses him. Tommy’s shocked into stillness, afraid to move, afraid to lose the gentle press of Adam’s lips against his own. Adam pulls away after a long moment, and when Tommy manages to open his eyes, Adam doesn’t look sorry or upset at all, just happy. Tommy smiles back at him and lets himself feel happy too.

“You’re exactly what I needed, Tommy,” Adam says.

Tommy bites his lip. He thinks maybe Adam is exactly what he needed, too, but he can’t say it. He doesn’t know how Adam just says these things, like they’re easy, like they don’t get all choked up in his throat. Instead, he reaches out and slides his hand into Adam’s where it’s resting on the blanket, squeezing tight and hoping Adam knows what it means.

Adam doesn’t kiss him again, but he does keep touching Tommy, leaning against him, petting him, until Tommy’s practically falling asleep on his shoulder, breathing slow and even, eyes closed.

“Tommy, baby, come on. Bedtime.”

“‘m comfy here though,” Tommy says, not opening his eyes, and Adam laughs softly.

“You’ll be comfier in your bed.”

He wants to argue. Nothing is comfier than Adam. But Adam’s shifting, standing, pulling him to his feet, and Tommy’s too tired to resist. Adam guides Tommy, zombie-like, to the bedroom and arranges him on the bed with his head on the pillow and the blanket tucked in around his body. Tommy sighs happily, half-asleep, and reaches for Adam’s hand.

“Sleep with me,” he murmurs.

A long moment passes, and it’s tense somehow. It wakes Tommy up a little. He realizes what he said, what Adam must be thinking. He lets go of Adam’s hand and burrows under the blanket, feigning sleep.

“Not tonight, Tommy,” Adam whispers. Tommy doesn’t look at him. He doesn’t move until he hears Adam’s footsteps leave the room and the door click closed. He opens his eyes and stares at the door for a long, long time. His heart is racing, and the sleep that had seemed inevitable only moments ago is a distant memory now. Adam’s words hang in the air, and Tommy turns them over and over in his mind, and lets himself hope. Just a little bit.

*

Adam wakes up with a hard-on and a lagging memory. He gets up and goes to the bathroom and brushes his teeth. And then, staring at himself in the mirror, he remembers kissing Tommy. His reflection looks just as shocked as he feels. Tommy is straight and beautiful and straight, and his friend, and he’s not for kissing in front of fireplaces. Adam takes a deep breath and rubs his hands over his face. It was the wine, obviously. They just need to stop getting drunk together. Easy.

He goes downstairs and heads for his treadmill, hoping to burn off the weird energy left over from last night. Running always gives him time to think, but he’s not sure that’s what he needs today. He tries to clear his mind instead, focus on everything but Tommy. He has an album to promote, and a tour coming up. It’s not like there’s nothing else to think about. He starts making lists of things he has to do before the tour, then gets tripped up by one item: Book touring band.

Tommy, obviously. He needs Tommy with him now more than ever, as long as they can move past this... strangeness. Whatever it is. He curses and turns the speed up to a sprint, forcing himself to think only about his body, about pushing himself harder.

He goes until he’s gasping for breath, his legs shaking and his sides aching and his heart racing. When he can’t run another second, he slows the treadmill to a crawl and walks until he can hear himself think over his heartbeat again. Then he slides off the belt and onto the floor, drenched with sweat and heading into the kitchen in search of water.

Tommy shuffles in while he’s still drinking, and Adam catches just a glimpse of him around the plastic of his water bottle--plaid pajama pants and one of Adam’s oldest and biggest t-shirts, sleep-ruffled hair and stocking feet. He’s rubbing at his eyes sleepily, and Adam laughs to himself and almost chokes on his water. He looks like the world’s biggest three-year-old.

“Morning,” Adam says, and Tommy grunts in reply. Adam wonders if he’s hungover. He just seems sleepy, though. Maybe a little uncomfortable, but Adam can’t blame him for that. Not after last night.

Tommy moves into the kitchen, heading for the coffeemaker, so Adam steps closer to the fridge. But Tommy reaches for the fridge and bumps Adam’s side, and he looks surprised about it too, like he didn’t even see Adam there. Adam intentionally blocks his second attempt at opening the fridge, and stands there until Tommy looks up at him.

“Can I get some water?” Tommy asks, his voice gravelly.

“You look like you could use some coffee,” Adam replies, but hands over his water bottle. Tommy takes it and holds it close to his face, even when he’s not drinking. “Let me get you a mug,” Adam offers, and Tommy nods.

They both move to the left and then to the right, and Tommy laughs in a high-pitched, almost hysterical way. Adam takes him by the arm and leads him to the other side of the island, sits him down on one of the bar stools, so he won’t get in the way again while Adam’s fixing him something to drink. Tommy rests his elbows on the counter and holds Adam’s water bottle with both hands. He’s watching Adam intently now, and Adam can feel his gaze even when he turns his back.

Adam gets the coffee started and then stays leaning against the counter, reaching for a paper towel and dabbing at his face and neck. He’s so sweaty and gross, and he’s already thinking about how amazing the shower is gonna feel.

“Do you do that every morning? Work out?” Tommy asks, sounding almost disgusted, like he can’t imagine a normal human being doing such a thing. It’s completely unfair that Tommy can be so thin with no effort at all.

Adam ducks his head down and turns to look at Tommy over his shoulder, smiling. “Not every morning. Most. I think I’m gonna miss it when we’re on tour. It’s hard to work out on a bus.”

“The bus is an awesome excuse to not work out, I think.”

Adam laughs because Tommy expects him to, but the joke kind of falls flat and Adam doesn’t know what to say in response. They both fall silent and watch the steady drip of the coffeemaker. Tommy sighs and rests his chin on his hand.

Adam can’t think of anything to say that doesn’t sound awkward or weird or somehow sexual, and when the coffee finishes he jumps at the distraction, going through each step slowly and deliberately. He turns and presents the mug to Tommy, watches him take a sip like he’s afraid he won’t like it. As if he hasn’t watched Tommy fix his coffee the past three mornings, and the five years before that. As if he doesn’t know how he takes it.

Tommy sets the mug down and licks his lips, and Adam looks away quickly, but not before the idea hits him, the idea that he could lean forward and kiss the heat off Tommy’s lips right now and Tommy probably wouldn’t stop him. He could taste the coffee on Tommy’s breath. He suddenly craves that more than the coffee in his own mug.

He glances up at Tommy and catches Tommy looking at him. Those brown eyes flicker away quickly, and Tommy’s hand comes up, curled into a fist, brushing his hair out of his face with one knuckle. It falls back in the next instant, and Adam wants to reach out, tuck it back so it will stay.

Instead, he stands and stretches and drains the rest of his coffee in one scalding go. “I need to get in the shower before I get cold.” He doesn’t mean it as an invitation, but it sort of sounds like one.

As he’s making his exit, Tommy calls after him. “Are you doing anything today?” He sounds hopeful, and Adam isn’t sure if Tommy wants to be left alone, or if he wants to spend the day with Adam. He selfishly hopes it’s the latter.

“No,” Adam says without turning around. “I’m just... here.” He glances back over his shoulder quickly, needing to see Tommy’s reaction.

Tommy smiles, just a little bit. “Awesome.”

Adam very deliberately doesn’t kiss Tommy again after showering, when he’s standing in the bathroom trying out a new eyeliner and Tommy comes in, poking around him, stealing a bottle of nail polish and meeting Adam’s eyes only for a second in the mirror before disappearing again.

He doesn’t kiss him when he hears music coming from the guest room, a chord progression that he knows repeated over and over and over, a little smoother each time. It’s a song from the new album, one they’ll be playing for the first time on tour. This is the first time he’s heard Tommy play it, and he pauses outside the door for just a moment, listening, imagining Tommy sitting cross-legged on the bed, guitar practically dwarfing him where it’s slung across his lap. He decides against going in. He stands in the hall and listens to Tommy practice for a few minutes instead, then retreats to his own room, leaving the door open so he can hear the music.

Tommy comes scurrying over to him sometime in the afternoon, grinning hugely and brandishing his phone, exclaiming over the new picture of Riff that Scarlett’s texted him. Adam’s sure she’s sent it to him, too, but he looks and smiles and agrees with Tommy’s declaration that Riff is the cutest kid he’s ever seen. Tommy looks back down at his phone with a sweet smile on his face and warmth in his eyes, and it’s all Adam can do not to pull him into his arms and kiss him just as sweetly.

Adam’s always been the type to just eat when he’s hungry, but he rather likes this schedule of meals that comes with sharing a house with someone. It reminds him of tour, when they would all go out to a restaurant in a big group, or troop down to the hotel dining area in the morning for breakfast. He calls Tommy into the kitchen and announces his intention of cooking something.

“We have to use the kitchen,” he explains. “Once we’re on tour it’s back to fast food and room service.”

“I like room service,” Tommy says.

“Because you can’t cook. But tonight, we’re going to.”

Tommy gives him a doubtful look, and it feels so natural to reach over the counter and nudge Tommy’s shoulder. It makes Tommy grin, and that always makes Adam smile as well. It feels like Tommy is more than just Adam’s friend, he realizes, and quickly busies himself with finding a cutting board and knife. Tommy’s replacing the void in Adam’s life that Jake left, and that all the other boyfriends left when those relationships ended. They haven’t discussed it, and Adam firmly thinks they shouldn’t, because he doesn’t want whatever comfortable closeness they have between them to dissolve. Relationships are trouble. He thinks he’s starting to learn that, maybe. Finally.

He sets out the utensils and motions for Tommy to come over. “All right, you’re in charge of the chopping, and I’ll be in charge of the actual cooking.”

“What,” Tommy scoffs, “you don’t trust me with real cooking?”

“I’m giving you a knife, aren’t I?”

Tommy waves the knife at Adam. “You gonna give me something to chop, or should I just start on my fingers?”

Adam lays his hands over Tommy’s protectively, laughing. “Please don’t, I need these fingers.” Tommy looks up at him, eyebrows raised and a smirk on his lips. “I need you to play for me,” Adam amends. “I need you with me on tour this year.”

Tommy beams at him, looking full to the brim with happiness, and Adam actually catches himself leaning down, so close, so close to kissing him. He plants a smacking kiss on Tommy’s cheek instead, covers it with a smile. When he moves away to get vegetables out of the fridge, Tommy stays right there at the counter, smiling, watching Adam, content. He pulls out the things he needs and gives them to Tommy with instructions to chop everything into bite-sized chunks, and he can’t help but linger for a moment and watch Tommy’s fingers curl around the pepper and how carefully he holds the knife.

They dump everything into a pan for Adam to stir-fry with chicken strips, and Tommy sits at the counter with his arms crossed and his chin resting on his wrists, watching. Adam keeps turning around to look at him, and each time he looks, Tommy’s smiling. It’s such a nice change from what brought Tommy here.

“You should do that more often,” he says offhandedly.

“Do what?”

“Smile. I like it.”

“Oh, do you?” Tommy asks, his voice heavy with innuendo that Adam doesn’t get until he turns and sees Tommy’s expression. He laughs and nods, because yes, he likes whatever Tommy does with his mouth. He almost says so, but he stops, suddenly afraid that Tommy will take it the wrong way. He doesn’t want to make Tommy uncomfortable, not now when things are going so well. He doesn’t want to remind Tommy of that night, of how badly Adam fucked up.

They eat, and Adam’s actually pretty proud of himself--his cooking isn’t half bad. He says as much to Tommy, but Tommy’s mouth is too full to respond, and Adam grins. It’s good to see Tommy eating, as skinny as he is, and it’s even better to see him enjoying something Adam’s made like this. He thinks he could get used to this. Like, really used to it.

It’s easy to let those thoughts take over after a few drinks -- Adam hadn’t meant to drink tonight, he really hadn’t, determined to keep his head. But Tommy was already handing him a glass before he’d had a chance to make his intentions known, smiling as he sipped at his own drink, and Adam’s never been good at turning down anything Tommy was offering. When they move to the couch after dinner, Adam’s head is buzzing nicely, and Tommy sits right next to him, burrowing under Adam’s arm.

“Today turned out all right,” Adam murmurs.

“Yeah.”

“Started out weird, but it’s okay now.”

“Yeah.”

“Sorry about making it weird this morning. I just... wasn’t sure. Thinking too much, you know how it is.”

Tommy noses up under Adam’s jaw, and Adam doesn’t think twice about it. Tommy loves cuddling. It’s normal. Even when he kisses Adam’s cheek, that’s normal too.

“We’re friends,” Adam says. “I’m glad we can... be friends. Like we are. It’s the whole overthinking thing, it gets me all confused. I start thinking I messed it up, or I don’t know how you feel about... everything, and...”

Tommy pushes himself up and kisses Adam square on the mouth. It’s a chaste kiss, short and sweet, but it makes Adam’s heart speed up. He’s been thinking about this all fucking day.

“So stop thinking,” Tommy tells him quietly. Adam nods and slides a hand up to the back of Tommy’s neck, pulls him in for another kiss. Longer this time, but still innocent. Still friendly.

“We kiss all the time,” Adam whispers. “We can do this, can’t we? We can be friends that kiss.”

Tommy nods before Adam even finishes speaking. “Yeah, yes.”

“It doesn’t have to mean anything. We’re just friends.”

“Okay.” Tommy leans in again, and this time he opens his mouth, inviting Adam’s tongue to play. Adam doesn’t hesitate. It doesn’t feel like crossing a line anymore, and really, it feels too good for Adam to even care if it did.

His body knows how to do this, and it’s a relief to stop thinking, to slide a hand into Tommy’s hair and angle his face just right, to lick into his mouth slow and warm and deep. Tommy goes easy for Adam, as he always has, and it sends a shiver of excitement through Adam to feel that unhesitating acquiescence, the way Tommy lets him press, lets him take. He moans softly into Tommy’s mouth and pulls a knee up under himself on the couch, wanting to lay Tommy out on his back and crawl on top of him, or pull Tommy over to straddle his lap, or--but he holds himself back, just keeps kissing. Kissing is awesome. He loves kissing. He can ignore the rest of his body. He has before.

Adam pulls back to catch his breath, but his hands don’t seem to want to stop touching, lingering in Tommy’s hair, on his face. Tommy looks up at Adam and presses into the touch, rubbing his cheek into Adam’s palm, and Adam shivers again.

“Fuck, Tommy, you can’t just do that,” Adam half-whispers.

Tommy’s eyes go wide. “What?”

Adam takes a shuddering breath and pulls his hands back to himself. “Make me...want. Things.”

Tommy’s silent for a long moment, looking down, biting his lip. Adam wants to bite it for him and lick it better, angry red marks left behind. He can hardly make out the words when Tommy speaks again. “What do you want, Adam?”

“Things you don’t.” He’s sure of that, if nothing else. Tommy’s reaction to their last...incident had made that clear enough. Adam doesn’t think he’ll ever forget the wince of pain on Tommy’s face, or the uncharacteristic sharpness of his words. That’s not the Tommy he knows. Wants.

He doesn’t know what he expects Tommy to say. Something. Instead, Tommy reaches up and puts his arms around Adam’s neck and kisses him again, hard and desperate, almost painful, and Adam can’t breathe, can’t close his eyes, can’t even think. He feels strung too tight, shaking with everything he’s determined not to let himself do.

Tommy shifts and buries his face in Adam’s neck, and whispers into his skin. “You don’t know what I want, Adam. You...I don’t...”

Tommy’s lips are brushing against his skin, and his breath is warm and rushed, and Adam looks up toward the ceiling with wide, desperate eyes, a silent plea into the ether. “So tell me,” he says.

Tommy doesn’t say anything. He crawls up over Adam’s lap, straddling him, and wraps both arms tight around Adam’s neck so Adam can’t push him off. Tommy kisses him, so fast and hard Adam feels like Tommy is breaking, coming apart at the seams. In between these breathless kisses he hears Tommy murmuring, and it takes him a second to tune into the words.

“I want this,” he hears. “Please, I want it, I do...”

Adam groans. He wants to believe, he does, but... “You said that last time, too.”

Tommy freezes, but he doesn’t let go, and when he answers he sounds serious. “I didn’t know.”

“And you do now?”

Tommy pulls back and looks Adam right in the eye. It’s strange, intense--unfamiliar, almost, and it makes Tommy’s words sound important. Honest. “Yeah. I think I do.”

Adam’s hesitant to push forward after Tommy’s words, I think. But the open, raw expression on Tommy’s face tips him past his uncertainty. Tommy might not be able to say what he wants, but it’s right there, clear on his face.

Adam gets his hands under Tommy’s ass and stands up, lifting Tommy with him, and Tommy’s fingers dig into Adam’s shoulders through his thin t-shirt. Adam takes a few halting steps toward the stairs, intending to take Tommy all the way up to his bed, but Tommy kisses him again and Adam gets sidetracked, pushes Tommy hard against the wall to take some of his weight so Adam can focus on the kiss. He lets Tommy slide down, and Tommy seems reluctant to stand on his own feet again, but Adam needs his hands in Tommy’s hair. He needs to pull, he needs to angle Tommy just right. Tommy moans against him and sinks lower, and Adam follows him down, leaning over him and crowding him against the wall in an effort to stay upright.

For a second, Adam almost gives up on the stairs and imagines staying right here, pulling his clothes off and pushing Tommy right up onto the wall, getting those legs around his waist again...and fuck, his cock likes that idea, hips pressing harder into Tommy’s body. But he forces himself to take a step back and shakes his head, laughing a little at himself. He thinks about the cold deck chairs and waking up covered in dew. They couldn’t even make it inside last time. He needs this to be better.

Tommy gives him a confused look. “What?”

Adam pins Tommy with a heated stare. “I want you in my bed.”

He takes Tommy’s hand and pulls him to the stairs, and Tommy stumbles a little at the sudden rush, but he recovers quickly and he never lets go, never slides free of Adam’s grasp. Adam leads him all the way to his bedroom and then turns around, catching Tommy by his arms and holding him still for another thorough kiss. Tommy feels weak in his arms and it makes Adam smile.

“I can feel how much you want this,” he murmurs, and Tommy shivers under his touch, just as responsive as Adam remembers. He walks backwards slowly, pulling Tommy toward the bed, and they’re kissing again the second they hit the mattress, hardly able to keep away from each other now that they don’t have to. But something about being here, in the bed Adam’s slept in alone ever since that last night with Jake...it makes Adam want to slow down, take his time. Tommy deserves better than a rushed, drunken fuck Adam hardly remembers.

He pulls away, pushes himself up on his hands to let Tommy catch his breath under him, and Tommy groans. “No, please, come on,” he says. Adam shakes his head.

“I’m right here, baby. Not gonna hurt you this time. Never want to hurt you.”

Tommy relaxes at that, smiles up at Adam with his arms spread wide on the bed.

“Want to see you,” Adam tells him. “Want you naked. Come on.”

Adam sits up and Tommy follows his lead; their shirts get tossed to the floor and Tommy falls back to the bed, lifting his hips helpfully so Adam can pull off his sweatpants. He gets them all the way off Tommy’s socked feet, laughs as he yanks off the socks as well, and then sits up again to see Tommy spread out before him, naked and waiting.

Tommy’s pale against the dark sheets, pale and small and soft. Adam lets himself touch, his hands stroking all the way up Tommy’s legs, circling the points of hipbones, pressing into the slight curve of his waist. He pets over Tommy’s stomach, and when Tommy makes a face and squirms under him, Adam just smiles and lets his hand linger, fingers spread over Tommy’s soft little belly. He can’t believe how tiny Tommy feels under him, like he could hold him down with just one hand like this, or pick him up. He skates his nails up over Tommy’s ribs, laughing when Tommy giggles, and opens his palms over Tommy’s soft underarms, stretching his arms up over his head until they can’t go any higher and linking their fingers together at the end. The position leaves their faces close together, and Adam kisses Tommy’s open, panting mouth softly and whispers, “You’re beautiful.”

He watches Tommy’s forehead wrinkle, and Tommy asks, “Will you fuck me now?”

“Not yet,” Adam tells him. “Want to taste you first. Wanna get my mouth on that gorgeous fucking cock.” He kisses Tommy again when Tommy gasps, stealing the breath from his lips, then slides back down and kneels in the space between Tommy’s legs.

He takes his time, kissing Tommy’s belly, his hips, the soft, hairless skin of his inner thighs. It’s warm in the room, but goosebumps spring up under his touch, and he can feel the tension in Tommy’s muscles, the want and the anticipation. He glances up, all the way up the line of Tommy’s body.

“Relax, baby, we’ll get there,” Adam says, and Tommy stares down at him and whines low in his throat. But he’s smiling through it, and Adam smiles back--he knows this game, and he knows he’s good at it.

Tommy’s cock is hard, curving up against his belly and leaking precome, and Adam braces his hands on Tommy’s hips and leans down and licks, a broad wet stripe with the flat of his tongue all the way up the length.

“Oh fuck yes,” Tommy gasps, arching up toward Adam, his body begging for more.

“Yeah? Just like that?” Adam asks, teasing. He doesn’t give Tommy a chance to answer, just leans down again and sucks Tommy’s cock into his mouth, no hands, just lips and tongue and well-earned skill. He’s always loved doing this, the messy rush of it and the power trip, and Tommy just lets himself go, lets Adam take him apart with his tongue.

Adam feels a slight touch against his cheek, and when he opens his eyes he sees Tommy’s hands hovering in midair, fingers opening and closing like they’re looking for something to hang on to. He pulls back just for a moment and licks his lips.

“You can grab my hair if you want. I don’t mind.”

Tommy doesn’t answer, but he looks unsure, and his hands don’t move. Adam just smirks and holds Tommy’s gaze and lets his tongue play over Tommy’s slit, lapping up the viscous bitterness there as it comes. And it does the trick, Tommy twisting so hard he nearly wrenches himself out of Adam’s grip. In the next moment, long fingers thread through Adam’s hair, not guiding, just hanging on, and Adam closes his eyes and does his best to give Tommy a reason to pull.

Adam stops himself just before Tommy comes, sitting up and wiping a hand across his mouth and stroking Tommy’s shaking legs, up and down in a slow, calming rhythm. Tommy’s panting, and he looks at Adam with desperate eyes and begs.

Please, fuck, I need to, Adam, I’m almost fucking...just...come on, come on, please don’t stop...”

Adam reaches out and lays one still hand over Tommy’s cock, just to feel it twitch. “I know, baby, I know. It’s okay. Trust me. Gonna make it so good for you, I promise.”

He works the zipper on his jeans and strips them off quickly with his underwear, then stretches out on his side, gathering Tommy up in his arms and pulling him in close, fitting the curves of their bodies together. His cock is pressed perfectly up against Tommy’s ass, but Adam makes himself ignore it for the moment. He focuses on other things instead: his hands as they stroke up and down, petting Tommy’s chest. His chest pressed along Tommy’s back, all that bare skin. His nose buried in Tommy’s hair. He smells like Adam’s shampoo, and the thought makes Adam hold Tommy tighter and bite gently into his neck.

“Mine,” he murmurs, not thinking, regretting it a second later.

But Tommy just presses back harder into Adam’s body, and makes a happy, contented sound, almost a hum. He reaches down to grab his neglected cock, and Adam follows him, covering Tommy’s hand with his own and stroking with entwined fingers. When Adam feels as though Tommy is on the cusp again, he pulls their hands away, much to Tommy’s disappointment. He guides Tommy’s hand behind him, to Adam’s hip, and whispers to him to hold on, grab him as tight as he needs.

Adam stretches over Tommy and squirts some lube into his hand from the pump-top bottle on his nightstand, and now Tommy knows what’s coming, and he moans loudly. Adam laughs and sucks a kiss on the back of Tommy’s neck.

“You like that, baby? You want it?”

“Yeah, fuck, I want you in me,” Tommy says, shifting restlessly and pushing himself back against Adam.

Adam brings his hand down to Tommy’s ass and rubs his fingers over his asshole, smearing the lube around and getting Tommy used to his touch. Tommy doesn’t seem to need the slow teasing, but his eagerness just makes Adam want to slow things down even more, to draw it out and make Tommy truly desperate. When he finally presses in, just a bit, he can feel the hitch in Tommy’s breathing, and he can’t stop himself from whispering in Tommy’s ear, talking him through it.

“That’s right, baby, fuck, you take it so good...want you to feel me.” Tommy moans, and Adam presses in deeper, listening to the pitch of it change as he does. “Feel good?”

“So good, Adam, fucking missed this, wanted it...”

“You want more?”

“Want it all, please, please...”

At that, Adam has to close his eyes, has to pause and imagine spending a whole night opening Tommy up until he can take everything, Adam’s whole hand pressing inside him. He’s done it before, once or twice, and god, it’s amazing, being able to make someone come with just the tiny twitch of a knuckle. But not tonight. Tonight is about other things. More important things.

He spends another few moments opening Tommy up, playing around his asshole with one, two, and finally three fingers, stretching him until the only word coming out of his mouth is “please”, and only then does he move his hand and let himself feel the anticipation. He reaches over Tommy again, this time going for a condom, and grinds his cock hard against Tommy’s ass.

“You want it?” he asks, and Tommy doesn’t even wait until the question is out before nodding his head frantically. “All right, all right, settle now.”

He lays a hand on Tommy’s hip to calm him, then pulls on the condom and lines up his cock. Tommy’s arm is stretched out in front of him, clenching around a handful of sheets; Adam takes him by the wrist, guides Tommy’s hand down to his knee, and gives Tommy a soft kiss on the back of his neck.

“Hold on here,” he says, and Tommy pulls his knee higher, putting himself on display for Adam. “That’s it, baby, that’s right,” Adam breathes, almost overwhelmed by the sight. He has Tommy spread open and waiting for him, exactly like one of his fantasies. He sucks in a deep breath and curls forward, resting his forehead against the nape of Tommy’s neck, and holds onto Tommy’s hip while he pushes his cock in.

Adam loses the sound of Tommy’s groan of satisfaction under his own much louder moan. He lifts his head and occupies his mouth with Tommy’s neck and shoulders, biting and sucking gently until there are pink marks all over Tommy’s pale skin and Tommy is squirming back and forth on the bed, looking for friction, movement, something. Adam grabs Tommy’s hand, laces their fingers together around Tommy’s thigh as they had been around his cock. He doesn’t want Tommy coming yet.

“Wait for me, Tommy,” he growls into Tommy’s ear, pulling the pierced shell into his mouth. The earrings taste sharp but Tommy’s skin around them feels hot and sweet. He bites, gently, sucking the earrings against his tongue, and Tommy cries out.

“Adam, please, Adam,” he whimpers, and Adam can feel Tommy’s hand twitching beneath his own, desperate to reach for his cock.

Adam tries to keep up his slow, rolling pace, but the feel of Tommy writhing and moaning against him isn’t working in his favor. He finally reaches for Tommy’s cock, closing his fist around him before Tommy can even force his hand to move in that direction and jacking him off quick and steady, a never-ceasing build to the finish. Tommy comes with another loud cry, clenching around Adam and slapping an open palm to the bundle of wrinkled sheets beneath him, and then he turns his face into the pillow. Adam can hear him breathing hard through his teeth, and the tips of his ears and the back of his neck are flushed so red. His skin tastes like fire on Adam’s tongue.

Adam wipes his hand on Tommy’s belly, smearing the come until his hand is somewhat dry, enough for him to grasp Tommy’s hip again and push him all the way over onto his stomach. Adam follows him, positioning his knees between Tommy’s thighs and propping himself up on his elbow, giving himself more leverage to quicken his pace.

Tommy’s still panting under him, but his body is loose and relaxed, his arms and legs sprawled open and rocking with Adam’s thrusts. He’s quiet now, too, and Adam sort of misses his desperate pleas. He fits his teeth around the junction of Tommy’s neck and shoulder and bites down hard, and oh, there it is, there’s Tommy’s high-pitched cry again.

“Baby, you’re so fucking perfect,” Adam tells him, “so good for me. So fucking good.”

“Adam,” Tommy moans. “Fuck, fuck, Adam, let me feel you, come on. Please.”

Tommy is so slick now, so loose, and finally, Adam lets himself go, lets his hips really fuck like they’ve been wanting to for ages. He looks down and watches, watches himself disappearing into Tommy’s body, stretching him so wide, so easy, and oh god, he’s so fucking close. One hand goes to Tommy’s back, right between the shoulder blades, pushing Tommy down into the bed, and the other pulls at his hip, angling him just right for Adam to go fast and deep, over and over and over until he can’t hold back any more.

The new angle pushes another low moan out of Tommy, and one of his hands goes to his pillow, clawing weakly and curling into a loose fist. He turns his head to the side and Adam can finally see his profile, see the wide spread of his lip as he pants for air and the dark fan of his eyelashes fluttering against his cheek.

Adam watches Tommy’s face, pressed deeper into the pillow with every thrust, until he cant, until he’s coming, eyes shut tight and head thrown back and fingernails digging hard into Tommy’s skin, hips flush against Tommy’s ass and cock buried deep. He holds himself up as long as he can, but his arms are shaking and all his energy seems to have flooded out of him with his orgasm, and he slumps down right on top of Tommy, just for a moment, just until his breath comes back.

Adam listens to the quick, sharp sounds of Tommy breathing; he can feel Tommy’s chest expanding beneath him, his bony shoulder blades poking into Adam’s skin as Tommy shifts his arms around to a more comfortable position, but in a way that Adam doesn’t really mind. He likes feeling Tommy so close to him. And then he realizes why Tommy’s breathing hasn’t slowed, and he pushes himself back up on his elbows.

“Shit, sorry. Fuck. Didn’t mean to--”

“No,” Tommy cuts in, “I liked it.” He doesn’t look at Adam as he says so, just closes his eyes and nuzzles the pillow under his cheek. “Stay, please?”

“I’m squishing you,” Adam protests, and pushes himself all the way up, pulling out of Tommy and shifting to sit back on his heels, ignoring Tommy’s incoherent mumbling. Tommy doesn’t move off his stomach, even though Adam knows he usually sleeps on his side, and this time his breathing does slow and even out as he starts to doze.

Adam bends down and kisses Tommy’s shoulder, careful to keep his weight off Tommy this time. “I’ll be right back, Tommy.”

In the bathroom, Adam gets rid of the condom and cleans himself up with a damp washcloth. He wets it again and wrings it out for Tommy, but when he gets back to the bed, Tommy’s fast asleep. Adam nudges his arm experimentally but Tommy doesn’t wake. Adam slowly, carefully rolls Tommy over onto his back so he can wipe up the mess on Tommy’s stomach, and then the lube smeared between his legs, and Tommy moans quietly, stirring a little in his sleep. Adam slides into bed beside him and pulls a blanket up over their bodies, tucking it all the way up under Tommy’s chin because Adam knows he gets cold.

He knows so much about Tommy. All the little things, like how he takes his coffee and how he likes to sleep. Adam wonders wildly how he could’ve overlooked something like this--something like sex. Tommy’s never...well. That’s not entirely true. Tommy’s given him lots of hints, lots of signals, but Adam always assumed that was part of the show, a little bit of Tommy’s stage persona bleeding over into the everyday. It happens to him, too, sometimes. It’s not like Tommy has ever come out and said it before.

Now, though...Adam thinks back sleepily through the mess of Tommy’s words, thinks about how he’d said he missed this. Adam shakes his head and stares down at Tommy’s sleeping face. As long as Adam’s known him, he doesn’t think he’ll ever fully understand what’s going on in Tommy’s head. He would have thought Tommy would never want Adam to touch him again after the drunken wreck that was their first time. But apparently he would have been wrong.

He reaches out and lets his fingers play gently through Tommy’s hair where it’s fanned out on the pillow. It’s weird...he’s fantasized about Tommy before, sure, but he’s never thought about being with him. For real. Tommy’s not a relationship guy. But...Adam takes a breath and glances at Tommy’s closed eyes, and wonders if maybe that’s because Tommy hasn’t been looking for the right kind of relationship. Maybe pretty, petite girls aren’t Tommy’s type after all.

Adam flops back onto his own pillow and thinks about the past few days, about how easily Tommy’s fit into his life, and for the first time, he lets himself imagine it. He thinks about what it would be like to come home every day and find Tommy waiting for him. He thinks about being on tour again, sharing that big bed with Tommy, sharing hotel rooms and room service breakfasts. Kissing backstage because it means something instead of onstage for strangers.

He wishes Tommy was awake. Or that he could read his mind. He’s pretty sure Tommy wants to do this again...but maybe he doesn’t want anyone else to know about it. Adam takes a shaking breath. He can’t do that. He can’t have a relationship entirely behind closed doors. He’s tried, and it feels wrong, like lying, like denying part of who he is, and he refuses to go back to that. But if Tommy would be open, if he was willing... They could do this. Adam could do this.

He’ll be better than he was before. He’ll make up for the hurt he caused Tommy. And he’ll give Tommy his own space--that’s what Jake said to him. That’s what Brad said to him, and Adam knows Tommy likes keeping to himself. He can’t control anyone other than himself, that’s what his relationships have taught him, and if he wants to make this work--and he does, he really fucking does--he’ll have to be better about applying those lessons.

Youre smart, Adam. Youll figure it out. His mother’s voice is in his head suddenly, and he closes his eyes and remembers the words he’s heard her say so many times, when he’s been down on himself about one failure or another. Then he looks at Tommy again, determined. This time, he’s going to make it work. He has to.

*

Tommy wakes up to the smell of coffee and scrambled eggs. He opens his eyes--feeling well-rested for once--and sees Adam coming into the room with a tray carefully balanced in his hands. He shuts his eyes again but can’t help smiling. Of course Adam notices.

“You awake?” he asks softly. “I have breakfast. And coffee, I have coffee.”

“Not awake,” Tommy mumbles, but Adam sets down the tray and touches Tommy’s ankle, and it makes him laugh. He can’t feign sleep anymore.

“I know you’re awake,” Adam says. “Eat breakfast with me, come on.”

Tommy peeks out from under the covers and squints up at Adam. “Did you seriously bring me breakfast in bed?”

Adam beams. “Yes. Yes, I did. All your favorites. Because I’m an awesome boyfriend.”

Tommy’s heart skips a beat, and he pinches himself under the blanket to make sure he’s actually awake. Then he sits up, careful not to overturn the tray, and folds his legs under him, rubbing at his eyes. He can’t quite make himself meet Adam’s eyes as he says, “Um...you mean...” He almost wishes he could still hide under the covers.

“Only if you want to, Tommy, but...I thought about it for a long time last night, and I do. Want to. It feels...kind of right, you know? Like maybe this was supposed to happen. I just feel like things are going the right direction again, and all that shit with Jake and with Maddie... like maybe that was just a detour, trying to get us where we are now, you know? But I really want to be with you, and I think we’re so good together. We could be so good together.” Adam speaks quickly, the words tripping over each other, but Tommy thinks he understands the gist of it. The important part.

“You really want to...be with me?” Tommy asks.

Adam reaches out and grabs his hand. “Yeah. I really do.”

Tommy looks at their entwined hands and then bites his lip, looking away. His voice is shaking when he speaks. “Why?”

“Why what?”

“Why would you want me?”

Adam laughs a little, looking uncertain, and Tommy knows then that it’ll all come crashing down again. “Why wouldnt I want you? You’re... You’re gorgeous, and talented, and... I don’t know, you get me. You make me happy. These past few days...haven’t you been happy? I thought--I guess, if you don’t feel the same, then--”

“No! That’s not... I do. I just don’t get it.” He looks down at his lap and smiles sheepishly. “I have been happy here.”

Adam slides two fingers under Tommy’s chin, tilting his head up. Then he leans forward and kisses Tommy’s lips, soft and sweet. “You don’t have to get it, baby. Just trust me. I want this. I want you.

Tommy’s comforted by Adam’s closeness, by his kisses, but he doesn’t think Adam understands. “I’m just... I’m really fucking bad at this. I mean, you saw how it ended with Maddie, and with all the others... I just... I don’t want to disappoint you.”

“I know you, Tommy,” Adam says quietly. “You can’t disappoint me.” Adam pats Tommy’s knee and flashes a grin. “All right, time for breakfast.”

“Are we... boyfriends now?” Tommy asks.

“That’s what you want, right?”

“Yeah. I mean... yeah. I do.”

“Then we are,” Adam says simply. “And we are going to have breakfast in bed, and then I’m going to kiss you and we can spend the whole day together.”

“You mean you want to fuck me again,” Tommy says slyly. Adam opens his mouth to reply and, by the look on his face, apologize, but Tommy cuts him off. “I’m cool with that. I like that idea. You should definitely fuck me again.”

Adam laughs and kisses Tommy again, deeper this time. “I think that can be arranged.”

Tommy slides his arms up around Adam’s neck, pulling him closer and leaning back, heading for the pillows again, but Adam doesn’t follow him.

“Breakfast first,” he says firmly. “I cooked all this shit, and you are going to eat it. Besides,” he adds with a smirk, “we’ll need our energy.”

Tommy rolls his eyes and pulls the tray into his lap, while Adam climbs into bed and slides behind him, so they can lean against each other. Tommy shifts back into Adam’s arms and looks up at him, resting his cheek on Adam’s warm, bare chest. The look Adam gives him in return is so intensely heated that Tommy can’t bring himself to care about food.

Adam reaches around him, picks up a slice of pineapple with his fingers, and brings it to Tommy’s mouth with the murmured command to eat. Tommy sucks the fruit into his mouth and licks the juice off Adam’s fingers, then glances back over his shoulder. Adam licks his lips.

“I fucking love your mouth, Tommy,” he says.

“I’d rather be tasting you right now,” Tommy tells him, deliberately fluttering his eyelashes.

Adam pinches Tommy’s arm. “You can’t just say things like that. Fuck.”

Tommy laughs and picks up a forkful of scrambled eggs. “It’s true, though. I didn’t get to last night, and I want to.”

Adam licks the shell of Tommy’s ear as he chews and swallows. “You want me to fuck you, or you want to suck me off?”

“Both,” Tommy replies, shuddering. “I want everything. Anything.”

“I’m all yours, baby, whatever you want. For the rest of today, anyway. Tomorrow, I have to go back to work.” Adam sighs. “Wish I didn’t.”

Tommy’s moved on to the bacon now, and he crunches away contentedly and leans back against Adam’s chest. “Don’t wanna think about tomorrow yet,” he says.

“I like that,” Adam says. “Let’s just live in the moment, right? Fuck tomorrow. We’ll make today perfect.”

Tommy hums in agreement and finishes eating quietly, finally starting to come fully awake. This morning is surreal, and he’s completely sober but he feels almost high. He’s glad for Adam’s solid presence, big and warm behind him, reminding him that this is real.

After Tommy finishes breakfast--and insists Adam help him--Adam pulls him out of bed and into the bathroom with the promise of washing Tommy’s hair for him, scrubbing him clean all over.

All over?” Tommy asks, grinning.

Adam pulls Tommy into his arms and leans down so they’re sharing the same air. “I want to touch every inch of you.”

The smile slides off Tommy’s face just in time for Adam’s kiss, fierce and hot and insistent, and Tommy feels his legs turn to jelly but there’s nothing he can do to stop it. Adam’s hands clenched tight around his biceps are the only things holding him upright.

Adam finally deposits him on the side of the tub and Tommy stays where he’s put, catching his breath and watching Adam bend over to twist the taps on as hot as they’ll go. The bathroom quickly fills with steam and Tommy lets it take him over, relax him as he breathes it in.

Adam’s shower isn’t small, but they still take up a lot of room, and Tommy’s surprised at how easy it is to be naked and wet and close, at how unashamed he feels. Adam pushes him back under the spray and kisses him deep, water running down their faces and into their mouths, and Tommy needs to breathe but he doesn’t want to stop, feels like he could drown smiling in this.

He can feel Adam’s cock brushing against his hip, and he reaches down to wrap his fingers around it, stroking slowly and opening his eyes to watch Adam’s face. Tommy’s always thought Adam was fucking hot, but god, like this...his hair is wet and falling in his eyes in dark spikes, and his mouth is open and panting, water dripping from lip to lip, and he’s staring at Tommy with this look, his eyes lit up from the inside. Tommy doesn’t even think, doesn’t hesitate, just slides down to his knees, resting his hands on the muscles of Adam’s thighs and looking up through the water at him.

Adam slides his hand through Tommy’s wet hair, pushing it out of his face and cradling the back of his head gently and says, “You don’t have to do this.”

“But I want to,” Tommy tells him. “I want to taste...” He leans forward and licks the head of Adam’s cock, savoring the taste of precome on his tongue. “I need to.” He shifts his weight and spreads his knees for better balance, then pulls Adam’s cock to the right level for his mouth. Adam’s hand doesn’t leave the back of his head, but it’s oddly comforting, not like the times when people just grabbed his hair.

“Easy,” Adam instructs. “Take it slow.”

Tommy leans forward and presses a kiss to the tip of Adam’s cock, just like he remembers doing in what feels like another life, another time, and Adam’s fingers twitch a little where they’re touching him. He likes doing that, feeling Adam react to him, and he ventures another lick, slower and harder, right over the slit.

Adam groans and his hips shift, just a little, pressing himself against Tommy’s lips just for a second before he regains control. “That’s right, baby, come on, just a little bit now...”

Tommy opens his mouth and slides down, lets Adam’s cock press down on his tongue and stretch his lips wide, and he knows he should stop but he doesn’t want to, wants to just keep pushing until he has it all.

Adam stops him before he hits his throat, tugging sharply on Tommy’s wet hair, and Tommy whines up at him around his cock. “Fuck, I know baby, I know. I’ll get you there, just...god, just stay right there, fucking perfect for the first time...”

He’s moving his hips now, shallow fucks into Tommy’s mouth, and Tommy sucks down the taste of him and thrills at the ache in his jaw and thinks about how he gets to do this again. He has a boyfriend and he sucks his cock and he gets to do it whenever he wants, and maybe the thought shouldn’t make him so happy, but, for some reason, it does. It really does.

Tommy reaches up to wrap a hand around the base of Adam’s cock and redoubles his efforts, pressing his lips tight and working his tongue and really sucking, and after a few moments his thoughts sort of...fade out, everything inside him going calm, lost in the repetitive motion of it, the growing pain in his knees, Adam’s looming presence over him. When Adam comes, it takes him completely by surprise, his mouth suddenly overwhelmed with the sharp, bitter taste of him. He wants to swallow it down, but he can’t, too unprepared, everything happening too fast, so he pulls off and licks Adam through it instead, come hitting his lips and cheeks and chin for just a moment before the water washes it away. He thinks about what it would be like to do this away from the water, to kneel in front of Adam and be marked that way, Adam’s scent clinging all over his face, and suddenly he realizes how hard he is himself, close already, and he has to reach down and stroke himself quickly, lost in Adam’s hand petting slowly over his wet hair and the images in his head.

Adam pulls him to his feet and presses him back against the cold tiles of the wall, batting his hand away from his cock and taking over. Adam’s hand is bigger and he grips tighter, and he kisses Tommy so deeply, licking his own taste out of Tommy’s mouth, and Tommy’s coming before he even knows it’s going to happen, cries muffled under Adam’s lips and come spilling over Adam’s fingers.

They stand very still for several moments, and Tommy’s panting but it’s hard to breathe through the thick, steamy air. He feels overheated, suddenly, and overwhelmed with satisfaction, pleased with himself for doing so well, giving Adam what he wanted. Adam kisses him again, softly, and leaves him standing there while he turns off the water and pulls a fluffy towel down from the rack. He wraps it around Tommy’s shoulders like a cape and uses the corners to wipe the moisture from his face, and taps Tommy’s nose before turning to get his own towel.

“We forgot to wash,” Tommy says suddenly, a giggle bubbling up out of him at the realization.

Adam grins down at him, laughing too. “What can I say? You’re distracting,” he says. “Besides, I’m just gonna get you all dirty again.” His voice goes low and seductive, and Tommy feels a delicious shiver run through him. He pulls the towel closer around him and watches Adam as he dries himself, unable to look away from all those freckles highlighted in the bright light of the bathroom. He smiles to himself. They’re everywhere.

After bundling Tommy up in soft pajama pants and one of Adam’s own t-shirts, Adam sits Tommy down on the side of the tub again and starts toweling Tommy’s hair dry. He doesn’t add any product, but he runs his fingers through it over and over, petting Tommy’s head and tugging gently, and Tommy smiles, letting his thoughts settle once more. Adam’s still naked in front of him, his cock half-hard and right within Tommy’s reach, so Tommy touches him. He lays his palm flat on Adam’s hip, fanning his fingers out across his lower belly, then slowly drags it inward until he can close his hand lightly around Adam’s cock, which swells a little in his grasp.

Adam slides his fingers through Tommy’s hair and tugs, tilting Tommy’s head up and back. Tommy stares up at him with his mouth hanging open, at Adam’s dark eyes and the long, straight slope of his nose. His full, freckled lips, and the damp hair clinging to his forehead. He wants his mouth on Adam’s cock again, wants to feel Adam filling his throat, wants to taste and smell the come now that it won’t wash away immediately.

“I want to fuck you later,” Adam murmurs. “I want to fuck you so deep and sweet, Tommy. “

“Yes,” Tommy agrees. “Please, yes.”

Adam stares down at him for another long moment before breaking into low laughter. “You’re insatiable,” he says. Tommy doesn’t think so; he just wants more of Adam, wants Adam to have more of him. He doesn’t think that counts. But he nods anyway, because he can recognize the teasing in Adam’s words.

Adam moves away from him then, to the bathroom counter where he scrubs a moisturizer onto his face and hands and dries his hair with a hand towel. Tommy watches him sift through his beauty products and has to ask, “Are you really staying here with me all day?”

Adam meets his eyes in the mirror. “All day, Tommy. And I’m going to wear you out, so you won’t have time to miss me tomorrow.”

Tommy smiles. “Impossible. I miss you already.”

Adam whirls around and sinks to his knees in front of Tommy without hesitating, pulling Tommy down into a deep, fierce kiss, nipping his lips as he pulls away a moment later.

“What do you say to a movie,” Adam asks against his lips, “maybe some TV, whatever you want, and making out on the couch like teenagers?”

Tommy closes his eyes and melts into Adam’s embrace. He feels warm and still a little damp and soft all over, and he smells so clean and fresh. “I like that plan,” he replies between kisses. He thinks about all the times they’ve kissed, all the times it hasn’t meant anything. It feels even better now. “I like kissing you.”

Adam grins. “Good. I like kissing you, too.”

Adam changes into soft, loose, lounge-around-the-house clothes and they relocate to the living room, and Tommy settles himself on the couch while Adam rummages through DVDs. He turns around victoriously after a few minutes, brandishing Velvet Goldmine, and Tommy grins.

“Oh man, I haven’t seen that in ages!” Tommy says.

“I haven’t either. I think we watched it enough on the first two tours that I finally got sick of it,” Adam replies, laughing.

“We definitely need a bigger movie selection on the bus this time around. Maybe we can get them delivered to our bus!”

Adam plops down on the couch with the remote and tilts his head, thinking. “I don’t think they do that, Tommy.”

“Whatever, you’re famous. They’ll do it for you.” Tommy cuddles up against Adam’s side, and Adam’s arm comes around him and pulls him in close. He leans over and presses a kiss to Adam’s neck, just because he can, just to remind himself that this cuddling isn’t like any cuddling they’ve done before. This is boyfriend cuddling.

They watch quietly, and when the characters on the screen kiss, Adam tilts Tommy’s head up and kisses him too. Tommy giggles when he gets his breath back, and Adam blushes.

“I always wanted to do that with you,” he admits.

“I’m glad you did,” Tommy replies. He darts in and kisses Adam quickly, just once on the lips, and then settles back into Adam’s arms.

Adam keeps making comments throughout the movie, about this hairstyle and that song, and those ridiculous shoes. It would usually drive Tommy crazy, talking over the movie like that, but it’s different with Adam. Everything seems different with Adam. Tommy likes hearing his thoughts, but he doesn’t really participate, at least until Curt and Brian are in bed together, totally not covered by the sheets. Tommy elbows Adam and twists to look up at him.

“That’s totally us,” he says. “Last night.”

“It’ll be us tonight too,” Adam replies, wiggling his eyebrows.

“It’s pretty hot, right? You think we could be that hot?”

“We already are, baby,” Adam whispers, and pulls Tommy up for a kiss with a hand under his chin. Adam’s fingers dig into his throat a little, and his teeth scrape Tommy’s lips, and Tommy melts against him. Adam guides him into all the right positions and shows him such perfect kisses. Tommy’s fingers clench and release of their own accord on a handful of Adam’s shirt.

“You promised to fuck me,” he slurs. “Can we do that now?”

“Here?” Adam asks.

“Yeah.”

“With the movie on?”

“Whatever. Yeah.”

Adam turns Tommy over onto his back and lays him out longways on the couch, takes his time undressing them both, pausing to point out scenes in the movie, which Tommy doesn’t at all care about now. He pulls one of those handy travel bottles of lube and a strip of condoms out from under the couch cushions, and Tommy wonders if Adam has them stashed all over the house. He wonders if they could fuck all over the house, in every room, now that they’re boyfriends. They could do that now, and nobody would think twice, because they’re together. Tommy suddenly wants to try.

“I want you to fuck me everywhere,” he tells Adam, who laughs.

“What does that mean?”

“I mean... everywhere here. All over the house. In the pool. Can we do that? Would you fuck me underwater, Adam? And outside, and in the kitchen. And in the car, can we fuck in your car?”

Adam laughs again, keeps laughing as he leans over Tommy and kisses him sloppily, so that giggles escape whenever their lips part. “I’ll fuck you anywhere you want,” he says.

“Then fuck me here, right now.”

So Adam does. And he tells Tommy about all the places they could--will--fuck, all the ways Adam wants him. He makes good on his promise, fucking Tommy slow and sweet and deep, and Tommy comes with Adam’s voice murmuring in one ear and dirty guitar riffs sounding in the other.

They finish in time for the end of the movie, and Adam curls around Tommy, pulling an afghan over them so they won’t be cold. Adam keeps nuzzling his ear and the back of his neck, but it doesn’t tickle. It just makes warmth shiver through Tommy’s body.

“I wish I could spend every day with you, like this,” Adam whispers. “Wish I could just hide here and never leave.”

“It’s not really that fun,” Tommy tells him. “You’d get bored, and you’d get tired of me. I sleep in all the time, and I play music really loud. You’ll wanna escape, trust me.”

Adam nuzzles Tommy’s face with his cheek. “All I do in the morning is work out. And I sing really loud. And the things I want to escape from are out there, not in here.”

Tommy’s heart swells. “You mean me?”

“Yeah, I mean you. We’re pretty good together, you know? I’m totally keeping you.”

It’s possibly the best thing anyone has ever said to Tommy, and he can’t even respond, just buries his face in Adam’s skin and breathes him in, wraps his arms and legs around Adam and never wants to let go. He wants to sink into Adam’s body and never leave.

Adam holds him for a long time, all the way through the rest of the movie and the credits. When the music stops, he stirs and sits up, stretching, and Tommy watches him, all those broad stretches of smooth, freckled skin that he just wants to touch. Adam catches him looking, and he blushes. He doesn’t just blush in his face, either--the pink flush goes all the way down through his shoulders, his chest, and Tommy crawls up into Adam’s lap and clings onto him again.

“God, Tommy, the way you look at me sometimes...”

“How do I look at you?”

“I don’t know. It’s like... It’s like you’re my biggest fan, you know? But like, in a good way, like I actually mean something to you. Like nobody could know me better, or be closer to me. It makes me feel really good.”

Tommy breathes out in relief. “As long as it’s not, like... creepy. I don’t mean to be creepy. I just like looking at you.”

Adam rubs his hands slowly up and down Tommy’s back and shakes his head. “Nope. Not creepy.”

“Good. Then I’m the president of your fuckin’ fanclub, babyboy,” Tommy teases, and he can feel Adam’s chest shaking with laughter before he can hear it. “You can’t get rid of me.” Please dont ever try.

They get dressed again for dinner, but undressed when they go upstairs for bed. Adam doesn’t fuck him again, even though Tommy sort of wants it; Adam touches him instead, rubs his hands all over Tommy’s chest and his throat and his arms, kisses him breathless and murmurs into his ear.

“I don’t want to go to sleep,” Adam whispers, and Tommy blinks in the dark, wishes he could see Adam’s face.

“Why not?”

“Because then today is over, and tomorrow I have to go back to work.”

“You like your work. It’s like...your dream. Isn’t it?”

Adam sighs. Tommy can feel the movement of his chest, and the puff of warm air against his skin. “Yeah, it is. But just makes everything more...intense, you know? Like, I can’t just date someone. It’s like the whole world is watching me. Like my whole life is just one long episode of that Blind Date show, complete with snarky commentary. And I don’t want things to be like that, with us. I want it to just be...us. God, I’m not making any sense.”

Tommy doesn’t know exactly what to say to that, so he just makes an encouraging noise and snuggles closer. Adam’s hand finds his under the sheets and holds on, and Tommy wonders if he could sleep like this, hand in hand with Adam. He probably could.

“I have to do an interview tomorrow, and they’re gonna ask me about Jake. And eventually they’re gonna be asking me about you. Even if we try to keep it to ourselves, Tommy, someone’s gonna find out eventually. And...I don’t like hiding. I really, really don’t.”

“You shouldn’t have to hide,” Tommy agrees quietly.

“And you shouldn’t have to come out before you’re ready,” Adam replies.

The term surprises Tommy, and he opens his mouth and closes it again, words failing him. He’s never really thought of it that way before. He’s never felt like he was lying, or hiding. But Adam’s right, he will need to go public if he expects to stay with Adam, and his stomach twists into a tight knot. He finds himself clinging to Adam’s hand and forces his fingers to relax.

“It’s okay,” he whispers. “Say whatever you need to say in your interviews. I don’t mind.”

“Tommy... You can’t just say that. This is important. You need time to process, you need... You need to know yourself really well. I can’t just mention you offhand in some random interview. That’s not fair to you.”

“It’s fine,” Tommy insists. “I’m fine with it. As long as it’s you, you know?”

Adam’s quiet for a long time, and Tommy wonders if maybe he’s fallen asleep after all. When he speaks again, he sounds cautious, as if he’s choosing his words very carefully. “You know I don’t believe in putting labels on everything, Tommy. I’m not trying to do that to you. But...I don’t know if people are gonna let you get away with calling yourself straight any more. They’re gonna ask. Fuck, I know better than anyone, they’re gonna ask a lot. And I don’t know if you’ll know what to say back to them. Have you...have you thought about it? Do you even want to?”

What Tommy wants is for Adam to go to sleep, or change the subject, or maybe fuck him through the mattress again. He wiggles closer, crawling half on top of Adam, and kisses him once, twice, just chaste little kisses that he hopes will distract him. “I don’t know,” he says. “I don’t care, just promise me, promise it doesn’t matter to you, please.” He kisses Adam again, doesn’t give him time to answer.

Adam reaches up and clasps his hands around the back of Tommy’s neck, squeezing gently but insistently until Tommy pulls away. “It’s okay with me, Tommy. Whatever you need to say is okay with me. I just need you to think about it, all right?”

Tommy takes a deep breath and tries it out tentatively, just inside his head. He skirts around the word for a long time, but finally there’s nothing else to do, nowhere else to go.

Gay. It sounds...weird. Not wrong, exactly, but not...him. It’s like the word has all these things that come with it, a whole culture, a whole fucking language that Tommy’s heard but doesn’t know how to speak, and he’s too old to start learning. The word makes him think of Adam, and Sutan, and people who are beautiful and confident and genuinely fabulous. It doesn’t sound like him at all.

A whole slew of other words, other labels, come to mind as soon as he eliminates the first, most obvious one. He sifts through them, trying them on for size, and eventually comes up with “bisexual” as the one that seems to fit the best. But it’s still not...not quite right, not quite comfortable. He tries to imagine describing himself with that term and sighs, frustrated. Why do there have to be labels at all? Why does he have to choose a word? He doesn’t know enough words to find the one that fits him, if it even exists at all.

He turns over onto his side, facing away from Adam, and he waits for Adam to spoon up behind him. He wants it so badly, he barely lets himself breathe until he hears the blankets shift, feels Adam reaching for him. Tommy sighs deeply and closes his eyes, holding Adam’s hand tight against his stomach.

Adam kisses his ear and whispers, “Today was a good day,” and Tommy smiles into the dark.

“Yeah, it was. The best day,” he replies, and means it.

“We’ll make tomorrow good too.”

Adam sounds determined, and Tommy can almost feel that strong will bracing him. He thinks he could do almost anything with Adam behind him. He sort of already has.

He nods against the pillow and presses closer to Adam, and he’s not even turned on by all of their bare skin -- he just takes comfort from Adam’s arms surrounding him, from his broad chest against Tommy’s back. Sleep comes easy, warm and slow and even, and Adam’s still there when he wakes up, still holding him just as close as he had all through the long night.

*

It’s a little bit difficult to concentrate on putting on a bit of eyeliner when Adam can see Tommy staring at him in the mirror. His gaze keeps drifting to Tommy, to the soft smile on his face, and away from the pencil an inch from his eye. Adam finally gives up and turns around, resting his ass on the counter to face Tommy.

“You’re too distracting,” he says. “I can’t get ready.”

“What if I don’t want you to get ready?” Tommy asks impishly.

Adam rolls the eyeliner pencil between his finger and thumb, considering. “You know I’d rather stay here.”

“I know.”

“Especially after yesterday, after... last night. I wish I could be here with you.”

“I get it,” Tommy says quietly. His smile fades and Adam’s heart clenches; he doesn’t want to make Tommy unhappy like this. He doesn’t want to disappoint him. “Work is important.”

Its not more important than you, Adam thinks, but he can’t say that. His work is important--for both of them--and if he even admits the possibility of staying home, skipping out on these interviews... Then he’ll never leave.

“You know you’re welcome to come with me...you know, if you want,” Adam ventures, already knowing what Tommy’s answer will be. His thoughts flicker back to last tour, to all those nights of going out, Tommy electing to stay back at the hotel. He’s never been with someone so introverted before. But maybe it’ll be nice. He’s so busy now with work obligations anyway...it might be good to do more staying home.

Today, though, he has no choice, and he glances down at his phone with a sigh. Time to go. Tommy still hasn’t replied, and when Adam looks at him he can see the conflict in Tommy’s eyes. He reaches out and pulls Tommy into a tight hug.

“You don’t have to, baby. It’s okay. I’m used to it.” He pulls away and holds Tommy at arm’s length. “We’ll have time together tonight. I’m not too busy yet.”

“Before tour?”

“Yeah,” Adam says. “We have until tour. And then we have tour. So don’t worry about it.”

Tommy nods and rakes his fingers back through his hair. “I, um...I thought some more about what you said. Last night.”

Adam raises his eyebrows, surprised. “Really?”

“Yeah. And I just want you to know that I am thinking about it. It’s just really...new, you know?” Tommy takes a quick breath, laughing a little on the exhale. “I mean, not you. I’ve thought about you for a long time. But I guess I never thought anything would actually happen, or like, what it would mean if it did.”

At that, Adam just doesn’t have a choice, has to frame Tommy’s face with his hands and kiss him, slow and deep. He’s beaming when he pulls back, and a warm feeling goes all through him when he realizes Tommy’s answering smile goes all the way to his eyes.

“Hold that thought, baby. When I get back, I want to know just how long.”

Usually, Adam uses time alone in the car to get himself psyched up for whatever he’s driving to. For a day of interviews, that means practicing his polite smile and reminding himself what not to say. But today, he can’t stop thinking about Tommy, waiting for him back at home. He wonders what Tommy’s doing, if he’s watching TV or playing his guitar or if he’s just gone back to sleep. And that makes him think about Tommy in bed, in his bed, maybe sprawled out right in the middle, taking up as much room as possible with Adam gone. It would be so easy to crawl right up on top of him, to...

Adam shakes himself and turns the music up louder. He so cannot be thinking about Tommy in bed right now. He forces himself to think instead about all the things Chad prepped him for. There will be questions about his new single, and about his tour schedule, and about Jake. Adam’s not looking forward to those questions at all, but Chad’s right: their break-up was so public, it has to be controlled in the press. There’s no way to escape it. He just has to suck it up and face them down, and then politely turn the conversation back to his music. He’s certainly had enough practice doing that.

By the time he checks in at the studio’s front desk, he’s feeling pretty confident. Except for Jake, it’s nothing Adam hasn’t faced before. A production assistant leads him to a dressing room, where a makeup artist brushes his face with powder to get rid of any shine, and then he’s out on the studio floor, until a million blinding lights and with a microphone clipped to his lapel.

The interviewer, a guy named Bill, hasn’t arrived yet. One of the PAs tells Adam he’s still in makeup, and Adam waves off her offer of coffee or a snack while he waits. He really wants to take a picture of the empty chair next to him and text it to Tommy with the words wish you were here, but if Tommy’s napping, or if he’s practicing his guitar... Adam doesn’t want to disturb him. Especially with something so embarrassingly romantic. He’s not quite sure they’re up to that point in their relationship.

Relationship, he thinks with amusement. They’ve been together a day -- two weeks, if he’s counting from their first hookup. It only feels like longer.

Bill comes in and the entire studio bursts into motion, readying cameras and checking microphones and lights. Bill shakes Adam’s hand and introduces himself, and he seems like a nice enough guy, if a little distracted. Adam just smiles and nods along. He’s already wishing for this to be over. The cameras start rolling. Adam makes sure his smile doesn’t drop.

After a very scripted intro, Bill turns in his chair to face Adam and says, “I’m here today with Adam Lambert, who’s going to tell us a little about his new single and his upcoming tour. Your third, right?”

Adam nods. “My third tour headlining, yes. I’m looking forward to it!”

“Can you tell us a little about it?”

This is something Adam can do in his sleep. He relaxes a little. “Well, it’ll be another world tour, and I’m trying to get to as many places as possible. I know last time around I missed out on a few countries, so I’m definitely trying to get there, and see all my international fans. And this time, it’s much more about the feeling, and the melodies, and the joy of it. Lots of dancing, lots of lights. I have a whole effects team traveling with me. It’ll be big, for sure, but my band and I are looking forward to it a lot.”

“So it will be focused mainly on the new album?” Bill prompts.

“Yeah, definitely. I mean, of course I’ll bring back some of the fan favorites, but this tour is really about exploring the physicality of the songs that I wrote. Staging them, choreographing them, lighting them, things like that.”

“It’s a much happier album than your previous one--I hope that doesn’t sound strange. I just mean, it seems more optimistic.”

Adam’s heart sinks. He knew this was coming. Keep going, he tells himself, and forces his smile to remain intact. “It is, yeah. On the last album, I tried to experiment a little with duality. Make it a little darker, play with contrasts, but for this one, I really had a much clearer vision. More... concise. More coherent.”

“The first single was definitely a love song, is that right?”

“Yeah.”

“Have you picked the new single yet? Can you give us an inside scoop?”

“I have, actually! Right now I’m working on getting the video all squared away--we haven’t shot yet, but it’s coming up soon. We’re trying to get it all finished before tour, and I’m really excited. I’ve got some great people signed on for it, to direct and for costumes and makeup, things like that. Amazing dancers. It’ll be really fun.”

“But you can’t tell us what song?”

“Not yet, but I mean, the whole album is...”

“It’s all about falling in love, isn’t it? Love and romance.”

“Exactly, yeah.”

Adam sees a flash in Bill’s eyes that makes him nervous, but he doesn’t even have time to prepare himself before Bill asks, “It’s about your relationship with fashion model Jacob Cruz, isn’t that right?”

Adam feels his face freeze. He tries not to let the facade slip. “I don’t think I’ve made a secret about that, yeah.”

“But you and he aren’t together anymore? Or is that just a rumor you can put to rest?”

“It’s not a rumor,” Adam says firmly. “We’re no longer together. But it was for the best, and it was time for us to part ways. Of course I wish him all the best, but--”

“But it was really public, wasn’t it? When he left you?”

“He didn’t--We broke up, yeah, and unfortunately we caused a scene, but that’s not really how it--”

“Isn’t it true that you already have a new boyfriend, though? That’s quite a fast turnaround.” Bill laughs, like he’s joking, but Adam can see right through him. He wonders how much Chad told him, if Chad gave him anything about Tommy specifically. He hopes not.

“I...” Adam swallows and laughs a little along with Bill. He can’t afford to look like an idiot right now. He tells himself it’s all planned out, all scripted. Nothing can go wrong now. “I am seeing someone, yes. But like you said, it’s kind of fast. I’m trying to keep it... not quiet, but, you know... Private. For the time being.”

“According to our, uh... twitter-sources--you know they watch you like a hawk. Your fans are pretty intense!”

“They are, definitely, but they mean well. They’re--”

“Apparently you’ve been out and about with your guitarist, Tommy? Is that right?”

Adam can’t remember seeing any press articles about himself and Tommy, but he hasn’t been keeping track of his twitter feed. He has no idea what kind of paparazzi photos are floating around on the internet. He decides to be honest--mostly honest, anyway.

“Yeah, I’ve been hanging out with some friends. When Jake and I broke up, of course I needed some time to regroup, so I was really glad to have everyone around me, supporting me. And my fans have been so great, too. Sending me letters and tweets. They’ve really helped me.”

“So are you and Tommy together now?” Bill turns to face the camera. “For those of you who don’t remember, Tommy Joe Ratliff is the one Adam famously--or infamously--kissed during a performance on the American Music Awards several years ago. And he’s played in your band ever since, isn’t that right?”

“Yeah, he has. We’re really good friends.”

“But during that whole disaster--”

“I wouldn’t say it was a--”

“You insisted Tommy was straight, right? But now it’s looking like he bats for the other team. So, how did you finally turn him?” Bill winks and nudges Adam with his elbow, smiling broadly.

“Excuse me?” Adam’s mind is completely and utterly blank. He suppresses an urge to punch Bill’s stupidly white teeth out of his head.

“Oh, come on, Adam--”

“No. No, that’s... That’s not what happened, and I don’t appreciate you talking about me or my friends that way. What Tommy and I do is our own business, and questions like that are exactly why I’ve decided to keep my relationships private from now on.”

“So you are with Tommy now? I guess this can serve as his official coming out; you can’t get much more out than if you’re sleeping with Adam Lambert, isn’t that right?” Bill’s acting like he’s joking again, but Adam doesn’t care. He clenches his hands around the armrests of his chair.

“No, he’s not out, and if he ever comes out, that’s his choice,” Adam hisses. “I won’t talk about him, and I won’t talk about what kind of relationship he has with me. He’s my friend, and he’s in my band, and I’d like to keep it that way.”

Thankfully, Bill seems to finally pick up on Adam’s tone. He turns back to the camera and says, “Well, that’s all we have time for with Adam. We’ll be sure to keep you posted on news about his upcoming single!” He looks at Adam again and offers his hand. Adam shakes it. If he squeezes a little too hard, Bill doesn’t let on. “You can be sure we’ll be playing that video when it comes out! Thanks for joining us today, Adam.”

Adam grits his teeth and forces a smile. It probably comes out as more of a grimace. “Thanks for having me.”

It seems like an eternity before the camera shuts off. Adam lets his face fall and his shoulders slump, and Bill shakes Adam’s hand again.

“Thanks a lot, Adam, that was great. We’ll let you know when it airs!”

“Don’t bother.”

He collects his things from the dressing room and talks to as few people as possible, brushing off requests for autographs and photos, and he’s not even back to his car before his phone starts buzzing. Adam desperately wishes to see Tommy’s name flashing on the screen, but of course it’s Chad. He sighs and presses the button to answer.

“I can’t talk right now, I’m driving,” he says loudly.

“You haven’t left the building yet,” Chad replies.

Adam looks around the parking complex nervously. “How do you know that?”

“I know everything. I know you fucked up this interview. Adam, I told you they would ask about your boyfriend. You have no excuse for flying off the rails--”

“I didn’t fly off the rails!” Adam protests. “The guy was being a dick. I’m surprised I held it together as well as I did.”

“From what I hear, you didn’t hold it together at all.”

“I didn’t punch him in front of the cameras,” Adam mutters.

“That’s your only saving grace right now. This thing about Tommy is going to be all over the internet in a matter of hours, and it’ll really explode once they air this interview on Wednesday. We have to handle it now, while we still can, before it becomes a bigger story.”

“Can’t you just keep it from airing?” Adam asks. He’s whining and he knows it, but he lets himself do it anyway. That’s what managers are for.

“He’s the story, Adam -- everyone wants to know about your new boyfriend. It was gonna come out sooner or later, kid. Might as well get it over with. Now, take him out to dinner tomorrow night. I’m making you a reservation. There will be wine and candles and flowers, the whole shebang. I’m not taking no for an answer. Do this, Adam. Think of it like a paid appearance.”

“Tommy doesn’t do appearances,” Adam says through gritted teeth. “He’s not that famous. He doesn’t want to be.”

“He is now, and he’s doing it. Talk him into it if you have to. I expect both of you at that restaurant with smiling, happy faces.”

It’s no use arguing with Chad. He has Adam’s best interests at heart, Adam knows that; it’s just hard sometimes to follow Chad’s plans. He takes a deep breath. “Fine. Whatever.” Then he hangs up the phone.

Adam gets into his car and slams the door, but he doesn’t put the key in the ignition. He sits with his head in his hands, staring down at the frayed cuff of his jeans. He wanted to spend tomorrow with Tommy, alone, but Chad’s right. They need to control their press before it gets out of hand. The fans will go crazy enough as it is.

“Fuck,” he mutters.

It’s only dinner. And Adam’s determined to make it a nice dinner, especially if his management’s footing the bill. He still gets to spend the day with Tommy, and it’s not like he hadn’t been planning to take Tommy out somewhere romantic anyway. Just not this soon.

Adam’s still angry when he gets home, grinding his teeth and gripping the steering wheel too hard, and he slams the car door behind him when he finally gets parked. He knows better than this, knows better than to bring work home with him. Fucking Twitter, fucking Bill, fucking Chad, dragging Tommy into this whole publicity game. The last thing Adam wants is for Tommy to feel like work, too.

He pauses at the door and forces himself to take a deep breath. Whatever else this is, it isn’t Tommy’s fault.

He hears Tommy’s guitar before he sees him, and by the time Adam gets to the living room, Tommy’s discarded the guitar on the couch and is jumping up to launch himself into Adam’s arms. Despite himself, Adam laughs, and his arms come around Tommy’s narrow shoulders in a hug.

“Missed you,” Tommy says into Adam’s chest.

Adam lets his head rest on the top of Tommy’s, since he doesn’t seem to be interested in moving any time soon. “Missed you too, baby. Not too bored while I was gone, I hope?”

Tommy shakes his head. “I, um...I sort of worked on a song. Thing.”

“Yeah?”

“You wanna, like, hear it?” Tommy’s voice is still muffled in Adam’s shirt, and Adam can practically feel him blushing even through the material. He squeezes Tommy tighter.

“Baby, I’d love to--in a little bit, though? After dinner maybe?” Adam suggests, trying to keep his voice as neutral as possible.

Tommy pulls back a little and looks up to meet Adam’s eyes. “Shit. What happened?”

Adam sighs inwardly. He’s never been very good at hiding his emotions. “I had an interview today...”

“I know.”

“It didn’t go very well,” Adam says carefully. “He was tipped off, he must’ve seen some pictures or something, I don’t know, but... He asked me about you.”

Tommy’s voice is very quiet when he asks, “What about me?” Adam isn’t sure how to answer, and Tommy continues, laughing a little. Adam can feel the nervous tension radiating from him. “I’m guessing it wasn’t about the AMAs. Again.”

“Well...that too. Sort of everything, I guess. So much for keeping things private,” Adam says bitterly.

Tommy’s quiet for a long time. Finally, he leans up and kisses Adam’s lips, softly and slowly. When he pulls back again, his face is solemn, but he doesn’t seem upset. “It’s okay, Adam. You’re...you’re worth it. Keeping things under wraps was a pipe dream, anyway. Had to come out sometime.”

“I didn’t want it to be now,” Adam grumbles. “I wanted time to just... be with you.” He shakes himself, forcing away some of the anger. “Fuck ‘em. I want to take you out tomorrow. Fancy restaurant, candles and wine, all of it. And maybe a movie? Now that it’s out there, I might as well show you off. Will you do that with me, Tommy Joe?”

It feels a little bit like lying, more when Tommy’s face lights up, then tenses. And it’s not like Adam doesn’t want those things, but...god, they’ve been together, really together, for hardly any time at all. Everything feels new and fragile, like something as small as the flash of a camera could tear it all apart.

“You really want that? To go out with me and...be seen with me?” Tommy asks, and Adam’s frustration rises again. He wants to grab Tommy by the shoulders and shake him, make him realize that it’s just as much about him being seen with Adam as Adam being seen with him, and really not about being seen at all.

“Of course I do,” he snaps. “I said I did, and I have for a long fucking time, all right? You have to trust me. I want this. Just...” Adam trails off and sighs, feeling some of his anger ebb. “Just believe that, okay? Tommy?”

“I do,” Tommy tells him quietly, his face falling. “It’s just... new. I never thought you would, and I... I kept telling myself that you’d never... you know. Think that. Feel that. About me.”

And Adam understands that, he does. He did the same with Tommy, convinced himself since they met that Tommy would never want him. But now that he knows Tommy does want him, has wanted him for a while now... All he feels is happiness. “I know,” he says. “But now I get that you want to be with me. I don’t need you to tell me that over and over. You know what I mean? I wish you would trust that I want to be with you, too. I wouldn’t say it if I didn’t mean it.”

“I’m sorry,” Tommy whispers. He ducks his head down and reaches for Adam’s hand. “I do trust you, I swear. I’ll do better.”

“Oh, Tommy,” Adam sighs. One of these days he’s going to ask, about Tommy’s parents and what it was like growing up Catholic and what his high school was like, and maybe he’s finally gonna figure out who made Tommy believe he’s so much...less. Less than he is. But not today. Not while he’s angry. He can’t deal with that knowledge, not right now.

These are the things youre supposed to find out in a relationship, anyway, he tells himself. They’re supposed to have the long talks about their pasts, their scars. There’s time for that. He grasps Tommy’s wrist and squeezes gently, and then pulls himself away.

“Let’s make some dinner, all right? You hungry?”

“Sure,” Tommy replies. “Yeah.”

Tommy doesn’t mention the date again until Adam stands up from the dinner table, dishes in hand. He wonders if Tommy’s been thinking about it this whole time, all the way through cooking and eating and talking about safe, easy things. Music. TV. Hair products.

“Adam?”

“Yeah, baby?”

“Of course I wanna go out with you. Flowers, candles, all that shit. Let’s do it,” Tommy says, sounding determined.

Adam sets the empty plates back down on the table and comes around to stroke his fingers through Tommy’s hair. “Are you sure? There’s probably--definitely--gonna be cameras. Part of the package.”

Tommy makes a contented sound under Adam’s touch and nods. “I’m sure. I wanna go out with my boyfriend.”

Hearing Tommy use that term makes Adam’s breath catch, and he grins and leans down to wrap his arms gently around Tommy’s neck and plant a kiss in his messy hair.

“Then it’s a date.”

*