He notices the guy even past the flashing lights as he steps out of the club.
He stands out, alright? He’s head and shoulders above the other paps, and even though he’s popping away like the rest of them, something catches Tommy’s eye. Probably the seriously rad jacket the guy is wearing, with the spikes on the shoulders.
The guy pulls his camera away from his face and stares at it like it’s betrayed him, and then jerks his gaze up to Tommy’s. There’s a dozen shouting photographers between them, and Cristian’s already at the car, and Jake Gyllenhaal’s scheduled to come out ten minutes behind him to run the gauntlet and Tommy can’t be here cluttering up the paps lenses. He’s the next breakout thing, maybe, but not a superstar.
He gets in the car, leans his head against the seat. It’s soothingly dark and Cristian is quiet, but the lights are still going off behind his eyelids, flash flash flash, and the bassline of the club is still running up his spine and making his ears ring, all the way home.
He sees the guy a few more times, usually on that same strip, working the trendy clubs and restaurants frequented by the rich and famous. He’s always at the back of the pack, never shouting, and not snapping away with the usual fervour. For a pap, he’s kind of half-assed. But he’s better than most, never yells insults or accusations to get a rise out of Tommy.
One night one of Tommy’s other regulars - a total dick with a horrible orange shake’n’bake tan - yells something at best disgusting and at worst actually criminal about Tommy and his underage costar, and Tommy feels bile rise up in his throat. He likes Zac, he really does - the kid is smart and cute and talented as hell, but he’s a kid, and Tommy is so fucking sick of that rumour. He turns, his hands balling into fists, searching for some really cutting remark short enough to turn into a catchy headline.
But then shake’n’bake pitches forward, suddenly, and he slips, and he puts his hands out to catch himself a little too late. Both his face and his camera hit the pavement, hard, and all Tommy has to do is sidestep him on the way to the car. He very carefully does not throw a look of gratitude at his defender, who is wearing a barely plausible expression of wide-eyed “oops”, totally incongruous with all that eyeliner and leather.
He makes a point of searching the guy out after that, whenever he’s in the area, which is depressingly a lot. It’s not even slightly his scene, but his handlers insist it’s good press, and he gets the feeling they’re delighted to have an openly bisexual guy to play with, so he’s out on dates at least four nights a week, beautiful vapid specimens of both genders eager for a ride on the latest fucking fun train.
He goes home alone, though. He’s not a whore.
He quickly comes to the conclusion that his leather-clad defender is probably the worst pap in existence. He’s not pushy or rude, doesn’t shout. He always hangs back a little, too, never elbows his way forward.
He actually stands back out of Tommy’s way when Tommy’s escorting a drunken girl - some CW star, maybe, he can’t fucking remember - out of a restaurant and into a cab, and holds the cab door as Tommy levers her into the backseat. When Tommy turns around, he realises that the guy is actually using his big broad body to shield Tommy and the girl from the other paps, looking vaguely puzzled but not even moving as they jostle up against him, shove cameras around his wide shoulders and over the top of the car door.
It’s a little island of calm, but his date is moaning sadly and the paps are even more rabid than usual, so all Tommy can do is flash him a grateful smile and crawl in the cab after her, shut the door behind him.
The next time he sees the guy, it’s not a publicity thing, and they’re worlds away from Beverly Hills and their trendy run of nightclubs and bars. He’s in Burbank, visiting his mom, catching up with old friends. Tommy’s been coming to this coffee place since he discovered the wonder of caffeine in his teenage years, and none of the staff so much as bats an eyelid at the sight of him, and it’s so refreshing he kind of wants to tuck himself into a corner and stay there forever.
So he does that, ducks up to the out-of-the-way booth behind the potted fern where he’d gotten to second base with Jamie Palmer in senior year. It’s in a corner, can’t really see it from the main part of the cafe, so hardly anyone ever sits there, but when he slides into the booth, he finds himself blinking stupidly at a very familiar pair of blue eyes.
The dissociation is so intense it takes him several seconds to place the man in front of him. This is about the last place you’d expect paparazzi to end up, even slightly hapless, good-natured ones, but here is Tommy’s pet pap, staring at him with an expression of vague puzzlement.
“Are you following me?” squeaks Tommy. Seriously, he is not that famous to justify stalking when he’s not even doing anything interesting. Maybe if he were actually in Hollywood and the coffee was some gnarly imported shit that cost twenty dollars a cup and he spilt it on a Hilton sister. But he is at a kitsch place down the street from his parents house in fucking Burbank, and seriously, what is this guy doing here, Tommy is taking back every nice thing he ever thought about him, even about his pretty eyes.
“No!” The guy looks totally stunned, and there are, now Tommy looks, books and shit spread out on the table in front of him, like he’s just kind of hanging out studying or something. There isn’t a camera in sight. “Shit, what are you doing in Burbank?”
“I grew up, like, two blocks from here,” says Tommy, before he realises this is probably not great information to give to a pap. But the guy just kind of nods and looks relieved.
“Oh, thank christ. I was worried I was stalking you by mistake or some shit, and instead it’s just, like, fate.” He smiles all sunny. “I’m Adam, by the way.”
Adam is three months younger than Tommy and eight inches taller. He has a younger brother and his parents are divorced. He became a paparazzi by accident and completely hates it, but ever since the perfectly innocent photos he took at a party were published in OK! With Sandra Bullock's husband highlighted in the background hustling a buxom waitress into a closet, he can’t get work anywhere else in Hollywood.
“No-one wants to hire a snitch,” says Adam mournfully. “Not even to wait tables or anything. Apparently I’m a security risk. And since I never got anywhere with singing, well.”
“Well, it explains why you’re such a crappy paparazzi,” says Tommy, and Adam scowls at him. It’s kind of adorable.
“Paparazzi is plural. The singular is paparazzo.” He sounds a little hurt. Tommy pulls a face.
“What’s the plural for bottom-feeding scum-sucker?” he asks curiously, and watches hurt, annoyance and then bright-edged laughter go across Adam’s face in quick succession.
“Casting directors?” says Adam, and they both laugh.
“Oh my god, look at me going on about myself like this,” says Adam eventually. “You’re Tommy Joe, man, why are you even talking to me? That’s crazy.”
“I’m fucking sick of talking about myself,” says Tommy. “All the fucking questions, man. All the same questions, too.”
“Really though,” says Adam, leaning his chin in his hands and fluttering his eyelashes. “When you say bisexual, you really mean gay, don’t you? You’re just being a selfish, indecisive tart with all this bisexual stuff.”
Tommy nods. “It’s totally true. I’m trying to further the homosexual agenda. You know, sneakily. Through the easily-led and impressionable youth.”
Adam nods sagely. “And what was it like kissing the deliciously nubile Zac Efron, who, I feel it bears mentioning, was underage at the time of filming?”
“I do love underage boys,” says Tommy agreeably. “But he drooled. I’ll have to fix that when I make him my harem boy.”
Adam cracks up, and god, he’s pretty when he smiles.
And he’s a big fan of Dare Not, too, blathers on for about five minutes about how much he and his friends all loved it and his boyfriend totally cried at the end, and then he veers off into a tangent about how great it is that they’re starting to portray gay romances in the media, because he had, like, no role models growing up, and how it’s subversive and affirming at the same time, and he waves his hands around and beams happily as Tommy just kind of nods and bobs along serenely in the conversational current.
“Oh my god, why can’t I stop talking about myself,” says Adam again, covering his face.
“I don’t know,” says Tommy. “But it’s totally hilarious to watch.” His coffee is almost gone, and cold by now, but he finds he doesn’t want to leave. It’s so absurdly easy to be here and talk to Adam, like they’re friends or something. “Hey, how come you’re in Burbank? Do you live round here?”
Adam goes a little red. “No, I live in WeHo. World’s tiniest apartment and all. Some friends of mine were doing some photoshoot thing near here this morning, with body paint and suburbia and this, like, poodle skirt with pearls? I didn’t really get the whole statement, but whatever. Lee’s teaching me how to be a proper photographer, not all this pap bullshit.” He shuffles the papers he’s got all over the table nervously. “He’s helping me look into some art schools.”
“That’s awesome,” says Tommy, genuinely impressed.
Adam shrugs. “Better than being a shutterbug. Turns out I actually really like photography, so.” He looks a little embarrassed.
“That’s so cool,” says Tommy. “I’m fucking terrible with that shit, I can barely dress myself. My stylist gets so mad.”
“But you look pretty in front of the camera, which is the important part,” says Adam, and Tommy pulls out his best Marilyn pout and Adam laughs so hard he starts sliding off his seat. They fill in a couple more minutes making silly faces at each other, until Adams phone buzzes right in the middle of one of the best Blue Steels Tommy’s ever seen, and Adam jumps a little in his chair.
“Oh shit, that’s my ride,” he says, looking apologetic. “I gotta go. It was - man, it was so nice to meet you.”
“And you,” says Tommy, and he genuinely means it, shakes Adam’s hand and watches him gather up his paperwork and stuff it into his messenger bag.
“Oh, hey,” says Adam, as he’s turning to leave. He drops a napkin on the table, phone number scrawled on it. “Always useful to have contacts in the press, right?”
He sees Adam again at the opening of some restaurant, the hottest new spot that’ll be gone in six months. The food sucks, comes in tiny portions and is bland and squishy, and there’s all these rules about wine. His date for the evening - some guy from a reality show, who Tommy might actually be interested in if he weren’t so extremely teenaged - abandons him shortly after the entrees are taken away largely uneaten, and Tommy glares at the table and wishes desperately he were at home on the sofa with a beer and a burrito, and maybe Mia, so he could complain all about how his life is totally harder than anyone’s ever.
His date arrives back at the table to say he’s just run into a producer for a show he wants to get on, and they’re going to a club, and Tommy should totally come. Tommy turns him down as gently as he can, says he’s tired and just going to go home.
He sneaks out the back door, and Adam is leaning against the wall by the dumpster, cursing at his camera, and a grin stretches Tommy’s face.
“Rough night?” he says, and Adam shoots a glare at him, before he recognises him.
“Tommy!” He makes this abortive little motion with his camera, then rolls his eyes and drops it so it hangs around his neck.
“See, this is why I’m fucking broke, man. You’re coming out the back of the trendiest new eatery in town while your date parties it up with whoever, and instead of taking pictures and paying my rent, I just wanna ask what’s wrong and maybe tell you a stupid joke so you’ll laugh.” Adam glares. “Thanks. Now I have ethics or some shit, that’s great.”
“I’ll pay you not to take my picture. Would that be appropriately seedy for you?” asks Tommy. He ducks his head and puts a hand up, like he’s trying to hide, flinching away.
Adam laughs, sort of, a little huff. “Well, now I feel like a scumbag. So, the world is right again.”
“Holy crap, do you ever not have what it takes for this job,” says Tommy.
“It’s fucking pathetic, right? On the other hand, you just got abandoned by a kid whose claim to fame is his ability to dislocate his own shoulder in time to the 1812 Overture, so.”
They regard each other in the dim light of the alleyway, and Tommy shrugs. “Wanna go for a drink?”
And that’s how Tommy ends up on the TMZ homepage making out with a drag queen.
Wait, go back.
Tommy insists they stop at a burrito stand on the way to a bar where they won’t be hassled, and Adam makes grossed-out protesting noises as Tommy blissfully devours the delicious carbs and protein and grease and then goes suspiciously quiet as Tommy licks his fingers clean. Score.
The bar is, as promised, dim and quiet and about as un-hipster as you can get, and they order drinks and sit opposite each other and drink in grim silence until Tommy feels less like wanting to stab everyone and Adam looks less like he wants to pass out from misery.
“Okay,” says Tommy, setting aside his bottle. “So, my evening sucked. You?”
“I’m being evicted,” says Adam.
“Well, you win,” says Tommy, and buys another round of drinks.
Adam gets a text from a friend not long after that, and mutters something about a club they’re going to in WeHo, “Kind of, you know, alternative?” he says. “Very gender-friendly.”
Tommy thinks that sounds fucking perfect. “I,” he announces, only slightly drunkenly, “am going to solve both of our problems.” He picks up Adam’s camera and shoves it at him. “You will take me to this amazing club, and then take pictures of me at this amazing club, and then you sell them to the highest bidder for rent money, and people will be all shocked and stop trying to set me up with fucking teenagers and you won’t be homeless. Okay?”
Adam stares at him. “I’m fairly sure this is a terrible plan,” he says. “But I can’t think of a concrete reason why we shouldn’t.”
So they go to the club, and Tommy meets Adam’s friends, and there are cocktails. Adam dutifully snaps away as Tommy does body shots off a boy in a leather harness and gets felt up by a girl sporting an enormous purple strap-on dildo and progresses steadily from sweetly tipsy to pretty fucking smashed.
Then Adam’s ex shows up, and he is tiny and brown eyed and very beautiful, and he keeps a stiff distance from Adam as Adam retreats to sulk in a corner. Tommy wanders over and sort of collapses on top of him, smiling, because he’s drunk and Adam is big and smells nice and Tommy had no idea how badly he needed to fucking decompress.
“We should do something awesome,” says Tommy happily.
“I thought we were,” says Adam, and he pets Tommy’s hair tentatively.
“I mean, like, really awesome. I should make out with somebody totally inappropriate. That’d pay your rent for six months.”
“That’s an awful idea,” says Adam, but then Adam’s friend Raja slides in the booth on Tommy’s other side. And Raja has seriously the most gorgeous eyes, and long, lovely fingers, and is wearing this cool dress that covers to the throat at the front and leaves her long, lean back completely bare. And she puts one hand on the back of Tommy’s neck and says, “Oh, sweetie, I just loved you in Dare Not.”
And that’s how Tommy ends up on the TMZ homepage making out with a drag queen.
His management flips, of course, but at least they stop trying to whore him out to the paps and start looking for actual work for him. In the meantime, he’s got a little part - just a couple of weeks worth of his time - in this crazy post-apocalyptic thing JJ Abrams is doing.
So he ends up out in the desert where they’re shooting for a while, wearing a lot of distressed leather and cultivating his stubble and playing with prop guns. He’s playing a protective older brother-type to a group of scared teens, which means he's once more spending ninety percent of his screen time with people who think Korn is oldies music.
It’s cool though, because the kid with the most screen time with him is this awesome chick with hair that looks like it’s trying to eat her head. Allison’s totally crazy, in a big, balls-out teenage kind of way, and they click right from the start. She has a bigger part than him - he gets killed off at the end of the first episode so she can have a cool revenge-driven character arc - but JJ thinks their chemistry is just the best thing ever and promptly rewrites half a dozen scenes for more Tommy and adds a couple of flashbacks to boot, so Tommy ends up spending a month out in the desert pulling Allison’s pigtails and wondering when in hell people started taking him seriously.
He's not the desert-epiphany sort at all, but getting back to LA is like a slap in the face. Everything’s way too bright and loud and he has about six million unread emails and people calling him and he nearly gets collected by a car when he steps onto the road without looking. Eventually he just goes home and buries himself under his comforter with a stack of scripts and ignores the world.
That only works for a couple of days before a breakout pop star with the same management as him needs a date to some awards show. He's on the inexplicably blue carpet on the arm of a pretty dark-haired girl who thinks tattoos are, like, so gross, restlessly surveying the shouting photographers as she poses and preens, when it occurs to him that he's looking for Adam.
Which is absurd, because Adam doesn’t work the awards show circuit. Tommy thinks you need proper press credentials and backing from a publication to get in that door, and Adams freelance.
But it jogs his memory, so the next day he digs up Adams number and calls him.
“lo.” Adam sounds half asleep.
“Shit, sorry, did I wake you?” Tommy checks his watch - it’s well and truly after lunchtime.
There’s a pause, and Adam’s voice comes back clearer. “Tommy?”
“How’s it going?”
“Wow, I wasn’t expecting to hear from you,” says Adam. “How have you been? You haven’t been around much.”
“Working hard. You wanna do something?” Tommy picks absently at his nailpolish.
“Uh, right now?”
“Or whenever. Just go for some drinks or something.”
There’s some shuffling noises on the other end. “I should bring my camera?”
Tommy blinks. “Only if you’re so desperately short of rent money that snaps of me drinking PBR and kicking your ass at pool would be worth something.”
“Oh,” says Adam quietly. “Yeah, actually, that sounds good. Not the camera thing. The rest.”
Tommy gets clocked a couple of times outside the bar, and he sees a couple of camera phones pop up when he gets in, but nothing intrusive, and he doesn’t plan on being particularly scandalous tonight, unless hanging out with a pap counts.
“Holy shit, you’re tanned,” says Adam admiringly, as soon as he spots him.
“Fuckin’ Nevada,” agrees Tommy. “Twenty-two fucking days. And the director wanted us to be all method and shit, with the isolation and the low-tech thing, so I was barely allowed a cellphone at all. I thought I was going to die.”
“Oh,” says Adam, and his head tips up, this funny little smile. “Oh, okay.”
“What?” Tommy asks.
“Nothing,” says Adam. “You just - you didn’t call, and I thought you were mad at me or something.”
Tommy has to take a moment to fill in the blanks in that sentence. “What - about the TMZ thing? Are you kidding?”
Adam shrugs, looking embarrassed. “I sold pictures of you making out with a dude in a dress! Most guys would be upset!”
Tommy laughs. “I fucking told you to take those pictures, man, I posed for the damn things. Tell me you got a good payout.”
Adam grins. “Enough to pay for semester of school and live off for a couple of months.”
Tommy has to high-five him then, clinks his bottle against Adam’s luminescent cocktail glass, and they drink to the media.
He's distinctly less impressed with the media when the pictures of Zac hit the gossip rags, because the first he hears about it is some asshole shoving a camera in his face and asking if he feels guilty for turning the Disney golden boy.
“It was an accident,” Zac says on the phone, later.
“The kissing, or getting caught?” Tommy’s exasperated. He adores Zac, really, but the kid is so fucking young sometimes.
“Um,” says Zac.
Of course, the scandal means that all the entertainment shows are playing that clip from Dare Not that they were all jizzing over when the movie first came out. Tommy catches it when he's channel surfing that evening and stops to watch, because he's narcissistic enough he can’t help it. There’s the rain, and him and Zac under the bridge, soaking wet, and Zac’s shaking and breathing hard - nobody could say that kid can’t act his face off - and he says “Simon, please,” in this cracking voice and turns his face up and Tommy kisses him like he wants to crawl inside and stay for a while.
It had been freezing that day on set, and afterwards they had rushed back to Zac’s trailer - the heating was broken in Tommy’s - stripping off their soaking clothes and wrapping up in big blankets and huddling around the little oil heater, burning their icy feet on it and defrosting their hands with big mugs of hot chocolate. Zac had been giggling and shy, tousled head poking up possum-like from his blanket cocoon, pressing his lips together and touching them with his fingers and running his tongue over them, restless. Tommy had teased him about his kissing technique until Zac had roused enough to insult Tommy’s bad breath and his mother all in one sentence, and they’d talked trash at each other until a PA came to see what all the noise was about and scolded them for leaving their wet costumes in heaps all over the floor.
He gets a call from Adam, who says “Did you turn Zac Efron gay, you saucy little minx?” and then laughs for five minutes straight while Tommy curses at him and shrilly denies everything.
“I think you could do it, honey,” says another voice on Adam’s end, and Tommy knows that voice.
“Hi, Raja. Nice to hear from you.”
“I’m Sutan today, sweetness, but it’s nice to hear you too. Kissed anybody interesting lately?”
“You know you’re my forever girl,” says Tommy.
“Well, in that case, you have to come to the show I’m putting together,” says Sutan primly, and then yelps “Fuck!” in a very unladylike way before Adam’s voice comes back on the line.
“You don’t have to do anything if you don’t want to, Tommy,” he says, which only piques Tommy’s curiosity.
He calls Zac again after Adam hangs up. “Hey, wanna do something outrageous?” he asks, which is how he and Zac end up front row at this insane circus of a panto that’s part drag show part musical theatre part rock concert. Every single performer and half the audience is covered in glitter and wearing crazy costumes and insanely talented, and Tommy and Zac clap along and enjoy the hell out of themselves despite looking very out of place in jeans and t-shirts.
Then one guy forgets the lines to a song and steps out of time in a dance and everyone goes “Oooh” as a very tall dude in even taller glittery platform boots comes out dressed all in black leather and wielding a paddle, and he scoops the guy up and gives him a playful spanking right there on stage while the audience whoops and catcalls madly. Then the guy with the paddle turns to the audience and it’s Adam, sweet cheerful hapless Adam with his puppy-dog eyes and dorky laugh, standing there twirling a paddle purposefully with this dark, intent look in his perfectly made-up eyes, and he's so tall and gorgeous and so extremely Tommy’s type, shit, how did he not notice this?
And then Adam holds up one hand elegantly and the crowd goes dead silent like someone’s flipped a switch. Tommy’s belly clenches. Yes please. Adam lifts the microphone and says something in this velvety-smooth voice about bad boys needing to be punished, and beside Tommy, Zac whimpers a little and shifts in his seat.
You and me both, thinks Tommy, as Adam rumbles something about watching very carefully for any more misbehaviour, and stalks off stage with a threatening flourish. There's a beat, and then the show swings back into motion, mid-song, as if it never stopped.
Despite his sudden, totally inappropriate boner, Tommy is on his feet with the rest of the audience at the end of the show, cheering for more, and he drags Zac backstage after it’s all over and fights through the lace and feathers and glitter until he can hug Adam, who’s back to being just Adam again, laughing at himself.
“God, I was so praying nobody would screw up,” he says, red-faced. The paddle is dangling from a strap tied to his wrist now. “I don’t know how Sutan talks me into this shit.”
“You love it, don’t even pretend,” says Raja, appearing out of nowhere. “Oh, honey, you brought me a present!” Zac, still hanging onto Tommy’s arm, makes a squeaky sort of noise and edges backwards. You’d think he’d never been hit on by a six-and-a-half foot drag queen before.
Tommy makes hasty introductions and he and Zac are quickly surrounded by admirers. Zac gets over his nerves pretty fast and drops into talking-to-fans mode, and Tommy lets himself be petted by Raja, which several other people take as permission and he ends up fielding questions about his haircare regime while being stroked by a guy wearing peacock feathers and a harness and not much else.
He's about to suggest they get out of the cramped backstage area and go get drinks or something, but then he turns his head and sees Adam’s got his arm around the pretty, delicate boy who’d messed up and needed spanking. Adam’s head is ducked down so he can talk right into the boy’s ear, and they’re both smiling, the boy’s eyes shining as he giggles at whatever Adam’s telling him.
“You’re buying me a drink, pretty,” says Raja, right by his ear suddenly. Tommy turns so he can snuggle against her chest. She’s slim, almost breakable, but Sutan towers over him by a good eight inches and Raja is all that plus heels, so he slides right under her arm and hangs on.
“Your show is awesome,” he tells her. “Fuck being a movie star, I want to work for you. You have glitter.”
She kisses the top of his head. “You’re always welcome, honey, you know that, but we’re going out there, and you’re going to buy me something enormous and froofy and pink. With an umbrella in it.”
“Is this a drink or an outfit?” says Tommy, and lets himself be herded.
He ends up buying a round of drinks for most of the cast and half the audience, and its not until he’s halfway through a very tall neon purple drink that tastes inexplicably of mango that he realises he left Zac backstage signing autographs for drag queens. Oops.
Adam emerges toward the end of the purple-mango drink, and he’s got his little spanking buddy tucked under one arm and Zac under the other, and Tommy takes one look at Zac’s smitten face and rolls his eyes.
“A vodka tonic,” Adam announces, “and two glasses of milk for the kids.”
Zac and whats-his-face produce identical furiously embarrassed expressions. “Fuck you,” says Zac clearly. “Taylor and I are going to hang out with the cool kids.” He grabs the wrist of the boy under Adams other arm - Taylor - and tows him over to Tommy. “Tay, this is Tommy. He'll get us drinks.”
“He will not,” says Tommy. “Hi.”
Taylor waves shyly. This close he looks about seventeen under the unflattering dark makeup. Tommy has the urge to scrub his face clean and start over; more muted, less vampish. He’d be cute. “I’m a fan,” says Taylor. “I mean, of both of you. I loved Dare Not.” He darts a slightly anxious look at Zac, who’s still got him by the wrist. “You don’t have to buy me a drink.”
“Well, no,” says Tommy. “Zac’s just bratty that way.” He ruffles Zac’s hair, and Zac swears and ducks away.
“I mean,” says Taylor. “You don’t have to buy me a drink; my cousin’s the bartender. Adam’s just being a dick. He makes fun of me cause I’m the baby of the cast.” He shoots a wrathful look at Adam, and Tommy watches in fascination as everybody who sees it does a double take. It’s a bit like seeing a cocker spaniel puppy burp a fireball.
“Cute,” Adam croons. He reaches out like he's going to ruffle somebody, and Zac and Taylor back away hastily, so it’s Tommy who ends up getting his hair messed.
Then Adam spots the remainder of Tommy’s tall purple drink and demands one for himself, only Tommy has no idea what it’s called, but rather than asking someone they just end up drinking their way through a fair swathe of the cocktail menu, trading sips and spilling sticky everywhere until they’re completely hammered. Adam’s smiling, big and glittery and still wearing all that leather, sitting on the barstool next to Tommy with his long legs going in different directions and licking sweet booze off his long fingers, and Tommy wants to kiss him, rather badly.
Then Zac falls off the table - why is he on the table? - And Raja comes and says “Maybe it’s time the kids went home, huh?” in this pointed way, so Tommy calls for a car. He piles into the back with Zac and Taylor, who promptly curls up and falls asleep on him, and its only once they’re moving that he notices Adam’s in the front seat with the driver, giving him directions.
But Taylor falls asleep pretty much straight away, and even when Tommy rouses him, he can’t get his own address out, and Zac looks like he doesn’t know if he wants to protect Taylor from all harm or snuggle up and fall asleep with him, and Adam’s craning his head around from the front seat, openly curious and grinning.
Tommy rolls his eyes and tells the driver they’re all going back to his place.
Tommy’s apartment is not huge. It’s a two-bedroom, but the spare room is full of guitars and his computer and boxes he never unpacked when he moved to LA properly after his first role, almost three years back. Since Dare Not he can totally afford something better, but when he has the time to look he’s usually not that interested, and when he gets cabin fever and really needs something bigger, he never has time. A couple of months back he was seriously interested in this one house, but that’s when his Dad got sick and by the time he’d gotten around to calling the estate agent back the place had been sold.
They haul Taylor into the bedroom and drop him and Zac on Tommy’s bed - he’d put clean sheets on that morning in the hope that somebody would appreciate them, though a couple of drunken underage twinks wasn’t what he had in mind. (Or if it was, it wasn’t this scenario.) He stands back and stares - the bed is big, but there’s no way all four of them will fit without getting way more friendly than they are, so he and Adam share a shrug and pussyfoot out, closing the door behind them.
“Does Zac actually go for guys?” Adam asks in a half-whisper, setting his glass in the sink.
“No idea. Does Taylor?”
Adam’s face squishes up in thought, and he shrugs. “It never came up.”
“Not even while you were spanking him?” Tommy mutters, more childishly than he intended, and turns to go into the living room. He’ll sleep on the couch.
“Hey, for the record,” says Adam, and grabs his wrist. Tommy doesn’t expect it, so it topples him off balance, and Adam’s drunk enough it’s not very controlled, and the end result is that Tommy goes crashing into Adam’s chest, pinning him back against the counter.
There’s a fuzzy drunk moment and then they’re making out. There’s no intermediate stages - no meaningful eye contact or coy glancing at lips, just, bam, one second standing against the counter, next minute getting hitched up on it while Adam tries to lick his tonsils. Tommy is all on board with this plan, though he distantly wishes he was more sober, because he's kind of numb with cocktails and this would be so much more awesome if he could control what his hands were doing.
“Holy shit, this is a terrible idea,” Adam pants, breaking away.
“It is,” Tommy agrees, but he's got a heel digging into Adam’s back and a hand tangled in Adam’s hair and to be perfectly honest, he’s drunk enough he doesn’t really give a shit. “Should we stop?”
“Um, probably,” says Adam, and get his hands under Tommy’s thighs, picks him up easily.
Fucking hell, that’s hot, how he can haul Tommy around so easily, how big he is. Two steps across the kitchen, Adam’s broad shoulder bounces off the wall as he stumbles, and they both laugh.
“Don’t even think about trying the bedroom,” says Tommy, clinging to Adams neck. “Can you imagine if this shit got out?”
Adam changes direction, heading for the living room instead. “Rising star in orgy with underage co-star and paparazzo,” he says.
“Its kind of long,” says Tommy, and squeaks as Adam drops him on the couch. “There might have to be sub-headings.” He wants to say more, but Adam topples down on top of him and kisses him, all sloppy and friendly, hello.
“For the record,” Adam says, a little later. “This is still a terrible idea.”
Nothing happens - or at least, Tommy is still wearing his pants when he wakes up the next morning, as is Adam, sprawled on top of him. It’s awkward for about thirty seconds and then Taylor and Zac come tumbling out of the bedroom, wearing between them a hodge-podge of last night’s club clothes and what looks like whatever they could find in Tommy’s top drawer. Tommy curses them for t-shirt stealing bastards and goes to glare at the coffee pot. He’s cranky right up until Zac comes up behind him to snuggle him around the waist and make happy noises, because seriously.
“Fuck you,” he says, as Zac reaches around him to press the magic sequence of buttons to make the coffee machine produce something drinkable.
“You love me really,” says Zac.
“I don’t know whether to be madly jealous or get my camera out,” says Adam, behind them. “Can you fucking imagine.”
Tommy totally has a comeback for that, but right at that moment, the coffee machine goes ding and he’s very busy.
Once everyone’s caffeinated, Tommy calls a car. All jokes aside, he can totally imagine the headlines that would result from Zac emerging dishevelled and hungover from his place with two strange and attractive men from last night’s drag show. Actually, he should totally check to see if that’s hit the tabloids or anything.
“Hey,” says Adam, turning back as the other two pile into the car. “Go out for dinner with me?”
Tommy stares at him. “Uh.”
“If you’re busy tonight, maybe tomorrow?” says Adam. “I know some places that are a bit quieter, you know, private, so you shouldn’t be hassled.” He smiles, this sheepish, hopeful look on his face, his eyeliner smudged under his eyes and his hair in wild disarray.
Tommy can’t remember the last date he went on that wasn’t organised by a nosy manager or publicist, just because he liked someone. He can remember the last time he got laid, but the sex with the lead dancer in Katy Perry’s latest video had been something less than spectacular and he hadn’t seen her again. The thought of going out with Adam, on a date, going to dinner and talking and holding hands and maybe going home with him after, only not drunk or escorting a couple of sozzled underage twinks this time, make it all the way to the bed, maybe finding out if Adam was as spectacular in bed as his kisses promised - it’s terrifying, wonderful.
“Answer him, man, and let’s go,” comes Zac’s cranky voice from inside the car.
Adams knuckles are white where they’re clutched around the side of the car door.
“Not tomorrow,” says Tommy. “I have a thing. I’m a busy man.”
Adam’s face falls. “Oh. Okay.”
Tommy rolls his eyes. “Seriously? You’re giving up that easy? I’m a little insulted. You’re not even trying.”
Adam blushes. “How about Thursday?”
“Saturday I could do, but I’m supposed to put in an appearance at this new club in the Hills at midnight, if you wouldn’t mind finishing up early.”
Adam shoots him a dark look. “You’re being difficult on purpose, aren’t you.”
Tommy bats his eyelashes. “Pick me up at seven on Sunday.” He tweaks Adam’s collar and kisses his cheek, waves goodbye to the boys in the car, and sashays back into the building even though swinging his hips like that makes him feel vaguely nauseated.
Despite Tommy’s reservations, nothing shows up over the next couple of days bar a few reported sightings of him and Zac at the bar, no photos and its all on the blogs, nothing on the bigger news sites, just rumours. Tommy is grateful, mostly on Zac’s behalf - the rumour that he’s dating one or more drag performers could do nothing but help Tommy’s image at this point, but Zac’s still rocking the squeaky-clean all-American vibe, and his fanbase tends to skew a little young to really appreciate the finer points of grown men in rubber pants and corsets.
The next few days drag a little. He’s busy, but not as busy as he’d told Adam he was. He catches up with his friends, dodges his management as best he can, goes to an audition.
“I’m really not that interesting,” Tommy tells an interviewer over the phone, a couple of days after the show. “I just hang out with interesting people, you know? I’m a schmuck who got lucky and people keep making me look good.”
She prints that verbatim, on the website and as a little sidebar blurb in the magazine, and by some miracle nobody calls him a pretentious dick.
Sunday afternoon he’s freaking out so much he actually calls Zac for moral support. This turns out to be a mistake, as Zac laughs at him for ten minutes solid and tells him to get over himself, because Zac is a terrible person and a very bad friend and Tommy is never taking him anywhere interesting or introducing him to people ever again.
“You go on dates every week,” Zac points out, still laughing. “Last week you went on a date with that new dude from the Vampire Diaries.”
“Yeah, but I didn’t like him,” Tommy says, and then pauses. “Actually, no, he was pretty cool, but he has a girlfriend who’s camera-shy and I don’t actually want to sleep with him even if he is attractively symmetrical.”
“Mmmm,” says Zac. “But?”
“I want to sleep with Adam?” Tommy offers weakly.
“Huh,” says Zac. “I kind of figured you already had.”
So Zac is no help, and its not like he can call any of his other friends, because they’ve never met Adam and would probably freak out at the idea that he’s going on a date with a pap even though Adam is totally retired and going to art school and everything.
He’s a bundles of nerve by the time Adam shows up, but so is Adam, all kind of breathless and shy and dropping his car keys, and when he takes Adam’s hand like they’re in the seventh grade Adam stutters over what he’s saying so hard he loses track of a whole sentence and Tommy can’t quite keep from laughing at him.
“You’re mean,” Adam says as they drive, and Tommy reaches over and puts his hand on Adams knee, and Adam gets all quiet and clenches his hands on the steering wheel and concentrates really hard on the road for the rest of the drive.
Tommy’s got no idea where they are when they finally stop, and he’s kind of glad of it. Adam smiles shyly and holds the door for him, and as much as Tommy wants to make fun of him for that he can’t, because Adam’s so fucking earnest about it, like he’s read all the books about how to be a good date and he’s totally determined to get it right.
The restaurant is nice, a homey, non-trendy place with a middle-aged waitress who calls them both honey and flirts in a motherly kind of way, and the food is awesome and comes in huge portions that make Tommy so, so happy and Adam go a little wide-eyed with alarm. (He starts babbling about calories when their dessert arrives and Tommy just ignores him and sucks chocolate cheesecake off the end of his fork with his eyes shut in bliss until he hears Adam whimper.)
The conversation goes so easy, too. The standard first-date discussion of movies, music and holidays gets sidetracked into a forty-minute detour on the glam rock seventies, a brief but instructive foray into the world of classic horror, and then Adam starts talking about being naked on stage in Germany and Tommy completely loses track of what’s going on because that image is totally the greatest thing in the world and he really hopes there’s pictures.
Adam takes the cheque, slapping Tommy’s hands away. “I asked you out, I’m paying,” he insists. “Next time you take me to some fuck-off celebrity hotspot where the salads are seventy dollars, you can pay. I know what you made on your last movie.”
“That’s creepy,” says Tommy, taking his hand again as they walk out to the car. “I can’t go out with you if you’re going to be creepy.”
“So I shouldn’t have brought my camera with the telephoto lenses?” Adam asks innocently, and Tommy rolls his eyes.
“You’re less than a foot away from me. Nobody needs to see me that close up.”
“I beg to differ,” says Adam, pinning him against the car, smiling small and secret. “I could stand to look a little closer.” He makes a show of peering closely at Tommy’s face while they both hold laughter in, and then sighs dramatically. “God, I’d kill for your complexion, you total bastard.”
“That’s why they put me in front of the camera,” says Tommy. “Cause I’m pretty. Are you going to kiss me, or is the plan to just breathe heavily on me all night?”
Adam laughs and actually bites him first, on the lip, just gently. It’s better sober, a thousand times better, Tommy practically bent backward over the hood of Adam’s crappy car in the parking lot of a restaurant, Adam’s hands at his waist like Tommy’s some delicate little girl, even the way Adam can’t stop smiling into it so their teeth keep clacking together.
“What’s so fucking funny?” Tommy asks eventually.
“Nothing,” says Adam, and Tommy can feel him grinning big and bright against his cheek. “You’re awesome.”
The manager of the restaurant comes out then and apologetically tells them they have to stop making out right in front of the floor to ceiling windows, so they climb back in the car and Adam takes him home. Tommy holds his hand the whole way, except when Adam needs it for driving, when he rubs Adams knee instead and Adam goes all pink and flustered.
“Come inside?” says Tommy, once they’re safely parked in the drive and he’s managed to prevent Adam from scurrying round the car to open his door for him but let him walk Tommy to his front door like its prom night and Tommy’s daddy is waiting in the living room with loaded shotgun.
Adam narrows his eyes, smirking. “On the first date?” he says primly. “I am not that sort of girl, Mr Ratliff.”
“Aw, come on,” says Tommy. “This isn’t our first date. We’ve been out before. I came to your show, that counts, right?”
“You brought Zac,” says Adam, scowling.
“He hooked up with Taylor, it totally counts. As, like, double date, maybe. Also, hey! That time we went out to that cool bar and spent all night dodging your ex.”
“You hooked up with Raja!” Adam isn’t even trying to hide his smile.
“I did, that’s true. That was awesome.” Adam makes an offended noise and sticks his lower lip out. “Okay, so we can’t count that. But this is at least our second date. At least.”
“I don’t put out on the second date, either. I’m a traditional sort,” Adam tells him, batting him away.
“If the words ‘waiting for marriage’ are about to come out of your mouth, I might cry,” says Tommy seriously.
Adam pulls a face. “Third date. At the earliest,” he says firmly.
Tommy considers this. “Second date’s gotta be worth something.”
“You’re fucking pushy, you know that? So much for romance.”
They end up on the couch again, necking like horny teenagers. Tommy’s had hookups, and he’s had sex, and he’s had relationships, but its been a lot of years since he’s just made out with someone, just kissing and touching with everything below the waist and under the clothes off limits.
“You’re so impatient,” says Adam, the third time he bats Tommy’s hand away from sliding up under his shirt. “You know, if there’s one thing I’ve learned from dating lesbians, it’s that sex is not all about the destination. Take your time and enjoy the journey.”
“You’re being a dick to torment me, admit it,” says Tommy. “Is this about the Raja thing?”
Adam giggles and kisses his neck. “No. I like you,” he says and props himself up so he can look at Tommy properly from three inches away. “I want to do this properly.” Emphasis on the last word, so earnest and honest and sweet.
“Sorry,” Tommy mutters. “I’m being a brat.”
Adam kisses him again, soft and intimate. “No, it’s nice,” he says. “It’s nice that you. You know. That you want me.”
“That I have eyes,” says Tommy, and watches Adam smile. “No, seriously.” Adam blushes a little, so Tommy has to kiss him some more, and then, after some amount of time passes, Adam rolls out from under him before Tommy can “tempt me with, like, your wiles.”
“I don’t have wiles,” Tommy protests, chasing him, and Adam pauses long enough for a brief, breathless kiss at the door and then he’s gone.
“Fucking tease,” Tommy complains, but there’s no heat in it as he watches Adam’s ass retreat down the hallway.
His publicist has left him a couple of messages, but it’s late now, so he jerks off in the shower, grumbling, sets his alarm and topples into bed.
(About an hour later, a sudden thought strikes him and he has to call Adam immediately. “When did you date lesbians?” he asks as soon as Adam answers, and Adam just laughs.)
He doesn’t get to see Adam for a couple of days, though they exchange flirty text messages as he suffers through auditions and Adam sorts through the paperwork he needs for art school.
The ex is drunk-dialling me. Adam sends him one evening, when Tommy’s sacked out on the couch staring vaguely up at the ceiling, without the energy to even go get a beer from the fridge.
I could totally take Bieber in a fight, Tommy texts him, after a particularly upsetting interview.
Hey, can I ask a favour? From Adam as he’s getting coffee, the barista giving him a bored I-know-who-you-are-but-I’m-too-cool-to-acknowledge-it look. He raises his eyebrows at her, and takes his coffee out into the fresh air, calls Adam.
“I’m not marrying you for tax breaks,” he says, when Adam answers.
“Aww, please?” says Adam, and they both crack up. “No, seriously though,” says Adam eventually, “feel free to say no.”
“You have to ask first,” Tommy reminds him, trying to juggle his coffee and his phone and get his keys from the pocket of his hoodie.
“Well, I have to do this portfolio as part of my application for school,” says Adam. “And I figured I may as well do, like, stuff I’ve already got experience with, right? So it’s like a theme of celebrity and the obsession with it, and paps and gossip rags and the whole narrative shit that happens. And I’m using lots of stuff I did while I was still working, stuff that never sold, and, well, I live in LA, so its not like I can’t expand it this way, but then I had this idea, and Sutan said I should ask you, so.”
“Rambling,” Tommy points out, setting his coffee on top of his car.
“Sorry. I was hoping you’d help me out.”
Tommy frowns. “I would, I really would, but there’s all this legal shit in my contracts about modelling and stuff, I’d have to talk to my agent.”
“Oh! No, I didn’t explain it,” says. Adam. “I mean, my idea is that I would, like, shadow you for a day, but instead of photographing you, I’d be shooting everyone else, all the people you meet, your management, your friends, fans and shit. Getting, like, people’s reactions to celebrity, you know?”
“Oh.” Tommy finally locates his keys, hits the button to unlock his car. “Actually, that sounds awesome.” Its a cool idea, but more than that, it means he gets to spend the day with Adam, and that will totally count as a date - he can be persuasive on that point if he needs to.
“And we can count it as a date,” says Adam brightly, proving his total excellence as a human being.
“Only if you let me buy you lunch,” says Tommy.
It turns out there isn’t a day that works for both of them until Friday, when Tommy has a couple of meetings in the morning and then is just running errands for himself around town.
“I mean, there’s only so much my PA can do,” he tells Adam over the phone. “I’m not letting her buy underwear for me, that’s a line I’m drawing right there.”
“You’re taking me along to buy underwear for you?” Adam asks, sounding bemused.
“You should see the faces on people when they realise who they’re selling tighty-whiteys to,” says Tommy, and hangs up on Adam’s cackling.
Adam shows up on his doorstep (well, the front door of his building) at a totally reprehensible hour on Friday morning, camera slung around his neck, grinning fit to bust.
“Way too fucking cheerful for this hour of the morning,” Tommy complains as Adam bounces into the foyer, but then Adam kisses him with a bright, wet smacking noise and shoves coffee into his hands.
“Morning, honey,” he chirps.
“Coffee,” Tommy replies, cradling it to his face, and Adam laughs.
He dozes on Adam’s shoulder on the way to his first meeting, and zones out through most of the event itself, as his manager and agent and some studio reps squabble and fight and Adam hums under his breath at his Tommy’s elbow and appears to be listening intently.
“Do you really just let them make decisions for you like that?” he asks afterwards when they’re having more coffee in the little staff room, and Tommy shrugs.
“Nope. Nothing’s official until I’ve signed for it anyway, and I’m not dumb enough to sign anything I haven’t read. If I don’t like what they’ve agreed on, I send it back.”
“Because they were discussing, like, you doing naked scenes and shit.”
Tommy snorts. “Pervs. I’m not getting naked. They’ll have to get a butt double, nobody’s seeing my scrawny ass.”
“It is pretty scrawny, isn’t it,” says Adam, sneaking a quick grope. Tommy makes an outraged noise and smacks his chest.
“Hands, mister. If I’m not getting any action, you sure as hell can’t get fresh,” but he doesn’t resist when Adam kisses him again, the hard lens of his camera jammed between their chests.
The second meeting is marginally more interesting, with a producer who really wants Tommy for his project, doesn’t even want him to audition, just do some quick screen tests with the actress they’ve got for lead. It’s actually a meaty part, a drug addict trying to get clean and support his pregnant girlfriend. Tommy can totally rock the heroin chic look, though he may need to cut down on the burritos for a while to get appropriately starved-looking.
His publicist wants to talk about setting him up on another date, but Tommy grabs Adam’s hand, gives her a pointed look, and drags him away.
“And now I’m done for the day,” he says happily, towing Adam down the sidewalk. “Lunch, do you think, or shopping first?”
“I could eat,” says Adam, and they spend half an hour wandering down the street bickering over where to eat - Adam keeps trying to bodily drag him into, like, vegan places and weird hippie organic restaurants that tended to pop up to cater to the health-nut zero-calorie crowd. Tommy threatens to abandon him for something with actual flavour, and they end up getting takeout sushi and finding a small park to sit in. Adam squeaks and starts taking pictures of the badass spiderweb strung between two trees with a vexed-looking spider hanging off it, and Tommy laughs at him and resists the urge to do something stupid like try and hand-feed Adam egg rolls. It’s only their second - third? - date.
Adam flops down on his back on the grass and says “Smile!” the camera clicking on whatever dumb expression Tommy was wearing at that moment, but he won’t show Tommy the result, wrestles the camera away and giggles.
When Adam starts to fret about his sensitive skin freckling in the sun, they get up and head for the department store, Tommy teasing him every step of the way, especially when Adam lets slip that his natural hair colour is nowhere near the ink-black he keeps it.
“You’re a redhead,” Tommy marvels, practically skipping beside Adam’s longer legs. “You’re a ginger. A rednut.”
“Fuck off,” Adam groans, and snaps a quick picture of the double-take from a passerby.
Tommy wasn’t kidding when he said he needed to buy underwear, and he suffers gamely through Adam’s gentle teasing and the photographs that he suspects are not being taken only of onlookers, though he doesn’t quite manage to catch Adam at it. He’d normally just grab what he needs and get out, but something sparkly catches Adam’s eye and next thing Tommy knows he’s being dragged through a bewildering array of pants that all look identical to him and shirts that are alarmingly different, belts and boots and scarves and jewelry. Adam hustles him into a change room and throws things over the door and makes him come out and model outfits, occasionally sneaking in a quick grope or making unfeigned noises of appreciation. Tommy swears and complains and slaps Adam’s hands away, but he still ends up with a pile of different outfits and Adam purring happily like a cat having its belly rubbed.
“Can we go to a shoe store next?” asks Adam. “Ohhh, you have to get some heeled boots to go with those jeans. Ooh, my friend designs jackets, you’d look amazing in this one he made last year, it has all buckles and, like, leather bits on.”
“No more,” Tommy begs. “God, stop. Please.”
Adam pulls a face. “We’ve only been to one store! You hardly got anything. We’ve barely started.”
“No,” says Tommy, as firmly as he can in the face of Adam’s enthusiasm. “I am not made for shopping marathons.”
Adam’s face falls, but that’s when Tommy spots a music shop and goes to look at guitars, and Adam’s expression when Tommy starts fiddling around with a totally gorgeous Fender has to been seen to be believed. Tommy smirks and strokes a thumb over the pretty dark-red finish, plays a quick riff and pauses to tune it, pretends not to notice the way Adam’s face goes a little hungry.
“Okay,” says Adam. “No, you’re totally right, no more shopping, we should, um, go now.”
“In a minute,” says Tommy serenely, and the store owner comes over and Tommy manages to drag out a conversation with him long enough he thinks Adam might just snap and haul him away caveman style.
“You’re just teasing me now,” Adam complains, as they head for Tommy’s car.
“You’re damn right,” says Tommy. “Who’d have guessed you have a music fetish.”
“It’s not a fetish,” says Adam, blushing. “It’s, um. You have really nice hands.”
Tommy flexes his fingers, and Adam covers his eyes and trips over his own feet. “Does this mean you don’t want to see my guitar collection when we get back to my place?” asks Tommy.
“Fuck you,” says Adam, muffled.
“Um, excuse me,” says a small voice, so diffident it takes Tommy a minute to twig.
“Hi?” says Tommy. It’s a kid, maybe fourteen or fifteen, skinny and nervous looking, with his hair falling in his face.
“I’m sorry to interrupt,” he says, politely breathless. “I’m a big fan, I was wondering if I could get an autograph, maybe?”
“Of course,” says Tommy automatically, and the kid goes red - redder - and holds out a notebook. “What’s your name?” he asks, and hears the click of Adam’s camera.
“Blake,” says the kid. “I really, really liked Dare Not,” he adds, eyes downcast.
“That’s awesome,” says Tommy. He scribbles something generic for Blake in his book, with a big squiggly sig, and the kid looks like he might pass out.
“Thanks so much!” he says, excitedly. “I think - you’re just awesome, man, I love you so much, you know?”
“Aw, thanks,” says Tommy, patting him on the shoulder. “You have a good day, okay?”
“You too!” Blake chirps, and scuttles off.
“Baby gay,” says Adam, all misty eyed. “He’s gonna be jerking off with that tshirt for months, you know that?”
“Oh, fuck off,” says Tommy crankily, and immediately feels bad when Adam looks a bit wounded. “Sorry,” he says tiredly. “Sorry. Fans like that freak me out.”
Adam frowns. “Raja and all her friends pawing at you is totally okay, but one fourteen-year-old with a crush is somehow angry-making?”
“Raja doesn’t need anything from me,” Tommy tries to explain, and Adam tilts his head to the side, frown changing shape.
“I don’t get it.”
Tommy switches the load of bags he’s carrying to one hand and digs in his pocket for his keys. “It’s like,” he says and stops, unlocking the car and tossing all the bags in the back seat. He leans against the door and palms his face, trying to figure out how to fit it into words. Adam comes over and stands next to him, a big solid warm presence, face creased with the effort of listening.
“That kid maybe has nobody,” he says eventually. “Maybe he hasn’t even told his Mom and Dad. Maybe he’s not even sure if he’s gay or what, doesn’t know anybody who’s gay or see anyone on TV that’s not, you know.” He lifts his arm and lets his hand flop from the wrist. “And then there’s me, and I wear stupid jeans that don’t fit and put off getting my roots done and listen to loud punk and like to kiss boys and I’m the only person they can see that’s like them, you know? Actually like them, not somebody completely weird who happens to like men.”
“I know,” says Adam warmly. “I’d have killed for a role model like you when I was kid.”
“Me too!” says Tommy. “But I don’t want to fuckin’ be the role model, shit.” He rubs his nose. “I’m a fuckup. I drink too much and swear all the time and never call my mother and I got fuckin’ lucky, I’m not that talented, not more than other people. They shouldn’t look up to me.”
“Oh my god, shut up,” says Adam, and Tommy is seized a fierce, hard hug. “You’re so fucking dumb, get in the car before I ravish you right here on the street.”
“Can’t,” Tommy mutters. “You’re squishing me against the door.”
Adam makes an exasperated noise and pulls away, kisses Tommy’s face quickly. “Wanna go home?”
“You can come see my etchings,” says Tommy roughly, and they make the drive back to Tommy’s with Adam’s hand on his thigh, Adam singing along to the radio in a low, tuneful crooning.
Despite the buildup, it’s weirdly stilted when the get in the apartment. Not awkward, exactly, but they stand apart from one another in the entryway for a minute and Tommy can feel himself getting shy, a sensation he thought he left behind with his first professional photoshoot.
“Bedroom?” he suggests, and Adam smiles all soft and intimate and holds out his hand, and they go into the bedroom like that, fingers twined together.
The housekeeper’s been: the curtains are open and the bed is freshly made, clean crisp sheets. Tommy shrugs off his jacket and drops it on a chair, sits down on the bed to toe off his shoes, and then Adam is on him like whirlwind of affection, cradling his face and kissing him, nuzzling at his neck and cheeks, pressing him down to the bed, and Tommy is laughing suddenly and doesn’t know why.
He shoves Adam over and strips him down, gets him naked and spread out under him, all freckled skin and mile-long legs and big, happy smile, and he can’t decide what he wants to do first. He wants to put his mouth on Adam, all over, taste all his skin and suck his cock, wants to get his hands on the thick muscles of Adam’s thighs and the cut of his hips, wants to fuck him, or roll over and get fucked. He’s practically frozen by indecision, overwhelmed by the amount of choice, and Adam cuts it short by reaching up and tugging him down to kiss him again, cuddling Tommy close against his chest and petting over his back with long, lazy strokes. Tommy sinks into it, drowning.
In the end, Tommy gets to do everything by turns. Adam approaches sex like a buffet, and every time Tommy says “I want,” or “Can we try” Adam says “Yes, yes and this too,” and they have sex in the bed and the shower and on the kitchen counter and the couch and then in the bed again a couple of times, and then the sheets need to be changed and Adam fucks him on the washing machine as it goes through its spin cycle.
Next thing he knows it’s Sunday evening and he’s curled up on Adam’s chest on the couch, the TV going in the background and Adam’s lazily stroking his back and ass and scratching gently at the tops of his thighs where they’re splayed over him, both of them too tired to actually have any more sex maybe ever but Adam wants to touch him and his hands feel so good. Tommy aches in places he’d forgotten about, the really great sex-ache where his hip-joints feel over extended and his ass is sore and his thighs are red with stubble burn and he’s in desperate need of some chapstick. He’s sticky all over and possibly glued to Adam in some fiendish way and he’s totally starving.
“I’m fuckin’ keeping you,” he tells Adam. “We can have sex all the time, it’ll be awesome.”
“’Kay,” says Adam, agreeably.
He has more meetings he can’t get out of on Monday morning. Adam practically has to carry him to the shower and pour coffee down his throat until he’s human, and he’ll be walking bow-legged for a while, calls a car instead of taking the risk of driving himself off the road. Adam kisses him goodbye, and then kisses him some more.
“I’ll call you,” he says.
“Give me some recovery time first,” Tommy tells him, wincing.
“We’ll meet in public,” Adam reassures him. “And, like, drink lemonade. Wrapped in bubble-wrap.”
“I do like bubble wrap,” says Tommy, and then his car pulls up, so he pulls away with one last squeeze at Adam’s ass.
Adam doesn’t call him on Monday, but if he’s feeling anything like Tommy is, he probably went home and crashed, so Tommy does the same after he finishes his meetings, devours a huge protein-heavy meal and a couple of beers and passes right out.
Adam doesn’t call Tuesday, and doesn’t respond to the text Tommy sends around lunchtime; Think we broke the showerhead. Have to get that fixed. Tommy puts his phone on silent when he goes out to a bar with some friends, and when he checks it on Wednesday morning, bleary-eyed, he’s got messages from his mother, from his agent, and from Alli, but nothing from Adam.
“Be seein’ you soon, hermano,” says Alli, when he calls her back. “We’re about done out here in nowhere, so I’ll be back in LA and we’re gonna be friends. You can sneak me booze and shit, it’ll be awesome.”
“I can’t wait,” says Tommy, with all honesty. Allison’s fabulous and he totally loves her. “I’ll take you out clubbing - oh, wait, no.”
“Ass,” she says cheerfully. “God, I can’t wait to get somewhere they have decent sushi again. There’s a place here has pork sushi, can you believe that? I almost lost my lunch. Ugh.”
“None of that in LA,” he says. “It’s hard to find anything with calories around here.”
“Mama’s gonna keep sending me care packages,” she confides. “I’ll share if you’re nice to me.”
“I am the nicest person alive,” Tommy protests, because Mama Iraheta’s care packages kept him sane out in the desert, and for a supply of her chocolate cake he’d do worse things than entertain Allison occasionally.
They make plans to meet up when she’s back in LA, and plot to photobomb the premier, and Tommy promises to introduce her to his cute age-appropriate friends to annoy her father.
He feels good when he hangs up, because Alli’s such an uncomplicated sweetheart and hanging out with her is going to be a total joy, and the bubble of happiness at maintaining such a cool friend buoys him through most of the afternoon, but Adam still hasn’t called.
He caves that evening and calls Adam instead, but it rings through to voicemail and he hangs up without leaving a message, breaks out a bottle of Jack. (He tries to tell himself that he’d probably be drinking anyway, it’s not a coping mechanism.)
Adam doesn’t call on Thursday, but Tommy has a long meeting with his manager and agent to figure shit out for the next couple of months - he’s finally getting busy enough various projects are starting to conflict, and he’s got screen tests and auditions and filming rubbing up against post-production stuff and premiers and then somebody mentions he’s been offered some voice work on a Dawn of the Dead video game and he throws a little diva and demands that they fit that in somewhere, please.
He texts Adam to tell him about it. No response.
Friday morning Tommy is woken at an ungodly fucking hour - he can’t be sure, but it’s definitely before eight AM - by his phone blaring out the Darth Vader theme he’d assigned to his publicist, Kerry. He swears and groans and slaps at it, but she never calls this early, so he figures he should probably answer it.
“Did somebody die?” he mumbles, and there’s a breathless pause.
“You know,” she says in a very calm tone, “When you make a sex tape, you need to tell me. I won’t judge - or I will - but I need to fucking know this shit to do my job because I’ve got Perez fucking Hilton on the other line asking if there’s any god damned comment about my client’s naked photos.”
Tommy’s stomach drops. “What.”
Kerry hisses through her teeth in frustration. “Because if you did and you didn’t tell me, I’m gong to fucking kill you. And send your rotting corpse on the most agonising series of public appearances I can dream up.”
“There’s got to be some mistake,” says Tommy, adrenalin washing away his morning grogginess. “This can’t be right.”
She makes an irritated noise. “Did you or did you not pose for dirty pictures?”
Tommy swallows. “Yeah. Yeah, I did.”
(“No, lie still,” Adam said, pressing him down onto the sheets. “I just want to - fuck, you’re beautiful. I just want to fucking look at you for a while.”
“Take a picture, it’ll last longer,” said Tommy, but he sprawled obligingly anyway, letting his thighs fall open and tucking a hand behind his head. Adam pressed his hands to his mouth and looked and looked, greedily.
“You shouldn’t make an offer like that unless you fucking mean it,” said Adam roughly, and Tommy shrugged.
“I’m not saying you can stick them up at your next art show or whatever,” said Tommy, “but come on. I trust you.”
Adam’s face went all soft, and he leaned down to kiss Tommy, bite at his lip, already reaching for his camera. “Like I’d fucking share you,” said Adam fiercely. “I don’t even want to let you out of this bed, honey. These’ll be just for me.”)
Tommy can’t breathe, like something’s squeezing his chest in, some horror-movie villain crushing his lungs.
Perez has the photos up on his website, of course, so covered with white splatters of MS-Paint jizz you can barely make out Tommy’s face, but the unedited versions are up on TMZ and JustJared and all the fuck over Twitter. There’s one of Tommy lounging back against the pillows with his hair totally fucked up and his makeup a mess and purpling bites all over his throat and chest. There’s bare skin clear from his shoulder to his knee, the tattoo he’d sworn would never be public on his thigh obvious and visible, his hand dangling in front of his crotch only partially obscuring his half-hard cock and balls. He’s smirking, lazy and well-fucked.
The second photo is a few seconds later, Tommy rolling onto his side, reaching for the beer on the nightstand, the line of his body smooth and clean. His thigh’s angled to cover his junk, but his pancake-flat joke of an ass is in full view. Adam had laughed at him, and groped him cheerfully.
Tommy’s been around cameras enough to know that the composition is beautiful. The light is flattering, the angle is gorgeous, the whole setup looks like a photoshoot, too artistic to be tacky, except that Tommy is naked and fucked and there’s a torn condom wrapper by his hip and a bottle of lube on the nightstand and it’s obviously not meant for the public.
The last is the least scandalous, Tommy drinking beer, his lips on the neck of the bottle in a deliberately obscene way, amber liquid dribbling down his chin and neck and naked chest. It had seemed funny at the time, an over-the-top porno cliche that was even funnier when Adam had refused to do the honorable thing and clean him up; Adam hates beer and wouldn’t even lick it off him.
Tommy shoves his laptop away, chews on his thumbnail. He hasn’t even made it out of bed yet and he has to, he really does, because this is going to take a fuck load of damage control. But the hurt is stunning right now and he can’t help the impulse to pull the blankets over his head and lick his wounds in private.
As a last-ditch effort to figure out if there’s been some big fucking misunderstanding, he calls Adam again. It goes straight to voicemail.
His phone starts ringing as soon as he hangs up, but he ignores it for the moment, plods into the shower, gets dressed, collects himself and heads for the door, phone still jangling away in his pocket.
“I’m not telling you who it fucking well was,” says Tommy tiredly. “This is embarrassing enough, okay?” He slouches lower in his seat.
“I know who it was,” says Annette, his manager. “That man you brought to the meetings last week, the tall guy with the hair. The photographer.”
“Yeah,” says Tommy. “But I’m not telling you his name.”
Annette rolls her eyes. “Why, because he’s such a good guy? He sold you out, honey. You’re bared-assed all over every tabloid in town thanks to this punk.”
“Don’t care,” says Tommy. He’s being childish and doesn’t care. “I don’t wanna talk about him. Let’s just do what we can, okay?”
There’s not a lot, as it turns out; Kerry releases a short statement on his behalf about how the photos were for personal use - obviously, fuck - and asking the media to respect Tommy’s privacy. It doesn’t do a blind bit of good, and as he leaves Annette’s office building there’s a horde of paps waiting, and he tucks his shoulders down and ignores their shouted questions and the flashbulbs and the crowd and gets in his car.
He doesn’t go home, doesn’t even think to himself about why he’s avoiding it, just drives himself to Mike’s place, his old apartment that smells like stale beer and sweaty boys and gym socks, where there’s always pizza and beer and nobody wants him to be a role model.
Mike looks up slowly when he comes in, blinking up at Tommy from his seat on the couch. “Rough, man,” he says, and Tommy just nods. Mike holds up a game controller. “Madden?”
“Yeah,” says Tommy. He toes off his shoes, drops his jacket on the bookshelf, and plops down next to Mike. “Bring it.”
With one thing and another, Tommy doesn’t get back home for any length of time for almost a week. He sleeps on the couch at Mike’s the first night, then ducks home quickly early in the morning to pick up some clothes and hightails it out to Burbank to see his Mom.
She cooks for him and lets him vegetate in his room and frowns at his drinking, and then kicks him out on Monday morning because Tommy’s aunt is coming to stay and she’s a shrew who thinks tattoos are the devil’s handiwork and hairdye is for hussies. (She hasn’t actually seen Tommy in almost eight years, through his mother’s careful orchestration, and possibly still thinks he’s a cherub-faced teenager.)
At some point over the weekend one of the Olsen twins OD’ed on cough medicine and staggered around a club vomiting on people and then the other one called a press conference and had a panic attack in front of the collected media of Hollywood. Nobody’s talking about Tommy, so he feels safe enough to Google himself, wincing and flinching pre-emptively.
The photos are everywhere, of course, but to his surprise, nobody seems particularly shocked. Tommy’s reputation for being outrageous, making out with drag queens and wearing lots of leather and corrupting the innocent youth, seems to have worked in his favour. Ausiello posts the photos with no more commentary than Oh, that crazy Ratliff kid, and Perez has half a dozen posts of increasing excitement and ever more white splatters, but there’s an article on AfterElton all about privacy and trust and how it’s really not fair to treat celebrities like public commodities or zoo animals. He sneaks a peek at his twitter feed and it’s split pretty evenly between creepy comments about his dick (and creepy photoshops of the pictures) and fans worrying about his feelings and the fact that he hasn’t tweeted since before the photos came out.
He tweets Hanging with my mom all weekend is badass. Right? And smiles at the replies that roll in.
He calls Annette, and she shouts at him for being uncontactable all weekend and tells him he’s got a party to go to tonight. He suspects the latter is punishment for the former, but he goes home and picks an outfit and leaves again, hangs out at a friend’s place until it’s time to go. His friends are awesome and don’t ask him once about the photos.
The party is standard Hollywood bullshit, paunchy aging producers and bankrollers pretending that the starlets hanging off their arms meant anything more than money. Tommy gets quietly drunk in a corner and is belligerent as hell when some random guy broaches the subject of the photos with him.
He wakes up in a hotel room, thankfully alone, with his phone jangling away in his ear, the generic ringtone for when he doesn’t know the person calling. He squints warily at it and answers, his voice still rough with sleep.
“Mr Ratliff?” The voice is familiar, though for a moment he can’t place it and doesn’t answer, which the woman takes as permission to keep talking. “It’s Marcia, from Five Star Real Estate?”
“Oh,” says Tommy blankly. “Yeah, hi.”
“I’m sorry for disturbing you so early.”
“It’s fine,” says Tommy. He rolls over and squints at the clock; it’s gone eleven. She’s just being polite, hearing the grogginess in his voice.
“I’m calling about the property you were interested in earlier this year? I know you were disappointed when another buyer took it before you could make an offer. Unfortunately that’s fallen through and the house is still on the market. I wanted to check if you were still interested, before we started showing it again.”
Tommy falls on his back across the bed, sheets tangled around his hips. “Um. Maybe. Can I maybe get another look at it before I say yes?”
“Of course!” she hastens to assure him. “Absolutely, there’s no pressure at all. You just seemed to really like the place, I’d feel awful if you missed out on a second opportunity for it.”
“How does this afternoon work for you?” Yeah, no pressure. Tommy squints at the ceiling, but can’t recall anything pressing he’s got on.
“Why not.” They arrange to meet at the house in a couple of hours, and Tommy rolls back over lets himself sleep for a couple more hours.
The house is just as beautiful as he remembers. He tunes out Marcia’s gushing and bubbling and concentrates instead on the quiet clean feel of the place, the tall trees blocking away the neighbours but not the sunlight and the rooms too small to feel isolating and lonely, too big to be cramped. Marcia takes a call, and he slips out the back, to the wide patio with the pool and the barbequing area and some low-maintenance shrubs and trees to give it some colour.
“So what do you think?” says Marcia, pushing back the screen door. “Ooh, isn’t this yard great? You could have some great parties out here.”
Actually, that’s what Tommy likes about it - it’s small enough he can’t really see some wild Hollywood event going on here. It feels like a place to hang out with a few close friends, drink some beers and play some music and chill, not party up.
“Let me think about it,” he says eventually, and Marcia frowns.
“Oh. Well, I’ll see what I can do - I have some other clients who’d be really interested in this property. Bungalows are very in right now.”
Tommy tips his head to the side, quizzical. “Huh. Guess it wasn’t meant to be, then.”
“I’m sure I can work something out!” she says, quickly, and Tommy shrugs.
“I’ll send somebody around to assess the property,” he tells her, because that’s what his parents did when they were looking at buying a house in Burbank, and the guy told them it was a bad investment, and three years later they drove past that house and you could see the huge cracks in the exterior walls where the foundations had shifted.
“We have an assessor on staff,” she tells him snippily.
“Just a precaution,” he says, because he’s tired, and he likes the house, but he doesn’t like the bubbly, pushy estate agent, and as fun as drawing it out to torment her is, he wants to go home.
For Mr Ratliff - or Mr Ratliff’s money - the assessment guy gets out there before close of business that day, and his report is in Tommy’s email by nine the next morning. Tommy lets Marcia stew in her juices for a full day after that, but eventually he tells Lissa, his assistant, to call her and set it up. He wants the fucking house.
He crashes on Mike’s couch again that night, but by the weekend he’s got the keys in his hands and vaguely wonders how long it would have taken if he’d done it himself instead of leaving it to the very competent hands of Lissa and Marcia. He’d signed what Lissa gave him to sign, and he was in by the following Monday.
“It just seems a little sudden, sweetheart,” says his Mom, her arms full of blankets in the middle of the master bedroom. “Don’t get me wrong, the house is gorgeous, but it was awfully fast.”
“I looked at this place months ago,” he says. “I kind of regretted not taking it then, so when it came back up, I took it.”
She sighs, and sits on the bed. “I know. Don’t mind me, I’m being silly.”
Tommy pauses in rearranging his bracelets and turns to give her his full attention. “Is this about Dad?”
Her mouth presses thin. “No. Not exactly.” She rubs her cheek. “You were just - for so long, you were like my grown-up baby, you know? You came to stay all the time, you were always around, and then you got that role and suddenly it was all different.”
“I didn’t mean to abandon you,” he says, guiltily, but she waves a hand.
“Oh, like I didn’t know you were coming to get fed, you freeloader. Most mothers’ boys cut that out when they’re done with college. I’m lucky you stuck around as long as you did.”
“I could come see you more,” he offers, and she laughs.
“Oh, it’s not that, honey. I just never thought you’d be the one buying houses on a whim. I figured you’d be hitting me up for rent money until I retired.”
“You’re lonely,” says Tommy quietly, and she shrugs, careless.
“Maybe I’ll get a puppy,” she says brightly, and he slides onto the bed next to her and hugs her tightly.
“Maybe for Christmas I’ll get you one,” he says. “If you’re good.”
“I’ll name it after you,” she promises.
His Mom stays a couple of days to help him get settled in, and he doesn’t protest like he might have before. They don’t talk about the pictures, though one morning he comes down to the kitchen to find her systematically cutting a page from the morning paper into flesh-toned confetti.
“I think I’ll take a holiday,” she tells him calmly. “I’ve alway wanted to go to England.”
With his mother gone the house is empty and quiet and Tommy spends a lot of time just puttering around rearranging things. It’s unbearably domestic to stack his paltry collection of saucepans in the roomy cupboards, to arrange and rearrange his guitars and horror movie posters and genuine memorabilia in the study, to put pictures of his family on the mantle over the gas fire he’ll never use in the California heat.
He’s a little bare on furniture - the perils of moving from a two-bedroom apartment into a four-bedroom house - but there’s no rush on that, and after a couple of days he feels like he’s got everything just how he wants it so he treats himself to a night in with a bottle of wine and a John Wayne marathon. He catches himself yawning and ready for bed not long before midnight, and laughs at himself in the bathroom mirror at how old and boring he’s getting.
It takes some concentration and mental juggling, but he manages, mostly, not to think about Adam. When he goes out in public, there’s paparazzi around, and he’s reminded strongly, not just because of the obvious connection, but because they keep shouting things about those fucking photos and he has to ignore them twice as hard. So he tries not to go out too much, at least not where the paps hang around, and he’s so busy that’s fine.
Allison gets back, and they have to do post-production stuff, which takes twice as long as it might otherwise because they keep goofing off in the recording studio where they’re supposed to be dubbing dialogue, doing stupid voices and trying to make each other crack up. He takes her back to his place and cooks for her in his new kitchen and she wanders around the house admiring his posters and mocking his dorm-room box-furniture. He gives her beer to shut her up.
“So are we going to talk about your new porn career?” she asks, over the triple-fudge dessert.
“Fuck off,” he says automatically, and she sucks icecream off her spoon and waits. “It wasn’t fucking like that,” he says eventually.
“Guy wants to take naked pictures of you and it wasn’t like that?”
He shrugs. “He was a nice guy. I liked him. Like, a lot.” The sting has lessened some with the weeks, now that he’s not seeing the fucking things in every magazine and website anymore, but it’s been replaced by a kind of melancholy ache.
“Apparently not so nice,” she says sympathetically. “That sucks, I’m sorry.”
Tommy ducks his head. “Take this as a lesson,” he says. “Free from me to you. Don’t fucking trust anybody.”
She winces. “Oh, baby.” She puts down her spoon and comes around the table to hug him, tuck his face against her shoulder and pet his hair. “Don’t do that, don’t say things like that. You trusted a bad guy, but that doesn’t mean you should never trust anyone.”
“Just maybe not paparazzi in the future.”
She pulls away and blinks down at him bemusedly, one hip hitched up on the table. “Are you telling me, Tommy Ratliff,” she says eventually, “That you let a fucking paparazzi take naked god damned photographs of you? Willingly?”
“Paparazzo,” he says, “Just one,” and she upends his bowl of half-melted icecream into his hair.
“Fucking moron,” she says, while he curses and hobbles to the sink, trying not to let it drip down his shirt collar. “Fucking moron, what is wrong with you.”
“My taste in friends,” he replies, sticking his head under the faucet. “Leave me alone to die pathetically, please.”
She sighs and comes over to adjust the temperature of the water so his head doesn’t feel throbbing and icy. “I just don’t see how you could possibly have thought that was a good idea.”
He tilts his head against the flow of warm water and doesn’t answer, because he doesn’t have a good answer. A couple of dates, some hanging out, and some fabulous sex, and he’d handed over everything to Adam, just like that. He followed his instincts, instead of his sense, he’d let a fucking pap take naked photos, yeah, Alli was right to dump icecream in his stupid hair, he deserved it. Dumbass.
He’s sniffling dolefully by the time Alli shuts off the water and drops a clean dishtowel on his head. “I liked him,” he tells her when he stands up, all the blood rushing out of his head suddenly, making him sway. “I really fucking liked him.”
“I know,” she says, and hugs him while he drips sticky water all over her shirt and they both pretend he isn’t crying a little.
He tells her about Adam in fits and starts, about how Adam was nice even when he was being a vulture, and the photos with Raja and the drag show and Adam’s old-fashioned idea of dating and the art school application and the really awesome sex.
“And he didn’t say anything?” she asks, when he’s done.
“Never called,” says Tommy. “Never answered my calls. Number’s disconnected now. I don’t care.”
He doesn’t care right up until Annette tells him she’s got another date lined for him, casually drops it at the end of their weekly meeting, oh, ps, you’re going to a party with this girl on Friday.
“No,” he says, and Annette’s carefully-groomed eyebrows inch upward.
“You’re busy Friday?” she wonders, and he shrugs and shakes his head. “You have something against Miranda? You haven’t even met her.”
“No more dates,” he says. The idea sits uncomfortably in his stomach, of going out and spending time with a person and having them look at him like that, like they know something about him. Everyone looks at him like that these days. People know his stories before he tells them, having read his interviews, they know his background, his history, his likes and dislikes. It was creepy before, and now, with his naked body easily accessible on the internet, it’s a thousand times worse. He can’t go on a date like that, exposed this badly, even if it’s a sham and he doesn’t care about the person he’s with.
Annette’s mouth presses thin. “Look, I know you had a problem with the photographer guy. But she’s under contract with our company, there’s no way she’d run her mouth.”
“Not happening,” says Tommy. “No, I’m not bargaining with you, Annette, it’s not happening. I’ll go to the stupid party, but by myself, and if I hear even a whiff of a rumour that I’m dating anybody even remotely connected with this management company,” she jumps and looks a little guilty here, but he barges on, “I swear I’ll engineer the biggest, sleaziest, most drug-addled party in Hollywood’s history and be photographed doing coke off an underage male dancer’s ass.” He waits a moment to be sure the message has sunk in. “And I’ll punch the first person to ask me about it.”
“Okay,” she says after a pause. “Keep me updated on that situation, will you?”
“Sure,” he says, as sweetly as he’s able. “See you next week.”
“Don’t forget that fundraiser on Saturday,” she says, as he leaves.
The fundraiser is for gay youth visibility or something - something Tommy probably cares a lot about actually, but he’s just here to be a talking head. These events always have the same people at them, though, so there’s a lot of faces he knows, and he’s more relaxed than he might be elsewhere. It’s always the same round of queer-and-queer-friendly actors-musicians-celebrities, and all Tommy has to do is show up, smile on the red carpet, deliver some soundbites, and he can drink champagne and trade dirty jokes with Neil Patrick Harris’ husband and hit on all the horrified straight kids from Glee for the rest of the evening.
He’s in the middle of buying a drink for the angel-faced kid who’s laughing and blushing and being egged on by his older castmates when Zac tackles him from behind in a great big bear hug.
“You!” he says. “How was Europe?”
“Me!” Zac agrees brightly. “It was awesome. Come with me if you want to live.” He drags Tommy protesting into a corner. “Look, I get you’re pissed about the photos, man, but don’t you think you’re being a little mean? At least talk to the dude.”
“Huh?” Tommy’s aware his confused face is kind of unflattering, and he wipes it away and smiles blandly for the event photographer who snaps he and Zac all chummy in the corner, doubtless setting off another round of rumours.
Zac sighs. “I mean, I get it, you know? It sucks. But I think you’re overreacting.”
Something hard and angry wells up in Tommy’s chest, and he leans in close to hiss, “You’re actually seriously on Adam’s side in all this? Are you fucking kidding?”
Zac jerks back. “Woah. Dude. All I’m saying is, you obviously were okay with him taking the pictures, okay?”
“That doesn’t make it okay for him to fucking sell them,” Tommy snarls, and storms off, leaving Zac spluttering.
He texts for his car to come round, gets roped into a group photo with Perez Hilton, who cops a feel and tries to grill him again about the fucking photos, which he dodges by latching onto the guy from My Chemical Romance whose name he can never remember, and then his phone buzzes to let him know his car is waiting. There’s a text from Zac, which he ignores, and one from Annette, irritated that he’s skipping out early, which he also ignores.
When he gets home, his house, which had previously seemed so cosy and welcoming, feels huge and empty and impersonal, and he kicks things on his way to bed, moody and tired.
Zac calls him first thing in the morning, and then again, every half an hour, leaving message after message that Tommy deletes without listening to them.
He’s got a photoshoot on Monday afternoon, so he attempts to stop feeling sorry for himself, showers and shaves and shows up sober and well-rested instead of hungover and smelling of three days worth of tequila and burritos. But he isn’t really in the mood to deal with anybody, so he plants his ass in the makeup chair and shuts his eyes.
“Morning, honey,” chirps his makeup artist, and Tommy cracks an eyelid - it’s a very tall, thin guy, brown-skinned and bespectacled.
“Hi,” he says, and shuts his eyes again, unwilling to make conversation.
There’s a little sound of surprise, and then strong, cool hands on his face. The guy tsks and mutters something about a proper moisturising routine before slathering his face with cold cream. His hands are firm as he turns Tommy this way and that, murmuring the whole time, mostly to himself, as brushes and sponges flit over Tommy’s skin.
“Can I tell you something, honey?” the guy says eventually. Tommy opens his eyes, blinks at himself in the mirror. He looks awesome. This guy is really good; he’s made Tommy’s exhausted face look attractively wan and vulnerable rather than gross and sleep-deprived.
“Sure,” says Tommy agreeably. Never pays to piss off the makeup people. Shit like that gets around.
“His bag was stolen.” The guy’s back is to him, as he fusses over the little pots and brushes on the counter. The non-sequiter comes out of the blue, and for a long moment, Tommy can only stare at him, scrabbling to reconnect the conversational dots. The guy looks over his shoulder. “Adam, I mean.”
It’s the angle that does it, the eyes over the coy slope of shoulder. “Raja?”
A flash of a smile. “Sutan, today, but yeah.”
"Oh my god.” He’s never seen Raja - Sutan - out of drag, and the difference between the ultra-glam, super-groomed diva and this scruffy, sweet-faced man is striking. And then Tommy’s brain catches up with Sutan’s words and he flails his arms around. “Wait, what?” he squeaks.
There’s a bang on the door. “We’re ready for you, Mr Ratliff.”
Sutan grabs his hand, squeezes it. “Look, find me after, okay? It’s important, Tommy, really.”
“I will,” says Tommy, numbly.
The photographer is one of those people who has quote-unquote artistic vision, and Tommy’s role is not so much photographic subject as it is poseable doll, so he puts on his best model face and moves as directed and lets his thoughts go elsewhere.
His bag was stolen. Adam, I mean. Tommy can’t even get his head together enough to work that out, but as he sprawls out on a chaise and somebody points a fan at him, blowing his hair back, Sutan’s words play over and over in his head like a mantra.
“And you could maybe,” says the photographer, in his frustrating faux-European accent, “lift your shirt a little? Or take it off, yes, I think so.” He makes a gesture with his fingers, and licks his lips.
“No,” says Tommy flatly. He’s always been pretty solid on that point - he’s not ashamed of his body, but he’s not that interested in showing it off. Clothes can disguise the little belly he gets after a couple of lazy weeks of too much beer and too little movement, or the skinniness of his ribs, or his pancake-flat ass, but he’s not getting naked, he’s never done that, and he doesn’t like the leer on this guy’s face.
The photographer looks irritated. “Come, it is art, yes? We all know you are not shy.”
Tommy feels his fingers curling into fists. The set, which twenty seconds ago was bustling, has gone dead silent, like everyone’s taken a breath at once. Tommy takes his own breath, draws on all his skills to keep his voice level. “I don’t mind if it’s art,” he says, as mildly as he can. “But I’m not interested in helping you get your rocks off. It’s not shyness.” He stands up, stretches a little, and plants one hand on his hip, cocked and sassy. “I just don’t like you. Later.”
He ambles off towards his dressing room, ignoring the sputtering of the photographer and the shocked whispers and the scattered applause and catcalls.
Sutan looks up as he comes in. “That was fast.”
“Tell me you don’t actually work with that guy,” says Tommy, yanking off the scratchy shirt he’d worn for the photoshoot.
“Not usually,” said Sutan. “I called in some favours when I heard he was shooting you today. My friend seemed only too happy to switch, though, so I have some idea.”
Tommy pauses and stares at him, and Sutan shrugs. “Okay. I’m gonna change, and we’re gonna go for coffee, and you’re gonna explain all this.”
“Roger that,” says Sutan. “Don’t smudge, though, you look perfect.” He touches Tommy’s cheekbone with an air of professional pride.
By the time Tommy’s back in street clothes, somebody’s called Annette. She calls to yell at him, and he follows Sutan out of building with his phone tucked against his shoulder, arguing with her. Once he’s explained, she relents and promises tighter contracts regarding the behaviour of photographers - “Maybe something like the contract we have for minors, you prissy bitch,” she grumbles.
“Don’t hate on my privacy standards,” he says, but there’s no heat to it, because he knows that she really will follow it up and make sure it doesn’t happen again.
Sutan orders some great big froofy coffee drink thing that does not, as far as Tommy can tell, actually contain coffee. Tommy orders as much caffeine as can be legally contained in a single serve, adds a healthy helping of sugar, and scalds his mouth waiting for Sutan to finish stirring and fussing and adding cinnamon and chocolate powder.
“You’re killing me here,” he says finally.
Sutan looks up, his mouth softened into a smirk. “So how are you, Tommy Joe?”
“What did you mean, his bag was stolen?”
“We never talk anymore.”
“Raja, please.” Tommy doesn’t even care that he’s being pathetic.
Sutan takes his hand. “His bag was stolen, honey. When he was on his way home from your house a couple of weeks ago. It had his laptop, his camera, his phone, his wallet, everything. I can get a copy of the police report if you like.”
“So,” says Tommy. “So it wasn’t him,” and saying it aloud makes him want to cry with relief and vomit from guilt. He was right, his instincts were right, Adam hadn’t sold him out. “But he didn’t call or anything?”
“Phone was in the bag,” says Sutan briefly, sucking milk-foam off his spoon. “Didn’t have your number, couldn’t answer calls. Kind of hard to get hold of you, you know?”
Tommy puts his head down on the table, eyes stinging. “Oh wow.”
“Deep breaths,” says Sutan comfortingly. “You’re not gonna pass out, are you?”
“Maybe,” Tommy mumbles, and Sutan pats him on the back of the head and applies himself to his coffee-thing.
Once Tommy has collected himself from his slightly embarrassing fit of the vapours, he lifts his head. “Is he mad at me?”
Sutan tilts his head. “No? I don’t think so, anyway. He’s a little hurt, I guess.” He runs his finger around the rim of his cup and licks it. “I mean, he understands. But he spent a couple of days sitting on your doorstep waiting for you to come home so he could explain in person.”
Tommy remembers, with a pang, that he hadn’t been home much those first few days after the photos broke. Also, “I moved house.”
“I heard,” said Sutan drily. “So did Adam, when his letters came back ‘no longer at this address’.”
“Well, fuck.” Tommy covered his face. “I feel like such an ass now.”
“Yup,” says Sutan brightly. “But you’re pretty. He’ll probably forgive you, if you forgive him.”
“For what?” asks Tommy, slightly hysterical.
Sutan laughs. “Oh, he’s all freaked out about how you’ll hate him for pressuring you to take the photos in the first place, and how you’ll never trust him again, and it’s all his fault, etc.”
Tommy realises he’s chewing on his cuticles, a bad habit he thought he’d lost. “Do you have his number? His new one?”
“Of course,” says Sutan. “Oh my god, come here.” Tommy scoots around the booth and lets Sutan hug him tight and pet his hair. “This has been weighing on you an awful lot, hasn’t it, sweetie.”
“The photos weren’t so bad,” says Tommy, muffled. “I mean, they were really fucking bad. But it was worse cause it was Adam. I liked him so much.”
“He would never do something like that.”
“I know that. That’s why it was so bad, because then it looked like he had and that meant everything about him was wrong. It sucked.”
Sutan goes, “Awww,” and kisses the top of his head. “Everything’s okay, honey.”
“You’re my favourite,” says Tommy.
Sutan gives him Adam’s new number, but he also tells him Adam is performing that evening at a bar with some friends - “Oh, he’s an awesome singer, and their lead singer ran off with some yoga instructor, so he’s just filling in, because he refuses to even consider making a career out of it since he spent six months in the chorus line of some musical and then slept with the director.” And Tommy, of course, decides to go for the option with the most dramatic potential - hey, he’s an introvert, yes, but he’s an actor, and a dramatic little bitch at heart.
So he dresses up carefully and touches up the awesome job Sutan did on his face and curls his hair, which is a pain and he hasn’t done it in ages, and puts on these awesome heeled boots and goes to the bar. It’s full before he gets there, a big line outside the door, but Tommy sidles up to the door and flutters his eyelashes and evidently the bouncer’s girl is a huge fan, so Tommy signs the back of a flyer and slips inside.
It’s hot and crowded and kind of dark; so much the better. Tommy fights through the crowd to the bar, gets a drink, and finds himself a nice dim patch of wall with a good view of the stage. He doesn’t have to wait long before the band comes on, no fanfare or anything. The guitarist is a stocky guy with a goatee and a rad mohawk, the drummer is very tiny and not wearing a shirt, and the bassist is tall and skinny and swaying like he’s maybe kind of stoned. At the front of the stage, Adam is tall and beautiful and edible, legs that go for miles in those skintight pants, sparkly black shirt unbuttoned to the waist, glitter all over.
Tommy’s barely caught his breath from the sight when the music starts with a crash and Adam opens his mouth and blows off the fucking roof. Tommy has to cling to the wall to stay upright, because Adam is totally transformed when he sings, and his voice is like revelation, and Tommy can’t believe he didn’t know Adam could do this, that Adam had this in him.
They do four songs and take a break, and Tommy staggers over to the bar and orders another beer, because he’d totally forgotten about the one he had and it’s gone all warm and gross. He leans against the bar - slumps against it, more like, feeling sticky and oddly post-coital, vaguely thinking about how he’s going to have to pull out his guitar and jam with Adam sometime in private after they get all this shit sorted out, because Adam’s voice is like the best sex ever except not, and Tommy really kind of wants to skip all the awkward making-up bits and just pin Adam to a wall and see if he can make Adam’s voice go that high again.
And then he turns around and Adam’s standing a little ways down the bar. Crowded as it is, Tommy’s got no good way of getting to him or even getting his attention, but Adam’s close, a couple of feet away, laughing at something and gesturing with a martini glass.
And then he turns his face down and there’s a boy snugged up against his side, and it takes Tommy a moment to place him - the beautiful brown-eyed ex that Adam had been moping over, smiling up at him with an expression of open adoration. And Adam is laughing, easy, one arm over the boy’s shoulders in a casual way.
Tommy’s going to do the noble thing and leave quietly, maybe call Adam tomorrow or the next day for a quiet ‘sorry-it-didn’t-work-out’ conversation with his dignity intact. He sure as hell can’t face Adam now, shredded by regret and jealousy and Adam’s voice, with that brown-eyed boy hovering around and Adam all lit up and shining.
But it’s so crowded, people pressing him against the bar, and before he’s gotten halfway to the exit the band is already back onstage and slamming into the opening chords of Enter Sandman. And Tommy - he just can’t, can’t move or breathe, sure as hell can’t leave, pinned there like a butterfly listening to Adam sing this song like the closest thing he’ll ever find to having sex without getting his clothes off first.
And it only gets worse, because Tommy finds himself pressing closer to the stage as Adam finishes with Metallica and purrs his way into some Nine Inch Nails. Closer. If Tommy believed in god, he’d be praying about now, because he’s one overly-friendly bar patron from coming in his pants and it’s entirely possible he’ll finish out the night scratching out some pretty brown eyes in some twisted possessive cat fight over a guy who has every reason to never talk to Tommy again all because of the way Adam sound growling out how he wants to fuck you like an animal.
And then, right before they start the next song, Adam glances out at the audience and spots him. Tommy sees the minute it happens, the way Adam freezes briefly, his mouth opening just a little. The guitarist pokes him in the ribs, and he snaps back to what he was doing, darting occasional anxious glances at the crowd.
Tommy couldn’t even tell you what the final song is, just that he spends it in the crowd, buffeted on all sides by the sweaty press of bodies with Adam’s voice growling through his bones and sweat dripping down the back of his neck.
And then it’s over, the spell is broken, and Tommy’s about to start heading through the crowd to the exit before he can do something stupid like make soppy emotional eye-contact with Adam. But the crowd is insane and he ends up inching his way along the back wall and then somebody grabs him by the waist and he yelps and looks down into a pair of brown eyes.
“Hi!” chirps Adam’s tiny beautiful ex-boyfriend. “I’m Cheeks, and you’re the luscious Tommy.”
“Hello,” says Tommy, wriggling free. “Excuse me, I’ve gotta go.”
“No, I have to say something first,” says Cheeks, and for such a tiny dude, he’s pretty fucking wiry, hangs on to Tommy’s waistband and plants his skinny little ass. “No, look. It’s no fun flaunting my hot new boy in Adam’s face when he’s already so miserable.”
Tommy thinks he’s misheard over the din of the club for a moment, and then he just wants to beat his head against the wall. He’s really gotta stop jumping to conclusions. Cheeks pats him on the shoulder. “I thought I would like him being miserable,” he says thoughtfully. “Turns out, not so much. Maybe we really can give the whole ‘friends’ thing a shot.”
Tommy stares at him, and the guy flashes him a bright grin, and goes up on his toes to kiss Tommy’s cheek. “He’s in the back room. They’re expecting you.” And he shoves Tommy in that direction and flounces off towards the bar.
Tommy’s luck runs out when somebody recognises him, and he spends a couple of minutes in a tangle of fans, signing autographs, before he’s able to excuse himself. It’s thinned out a bit by then, and he manages, by keeping his head down and not making eye contact, to get over to the stage door pretty fast. He bumps into the drummer, coming out, and the guy blinks at him and steps around him wordlessly, leaving the door ajar, and Tommy shoves his hair back and steps through.
It’s a dingy little room, too-bright over head fluorescents, a worn couch, a tangle of sound equipment. The guitarist is sprawled out on the couch, but Adam is up and pacing, big and bright and loud in the little room, and he stops when he sees Tommy, trembling.
“I’m out,” says the guitarist, and claps Tommy on the shoulder on his way past, closing the door behind him, blocking out the sounds of the club.
“Tommy,” says Adam, quietly, wondering. “Tommy, oh my god.” Something seems to snap in him. “Oh, Tommy, I didn’t - you have to believe me, I didn’t sell those photos, I swear, I got jumped on my way home and my camera got stolen and I wanted to tell you but I didn’t have your number or anything!” Two steps forward and he’s so close
“I know,” says Tommy. He sways forward, his knuckles brush Adam’s shirt.
“You,” says Adam. His hands twitch, by his sides.
“I called you and called you,” says Tommy, feeling as if his head is floating above his body somewhere.
“My phone,” says Adam.
“I know,” Tommy repeats. “Sutan explained.”
“Oh.” Adam drags in a breath, his eyes wide and very bright. “So. You’re here?”
Tommy licks his lips. “I came to give you my new address,” he says. “I moved.”
Adam breathes out, not looking away. “I wondered,” he said. “I didn’t know if I’d ever see you again.”
“I’m here,” says Tommy, stupidly. Without his permission, his fingers are curled in the front of Adam’s shirt, clenched tight and they won’t uncurl.
“You’re here,” Adam echoes softly, and his head comes down and his hands come up until Tommy feels like he’s surrounded by Adam, his warm breath and the sweaty-aftershavey-leather smell of him, Adam’s nose pressed against his cheek and Adam holding his face.
Something tight and anxious in Tommy’s chest, something that he wasn’t even aware of, loosens, and his arms come up around Adam’s waist. They stand like that for Tommy can’t tell how long, arms around each other, just breathing.
They break apart when the door opens, and the bass player stumbles in, girl under his arm. “Don’t even think about it,” says Adam mildly, and pushes the door closed again, forcing him and his friend to back up for it. Tommy stands back, just a bit, lets his arms drop, the moment broken. “Come on, says Adam, taking his hand, and tugs him to the couch.
He means to sit down next to Adam, put some space between them so they can talk the way they need to, but the couch is old and sagging and they tip into each other, so Tommy doesn’t even get the chance to breathe.
“I’m sorry,” he manages to stammer out. “I should have tried harder to find you, after.”
“It’s so not your fault,” says Adam, his face all scrunched up, regretful. “Oh my god, I can’t even imagine what you must have been thinking.”
“I was so mad at myself,” Tommy confesses, and Adam looks horrified. “Because I - I trusted you, and I felt like such a fucking chump.”
“Oh, Tommy,” murmurs Adam. “Fuck, this was all my fault.”
Tommy shakes his head no, and then they’re talking over the top of each other, apologies and reassurances and denials and Tommy can’t stand the noise, so he tilts his head up and kisses Adam quiet. But it isn’t quiet, of course, the wet noise that their lips make, the throaty groan that comes out of Adam at the contact, the barely-audible sound of his hand in Adam’s hair, Adam’s on his jaw, the creak of leather and denim as he crawls into Adam’s lap and kisses him and kisses him and kisses him.
“I’m sorry,” Adam mumbles into his mouth. “Tommy, baby.”
Tommy bites him. “No talkin’,” he slurs. “More kissin’.”
Adam gives this distressed little whimper. “Somebody’s gonna come in,” he protests, but Tommy is stuck back on the whimper, and Adam’s voice on stage all over the place and sexy, and maybe getting Adam to sound like that again.
Somebody does come in, then, and though all Tommy hears is a startled apology and the door closing, Adam pushes him away, more firmly. “Lemme take you home,” Tommy says. “I wanna fuck you.”
“Anything you want,” says Adam. “But, um, not here. I don’t think another scandal would be good for your image.”
“Fuck my image,” says Tommy, and fumbles his phone out of his pocket to call a car.
Out of respect for his long-suffering driver, Tommy manages to keep his hands off Adam for the ride home, crammed into a corner of the seat with his fingers tucked under his thighs as Adam watches him across the car, wide-eyed and helpless.
“So,” says Tommy, desperately trying to remember how to make conversation. “How’d your application go? For art school?”
Adam makes a face and shakes his head. “I didn’t get it in. All my shit was on my laptop, which.” He shrugs.
“Oh, god. I’m so sorry.” Tommy feels a totally unwarranted rush of guilt - it’s not like it’s his fault Adam got robbed, but he feel responsible anyway. “What are you going to do?”
Adam pulls a face. “I have no idea. I thought I’d finally figured something out, you know, like I could stop drifting around all these dumb dead-end soul-sucking jobs, but, I guess not.”
“I’m sorry,” says Tommy.
“Okay, look, one of us is going to have to stop apologising sooner or later,” says Adam, and reaches over to squeeze Tommy’s knee. “I’ll figure something out. It’s okay.”
“You can be my kept boy,” Tommy offers. “You’ll have to be naked and oiled all the time, but the pay isn’t bad.”
Adam snickers. “God, don’t tempt me.”
“The hours are awesome,” Tommy tempts, and he’s pretty sure Adam is about to tackle and vigorously ravish him in the back of his town car right then except they’ve arrived at Tommy’s place, and they tumble out the back of the car and into the foyer, laughing.
“Gonna show me your new place?” Adam teases, slowing down, dragging Tommy with him.
“No,” says Tommy. “I’m gonna fuck you. Come on.” And he drags Adam to the bedroom, ignoring Adam’s laughing attempts to comment on what he can see of the decor in the dark.
His bed’s messed up still, unmade from this morning, clothes and shoes strewn on the floor, unpacked boxes shoved against the wall. He trips, or maybe Adam does, and they go crashing onto the bed, all of Adam’s bulk and strength and warmth pressing him down, the breath going out of him, and he’s dizzy and shaking all over.
“Baby,” Adam is saying. “Tommy, Tommy, oh god, baby.”
“Yes,” says Tommy, not even sure what he’s replying to. “Come on, fuck, yes.”
Somewhere in the frenzy of undressing that follows, Tommy’s pretty sure he hears Adam say I love you, and even though it’s way too soon, way too fragile and new the only reason he doesn’t say it back, over and over, is that Adam finds something else for his mouth to do that drives all thought out of Tommy’s head.
The first thing Tommy sees when he wakes up is Adam’s broad, freckly back, sprawled out over Tommy’s bed like he belongs there. He’d roll over and go back to sleep - or roll over and fit himself against that amazing expanse of warm skin and start some shit- except his bladder is protesting and his mouth tastes like shit and he has a vague memory of something he’s meant to be doing this morning.
He rolls out of bed and does the bathroom thing, wanders out to the kitchen feeling slightly fresher, bullies the coffee machine into functioning. He’s got no idea where his phone is, and that’s the only way he’s going to figure out if he’s forgotten something important, so he drifts around from room to room looking for it aimlessly, clutching his coffee.
He hears something going off in the bedroom, and it doesn’t sound like his phone, but he follows the noise anyway. Adam is awake, leaning over the edge of bed, rooting around in the pile of clothes, and Tommy takes a moment to enjoy the view of Adam’s ass sticking up like that with the sheet sliding down his hip. “Morning,” he says. “You want coffee?”
The ringing stops, and Adam curses, muffled. “Morning,” he says, sitting up. His hair is sticking up all different directions and there are pillow creases on his face. “Time’s it?”
“’Bout ten,” says Tommy, strolling over until his knees bump against the bed. “Hi.”
“Hi,” says Adam, smiling sleepily, and takes Tommy’s coffee to set it carefully on the nightstand so he can draw him down for a kiss. “Oh, hi.”
Another electronic jangle interrupts them. And Adam breaks away with a muttered, “Mother fucker.” He leans around Tommy to snag his jeans and poke through the pockets, but before he manages to extract the device, it stops again.
“Just turn it off,” says Tommy, petting the back of Adam’s neck with his thumb. “They’ll call back if it’s important.”
“It’s Monte,” says Adam, frowning. “From the band. He already called, like, four times.” He thumbs over the phone screen.
“He’ll call back,” Tommy insists, reaching down to bat the phone away. “Adam.”
“Let me just,” says Adam, and then the phone chimes again, cursed thing, and Tommy wants to whine in frustration, except Adam’s hand suddenly tightens on his hip, hard.
“What?” says Tommy. “Bad news?”
He cranes his head to try and read the screen, but Adam switches the phone off and drops it on the nightstand. “No. Come on, then,” he says, laughing, and pulls Tommy down.
Later, when Adam is in the shower bellowing out Dirty Diana in this totally amazing falsetto and Tommy is sprawled sticky and happy and exhausted across the sheets, he reaches over and grabs the phone off the nightstand. He doesn’t mean to pry - in his post-coital haze he genuinely does think it’s his phone, same model as Adam’s, and he still can’t shake the feeling there’s something other than nailing his gorgeous boyfriend he’s meant to be doing this morning. So it takes him a couple of minutes blinking stupidly at the text up on the screen before it clicks and a slow, delighted smile takes over his face.
Hey man that record producer LOVED us last night. They want to sign the CV so long as your voice is out front. CALL ME sucker!!!!
“Tommy!” Adam calls, his voice billowing out of the open bathroom door with the steam. “Are you still sleeping?”
Thumbing the phone off quickly, Tommy stumbles upright, and heads into the bathroom to wash Adam’s back.