“Do you believe in fate?”
Sebastian turns after posing the question, his hair a tousled mess against the edge of his mattress. He accepts the joint that Sam -- reluctantly, given the somber turn of the conversation -- hands his way.
“Nope,” Sam replies easily -- because when has anything ever happened on its own, no effort put into it? If life were really balanced on the scales of fate, Sam wouldn’t still be in this town. Neither would Sebastian.
“Okay then,” Sebastian sighs, rolling onto his back, pushing away the hair that flops over his eyes in the process. “Conversation finished, point taken. My turn?”
Sebastian holds the small nub of a joint between his lips as his hands undo the belt buckle of his jeans, lifting his hips off the bed. Sam scrambles up from the rug on his floor, tucks himself back into his boxers from where Sebastian’s hands had been not moments before. They only do this in Sebastian’s room because it’s less likely they’ll be interrupted -- no bravely curious little brothers and a self-installed lock on the basement door to boot, the real deal. The fact neither of them have a place of their own yet is a cause for tension, and something the both of them frequently lament on, but it's not all that bad.
“So impatient,” Sam chides, and then he moves onto Sebastian’s bed to sit between the spread of his knees.
He takes Sebastian into his mouth, pushing down far enough to get the scent of his hair and skin there to mask the smell of skunk wafting in overhead. Sebastian’s whole room sits with an impenetrable hazy fog at about chest height, almost all the time, but Sam isn’t exactly one to complain. They share these things -- weed, blowjobs, song ideas -- even the less desirable shit, it’s just… how it is.
“Fuck,” Sebastian half whispers, half moans, his head lolling back. Sam has just enough wits about him to think to pull off his dick for a second, reaching up to grab the still lit joint before Sebastian drops it and sets his entire house ablaze. Wouldn’t that be poetic? Fate, indeed.
Sebastian gets handsy once Sam is crawling over him to reach the ashtray set on the edge of the bookcase behind the bed. He tugs at Sam’s neck, kisses him deep and a little sloppy, licking the taste of himself and the stale smoke off Sam’s tongue. Just as quickly, he decides he needs Sam’s mouth elsewhere, and he uses his grip on Sam’s hair to push him back down.
Once Sam is swallowing Sebastian’s come, trying not to smirk at the fucked-out way Sebastian always splays out like he’s been shot after they do this -- particularly after Sam swallows, as though Sebastian can’t ever imagine it tasting good. Sam never pushes Sebastian into using his mouth, so it’s never been discussed, but Sam has an inkling he might not be into it.
Sebastian yawns and stretches out like a cat in the sun, basking in the moment for just long enough to notice his joint is no longer in his hand. This time, Sam doesn’t hold back the full bodied laugh.
“Fuck off,” Sebastian mumbles, “where’d you put it?”
“Where do you think, idiot?” Sam replies, crawling off the bed as he gestures blindly towards where the ashtray is, tripping over his own jacket on the ground.
Sam shuffles towards the mirror hanging over the bookcase, watching sideways as Sebastian gets the joint lit and in his mouth again before doing his jeans back up. So impractical, it seems-- he’s always doing shit backwards, priorities disorganized.
“I like your hair better that way,” Sebastian comments offhandedly, watching Sam fix his hair out of the corner of his eye as he finishes off what’s left of the joint.
“What way?” Sam scoffs, dipping down a little to get a better view of the back of his hair, ruffling it to get some more volume. Sebastian’s hair is even longer than his now, at least at the front, but he doesn’t put any effort into styling it. Doesn’t have to.
“Less like a peacock in heat,” Sebastian says, reaching over the front edge of his bed just so he can reach up and flatten the part that Sam finally got to sit right, the little shit.
“Fuck off,” Sam says, dodging Sebastian’s next attempt, and then he stalks towards his door. He stops to kick up his skateboard and then salutes.
“Practice tomorrow?” Sebastian calls out after him.
“Yep. Bring Abigail if you want her to drum for us,” Sam shouts, already two steps up the stairway.
“I already told you she’d do it!” Sebastian half-yells, and then Sam figures that’s a good enough note to end it on.
It’s only once Sam gets into his room after creeping quietly enough to not wake his mother or Vincent that he realizes he probably should have asked what the whole ‘fate’ thing was about.
Whatever, he thinks. It can wait until tomorrow.
“Welcome to the greatest band in the world!” Sam proclaims, arms spread wide as Abigail shuffles into his bedroom, Sebastian close behind her.
“Nice to see we’re staying small town and modest,” she mumbles.
“Fuck that, nothing small town about us,” Sam says, and he tosses her a beat up old pair of sticks.
They jam for a few hours, only pausing once or twice to order pizza and then pausing once mid song so that Sam can smack the pack of cigarettes out of Sebastian’s hand ( “My brother sleeps next door, asshat, he’ll smell it.” )
Sam can’t help but notice that Abigail seems exceptionally unimpressed by their music. Not like she’s contributed much to the epic jams herself, but at least she’s competent with her chosen instrument. She seems to have a given talent for it, different from Sebastian’s almost immediate familiarity with the keyboard. Fuck knows he’s got enough experience with those, and Sam can even attest to his hands being at least moderately skilled, but that's to be expected.
“Coming to mine?” Sebastian asks quietly, one hand holding the strap of his backpack slung over one shoulder, while the other fiddles with something in his pocket. A lighter, possibly, or even the pack of smokes Sam almost karate chopped in half earlier.
“Nah,” he says, remembering the official army seal on the letter resting on the dining room table. Sam had handled the thing like a brick when he plucked it from the mailbox earlier, like it weighed a ton and he wasn't quite sure what to do with it out of context. He doesn’t want his mother to have to read it alone, and truth be told, he doesn’t want to read it alone himself either. “Tomorrow, though. We’ll go into the city, okay? My treat,” Sam adds, in impulsive response to the crestfallen look on Sebastian’s face. He’ll need to pick up another shift or two at work to cover that kind of bill, but it’ll be worth it, probably.
“Yeah, except I’m the one that needs to drive your ass there,” Sebastian mumbles as he turns, though Sam catches the beginnings of a hidden smile pulling at the corners of his mouth. “See ya.”
Sam waits until he hears the crunch of their shoes fade as they leave the gravel outside his house, and then he sits down heavily at the table, the unopened envelope mockingly bright against the rusty pink of the tablecloth. His mother sometimes stays out a little later on practice nights, if not to save herself and Vincent from the excess noise, then to give him a little breathing room -- but tonight, Sam wishes she would hurry the hell home.
“You look like you’ve seen a ghost,” Sebastian says, pausing and sitting back on his motorcycle once it’s been switched off outside his house. It’s not anymore macabre a comment than usual, at least not coming from Sebastian, but it still rubs Sam the wrong way. Call it poor timing.
“Let’s go, man, I made us a reservation,” Sam mutters hurriedly, hopping onto the bike and wrapping his arms around Sebastian’s waist.
“Yeah, alright, alright,” Sebastian says, barely masking the surprise in his voice, the deep rumble of his bike drowning out any potential snark or retorts.
If Sebastian notices Sam pressing his nose a little deeper into the warm skin of his neck, inhaling the familiar scent of his hair, he doesn’t say anything. And after the day Sam’s had, he figures he deserves that much.
“Zuzu City’s finest!” Sam turns, bowing and gesticulating like an idiot to get Sebastian’s stunned-still body through the door of the damn restaurant. It’s a sushi place, some kind of fusion thing that’s going to cost Sam almost the entirety of his weekly paycheck, but Sebastian loves this shit. The smaller the plates are, the better.
Sebastian has a pleasantly pink hue to his cheeks, sufficiently embarrassed by how loud Sam can be in public, and he fidgets in his seat at one of the white leather booths near the window that they get seated at. Sam isn’t faring much better, his leg bouncing anxiously beneath the table, trying to focus on how cute Sebastian can be when he’s taken entirely off guard, and not the… other thing plaguing the back of his mind. He can drop that particular bomb later, when he's not trying to see how much he can get away with lavishing Sebastian in singularly focused attention.
Sebastian even coyly tucks his hair behind his ear as he gazes up at the waiter to place his order, glancing every so often over at Sam, like he can’t believe he’s allowed to eat any of this crap. It’s literally just fish -- Sam wonders if they even have ovens back there. Probably not.
“Is there a reason you’re treating me like royalty all of a sudden?” Sebastian asks quietly, nudging the side of his foot against Sam’s beneath the table.
Sam shrugs, his lips spreading wide over his teeth into the winning smile he knows he can put on regardless of the fuzzy mess going on inside his head. “Call it a late birthday present, if it makes you feel better.”
“My birthday was two weeks ago, dude. You bought me coffee, remember?”
Sam huffs a barely amused laugh, glancing quickly out at the blur of neon and flashing lights from the window to their side. “The limiting nature of our environment, I guess.”
Sebastian shrugs, and if Sam didn’t know any better, he’d think he almost looks offended. “I liked it,” Sebastian mutters quietly.
For what it’s worth, Sebastian takes his time eating the food once it’s come. They share an elaborate looking boat full of raw slices of fish that Sebastian treats with rarely delicate care, and then a few colorful maki rolls that Sam treats like finger food. Halfway through eating though, Sebastian begins to notice Sam’s twitches -- the bouncing knee, the way he constantly taps out erratic rhythms against the table top -- and he’s nothing if not consistently blunt.
“You gonna tell me what’s bothering you, or no?” Sebastian asks, putting his chopsticks down on the table and leaning forward.
Sam sucks in his lower lip, takes a deep breath, and says, “Can it wait?”
Sebastian seems shocked by the raw honesty there, and he nods, leaning back into his seat again, less looming. They both end up staring out the window once the food gets taken away and they’re left to digest and enjoy their drinks. Sebastian has this wistful, far away look in his eyes that makes Sam ache -- he’s had enough of people he cares about going away, and Sam would be lying if he said he hasn't noticed the pull the city has on Sebastian.
“Once we get enough gigs, we can get a studio out here, you know?”
Sebastian eyes him suspiciously. “A recording studio?”
“No, like. An apartment? Me, you. Even Abigail, we can practice in it and everything. This place could be our local,” Sam says, shaking his drink so the ice clinks pleasantly against his glass.
“We need to be superstars to be able to eat at this place regularly,” Sebastian says, and then his eyes do this shifty thing, scanning Sam’s face for something he can’t seem to find. “You want to live together?”
“Fuck yeah!” Sam proclaims, leaning forward and lowering his voice when he catches Sebastian’s clear discomfort at the sudden volume increase. “Imagine not having to spend gas to come out here, imagine not having to be stuck in that tiny podunk shithole of a town for the rest of our lives. You could walk to literally anywhere you want, it would never go dark, but you'd probably only barely see the sun for the buildings. You’d fucking love it, I know you would.”
“I’m keeping my bike,” Sebastian says after a moment’s consideration, almost comically solemn. Sam, on impulse, reaches across the table and squeezes Sebastian’s hand in his.
“I know you are,” Sam mutters fondly, and he only lets go of Sebastian’s hand to signal the waiter to pick up their check.
“My dad’s coming home,” Sam says in a post coital daze, half dressed on his back on Sebastian’s bed, Sebastian’s hands only just barely free from being shoved hastily down his pants.
“Yeah?” Sebastian asks, pausing before finding a stray t-shirt to wipe his hand on. "Legit this time?"
“In the Spring. We got a letter,” he says, more up towards the ceiling than to Sebastian.
Sebastian flops down onto the bed, pillows his head against Sam’s chest. Part of Sam feels bad about bringing this up before he’s gotten a chance to get him off in return, but he figures he bought dinner, and he’s been dying to say something about this to someone.
“I don’t think I’m ready,” Sam adds quietly.
“Hey,” Sebastian says, reaching up to cup the side of Sam’s face, turning him so that he can’t look at anything but Sebastian, “It’s okay to not be ready, alright? It’s been a long time.”
Sam nods, his throat oddly tight, the warm press of Sebastian’s palm a sincere comfort.
“Vincent’s so excited, I don’t think he’ll sleep for a week.”
Sebastian snorts, settling in closer on the pillow, so that their noses almost touch. “If you need somewhere to escape, my door is always open to you.”
“He could leave again, Seb,” Sam whispers, looking down at the small amount of space between them, as if Sebastian wouldn’t be able to tell he’s avoiding the eye contact. “Vincent doesn’t remember what that’s like, but I do. The army isn’t done with him yet.”
“Vincent has you,” Sebastian says, his eyes clear as crystal in the dark, “He’ll miss his dad, yeah, but at least his big bro will always be there.”
“Yeah,” Sam mumbles halfheartedly, distantly aware of the studio apartment ad he’d cut out of the Zuzu City paper that he picked up last month. It’s been burning a hole in his pocket ever since. “Yeah, you’re right.”
Sebastian inches forward, enough to pull Sam’s lower lip into his mouth, his breath humid and heavy on an open mouthed kiss. “My turn?” He whispers, tugging on Sam's hair, and Sam is more than happy for the diversion.
Vincent doesn’t exactly go an entire week without sleep with the news that their dad is finally coming home, but he’s definitely running on an exhausting high. He follows Sam up to the lake near Sebastian’s house whenever Penny is busy, acts even clingier than usual. Sebastian picks up on this, tries to mention it once or twice, thinks its cute, but Sam isn't interested in joking about it just yet. Instead, whenever he tags along, Sam helps him pick out the flattest stones to try and skip over the frigid water, and he has to pull him back from falling into the water a few times by the back of his coat. Sebastian stands off to the side in his black jacket and shivers as he smokes, and though any normal human being might say he looks miserable, Sam knows he's comfortable out here, despite the chill in the air. He just spends a lot of time in his head, is all, and Sam is beginning to relate to that more and more as Winter passes them by.
Sebastian is even more affectionate than usual, and it kills Sam a little to think it might be out of pity or concern. Where they’d exchange handjobs or a quick thigh-to-thigh dry hump beneath the sheets and leave it at that, Sebastian now tugs him down, fucks with his hair and kisses his temple. Sam’s lost most of his muscle since he’s focused more on his guitar playing, yeah, but he’s still bigger than Sebastian, broader and more filled out, so it feels weird letting Sebastian hold him like he’s at risk of breaking.
It also feels kinda nice, in a way.
Abigail must know too -- Sebastian probably filled her in -- because there’s an unmistakable cloud of pity in her eyes whenever she comes by for practice, particularly if she ever runs into his mom on the way in or out. She’s got her own shit going on, Sam’s heard, as Sebastian was apparently coaxed into being her escort to the clinic earlier that week. Sebastian never said what it was for, but he doesn’t need to, and Sam doesn’t even really want to know. That’s Abigail’s business, not his. If she wants him to know, she'll tell him. Sebastian is quieter by nature, it probably felt safer to confide in him, whatever.
It’s beginning to settle uncomfortably though, the idea that if they stay here they’ll end up like the rest of the town’s inhabitants -- cut off and swimming against the current, stuck in this small town mentality that threatens to eat them all alive if they let it. Sebastian had a nightmare about that very thing once, about the old Community Center’s door morphing into a mouth, eating them whole, crunching on bone and gristle. Sam was staying over that night, and had to calm Sebastian down with a hand pushing sweat-drenched tendrils of hair away from his sleepy, red eyes. That was the first time they’d kissed for more than a few cursory seconds, and while the circumstances might have started out in a disturbing way, Sam is actually more than a little happy with how much closer they’ve allowed themselves to be together, both physically and emotionally.
Still, Spring looms ever closer, and it eats away at Sam, the not knowing. He’s expecting things to be different, while childishly hoping some of it will stay the same, or at least go back to how it was. At night before bed he falls asleep to the mental image of the studio apartment in the city they can run away to, and he vows to pick up more shifts, as the gigs haven’t been coming as much as they’d hoped. If nothing else, the extra work helps keep his mind busy.
Sam’s father comes home with a patch-sewn army regulation duffle bag and a limp that favors his left leg. Later, he explains to Sam and his mother that it’s brain damage -- nothing to do with his leg -- that causes it. Gotoro issued IED, deployed at night while he was off-duty. He even turns to show Sam the crawling scar from the stitches that reaches up from his nape into his hairline, and Sam almost loses his cool when he notices how white his mother’s face looks. His father doesn't even notice he's upset her.
He keeps the horror stories at bay around Vincent, at least, but there’s some things he can’t hide. He’ll snap at the smallest of sounds that startle him, will get frustrated with his leg, or his brain, or whatever the fuck it is that sets him off that particular day, and he takes it out on his mom, or sometimes on Sam himself. Never physical, always verbal, but it’s still fucked up. Vincent has ears, he’s old enough to know what it sounds like when someone’s yelling only two doors down the hallway.
It’s a chilly day in Spring when his dad corners him on his way out, the bite of frost still not completely thawed from the air, Sam’s jacket clenched tight in his hand. He’s on his way to a shift, and then he’s staying with Sam. It’s easier than risking coming home late at night, startling his dad.
“You’re gettin scrawny, boy, you still work out?”
Sam huffs as he puts on his jacket, adjusting the collar in the mirror by the front door and then fixing his hair. “There’s no gym in this town, where the hell am I gonna do that?”
“You’ve got legs, don’t you?” His father snaps, and the sharp tone seems to cover the whole house in an almost piercing silence. “Go for a fucking walk.”
Sam, outward courage belying the way his heart skips every other beat in his chest, rolls his eyes as he leaves, and it’s only out of ingrained familial respect that he doesn’t slam the door on the way out.
Sam carefully unlocks Sebastian’s front door, makes his way down into the basement as quietly as possible once he's inside. It’s past midnight now, his double shift ran later than usual, and he wouldn’t be surprised if Sebastian was already asleep. He pushes open the door, eyes the lump in Sebastian’s bed, the messy tuft of black hair sticking out near the pillow, and quietly crawls in behind him.
Sebastian stirs back against him, wriggling a little. Sam whimpers at the warm, instant contact -- though he’d deny it to his grave -- and wraps his arms around Sebastian’s waist, burying his face into his neck.
“You can fuck me,” Sebastian mumbles sleepily, and Sam instinctively tightens his hold on his waist.
“Just go back to sleep,” he says.
“Don’t wanna?” Sebastian asks, punctuating this with a deliberate push back against Sam’s dick.
“This a pity thing?” Sam says, though his voice already sounds breathless with want. “What’s your angle here, Seb?”
“Maybe my angle is I wanna get fucked,” Sebastian deadpans, rolling heavily onto his back and pulling Sam’s face to look at him. “Not everything is about something else, you know?”
Sam kisses him then, dipping down and parting his lips, moving slowly. Sebastian’s eyes barely flutter open when they part. And yeah, as much as he’d love to, it isn’t happening tonight.
“Goodnight,” he mutters into Sebastian’s hairline, pulling him close by the shoulder as they both fall asleep.
Sam picks up double shifts at JojaMart every other day now, it seems. All of the staff are lazy fuckers, himself usually included, so it’s easy to snake one here or there, and his saving’s jar is close to bloating by Summer. It’s a good excuse to stay out of the way of whatever’s happening at home-- let Vincent get the quality time with his dad that he’s been lacking. Vincent sometimes looks a little lost when it has to be explained to him that his big brother won't be going with them down to the beach, that he has to work yet again, but the distraction of his dad being home means it only ever lasts for a moment or two.
The extra shifts also mean Sam gets to be cocky about Sebastian’s complaints, his little jibes at the long hours, or constantly asking him to stay the night. It means Sam gets to pull him down onto his lap at the end of a double and say “show me how bad you missed me, baby” while Sebastian pretends he’s sincere in rolling his eyes, and not so hard and horny that it’s blurring his vision a little.
He’s done good, Sam thinks with no small amount of pride, given the circumstances and the tools he’s had to reach his goal. He doesn’t often finish the shit he starts, but this is important, this is their only out--
Only it’s Abigail that trashes it, on the very same day he’d been planning to tell them they have enough for the deposit. Sam can almost hear the brick crumble as the dream of the studio falls away in pieces right before him.
“I can’t go with you guys,” she says, before practice even begins, like she can't pretend any longer that she's on this carnival ride to nowhere with the two of them. “I’m… I’m staying here.”
Sebastian sighs heavily where he sits on Sam's bed, lets his head fall into his hands as he groans, “Don’t tell me -- the fucking farmer.”
“Yes, the fucking farmer,” she snaps back at Sebastian, suddenly so alight with frustrated anger that her hair and her eyes almost seem to glow with it. “I’m getting my own studio. I don’t have to leave, I didn’t even really want to.”
“Right,” Sebastian says, his tone liquid venom, “Except for the part where you said this place was full of inbred scum, and you agreed to sign a fucking lease with us.”
“Seb--” Sam steps in front of him, turning to watch the way the anger fizzles out into sadness on Abigail’s face.
“You should be happy for me,” she says, quieter this time. “I’d be happy for you.”
She leaves after a quiet, shaky apology-- more to Sam than Sebastian, who still won’t look at her. Once she’s gone, Sebastian leans up on the balls of his feet to wrap his arms fully around Sam’s shoulders, squeezing him tight.
“I’m sorry,” he says, and Sam’s face twists in confusion, “I know how bad you wanted to get out of here.”
“I’m not mad at her,” Sam says, pulling back enough to make it clear that Sebastian doesn’t need to defend him like that, not ever. “If nothing else, I’m a little jealous.”
Sebastian frowns. “Why does everyone think the new farmer is such hot shit?”
Sam laughs, pinching at Sebastian’s sides and pulling him closer when he wriggles in response. “Not that, idiot. Her own place. Her own studio, all that space-- why can’t we have that?”
“We could,” Sebastian says quietly, and Sam thinks of the studio the two of them definitely can’t afford on their own. There’s a JojaMart in the city he applied to, but they didn’t accept his transfer, said they didn’t need anymore employees at this time, thank you for your continued service!
Sam solemnly shakes his head. “No, we can’t. Not without Abigail.”
Sebastian sighs, rests his forehead against Sam’s and says, “You know my mother is a carpenter, right?”
Sam frowns. “What’s your point?”
Sebastian smiles, real big and crooked, the way he usually tries his best to hide, and then he thumps Sam hard in the center of his chest.
“My point is, I’m fucking happy here, idiot. With you, in the valley. We could do whatever we were gonna do there here, together.”
“Oh,” Sam says, at a loss for words. If given the run of control, his brain to mouth filter might let through the stray thought that Sebastian looks adorable when he’s blushing like this, but that wouldn’t serve to help anyone.
“We’d have to pay her,” Sebastian says, eyes flitting towards the large jar of cash Sam had out on display for the purpose of announcing they’d saved enough. “But she’s reasonable.”
“You wanna make an honest man out of me, Sebby?” Sam says, grinning stupidly, the ache from only moments ago replaced with a fuzzy warmth in his chest.
Sebastian shoves at him again, scoffing. They tussle a bit, and somehow fucking around turns into one of the most raw, tightly held embraces they’ve ever given each other. Sam holds onto Sebastian like he’ll fall without him, and Sebastian only shifts enough to free his mouth from Sam’s neck so he can speak.
“Vincent needs you here,” he mumbles, because Sebastian might be a pessimist, but Sam would rather call it practical. “I need you here.”
Sam’s grin threatens to break his face, so he presses it into Sebastian’s hair to keep it contained, holding him tight.
“I knew there was something special between us,” Sam mumbles, only half-joking.
He can feel Sebastian tremble a little with laughter -- or maybe a little nerves -- and he barely hears what he says, though it makes a lot of sense.
“Call it fate.”