Jamison grumbled as he rammed his shoulder into the door. Damn thing was stuck again; he’d told the landlord just yesterday it needed to be fixed, and got an ‘I’ll get to it” in response. Asshole. He grit his teeth and rammed it again, bouncing harmlessly off of it with a wince. There was going to be a bruise on his shoulder by the time he got it open.
“Do you need help?” A girl with wavy, dark brown hair was eyeing him uncertainly, trying to carry a huge paper bag.
“Dunno. You got a chainsaw?” He looked at her after a long silence. That was supposed to get a laugh, but instead she was still just staring at him. “That was a joke - uh. I think I can -” He rammed the door one more time and it swung open, and he dug his fingers into the door frame to keep from falling in while the girl made a little sound of surprise. “Got it.”
“Wow. Does it, uh... usually stick like that?”
“Been gettin’ worse. Anyway.” He brushed his hands on his pants and turned to her. “I’m good. Want help with that bag?”
She looked down and shook her head. “Nah, I’m good. Thanks.” She nodded at him with a hesitant smile before going up the stairs.
He closed the door carefully, making sure it wouldn’t take him fifteen minutes just to get into a hallway again, before stripping. Jacket went flying to the coat rack, shoes got kicked by the couch, shirt got thrown onto a kitchen table, and pants got chucked into his room. He couldn’t get out of his clothes fast enough after a long day of work.
He immediately went to the kitchen for a soda and then flopped on the couch, turning to the news. He didn’t really pay attention to it, just kind of background noise while his brain shut off for a second, just kind of processing the day’s events.
Eventually, he started thinking again. He stood up, tossed on a pair of shorts, and grabbed the screwdriver from his toolkit.
He was knelt in front of the open door, tightening the screws when he heard voices. “He was like, ‘bam!’, just throwing himself into it, I thought he was gonna hurt himself.” He recognized one as the girl from earlier after a moment of thought.
“Old building, y’know,” said another voice. It was deeper, but relaxed, and it gave Jamison pause. “Really gotta bug the landlord about stuff like that.”
Jamison turned his gaze back to the door as the two voices drew near, idle chatter getting louder as they came down the stairs. “Speaking of which,” the girl said as they stopped outside his door. “Doesn’t that void your lease?”
Jamison didn’t even glance at them. “Only if he finds out. Besides, I’m doin’ myself a favor here. Don’t need to bust my shoulder just tryin’ to get in.”
“Hey, I can respect that. He gets a little lazy sometimes, doesn’t he?”
“Too right,” Jamison agreed, glancing up. His mouth went a little dry at the sight of the man standing there, just barely taller than the girl with dark skin, light hair tied back in large dreads, and a pleasant smile. He had a real ‘boy next door’ look to him. “I’m not payin’ rent for a place I can’t even get into.”
“So what’re you doin’, just tightening the hinges?”
“Yeah. Gonna WD-40 it afterwards, just to make sure.”
“Well, we know who to call if our door ever starts actin’ up.”
Jamison sighed, standing up and swinging the door to test the hinges. It seemed alright for now, so he turned to speak to the two properly. “You folks just move in?”
The girl blinked. “No? We’ve been here for a while. I think we just haven’t crossed paths before? I’m Hana, this is Lucio.”
Jamison reached out to shake their hands, pausing. “Think I know that name.”
“Probably,” Lucio laughed, sticking his hands in his pockets. “I’m a DJ.”
“That’s putting it mildly. Lucio’s a multi-album star!”
“Hana, don’t brag for me.” Lucio rubbed the back of his neck sheepishly.
“Real hot-shot, huh?” Jamison snorted a little. “Why’re ya livin’ in a dump like this?”
“It’s close to downtown and a lot of my salary goes to charity. Plus I kinda blend in here.” Lucio shrugged.
“Blendin’ is good. ‘Specially in this town.” Jamison sniffled, nodding to the two of them. “Well. Nice to meet ya proper.”
“You too - uh, wait. You didn’t tell us your name.”
“I didn’t?” He was hoping they wouldn’t notice that. “Jamison.”
“Nice to meet you, Jamison!” Hana chirped, waving before pulling on Lucio’s arm. “C’mon, we’re gonna be late.”
“Okay, okay - see you around, Jamison.” Lucio flashed him a wide smile before being pulled to the stairs going down. It was so bright and innocent that Jamison stopped, watching him go. He finally shook his head and closed the door to apply the WD-40.
The door didn’t stick when he left for work the next morning, and he smirked to himself. Take that, Mr. Garcia.
“What’s on the docket today, Sombra?” he asked as he leaned against the front desk.
Sombra didn’t even look at him, fingers clacking on the keyboard. “Mostly touch-ups, Jamie,” she drawled, idly picking her nails. “One at 10:30 and one at 4. Gabe wants you out there getting walk-ins.”
“Sure thing.” He sighed as he went to grab his portfolio. Being the new member of the team was hard, especially when Amelie and Gabriel were so many years ahead of him in terms of practice. So far, he only had one guy who was a regular of his own, a massive biker with a cute little pig on his stomach that only trusted Jamison’s industrial style for touch-ups.
He managed to convince a girl to come in right away to get some kind of tribute to her cat before his first touch-up appointment, someone who usually went to Amelie but had missed out on their usual appointment time.
Another guy walked in just as he was finishing up his lunch break. He only had time to draw up a stencil before his next touch-up, but he managed to convince him to come back another day to do the actual tattoo.
He was setting up his station when he heard a familiar voice. “Hi, I had an appointment for 4?”
“Yeah - Lucio?”
Jamison stopped, lifting his head.
“One sec.” Sombra stood up from her desk to peer back at him. “Jamie, your four is here.”
“Ta.” Jamison took a deep breath and headed out to the front, standing by the counter. Sure enough, it was the guy from the stairwell yesterday, who blinked in surprise at the sight of him. “We meet again.” He could see Sombra raise her eyebrows in intrigue.
“Fancy that.” Lucio laughed again, and it was an irritatingly nice sound. “Anyway, just need a touch-up on the lines.” He flexed his arm, and Jamison noticed the tattoo on his left shoulder, a tribal-esque symbol.
“Alright. Easy enough. Come on back.” Jamison sat next to him, making sure all the ink was ready to go. “What is it, anyway?”
“It’s a frog.’ Lucio smiled a little sheepishly as Jamison moved in with the gun. “They’re kinda my calling card.”
“Oh,” Jamison said absently. He always tunnel-visioned whenever he started to work, and these lines needed to be precise. Lucio seemed to catch on, falling silent as Jamison worked. It was a pretty quick job, actually, so Jamison took some extra time to fill in spots that had started to fade.
Lucio smelled good, like some kind of Old Spice body wash that he couldn’t identify without the bottle in front of him. He only really noticed it as he cleaned up the tattoo and examined it to make sure it looked alright. “Okay. Take a look.”
Lucio stood and examined it in the mirror with a nice lopsided smile. “Nice! Is it darker?”
“Yeah, you had a bit of fadin’. Figured I’d touch it up while I was in there.”
“You didn’t have to do that.”
“S’my job. Literally.” Jamison gestured to his station, and Lucio laughed.
“Alright. Well, cool. Now I know you can fix doors and wonky lines.”
“He was cute,” Sombra said smugly to Jamison once Lucio had paid. He’d left a 20% tip, too, the bastard.
Jamison snorted. “Is Gabe gonna fire me if I head home for the day?”
“Not if everything’s clean.”
Jamison did another once-over of his station, making sure it was completely clean before grabbing his stuff and heading out. The bus home wasn’t the most pleasant part of the day, but it was easy enough to tune out the noise with his earbuds.
It was a porn kind of night, he decided after settling on the couch when he got home. He went for his go-to flick and got maybe halfway before he stuck his hand down his pants. But he kept thinking of that smell, the unidentifiable Old Spice, just before he came with a groan.
He shook his head once he got control of himself and shuffled off to the bathroom.
He saw the commercial as he ate his daily bowl of cereal. “The one and only Lucio Correia dos Santos!” the voice announced dramatically over video of lasers and flashing lights and pulsating crowds, and Lucio at the center of it all like it was where he belonged. “Buy your tickets today!”
He went to the website just to gauge ticket prices, and his eyes widened. $125 a ticket? “Christ.” He shook his head and closed out of the tab.
It was another slow day at the shop and he got trimmed at about two, and the only thing on his to-do list was grocery shopping. He stared at the list for a long moment before slapping it back onto the fridge and ordering delivery. Eventually, he went out and bought some frozen pizzas. ‘Good enough,’ he thought to himself.
There was a knock on his door at around five. He peered through the peekhole and saw Hana on the other end. “Yeah?” He asked as he opened the door a crack.
“Hey! Lucio’s first show is tonight, we were wondering if you’d wanna come to the afterparty. Tickets are sold out tonight, otherwise we’d get you to the show, too.”
Hana shrugged. “Why not? Free champagne and food and a ride back home.”
Jamison thought on that for a moment. The next day was his day off, but he wasn’t really a party person unless someone snuck a joint in... He nodded. “Sure. What time?”
“Concert should wrap up around midnight. Can you get to the stadium by then?”
“Sure.” The last bus came by at around 11:30; that was plenty of time to hit up his dealer and figure out what to wear - like he had anything aside from leather jackets and jeans. He lit up a joint just before he left to catch the last bus to the stadium, almmost immediately feeling calmer.
Hana came out to tell the guards he was part of the afterparty and pulled him to the backstage area. There were a lot of girls with glowsticks and glow-in-the-dark makeup and Lucio in the center of it all, chugging a water bottle. He waved them over with a wide grin; his skin glistened with sweat. “Hey! Sorry we couldn’t squeeze you into the show.”
“It’s fine.” Jamison waved his hand. This kind of music wasn’t his thing, honestly, but he found the tact to not say that out loud. “Thanks for invitin’ me anyway.”
Unsurprisingly, Lucio wasn’t impressed when Jamison pulled out the weed, even moreso when he got Hana to take a single puff and snickered as she nearly coughed up a lung. But he seemed to get over it quickly, settling in with champagne to laugh and yell over the raucous conversation and music.
“You dance?” Lucio yelled to him.
“I can dance.”
“I don’t think he can dance,” Hana chimed in with a giggle.
“I can dance!” Jamison repeated indignantly.
Lucio set down his glass and gestured for him to stand. “Come on.” Jamison rolled his eyes and didn’t budge. “C’mon, Mr. Stand-Offish, stand up.”
“Oh, I’m stand-offish?” Jamison rolled up off the couch at that, towering over Lucio. But the DJ didn’t seem intimidated, gesturing for him to step closer as he started to sway to the music.
Jamison followed suit, but Lucio immediately shook his head. “Nah, you’ve gotta be tighter in the hips. Here -” Lucio took him by the hips, pulling him closer and guiding him into a dance that made the already-hot room feel sweltering, the two of them nearly mashed against each other. “Yeah, there you go!” Lucio said approvingly, smiling up at him.
Jamison noticed his lips looked so soft. So in-reach. He cleared his throat and pushed away. “C’mon, mate, less tutorin’ and more champagne!”
Lucio laughed, settling back in on the couch and seemingly oblivious to the wide stare the other girls backstage were giving him.
Jamison lit up another joint, trying desperately to ignore how tight his pants felt.
The champagne ran dry eventually, and as the last of the VIP guests filed out, Lucio led them to the car that would drive them home. Jamison let his head fall back against the seat while Hana and Lucio laughed about something. “Have a good night!” she told him as he stopped at his door, fumbling for his keys.
He waved them off, but the second the door was closed, he beelined for the bedroom and unzipped his pants, growling as he palmed himself furiously, his dick aching from neglect. He managed to grab a tissue just before he came, sparing his comforter the trip through the washing machine.
He rolled onto the bed, staring up at the ceiling as the fog lifted for just a moment, replaced with irritation. He threw off his clothes and tunneled under the covers. Twice in two nights - not even close to breaking his record, but that wasn’t the issue. The issue was that both times had been because of his upstairs neighbor. First the smell, then the touch, dancing so close to him with such nice control of his hips.
He squeezed his eyes shut, his insides doing that spinning thing again, and he had to force himself to calm down. Thinking of his boss naked usually helped him keep from getting too riled up, and he let out a deep breath as his mind slowed from a race to a roll then to a stop.
He woke up late the next day to a knock on the front door. He opened it wide, still yawning as he said, “Hello?” There wasn’t a response right away, and he finally opened his eyes to see Lucio standing in the hallway, eyes wide. Jamison looked down; he was still just in his underwear. Jamison’s mind froze for a moment before he looked back up confidently, clearing his throat. “Can I help ya with somethin’?”
“Uh,” Lucio said, clearing his throat and raising his eyes to Jamison’s face. “I wanted to apologize for last night. I had a little too much - I lose my filter sometimes.”
“Dunno what you’re on about.”
“The... dancing. Making fun of you for that.”
Jamison shrugged. “Was a good lesson.”
Lucio laughed sheepishly, rubbing the back of his neck. “Yeah, well - I got a little handsy - anyway. I hope you had fun.”
‘Would’ve had a lot more if you’d come in,’ something whispered in his head, but he shoved it down.
“Just let me know next time you decide to sneak drugs in, okay?”
“Weed’s not a drug.”
“You know what I mean.”
“Cool. Well, uh. good talk. See you around.” Lucio nodded at him, but didn’t move. Jamison raised an eyebrow and slowly closed the door, waiting until Lucio started to turn away to close it completely.
He settled down to watch some television, but his thoughts were all over the place, flitting from one spectrum to another, from a high to a low. He growled and pulled out his phone. There was usually one thing that could get him set straight when he was like this, and he was relieved to see a reply text almost immediately.
There was a bar just a little downtown, a little hole in the wall, really classic. Jamison slid up to the bar, waving down a bartender for a beer. “Long time no see.”
The man he sat next to glanced over at him with a low-ball of whiskey, giving him a pleasant smirk. “Well, you only ever call me for one thing.”
“I do not,” Jamison protested, despite knowing full well he was right. “Like I’m more than a piece of ass to you, Jesse McCree.”
Jesse chuckled. It was a warm, husky sound that always made Jamison smile. “What’s goin’ on now?”
“Nothin’. Just needed a drink, and you’re a good buddy for that.”
They went back to Jessse’s place not even an hour later, and as he was thrown down onto the ratty mattress with his legs hiked around Jesse’s waist, Jamison finally put the smell of Old Spice and the sight of those damn lips out of his mind, if only for just a while. Jesse was a good fuck, no doubt about that; something about that modern cowboy appeal and those rough hands got him going with just a touch.
“Y’know,” Jesse mused as he draped an arm around Jamison’s shoulders, “a guy could think you’re usin’ me for sex.”
“Who? Me?” Jamison pulled away to touch his chest, the very picture of innocence. “No!”
Jesse was always nice enough to call him a cab, at least. He really was a nice guy, Jamison thought to himself on multiple occasions, but nice wasn’t what he was going for.
He liked to clean whenever he got laid, or at the very least, tidy up. It was just a way to get rid of the rush of energy that flooded through him. He moved all his dirty clothes from the floor to the hamper, did the dishes, and took out the trash before giving the whole place a nice coat of air freshener. Then and only then did he crawl into bed to fall into the abyss of sleep.
Jamison had been on the way to the roof to smoke before work when he heard the music. Deep, throbbing bass contrasting with what sounded like chimes. He paused to press his ear to the door and try to hear better, but it was too muffled. He shook his head and continued up to the roof.
He was up there for a few minutes before he heard the door open, and he glanced over his shoulder to see Lucio step onto the roof. He just gave him a quick wave before moving towards a far corner, one shaded by the entryway.
Jamison raised an eyebrow but said nothing, finishing off his smoke and heading back for the door. But something kept him from opening it, and with a sigh, he turned and peered around the corner. Lucio had his back pressed against the wall, practically curled up in a ball. “You alright?” he asked.
Lucio looked up, smiling a bit wearily at him and waving. “Yep.”
“You look like hell.”
“Thanks.” Lucio ran a hand over his hair. “Tryin’ to get some more songs lined up. Inspiration just isn’t coming.”
“So you’re sittin’ in cobwebs?”
Lucio subtly felt his shoulders to make sure he wasn’t getting caught up in any webbing. “The sound - cars, sirens. Helps ground me out.”
“Well, just as long as you run when you hear a gunshot.”
Lucio laughed, the smile coming more naturally to his face. It looked a lot better. “Sure thing.”
Jamison nodded and headed back downstairs. That kind of exhaustion didn’t suit Lucio, he thought.
He finally got to do the linework for the guy who had gotten the stencil the other day, and Amelie watched him work for a long second. “Nice curves,” she said, earning a pause from him as she pointed out to a particularly difficult curve. “They’re really tight right through here. It looks clean.”
He wasn’t used to compliments from her. She was quiet, kept to herself with an air of mild disdain. “Ta.”
“Just keep taking it slow.”
He nodded, focusing back on his client. He managed to get a lot of the base linework done and a few of the details before his client tapped out, and he made sure to get a picture for his portfolio - even if it was just lines, it was a pretty good example.
First order of business after a long project like that was hitting the bathroom. He idly glanced at himself in the mirror. His hair needed a trim again, and he had been slacking on going to the gym. He idly wondered if he should get another tattoo - the skull and dynamite-crossbones was the first one, and he’d gotten a minimalist rat tattooed on his hip when he was drunk one night. It was cute, though, so he kept it. Maybe get one of Amelie’s blackworks.
He shrugged and headed back out to his station to clean up.
He went to the coffee shop after work, more for the snacks than the caffeine. He had been looking at his phone when he heard a chipper “Hey!” and looked up to see Hana hovering at his table.
“Hey,” he greeted.
“How’s it going? Haven’t seen you since the party.”
Jamison shrugged. “Work.”
Hana nodded, pausing. “Did Lucio talk to you?”
“About?” He tried to be very interested in the scone he’d gotten.
“What about it?”
Hana sighed and sat down. “His job’s really stressful sometimes, so he loses it when he drinks too much. Especially when it comes to champagne. He’s a people-pleaser.”
“I was gettin’ that. Seems pent-up.”
“We’re working on it. Anyway, if you ever need anything, feel free to come on up. We both work from home.” She tapped her fingers on his table before heading out, and he watched after her for just a moment before turning back to his phone. He walked home, idly watching the dark clouds start to roll in.
It stormed the next day, so heavily that the shop closed down due to a flash flood warning. He’d been watching the rain come down out his window, wincing a bit at the bright flashes of lightning, when there was a frantic knock at his door.
“Sorry to keep bugging you,” Lucio started as soon as the door opened, his eyes a little wide. “But you’re handy, right? Literally everything is leaking.”
Jamison sighed and grabbed his toolkit. Not much he could do without voiding their lease, but some silicone caulk did the trick with the windows and a little crack in the roof of the kitchen. “Really gotta invest in a toolkit,” he told them, helping them shove a towel against the window.
“We’ve been meaning to,” Hana said, wiping her forehead with the back of her hand. “Maybe you could help us out - if you don’t mind. We’re never been somewhere this janky.”
“It builds character,” Lucio said, trying hard to put a positive spin on the situation but just sounding weary instead.
“It builds black mold.” Jamison rolled his eyes.
“Thanks. Seriously. Want a drink? It’s the least we can do.”
Jamison wasn’t about to turn down a drink, even if it was one of those weak, bottled malt coolers. “Seriously, you don’t wanna take even a few hundred more to get a place where the landlord gives a fuck?”
“Maybe, but not any time soon. I used a chunk of my last royalty check to buy new skates for the kids back home.” Lucio rubbed the back of his neck with a laugh. “Keep ‘em from getting into trouble.”
God, what a boy scout. Jamison drummed his fingers against the kitchen table.
“He has a point, though. It’s hard to do my streaming when you can hear the water pipes.”
“Streaming?” Jamison echoed.
“Hana streams for a living. She was a pro gamer back in Korea,” Lucio said, brightening up a bit. He definitely seemed like the type who enjoyed hyping up his friends. “I mean, she still is, but she used to play in live comps.”
“Damn right,” Hana said, puffing her chest out a bit in pride. She wasn’t drinking, he noticed; instead, she just had a bottle of soda. “#1 Starcraft champion three years straight!”
“Huh.” He sipped his drink. “Right, Hana mentioned you both work from home.”
“Yeah. Well, I mean, I gotta go to the studios to record stuff, but I do all the song-writing here.”
“But I could basically make a living never leaving the house.” Hana shrugged, taking a sip of her soda. “Gotta love that Twitch partnership!”
“You actually make a livin’ just playin’ games all day?”
“Yep. People will pay a lot to watch someone kick ass.”
Jamison shook his head. “I don’t understand youth culture these days.”
Hana rolled her eyes, giggling. “Come on, you’re probably barely older than me! How old are you?”
“Whoa.” Lucio’s eyes widened for just a second, and he laughed nervously. “Sorry. I just - you look older.”
“It’s the wrinkles.” Jamison wrinkled his nose to demonstrate; he definitely had a worn look to him. “What about you?”
“26.” Lucio grinned at him. Jamison was surprised; this little world-peace-grubber was older than him? “Hana’s a baby though.”
“Shut up!” Hana protested, making an incredibly adorable pouty-face. “I’m 19!”
“Oh my god, you are a baby,” Jamison snorted, earning a laugh from Lucio.
“I’m legally an adult!”
“Still a baby.”
“You guys are jerks. So why do you have all that stuff anyway? Like, the toolkit.”
“I’ve lived here a few months. Realized the landlord doesn’t give a shit, so I’ve been DIY-ing a lot.” He shrugged.
“Never know when you might need to unhinge a door, right?” Hana laughed.
“Right. Might have to start chargin’ at this rate, though.”
“We’ve only asked you for help once.”
“Yeah, and that’s gonna turn into twice, or five times...” Jamison smirked at the both of them playfully.
“That’s what YouTube tutorials are for. Careful, Jamison, you might outlive your usefulness,” Hana teased, trying her best to sound intimidating.
“Already have,” he said with a laugh. Hana and Lucio didn’t laugh with him, just staring at him like they weren’t sure if he was joking. “Kidding. I’m not that dark.”
“Right! Right.” Hana laughed, but it was a little forced.
Jamison cleared his throat and finished off the rest of his drink. “Well, sounds like the rain’s slowin’ down. Come on down to let me know if somethin’ else starts leakin’.”
“Yeah! Thanks a bunch.” Lucio stood up to lead him to the door. “We should hang out more. I always like gettin’ to know my neighbors.”
Jamison shot him a finger-gun. “You know where I am. And if I’m not there, I’m some other place.”
“Drawing things on people.”
Despite the storm slowing down, it was still raining too hard to go anywhere. Usually he would’ve hit the gym for an hour or so, but it was probably closed with this weather and he didn’t want to risk getting drenched. He idly watched the news while doing sit-ups, something about the rain lasting throughout the night.
There was a text from Jesse waiting for him when he got out of the shower. ‘u + me + whiskey + bad movies?’ Jamison rolled his eyes and sent back a thumbs-up. If it was going to be bleak and dreary outside, he might as well make inside as cozy as he could.
“Since when have we done this?” Jamison asked as he opened the door, gesturing between himself and Jesse.
“There a problem with two guys just sharin’ a drink on a stormy night?” Jesse winked at him, holding up a full bottle of whiskey.
“As long as you didn’t bring those damn cowboy movies.”
“What’s wrong with a little Clint Eastwood?”
Jamison rolled his eyes and shut the door on Jesse, giggling like a fiend as he opened it back up after a second and pulled Jesse in by his wrist.
They stayed up late, just watching spaghetti westerns with an impromptu, tipsy riff session. Jamison passed out against Jesse’s shoulder at some point during The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, waking up to Jesse shifting to practically carry him to bed.
He grumbled against the pillows, nuzzling into them. His head ached a bit.
“There’s, uh... someone here for you.”
“Who is it?” he tried to say, but it was muffled, considering he was face-down on his bed.
“Some neighbor - Lucio?”
Jamison paused, then lifted his head to blink drearily at Jesse. “What?”
Lucio looked a little embarrassed as he stood outside the front door, rubbing the back of his neck. “Sorry to interrupt. You forgot this upstairs.” He held out a silicone caulk tube.
Jamison’s cheeks flushed a bit, and he took it, clearing his throat lightly. “Ta - uh, thanks. Hope you didn’t still need to use it.”
“Nah. Thanks again.” Lucio paused, glancing past Jamison. Jamison looked over his shoulder to see Jesse drinking a glass of water - he slept in his shorts, and he was just as fit as Jamison except with a little more chunk to him, and he vaguely looked like a low-budget model. “So, uh... that your boyfriend?”
Jamison looked back at Lucio. “He’s a friend.”
“Not to pry or anything,” Lucio said hastily, holding up his hands. “I mean - just wasn’t expectin’ him to answer the door, y’know?”
“Yeah. He’s hot as hell,” Jamison said, raising his voice so Jesse could hear. Jesse looked back at him and raised his glass, doing that eyebrow lift and smirk that had gotten Jamison into his bed in the first place.
Lucio laughed at that, nodding at Jamison. “Anyway. Just didn’t want you to need that and not have it.”
“He looks familiar,” Jesse said once the door closed, leaning against a counter.
“He’s a DJ. Pretty popular, I guess.”
“What’s he doin’ in a dump like this?”
“He gives most of his money to charity.” Jamison curled his lip, setting the caulk down to wrap his arms around Jesse’s neck, pressing their chests together in a total invasion of personal space.
“Why’s that a bad thing?”
“Good guys like him don’t last. Don’t wanna be around for the fall.”
“Is that personal experience talkin’?”
Jamison kissed him just to shut him up. Jesse had to leave for work eventually, leaving the whiskey behind. “So you can think of me next time you hit the bottle,” he joked.
Jamison did head to the gym after that; the rain had long stopped, but he could feel the cold settling into his shoes as he stepped through puddles. He had a ritual for gym days; half an hour on legs, half an hour on arms, and then treating himself to boba tea afterwards. Hana was coming down the stairs as he headed up to his apartment, and she stopped him, eyes widening. “There’s a bubble tea place?”
“Yep. Off Glenway.”
“I know what I’m doing this afternoon.”
He settled on the couch with reruns of a cooking show where there was money and one of the contestants had to wear a clown suit while the host laughed diabolically. It was definitely his kind of show.
After ordering pizza for dinner, he headed up to the rooftop to smoke again. He didn’t want to risk the landlord actually paying attention and noticing that his entire apartment smelled like weed. Lucio was already up there, leaning against the half-wall that kept him from plummeting over the edge. Jamison moved quietly so as not to disturb him, lighting up as he sat down on the ground by the entryway.
“Why bother coming up here to do that?” He looked up; Lucio has spotted him while heading back to the door downstairs, but his eyes seemed puffy.
“Stupid as the landlord is, he’d notice the place smellin’ like a skunk. How’s that album comin’?”
Lucio smiled, a little too widely. A little too fake. “Great! It’s great.”
“It’s shit, isn’t it?”
They stared at each other for a long time. Eventually, Lucio’ smile fell and he sat down next to Jamison, rolling his head bak with a groan. “Yeah. Like - it’s the deadlines. The expectations. Synaesthesia Auditiva was a hit, but the producer I’m with here wants - I don’t even know what he wants.”
“An auto-tuned sheila singin’ the same two lines over and over.” Jamison shrugged. “There’s no room for authenticity out there anymore.”
“I’ll make room. I did it back in Brazil, I’ll do it here.” There was a strong determination in his voice that also made Jamison believe him. “But it’s just the stress.”
Jamison silently held out his joint. Lucio snorted derisively at him. “I know, I know - ‘ya piece of shit stoner’ - but seriously. Helps me with nightmares.”
Lucio paused, eyeing him uncertainly. Finally, he shook his head. “Thanks, but -“
“No worries.” Jamison took one last drag before smashing it out against the ground. “You seem more like an edibles guy. I could make ya some brownies if you want, nice and easy.”
Lucio was quiet for a long time, thinking it over. “...Can’t believe I’m sayin’ this, but... Okay.”
Jamison gave him a finger-gun. “I’ve got me own recipe. No worries.”
As soon as Lucio seemed to be done with conversation for the night, Jamison headed back downstairs and immediately set to work in the kitchen. He didn’t have anything else to do and baking always ate up a lot more time than he thought. Besides, there was never an excuse not to make brownies.
He cut them up, sticking all but one of them into a plastic container once they were done and cooled off just a bit. He wrapped the lone, free piece in plastic wrap, put it in a ziplock bag, and pinned it to Lucio’s front door.
When he came home from work the next day, there was a letter taped to his door.
Thanks for the talk last night. And also that other thing. Except I think it was too strong, I slept until like 2 in the afternoon. Unless that was part of your evil plan. Then good work, I guess. It did help a lot. If you ever want me to return the favor, I’d be happy to make you dinner sometime. Just let me know!
He couldn’t help but snicker. He’d been careful making the brownies, but he did make the cannabutter a little strong for his own tastes. He shrugged and set the letter on the counter. Now he’d have to have dinner with the poor sap, but it might be a welcome change from frozen pizza and delivery.
He must’ve dozed off on the couch, because his mind suddenly snapped back into coherence when he heard a knock on the door. Everything looked hazy, like there was a vignette on top of his vision. He yawned, stretching, and shuffled to the door. Lucio was on the other side, shuffling from one foot to the other anxiously.
Jamison raised his eyebrow and leaned against the doorframe. “G’day.”
“Hi. You get my letter?”
“Yup. Dinner sounds pretty okay.”
Lucio smiled brightly at that. “Great. Although...”
“Can I come in real quick?”
Jamison blinked, then opened his door wider to let Lucio in. He ducked under Jamison’s arm and into the apartment. As soon as the door closed and Jamison turned around, Lucio pressed against him, pinning him to the wall. He was flushed, letting out a long sigh. “I think we’ve danced around this long enough.” He drew his hands down Jamison’s chest, feeling the curves of his muscles, his voice dropping playfully. “Let’s skip the dinner and just get to the show now, okay?”
Jamison could hear his heartbeat pounding in his ears. Everything still looked fuzzy, almost overexposed, but he grabbed Lucio’s hips to switch their positions and lift him up, kissing him harshly once they were at equal height. He felt legs wrap around his waist and a cute little moan against his lips. If Lucio was going to throw himself at him, Jamison wasn’t going to complain.
There was a flurry of clothes being stripped and torn off as they kissed, Jamison’s fingers tracing the lines of his tattoo and roughly groping his ass - nice and firm. “Yeah, fuck yes,” Lucio groaned, the curse sounded harsh on his tongue. He clung to Jamison like his life depended on it, curling his fingers through his hair and rolling his hips forward against him.
“Language,” Jamison said with a laugh, pulling Lucio away from the door towards his couch. He bent him back, his hips angled up on the back of the couch with his head just barely hanging off of the seat cushions and ground their hips together with a growl.
“Kept you waiting, huh?” Lucio glanced up at him with a grin. He was already raring to go, the outline of his dick pressing against his briefs.
“Damn right, you fuckin’ tease.” Jamison pulled away to yank Lucio’s underwear down, then fished out his own dick from his pants. He’d always been easily excited, but this was quick, even for him He hiked up Lucio’s hips even further to grind against his ass.
Lucio’s legs squeezed around his hips, trembling as he moaned. “God, yeah, just like that!” The sight, the feeling, was more than enough to get him really going. He kind of wished he’d waited, though; he would’ve loved to see those lips wrapped around him, sucking him off.
Jamison huffed a laugh, leaning over the couch and Lucio to thrust harder, panting at the effort. He didn’t want to waste time grabbing lube, otherwise he would’ve been giving Lucio the ride of his life at this point. The DJ was always complaining about how stressed he was, well how was this for a stress reliever? “I’ve got more where this came from.”
Sweat beaded down Lucio’s chest, and he shivered, eyes squeezed shut as his fingers dug into the cushions of his couch. “Yeah,” he mumbled, letting out a heaving breath. “Yeah - god, Jamie - please...”
He asked so nicely, so sweetly. Jamison grunted, pulling away to come all over Lucio’s hips and chest. The vignette spread, making his entire world go white. He closed his eyes. After a pause of hearing nothing but their breathing, he heard Lucio breathlessly say, “Boy, you’re gonna hate this part.”
“What part -“
And then he woke up.
He was sprawled on his couch, breathing hard as some kind of late-night talk show droned on the TV. He stared at the ceiling for a long moment, confused, before launching himself up to his feet at the horrific realization that his lap was wet. “God-fuckin’-dammit!” he cursed, stripping his come-stained shorts off and chucking them in the kitchen sink, filling it up with hot water. Then he hopped in the shower, just to wash himself off.
He hadn’t had a wet dream since before he’d come to this damn town two years ago. He scowled to himself, scrubbing his shorts with a little liquid soap. Enough was enough; he needed to get rid of this damn crush.
It was surprisingly easy to ghost someone who lived in the same building as you. He took up extra hours in the shop for training and shadowing, went to the gym a lot more, checked out different bars, danced until the wee hours of the morning - he lived the life.
“You’re runnin’ from somethin’,” Jesse said one night, eyebrow raised as he stared up at Jamison from the comfort of his bed.
“Maybe. But you’re gettin’ a good lay out of it, so why are you complainin’?” Jamison grinned at him, straddling his hips. “Think of how many horses I’m savin’ right now.”
Jesse snorted in laughter. If he ever got tired of the cowboy jokes, he never showed it.
Eventually, a knocking on his door woke him up. He’d passed out in a drunken stupor on his couch, and rolled his head back to peer at the time on the microwave. About nine, so still early yet. “Jamison? It’s Hana.”
He groaned and threw on some sweatpants. “What can I do for ya?” he yawned, squinting at Hana while he tried to rub sleep out of his eyes.
“I just wanted to see if you were still alive. What’s going on?”
“So the fact Lucio and I haven’t seen you in like a week is just coincidence?”
Hana crossed her arms over her chest. “Bullshit. C’mon, get dressed. We’re getting bubble tea.”
They sat in awkward silence, listening to light pop music waft through the speakers as they drank their tea. Jamison tried to carefully spread out the bubbles so that he could avoid talking for too long, but Hana saw through it. “Lucio likes you, y’know.”
“What?” Jamison snorted.
“Yeah. Not sure I like you sneaking him pot brownies, but he thinks you’re cool and he doesn’t stress out as much after talking to you. He doesn’t really have a lot of friends here, too many people get starstruck when they meet him. So what’s up? Are you mad at him or something?”
“I like my privacy,” Jamison protested, setting his cup back down. “Besides, I’ve just been busy.”
“Well, he’s starting to think you hate him, so can you at least say whether or not you want to come by for dinner?”
The letter. Jamison had left it crumpled on his counter after the dream he’d had, just kind of forgetting it after a while. He sighed, slumping down in the booth. “Fine.”
Hana scoffed. “Okay, now can you say it like I didn’t just ask you to clean your room?”
“I’m feelin’ attacked right now.”
“I’ll tell him we’re on for tonight. Come up by six. If you don’t, I’ll come down and drag you.”
Jamison grabbed groceries afterwards, his mood dampened by the fact he’d been found out. Was it so wrong to avoid someone on the basis that they were all you could think about if you so much as looked at them? He had to admit, though, Hana was surprisingly feisty. It was endearing.
It was 5:30 by the time he started to put effort into cleaning up. A quick shower and shave was all he needed for tonight, he figured. He knocked on their door at just a little past six.
“Finally!” Hana said as she opened the door, inviting him in. Something smelled amazing, he had to admit. “Come on in.”
“Hey.” Lucio was stirring something in a large pot, glancing over his shoulder to wave at Jamison as he stepped through the door. “Just gonna be another minute for this to settle up.”
“Alright.” Jamison stood awkwardly in the doorway while Hana set up the table. There was a basket full of little bread rolls on the center of the table.
“Alright! We’re good to go. Pão de queijo, moqueca de camarão, and there’s some brigadeiro in the fridge.” Lucio brought over the pot, setting it down on the table on a pot holder next to the bread. It looked like a thick stew and smelled amazing.
“Oh my god, Jamison, have you ever had brigadeiro?” Hana’s eyes widened, and she sighed. “It’s soooo good.”
“You usually eat like this?” Jamison asked, raising an eyebrow at the spread and grabbing a roll.
“Nah, this is just for special occasions. I actually would’ve made more if I’d had more time.” Lucio laughed, settling in next to him and pouring some stew into bowls and passing them around. “I’m glad you decided to come up, Jamison.”
“You get sick of frozen pizza after a while.” Jamison shrugged.
A small bit of annoyance lifted up in the back of his head as they ate, talked, and joked around. Sweet, a hard worker, and a good cook - this guy just had to hit ‘good guy’ bingo. Hana hadn’t lied about the brigadeiro, though. It was very easily the most delicious thing he’d ever had. He felt ready to pass out by the time they all finished eating, which was when Lucio set down a mug in front of him. “Brazilian tradition - gotta round out dinner with some coffee.”
“Christ, I’m not gonna be able to get outta this chair,” Jamison groaned, taking a sip of coffee and failing to hide the ripple of shock that crossed his face. It was strong, way stronger than he usually liked.
“Yeah,” Hana agreed, slumping over in her chair. “Beats the usual chips and soda.”
“Those recipes usually make enough to feed a small village.” Lucio laughed, rubbing the back of his neck. His cheeks were darker than usualy from the praise. “I cut down on them a bit. Mom’s recipes.”
“I’m gonna steal the recipe for that bread,” Jamison said darkly.
“Or I could just give it to you.”
“Sure, if you wanna go the easy route.”
Jamison was pleasantly surprised that things seemed pretty normal despite his active avoidance of the people he was sharing a table with. They sat down for some television while Jamison teetered on the brink of a food coma. Eventually, Hana was nodding off on his shoulder, and Lucio nudged Jamison before standing up, gently shaking Hana’s shoulder. “Alright, let’s get to bed.”
Hana grumbled something, but stood up and stretched. “Thanks for coming, Jamie.” She waved sleepily at him before retreating to her room.
“Suppose I should get outta your hair.”
“I’ll walk you,” Lucio said after watching Jamison make sure he had his phone and his keys. Jamison paused, looking back at him before nodding.
“I mean, I’m just downstairs, but okay.”
They walked down the stairs in silence, and Lucio cleared his throat as they reached his door, mumbling, “You should invite me in.”
Jamison’s heart stopped for a second, his grip tightening on the doorknob. He took a deep breath. “Okay. Wanna come in?” Lucio nodded. Jamison let him go in first, then followed, closing the door behind them. His mind flashed back to that dream, Lucio pinning him to the door, but he turned around and just saw Lucio leaning against a counter, staring at the floor. “Want a drink?”
“Sure. Just one, though.”
Jamison poured them a small glass of whiskey - ‘ Thanks, Jesse ,’ he thought to himself - and sat down at the table. Lucio still stood, however, swirling the drink in its glass. “Did I do somethin’ wrong?” he asked eventually, looking up. “Like - for a solid week there, you were just... gone.” Jamison didn’t answer right away, taking a sip. “’Cause if I said something or did something, I - I wanna know.”
“You didn’t do anythin’,” Jamison said eventually. “I just needed some time to myself.”
“I don’t think so. Aside from that guy who was in here, I’ve never seen you hanging out with anyone besides us.”
“Home is for sleepin’. I don’t like people stayin’ over for too long.”
Lucio sighed, finally taking a drink and fighting back a cough at the strength of it. “Just seems like you don’t like me too much.”
Jamison bit his tongue to keep from screaming ‘I like you too much’. “Nah, you’re cool.”
Lucio was quiet for a long moment, then he nodded. “Okay. You just feel so hot-and-cold sometimes. I’m amazed you actually came up for dinner. Hana said she had to practically kick your ass.”
Of course Hana would tell him about their conversation. Jamison sighed, setting his glass down and running a hand through his hair. “Okay. Sorry. I was ghostin’ ya there. But just because you’re so damn annoyin’.”
Lucio’s eyebrows rose at that, and he laughed a little skeptically. “I’m annoying?”
“You’re such a goddamn goody-two-shoes and the worst part’s that you’re genuine . You’d rather live in a dump so some kids can get skates?”
“So caring about people is a bad thing?”
“It is when it’s gonna drain you dry. Because some day, you’re gonna find someone that asks for help and then just keeps askin’. They’ll take and take and take. Nice guys don’t last.”
Lucio just stared at him for a moment, then burst into laughter. Jamison raised a brow at him, watching him wave a hand as he tried to calm down. “Oh my god. You - you’re kind of a hypocrite, you know that? Here you are, lecturin’ me for caring too much, when you’re doing the same thing.”
“I mean, that was really specific and, I’m not gonna lie, kinda sweet, but c’mon. You really think I’m that much of a pushover?”
“People like you usually are.”
Lucio sat down across from him, amusement twinkling in his eyes. “I’m gonna tell you a story, okay? I’m from Rio. I grew up poor, like ridiculously poor. Poor enough that my mom had to make enough food to feed an entire favela . One day, this company came to town - ever hear of Vishkar?”
“Some kinda tech company, right?”
“Yeah. Bought some property for development. Now, they promised they’d give us jobs, help us rebuild. But they were pretty much a dictatorship. Gave us curfews, arrested people, basically used them as slave labor. I know better than to trust someone up-front, Jamison. Don’t underestimate me.”
Jamison just stared for a long while as Lucio drained the rest of his whiskey. “What happened?”
Lucio laughed again, a little more sheepishly. “Well, I kinda... stole some of their tech. They were using these special undertones in music to keep everyone depressed, so I switched it around, used it to lift them up. Vishkar got the hell out of there after a while.”
“Right, I remember readin’ about a big revolution down there.”
“I was DJing way before that happened, but that’s what got me a record deal. But I didn’t send Vishkar packing. It was everyone in the favela , everyone who loved where they lived and had enough self-respect to know what Vishkar was doing was wrong. So yeah, maybe I send too much to them and don’t keep enough for myself, but that’s because I’m not the sole hero here. They deserve it as much as I do.”
Jamison looked down at his glass. “So why’re you here?”
“Like - of all the places you could go, why here?”
Lucio was quiet for a long while. “I got hired on by a producer out here. I thought it’d be easier to make a change and get my music out there up here.”
“You miss it?”
“Yeah. But my mom updates me whenever she can, and I know that the next time I get down there, it’ll be a whole new world because I made a difference.” Lucio looked up at Jamison again, his eyes glistening just a bit. “Why’re you so sure I’m gonna crash and burn?”
“Lotsa people that make it big only to turn into total dickweeds or fall apart.”
“And maybe I will, but why do you care so much if I do?”
Jamison sighed, finishing off his whiskey. “Because you could make it.” Lucio paused, settling back into his chair. “I’m hopin’ for a success story here. But if it goes south, I’m gonna look like an idiot for havin’ faith.’ Jamison stood, grabbing Lucio’s glass and taking it to the sink before pouring himself another drink.
“I don’t wanna pry. But why’re you so cynical?”
“I got hired by this bloke back home, just before I came here. Promised me a lotta money and the chance to make a difference if I did somethin’ for him.” Jamison took a sip from his new drink. “Turned out he was full of shit. All I got was the pre-payment and my face on Sydney’s most wanted.”
“Yikes.” He heard Lucio shift behind him. “The pressure’s on for me, huh?”
“Nah. Don’t go thinkin’ you’re gonna fail because of me.”
There was silence for a long moment. Jamison took another sip before turning around to see Lucio’s eyes downcast in thought. “What... did Hana say to get you to come up for dinner?”
“That she’d drag me up if I didn’t come of my own free will.”
“And that you were bummed out.”
Lucio rubbed the back of his neck. “I mean. You’ve just got a unique perspective. Kind of helps me think of things outside the box. It’s also nice to talk to someone and get my mind off the music sometimes.”
“So you just use me as a soundboard.”
Lucio laughed again. It was much nicer this time around. “Yep.”
“Yeesh. I thought what we had was special.” Jamison found himself grinning over his glass as he took another sip.
“Well. I should probably let you get some sleep.” Lucio stood, stretching. “Thanks. For, y’know... finally talking to me.”
“Might finally dodge that Mr. Stand-Offish reputation, eh?”
“You just might. Night, Jamison.”
“Y’know,” Jamison said before Lucio stepped out the door. “You can call me Jamie.”
Lucio smiled at him. “Jamie. Okay. Night.” And the door closed and he was gone.
Jamison finished off his drink before heading to bed, making sure his alarm was set for work the next morning. He actually felt okay; not pent-up, but calm. It was a foreign but welcome feeling as he drifted off to sleep.
Jamison was dozed off in the chair, his favorite playlist of the best 80s rock (in his opinion) playing through his headphones. There was a tap on his shoulder and he opened an eye to see his boss, Gabe, gesture for him to take them off. “You’re done,” he said.
“Oh! Sweet! Lemme see.”
Gabe pulled away, letting Jamison stand and head to the mirror. On his chest, an anatomical heart surrounded by flames. “Ace! Mate, you’ve gotta show me how you do these gradients.”
“Nice, Gabe,” Sombra said, craning her neck to see them from behind her desk.
“You say that like it’s my first time,” Gabe shot back. “Ready to wrap it up?”
His chest stung, but it was well worth it, honestly. Amelie had been booked up, and he was nervous about letting his boss judge how well he took getting a tattoo, but it had worked out just fine.
Lucio was on his way out as Jamison reached the entrance to the apartment complex, and he waved him down. “Hey, Jamie!”
“Hey, what’s up?”
“Hana and I were planning on going out tomorrow. We were wondering if you’d like to come with!”
Jamison hummed to himself, nodding. “Sure. Don’t got anythin’ goin’ on.”
“Sweet. Meet us outside that Irish pub on Adams at five?”
“See ya there.” Jamison headed up to his apartment, waving goodbye to Lucio to settle in for the night. His phone rang in the middle of the evening news. “Hello?”
“Hey, Jamie,” Jesse’s voice said on the other end.
“My favorite cowboy. What’s up?”
“Listen. Remember how we said we’d put on the breaks if somethin’ came up?”
Jamison’s smile faded just a little bit before turning into a coy smirk. “Oh? Got someone in your life besides me?”
Jesse chuckled. He could hear clinking glasses through the receiver. “Maybe. Jury’s still out, but I’ll let you know.”
“Who is he?”
“Guy that comes into town every now and then on business. Part of a real big-shot family from Japan. Sorry, Jamie.”
“No worries, mate. Good luck.”
“If I need your luck, I’m screwed.”
Jamison hung up and sighed, slumping into the couch. He and Jesse had made an agreement that if they started seeing someone, they’d pause their psuedo-relationship out of respect. Despite that, he still couldn’t help but feel a little bummed. He sighed and stood to make himself some pasta for dinner.
He actually put effort into looking decent for this dinner outing, even slipping on some calf-length punk boots that he wore whenever he felt particularly confident. Hana and Lucio were watiing outside the Irish pub for him - Hana had a cute summer dress on, and Lucio had something of a jazz era look about him. White button-down, black slacks, and a cute fedora. “Hey, Jamie! Glad you could make it.”
“Yeah, sure thing. Not like I’ve got much else to do. Where we goin’?”
“There’s a cute little European bistro down this way.”
They’d gotten maybe halfway there when Hana pulled out her phone and groaned. “Ugh, no way!”
“There’s a pop-up Starcraft tournament going on right now and I got asked to be a guest commentator.” She looked at the both of them, clapping her hands together in apology. “Sorry, guys. Think you can get on without me?”
“I think we’ll manage. Have fun, Hana!” She waved them off and disappeared into the distance.
“Looks like it’s just the adults now,” Jamison joked, giving Lucio a lopsided grin.
Lucio laughed. “Yep! We can really party now.”
They continued onto the bistro, and Jamison got a funny feeling in his stomach as they sat down at a table for two. He drummed his fingers on the table, peering at Lucio suspiciously. “You and Hana planned this, didn’t ya?”
“What? Pfft!” Lucio tossed his head, putting on an expression of total innocence. “No! Why would you - no, definitely... not planned, no.” They were silent for a long while before Lucio laughed nervously. “Okay, it was Hana’s idea. She thought we could use some time alone together. I, uh... if you wanna go home, that’s fine. I just thought a night out would be fun.”
“It’s alright. You’re payin’, right?”
Lucio grinned. “C’mon, we’re not even gonna go dutch?”
“Fine. Only ‘cause I like you.”
The food was pretty good, if not a bit yuppie-ish. They had a decent beer selection, too. “Okay, okay - you said you were from Sydney?” Lucio asked eventually over frites.
“Well - I didn’t actually grow up in Sydney, but I’m from New South Wales, yeah. Moved to Sydney when I was eighteen.”
“What’s it like?”
“Fulla Seppos. Not bad, though.”
“Americans.” Jamison grinned at Lucio. “We’ve got some creative slang down in Oz.”
“You sure do. I saw on the internet something about...” Lucio lowered his voice. “Fucking spiders?”
“Like, ‘I’m not here to fuck spiders’. It means something like ‘obviously’ - why’re you laughing?”
Jamison had started giggling helplessly, covering his face with a hand. “Oh my god - no. That’s not a thing. We don’t say that.”
“Nah, mate - see, what we do is we tell people stuff like that just to mess with ‘em. Always works.”
“Looks like!” Lucio snickered, leaning back in the booth.
“That’s hilarious, though. Kudos to whoever coined that.” Jamison lifted his beer glass. “To fuckin’ spiders!”
Lucio shushed Jamison, blushing at the stares they got and laughing as he raised his glass and clinked it against Jamison’s.
“Where to next?” Jamison asked when the beer was gone and they’d finished their food, throwing cash onto the table.
“There’s an arcade not far off. Play a few games.”
Jamison mused on that for a moment before nodding. The arcade was nice, kind of a modernized retro vibe with a lot of games for cheap, but Jamison quickly realized he had absolutely no coordination when it came to Dance Dance Revolution.
Lucio doubled over, hanging on his shoulder to laugh at Jamison’s less-than-stellar performance. “Alright, hot-shot, let’s see how you do.”
A little better, it turned out. He hit a lot more steps than he missed, and Jamison was a little impressed.
“We wanna grab some ice cream?”
“Think they’re all closed by now.”
“Damn. Let’s head home, then.”
They walked in silence, Lucio almost pressed against him but not quite joining their arms together. “So not bad for an impromptu date, huh?” he said eventually.
“Oh, it was a date!” Jamison grinned at him, watching him look down at the floor with a sheepish cough. “Ya could’ve just said so, Lu.”
“S’cute, right? Or should I not with that?”
“No, it’s cute.”
They got to Jamison’s front door, and Jamison gestured to it. “Well, this is me.”
“Yeah. Hey, uh - c’mere quick, you’ve got something on your face.” Lucio curled a finger at him.
“I do? Where?” Jamison started wiping at his face.
“No no, I can get it. Just come here.”
Jamison leaned down. “Dunno what might get on there -” He frozed as Lucio leaned up and kissed him on the cheek.
“Oh, whoops. It was just my lips.” Lucio grinned innocently at him, and Jamison lost it. He took Lucio by the shoulders and kissed him hard on the lips, letting out a deep breath from his nose.
Lucio froze, making a soft noise of surprise as he lifted a hand to rest on Jamison’s neck, and that’s when Jamison came back to his senses and pulled away. “Wow,” Lucio said softly. “Uh... Jamie?”
“I’m sorry,” Jamison said, eyes wide. “I, uh...”
“Well, I usually don’t go for the lips on the first date, but you do seem a little more forward.” Lucio smiled patiently. “It’s okay. Really. I don’t mind.”
“Well, I - I don’t usually go gung-ho like that.”
Lucio pursed his lips in thought. “Y’know, I had a good time tonight so I don’t think I can be angry about it. Not that I get angry about kissing anyway.”
An urge won over his common sense and Jamison leaned down to kiss him again. He quickly realized there was a disadvantage to this, in that he had bend over and crane his neck down to get a good angle against Lucio’s mouth, but a second of discomfort was worth it for those damn lips. They were just as soft as they looked.
“Jamie,” Lucio sighed as they pulled away to breathe. “I don’t think we can stand out here all night.”
‘ So come in ,’ a voice whispered, and Jamie very nearly repeated it. Yeah, there was that part of him that wanted to throw Lucio over the back of his couch and fuck him until he couldn’t see straight. But he also wanted to just... sleep with him, snuggling under the covers. But in the end, he just sighed and stood up straight, nodding. “Okay.”
“Let’s do this again. Soon. Okay?”
“Yeah. I mean, I’d cook for you, but the most I can make is a vegemite sandwich.” Jamison chuckled.
Lucio laughed. “It’s the thought that counts. Good night, Jamie.”
“Night.” Jamison watched him head up the stairs, leaning against his front door and sighing heavily.
He found himself avoiding Lucio again the next day. When he went to open the door to leave, he heard Lucio on the other side laughing and talking to Hana about something and just froze until their voices had passed.
The sex dreams had stopped, at least, but he almost wished they hadn’t. Being horny all the time was better than the domesticity he was craving now, imagining the two of them curled up on a couch together watching movies or whatever. It was sickeningly sweet.
He gently slapped himself as he looked in the bathroom mirror. “Stop bein’ dumb,” he scolded himself. “So ya kissed him. It’s not like ya haven’t kissed anyone before. Relax.”
Jamison spent his next day off helping Hana and Lucio get their toolkit. “Man,” Hana said, peering into their shopping basket at the local hardware store. “I kinda feel dumb for not realizing they actually came in kits like that.”
“S’okay. Hardware stores really are a learnin’ experience.” Jamison grabbed caulk, twine, and duct tape, then also got a decent-sized utility knife from behind the counter. “Y’never know.”
“Okay, I understand everything except the twine,” Lucio said as the cashier checked them out.
Jamison held up a finger. “I’ll explain later.” He waited until they were out of the hardware store to say, “If you ever get locked out and the chain lock’s on.”
“I’ll show ya.” He had Hana and Lucio lock the chain lock on their door and he opened it as far as it could go. He took the twine, looped it, slid it around the chain, and maneuvered the string so he could pull on it and loosen the chain. He heard Hana gasp quietly as the chain clattered off and he opened the door, spreading his arms victoriously.
“Wow. How’d you learn that?”
“Television,” Jamison said proudly.
Hana invited him to watch a stream of her playing some competitive game afterwards. Apparently it they made a little occasion out of it whenever she was invited to a tournament, breaking out chips and pizza and more brigadeiro. Jamison excused himself to use the bathroom after an hour and idly checked out their shower. He noticed a bottle of Old Spice body wash. Citron. He finally identified the scent.
Jesse had texted him a few times since hitting the pause button on their little arrangement, sending him cute little pictures of rats he saw in pet stores and photos of the most memorable drunkard of the week. He had the decency to avoid talking about the new guy in his life, at least, except to show off the awesome Japanese dragon sleeve he had. Still, Jamison couldn’t help but be a little pleased that Jesse hadn’t just started ignoring him.
Lucio knocked on his door late one night when he’d given up trying to sleep at a decent time, instead watching some crime drama reruns. “Hi,” he said, exhaustion clear in his face. “Wanna go for a walk?”
“It’s one in the morning.”
“I can’t sleep. Looks like you can’t either. Do, uh... you still have those brownies?”
Jamison nodded solemnly. “Say no more.”
They walked to a nearby park, occupying the swing set while they ate brownies. “Not exactly what I wanted to do for our second date,” Lucio said eventually with a mouthful of chocolaty, weed-y goodness. “But, y’know.”
“There’s worse things we could be doin’.”
“These are really good, by the way. I mean, they actually taste okay.”
“Ta. Trial and error to get the chocolate ratio just right.”
They fell back into silence, Jamison idly twisting his swing around. Lucio rubbed the back of his neck, humming something idly. “What kinda music do you like?”
“I just - all my inspiration music is starting to sound stale. Maybe you could give me something better.”
“I’m more of a rock fella, honestly. KISS, AC/DC, stuff like that.” Jamison let the swing start to twirl back to its default position, raising his feet so they didn’t drag. “Although... ok. I’ll tell you a secret if you tell me one in return.”
Lucio thought about that for a long moment before nodding. “Okay...”
“What?” Lucio looked at him quizzically.
“I like Tchaikovsky. 1812 Overture, ‘specially. Little bit of Debussy.”
“Wait wait wait -” Lucio sat upright at that, raising his eyebrows. “Big bad Jamison likes classical?”
“That doesn’t leave these swings. Alright?” Jamison shot him a look. “Got an image to maintain.”
“Okay, okay. So I gotta tell you a secret now, right?” Lucio made a musing sound in his throat, looking up at the sky. Eventually, he laughed softly, a shy grin crossing his face. “Okay, uh... remember that big storm? I asked you to come up and help with the leaks?”
“Oh yeah. The first in so many damn times I’ve helped your ass.”
“Well... you didn’t leave your caulk in our apartment.”
“I stole it.” Lucio turned to him, his grin growing wider. “I just wanted an excuse to come down and talk to you some more.”
Jamison stared at him, mouth slightly ajar in disbelief. “You... you sneaky lynx.”
“I mean, I hadn’t expected to see that guy there, otherwise I would’ve waited.”
Jamison turned away, starting to pump his legs idly. “Yeah. That was Jesse. He, uh... we had an arrangement.”
“What kind of arrangement?”
“Like a relationship, with all of the sex but none of the commitment.”
Jamison shrugged. “Met someone. He did, I mean. So we put on the breaks.”
“So you haven’t met anyone?” Lucio teased, joining him in his swinging.
“Not recently. A while ago, maybe, but not sure where I stand with ‘im yet.” Jamison shot him a smile. He couldn’t help but feel a little out of his zone here. He was good at whirlwind romances and one-night stands, but he had gotten it into his head that Lucio deserved a little more than that, and he wasn’t so great at long-term.
“Well, I think your chances are pretty good.” Lucio dug his heels into the sand to stop swinging, and sighed, glancing over to Jamison. “Did you get a new tattoo? You were wearing a wrap that night we went out.”
“Oh. Yeah.” Jamison tugged down his collar, but it only showed off a small sliver of the heart. So he stopped swinging to wrestle his shirt off and toss it into the grass.
Lucio peered at him. He twisted in the wash of the streetlight so it was more visible. “Oh, neat. Does it mean anything in particular?”
“My heart’s on fire. Literally. Literal heart fire.”
“Looks like you’ve got some real heartburn .”
Jamison started giggling frantically, but he leaned back too far and fell flat into the sand. Lucio snorted, snickering as he watched Jamison work through his fit. “Fuck! I’m mad I didn’t think about that.”
“Sorry. You’ve been out-punned.” Lucio stood up and offered him a hand, helping him back up to his feet. “I have my moments.”
“I’m a sucker for a good joke.” Jamison grinned sheepishly at Lucio, whose eyes started to seem a little unfocused. “Hittin’ you yet?”
“Maybe. Little bit.” Lucio was still holding Jamison’s hand. “Time to head home, I think.”
Their hands stayed entwined as they started the long trek back to the apartment complex after taking a detour to grab Jamison’s shirt. They’d gotten up to Jamison’s floor when Lucio pressed against him. “I can’t do another flight,” he whined.
“Want me to carry ya?”
“Or let me crash on your couch. Or in your bed.”
“I’ll carry ya.” Jamison leaned down to scoop up Lucio in his arms, smiling at the surprised ‘eep!’ the DJ let out as he wrapped his arms around his neck.
“Don’t you want a sleepover?” Lucio said into his shoulder as he started to slowly carry him to the next flight of stairs. “I cuddle.”
Jamison just rolled his eyes and carefully moved up the stairs. He set Lucio down once they got to the top, taking a moment to catch his breath and stretch his arms. “Got your keys?”
“Yep.” Lucio dug around in his pockets, but stopped before actually approaching his door. “Seriously, though. We can catch a movie or something.”
“Sure. Get some sleep.”
Lucio wiggled his fingers in a goodbye wave, unlocking his front door and disappearing inside. Jamison waited to hear the lock click before heading downstairs.
Jamison’s ears perked as Sombra called back to him, a certain playful amusement in her voice. “Your favorite boy is here,” she said.
He furrowed his brows. What? “Send ‘im back, I guess?” His client rounded the corner and he immediately realized what Sombra was talking about. “Hey, there! I forgot your touch-up was today.” He patted the seat and slid over to make sure his station was set up.
He didn’t know much about this guy except that he was massive ; easily seven feet tall and built like a semi truck, which made the adorable pig tattoo on his stomach a stark contrast. He was quiet, too, barely saying a word no matter how much Jamison rambled on. Jamison could never remember his name, though.
“Yeah,” he grunted, the chair creaking as he settled in it. “The mufflers on the side.”
Jamison peered at the tattoo and gave the man a thumbs-up. There was a little fading that he could see if he looked closely. “Want me to touch up the highlights too?”
The man returned his thumbs-up, and he got to work. He had to admire whoever had done this tattoo the first time; the pink of the actual pig was vibrant and even covered his outie belly button. “That must’ve hurt,” he muttered to himself.
The man shrugged when he pulled away to wipe away excess ink. When Jamison finished and wrapped him up, they fist-bumped before the man shuffled off to pay. The front door opened and he could see Hana and Lucio enter the shop. Hana waved frantically at him before Amelie passed by, giving them one of her looks , the kind that made anyone just go quiet and think about all their life mistakes.
“Hi! We were wondering if we could get a walk-in?” Lucio said as soon as Mr. Big stepped outside, giving Jamison a final nod. “Not to be that kinda person, but we were really hoping Jamison was available.”
“He just got out of an appointment, but if you’re willing to wait, I’m sure he’d be happy to help you.” Sombra peered behind the desk and gave Jamison a sickeningly innocent smile.
Jamison waved his hand. “Lemme clean up.” He made sure everything was clean and sterilized and ready to go before heading back out to the lobby to greet them properly. “Gettin’ another tattoo, Lu?”
“Nah, this one’s for Hana, actually.” Lucio patted Hana on the shoulder.
“Got a nice bonus from that tournament I was in a while ago, and I’ve always wanted one!”
Jamison rubbed his hands together. “First tattoo. Always the fun one. What were you thinkin’?” Hana handed him a piece of paper, her cheeks going a little pink. It was a cute bunny logo - one he recognized as hers from watching her stream - with ribbons on both side. One said something in a language he didn’t recognize, some kind of Asian characters, and the other said ‘Fight like a girl’. “O-ho, this’ll be good. Where ya puttin’ it?”
“My back. Like, right in the center, just below my neck. Is... that a good spot for a first tattoo?”
“As good as any. I just gotta draw up a stencil, c’mon back and get comfy. I’m gonna have to prep ya, too, it might be weird.” He took them to his station, then went to do the stencil. As soon as that was done, he came back, swabbed the spot with some rubbing alcohol, then placed the transfer on her upper back.
“Looks good,” Hana said, bouncing a bit on her heels. She was practically glowing with excitement.
“Alright.” Jamison reconfigured the chair into a table so she could lay down, and took a seat, grabbing the gun. “Don’t be afraid to speak up if it hurts too much or you need to move.”
“We’re gonna start with the lines.” He started carefully following the lines, making sure to go slowly enough that he wouldn’t hurt Hana too much. Once it seemed she was adjusting, he went a little faster, focusing hard on keeping the lines straight and clean. Lucio had her hand in his, smiling and wincing slightly whenever she squeezed it.
“Okay,” he said eventually, wiping away excess ink and carefully examining it to make sure there weren’t any skips or gaps. “Lines are done. Let’s take a look.” He helped her stand up and move to the mirror.
“Oh wow,” she gasped, twisting and turning to get a good look before he gave her a smaller mirror to see better with. “That was just the lines? That’s amazing.”
Jamison rubbed the back of his neck. The feeling of pride welling up in his chest wasn’t foreign for him, but the fact it was coming from someone he knew and liked and at least tolerated him in turn almost embarrassed him.
“That looks good.” Lucio nodded, rubbing Hana’s shoulder with a smile. “Look at you! Getting tattoos!”
“I’m a rebel, Lucio.” Hana puffed up her chest. It was simultaneously adorable and fierce. “Rebels need ink.”
“Well, rebel away, bunny. You want color?”
“I was thinking the ribbons could be blue, maybe add some pink around the rabbit.”
“Well, we could get that done right away so you don’t have to worry about it. You up for that?”
Hana considered that for a moment, frowning in thought. “Yeah! Might as well.”
“Alright.” He helped her settle back down on the table and reached for the colors. She still squirmed a little bit, but with time and patience, Jamison finished it up. It looked really cute, but with the motto, it also had strength. “This is really cute. Not usually what I get to do.”
“Oh wow.” Lucio had stood up to peer at Hana’s back. “That’s awesome.”
“I wanna see!” They helped her up and she lit up again at the sight of the finished tattoo. “Wow! That’s so cool, Jamison! Thank you so much!”
Jamison bowed his head. “Sombra’ll get you set up with payment in a sec, but let’s go over aftercare. I’ll give ya a little book too.”
They left eventually, and Jamison was surprised to notice that the day was nearly done. He set to clean up his station before heading home.
There was a letter on his door when he got home. ‘Out for ice cream - you should come by!’ Hana had signed it with a little heart and an ice cream shop name on the back. He smiled and went back inside to change and apply more deodorant before heading back out.
“Hey!” Lucio waved him down with a grin. “Whatever you get, it’s on me. As thanks for giving Hana her first tattoo.”
“I don’t take handouts, Lu -“
“It’s not a handout! It’s me payin’ you back.”
“You kinda asked for me specifically.” Jamison rolled his eyes, but headed to the counter anyway. Nothing like a bit of rocky road to help someone settle down for the day. Lucio followed to pay the cashier.
“Because we trust you,” Hana said once he sat down. “I mean, I saw some of your coworkers’ stuff while we were waiting and they’re super talented too, but -“
“You thought you could get a friends’n family discount?” Jamison teased.
“Yep. That’s it. You caught us.” Lucio laughed, grinning at him.
“Well, joke’s on you. I barely get a discount.” He chuckled, taking a long lick of his ice cream. Lucio watched him for a moment before clearing his throat, turning his attention back to his dessert. Odd.
“Who was the lady with the long hair? She was scary.”
“Amelie? Oh yeah, she’s real cold. But great for blackwork. Actually, the only person you didn’t meet was my boss, Gabe. He did my heartburn.” Jamison cracked a grin at Lucio, who snickered while Hana raised an eyebrow. Jamison pulled down the collar of his shirt to show off his tattoo.
“Oooh, now I get it! That’s neat, though. Your boss is pretty talented, huh?”
“Yeah. Get a skull from him and it’ll look like someone Photoshopped it on - in a good way.”
“What about you? What’s your style?”
“Industrial, mostly, but I can do cutesy stuff like yours.”
“Did you do the tattoo on that big guy who left when we came in?” Lucio asked eventually, scratching his cheek. “He was huge.”
“Oh no, he got that done somewhere else. He just lets me touch it up for ‘im.”
They finished off their ice cream, and eventually Lucio stood, his back popping as he stretched. “I’m gonna take a walk around and head home. See ya.”
“See ya,” Jamison said, watching him go before turning to Hana with a raised eyebrow. “He okay?”
“Yeah. Apparently his producer said a few of his songs needed re-working by the end of the week.”
“Yikes. His producer sounds like a right prick.”
“A little bit. Lucio had a bit more free reign back in Brazil because of what he did, it’s just an adjustment for him, I think.”
“Did you know ‘im back then?” Jamison leaned forward, genuinely curious.
“I bought his album, reached out to tell him I loved it. Turned out he was a fan of my gaming channel, too. Eventually, he decided to move up here, and I offered to room with him.”
“What about you, though? Why come from Korea?”
Hana shrugged, idly picking at her nail polish. “Why not? The gaming scene’s strong out here, and I might as well get a little adventurous while I can.”
“It’s a big risk, s’all I’m sayin’.”
“It’s paying off so far. I won’t hurt too much if I end up packing back up and going back home. Speaking of which - wanna walk together?”
He spent the rest of the night doodling new tattoo designs for his portfolio between episodes of that weird cooking competition show. This time, someone had all their knives replaced with scissors and two other contestants were tied together, back to back. It was total insanity.
He and Lucio ended up just marathoning horror movies through the DJ’s Netflix account one night in lieu of the movie theater, but Jamison couldn’t really pay attention for too long. Where did he put his hands? Lucio didn’t seem to mind his arm resting on the back of the couch around his shoulders, but was he sitting too close? Too far away? He ended up going back to his apartment with a pit of failure swirling in his stomach. He was used to movies being a convenient excuse to make out on the couch, not actual bonding time.
There was usually only one solution when he felt like a massive black hole of negativity, and that was getting a drink or three. He was surprised to see Jesse at the bar; this was their go-to, which was how they’d met in the first place, but he didn’t think Jesse would be up for nights out if he was trying to woo someone. Jamison sauntered up to the bartop, leaning against it. “G’day, stranger.”
“Howdy,” Jesse replied after a moment, raising his glass. “Fancy seein’ you here.”
“Couldn’t sleep. Needed a nightcap, and I polished off that whiskey a while ago.” Jamison glanced around, rubbing the back of his head. “Did Mr. Big In Japan leave ya high and dry?”
“Nnnnnot exactly.” Jesse nodded towards the bathroom, and Jamison stood up straight, cheeks flushing slightly in embarrassment. “This ain’t really his scene, though. He’s been spendin’ all night poutin’ because this place doesn’t carry sake.”
“Christ - is he a hipster? Jesse.” Jamison grabbed Jesse’s arm, eyes pleading. “Please tell me he ain’t a hipster. That lifestyle will tear ya apart.”
Jesse laughed at that, patting Jamison’s hand. “Don’t worry. Never again.”
Jamison saw the bathroom door swing open and a man started making his way back towards them, eyebrow raising at the physical contact between them. God, he looked like a hipster. Undercut, piercings, an expression like he smelled something rotten - but there was something in his eyes that could almost make Jamison forgive it all. Almost.
“Speakin’ of the devil. Jamison, this is Hanzo.” Jesse gestured to the newcomer, his face cautiously neutral.
“Hello,” Hanzo said after a long moment of simply watching Jamison. Appraising him, almost. Jamison didn’t like being sized up, but he knew better than to start anything here, especially given that he actually liked Jesse.
“G’day. Has this bloke made you watch Clint Eastwood yet?”
“Yes.” Hanzo paused, giving Jesse a cursory glance before stating, “Why?”
“Well, he does that to everyone -“
“No. I mean, why those movies? They’re terrible.”
“Hey now,” Jesse said warningly, pointing at Hanzo. Jamison snorted, biting back giggles.
“It’s the truth.”
“I’ll make you watch ‘em again.”
“And with that, I take my leave.” Jamison bowed with a laugh, stepping away from the bar.
Jesse rolled his eyes as Hanzo took a seat next to him. “He’s a weird one. Don’t mind ‘im.”
“Yup!” Jamison shot a finger-gun at Hanzo. “Treat ‘im good.”
“You’re suggesting I would treat him terribly?”
“Not if ya know what’s good for ya.” Jamison turned away to flag down the bartender for a beer, then took a seat at a high-top towards the back to give them some privacy and silently wished Jesse luck. The kind of hardness in Hanzo’s eyes could only mean rough waters.
They left before he did, and Jamison had another beer before calling it a night and heading home. For Hanzo’s sake, Jamison prayed Jesse hadn’t been serious when he’d threatened him with more Clint Eastwood.
The noise that filled Jamison’s ears was aggressive. Like thick, gooey black metal but with a persistent beat and a siren-like melody. He slid the headphones off his ears and mused over it, trying to ignore the exhausted desperation in Lucio’s eyes. “It’s heavy,” he said finally. “But I like it.”
Lucio’s shoulders slumped, and he sighed. “You do?”
“Should go over well with people that like darker sounds.”
“Thank god. I mean, I probably would’ve released it as a single anyway, but I’ll add it in and see what the producer says.”
“Got a title yet?”
Lucio rubbed the back of his neck, eyebrows furrowing in thought. ”...You said it was heavy. Coração Pesado. Heavy heart.”
“Just stressed. Wanna grab something to eat or something?”
Jamison expected Lucio to take him to somewhere like the bistro they’d gone to on their first date and was thoroughly surprised when they went to some fast food burger chain instead. He wouldn’t say no to a dollar menu and overly-sugary drinks, though.
“This place is kind of a guilty pleasure,” Lucio said after they’d ordered their food and sat down in the nearly empty dining area.
“Nah, yeah. Definitely gotta go to the gym again after this. Y’know, workin’ out could help with the stress, too. Get yourself a stationary bike.”
“Yeah...” Lucio leaned back in his chair, mulling that over. “I’ve been meanin’ to pick up football again. Maybe some hockey when the weather turns.”
“Good onya. Fresh air does wonders.” Jamison nodded sagely, sipping his drink obnoxiously loud.
“Sorry I haven’t been more fun lately,” Lucio said, giving Jamison a tired smile.
“Hey. Not your fault your producer’s a drongo. Shut up and eat your burger.”
They got back to the apartment complex, and as they stopped at Lucio’s door, he reached up to grab Jamison’s shoulder and gently tug him down to press a gentle kiss on his lips. “Just in case you forgot what that felt like.”
He hadn’t; soft and sweet and just a bit restrained, like he was afraid to ask for more. And goddammit, Jamison wanted to give it to him. An idea started to form in his head.
It took him a few days to get up the nerve, but he posted a note on Lucio’s door asking for a re-do of their second date. Another movie night, but with significantly less awkwardness from his part. He had to wait an entire, painstaking day to get a response. “Why not just say it’s the third date?” Lucio asked him as they sat on the roof; it had become a little ritual for them to chat on the roof once every few days at the very least.
“Because the second date was you watchin’ a movie while I sat there tryin’ to figure out where I could put my hands without makin’ it awkward.” Jamison rubbed the back of his neck, looking away. “I’m... not great at the datin’ game. I’m better at sneakin’ off so we can make out in the back of a car. But, y’know, I’m willin’ to try.”
“Aw.” Lucio pressed against him, resting his head on his shoulder. “It’s okay. I kinda got that you weren’t comfortable after a while. I just thought it might’ve been me.”
They were both quiet for a long moment before Jamison finished his smoke. “Wanna do it right now? I don’t have any plans until my producer calls back, and he’s put the work phone away until tomorrow.”
“Sure. C’mon down.”
He put on some thriller movies and took the plunge to put his arm around Lucio’s shoulder, letting out a sigh of relief as Lucio pressed comfortably into him instead of pulling away. There, that wasn’t so hard. Lucio yawned idly and asked, “So what’s the difference between a thriller and a horror anyway?”
“Thrillers try to keep you engaged, horror tries to freak you out, I think,” he replied, mildly distracted by the fact Lucio smelled different. Citron was still there, but there was also the delicious smell of coconut oil.
“I mean, all movies should try and keep you engaged, right?”
Jamison shrugged. “Movies’re weird. You eaten yet?”
“No. Kinda got distracted with the music.”
“I’ll order pizza.” He tore himself away from the movie for a bit to order some pizza and grab drinks. “Got any preferences?”
“Nope - ‘cept it’s gotta be pan or hand-tossed.”
Jamison turned on a travel show once the movies had been played out, and they idly watched someone go through a city in Africa while they waited for their pizza. “So, uh,” Lucio said eventually, pulling his feet up on the couch and making himself comfortable against Jamison’s side once again. “Wanna play some 20 Questions? Dates are really about getting to know each other.”
“Sure. Who starts?”
“Me. Uh...” Lucio wrinkled his nose in thought. It was kind of cute. “Favorite food?”
“Is that part of the game? Are ya double-questionin’ me right now?”
Lucio laughed. “No, no, I - I’ve actually never heard of that.”
“Take a slice of bread, spread butter on it, and then dump sprinkles all over it.”
“What? That sounds...”
“Don’t knock it ‘til you try it. S’like Vegemite. Anyway, my turn, yeah?” Jamison hummed, drumming his fingers on his leg. “Best place you went when you were on tour?”
“Oh man.” Lucio let his head fall back as he thought, eyes drifting shut. “Nigeria.”
“Yeah. I mean, I loved everywhere I went, but something about Nigeria just... harmonized with me.”
“Okay. Have you ever been anywhere aside from Australia and here?”
Jamison shook his head. “Nah. I’d love to travel but funds, y’know.”
“If I go on tour again, I’ll bring you with.” Lucio grinned at him.
“Don’t make promises ya can’t keep,” Jamison replied, but he smiled too. “How many people have you slept with?”
Lucio snorted, sitting back up. “Really?”
“I was gonna ask it eventually, might as well do it now.”
“Okay, uh...” Lucio rubbed the back of his neck, laughing sheepishly. “Just one. A girl that I met at one of my underground concerts, back when I was starting out. We dated for a bit, but she didn’t want the drama of me making it big. What about you? How many people have you seduced?”
“You make me sound way more suave than I am.” Jamison scratched his cheek as he mulled it over. Should he lie? He had the feeling Lucio would be able to tell if he was lying. Eventually he shrugged. “Three. First was a girl that asked me to prom to make her ex jealous, ended up blowin’ me in the back of her car. Second was a bloke that thought he was gay and wanted to try it out with me to make sure.”
“Oh yeah. And then the third was Jesse. Met ‘im in the bar, we hooked up, and we realized we got on well enough.”
“Not enough to, like, date.”
“Yeah, nah. It just... wouldn’t’ve worked out.” Jamison rubbed the back of his neck. “Why me?”
Lucio paused for a moment, then smiled at him. “I dunno. Do I need a reason?”
“What I mean is - you've only ever been with a gal, yeah? So am I the first bloke you’ve ever... liked?”
“No. I’ve, uh... always been into both. Just never found a guy that I really felt comfortable enough to just go for it with.” Lucio paused, then opened his mouth to say something else right as the buzzer went off and he nearly jumped out of his skin.
“Oops! Pizza’s here.” Jamison grinned back at him uneasily before pulling off the couch and to the door to yell into the intercom, “Comin’!”
When he came back up, balancing the box in one hand and opening the door with the other, Lucio was slumped on the couch, fast asleep. Jamison laughed quietly and grabbed a slice before sticking the whole box in the fridge. He let Lucio sleep while he ate, turning off the television and gently shaking his shoulder once he’d eaten everything. “Lu?”
Lucio mumbled, his eyes opening just slightly.
“You’re dead tired, aren’t ya? C’mon. Let’s get you tucked in.” It felt weird to be the one taking care of someone else, making sure they got into a proper bed to sleep in for the night, but he still found it in him to lift Lucio up and carry him to his room.
“What about you?” Lucio mumbled when he was safe under covers and comforters.
“I’ll get the couch. No worries.”
“No -” Lucio reached out to take his arm and gently tug him down. “It’s your place. We could share.”
Jamison paused, then nodded, stripping down to his shorts. “Well, then fuckin’ scooch over.” Lucio obeyed with a sleepy little giggle, and Jamison pulled up the covers just to slip in beside him. Lucio immediately curled up next to him, resting his head against Jamison’s chest.
The warmth quickly had Jamison’s eyelids drifting closed very quickly, and he sighed before letting his mind drift off into sleep.
have i mentioned i'm bad at slow-burn
His breath caught in his throat as he woke, eyes shooting open as he tried to gasp for air and choked. He leaned over the side of the bed as he coughed, still caught in some nightmarescape of flames and machines and dark shapes with sharp teeth. He nearly screamed as a hand curled around his shoulder before a voice cut through the haze. “Hey! Jamie - Jamie.”
He finally managed a deep breath, rolling back over on to the bed and barely registering the worried look on Lucio’s face as he leaned over him. “Sorry,” he said once his brain remembered how to form words.
“Are you okay?”
“Nightmares. Get ‘em every now and then.” Lucio stroked his face as every part of him slowly woke back up, and he huffed a deep breath, shaking his head. “Sorry you had to see that.”
“It’s okay. Just worried me.” Lucio leaned in to press a kiss to his forehead. “Sorry I passed out on you last night.”
“You were a tired lil’ froggy.” Jamison pulled his head down to kiss him. Lucio hesitated for a moment before pushing back with a sigh. Jamison mumbled happily and took Lucio by the hips, pulling him close. He underestimated his strength, though, and accidentally clunked their foreheads together. “Oops.”
Lucio snickered, biting his lip as he repositioned to lay on top of Jamison, moving so they were face to face. “Now you don’t have to hurt yourself trying to lean down.”
“Thank god.” Jamison grinned. “You’re cute as hell, but you’re so damn short.”
“No, you’re just too damn tall.”
They watched each other for a long moment, their smiles growing wider each second, before they both leaned in to kiss again. Lucio’s fingers pulled through his hair gently, the kiss pressing deeper as Jamison took hold of his hips again to keep him in place. “Y’ should show me some of those dance moves again,” he teased quietly when they pulled away to take a breath.
“Wh - oh.” Lucio’s cheeks flushed again, and he hid his face in Jamison’s shoulders. “I need a little more alcohol in my system for that.”
“What, you can’t get frisky without a lil’ cham-pay-gin?” Jamison intentionally mispronounced the word just to watch Lucio’s shoulders bounce in a poor attempt to contain his laughter before he lifted his head up and kissed him hard. Jamison sighed, sliding his hand up Lucio’s neck and delighting in the way he shivered. “God, you’re a beaut.”
“Crikey,” Lucio joked, his giggle fading into a gasp as Jamison used the opportunity to sneak a kiss against his neck. “Oh -“
“I play dirty.”
“I’m not surprised.” Lucio sat up, straddling Jamison’s chest with his eyebrows furrowed. “Uh... you remember what I said last night?”
“I’m your first bloke.”
Jamison ran his hands down Lucio’s sides and around his hips to settle on his ass. “I’ll give ya the step-by-step. Not the IKEA stuff.”
“I can read those pretty good actually.”
“Well, I can’t write ‘em.”
Lucio rolled his eyes and sighed. “I should let Hana know I’m still alive.”
Jamison dug his fingers in lightly. “Later.”
Lucio bit his lip and, eventually, he nodded, whispering, “Later.” He leaned back down to kiss Jamison’s jaw.
Jamison purred, craning his neck back and sliding his fingers under the waistband of Lucio’s pantts - he’d been so tired, he’d passed out right in his clothes. “You slept in those. Better get ‘em off.”
Lucio laughed, sitting back up. “Way to romance a guy.”
“I’m just sayin’. Can’t be comfy.”
Lucio sat up, tapping his lip with a finger in false thought. “Hm... that is a good argument.” He pulled his hands away to pull up his shirt and pull down on his belt, peering down at himself. “I think my belt dug into me a bit.”
“Poor thing.” Jamison reached out to touch him, dragging his fingers down his stomach. “Should know better than to sleep in your clothes.”
“It’s your fault. You didn’t undress me before tucking me in.”
“I’ll remember that for next time.” He settled his fingers on Lucio’s hands, only pulling them away once Lucio started to unclip his belt.
Lucio laughed, unzipping his pants and worming them down just below his hips, as far as he could get them in this position. “You’re confident there’ll be a next time?”
“If ya keep dodgin’ sleep and passin’ out on my couch, yeah.” Jamison shooed him off so he could help Lucio pull his pants off entirely,
“You have a comfy couch.” Lucio rubbed the back of his neck sheepishly, settling back in to straddle Jamison again. His shoulders tensed a bit at what he felt there.
Jamison snickered, his ears turning a bit red. “Comfier than this?”
“Jury’s still out,” Lucio replied onced he adjusted.
“This’s one of the best angles to see my third tattoo.”
“You’ve got a third one?”
Jamison nodded, a coy grin spreading on his face. “Can ya find it?”
“Is that a challenge?” Lucio had rested his palms on Jamison’s shoulders, moving down slightly as he spoke.
“Yup. If you’re up for it.”
Lucio snorted, his hands drifting down further. “’If you’re up for it’.” He leaned down to kiss the heart tattoo before moving back up with a hum. “Both of the ones I’ve seen are above the waist... I don’t wanna ask you to roll over.”
“Free clue: it’s not on my back.”
“Okay... I think I’d notice something on your legs by now.” Lucio pursed his lips in thought, eventually sliding his hands to start tugging down the waistband of Jamison’s shorts. He couldn’t help but squirm at that. Jesse’s hands had been rough and calloused and it had taken him months to adjust to the feeling. Lucio’s were smooth and almost felt alien against his skin.
“Warmer,” Jamison said, trying to sound casual about it. But his voice tended to swing higher when he was excited, and he was definitely excited.
Lucio’s hands suddenly stopped, and he laughed, covering his mouth. He’d found it. “Oh my god. What is that?”
“It’s a rat.”
“I was drunk.” Jamison shrugged, grinning.
Lucio snickered, gently tracing the line of the rat on his hip with a finger. “It’s really cute.”
“S’what I thought, too.” Jamison shifted his hips up, biting his lip to try and hold back a groan as his cock rubbed between Lucio’s thighs.
“Oh -” Lucio paused, pulling his hand away to take a shuddering breath. “Okay. I’m just teasin’ you now. So...”
“Um.” Jamison had to take a second to regain his composure, clearing his throat. “S-so, you don’t wanna just jump right in, right?”
“I mean... Feel like if I make you explain, you might explode.”
“That’d be bad.” Jamison laughed quietly, lifting his hands to rest on Lucio’s hips. “I got an idea though. You comfortable enough to strip?”
Lucio nodded after a moment, lifting himself up to slowly pull his underwear down. Once they were off, Jamison beckoned Lucio forwards. “Whatcha got in mind?” Lucio asked cautiously, staring down at him. His expression was equal parts curious and embarrassed and Jamison just wanted to kiss him all over.
“I’m gonna treat ya. You deserve it. Can I touch you?”
Lucio bit his lip and nodded. Jamison drew a hand up his inner thigh, giggling at the shiver of delight he got in return. He slid his fingers between Lucio’s legs, gently rolling his balls in his palm. Lucio stifled a groan, letting out a loud huff from his nose as Jamison grinned up at him.
Eventually he broke his silence to moan low as Jamison finally lifted his hand, taking grasp of Lucio’s cock, which was just starting to wake up and harden. “Gotta work on that,” Jamison joked. “I know my mug ain’t the hottest thin’ you’ve ever seen.”
Lucio didn’t respond, his eyes having drifted closed as Jamison fondled him. Jamison had to bite his tongue from switching into his natural dirty-talk state, instead letting Lucio just enjoy himself; clearly he wasn’t in much of a talking mood right now. Lucio finally broke his silence to moan softly, shifting his hips forward Jamison’s thumb rubbed just under the head.
“There ya go,” Jamison said. “S’alright.”
Lucio leaned forward, pressing his hands against Jamison’s shoulders for support. “Sorry.”
“I go too deep in my own -” He stopped to gasp quietly at the long tug Jamison gave him. “My own head sometimes.”
“’Ey. Whatever you want. Just lemme know if I should talk more or talk less or grab my ball gag.”
“What?” Lucio opened his eyes to look at Jamison quizically.
Jamison snickered. “Kiddin’.”
Lucio snorted, gently grinding against Jamison’s hips as he jerked him off. “Y’know, sometimes, I don’t think that’s a half-bad idea.”
“Rude!” Jamison stopped all movement from his hand to pout at Lucio, but also to see how Lucio would react.
Lucio laughed, stopping as well to look down at him, leaning down so their faces were inches apart. “You know I’m just teasing. I’m sorry, babe.” He kissed Jamison in that sweet, gentle way.
His cock twitched as he had to force himself not to throw Lucio down and fuck him until he was screaming for more. “I am a loudmouth,” Jamison grumbled, resuming his fingers’ motions against Lucio’s cock.
“It’s nice,” Lucio said breathlessly, taking Jamison’s face in his hands as his eyes squeezed shut again. “I like when you talk. Most of the time, anyway.” Jamison laughed and pulled his hands away to push on Lucio’s hips. He obeyed the direction, smiling sheepishly. “Uncomfortable?”
“Nah. S’just - this way...” Jamison gently lifted his hips, grinding them against Lucio’s ass. Lucio let out the cutest sound of surprise, his face darkening in embarrassment. “Unless you’d rather I don’t.”
Lucio sucked in a breath. “It’s okay. Gotta let you get somethin’ out if it, too.” He sat back up, unable to reach Jamison’s face from his position, letting his head fall back just a bit. “Anything I should do in particular?”
Jamison hummed - it was getting harder to think, as he could feel pre trickling down his cock. The anticipation alone could have probably gotten him off, but if Lucio was offering... “Just, uh... move your hips a bunch. Like dancin’.” He grinned a bit at the memory of the after-party - how long ago had that been? About two months, maybe?
Lucio rolled his eyes and ground his hips against Jamison, gasping as Jamison thrust upwards to meet him. “Oh - okay. I see.”
“Mmhuh.” Jamison’s fingers kept dancing around Lucio’s cock, which was now hard and ready, starting to leak pre. He smeared it all over the head, closing his eyes at the high sound that came out of Lucio’s throat.
He lost himself for a bit between the pulling and grinding and thrusting, barely registering the warning tone in Lucio’s voice as he said Jamison’s name. He pointed Lucio’s cock down towards his stomach and gave a final, long tug, and Lucio came with an almost pained grunt, jutting his hips forward.
Jamison bit his lips, waiting patiently for him to ride it out and wishing he’d move his leg just a little bit so he finish himself off. Lucio finally sighed, running a hand over his head. “Shit - Jamie...”
“I...” He cleared his throat, taking a deep breath. His eyes opened a little too wide, and he tensed. “I’ll be right back.”
“Okay?” Jamison watched, confused, as Lucio carefully moved off of him and stood, heading to the door and disappearing. He sat up and made his way to his laundry pile grabbing a dirty shirt to wipe himself off as he faintly heard a faucet turn on, then off.
Then there was a door opening, and footsteps leading back to his room. He dropped the shirt to cover his groin as Lucio re-entered the room, rubbing the back of his neck. “Sorry. I needed a second.”
“I just... it’s been a while since I’ve done anything. With anyone.” Lucio cleared his throat, averting his eyes to ask, “Want some help?” Jamison was about to ask ‘help with what?’ when he noticed Lucio’s eyes flit down between his legs. He looked almost shy.
Jamison couldn’t help but grin, both at the realization and the proposal. “I mean. If you want.” ‘Please say yes.’ Lucio tapped his fingers on his legs and stepped forward, still completely naked, to shove away the shirt and take hold of Jamison’s cock. His hand was a little clumsy, the grip lighter than Jamison preferred, but it was the thought that counted more than anything, and he found himself almost whimpering at the sudden contact. “Yeah,” he mumbled, stepping back to lean against the wall.
Lucio just kept stroking him, light and gentle and just a little unsure, but Jamison was so close that he didn’t rightfully care. He grabbed Lucio’s hip, partly in warning and partly to remind himself that he was real.
He felt cloth - the shirt - quickly pressing against him before he came, shuddering with a strangled noise. “Thanks,” he said once he caught his breath.
“Hope you didn’t wanna wear that any time soon,” Lucio joked quietly, turning to look for a laundry bin.
Jamison grabbed the shirt and took a few deep breaths before peeking out the bedroom door, balling up the shirt and tossing it to the kitchen sink and pumping his fist as it landed perfectly. “I’ve got twelve more like it.”
The moment Jamison had been dreading quickly came to pass as they fell into an awkward silence, Lucio collecting his clothes and putting them back on while Jamison slid on his shorts. “Uh... what’d you do with that pizza?” Lucio asked eventually.
“In the fridge. No need to waste a decent pizza.”
“Mind if I...?”
“I ordered it for us, didn’t I?”
Lucio rolled his eyes and headed into the kitchen, but Jamison just stared after him, the afterglow fading swiftly. Something was wrong. He followed as he heard the microwave hummed and then beeped, and he saw Lucio take a seat at his table with a few slices of pizza. Jamison sat across from him, tapping his fingers on the table.
“Want any?” Lucio offered after a minute, gesturing to the pizza box on the counter.
“Nah. S’better cold, anyway.”
Lucio scoffed, setting his slice down with an expression like he’d been utterly betrayed. “Jamie.”
“If I’d known you were some cold-pizza advocate -“
“It matures the toppings!” Jamison’s brow crinkled in indignation. “How dare you pizza-shame me.”
Lucio held up his hands in surrender. “Hey. Alright. You’re entitled to your opinions. Wrong as they may be.” He smiled at Jamison, but it faded quickly as Jamison tried to return the smile and failed. “What’s wrong? Did... It wasn’t good, was it?”
“The...” Lucio looked to the bedroom door. ”Did I do something wrong?”
“No! No, Lu - I just...” Jamison sighed, slumping in his chair. ‘You’re just a garbage person,’ his thoughts finished his sentence for him. “I don’t... wanna rush you. ‘N I feel like I kinda did.”
“No.” Lucio shook his head, eyes widening. “I - I wanted it. I mean... like I said, it’s been a while. I just... first time with a guy.”
“Right, right. Sorry. I get to... thinkin’, sometimes....”
”...that you’re secretly an awful person?”
Jamison looked at Lucio, whose eyes had lowered to his plate, eyebrows raising softly in surprise. Lucio’s voice sounded understanding. “Yeah.”
There was the quiet sound of dubstep coming from somewhere near the couch, and Lucio stood up. “Crap.” He quickly headed to the couch, fishing around until he pulled out a phone. “Santos - yeah - no, Hana, I’m right downstairs. Yeah, I spent the night.” Lucio paused, glancing to Jamison as his cheeks darkened again and he turned away. “Hana - listen, I’ll be up in a bit, we’ll talk then. Thanks.” He hung up with a sigh and turned to Jamison. “Babysitting brigade. I should head back up.”
“Okay. Set up another movie night sometime?”
“You bet.” Lucio gave him a finger-gun before double-checking he had all of his stuff, taking the last slice of pizza off his plate, and heading out the door, leaving Jamison to sit at the table with dread settling in his stomach.
He thought a lot about that conversation as the days went by. He had a bad habit of demonizing himself, but the way Lucio had talked made him wonder, and he eventually got up the nerve to ask. Imposter syndrome, Lucio told him as they walked home from an old-school diner where they’d gotten dinner after a late-night movie. “I kinda... act different when I’m in the limelight.”
“I noticed.” Lucio seemed so much more confident and self-assured when he was talking to fans and up on the stage. There was no sign of the man who cried out of frustration up on the rooftop and went off on detailed and mildly hilarious rants about his producer around the safety of a glass of wine and the four walls of his apartment.
“But when I’m alone... I just think about how fake I am. That it’s just luck that I got this far, that I’m a fraud.”
Jamison wrapped his arm around Lucio’s shoulders, but it did nothing to alleviate the tension. “I don’t think you’re a fraud.”
Jamison couldn’t shake the feeling that he’d pushed Lucio too far. He was much more generous with kissing in private, but when they were out together in public, Lucio kept his distance, urging him past the occasional person with a camera. He felt like they were closer, but also that a fissure of some sort had been created.
‘Of course, you daft idiot,’ said the voice in his head. ‘That’s what you do best.’
“We’re going out for drinks,” Sombra said, leaning over her desk as Jamison finished cleaning up. “Wanna come with?”
Jamison shrugged. He’d never actually hung out with his coworkers before; usually they were all doing their own thing when the store closed. They went to a quiet, upscale bar that Jamison knew he could barely afford as he looked at the polished wood bar and the piano in the corner.
“I think this is the first time you’ve come out with us, Jamie,” Sombra said as the bartender put a glass in front of her. Jamison couldn’t tell what was in it at just a glance.
“I didn’t know you folks did this.”
“It’s only once in a while,” Gabe said, sipping his beer from the bottle. “Usually too busy or too tired or both.”
“Ya really shell out, huh?” Jamison finally ordered himself a simple vodka mixer, ignoring the subtle downward twitch of Gabe’s lip.
“Might as well.” Amelie shrugged. She had a glass of rich, dark wine, and Jamison wasn’t at all surprised.
“So, Jamison, what’s new?” Sombra innocently sipped her glass.
“I’m not givin’ ya gossip.”
“I was just asking what’s going on with you.”
“Uh-huh.” Jamison rolled his eyes at her, taking a sip of his drink as it was placed down in front of him. “Same ol’, same ol’, unfortunately.”
“We should hook you up with that big guy.” Sombra’s mouth twisted in a playful smirk. “Your favorite boy.”
“Shush. He hasn’t said five words to me.”
The night went on pretty well; Amelie was quiet and the first to leave, and Gabe opened up more the more he drank. Sombra had the tolerance of a rock, though, and seemed completely sober as they piled into a cab. “Glad you came out with us, Jamie,” she said as they pulled up to his apartment building. “Really.”
“Thanks, Sombra.” He waved goodbye and watched the cab pull away before heading up to his apartment.
He wasa just about to pass out on the couch when there was a frantic knocking at his door. As soon as he opened it, Lucio pushed his way in to wrap his arms around Jamison’s neck. He had a bottle of wine in his hand. “Jamie!” he said a little too loudly with a wide grin.
Jamison stumbled back a bit to catch him, laughing anxiously. “Lu!”
“Who’s got - who’s got two thumbs and just finished a goddamn album?” Lucio pulled away enough to lift up the bottle of wine victoriously.
“You’re also a little drunk, aren’t ya?” Jamison carefully led Lucio to sit at the kitchen table, even as he took a swig from the bottle.
“Maybe - this is stressful, Jamie.” Lucio shook his head, letting out a heavy sigh. “But I sent all the files in. All the changes he wanted, everything. It’s done. Fuck ‘im if he wants anything else.”
Jamison got two glasses of water and gingerly took the bottle from Lucio’s hand, setting it on the table. “Drink some water.” Lucio obeyed, draining half the glass in one go. “Where’s Hana?”
“She went to bed. She doesn’t like it when I drink, you know. Not like this.”
“Wonder why.” Jamison moved the bottle just a bit and was surprised to see it was mostly full. He wasn’t drunk off the wine, and it would’ve taken five of those malt beverages to get him like this. “How long’ve you been goin’ for?”
Uhh...” Lucio’s eyes squinted in thought. “I went to a bar down the street almost as soon as I sent the files over. Grabbed the wine on my way home. Decided to come celebrate with you.”
“Y’know I love it when you drop in. Not really in much of a drinkin’ mood tonight.” Jamison smiled, a little apologetically. He’d never seen Lucio drunk before; the closest he’d come was how tipsy he’d gotten at the afterparty a long time ago.
“Boooo.” Lucio sighed, taking another sip of water. “I mean. I guess it’s pretty selfish to think you can drop everything for me.”
“Well, not everythin’. Maybe not an Epi-Pen.” The joke fell flat, and Jamison cleared his throat after a few seconds of silence to take Lucio’s glass and refill it. “Anyway! Can ya give me some deets on the album? Would you rather not talk about it? How do ya usually celebrate these things?”
Lucio took his glass back, raising it a bit in gratitude. “Uhh... I was back in Brazil when Synaesthesia Auditiva released, so I partied with almost the entire favela that night.” A bittersweet smile crossed his face at the memory. “Food, drinking, dancing. My mom was so proud of me.”
Jamison forced a sympathetic smile. “She’ll be proud again, I bet.”
“I know she will. I just... miss her. I miss everyone. But this is gonna be worth it.” Lucio fiddled with his glass of water. He looked very tired suddenly, the buzz of alcohol seeming to fade all at once.
“Want a hug?” Lucio was silent. Jamison stood and moved to stand beside him, wrapping his arms around Lucio’s shoulders.
“I want a lot of things.” Lucio tilted his head to rest against Jamison, hugging Jamison’s arm.
“Ain’t a bad thing.”
“I dunno...” Lucio sighed, starting to pull away. Jamison dropped his arms to look at Lucio.
“Wanna stay the night again?”
Lucio looked at him for a long moment and nodded slowly. “I gotta grab some stuff first though. Comfy as your bed is, those pillows are not friendly to my hair.”
Jamison smiled a bit. “I’ll make a note of that. I’ll leave the door unlocked.”
Lucio stood, taking another look at the bottle of wine before leaving it on the table to step out of Jamison’s apartment.
Jamison settled on his couch to idly watch the evening news while he waited. Five minutes passed, then ten, then twenty, and Lucio was nowhere to be seen. He furrowed his brow, looking at his phone. No messages. He slid on a pair of shoes and headed to the apartment upstairs, but no one answered when he knocked and it was locked.
Jamison stared at the door for a long moment before sighing and heading back downstairs and locking his door. He lay awake for a long while, waiting to hear a knock or something. But there was nothing.
Jamison thought about going upstairs as he left for work, just to make sure Lucio at least made it to his bed. He looked to the staircase for a long moment before shaking his head and heading downstairs.
The day came and went and there was no sign of either Lucio or Hana. He went to the roof to smoke, and still nothing. Was this what it had felt like when Jamison had ghosted Lucio?
‘You get what you give, you drongo,’ the little voice said again.
Just over thirty-six full hours after the last time he’d talked to Lucio, Hana texted him. ‘boba???’
Jamison stared at the text for a while, then shrugged, sending back a ‘sure’.
She waved him down as he entered the shop and after he’d ordered and slid into the booth opposite of him, she joked, “We don’t really hang out much, do we?”
“Not nearly enough.” Jamison gave her a wry smirk., fingers tapping against his receipt. “How’s your tattoo healin’ up?”
“Oh!” Hana twisted around in her seat to yank down the back of her shirt. He could see the top third of the tattoo, but that was enough to see it was healing nicely. “Pretty good, I think!”
“Yep. Y’know, they say if ya get one, it’s a slippery slope ‘til ya get more.”
Hana turned back around and smiled, taking a slurp of her tea. “Nah. I think one’s enough for me right now.”
“Hey - the other night, Lu came by. He’d been drinkin’.”
“Yeah. I’ve only seen him drunk like that once, and he gets... well.” She sighed.
“I just wanna know if he made it back to his room okay. He said he was gonna stay the night and then disappeared.”
“Oh yeah, I heard him stumble in. He just passed out hardcore.”
“Alright. Long as he didn’t pass out on the roof. Anyway! How’re you?”
Hana puckered her face in a thoughtful way before brightening up again. “Well, I got invited to this local championship thing. Trying to decide if I wanna go.”
“Why not? That’s your scene.”
“Yeah, but I don’t wanna make everyone else look too bad.” She grinned, the confidence in her voice stunning Jamison for a moment. “What about you? Anything going on lately?”
“Nah. My life’s surprisingly borin’.” Jamison shrugged. “Might fuck off somewhere for a bit.”
“Going on vay-kay?”
They both fell silent as they drank their tea. Eventually, Hana sighed. “I’m really glad he finished the album. It’s been such a huge stress on him.”
“Y’ mean he isn’t always such a bundle of cheer?”
Jamison’s joke went over Hana’s head and she gave him a look, one that was skeptical. “He’d be a good actor if he wanted to get into that.”
“Maybe he should fuck off somewhere else too.”
“I was kinda thinking the same thing. Maybe we could do a little group trip.”
“Maybe. You hungry?” Hana pursed her lips in thought, then nodded. “Burgers okay?”
“Actually - you like Korean food? I know this little place. I go there whenever I get a little homesick, their bibimbap is to die for.”
Jamison nodded, taking one last slurp of his tea before standing.
It was a little hole in the wall, just one little shop with Korean characters written on a sign and a menu in the window, just a bit bigger than an average hallway. They sat right at the counter, and Hana chatted happily with the server while they waited for their food.
“Cute lil’ place they’ve got here,” Jamison commented, fingers dancing against his glass of water.
“Oh yeah. It’s been here for years. The owners right now are second-gen.” Hana’s face lit up like a kid on Christmas as steaming hot stone bowls were set before them.
“Yup.” Hana nodded knowingly.
It was some of the best food Jamison had eaten in a long time, after weeks of delivery and microwave dinners. Hanging out with Hana was really nice, actually - not that he expected her to be a total buzzkill.
“Okay. If money wasn’t an issue, where would you go?”
“For - oh, for my trip? Uh.” Jamison wrinkled his nose in thought. “Mexico might be nice. West coast, maybe.”
“You wouldn’t wanna go back to Australia?”
“No.” Jamison answered a little too quickly, frowning at the thought.
“Oh. Bad memories?”
“Not good ones, anyway. Maybe we just hop on a plane to Korea.”
“But we’re getting a good taste of Korea here!” Hana gestured to the almost-empty bowl of bibimbap in front of Jamison; she’d already finished hers. Her smile faded as she made a humming sound. “You know... what if we surprised Lucio, flew out to Rio?”
“He’s pretty homesick. Brazilian food is just about as common as Korean around here.”
“It’s a nice thought.” He tucked in to finished off his bowl and fished out some money for his bill when Hana took his wrist.
“I’ll get it.”
“You don’t gotta -“
“This is the first time that we’ve hung out, just the two of us. I don’t mind.”
Jamison tentatively put his wallet back in his pocket as Hana handed the server a credit card.
They hailed a cab back to the apartment. “Wanna come up?” she asked, almost teasingly.
“Hana, on the first date? Really?”
She giggled at that, wrinkling her nose in mock disgust. “You wish!” She paused, combing her fingers through her hair. “I think he’d like it if you came by to talk, though.”
“Yeah?” Jamison frowned, then nodded slowly. “Okay.”
She led him upstairs, calling out “Mr. DJ! You’ve got a visitor!” as she opened the door.
Jamison heard muffled shuffling coming from one of the rooms, and looked to Hana for confirmation. She nodded at him, locking the door behind her. “Just warn me if you’re gonna make out or whatever, I’m streaming tonight.”
He shot her a finger-gun before heading to the only closed door in the apartment. He knocked gently. “Lu?”
There was more shuffling, and the door opened just a crack. Lucio peered at him through it. “Oh. Hi.” He opened the door a little more, moving aside to let Jamison in.
He was surprised at how... vacant it seemed; there were pennants with Brazil’s colors and a couple of posters on the wall with a digital keyboard tucked up against the wall, but otherwise, it was just a room, nothing special. Lucio sat on his bed, crossing his legs. His hair was wrapped up, and he laughed sheepishly as he noticed Jamison staring, patting a spot next to him. “Wasn’t expecting company.”
“Ah.” Jamison sat down, leaning back and making himself cautiously comfortable. “That’s fair. Wasn’t expectin’ on droppin’ in. Missed ya the other night.”
“Sorry. I got up here and my brain completely shut off. Hana said I was still wearing my shoes when she checked up on me in the morning.”
“You’d been hittin’ it pretty hard. I mean, I don’t blame ya, your producer sounds like a prick.”
“He is. But he’s getting me out there, so...” Lucio shrugged.
“Maybe it’s the social pariah in me, but I would’ve stuck a boot up his ass and flipped him double-birds by now.” Jamison shifted, stretching his legs out in front of him. “But I think you’re a lot more patient than me.”
“I didn’t peg you as impatient.”
“I mean. I kissed ya on the first date.”
“And seduced me after the third.” Lucio’s smile turned a little coy. “Speaking of which, things got kinda awkward then, didn’t they?”
“My bad, too.” Lucio sighed, shifting to rest his head against Jamison’s arm. “I... have trouble letting myself... want things. Especially nice things.”
“You said somethin’ like that the other night. Savior complex?”
Lucio laughed. “Probably.”
“Well. Not to sound like a slut but -” Jamison smiled at the short bark of a laugh Lucio let out. “If you ever wanna, uh. Want somethin’ again, just - don’t be afraid to ask. Alright?”
Lucio bit his lip and nodded, glancing up at him and then back down to the floor. “Okay. I’ll remember that. I, uh... it was fun.”
Jamison slowly grinned at that. “Good.”
“Were you doing anything tonight?”
“Nah. Hana took me out for dinner, was just gonna watch TV.”
“Okay.” Lucio sat back up. “Want some company?”
“Sure. I don’t mind. I mean - Hana said she was streamin’, we’re not gonna bug her?”
“No, the TV’s far enough away that she doesn’t mind. Just gotta keep it down.”
Jamison stood, holding out an arm so Lucio could take hold and follow. “Oh, there’s this show I’ve been watchin’, real crazy. Usually comes on around this time.”
“Yeah? What is it?”
“Like a cookin’ show, but - you’ll see.”
Lucio seemed to have his mind blown by the show, watching someone have to start a campfire with flint and tinder in order to cook their food. Jamison got more of a kick out of his reactions than the show itself. They ventured dangerously close to cuddling territory as the time ticked away.
“You know,” Lucio said halfway through a terrible B-list movie that they’d landed on while channel-surfing. The acting was awful and the story was worse, but they’d caught the beginning and Jamison always felt weird about turning off a movie after investing so much time in it. “You want me to make it up to you?”
“Ditching you. You could spend the night here. I don’t mind.”
Jamison pondered that for a moment. ”...Yeah, okay. If ya don’t mind me sleepin’ in my skivvies.”
“I didn’t mind the first time.”
That gave Jamison the push to go ahead and turn off the TV. “Good. Pretty sure I was losin’ brain cells with that.”
“You too?” Lucio snickered, standing up and stretching. “Let’s go.”
There was a little problem. Jamison had a queen-sized bed; he liked to stretch out, which meant there was plenty of room for the both of them. Lucio, however, had a double, so Jamison ended up with his back literally against the wall. But he wrapped his arms around Lucio’s hips, resting his chin against his shoulder, and it was much more tolerable that way. Lucio’s steady breathing against him quickly lulled him into sleep.
He was trapped in a nightmare again. Dark, dead trees stretched as far as he could see, and they were watching him. He was standing in a clearing, trying to decide where to go next.
He took one step forward and heard something. Muffled yelling. He stepped back tentatively, and the sound stopped for just a moment before continuing again, getting louder. He could start to make out words.
”...o think you are?”
The voice was familiar. His brow furrowed in thought, and he stepped forward again. The coherency of the yelling drifted into gibberish again, but he kept moving forward, despite glints of red and yellow lights shaped like eyes in the distance.
Suddenly, there was a large crash, and a burst of light, and Jamison woke up flailing in surprise. He didn’t recognize the room he was in at first, only becoming lucid when he saw Lucio standing in the center of the room with his head in his hands. His keyboard had been flipped over, coming off one of the stands and crashing to the floor.
“Lu?” Jamison said sleepily, and Lucio jolted upright, twisting around to look at him.
“Oh. Uh, Jamie.”
“What happened?” Jamison sat up, suddenly concerned. Lucio’s face was flushed, eyes red with tears that were being fought back.
“I - it’s nothing. I’m sorry I woke you up.”
Lucio collapsed down onto the bed, slouching over to bury his face in his hands. ”...My producer called. He wants me to re-edit the entire damn thing.”
“Are you fuckin’ kiddin’ me?” Jamison was fully awake now, the extent of Lucio’s anger starting to radiate into him. “After all that, it’s still not enough? What’d you say?”
“Nothing - or, well, a lot of things.” There was a frantic knock at Lucio’s door, and his eyes widening as he stood to open it. Hana was on the other side, her hair tied up in a cute bun. She looked like she’d just rolled out of bed as well.
“It’s okay, Hana.” Lucio held out a hand, taking her shoulder. “I, uh... my producer called and wants some more edits.”
“What?!” Hana sputtered, her face turning red in indignation. “What the hell is his problem?!”
“I don’t know. You heard everything, it sounded good to you, right?”
“Yeah, it sounded amazing!”
Lucio pinched the bridge of his nose, stepping back from the door. “I kinda hung up on him. I should call back.”
“Only if you’re gonna say ‘no’, Lu.” Jamison shook his head, standing up to take Lucio’s shoulders. “Seriously. This bloke’s makin’ you jump through every fuckin’ hoop he can.”
“Jamie -” Lucio put his hand on his wrist with a sigh. “He won’t release the album until he’s happy with it, and producers don’t just grow on trees.”
“You’re already famous-ish, though. Couldn’t ya just... release it yourself?”
Hana blinked. “You mean like self-producing?”
“That costs a lot.”
Jamison huffed, glancing away for a moment. “You could hit up Craigslist or somethin’.”
“Nah, mate, you listen up. He’s drainin’ ya dry. Would ya rather wait to publish it with someone that actually respects ya, or let this guy destroy it?”
Lucio pursed his lips in thought, lowering his eyes. ”...The only reason I hired this guy was because I didn’t want to stress out my last producer too much. But...” He took a deep breath, glanced at his phone over on the desk, and nodded. “Clear out, guys?”
Jamie nodded, grabbing his jeans from the floor and slipping them on before heading out to the living room, closing the door behind him. “Think he’s gonna be okay?” he asked as he and Hana sat on the couch.
Hana had pulled her feet up and leaned against him. “I don’t know. I told him a while ago that I thought this producer was shifty. But all that hard work Lucio’s done... he just wants to get this album out. He’s one of those people that’s all about the music, not the money.”
“He really is somethin’.”
They sat in silence for a long while. Finally the door to Lucio’s room opened, and he stepped out, holding his phone. He shrugged at them. “Well. Guess who’s producer-less?”
“Oh, Lucio.” Hana stood, rushing to hug him.
“It’s alright. I’m gonna email my guy back in Rio, see if we can’t set something up again.” Lucio sighed, patting Hana on the back. “How about some breakfast, huh?”
Jamison nodded, standing up as well to go fetch his shirt from Lucio’s room. “Yeah. Think food’s what we all need right now.”
They headed out to the diner, silent over their hashbrowns and eggs. “I’m proud of ya, Lu,” Jamison finally said.
“Takes guts to stick up for yourself.”
Lucio smiled at Jamison. It was worn, a little tired, but genuinely touched. “As much as I wanna get this music out... s’not worth breaking my keyboard every time I get a text.”
“Or cryin’ on the rooftop.”
“You’ve got this,” Hana said assuredly, nodding. “If it comes down to it, I’ll pitch in so you can publish the album your damn self.”
“Guys.” Lucio’s smile grew wider as he rubbed his eyes.
Jamison’s phone buzzed, and he pulled it out of his pocket, blanching when he saw it was a text from Sombra. At least, he was pretty sure it was Sombra. The number always came up as ‘unknown’. Either way, it was not happy, a curt ‘where r u X(’. “Shit. Sorry to cut’n’run, but I forgot I’ve got a client in a bit.”
“It’s okay. See you later, Jamie!” Hana waved as he pulled out some cash and dropped it down on the table by his finished plate.
He ran in the door of the tattoo shop half an hour before his appointment, and Sombra tsked at him. “Later,” he told her as he beelined for his station to set up.
“Gabe’s not happy,” she called after him.
The appointment went well, Jamison carefully inking a beautiful in memoriam on the arm of a man whose partner had died overseas. Gabe hovered over his shoulder for the last stretch, and Jamison tried his best to ignore it. “Come back when you’re done cleaning up,” he said after Jamison had wrapped his client up and sent him off to pay. Jamison sighed and started up cleaning.
“Sorry, Reyes,” Jamison said as soon as he stepped into Gabe’s office. “Had a bit of an emergency earlier.”
“Did your dog die?”
“You were here for the appointment,” Gabe interrupted before Jamison could explain. “But everyone’s in at nine. Including you. Got it?”
“I was just going to have you shadow Amelie so you could see a bit of how blackwork’s done. That’s not too inconvenient for you, is it?”
“Right.” Jamison bowed his head. “Won’t happen again.”
“Damn right. Amelie’s getting ready for an appointment in fifteen.”
Jamison nodded and stepped out. It was amazing to watch Amelie work - her hands never twitched or shook, as steady as a rock - but he couldn’t help but berate himself for being lectured.
He got a text in the middle of Amelie’s appointment from Lucio. ‘when do you get out?’
Jamison waited until she was completely focused in building up the shading of the tattoo to respond, ‘4ish?’
Lucio didn’t text back, so Jamison slid his phone back into his pocket to focus on the tattoo, finally able to let some of what she was showing him sink in. Once her client was cleaned and wrapped up, Gabe gave him the go-ahead to leave. It was about ten minutes past four.
“Hey.” Jamison turned at the sound of a familiar voice and was surprised to see Lucio leaning against the wall of the tattoo shop.
“Hi. What’re ya doin’ here?”
“I was in this part of town, thought you might want some company on the way home.”
Jamison shrugged. “Sure. I mean, I usually take the bus but if you wanna split a cab...”
“Uh - no, I’ve got bus fare. I’ll ride with you.”
Jamison nodded, then started for the bus stop, Lucio quickly falling in step beside him. Jamison contemplated trying something, and eventually put his arm around Lucio’s shoulders.
The first time he’d tried this in public, Lucio had pretended to get a text so he could shift away. But this time, he was surprised to feel Lucio press closer against him. He couldn’t help but smile.
They were the only ones at the bus stop, and they sat at the bench as they waited. Lucio cleared his throat eventually, his hands in his pockets. “So...”
“Remember how you said I could ask if I ever... uh. Wanted anything?”
Jamison glanced at Lucio for a moment before leaning in to mutter, “Ya came to walk me from work just so ya could get laid?”
“No!” Lucio laughed sheepishly. “I really was in the area. But... y’know, with that huge mess earlier... I mean, we could just hang out or something too - !”
Jamison had leaned in while he was rambling to slide his hand against Lucio’s leg, gently rubbing against his thigh. He kissed his cheek innocently. “Whatever ya want. Just don’t want ya to not actually want it.” He pulled away as he saw the bus turn the corner, standing up.
Lucio remained sitting until the bus slowed to a stop, then fumbled with his wallet for the bus fare. They sat in the back of the bus, Lucio just kind of staring down at the floor with a dumbfounded expression. Jamison snapped his fingers in front of his face. “Earth to Lu?”
“Sorry. I... you’re really not shy.”
“Nope.” He paused, scratching his chin. “Too familiar? Sorry.”
“It’s... okay. I never realized how private I was before.”
Jamison leaned in to nuzzle Lucio’s hair, kissing his temple as Lucio burst into quiet snickers, earning a dirty look from a woman sitting nearby.
Lucio took his hand once they stepped off the bus by their building. At first it was so he could make the gap from the bus to the curb, but then he didn’t let go. They parted so they could make it up the stairs without blocking the stairwell, but as soon as they stepped foot in Jamison’s apartment and the door was closed behind them, Lucio pulled him down by his shoulders to kiss him.
It was different than the first two times. It was much less hesitant, more confident. Jamison was happy to oblige, pulling away to carefully steer Lucio to the couch so he could sit on the back of it, giving him a little more height. He had to slow himself down at a long-passed memory of déjà vu.
Lucio pulled away to ask, “We good?”
“Yeah.” He cupped Lucio’s cheek in his palm, tilting his head up to reconnect the kiss. Lucio’s legs tightened around his hips just a bit so he could readjust, but he made a weird squeaking noise as he slipped and nearly fell over. Luckily, Jamison caught him, bursting out into giggles as he now had Lucio in a sort of French dip over the back of the couch. “Whoopsie!”
Lucio laughed, letting his head fall back once he was sure Jamison could hold him up. “Sorry. Misjudged that.”
Jamison grunted as he hauled Lucio back up, helping him get situated one more time. “S’alright. Good core workout.”
“You’re gonna be able to deadlift me?”
Jamison waggled his brow and moved in to kiss Lucio’s jaw. Lucio carefully leaned back just a bit, thankfully not falling over this time. He sighed happily, draping his arms around Jamison’s neck.
Jamison still had one hand settled on Lucio’s back for more support, and let the other one press against Lucio’s hip. He carefully, slowly pulled his shirt away just enough to stick his thumb up, brushing against his skin.
“You’re sweet,” Lucio said idly, putting a hand on the back of Jamison’s head as he kissed lower, pushing aside the collar of his shirt.
“Kinda.” Jamison pulled away, taking Lucio with him so he’d be steady enough on his own while he lowered both hands to pull up the bottom of Lucio’s shirt. Lucio raised his arms, watching as Jamison tossed it to the ground once it was off. “Does big, bad Jamison get mad when someone sees through him?” Lucio teased, a sly grin spreading on his face.
“Big, bad Jamison’s gonna grab that ball gag if his little froggy doesn’t shut his pretty mouth.”
Lucio’s eyes widened. At first, Jamison thought he’d crossed a line, and was about to say something else, that he was kidding, when he noticed Lucio was biting his lip just a little bit. He snorted, smirking before kissing Lucio again, hard.
Lucio pressed against him, his entire body shivering as Jamison lowered his hands to drag down his chest. He felt like he’d worked out, long ago; defined, but with the softness of a few months of slacking. “Y’ were so stressed earlier,” he mused, more to himself than to Lucio. “I think I wanna treat ya again.”
Lucio pulled away to press his face against the side of Jamison’s head, taking a moment just to breathe. “I’m gonna feel spoiled if you keep treating me.”
“Oh, you’ll pay me back.” Jamison smiled a little darkly at the promise, but it slipped away as he contemplated his next move. What he had in mind didn’t really allow for this position; too easy to slip and not very sustainable. Jamison pulled away, tugging on Lucio’s hips. “Let’s get ya more comfortable. Down on the couch?”
Lucio smiled, taking his hand to step around the couch and sit. Jamison nudged him just enough that he fell onto his side with a little flail, giggling as he knelt on the floor.
“What’re you -” Lucio trailed off as he realized what Jamison was planning, and he laughed a little nervously, shifting to lay on his back.
“If it’s okay with ya,” Jamison teased, slowly undoing Lucio’s belt. He didn’t move to stop him, so Jamison continued. First the belt came undone, and then he forced himself to slowly unbutton and unzip Lucio’s jeans. He hated being patient, but the way Lucio’s breath started to come quicker made it worth it.
“Anything... you want me to do?” He shifted his legs, moving them apart to make himself more comfortable - and, Jamison noted, making it much easier to get where he wanted to go.
“Just enjoy.” He reached behind him for a box of tissues on the coffee table and planted it right by his leg. He licked his lips, took a deep breath, and sat up just a little bit so he could kiss Lucio’s stomach, his other hand just light rubbing his thighs.
“Mmh -” Lucio shifted again, sighing. He was actually relaxing for once. Jamison kissed lower, following a trail of dark hair until he met the waistband of Lucio’s shorts. He started to slip his fingers underneath, but a fun little idea stopped him. Instead, he kept moving, planting a firm kiss against the fabric just above his groin.
“You’re -” Lucio squirmed a bit. “You’re not gonna take ‘em off first?”
“In a minute,” Jamison said, kissing even lower and just a bit harder. His hand rested against Lucio’s thigh, fingers twitching just slightly against his skin. He opened his mouth to take the hardening shape under the fabric between his lips, just applying the barest amount of pressure.
“Mmf - fuck.” Jamison pulled away to look up at Lucio. He couldn’t really see his face from this position, though, and he frowned just a bit before moving back in. The hand on his thigh moved down to rub between his legs. “This is weird.”
“Alright,” Jamison said as he pulled away, finally hooking his fingers under the waistband of Lucio’s shorts and pants and slowly pulling both down in one motion. Lucio lifted his hips up so it would go easier, taking in a quick breath as his hardening cock was exposed to the open air. “There we go.”
“You gonna be okay from that angle?”
“You’ll know if I ain’t.” Jamison leaned back to give him a coy grin, his expression softening at the look on Lucio’s face. Jamison wasn’t in the habit of referring to people as ‘cute’, but goddammit, he’d make an exception right now. The darkness in his cheeks, his furrowed eyebrows - he just wanted to smother Lucio’s face with kisses.
Later. Jamison moved back in, but he focused his attention on Lucio’s hip, kissing him gently while his hand did all the work now, fondling between Lucio’s legs and running up, sliding his palm against his dick.
Lucio rolled his hips upwards with a quiet moan of approval, and Jamison’s heart swelled in his chest at the sound. He kept stroking, kissing his way back up to Lucio’s stomach, shivering as the feeling of Lucio’s dick going hard under his fingers made him flush, his own jeans starting to feel a little tight.
Finally, he pulled his hand away and kissed his way downwards until his lips brushed the base of Lucio’s cock. He squeezed his eyes shut at the beautiful noise that came out of Lucio’s throat.
He shifted so that he could undo his own pants, tugging them down just below his ass before moving back in to start working his mouth against Lucio. At first, he just kissed his way up and down, then wrapped his tongue around the base and sucked.
Lucio gasped, but it came out as more of a little yelp. Jamison snickered, pulling back to lick his lips before moving back in. He leaned forward and wrapped his lips around Lucio’s length, swirling his tongue against the flesh and sliding upwards. “You’re so much better than I dreamed,” he heard Lucio mumble, and he had to force himself not to laugh, pulling away to look at Lucio again with his eyebrows raised.
Lucio’s eyes flew open, and he sat up, blushing furiously. ”I-I mean -“
“You’ve thought about this, eh?”
“It’s - your tongue’s just - it’s so weird!”
Jamison stuck out his tongue in a show, waggling his eyebrows again; he’d always been told it was freakishly long for a human being. He snickered and leaned back in to lick the entire length of Lucio’s cock in one go.
Lucio fell back immediately, moaning long and low. Jamison took the head into his mouth and started to slowly work his way down, eyes drifting closed again. He wasn’t a stranger to blowjobs in the least; Jesse had really helped him realize how much he liked giving them, the way they kept his mouth busy.
He felt a hand gently rest on the back of his head, and he paused for just a moment before double-timing his efforts, a moan coming unwittingly from his throat as the first taste of precome touched his tongue. His jaw started to hurt, so he pulled back, giving the head of Lucio’s cock one last slurp before settling back on his haunches, letting his hand take over for a bit.
“You’re...” Lucio took a deep breath, giving Jamison a dreamy smile. “You’re good.”
Jamison clicked his tongue against his teeth, letting one hand drift down to give some attention to his own neglected cock with a groan.
Lucio’s fingers were still entwined in his hair, stroking his scalp gently. It felt good, much better than it had any right feeling. He panted, working over both of their cocks at the same time. Eventually, his wrist got tired, so he moved back in to suck at Lucio hungrily, a chill rippling through him at the short cry Lucio tried and failed to stifle.
He felt the DJ gently rolling his hips upwards, and he grunted in approval. With how hard he was working himself over, he was close. He pulled his hand away to frantically reach for the tissues, placing one on his knee. A smart move in retrospect, as Lucio cried out, “Jamie...!” and he couldn’t hold back anymore. He pulled off of Lucio’s cock to keep from accidentally biting him and nearly blew his load all over his couch before he was able to grab the tissue.
As soon as he could compose himself again, he lauched back in to wrap his lips around the head of Lucio’s length, using his hand to jerk him into finishing. “Yeah, yeah - !” Lucio tossed his head back and cried out again as he came, Jamison squeezing his eyes tight as he took it all in.
Once he was done, Jamison grabbed another tissue and spat into it, panting for air and slumping against the couch as he caught his breath. “Ohhh my god,” Lucio said, laughing breathlessly once he composed himself. “You okay?”
“Yep.” Jamison took in a deep breath, patting Lucio on the thigh. There were two soiled tissues in his hand now, and he forced himself up to take them to the garbage, thighs trembling slightly. “Scooch over?” he asked as he came back to the couch.
Lucio slowly obliged, grunting as he shifted to sit upright. Jamison settled in next to him, tossing an arm over his shoulder and inviting him in to press against his side, which he accepted. “Thanks,” Lucio said eventually. His eyes had drifted closed, breathing steadying again.
Jamison kissed the side of his head again. Part of him wanted to get up and take out that trash, maybe give the oven a wash, but Lucio felt so warm against him, and it had been such a long day.
He let his eyes drift closed into a small nap. Cleaning could wait, right? Right.
He woke up, and it was dark. Lucio was still sleeping peacefully at his side, and he tried to stretch as best as he could without disturbing him. Unfortunately, he failed, as he heard Lucio mumble softly next to him. “Jamie?”
“What time’s it?”
Lucio sat up, letting out a little yawn as he stretched. Jamison took the time to turn on the TV, both for the light and to check the time. It was about seven, which meant they’d been out for a couple of hours. “Christ. Guess we were both a lil’ tired.”
“Yeah. Long day.” Lucio shifted to pull his pants back up, but left his belt undone.
“Think I’ve got some microwave lasagna in the freezer? That or we order pizza again.”
Lucio smiled up at him apologetically. “I should probably actually get home. See if my old producer got back to me.”
“Oh.” Jamison cleared his throat so he didn’t sound too disappointed. “Alright.”
Lucio’s face spread in a sly little grin. “You’re gonna miss me if I leave?”
They watched each other for a long moment before Lucio stood up and wrapped him in a tight hug. “I’m glad Hana saw you beatin’ your door down,” he said quietly, kissing Jamison’s shoulder.
“Me too,” Jamison admitted after a long moment, hugging Lucio close. “G’night.”
“Night.” Lucio pulled away, pausing before letting go and heading out the door.
Jamison microwaved some leftover Chinese food and settled down on the couch. He was channel-surfing when a familiar name caught his eye on one of the channels. Some kind of pop culture gossip news network, nothing he would’ve paid any attention to before.
Except there was a picture of him and Lucio on the screen, taken from behind, and another of Jamison leaning in to whisper in Lucio’s ear at the bus stop that afternoon. The hosts were talking about Lucio, mostly, but questioning who the ‘mystery guy’ was and why they looked so cozy.
The blood drained from Jamison’s face, and he immediately beelined out the door and up to Lucio’s apartment, not realizing his phone had buzzed with a new message.
Hana answered the door after a second, raising an eyebrow at the redness in Jamison’s face. “Hi?”
“You read any tabloids?” Jamison spat out breathlessly, leaning on the doorframe.
“Lemme in.” Hana stepped aside, stuttering in confusion as Jamison stalked into their apartment, knocking on Lucio’s door. It opened, and Lucio poked his head out, eyebrows furrowing at the sight of Jamison standing outside his door. “Someone took photos,” he blurted out before Lucio could utter a single word. “Of us. At the bus stop today.”
“What?” Lucio opened the door fully, eyebrows raising “What do you mean?”
Jamison lunged for their television, flipping to the gossip channel. They were just finishing up the segment, but Lucio ran a hand over the wrap covering his hair. “Aw hell. I didn’t even see anyone following me.”
“Sneaky bastards,” Jamison said, turning to look at Lucio. “I wanted to warn ya.”
Hana sighed, crossing her arms and standing beside Jamison. “And with you being quiet for so long, they’re gonna run with this as long as they can.”
Lucio sighed, sitting down on the couch. “Yeah. My PR inbox is going crazy right now, I bet.”
“Sorry,” was all Jamison could think to say. He’d never seen himself on TV before, except for that bulletin on the news back in Sydney as he waited for the boat he smuggled away on.
“Don’t be. It probably would’ve happened sooner or later.” Lucio pulled out his phone as it started to ring, and he held up a finger. “Hey. I know, I just saw. I - one sec.” He pulled the phone away and said, “My PR rep. Thanks for the warning, Jamie. We’ll figure it out.”
Jamison nodded, then slowly started to back out, just kind of leaving without another word. He checked his phone as he got back to his apartment, locking the door behind him. There was a text from the unknown number that he was sure was Sombra, and it simply read ‘mystery man? ;)’
He groaned internally.
The next day, as he came into the tattoo shop, Sombra leaned over her desk, resting her chin in her hand with an expression of innocent curiosity. Jamison approached, propping himself up on the desk and sighing. “Yeah.”
“You’re doing the DJ?”
Jamison shot her a dirty look, and she laughed. “Why the fuck’re you watchin’ teen celebrity gossip shows anyway?”
“I get bored.” She shrugged flippantly. “Anyway, I don’t really care. Except that maybe things’ll get interesting around here for once.”
Jamison rolled his eyes and pulled away to head to his station.
The day passed uneventfully until around four. Jamison was cleaning up when he heard Gabe stride past him muttering under his breath. He watched his boss open the front door and yell, “Come in or get out.” Someone rather nondescript that had been hanging by the front windows of the shop quickly fled, and Jamison caught a glimpse of a camera around his neck. He grit his teeth and said nothing as Gabe came back in, asking Sombra, “What the fuck was that about?”
He glanced back to see Sombra shrug noncommitally as she filed her nails.
He stepped out of the shop to see Lucio leaning against the wall again, waving to him. “I’m gettin’ a sense of déjà vu,” Jamison said as he stepped forward.
“Yeah. Sorry, I just wanted to let you know.” Lucio rubbed the back of his neck. “I’m doing an interview tomorrow. I, uh... I’m gonna come out.”
“I -” Lucio looked to the ground, and realization slowly dawned on Jamison.
”...Y’mean... no one knows about the bi thing?”
“No. I never... really had a reason to tell anyone.” Lucio looked back up and smiled. “But I think it’s worth it to say something. I just... wanted to ask you what you think I should say. Like - what... are we?”
Jamison straightened up, breathing in deep at the question. “Uh... I haven’t...”
“Me neither. But they’re gonna ask. We’re not - it’s too early to say you’re my boyfriend, huh?”
Jamison swallowed. This felt like a pop quiz he knew he was going to fail. “Maybe.”
“So just... ‘a guy I’ve been seeing’?”
Lucio nodded. He didn’t seem too disappointed or angry or relieved, at least. “Okay. Easy enough, then.” He shuffled his hands together - a nervous fidget. “I mean, I’m gonna talk about my new album, too, maybe take the heat off of you. But that was the main thing.”
Jamison nodded. “Need me to do anythin’?”
“No. I mean - don’t worry about it. As great as you are, they’re gonna focus on me.” Lucio stepped forward to hug him again, standing on his tip-tioes and wrapping his arms around Jamison’s neck. “Hope you get to see me on TV! I’ve gotta run some more errands down here. See you around?”
Jamison stealthily kissed Lucio’s cheek, just in case more cameramen were around. “See ya.”
He headed home on the bus, sticking in his earbuds. Whereas 80s rock was his go-to, Debussy always helped him calm down when he was too anxious. He glanced back through his texts, pausing as he saw the last text Jesse had sent him just about a week ago of someone wearing an awesome anarchist-punk vest in a coffee shop.
He took a deep breath and hit ‘call’.
Jesse picked up after about seven rings, and the groggy “Hello?” he answered with was one Jamison was all too familiar with, the distinct throatiness of ‘I just got laid’.
“Oh. Hey.” He heard Jesse moving around; his voice was quiet. “What’s up?”
“You don’t pay too much attention to tabloids, do ya?”
“Okay. Well, uh... I met someone. ‘N he’s a little... high-profile.”
There was silence on the other end for a moment. “Oh. Well, look at you, gettin’ down with celebrities.”
Jamison giggled at that. “Not quite like Mr. Big in Japan but, y’know.”
“The guy from upstairs? You get kinda hostile when you’re into someone.”
“I feel attacked right now.”
Jesse chuckled, nice and low. Some part of Jamison’s brain missed him. “So I shouldn’t be surprised to see you on the cover of People?”
“I wish.” Jamison paused. “We need to get a drink sometime.”
“Just say when, Jamie. I gotta go.”
“Sure. Bye.” He hung up, slumping down on his couch and feeling absolutely low. He sighed, grabbed his stash, and headed to the roof.
He hesitantly sat on the couch the next morning and turned on the TV over his bowl of cereal. The TV guide said that the gossip news channel was coming on in a few minutes, so he hastily switched over. He caught the end of a little infograph on a child engineer from Africa. Fascinating, but not what he was going for.
Eventually, the news came on, and the first announcement was of an exclusive interview with Lucio. But of course, they didn’t air it until the end of the show, so he had to sit through what someone wore to some place and some imaginary drama in the context of a Twitter post.
Finally, one of the hosts was sitting in a standard talk show-style set-up, with a chair and a couch and a nice coffee table. “Now, rumors have been abound about the world’s most favorite DJ,” she said with a coy smile. Jamison immediately disliked her. “And we were lucky enough to snag an interview with the man himself, Lucio Correia dos Santos.” Lucio was sitting on the couch, managing to look totally relaxed even as he sat in a nice shirt and vest. “So, Lucio, you’ve been pretty quiet since that concert you had almost two months ago.”
‘Christ,’ Jamison thought, shaking his head. ‘It’s been that long?’
Lucio laughed, some of his locs falling over his shoulder. “Well, you know. A little privacy never hurt anyone.”
“But you’ve been working on something since then, I heard.”
“That’s right. I just wanted to come on and let everyone know that I’ve actually been working on a second album.” Jamison nodded; smart deflection from the drama. “I, uh, haha, actually wanted it to be out by now.”
“Any word on a release date?” The host leaned forward in her chair.
“Not yet. But I’m getting in touch with my old producer and I’m hoping to have it out pretty soon here.” Lucio nodded, smiling widely. Jamison had to admit, he admired how passionate Lucio really was about music. Even after everything, the album was the most important thing to him.
“You were signed on with a local producer for a while, weren’t you? Did something happen?”
“Just a case of creative differences. No harm, no foul.”
“Well, that’s exciting news! Now, there’s another rumor going around...” And there it was. Jamison leaned forward, setting his cereal bowl down as the host looked to a giant screen behind them, and the picture of him and Lucio sitting at the bus stop faded in on it.
Lucio laughed again, a little nervously. “Yeah - y’know, these camera guys never ask us to pose or anything.”
The host faked a laugh. “So what’s going on? You look like you’re getting pretty cozy in that photo.”
“Yeah, uh -” Lucio rubbed the back of his neck, and Jamison silently encouraged him. “Y’know, I’ve never really gotten the chance to say anything like this, but I’ve - I’ve been seeing that guy for a few weeks now.”
“So he’s a friend?”
“Pretty sure friends don’t get that cozy,” the host joked, cutting him off.
“Well, he’s not -“
“Unless you have one of the most epic bromances of the century.”
“Let ‘im fuckin’ talk,” Jamison muttered as she laughed at her own joke.
“No, I mean - I’m actually bisexual.” Lucio said the last word a little too loudly and paused. The host froze at that, her smile stuck on her face as Lucio smiled sheepishly and continued. “I always have been, I just haven’t really been able to be... open about it, I guess. So...”
“So that’s your boyfriend, then?”
Jamison’s mouth went dry as Lucio thought that over. “Not exactly - we haven’t been seeing each other that long, really.”
“You’ve never mentioned anything about thisbefore. Why wait until now?”
“Well - like I said. I never really thought it mattered in the context of the music, y’know, that’s all I really care about. But if I can come on here and say ‘hey, I’m this and I exist’ and that, y’know... helps someone, then I’ll admit that I’m dating a guy.” Lucio shrugged to mask a deep sigh.
“So...” The host was obviously struggling now; she clearly wasn’t expecting that. Eventually, the coyness came back as she said, “Secret romances with other men - sounds like you have a bit of a dark side.”
Jamison grimaced, but then he noticed Lucio’s expression. His eyebrows had raised just a bit, and the corner of his mouth twitched upwards, his hands slowly closing. On the surface, he looked composed, but Jamison could tell he was just a little irritated by that. “It wasn’t so much a ‘secret’ as much as - well, no one asked.” Jamison snorted at that. “The dark side thing, though - I mean, everyone had one, I think. Who I love doesn’t change that I wanna make music that resonates with people, though. And I think my new album’s gonna be a pretty big reminder of that.”
The host paused for just a second. “Well, I’m sure your fans are excited to hear that. One last question - what’s your new man think of your music?”
Lucio actually laughed at that, his posture relaxing. “Y’know - it’s funny. I’ve actually never asked.”
“You don’t think whether or not he likes your music is a dealbreaker?”
“Nah. But he actually helped me pick out a song for my album, so - and, uh, I might be biased here, but I think he’s got taste.”
The host got a chuckle out of that. Jamison sighed as she started the send-off. His phone buzzed, and he looked down to see a text from Sombra. ‘what’s the album like?’
He rolled his eyes and texted back, ’ur gonna have 2 wait n see’.
Every single news channel that night was talking about Lucio. Some praising him for coming out, others bemoaning that talent was being wasted on ‘people like him’. He rolled his eyes, turned on a movie, and ordered pizza for lunch.
There was a soft knock at his door just as he’d set the pizza box down and had opened it to grab a slice. He groaned and knocked the lid back down.
He had barely gotten the door open when a pair of arms reached up around his neck and pulled him down, and he had just a second to register Lucio’s face before they were kissing.
“Well then,” Jamison said once they pulled apart.
Lucio grinned. “Sorry. Adrenaline. Did you watch?”
“Yeah. God, she wouldn’t let ya get a word in edgewise, would she?”
“She’s a shark. I’m just glad she dropped that ‘dark side’ bull. Are you doing anything?”
Jamison looked back to his pizza. “Lunch?”
“Well, do you wanna go do something after? I need to just... get my mind off of it.”
“Sure. I’ll come get ya. Got anythin’ in mind?”
Lucio’s smile grew. “Yup.”
An hour later, Jamison was sitting in the lobby of a building that looked like it had been built in the nineties. “Laser tag?”
“Nothing as fun as shooting people to relax!” Hana chirped, smearing pink marks on her cheeks as she looked in a compact mirror. Jamison raised an eyebrow at her, and she grinned fiercely at him, snapping the compact closed. “War paint! You need some too, come here.”
Jamison leaned forward, letting Hana mark his face with pink face paint. “What about Lu?”
“He gets green. I don’t make the rules.”
As if on cue, Lucio stepped out of the bathroom, wearing green paint just under his eyes. “Hana and I go hard,” he said ominously, face set in grim determination.
“I’ll try to keep up.”
Soon, they were called forward for their match. It was difficult getting the gear on with how lanky and tall Jamison was, and it was even more so trying to maneuver the obstacles. He nearly ran into a low ceiling a few times and the butt of his gun dug ino his back as he moved downa few platforms, but he got the hang of it. Hana and Lucio were practically pros in his eyes, racking up points left and right.
They played a few games before taking a break, laughing and hanging off of each other. Hana whipped out her phone while they were all huddled together and held up her fingers in a victory sign, which Jamison happily copied, sticking his tongue out before she snapped the picture.
“Some more rounds?” Lucio asked as they sat in the lobby again, wiping his forehead. His hair was wrapped up again; he’d told Jamison on the cab ride over that it was so the humidity in the arena didn’t mess it up too badly.
“Yeah. Let’s just take a quick breather.” Jamison grimaced as he leaned against the wall behind him. “Think I’m gonna have some bumps and bruises.”
“Noobs,” Hana said teasingly, handing them bottles of water from her bag.
They played three more games before calling it quits and agreeing it was time for dinner. Lucio pulled Jamison back just before they left, pulling him down to his level. “I think the world should know about my mystery man,” he teased, angling his phone just right before kissing Jamison’s cheek and taking a picture.
Jamsion’s cheeks flushed a bit at that. They were covered in greasy war paint and sweat, but Lucio still seemed happy as he posted the photo.
They settled on a burrito shop, going to the bathroom to wipe the paint off of their faces before sitting down to eat. “It’s been a while since I’ve had this much fun,” Jamison admitted, smiling at his companions.
“We haven’t been laser tagging in a while,” Lucio said. “Glad you could come with. It’s kind of a one-in-a-while thing.”
“Lemme know the next time you decide to go.”
Lucio nodded, then pulled out his phone, peering at the screen. His entire face lit up and he punched both arms in the air. “Yes!” The tables nearby had glanced over at him, but he didn’t care as he leaned forward. “It’s from my guy in Rio.” He looked down at his phone and read, “‘Lucio, it would do me no bigger honor than to produce for you again, please send me the files and I’ll take a listen. Saudades!’”
“Oh my god!” Hana cheered, clapping her hands in front of her face. “It’s happening!”
Lucio raised his water glass, with Hana and Jamison soon following. “To Harmonia e Discórdia!”
“Cheers!” They all clinked their glasses together, laughing.
Jamison was humming when he went to work the next day, only to be stopped as Sombra straightened up in her seat at the sight of him. “G’day,” he said, waving.
She waved back, a little hesitantly, before slipping out from behind the desk. “Jamie. You don’t watch the news before you come to work, do you?”
“Slept in today. Had a busy night.” His eyebrow furrowed as she led him to the offices in the back. “Sombra? What’s goin’ on?”
“Well.” She let him go when they were out of sight of the front door. “Apparently, the police in Sydney leaked to a news station that the Mr. Mystery your little DJ friend is seeing is a wanted man.”
Jamison’s smile froze, twitching slightly. Sombra caught it - who was he kidding, she caught everything - and she crossed her arms, leaning towards him in that way she did whenever she wanted to hear gossip. “Jamison, you’re a bad boy, aren’t you?”
“Listen. Did you hear if they identified me?”
“No. The news outlets aren’t taking it too seriously. They didn’t give up much proof, aside from blurry photos. But the gossip channels are going crazy.”
Jamison sighed, deflating. ”...Sombra, we got time to talk?”
She raised an eyebrow and nodded, holding up a finger. “One sec.” She stepped back out to her desk to put up a ‘back in five’ sign before pulling him into the storage room. Jamison didn’t quite have his own office yet; it was a work in progress.
He slumped down on the floor, running a hand through his hair. “I ain’t ever told anyone this. I know you like to chat, but - whatever you want to keep this quiet, I’ll give it to ya.”
“Relax, Jamie.” She sat down on a pile of boxes, leaning forward. “Spill.”
Jamison took a deep breath.
It had happened a few years after he’d moved to Sydney, just after he’d turned eighteen. He’d run away from his third and final foster home when he was fifteen. After that, he lived in hotels for the most part, thanks to his parents’ life insurance policy, and managed to get a good job at a well-reputed mechanic’s, finally getting a place of his own and doing decently for himself.
He’d come home from work one day to find a letter in his mailbox. A nice piece of stationary, requesting a meeting for a business opportunity. He wasn’t stupid, of course; he googled Hyde Global before considering going. But it checked out, and he had nothing to lose.
It was a simple job. The CEO was concerned about some kind of drone one of his competitors had come up with that scanned people’s personal data from their phones and computers and basically sold it, and he’d heard that Jamison was good at taking things apart. He gave him a nice sum of money up-front, about $500,000 with promises for more if he got the job done. For the good of everyone, he’d said.
So Jamison went, both for the money and the idea of actually doing something good with his life. He’d learned to pick locks from some punks he’d hung out with at the time, so getting into the warehouse where it was kept was easy. He’d taken his tool kit and gotten the drone taken apart pretty easily. He was careful, but he wasn’t stupid. In the light, he saw the logo for Hyde Global etched into one of the plates.
He’d figured it was none of his business. A view he quickly changed when he opened the door out of the warehouse to the sight of police cars pulling up. He hadn’t been able to make out what they were yelling, aside from the usual “Down on the ground” and “Hands where we can see them!” and “Step out of the building.”
He’d obliged, stepping out of the warehouse, and then he felt something tug at his ankle for hug a second before snapping, then something ‘clicked’ and started beeping. He glanced back in to see a blinking light and a timer, and that’s when he’d realized that he’d been set up. He had dropped his kit and started running, knowing full well it was either the bomb or the police that would take him down.
By some miracle of luck, it was neither. The warehouse blew before the police could even think of firing, but he just ran, never looking back until he’d found his way back to his apartment.
It was all over the news the next morning, how a mad bomber had destroyed a warehouse full of ‘important assets’ to Hyde Global. The CEO suggested it was a saboteur from a rival company, did the song and dance, and the police set up a composite sketch that didn’t quite look exactly like him, but was just similar enough.
He’d thought about breaking back in to confront the CEO. Thankfully, his brain won out over his anger, and he decided the best thing to do was to just leave. So he packed everything up, quit his job with a lie of a family emergency, and got on the first boat.
Which was how he’d ended up here. It was easy to find an apartment that he could afford while he found a job. There weren’t any mechanics hiring, but he’d always had a bit of an artistic streak, and managed to score an apprenticeship at a tattoo shop.
Sombra listened to the entire tale, her fingers idly drumming against her leg. “Wow,” she said, eyebrows raising. “So what happened? Why the set-up?”
Jamison sighed. “Wanted to make it look like someone had sabotaged him. For insurance or somethin’, maybe. You know how those blokes are, always wantin’ more money.”
“Smart, high-tailing it out of there. You think they’re gonna come after you here?”
“I mean - it was a big buildin’, some cops got hurt. The guy that hired me might wanna make sure I don’t talk.” Jamison paused, slowly glancing up at Sombra with a sinking feeling in his chest. “Hey -“
“I won’t. Cross my heart.” Sombra made a crossing motion over her chest. “But it sounds like this guy can’t say anything without incriminating himself. I don’t think you’ve got anything to worry about.”
“It’s... not me I’m worried about. It’s Lu. He... he came outta the closet ‘cause of me, and now there’s gonna be people shittin’ on him for datin’ a criminal.”
Sombra hummed. “You know what I do in my spare time, Jamie. I could help you out, you know. Might just need a little favor later on.”
Jamison huffed quietly at that. Everyone knew that Sombra was a hellacious little troll when she wasn’t at work, often spreading efforts of whistleblowing against corporations in her spare time. She unironically called herself a hacker. “What kinda favor?”
“You know. The kind someone who can take things apart might be able to fulfill. Nothing dangerous. Promise.”
Jamison looked up. “Fine. Want me to pinky-swear?”
Sombra snickered, then held out her pinky. Jamison hooked it with his own. “Alright. Blurry photos are gonna be the only thing this guy’s got on you. And I might do a little research while I’m at it. Girl’s gotta have hobbies.” She glanced to the door and stood. “Alright. We gotta get to work before Gabe comes in and has an aneurysm.”
Jamison stood up carefully and followed. He managed to get through the day, but he didn’t feel much better getting his story off of his chest. If anyone really needed to hear it, it was Lucio. But it turned out that he didn’t need to track the DJ down when he got home, because Lucio was pacing outside of his door. “Jamie -” Lucio started as soon as he saw him, his brow creased in an expression that Jamison couldn’t identify. “Do you know why my PR agent just called to yell at me for dating a criminal?”
Jamison let out a heavy sigh and reached out, but Lucio pulled away. “Lu - I can tell ya, just not here where people can hear.”
“What did you do, Jamison?”
He flinched a bit, looking to the floor before telling Lucio every single thing he’d told Sombra. The money, the drone, the police... the explosion. Lucio’s eyebrows raised higher and higher with every twist and turn. “But they don’t got much on me, so it probably won’t pan out too far,” Jamison finished, looking everywhere but at Lucio.
Lucio was silent for a bit, eventually leaning against the wall by Jamison’s door. “Wow. That’s... incredibly farfetched.”
Jamison looked back up, eyebrows furrowing as he scoffed. “So I’m a liar now?”
“I didn’t say that, I just - that’s a long way to go to frame someone. Kind of coincidental.”
Jamison shook his head and moved to unlock his door. “CEOs are extra like that. But I guess it don’t matter what I did.”
“S’fine. It’ll blow over before your album drops. G’night.” He closed the door behind him before Lucio could get a word in edgewise. He leaned against it, listening as there was silence, then the eventual footsteps of Lucio leaving. He reached for his phone, hands shaking in barely-contained anger as he dialed a familiar number. As soon as Jesse picked up, he said, “Drinks?”
Jamison was silent for the first few minutes that he and Jesse sat at the bar, immediately downing a few drinks. “Rough day?” Jesse asked, raising an eyebrow.
“Yeah. You watch the news?”
Jamison nodded, and didn’t elaborate. “How’re things?”
“Good. Hanzo’s headin’ back to Japan in a few weeks.”
“Gonna keep in touch?”
Jesse shrugged. “I’d like to. He’s not a bad guy. Just kinda... damaged.”
“Just your type.”
He cooled off as the night went on, easing off the alcohol when he was nice and tipsy. It was weird to just sit here and talk to Jesse without expecting it to lead somewhere. “I’ve never asked what you do for a livin’,” Jamison realized, rubbing the back of his neck.
“I wrangle cattle,” Jesse joked, tipping his hat. “Can’t you tell?”
Jamison snorted, shoving Jesse by the shoulder. “You’re a goddamn parody of yourself, y’know that?”
“I try.” Jesse smirked at him. It made his chest all nice and warm.
Unfortunately, they lived on different sides of town, but Jamison gave him a big hug before getting in his cab. It lasted a little too long than Jamison knew it should, but the smell of Jesse gave him a lot of very good memories. “See ya, cowboy.”
“Take care of yourself, Jamie.”
He stumbled back up the stairs just as Hana was coming down. They both stopped, just glancing at each other for a long moment before Hana lowered her eyes and continued without another word. Jamison shook his head and kept going up. He passed out on the couch, draping his jacket over himself as a makeshift blanket.
But sleep evaded him. He woke up three times throughout the night, chased by some haunting images of a shadow lurking behind every corner, relentlessly pursuing him. Sometimes it whispered things, things like “liar” and “cheat”. It whispered things like “You’re just going to drag them down.”
He was awake before the sun. He stared at the ceiling for a long while before throwing off his jacket. He sent an email to Gabriel saying something about being up sick all night, then headed out with his stash and his earbuds.
He went to the park, sat on a swing, and just smoked, watching the sun rise above the buildings as Debussy played in his ears. A good buzz usually shut his mind up, but it was taking a bit longer than usual today. Still, he felt the voice grow quiet, then silent. It was only then that he stood and headed back home.
Sorry updates have slowed down a bit! I'm still working on this, just trying to decide where to take it! ^^
There was a letter under his door.
He hadn’t noticed it the night before with how distracted he’d been. He picked it up and sat at the kitchen table to open it and read it.
I’ve thought it over and done a little research, and I believe you. I’m sorry I didn’t. I’d like to apologize in person; I can’t imagine how hard this is to relive.
Jamison’s shoulders sagged. He’d snapped at Lucio a little unfairly. If anyone had to apologize, it was him. He sighed and set the letter on his counter before checking the time. It was still far too early to expect Lucio to be up, so he settled back on the couch to try and get in one more hour of sleep.
He managed to drift off for what felt like only a few minutes before there was a knock at his door. He groaned and sat up, shuffling to the door and opening it. He immediately straightened up, smoothing his hair over as he saw Lucio. “Hi.”
“Hi. Uh... you got my letter?”
“Yeah - I was partyin’ a bit last night and missed it. I was gonna come up when I thought you were up.”
Lucio spread his arms. “Here I am.”
“Here you are.” Jamison stepped to the side, inviting Lucio in. “I’ll make breakfast.”
Just bacon, eggs, and toast, nothing special, but cooking brought some normalcy back to him. He sat two plates on his table, one for him and one for Lucio, and sunk into his chair. He wasn’t very hungry, but he knew that would change once he actually started eating.
“So - like I said. I’m sorry for doubting you.”
“No - I’m sorry for actin’ like a cock. I know it’s a pretty tall tale.”
Lucio nodded. “Sounds like we were both in the wrong there. But at least we can admit it.”
“Just crazy on top of crazy, honestly. Hope the bacon’s okay.”
“It’s fine.” Lucio reached his hand over the table. Jamison looked at it for a moment, unsure of what he was doing, before he realized and took Lucio’s hand. “That’s what you meant way back, huh? About the guy that screwed you over?”
“Yeah. Couple’a cops were hurt, but no one died. Still, I followed the story for a while. All the car cams got were some blurry photos, and I never said anythin’ or moved close enough for them to really nail me, but guy like that doesn’t want anyone blowing a hole in his rep, so I’ve been a bit paranoid since then.”
“Well. I trust you.” Lucio squeezed his hand before letting go. “Is he? Gonna come after you, I mean?”
“Probably not. Doubt he could really point the finger at me without someone realizin’ he’s not on the straight’n narrow.” Jamison pushed his plate forward to rest his arms against the table. “I was more worried about what it’s gonna do for you.”
Lucio laughed softly. “When I was in Rio, Vishkar tried to smear me like you wouldn’t believe. Calling me a thug, saying I represented everything wrong with the community. Shady rumors are nothing.”
“Okay.” Jamison paused before leaning back and finishing his breakfast. “Maybe - y’know, when Hana and I were hangin’ out, we were talkin’ about gettin’ away for a bit.”
“Like a vacation?” Lucio hummed in thought, nodding. “That’d be pretty nice, actually.”
“Might help to lay low, relax for a bit. Combo breaker.”
“Where would you go?”
Jamison shrugged. “Where would you go?”
Lucio shook his head, tapping his fork against his plate in thought and creating a catchy little beat. “It’s probably obvious to say ‘home’, huh?”
“Nothin’ wrong with that. Someone has to have a good relationship with their home country here.”
“You wouldn’t wanna go back? I mean. I guess you can’t, really.”
“Well.” Jamison thought that over. “...If I stay a good deal away from Sydney, I might be able to, maybe. S’a big country. ...I do kinda miss it sometimes, I guess.”
“Maybe we should go.”
“‘We’?” Jamison peered at Lucio searchingly.
“I mean. You said it yourself. We all need to relax a bit. And I’ve always wanted to see the beaches down there.” Lucio lowered his eyes, his smile turning a tad bit awkward. “Not to - not to impose or anything. I mean, it’s just a thought.”
Jamison shrugged. “Nice thought, at least.”
“I’ve gotta Skype my producer pretty soon.” Lucio stood, taking his dishes to the sink and leaning down to kiss Jamison. “Thanks for breakfast, babe.”
Jamison couldn’t help but grin at that. Something about the way Lucio said it dared him to feel special.
He found himself idly looking at airfare to Perth while watching the news. A nice thought. Some part of him did miss Australia, but it didn’t miss the place he was looking at. Once, just before he’d run away to spend his life in hotel rooms on his way to Sydney, he and the few friends he’d managed to make in school had taken a holiday, a week-long getaway to Broken Hill. One of the few good memories he had of childhood was looking out the window at the beginnings of a massive expanse of desert stretching into the distance.
The idea bugged him all day until he was laying in bed, about to sleep, and he finally said fuck it. He took a screenshot of the pricing and sent it in a group text to both Hana and Lucio wth a single question mark. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.
Hana texted back on his bus ride to work the next day with a few exclamation points. It was a little expensive, definitely. Not exactly something they could just decide on a whim. He just texted back ‘yeah’.
He wasn’t able to check back in on the conversation until after work. There were a surprising amount of walk-ins that Jamison had to either assist with or perform himself, but when it died down, Sombra winked at him, waving a stack of receipts. “Your tips today are insane.”
On the bus ride home, he caught up with the text chain. His eyes widened at the amount of messages both Lucio and Hana had sent him, all with suggestions about going dutch for the tickets and then pooling their money for hotels and travel. He shook his head and texted a suggestion that they all meet in person.
He wasn’t even greeted at their door; the minute he knocked, Hana pulled him in by his wrist. “Okay, Lucio and I were crunching numbers and we seriously think we could pull off going,” she was saying, leading him to the couch.
“Whoa, whoa!” Jamison raised his hands as he was practically thrown down to sit on the couch. “Hello to you too.”
“Sorry.” Hana sat next to him, brushing hair behind her ear and smiling, cheeks pink. “But this is kind of really cool. I thought you weren’t big on going back?”
“I mean. As long as we stay outta Sydney. And Perth’s on the opposite side of the country, it should be fine.”
Lucio came out of the bathroom, giving Jamison a bright grin as he saw him. “We talking vacation time?”
“I was looking at photos people took of the beaches in Perth,” Hana said, and Jamison kind of tuned her out as he rubbed the back of his neck. She seemed so keen on seeing the beach, and he couldn’t blame her, but he wanted to get away from civilization for a bit. But Hana and Lucio weren’t the types to enjoy roughing it near the Outback, were they?
He came back to Earth as Lucio nudged his arm. “What’re you thinking?”
“Oh. Uh -” He cleared his throat and sat upright. “So, I was thinkin’. I know you wanna see the beaches - and we tototally can - I was just wonderin’. You wouldn’t mind goin’ a bit off the beaten path, would ya?”
Hana blinked, looking to Lucio for a moment before glancing back at Jamison. “What are you thinking?”
“Well -” Jamison pulled out his phone and went to his map application. “There’s this place. Wave Rock? Kind of a tourist-y thing.”
Hana pulled his phone towards her to look. “It’s like a three-hour drive from Perth.”
“Yeah. 'Straya’s big. Closest we could get to the Outback on a time - and money - constraint.”
“Oh man, I didn’t even think about that,” Lucio said, rubbing his chin. “Seeing the Outback. That’d be kind of cool.”
“Close to it as we could get, anyway,” Jamison said, putting his phone away.
“I’m not really a camping girl.” Hana wrinkled her nose a bit at that.
“It’s not like we’re getting on the plane tomorrow.” Lucio nodded, giving Jamison a reassuring smile. “We’ll figure it out.”
Jamison nodded, feeling a bit like an idiot for even suggesting it. After all, it was already expensive to get there, they didn’t need to spend even more just to go see desert.
They managed to convince him to stick around for a movie night, and he was able to put it out of his mind, Lucio gently taking his hand as they watched. Hana rested her head on his shoulder, which surprised him a bit, but he welcomed the contact.
Nestled between them, it was the kind of cozy comfort that was unfamiliar to him. But, he thought to himself, he could very easily get used to it.
A couple of weeks passed, and the Australia vacation was left to the wayside. Jamison’s office was finally finished, and he spent a good minute just soaking it in that he was officially part of the team.
Sombra stopped him on his way out to show him an article open on her computer. Lucio had announced the release date for his new album would be in just a little over a month. “He’ll be sleeping on a pile of money,” she said with a coy smile.
“Nah, he’d use it to buy a factory that makes shoes for orphans first.” Jamison rolled his eyes, tapping on her desk. “Night.”
He didn’t want to head home just yet, though. He sat at the bus stop, mulling over where he could go for a moment beofre hopping on a bus. He was entirely surprised to see that Jesse wasn’t at the bar - at least, not yet. It was still pretty early in the afternoon, after all.
“Don’t worry about this one,” the bartender said as he slid him a beer. “It’s taken care of.”
Jamison had been swinging idly in the stool, surveying his surroundings, and quickly turned back around at that, raising a brow as he took his mug. “By who?”
The bartender pursed his lips and nodded his head off to the side without another word before moving on to a couple that had just sat down at the bar.
Jamison followed the direction he had nodded in and saw someone huddled in the corner, blinking as he recognized him. Mr. Big was sitting in a table in the back corner, staring down at a bottle with an expression Jamison couldn’t quite make out. He looked back to his own drink, took a deep breath, and stood.
“Thanks,” he said as he approached, lifting up his beer in cheers.
Mr. Big just looked at him with a slow nod.
“Lucky for you I’m a spoken-for man, otherwise you’d never get rid of me,” Jamison joked, grinning. The other man snorted, his lip twitching slightly. That was about as much of an invitation as he figured he was going to get, so he sat down opposite of Mr. Big with a sigh. “Nothin’ makes me weak like someone who pays for drinks.”
He’d gone to take a long draw of his drinkwhen Mr. Big spoke. “Didn’t take you for one of those.”
Jamison paused, then laughed nervously. “I was kiddin’.”
“I know.” Mr. Big set his drink down, resting his hand on the table. He was a beer man, too, Jamison noticed.
“So -” He cleared his throat. “I feel like an ass for askin’, but I don’t know your name.”
Mr. Big looked at him for a long moment. He had one of those stares, like Amelie’s but worse. At least with Amelie, you could practically taste the disdain she had for everyone, but this guy was a blank page. Jamison felt like he was being judged. “Mako,” he finally said. “Rutledge.”
The name clicked again, and he snapped his fingers in recognition. “Right. I remember seein’ that on the appointment sheet.” Jamison stuck out his hand. “I’m not great with names. Nice to meet ya proper.”
Mako took his hand. It was like a doll’s, the way it was completely engulfed in Mako’s. “Yeah.”
“I was startin’ to think you just kind of popped in and out of existence whenever ya wanted,” Jamison said, slouching back into his seat once his hand was free.
“Maybe I do.” Mako took a sip of his beer.
“Cryptid biker.” Mako snorted at that, but didn’t say anything else. A few seconds of silence passed before Jamison got the hint and slipped out of his seat. “Thanks again for the drink. Next one’s on me.”
Mako raised his bottle just slightly, but went back to his drink as Jamison headed back to the bar.
The one drink was enough, he decided, and once he’d drained his mug, he headed back home, giving Mako one last finger-gun before heading out the door. He thought he saw the barest hint of a smile in return.
Hana caught him outside the apartment, coming in the opposite way as him. She immediately rushed forward to hug him, which surprised him just a little. “What’s the occasion?” he joked.
“Nothing,” Hana said. “Except we’re going to Perth.”
Jamison’s eyebrows raised as high as they could go, and he pulled away to stare down at her. “What?”
She was grinning, nodding. “Yeah. And get this - there’s this day tour thing where we head out to Wave Rock for a day. So a little of both worlds?”
Jamison scooped Hana up and spun her with a whoop, laughing as she clung to him and squealed in surprise. “When?” He asked once he’d put her down.
“I mean - not until after the album drops. Lucio’s kinda gotta get paid before we can run off on a trip like this. Lots of number-crunching still. Excited?”
“Yeah. Didn’t realize I missed home ‘til we started talkin’ about goin’ back,” Jamison admitted, rubbing the back of his neck.
“Well - you didn’t really leave on good terms, did you?”
Jamison raised his brow again. “Did Lu tell ya?”
“He, uh... mentioned something. Plus it was on the news. Perth’s gonna be cool, right?”
“Yeah. Almost as far from Sydney as you can get.” He took her wrists in his hands, swinging them slightly in an attempt to ease her mind. “No worries about gettin’ in a car chase when I’m around.”
Hana laughed. There was a tinge of... something in it. Her cheeks looked a little pink, and Jamison hastily let her go, clearing his throat. “Yeah. That’s... not the kind of excitement I’m hoping for. Seeing jellyfish, maybe.”
“Oh, there’s plenty of those.” He turned towards the apartment building, and Hana followed him, arms crossed to keep her jacket closed as a chilly wind blew past.
“We’ll do another group text to figure out more details,” she said as they reached his door.
“Sure. Night, Hana.”
“Night.” She waved and headed upstairs.
Sure enough, he got a text during the evening news with a rough itinerary. Lots of time in Perth with a day-long tour to Wave Rock and Hippo’s Yawn. Not as close to the Outback as he’d like, but still a nice bit of scenery. He nodded and texted a thumbs up. Frankly, he didn’t quite care what they did, he just wanted to go. The weather was starting to turn colder, and as long as he’d been living in this city, he just couldn’t get used to cold.
He stared at his phone for a long moment as he laid down for bed, then texted Lucio. ‘hana wus actin weird, kno y?’
After a few moments, Lucio replied ‘what do you mean?’
‘idk just weird’
‘huh... i’ll talk to her. night babe’
This time, it was Jamison’s cheeks that flushed, and before he could stop himself, he texted back a heart emoji. He wasn’t big on emojis, especially not that one, but it felt right.
He stopped to get tacos after work the next day to find a few texts from Lucio. ‘talked to hana. she said she’s fine. what was weird about her?’
Jamison hastily moved to a table to set his food down and text back. ‘she got all blushy? idk’
He opened up one of his taco wrappers and took a bite, waiting for a text back. Finally, his phone bleeped. ‘maybe she likes you ;)’
He rolled his eyes with a snort. ‘ima taken man mate’
Lucio texted him back a heart after a good few minutes. Jamison giggled quietly and turned his attention back to his tacos.
The hard part was the waiting. Hana was going to do a special 24-hour stream to help fundraise for the trip, drumming up extra views by promising to play sneak peaks of Lucio’s new album. “He made me promise to play just like... three-second clips,” she said over boba, rolling her eyes. “’Copyright’ or whatever.”
Jamison shrugged. “I mean. S’like those blokes that sneak cameras into theaters and film a new movie. Just ruins it for folks.”
“Lucio knows I wouldn’t do that to him.” She huffed at him, crossing her arms in a mock pout. “I’m offended you’d even suggest it!”
“That wasn’t a poke at you. You’ve probably never even used a torrent.”
Hana’s eyes shifted from side to side and he snorted in laughter. “Shut up and drink your tea.”
Sombra texted him a link to a video clip that night. Curious, he opened it and found it was an interview with Lucio, a very recent one. He must have missed it while he was at work. The title read ‘SANTOS DATING A CRIMINAL!!!’ and his heart sunk until he hit ‘play’.
The interviewer asked, “So what about all these rumors that this man you’re seeing is a wanted criminal in his home country?”
Lucio laughed and waved it off. “We’ve talked about that. Listen, unless you can show me a photo of him taking a selfie in front of a blown-up building, I’m gonna say it’s just a shady hoax.”
Jamison breathed a sigh of relief. He took Lucio’s arm when he passed by on the stairwell the next day just to kiss him on the cheek. Lucio stopped, looking at him quizzically with a big grin, but Jamison didn’t have time to explain, considering he’d be facing Gabe’s wrath if he was late again.
He tuned in to watch Hana in the middle of her stream later that night. She was playing some pixel horror game, completely in focus until Lucio opened the door behind her and snuck in with a plate of brigadeiro and a bottle of soda. She paused for just a minute to smile at him thankfully. It was sweet. Jamison felt a little pang of... jealousy? He frowned, watching as Hana made some jokes about comments she was getting while she ate.
He clicked out after about an hour and went to bed, but not before shooting Lucio a quick text asking to hang out the next day.
“How late did Hana stay up?” he asked, slinging his arm over Lucio’s shoulder. They were watching that cooking show again, nestled safely on his couch.
“About six. She wasn’t kidding when she said she was going for twenty-four hours.”
“Must be nice, havin’ you wait on her hand and foot.”
Lucio laughed, a little skeptically. “Uh. I mean, she’d forget to eat if I didn’t bring her something. Did you watch the stream?”
Lucio pulled away to peer at him. Jamison tried to look aloof, but clearly it failed, because Lucio asked, “Are you okay?”
“You sound - oh my god. You’re jealous.”
“M’not jealous.” Jamison pushed off the couch to head to the fridge and grab something to drink.
“Jamie -” Lucio stopped, falling silent. Jamison eventually came back to the couch, leaning against one of the arms. “I... you live with someone long enough, you kinda get what kind of person they are. And Hana’s an all-in kinda girl. She’s literally gone twenty-four hours without eating anything before.”
Jamison didn’t respond. Someone on the cooking show was forced to sit in an adult-sized baby chair. Lucio sighed and rested his head on his shoulder.
“I’m not gonna apologize for caring about my friends.”
“I’m not expectin’ ya to,” Jamison finally said, lowering his gaze to the floor. “M’sorry. I don’t like to share.”
Lucio huffed. “Better get used to it. There’s plenty of me to go around.” Jamison rolled his eyes and slung his arm around Lucio’s shoulders again. “That’s what I thought. Okay, what’d we miss?”
“Dude’s in a baby chair and the sheila had her pantry replaced with baby food.”
“Sounds about right.”
He berated himself internally for the rest of the night. It was stupid of him to think two people living together for years on end wouldn’t be close. And selfish of him to think that that bond would be broken just because he was a good lay.
Lucio fell asleep on his arm. He couldn’t sleep as easily, though, flipping through television channels until there were only infomercials.
whoaaa, i'm alive! sorry for the delay. gonna get into vay-kay territory up next!
Well, it had turned out that Hana’s streaming efforts were not in vain. She’d managed to raise quite a bit of money, enough to pay for a good chunk of the trip.
“Okay,” Lucio said, beaming. He and Hana brought his laptops down to Jamison’s apartment so they could buy their tickets at the same time. “Ready? On three. Three... two...”
Jamison’s fingers twitched on the mouse.
And they all hit ‘confirm’ on their payments, and held their breath. After a long, long minute (again, Jamison bitingly praised his landlord for buying the cheap internet plan), the confirmation screens started to pop up, and they all cheered.
“Oh god, I need a new swimsuit,” Hana gasped once they quieted down. “All I have are the ones for those promo shoots.” Jamison turned to look at her, raising his brow. “Yeah. It’s as sketchy as it sounds.”
Lucio gently pat her shoulder. “Don’t worry. Shopping spree tomorrow.”
Hana rolled her eyes, but still beamed at him in gratitude.
“Don’t forget to get practical stuff, too. Hate to sound like a naggin’ mum, but out of the cities, it gets a bit rough.”
“Yep,” Hana said, nodding at him. “I did my research! I’m not a baby!”
“You’re 19. That’s ‘baby’ to me.”
She stuck out her tongue at him, and he returned the gesture, bursting into quiet giggles.
“You’re both children,” Lucio said, fake exasperation in his voice.
Jamison dreaded work the next day. He’d never asked for time off before, especially not a week’s worth, and Gabe’s reaction to him being late was still haunting the back of his mind.
He waited until the shop was closed for the day to knock on Gabe’s door. “Mate?”
“Yeah?” Gabe spared him only a glance before focusing back on a spreadsheet on his computer.
“Listen, some folks and I are goin’ on holiday.”
Jamison hesitated for just a moment at the curtness of Gabe’s voice. “End of the month.”
Gabe looked at him again with a sigh. “Okay. Little more warning would’ve been nice.”
“We just bought the tickets.” Jamison smiled a little apologetically, but Gabe waved him off.
“We’ll live. At least you told me.”
Jamison laughed. “Yeah, that’d be awkward. Disappear for a week, come back - ‘Oh, I was on holiday, I didn’t tell ya?’ -“
Gabe was giving him a look. The kind of look that Jamison was given in the early days of apprenticeship when he was sitting around waiting to be told where to go next. A ‘don’t waste my time’ look.
Jamison cleared his throat and shot Gabe a finger-gun. “Gotcha. See ya tomorrow.”
Jamison didn’t head home right away. Lucio had suggested they catch dinner together, so he headed for the diner. “How’d shoppin’ go?” he asked as they were seated, idly flipping through the menu.
“Good.” Lucio nodded, taking a sip of water. “Too bad you couldn’t come with. The three of us should all hang out more after this trip.”
“Or before,” Jamison offered with a smile. “I like Hana. She’s fiesty.”
“Oh yeah, she’s got attitude. She’s really good at kicking my ass into shape sometimes, too.”
Jamison nodded, cheeks tinging a little pink in memory of her scolding him over boba tea. That felt like so long ago. “Too right. So... she said nothin’ was wrong the other night?”
“The... oh, that night you said she was being weird? Yeah, she just shrugged it off.” Lucio peered at him curiously. “What happened?”
“Well, she hugged me, told me we were goin’ to Perth, chatted a bit, I kinda grabbed her hands ‘cause she was worried about me and all that stuff back home.”
“Oh. That might explain it.” Lucio leaned back, taking another drink. “She’s not good with people touching her.”
“No? She didn’t say anythin’.”
“She usually doesn’t. I dunno, she said it just kind of freaks her out. But I’m surprised she didn’t tell you. She got blushy?”
The two of them pondered that for a moment as the waiter sauntered over to take their order. The fact that Lucio was just as puzzled as him wasn’t very comforting, but Hana hadn’t punched him in the balls or told him to fuck off, so was there really any harm? He shook his head and sighed, deciding to change the subject once the waiter had left. “You get anythin’ today?”
“Nah. Unlike Hana, I don’t get to keep skeezy swimwear for promotional shoots.”
Jamison waggled his brows. “C’mon. You didn’t buy a speedo?”
“How do you know I don’t have one already?” Lucio teased, grinning at him.
“I am indignant I’ve not seen it yet, then.”
“Patience is a virtue, Jamie.”
They spent the night eating greasy, home-cooked food that made him feel gross but delighted at the same time. On the walk home, Lucio slyly pulled out his phone and hit ‘play’ on a song. “It’s gonna be the first single I put out,” he said as Coração Pesado started to play. “It’s really different from my usual stuff but I’m thinking it’ll show my diversity.”
Jamison nodded absently, wrapping his arm around Lucio’s shoulder as they walked and listened. It had been a little polished since the first time Lucio had played it for him, it seemed, but he still enjoyed it.
Sombra invited him out for a drink after work the next day, and he hesitantly accepted. She hadn’t acted any different since he’d told her his story, but he always felt uneasy being alone with her. Like she was going to ask for a ‘favor’ any second.
“You’re taking some PTO, huh?” she asked as they sat in the fancy bar she’d brought him to on that work bonding time thing.
“Yeah.” Jamison shrugged, watching as she ordered her drink. Mezcal - the mystery had been solved. “I mean. Things kinda feel stale.”
“You’re a little homesick, too,” Sombra teased, turning to rest her arm on the bar and prop her chin in her hand.
“Yeah.” He rubbed the back of his neck, ordering a beer.
“You gonna be okay out there?”
“Oh yeah. I’m gonna be on the other side of the damn country. But I’m still gonna keep my head down.”
Sombra nodded. “Good move. Just try not to blow up any warehouses.”
Jamison opened his mouth to reply, then paused, smiling as she started to laugh. “Can’t make any promises. By the way, little heads-up for ya if you’re interested, but Lu’s gonna be releasin’ his first single soon.”
Sombra took a sip of her drink. “Yeah?”
“It’s the one I helped him with.”
She smirked at that. “Getting into real ‘relationship’ territory there, Jamie.”
“He picked your song.”
“Well, it’s not mine, it’s his.”
“Yeah, but he only kept it ‘cause of you. Just saying. Isn’t the end of the world to admit you like the guy.”
He mused over that as he got ready for bed. This was really unfamiliar territory; he hadn’t quite realized before that the closest thing he’d ever had to a significant other of any kind was Jesse. He supposed that spending a week in close quarters would really solidify whatever the hell this was.
Hana started texting him excitedly in the last week before they were set to leave, listing the things she had and asking if she should get anything else.
‘mace’, Jamison texted back after a moment.
Jamison snickered to himself. ’4 the drop bears. and ‘roos. theyre assholes.’
‘what’s a drop bear?’
Hook, line, and sinker. Half an hour later, Lucio texted him. ‘wanna tell me why Hana’s scared of bears dropping out of trees and ripping her face off?’
Jamison couldn’t hold back the laughing fit.
*Markiplier voice* I'M ALIVE?!
The one thing he hated about this vacation was that their flight was ungodly early in the morning. They had to leave for the airport at five in the morning, and worse, they had two different layovers to contend with.
The first one, they stopped in a bigger city nearby, so Hana dragged them off to get breakfast at a coffee shop nearby and post some selfies. “Our next flight doesn’t have Wi-Fi,” Lucio said with a frown, sipping his water.
“Yeah. I dunno how I’m gonna survive.” Hana sighed dramatically, hanging her head over the back of her chair.
“God forbid we’ve gotta... talk to each other.” Jamison shuddered.
“There might be a bookstore nearby, we can see if we can grab a couple books quick.”
“Gotta save some money though,” Hana reminded them both, lifting her head again. “Perth isn’t cheap.”
The worst part was the second flight. Hours and hours of hell, flying over the endless Atlantic ocean. Not even Neil Gaiman could distract him from the expanse of black under the clouds. Their next layover was for less than an hour in Hong Kong, which Jamison couldn’t lie about being excited about. China was one of the places that had always been on his bucket list, and being there even for a little was good enough for him.
Hana looked at him, determination cutting through her sleepiness; almost as soon as the flight had taken off, she’d passed out, and had woken up just half an hour or so before landing. “Bubble tea,” was all she said, and Jamison nodded solemnly.
“So those are the tapioca?” Lucio peered at his cup suspiciously, watching the black pearls settled at the bottom.
“Yeah, ‘n you just suck ‘em up. They’re chewy.”
“That’s kind of weird.”
“Nah, nah - it gives the tea a good flavor. Trust us.”
Lucio glanced up at them, then took a deep breath and sipped some of his tea. Jamison had been appalled that Lucio hadn’t tried it before, especially with how often Hana seemed to get it back home, and watched as Lucio’s nose wrinkled at the texture. “Yeah, it’s weird. But not bad.”
Hana raised her hand to give Jamison a high-five, and he didn’t leave her hanging. She took a moment to take a few selfies with the skyline of Hong Kong before it was time to board the plane once again; she and Lucio were both recording the trip for their fans, taking snapshots of where they were going.
They finally arrived in Perth at near to eleven at night. Lucio and Jamison practically had to drag Hana from her seat, all of them fighting the urge to pass out on a bench. They didn’t even have time to really appreciate their hotel room before falling into one of the deepest sleeps Jamison had ever experienced. He was too tired and too jet-lagged to even dream.
Wisely, Lucio hadn’t booked the tour to Wave Rock until their second full day in Australia, so they slept in and headed to a cafe for a late breakfast. Lucio and Hana quickly became baffled by the language as they entered a coffee shop, and Jamison couldn’t help but relax as he snickered.
“It’s like - I know they’re speaking English, but it’s still like a whole other language,” Hana said, shaking her head as they waited for their orders.
“We had a bit of a conversation about this before,” Lucio said, glancing at Jamison with a smile. “Guess we’re just gonna hear weirder and weirder things?”
“Well,” Jamison said after a moment of thought. “We ain’t here to fuck spiders.”
Lucio snorted and swatted him on the arm. “So, how’re you feeling about being back?”
Jamison mused on the question for a moment, sipping his flat white and finding the answer. “Good. Didn’t really realize how much I missed it ‘til we got here.”
“No place like home, right?” Hana smiled at him. “Can we hit up the beach next? I just wanna see it, we don’t have to swim or linger or anything.”
They agreed, setting their cups aside and heading off, hopping on a bus to Scarborough. Hana whipped out her phone and started recording a short little video for her Snapchat once they stepped off the bus. “Heading to the beach~,” she sang quietly with a big smile on her face. Jamison decided the moment was right and slowly stepped behind her, giving the camera a face of exaggerated horror just before she hit ‘stop’. Hana burst into giggles and glared at him before stopping the recording. “Photobomber.”
Jamison shot her double pistols and a wink and she laughed again, turning back to her phone even as her cheeks turned a little pink. Lucio noticed this time, too, and raised his brow at Jamison with a little smile.
The incident was forgotten as they finally reached the beach and Jamison immediately groaned out loud. “Fuck!”
“Beach cricket.” He crossed his arms, unable to stop himself from pouting as he watched teams set up in the sand. “And I didn’t bring my gear.”
“Beach cricket?” Hana snickered.
“It’s a thing! ‘Specially in the summer. It’s cricket but there’s a beach.”
“Oh yeah,” Lucio said, nodding. “We’ve got something like this back home.”
Jamison flailed his arms slightly in a ‘so there’ gesture to Hana.
“Wanna watch a game? I think Hana won’t be able to sit still long enough.” Jamison batted his eyes at Lucio, giving him a somewhat guilty look. “Okay. We’re gonna wander around and we’ll come back for you. Or you can come find us, I guess.”
“You can take a boy outta Oz,” Jamison joked, settling down in the sand and waving them off. Cricket was one of his guilty pleasure sports and, honestly, was one of the big things he’d missed about this place.
He ended up sitting through two games before he realized he should catch back up with Lucio. They’d grabbed some snacks amidst their wandering (and, judging from the little bags Hana was carrying in the crook of her elbow, some shopping), and he quickly grabbed something as well while they watched the sun move closer to the horizon.
They grabbed some takeaway on their way back to the hotel and settled in for some simple TV time. “We gotta turn in early,” Lucio reminded them gently. “Shuttle leaves at eight.”
“Okay, dad,” Hana said, rolling her eyes. She’d snagged the hideaway bed in the couch, which she’d been pleased to find was very close to some outlets for her computer. “What about breakfast?”
“The itinerary said we’d stop for tea. Don’t worry about it.” Lucio pointed at her. “Bed.”
Hana crossed her arms and pouted. “That’s right, bunny! Fight the status quo!” Jamison knelt up, punching a fist in the air. “Sleep is for the weak!”
“Oh my god, Jamie, don’t encourage her.” Lucio yanked on his arm, causing him to topple backwards onto the bed. Jamison took the opportunity to clutch Lucio close and blow air on his face. “Oh, gross!”
“Oh my god.” Hana tossed a pillow at them. “Do I need ear plugs? I didn’t bring ear plugs.”
Jamison and Lucio both burst into giggles, ignoring Hana’s dramatic groan.
Lucio woke them up bright and early the next day, and Jamison took solace in the fact that Hana was just as little of a morning person as he was. As much as he loved watching Lucio whistle to himself as he got himself ready for the day, it was grating that the sun was shining so brightly so early in the morning.
Hana glumly handed him sugar for his coffee, and he took it with a nod of gratitude.
They got to the shuttle early, early enough that they had to settle at a picnic table nearby while they waited for the others. “First time in Perth?” one of the guides said conversationally as she passed.
“Yep,” Lucio said, then paused and glance to Jamison. “Er, wait.”
“Nah, never been out this way,” Jamison said, shrugging. “S’a bit off from Sydney, y’know.”
The guide snorted, giving him a bit of a smirk. “Sure you’re up for a trip to the sticks? Might ruin those posh sensibilities.”
“Rack off, ya drongo, I’ll show you ‘posh’,” Jamison shot back.
Hana and Lucio were looking at each other uncomfortably before the guide laughed and held out her hand to Jamison. He took it and gave it a firm shake. “Be careful talkin’ like that. This trips gonna be full of Seppos and Poms.”
Jamison touched his chest, acting offended as he declared, “Good God!”
The guide snorted and headed back to the shuttle.
“Sooo... is that usual?” Hana said eventually.
“Oh yeah. Talk like that, might as well ask ‘er to dinner.” Jamison nudged Lucio’s arm playfully to drive the point of the joke home. Lucio nudged him back with a smile.
Sure enough, a lot of the others on the trip were American, but Jamison didn’t quite mind that. A wave of... something came over him as they stopped in a small town for morning tea; kind of like nostalgia, except he hadn’t realized that he’d missed it until now.
“This town is so cute,” Hana said, gathering the three of them together for a selfie.
A few - actually, a lot of people recognized Lucio and pulled him aside to get some photos as they walked around. Surprisingly, Hana got a very shy little boy coming up to her to ask for a photo with her. “Looks like D.Va fans are around every corner,” Jamison joked as Hana sat down with a stunned smile on her face.
“Yeah - wow.” She shook her head. “I love when it’s kids.”
“Right?” Lucio tried to keep his voice down, but he sighed happily. “They’re so cute at that age.”
“Before they get bitter and jaded, y’mean?” Jamison joked. But Lucio looked at the ground and Hana pulled her hair over her shoulder in a loose side-ponytail, staring out the window, and Jamison cleared his throat and fell silent.
They got back in the shuttle soon after, and the green outside turned to brown, then yellow as they drove further and further away from the city on the highway through some cute little towns. “Pretty,” Hana commented eventually, breaking the silence between the three of them.
“Yeah,” Lucio agreed. He’d finally looked up, and the weird aura around them seemed to fade. “It’s really pretty out here.”
“We’re goin’ to be taking a quick break here to see the Corrigin Dog Cemetery,” the guide said from the front of the shuttle. “A little grave, maybe -” Jamison’s giggles stood out alone in a midst of groans. “But it’s a testament to the community spirit of Corrigin and their love for man’s best friend.”
Lucio waved down the guide as they stepped off the shuttle, a wave of heat blasting over them. “Is there a story to this place?”
She shrugged. “Bloke buried his dog in the nicest place he could find. Eventually everyone just started comin’ here. Kinda sweet, if you ask me.”
“Yeah, I can get that.”
“Seems a little morbid,” Hana muttered shielding her eyes from the sun with a hand. “Oh - that’s statue’s really cute though.”
“This is also gonna be a good opportunity to stretch your legs,” the guide called out to the entirety of the group. “After this, we’re on the road ‘til Hippo’s Yawn, and - more importantly - lunch!”
Jamison turned to the sight of yellow grass stretching around the cemetery and sighed happily. This was what he’d wanted to see, simple and rustic as it was.
They settled back into the shuttle again after a few more minutes of looking at the bittersweet ways people had decorated graves. They were on the road for another hour before Hana patted Lucio on the shoulder. “Whoa. Look at that.”
Lucio peered out the window as the shuttle pulled to a stop, whistling in awe. “Wow.”
“Here we are at Hippo’s Yawn!” The guide said, standing up. “Might be able to tell ‘cause it looks like a hippo yawning. Definitely one of the main sights to see here in Western Australia. Go ahead and take some time to get a good look around, and then we’ll be heading to the Wildflower Shoppe for some lunch.”
“Let’s get a picture like we’re afraid it’s gonna eat us,” Lucio joked, pulling out his phone.
“Perfect.” Hana giggled, and they gathered together to try and act as terrified as possible for the picture. Eventually, she couldn’t keep a straight face as Jamison got more and more theatrical, at one point almost taking up the entire screen as he ducked in front of Lucio.
“Man, nature’s cool,” Lucio said once they’d calmed down. “I mean, it’s just a bunch of rocks, but you arrange ‘em just right and - it looks like a hippo.”
“Crazy.” Jamison put his arm around Lucio’s shoulders. “Crazy neat.”
Hana rolled her eyes and shoved Jamison’s shoulder. “Thinking of mouths is making me hungry. When’s food?”
Jamison rolled his eyes and twisted around. The rest of the group was still wandering about and the guide was talking to the driver while having a smoke. “Think we’ve still got some time left, bunny.”
“Uuuugh,” Hana groaned, draping over his free arm. Lucio snickered to himself at that.
Finally, they stopped for lunch, much to Hana’s delight. A proper meal was just the thing to get the wind back in their sails after so much driving. Lucio pulled Jamison close to get a nice selfie, grinning as Jamison kissed his cheek. It helped that it was a delicious lunch, one that Jamison would actually consider learning to cook for so he could make it himself.
Then, what Jamison had been most anxious for: Wave Rock. Hana gasped out loud as she saw it, immediately snapping photos before they’d even stepped outside. “That’s amazing.”
“Wait ‘til you see Mulka’s Cave,” the guide said as they stepped off of the bus. “It’s my personal favorite stop.”
“That the one with the handprints, yeah?”
She nodded. “It’s an Aboriginal rock art site,” she explained once they agreed to move on. “Really rare around these parts.”
The sights were amazing, but Jamison was more taken with Lucio and especially Hana’s reactions. He’d been anxious about tearing Hana away from city comforts, but seeing her in awe alleviated any worries he’d had. Before too long, the tour headed back to Perth, and Jamison was surprised to wake up at the stop, unaware he’d even fallen asleep.
“Man, I gotta admit, that was really cool,” Hana said as they entered their hotel room. “Thanks for suggesting we head out that way, Jamie.”
Jamison shrugged, throwing himself onto the bed and stripping off his shoes. “Who knew funny-shaped rocks would be so damn neat?”
Lucio collapsed next to time, lying face-down on the blankets. “What’s crazier is how tired I am just from sitting in a bus all day,” he said, raising his head just enough that he could be heard.
“Well, we’ve got R&R set up for tomorrow.” Hana rubbed her hands together conspiratorally. “I may have booked us a surprise.”
“We’ve still gotta make time for the beach. Wouldn’t want that swimsuit you bought to go to waste.”
“We’ve got plenty of time. Let’s see what on TV.”
Jamison never found out; he found himself drifting off not too long later, as the bed was so cozy and Lucio was so warm as they leaned against each other. He dreamed of hand prints on the walls and rushing water.