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Saturday

 

Simon grimaced as Rupert pulled him through the crowd filling “ The Pit”  as he was told it was called. He was trying to make his way to his other friends who had gotten there before them while they checked into their hotel. They gathered some looks. Not only from people who thought they were trying to force their way to the front--although Rupert made sure to speak extra loud on the phone in part to show he was looking to meet someone, and to talk over the chatter of the stadium-- but from people who knew when someone didn't belong.

 

Simon would admit he looked out of place. While the people in this crowd wore black shirts with printed skulls and holes ripped into the fabric, jeans or leather pants with various metal hoops and chains hanging off them, collars and studded bracelets that accented various elaborate tattoos, Simon wore a simple blue polo shirt and jeans. His clothes fit him well he liked to think, but amongst this crowd, they made him stand out like a black stain against a white wall. He was as plain as plain could be, and it placed a giant sign on his forehead that said “ You don’t belong here ! Stare at me !”.

 

Finally, after bumping shoulders with who knows how many awkward looking people, Rupert seemed to spot his friends. Sadly, that didn't mean any of the weirdness stopped as Simon was then bombarded with a set of red-headed triplets. Rupert turned towards him and spoke-- which was more of a yell--over the noise of the crowd. 

 

"Simon, this is the Jerries! They're the reason that we have our tickets right now!"

 

Simon gave a weak smile and made a confused face. He winced as he was bumped into from behind and cupped a hand over his ear in an attempt to hear better. "The Jerries?" He questioned. 

 

They all smiled and laughed in creepy unison over his confusion. "Our mom thought that it would be funny if we all had the same name but spelled differently! I'm Jerry with a "Y"! He's Jerri with and "I"! And he's Jerrie with an "E"!" 

 

Simon blinked. That was no less confusing! And how the hell could they hear?! Simon had been to concerts but he didn’t remember them being this loud, and the music hadn’t even started yet.

 

The Jerries yet again laughed at his confusion. Again, another one spoke up. "Just call me Red! Call him Freckles! And call him Blue! It'll be less confusing!"

 

Simon tried and failed to hold back a grimace because it really wasn't and added more questions to the origins of those nicknames. However, the triplets seemed ready to move on from the conversation. 

 

"So...Simon was it?!” One of them asked. “No offense but you don't really look like someone who would be a fan of a band like JERICHO !"

 

Simon blinked dumbly. Was that the name of the band? He had no idea. He most certainly wasn't a fan.

 

"I'm only here because I lost a bet!" Simon said honestly. 

 

Rupert laughed at his curtness. Normally, Simon liked to think he was a rather nice guy--he hoped so anyway-- but right now he was out of his comfort zone and more than uncomfortable about it. So, if he was being a little rude, he couldn't bring himself to care. 

 

"Aw, man! Don't bet anything with Rupert, the guy always cheats!"

 

 Rupert gave a fake shocked expression."I resent that statement!" 

 

Simon didn't because it was true and the only reason he was here.  

 

"Well," One of the triplets suddenly belted out, "it's our duty as hardcore JERICHO fans to make sure you're converted by the end of this week! I mean what’s the point of coming to a Metalhead retreat if you’re not a fan of Metal by the end of it!"

 

Simon froze like he had been shot. "Did he say this was a  week?! You didn't say anything about this being a week Rupert!!" Simon yelled, his already short tolerance growing shorter.

 

Rupert had the audacity to look smug. "I told you that it was a retreat, Simon." 

 

"Yeah, but you insinuated that it was only going to be like two days! Not a fucking week!" There was no way he was going to spend his break from University surrounded by fucking Metalheads! That was not happening! Even if he had to fucking break his bank account to buy a ticket back to London tonight!

 

Rupert rolled his eyes, far too used to his dramatics. "Look, the deal was if you lost the bet, you would go on this retreat with me from start to finish ! You need to fucking relax Simon, you're so goddamn high strung and stressed from school! And if lying to you would get your ass on a plane and over here to relax , then dammit so be it! If you're converted to a Metalhead by the end of it I'll count that as a plus!" 

 

Simon had a lot he wanted to say in response to that, but he was aware that they had quite a few stares from strangers pointed their way. He would save his words for the hotel room. And they would be some pretty heavy f-word filled words. He turned from Rupert and the Jerries towards the stage, his arms crossed in petulant annoyance. A few moments later the lights dimmed around them and their row was forgotten as the surrounding crowd went wild. Simon winced and covered his ears as they rang. There was no way that he was going to be able to enjoy this concert now if there had ever been a chance. He was too pissed off. 

 

Simon jumped as fire burst from the stage. He blinked as the lights from the stage above them flashed into the crowd which excited them more. They grew impossibly louder as a figure slowly sauntered into sight. Sauntered was the only word Simon’s overstimulated brain could possibly use to describe the walk. The lights fell onto the figure and they were illuminated from behind, his face appeared on two larger screens connected to the stage, and Simon lost his breath.

 

He was gorgeous. He wasn't at all what Simon was expecting. He thought he was about to see someone in a silly over the top outfit, crazy makeup, and long greasy hair. This man had brown skin that was smooth and only polluted by neatly trimmed stubble on his jaw. The only makeup he had on was black eyeliner that had been smudged around his eyes in a way that Simon could only describe as flattering. He had no long hair, his cut into a simple faded buzz cut. He had freckles that ran across his nose and pouty pink lips that were far more entrancing than Simon thought they should have been. 

 

His clothing was as much of a sin as his looks. He wore a tight black tank top that left nothing to the imagination. Simon could see the hard cut outlines of his body. He wore tight leather pants that accentuated his privates a little too well and were decorated in a variety of loops and chains. The combat boots and studded and spiked jewelry pulled everything together. The singer grabbed onto the mic holding it like he was bringing his lover close, revealing his extremely toned arms that were covered with tattoo's Simon couldn't get a clear impression of. Yet, that did nothing to take away their attractiveness.

 

Simon didn’t believe in fate. Hell, he often questioned if there was a God. The thought that there was some magical wizard in the sky who watched over the billions of people in the world Simon just couldn’t wrap his mind around. However, there was a small, hopeless romantic part of himself that believed there were special moments that happened in life. This part of him was adamant in believing that when you met the right person, you would instantly know it. It naive of him. Yet, he loved to think when he came across " The One " and their eyes met, there would be a moment . A special spark that would be shared instantly between them and they would know. 

 

Then the unthinkable happened.

 

Their eyes met and Simon felt it. 

 

That moment .

 

Now, rationally thinking, the guy could have been looking at anyone in the crowd of over a thousand screaming people. But, Simon was sure that he was looking at him . Simon froze on the spot, unable to move as the man smirked and narrowed his eyes until his face was the epitome of seduction. The words fell from his lips, and Simon found himself hanging off, every. Single. Of. Them.

 

She shines

In a world full of ugliness

She matters when everything is meaningless

 

Fragile

She doesn't see her beauty

She tries to get away

Sometimes

It's just that nothing seems worth saving

I can't watch her slip away

 

I won't let you fall apart

I won't let you fall apart

I won't let you fall apart

I won't let you fall apart

 

She reads the minds of all the people as they pass her by

Hoping someone can see

If I could fix myself I'd- 

But it's too late for me

 

I won't let you fall apart

I won't let you fall apart

I won't let you fall apart

I won't let you fall apart

 

We'll find the perfect place to go where we can run and hide

I'll build a wall and we can keep them on the other side

But they keep waiting

and picking

and picking

and picking 

and picking 

and picking

and picking

 

It's something I have to do

(I won't let you fall apart)

I was there, too

(I won't let you fall apart)

Before everything else

(I won't let you fall apart)

I was like you

(I won't let you fall apart)

 

When the song was over, the singer dramatically stepped away from the mic, but his eyes remained on Simon's. Simon shook out of his daze when he felt a hand on his shoulder. Rupert leaned close to his ear so he could hear him.

 

“Simon are you okay?"

 

Simon sucked in a breath and looked at Rupert. He glanced back at the stage briefly, dimly aware of what was going on around him and shook his head. 

 

"No, I--I need some water!" He was moving away before Rupert could say anything. He could barely focus. He had to get out of there. 

 

***

 

Simon guzzled down half a bottle of overpriced water in an effort to calm...whatever the hell had just overcome him. He was glad that the food and beverage stands outside the stadium had mostly minimal usage. The vendor of this particular stand looked at him with some amusement. 

 

"You look like a fish out of water?" He grinned.

 

Simon almost glared at the guy. Yeah, he didn't need any more confirmation that he didn't belong here. He, however, pulled himself together and forced himself to be polite. 

 

"This really isn't my type of music," He explained keeping his voice as even as possible. It was rather hard considering he couldn't get the singer out of his head. Just who was he? Simon wasn't delusional. He was sure that they made eye contact during that song. That song. Simon's body thrummed at the thought of it. He'd have to ask Rupert what it was called, but the way the singer sang it was like he was making love on stage. The way he moved his body, the way his hands caressed the mic...it was like he was seducing his lover. Like he was seducing Simon. 

 

Simon cleared his throat and focused as he realized he was being spoken to. 

 

"...I mean, I can't blame you for getting overwhelmed. JERICHO is an amazing band to get started with... for what they do anyway. I’d honestly prefer to be in there watching instead of out here right now." 

 

Simon bit his lip. JERICHO . He filed the name away for later.

 

"Are they popular?" He asked.

 

The vendor shrugged. "They have a pretty good following I'd say, or I should say the singer has a pretty good following. He has to be the only reason there are so many girls here."

 

Simon forced himself not to narrow his eyes, the feminist in him jumping to attention. He didn't notice any more girls here than men and he had been looking through the crowd like he was looking for a threat. But the way this guy said girls made his opinion clear of what he thought Metal fans should and shouldn’t be. Simon decided now wasn't the time for such a conversation and focused his attention back on the singer. He was who he wanted to know about.

 

"Why is the singer so popular?" He asked

 

The vendor shrugged again leaning against his cart. "Well, his looks for one, hence the girls ," Simon felt his eye twitch but he said nothing. The vendor continued. "But he has a pretty decent voice too and an amazing stage presence. Plus his music is really deep if you take the time to listen to it. I'll give him his props, he’s entertaining to watch."

 

Simon nodded slowly. This guy was really starting to bug him, yet he didn't know how to successfully remove himself from the conversation. Luckily, his phone buzzed and he used that as an excuse. 

 

"Sorry, I gotta--"Simon said giving the fakest apologetic grin he could muster. 

 

The vendor nodded, obviously put off by how he cut off their conversation, but otherwise said nothing else. Simon moved as far away from him as possible and looked at his phone. It was a message from Rupert. 

 

Rupert : r u ok? "

 

Simon wondered what he should tell him. He really didn't want to go back in there. He could just imagine fighting the numerous sweaty bodies and screaming people trying to find Rupert again. To top it all off it was dark now, and in an open stadium, that would make things even harder. Plus, he didn't know how he would react if he saw him again. Just that one song had almost made him pass out. Who knows what other embarrassing things he would make him do. Swallowing, Simon came up with a lie that was as believable as possible.

 

Simon : Yeah, I just got really lightheaded. I'm kinda tired, I'm just going to head back to the hotel okay?

 

Simon bit his lip awaiting an answer. Luckily it came pretty quick. 

 

Rupert : K

 

Simon sighed. He knew that response meant Rupert was mad at him. He probably thought that Simon was trying to skip out on the rest of the concert because he was mad. Simon was understandably upset at not being told this was a week-long retreat, but he really was leaving because he didn't trust himself not to pass out.

 

Sighing, Simon began making his way back to the hotel. Luckily, it was close enough that he could make it on foot. He used the time to cool down further and tried to understand what had come over him at the concert. He had been to concerts before, and sure he enjoyed the music, but he never experienced anything like that before. It felt raw and alive. Simon had never been a fan of Metal, but for the first time, he was curious.

 

When he reached the hotel, he smiled at the desk attendants before making his way to his room. He and Rupert were sharing. Now he knew why Rupert had insisted on taking care of all the travel arrangements, to further keep Simon in the dark about this retreat.

 

Simon fell on his chosen bed the moment it came into sight. Kicking his shoes off he scooched up on it and grabbed the charging cable to his phone. Plugging it in, he did something he never thought he would do. He opened up an internet page and looked up the band JERICHO . He couldn’t believe it.  What the hell was he doing? Why was he so fucking obsessed with this band? Hell, it wasn't even the band itself. It was the singer. He didn't know why he just needed to hear more about him.

 

Searching the band up was easy enough and wasn't lacking in any sort of information for them. JERICHO was a popular band classified as Alternative Metal, although some argued they were contemporary Rock with Metal overtones. Simon didn't understand either of those terms, but he didn't care as his eyes laid on the lead singer's face. Markus Manfred. Having a name to the face for some odd reason made him all the more alluring and Simon felt his curiosity peeking through. 

 

Now, Simon wanted to ignore his curiosity, set his phone down, and go take a shower to get ready for bed. He wasn't really hungry and could skip a meal. However, his traitorous fingers clicked the singer’s name before he could stop himself.

 

“...Markus Manfred. 23-years-old. Notoriously known for being the famous artist Carl Manfred's adopted son, embarked and made his own mark on the world when he debuted his band JERICHO at the tender age of 16. After facing some trials and tribulations at his debut, his band now goes on to sell over a million records and singles worldwide. He's most notably praised for his amazing songwriting ability, his engaging stage performance and presence, and his unique voice....”

 

Simon was rather impressed. From what little knowledge he had about bands, it wasn't often that ones with teenagers grew to such success. Once the gimmick of them being young and cute wore off people turned on you real quick. Simon swiped through some more of his biography page before he came across his Instagram. He knew that he should stop while he was ahead, but it was like he was spiraling down a rabbit hole, and the more he looked the further and further he went in. 

 

Now, Simon used Instagram when he had a moment to spare. When you were trying to get a Master's Degree in literature, you didn't have much time outside of studying and working on papers to do much on the social media scale. Even his upbringing was rather strict and limited the time he could spend on the internet. He was aware that on Instagram you could cut images apart and collage them together to make a large post on your page. He wasn't sure exactly how it worked, but it blessed him with a large shirtless picture of the singer. 

 

Simon was always a bit more on the serious side and didn't understand a lot of internet lingo or talk amongst people his age. Rupert was the one that made sure he had any connection to the outside world, but now Simon finally understood the popular internet saying; "The thirst was real because he was shook ."

 

Simon forced himself to swallow and scroll past the post, but none of the pictures got any better. This Markus really liked to be shirtless. Simon supposed it was because of the impressive set of tattoos he had. He had an extremely detailed skull on the center of his chest that had an elaborate set of wings sprouting from behind it. They spanned across his chest and stopped at his shoulders. On his right arm, he had a wonderfully rendered picture of a barn owl set against an inky background of storm clouds featuring lightning striking from behind. On his left arm was a tattoo of a beautifully rendered wolf that faded down into a detailed forest landscape.

 

Each tattoo complimented each other perfectly, and Simon couldn't stop his mind from wondering just how many more he had that he couldn't see. Simon closed his eyes and forced his mind not to go there. It was quite obvious that this man was straight. There were quite a few pictures of him with a girl on his arm. Sometimes two. Plus, what was he doing hungering for this guy anyway? It’s not like he would ever meet him. Even if he did meet him, it wasn't like he would ever want him . He was wasting his time learning about this guy. After this retreat, he would never pay attention to him or his music again. He was just being stupid.

 

Still, that didn't stop his mind from drifting back to the concert. He was sure that their eyes met. Simon had never been so drawn to someone in his life.

 

***

 

Sunday

 

Simon blinked awake at the rather inconsiderate sound of the hotel room door slamming closed. He yawned and turned over to see Rupert toeing off his shoes with a bag of what smelled like breakfast and a cup holder that looked like coffee in hand. Simon checked the time on his phone and saw that it was 7:30 AM. He glanced back at Rupert and gestured to the bag. 

 

"Is any of that for me?" 

 

Rupert shot him a look that spoke levels. "Yeah, I'm fortunately not an ass like you." 

 

Simon sat up and rubbed his eyes. It was too early for this, but he figured it was best to get it out of the way now. "Really, Rupert?" 

 

Rupert set the food down on the table in the corner of the room. "All you did last night was bitch and complain! I mean my friends give you a  free fucking vacation and you don't even have the decency in you to suck it the fuck up and stay for a concert they really like?!" 

 

Simon sighed. "I wasn't feeling well last night. I almost passed out."

 

"Suuuure! Before the concert even started you looked like you were looking for any excuse to leave!" 

 

"Well, excuse me for being caught off guard because I was basically lied to and kidnapped by my best friend for a week without my knowledge. You didn't even fucking ask me if I had anything else going on for my break! I'll apologize for my behavior in front of your friends, but dammit I'm not going to act like I'm the only one in the wrong here! And I actually did almost pass out, asshole!"

 

The room grew silent, both of them fuming. Simon wanted to apologize, just to get it out of the way so they could move on, but he really didn’t think he was fully wrong here. 

 

Rupert was the one to break the stalemate. He plopped down on the edge of his bed with a huff. "I only lied to you...because I wanted you to stop going mental about school and relax for a while. You needed a break dammit and this seemed like the perfect opportunity to give you one. I mean, hey, who wouldn’t want a free vacation?"

 

Simon took a deep breath and ran his hands through his hair. He really did need a break, but it would have been courteous if he had at least been asked first. Simon wasn’t unreasonable. He also didn't like being caught off guard. Even so, he didn't want to seem ungrateful to Rupert's friends. He didn’t know how much this entire thing cost and they gave it away to a total stranger. He wasn’t coming out of pocket for anything. The hotel and everything were paid for. Plus he had no way to get home. He only had so much in his bank account until the next bit of his grant kicked in. He was stuck here until their flight Thursday night...or morning depending on how you look at it. He supposed he should make the best of the situation as much as he could.

 

"I know you meant well, and...I know that I was rude last night. Let's just start over today, okay. I really don't get this music but...I'll try my best to find something to enjoy. It’s the least I can do." 

 

Rupert offered him a small smile. "Alright, deal. God, arguing with you is the worst fucking feeling in the world! It’s like dropping your ice-cream cone after you've been waiting in line for two hours for it." 

 

Simon snorted. "That better be some good ice-cream."

 

The rest of the morning consisted of them eating breakfast and mapping out what they planned to do for the day. Rupert managed to find a panel titled; “The History of Metal” that he thought Simon might find interesting. There were a couple of pop up shops to bands that Rupert liked and wanted to visit in order to buy some merch. They would meet the Jerries for lunch, and then there was a signing to a band that they all wanted to attend. Simon would wait to see how he felt and decide if he wanted to attend or not. 

 

Afterwards, they both took turns taking a shower before gathering what they thought they would need for the day and heading out. 

 

The day was mostly pleasant. Simon still felt remarkably out of place, but he ignored the odd stares and put away his discomfort in order to keep the smile on Rupert’s face. The panel on “The History of Metal” was actually fairly interesting and Simon enjoyed it a lot. The speaker was really engaging and gave a lot of facts about the genre of music that Simon found fascinating. It still wasn’t his cup of tea when it came to listening to it, but he could appreciate where it came from. 

 

Then came the shopping. Simon figured the only reason he had fun doing that was because of the utter enjoyment Rupert was getting out of it. The term “ Geeking Out ” was an understatement.

 

They met the Jerries for lunch. Simon still couldn’t tell which one was which. He did take the time to apologize for leaving the concert early, giving the excuse--that wasn’t really a lie-- that he wasn’t feeling well.  He also thanked them for inviting him to the retreat and even paying for everything and ensured that he was grateful for it.

 

“Oh, you don’t have to worry,” The Jerrie nicknamed “Red” answered. Simon was able to distinguish him because his other siblings were more of the brown-red side of their hair color, while he was a full-on ginger. “We didn’t actually pay for anything. This was an elaborate birthday gift from our parents. It was cheaper for them to buy a family pack for the tickets to the concert, the retreat is free, and their friend owns the hotel. They didn’t want to come so we asked Rupert if he had anyone he would like to bring along for the extra ticket.”

 

Simon glanced at Rupert who refused to look up from his phone. That wasn’t how he made it sound, but again he wouldn’t complain at a free vacation.

 

“So, from what I can understand, this isn’t really your type of music. Also, if you’re from London why don’t you have an accent. Also, are you enjoying anything at least, I’d hate for you to be here for a week and not like anything.” The one named “Blue” commented. Simon knew this because he was the only twin with two blue eyes. The other two had Heterochromia. 

 

Simon blinked at all the questions before he set to answer them.“No, this isn’t really my type of music. I’m not from London, but my dad is. I moved there with him when I was fifteen. And actually, yeah, It hasn’t been as bad as I was making it out to be. There was a panel we went to called “The History of Metal--” 

 

“Oh my god, I’m so fucking sorry to cut you off, but Markus just started a fucking Livestream on Instagram!” All the brothers began clamoring for their phones instantly, and Rupert snorted. 

 

“Don’t mind them, they’re just a little bit obsessed with JERICHO , or maybe I should say it’s singer.” 

 

Simon fidgeted in his seat, his mind going back to that moment in the concert.  He smiled trying to play it off. “I’m sure he’s popular given the number of people there last night,” Simon said like he hadn’t spent over four hours the previous night stalking his Instagram page.

 

“He’s more than popular, he’s a fucking god!” The Jerrie Simon distinguished as “Freckles” because he had more than the other two combined said.

 

“Says the one who’s the most obsessed with him,” Rupert teased. 

 

“Rupert, I love you but shut the hell up right now. A God is speaking.” 

 

Simon held back a laugh and stood. “I’m going to head to the bathroom. I’ll be right back.” He said. They all gave him some sort of acknowledgment before getting sucked right back into their phones. 

 

Simon liked to think that he had dignity. He wasn’t the type of person to sneak around and do something without owning up to the fact that he was doing it. So, maybe that’s why he was embarrassed to admit that the true reason he was going to the bathroom was to enter a toilet stall, pull out his headphones, go on Instagram, and click the story icon to Markus’s Live. Because he totally didn’t follow him the previous night. His chest constricted the moment he was blessed with Markus’ beautiful face. He appeared to still be in bed and was currently laying on a pillow. He looked gorgeous , but Simon noticed the dark bags under his eyes. Simon felt slightly bad for him, he looked like he should be sleeping rather than doing a Livestream, but he played it off nicely. 

 

“Yeah, I have some downtime, so I thought I’d do one of these for a while,” Markus said in response to a commenter. The hearts were going crazy and Simon for whatever reason didn’t dare leave one. God, he was being so fucking stupid. 

 

Simon's heart stopped when Markus gave a small smile. It was rather goofy looking, but it made his heart flutter like crazy. “The comments are moving so fast I can’t read them,” Markus said squinting his eyes. He propped his phone up and picked up a packet of cigarettes. 

 

“Smoking is bad guys, do as I say, not as I do.” He said while he lit a cigarette. He blew smoke out of his nose and Simon thought he might pass out. Something as bad for you as smoking shouldn’t have been so fucking sexy. Simon bit his lip. He realized that he only had so much time before he had to go back to the table. 

 

Just a few more minutes wouldn’t hurt.

 

Markus smirked, and Simon thought his head would explode. “Do I have a girlfriend? Uhhh, not right now. Too busy.”

 

Markus knocked his cigarette against an ashtray they couldn’t really see. “Who was at the concert last night?” He asked the Live.

 

The comment section went crazier but Simon knew he was out of time. He exited the stream and turned off his phone. He made a show of flushing the toilet just in case anyone was out there waiting, before heading out the stall. He washed his hands and went back to the table and was pleased that their food had arrived. 

 

Rupert looked at him. “You okay? You were gone for a while.” 

 

Simon nodded. “Yeah, I just got a phone call.”

 

Rupert nodded not sensing anything out of the ordinary and went back to the eating and halfway watching the stream. Simon sat down and held back a pout because he really wanted to watch it too. He settled for eating his veggie burger instead, and at least the restaurant wasn’t busy so he could somewhat hear it. 

 

“Have I done anything fun since I got to the retreat?” Markus asked in response to another question. “Not really. Honestly, after the concert last night I crashed so hard the hotel could have burned down and I wouldn’t have noticed.” 

 

There were a few more random questions that Markus answered, but it was one that caught Simon’s attention. “Lasts nights concert was great, the crowd was really into it. What I love about our concerts are all different types of people that come to them. You have people of various ages, different backgrounds, genders, and so much more. It’s really amazing all the people our music reaches. Seeing such a diverse crowd and being able to be an inspiration to people who can finally see themselves in a genre that is said not to appeal to them, that shit never gets old.” Markus paused for a moment before he continued. “Have I ever seen anyone in the crowd who I was instantly attracted to?” Markus laughed, and to anyone else, it was in good nature. However, for Simon, it stabbed at his heart like he had been shot by arrows and not in a romantic sense.

 

Simon wanted to slap himself. What was he doing? Was he really upset that a singer didn’t remember a moment he no doubt imagined in his mind? He was acting like some sort of crazed stalker upset that their idol didn’t even know they existed. Holy shit, he was so much better than that.

 

“Actually,” Simon nearly choked on his zucchini fry as Markus continued. “Last night I did see someone in the crowd who caught my eye. They just sort of...stood out amongst everyone else. I dedicated the first song to them.  If you’re watching this I’m sure you know who you are. Alright guys, sorry but I gotta go do business shit. Thanks for hanging out with me for a bit, maybe I can do another one of these soon.”

 

Simon felt like his heart was going to break out of his chest. Holy shit. Holy shit . He didn’t imagine it. He knew their eyes met. He knew he was singing to him . The logical part of his brain told him that he could have been talking about anyone, but Simon didn’t think so. That moment and the song were too precise for him to be talking about anything else. He forced himself to remain calm, he couldn’t look too deeply into this. Markus could have been joking for all he knew. He needed to not get caught up in this new fanboy part of his brain.

 

Red threw his phone down on the table. “Ugh, that was too fast! I could hear him talk about his music all day!”

 

“That’s what you’re focusing on, I need to know the name of the cunt he fucking eye fucked last night so we can talk .” Freckles glowered.

 

Rupert laughed. “Holy shit, is someone encroaching on your territory, Freckles?” 

 

“Look, he can date whoever he wants, but that doesn’t change the fact that he’s married to me!”

 

His brothers snickered at him before offering a very confused Simon an explanation. “We’re fans of JERICHO , but Freckles here is a massive fan of JERICHO and a huge Markus fanboy. He gets just a little bit riled up about him.” 

 

Simon nodded and cleared his throat. He had to act like he didn’t care. It wasn’t like he was acting like a rabid fanboy either. He had only read up as much as he could on Markus, followed him on Instagram, and then locked himself in a bathroom stall in order to watch his Instagram Live. You know, like a normal person. “You must really like him.” He said instead.

 

Blue nearly spit out his drink. “Holy shit, don’t get him started! He’ll never shut up!” 

 

“You both are just haters!” 

 

The rest of lunch was rather pleasant. The Triplets were actually a pretty fun bunch and Simon could see why they were friends with Rupert. Simon sneakily did bring up JERICHO again with a completely innocent question, and Freckles was more than willing to fill him in on as much as he could. The others stared at him with a look that said they tried to warn him, but Simon was more than pleased with his new friend. Freckles was an endless well of information regarding Markus, and Simon drained as much from him as he could. 

 

Eventually, night came and the signing to some band Simon didn’t know or care about arrived. The line was long and Simon was not about to wait in it so he kindly excused himself to go back to the room. The others understood. They weren’t going to make him wait who knows how many hours for a band he didn’t know.

 

Grabbing a quick bite to eat for dinner he headed back to the hotel rather tired from the day and surprised that he had fun. He supposed that Rupert could make anything fun, but so far this event hadn’t been anywhere near as bad as he thought it would be.  He gathered some ice for the room before he finally settled down for the night in his bed.

 

He brought out his headphones and pulled up Spotify.  He had asked Freckles what song Markus sang for his opening last night and learned that the name was; “The Fragile”. 

 

He closed his eyes and let the music and Markus’s voice wash over him. The lyrics were rather deep once he got the chance to actually listen to and decipher them. His mind kept drifting back to the way Markus was on stage and that moment. Markus said that he stood out amongst the crowd. Suddenly, Simon wasn’t embarrassed by how he didn’t fit here. If he managed to catch the eye of someone like Markus, what reason did he have to be uncomfortable with himself? The thought brought a smile to his lips. 

 

He placed the song on repeat and remembered that moment over and over again. He wasn’t even aware when he fell asleep.

 

***

 

Monday 

 

The next day consisted of Simon and Rupert hanging out in their hotel room for most of the day. The Jerries had come over to chill with them, and they had gotten more than one noise complaint as a result. Their own mother calling and telling them to keep it down. Simon supposed that was bound to happen when you were in a hotel owned by your mom’s friend. When late afternoon came, Rupert and the Jerries left to attend a concert of another band they wanted to see. Simon decided to sit this one out to further relax for a bit more. Rupert didn’t give him any stress over it. Simon used the time to look at interviews featuring Markus. 

 

It was an odd thing watching him through the screen. On stage, he seemed larger than life and off he just seemed like a regular guy. Simon decided to stay away from the comment section on the videos because a good majority of them were filled with racist comments or just overall vile language. Now Simon understood what the articles meant by the hardships his band went through when they first debuted. There were a lot of videos featuring dating rumors and scandals that Simon honestly couldn’t tell were true or not.  For the most part, Markus seemed to keep his private life private. There was even a video that went into detail about his sexuality as though that was anyone else's business. Still, Simon watched it only be offended by it and agree with most of the other people in the comments-- that it didn’t fucking matter who he fucking liked in his bed and people should mind their business. 

 

Eventually, Simon’s stomach began to complain of hunger and he left to get something to eat. He found a convenience store because honestly, he couldn’t afford to eat out every night and picked up something cheap. It wasn’t healthy, but it would fit in his rooms microwave and that’s all that mattered.

 

He paused when he stepped out the door and there was a group of rowdy men all gathered around drinking and laughing. Simon sighed and hoped that he could get by without being seen, but lady luck didn’t appear to be on his side. He stopped as one of the men stepped in front of him. 

 

“Hey, hey, hey, where are you going?”

 

Simon swallowed and kept his gaze averted even though he was aware that was a sign of submission. “I don’t want any trouble. I just want to get back to my room.” 

 

The men laughed, and one stepped close behind him. Simon tensed. “Oh, he just wants to go back to his room, he’s saying that like we’re in his way.”

 

Simon closed his eyes and he leaned next to his ear, his breath reeking of alcohol. “Are we in your way, fag?”

 

Simon didn’t say anything, he just kept his head down. “Look,” the man in front spoke, “We don’t want any trouble either. You just have to pay us a little fee and then we’ll let you on your merry way. What do you say, gentlemen, about 20 should cover another case of beer for us right?” 

 

They all laughed and agreed. “I...I don’t have any cash on me.” Simon said. 

 

“What was that?” Simon gasped as he was pushed. “You don’t have any cash on you? Well, there’s an ATM right over there faggot, how about you go an’ get some.” 

 

Simon wanted to move, but he was frozen on the spot. His chest grew tight and his head began to swim. He let out a harsh huff as he was suddenly pushed back into the man behind him. “What’s the matter with you! I said go to the fucking ATM!” 

 

Simon winced as the man behind him pushed forward into the man in front of him. Simon instinctively reached up to stop himself from crashing into him. He didn’t know if his movements were perceived wrong, but he groaned as he was punched in the stomach. He coughed and fell to the ground gasping for air. 

 

“Hey, what the fuck are you guys doing?! Leave him alone!”

 

Simon couldn’t see what else was going on. He could hear various voices, but his eyes were closed tightly as pain swam through his diaphragm. He flinched back when he felt a hand on his shoulder.

 

“Are you alright?”

 

Simon blinked wearily at the stranger. He must have been hallucinating because he could have sworn that it was Markus Manfred in front of him. He opened his mouth to speak and could only let out a pained gasp. 

 

“Do you need me to call an ambulance?” 

 

Simon shook his head and forced himself to speak. “No...No...I...I’ll be fine.” He finished off with a gasping cough. He tensed when the stranger-- who totally couldn’t be Markus Manfred-- pulled his arm around his neck and hauled him up. He wrapped his other arm around him for support.

 

“Come on, my RV’s not far.” Simon blinked and wanted to push the guy away, pretty sure this entire situation was screaming danger, but he was in so much pain he mustn’t have been thinking straight and he let himself get pulled along.

 

Eventually, he was deposited on a rather comfortable leather couch that felt like he was floating on a cloud. He heard the sound of someone moving around before a hand was helping him grasp a glass of what Simon hoped was water.

 

“Here, that should help.”

 

Simon nodded and drank a large portion of--what was thankfully--  water before he was finally able to focus. He gasped when he saw who was sitting in front of him. He managed not to spit the water out but he ended up hacking as he choked on it instead. The hand of --Markus mother fucking Manfred-- clapping him on the back didn’t help. 

 

Just what the hell did he get himself into? 

 

“Are you sure you don’t need me to call an ambulance?” He asked. 

 

Simon almost didn’t respond as he tried to make out just how he found himself in this situation. Like, with what fucking luck would it be Markus Manfred, lead singer of JERICHO , and the guy he’s been crushing hard on for the last two days, saving him from random assholes. It was like out of some fucking romance movie! Wait a sec, why did his mind instantly move to romance?! He had just met the guy? He was just being nice and making sure he was okay after being harassed by a bunch of assholes. There was nothing out of the ordinary about this! The only conundrum was that Markus was famous, and his eyes looked like two fucking green gemstones glittering in the moonlight beckoning him closer. 

 

“Um,” Markus mumbled glancing off to the side with an amused smile on his face.

 

Oh great, he probably thought Simon was insane now! He would keep thinking so if he didn’t hurry the fuck up and say something! Say something you moron, anything! Play dumb, pretend you didn’t understand him.

 

“Aren’t you apart of some band or something?” NOT THAT DUMB!

 

Markus--goddammit he was even more beautiful in person-- Manfred surprised him by laughing. And it was the most beautiful laugh Simon had ever heard.

 

“Um, yeah. I’m not important though, I just do a little singing. That’s it.” 

 

He did more than “ a little singing ”  but Simon couldn’t call him on it now that he made it seem like he didn’t know who he was.

 

“Oh, I wouldn't know. All these bands kinda start running together after a while.”

 

Markus tilted his head at his candid answer in surprise and Simon could have kicked his own ass. Way to go, make him think you’re an asshole and too weak to defend yourself. Curse his social inability to act like a normal person when he was stressed!

 

To his surprise, Markus smirked at him a certain glint in his eye. “You say what’s on your mind, I’ll give you that. Is that the reason those assholes jumped you?” 

 

Simon ran a hand through his hair. “No, I was just trying to go back to my hotel room! I don’t know what I did to them!” 

 

Markus snorted and crossed his arms, and Simon got a good look at what he was wearing, and boy was it too fucking hot. Did he have some sort of edgy goth kink or something? Markus was dressed in a long-sleeved black shirt that was adorned with two strips that ran vertically down and bore metal rings It truthfully looked like some sort of bondage gear, but Simon forced his mind not to go down that path lest he embarrassed himself. He wore tight leather pants that too had multiple straps with loops and chains hanging off them. He wore a blingy studded belt, combat boots with laces that couldn’t have been easy to tie, and a beanie to top it all off. Simon was sure with the right type of facial covering he could have easily passed by as just another Metal enthusiast.

 

Simon blinked as Markus smirked at him, aware that he had just stared him up and down and Simon refused to blush. “I doubt you did anything to those guys,” Markus continued on like the moment hadn’t happened. “They were more than likely just a bunch of random assholes.”

 

Simon nodded. “Yeah well, thanks...for whatever you did.”

 

Markus shrugged reaching in his back pocket and pulling out a box of cigarettes. “Do you mind?” He asked. Simon shook his head. He lowkey watched Markus as he pulled one out before offering him one, and Simon again shook his head.

 

“In all fairness, I didn’t do much,” He said blowing smoke out the corner of his mouth away from Simon, which Simon thought was very considerate. “The owner of the store came out and threatened to call the police, the guys decided it wasn’t worth the hassle and left, then the owner went back in the store.”

 

Simo blinked rapidly. “So I was assaulted and he just ignored me and left me lying there?” 

 

Markus nodded. “Yeah, it was pretty fucked up so I, of course, made sure you were okay myself.”

 

Simon sighed. “Well, thank you. I’m sure a band like yours can’t afford to get caught up in a scandal like that so I appreciate it.”

 

Markus stared at him gently, absentmindedly knocking his cigarette against an ashtray on a nearby table. “So...you know what band I’m from?” 

 

Simon paused in horror. Oh, fuck?! “Uhh, okay. I’ll come clean. A friend of mine is a fan and dragged me along to your concert on Saturday. I thought it better to lie so things didn’t get awkward. I honestly didn’t know who you were before then.”

 

Simon dug his nails into his palm urging himself to shut the hell up. Was he trying to get Markus to dislike him? That was the last thing that he wanted!

 

“You know, no offense, but I can tell just by looking at you this isn’t your kinda scene.”

 

Simon forced on a smile, his heart squeezing in what felt like a vice grip. The reality that Markus didn’t recognize him at all settling in. Simon had truly imagined it all. He thought Markus held his gaze when he sang that song, but he was wrong. Everything he said on his stream had more than likely been said to get his fangirls riled up to the thought that he could have been looking at them, and he really could have been if Simon had bothered to think logically. But he didn’t, and now he was sitting here, near the man he had developed an incredible crush on, only to be reminded that it wasn’t going nowhere. There was no way in hell he could have ever stood out to Markus. The only reason he stood out here was because he didn’t belong, and Markus had just made that painfully obvious.

 

Simon cleared his throat, “Um, I should head back to my hotel before my roommate gets back and thinks that something happened to me.” 

 

Markus blinked in surprise. “Oh...okay. If you’re sure you’re alright.” 

 

Simon nodded standing and grabbing his bag--thankful that he still had it--and standing. he refused to meet Markus’s eyes. “Thanks again for your help,” 

 

Markus hesitated, “Uh, yeah...sure.” 

 

Simon walked over to the door but he paused, his hand freezing on the handle.

 

She shines... in a world in a world full of ugliness...She matters...when everything is meaningless…

 

It was more mumbled than outright sang, but the way Simon had listened to the song, remembering that moment over and over again, it stood out to him like a beacon. He turned slowly and his chest tightened when he found Markus’ eyes on him. 

 

“That’s the song you sang at the start of the concert,” Simon said not knowing what else to say. 

 

Markus offered him a small smile. “I’m pretty sure that you don’t follow me on social media, but a fan asked me today on a Live if I ever saw anyone in the crowd that I was instantly entranced with. I said, yes. While I was performing on Saturday for the first time ever, someone in the crowd caught my eye. He was near the front in “The Pit”. He stood out compared to everyone else because he looked downright uncomfortable like he was trying to escape a captor but couldn’t get free. I dedicate this song to him because I felt like he needed to feel welcome, and...he looked remarkably like you.” 

 

Simon swallowed thickly and turned away from him again. “That doesn’t mean that it was me. It could have been anybody, I mean there were thousands of people there.” Simon wasn’t sure why he was trying so hard to deny him now. He remembered that moment ! That single moment that had agonized Simon for days! Markus was telling him that he remembered him, and here he was denying it. He couldn’t look at him, couldn’t afford to let himself to fall for this ridiculous situation. 

 

“You’re right, it could have been anyone, but...I feel like if it wasn’t you, you wouldn’t be acting this way right now. I gotta say I honestly didn’t expect to see you again like this, if at all. I looked down again and you were gone. I don’t know if you believe in fate, but something drew my gaze to you, and something led us to meet each other again. I’m not going to force you to stay here if you want to leave...but if you’re willing...will you stay and talk to me?”

 

Simon closed his eyes, knowing full well how he did in verbal conversations. He could do well with presentations, could force himself to ignore all the stares and judgment that came with defending his work, but social interaction. You might as well have been speaking to him in an ancient language. Still, that moment .

 

Simon turned around. “Okay. But um...is there anywhere I can heat this up, I'm starving.”

 

***

 

Markus ended up ordering them a pizza. Well two, after Simon expressed that he didn’t eat meat and they talked. It was about little things at first, mostly Markus asked Simon about himself. Where he was from, to which Simon answered a small town in Michigan before his parents divorced and he moved to live in London with his dad when he was fifteen. What he did for a living, to which Simon replied that he was still in school studying to get his Master’s degree in English Literature. And finally what he hoped to do in the future, to which Simon replied that he was still trying to work that out. He had an idea, but nothing was concrete. Overall it was all the normal; “Getting to know you.” questions. Simon, however, thought that his life was more on the boring side, and was more curious about Markus.

 

“So this is your RV?” He asked wiping his mouth on a napkin after finishing his slice of pizza. He had already eaten more than he should have, but it was a damn good pizza.

 

“Technically, it’s my “tour” bus. I don’t like anything too big and fancy though because it draws attention. This is nice and normal looking and easy for me to drive and park. It’s a lot less hassle to stay in than booking a hotel, and at least I don't have to worry about any hidden cameras or crazy stalkers being snuck in. So long as I keep a low cover, everything’s great.” 

 

Simon nodded and sipping his beer. He was pleasantly full now. “Does that happen often?”

 

Markus wrinkles his nose--cutely Simon would add-- and shook his head. “Mostly when I was younger. Since then our security has gotten better, and once I started staying here at night, it all but stopped. The fans haven’t figured it out yet. So don’t say a word.” Markus said playfully.

 

Simon laughed and held up his hands. “Your secrets safe with me.” Simon ran his hand over his teeth in part to make sure he had nothing in his teeth, and to think of another question. 

 

“What got you into music?”He asked thinking it was a safe subject.

 

Markus smiled fondly. “That would be my dad. He loved listening to Metal and played it all the time when I was growing up. As I grew older I, of course, ventured outside of Metal, but I always came back to it. There’s something about the way that it can be so raw. The lyrics. The guitar riffs, they just drew me in. The way that you can wrap metaphors in melodies that are heightened by what the instrumental sounds like. The way you can touch people and no two ever experience the same thing. The way that it can mean different things based solely on how you’re feeling one day. Not to mention watching the greats on stage. I can’t believe I was lucky enough to do that. It’s an experience you can’t describe. My dad saw my interest, so he bought me a guitar and the best lessons anyone could buy. I met my bandmates in high school, we formed, JERICHO and the rest just happened.” Markus paused. “I am so sorry, I didn't mean to go off on a tangent like that.” 

 

Simon stared at him for a baffled moment, before shaking his head. “No, don’t apologize. I...wow...I’ve never experienced loving something that much. That sounds amazing.”

 

Markus raised his brows in question. “You don’t like your major?

 

Simon bit his lip and played with one of his fingernails. “I do. I just...I don’t know. My whole life has always been school, school, school, I never had time to do anything else. That fact that you were able to debut at such a young age, and grew successful enough to live your dream is... amazing.” 

 

Markus looked sympathetic before he tilted his head in curiosity. “You know what age I debuted?”

 

Simon sucked in his lips. Dammit. He really did not want to tell Markus about his stalkerish fanboy behavior lately. 

 

“Um, yeah, my friend mentioned it.” Which wasn’t really a lie. 

 

Markus nodded slowly an “I don’t believe you” look on his face. Curse him and his cuteness, and boy was he fucking cute. Up this close, Simon could see all the detail on his gorgeous fucking face. It was like he was sculpted by God himself and he accidentally added too much “Hot As Fuck” juice. And his body...Simon knew what was underneath that fucking shirt. A sculpted temple of beauty too magnificent for this world to see.

 

“You said that your friend was a fan?” Markus asked a-- “I know you’re checking me out”-- shit-eating grin on his face. So what if he knew that he was checking him out? It wasn’t like he didn’t know how hot he was. Although, Simon was just now realizing that Markus knew he was checking him out and wasn’t weirded out by it. Well, that didn’t mean anything, there were straight men out there who were alright with being checked out by other men. It boosted their ego no doubt, and Simon knew a couple of them at the University. That didn’t mean that Markus was into him...did it? He gave no indication other than a few smirks that he was. He said he wanted to get to know Simon, and that could have been for a multitude of different reasons. He could have found some sort of inspiration in Simon. Didn’t songwriters sometimes have weird muses? That could be what was going on here.

 

“You space out a lot,” Markus chuckled. 

 

Simon snapped out of his gay panic, to focus. He was overthinking again. Things were going so well. Don’t start fucking up now. 

 

“Um, sorry. I must be tired or something.” 

 

“Or you just need to relax,” Simon blinked as Markus stood up. He watched him rummage around before he came out with a small bag of something green and Simon instantly knew what it was. 

 

“Do you partake?” 

 

Simon wanted to say “Hell no I don’t smoke weed!” But something came over him. Some sort odd feeling that settled like a warm protective blanket. He had never done drugs before, but he thought to himself, what the hell?! It was his vacation, he could have a little fun. Just this one time. What happened at the retreat will stay at the retreat, and for some reason, he was without a shadow of a doubt, sure that Markus wouldn’t hurt him if he got hammered. So that was how Simon found himself on the floor of the RV, instead of at the table they ate at, with his head resting on Markus’ thigh, and more relaxed than he had been in a long time.

 

“I have to tell you that I don’t normally do this,” Simon said as he passed the blunt back to Markus. It had taken a bit to get used to, and honestly, he choked on it his first go around, but it became bearable a lot more easily than he would have liked to admit. 

 

Markus chuckled and took the offered blunt, “With the way that you’re going at it, I would have never known.”

 

Simon wanted to laugh, but it was like his brain and body wouldn’t cooperate. So,  perhaps that’s why he couldn’t get his mouth to stop moving. “Okay, I have another confession to make. These last two days, I’ve had to biggest crush on you.” 

 

Markus made a sound that was something between a snort and a laugh that dissolved into full-on laughter. “Holy shit, I think you’ve had too much! Maybe we should stop!”

 

Simon looked up at him with innocent eyes, god Markus’ were such a pretty color. How in the world could someone have such naturally pretty eyes? “No, I mean it. When I saw you on stage I had such a gay panic moment that I had to leave the concert. I must have been through your entire Instagram at this point, but you’re just so darn cute!” 

 

Markus stared at Simon in amusement and shock, his mouth opening and closing at a loss for what to say. The only thing he could seem to do was laugh and take another hit of their shared blunt. Simon felt like he should feel a bit more panicked by how much he was giving away, but for some reason, he just couldn’t bring himself to care.

 

“Sorry, I think I’m sharing too much! I don’t want to make you uncomfortable, you’re obviously straight and everything.” 

 

Markus blinked at him in surprise a sly smile glinting on his lips. “Am I?” 

 

Simon nodded although it felt a lot slower than it should have. “Of course, you’re not shy about it either. I saw more female assess on your page than I have in my entire life! Obviously, you’re straight.”

 

Markus covered his face with one hand, his cheeks glinting red although a smile was still on his face. Simon thought it made his freckles stand out adorably. “If you scrolled that far back, I’m pretty sure that was when I was younger, have you seen any in the recent pictures?” 

 

Simon thought about it harder than he probably would have if he wasn’t as stoned as he was. “Hmmm, no, but you’re a lot more famous now. You have to be careful with who you see. Lest you get involved in some scandals your PR teams can’t talk its way out of.”

 

Markus shrugged, but there was something in his eyes that Simon couldn’t make out and it wasn’t because he was high. “Well,” Markus started slowly, “You're not wrong. My label company does try to pander to the sexy, edgy, womanizing seducer look that younger girls seem to love for some reason. I’m glad the majority of my fanbase aren’t like that but I’ve dealt with my fair share of groupies.” 

 

Simon took the blunt from Markus’s fingers and took a puff. “I’m sure it was like a dream come true?” 

 

Markus shrugged. “I mean, I guess. I didn’t really get to experience anything until I was eighteen, and then I wouldn’t say losing your virginity to a groupie was the best experience. Things start to get really weird when all of a sudden you start looking at men the same way you look at women, and then they get terrifying when you find yourself looking less at women and more at men. Things get downright miserable when you have to hide this so as not to break the illusion your label company has built around you. So you spend most of your time sneaking around trying to figure yourself out, and then some asshole one-night stand tries to blackmail you and makes you not want to put yourself out there at all again.”

 

Simon lowered the blunt from his lips and slowly blew the smoke out. “Wow. I... I didn’t know all that. I’m sorry.” 

 

Markus waved him off. “I don’t blame you for getting that image of me, that’s the image of me that’s out there.” 

 

Simon sat up and rubbed at the back of his neck, his skin warm from where it had been resting against Markus’ leg. “So...you’re gay then?” 

 

Markus plucked the blunt from his fingers. “More on the male leaning spectrum of bi-sexual. I still like girls, but I like guys more. Particularly, right now...a blonde one with pretty blue eyes.” 

 

Simon was sure if he wasn’t higher than a kite right now, he would have had a bigger reaction. However, right now all he could do was grin stupidly. “You think my eyes are pretty?” 

 

Markus smiled widely. “I think a lot of things about you are pretty.” 

 

“You don’t even know my name,” Simon said slowly. 

 

Markus laughed. “Oh my apologies,” He held out a hand. “Hello, my name is Markus, you?” 

 

Simon grinned and took his hand. “Simon.” 

 

Markus smiled at him a grin that made Simon’s heart nearly leaped out his chest. “It’s nice to meet you, Simon.” 

 

Simon at that moment was sure what he had on Markus wasn’t a pointless crush anymore.

 

***

 

Tuesday

 

Simon stumbled into the hotel room as quietly as he could. There was no need because thankfully Rupert wasn’t there. There was some question in the back of Simon’s mind as to where he was, but he couldn’t bring himself to think about it right now. Simon went over to his bed and plugged up his phone, it had died somewhere around one in the morning, and Markus was, unfortunately, an iPhone user. 

 

Positive that he smelled like a weed dispensary, Simon quickly grabbed a change of clothes and went over to the bathroom to take a shower. 

 

The hot spray was soothing, and Simon thumbed the bruise that had formed on his stomach. Fucking assholes. However, as much as he wanted to he couldn’t bring himself to get angry. His mind was still up in the clouds with happiness and disbelief. 

 

He had met Markus Manfred. More than that he ate dinner and smoked weed with him. The fucking lead singer of JERICHO . A few days ago that name wouldn’t have meant anything to him, but after that moment , his name meant everything to him now. Because it was downright convoluted that he of all people had met Markus. 

 

However, his name was just that, a name. What mattered to Simon was the person beneath it. He had truthfully gathered somewhat of an image of Markus looking at him through the media’s eyes. Nevertheless, Simon of all people should have known that the media doesn’t always tell the truth. There were true up and standing reporters and journalists out there who wanted to get the truth out and nothing but the truth. Yet, Simon couldn’t deny the ones who where only looking for the catchiest headline. They didn’t care what they put out, or how it affected a person's life, they just wanted people to click their story. The media played Markus as this edgy womanizing heartthrob, and that was how Simon saw him. Until last night. The person underneath that image, was a down-to-earth, soft-hearted, warm, kind, and slightly shy individual.

 

What was even more exhilarating was the fact that he was interested in men. That god damn Youtube video was correct in guessing that, and that irritated Simon. Regardless, the only thing Simon could focus on was that he was interested in him . Simon’s heart stuttered a beat every time he thought about it. It was already crazy enough that he had run into his celebrity crush, but to have his crush actually like him back . Like what were the fucking odds? Markus believed in fate, and honestly, Simon was starting too as well. 

 

They talked the whole night, the conversation never lacking despite how stoned Simon was during most of it. Markus had a better tolerance for weed than he did and managed to keep him on track instead of dazing out. Markus ended up having to cut them off so Simon could begin sobering up. Simon hadn’t wanted their time to end, but eventually, the sun came up and Markus’s phones began to ring. He had a fan signing/photo session to today, and his band was performing again Wednesday so he needed to practice for that. His schedule was full for the whole day, but he was adamant about seeing Simon again. A couple of phone calls later, a very angry, pale, man-bun wearing guy in a suit, with striking blue-eyes, was handing Markus an envelope with five VIP tickets to his concert. The man glared at Simon--and he was kinda scary-- warily before he gave Markus a warning look and left. After the awkward moment had passed, Markus smiled and handed him the tickets. Simon had taken them gratefully, knowing that Rupert was going to give him an earful when he returned to the room. They then exchanged numbers before Simon left.

 

It was almost like a dream. Simon had to pinch himself a couple of times to make sure that he wasn’t. Regardless, he couldn’t wait to see Markus again. 

 

Stepping out of the shower, he finished his routine, even spraying on some extra cologne just in case he still smelled of weed. He even sprayed some on his clothes to mask the smell, he’d find a way to clean them later. For now, he stuffed them at the bottom of his used clothes bag and left it to the farthest side of the bathroom. 

 

When he stepped out, he was surprised to find the Jerries and Rupert looking at him like they had seen a ghost. They all stared at him with wide eyes.

 

“Holy shit!” Rupert said running over and hugging him. Simon blinked rapidly in surprise. 

 

“Um,” Was all he could manage before Rupert pulled away and punched him on the shoulder furiously. It totally didn’t hurt.

 

“What the fuck, Simon! We were out looking for you all night! I even called the fucking police, but they said that until you were missing for 24 hours there was nothing they could do! Can you believe that shit?!” 

 

Simon felt like a rock had landed in his stomach and he cursed himself for getting so wrapped up he didn’t think to text Rupert to let him know he was alright. Rupert had bags under his eyes that showed a lack of sleep and stress. He looked like he had been through hell these last few hours looking for him. Simon hated he was being such a bad friend.

 

Simon pulled him into a hug. “I’m sorry Rupert. I went out to get something to eat and some assholes jumped me. My phone died while I was handling that with the police, I just got back not even 30 minutes ago.” It wasn’t a total lie. He just left out the part where he was saved by the fucking leader singer of JERICHO and they smoked weed and flirted the whole night. Because...who would believe that?

 

“Holy shit! Are you alright?” 

 

“Yeah, I'm fine. I’m not even going to press charges. On the bright side, I managed to win these on the way back.” He said picking his bag of forgotten food up from the edge of the bed and pulling out the envelope with the tickets Markus gave him. Rupert took it with a confused expression and opened it before he let out the most surprising choked gasp Simon had ever heard. He looked between the tickets and Simon in shock. 

 

“What the...are you...are you fucking serious?!” 

 

Freckles jumped up and snatched the tickets out of Rupert’s hands before he too let out much of the same sounding noise. 

 

“SHUT THE FUCK UP! WHERE DID YOU GET THESE?!”

 

Simon shrugged, the tiny smile on his face hiding a truth they would never believe. “There was a radio station truck giving them away if you could answer ten trivia questions about JERICHO , and I got them all right. Thanks, Freckles.” This again wasn’t a lie, because he did pass a radio truck that was indeed holding a trivia contest to give away free tickets to JERICHO ’s concert only they weren’t VIP seats. That’s where he got the whole idea.

 

“So is this a proper “Sorry for worrying you.” gift?” Simon asked. 

 

He laughed when Freckles jumped in his arms and squeezed him for all his worth. “You have nothing to apologize for you sweet beautiful summer child!”

 

“Seriously, this shit only happens to you, Simon,” Rupert said in disbelief.

 

Simon almost couldn’t hold back his grin, because, in this instance, Rupert was 100% correct. 

 

***

 

Since the Jerries had spent all night looking for him, Simon offered his bed to them so they wouldn’t have to make the trip to their room. He and Rupert would share so they could all get a few hours of sleep. They wouldn’t get much, because JERICHO was doing fan signing where they could take pictures, and they damn sure weren’t going to miss it. As much as Simon wanted to see Markus again, he didn’t think he could keep a straight face, so he opted out of this one. 

 

The sound of his text message alert chiming awoke Simon from his nap. He removed Rupert’s arms from around his waist--he forgot in the one instance they shared a bed that the guy liked to cuddle-- and reached over to grab his phone. He wondered who it could be. Probably Josh since Simon told him that he would have been back home by now. His friend--well acquaintance really-- was the only other person he interacted with at Uni and they mostly just studied together.  He was probably curious as to why he wasn’t back yet. However, it wasn’t Josh, and Simon almost squealed when he saw Markus’ name.

 

Markus : Did you make it back okay?  

 

Simon took a moment to think of what to say. Just what the hell did he say? He wasn't high anymore and couldn’t just let whatever the hell came off the top of his head out. Simon forced himself to calm down. Markus was the same person he had talked to all night, he could be the same person he was...minus the weed. 

 

Simon : Yes, I did. Although my friends weren’t very pleased with me .

 

Simon read the message again before sending it. That didn’t sound like he was coming on too strong did it? He didn’t think so, he was just making friendly conversation.

 

Markus : With the fact that you were gone all night or the fact that you smelled like weed?

 

Simon held back a laugh, aware of the other sleeping men in the room. 

 

Simon : Lol, the former. They thankfully haven’t discovered my medicinal herb escapades last night. 

 

Markus : Good. Can’t have them thinking so poorly of the random gentlemen that swooped in and saved you.  

 

Simon rolled his eyes, but his heart hammer in his chest.

 

Simon : Can’t have that. They’re coming to your fan signing though, so you might see them. 

 

Markus : Oh? Are you ‘coming’ too? ;)

 

Simon covered his face and peered at the screen through his fingers his cheeks heating up at the double entendre. Holy fuck, they hadn’t done more than talk, but now all Simon could think about was his pouty lips, smooth brown skin, and smoking hot body. Simon cleared his throat and forced himself to reply.

 

Simon : Sadly no. I’m very tired from staying up all night talking to a certain someone .

 

Markus : Well if you were just talking that someone if failing horribly at flirting.  

 

Simon covered his face fully. Holy shit, Markus was really shooting his shot right now! Simon bit his lip as an excitement he hadn’t felt in a long time came over him. He felt like his entire core was shaking. He swallowed thickly. 

 

Simon : Well, I’m going to that someone's concert, and...who knows what could happen after that.

 

Simon hesitated, but he hit send anyway. His heart pounded while he waited for Markus’ reply. His brain instantly began to panic. Had he made a mistake? Was Markus just joking? Was the initial allure of Simon wearing off?”

 

Markus : If you’re serious about that, pay close attention at the concert. I’m going to dedicate a song to you. You’ll know when you hear it. 

 

Simon wasn’t sure how his heart hadn’t given out. Markus was going to dedicated a song to him...again. There first time had just been pure luck, but this time it was intentional. He didn’t know what to think. Was this really happening?

 

Simon : Okay. I guess I’m just gonna have be in suspense until then

 

Markus : I promise, I’ll make it worth your while ;)

 

Simon honestly couldn’t wait.

 

***

 

WEDNESDAY 

 

The next day all Rupert and the Jerries could talk about was the concert and the pictures they got with Markus. Simon was honestly happy for them. It almost didn’t seem fair that they had been fans of him for so long, and yet Simon was the one who was getting to know him up close and personal. Hopefully, he would know him more than a little personally tonight. Simon didn’t know how to play this. He was going to the concert with Rupert and the Jerries, but what about after the concert. What excuse was he going to be able to give in order to sneak away? He’d work it out later, right now, he had a concert to enjoy. 

 

The VIP section was a lot nicer than being out on the floor, a lot less standing and the noise was more bearable. The boys had thanked him profusely for getting them this deal. Freckles had even gone as far as giving him a big ole kiss on the cheek. Simon knew for more than anybody this was a big deal for Freckles. He had done nothing but talk about the picture he had gotten with Markus all day. He gushed and gushed about how Markus had taken the time to ask their names and talk to them and everything. Simon knew they would freak if they knew just how much he and Markus had talked. 

 

They were all too busy taking pictures to pay attention to him, so he pulled out his phone and wrote a quick message to Markus. 

 

Simon : I know you probably won’t see this until after the show, but good luck! 

 

He debated sending an emoji attached to it but thought against it last minute. He put his phone away quickly as Rupert walked up to him. He made a suspicious face at the action before he pulled Simon over to the Jerries. 

 

“Let’s get one together before the show starts.”

 

Simon really didn’t want to be in the picture, but hey, he would be lying if he said he didn’t have a great time here. This still wasn’t his type of music in the least, but the overall experience had been fantastic. The Jerries were incredibly fun guys, and Rupert was right, he definitely needed this break. They were only here until midnight tomorrow, and Simon didn’t know how that would make things change with Markus, but as far as friendship was concerned...he counted this trip as a success.

So, Simon smiled nice and wide, throwing up the classic rock symbol that looked incredibly out of place on him. But it captured the spirit of their friendship that Simon was more than happy to save to his home screen.

 

A moment later, the lights dimmed in the stadium and Rupert and Jerries began screaming along with the crowd. Simon smiled, partly at their enthusiasm, and partly because he couldn’t help himself. Watching Markus perform on stage was like watching him perform a ritual. The way he moved was long since well-practiced. He didn’t just work the stage, he commanded it, demanding you to pay attention to him at every second. You couldn't take your eyes off him. His outfit added to the allure, each one perfectly crafted for the acts of his concerts. Adding more to his seductive image. Simon was entranced with the entire concert. The angle of the VIP section didn’t allow him to get stared down by Markus, but he didn’t need that. Not if things worked out and he was able to see him after the show. 

 

Simon smiled the current song finished and the crowd cheered. The energy of the stadium was vibrating. The crowd began chanting Markus’s name as though their lives depended on it. Simon could feel the excitement in the air like it was tingling against his skin. 

 

Then it happened. 

 

Simon thought nothing could top that moment for him. 

 

He was wrong.

 

Markus smiled-- and it wasn’t a normal smile, it was the kind of smile that would make any person cum on the spot-- and stepped close to the mic. Somehow, someway, this was the moment. 

 

This was the song. 

 

The beat of the music dropped low and it sounded remarkably different to the other songs he had been singing. It had an almost sexual vibe to it, and it was confirmed the moment Markus opened his mouth.

 

You let me violate you

You let me desecrate you

You let me penetrate you

You let me complicate you

 

Help me

I broke apart my insides

Help me

I’ve got no soul to sell 

Help me 

The only thing that works for me

Help me get away from myself

 

I want to fuck you like an animal

I want to feel you from the inside

I want to fuck you like an animal

My whole existence is flawed

You get me closer to god

 

You can have my isolation 

You can have the hate that it brings

You can have my absence of faith

You can have my everything

 

Help me 

Tear down my reason 

Help me

It’s your sex I can smell

Help me

You make me perfect

Help me become somebody else

 

I want to fuck you like an animal

I want to feel you from the inside

I want to fuck you like an animal

My whole existence is flawed

You get me closer to god

 

Through every forest above the trees

Within my stomach scraped off my knees

I drink the honey inside your hive

You’re the reason I stay alive

 

When the song was over the crowd screamed at an ever more intense note than that. Rupert and the Jerries among them, but Simon could hardly focus on them. He only sat there, unable to move. Unable to comprehend what he just heard. He just knew, at the moment that he needed to see Markus as soon as fucking possible.

 

***

 

THURSDAY

 

It was five minutes past midnight by the time Simon was actually able to sneak away from his friends. After the concert was over Rupert and the Jerries suggested they all go out and spend their “technically” final night together partying. Simon had made the excuse of having a headache and excused himself to the hotel room. They were notably bummed but realized that Simon had never sat through a full Metal concert before and probably did have a headache. Simon wished he could have hung out with them...but then Markus had texted him the new spot he had parked his RV and he suddenly didn’t care anymore. One Uber later, Simon was walking the rest of the way. Simon wasn’t aware that he could walk so fast in his entire life. He made sure to keep track of his surroundings while looking desperately at his GPS the entire time. He wasn’t sure how he didn’t get lost, but somehow, he ended up reaching his destination.

 

Simon paused outside the door, his stomach fluttering in anticipation. He wasn’t coming across too eager was he? Simon then removed those thoughts from his head. Markus had sung in front of a crowd of thousands of people about how he wanted to “fuck him like an animal”. He didn’t think he could come across any more eager than that. Gathering his courage, he knocked on the door of the RV. Not even a moment later it opened with a little more enthusiasm than Simon expected.

 

Markus’ over-excited face came into view, his green eyes glittering with relife and Simon thought his heart might explode. 

 

“Simon,” Markus said a grin bright on his face, “You came!”

 

Simon blinked in surprise, his own lips quirking into a smile. “Did you think I wouldn’t?” He said walking up the steps. 

 

Markus rubbed at the back of his head nervously. “I started to worry that I might have come on a bit too strong.” 

 

Simon didn’t count himself as the bravest person when it came to initiating romance. He had dated, but he had never been one to make the first move in taking things further. So, he wasn’t sure what came over him when he stepped close to Markus and lightly pressed their lips together.

 

Markus gave the slightest intake of breath, his eyes widening a fraction at the unexpected contact. However, Simon forced himself to remain calm when he parted. He bit his lip nervously, “I liked the song,” He said in response. 

 

Markus grabbed his face and pulled him into a fierce kiss. Their lips met in sloppy excitement, almost too excited, like Markus wasn’t quite sure how to behave so he poured as much passion into it as possible. Simon smiled into the kiss, placing his hands against Markus’s jaw to steady him and then sliding their lips together in a more comfortable manner. He kissed Markus, slowly and thoroughly, his very toes tingling at the contact. Markus hesitantly placed his hands on his waist and Simon broke the kiss when he felt them tremble. 

 

“Are you okay?” 

 

Markus stepped back from him and ran his hands over his face. “Yeah, I just...shit--” 

 

Simon bit his lip in concern. “We don’t have to do anything--” 

 

“No, it’s not that. I want to...I’m just... nervous.”

 

Simon nodded. “Oh,” he paused and remembered what Markus told him about his sexual experiences. “Markus, not to get too personal, but how many men have you been with?” 

 

Markus looked off the to the side in embarrassment. “In what sense, just blow jobs or full-on sex?” 

 

Simon shrugged. “Either.” 

 

Markus slouched leaning back against a wall. “In numbers...I could count on one hand for both. That one asshole I told you about made me too scared to try.”

 

Simon felt sympathy for Markus. It was hard enough trying to figure out your sexuality, he didn’t even want to imagine adding on the pressure of being famous. Having millions of eyes scrutinizing your every move. The world was a lot more open-minded than it used to be, but the internet was an undefeated thing. It could kill your career if you got on its bad side. Simon couldn’t do much about his fame, his fans, or all the drama that came with both. However, he could make sure that this night was special for Markus. 

 

He walked up to Markus and grabbed his hand, he brought it up to his lips and kissed it.  Markus looked between their clasped hands and Simon’s lips. He looked like he wanted nothing more than to lurch forward and taste them again, but his fear was holding him back. So Simon smiled, perhaps all Markus needed was a little encouragement. He leaned forward and pressed their lips together again in a chaste kiss. He parted, hovering close as though asking Markus for his permission. Markus leaned forward and kissed him again as his answer, cupping Simon’s face with one hand. This time when Markus pulled him close, it was sure. Their bodies pressed flushed together, and Simon couldn’t hold back a moan at the firm feeling of Markus’s body. Even through his shirt, Simon could feel the hard lines of his muscles. 

 

The kiss broke and Simon placed his lips against Markus’ neck. “Not that standing here isn’t nice, but do you have a bed?” Simon asked. Not that he was against fucking on the leather couch. It was pretty comfortable. 

 

Markus smiled and nodded. Simon was glad to see that his nervousness was mostly gone. For the moment at least. He led Simon to the back of the RV and moved a slidable door. Simon made a confused face at the heart-shaped mattress waiting on them. Markus covered his face in embarrassment. “My bandmates thought that it would be a funny joke,” he quickly explained.

 

Simon smiled because it was pretty funny if he thought about it. He could certainly come up with a bunch of puns, but he would spare Markus of them for now. 

 

He instead turned Markus’s head and kissed him again. The mood distinctly changed, and Simon opened his mouth in an attempt to deepen the kiss. Markus was slightly hesitant but he gave into the request, while Simon maneuvered them to the bed. He sat Markus down against it and straddled his legs. The trembles began to return to his body and Simon couldn’t have that. He broke the kiss and kissed Markus’ cheek. He pressed kisses all over Markus’ face ending with a peck on the nose. Markus laughed, trembles in his body slowly subsiding. 

 

Simon reached his hands down and grasped the edge of Markus’s shirt. He pulled lightly and Markus lifted his arms allowing him to easily remove it. Simon leaned back and got a good look at the tattoo across Markus’ chest. He ran his hand along Markus’ hard pecs, his fingers tracing the edge of the wings. He then pressed his hands against Markus’s biceps tracing the tattoos there with some sort of reverence. Simon hadn’t really paid much attention to body art, but looking at it up close and personal-- or perhaps he was just that thirsty for Markus-- he had a newfound appreciation for the craft.

 

Markus grew visibly anxious under his stares. “Um, Simon…” 

 

Simon grinned, and pushed Markus down against the bed much to the green-eyed man surprise and leaned down over him. “I like your tattoos.” He whispered before he ran his tongue up the middle of Markus’s chest. He tasted the sting of Markus’s cologne and soap and smelt a hint of cigarettes. 

 

“Nsgkhl--” Was the only way Simon could describe the noise Markus made, and he was pretty sure that was supposed to be thank you.

 

Simon smiled, Markus was too adorable. He kissed his way across Markus’s chest until he came across a dusky pink nipple. He ran his fingers across it and grinned as it instantly hardened to his touch. Simon couldn’t believe that he thought he was eager. He licked the nipple before he took it into his mouth and Markus gasped. Simon trailed his other hand down to the front of Markus’ pants, he unbuttoned them swiftly and stuck his hand down the front grasping Markus through his boxers. 

 

“Holy shit!” 

 

Simon paused and leaned back. He under no circumstances wanted to make Markus feel uncomfortable. He himself was fighting his own self-doubt right now. He wasn’t used to being the more knowledgeable partner. He was super scared of messing everything up.

 

“Are you okay?” 

 

Markus swallowed hard, nodding. He grabbed him by the back of the neck and pulled him back down for a kiss. Simon took his word for it, and kissed him back for all his worth. He massaged his hand grasping Markus up and down, feeling him through his boxers. 

 

Markus wasn’t sure exactly how much noise he should make, so all he let out where strangled sounds that sounded like they were meant to be pleasurable. Simon kissed along his neck while he continued to rub him, Markus was hard and thick in his hand even through his boxers. Simon felt the overwhelming urge to take him in his mouth. Giving into the urge, he removed his hand and kissed down Markus’s torso until he reached his destination. He grabbed the edge of his pants and tugged them down with a little struggle. Markus was so lost right now, he didn’t think to lift his hips.

 

Simon pressed his lips against the bulge of his boxers and paid close attention to the gasp that Markus gave. Markus’ breathing picked up, but there was nothing that suggested he wanted Simon to stop. Simon then pulled the edge of his boxers down, he bit his lip in anticipation as Markus’s impressive manhood sprang free. Wasting no time he wrapped his lips around the head and Markus practically leaped from the bed. 

 

“Oh fuck!” 

 

Simon was sure that wasn’t a bad statement and focuses on the task before him. He had been a little while since he had done this to another man. His love life all but depleted under his university workload. He focused really hard on making sure this was an amazing experience for Markus. Although, given the way he behaved, Simon didn’t think he could mess this up if he tried. Simon took him down as far as his gag reflex would allow, working his tongue along the length of him rubbing with his hands what he couldn’t fit into his mouth. Markus’ hand made its way into his hair when he focused his attention on the head, and Simon glanced up at him. Markus’ eyes were closed, and his lips parted as he panted out, his free hand was tangled in the covers above his head. Simon released him from his mouth and moved back up his body. 

 

“Holy shit, no, no, no, don’t stop! Don’t stop!” Simon leaned over him and Markus’s pretty lust-filled green eyes opened to meet his. “Please, don’t stop.” Markus breathed out breathily. 

 

Simon pressed their lips together and lowered his body down pressing their torso’s together. He was suddenly painfully aware that he still had clothes on, which Markus sought to remedy. He pulled at his clothes in desperation. 

 

“Off, off, off,” he mumbled like a mantra. Simon was all too happy to please him. He took off his shirt, and Markus instantly brought them together again. The skin on skin contact alighting their already hot bodies like they were on fire. They both struggled to get out of their pants. It was even harder when they couldn’t keep their hands or lips off each other. 

 

Simon kissed along his shoulder. “Markus, you have condoms and lube right?” Because Simon in his haste didn’t even think about buying any. Markus nodded moving to the top drawer on his nightstand, opening it to reveal a plethora of various condoms and lube. Simon raised an eyebrow. “Your band mates again?” 

 

Markus nodded, “And uh...I might have been a little too overzealous at the store tonight. I’m not sure I’ve ever had such a look of judgment than the one I got from an old lady buying cold medicine for her grand-daughter. Thank God for shades” 

 

Simon chuckled before he rifled through the boxes and found one that looked about his size and grabbed a bottle of lube, before gazing into Markus’s eyes. Markus stared up at him his legs spread open and ready for Simon to do something. Although, Simon could see the slight shake he reacquired now that they had reached this point. Simon rubbed his hands against his legs, “Are you sure?” He asked.

 

“I think it’s best, I might end up blowing chunks if it’s left up to me,” Markus paused. “I swear I’m not trying to make this awkward.”

 

Simon held back a laugh thought he grinned and popped the cap open on the lube. He squirted an adequate amount onto his fingers, before looking into Markus’s eyes again. 

 

“You’ve done this before right?” Not that he would take any less time preparing Markus if he hadn’t. 

 

Markus’s lips gave the slightest frown. “Yeah… but...I think you’ll be better this time.” 

 

Simon’s heart tightened in his chest. He leaned forward and kissed Markus, re-invigorated to ensure that this was the best thing Markus ever experienced. He spread Markus’s legs further open before reaching down and pressing a finger against his hole. Markus tensed and Simon gently shushed him. “Relax. It might hurt a bit, but I’ll try to make it as little as possible.”

 

Markus timidly relaxed against him, and Simon pressed forward. Ever so slightly pushing the tip of his index finger in. Markus made a noise but it didn’t sound like a bad one, so Simon pressed a little bit further. Slowly, and slowly, until he was pressed down to his knuckle. 

 

Markus was keeping his breathing steady, his eyes closed, and Simon kissed him again. He waited a few seconds before working his finger in and out. Markus’s breath hitched, and Simon was sure that was a good sign. He did that for quite a while, making sure Markus was used to the feeling before attempting to add a second finger. Markus tensed up then. 

 

“Relax,” Simon said again against his lips. This was a new experience for Simon as well. He had always been on the receiving end of his partners, he hadn’t given much thought to being the giver. It was almost as intoxicating as it was nerve-wracking to be the one in control of Markus’ pleasure and possible pain. It made him want to make sure he did this right. He coached and coaxed Markus through most of the fingering and stretching, adding more lube when necessary. When he could easily add three fingers into Markus he felt he was ready, and that had nothing to do with the fact that Markus was begging him to hurry the fuck up and put his dick in him.

 

Simon struggled with the condom and lube. He had gone untouched for so long, that it was a miracle he didn’t finish putting the damn latex on.  He leaned over Markus lining up with his excited hole. 

 

“Can I?” He asked, and Markus nodded furiously. His hands scrambling on Simon’s back to bring him closer. Simon bit his lip and began pushing in. Markus breathed in sharply, but quickly began to breathe through it without any prompting from Simon. 

 

Simon went slow. Easing in, inch by sweet inch. Simon’s hands twisted into the cover next to Markus’ head tightly, but man oh man did he feel heavenly . Once he was in, he stilled to give Markus time to adjust. He didn’t have to wait long before Markus grew impatient. 

 

“Holy fuck, Simon please!” Markus begged, shifting his hips and that was all the encouragement Simon needed. He began thrusting into Markus with a speed of someone who had long denied themselves any pleasure. Markus grunted and moaned with each thrust, his body jerking forward under the brute strength Simon didn’t know he had. Markus’ nails scratched down his back and he wrapped his legs around his waist, pulling him closer and encouraging more.

 

Simon leaned down and kissed Markus which Markus to the best of his abilities returned. The kiss didn’t last long and Markus sharply turned his head with a startled moan.

 

“Oh, fuck, Simon! Right there!”

 

Simon hid his face into the side of his neck and groaned. He grabbed Markus’s hips hauling them up higher and allowing him to thrust deeper. The new angle must have hit just right because Markus tossed his head back and shouted.

 

Simon stared at him unable to believe that he was even here, doing this. It felt like a dream, and he never wanted to wake up from it. Markus reached up and pulled at his arms urging him to come back down and embrace him. Simon did, and they both moaned simultaneously feeling the fire building between them. Simon lowered his head and kissed Markus unable to keep his lips off him, their eyes slide open, blue met green and Markus surprised Simon when he tensed and came with an intense gasp. Markus titled his head back a shouted more along the lines of a scream. Simon grunted as he tightened around him, after holding himself back for so long it was almost impossible to refrain from coming. He hid his face in Markus’s neck and stilled with a grunt, his dick pulsing out its release.

 

He collapsed on top of Markus, both of them breathing harshly. After a moment, he lifted his head to look at Markus. He stared at him with bright green eyes--Simon wished he could describe their exact shade, but they looked darn near otherworldly-- and they glittered as they looked at him. 

 

“Wow,” Was the only thing that Markus said.

 

Simon huffed out a small chuckle. “Wow,” 

 

***

 

The annoying ring of his cell phone awoke Simon from his dozing. Markus shifted next to him, apparently, he had somehow become the little spoon, and Simon thought he was utterly adorable that way. He scrambled for the device, briefly looking at who was calling before he answered. 

 

“Hello?” He whispered. 

 

“Where the hell are you?! We’re not about to go through this whole disappearing thing again are we?”

 

“No,” Simon yawned. “Shit, I was going to text you but I fell asleep.” 

 

“Fell asleep where? Not at our hotel room apparently!”

 

“No, it’s...okay, truthfully...I met someone.” 

 

The silence stretched between them and Simon waited for Rupert's answer.

 

“And?” He asked

 

“And I’m with him right now.”

 

“Oh,” 

 

“...”

 

“...”

 

“Okay, well...I guess I’ll leave you to it then.” 

 

Simon snorted. “Thanks. I’ll see you sometime tomorrow then.”

 

“Okay, um yeah...have fun?” 

 

“Been there and done that. Twice so far.” He said cheekily. 

 

“Okay, ew, I'm hanging up now.”

 

Simon snickered and set his phone to the side.

 

“Who was that?” Markus asked half asleep.

 

“That was my friend. I’m sorry I didn’t mean to wake you.” Simon said snuggling back into him. 

 

“I was already awake.” Things grew comfortably silent, and Simon dug his nose into the side of Markus’ neck, breathing him in. There was a certain edge to the room, that Simon didn’t want to question just yet, but he knew just what the question was.

 

“Simon… what happens now?” 

 

There it was. The question that Simon had been dreading. Partly because he didn’t know what happened next. On one hand, this was one of those instances where they could easily walk away from each other. What happens at the retreat stays at the retreat. Many people hook up that way and then never see each other again. 

 

On the other hand, Simon really didn’t want that to happen between them. It had been a long time since he had been with anyone like this, in a way that instantly attracted him as Markus has. It took one moment, that moment for Simon to give his heart over to Markus completely. It was foolish, but this entire situation was. When the unbelievable happened, and he actually met Markus, he thought someone was messing with him. Then the unfathomable happened and he was here , in Markus’ bed after sharing what was probably the most amazing night he had ever experienced. Simon wasn’t sure that he believed in fate, but dammit, things just didn’t line up this way for nothing. Something was bringing them together. He really didn’t want that something to end here.

 

“I guess that depends on you, Markus.” 

 

Markus pulled away from him and sat up. He looked down at Simon an unreadable expression on his face. “On me?” 

 

Simon sat up with him, the sheets pooling around his waist. “Yeah, because I’m more than willing to say fuck it , let’s see where this goes. But...I’m not the famous one.”

 

Markus gave a deep sigh, he reached over to his nightstand and grabbed the packet of cigarettes laying on top and his lighter. He popped one into his mouth, lighting it, and breathing in the toxic fumes. He blew out the smoke and leaned back against the headboard. 

 

“It wouldn't be easy,” Markus said. “I’m on the road a lot. We wouldn’t get to see each other often, not to mention we’d have to stay a secret.”

 

Simon nodded, remembering what Markus told him about his label company.

 

“That in itself would be a pain,” Markus said. “ We’d have to be super careful to avoid paparazzi. We couldn’t be seen in public together, wouldn’t be able to tell our friends and family. We wouldn’t know who to trust. You’d be surprised who’d be willing to turn on you for the right amount of money. Dating me wouldn’t be easy, Simon. In fact, it’s a lot easier if we just call it here. Go on about our lives like nothing happened.” 

 

Simon felt a knot in his stomach that grew and grew the more he listened to Markus. However, it wasn’t for all the issues they could come across dating. No, he was terrified for one specific reason. 

 

“Is that what you want?” He asked. 

 

Markus was silent, and Simon felt his chest tighten. The urge to rush and put his clothes on and leave strong. To get as far away from here as possible, and only hope that time would be able to mend his broken heart of what could have been.

 

However, he didn’t have to do any of that, because Markus looked him in his eyes with so much passion it was almost unfathomable. 

 

“No.” He without an ounce of doubt tainting his voice. 

 

Simon kissed him. Thanking God, fate, or whatever higher being there was that brought this man into his life. Against all the flipping odds in the world. 

 

He broke the kiss and stared into Markus’s face. “Good,” Was all he could respond with, but Markus offered him a small smile. 

 

“Good,” he whispered.

 

Simon leaned his forehead against Markus’s. “We’ll make it work.” 

 

Markus climbed in his lap and hugged him. Simon hugged him back just as tight. There was so much out there awaiting them that was unknown but they would make it work. 

 

When light to the morning came, the majority of the day was spent in bed. Something that neither of them complained about, they had taken the time to get to know each other on a deeply intimate level. When they weren’t engaged in frivolous activities they talked. Markus was highly intelligent to the point that it surprised Simon. He didn’t think the singer was dumb, but he certainly didn’t expect a breakdown on their political system and where exactly it went wrong. Simon knew they would have many interesting conversations in the future. 

 

The future. 

 

That was something that Simon was incredibly excited about.

 

As much as he wished it away, the night came and he had a midnight plane to catch. It felt almost bittersweet after he showered and redressed. When he first came to this retreat, he detested the idea of spending a week here, and now he didn’t want to leave. Markus watched him from his bed, a sad look in his eyes. He only got out of bed when it was time for Simon to leave. They held onto each other not wanting to let go.

 

“Call me as soon as you land, I don’t care what time it is,” Markus said.

 

Simon smiled holding Markus tighter. “Of course.” Fuck, he really didn’t want to go. It was Markus who pulled back.

 

“You’ll miss your flight if you don’t go.” He caressed Simon's face with one hand. He leaned forward and pressed their lips together. It was the lightest kiss, but Simon wanted nothing more than to fully give into it and go back to Markus’ bed. Markus pulled away though and smiled at him, but the look in his eyes told Simon that he didn’t want to let him go either.

 

They’d make it work. 

 

That was what pushed Simon forward out the door. 


They’d make it work. 

 

That was what kept Simon from turning around while he called an Uber. 

 

They’d make it work. 

 

That’s what he thought as he told the Uber driver to take him to the airport. Rupert had packed his bag for him and was waiting for him there. 

 

They’d make it work. 

 

That’s what Simon thought as he found Rupert at the airport, and he ignored the constant teasing from him, and the Jerries that had come to see them off.

 

They’d make it work. 

 

Simon thought as he exchanged information with his new friends. He would miss them, they made a time that could have been terrible, incredibly fun even if he hadn’t met Markus.

 

They’d make it work. 

 

Simon thought, as he and Rupert boarded the plane and found their seats. He’d kept repeating that mantra to himself even as Rupert questioned him over and over again about his secret tryst. 

 

“Did you exchange information with him?” 

 

Simon nodded. He certainly did. 

 

“Are you two going to keep in contact pass this?”

 

Simon nodded a grin on his face. They certainly were. 

 

“Are you ever going to tell me who they are?” 

 

Simon smiled. “Honestly Rupert...you wouldn’t believe me if I told you.” 

 

Rupert rolled his eyes and went back to his book. Simon couldn’t help but grin as he stared out the window. One day, he would have to thank Rupert for bringing him to this retreat. Because if he hadn’t, he wouldn’t have experienced that moment that changed everything.

 

That moment turned his life completely upside down, and honestly, he couldn’t wait to see what the next moment would bring.