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The Taste of Your Skin

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Kissing Billy, when you add it all up, is Dom's favourite culinary experience.

He maps their relationship out by tastes. Their first kiss, Billy still had sauce on his lip from the pizza they'd been eating, at Orli's place. At first Billy tasted like tomato and cheese, and sounded like Orlando saying, "I leave you alone for five minutes."

The ocean, then. First date, surfing, because Dom likes to be inventive. "Dinners are for wimps," he'd declared, young and caught up in the magic that always seems to happen when he's around Billy. Their second, third, fourth, fifth kisses taste like salt, and Billy's skin, when Dom licks over it, has the tang of seaweed. Texture of sand, sound of Billy saying, "You can't wait 'til we get to the car?"

"It's your sexy Glaswegian accent, Bill," Dom had said, waggling his eyebrows. "Talk dirty to me."

Sometimes Billy tastes like laughter. Dom's never sure how he manages it, but then that's Billy. He asked Margaret once, if there's any pixie blood in their family. She'd laughed, said no, though there's mischief enough.

Strawberries, after they'd been to the market in Wellington. Beer, so many nights, out drinking with the crew, and half the city loves them, the other half works with them. Rounds bought, and Billy tastes like New Zealand beers, sounds like Lij laughing and saying, "Again? Someone squirt water on them."

Water, when Billy's in Mexico. The lobster they have for dinner one night, the night Dom sees the most beautiful beetle he's seen outside of a book, and Billy laughs and says he should be playing Maturin. Dom doesn't listen, but later he finds the sound, like his brain makes recordings of everything Billy says. Just in case he needs them.

Blood, once. A nosebleed, nothing bad, and it hadn't stopped them. Coppery, tangy, but it's Billy, Dom will never care about outside things when he's kissing Billy.

All the cheap beers LA has to offer, especially the ones in Lij's fridge, whenever he comes to visit. Ale, when Dom's in Scotland. Salt pasta tomatoes bacon tea milk cake. Fresh raspberries and cream, one summer afternoon, bought from a farm with signs up all along the road. Lemonade, too, that day. Tang, sweet, fizz, the combination making Billy taste like summer.

Dom watches Billy over Skype, eating ice cream while they talk, and says, "What does that taste like?"

"I'll bring some when I come over," Billy says, smile running all through his voice, "and you can see."