The tap on his bedroom door was familiar: quiet enough not to wake him if he'd fallen asleep with the light on, but firm enough to be heard over a DVD playing low.
"It's unlocked," Andy called out.
His bedroom door opened, and Matt leaned around the frame.
"You naked? Watching porn?"
"Neither," Andy said. "Though thank you for your concern over invading my privacy."
"Wasn't you I was worried about," Matt said, stepping over the clothes on the floor and sitting on the edge of the bed. "People who are awake at five in the morning often are engaged in deeply personal activities."
Andy swung his laptop around, to show Matt the episode of animated Batman he'd freeze-framed when Matt had knocked on his door.
"I've been thinking about the tour," Matt said, all five-in-the-morning-serious.
"And?" Andy said, closing his laptop, because if Matt was going to be intense at that time of night, Andy was going to have to concentrate.
"It occurred to me that it might be weird for you, going on tour without your best friend, for the first time in years," Matt said. "Thought I'd say something, let you know I'm here."
Andy said, "Huh?"
"You know, touring without Pete."
Matt stood up and stretched, his neck cracking audibly.
"Good night," Matt said. "See you tomorrow."
The door closed behind Matt, and Andy said, "What?" to his robe, hanging behind the door.
Matt's mornings after he'd been working at the bar were everyone else's afternoons, but when Matt hadn't appeared by late afternoon, even to eat, Andy wandered into his room uninvited, and without knocking.
Matt was sitting on his bed, wearing sweats, and reading.
"Hey!" he said, as Andy closed the door. "You're supposed to knock, like I did."
Andy climbed onto Matt's bed and sat cross-legged.
"It's not five in the morning. Different social contracts operate within Fuck City at different times of the day. What was the best friend shit you were talking about last night?"
Matt put his book down, without marking the page.
"I just realized, you know, it was going to be strange for you to tour without Pete."
"It sounded like passive/aggressive bullshit to me," Andy said. "So, consider yourself called on it."
"Fuck you," Matt said. "Do you ever think how it might sound to me, when you carry on about Pete being your best friend since you were sixteen years old? What am I? Someone you hang out with when Pete is inconveniently busy with his wife and child, on the other side of the country?"
"You're Mix, you're part of FC. You're part of my home. Besides, hierarchical relationship rankings are destructive, because a person's worth can't be weighed and—"
Andy stopped, because, while he knew he was what Matt called a mess of fucking contradictions, make up your fucking mind, Hurley, even he probably couldn't get away with sustaining that thesis statement.
"Thank you," Matt said. "If you hadn't worked out exactly why you shouldn't keep going with that argument, I would have hit you."
"If it wasn't for Pete, I'd be working in some minimum wage job, and playing in a dozen bands, trying to find the right one still," Andy said. "I owe him."
Matt still looked like he was sulking, with his mouth firmly closed and arms folded across his chest.
"Yeah, well next time you get food poisoning, Pete can clean up after you, and hold your hair while you puke," Matt said. "He can take over as your ink buddy, too, and check the new work for scabbing and infection, and put your lotion on. He can visit your mom while you're on tour, and run your house, and fucking well put up you being infuriating, because I've had enough."
Andy took his glasses off and rubbed at his face, then put them back on again.
"Yeah, shit," Matt said. "Anytime you want to reevaluate the status of our friendship, I'm here."
Andy thought about bolting out of the room, buying himself some time, but Matt looked pissed off enough to grab him. And Andy wasn't a coward, at least that's what he liked to tell himself.
"You know I'd do those things for you. I do, if I can."
Matt nodded. "Agreed. I've had food poisoning with you, side by side, more than once."
"I, um, have always accepted that I'm not going to have the kind of friendship with you that I'd like, or that I would choose," Andy said. "And that's okay. You've got Kelsey, and you're happy, and that's what matters."
Andy was out of the room and down the stairs before he heard Matt's feet hit the floorboards. And his door was closed and locked before Matt knocked on it.
Andy didn't answer, even when the handle turned, testing the door.
Andy slipped out of the house during the evening, when the noise had moved downstairs, palming his car keys silently, and sliding out of the front door, leaving his phone behind. He needed to drive, and to think, with the stereo up and the streetlights gliding past, to try and sort his head out.
Matt was waiting for him, when he got back, sitting on the floor beside Andy's bed, with only the reading light on.
Andy threw his jacket across the end of his bed and sat down on the rumpled sheets.
"Did you know?" Andy asked, when it became obvious that Matt wasn't going to be the first person to speak.
Matt shrugged. "I'd guessed. I just never thought you'd actually say anything."
Andy managed to smile to himself. "I'm not sure I did, technically."
"And now I've worked out what to do with this, um, information," Matt said.
"I don't want you to do anything with it," Andy said. "You told me you were straight years ago. So, nothing's changed. Go back to your room."
Matt knelt up and turned around, and Andy could see his face properly for the first time. Matt was half-smiling, and it made Andy want to smile too.
"No?" Andy asked.
Matt didn't answer, but his smile was whole that time, going right through Andy. That was why Andy was a mess around Matt; the smiles, the warmth, the love Matt put into everything he did.
So very fried.
"No," Matt said, shuffling backward and reaching out for the door handle, and flicking the lock on. "See? Now I can't leave."
"Uh huh," Andy agreed.
Matt crawled forward again, right up against the bed and inside Andy's space, and said, "You and me, we got something we should sort out."
Matt was way too close, his chest pressing against Andy's knees, elbows beside Andy's thighs, and Andy could feel the heat pouring off Matt's skin, through the layers of clothing between them.
"Ah, I don't like the look of this," Andy said. "Don't do it."
"I thought the problem was that you had been looking, and liking, for far too long," Matt said.
Matt unfolded himself, lifting himself up, so his face was level with Andy's, and damn, it was hard meeting his gaze and not flinching.
"It's not going to fix anything," Andy said. "It's just going to break it more. It will make me feel even more shitty than I feel right now, and that's saying something. Then there's Kelsey. And what happened to being heterosexual?"
"Classy, bringing up Kelsey now. Assume I've got that covered," Matt said. "And why don't you find out whether I'm into this, instead of talking at me."
Matt's voice had been drifting lower, sounding rougher, making Andy's skin prickle.
"Go on," Matt said, mouth so close to Andy's cheek that when Andy turned his head, their lips brushed.
If Andy hadn't been sitting down, his knees would have given out. He couldn't fight, or argue, any longer. If he was going to do this just once, he was going to do it thoroughly.
"Okay," Andy said, not even pretending he wasn't also kissing Matt. He reached out his hand, so his palm pushed against Matt's chest, and let his hand slide lower.
Matt's T-shirt hung loose, the fabric worn and stretched, and his jeans slid low on his hips, the exposed skin smooth and warm. Matt was kissing Andy, small licks and nips, but he faltered when Andy's hand pushed against his cock, through his jeans.
Andy knew the noise he made was desperate, but he couldn't help it, not when he was pulling Matt's fly undone and sliding his hand inside.
Matt lifted his mouth, said, "Hang on," and shoved Andy back, across the bed, then crawled across, on top of Andy.
Matt was heavy, holding Andy down, kissing him hard enough to hurt, stealing air so Andy couldn't even gasp, one hand in Andy's hair, and the other pinning Andy's hands above his head.
"I'm not fighting you," Andy said, when Matt let him draw breath.
Matt pushed his face in against Andy's neck, and his voice was muffled when he said, "More worried about you running away."
"Promise I won't do that either," Andy said. "Just let me touch you…"
Matt let go of Andy's hands, and Andy rotated his wrists to get feeling back into them. Then he slid one hand up, under Matt's T-shirt and across Matt's back, and pushed the other one into Matt's jeans, to grab a handful of ass.
A minute later, Matt had wriggled out of his T-shirt and was pushing Andy's off, taking Andy's glasses with it.
The skin on Matt's chest was damp with sweat, slipping under Andy's fingers, down Matt's belly. Matt's jeans pulled down easily, and Matt knelt up when Andy's fingers reached for his underwear.
"If you're playing chicken, this is where the line is," Andy said.
Matt lowered his weight onto Andy's thighs and grabbed one of Andy's hands and held it over his cock, where it was pushing against the front of his underwear.
"Do I feel like I'm going to chicken out?" Matt asked.
Andy pulled Matt's cock free and stroked it slowly, letting his fingers drift across the head. When he looked up, Matt was staring down, mouth dropping open.
It looked fucking good to Andy, too.
"I can do this," Andy said. "Or you can get off my legs so I can move, and I can blow your fucking mind."
Matt looked up and nodded. He looked half-asleep, like he did across the breakfast table, which was forcing Andy to re-catalog Matt's morning facial expressions. Possibly, Matt was always hard when he ate cereal and drank coffee.
When Matt rolled off Andy, onto the bed, Andy stretched his legs out then shook his jeans and boxers off and kicked them off the bed.
"You feeling good?" Andy asked, leaning over Matt, letting his cock drag across Matt's hip.
Matt kissed gently, like they'd be together forever, and if Andy hadn't already known he was making a huge fucking mistake, that would have persuaded him.
"Yeah," Matt said, when he'd kissed Andy again.
Andy slid down Matt's chest and licked at a nipple, then pulled the nipple into his mouth, between teeth and lip.
"Stop it," Matt rumbled, laughing. "That fucking tickles. No, really, ticklish."
Andy swatted at Matt's hands, which were tugging at his hair, and pinched Matt's other nipple then curled his fingers around Matt's cock.
Matt stopped squirming and complaining, around about when Andy dug the edge of his teeth into Matt's nipple and tightened his grip on the base of Matt's cock.
"Oh, fuck," Matt said. "That's…."
His cock jumped in Andy's hand, when Andy sucked harder, and Matt breathed in hard and deep, his ribs moving under Andy's chin.
When Andy stroked his hand up Matt's cock, the tip was slick, and for the first time, Andy had to consider the idea that neither of them would fucking last, that it might be all too much.
"Andy," Matt said, sounding like every late night confession marathon they'd ever had rolled into one. "Andy…"
"Yeah," Andy agreed, crawling down the bed, mouth across ribs, belly and hip, until he could flick his tongue against the base of Matt's cock.
He drifted his tongue up Matt's cock, because he really fucking needed to know what Matt tasted like, then grabbed Matt's knee and thigh and pushed Matt over, onto his side and belly.
"Hey," Matt said. "If you're going to—"
Andy spread his hands over the skin of Matt's buttocks and bent forward. "Yeah, I am," Andy said, wishing had a hand free, to take a photo of his inked fingers angled out across the skin of Matt's ass.
"Don't like it," Matt said, as Andy ran his tongue through the sweat caught on fine hairs. "Girls…"
Andy lifted his head and said, "Trust me, it's different. When a girl does this, she's probably not thinking about how much she wants to fuck you with her cock."
"Fuuuck," Matt breathed, and Andy licked down hard, around Matt's ass, working spit in, pushing with his tongue.
Matt's breathing was loud, and muscles in his back were solid blocks of tension when Andy slid a hand up, across skin slippery with sweat. Something worked, moments later, because Matt made a noise somewhere between a sigh and a moan and the tension slid out of his body.
Andy smiled to himself and pulled his hand back, so he could use both thumbs to steady himself as he eased a fingertip in underneath his tongue.
Matt rocked his hips, and Andy got the feeling he had no idea he was moving, and that Matt was all raw response and instinct, wide open and available.
On the next rock of Matt's hips, Andy pushed his finger in harder and used the heel of his palm to put pressure behind Matt's balls. Matt was gone, riding Andy's hand and mouth, and Andy didn't try and control it, or do anything except hang on.
Matt came with all of his body; legs kicking, thighs shaking, back arching, one hand reaching back to grab a handful of Andy's hair, and his face buried in the bedding, muffling his groans.
Andy crawled up the bed, wiping his chin on the back of his hand, and fell onto his back with his eyes closed. With his fingers around his dick, it was going to take him seconds, he was so fucking turned on…
Then a hand closed over his, squeezing his fingers tighter, and a mouth pressed against his. Andy wasn't ready for anything, for the way coming slammed through his body, or for the way Matt bit at his mouth, chasing the noises he was making.
Andy's pulse slowed and his brain started coming back online, and Matt leaned across him casually and wiped his hand on the sheet.
"Okay," Matt said, grinning down at Andy. "You blew my fucking mind."
"Shit," Andy said, pushing himself up the bed, and sitting up against the bed head.
"Hey," Matt said, following Andy up the bed. "Next time, I really want to go down on you."
"What?" Andy asked.
"Somehow," Matt said, "I didn't really get a chance to touch you this time, 'cause you were out of my reach."
"Next time? There isn't going to be a next time," Andy said.
Matt lifted a hand and clamped it over Andy's wrist. "Don't do this," Matt said. "Don't fucking run out on me, not again. Why would you think there wouldn't be a next time?"
"Let go of me," Andy said, and he could hear he was using what Kyle called his Bitch Voice.
"Not a chance," Matt said.
Andy stopped trying to pull his arm away from Matt's grip, and Matt lifted an eyebrow at him. Andy sighed, and let the tension drop out of his shoulders.
"Because you're not available," Andy said. "It's bad enough this happened, and believe me, I'm going to get into some serious self-flagellation over it later, when I'm alone. There's no way I can get between you and Kelsey."
Matt grinned, the big affectionate grin that made Andy's belly warm and happy.
"I went and saw Kelsey, while you were having your crisis tonight, and talked to her. She said that you and I have been in the world's most epic bromance for as long as she's been around, and she actually delayed making a move on me because she didn't want to spoil your game, until it became obvious you never were going to, so she figured she might as well have her Matt-lovin'. And that she loves you very much, and completely respects the whole bromance-with-benefits thing, so we should go for it, because there is more than enough of me for everyone."
"She suggested a polyamorous arrangement?" Andy asked.
"I think she was looking for a timeshare specifically," Matt said. "She also wanted to know who had hit you with the clue bat, but I don't think she actually expects an answer to that one."
"But you were straight!" Andy accused. "And not single!"
Matt managed to look shy, which was an achievement in someone so large, and so naked.
"Um, yeah. I tell you I'm straight once, at seventeen, and you take that as some kind of absolute? Not everyone knows who and what they are with the certainty you do."
"It's not something that's difficult to work out," Andy said. "Do guys get you off? It's a simple question, with a yes or no answer."
Matt poked him in ribs, comparatively gently. "For you, it might be. Let's just assume that, for me, the question was complicated, had you as an answer, and took me ten years to work out."
Andy shrugged ruefully. "I'll keep my monosexist assumptions to myself, in the future."
Matt's hand was warm and heavy, settling over where he'd just poked Andy, his thumb stroking the groove between Andy's ribs. "So, we're going to do this again?"
"I'm going to want to talk to Kelsey, make sure everything is good between us, but, yeah."
The banging on Andy's bedroom door was loud and sudden, with at least two sets of fists pounding on the wood.
Matt groaned and called out, "Go away!"
"Fuck!" Stu shouted. "It really is Matt in there!"
"Told you," Kyle's voice said. "That's a twenty you owe me."
"Guys?" Ryan called out. "Have you got a girl in there too? We really need to know, to settle up the bets."
Matt hid his face against a pillow, and Andy hugged him, laughing.
"Fuck off!" Andy called out. "Or we'll tell you the details!"
The whispering outside the door stopped, and Kyle said, "Okay, but none of us are rooming with you two on tour."
Kyle was suspicious across the breakfast table, Stu was smug, and Ryan was mostly just asleep, when Andy sat down with his bowl of cereal and laptop. Matt wandered down the stairs a minute or two later, damp from the shower, and mellow in jeans and hoodie.
Matt had poured himself a coffee, and was yawning his way through making toast when someone let themselves in at the front door and thudded around, taking off boots and jacket.
Kelsey strolled into the kitchen, sniffing the air, a moment later. "Hey," she said. "Coffee?"
Andy grinned at the looks of combined amazement and bewilderment on the guys' faces as Kelsey kissed Matt, poured herself a coffee, then hugged Andy and gave him a thorough kiss involving a surprising amount of tongue before she sat down beside him.
"Go away," Matt said, waving at Stu, Ryan and Kyle as he sat down on the other side of Kelsey with his breakfast. "The three of us need to talk."
Kyle, Ryan and Stu bolted down the stairs, carrying their mugs of coffee, and Kelsey said, "What needs saying? Matt's obviously so happy he's about to melt away, which was all I wanted for him. Andy?"
Matt was smiling at Andy, from behind his coffee mug, and Andy knew he was grinning stupidly back at him.
"I want to talk about a non-hierarchical arrangement," Andy said. "Having had Matt point out to me recently that I rank my friends in a way that hurts their feelings, I don't want that happening here."
Matt pointed at Andy with his piece of toast. "Hah! That's because this time, you might wind up second best!"
"I'm not so keen on this non-hierarchical thing," Kelsey said, and Andy turned to look at her, the beginnings of worry rising through him. "Though, really, I don't mind who comes after me as long as I get to come first."
Matt grinned. "Always, babe," he said. "Always."