“Remind me why I let you talk me into this?”
The disco ball dangling from the ceiling sends spots of colored light over the dark roller rink. ABBA blares over the speakers, imploring the skaters to Lay All Their Love On Them. The joint is mostly packed with shrieking teenage girls, with the occasional couple on an awkward first date trying to shout over the music. Healy and March, wobbling along on their rented roller skates, stick out like a pair of sore thumbs.
Holland clears his throat and jerks his head in the general direction of Holly, who’s currently skating backwards figure eights around her giggling friends. She looks graceful and elfin, laughing and sweet. Holland and Jackson watch her, clutching to the rink’s guardrail for dear life.
“When I asked what she wanted for her birthday I figured—makeup? Barbies? Not this—“ Holland steadies himself as a guy in short shorts zooms past them.
Holly skates by. “Barbie is anti-feminist!” She shouts at her dad over her shoulder.
Holland throws up his hands in defeat. “Actually,” Jackson considers, “she’s got a point—”
“Dad! Mr. Healy! Look out!”
They glance up to where Holly is shouting at them, the warning too late as a fourteen year-old girl in braids barrels straight into Holland from behind. He lands on his face on the floor, letting out a yelp and a muffled “Fuck!”
Holly scowls at the other girl. “What the heck, Janet!”
“Get your shit together!”
Jackson hefts Holland off the ground. A red splotch on the concrete marks the landing like a crime scene. Holland groans, blood dripping down his face.
“Why do we keep inviting Janet to these things?” He asks, nasally.
Jackson wraps an arm around his waist, clumsily guiding them out of the rink. “Tip your head back,” he offers, “Pinch the bridge of your nose.”
“Yeah, you’d know you fuckin’ leg breaker—where are we going?”
Jackson shuts the men’s room door behind them and pushes Holland up against the sink. Under the fluorescent lights, it doesn’t look as bad as it had out on the rink. Jackson wets a paper towel and wipes the worst of the blood out of Holland’s moustache.
“Ow!” Holland winces as Jackson’s finger presses against the bridge of his nose. “Fuck, man.”
“It’s not broken.”
“Hold still, you pussy—“ Jackson dabs the last of the blood off Holland’s chin, and rips him a square of paper towel. “Here, plug yourself up.”
Holland stuffs the offending nostril. Then, after a second, he grins.
“I clean up nice, huh?”
Jackson frowns. “Seriously? You’ve got toilet paper shoved up your nose. We’re wearing roller skates.”
“So?” Holland drops a hand to either side of Jackson’s waist. He tries to pull him closer, but the wheels on his feet skid him out instead and he nearly crashes into the mirror. Jackson grabs the sink to stop them both from landing in a heap on the tile floor.
“So,” Jackson says, widening his stance, “there’s a group of 14 year-old girls outside, and that door doesn’t lock.”
“Lighten up,” Holland tugs at the lapel of Jackson’s jacket. “Gimme some sugar.”
Jackson makes a face. “Only if it’ll stop you from ever saying that ever again.”
“Cross my heart, hope to die, all that kinda shit.” Holland leans in and plants a kiss on Jackson’s lips.
This kind of thing is nerve-wracking—for both of them, despite Holland’s bravado. The thought that anyone could walk in on them, that their fragile, whatever-the-hell-this-is relationship could get fucked up by some random person, by a single poorly-timed show of affection—it freaks them both the fuck out. For a long moment when their lips touch, Jackson has the nasty imagining of some dumb teenager pushing in through the door, shouting about fags—
—But there’s nobody there but the two of them, the door firmly shut. For a second, Jackson lets himself relax and enjoy the feeling of Holland’s body against his. They don’t really get to do this outside of the privacy of their own homes. Holland tastes of breath mints and, faintly, of blood.
“Anyone’d think you got off on gettin’ hurt,” Jackson murmurs against Holland’s mouth. Holland lets out a short bark of laughter.
“Yeah, getting a bloody nose from a kid in pigtails really rustles my jimmies. I don’t think so.”
“Just me cleaning you up, then.” Holland flushes a little. Jackson laughs. “You’re a piece of work.”
“Shut up, man,” Holland mutters, and yanks him in for another kiss. One of his hands sneaks up to the back of Jackson’s neck, holding him close.
After a long moment they pull back, breathless. “I think you’ve stopped bleeding,” Jackson says, pointing to his nose.
Holland reaches up to pull out the paper, tossing it in the trash. “We should probably get back to the party.”
“You think she misses us?”
“I don’t know about me, but she’ll miss you, old man,” Holland elbows him in the shoulder as he pushes off from the sink and clatters towards the door. Jackson skates towards him as gracefully as he can muster.
“Hey. Wait up.”
Holland turns to look over his shoulder, and Jackson catches his lips in a kiss He opens up for him, once, quick, trying to catch a taste of him before they have to rejoin the outside world. Holland is flushed when they break apart, and he clears his throat running a hand through his hair.
“I look okay?”
“Who are you trying to impress?”
“Good point.” He pats Jackson on the chest. “Let’s go.”