by torino koji
Everything could be blamed on the Impala, even if that wasn’t true in the slightest and he knew it.
The Impala was not the Impala, but it was as close as three jobs between the two of them had managed to get that was still in their state and still running. It wasn’t a ’67—a ’69, actually, and Gerard got that God was having a laugh at both their expenses, and so did Loren, but they didn’t say anything about it—and it wasn’t black. They’d gotten it on a whim—joked about it for almost a year until one day at lunch Gerard stormed into the music hall and slapped the classifieds down onto the music stand Loren was using for his guitar tabs.
The Impala, though, was now something of a bane to Gerard. Not that it had acted as any sort of real catalyst. It was just that—well, there was this car, their car; and there was them, and the two things were making life complicated.
Gerard had known Loren since sixth grade. They’d had a patch in seventh grade when it just Didn’t Work, but they’d been best friends since then, and it just was the way it was. Loren had been the first person Gerard had come out to; and Gerard had been the same for Loren, when that whole fiasco came around. Everyone thought they were together, and for a while they’d tried it out. It had been Loren who broke it off, and Gerard got it; it was what he got for dating an anti-sexual.
The thing of it was, Gerard loved Loren. And Loren loved Gerard, sure, but in that way that girls did, or jocks—”Man, I love you!” wasn’t exactly what Gerard wanted out of his relationship with Loren, but considering they’d tried and failed on what he did want, he was willing to suffer.
The Impala, which was meant to be their great project before their great adventure before Gerard went off to college, was turning into something Gerard wished hadn’t come into his life.
He loved Baby. He hated detail work and carburetors and wheels, but he loved Baby. Maybe not quite as much as Loren, but it was basically going to be Loren’s car, so Gerard could deal with that. But Baby had become the excuse for Gerard to come over, and Baby was sitting in the garage while he and Loren tilted their heads together on the leather sofa and made fun of people in movies and ate grapes and low-fat, zero-calorie whatever. And when they did work on Baby, Gerard wasn’t doing much more than staring at the flex of Loren’s shoulders under his shirt, or how Loren spread his legs a little when he was under the car trying to figure out if they really did need to replace the drive train (Gerard didn’t even know what a drive train was).
So, really, it was all the Impala’s fault that Gerard was standing at the end of Loren’s mother’s driveway in the rain, having just walked all the way there. He crossed his arms over his chest again and stared at the window and the curtains in front of them. Any second now, Loren was going to look out the window and come out and laugh at him. Any second now, he’d laugh it off—he’d done it before, after all.
Any second now.
But it wasn’t happening, and Gerard thought about blaming Baby, because Loren liked to work on her in the rain, all the lights on bright and his hands flying over her metal.
There were only two weeks left until Gerard left for college. He really hoped, if he made this work, that it wouldn’t mess them up permanently. Because they had two weeks to get Baby purring like a dream, and two weeks to see as much as the West Coast as they could—the whole US was right out, until Winter or Spring Break, except they’d probably both have jobs.
Gerard chewed on his lip and rubbed his neck and swore under his breath. Stupid Impala and stupid rain and stupid senior summer plans, and stupid Loren, with his fluffy brown hair and his blue eyes and his smile and his shoulders and legs and everything about him.
Mustering what little bravery he had left in him, Gerard went up the driveway, and stood at the door and stared at it stupidly. Now, he could hear Loren working in the garage. He dug in his pockets while he tried the door, and was glad he wouldn’t need his key; the door opened under his hands, and he stepped in. His coat went into the closet, and his shoes beside the weird corner-desk thing beside the door. He stepped off the stone in front of the door and dug his socked feet into the carpet.
He could remember sleeping over on this carpet, rolling around with the dog and the cats and Loren, laughing and writing and drawing, tackling each other, pulling each other’s hair. He could remember shy kisses, once, in the dark, until Loren got worried his mom would come out and bust them; he’d left Loren lying on the floor, and when he’d come back from the bathroom, lip bloody where he’d bit almost through it, Loren was asleep or at least faking it.
For a while, he stood there, curling his toes and staring at the floor, until he heard the door joining the house to the garage open.
Loren shook his hair out of his eyes and smiled, wiping his hands on his shirt.
“Hey! You didn’t call.”
“Hey.” Gerard shifted from foot to foot, staring at Loren’s big, wide hands. He shuffled as Loren came over. “I just. It was kinda spur of the moment.”
“You’re wet. Did you walk?” Gerard shrugged. Loren rolled his eyes. “I’ll get you a towel before you catch pneumonia. Honestly, what would you do without me?”
Gerard could think of a lot of things he’d do without Loren. Most of them involved living a calm, healthy life, shut up in his house and the closet, dating some pretty girl named Emily or Jessica or something. Most of them made him even more uncomfortable than what he already had.
When Loren came back with the towel, Gerard took it and scrubbed at his hair. Loren stared at his chest.
“Hey, are you wearing my shirt?” Gerard froze, let the towel fall around his face to hide the fact that he was starting to blush like an idiot. Loren laughed, lifting the ends of the towel to stare at the shirt. “Man, I knew I’d given it to you. Guess I forgot. Christ, you must be freezing, Gerry.”
“I had to.” Loren looked up from the logo on the shirt, eyes confused. There was no stopping now. Gerard swallowed the butterflies, hoping the terror in his throat was a heavy enough anvil to crush them all. “I had to wear it when I knew you’d be home. It doesn’t smell like you any more.”
“What are you talking about?” Loren laughed.
Gerard sighed and sat on the leather sofa. Loren sat next to him, one leg drawn up so he could face Gerard as he mumbled, still hidden by the towel, “Remember that red sweater I had in sixth grade? And I let you borrow it, and when I finally got it back, you’d washed it a couple of times and so it didn’t smell like cigars and oak chests and the sea any more?”
“Yeah,” Loren murmured.
Gerard turned and looked at Loren from under the towel. “This is like that only about a billion times worse, because that sweater had moth holes and it was from my grand-aunt, and this is yours.”
Loren stared at Gerard a long time, just stared, and then Gerard couldn’t help it any more. He’d worked up so much courage, and really, Loren was just asking for it, sitting there looking confused and smelling like sweat and axle-grease. It was really all the Impala’s fault.
The shirt Loren was wearing was warm and worn and twisted in Gerard’s fingers. The towel didn’t slip off Gerard’s head until he was already leaning forward, already touching their lips together and inhaling the smell of everything. Loren didn’t go stiff like he normally did when they’d get close to something like that; he sat and after a second he even started to kiss back. Gerard groaned, gripped Loren’s shirt tighter, and hauled himself as close as he could get to his friend.
It was only once Loren hit the sofa, sprawled out, that he pulled away and pushed at Gerard’s shoulders until he could get a long look at him. Gerard couldn’t look at him, and after a second, he slid away. He laughed, practically hysterically, and got up to put the towel into the hamper in the bathroom.
He stood in front of the mirror, well aware that Loren was standing in the door watching him, and ran a finger over his lips.
“You don’t get to say, ‘Oops, sorry, didn’t mean it,’ Gerry. That’s not gonna fly.”
“Man, don’t make this harder than it already is.”
Loren slid in beside him and bumped their hips together. Gerard watched him in the mirror, but now Loren couldn’t look at him. He stared at their hands, Gerard’s left and Loren’s right brushing against each other. After a second, Loren slid his hand over Gerard’s and laced his fingers between Gerard’s. They just stood there.
Gerard choked on a sob that was trying to be a laugh and slid out and away from Loren. “Don’t do this, okay, Lore? Don’t try and make this better, because it’s not going to get better, and we both know that.”
“What do you want me to do?” Loren asked, still standing in the bathroom though Gerard had retreated to the hallway. He turned on him, staring him down. “Want me to kick you out? Never talk to you again? Want me to call you a fag?”
Gerard picked at the out-seam of his jeans. “Not really, no.”
“You’re such a—. God. Prick.”
Gerard looked up at Loren, choked on that sobbing laugh, and muttered, “Bitch.”
Loren stepped out of the bathroom, and pinned Gerard to the wall with his forearms on either side of Gerard’s shoulders. “Jerk.” He leaned their foreheads together. “You don’t get to make decisions for the both of us anymore. Because you’re an idiot.”
Gerard’s arms, against the better judgment of Gerard’s brain, wrapped around Loren’s waist and dragged him closer. It wasn’t his best move, because the kiss had been good, and he was hard, and with Loren that close—
Loren didn’t say anything. He leaned his weight on his forearms and stared at Gerard from way-too-close. His breath smelled breathy, hot and damp and maybe a little like yeast—he’d broken his diet again—and his lips were shiny and a little bit swollen. Gerard tightened his hold on Loren’s waist, spread his legs until Loren willingly stepped between them, and went in for another kiss.
When Loren pulled back that time, it was to quietly say, “I thought you came over because the shirt didn’t smell like me anymore. Shouldn’t we be washing it then?”
“I, I was thinking I’d just hug you a lot?”
Loren laughed, breathed against Gerard’s ear, “No you weren’t.” His right thigh pressed up between Gerard’s legs, lifting him slowly onto his toes and making Gerard hiss a little and beat his head against the wall a couple of times, until Loren’s hand came up to cushion between Gerard’s skull and the wall.
Gerard chuckled, nervous and thrilled. Loren grinned at him. “Don’t give yourself a concussion.”
“Not like I’m using my brain anyway.” Loren’s grin faded a little, stayed in his eyes a second, until Gerard shut his eyes and leaned up for a kiss. He pressed his body down, ground against Loren’s thigh as he tightened his arms. His hands slipped into Loren’s back pockets, dragging the jeans off his narrow hips a little. The air smelt thick with sweat and axle-grease and boy; Gerard inhaled through his nose and opened his mouth against Loren’s.
That was it for a while, and that was nice, except that Gerard’s legs were beginning to strain and it was getting claustrophobic between Loren’s arms. He shouldered Loren off, still kissing him fleetingly, and pulled the key to Loren’s room out of his back pocket. Loren wrapped around Gerard’s back when he finally pulled away and went to the door of his bedroom, arms tight around Gerard’s waist and breath a hot reminder on the back of Gerard’s neck.
The door was barely open before they were tumbling into the bedroom, already shutting as Loren shoved Gerard onto the fluffy white comforter with a soft fwomp noise. Gerard smiled at his friend, tugging at Loren’s shirt until it came up over his head and off his arms, then fluttered to the floor. Then Loren flopped onto the bed as well, and they lied there, staring at the ceiling, their hands and shoulders brushing.
Suddenly, Gerard laughed, that strange hysterical edge back again. “You know, I had it all figured out. Because I love you, and you’re not really into anything. So I was going to tell you, and you were going to accept it, and we were going to binge on ice cream like girlfriends or something. We were going to ogle actors.”
“Do you want to go binge on ice cream like girlfriends?”
Gerard rose and slung himself to straddle Loren’s thighs. He ground down against Loren, running a palm over his chest and feeling the warmth there; he couldn’t look at Loren when he murmured, “Not really. This is, you know, way better then ice cream. Or ogling actors.”
They kissed again, and for a while, until Loren’s hands slipped under Gerard’s shirt and pulled it up and off. His hand skated over Gerard’s skin as they kept kissing, deeper than they had even when they’d had a Thing going, and Gerard’s breath bubbled out of him on a quiet moan as he wrapped an arm under Loren’s shoulders and dragged him as close as he could get.
“I feel like a teenager,” Loren grumbled between fleeting kisses. Gerard giggled, combing a hand through Loren’s hair.
“You are a teenager, doofus.” His hand slid through Loren’s floppy hair, across the muscle of his neck and down his chest. He toyed with the button on Loren’s jeans, thumbed it out of the hole and dragged the fly down, watching Loren’s face. Loren’s lashes fluttered after a second, and his eyes slid shut and his cheeks went rose pink when Gerard slipped his fingers under the waistband of his boxers.
They rolled to lay facing each other, until the angle got to Gerard’s wrist and he had to slip his hand out and tug at Loren’s jeans and boxers. Loren stared down his body at Gerard as he knelt there between his legs.
“Hey,” Gerard whispered, thumbing the button on his jeans open and pulling down the fly. He pulled at the damp hems of his jeans with his toes, until they were around his knees. Loren shivered, hands rising and fingers curling into the short hair at the base of Gerard’s neck. “Hey, are you—?”
“Shuddup.” It was breathless and Gerard grinned as Loren pulled him up to him, then down and kissed him again. He pushed off his underwear, lining their hips against each other. Loren gasped against the kiss, dug his fingers against Gerard’s scalp, rolled his hips. They ground, kiss broken, and breathed between each other.
That was it, for a while—broken kisses, and softly murmured words that meant nothing, and the sticky slide of their bodies—until Gerard reached with his toes for his jeans, pulling them up and flicking them onto the bed. Loren laughed, manic and nervous, and murmured, “Monkey-toes.”
“C’mon, don’t tease,” Gerard whispered against Loren’s chin. He dug his wallet out, flicked it open as he kissed down Loren’s throat.
Loren grabbed his wrist when he was halfway down his chest, staring at him with all the urgency that said things he’d never say out loud. Gerard smiled, knowing the language in Loren’s eyes. He slid back up, kissed him—sweet and closed-mouth this time—and tore the condom open between their bellies.
“Gerry,” Loren gasped, then grit his teeth as Gerard rolled on the condom, slow and easy. He leaned up on his elbows as Gerard slid up, straddling his lap again; Gerard pulled him up to sit, wrapped his arms over his shoulders, and smiled.
“Just gimme a sec, ‘kay?”
“Gerry, I’m not sure this is a good idea,” Loren whispered. Gerard stared at him, earnest and worried. After a moment, Loren shook his head, smiled, touched Gerard’s face. “Nevermind.”
“Lore—” Loren’s mouth touched his, closed-mouth and gentle and saying more than either of them really would. Gerard tightened his hands a second, then chuckled nervously and said, “Gimme a sec, ‘kay?”
A moment later, with Gerard’s breath stuttering and Loren’s hands tight on Gerard’s hips, Loren asked, “Ha, have you done this before?” Gerard stared at Loren a second, flush growing hot on his face, before he nodded a little. Loren’s hands went bruise-worthy tight, and Gerard hissed, eyes shut and head back. “You didn’t—”
“Dude,” Gerard murmured, gasping for breath and rocking even in the tight hold Loren had on him. “So not the time.”
Loren stayed still for the most part, eyes intent on Gerard’s face. Gerard looked away, closed his eyes, focused on moving himself on and against Loren, anything to ignore the roil in his gut and the half-worried look in Loren’s eyes. It felt good, better than the first time or even the second or the fifth or the tenth, but it hurt to look at Loren.
When this was done, would it have changed everything? Gerard tightened his arms behind Loren’s neck and kissed Loren until he could barely breathe.
Loren moved then, grabbing Gerard’s hips and pushing him onto his back. Gerard hissed, surprised by the sudden change, the sudden pressure, Loren’s hips pistoning against Gerard’s. At that instant, staring up at Loren’s flushed, sweating face, looking into his eyes, Gerard was harder than he’d been since he’d figured out he liked catching rather than pitching.
“Oh shit,” he growled, gripping Loren’s neck with both hands, wrapping his legs around Loren’s lower ribs. “Oh, fuck.”
“No, no, don’t stop,” Gerard growled, half moaning. Loren barked out a short laugh, leaning in to kiss Gerard. “Fuck, don’t stop.”
Loren came first, and Gerard swore and held Loren still against him as he licked his hand and reached down to palm himself. He shut his eyes, knew Loren was watching him as he jacked off to the feeling of another man inside him, to the idea of sex and sex with Loren especially. His breath shivered and stuttered, and he choked on a little cry as he came, opening his eyes when he heard Loren give a little grunt of discomfort.
When Loren pulled out, he wouldn’t look at Gerard, and Gerard felt the dread sink in like fog. They needed to talk. His brain was too lust-clogged to do another more than grab the tissues off Loren’s bedside table and wipe at his stomach.
“Hey, when you’re done,” Loren whispered as Gerard threw the tissue into the waste basket, “come out to the garage, okay?”
“Yeah,” Gerard muttered. He didn’t want to work on the Impala. “Sure, Lore.” He watched Loren pull on his underwear and jeans and dirty shirt. And then he was gone. Gerard grabbed the t-shirt and pulled it on, then his boxers and a pair of Loren’s sweatpants that were lying neglected on the end of the bed.
He padded across the house, slow and stiff, and opened the door to the garage slowly.
In there, under the bright lights, was the finished Impala, painted and all. Loren smiled, and tossed Gerard the keys.
“You get the first drive.”
It wasn’t quite a profession of love. Gerard closed his fingers around the keys, and smiled.