by shuua (シューア)
illustrated by c. lijewski
Johnny could think of a dozen ways he’d rather have woken up that morning. Breakfast in bed would have been nice. Or perhaps a shower. Or, and this was by far the best option, a good-morning fuck. Followed by a shower. And breakfast in bed.
As it was, Johnny instead found himself woken up by a raging young woman. He quickly discovered that she was just as loud standing up as she was lying down. Unfortunately, her screaming wasn’t nearly as attractive at the moment.
“You know what your problem is, Johnny?” she asked, snatching up her clothes viciously.
“I don’t have a car?” he offered, rubbing the sleep from his eyes.
“Shut up, you’re not supposed to answer that. Who the fuck answers that? I’ll tell you what your problem is. It’s that you won’t let anyone love you.” Caught up in her tirade, she managed to put her shirt on backwards. Realizing her mistake, she quickly reversed it while continuing her rant without missing a beat. “God, you can be such a fucking idiot sometimes, it’s really mind-boggling, you know that?”
“Susan,” she all but screamed. “We’ve been together for a whole month and you can’t even remember my goddamn name?”
“Susan,” Johnny corrected himself, picking up his own clothes from the floor. “I thought I’d made it pretty clear from the beginning that we… Well, it’s not like we’re even exclusive. I only see you, what, two or three times a week? I mean, come on–”
“Fuck you, I’m leaving,” Susan hissed, grabbing her coat from the couch where they had tossed it the night before. “You’re a heartless little shit and I hope you rot in hell.” She was just about to slam the door behind her when Johnny caught up with her.
“Wait, Susan! Wait…”
Susan hesitated, suppressing a hopeful smile. “What?”
“Don’t forget to leave my key.”
Johnny ducked just in time to avoid the key hurtling towards his face.
Unfortunately for Levi, he was very much in love with his best friend. Had been, as a matter of fact, in love with him since the third grade. It was the real deal, the obsessive, heart-stopping sort of love that has the power to consume one completely and leave them utterly helpless. The sort that prompts one to reply, ‘Sure, no problem’ to just about any favor, no matter how outrageous, and convince oneself that just being around one’s beloved is enough to keep one happy. And after nearly fifteen years of it, Levi was seriously starting to worry. Despite endless efforts to divert his attentions elsewhere, despite repeated recitations of all sixty-four reasons (he had a list) why it would never work, there was no denying the unavoidable truth.
Levi was in love with his best friend.
And there wasn’t a fucking thing he could do about it.
It didn’t help that Johnny was goddamn gorgeous and well aware of it. It also didn’t help that he exuded sex, practically had pheromones seeping from every pore. He was attractive in a way that was dangerous. Women and men alike would look into Johnny’s eyes and see nothing but invitation, and chances were he wouldn’t say no. He was well-built and tall, his hair color and style changing with his mood. He wasn’t just comfortable in his skin, he loved being in it and was fully intent on enjoying every second.
Levi wasn’t anything like that. Johnny liked to tease him for being a prude, or “one blowjob shy of being a virgin” (a claim that Levi wasn’t going to confirm or deny). Levi looked like the sort of person who hadn’t quite grown into his body yet. He had long, slender limbs and a fragile, colt-like appearance, as though he could topple over at any minute. His hair was light blond, almost white, and fell from his scalp in a helpless mass of tangled curls. His eyes were startlingly dark against all the paleness, fringed with silvery lashes that gave him the look of a porcelain doll. He seemed far too delicate to be the bassist of a punk rock band, but looks can always be deceiving.
The band had been Johnny’s idea, as most of their projects were. The inspiration came to him during the summer they both turned fourteen, when anything had seemed possible. Neither of them had ever touched an instrument or showed any sort of musical inclination, but somehow it seemed like the most natural thing in the world for them. Whether it was inherent talent or stubborn determination that got them to where they were now, no one could say for sure. With Johnny on vocals and guitar, Levi on bass, and their mutual friend Brian on drums, Chelsea Hotel made their debut in a seedy underground club the night Levi had his nineteenth birthday. Afterwards they celebrated by heading to a bar, getting unbelievably pissed, and visiting a tattoo parlor. Friends don’t let friends get tattoos drunk, but none of them had been sober that night, and the next morning Levi woke up with Johnny sprawled across him and his shoulder aching. They had gotten corresponding wing tattoos, Johnny’s right shoulder bearing the matching wing to Levi’s left. Ridiculously cliché, but all things considered, they had escaped any major catastrophe. Brian, who was not quite as fortunate, awoke to a bona fide tramp stamp on his lower back. The lettering, at least, was an impressive gothic script. But even a Blackletter font can’t do much for the phrase “I bring all the boys to the yard.”
Four years and two drummers later, Chelsea Hotel was still going strong. They were far from famous, but the band had a respectable following. To Johnny, it wasn’t a matter of if, but when the band would hit it big. His faith in the band’s inevitable success was what kept him from wasting time worrying about such silly things as showing up to work. It was a miracle his bills got paid at all. It was common knowledge among all who knew him that the band came first in Johnny’s life, and nothing else — not his job, friends, family, or even sex — came close.
That was what made it especially difficult for him, because it was plain for anyone to see that Johnny loved Levi, too. He was the only person Johnny really trusted, the only one who knew him — really knew him, probably better than he knew himself.
But Levi also knew that Johnny was not in love with him, and that even if he were, it would mean nothing but disaster. To put it bluntly, Johnny loved sex. He wasn’t particularly choosy, either. As long as they were good-looking, it didn’t matter if they had it in a five-star hotel room or in a dark alley somewhere, if his partner was a man or a woman, if he was taking or being taken. He loved the anonymity, the frenzied desperation, the gasps and the moans and the sweat and the taste of it all. He loved the little jolt of excitement he got every time he saw someone naked for the first time. It was entirely physical, almost animal, and Johnny fucking loved it.
Which was why it would never work, the two of them. Love and sex were entirely separate entities for Johnny, and he liked to keep it that way.
Levi will think of something.
Johnny immediately felt cheerful again at the thought, and he made his way aboard his trusty scooter to the record store where Levi worked. The scooter was a beat-up old thing and his second most prized possession (the first being his Fender Telecaster). Despite being labeled as Death on Wheels by his bandmates, acquaintances, and the authorities, Johnny refused to look for a replacement. He managed to get to the store without any serious incident, in any case. A bell jingled as he went inside, and a skinny young man with shockingly bright orange hair and multiple piercings looked up from behind the counter.
“Hiya,” he said with a friendly smile.
Johnny returned it readily and went up to the counter, leaning on it casually. “I’m looking for my friend, Levi.”
“Oh, sorry, he went out to pick up an order. Should be back in a minute, though. Is there anything I can help you with?”
“Could I get your number?”
The clerk narrowed his eyes slightly. Johnny was irresistibly reminded of a cat. “I meant help with things like finding a particular album.”
“It really is a shame how far the standards of customer service has fallen,” Johnny said with a sigh.
“You must be Johnny,” the clerk said with a smirk. “Levi warned me about you.”
“Levi has a tendency to exaggerate.”
“I agree. You’re not nearly as good-looking as I was led to believe.”
Johnny clutched his chest in mock-pain, wincing. “You fight dirty.”
“Trust me, I’m holding back,” said the clerk.
Being turned down wasn’t something Johnny experienced often, and he was just about to have another go when the bell jingled again.
“Johnny? What are you doing here?” Levi asked over the top of a large box full of vinyl records. He was a bit out of breath and struggling to balance the box on one arm while shutting the door with his other.
“Came to see you, of course,” Johnny said, taking the box from him.
“Sure you did. What do you want?”
“Can’t a guy see his best friend for no particular reason other than the pleasure of his company?” Johnny asked, looking wounded.
“Of course he can. Just put those over there, thanks.” Levi pointed to the counter top and leaned back onto it, crossing his arms. “So. What happened?”
Johnny made a noncommittal sort of sound and shrugged. “Got fired.”
“Again?” Levi groaned. “Johnny, I swear to God–”
“It wasn’t my fault this time! I got held up this morning,” Johnny said defensively.
“Sure you did. Haley, could you take these upstairs and shelve them?” Levi nudged the box of records to the orange-haired clerk, who raised his eyebrows at Johnny disapprovingly before taking them.
“Is he new?” Johnny asked, as soon as Haley had disappeared.
“Yes, and he’s also got a boyfriend. And yes, it’s serious. And no, they’re not in an open relationship,” Levi said flatly, before Johnny had a chance to say anything. “Back to your business of being fired. Are you serious, Johnny? This is getting way out of hand.”
“Look, it really wasn’t my fault this time. Susan started screaming and throwing things at me,” Johnny said plaintively.
“I’m sure she was provoked. What did you do, pretend to forget her name?”
Levi smacked him upside the head.
“You deserve a lot worse. Would it kill you just say ‘I’m sorry, it’s not you, it’s me’ for once? Everyone else does it, and it’s a far nicer way of dumping somebody.”
“Yes, but this way I’m the bad guy,” Johnny said with a shrug. “Anyway, it ensures they don’t come back to try and work things out.”
“You know what your problem is, Johnny?”
Johnny looked at him blankly.
“Oh. I was told I’m not supposed to answer that,” said Johnny.
Levi rolled his eyes. “You want to lead a life of no responsibility, but that’s not possible. You’re an adult, you need to accept the consequences of your actions.”
“Yes, Mother,” Johnny laughed.
Levi gave up. “So do you have another job lined up?” he asked, knowing the answer.
“Nope. I was hoping you could help me out with that,” Johnny said, giving Levi his ‘pretty please’ look. It involved bowing his head and looking up with hopeful eyes. Levi hated it, because he was utterly incapable of denying Johnny anything when faced with it.
“I can’t… I can’t promise you anything,” Levi sighed, rubbing his forehead.
“You really are the best thing to ever happen to me,” Johnny said, hugging Levi tightly.
“Mmf,” Levi mumbled into Johnny’s shirt. “I said I can’t promise you anything.”
Johnny released him, grinning in a way only he could get away with. “You’re the manager. I’m sure you can work something out.”
“Assistant manager,” Levi corrected. “Which is just a fancy way of saying ‘The Manager’s Bitch.’ And you’ll have to be on time. And work hard. And promise not to sleep with anybody on the job.”
“Honestly, what do you take me for?” Johnny asked, looking hurt again.
“A guy who’s lost half a dozen jobs in the past six months and can’t even be in the same room with an attractive person without trying to get into their pants,” Levi said smoothly.
“I’ll be good, I promise,” said Johnny. “I know your ass will be on the line if I get into trouble, and I would sooner die than bring any harm onto your ass.”
“How touching. I’m sure you’ll– AUGH,” Levi yelped as Johnny squeezed the ass in question without warning.
When Haley came back downstairs, he was greeted with the rather alarming scene of Levi and Johnny wrestling on the floor. His assistant manager appeared to be trying to defend himself with a copy of David Bowie’s Diamond Dogs LP album, while Johnny happily slapped out what sounded like the theme song from Gilligan’s Island on Levi’s bottom.
Haley duly did what anyone would do in his situation: he took a video with his cellphone.
“You’re acting as if I’ve never played a tune on your ass before, when we both know full well I have an entire set list devoted to this musical art form.”
“Smacking somebody repeatedly on the ass is not a musical art form!”
“It is when I do it.”
Levi and Johnny were both seated around a table in a dimly lit pub, along with their drummer, Nick. He had joined Chelsea Hotel over a year ago, and the prospect of a permanent third member finally seemed imminent.
“Not to take sides, but playing a recognizable melody on just the drums is hard enough. So being able to do it on somebody’s ass is actually kind of impressive,” said Nick.
“You’re not helping,” Levi snapped.
“At least somebody appreciates my talents,” Johnny sniffed.
“We’re getting sidetracked,” said Levi. “I thought we were deciding on our next gig.”
“You’re the one who brought it up,” Johnny pointed out.
Levi gave him a steely glare and went on. “The Cellar invited us to play next month. They were thinking of holding a sort of anniversary party for us.”
“Next month… Holy crap, it’s been four years already?” Johnny remarked.
“That’s where you guys had your first gig, isn’t it?” said Nick.
“Our first real gig, yeah. Before that it was mostly people’s backyards or some high school gym,” Levi said.
“It was a night to remember,” Johnny said with a fond grin.
“Let’s not,” said Levi.
“We should play. On the same day, if possible — the sixteenth,” said Johnny. “And afterwards, we can celebrate your birthday again.”
Levi looked doubtful. ‘Celebrate’ in Johnny’s dictionary meant ‘attempt to drink your body weight and do things you’ll regret in the morning.’
“Why are you looking at me like that? You always look at me like that when I have a good idea,” Johnny said accusingly.
“That’s because so many of your good ideas end up with us waking up the next day wondering what the hell we were thinking,” said Levi.
“Sounds like a fun night,” said Nick.
“Not for Brian,” said Levi.
Levi and Johnny took turns in relating the story of their drunken tattoo spree.
“‘Musical differences’ be damned. The real reason Brian left was because he could never quite forgive us for that night,” said Levi.
“As if it was our fault or something!” said Johnny.
Levi gave him a pointed look, but decided not to say the obvious.
“Well. One of us will have to be the designated, erm… One of us will have to be sober,” said Nick. He paused, reflecting on his words, and added, “Or less drunk than the others, at least.”
“Thanks for offering, Nick. That’s so generous of you,” Johnny said gravely, patting Nick on the shoulder.
“Oh, I’ll do it,” Levi said, before the two could argue. “I don’t even like drinking that much anyway.”
“It’s your birthday,” Johnny protested.
“Yes, and I’d like to spend it conscious,” said Levi. “And, if possible, escape unscathed.”
They made further plans, booking the date at the club, delegating various tasks, and calling a few friends to invite to the gig. Haley promised to come, and to drag his boyfriend along (from what Levi gathered, he wasn’t really into the punk rock scene). Johnny seemed especially pleased to hear this bit of news, despite Levi’s emphasis on the ‘boyfriend’ part.
Nobody is ever ‘off limits’ to him, thought Levi. The bastard.
“It won’t be long before we won’t need second jobs,” Johnny said, after hearing the news from his sister, their sort-of manager. (“Sort-of” because real managers get paid.) “It’ll be great not having to go to work.”
“And that’ll be different for you how, exactly?” Levi asked.
The two were sprawled on Johnny’s bed, Levi looking over the shop’s accounts and Johnny doing his best to distract him. The bed was a rather impressive king size mattress, although the grandeur was somewhat dampened by the lack of a bed frame, in addition to the mismatched pillows, sheets, and covers. He had gotten it practically for free, fourth- or fifth-hand, and for the moment — as well as the foreseeable future — it was simply a big mattress propped on top of old amps and speakers.
“Hey, I’ve been coming to work, haven’t I?” said Johnny. “I haven’t been late once.”
“You work two shifts a week, and it’s only been a week,” said Levi. “I wouldn’t call that a huge accomplishment.”
“Slave driver,” said Johnny. “I should get you a whip.”
Levi gave him a withering look. Johnny’s response was a mischievous grin.
“And a leather outfit to go with it. You’d look good in leather. And a corset. Ooh, and fishnet stockings.”
“Are you done?”
“You’re a sick man. I’d rather not know what goes on in that dirty little mind of yours.”
“‘Dirty’ I won’t argue with, but ‘little‘ seems a bit harsh,” said Johnny.
“Big, fat dirty mind then,” Levi relented.
The night before the show found them back there again, with Levi sitting up against the wall and Johnny spread across the foot of the bed. Neither were working or pretending to work, content to simply relax and think of nothing in particular. They had spent the entire day rehearsing, and decided to head back to Johnny’s place to unwind. Unfortunately, Johnny was out of beer, and Nick had been sent out to rectify the situation at once.
“Tomorrow,” Johnny said suddenly, breaking the comfortable silence.
“What about it?” asked Levi.
“It’s your birthday.”
“There’s that big mind at work again.”
Johnny rolled onto his side to look at Levi, grinning. “I’ll probably forget tomorrow, so I’ll give it to you now.”
“Give me what?”
Johnny leaned over to reach for something tucked under the mattress. It was a thin, square parcel wrapped in plain brown paper, about the size of a record. Actually, it was exactly the size of a record.
“It’s a record,” Johnny said helpfully.
“Thanks,” Levi said, laughing. He tore off the paper and uncovered a first-issue copy of The Dead Boy’s Young Loud and Snotty LP. It was slightly worn around the edges, but in otherwise good condition, despite being over thirty years old. Levi looked up at Johnny and smiled, a bit lost for words. ‘I already have this one’ didn’t quite seem appreciative enough.
“Look inside,” Johnny urged.
Levi obediently slipped out the inner sleeve and inspected it curiously. It took a few seconds for him to see what it was.
“Holy shit,” he whispered.
It was autographed. Chrome, Zero, Magnum, Blitz — and Stiv fucking Bators. They were all there.
“Holy shit,” Levi repeated. “Johnny, this… It’s…”
“Yep,” said Johnny. He looked incredibly pleased with himself.
“How much did this cost you?” Levi gaped.
Johnny shrugged. “Don’t think about that. Do you like it?”
“No, I hate it,” Levi said sarcastically. “Of course I like it, Christ!” He laughed helplessly, throwing his arms around Johnny and hugging him tightly.
“Hooray,” said Johnny. “I’m usually crap at presents. Remember your twenty-first birthday?”
“I think this makes up for it, and for all future crap presents to come,” said Levi. He sat back and looked at the record again, still dazed, then back at Johnny. “Thanks. Really.” It wasn’t exactly the most eloquent expression of gratitude, but Levi found he couldn’t say anything else.
“You’re welcome. Really.”
When Nick came back a few minutes later, the record was blasting from Johnny’s old turntable, and both Johnny and Levi were shouting along with Bators as they thrashed around the room.
“But I’m not just anyone, said I’m not just anyone. I got my devil machine, got my electric dream.”
They sang “Happy Birthday” to Levi towards the end of the show, everyone in the audience joining in with loud cheers and catcalls. Afterwards they closed with a cover of Sonic Reducer. Less than half the people in the club recognized it, but the ingenious simplicity of the song made it easy for them to join in by the second verse.
As Levi had expected, they celebrated his birthday by getting piss drunk and doing stupid things. Although he was the designated sober person, Levi found it hard to live up to his responsibility when absolutely everyone insisted on buying him drinks. As it was, the night ended a few hours shy of dawn, with Nick stumbling home with a girl he met, Johnny well past the point of ‘pretty drunk,’ and Levi a bit too giggly for a man who never giggled if he could help it.
Levi took Johnny home in a cab, the two of them having a hard time not finding everything so damn funny. They were smashed and would have a shit time the next morning, but right now they were happy in the way only a really good show could make them happy, exhausted and energized and thrilled all at once.
Johnny lived on the fifth floor, and the building had no elevator. It took a while for them to make it, but they managed it somehow in the end. Johnny shut the door behind them, locking it on his fourth try, before staggering towards the bed.
“You’re drunk,” said Levi, following him.
“I’m not,” Johnny said defiantly, and promptly tripped over the floor and fell onto the bed, bringing Levi down with him. The two burst into helpless laughter as Johnny tried to regain his credibility. “I’m not,” he insisted. “Just had one too many.”
“Try ten too many,” said Levi.
Johnny grunted in response and rolled onto his back, pulling Levi on top of him to settle on his chest. They fell asleep like that, not even bothering to kick off their shoes.
When Levi woke up, sunlight was streaming through the curtains and Johnny was curled around him. He tried extracting himself from Johnny’s arms, but Johnny only tightened his grip with a little groan of protest. Levi jabbed an elbow into his side.
“I have to pee,” hissed Levi.
Johnny mumbled something incoherent, but let go. After flushing away last night’s drinks, Levi took a quick shower and brushed his teeth. When he came back Johnny was awake, sitting up and rubbing his eyes.
“What time is it?”
“Come back to bed.”
Levi sat down on the edge of the mattress and continued toweling off his hair. “Still sleepy?”
“I don’t feel like getting up today,” Johnny said. Then, without warning, he grabbed Levi round the middle and flung him onto the bed, rolling on top of him. Levi had let out an undignified shriek and whipped Johnny anywhere he could reach with his towel. This led to another of their frequent wrestling matches, which always ended in the same way: Levi pinned and at Johnny’s mercy.
“Get off, you asshole,” Levi said affectionately.
And then Johnny kissed him.
It wasn’t the first time they had kissed, or the fiftieth. They had fooled around lots of times before, but it never went too far. Levi would play along with Johnny’s advances until it started to get too serious, and then he would say “That’s enough,” and Johnny would always stop, no questions asked. Just that trademark grin — devilish and childish and lovable all at the same time — a teasing remark or two, and ultimately a complete change of subject.
So Levi let Johnny kiss him, breathing in the heavy scent of sweat and alcohol, smells he usually hated but somehow transformed into something gut-wrenchingly desirable when mixed with that unique scent that was of Johnny himself.
It was only when Levi felt Johnny’s hand reach down to stroke his crotch that he flinched and broke their kiss.
But Johnny didn’t stop.
Levi was too stunned to say or do anything for a minute, during which time Johnny’s hand began to oh god knead and rub against the fabric of his jeans, his mind buzzing because Johnny didn’t stop.
“That’s enough,” Levi said, louder this time because maybe Johnny hadn’t heard him.
There was the unmistakable sound of a zipper being pulled open. Levi felt Johnny’s hand close around his stiffening cock and he knew, with a thrill of both excitement and terror, that this time Johnny wasn’t going to stop.
Johnny’s mouth was at Levi’s throat, hot tongue pressed against his skin, tasting his pulse. He felt Johnny’s hand stroking his growing erection, his palm rough and fingers calloused from thousands of hours of sliding along the fretboard. Levi knew his own hands were like that, too, and he had touched himself countless times before — imagining this, imagining this very thing — but it was nothing like the same, not even close. It was Johnny’s hand, Johnny’s fingers, Johnny’s lips pressed against his jaw and Johnny’s voice whispering “I want you, right now” low and hoarse and so real that Levi could only cling to him and gasp for air.
There was a minute or two of frantic fumbling as they struggled to rid each other of their clothes. They had seen each other naked before, but not like this, and for a few still seconds they stopped to just look, as though seeing each other for the first time. Johnny was hovering over Levi, they were almost but not quite touching, exchanging breaths.
“You’re so fucking beautiful,” Johnny whispered.
Levi didn’t, couldn’t say anything in reply. He lay quite still, hands at his sides, his wet hair dampening the pillows, unable to move or think or speak. Somewhere in the back of his mind, he knew this was a mistake, that he should stop this. But Johnny was kissing him again, and he had never been kissed like this before, not by anyone, and certainly not by Johnny, whom he loved, whom he desperately, desperately loved.
Johnny was placing kisses down Levi’s body, stopping to dip his tongue in Levi’s navel, which tickled and made Levi laugh. But then he felt warm breath on his cock, and his laughter was cut off sharply with a gasp as Johnny took him in his mouth.
Levi felt his brain short-circuiting as Johnny swallowed his gag reflex and took Levi to the root, moaning like it was his cock being sucked, like nothing in the world made him feel this good. Levi buried his hands in Johnny’s hair and thought fleetingly, So this is why everyone…, but that was as far as he got, because Johnny’s hands were joining in now, sliding up Levi’s inner thighs and spreading them apart, and Levi would’ve said something in protest, would’ve tried, even now, to stop this, but almost as if Johnny read his mind he raised a hand to Levi’s lips and pushed two fingers into his mouth.
It didn’t take long for Levi to get past the ridiculousness of having somebody offer their fingers for your oral pleasure, because he was actually getting off on this, on slipping his tongue in and out between the two digits, tracing the creases of the knuckles, tasting the salty tang of Johnny’s skin. Johnny was mimicking his movements, running his tongue up and down the length of Levi’s cock, teasing the head, placing open-mouthed kisses along the shaft. Then, quite abruptly, he removed his fingers from Levi’s mouth, a strand of saliva connecting them to Levi’s lips before breaking. Levi’s mind was still a scrambled mess, and it wasn’t until he felt those same fingers, slick with his own spit, push inside him that he realized what Johnny had intended from the start.
Levi yelled and bucked off the mattress involuntarily, startling both of them. Johnny placed his other hand on Levi’s hip, steadying him, and murmured something. Levi didn’t know if Johnny was saying actual words, or just making soothing noises, but he slowly relaxed, his hands clutching the sheets tightly as though to keep himself grounded. Johnny was slowly sliding his fingers in and out, each time going in deeper. It wasn’t long before it was starting to burn — spit really isn’t a replacement for lube, after all — but before Levi could even start to think of an appropriate interjection, Johnny had bent down and Christ that would be his tongue, right there, and Levi knew he should be disgusted but all he could do was spread his legs wider and arch his back and moan in the most humiliating way.
“Johnny,” was the first word Levi finally managed to say, and shortly after, “Please,” in a strangled little voice he didn’t even recognize as his own.
Johnny lifted himself to kiss Levi again, his fingers still buried deep inside.
“Please what?” he asked, in a hoarse whisper.
Levi shivered. “Please, just… Please,” he panted.
Levi felt Johnny’s fingers slip out of him and couldn’t hold back a little whimper as he did so. Johnny was reaching across the mattress and rooting around the bedside drawers, and Levi felt a panic rising in him as he realized what Johnny was looking for. Because, dammit, Johnny had been right, he was one blowjob shy of being a virgin, only it was more like three or four blowjobs, give him some credit, and — and now Johnny was rolling a condom on his cock, and Levi found it hard to think of anything besides what an incredibly attractive sight this was.
It wasn’t until Levi heard the snapping shut of a bottle and, shortly after, felt the head of Johnny’s lube-slicked cock nudge against him that the panic came back. He gripped Johnny’s arms perhaps a bit harder than was strictly necessary, and heard a sharp intake of breath as his nails dug in. But Johnny only made those soft, soothing noises again, bending down to press his lips to Levi’s and stroke his hair. It was a disarmingly tender gesture. Levi looked up into Johnny’s eyes for some kind of reassurance, found it, and loosened his deathgrip, his heart still threatening to leap out of his chest but the fear ebbing away little by little.
Johnny kissed him again and slowly pushed inside. Levi felt his breath catch in his throat and his body tense instinctively, his eyes screwing shut and the panic threatening to return as he thought No way he’s going to fit, no way. But Levi was wrong. It took more than a few tries and the minutes felt tortuously long, but Johnny fit, and Levi was too busy trying to figure out how to breathe by the end of it to really feel any pain. They paused, panting for air, red-faced and sweaty and a complete mess, but oh, that was Johnny inside of him, inside of him, filling him up in a way he hadn’t known was possible, his chest tightening at the thought of it.
Johnny started to move, slowly at first but picking up speed, hitching Levi’s legs over his shoulders as his thrusts became more and more erratic. By now Levi had stopped trying to control the ludicrous sounds escaping him, his fingers raking across Johnny’s back as he moaned, gasped, and whimpered. Johnny reciprocated by seizing Levi’s cock and milking it in time with his thrusts, watching him with a fascination Levi had never seen before. Levi couldn’t know just how amazing he looked like this, all whites and reds: his face flushed crimson and framed by a tangle of blond hair, his lips swollen and pink, his cock dark and straining against the pale skin of his belly.
“Fucking beautiful,” Johnny muttered again, his hips faltering and a low hiss escaping his lips as Levi clenched around him. Johnny knew what that meant, and he quickened the pace of his hand, jacking Levi off expertly and whispering, “Come on, come on.”
“Johnny… Fuck,” Levi cried as he came, spasming around Johnny’s cock as his hips bucked off the bed, coming harder than he could ever remember, semen spattering his shoulder like he was a horny little teenager all over again.
Johnny came not long after, his hips slamming into Levi almost violently as his orgasm took him. When the last of his shudders subsided, he pulled out and shed the condom, tossing it in a bin before collapsing beside Levi, his breathing ragged.
It was a long time before either of them spoke. At first, Levi was too exhausted and dazed to feel anything but completely, utterly content. But as the minutes dragged by, the sweat and spunk drying on their skin and their hearts slowing, the realization of what just happened began to sink in. Levi felt the panic return, and this time it didn’t go away.
Ten agonizing minutes went by before Johnny sat up and broke the now stifling silence.
“I’m going to take a shower,” he said simply.
Levi could only nod.
“I was thinking pizza for lunch. Order an extra large from Sorrento’s for me, would you? Whatever topping you want, you know I’ll eat anything.”
Johnny disappeared into the bathroom. Levi rolled over and buried his face in the pillows.
“He asked you to order a pizza,” Haley repeated.
“And then what?”
“And then we… ate it,” Levi said lamely. “While watching CSI.”
It was five days later, and Levi knew he would die if he didn’t talk about it with somebody. He hated feeling like such a stereotypical gossip, pouring out his dirtiest secrets and innermost thoughts, and at work of all places. The professional in him wanted to kick himself. But Johnny had continued to act like nothing happened, which was worse than Levi’s initial fears — that Johnny would act like something horrible happened — because this made it impossible for him to broach the subject at all.
“So you guys have sex in the middle of the afternoon, and afterwards you eat a pizza,” Haley said, looking both bewildered and amused. “And then what?”
“We sort of just… hung out like we always do, and then I went home,” Levi said. He read Haley’s expression and went on, “Look, it’s not like I didn’t want to say something, but it was as if things just went back to the way they were, and…”
“And you didn’t want to ruin the illusion by mentioning the fact that you two just fucked?” Haley said simply. “You know, I don’t think keeping silent about it is going to erase the fact that it happened. Or the fact that you both know it happened, unless Johnny has some post-sex amnesia I wasn’t aware of.”
“Yeah, I know,” Levi said, frustrated. “But now it’s been nearly a week, and how do you even bring it up into conversation?”
“How about, ‘Hey, remember how we got drunk on my birthday and had sex the next day? What was all that about?'” Haley suggested. “Speaking of which, were you guys drunk?”
“I wasn’t. He might’ve been, a bit,” Levi admitted, remembering the taste of alcohol when Johnny kissed him.
“Remind me again why you’re in love with him?” Haley asked, exasperated.
“I never said–”
“Oh, please. Anyone who’s seen the two of you together for more than five minutes can tell,” Haley said, waving an arm impatiently. “Including Johnny himself.”
Levi felt himself blush and shook his head. “No, there’s no way he… I mean, I’m not saying I…”
“Right, whatever you say,” said Haley. “Listen, if you want to go on acting like this never happened, go ahead. But you’re driving yourself crazy thinking about it, so maybe you should, I don’t know, talk to him about it?”
Levi sighed. “Yeah. Maybe.”
There was no answer.
Levi wasn’t sure if he felt relieved or disappointed. But as he turned to leave, the door suddenly swung open and Levi felt his heart sink. Relief, then.
“Oh… Hey,” Johnny said. He was wearing nothing but a pair of jeans, and Levi found his eyes straying to the star tattoos on Johnny’s hips before he could stop himself. “What’s up?”
Levi quickly snapped his gaze back up and felt himself going red. For fuck’s sake, was he going to blush at a time like this?
“I just… I wanted to talk to you about… about what happened. You know, last week,” Levi said, as casually as he could manage, which was not at all.
“Last week?” Johnny repeated, uneasily.
“Yes. The day after my birthday,” said Levi, then continued in a rush, “Look, let’s not keep acting like it never happened, can we at least talk about it?” There, that was more like it.
“Right. Well, um… Actually, this isn’t…” Johnny started, looking uncharacteristically awkward.
“Johnny? Who is it?” said a female voice.
A very pretty woman with long, blond hair appeared at Johnny’s side. She had an impressive figure, which Levi had no trouble seeing, as she was wearing nothing but a T-shirt and a tiny triangle of fabric that might have passed for underwear. Levi recognized the shirt; it was a vintage Ramones tee that he had given Johnny when they were still in high school.
“Um, this is…” Johnny began, looking at Levi helplessly.
“Levi,” he said tonelessly, offering a hand to the girl. “He has a really bad memory for names. Don’t be surprised if he forgets yours from time to time.” He looked back at Johnny and forced a smile. “I can see you’re busy. I’ll talk to you later.”
He made it all the way to the first floor landing before Johnny caught up with him, still shirtless and barefoot.
“Wait, Levi, just hang on a sec,” Johnny said, grabbing Levi’s arm.
Levi turned to face him, cursing himself for the tears that threatened to well in his eyes, for the goddamn lump in his throat. What the hell was he crying about? He had known this would happen all along, hadn’t he?
And yet the thought of Johnny having sex with that girl, just five days after they had slept together, and on the same bed…
“I hope you changed the sheets,” Levi said.
Johnny dropped his arm and looked as though Levi had just slapped him. Levi’s hands were clenched into fists, his nails digging into his palm as he thought fiercely Don’t you dare cry, don’t you fucking dare.
“Listen, what happened last week,” Johnny began.
“It was clearly just a drunken mistake,” Levi cut in. “I get it. You didn’t mean anything by it.”
“I wasn’t drunk,” said Johnny, running a hand through his hair, the way he always did when trying to think of an answer to a question he didn’t want to think about. “And I’m not saying it didn’t mean anything. But… Yeah. It was a mistake. I shouldn’t have… I don’t know, maybe I was a little drunk, it just sort of happened and–”
“Jesus fucking Christ,” Levi swore, before he could stop himself. Johnny jumped back a little, looking almost frightened. “It’s all just a game to you, isn’t it? Nothing’s ever your fault, things just happen. It’s all just harmless fun, and who cares if people get hurt along the way?”
“I never meant to hurt you,” Johnny said, looking tortured.
“Yeah, well.” Levi laughed an entirely humorless laugh. Johnny felt chills hearing such a cold sound from Levi’s lips. “Hurting someone without meaning to is probably the worst way to hurt someone, Johnny.”
Johnny couldn’t think of anything to say. He made half a step towards Levi, reaching out as if to embrace him, but Levi moved away from him, shaking his head.
“I’m tired, Johnny. I’m tired of cleaning up after your messes, I’m tired of making excuses for you. And I’m really fucking tired of waiting,” Levi broke off, those damn tears refusing to go away despite his determination. He blinked them back furiously, refusing to meet Johnny’s eyes.
“Levi,” Johnny whispered, moving towards him again.
“You better go back upstairs,” said Levi. And before Johnny could stop him, he turned and ran.
He didn’t know where he was going, only that he had to put as much distance between himself and Johnny as possible. He kept running until his legs gave out under him, his breath coming in heaving sobs as he collapsed on the side of a road he had never seen before. Kneeling on the pavement, he buried his face in his hands and cried more than he had ever cried in his life, not caring that drivers and pedestrians slowed to stare at him, not caring that he had no idea where he was or how to get home. Not caring, for the moment, about anything, except the knowledge that he had wasted fifteen years of his life loving someone who did not, could not, would not ever love him back.
“It’s Johnny. Is Levi there?”
“No, he’s not.”
“Please, I really need to talk to him.”
“He’s not here.”
“I’m going to the store right now. Tell him I’m on my way.”
“I would, but he’s not here.”
The phone went dead. Haley glared at it and muttered a few choice phrases under his breath before slamming it back into the receiver again.
Johnny burst into the store less than ten minutes later, ignoring the man standing at the cashier and leaning over the counter to address Haley.
“Where is he?” he demanded.
“Your total comes to seventy-two fourteen,” Haley said to the man in line before turning to Johnny. “And you need to actually listen to the other end when using the telephone. I told you he’s not here. He called in sick.”
“Sick? Levi never calls in sick,” Johnny snorted.
“Eighty-six makes seventy-three, seventy-five, eighty, one hundred,” Haley counted back, handing the customer his change with a bright smile. “Thank you, come back again.”
“He’s upstairs, isn’t he?” said Johnny.
Haley waved the customer goodbye, still smiling. The bell jingled as the door shut, and then Haley turned on him, any trace of friendliness gone.
“How many times do I have to tell you? He’s. Not. Here,” Haley said, putting as much malice as he could on the last three words.
“Where is he, then?”
“How the hell should I know? I thought you were his best friend,” Haley said, rather nastily.
Johnny ignored him and went up to the second floor, but it was clear within seconds that Haley had been telling the truth. Levi wasn’t there.
“I’d say ‘I told you so,’ but it seems redundant,” Haley said, as Johnny came back downstairs.
“If you see him, tell him I was here, okay?”
Without waiting for Haley to fling back a huffy retort, Johnny left, the bell’s jingle drowned out by the sound of his scooter’s sputtering exhaust pipe.
So needless to say, it was a real shock to Johnny when Levi showed up for rehearsal the next day, looking even paler than usual but otherwise unharmed. Levi didn’t meet his eyes or talk much, sidestepping Johnny’s questions about his unexplained absence. After a few tries at getting more than a monosyllabic response, Johnny gave up, content for now in knowing that Levi was finally back.
It was one of their best sessions, and afterwards they went to their usual bar, sat in their usual booth, and ordered their usual drinks. Things were looking like they were back to normal, or would at least have a good chance of being so with time.
But then Levi said, out of the blue: “I’m leaving the band.”
Nick choked on his beer. Johnny just stared, stunned into silence.
“W-what?” Nick coughed.
“I’m sorry, I know it’s sudden,” Levi said. “I’ll stick around until you guys find a replacement. But I think it’s time for me to move on.”
“Levi, you can’t leave,” Johnny said quietly.
“I’m sorry, I know I’m letting the band down, but–”
“Dammit, Levi, you know I’m not talking about the fucking band!” Johnny yelled, slamming his fist on the table.
Levi looked at Johnny almost impassively. “Then what are you talking about, Johnny?”
Johnny stood up, looking furious. Nick stared at him and Levi in turns, bewildered. Without warning, Johnny grabbed Levi by the arm and dragged him out of the bar, ignoring Levi’s protests and shouting a cursory goodbye to Nick as they left.
“Johnny, let go,” Levi said angrily, trying to pry his arm from Johnny’s grip.
“No,” Johnny said flatly.
“What, you’re kidnapping me now?” Levi snapped.
“If I have to,” Johnny said simply. He forced Levi onto his scooter, kicking the engine into life before Levi had a chance to get off. The sound of the engine’s strangled roar made Levi clutch Johnny instinctively, and by the time he realized what he was doing they were off, flying down the highway and weaving in and out of cars at a truly frightening speed. Levi considered his options, and decided being abducted was a better alternative to certain death by letting go.
Fifteen minutes later, they were in Johnny’s apartment again. Levi was really starting to hate being there. Johnny was standing against the door, blocking his exit, and glaring at him with his arms crossed as though waiting for an apology.
“Okay, so you’ve proved your point. You’re stronger than me and can haul me off anywhere you like if you feel like it. Can I go now?” Levi asked.
“I’ve been trying to talk to you for the past two days,” said Johnny. “Where were you?”
“I went out of town. I am allowed, I hope?” Levi said sarcastically.
“When I said it was a mistake,” said Johnny, “I meant it was wrong of me to give in when I had promised myself I’d never touch you.”
“What the hell is that supposed to mean?” Levi snapped, unable to hold back his anger.
“I’m sorry about what I did,” Johnny pressed on. “I’m not going to back out of this one, I promise. I know it was my fault, and I’m telling you now that I’m sorry.”
“That’s touching, but it doesn’t really change–”
“So don’t leave, okay? Don’t leave me.”
Levi felt some of his anger die away at once, like a bucket of water thrown over a great blazing fire, but still hissing and spitting flames.
“I can’t do this anymore, Johnny,” Levi said, struggling to stay mad, because he had every right to be, dammit.
“Levi, please.” Johnny grabbed Levi’s arms again, and Levi wondered how he had moved away from the door that fast. “I know I screwed up, but I promise I won’t do it again, all right?”
He was giving Levi the ‘pretty please’ look again, and it took Levi every ounce of willpower he had to shake his head.
“What are you apologizing for, Johnny? Sleeping with me? Because it’s not like I put up a fight,” Levi said softly.
“No, I’m apologizing for… God, don’t you get it? I’d do anything for you, Levi. I’d… I’d stab myself a thousand times if it’d mean you’d just smile, because then everything would be okay.”
“Are you trying to be romantic here? Because the idea that I’d want you to stab yourself at all is disturbing more than anything.”
“Shut up, I’m trying to say something important,” Johnny said irritably. “You know I’ve always been shit with lyrics. That was your department.”
Levi, despite himself, smiled.
Johnny grinned back. “See? There it is.”
“What are you trying to say, Johnny?”
“I love you, all right? You’re perfect and I don’t fucking deserve you, but I love you.”
Levi stared at him, completely at a loss for an appropriate response. Finally, he thought of something that adequately conveyed his feelings.
He punched Johnny in the face.
“You fucking bastard,” he yelled. “Do you even know how impossible you are?! And ow, what is your face even made of? Rock?” Levi rubbed his hand, glaring at Johnny with all the spite he could muster.
Johnny had fallen back against the wall, clutching his bleeding mouth and returning the dirty look. “I’m sorry, I’ll remember to duck next time.”
“Do you have any idea how long I’ve been waiting for you to even notice me?” Levi demanded. “Since the third grade. You certainly took your sweet time, didn’t you? And if you say something even close to ‘I’ve loved you all along,’ I’m going to kick you this time, and aim lower.”
“I have though,” Johnny said, moving quickly to stay out of kicking range. “I mean, you’re my best friend, so of course I’ve always loved you.”
“Right, sure. And to demonstrate this undying love you decided to give me a birthday treat by taking my virginity and then act like it never happened?”
Johnny’s face flushed. “I didn’t know you–”
“It hardly matters now, does it?” Levi yelled, his own cheeks going red despite himself.
“Look, I’d be lying if I said I never suspected how you felt about me. But I never thought it was anything more than just… you know, a crush,” Johnny said, looking extremely uncomfortable.
“A crush? So now I’m a twelve-year-old girl?” Levi demanded.
“I didn’t think you’d ever fall for me,” Johnny amended.
“Yeah, it continues to baffle me, as well,” Levi said contemptuously. “You’ve got as much maturity as a sack full of puppies, you’ll have sex with just about anything with genitals, and you’re–”
“Like I said, I don’t deserve you,” Johnny said with a shrug. “So I always told myself you were off-limits, that I’d have to settle for just having you as a best friend. But I messed up last week. I couldn’t stop myself, and afterwards I thought…”
“You thought the best way to handle it would be to order a pizza and pretend it was a figment of our imaginations?” Levi suggested.
“I’m not saying it was one of my brightest ideas,” Johnny said, wiping the blood from his mouth with his sleeve and looking so pathetic Levi found it increasingly difficult to hold on to his feelings of outrage.
Levi sighed. “Here, let me look at it.” He led Johnny to the bed and made him sit down, gingerly tilting his face upwards to inspect the wound. “It’s not that bad.”
“You hit like a girl.”
“Watch it,” Levi growled.
“No, I mean… I’m really sorry,” Johnny said. “For being too stupid to realize how you felt, and too much of a wuss to admit how I felt. For being a dick and sleeping around and drinking a lot and making you sad and all the other shit I’ve done, and will probably keep doing.”
Levi nodded, not trusting himself to answer.
“You really are the best thing to ever happen to me,” said Johnny, and this time, Levi realized he meant it, that he’d meant it all along.
“You can’t keep saying that to get out trouble,” Levi said, trying hard to sound cross.
Johnny smiled, even though it hurt to do so. “You still love me?”
Levi dropped his hands to his sides and sighed. “Fifteen years is a long time to wait, Johnny.”
“Couldn’t you wait just a bit more?” Johnny whispered.
Levi paused, then looked down at his watch.
“You have exactly five seconds,” he said, and began counting.
He never made it to two. Johnny tackled him, bringing Levi down onto the bed and pulling him into a kiss. Levi tasted the coppery tang of blood on Johnny’s lips, but neither of them seemed to mind.
“Worth waiting for, d’you think?” Johnny asked, grinning.
Levi couldn’t help but smile back. “You have a lot to make up for.”
“We have all the time in the world.”
I’ve been meaning to write this story for over a year now, working on it on and off in my head all the while. In the end, it didn’t turn out the way I wanted, and it’s not nearly as good as I wanted it to be… But I feel that way about all my stories, so. XD; Here’s hoping my next story won’t take as long, or give me as much grief x_x;
Many thanks to c. lijewski, who did the illustrations for this story. And a special thank you to burntpan, my lovely beta reader. And since she asked, ‘Where was Levi for those two days?’ …