Not Quite Four A.M.

by L. E. Piton


Tommy regularly performs wearing shorter cut-off shorts than Masa thinks should be legal; Masa figures that the only purpose of such articles of clothing is to prove that Tommy may be small in stature (Tommy barely hits five feet), but most of that is leg. Masa gets lost following the line of Tommy’s thighs from the top of his boots to the bottom of those ridiculously miniscule shorts. There’s some part of his brain that keeps his fingers moving up and down the neck of his bass, the beat firm in the rhythm of his pulse. He thinks this is a protection: As long as I keep playing, no one will notice my new obsession.

Masa, though. Masa is prone to tunnel vision. Every time he starts to stare, Tommy knows. Tommy is really close to telling Masa that his emotions come out too clearly through his fingers: whenever Masa is looking at Tommy, the beat becomes seeking, full of anticipation.

Tommy thinks around the microphone: You’re as subtle as a brick.

They always go to Holden’s place after a show, because Holden lives right above a bar. Someday they’ll make it upstairs without getting a drink or two or many, but it hasn’t happened yet.

“You need to move out of here,” Tommy says, slowly and deliberately. He leans against the wall in a passable imitation of someone who can stand without assistance.

Holden fumbles with his keys, eyes hidden by his curtain of straight blond hair. Holden’s life goal is to always be hidden behind something: his hair, his drum kit, his quiet demeanor. “Yeah?”

“Yeah,” Tommy says. “It’s dangerous to my. My something.” He gestures loosely in the air.

“It’s dangerous to his something,” Masa says from near the floor. Masa is unfairly capable of sitting and standing when inebriated, his long body a smooth, gliding line of motion. He looks up at Tommy, smiling with only one side of his mouth. Masa’s hair is a messy halo of bleach-blond around his head in the hall light, and his teeth are perfectly straight.

“Dangerous,” Masa says to Tommy.

Masa’s heartbeat is pounding out that particular rhythm again; he’s glad when Tommy looks away.

Holden finally gets the right key, and unlocks the door.

The real reason that Holden needs to get a new apartment is that there is only just enough space in this one for all his musical equipment, plus one bed. There is a small kitchen, and an even smaller bathroom, but it is not an ideal situation for entertaining.

Thankfully, the bed is big enough for three, and they are all so tired and happy from a good show and good beer that they don’t do more than shuck off their shoes and open the windows before piling onto it, full of sleepy intentions. The room is warm enough that they don’t bother with the comforter; the muffled noise from downstairs is pleasantly familiar.

Only a few hours pass before Masa wakes up. He’s heard a sound, he thinks, but he can’t remember where he is for a minute.

Light is seeping out from under the bottom of the bathroom door.

Masa blinks, and rubs his eyes. He turns and looks at Holden, drooling peaceably against his pillow, and rolls over to stand. The patterns of light on the ceiling catch his eye: the streetlight, the reflections on a few wayward cymbals.

He goes to the kitchen, picking out a path mostly by memory. He pulls out a glass from the cupboard–Holden’s obsessive cleanliness when it comes to dishes is the only thing that keeps the apartment livable–and fills the glass from the tap. He drinks it slowly in the dark, thinking nothing.

He fills the glass again, picks out another careful path, and goes into the bathroom without knocking.

The bathroom is tiny and awash with yellow light from a single flickering bulb above the mirror. The bathtub takes up most of the space, resting on old-fashioned clawed feet and with a makeshift shower curtain hanging down from the ceiling.

Tommy is sitting on the closed toilet lid, his elbows on his knees and holding his forehead with one hand, like his head might fall off if he were to let go. His hair is lank and a little long, sticking to his neck.

“Here,” Masa says. He’s closed the door behind him but speaks in a low tone aimed for Tommy’s ears only, just across the small distance of tile that separate the two of them.

Tommy takes the glass without a word, and sips. He’s exhausted. He’s older than Masa, but he knows he looks younger, and at times like this he really feels it, when Masa fills a space so easily. He closes his eyes and tilts his head back, swallowing.

Masa watches his throat work, and each time Tommy swallows Masa’s pulse goes further into that familiar rhythm. Masa thinks: Tommy has perfect lips.

Tommy opens his eyes and sets the glass down on the floor with a clink. “Thanks,” he says, in that casual way he has.

The light in the bathroom is so soft and strange. Masa’s hand, of its own volition, moves to push Tommy’s hair back from his face.

Tommy looks up at him through his lashes. He reaches up the short distance and brushes his fingertips against Masa’s wrist. “Masa,” he says. His voice always has an undertone that Masa had never before understood, something about it that is dark and mysterious and compelling.

Tommy is beautiful, with his perfect lips and voice and legs; Masa finds the whole of him somewhat unbearable. He’s weak-kneed with his obsession, and there is no music to distract him besides the rush of blood in his ears.

Masa thinks: What is that thing in Tommy’s voice?

Perhaps the strange, flickering light is a trigger, setting off some kind of switch in Masa’s head. Masa feels it in his bones, that strange other thing in Tommy’s voice. It resonates perfectly with the rhythm in Masa’s pulse.

He bends down and, with Tommy still watching through his eyelashes, kisses Tommy’s soft and perfect mouth.

Tommy takes a handful of Masa’s hair and pulls, hard and slow. Masa gasps into Tommy’s mouth, and Tommy pulls him closer. Masa stumbles to his knees before Tommy. He grabs Tommy’s shoulders and his brain starts to work again: Tommy knew all along.

Tommy’s grip on Masa’s hair tightens again, and Tommy turns his face away.

Masa is gratified to find that he’s not the only one short of breath. His blood is racing in his ears, his hands feel warm.

Tommy is still holding onto Masa’s hair.

Masa thinks: I may never get this chance again, and licks a path down Tommy’s body, learning it through his mouth. “Masa,” Tommy says, in his dark, thick voice, and his heartbeat is fast against Masa’s tongue.

Tommy’s skin is smooth and nearly hairless. Tommy’s hands are still tangled in Masa’s hair, and he shifts forward, leaning back against the water tank.

Masa sniffs and licks at Tommy’s belly. It shivers beneath his tongue. He undoes the zipper of Tommy’s pants, his hands are shaking.

Tommy says, “Masa, please,” and pushes Masa’s head down, but Masa doesn’t mind: he’s been dreaming of this, of Tommy’s smooth thighs and Tommy’s pulse against his lips.

Tommy gasps and moves his hips when Masa leaves a trail of saliva up the side of Tommy’s dick.

God, Masa thinks, I must be sick or something. Tommy even smells good to me.

He takes Tommy in his mouth, working his tongue against Tommy’s skin.

It’s the first time he’s done this, and might be the last. He wants to remember it: Tommy’s hands in his hair, Tommy’s short, sharp gasps, the smooth skin of Tommy’s sides beneath Masa’s calloused fingers.

This would be enough for me, Masa thinks, all his senses filled with Tommy except, maybe, the tile beneath his knees. He’s even grateful for that small annoyance, because that means he’s really here and the Tommy’s really pulling that much harder on Masa’s hair as Masa sucks with enthusiasm.

Masa hums, low, satisfied.

That is what does Tommy in, warm, salty liquid filling Masa’s mouth.

He gags and swallows convulsively without thinking, and jerks his head back. He wipes his mouth with the back of his hand.

Tommy finally releases his hair. “Masa,” he says.

His hands, formerly so occupied, trail down Masa’s chest as Tommy leans close to him. Tommy kisses him again, hard and purposeful, and Masa just thinks, Yes, yes please, yes please. He’s so caught up that he doesn’t realize that Tommy’s hands have traveled far enough to slide beneath the edge of his pants until Tommy’s fingers are already stroking the length of his dick.

Masa’s mouth opens in surprise, in pleasure–and then Tommy starts to lick the inside of his cheek.

Masa is intimately aware of what Tommy tastes. Tommy’s tongue is rough along his own, rough and wet and now flavored with–

Masa moans into Tommy’s mouth. Tommy’s hand moves expertly along Masa’s dick.

Masa wishes he could say that he lasted, but he didn’t, and Tommy doesn’t look like he minds so much, pulling his hand out of Masa’s pants and pushing his sticky palm against Masa’s shirt, not wiping it off but resting it. It’s a little disgusting if either of them thinks about it, so they don’t, and Tommy rests his forehead against Masa’s. Masa blinks Tommy’s hair out of his eyes, and breathes out through his nose, carefully controlled.

Holden knocks on the door, once. “I’d like to pee, if you–you assholes–are done with my bathroom?”

Holden is only ever talkative when half-asleep.

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