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Sunday, May 9th, 2010 07:39 pm
Title: Shift and Slide
Fandom: Bandom
Pairing: Bob Bryar/Matt Skiba from Alkaline Trio (click names for pics)
Rating: NC-17
Length: ~12,350 words
Disclaimer/summary/notes: It's all fiction. This is an AU in which Bob never met The Used or MCR, but continued doing sound for House of Blues and on some small tours, and he's been friends with Matt since they met in Chicago years and years ago. I didn't try to follow A3 canon timelines very closely. This is set in 2008 for reasons that may become obvious or may be completely irrelevant. Either way is okay.
Thanks to [personal profile] mahoni and lj user=jeeze_louise" for support and extremely helpful information, and massive thanks to [personal profile] nemoinis for support, beta reading, hand-holding, and not killing me when I insisted that this was the story I had to write right now and put everything else on hold.

***



"So what are you up to these days?" Matt asks, shaking Bob's hand before pulling him into a full body hug, unlike the one-arm-squeeze-and-back-pat combo most of his friends do. But it's not weird, it's just Matt. And Bob rolls with it, wrapping his arms around Matt's back and holding him close for a couple seconds before breaking away.

"I'm kind of between gigs at the moment," Bob says with a shrug. He got sick of the House of Blues and the guy he'd been seeing and the entire city of Chicago sort of all at the same time and the next thing he knew he was in California, calling up an old friend he hadn't seen in nearly a year to meet him for a drink. "Don't know anyone looking for a drummer, do you? Or a sound guy. I'm not picky. A nice long tour would be perfect right now."

Matt gives him an inscrutable look and leads him to a booth tucked in the corner of the nearly empty bar. It's not even five o'clock yet, and the waitress still looks fresh and eager to take their orders. Bob smiles at her when she brings his beer and when she's gone Matt raises his highball glass and says, "To old friends too long apart."

Bob drinks to that and asks Matt what he's up to.

"Since the tour ended, I've been painting a lot and surfing and writing some new music."

"You're not writing songs about surfing are you?" Bob asks, head tilted and eyebrows raised. It doesn't sound like something Matt would do, but then he can be unpredictable at the best of times.

"No, I think the Beach Boys have got that covered." Matt laughs and sips his drink. "I've been mostly just fooling around with melodies, things that'll become songs one day."

"I'd like to hear them sometime," Bob says kind of quietly, giving Matt the option of not hearing him and therefore not feeling put on the spot. He's interested but he doesn't want to push.

"Sure," Matt says easily, like it's no imposition at all, "come around to my house tomorrow afternoon and we'll jam."

"I haven't really played in a while. Been too busy with..." Bob waves a hand and then wraps it around his glass. How to encapsulate the fifteen different directions he's felt pulled in lately? "...everything."

It seems like Matt is going to let that pass, but after a moment he says, "What's wrong?"

Bob shrugs and spins the napkin under his glass in a half circle and then reverses it. "Nothing."

"Bob." Matt reaches out and touches the back of his hand, skimming his fingertips across Bob's knuckles as he pulls away, but when he speaks, his voice is at odds with the tender gesture. "Tell me what the fuck is wrong before I kick your ass."

"Like you could." Bob snorts and takes a drink of his beer. After he swallows, he shrugs again. "I don't know. Broke up with someone. Boredom. My career is good--was, anyway, until I quit my job--but it's just not what I really want to be doing."

Matt nods and hums a little before declaring, "You, my friend, are suffering from ennui."

Bob tilts his head and pulls at his ear like he didn't hear Matt clearly. "An-what?"

"It means--"

"I know what it means, motherfucker," Bob says, kicking at Matt under the table. But Matt is too familiar with Bob's tactics, so he moves his leg out of the way just in time.

"Well, then why'd you ask? Listen, you need..." Matt trails off, probably thinking of all the things that Bob needs. "Yeah, you need to go surfing with me tomorrow."

"Surfing," Bob says flatly. "What happened to come around to the house and we'll jam? What happened to that?"

"We can do that after surfing. I usually try to get down to the beach about six or so." Matt is smiling the kind of smile that makes Bob want to go along with whatever he says no matter how much trouble it gets him in, but Bob is stuck on one salient point.

"Six? In the morning? Are you fucking kidding me?" Bob shakes his head and slumps back against the padded back of the booth. "I'm on vacation. Sort of. Why would I want to get up at six in the morning?"

"Because that's when the waves are best," Matt says, all wide eyed and innocent and not at all like he's completely lost his mind since the last time Bob saw him.

"Yeah, no, I don't think so," Bob mutters and downs the rest of the beer in his glass in one long swallow. When he sets the glass down, Matt is watching him intently. It's different than the usual intense look Matt gives when he's actually thinking about something else entirely and you just happen to be there. No, he's completely focused on Bob, and Bob feels his face get warm. He shifts in his seat and says, "What?"

"Do you have some place to stay yet?" He barely gives Bob time to shake his head before saying, "You could come home with me."

Bob blinks and his mouth opens but nothing comes out. Matt shrugs and sips his cocktail. "I'm doing quite well for myself now, you know. I have a guest room and everything."

"Sure, okay," Bob says before he's even realized he's going to. Matt smiles at him in a way that makes Bob go warm all over and think maybe he's going to get in trouble after all.

***

Bob wakes up in a strange bed and has a weird disconnected moment when he can't remember where he is. He's lying on his left side and he can see a window with weak early morning sun peeking through the blinds. The walls are a deep sandy color, unlike the dingy white paint in his apartment in Chicago, and he remembers. He's in LA.

He rolls over onto his back and realizes he's not alone. Matt is lying on his side on top of the covers, propped up on one elbow.

"What?" It comes out in a ragged croak, so Bob clears his throat and tries again. "How long have you been lying there staring at the back of my head, you weird-ass motherfucker?"

"Not long," Matt says, clearly unconcerned with being insulted this early in the morning. "You ready to go surfing with me?"

Bob glances at the clock and sees it's almost six. A.M. "Well, I haven't seen the news yet, but I doubt hell froze over."

"Is that a no?"

"That is most definitely a no," Bob growls and turns over onto his stomach and buries his face in the pillow.

"You don't know what you're missing," Matt says and for a moment Bob almost believes him. But then he remembers what time it is and what time they finally went to bed the night before and...yeah. He's going back to sleep.

Just as he's drifting off, Bob feels something softly touch the back of his head and hears Matt say, "I like your hair like this. It's nice."


When Bob gets up at the much more respectable time of 9:15, he goes to the bathroom and then makes his way to the kitchen in search of coffee. There's a note on the coffee make that says "Just push start. :) Be back in a few hours. I'm bringing buckwheat pancakes."

Bob pushes the start button and finds the cabinet with the cups while the pot fills up. He's just started his second cup when Matt comes in with a paper bag in one hand and a wetsuit in the other. He's shirtless and wearing boardshorts and the first thing out of Bob's mouth is "You got new ink."

"Not super new." Matt dumps the bag on the kitchen table and takes the wetsuit into a small laundry room off the kitchen. When he comes back out, he says, "I just kept all my clothes on when I saw you in Chicago."

"Yeah." Bob drinks his coffee and remembers seeing Matt on stage, playing with his band, doing what he loves most. Thinks about how Matt damn near glowed when he stepped off the stage, drenched in sweat and adrenaline and joy. God, how Bob had wanted that for himself. Wanted to be up there playing for an audience. He'd watched Derek on the drums, arms and hands flying as he pounded out the fast beats, and felt nearly sick with envy.

"I'm thinking about getting a new one soon. Something on my ribs," Matt says, drawing his fingertips over the area in question. "Maybe Hello Cleveland! from--"

"Spinal Tap," they say together. Matt laughs and says, "We should watch that tonight." Then he gets a weird expression on his face and says, "Well. If you don't have other plans."

"I don't have any plans," Bob mutters into his coffee cup. The words seem to echo in his head, too fucking significant.

Matt digs into the bag and takes out a foam container, dumps the pancakes onto a plate and shoves them into the microwave. He sets the timer and says, "Be right back. Fix me some coffee while I get dressed?"

"Don't bother on my account," Bob says and then bites his lip. He's being weird. Matt's weirdness rubbing off on him or just Bob's own coming to the forefront because he's in a place where that's allowed? Bob doesn't even know, and doesn't care.

Matt raises an eyebrow but doesn't say anything. He also doesn't go get dressed. He just fixes a cup of coffee and gets out another plate and a couple of forks, puts them on the table. When he takes the pancakes out of the microwave, he sets them on the table with a flourish. "Breakfast is served."

Bob sits down and pokes at the pancakes that Matt puts on his plate. Matt pushes a bottle of syrup toward him and says, "Eat up, Bob. You're too skinny."

"Fuck you," Bob says. "I worked hard to lose weight."

"And I appreciate that, but you look..." Matt pauses and searches for the right word. "Gaunt. So eat some fucking pancakes. It'll do you good."

Bob narrows his eyes but he eats some fucking pancakes anyway.

***

After breakfast, Matt drags Bob into his music room and says, "And now it's time for what you really came for."

Bob wanders around the room checking out Matt's equipment while Matt chooses a guitar and plugs it into a small amp. He plays standing up and after a moment Bob finds himself standing still, just listening. It's still just a simple melody at this stage, but Bob gets lost in it until Matt stops playing.

Bob shakes his head and says, "I like it."

"Are you writing a drum line in your head right now?" Matt says, while he switches guitars.

Bob wasn't consciously doing that but he smiles a little and says, "Caught me," because now that the seed is planted, he can hear in his head how it would go. He shrugs and says, "But I don't want to step on Derek's toes."

Matt just smiles and starts to play another song. Bob sits down in the comfortable chair in the corner and finds himself tapping out beats on the arms. "You should do it," Matt says. "Write it down. Finish it."

"But...Derek?"

"I don't have to give this one to the Trio." Matt nods at the drum kit in the opposite corner from where Bob is sitting and adds, "You want to. I can see it in your eyes."

Matt is not wrong, but he's not completely right either. Bob wants to play, but he doesn't want to get too caught up in someone else's music or get involved in a band he'll never be part of.

"I promise, it's not for the band. It's just for us," Matt says quietly, pressing his fingers against his guitar strings.

Bob hauls himself out of the chair and moves to the kit. "Just this one," he says as settles on the throne and picks up some sticks. "Play it again."


***

Bob's second day at Matt's house starts with an incessant poke-poke-push-poke in the shoulder. He peels his eyes open slowly and grunts. That's all Matt's getting right now. If he wants words, he'll have to come back later.

"Hey, I have some shit to take care of with the label and a couple meetings so I'll probably be out most of the day. You can entertain yourself, right?" When Bob grunts again and closes his eyes, Matt pats him on the shoulder and says, "Cool. That's what I thought. There's a key on the kitchen counter in case you want to go out. I'll call you later and we'll go somewhere for dinner, if you want."

"'k," Bob croaks and goes back to sleep for a little while longer before getting up and starting his day.

While he works through half a pot of coffee, he calls his mom to let her know he's not dead in a ditch. She gives him grief for not calling sooner and just laughs when he reminds her that if she was so worried she could have called him. He tells her he's staying with Matt and she says, "Good. You need someone to... Well, take care of yourself, my boy."

Bob is smiling when he hangs up a few minutes later, so he decides to call around and check in with some other friends in the area. He needs to put out the word that he's in town and available for work or whatever. It's occasionally awkward and he doesn't explain anything, but it's nice catching up with friends he hasn't seen in a while.

Sometime in the afternoon, he gets bored and decides to go down to the beach, just to check it out. It's not so different from trips to Florida he went on as a kid. It's hot and sand gets everywhere and he can feel his skin starting to turn pink after hardly any time at all.

Not seeing the appeal that Matt obviously does, Bob gives up and escapes to a nice cool café. The background music is good and the waiter sort of half-heartedly flirts with him. Bob leaves him a generous tip for his efforts and takes the long way back to Matt's house.


Bob's just out of the shower when he hears Matt come home, so he pulls his boxers and jeans on then wanders out to the living room, still drying his hair. Matt's scowling down at his cell phone, so Bob says, "Hey. Meetings not go well?"

"No, it's this piece of shit phone. I'm about to throw it out a fucking window." When Matt stops poking at it and looks up at Bob, the scowl melts away and he smiles. "Hey. How was your day?"

"It was all right. Went to the beach. It sucked just as much as I remembered," Bob says, not really hating the beach anymore but it gives Matt something to think about besides upgrading his cell phone which Bob told him he needed to do two fucking months ago when he was bitching about his texts just randomly disappearing. "Where are we going? I need to know how to dress."

"Casual's fine. We're meeting Derek and Joe at Paru's. The reservation's not until seven, so you can take your time getting all prettied up."

"Right, yeah," Bob nods and scrunches his face up. "I'll get right on that."

Matt laughs and, when Bob throws his towel at Matt's head, he laughs even harder.

***

"Bob, Bob, wake up." Matt's voice cuts through Bob's sleep and ends a dream about spiders exploding out of a cactus.

"Fuck off," Bob mumbles and pulls his pillow over his head. He pulls it back just long enough to add, "Asshole."

Matt tugs at the pillow, practically lying on top of Bob to do it. Bob lets him wrestle it away and blinks up at Matt, whose face hovers above him. His smile is an evil smile.

"Come on, Bob, time to get up and face this beautiful day."

"Why do I have to face the day so motherfucking early?"

"Because we're going--"

"If you fucking say surfing, I'm going to fucking punch you in your cocksucking face."

"--on a roadtrip." Matt drops a kiss to the end of Bob's nose and says, "You're awfully foulmouthed when you first wake up."

"Just when I get woken up at ass o'clock in the morning--every morning. Besides, I learned it all from you," Bob says, ignoring the way Matt being draped over his chest like this is making his insides all fluttery.

Matt shakes his head sadly. "I was a bad fucking influence on you in your formative years."

"Yeah." Bob waits for a minute but when Matt still doesn't move, he reaches up and pokes him in the side. "I can't get up with you on top of me."

"I'm barely touching you," Matt says and then raises up so he can throw a leg over so he's straddling Bob and then he lies down again. The entire front of his body is pressed against Bob's from chest to thighs--which means Bob's morning wood is pressed right up against Matt's groin and the blankets do nothing to disguise it. "Now I'm on-- well, hello, Bob."

"What do you expect first thing in the morning?" Bob says and he knows his face is red. He works his hands between them and pushes against Matt's chest. "Get off me before I piss on you."

"I am really not into that," Matt says with a dirty little laugh that suggests there are other things he's into and he's thinking about them right now. But he does climb off of Bob and off the bed completely. "Coffee's ready, and if you're nice I'll make you breakfast too. I got Raisin Bran and Crunch Berries."

Bob grumbles about having to get up but he grins at Matt before Matt leaves the room. Matt just flips him off with the sweetest smile possible.

***

"We're going to San Francisco?" Bob repeats dubiously.

"Yep, pack an overnight bag and grab a jacket." Matt is wearing a Misfits t-shirt and shorts, but he's got his favorite denim motorcycle jacket hanging on the back of a kitchen chair.

Bob crosses his arms over his chest and frowns. It feels like, other than his steadfast refusal to surf, he's given up most of his autonomy to Matt since he's been here and what the hell is that about? He's no longer in the mood to be led around like a dog on a leash. "Why?"

"I know it's really warm here, but it'll get cool up around Pacifica," Matt answers absently as he fills up a couple of travel mugs with coffee and gets out cream and sugar.

"No, I mean why are we driving to San Francisco?" Bob moves over and pushes himself between Matt and the kitchen counter so Matt has to stop fucking with the coffee and pay attention to him.

Matt looks up at him in surprise and actually says, "It's a surprise."

Bob sighs because it's like Matt suddenly forgot who the hell he's talking to. "I fucking hate surprises, Matt."

"You'll love this one." Matt slides his hands past Bob's sides and for a moment Bob thinks he's going for a hug, but he just pulls back with a travel mug of coffee in each hand. He gives one to Bob and says, "Trust me."

The thing is...Bob does. He's always trusted Matt to varying degrees depending on the situation. And it's not like he's worried that Matt's going to sign them up for a drag review or something. It's just that Bob likes to have some idea of what'll happen next.

He throws some stuff in his backpack and, when they go outside, he digs up a jacket from the back of his jeep while Matt puts their bags in his trunk. He gets in the passenger seat of Matt's car and says with some resignation, "So. San Francisco, huh?"

With a blinding grin, Matt slides on a ridiculous pair of blue plastic sunglasses and cranks up the radio before backing out of his driveway.

***

When Since U Been Gone comes on the radio, Matt sings along until he notices Bob watching him. "Shut up. That's a really good song."

"Okay," Bob says with a smile, but he doesn't laugh. He's totally got a Christina Aguilera CD tucked in one of his bags back in Matt's guest room.

Bob spends the next several miles watching the ocean go by outside Matt's window. If his eyes stray to Matt's profile occasionally, well...there's only so much ocean a guy can look at.

Matt glances at Bob a couple times and then they fall into a conversation about the current state of pop music. It's comfortable and when the conversation naturally dies, neither of them rush to fill the silence.

***

When they approach San Simeon, Matt breaks off in the middle of a story about last year's Warped Tour and says, "Hey, wanna go see Hearst Castle?"

Bob thinks about it for three seconds before saying, "Not particularly."

"Okay. So anyway, as if all that wasn't enough, a strong wind knocked over Danny's bass and broke it--just put a big crack right through the neck-- right before we had to go on. We had to borrow one from The Dropkick Murphys for the first couple of songs while our tech went to get another one of Dan's from the trailer." Matt grins and shrugs. "It worked out okay, but we were like holy shit what next?"

Bob laughs and agrees. He's seen similar stuff happen on the few tours he's done sound on. He tells Matt a story about this band who had the worst luck in the world, and finishes up with, "I was just happy to make it back home alive. I figured a fiery van crash was the only thing left that could happen."

"Yeah." Matt taps on the steering wheel for a couple minutes and then says, "Are you ready to talk about whatever happened yet?"

"Not particularly." When Matt gives him a look over the tops of his sunglasses, Bob says, "I told you nothing happened."

"So you just up and dumped your boyfriend, quit your job, and moved out of your apartment because you got bored?"

Bob shrugs off the incredulous look Matt is giving him. "When you say it like that, it sounds crazy."

"Because it is."

"Whatever. But the problem was that nothing ever fucking happened," Bob says and tries to put into words what he means. "Every day started to feel like the same day over and over, like that Bill Murray movie."

"Groundhog Day, yeah. Go on."

"Yeah. I realized there was really nothing keeping me there. Andrew didn't seem to care one way or the other. We were just convenient for each other, and being convenient got really annoying after a while."

Matt makes a thinky little humming sound and then says, "What'd your mom think?"

"Oh, she was pissed. But she let me store some of my shit in her basement, so she'll get over it."

"So, you're not all broken hearted and shit?"

"No." Bob is tempted to punch Matt--just a little and not in the face--because really? Broken hearted? What the fuck? It's probably too dangerous to punch him while he's driving, so Bob just glares at him instead. "Do I look fucking broken hearted?"

"How the hell should I know? I've never seen you broken hearted before. Maybe it just makes you cranky."

Bob laughs. He can't really do anything else.


***

They stop at a gas station for a bathroom break, and Matt goes back out while Bob buys a pack of cigarettes and a couple cans of Red Bull.

Bob sticks the Red Bull under one arm to free up a hand to rip the cellophane off the box as he walks outside. He gets a cigarette in his mouth and pats down his pockets for his lighter. He gives up on finding it as he spots Matt across the parking lot talking to some kids with skateboards.

When Bob reaches Matt's side, he hands him one of the cans and says, "Lighter?"

"Left front pocket," Matt says, juggling the can and the scraps of paper the kids have handed him as he pats down his other pockets.

Bob reaches into his own pocket and pulls out a pen, gives it to Matt and then digs around in Matt's pocket until he finds the lighter.

He lights his cigarette and then takes the can of Red Bull that Matt shoves at him as he signs autographs against a skateboard. The older of the two boys--Bob figures he's not more than fourteen at the most--looks at Bob and says, "Are you in a band too?"

Bob starts to shake his head but Matt says, "Yes, he is. He's in a band with me and we're going to put out the most awesome record ever."

"Really?" The other boy--probably a couple years younger than his brother-- eyes Bob as if he doesn't quite believe Matt and then grins when Bob shakes his head and mouths, "No, we're not."

Just as they're saying good-bye and getting ready to go back over to where their parents are waiting and watching somewhat suspiciously from beside their minivan, the older kid shoves his paper toward Bob and says, "Umm...can I get your autograph too? Just in case you turn out to be important or something?"

Bob and Matt both crack up laughing and Bob scribbles his name on the paper in the small amount of space left. After the kids are safely back with their folks and Matt and Bob are smoking and drinking their Red Bull, Matt squints at Bob through a cloud of smoke. After a moment or two in which Bob starts to shift from one foot to the other, Matt says, "You're already important."

"Yeah, that's what my mom keeps telling me."

"You should listen to her. I always said she's a smart lady, your mom."

"And she always said you were gonna get me into big trouble some day."

"Like I said, smart lady." Matt tosses his cigarette away and throws an arm around Bob's neck, giving him a friendly squeeze. "Come on, the redwoods await."

Bob lets Matt lead him to the car and thinks about what Matt said. He doesn't feel important, or like he matters much at all to anyone right now.

Except. Well, maybe Matt.

Bob met Matt when Bob was technically too young to be getting into the shows he was going to. Matt sometimes acted more like a punk-ass kid than Bob did but he was actually four years older. He'd just switched from playing drums to guitar and had started a band. He'd seemed so incredibly cool that he'd made Bob want to put away his jazz records and get into the punk scene.

He's still not sure when exactly they became friends. He just looked up one day to find the hero worship was gone and Matt was an actual friend. The kind you can go for a long time without seeing but when you get together it's like you were never apart. The kind you call up out of the blue when nothing's going right and they know exactly what you need--even before you do.

***

Bob has lost track of where they are. Thick forests crowd one side of the road, and on the other rocky cliffs drop off into the ocean. It's both exhilarating and oddly claustrophobic at the same time, and Bob looks over at Matt who has one arm out the open window and a faint smile on his face. Occasionally he sings along with the Flogging Molly CD he popped in the player a few miles ago.

Matt glances over and catches Bob looking. After a couple seconds, he shifts his gaze back to the road and asks, "Why me?"

"Why you what?" Bob asks, stalling for time. He knows what Matt's asking and he doesn't have an answer. It was an instinctive reaction to everything that was happening. He never expected to take up residence in Matt's guest room. He just needed to see him in person. Random phone calls and middle-of-the-night texts from the road just didn't do it anymore.

"Why did you come to me?" Matt says patiently, and that's something that Bob is still getting used to. Since he started meditating or whatever, Matt has gotten a lot more patient and calm and a whole lot less likely to get angry and start a fight. They've both grown up a lot in that respect.

Bob decides to go with the flippant answer because anything else is too hard to put into words. "Who else is going to drag me on mysterious road trips and badger me to take up surfing?"

"True." Matt nods, but presses on, "And the real answer now?"

"That was real." Bob shrugs and concedes, "I couldn't think of anyone else I wanted to see right now more than you." When Matt starts to grin, Bob pushes at his shoulder lightly and says, "Shut up."

"I'm glad you came out here. I miss not seeing you more often."

"You're the one who had to move to California."

"Can't surf on Lake Michigan," Matt says, both amused and resigned at the same time. "Speaking of which--"

"I'll make you a deal. If you don't mention surfing until we get back to LA, I'll give it serious consideration."

"Fair enough. I'll just wait a couple days and then I'll wear you down."

"You can try." Bob grins out the window at the enormous trees whizzing by.

"Maybe I'll seduce you into it," Matt says in a musing tone like he's just thinking out loud.

Bob's head whips around and he snaps his mouth closed when it falls open. "You what?"

"Nothing. What?" Matt glances over and Bob suddenly wishes he weren't wearing sunglasses so he could read Matt's expression better.

Bob forces a laugh and shakes his head. "You fucker. You're never serious about anything."

"Sometimes I am." Matt reaches over and hits eject on the CD player and says, "Pick something else to listen to."

Bob puts in an Underoath CD and they don't talk about anything at all for a long stretch of highway.

***

They stop in a town called Carmel-by-the-Sea for lunch. Bob takes in the little shops that look more like fairy tale cottages and the stone walkways with their red brick steps. There are tourists, trees, and masses of flowers everywhere. "We are still in California, right? We didn't take a Twilight Zone turn and end up in Europe somehow?"

"I know, right? This place is crazy." Matt nods at one of the kitschy little shops near the restaurant they've just come out of and says, "Let's check this one out."

Several minutes later, Bob is poking at windchimes to check their tones, when Matt calls to him across the shop, "Hey Bob, what do you think about this for the music room?"

Bob looks over to where Matt is holding up a painting of some abstract something that Bob can't immediately figure out. "It's fine, but why don't you just hang one of your own in there?"

Matt shrugs and considers the painting he's holding so carefully. "You don't like it?"

"I just think yours are better," Bob says and then has to look away from Matt's blinding grin. He pokes at another wind chime and thinks that it might be playing a C.

Matt puts the painting back and comes over to join Bob. "So which one?"

Bob has to think a minute about all the paintings in various stages of completion that Matt has shown him in the last few days. "Um...the one with the blue and green swirly bits, maybe? It would fit the dimensions of the room and go with the curtains without being all--" He searches for what he means and finally settles on "--matchy."

Matt nods thoughtfully and says, "Yeah, that'll work." Then he steps in really close to Bob and peers over his shoulder. "Are you in the market for wind chimes?"

"Thought I might send one to my mom. Think she'd like this one?" Bob motions to the wind chime he's just been poking at. The cylinders are really shiny and the wooden bit at the top has butterflies carved into it.

"Yeah, she's got all that butterfly sh--" He glances at a an old lady hovering nearby and amends, "--stuff everywhere. You ought to get it and see if they'll ship it direct for you."

The lady, who is wearing a flowing white dress with a long rainbow colored scarf wrapped around her waist and trailing almost to her ankles, stops straightening the figurines on a nearby shelf and drifts closer. Her name tag says 'Helen' and has bluebirds on it. "We'd be glad to ship it for you, dear. We have lots of customers who are vacationing or just passing through, so we offer wrapping and shipping at a reasonable price."

Matt pokes Bob in the side and says, "See, it's reasonable too."

"Okay." Bob brushes away Matt's fingers and tells Helen, "I guess I'll take this one."

"Your mother collects butterflies, does she?" Helen asks as she finds a boxed wind chime on the shelf under the display and takes it over to the counter.

"Yes, ma'am," Bob says politely, but can't think of anything to add since that pretty much covers it.

"I'm sure this will make her happy. This one makes a particularly lovely sound." She quickly figures up the shipping and tells Bob the total.

As Bob pulls out his wallet, Matt murmurs in his ear, "I forgot to ask how you're doing."

"Financially? I'm okay," Bob mutters back and runs his debit card through the reader.

Helen hands him a receipt, a small pink card, and a shipping label. "Write the address on the label and whatever message you want to include on the card."

While Bob picks up a pen and fills in the label, then tries to think of what to put on the card, Helen turns to Matt and says, "So how long have you boys been together?"

"Oh, we've known each other a long time. Years and years," Matt says diplomatically, but Bob can hear his desire to laugh in every word.

Bob quickly scribbles something on the card and hopes his mom will be able to read it. He hands it back to Helen, then wraps an arm around Matt's shoulders, saying, "Come on, we need to get back on the road soon."

As they go through the door and back out into the bright sunshine, Bob's hand slides off Matt's shoulder and down to the middle of his back. Then he kind of forgets to drop it as they walk all the way back to the car.

***

When they drive through Monterey, Matt looks at his watch and says, "Fuck. We don't have time for the sea lions."

"Okay," Bob says, having no idea what he's talking about.

"On our way back, we'll go to Fisherman's Wharf. There're sea lions everywhere just lying around. It's pretty cool. If you want, we can hit up the aquarium too."

"Sea lions, huh?"

"They look all sweet and shit but they're kind of bad ass. They'll eat squid."

Bob has never had an opinion on sea lions before but Matt's enthusiasm makes him want to see them too. "Sounds good."

"Oh, the aquarium is amazing too. They've got something like 500 different animals. Maybe more now. I haven't been in a while."

"Well, then I guess we should go." Matt's smile makes Bob feel weird inside, so he adds, "You gonna tell me why we're going to San Fransisco now?"

Matt laughs at him and says, "And ruin the surprise? No."

Bob sighs. He'll find out soon anyway, but not knowing bugs the crap out of him every time he thinks about it. Then Matt distracts him and he forgets about it for awhile.

***

As they approach Santa Cruz, Matt mentions The Lost Boys taking place there, which sparks a discussion about all kinds of '80s movies that lasts until Bob notices that Matt's starting to look tired, stretching his fingers out away from the steering wheel before clutching it again. "Do you want me to drive for a while?"

"Yeah, you can." Matt seems surprised that Bob offered and he kind of feels like an asshole for not offering sooner. Matt seemed happy enough to be driving that Bob didn't even think about it and so soon after driving from Chicago to LA, going along for the ride seemed like a fine idea. "We'll switch when we stop for gas and you can drive the rest of the way into the city. We've only got a couple hours to go."


When they get to the city, Bob says, "Are you going to tell me where we're going? Or should I just drive around aimlessly for a while?"

Matt looks at his watch and says, "We've got enough time to check into the hotel and get something to eat before we have to be...where we're going."

Bob makes a frustrated sound which just makes Matt laugh in utter delight because Matt is a bastard. And yet... Bob can't get mad at him for it, so he just sighs and says, "Just tell me which way to go and where to turn."

They eventually pull up outside the kind of expensive hotel Bob has never stayed at. He knows Matt doesn't usually either, which makes him wonder what Matt is up to. As the valet comes over to open his door, Bob looks at Matt in disbelief and says, "Are you sure we're at the right place?"

"Yes, now pop the trunk so we can get our shit and let the nice man park the car," Matt says as he opens his own door and gets out.

After they check in, argue about splitting the costs, and then decline the services of a bellman, Matt hands Bob a keycard and says, "Go on ahead. I have to make a quick phone call. Let some folks know we're in town."

"And you can't make this phone call in the same room with me?" Bob asks, lips twitching as he tries not to laugh.

Matt sighs mournfully and shoves Bob toward the elevator, sticking his own keycard in his pocket as he pulls out his phone. He pointedly waits until Bob gets into the elevator before scrolling through his contacts or punching in a number. As the doors slide shut, Bob can see Matt watching him intently.


There's one bed. It's king sized, but still. Bob stares at it and wonders if there's been a mistake or if he really is stuck in a bad romantic comedy. When Matt comes in a couple minutes later and only says "Nice room" before heading into the bathroom, Bob thinks maybe it's not a mistake.

Matt comes out of the bathroom shirtless, with his face and the edges of his hair damp. "You want to go out or just order room service?" he asks, going over to where he dumped his bag on the floor in front of the closet. He pulls out another t-shirt not that different from the one he just took off.

"Let's go out," Bob says quickly, suddenly needing to be around other people. He's been in close quarters with Matt for the last twelve hours and apparently will have to sleep in the same bed with him later. The tension he's feeling has been growing so slowly that he barely noticed it until right now.

"Okay. I think I remember some good places nearby." Matt tugs his shirt down over his stomach and then smoothes his hair down from where it got ruffled, and Bob has two equally strong impulses hit him at the same time.

Touch him.

Run away.

Frozen and unable to commit to either one, Bob blinks and looks away before Matt catches him staring. The impulse to touch feels shocking and really fucking obvious at the same time. He had a crush on Matt for a while when they first met but Bob was sixteen and Matt was twenty and dating mostly girls at the time. Bob didn't think he had a chance and was too shy to find out, then years passed and Bob wasn't a scared teenager any more but he also wasn't the kind of guy who hit on his friends.

Now, there's Matt crawling into his bed to wake him up and climbing on top of him, making comments about seducing him and dragging him off on mysterious road trips that apparently culminate in spending the night in a fancy hotel room with one bed. A normal friend would get Bob drunk and try to get him laid and then after a week or two start asking pointed questions about what he's going to do next with the subtext of 'get a job and your own place'. Matt just tells him to make himself at home and then goes off and does his own thing for a while. When he comes back, every time he comes back, he smiles like he's happy to see Bob all over again, and Bob smiles back, feeling warm and comfortable and glad that when he felt like he had to get away, he came straight to Matt.

But now, in this hotel room in San Francisco, Bob is not feeling particularly comfortable as his perceptions of both his friend and their relationship start to shift, and he deals with it in his usual way. He says nothing about it and hopes everything starts to make sense again eventually. Muttering something about cleaning up, he ducks into the bathroom and thinks about how much closer he's been getting to Matt the last few days, how sometimes he feels flashes of the crush he had at sixteen and how different it seems at twenty-eight. There's been a subtle change, not just in his reactions to Matt but how Matt acts toward him, more touching, more flirting. And Bob's been returning some of it, and not always in a 'ha, ha, aren't you so funny' kind of way.

Looking back over the last few days, Bob thinks that Matt may have actually been showing signs of being genuinely attracted to him, but then--Bob glances at himself in the mirror--that doesn't seem very likely. He doesn't have much to offer right now, especially a guy like Matt who may not exactly be a huge superstar but is still a good-looking moderately successful musician who would not have any trouble getting laid if he wanted.

Bob only realizes he's been hiding in the bathroom like a weirdo when Matt knocks on the door and says, "You okay, dude? We're kind of on a tight schedule here."

"Yeah, just a minute," Bob calls back, and washes his hands quickly and flattens his hair down on his forehead. He opens the door and says, "Let's go."

Matt looks at him curiously as he makes sure the hotel room door locks behind them, but Bob pretends that he doesn't notice.


As they walk through the lobby, Matt veers off and stops by the front desk, asking if he has any messages. Bob figures they've only been here about fifteen minutes so it's unlikely, but the clerk comes back with a brown envelope and hands it over to Matt with a smile.

Matt glances inside briefly as he walks back over to Bob and they head outside to the street.

"We barely just got here and you're already getting packages?" Bob asks, as Matt points out which direction they need to go and they start to walk.

"That phone call I made? The guy was already on his way over," Matt says and he hands the envelope to Bob. "I was going to wait until we got to the restaurant to show you, but go ahead and open it. See why we're here."

"You're weird," Bob says, and he almost means it as a compliment. Matt didn't have to make a big deal about whatever this is. He didn't have to turn it into an all day adventure, but he did. And he did it for Bob. So even if it turns out to be something completely lame, Bob will pretend to love every minute of it just because Matt went to the trouble of trying to make it special. Unless he tries to make Bob jump out of a plane or swim with sharks or something equally life-threatening, then all bets are off.

Opening the envelope cautiously, Bob stops in the middle of the sidewalk as he pulls out the contents. He stares up at Matt, a laugh fighting to break free of his surprise. It is not lame and he won't have to pretend anything. "Tickets and backstage passes to Rise Against at the Warfield? This is awesome. Actually really awesome."

"What the hell were you expecting?" Matt asks, suspicious but amused about it.

"Knowing you? It could have been anything--skydiving or bungee jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge or--"

"Ah," Matt interrupts and points a finger at Bob. "But I know you."

Bob couldn't argue with that. He'd been disappointed that he had to work the last time Rise Against played Chicago and the time before that he'd been out on the road doing sound for a band that ending up breaking up as soon as the tour was over. He'd probably mentioned these things to Matt in passing when they'd happened, and Matt remembered. "Thanks, Matt, I don't even know what to say."

"You don't have to say anything. I just wanted to cheer up your mopey ass," Matt says and puts a hand on Bob's back to get him walking again.

"My ass is plenty cheerful now," Bob says with a faint laugh and reads the tickets again before slipping them back into the envelope for safekeeping. He looks back up at Matt to say they don't have much time, but the words die in his throat when he catches Matt looking at his ass.

"What?" Matt asks innocently. "We're going to miss part of the opening act, but I've seen them before and they're not that great. And besides, if I don't get some food soon, I'm going to gnaw off your arm."

"You'd have to turn in your vegetarian card if you became a cannibal. Humans are animals too," Bob says, trying to avoid making this any weirder than it has to be. He decides he's going to pin down Matt later on exactly what he's doing with Bob, if he's serious with the flirting or just playing around. Avoidance is not really going to get Bob anywhere in the long run, but it can definitely work for him until after the show. Because fuck it, he's going to see one of his favorite bands at a venue he's always wanted to go to.

"Yeah, so we should probably walk faster. The restaurant is just right up here." Matt grabs Bob's free hand and pulls him along, and Bob clutches the envelope to his chest and lets himself be towed in Matt's wake, feeling just a little giddy that he's about to see one of his favorite bands.

***

As soon as they are seated, Matt tells the waitress that they're pressed for time and asks what's the quickest thing they can order. Bob doesn't pay attention to what Matt orders, just says "Same for me" anyway because he doesn't care much. His excitement has subsumed his hunger, and it must show on his face because Matt grins at him as soon as she's gone.

"I knew you'd be stoked," he says, kicking Bob's foot lightly under the table.

"Dude, I've been trying to see these guys for two freaking years, and something always happens," Bob says and only realizes he's stroking the envelope when Matt reaches out and touches the back of his hand.

Bob snatches his hand back in embarrassment but Matt doesn't comment on it, just says, "I know. We first toured with them a few years ago and we got to be pretty good friends. So as soon as I found out you and they were going to be so close together, I called up Tim and well, here we are."

"Yeah, here we are," Bob says. Here they are on something that feels a lot like a date now that Bob is properly paying attention.

"We did one leg of our last tour with Rise Against," Matt says, reaching for the glass of water the waitress has just set down in front of him. She does a double take and looks closely at him, apparently for the first time.

"Oh my God, you're Matt Skiba," she gasps, and Bob can't help but laugh quietly. She ignores him and continues staring at Matt with wide eyes. "I saw you guys at The Fillmore last year. It was amazing."

"Thank you. That was a good show--great crowd," Matt says with a kind smile. He takes a sip of his water and raises his eyebrows.

She finally sets Bob's glass down and says, "Um. I'll be right back with your food."

"Does that happen very often?" Bob asks, still amused.

Matt shrugs. "Sometimes. They're usually really cool."

Bob nods and thinks about what it would be like being recognized every where he went. He concludes it would be very weird. Before he can say anything, the waitress comes back and puts their plates down.

When they're ready to leave she whips out her phone and asks for a picture with Matt. Bob takes it and then takes another for good measure. He doesn't think he's imagining it that Matt's smile is more for him than for the camera.


***

The Warfield is just as nice as Bob had heard it was, although he doesn't get to see much of the front of house because some guy from the crew meets them and takes them backstage. It all passes in a blur of people and activity until the guy pushes open a door and Matt and Bob come face to face with Brandon, who says, "Skiba!"

"How's it going, buddy?" Matt says and shakes Brandon's hand. "This is my friend, Bob Bryar. Bob, Brandon Barnes."

Bob swallows hard and tries not to sound nervous when he says, "Hey. Good to meet you."

Bob is vaguely--horrifically--aware that Matt is telling Brandon that Bob is a drummer when Tim comes over and says hello.

Here is the thing. Bob has met a lot of bands through working at the House of Blues and doing sound on a few tours. He doesn't get startstruck, because it's all part of the job. Billie Joe Armstrong once bought him a beer and Bob just said thanks and went back to work. This tonight? This is different. Bob does not have a job to do or any other distractions from the fact that Tim McIlrath is trying to make small talk with him and Bob is standing there like a giant dork too nervous to do anything but nod.

Matt shifts closer until his shoulder is pressing against Bob's and that shakes Bob out of his daze enough to answer Tim's question about how long they're in town. "I don't know. I think we're going back to LA tomorrow?" He glances at Matt for confirmation.

"Yeah," Matt says. "I wanted to hang out and show Bob some of the sights but I've got some stuff I have to do on Friday, so we're heading back in the morning." He meets Bob's eyes and amends, "Well, afternoon."

Bob raises his eyebrows but Matt just smiles and turns to say something to Joe and Zach, who've just come into the dressing room. Bob is introduced again and there are handshakes all around, and Bob tries to relax when he's practically vibrating out of his skin.

Matt is chatting away with his friends and Bob is watching him as much as them. He kind of forgets sometimes that Matt is sort of a rock star, and then some kid wants an autograph or a waitress wants a picture or he brings Bob to see fucking Rise Against with one phone call. It's a little unsettling, but then Matt makes a goofy face to illustrate some story he's telling Zach and then he's just plain old Matt again, and Bob kind of wants to kiss him. Not for being a rock star, but for being Matt.

Bob shakes his head and looks down at the floor. He's got to get a grip before he does something stupid or at least embarrassing.

A woman with a headset sticks her head in the door and says, "Ten minutes, guys." She points at Matt and Bob and says, "You two, come with me."

"Hey, Matt," Tim calls out just before they follow the woman out. "You want to do Mother for the encore?"

"Hell yeah," Matt says with a grin. As they follow the woman--who tells them to call her Cheryl--Matt nudges Bob and says, "They let me sing with them a couple times on this last tour. That was fun."

"And did you let Tim sing with your band?" Bob asks, suspecting he already knows the answer because he knows how Matt and his bandmates are. They let opportunities slip through their fingers all the time.

"We were going to, but we never got it together." Matt shrugs and bumps the back of his hand against Bob's wrist before going to stand at the side of the stage where Cheryl points them. Bob follows slowly, thinking about Matt and this opportunity that maybe it'll be up to Bob to make sure it doesn't slip away.

"If you need anything, let me or one of the crew know. Otherwise, just try to stay out of the way and have a good time," she says before rushing back off the way she came.

Bob can hear the crowd and can see the faces of the kids in front, their excitement is thick in the air and it feeds his. He can only imagine what a rush it must be for the bands, standing up here and having all that adoration thrown back at them. He looks over at Matt who laughs and seems to read Bob's mind, because he says, "It's fucking amazing."

Bob just nods and Matt presses the front of his shoulder against the back of Bob's so that they're sort of overlapping. The heat of Matt's body seeps through Bob's shirt and it's all Bob can do not to reach out and pull him even closer. But then the band is taking the stage and the crowd's screams rise to a deafening pitch.

Bob starts grinning with the opening chords and doesn't stop all the way through. It is amazing and one of the best concert experiences of his life. No, definitely the very best, he decides when Matt wraps an arm around his shoulders and hugs him tight to his side during Swing Life Away. When Matt's arm drops away, Bob reaches over and squeezes his hand briefly. When Matt looks at him, Bob mouths "Thanks" at him and Matt just smiles and continues singing along.

After the last song, the band comes off stage long enough to guzzle down some water and wipe the sweat away with towels tossed at them by a roadie. Another tech comes around and sets Matt up with in-ear monitors, and then he's following Tim and the rest of the band out on stage.

"Our good friend Matt Skiba is going to help us out with this one," Tim says. The crowd screams and Bob lets out a piercing whistle that makes Matt look over at him and grin. Bob gives him a thumbs up.

They do a cover of Danzig's Mother. Not many people could pull it off, but Tim and Matt do and as soon as Matt comes off stage, Bob tells him so. Matt gives him a quick hug and then hugs all the guys in Rise Against.

"Wish we could hang, but we have to get straight back on the bus," Zach tells them, and Tim, Brandon, and Joe tell Bob they were glad to meet him and he tries to return the sentiment without sounding like a giant fanboy. He's not sure how successful he is, but they're all really cool and give no indication that they think he's a tool or anything.


On the walk back to the hotel, Bob can't stop talking about the show. He realizes he might be babbling just a little, when Matt takes his hand and says, "I'm glad you had a good time."

"No, I didn't," Bob says. After a pause to let it sink in and for Matt to start frowning in confusion, he playfully tugs on Matt's hand and corrects him, "I had a great time."

"Don't be a dick," Matt says and hangs on to Bob's hand when he tries to let go. "Just for that, I'm holding your hand all the way to the hotel."

Bob laughs at the mock petulant look on Matt's face and says, "You want to be my girlfriend, don't you?"

"Oh em geeeee, Bob, will you take me to the senior prom?" Matt says in a fluttery falsetto that makes Bob laugh even harder.

"Maybe." Bob pretends to think about it. "If you promise to put out."

"Not a problem," Matt says and suddenly neither of them are laughing.

"Uh, yeah, about that..." Bob starts but he's unsure of how to bring up all the stuff he's been thinking about.

"Have I been too obvious?" Matt says and this time, he lets Bob pull his hand away.

Bob shoves both hands in his pockets and hunches his shoulders. He hates having conversations like this. His last relationship started when he and Andrew got a little drunk and started fooling around on Andrew's couch, and then the next time, Andrew had announced he needed a good fuck and Bob had said, "Okay." They'd never fucking talked about anything, which in retrospect should have been a big clue that it wasn't going to work out.

"Bob," Matt says, and something about his tone makes Bob realize he's been quiet for too long. "Should I be apologizing?"

"No. Oh fuck no," Bob says quickly, and he looks around the street corner where they've stopped. The hotel is just up ahead, so he says, "Maybe we should...not do this here?"

Matt nods and they start walking again, close but no longer touching until Matt brushes his hand across the small of Bob's back as they go through the front doors of the hotel. What should be a simple sensation that Bob is used to sends a shiver up his spine and something in his belly tightens with anticipation.

There's a lot of activity in the lobby as people return from wherever they've been for the evening, and the elevator is already half-full when Bob and Matt step inside and more people crowd in just before the doors shut. Bob ends up pressed against the wall with Matt close in front of him, so he puts his hands on Matt's hips and pulls him even closer. Matt glances back with a raised eyebrow, but doesn't comment. He just leans into Bob's chest slightly, increasing the contact between them without being so overt as to draw attention.

The elevator stops and a few people get out freeing up space, but neither Bob nor Matt make any effort to move away. Nobody's paying attention to them because there's a straight couple making out in the other corner, so Bob drops his head onto Matt's shoulder and sighs. Matt laughs under his breath and Bob can feel his body sink back into Bob's just a little. Bob tightens his grip on Matt's hips and turns his face into Matt's neck, and mutters, "How much further to our floor?"

"Almost there," Matt says and, if anyone didn't know him, he'd sound perfectly normal. But Bob can hear the strain in his voice, the tightness of his breath, and it makes Bob smile to know he's not the only one getting turned on by practically cuddling in an elevator. He should probably be concerned that his dick is getting hard against Matt's ass, should worry that Matt can feel it but they're way past that point now.

The doors open on their floor and Bob lets go of Matt long enough to exit the elevator and walk down the hallway, but as soon as Matt unlocks the door to their room and they step inside, Bob reaches for him again. Matt shoves the key card in his pocket and then slides his hands up Bob's torso, pushing him back against the door.

There's a weird little pause when Matt's mouth is inches from Bob's and they just stare at each other for a moment, like they're both acknowledging that things are about to change irrevocably. Bob swallows and licks his lips, and when he drops his gaze to Matt's mouth, Matt makes a soft sound in the back of his throat and closes the distance.

In the back of his head, somewhere in the dark little corner where terror lives, Bob thought kissing Matt might be weird, possibly even off-putting, just because they've known each other so long and seen each other in the most unflattering lights possible. But it's not.

Matt's mouth sliding against his, Matt's hands on his chest, his knee pressing against Bob's, it's all good. Bob opens up and slides his tongue across Matt's lower lip, teasing and playful as his hands move down Matt's back to clasp his ass and pull him even closer until they are plastered against each other. Matt is growing hard against Bob's hip and Bob's been hard since the elevator, and he knows they should probably slow down and talk about this so they don't fuck up too irrevocably.

That's what they should do. What they actually do is stumble across the room, still kissing and groping, and fall onto the bed. Bob lands on his back with Matt on top of him, one knee uncomfortably close to Bob's balls.

Matt shifts his knee back, props himself up on one hand and slides his other hand over Bob's crotch, catching the tab of his zipper and sliding it down and then popping the button. It's a pretty slick move and Bob says so, to which Matt smiles and says, "Only the best for you, baby."

"If you want your hand to go any further, you won't call me that again," Bob says, raising his knees to cradle Matt's hips and reaching up to cup the back of Matt's head. He pulls him down for a kiss and swallows Matt's laugh.

Bob kisses Matt thoroughly, only pulling back when his lips are tingly and he's short of breath. Although, part of that may be from Matt's hand sliding inside his boxers and wrapping around his cock. "Please tell me you planned ahead," Bob gasps and Matt tightens his grip.

"What?" Matt says, all his attention apparently focused on his hand inside Bob's pants.

"I want you to fuck me," Bob says patiently, even though he feels just the opposite. "Tell me you packed condoms and lube."

Matt's gaze flies up to meet Bob's and Bob already knows the answer. "What the fuck kind of seduction is this?"

"I didn't... Oh come on, you'd be more pissed if I'd thought you were a sure thing," Matt says and Bob knows he's probably right, the aggravating fucker. Matt kisses him quickly and then moves backward down the bed, pulling Bob's jeans and boxers down to his knees. "Why don't I suck you off and then fuck you when we get back to LA."

Bob pulls his shirt off over his head and when he's free, Bob kicks his feet to help Matt get his jeans off completely and says, "That is acceptable."

"Glad it meets with your approval," Matt says and stands at the end of the bed to undress. Bob smirks and looks at Matt with lover's eyes instead of friend ones. It's interesting how Matt is exactly the same as he ever was, but it's like Bob is seeing him for the first time. Taking in his smooth tanned skin and vivid ink, the breadth of his shoulders and the planes of his chest like it's all new, and it is because now Bob can touch. He can sit up and pull Matt down next to him, he can lick Matt's neck and taste the sweat on his skin. He can rub his hands down Matt's sides and cup his hips, make Matt groan and arch against him.

"Bob, fuck, I want--" Matt breaks off before he finishes that thought, but the way he's pushing Bob to the head of the bed makes it pretty clear. Once Bob is propped against the tall wooden headboard, Matt straddles his lap and kisses him, fast and nearly out of control until Bob puts a hand on the side of his face, rubs a thumb over his cheekbone, and makes him slow down. Bob likes kissing, especially someone as good as Matt, and he doesn't want to give it up just yet. Matt's hands skip and slide all over Bob, like he doesn't know where to go first so he's just going everywhere at the same time.

Bob reaches down and wraps a hand around Matt's cock, stroking him from root to tip until he makes a helpless sound against Bob's mouth and jerks his hips. Bob lets go and licks his hand, returning for a slow slick slide that gets him another little moan. He's starting to love the sounds Matt makes, so completely unselfconscious. He wonders just how far Matt will go. He really wants to know, but perhaps a hotel--even a nice one with thick walls--is not the place to find out.

Matt grunts a little and hooks his hand around Bob's, pulling him back so that he can wrap his hand and Bob's around both their cocks at the same time. "I'll blow you later, just right now..."

"Yeah, yeah, I'll blow you too, whatever--" Bob says impatiently, trying to coordinate the movement of his hand with Matt's. The sensations of Matt's rough hand and callused fingertips and his smooth cock--so hot and hard--slipping and grinding against Bob's...it's almost overwhelming. He tries to hold back, but fuck it, he hasn't had sex in a while and he's already desperate to come.

"Matt," Bob gasps and instinctively bucks his hips. Matt nods and picks up the pace, and a moment later Bob is coming so hard his vision blurs and he bangs his head back against the headboard. He doesn't even feel the impact through the haze of pleasure, just hears the thump and Matt's breathless laugh.

Matt lets go of Bob and pumps his own cock a few more times, muttering "come on, come on," and for some reason it's the funniest thing Bob has heard all night. His laughter is buried underneath Matt's moan as he comes on Bob's stomach and then rests his head on Bob's shoulder.

After a few moments where they both just take deep breaths, Matt presses a kiss to Bob's collarbone and then moves off to settle on the bed next to him. He pokes at Bob and says. "You should go get a washcloth so we can clean up before we fall asleep."

"Why me?" Bob asks reasonably. "You do it."

"I already did most of the work here," Matt replies, slumping down against Bob and rubbing his nose against Bob's biceps.

"Oh, is that how's going to be?" Bob yawns and tilts his head against the top of Matt's. He may even press a kiss to his hair, but Bob isn't sure he'd admit to it if called on it. He's feeling unusually tender toward Matt and he doesn't want that thrown back in his face somehow--which really says more about him and his own fears than Matt because he doesn't think Matt would do that.

Bob hears a weird little snort and looks down. Matt is sound asleep, propped awkwardly against Bob's side. He carefully shifts into a slightly more comfortable position and debates waking Matt up for a shower versus just going to sleep. They've both got come drying in various places and neither have brushed their teeth since early this morning, so they're going to wake up feeling really gross.

The fact that they are lying on top of the bedspread is what really decides it. They've had a long day and exhaustion is hitting Bob pretty hard, but the thought of sleeping on top of the covers is just too much. He pats Matt's face gently until he makes a questioning sound and says, "We gotta get up and get cleaned up and under the covers."

Matt protests wordlessly, but when Bob gets him on his feet he shuffles to the bathroom obediently. It's like directing a zombie. He does what Bob says but nothing more than that and Bob suspects that he's not actually awake at all. When they emerge all clean and minty fresh, Bob pulls the covers back and arranges the pillows. He briefly considers putting on some boxers but in the end he just crawls in naked beside Matt.

Before he falls asleep, Bob puts his mouth right next to Matt's ear and says, "If you wake me up before nine o'clock I will kill you so dead."

Matt just snuffles into the pillow and Bob knows that's all the answer he'll be getting.

***

Bob wakes up with Matt draped over his chest, his lips pressed damply against the base of his neck. The clock on the bedside table shows it's not quite seven. Matt has fucking trained him to wake up early, and Bob thinks this time he should be the one to wake Matt up before he's ready.

Since Bob is a nicer person that Matt, he gently rolls him onto his back and when Matt stares up at him blearily, Bob says, "Good morning," and then scoots down the bed and takes Matt's cock in his mouth.

"Holy mother of pearl." Matt groans and says hoarsely, "It certainly fucking is."

Bob snickers and the vibration around his cock makes Matt moan and mutter something incoherent. Bob has one hand wrapped around the base of Matt's cock, pumping it slowly when his mouth slides up to the tip. He reaches up with the other and rubs Matt's stomach, his side, up along his ribs. He pinches a nipple and swallows around the head of Matt's cock at the same time, and Matt's hips twitch hard and he groans low and hot. Bob pulls off completely and raises his head. Matt looks wrecked already with his lower lip caught between his teeth and his eyes barely open. His hands are twisting the sheets so hard that they're coming off the corners of the mattress. He jerks his hips and whimpers, "Please."

Bob takes him back in and sucks him down as far as he can go and then sets up a comfortable rhythm, pumping his hand in a quicker tempo. His free hand presses Matt's hip down against the bed, and when Matt grunts and strains hard against his hold, Bob pulls off and ducks to the side just in time to avoid getting a face full of spunk.

Matt relaxes bonelessly and is about to fall back asleep when Bob crawls up next to him and says, "Hey, you promised."

"I'll get you in the shower," Matt says, not even opening his eyes and slurring his words like he's half gone already. But Bob and his dick are both wide awake now, so he pushes and tugs on Matt until he gets to his feet and stumbles to the bathroom behind Bob.

Matt seems to really wake up when Bob pushes him under the hot water of the shower. "It's too early for this."

"You said." Bob shrugs and lets the water cascade over them both as he waits impatiently for Matt to get with the program.

"This relationship won't last long if you're going to nag me all the time," Matt says, tilting his head back and soaking his hair before shoving it away from his forehead.

"I don't nag," Bob says repressively, but after a moment he adds, "What kind of relationship is this anyway?"

Matt opens his eyes and puts his arms around Bob. "Whatever kind you want."

"What if I don't know yet?" Bob asks, hooking his hands around Matt's shoulders. "I mean, what do you want?"

Matt rubs his thumb up Bob's spine and says, slow and thoughtful, "Maybe we should figure that out together."

"Okay," Bob says, and presses down on Matt's shoulders. "Later."

"Yeah, yeah," Matt grumbles but he's grinning when he's on his knees looking up at Bob.

Bob grins back and thinks that, whatever they decide, it'll be fun figuring it out.



The end.


[PS: there's an Untitled Sequalish Thing here]

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