Michelle Ogilvy © 2017
All Rights Reserved
Jay knew it was going to be a hard night. Adam had come by the store to pick up something for dinner, and he’d been mumbling to himself again. It was becoming a habit with him. Ever since Adam had started the new semester, he’d been complaining about this one subject. It didn’t seem to make any difference what Jay said or did. There was only one thing that could distract Adam. Not that Jay had a problem with providing that kind of distraction—it was the bitching and moaning that preceded it that had him dawdling to get home.
This would be the third year that he and Adam had been flatmates in Adelaide, and Jay could picture exactly what he would find when he walked through the door. He pasted on a smile and braced himself. Sure enough, Adam was sitting in the middle of a pile of textbooks and handwritten notebooks spread across most of the floor space with various highlighters and pens strewn throughout the mess.
The more stressed Adam got, the less likely Jay would be to see the floor, or the bench in the kitchen area, or pretty much anything in Adam’s room. Jay always drew the line at any of that shit ending up in his own room. His aim for the night was to get Adam in there where the other man couldn’t torture himself over whatever went wrong that day.
At least now Jay didn’t have to worry about Adam literally pulling his hair out from stress. Adam had starting cutting his hair short after he’d started at uni. The new hairstyle had broken the stress-pulling habit, so Adam had kept it. The muttering had gotten worse, though. Jay wasn’t even sure that Adam knew he was doing it half the time.
“So, what sludge have we got for dinner tonight?” Jay asked, making sure to keep his tone light. Adam didn’t look up. “It was your turn to cook, remember?”
“Oh, right. I forgot. I bought some stuff.” Adam gestured vaguely towards the kitchen area. Jay couldn’t bring himself to call an area bounded by benches rather than walls an actual kitchen, like it was a separate room.
“What are we in for? Pizza? Lasagne? Reheated puke?”
“It was rice.”
“In… I don’t know.” Adam finally pulled his head up from his books and looked at Jay. “It was weeks ago. When are you going to let that go?”
Jay shrugged. “When it stops being amusing.”
“I’m too tired to joke around, Jay.”
“Fridays.” Jay shook his head and sighed dramatically. “I’ll just go ahead and nuke us something then.”
“It’s my turn,” Adam said, not moving from his position on the floor.
“I’m not sure you’re trusted with the microwave, Adam. Do we really have to have the reheated puke joke twice in one night?”
“That wasn’t my fault, bakeboy.”
“Bakeboy? Maybe you should take a break from the study. I think it’s fried your brain. That’s the lamest insult I’ve ever heard. Come on, Obsesso, come get some grub.”
“Obsesso?” Adam was trying not to laugh. Jay could tell.
“I think that’s about at the same level as bakeboy. Figure I’ll keep all my best insults until you’re feeling more up to it.”
Adam huffed but got up off his butt and onto the stool at the kitchen bench. He watched as Jay put the dinners in the microwave.
“You shouldn’t stand in front of those, you know,” Adam said. “They’ll give you cancer.”
“The sad thing about that is that you wouldn’t cry at my funeral,” Jay replied.
“What do you mean?”
“The way you’re going, you’ll die from an ulcer long before I die of cancer.”
Jay moved away from the thing anyway. Their microwave was large, old, and temperamental. Or just plain mental, depending on how generous they were feeling towards it on the day. The clicking noise it was making was certainly a new development.
Adam heaved a large sigh, and Jay turned his attention back to his friend.
“Do I dare ask what the evil wench did today?” Jay asked.
“It’s just that she expects so much,” Adam replied.
“I hear ya.”
“Where did she get such high expectations anyway?”
“Germany.” Jay’s comment barely rated a glance.
“It’s not like we’re all overly efficient geniuses.”
“I’ve always been partial to lazy dimwits, myself.”
“It’s like that stupid subject is supposed to be the centre of our universe.”
“If we don’t spend at least three times as much effort as we do in other subjects, we barely pass.”
“That’s what I’ve heard.”
“I just don’t have that amount of time.”
“I never got a C in anything before I took her class.”
“Well, there was PE. You weren’t real good at PE.”
“I know it’s a big joke to you, Jay, but it’s my life.”
“I don’t think uni’s actually counted as life.” Jay was trying for a smile, but all he got was a glare. “Geez, if it bothers you that much, do something.”
“Hmm. Leave it with me. I’ll think of something,” Jay said as the microwave beeped. “And dinner is served. Enjoy your cancer in a bowl, Obsesso.”
Adam didn’t say anything, but he was finally smiling. The first step in Jay’s plan. The crucial point would be after dinner when Adam would want to go back to studying. If Jay could prevent that happening, at least for the night, Adam might have time to get over whatever issues he’d had that day and look at the problem afresh in the morning. Otherwise he would be obsessing over it all night.
When Adam had finished eating, he dumped his dishes in the sink and started making motions towards the pile of papers and other paraphernalia in the lounge. Jay threw out the first distraction he could think of to prevent a return to study mode.
“Hey, it’s Dan,” he said, directing Adam’s attention to the window and a view of their neighbour. “Out for another night of debauchery.”
“I don’t know how he does it,” Adam said, coming over to stand next to Jay at the window.
“Of course not. You barely leave the flat for anything but uni. Practically a hermit. You’ll end up one of those old men who stay at home all day waiting for some kid to kick a ball into your yard so you can yell at them from the porch.”
“If you insist.” Jay grinned and pressed his lips to Adam’s.
“My assignment. I have to go over the comments,” Adam mumbled around Jay’s tongue.
Jay ignored him. Adam needed this way more than he needed to chastise himself over comma placement or whatever minor issue the professor was cracking down on that week.
Jay had never been afraid of hard work, but Adam made everything harder than it needed to be. Including Jay. Which is how they had started this little dance of theirs in the first place. Now, it was simply a part of life.
Everything about Adam was familiar now, from his long, slightly crooked nose and deep brown eyes to the toenails that he never seemed to trim frequently enough. No matter how many times they did this, though, Jay didn’t get tired of looking or touching. The women that shared Jay’s bed on occasion, they never lasted long. But Adam was his mate. That was something completely different and lasting.
Yet, each time Jay leaned in for a kiss with Adam, there was always a moment as their lips met when he wondered if this would be the night that Adam pushed him away. When Adam finally questioned why the hell they were doing this. Whether this really was a ‘mates’ thing to do. But Adam never questioned.
Jay was glad of it. The guy needed a release, with all the pressure he put himself under. Jay didn’t mind providing a helping hand. And by this point, he knew all the right buttons to push until Adam let go and surrendered to the demands of sensation and impulse. Just the way Jay liked him.
The alarm went off at 3:30. As usual, Adam had latched onto Jay like a drowning man while they were sleeping, but Jay had learnt how to extricate himself enough to roll out of bed.
“Turn it off,” Adam moaned, pulling the sheet over his head.
Jay leaned over and switched the alarm off. Then he yanked the sheet from Adam’s head, put his mouth to Adam’s ear and said, “You could always sleep in your own room.”
Adam groaned and pulled the sheet back up again. Jay grinned and sauntered out of the room to have a shower. A typical Saturday morning.
The early morning shifts usually meant that Jay had a long afternoon nap so that he’d be functioning on Saturday night. On this particular night, though, Jay kind of wished that he was sleepier. It was the only thing he could think of that would have made the night more endurable.
It felt like Tammy had been yapping in his ear ever since he’d picked her up a few hours ago. You would think that somewhere in all that noise, he would have found some commonality to latch on to, some topic to discuss rather than talk at each other. Even some peace and quiet during the movie would have been welcome. But no.
He had not anticipated the night going this way when he’d asked her out earlier in the week. Of course, his attention might have been slightly lower than her mouth when he’d thought that a good idea. She was hot, for sure. He was starting to think that he might need to expand the criteria for a date, though.
Maybe he should just offer to take her home and end the misery. On the other hand, she was the one who’d suggested going back to his place. Maybe they could find some commonality there. Like a shared need for less clothing.
He was in two minds about which option to choose, but when driving, a destination is usually a pretty good idea, especially seeing as the two options were in opposite directions. For the moment, his little mind was winning.
“What made you want to be a baker, anyway?” Tammy said. It took Jay a second to realise it was an actual question and he should respond. By that point, she’d moved on. “You don’t seem like someone who’s into looking after people. The smell must be just delicious, though. I love the smell of baking. Is that what it was, the smell? I know that—”
“There’s less traffic in the morning,” Jay interrupted.
“Huh?” the girl said.
“That’s what I like about baking. We start early so there’s less traffic when I go to work.”
Tammy just looked at him for a few beats. Then she shrieked in his ear. Startled the hell out of him.
“Isn’t it gorgeous?” she exclaimed, staring out of Jay’s window. “Spunky.”
“Spunky?” People still used that word? Jay grimaced. He glanced over and saw one of those dumb hatchbacks that looked as if the tail had been lopped off.
“You know, cute, zippy, sporty, lush—”
“It’s crap.” He cut her off before she could think of another twenty or thirty adjectives.
“What do ya mean it’s crap. It’s not crap.”
“Zero to a hundred takes a month,” Jay explained. “It’s got average suspension. Understeers. You’d pay through the nose for petrol. And a mate of mine said his air-conditioning barely cooled his left… hand.”
“Seats looked comfy, though.”
God. If the seats looked comfy, it must be roadworthy. Obviously cars were not going to be their common ground. Jay was still betting on nakedness.
Jay had told Adam that he’d be bringing someone home. He’d hoped it would force Adam to rein himself in a little. Even so, Jay held his breath as he opened the door to the flat. Adam was back to studying, sprawled across the lounge room floor again. It appeared to be his usual level of overachievement, though, rather than the disaster area from the night before so Jay figured a mental breakdown wasn’t drastically imminent.
“Can I use your bathroom?” Tammy asked.
“Through the hall, on the right,” he replied.
Tammy smiled and headed through. While she was gone, Jay went over to the fridge to grab a couple of Cokes, leaving boot prints on several sheets of paper on the way. When he turned, Adam was right behind him. He offered Adam one of the Cokes before he got any grief about how important the papers had been.
“How’s it going?” Adam asked.
Jay leaned in conspiratorially. “My advice: don’t engage. She’ll go into an hour-long monologue about her long-term goals, then segue into what yours should be.”
“I don’t know. She looked in a pretty big hurry to me.”
Adam’s statement prompted a grin from Jay.
“I bought the biggest Coke they had and kept shoving it at her. She must have a bladder the size of an elephant,” Jay said.
“What was she? Talker? Toucher? Popcorn hogger? Not…” Adam widened his eyes, “a mobile phone answerer?”
“Talker. Through the whole movie. I swear she didn’t even close her mouth to sip. How is that possible?”
“Could explain the whole elephant bladder thing, though.”
“I gotta start dating out of Woolworths.” Jay shook his head mournfully, and Adam laughed.
Jay made this statement frequently but never took his own advice. Adam always maintained that this was due to laziness on Jay’s part. But it wasn’t laziness, it was practicality. Why bother looking for girls when they threw themselves at him on a daily basis at work?
Neither man noticed Tammy coming back.
“Got any Coke?” she said from the other side of the kitchen counter.
“Adam just drank the last of it, but I’m sure we can find you something.” Jay turned to the fridge, mouthing “elephant” to Adam. Adam hid a smirk and headed to the lounge area.
“So, you want it here or in my room?” Jay asked when he emerged from the fridge with a can of Solo. “It’s a little overcrowded in here.”
Tammy looked over into the lounge area and saw Adam step into the small circle he had made inside of all the junk he had around the room. It might have been less than the night before but was still a remarkable amount of junk for a normal person.
And then Adam started mumbling to himself. They heard “the internet,” said scornfully, with a snort of disbelief. Jay frowned. Maybe it was worse than he’d thought.
“Yeah. Okay,” she said.
Jay led her to his bedroom. He was still frowning as he closed the bedroom door, his mind half on Adam. He should probably check in on Adam later, make sure the guy wasn’t stressing out too much again. The frown dissipated a little when he turned around and found a bare-chested Tammy waiting for him on his bed.
“Not one for small talk?” he said. That surprised him.
“Just come over and show me what you’ve got, big boy.” She patted the bed, and Jay went over and kissed her. Hard and long, savouring the silence. Then he started to kiss down her neck.
“Kinda sparse in here. Don’cha even have a picture of your mother?”
Jay groaned inwardly and made his way back to her mouth.
Jay was lying peacefully in bed after Tammy left when he felt a body slide in behind him. Then breath warming the back of his neck.
“Well?” the body asked. “It couldn’t have gotten worse with elephant bladder, surely.”
“Ugh. If she would’ve shut up for more than three minutes at a time, it might have helped.”
Adam laughed, and Jay would have hit him with a pillow if they hadn’t been lying on both of them. He tried a palm instead, but Adam still snickered.
“She seemed…” Adam paused. “Inquisitive.”
“Inquisitive?” Jay said. “Was she quizzing you on the way out? God, what did she ask? It wasn’t ‘do you have a picture of your mother’ was it? You probably would have liked that.”
“Showing her pictures of my mother? I don’t think I want to hear about the kinky shit you get up to, Jay. Actually, she saw the cans there for recycling and asked me why we use Heinz baked beans instead of SPC. I’d never really thought about it.”
“‘Cause SPC are crap. Now go to sleep, ya big wanker.”
“That probably would have been a shorter conversation,” Adam acknowledged. “Going to Ash this weekend?”
“You have to go down there sometime, you know.”
“No. I don’t,” Jay said. He felt Adam turn away and knew Adam was disappointed.
Adam was always more disappointed when Jay didn’t go than Jay’s own family was. Strange boy. Jay had never understood his friend’s attachment to their lame-ass hometown. Jay would be completely fine going the rest of his life without setting foot in Ashdon Harbor.
“Adam?” Jay murmured.
“Why is it that I only seem to attract women that I have absolutely nothing to say to these days?”
“Dunno. Maybe you just attract women with bad taste in men,” Adam replied.
Jay slapped Adam again, using the opportunity to pull Adam towards him so that Adam’s front was right up against his back.
“You still feeling stressed?” Jay asked.
Adam sighed, burrowing his forehead against Jay’s shoulder.
“Take that as a yes,” Jay said.
“Thanks for reminding me about it,” Adam mumbled.
“Oh, you were looking for distraction? I can do distraction.” Jay nudged Adam off his shoulder and rolled around so they were facing each other. “Besides, I think I’ve come up with a solution to your problem.”
“Oh yeah?” Adam said, as Jay started with the promised distraction, slipping his leg between Adam’s thighs.
“You know I always come through for you,” Jay said, his hands wandering over Adam’s body.
“Mmm. What’s your solution?”
“I’m gonna buy you a watch.”
“You’re always saying time gets away from you. Can’t do that if it’s strapped to your wrist. Only logical.”
Adam made a noise somewhere between a groan and a laugh, mixed with a little arousal as Jay’s wandering hands found a particularly sensitive spot. “That may be the stupidest joke you’ve ever made,” Adam said.
“Doubt it. But stick with me, kid. They’ll only get worse.”
Jay could feel Adam laughing, probably against his better judgement. But he wasn’t tense anymore. Mission accomplished. Still, while Jay was there, he might as well finish what he started.
He pulled Adam closer, hot skin against his, Adam’s erection evidence that tonight wasn’t going to be the night Jay would be pushed away. Emboldened by the encouragement, Jay grabbed the back of Adam’s head and kissed him stupid.
He fully intended to lick his way down, tracing the path his hands had already made on Adam’s body, and do something with that hard-on that Adam had so graciously supplied for him. But, for the moment, he was content staying right where he was, Adam’s tongue playing with his and Adam’s fingers digging into his cheeks, keeping him close.
He didn’t have to work in the morning so there was no need to speed things up. They had all the time they could want. And there was nothing Jay wanted more than to replace the taste of Tammy with Adam’s familiar flavour.