Running Water

The morning begins hideously early. He didn’t sleep, of course. It’s not a hardship, laying for a scant few hours in Dance’s bed, with the man breathing those long, slow, sleep rhythms into his chest, their legs tangled warmly together. God, the sweetness of finally holding his musician. Drin just blinks quietly in the dark, not wanting to miss any of it. Wouldn’t do to doze off into a bad dream now–there’s good reason he understood exactly why Dance might crawl under a bench to get a nap. But he is tired enough to drop into a sort of a staring daze.When Dance moves, Drin blinks to full alertness, and he turns carefully in arms that are awfully hard and awfully hot and a body that is crowding him in the ridiculously tight space of Dance’s bed. There isn’t even an alarm clock. The body next to his tightens up, climbs gently over him, gives him a kiss on the beard, and then Dance is getting dressed in droopy old sweats, covering up all that gorgeous muscle until he looks as sloppy as a ballet dancer in the dim night light by the doorway. “Sleep,” he whispers, and then he’s gone, and the door is shut.

But of course he can’t sleep, blinking into the dim light. He looks around and up at the things in Dance’s room, and feels as if he’s been invited into a girl’s house. He knows what that means. Of course Dance will be interested in poking round Drin’s place, opening all the closets and looking at his clothes and sniffing the soap with delight, he knows that already. But it doesn’t mean the same thing as coming into this house, into this crowded room.

He is looking up into a nautilus shell built up by his beautiful musician; the furniture accommodates Dance as closely as a pair of old shoes. Low shelves will knock Drin silly if he is careless when he turns around. He is in a very private place, and he knows he must be gentle with the person who has allowed him to be here. It’s an extraordinary thing to think about such a powerfully built man.

Music lives on cheap board shelves above the bed.

Drin hasn’t asked about the furious blue scribbles raked across so many of the copies, or the bits taped together, or the papers clearly crumpled up in frustration or rage or something, and flattened again. He may ask it, just to hear the other man talk, and watch him gesture excitedly with those hands, but he has no real need to, it’s so plain. This is Dance taking off his real clothes. This is Dance about as naked as a musician’s soul can be, outside of live performance.

Drin takes in a deep, tired breath, and lets it out. Well, Dance knows that his performances, his art, has been weighed by harsh judges and found desirable. It’s clear from the wretched struggle archived in this room that he fights hard to earn it. It’s all here, hanging out of the folders. Here he is, a lifetime of effort. This is what people want from him.

Nobody ever asks him to kiss them, nobody intrudes on all that dignified presence to hug him. He still appears to be a little bewildered by it. Dance doesn’t even know what there is out there to like, in the palette of flavors, he’s just given his bedroom and his music to Drin, along with his body, with the implicit trust that Drin will help him find out. It’s rather a huge burden, Drin thinks, staring up at the ceiling. When he sits up, gingerly, he realizes he’s going to wake up stiff for the next three days.

His musician, he thinks wryly, is going to have to take out some of the bends that he put into Drin, if he wants the older man to keep up with him. Drin grimaces. It’s going to be painfully, horribly good for him, if he does it right. Drin is going to build some muscle himself if he spends as much effort on Dance as the younger man deserves from him. Drin stretches, carefully, slowly, and puts his dress trousers and wifebeater on in the dim light.

When he ventures down the hall, looking at things, he finds the house empty. The roommate has already left for work, before it’s even got light, and apparently Dance has gone for an early morning run, judging by the towel thrown across a chair back. There is a set of dishes set ready by the stove, there are pans, a measuring cup ready.

There is a package of something thawing on the kitchen counter, the cat yowling in a tiny little imperative voice, and a note.

“D, Tell the bearded guy with the nice cologne he can only feed the cat four shrimp from his omelet. E.”

Drin leans on the counter, looking at it in dire amusement. He knows the handwriting.

Not just any librarian. Not just any of the many Emmas who work at some branch library in the city. Oh no. Dance’s roommate is fondly known around the Symphony as, “The Emma of Doom.” As in, “You Better Update Emma or She’ll Have Your Guts for Garters” Doom. She’s a reference collection expert at the main archives, but she also runs the coordinating committee which schedules mutual charity events at the main library, and many of the branches, with the Symphony. He’s heard that she’s a demon on string quartets who sort of fail to notify anybody they’ve got the flu and don’t show up for a dinner event with tickets and people in fancy clothes. He’s actually seen the Concertmaster show up in a dark turtleneck shirt and slacks, with three buddies likewise, and they just quietly take over somebody’s neglected duties as if they’d planned for it all along. He suspects Emma was the one who planned for it. Dance looks terrific in a dark turtleneck.

And even better out of it, says that part of his brain which is happily obsessed with the feel of warm skin moving against him. He tries harder to focus on the note, instead of his instant hard-on.

Funny that he’s never realized they were roommates.

He’s seen Emma at some of the recent events, too, smiling and shaking hands with people, flashes of amusement on her face as she directs people carrying things, and tells patrons where they’ll be sitting, and all the time looking horribly, incredibly, competent. She’s gorgeous. He’s seen her talk to Dance, the musician nodding gravely and taking notes, with his hair falling over one eye, and Emma gesturing with her hands. There was no trace whatever of possessiveness about Emma’s posture toward Dance, only the level respect of a person who knows Dance will follow through on her requests.

Now there is a woman, no matter what sort of cheap polyester dress she’s wearing, and yet somehow you totally forget what the bod looks like when you hear the brain pouring out of her mouth in fountains and fountains of terrifying intelligence.

He never dreamt of approaching so much powerfully busy organizing force. He’d be volunteered for everything in sight before he got past an hour around her.

No wonder nobody ever gets near Dance.

A lesser man would realize what’s happened, put his jacket on, get out his car keys, and flee like the wind before either of them come home. He’s pretty sure that’s what usually happens, probably before Dance ever knows anybody has been looking at him. Drin is certain now that he’s been where no man has ever been before, that nobody else has ever got past that cool appraising wit sparkling in Emma’s eyes, nobody’s ever had the fortitude–or the folly–to get near the quiet Concertmaster putting his scores in folders and keeping his instruments on those cheap shelves.

Emma doesn’t dress like a woman who gets kissed a lot either. She dresses like a woman who knows what the rules are for charity events, and she shows up for them with her makeup on straight and tries to keep her bloody mouth under control so the intelligence billowing out of her head won’t frighten anybody.

He’s got no idea why this makes him angry at people. It’s a strange, complex emotion. He’s not angry at Emma, not at all. Emma is what she is, in the same way that Dance is so distinctly what he is, and neither of them will ever be anything like conventional, or normal. They’re both so far off the bell curve that they’ve long since stopped bothering to apologize for it.

But he’s angry. Angry on their behalf, or something. Angry that nobody ever taught Dance to kiss, before.

He pauses in the hall, the inoffensive scent on her clothes coming faintly from the open door of her room.

He’s got other ideas on what perfume she ought to have, dammit. He can smell it precisely in his mind, although he’s uncertain of the name. He could probably track it down on his laptop, out in his car. Timing such a gift will be tricky, though. She’s very proud.

He looks at that open door, frowning. She wouldn’t leave it like that if she didn’t want him to see her things. And yet, these old doors don’t lock. She couldn’t stop him from poking around the house, going through the medicine cabinet, looking at labels, at will. She knows he could. She left her bedroom door open for the cat to come and go, he knows that as clearly as if she’s said it to him, and she frankly doesn’t care to apologize for her cheap everyday clothes and her limited gala wardrobe and her ratty terrycloth robe hanging on the hook where he can see it. Oh, she knows exactly who Dance brought home.

He’s struck by the image of her wearing that thing, saying the kind of things that she does, and he thinks his knees are going to give way.

One of them is a lot to take in. The pair of them, dear God in Her Heaven, he can feel his brain gently frying, making those silly bacon noises.

Pull yourself together, man, he thinks in panic. You have a little bit of time, here, you’d better stop freaking out and get moving.

Drin goes into the living room to survey the books. He takes a deep breath, turns on the light, and starts looking over Emma the roommate’s collection of books. He knows he’s going to need to keep his wits about him. Emma is going to be much, much tougher to cope with than Dance, and his beautiful sweaty musician is going to be enough of a handful as it is.

The cat twines around his ankles, and he leans down to pet it. “You’re only getting four shrimp,” he says to the cat. “You got that, right?” Then he groans when he straightens up, putting his hands on his lower back. Bending is a mistake.

He’s still standing like that, staring blankly at the books, when he hears the front door open, and steps thump along the bare floorboards.

Dance comes into the living room doorway with his hair all sticky and spiky with sweat, the towel around his neck. He glances up at Drin and the smile that opens his face wide is such simple pleasure that Drin just lifts his arms wide, waiting, and hugs the athlete to him, and kisses his forehead, while his ribs are getting painfully crushed in. “Yah, easy there,” he murmurs, and Dance relents, and kisses him back on the cheek, chastely. Drin puts up his hand, touches Dance’s jaw, and leans into him.

Dance remembers how to tango just fine. He’s got a few ideas of his own, too, straightforward ones about maneuvering them both into the bathroom and the old, tiled shower stall. This time, Drin has no choice about how much he gets to see, how quickly. Dance is miraculous and golden under the glaze of running water, his penis curving up from the fine, feathery hair. Drin is reaching for that, when he finds himself thrust under the water, the heat working on his grateful back, and those violinist’s hands going after the knots in his shoulder blades. Amazing, how strong Dance’s fingers are.

Dance kisses Drin where the water is not running so hard, his arms hovering at Drin’s back, his hips to one side of Drin’s. Drin shakes water out of his face, making growly noises to get Dance to laugh. When Drin gasps and looks at him, he sees such naked intent admiration, so much focused attention, that Drin loses his breath all over again.

Dance smiles back all across his face. “Such a great big roaring bear. A water bear.”

“You like that?” Drin says.

Dance rolls his eyes upward, closes them, and sighs, smiling, and then he’s leaning his chest into Drin’s, smiling upward, and hugging Drin. “OH yeeeees,” he says, and he kisses Drin, a big sloppy kiss full of tongue that straggles away onto Drin’s jaw and his neck and his chest and licking along his collarbones. “Yeeessss,” Dance says, into Drin’s shoulder.

“That’s good,” Drin says. “Can I wash your hair? I love your hair.”

Dance blinks at him. “Is this where we say, how weird, that our Drin likes us?”

“Yeah. And where I say, hell yeah I like you, you’re gorgeous, and you say, Oh no I don’t believe it, and then I try to convince you that I really really like Body Part Number One, and of course I also love Body Part Number Two, and that’s how we don’t make it out of the shower for another… well… however long.”

Dance smiles at him. “Shampoo,” he says, and holds up a plastic tube of something cheap and nasty.

“Right,” Drin says, looking at something that was designed to wash horses, no kidding. He knows Dance sees him resolving to buy them some goddamn decent soap and shampoo. He knows this. So he just skips discussing it, and starts lathering the shorter man’s hair, running his fingers over the elegant bones of Dance’s skull, feeling the scalp move and flex as he strokes it, massaging it, until Dance sighs, head fallen back limp in his grip, head rolling loosely as he handles the man. “Okay, eyes shut,” he says, rinsing water through the ranks of hair.

back of man with black hair showering
More Mysteries

When Dance’s arm cables around Drin’s shoulder, Drin waits, not sure what to expect. Dance turns his hips, stepping in close against Drin’s back, and then he leans his cheek on Drin’s spine.

Drin braces his hands on the tiles, then his elbows, and turns his head a little, expecting demands. He’s perfectly willing to meet those demands, coming from Dance.

There’s no demand. Just the weight of Dance’s head, the long curve of his torso leaning into Drin’s back, with the warm water pouring over both of them. It makes his back loosen and ease and then he’s feeling the curve of Dance’s cock pressing gently against the back of his thigh, not expecting anything, just touching him, as if that’s as much as Dance has ever asked for.

Drin has never been with a man who seemed so oblivious to the main event — as if fucking is a lesser enjoyment. Drin even suspects that the boy is up hard so much that it’s become a habit to ignore it. For a man so young, so physical, a man who ejaculated three times in one night, that seems odd, or problematic, or at least a puzzle that Drin wants to unlock. Right now, it seems best to wait it out and ignore the aching desire his own body feels. Because that face makes porn fireworks go banging in his head. Those shoulders make him want to drill the boy through a mattress, and those legs make him want to spread his own wide and beg. But Dance himself– all of Dance; the body, the queer-virginity, the oddity, the genius, the fragility– whatever it is that makes Drin need to be the most important thing in the man’s universe– is not so easily pinpointed.

Still, there’s room for compromise; “C’mere.”

“Don’t want to hurt our Drin,” Dance says, even as he obeys, and that brings Drin up short.

“Is that– oh God, I never meant–” Drin reaches out to the hard bar of soap, rubs lather from it, hands it to Dance. Then he takes Dance’s soapy hand, brings it up to himself, puts it on his testicles. He reaches out and puts both his soapy hands up between Dance’s legs, onto Dance’s balls, stroking the wet hair there, stroking the inside of Dance’s thighs, feeling the cords tense as steel cables. He feels the tremors shaking through Dance’s body already. He gets the soap onto the man’s penis, strokes his foreskin back off the head, slippery hands sliding everywhere, and then Dance is gasping into Drin’s shoulder, pushing him backward into the tiles, and somehow managing to avoid carrying Drin back into the faucets. Now there, Drin thinks dimly in some back part of his mind, is a considerate lover.

Water pours down Dance’s neck and chest as he groans, and he climaxes in a single thrust into Drin’s hands, all the muscles standing up hard in his face. His hands spasm on Drin’s cock, gripping hard enough to give Drin a passing pang of alarm, and instantly easing off, stroking Drin in a quick reassurance that he does remember not to get too wild. That’s enough to set off the outraged nerves in Drin’s groin, and he’s astonished to find himself falling into Dance’s support, needing it, and being held up, getting braced up with swift force. Drin hangs there limp, leaning into Dance’s shoulder, feeling the shorter man’s strength.

Oh,” Drin says, gasping down to slower breaths. “Oh. Oh.”

Dance’s hand moves gently on him, petting his groin, stroking his hip, soothing him, as if he knows what the extremity of muscle spasms that hard can do to the rest of a guy. “Yeah,” Dance says, breathing it into Drin’s neck. “Yeah.”

Drin groans. He is in such deep buckets of need he’ll never crawl out again. Hell, one night, some minimal attention, and Dance has got him eating out of that violinist’s hand. Out of those sinew-heavy, calloused fingers. Drin sighs again. He could suck on those amazing fingers for an hour or two, and think it was time well-spent. At this point, he could probably make Dance orgasm a couple of times at it, just doing that.

“Is Drin feeling tired?” Dance asks gravely.

Drin shakes his head, leans into him, kisses his cheek, and then his mouth, and then his hand slides down onto Dance’s spine, and then– and then Dance says “Breakfast,” and shuts the water off.

“You’re afraid you’ll hurt me?” Drin asks, towelling his chest.

“We could,” Dance mumbles. “Say if we get too rough, okay?”

“That’s not why… I don’t want to scare you, that’s all.”

Dance’s face goes blank, causing Drin to rewind his last words. “Ah hell,” he begins, but one of those sunrise smiles is beginning, full of pleasure and a wry amusement. “I meant– I know you’re not used to…”

“Drin must be kidding?” Dance demands. “Being a virgin is not same as ignorant, oh no. We find pictures! We know what we want. What I want!” His towel flies in the direction of the shower rod, a hand pulls open a drawer for some of the niceties, and Drin’s mouth goes completely dry, his heart starts speeding up, at the casual, aggressive, irresistible stance Dance takes, displaying himself for Drin’s delectation as if he’s done this every day of his life.

“Come on man, scare me,” Dance says, and the words are low, and sweet, and demanding; “I dare you.”

The staring match is interrupted by the sound of a slamming door and quick tapping of high heels somewhere in the house.

“Honey, I’m home!” a woman calls out, in a Australian accent.

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