I held Chris' body close to my own, spooning against him, my breath fluttering the hairs on the back of his neck. I'd always had the strangest thoughts when I watched him sleep, like 'I wonder where all the energy goes?' and 'Are his dreams as hyper as his real life?' Does he think the same about me when I'm asleep?
"Are you up?" I whispered softly in his ear.
"Mm-hm," he answered, but his eyes didn't open. My hand, which had been resting on his stomach, was suddenly covered by his own.
I threw a leg over his and let my toe trace patterns on his shin. "Are you really up?"
"Yeah, I'm really up," he said, trying to yawn and smile at the same time. "But I don't think I can go again, Joe. You wore me out."
I laughed. "I didn't think that was possible," I said, kissing his neck. "Guess I know better now." I nibbled on his ear impudently and waited for him to protest.
"Hey, I'm serious, man," he said, shifting onto his back to look at me. "Is that what you were waking me up for?"
"No," I admitted, propping myself up on my elbow. "It's six in the morning. People are going to start getting up soon."
He groaned. "That's not even three hours sleep." He rubbed his eyes, then looked at me again. "People are getting up soon...so? Doesn't mean we have to."
"So, do you want to head back to your own room or not? I mean, you know that the guys don't respect privacy too much, not when it's just us, and they could just come--"
"Shut up, Joe," he said, putting his hand over my mouth. "I'm thinking." He closed his eyes and kinda squirmed for a moment. "What do we have to do today, anyway?"
"I dunno. Some interview this afternoon, I think. Come on, I never know these things. I'm the guy who's always asking."
"That was helpful," he said, opening his eyes and smiling at me. "Um, I think we should get dressed. And then I think we should talk. And...I'm first in the shower!" He jumped out of the bed and raced into the bathroom before I even had a chance to react.
I struggled out of the bed and knocked on the door. "Hey loser, how about sharing that shower, huh?"
The door opened a crack and Chris popped his head out. "You're worried about the guys finding us together in the room, but you're not worried about them finding us together in the shower?"
"Uh, good point." I thought about that for a second. "So that's not a no, just a not now?"
He grinned. "Exactly. And, uh, Joe?"
"We will talk about this. Us. Before the guys show up."
"Good," I said. He smiled once more and closed the bathroom door. A moment later I heard the water go on in the shower.
It was too early in the morning for my brain to be completely online, even on a normal day. On a day like today, I couldn't make much sense of anything. Let alone 'us'.
It had felt good to sleep with Chris, and not just in a sexual way. After months, years even, of one night stands, sex wasn't hard to come by. Companionship was. Even if Chris decided he didn't want to do this again, he'd still be around. He wouldn't vanish into the dawn like so many others. I don't know why that scared me so much, since I knew it was something I'd wanted for a long time.
The shower stopped abruptly and a moment later a very wet Chris stepped out, one towel around his waist and another currently being used to dry his hair. "It's all yours," he said, stepping aside.
As I passed by, he stopped me momentarily and kissed my lips. Pulling away, he smiled and slapped my ass. "I'll be waiting for you."
It didn't take me long to shower, despite the image of Chris' almost-naked body burned in my brain. Like I said, sexual gratification is easy to come by, companionship isn't.
Chris was dressed and seated on the bed when I emerged. I dried off quickly and threw on jeans and a white T-shirt. I thought about sitting on the bed with him, but decided on the chair instead. It would make it easier to talk, and look less suspicious to anyone who happened to wander in.
"So..." he said.
"So..." I echoed him. Neither of us knew how to begin this conversation; it was mutual virgin territory.
"I'm gonna ask a stupid question," I said finally, knowing one of us needed to start somewhere.
"After all this time, you suddenly feel the need to announce that?"
I kicked his shin; it was absurdly comforting. "Um...it was good. You've done that before, huh."
He grinned. "There's a time and a place for everything," he quoted, "and it's called college."
"That long ago, huh?"
It was his turn to kick me and that, too, had a certain familiar comfort.
"Not at all since the group got together," he admitted. "I mean, I thought about it a few times, but there were enough girls around all the time...well..." He gestured vaguely. "It kept me satisfied."
"Until now?" I prompted.
"Until Danielle, actually. Until I decided to start settling down a little, sticking with one person for more than a couple weeks." He looked introspective for a moment, until a smile began toying with the corners of his lips. "It wasn't easy to find someone to put up with me, you know."
"Hey, how hard can it be? You've already got four of us, after all." In my head I was asking him 'Why last night?' and 'Why me?' but the words didn't come. Another part of me wanted him to answer those same questions without any kind of prompting.
"Yeah," he said, the smile falling away. It was a serious look, but not a sad one. "I gave up on finding a girl who could get inside me the way you guys can. I've never had friends like you guys before. Not in my whole life."
"Yeah, me neither," I admitted to him, even though it wasn't much of an admission. We never talked about it, but I think we all knew--all five of us--that we were the closest friends that we'd ever have. Living together almost every moment for five years will do that to you.
"So...about last night--"
"I wondered when we were going to get here."
"--I'm not sure what to say. I mean, I did want it. I've been wanting it for a while. You know, not steadily just wanting it above anything else, but thinking about it. Wondering about it. Going 'what if...'."
"So, what, you've been wanting to sleep with me for a long time? And I just never knew it?"
"Not just sleep with you, Joe. Hook up with you. I mean, I'm not trying to get any kind of grand commitment, but me, I'm hoping maybe we can turn this into something beyond just one night."
"It's been so long..."
"But if you don't want to, I mean, I understand that. Last night was great, Joey, but the funny thing is that waking up with you this morning was just as good. But if you, you know, don't want it to go anywhere then that's cool, we're still buds, man. Best friends."
"You do what?"
"Want it to go somewhere," I told him. There were a hundred images that flashed through my mind right at that moment, and every one of them involved Chris being in my future. "I don't know where I want it to go, but just somewhere."
"Yeah, somewhere, okay," he said. He looked away for a moment, then grinned up at me. "Can't give up the flirting, huh?"
I hated that he was right, but I admitted it. "I'll have to be convinced," I told him, smiling fondly. "You think you can manage that?"
"I think I'm going to try," he said honestly.
"I think I want you to," I said, and winked at him before becoming serious again. "So...if we're going to do this...are we going to tell the guys?"
"What? Of course," he said, as though there was no other answer to that question. "I don't want to keep this, whatever it is, a secret from them. And even if we tried it'd take, what, a day? Tops? Before at least one of them caught on."
I nodded, agreeing even though my nervousness at the thought made my heart pound. "You guys, uh, really knew about me? All along?"
"Ever since David," he told me gently. Chris had never exactly been the 'gentle' type, so I guessed my uneasiness was showing more than I meant it to. Being bisexual had been a part of me as long as I could remember, but I'd never, ever said anything to the other guys about it before. "If it helps, we haven't talked about it since then, and that was, what, three years ago? More? You guys broke up, and that was the end of it as far as we were concerned."
"He wasn't my last, you know."
"Yeah," he agreed. His distant, goofy smile told me he was probably thinking about last night. "I kinda guessed that."
I ran my hand through my hair, already missing the red in it even through it had barely grown out. It was nice to be able to direct people's attention to something so prominent yet innocuous, and away from all the things I wanted to keep private.
"There were so many times," I said finally, "when I could have come out. From our first gig we started dealing with the gay rumors, and we all talked about it, and no one seemed to think it was a big deal after a few months."
"But I'll never forget the look on Justin's face the first time he heard a rumor that he was gay," said Chris, beginning to giggle madly. "Man, he was such a kid back then."
"We all were."
"Yeah, well you're still a kid," I teased him. "But seriously...I know that there isn't going to be a problem. Maybe surprise, but it's not like they're going to turn on us or anything. Maybe I should have said something sooner."
"Yeah, and maybe I should have said something sooner, but that's the past, Joe. There's no changing that now. You think they're going to be surprised by you? No, they're gonna be surprised by me, and by us. But that's okay. I mean, think of how much easier it's going to be when they know, and there's no more sneaking around. Not that we've done much sneaking around yet. Which is good, because I don't want to be doing that."
"I get the point," I told him, reaching out and covering his mouth with my hand. I wasn't prepared for him to lick my palm, however. I jerked my hand back and he laughed. "Ew!"
"Hey, you weren't saying 'ew' when my tongue was all over you last night." Man, why did he have to remind me about that? Suddenly my pants were a little tighter than they had been and I didn't much want to talk anymore.
I sighed. "None of that," I told him. "Not if you want either one of us to be in a respectable state when the rest of the guys decide to put in an appearance."
"Fine, we'll stay respectable," he agreed. "But, Joe, since we're gonna tell them anyway, do you mind getting up here on the bed with me? You're too damn far away right now."
"Okay," I agreed, probably a little too quickly. "But no funny business. I don't want to have to explain why my shirt's on the floor and my boxers are hanging off the lampshade."
"Joey," he laughed as I sat down next to him. "If your boxers are hanging off the lampshade, there will probably be no need to explain."
I kissed him to shut him up, swiftly and before I could let myself give it too much thought. Last night was merely great; having a future could be just incredible. If we could make it happen. We fell back onto the bed, kissing, our legs still hanging off the end.
"Wait, wait," I said, protesting while I was still able. I pulled myself far enough away from him that we were able to look at one another again. "Self control. I know I had it once..."
"Are you sure?" teased Chris. He rolled onto his back and laced his fingers behind his head.
"If we tell the guys about, you know, 'us', then you're going to have to tell them about Dani, too."
"Yeah, I know," he said thoughtfully. "I realize that."
"Um, don't you think you should tell Dani first?"
He turned his head and smiled. "Already taken care of," he assured me.
"What?" I asked, confused. "You already called her? When?" We'd been together constantly since last night...had he told her before that? How was he able to do that?
"When you were in the shower," he said, turning his head back to stare at the ceiling again. "She wasn't home so I left a message. She'll probably call back tonight."
"What...you left a message? Are you sure this is the sort of thing that you should just leave a message about? Don't you think she's going to be a bit surprised?" Not to mention angry, confused, upset...the whole thing just wasn't making sense to me.
"Joe, relax," he said, reaching out to put a calming hand on my arm. It was warm and firm; it made the moment more solid. "It's not going to be a surprise. I think she knew this was coming."
"Chris...how could she know when we didn't know?"
"Speak for yourself, kemosabe. I've known what I wanted for a while. And Dani's a smart cookie...I told her stuff and she read between the lines." I opened my mouth to ask him more questions but he cut me off. "Wait, wait, let me guess, you want to know what I told her, right?" He didn't wait for my confirmation; he'd already started his next sentence before I'd even begun to nod. "We were going out for well over a year, Joe. I knew about her past and she knew about mine. She knew about my boyfriends when I was younger. So...when I started talking about you more than normal..."
"You talked about me?" I couldn't stop the foolish smile that started to spread across my face. I don't know why it delighted me so much that Chris would talk about me to her; he'd been talking about me for years.
"Yeah, I talked about you, you goof," he said, squeezing the arm he'd been holding before letting it go.
"So you're okay with telling them you broke up with Dani?"
"It's time," he said simply. "I have something new in my life now. I'm not sure what it is yet, but it feels pretty good. It's time to move on."
He didn't see me smile. I didn't see him smile. But we both felt it.
I leaned forward and kissed his temple. "I guess we'll both just have to spend some time figuring it all out." I threw an arm over him again and closed my eyes. It had been early when we'd gotten up and, unsurprising, we both fell swiftly back to sleep.