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you had the moves to make me dance with you

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Lauri has been acting strange.

It’s not exactly out of the ordinary. Tom has failed more often than not trying to guess what’s going through that girl’s head, but this time, there’s something about the situation that’s different. He can’t quite put his finger on what seems off, but he has this sixth sense, see? Once an anomaly blips on his radar, he can’t stop until he makes it go away.

It starts with the fact that Lauri pays for his shake on Wednesday. She never pays for food unless it’s her own.

“What the hell?” he accuses. He opens the top and peers inside—the contents still look pink and white, the same colors as his usual, but looks can be deceiving. “What’d you do to it?”

“Nothing.” Lauri opens her burger to pick out the onions. “Don’t be so paranoid.”

“I’m not. You’re being weird.” Tom squints at her. “What’s up?”

Lauri shrugs and flips her hair dramatically. “I suppose being in a relationship has made me a changed woman. I’m an adult now. Show some respect for your elders.”

“Way to rub it in,” Tom mutters, putting the lid back on his shake. “Love doesn’t act that fast, even for you.”

“Drink your shake, T.”

He tries multiple times to bring the subject up again, but Lauri either makes a quip or distracts him by mentioning his work at the children’s clinic, and he can’t not talk about the clinic. It’s one of his favourite topics to talk about, after all. If he had to make a top five list, it would probably look something like this:

  1. Myrtle
  2. His mum
  3. Joe, when he’s not being an arse
  4. The clinic and all the bratty kids in it
  5. William Schofield

Sometimes, the list changes, especially that last item. That last item…is a bit of a sore spot, lately.

But, whatever. Right now, that’s not what he’s concerned with. What’s concerning is that Lauri paid for his shake and is also avoiding every question about how the hell she hooked up with Eleanor even though they’d just been lamenting about the sorry state of their love lives last week.

“When did it happen?”

“How did it happen?”

Why did it happen?”

“Christ, did you kill Will? Is that it? Did you finally snap?”

Lauri kicks him in the shin for that last question, but at least it gets some sort of response from her.

Tom doesn’t get why she won’t just tell him. They were supposed to be suffering together. Comrades in arms! But now, apparently, he’s going to have to go at this lovesick business solo, and it’s not a fun business to be in.

The only solace emerging out of this whole ordeal is the realization that, if Lauri is dating Eleanor, and Lauri did not in fact kill Will to do it, then Will must still be alive, and therefore he must be single…right? Tom’s pretty sure that’s how logic works.

Then again, when has logic ever prevailed in the realm of love? He’s so fucked. Perhaps even more fucked than before, because if Will truly is single, has been single all this time, then there are simply no more excuses left that Tom can feed himself to explain why Will won’t look twice in his direction.

Well, other than the one Tom overheard Will giving Joe during the New Year’s party. It was all fireworks and drunken cheers and a big, looming countdown to 2020 and He’s like a younger brother—

Sore spot. It’s a sore spot. Don’t think about it. If he doesn’t think about it, it’ll be less real. Just a memory.

Tom slurps down the rest of the shake fast enough to give himself a brain freeze. He pulls up his calendar and skips over Thursday and Friday directly to Saturday. At least he has the concert to look forward to.

 

~

 

I can’t go to the concert with you today, Lauri sends barely five minutes before she’s supposed to pick him up. At first, he thought he’d read the text wrong. Maybe it’s a hallucination. After taking a leak and putting on his jacket, the text is still there with the same words, arranged in the same way.

Alright. This is the last straw.

It’s Fleshlight!!! How could you ditch me??? The hell’s going on????

Admission to Fleshlight is practically impossible to get. He and Lauri only succeeded due to their plan of action: they stopped eating out to save up money, they located the place with the fastest Wi-Fi on campus (the third floor of the business building), and they even skipped their respective classes, all so they could click the big red “PRE-ORDER” button when the tickets went up for sale.

They’d been planning it for months, is the point. And now, Lauri has the audacity to skip out? For no good reason?

Family’s coming over. You know my parents, always dropping in unannounced.

Okay, fine. Maybe Lauri has a decent reason to ditch. On a scale from zero (completely unacceptable) to ten (totally acceptable), Tom gives the reason a solid six. Maybe a six and a half. Parents are a force to be reckoned with—he should know, after all. His mum never relents on the reminders to visit her during the next break, even if he and Joe had just gone home the previous weekend.

Still, it sucks that this gig has now become a solo effort, just like his struggles through his nonexistent love life. Who’s going to brush his hair out of his eyes while he’s puking up beer from the afterparty? And, what about Lauri herself? Who’s going to do that for her, if not him?

Eleanor. Eleanor’s going to hold Lauri’s hair out of the toilet.

Tom sighs, then pockets his phone. He should be happy for her. He is happy for her. He just…he just wishes…

The doorbell suddenly rings, and Tom jumps.

Did Joe order something and forget to tell him before leaving for the lab? Tom peers through the peephole, then falls forward and hits his head.

Ow. That’s going to leave a bruise. It temporarily distracts him from the person standing outside, but not for long. What’s he doing here?

“Tom?” The doorbell rings again. “Was that you?”

“Joe’s not here!” Tom yells back.

“I know.” He knows? “Would you please open the door?” What?!

Tom considers his options. First, he could drop down the fire escape to circumvent the problem. He’s gotten better at it—the last time around, he only got a minor sprained ankle. He’s confident he can land on both legs right-side up this time. Second, he could stay inside and ignore the problem. He’ll have to give up on Fleshlight, which is a major tragedy, but Lauri’s not here, and he’s kind of lost the enthusiasm to go, anyway.

Third, he could open the door and face the problem.

The doorbell rings yet again. “Tom? Are you still there? We’re going to be late.”

Late? Tom tugs the chain out of the lock and yanks the door open. “Late for wha—?”

Will is standing there in a blazer and a pair of very well-ironed beige trousers. The blazer looks good. Brings out the blue in Will’s eyes. Those trousers, on the other hand, are kind of tight on him. Or, maybe it’s a perfect fit. Who is Tom to say otherwise? He’s not a tailor.

“Overalls?” Will asks.

Tom tears his eyes away from Will’s crotch. “Hmm?”

“You’re, ah…” Will starts pointing, then stuffs his hand into a pocket. “Overalls. Never seen those on you before.”

It’s true. Tom’s never tried overalls before, never thought he had the right build for them, but Lauri practically stuffed him in a pair a month ago and made him buy it. After trying it on a few more times at home and getting used to his reflection, it’s grown on him. He’d been waiting for today to come so he’d have the excuse to wear it outside. Which reminds him…

“Ri and I, we were supposed to go to—” Tom shakes his head. That’s not important. “What’re you doing here?”

“Picking you up.”

“For what?”

Will stares at him. “The concert.”

Tom stares back. “What concert?”

“Fle—Flesh—” Will peers down at a piece of paper in his left hand. “Fleshlight?”

Tom shifts his stare to the piece of paper. “Fleshlight?”

“It’s tonight, isn’t it?” Will looks at the piece of paper again, then turns it around. “Saturday? At seven?”

Will is answering his questions but Tom’s not understanding any of it. There must be something missing that Tom isn’t comprehending. Why is Will here? Why does he have a ticket? Why—

“Do you not want to go anymore?” Will is asking, and there’s this tone to it, one that sounds suspiciously like disappointment, but—that can’t be true. Has Will even heard of Fleshlight? It doesn’t seem like his thing. What the fuck is going on?

“Is this a prank?” Tom pokes his head out the door and looks right and left down the corridors. Nothing but shit lighting and gross carpet stains out there. “Did Ri put you up to this?”

“She didn’t tell you?”

Tom rescinds his head and takes in Will’s tense posture. “Tell me what?”

Will widens his eyes, clears his throat, then raises a finger. “Excuse me for a second.” He turns his back, and unfortunately, Tom isn’t tall enough to see what Will’s doing over his shoulders.

So, he waits. If he’d known this was going to happen, he would’ve picked either option one, operation fire escape, or option two, operation stay-home-like-a-hermit. He glances at his phone: 16:15. By the original plan, Lauri should’ve arrived fifteen minutes ago, and they should’ve been well on their way to the venue by now.

Speaking of Lauri, she’s been curiously quiet this entire time. She hasn’t sent a thing since You know my parents, always dropping in unannounced. He’s starting to suspect that she might’ve not been telling the whole truth, because the past thirty minutes have simply been too weird.

Before he can think any more about it, Will turns back around with determination and resolve etched into his features. It’s the same look that Will wears whenever he’s deep into his thesis. Tom knows because Will occasionally comes over to write while Joe designs something fancy on his laptop, and Will is incredibly distracting when he furrows his eyebrows and stops paying attention to his surroundings.

Tom’s not sure why Will is making that face now, but, “Got everything sorted, then?”

“I believe so.” Will twirls the ticket in his fingers. “Ri had an emergency. She asked me to go with you in her place.”

“Why?”

“It’s important to you, isn’t it? Let me take you.”

It sounds like a date, the way Will is proposing it. Tom wants to say yes. He wants to say yes so badly, but he doesn’t want to go down that road again.

“Nice of her to set me up with a chaperone,” Tom says, unable to control himself. It’s mean, and nasty, and daggered, and he expects Will to look hurt, but Will doesn’t.

“Not a chaperone,” Will says gently, carefully. “More of a…a friend. If you’ll let me.”

Friend. That’s better than sibling, Tom supposes. He crosses his arms and tries to look angry and put-upon.

“Please?” Will steps closer and leans an arm on the doorframe before repeating, “Let me take you.”

Tom feels his resolve waver—he’s always been too weak to follow through on his threats. He sighs. “Alright, you win.”

“Good.” Will smiles, one that lights up his whole face and crinkles his eyes. He settles back onto his heels and looks Tom over once more before turning around. “Shall we, Tom Sawyer?”

Tom stands there, dumbfounded, before a ding down the hallway breaks him from his trance. He quickly locks the door behind him and runs after Will just before the lift closes. “What’d you call me?”

Will peers down through his eyelashes and shoots him another smile. He reaches a hand out and pulls on Tom’s left overall strap. “Nothing.”

By the time they reach the ground floor, Tom’s cheeks are burnt, and he’s almost too embarrassed to leave the lift. Almost.

 

~

 

Will is acting strange. Perhaps even stranger than Lauri’s been acting all week.

First of all, they’re in Will’s car, which wouldn’t be that weird if it weren’t for the fact that nobody with half a brain would think about taking a car to a concert. Traffic is a nightmare in the city as it already is, and Will should know this, considering his penchant for efficiency.

The car is quiet and manages to block out the honking of horns and the shouts of pedestrians flipping the bird at taxi drivers. It’s not a small car by any means, quite roomy as a matter of fact, but it’s—it’s—

Intimate. The radio isn’t even turned on, so it’s literally just him, and Will, and the air conditioning whirring at a low volume.

Tom knows he has a reputation for blabbing his mouth, but even he’s not dumb enough to try and talk through this drive. He’s content to sit there in awkward silence, has resigned himself to it, but after two minutes of being stuck at the same red light, Will opens his mouth.

“I listened to their music.”

“Whose?”

“Fleshlight. Figured I should do my research before…” Will waves a hand magnanimously. “They’re…interesting.”

The light is still red. It’s bleeding into three minutes now.

“Quite sexual, aren’t they?” Will continues. “Their lyrics.”

Tom chokes on air. Lord have mercy. “If you didn’t like them, then why’d you come?” He realizes he sounds defensive, but Fleshlight is his thing. It got him through some dark times, like when his dad passed away, or when he debated dropping out of college because he wasn’t good enough, or after the New Year’s party, or—

Wait. Shit.

“Did you only listen to their music?” Tom asks, as casually as he can. Please say yes, please say yes.

Will quirks an eyebrow. “Do they do something other than music?”

Why is it still red? Is the bloody light broken?

“No,” Tom replies. Was that too fast? He counts to three before continuing. “Was just wondering if, you know. You looked up anything else about them.”

“I didn’t.” Will taps a finger against the steering wheel. “Should I have?”

Tom shakes his head. “No. Not at all.” He’s about to breathe out a sigh of relief when he realizes that he’s not safe at all, because in approximately—he checks his phone—two hours, they’re going to be watching Fleshlight perform live, and Will is going to figure out why Tom likes them so much.

It’s not, in actuality, only because of their music.

Tom sinks down into the seat and tries to think of something else to talk about. His stomach grumbles. “Want to grab a bite before the gig?”

“I made food,” Will says easily.

“Why?” He stretches out the word, because…why?

“I have my uses. Figured we could eat it by the park before heading into the venue.” Will glances over before flicking his eyes back to the road ahead. “Is that alright? We can buy something instead, if you want.”

“Are you mental? Your cooking’s great.” Tom squeezes his eyes shut. Smooth. “Besides, wouldn’t want to waste it,” he tacks on. Better.

Will laughs. “Very economical thinking, that.”

“Joe’s doing, I’m sure.” Joe’s always telling him to stop spending so much money when he doesn’t need to.

“No.” Will glances over again. “Think that’s all you.”

The light finally turns green.

 

~

 

When Will said that he made food, Tom thought he meant something simple, like sandwiches, or a salad, with a fruit platter being the most complicated possibility. So, he absolutely does not expect the chicken carbonara, or the jars of key lime and blueberry pies, or the fresh-pressed orange juice.

“Are you hosting a party that I wasn’t aware of?” Tom asks, because this selection is ridiculous. He and Lauri typically grab some skewers from a nearby stand or go into the venue hungry. This may quite possibly be the most lavish dinner he’s had in weeks.

Will shrugs. “They say the best way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, right?”

Then, Will walks off with the basket of food, so Tom can’t even spare two seconds to ask what the fuck that means. Will is joking, right? He must be—people who don’t know him tend to call him stoic, but Tom knows that couldn’t be further from the truth. One time, he accidentally closed the refrigerator on Will’s arm and nearly cracked his wrist.

“Patch it up,” Tom said, after he made sure that Will’s wrist was not, in fact, broken. “You’ll be wanking again in no time.” It might’ve been in poor taste, but in his defense, all he was doing was trying to see the humor in the situation.

However, rather than being repulsed, Will simply looked him in the eye and said, very seriously, “Wrong hand,” and then slunk away with his glass of milk.

And that’s what occupied Tom’s thoughts that night in bed, thinking about William Schofield and the hand he uses to jerk himself off.

He should not be thinking about this right now.

Will settles down beneath a tree and hands Tom a fork.

“No plates?” Tom asks, sitting gingerly down across from Will.

“Too heavy.” Will opens the container with the carbonara and holds it toward him. “We can just share.”

Tom twists a bundle of noodles around his fork, brings it closer, then stares at it instead of eating it.

“Don’t fancy chicken?” Will asks, after Tom takes his first bite.

“Chicken’s great.” His favourite, actually. He tastes the sauce on his tongue and is surprised that it’s the perfect balance between creamy and light. Nobody ever gets it right, not even Joe or his mum. They always tell him it’s because he’s too picky.

“Not to your liking?” Will asks.

“You kidding?” Tom says, reaching out for another forkful. “How’d you manage this? You sell your soul to the devil or something?”

“Nothing as extreme as that,” Will says. “Just practice.” He relaxes his shoulders, and Tom wonders if he was worried, for some reason. It’s a silly notion, because everything he’s ever tasted of Will’s cooking has been terrific. He wasn’t lying, before, in the car.

Whoever he cooks for in the future’s gonna be really lucky, Tom immediately thinks, then pushes the thought away to take another bite.

 

~

 

His full stomach makes him forget about the clusterfuck he’s gotten himself into until they finally enter the venue and there’s a gigantic poster of Fleshlight hanging on the back of the stage. The lead singer is front and center on the banner, and judging by Will’s inscrutable look, Tom thinks it’s the right time to begin planning his escape. Unfortunately, they’re in the standing area, so there’s literally nowhere for him to slip away to without bothering a bunch of people.

So, he stays put and avoids eye contact with Will. It should be manageable, as long as he remains facing forward. Thing is, the crowd keeps growing increasingly restless, pushing and shoving and pulling, so Tom finds himself repeatedly bumping against Will’s right side without meaning to.

“Sorry,” he mutters when it happens for the fifth time. He’s about to push away again when Will grabs onto his overalls strap and holds him in place.

“Doesn’t bother me,” Will says. He keeps his hand there, and Tom knows the reasonable explanation is so that Will can keep an eye on him and make sure he doesn’t float away, but it’s a lot to take in, alright? It’s already hot enough in here with the hundreds of people around them, and now he has to deal with the warmth of Will’s skin on his back?

“Bet you’re really regretting coming along now,” Tom says with a forced laugh. He’s going to kill Lauri the next time he sees her.

“It’s not so bad,” Will says, looking around, then refocuses on a spot ahead with a steeled gaze. “Nice to know what you like.”

Tom follows Will’s eyes to the poster and flushes. He knows what it looks like, because it’s exactly what it looks like. Maybe he should explain? He’s not sure what he can say that won’t give himself away, but despite the rowdy crowd, there’s a heavy silence growing between them, and it’s becoming unbearable, so he has to say something.

“Look,” he begins, but right then, a guitar riff echoes through the speakers and onto the walls surrounding them, and the crowd roars to life with a deafening cheer, effectively putting that thought to rest.

Hellooooo, London! It’s great to be back!

As the members enter one by one, Tom feels his face grow a darker and darker shade of red, first when the drummer appears, then the keyboardist, then the guitarist, and finally, the lead singer. The lead singer, whose face, nearly identical to Will’s, is now projected onto the jumbotron hanging over the stage.

There’s absolutely no covering it up now. Tom sneaks a glance at Will and immediately regrets it, because Will’s eyes have closed off, and Tom doesn’t know how to begin dealing with that. He tries to put some distance between them again, but Will pulls him back until Tom is practically tucked under his arm. What is happening?

Then, the chord for his favourite song rings out, and he completely forgets where he’s at, who he’s with, and loses himself in the ecstasy. He cheers when everybody around him cheers, shouts the lyrics when encouraged, and whistles when a song ends.

The first set finishes off with their most recent single. It’s one of their very rare ballads—they’d only put out one previously in their entire discography, back when they first debuted.

This one goes out to all the lovers in the audience. Grab someone you love and dance a dance with us!

Suddenly, Tom feels himself spun around, and before he can reclaim a handle on gravity, he falls forward onto Will’s chest.

“Since we’re here,” Will says, moving the hand on Tom’s back lower until it’s resting at the dip of his spine, “fancy a dance?”

“But.” Tom swallows. They’re not… “We’re not…”

“Who’s going to tell on us?” Will steps back and offers his other hand, hovering it in the space between them.

The lights are dimmed, the audience is quiet, and the stars are spinning around them. Actually, that might be the disco ball. That’s probably it.

The song’s almost at the first chorus. Tom looks down at Will’s hand, and against his better judgment, takes it. It feels like he’s taking something that already belongs to him, which is a dangerous thought. Even so, at least for three more minutes, he’ll allow himself to believe it.

Will closes his fingers over Tom’s and pulls him close again, like the moon pulling the tide toward her but never letting it go back to shore. They spin in tandem, slow and languid in a dizzying pace, one that’s too out of sync with the pounding of Tom’s heart.

He faintly registers the last chorus beginning. Tom raises his eyes from where they were fixed on the top of Will’s right shoulder and sees Will looking down at him. Are they still spinning? Or is it the leftover momentum that he’s feeling?

Will is saying something, but Tom can’t hear him over the music in his ears. For once in his life, he wishes he had the courage to do what his heart is telling him.

It would be so easy. He’ll rise up on his toes, and close his eyes, and—

Thank you, London! We’ll see you in twenty!

And just like that, the song stops, the spinning halts, and Will releases his hand.

“Where’d you learn to dance?” Will asks.

“I didn’t.” Tom tries to step away, but Will keeps him there with his palm splayed on Tom’s back, just like before.

“You’ve got somewhere to be?”

“The song’s over.” He feels like one of Will’s books, open to the middle, covered with post-it notes, and at Will’s mercy. “You can let go, now.”

“Do you want me to?”

“Song’s over,” Tom repeats. He tries to smile like he would at a joke, or at a child, or at a friend. “Don’t need to pretend anymore.”

“What if I said I wasn’t pretending?” Will tightens his hold, and Tom feels it through the feathers inside his jacket, the denim lining his overalls, the cotton threaded through his t-shirt. “That I don’t want to pretend?”

He’s dreaming. He’s hallucinating. He won’t allow himself the misunderstanding. “I don’t know what you mean by that.”

Will’s eyes turn desperate. “Do you—Do you not—”

“Not what?” He can’t afford the luxury of knowing what Will is thinking. Will’s going to have to spell it out for him.

“Do you not fancy me anymore?” Will asks, quiet and small and bordering on melancholic. “Not like—like that?”

He’s like a younger brother, Will had said, very loudly and very clearly. Tom stares at the pupils of Will’s eyes and finds nothing but honest truth reflected in them.

This is so unfair. He’s not ready for this.

Tom tears himself out of Will’s grasp and runs out the nearest exit before the second set can begin.

 

~

 

This is so stupid. He got to see his favourite band, in one of the most expensive standing areas, next to the person he fancies, and he threw it all away for a damp wooden bench in the cold night air, all because he couldn’t keep his emotions in check.

Tom buries his face in his knees and runs through it all again. Fancy a dance? Who’s going to tell on us? He’s like a younger brother. What if I said that I wasn’t pretending? That I don’t want to pretend? He’s like a younger brother. Do you not fancy me anymore? Not like—like—

He’s like a younger brother.

It’s no use. It keeps coming back like a refrain no matter how hard he tries to forget it.

“Tom?”

And not only that, Will keeps appearing in front of him, even though Tom had resolved to not raise his hopes anymore. It was useless. Stupid, and silly, and useless.

Will sits down next to him at the other end of the bench. Tom wants him to be closer and farther away.

“He’s not that good-looking, you know.” Will flits his eyes over, then up at the banner hanging on the side of the venue. “The singer.”

“Oh yeah?” Tom finds a smile for him—still the kind he directs at a joke, a child, a friend. “What’s your poison, then? Pray tell.”

“You know the answer to that.”

Does he? Tom begins picking at the splinters on the bench. “I thought I did, but turns out I was wrong, wasn’t I?”

“You weren’t wrong. I—I was—” Will runs a hand through his hair. “I was a coward. I could tell from the way you looked at me, have always looked at me, that what I felt for you must’ve been the same, because I never felt complete unless you were beside me. You made my days brighter, and I thought to myself, could I really have this? Would he really say yes? But at the party, Joe asked, and I panicked, and I didn’t think you’d be there, and—”

Will exhales. “I lied. I’m sorry. You didn’t deserve that. I wanted—I hoped that I could fix what I’d broken, so today, I tried to—but I should’ve known it wouldn’t be enough. How could it be?”

Tom has always known Will to be smart, calm, and reasonable, so it’s a wonder that he’s apparently capable of stripping Will of all three of those things. He feels his resolve begin to waver, but life is about growth, and he thinks it’s only fair that he lets Will be the one to sweat a bit this time around.

“You’re right I didn’t deserve it,” Tom tells him. Steel your resolve. “It was cruel.”

“I know.” Will smiles sadly. “Is that all?”

Steel your resolve. Steel your resolve. “You were also a proper coward for lying. Shame on you.”

“I know,” Will repeats, nodding, then curls his long limbs into himself. “I understand if you don’t feel the same anymore.”

Steel your resolve. Steel your— “You’re daft if you don’t think I’m still a complete idiot over you, William Schofield.”

“I know.” Will begins to nod again, then widens his eyes. “What?”

Well, shit. Maybe the two of them make up a pair of fools. There can’t be one without the other.

“I’m saying I still fancy you, you bastard.” Tom scoots closer to Will, feels the dampness seeping into his overalls, and can’t even be fucked to care. “And just so we’re clear, I do mean it like that.”

Will doesn’t look convinced. “Like—”

In a surge of confidence that Tom had no idea he possessed, he kisses Will, quick and light before he backs away. “Like that.”

And then, after he realizes what he just did, he blushes. Tom Blake doesn’t go around kissing people like that. What the hell?

However, the joy in Will’s eyes makes Tom think that it doesn’t matter, anyway. Not if it’ll make Will look at him like he’s hung the stars.

“Can I make it up to you?” Will asks, turning to fully face Tom. “I want to make this right.”

Will is always so serious about everything, so of course he would think that. Tom considers it, then asks, “Promise me you won’t change your mind?”

“I won’t change my mind.”

“Are you sure?”

“I’m sure.”

Finally, before his courage can run out, “Walk me to my door when we get there?”

The determination on Will’s face melts into fondness as Will stands and pulls gently on Tom’s overall straps. “Tonight, and every night from now on,” he pledges, then offers his hand.

Tom takes it. It feels like he’s taking something that already belongs to him. This time, maybe it’s alright to believe it.

 

~

 

Tom simply assumed that he’d go back home, say goodnight to Will, and go to sleep with the day’s events in his dreams, but before he can take out his keys, Joe opens the door.

“Ellis is here. Go somewhere else.” And with that, Joe promptly slams the door on them.

Shit. That’s right. Leslie’s over for a “study session.” Tom always thought it was ridiculous that they called it that when they knew that he knew that it was just the two of them breaking in a new sex toy. He’d walked in on them one time, entirely by accident because he came home early from the clinic, and found the two going at it like rabbits on the sofa. He avoided that entire area for a whole month before he felt comfortable enough being in its vicinity, no matter how much Joe promised he’d sanitized the bloody thing.

Ugh.

“Guess I’ve been kicked out,” Tom says, scrunching his face up in horror. He doesn’t want to think about what’s happening in the flat right now, would much rather think about something else, anything else.

Will looks at the door, then back at Tom. “Um.” He rubs the back of his neck. “My place it is, then?”

Oh. That is the most logical solution, isn’t it?

Tom flushes a cherry red.

 

~

 

The next morning, Tom wakes up to a slew of texts.

Lauri: how was your date B)

Joe: Please tell me you used protection.

Leslie: how much do I have to bribe you to stay out again tonight

Tom shudders, then ducks back under the covers.

“Anything the matter?” Will murmurs, pulling Tom’s back flush against his chest.

“Nope.” Tom conjures up his sixth sense, just to double check—no blips on his radar. He dashes off the same response to all three messages (piss off), then chucks his phone across the room, where it lands with a clack on the floor.

“You sure?” Will asks, a little less groggily this time. The casual concern in Will’s voice is at odds with Will’s breath tickling the nape of Tom’s neck.

“Yep,” Tom says, rolling around to face Will. He traces a finger down the bridge of Will’s nose, over Will’s lips, and off the bottom of Will’s chin. “Everything’s normal.”