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It's Hard to Look Right at You, Baby

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Holden had always had a thing for musicians. There was something indescribable about the sensation of listening to someone who was clearly passionate about what they were doing perform.

He especially had a thing for guitar players. He fantasized about being the guitar and letting someone pluck at his strings – get a symphonic melody to emit from his body, of moans and groans.

So, yeah, his neighbor Carly was in this band. And she was cute and perky and seemed to have a winning personality, but it wasn't her voice he wanted to hear resounding in his dreams. He kind of thought that her being in a band was her best attribute, however, because it meant that her bandmates were over on a regular enough basis, rocking out in her garage all the while.

There was one in particular he had his eye on. He was tall, blond, and played the guitar – which was basically checking off the list of every single desirable attribute he had for a guy. He had heard Carly refer to him as Tavish, so he knew the guy's name. Tavish.

It was a unique name for a unique person, he was sure of it. Of course, the chances that Tavish was actually gay were somewhat negligible. But it meant that he could look on from afar, and no one would ever have to know the difference.

~

Tavish was frustrated. Of course, he wanted to be a supportive best friend and support Carly with her romantic endeavors. And he was totally fine with helping her come up with ways to catch his attention. But it was awkward and frustrating because he didn't want her to succeed. He wanted the guy for himself.

He half-wondered if some of their schemes would work with a genderflip. Could he entice the guy – Holden, he seemed to remember Carly saying his name was – into seeing him as a sexual and romantic being with an alluring personality.

He continued to play the guitar though, pouring his emotions into every chord that he played. Even if he couldn't get the guy – because guys like him never got the guy, it was guys like Holden that got the guy, if they wanted the guy in the first place. He could at least look on from afar and realize that even if he was with Carly, at least he was happy.

And besides, it wasn't like he was going to be leaving Carly's little band any time soon, so he would have an excuse to look at Holden every now and then.

Look, but never touch.

~

Holden helped Carly up off the driveway. “Are you okay?” he asked. He spied the rest of the band paying attention to their conversation, paying special note to how Tavish seemed extra keen to react.

“Yeah. I think it's just a little bump. I'll be okay,” she said, grinning broadly as she rubbed the back of her head with the back of her palm. “Thank you so much for helping me out there.”

“Anytime,” he said. “Excuse me.” She turned away to do something with the hood of her car, and he made his way toward Tavish.

Tavish looked up at him, and smiled. “Hey,” he said, setting his guitar down next to him. “You were really nice over there. With Carly.”

“Yeah,” Holden said. He slipped him a piece of paper, folded up, and gave him a sly wink.

Tavish unfolded it. On it was Holden's phone number, written in a distinctive scrawl. He could tell that shock had registered on his face – wait, had he seriously? He was positive that if he gave his number to anyone, it would be Carly. Because that was how his life went. Just about any guy he was ever interested in was hopelessly and eternally straight, and there was little deviance from that standard.

Except. Now there was.

He folded up the paper and stuck it in his pants pocket, and smiled at Holden as he walked away.

“Wait, he gave you his number? Seriously?” Carly asked, after Holden had left earshot. “He's – I thought -”

“I guess we both thought wrong,” he said with a shrug of his shoulders.

“Are you going to call him? Are you? I don't care if you do, but please do,” she said, her voice rising in pitch, “because oh my God, if I can't have him, then I'd rather it be you than someone else that I don't even know.”

“Thanks for the vote of confidence.”

“Anytime.”

She crumpled up the piece of paper that held her own number and dropped it to the ground of the garage. She kicked at it as she walked away.

Tavish smiled and felt for the paper in his pocket again. He was going to keep this little treasure.

~

He waited a bit to call, because he didn't want to seem too eager, although inside he was bouncing around like he had inhaled a few pixie sticks worth of sugar. Finally, he sucked up the courage within him and dialed the number on his phone.

One ring. Two rings. At least this showed that Holden wasn't waiting by the phone anxiously awaiting his call? Although that would have been cool too. Three rings. Four rings.

“Hi,” Holden said, picking up the phone.

“Hey, it's Tavish,” he said. “You, uh, gave me your number the other day.”

“Yeah. You actually called.”

“You didn't think I would?”

“Guys I give my number to don't usually call me back,” Holden said. “Call it optimism that I even gave you my number in the first place.”

“I would have been crazy not to,” Tavish said.

“I wasn't sure by your reaction.”

“I don't usually get guys' numbers. Or anyone's numbers, for that matter, but the ones I really want are guys'.”

“And so you did,” Holden said. “So, I was hoping to ask you to dinner sometime. I would have asked you in person, but Carly and the rest of your band always seemed to be around, so I, uh, couldn't seem to find the right time.”

“Yeah.” Dinner. That sounded good. Of course it did. Dinner meant food, meant that they would be able to eat and look at each other and exchange little quips about their lives. “Yeah. Dinner sounds good.”

“Great. It's a date.”

“I'll pick you up – you live just next door to Carly, so I know where you live.”

“Ooh, that sounds ominous and threatening,” Holden said. “Nah, that sounds great. See you on Friday?”

“See you Friday.”

He ended the call and stared at the wall. He was actually going out on a date. These were things that hadn't happened in a while, if he was honest with himself. He felt that sugar rush feeling run through him again.

~

Friday night came, and he drove up to the house next door to where he had always been. Holden came walking out of his house – smooth and assured, and Tavish felt the little kick of nervousness run through his stomach.

“Hey,” Holden said, easing into the seat next to Tavish. “I was thinking we could go to that new seafood place.”

“We can go wherever you want,” Tavish said.

“Or wherever we want,” Holden said, placing his hand over Tavish's and smiling as Tavish drove off in the direction of the setting sun.