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Peach Jam

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“Peach jam… m’ favorite pick-me-up…” George lazily taps the beat of his ‘summer banger’ (as Sean likes to call it) on his laptop. He stares emptily at his browser: the sound studio left completely empty, titled ‘summer banger 2.’ He gingerly takes the e-cig from his mouth and rests it on the side table. “No plans,” vapor leaves his lips as he mumble-sings, “Jus’ rather stay wit’ ya…”

He drags a single snare into the player. His speaker beats once. Then twice. Then three times. “Fuck.” He groans and slams his laptop shut. “I give up, alright? You win.”

“Ha!” Brian chimes, peeking his head out of George’s ridiculously small kitchen, “Get in here, then. The garlic needs choppin’.”

The musician groans again, this time louder. He hated cooking when he got in moods like this. This why he called Brian over in the first place; when he doesn’t feel like doing anything but sleeping, there was no way he was gonna cook a full damn meal. He didn’t even know what the younger was cooking, probably some Indonesian thing he couldn’t pronounce by the smell of it.

When George enters the kitchen, Brian already slouched over the stove top sautéeing chicken (or maybe pork?), dressing in George’s apron. He can’t help but grin a bit, biting his lower lip. He looked like a little housewife. His little housewife.

A similar simper forms on Brian’s face as his eyes snap over, “What’re ya’ so happy about?”

George swallows and walks to the cutting board, “Your ankles are nice.”

Brian clicks his tongue and shakes his head. “Really? My ankles again? Don’t cha have any better compliments?”

“うるさい.” Oh. That came out in Japanese.

“What?”

He takes a knife from the from the block, a tad flustered. “I said ‘shut up.’” It came out a harsh. He couldn’t care less.

“Oh.” His toothy smile catches George’s eye as he shuffles the pan. “Tidak!” His smile… George could definitely care less. A lot less.

“What?”

“Guess,” he chuckles.

George brings the knife down on the garlic, millimeters away from his knuckles. “No.”

“You’re right!”

“I didn’t guess.”

“...Oh.” Brian laughs to break the silence. He coughs into his shoulder.

George averts his eyes, staring at the garlic below.

It’s been like this ever since he kissed his cheek on stage for a meme. Or maybe it started when they got backstage, in Brian’s dressing room, stealing a few more kisses. George smashes the clove again with the side of the knife. It wasn’t just a few. It was eight. And they were long and hot and with tongue and he couldn’t breathe-

Stop thinking about it. He shakily separates the skin from the garlic itself, distracting, distracting. But, alas, George’s eyes find their way to Brian’s strong jawline— he was right in the interview, that as his favorite feature— and his brain connects it to the memory of brushing it in the frenzy of trying not to be caught in the act. And his lips hold the words “We can’t do this, dude” when he was already in too deep. And the way his eyes looked when he said it-

Back to the garlic. Brian was straight anyway…

“It’s nasi goreng,” he says, taking a spatula to the pan, “My mom used to always make it for me.” His teeth show as he speaks. What made him so happy?

“Shit. Fuck.”

“What’s up?”

“I-” George hums, dropping the knife. He hated sharp things. He feared them. In his distraction, the knife had slipped. He had become careless. And now, there was a gash from his index to his palm. Where were the veins? He couldn’t remember. “Fuck, that stings.”

Brian’s eyes flash backward. “Did’ja cut yourself? You alright?”

“Y-Yeah,  it’s fine though.” He bites his lip, wishes he weren’t so sensitive. It wasn’t even that deep.

The stove beeps, Brian’s suddenly close to him. He peers around, glancing at the cut. “Shit.” He places his hand under George’s, bringing him closer.

He shouldn’t be flustered, it’s just a touch.

“I’m sorry dude. I know you're tired, I shouldn’t have you cut up shit,” he swallows, letting him go, “I’ll get… Where’s your first-aid kit?”

“It’s fine. I can get it.” Brian looks at him with those eyes. He really shouldn’t feel guilty about these sorts of things. Brian’s only fault was their shared memories. “...It’s in the cabinet above the sink.”

“Gotcha.” He walks to get it with a slow breath. The cabinet door opens, he inhales. He sniffs. “Do…” his heels touch the floor, a tin box in his hands, “Do you smell that?”

“Smell what?” He inhales. And undertone of something fruity lingers beneath the scent.

Brian walks over to him with an odd look in his eyes. “That.” He steps close, takes the wounded hand in his hand. His eyes, close as he breathes. “It’s peach, look.”

George sweats and he sees it. His blood had the tinge of orange, a distinct scent. The confusion covers the fear.

“Did you put something in my cigarettes-?”

“No.”

They meet eyes, pausing. At that moment, the impossibility of this situation was ruled out. It was dismissed. “I dare you to taste it.”

He says with more certainty, “No.”

The blood(?) has leaked onto Brian’s warm hands. “Okay.” He maintains the eye contact but changes the style. His eyes turn gleamy.

George can’t describe it, he can’t describe anything. He wants to touch him.

His tender finger slips over his palm, his lips part. Okay. He takes it in his mouth. There’s a shy smile across his face. “It’s not that bad.”

An emotion overtakes George, a demand for action. Did he want it? Was this his way of asking for it? “Y-Yeah? Is it?” He was never this nervous with girls, he was never this nervous, period. He extends a shaky hand, touches his lips. His heartbeat drums through his ears. “Taste it.”

He is surprised, but not shocked. His tongue reaches along the digits; he must be nervous too. Or perhaps that was George’s imagination trying to reassure him. He didn’t want to be the odd one. He didn’t want to be the pervert. Brian takes his wrist, exposing his palm. His laps at it, flashing half-lidded eyes.

It was a dream. It had to be. All of these things were impossible, they were products of fantasy. Yet the pain was real. This emotion was real.

Brian touches his chest, the liquid spreads across his shirt. Yellow and orange; peach jam. The look in his eyes.

“I’m in love with you.” He lets the words float in the air, lets the scent spread. George covers his mouth, already beginning the process of forcing himself to forget.

Before the “I’m sorry” has the chance of leaving his lips, Brian responds. “I know,” his eyes speak, “I know.”  The mouth retracts, they do not vocalize their thoughts. Brian walks away. He opens the tin.