He can smell fire. Brakes, spilled motor oil, and fire. Lots of damn fire.
Michael tries to focus, peering through the flames and the smoke. He can feel the scorched heat against his skin, that familiar feeling after you’ve been too close to an explosion.
Someone’s screaming. Or was screaming. Maybe it’s just the echoes in his ears. And there are more echoes than screams. A voice, his voice, furious and bitter and everything it always could be but never quite was.
There’s something wrong here.
He feels sick, the smell of smoke in his lungs and the heat against his face. But that’s not what’s wrong. It’s the terror in his gut that’s wrong. Some part of him knows he shouldn’t be terrified. Not any more. That’s how this was supposed to work. If he’s still afraid, what was the point? But this is a different sort of fear, not the front of the mind bitterness in your mouth sort of fear, it’s the deep dark yawning sort, and suddenly there’s nothing to stop him from stumbling over into it and falling forever.
He’s alone. Finally. Truly. And it’s all his own fucking fault.
Michael jolts awake with a gasp. He stares up at the ceiling, sweat prickling against his forehead.
“Hey,” a voice murmurs.
Michael blinks. There’s a hand on his chest. It doesn’t feel like his.
He turns his head. Trevor stares back at him.
Funny. He doesn’t bolt out of the bed like he’s woken up to find a gutted horse under the sheets. He doesn’t let out a good manly scream and run for the fucking hills, or the balcony, whatever’s closer. In fact what’s really funny is he doesn’t even want to. Actually, that suddenly seems like the last fucking thing he wants to do.
It’s like something in his brain has just flopped upside down and now feels oddly more comfortable that way up. Like the Good Healthy gut instincts that used to crowd up the front of his head are suddenly just little voices at the back he hardly even hears, and the quieter deeper needs that usually keep to themselves, folded in shamefully at the back of his brain, have swept right to the front and uncurled themselves, lounging bright and comfortable over all the rest. And maybe that isn’t upside down. Maybe it’s finally right side up. In his own upsidedown sort of way.
“Hey,” he answers, voice a little raw and uneasy from sleep and his world twisting itself into brand new shapes.
Trevor narrows his eyes. He’s sitting up a bit. In his bed. Interesting morning.
“You were being loud,” Trevor says. He’s got the quiet voice on. His voice. He sounds a little funny. He must have just woken up too.
“Uh, what?” Michael focuses.
“In your sleep. You were muttering some shit.”
Michael swallows. “Oh. Right.”
Michael stares back. “I keep dreaming about killing you.”
Trevor’s face hardly flinches. “Oh yeah?”
“It’s been happening for weeks. Since you showed up. It’s been waking me up, all fucking shaky and clammy.”
“Mm, I see that,” Trevor hums.
Michael frowns back at him. “Not too concerned?”
“Just dreams. Right? I have plenty of fucking dreams.”
Michael gazes over his shoulder. The light is starting to seep in through the curtains, thick and saturated in the early morning.
“It confused the hell out of me,” Michael continues numbly. “I thought I’d start having dreams about you killing me once you swaggered right into the fucking kitchen that day, not the other way around. I should have been afraid of you creeping in in the night and cutting my fucking throat. I didn’t know why the fuck I started waking up in a cold sweat, fucking terrified after gunning you off the road or watching you bleed out in the fucking snow.”
Trevor just watches him, posture loose, expression hardly changed at all. “You ‘didn’t’ know why?”
The curtains are shifting a little against the breeze. He must have left the door open and not even remembered.
“It wasn’t you I wanted Davey to shoot that day out there. Not really. It was me. Not literally, you know, but the part of me that’s always gonna looking back at me out of you. And I think I see that now. It crept back up on me, during those ten fucking years. I missed that. Fuck I missed you, and the me that I was around you. I really did. No matter how hard I pretended I didn’t.”
Michael laughs. It feels oddly close in the normally echoing emptiness of the bedroom. “Shit, and I knew that. I knew that somewhere. Somewhere I’d never fucking admit to. I think that some part of me, that fucking pathetic lonely as hell part of me, did it all - the jewelry store, that stupid line, all of it - hoping like hell you’d find me before it was too fucking late.”
He can feel Trevor watching him. He thinks that the hand on his chest has its fingers knitted clumsily around his own.
Michael gazes out into nothingness, feeling so strangely calm all of a sudden. “That’s what kept waking me up scared shitless. The idea of losing that. For good. That piece of me, hell, that most of me that’s always you, and never, ever being able to get it back again.”
Trevor snorts. Michael refocuses, back on him. Trevor leans back casually into the pillows. “Christ, you get all kinds of sentimental post-fuck, huh?”
Michael’s first instinct is to shove him right out of the fucking bed, but hell it must really be the sex getting to him because he’s laughing instead, dragging both hands down his face. “Very fucking empathetic.”
“Fuck empathetic,” Trevor notes. “Anyways. Nothing exactly fucking revelational.”
Michael narrows his eyes back at him. “What’re you talking about?”
“It’s the same shit every time with you. And that shit is You, just you, you, you. No, ‘ah shit Trev, well I just don’t like having dreams about you getting shot in the face’, nah-nah, it’s gotta be ‘well, as a reflection of my fucked-up self, you dying gives me a sense of existential fucking dread that’s less than comfortable’. Always your fat ass first and foremost.”
“Hey now,” Michael tries to start, but Trevor bowls right over him.
“Hey, don’t feel bad about it. Accept it. Isn’t that your new fucking mantra?” Trevor rolls over, arm pressed against his. “Come on, we can work on it together. Here, I’ll go first, repeat after me, ‘I, Michael, am a selfish turd’.”
“Fuck off,” Michael grins, and since when is he grinning?
“What? Disagree?” Trevor asks, and now he’s pinning Michael’s hands over his head again, and shifting his weight even closer against his side.
Michael suddenly realizes he’s still naked. He can’t actually remember the last time he slept naked. Not for a long fucking time. Even when he was younger, it was always kinda uncomfortable knowing you might have to jolt awake and handle shit at any point during the night, and he’d rather do that only baring one piece. But he’d just fallen asleep so hard and so fast last night he hadn’t even realized it and can’t help feeling that stupid damn blush creeping up his neck again.
Trevor doesn’t seem to have anything close to discomfort about being stark ass-naked. Hell, he probably wouldn’t mind being naked at the top for a fucking ferris wheel, featured in live-action color as Weazel News’ Weirdo of the Week, let alone in bed behind closed doors.
“Wanna hear the really fucked up part?” Trevor voice is suddenly much much closer and everything in Michael’s body focuses like a fucking laser on the sound.
Michael swallows. “What?” At least the morning makes his voice sound more “rugged” or some bullshit instead of as squeaky as it feels it ought to be.
Trevor’s hand lands solid and heavy around his dick. “I love selfish fucking you. Way fucking more than I should.”
And then he’s ducking under the sheets so fast that Michael barely has time to get out a shocked, “Hey - what’re—“
The rest of that sentence dissolves into a sharp inhale followed close behind by a heavy groan.
Michael’s hands bunch against the sheets on either side. Trevor’s tongue slides hungrily right up the full length of him and he almost fucking whimpers at the feel of it. Which might have actually been better than the sound he makes when Trevor so damn easily ducks his head forward and slides every fucking inch of him just as deep into his mouth as he can go.
“Fuck—!” Michael’s eyes pop open, hardly seeing anything. Trevor’s fingertips dig into the meat of his thigh in a satisfied way. He pulls back and drags back down again. Even slower.
Michael takes a deep breath. He tries to settle back, relax, but hell he’s already wound right the fuck up. He focuses. It’s alright. There’s no fucking rush. He takes another breath. Trevor’s already taking his time, tracing his tongue under him as he pulls up and eases his way right back down, thumbs rubbing little circles against his legs.
It’s working. The breathing. Well, as much as it fucking can work in a situation like this. Michael lets himself melt back into the pillows with a hiss that oozes into a lazy groan. He arches his back slightly, rolling his hips just enough back into Trevor’s mouth and Trevor gives a satisfying hum, a hum that curls right down Michael’s dick, up and around the bottom of his stomach before unfolding through his throat and blooming out as another messy moan.
He can feel one of Trevor’s hands sliding up to his stomach in a satisfied sort of way. Michael can feel him watching him too and gives a cock-eyed smile with his eyes still closed. The feeling pulses through him, and god it feels fucking good. He forgot how good this felt. How did he forget that? But hell, it never really felt like this did it. There’s a confidence to how Trevor handles himself that he’s never known before, and he has the weird sense that he’s being very deliberately and very slowly unwound, one thread at a time. Trevor obviously knows exactly what the hell he’s doing. He tightens his lips, twists his tongue and suddenly Michael’s swearing again, hand going unexpectedly tight in Trevor’s hair.
Christ. How the hell did he go without this? How many fucking mornings did he waste not feeling exactly, exactly just this damn good?
“Christ,” Michael swears roughly, “you’re way fucking better at that than I thought.”
Trevor eases back, pulling free. Michael just has time to feel the loss before Trevor’s firm hand wraps tight around him again to replace his mouth and Michael collapses back under the pressure of the grip with a growled groan.
Trevor’s smiling at him in a funny way. “Better than ‘you thought’?”
Shit. “Whatever,” Michael mutters. Trevor twists suddenly with an especially firm drag. “Fuck me!”
“I thought,” Trevor drawls, teasing him up and down along the slickness his tongue left behind, “you said, hadn’t thought about it.”
He drags his thumb right along the underside of the head of his dick and Michael gasps. “I lied. I fucking lied.”
Trevor’s chuckling, like he’s been told the sky is fucking blue. “That right?” He dips his head down again, letting his mouth join his hand for a few especially good fucking strokes.
“God yes! Fucking yes.”
“You thought about it?” Trevor hums.
“Of course I fucking thought about it,” Michael groans, inching his hips desperately up towards his mouth again.
Trevor tightens his grip around him again, setting a steady, dragging, devastatingly slow fucking pace. “When?”
Something in Trevor’s voice has gone dark. And that is doing things to Michael’s gut it really really shouldn’t be. Michael lets out a growl of a groan, arching into his touch. “Christ. All the fucking time.”
“Oh yeah?” Trevor’s free hand is snatching something off the floor. Michael hardly has the consciousness left to notice it, not when everything’s gone so warm and tight and his head feels ten pounds lighter than it should and ten pounds heavier all at once.
“What times? Specifically,” Trevor starts again. It sounds commanding in a way that’s not doing him any fucking favor, and suddenly Trevor’s other hand is taking over and it’s slick as hell.
Michael bites back his groan. A thoroughly spent part of his mind tries to think of something to throw back at him, some way to avoid the answer—
“Tell me,” Trevor growls in that fucking voice again and Michael’s mouth is falling open all on its own.
“After jobs. Back then. Every time. I thought about it. What it would be like. Backs of cars. Fucking truck stops. Motels. Anything, fuck, fuck, and—“ he lets out a broken groan as Trevor suddenly hitches his pace, feeling Trevor’s eyes hard as fucking steel against him. “You’d bring back girls. Guys. I’d think about it. How the fuck could I not? Of course I fucking thought about it—”
“Thought about what?” Trevor presses.
And hell he’s too far gone now. “Thought about shutting you up. Thought about shoving you up against that shitty motel wallpaper, or down on some dive bar, up on that trashy fucking counter of your goddamn excuse for a trailer and— ohfuck!”
Well. That’s a new one. Michael’s body goes suddenly utterly still, nothing but tenseness and the echoing ripples of the fucking feeling, the feeling of Trevor’s fingers sliding into him with sudden shocking presence, twisting up precisely, lost for just a moment, and then—
Trevor does it again.
Michael groans so deeply it grates his throat, falling back against the pillows, his cock giving a desperate throb into Trevor’s other hand. “Fuck me—!”
Trevor drags in a ragged breath. He curls his fingers up again, and again, and then he lets the hand on his cock slide, and tighten at the same exact time.
“God,” Michael gasps. And he should be much more fucking aware of what this is doing to him. He should be making a serious damn effort to not writhe around, twisting and arching like some porno actress. He should be making damn sure not to let those messy fucking noises wriggle out of his throat, but Trevor’s watching him, watching him in a way that’s making whole new parts of his brain shut down, and unfamiliar dark and slinky instincts spring to life in their place.
It feels good, way too good, to be watched like this. Like he’s some sort of fucking miracle. Like there’s nothing else in the entire fucking universe to be watching. Trevor’s riveted. Fucking riveted. Watching Michael squirm around under his touch, watching Michael gasp and groan and stutter out erratic chunks of his name. And Michael finds himself arching into that look, tongue darting out to wet his lips, fingers twisting in the sheets, hips rolling fucking shamelessly only to hammer down onto him again in a way that makes Trevor groan aloud.
“God, I wish you were a fucking girl,” Trevor growls.
Michael can’t help laughing aloud, breathless and lost. “Fucking excuse me?”
Trevor’s leaning in close suddenly, mouth and teeth tracing the lines of his ribs, his chest, his neck. “If you were a girl, I could make you come again, and again. Just like this. And all the other fucking ways. Over and over and never fucking stop.”
And christ that hits right fucking home. The heat in Michael’s chest shoves low with a powerful kick that he just manages to wrestle back with a staggered chuckle. “Shit— I’ll do what I fucking can—“
Trevor grins against his neck and suddenly bites down. Hard.
Michael swears aloud, but suddenly Trevor’s shifting, moving. He sits up, knocking the blankets back. He snatches Michael’s leg, getting a hand under his knee and angling it up and then his hand is driving into him again, twisting against the new leverage and Michael swears loudly.
He’s got a new pace now, and it’s fucking devastating. Michael doesn’t have time to groan or growl or hardly even to fucking breathe. He’s panting against the feeling, against the snaking, thick, tight feeling of that pressure, that pace. It wraps all around him, pouring around the pressure under his cock like a keen draft of air on a fire, kicking the flames high and hot and vicious.
“Come on.” He doesn’t even know he’s said it until he hears his own broken voice in his ears.
Trevor’s pace falters. He feels him look up at him.
Michael swears, eyes locking hazy and lost on Trevor’s. He narrows them in a sudden furious dare. “Come the fuck on.”
Trevor stares back, his hair shoved around, sticking up at wild angles, expression reverent and lost and desperate. He swallows, snatches Michael’s hips, tugs himself forward, and with a stumbling motion and a broken sound messily eases himself in.
Michael gasps. He doesn’t know what he expected. But it certainly wasn’t this… much.
It’s impossibly full, and impossibly warm, and when Trevor’s shaky hands manage to grip his knees and twist himself just right - fuck, suddenly the fucking interest half the planet has in this damn state of affairs makes a hell of a lot more sense.
It’s unbelievable. Even now. Even like this. Michael can feel just how hard Trevor’s trying to hold back. Just how much he wants to watch him feel everything, how much he wants to feel him feel everything, and as fucking amazing as that feels, draped over Michael’s limbs warm and heavy and lush, he’s not letting him get away with it that fucking easily. Michael focuses, and with a hard swallow and a quick brace, snaps his hips forward.
“Fuck—!“ Trevor gasps.
His hands snatch wildly at Michael’s hips, his pace suddenly hammering into place. There’s no build up. No steady slope. Trevor falls head first, like a man rolling right down a fucking mountain-side. His hand wraps around Michael’s cock with a needy frantic urgency, pumping him as hard and fast as he rams into him and there’s nothing left for Michael to do but come apart at the fucking seams.
His orgasm hits him hard and fast, all that teasing and pressure and sensation suddenly shoving free in a confusing pile of tightness and heat. Michael rolls through it, feeling Trevor’s slick hand on his cock, his other hand suddenly faltering on his hips. He catches the short yell that bursts out of him, as his hips slam back a few more frantic times, and then he’s staggering to a faltering halt.
Trevor takes a deep, shaky breath, and collapses, right into Michael’s chest.
Michael groans, half in irritation at the sudden pressure and half in lost hollowed out utterly spent sort of pleasure still pulsing around him. Trevor messily kisses his chest and rolls off to his own side.
His side. Huh.
One of Trevor’s hands drags messily through Michael’s hair and to his everlasting fucking shock Michael twists into it, humming and letting his eyes slip shut. He can feel Trevor watching him calmly, idly. He lets his eyes peel open just enough to peer over. Trevor looks back at him. It’s an expression he’s seen before, only this time he’s not looking at the ocean, he’s looking right back at him. Michael feels himself smile, he rolls just enough to lean into his chest.
He’s asleep again before he realizes it. And this time, he doesn’t dream.
Michael wakes up when the sun finally hits him, spilling lush and careless across the mattress. He opens his eyes. It’s bright. Very bright. And… neon yellow?
He reaches up and pulls the stickynote off his forehead. He blinks at the messy handwriting.
”Be back later. You lazy fuck.”
He peers over to the other side of the bed. The blankets are mussed, but he’s certainly alone now. He frowns at the note and reads it again, sitting up better. He reaches for his phone on the beside table. Another sticky note stares back at him from the screen.
”There’s coffee downstairs. If you get your ass down there.”
He actually does manage to get his ass down there. And the coffee is still almost warm, so he can at least tell himself he hasn’t slept in that long.
Michael pops the mug in the microwave and pulls it out again, wrapping a hand around the warmth of it. He considers for a moment before finally tossing a splash of whiskey in the mug too. He takes a sip as he shuffles in his boxers and a t-shirt out onto the back patio.
With a plop he collapses down into a pool chair and lets out a contented sigh. It’s later than he thought, but not too late yet. The sun’s still well above the horizon, but it’s passed the mid-point, and the light’s started to deepen and thicken in the air. The boozy coffee is comfortable and warm against his tongue. He leans back finally, nudging sunglasses down onto his nose and peering out over the top of the city.
He left his phone inside. Somehow that doesn’t matter too much. Nothing right now really matters too much, but in the complete opposite sort of way it hasn’t mattered before. He’s spent a lot of years feeling like things don’t matter because all the meaning’s been hollowed out of them, scooped clean and dumped away somewhere cold and worthless. It’s hard to feel like things matter when your own misery is rolling around in your head too loud to hear anything else. But now everything feels different.
Trevor’ll be back. He knows that with a certainly that’s strange and solid all at once.
It’s different. Things feel so different. Is that the big fat enigma of Happiness? It’s not exactly what he was expecting. He’s not jubilant. He’s not dancing down the streets like someone out of some 1940’s musical number, singing to the fucking pigeons. It’s not that sort of feeling. It’s… comfortable. He feels comfortable. He tries to remember the last time he ever felt honestly, totally comfortable. Has he ever? There was always something waiting in the shadows, ready to snap out and swallow him whole, and now, now there’s just… this. He’s not afraid. He feels calm. Shockingly calm for someone who spent most of the night and good chunk of the morning treating his dick like a lunatic meth head’s fucking merry-go-round.
He snorts into his coffee with a small smile. Funny. It’s that same sort of post-fuck feeling, well, the post-fuck feeling when you don’t have anything to feel guilty about. The feeling when that lull just sort of drapes over you, calm and deep and so damn contented. That’s the feeling that’s slung around him now. Peace. A kind of peace. And it’s been hanging around for a while now, maybe it’s decided to stick around. Maybe he’s not such a lost cause after all.
He sits up again, putting the coffee down on the stones under the chair with a dull sound. There’s only a few things left to do. It all seems so simple now, and with a chuckle he wonders how the hell he ever managed to think it was so damn complicated?
The sun is setting by the time he pulls up to the bar squished into the street corner. He shuts the door behind him, and takes in the evening for a moment. It feels just as it did all those weeks ago. The streetlights are starting to flutter to life, the night colors of the city painting across the dark sides of the car. He takes a deep breath, smiling back at the sounds and smells of the city. A little too deep of a breath. He pulls it back slightly with half a cough. Happiness is one thing, but christ, he’s not going to turn into a fucking transcendentalist jerk-off anytime soon. He feels good, real fucking good, but hobo piss still smells like hobo piss at the end of the day no matter how fucking happy you are, and there’s not much anyone’s ever doing about that.
Michael sighs, turning back towards the building.
He shoves open the door, bell giving a light tinkle of welcome. It hasn’t changed much in the time that’s passed, and shit why would it? He peers around, and hey, his luck really is holding out on him today.
He slides into the bar and the bartender turns to face him.
He smiles. “Hey.”
The girl narrows her eyes. For a moment he doesn’t know if she recognizes him, but she tilts her head back an inch and a smirk inches up one corner of her lips. “Hey.”
“How’s it going?” Michael asks.
She holds his gaze and her own smirk. “Can’t complain. Whiskey?”
“Good memory,” Michael notes.
She smiles. “I told you. Bartender mojo.” She fills up a glass and slides it over to him.
He takes a good long sip before settling the glass down carefully. His shoulder is still feeling a little stiff and sore from his other afternoon activities, but he knows from experience that will go away soon enough.
She’s evaluating him. He can feel it, even though she’s not being too obvious, busy cleaning off the neighboring side of the counter.
“Well?” Michael asks.
“Well what?” she answers.
“What’s your take?”
“Last time I came in here, you seemed to have some pretty specific ideas about what was rolling around inside my head.”
“Is that right?”
“Mm,” Michael notes, having another long sip. “I thought I’d pop back for another evaluation.”
“Right. Because that’s what I’m here for,” she teases.
“Hey, you started it,” Michael answers.
She holds his look for a long time. Finally she answers, “You look good.”
“Yeah,” a smile eases up her face, from her mouth to her eyes. “Good. Better. How do you feel?”
Michael sighs, stretching back off the counter. “Good. Better.” Much fucking better. Impossibly fucking better. How had he not known? All those years, that this was just that close, all it took was throwing open the door and falling inside.
“Well, glad to hear it,” she notes, grabbing a glass and wiping it off with a free hand.
Michael swallows the last of his whiskey with a hiss and stands up again.
“That all?” she asks.
“I think that’ll do it. For now,” Michael answers. He makes a show of patting his pockets. “Shit. You know what. I don’t have any cash. Don’t suppose I can tip with a check?”
The girl raises a suspicious eyebrow. “You want to pay with a check? For one drink?”
“Oh would you look at that,” Michael continues, feeling inside one pocket. “Looks like I have just enough cash for the drink. Short on the tip. Check okay?”
She narrows her eyes at him. “It’s not a problem. Call it good.”
“No, no, no,” Michael continues, pulling out a checkbook and laying it down on the counter. “One thing I pride myself on, I never forget to fucking tip.” He finishes scribbling on the paper and then tears it off, sliding it over.
The girl looks at it. Then at him. Then at the check.
“This,” her eyes are wide suddenly and more than a little concerned, “this is… my exact student debt.”
And shit. He kinda underestimated how creepy that would seem. He rubs a hand against the back of his neck. “Uh, yeah. I may have, asked someone about that.”
She stares back at him. Slowly she starts sliding the check back in his direction.
“No, no,” Michael hurries pushing it back towards her. “Look,” he leans on the bar again, keeping a good distance between them just to be safe. “I just, I want you to know… you saved my life, okay? That night. When I came in here. I don’t mean that the way it sounds, I mean, you showed me that I can have a life, that I can put it back in my hands and hold onto it just as tight as I fucking want. You did that. And I just needed you to know, that if you ever wonder if you made a difference, to anyone, you did. Not that I deserve it. Not that I come close to fucking deserving it. But I think I got it. And it’s because of you.”
She stares back at him. “That’s… look, I’m glad. I really am, but this is too much man, I can’t take this much money from anyone, let alone someone I don’t even fucking know—”
“Then don’t take it,” Michael insists firmly. “Call it a down payment.”
Her eyebrows rocket upward. “On what?”
“Services. I mean,” he catches, rubbing a hand down his face. “Look, when you finish up that degree, and you get setup in some office doling out the advice with a five-hundred-dollar-an-hour minimum, I’ll be the first one at the door. And I’ll be dragging a friend of mine right along with me, because trust me, you made a good start here, but the two of us, we’re in need from some grade-A fucking counseling.”
She’s starting to smile again. Thank god. “That right?”
“That’s a fucking guarantee,” Michael confirms. “So study up good.”
“You know,” she starts again, still eying him skeptically, “you’re lucky I have a good sense for people. How about this: we can shake on it. Verbal contract. I, Stephanie Daniels, accept this payment in lieu of future, strictly psychological, services of a therapeutic nature.” She extends a hand.
“And I, Michael De Santa, future recipient of said services, accept.” He shakes it.
She’s already laughing. “Man, when this bounces this is going to make a fantastic story for the finances department.”
“When it doesn’t bounce, it’s going to make a fantastic story for anyone,” Michael notes.
“Well,” she looks back at him, “so what? See you in a year?”
“That’s right,” Michael smiles, he turns to go. Then turns back. “One more thing.”
She rolls her eyes. “Of course there’s one more thing.”
“It’s nothing really,” Michael says, turning back to the bar and grabbing the pen again and a nearby napkin. He scribbles out a few numbers. “If you were ever, uh, looking for someone to go out with or tweet-fight or whatever the fuck you kids do, maybe call this number.”
The girl blinks at it. “You’re… giving me a guy’s number?”
“Yeah,” Michael shrugs. “Look, throw it out if you want, seriously, but I just think you two might get along. That’s all. It’s nice to have someone you get along with.” He smiles. “Better than nice.”
She looks down at the napkin skeptically. “‘Franklin’?”
“You sure that’s not just some cartoon tractor on kid’s TV?”
Michael grins. “No, but that’s probably a decent icebreaker.” He turns back to the door. “See you, Stephanie.”
She watches him go. “See you, Michael.”
When he pulls back into the house Trevor’s truck is back in the driveway. The lights are on in the house. He leans against his car door and looks at that for a moment. There’s something about a house with the lights on that suddenly feels so comfortable. Part of him used to dread going back into that house when it looked like this at night, he’d sit out here, waiting for the feelings of misery and doubt and loss to drench him like a bucket left over the door as soon as he walked in. And god, there really is something backwards in his brain because Trevor Philips waiting inside your house should really be what clenches up your guts, not what makes you feel weird, impossibly, like you’re finally fucking home.
Michael pushes open the door, calling out. “Hey!”
There’s a rough, “hey!” back from what sounds like the kitchen. Michael follows the sound, turning in to see at least three cases of beer and other assorted worn cardboard boxes scattered across the floor.
“What’s this?” Michael asks.
Trevor pulls himself out of the fridge, eyes meeting his with a frantic sort of expression. “I, uh, I brought over some things.”
Michael raises an eyebrow. “Oh yeah?”
“Yeah,” Trevor manages, idly kicking a box by his feet.
Michael starts to shrug off his jacket, eyeing the counter. “And what’s wrong with my beer.”
Trevor cracks a smile. “Is that a serious question?”
Michael smiles back. “Go fuck yourself.” He drops the jacket on the nearest chair and turns to look at the rest of the boxes, twisting his shoulder in Trevor’s direction.
“What the fuck happened there?” Trevor’s voice instantly snaps, his booted feet moving right across the floor.
Michael twists his neck, eyeing where the bandage that covers the expanse of his deltoid peers out from under his t-shirt. “Oh that’s uh, hey— take it easy!”
Trevor’s already locked his hands around his arm, twisting to see better, hiking his sleeve up to see the full damage. “Shit, if it was those fuckers again I swear to god—“
“It wasn’t,” Michael insists, easing his arm more comfortably into the warm rough weight of Trevor’s hands.
“Then what the hell—?“
“It’s a tattoo,” Michael says plainly.
Trevor stops. He peers back at him. “What’s that?”
“You deaf?” Michael smiles back smugly. “It’s a tattoo. I got a tattoo.”
“How fucking bored did you get when I fucked off?” Trevor glares.
Michael shrugs. “Eh, I don’t know. Seemed like a fun thing to do today. Anyways, have to admit I was feeling a little left out.” He eyes Trevor’s shoulder.
Trevor follows his gaze. He looks at his own left shoulder, there the tattoo of Michael’s name peer out from under his sleeve. He looks at Michael’s left shoulder where the bandage covers about an equal amount of skin. He stares back at him. “Is that right?”
“That’s right,” Michael says.
Trevor wets his lips once, a sort of gleeful curiosity is starting to glimmer in his eyes. “So, uh, when do those bandages come off?”
Michael shrugs. “The guy said four hours, so I guess give it one more.”
Trevor stares at him for a moment and then kisses him.
It’s rushed and a little clumsy, but Michael turns to face him properly and things slot together just right.
After a moment, Trevor pulls back, one hand still tight on Michael’s forearm. He clears his throat. “So, what?”
Michael looks back, already feeling a little switched on, gaze hanging on Trevor lazily. “So what?”
“This it?” Trevor asks roughly, glancing around the kitchen. “We what? We just fight and fuck and drink your shitty beer?”
“And your shitty beer,” Michael adds.
“And get coffee with your kids?”
“And watch movies with Tracey.”
“And go to fucking obnoxious restaurants whenever you want to?”
“And take the day off to crash army bases when you want to.”
“And what?” Trevor half smiles. “Fucking happy ever after?”
Michael smiles back. “Fucking happy ever after.”
Trevor holds his look for a long time. Michael doesn’t know if he realizes or not just how decent he looks when he genuinely smiles.
“Well. Alright,” Trevor agrees finally.
Michael puts a hand on his hip. “Alright. Now where the fuck is my beer?”
Trevor shrugs, sliding a hand around the back of Michael’s neck. “Dumped it on the pool.”