What You've Done
not an accident
You mean to touch me
And that's exactly why I'm here
A trick of confidence
Twenty years inside
You're exactly what I need
--- Easy, Emiliana Torrini
He wakes up to stillness and butter-yellow sunlight, a down pillow pushed against his cheek. He mutters something into it, tries to hold on to the last seeping vestiges of a dream. And beside him something shifts. His fuzzy mind turns to Dan, and the discrepancy, the realization of his absence, makes him pull himself into total consciousness. Looking over changes the view from all-white pillows to thick blonde hair on all-white pillows.
It is not Josh's hair.
The previous night comes back to him in a swirl of events not quite lucid enough to seem real. Testing their merit and his own memory, he moves his leg and Kay's shifts over it, a domino effect. A leg. Muscled, hard-boned underneath soft skin; a human leg belonging to one Kayton Marks, and it is offhandedly brushing Josh's in sleep. How… shocking.
Words materialize in his brain, hovering on his lips. "Good morning," "Kay?," and "what the fuck?" among them, but Josh has always been relatively more reasonable than that. He tries to think of a better action.
Kay isn't awake yet, and getting out of bed seems like the best option. Josh isn't willing to lie still and wait for him to wake up, like he would have at fifteen. Josh looks over at the clock. It isn't late, but it isn't early either. He should have known from the amount of light pouring through the window—after rehab, Josh was not a late sleeper. And even before he'd rarely slept for long periods of time; Dan sang in the shower and nightmares plagued Josh even when he was too high to form words.
Sitting up, he's hardly swung his legs over the edge of the bed before a hand is flung against his back. He looks over his shoulder. Kay's eyes are closed tight, and he garbles like a child. Josh waits patiently, knowing Kay will cough and then try again. He's done that for as long as Josh has known him. Kay had a perpetual smoker's cough at seventeen. Josh listened to his warnings about cigarette smoke, but never took it to heart enough to quit himself.
Sure enough, the ritual carries through just like it used to, and Kay repeats himself. "Where're you going?"
"I thought I'd make coffee, if that's all right with you." Josh's voice is deceptively light for someone who has just woken up in bed with a relic of his childhood. Granted, Kay's chest is no longer quite as golden as it was six years ago, and without having to lift the sheet Josh knows his stomach has not been rock hard for some time. He's still in better shape than most men Josh knows, but living with a six year old probably cuts in on gym time.
"French roast, you have it?" When Josh nods, Kay grunts it again. "French roast." With anyone else, with Dan, Josh would have arched an eyebrow. Swatted his backside, called him a queen, and told him to get his lazy ass out of bed. But Kay isn't anyone else, least of all Josh's departed roommate, and for the sake of peace on a Saturday morning he just nods and treads off to the kitchen.
When Josh returns with Kay's order he's sitting up in bed, the phone tucked under his chin and his eyes apprehensive. Josh hands him the mug—cream, no sugar, another vague recollection from high school—and looks at him in silent question.
"Nicky," Kay says in explanation, and again Josh looks to the alarm clock on his bedside table. It's nearly a half past eleven. He figures that, like most kids his age, Nicky would have risen hours ago. "I hope he's all right with my father." The phone must still be ringing.
"I'm sure he is." Josh tries not to sound like he couldn't care less. He coils himself down onto the bed and wraps his fingers around the steaming coffee cup, staring at the black contents. Nicky is still a sore spot for him, no matter how many times he reminds himself that Kay practically neglected the kid to help Josh through all of his problems. No matter how many times he reminds himself that it is ridiculous to be jealous of a three-foot someone who draws him stick figures and calls them art. Kay is distracted with the phone now, but perhaps that is for the best.
"After all," Josh says softly, more to himself than Kay, "when is anyone ever in danger when your father's around?"
Christian is another sore spot, and not just because Josh knows Kay's father thinks he is dangerous, a waste of time. Josh can agree with that assessment. He doesn't know what Kay is doing with him. Josh hasn't yet forgotten the way Christian's eyes rested on him, wherever they were when Kay scraped him off a bathroom floor and took him home in a cab. By rights, he shouldn't remember this. He sometimes thinks it may have just been a drug fantasy, but why would he fantasize his ex-boyfriend's father looking at him in disdain?
"Hi Dad," Kay says. Josh stops ruminating to listen. "I'm fine." His eyes, as pale hazel as ever, bullion-flecked in the light of the sun streaming through the blinds, shift to study Josh carefully. Meaningfully. "How's Nicky? How are you? Oh, he's eating cereal, that's great."
What could be more boring than eavesdropping on a conversation about cereal? Josh feels less than wily sipping his coffee, careful of burning his tongue, and watches Kay's fingers cradle the phone. He never wanted kids growing up, and this overwhelming lack of interest is probably why.
Josh has to wonder, in an abstract, too-tired-to-laugh-about-it sort of way, what on earth Kay can say to his father after last night. How he can say anything, really, without blushing or stammering. 'Hey dad, I got fucked by that kid you hate, and can you gimme a ride to work tomorrow? Have Nicky makes the bed.'
"Mhm, I'll be home this afternoon." Kay's eyes flicker suspiciously and Josh's return to him in curiosity. Kay turns away, cupping the phone and mumbling something into it that Josh can't quite make out. He figures it is something about him, and probably not something he would like. Josh got out of rehab feeling stronger than ever, but so far this has not stopped Kay from treating him like glass whenever a complicated situation arises. Josh wonders if other people have had as many 'situations' come up in two days as he and Kay do, but it's not a matter worth pressing.
He yawns and takes another sip of his coffee, grimacing at the black taste. The French roast was disgusting, and he doesn't even know why he has it. Dan had only ever liked mild roasts, and Josh—actually, he'd probably picked it up in some bizarre desire to punish himself with bitter, crappy coffee. That would be like him. And it would be like Kay to drink that same coffee, just because he likes it.
Josh tunes back into the phone conversation, only to discover that Kay has apparently been passed over to his son. He listens as Kay's voice raises half a pitch, half a level of indulgence. Yes, Nicky may watch cartoons. No, he's not to ask Grandpa to take him to F.A.O Schwartz again, Kay is still trying to figure out what to do with the child-sized toy Hummer they came back with last time. And yes, yes, of course, Daddy would be home soon.
After a moment Kay hangs up and looks over at Josh, downing half of the revolting coffee in a single gulp. "D'you wanna come over?" He asks, like they aren't currently sharing a bed.
"Oh." Josh's fingers skitter over the cup's rim, spiderlike, in nervous reaction. "Well. I have some work to do on the book—I picked a title, you know?"
"Oh?" Kay will be sidetracked by this, if not put off altogether. "What is it?"
"Like It Or Not." It's clichéd and amateur, but Josh likes it. It's fitting. And, as he told his agent, "anything is better than 'More Than You'd Think.'"
"That's… fitting," Kay reads his mind. "If a little… cynical?" He poses the question tentatively, rolling the still steaming cup between his palms.
"I'm nothing if not cynical," Josh smiles, mouth feeling funny around the shape.
"Ah." Kay nods like he understands, but Josh knows he doesn't. Creativity is not Kay's forte, even if Josh does remember a sketchy Bic pen portrait drawn on the sly. And Kay would even admit it if someone asked, with a perfect self-deprecating grin and maybe, possibly, an arm thrown around Josh's shoulders. Josh knows the remarks that would go along with it. Josh is the artistic one, as if they were a twosome. And it would ring like a compliment, but all the while make Josh feel like he was a kid playing with finger paints. Kay had remarkable aptitude for making Josh feel like he was only pretending to be an adult.
To tell the truth, Josh admires it. He wishes his own patronizing tendencies were more developed, his Shadow Side (if you subscribed to Jung) more adept at casting misery.
"So?" Kay is back to his invitation already.
Josh wavers, because spending the day alone in an empty apartment didn't sound that appealing. "Huh."
Kay grins, his teeth distractingly white against his golden skin. "Does that mean no?"
"I don't know."
"I'll make you my famous Kraft Dinner," Kay coaxes, still smiling at him in that lazily gorgeous way of his, and Josh can't help but laugh. In high school, that was all Kay knew how to make. Josh had never quite looked at macaroni the same way after.
"I see you're still a culinary queen."
"You don't know the half of it." A finger waggles at him and Josh tries to pretend he doesn't love him like this, all relaxed and smiley with his normally perfect hair falling in his eyes. "I can make omelets now, too. Good ones."
"You don't say." Josh sets his cup down on the night table, giving up on the coffee, and leans back against the pillows. "But I'm afraid I'll have to pass on both those two gourmet treats, Kay. I need to get some work done. Maybe I could come by… tonight?" Tonight is safe, he thinks. Tonight, Nicky will be in bed and Josh will not have to spend the entire visit searching every aspect of the kid for a trace of Claudia.
Kay heaves a dramatic sigh, but he drops a kiss onto the top of Josh's head as he climbs over him to slide out of the bed. "All right," he says. Josh is distracted by the kiss, which again makes him feels like a child. It seems like Kay's superior adulthood has always been there; Josh thinks it would be nice to get over that eventually. He turns over onto his side, watching Kay step into the pants Josh had torn off him in a sex-filled haze last night. It's almost disappointing to see he can walk.
"My ass hurts," Kay mutters on cue. Josh, satisfied, cannot resist a smirk.
"That's what you get for being a slu-ut," he practically singsongs, a throwback to the language he'd used on Kay the evening before. Payback. He'd realized belatedly, looking down at Kay's shocked and needy face, that it was twice as sweet as he expected.
"Shut up," Kay bites wittily. He's nearly dressed by this time; he pulls his shirt down over his stomach.
Josh gives him a purposely curious look, propping himself up a little further on his elbow. "How are you going to explain to your dad why you're walking like you got it good last night?"
Kay throws him a look, pretending he isn't trying to study his posture in Josh's mirrored closet door. "I guess I'll tell him I got it good last night, J." He's dressed. He'll be leaving soon. Josh ignores the pang in his stomach, rolling off the bed to walk him to the door.
Kay reaches out to stop him when he goes to head past him. He holds onto Josh's wrists, loose, leaning into him a little, just looking at him. Then he smiles again. "I'll see you around six?"
Josh gets that weird feeling creep over him again, the sensation that this is wrong. Too easy, too far from where they'd been only a week ago. A few days ago. "Make it eight," he says, partly to be difficult and partly to make sure Nicky's not included in their plans, and breaks Kay's grip on him.
Kay tries to kiss him at the door, but Josh turns it into an almost perfunctorily sterile peck on the lips, and then Kay is gone. Josh turns around to face the white walls of his apartment and wishes for the thousandth time Dan had not left.
"Like It Or Not," he reminds himself firmly, with no small amount of irony, and heads for his office.