Title: One Dance
Summary: Evyn Jones has lost it all just because he'd rather have a boyfriend than a wife. Now he's sharing a flat above the cafe he works in with pop star in hiding, Adrian Taylor, a flamboyant man with absolutely no concept of personal space. Let the fun begin! (SLASH)
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Life Inconsiderately Goes On
It took Evyn about a week to fall into the routine. He woke up generally around eight-thirty in the morning to the sound of Adrian singing every successive track from Victimized's first album. After staring blankly at the wall for a few minutes, he dragged himself out of bed and into the kitchenette to watch Adrian dance around—naked—as he prepared breakfast.
(He'd first tried to suggest that perhaps cooking with his unmentionables so close to the stove wasn't such a good idea, but he'd given up on that battle pretty quickly. He supposed he should be disturbed that the sight of a naked man in the kitchen was no longer a cause for alarm, but it was Adrian Taylor. One either got used to it or got out.)
After he and Adrian ate breakfast together, Evyn would spend all day downstairs bussing tables and exchanging jokes and stories with the other workers. Cora liked to pretend she was too busy to join in, but she made a habit of shouting additions to the conversation across the room, a sure sign she was listening.
More than anything, Evyn was surprised to find that he was happy here. Sure, he'd dropped out of school seven months shy of graduation and his family hated him and his trust fund was probably a distant memory, but between Cora and Adrian and the rest of the café workers, he had a family bigger and better than the one he'd left behind.
"That," Adrian said when Evyn mentioned this to him after work. "is perhaps the cheesiest thing I've ever heard."
He and Evyn were watching TV on the couch. Well, Evyn was watching the TV. Adrian had his legs sprawled in Evyn's lap and was flipping through teen magazines for news about himself.
"This is exactly why I never tell you anything," Evyn retorted, reaching over his thigh for the remote. "You're such a jerk."
"Oh, look. Did you know I'm hiding out in Rio with my manager, with whom I've been carrying on an illegitimate affair? I had no idea."
"Neither did I. Last I heard, you were in Paris, having shaved your head and grown a beard, attempting to revive the beat poetry movement."
Adrian reached up to touch his dark hair. "Shave this? I swear they'll print anything these days!"
Evyn ducked his head to hide a smile, settling on the news. It did nothing to encourage Adrian's ego and, besides, other than what he heard in the kitchens he was woefully uninformed about what went on outside the café. He rarely left it except to go grocery shopping for Adrian, who packed away a lot of food for a skinny man.
"I should probably take a shower," Adrian said at last, slipping off the couch and tossing the magazine over his shoulder. It hit Evyn in the arm. He was half-tempted to throw it back, but didn't feel like moving.
Instead he said, "Probably. You smell."
"I smell wonderful. You smell like dish detergent and table polish."
"I do not," Evyn snapped, but Adrian had already shuffled away. He waited until he heard the bathroom door shut before he sniffed himself curiously. His face flushed. "Damn, I do."
"Told you," Adrian called and Evyn wished he had thrown the magazine after all.
"You!" a voice screamed half-way through his shift that Monday. Evyn nearly dropped the dishes he was carrying.
The owner of the voice was a female three inches taller than him, with bright red hair, brown eyes, and more freckles than she had room for on her cheeks. Beside her was a meek brunette who was staring at her shoes.
Evyn blinked. "Um. Laura?"
Laura Dutton was one of the many girls his parents had thrown at him over the years and one of the few likeable ones. He'd met her six or seven dinner parties ago. She'd been attempting to climb from the balcony to a nearby tree to skip out on the party and have some actual fun. Evyn had gone with her and it had been one of the most fun nights of his life.
His parents had been highly disappointed when the Duttons had announced that Laura had agreed to eventually marry Caleb Clarke, but their disappointment hadn't matched Laura's when she'd found out why Evyn's eyes never lingered anywhere below her own.
Laura marched up to him, oblivious to the stares of the café patrons, and glowered at him. Her entire demeanor said that if he hadn't been holding dishes, she would have hit him. The brunette she'd brought with her was still hovering by the door.
"Um. Hi," Evyn tried again. "Um. I'm sort of… working…"
"Break!" Cora called from behind the counter. "Time for break! Put down dishes and go with the angry girl!"
Evyn didn't particularly want to go with the angry girl, but he obediently passed the plates off to Jake, a fellow busboy, and followed Laura's fuming form out of the café and into the alleyway next to it. In the comfort of the pseudo-privacy, she shoved him against the wall.
"What is wrong with you? What made you think it was even remotely a good idea to tell your parents anything ever?" she screamed, shoving him again. There was no more space between Evyn and the wall, however, which rendered the second shove much less effective than the first. "Give me one good reason why I shouldn't kill you where you stand!"
"Give me a better reason!"
"Laura," the brunette spoke at last, her voice barely louder than a whisper. "Don't hurt him. It's all my fault."
Laura and Evyn turned to look at her at the same time, Laura frustrated and Evyn stunned. His suspicions were confirmed when Laura deflated and stepped away from him to speak to her companion. "Clare, don't blame yourself because Evyn's an idiot. He got it from his parents."
"You're Clare Monroe?" Evyn asked incredulously. This was the girl his parents had wanted him to marry? This girl who was trying her best to blend in with the side of the building? She was pretty, yes, but she wasn't his type—if he even had a type. "You're—?"
"I'm sorry! I just—I tried to stop it because Laura told me about you and your, um, well, preferences and I—but they—and then—I'm sorry!"
She looked like she was going to cry.
"You're upsetting her, Evyn!"
He tilted his head back against the brick for a moment and closed his eyes, trying to think. Some small part of him did blame Clare for all of this, but it was obvious she felt horrible for the role she'd had in this. It was also obvious that she wouldn't be here at all if Laura hadn't dragged her along. Although, that reminded him—
"How did you know I was here?" he asked, opening his eyes to look at Laura directly.
"Honestly?" she scratched her head sheepishly. "I was walking by and saw you. I was actually on my way down to your school to ask around. I literally just found out, Evyn, or you know I would've been here sooner."
"How'd you find out?"
"I heard my parents talking to your parents. The engagement with Caleb fell through because he decided to go for a girl much richer than I am so my parents wanted to try and arrange something with yours again. Idiots," she huffed. "Anyway, I was listening in on the phone to, you know, formulate my argument, and I heard your parents say they no longer had a son and, if they did, he'd been promised to Clare and, well, it doesn't take a genius to figure out what happened!"
"She called me to confirm," Clare added, blushing. "I'm so sorry, Evyn."
Evyn digested all of this silently, then pushed away from the wall and forced a smile. "Hey, it's alright. I'm actually happy here. I just wish I'd gotten to finish school. I had my eye on an out-of-state college."
"I could help you pay for school," Laura volunteered. "I could sell that coup my parents gave me for Christmas or—"
Evyn, who had had enough charity in the past two weeks, shook his head firmly. "I'm good. If I have to be a high school dropout, then this is where I want to be. Cora's taking care of me and—"
He stopped seconds away from mentioning Adrian. Laura was the one who'd introduced him to Victimized in the first place. If she had any idea that Adrian Taylor was living with him…
"And what?" she asked suspiciously, eyes narrowed.
"—and at least I don't have to worry about any more arranged marriages," he averted his eyes and thought about Adrian crawling into his bed naked to get a healthy blush on his face. "No offense, Clare."
Laura sighed. "I just… isn't there anything we can do for you, Evyn? This whole situation isn't fair!"
"I'm luckier than a lot of other people who end up in my situation," Evyn said sagely. "I got a job and a place to live the same day I was thrown out. I'm hardly paying rent, I'm never at a loss for something to eat, and my landlady actually cares whether I'm comfortable or not. Plus, I've got psychotic redheads looking out for me—ow!"
Laura punched him on the other arm for good measure.
"I should go…" Clare said, obviously uncomfortable. Evyn paused in rubbing his arm, wracking his mind for something to say that wouldn't make her feel like a third wheel or the source of all his problems, but came up with nothing. Clare smiled as though she understood. "It was nice to meet you, Evyn."
"You, too," he said and almost meant it.
Laura threw herself at him, hugging him tightly. "I'll come back. And I'll—I don't know what I'll do, but things won't stay the way they are. I promise, Evyn, I—"
Evyn carefully pried her hands off him, blushing at the damp kiss she pressed to his temple. She was crying. Crying girls made him uncomfortable.
"Bye," she and Clare said simultaneously before turning and leaving the alley. Evyn wiped the water off his cheek and headed back inside, his blush intensifying at the catcalls and leers he received.
"It wasn't like that!" he said, wishing he didn't look so damn guilty. "She's just a friend! Both of them are—"
Cora beamed. "I am happy. I was beginning to think you had none."
I was beginning to think so, too, Evyn thought, beaming back.
Adrian was on the phone when Evyn got off work and he didn't sound happy about it. For a moment, Evyn was confused. He hadn't been aware they even had a phone. Then he reached the top of the stairs and realized that Adrian had a cell phone.
"That's just ridiculous. Shouldn't you be running damage control or something?" he was saying with a scowl on his usually easygoing face. He caught sight of Evyn and gestured toward the kitchen where Evyn could smell lasagna. "I don't think you quite understand the concept of hiding. If I wanted people to know where I was, I'd hang a huge sign outside."
The lasagna was on the stove and untouched. Evyn grabbed two plates and made sure to give Adrian most of it. From the tone of the conversation, he'd really need it.
"It's not like they don't have my number. Why don't they just call me their own damn selves?"
Evyn picked up the two plates and walked back into the living room. Adrian was leaning against the wall next to the TV, wearing nothing but a pair of pajama pants that were hanging loosely off his hips. Only habit and consideration kept him from staring.
"Listen, I have a nap I could be taking and I'm seconds away from screening your calls. Later." Adrian hung up the phone and set it down on top of the television set, giving him a tired smile. "Managers. No life outside of yours."
"I wouldn't know," Evyn said, holding out the plate. Adrian took it gratefully and sank down onto the couch next to him. The effort to move seemed to have made him even more tired than before. "Did you, um, have a fight with your band?"
"Something like that. Damn, this is good. If I hadn't been blessed with ridiculously good looks and an amazing singing voice, I would have been a chef."
"Of course. I said so in an interview once. Don't you read?"
Evyn would have hit him with the pillow if not for the fact that he looked like he might actually fall over from the blow. "I do, but I don't really believe it until I hear it from the source. I didn't think that would actually ever happen, though…"
"Great attitude, that. How about this? Ask me a question and I'll give you an honest answer. Of course, I don't give interviews for free, so I'll do the same for you. It's called getting to know people."
Evyn eyed him warily, already afraid of what questions he'd possibly want to ask, but there were a few things that had been nagging at the back of his mind ever since he moved in and this was the perfect time to ask them. Adrian himself looked entirely at ease, watching Evyn with sleepy fascination over his plate of lasagna. With luck, he'd fall asleep half-way through the game and not remember it in the morning.
"Okay. How old are you?"
Adrian laughed. "Twenty, jailbait. How old are you?"
"I'm not jailbait, you pervert. I'll be eighteen in March," Evyn said, looking away. What was he saying? He was totally jailbait and reminding Adrian of that little fact would probably keep him from hanging all over him. However, he didn't want Adrian thinking of him that way. He wanted them to be on equal footing. He wanted there to be a chance for… for something. He wanted—Oh hell. "Have you really been married three times?"
"Evyn, baby, I'm gay. Do you really think I'd walk down the aisle with anyone lacking a penis?"
Evyn's cheeks burned with color. "I-I didn't—you could be bi!"
"Well, I'm not," Adrian said with a barely suppressed laughed. "And I haven't. Who were those two girls that had you cornered in the alley today?"
"You saw that?"
"Of course. I have a nice view of the alley from my bedroom window."
"Ugh. They were just—well, one of them is a friend of mine. Her name's Laura and I haven't spoken to her in a long time so it was nice to see her. The other one was… well, I guess she was almost my fiancée."
Adrian's eyebrows shot up. "How old did you say you were?"
"My parents, they—" Evyn could feel the desire to withdraw into himself rising and had to fight it. "They were trying to marry me off and…" he couldn't continue. He set his food to the side and clenched his hands in his lap. "Clare just came by to apologize for the mess."
He heard Adrian set his food down as well, but was still surprised when the pop star drew him into an admittedly comforting hug. He smelled like Axe and sweat. Evyn buried his face against Adrian's neck and tried not to think about anything.
"No offense or anything, but you should tell your parents arranged marriages went out with chastity belts."
Despite himself, Evyn had to smile. "We don't really talk."
"Then I'll tell your parents. Or I would if I wasn't trapped here like a mouse in a luxury mousetrap."
"That was the worst analogy I've ever heard. Ever."
Evyn didn't know how long they sat like that—Adrian lying on his back with Evyn half-on top of him, his hands running comfortingly along Evyn's spine—but it was dark outside when he lifted his head again. Adrian's hands were resting scant inches from his ass, but the man was fast asleep. He knew he should get up, put their plates away, and wake Adrian up so they could both go to their rooms. He knew he should.
Instead, he rested his cheek against Adrian's collarbone and closed his eyes. He was tired and warm and he didn't want to get up anyway. He'd worry about all that in the morning.
The Halloween theme for the café was Antarctica. As in, Cora made all the busboys—Evyn included—dress up like penguins, the waiters dress like Eskimos, and she herself was a polar bear. It delighted the customers, but Evyn had never felt more stupid in his life.
"Psst," Cora said as he passed, trying to duck into the kitchen and trade Jake for dishwashing duty. "Don't look now, but boy is checking you out."
Evyn whirled around. A boy sitting by a table near the window had his menu up, obscuring half his face, but the half that wasn't obscured was staring at him. His eyes widened. "No he is not. He's—he's reading the menu."
"He's reading the imaginary letters on your ass, is what he's doing," Cora sang delightedly. "Quick! Go over there and take his order!"
"I'm not a waiter!"
"You are now."
She stuck a pad and pencil in his hands, then pushed him toward the table. Evyn stumbled and, head down, he walked at a snail's pace toward the boy. Cora was probably wrong. After all, the only person to ever check him out ever was Adrian, who was probably upstairs watching E! for more stories about himself. Normal people weren't interested in Evyn. He'd never even had a boyfriend before.
"Um, um, welcome to Cora's Café. May I take your order?"
The boy lowered the menu. He was admittedly attractive. Not pop star attractive, like Adrian, but a more ordinary kind of attractive. His ears were a little too big and his hair looked like it had had an awful run in with a pair of hedge clippers, but he was still good-looking.
He smiled shyly. "I thought you were a busboy."
"I thought I was, too," Evyn admitted, shuffling uncertainly from foot to foot. "It's just Cora, she… this is going to sound ridiculous, but she thought you were, um… she thought…" he laughed loudly and nervously, too flustered to finish. "I'm going to send a real waiter over here and get back to—"
"Yeah, yeah, okay," the boy lifted his menu again, then seemed to think better of it and set it back down. "I'm Bart, by the way. Well, Bartleby, but I prefer—"
"I'm Evyn. Um. Yeah." He backed away slowly in case Bart had anymore to say, but he just bit his lip and gazed out the window. Evyn turned to head back to the kitchen when he heard:
"You make a cute penguin!"
He glanced over his shoulder. Bart was gathering his stuff and was out the door before Evyn could even formulate some sort of thank you.
With a rare burst of confidence, he sauntered back over to Cora in a very Adrian-like manner and grinned. "Guess what just happened."
She wiggled a cell phone in his face. "I put a certain someone in a very bad mood?"
The flickering call ended name was AT but Evyn wasn't an idiot. He drew back, horrified. "You told—!"
"Of course. He is your flatmate and deserves to know if you will be out at long hours with other men who are not him."
"No he—I'm not—Cora, you—"
"You two would make such a bella match," she said happily, reaching out to pinch Evyn's cheek. "And you deserve all the happiness in the world."
Evyn winced, staring past her toward the stairs. He really dreaded going up there after work now.
Although… why should he? Adrian was his flatmate not his—not his lover. He probably didn't even want to be! Evyn had no way of knowing if he hit on every relatively attractive boy that walked into his flat because no relatively attractive boys ever walked in. Besides, Adrian thought he was jailbait and at least Bartleby, whoever he was, probably didn't crawl into people's beds naked.
Cora hummed a little tune as she went to go pour someone some coffee, leaving Evyn free to go to the kitchen. Honestly, he had nothing to be afraid of. He had every right to start dating. He and Adrian were friends. Yeah, okay, sure Adrian was really pretty to look at, but Evyn had yet to really do much with his sexuality besides accept it. That probably made him attracted to every hot guy in the vicinity. It had something to do with hormones and a rampant desire to go from passively gay to actively, well, gay.
Right. He glanced at the stairs one last time. Right.
A/N: Oh, has it been over a year already…