Elijah's eyes are alarmingly blue behind the tinted shades of his sunglasses when he catches a glimpse of himself in the rearview mirror. His fingertips glance against the cool glass for a moment before he adjusts himself out of site, leaning across the gearshift to rummage inside the poorly-lit cave of his glove compartment. "Cigarettes, cigarettes, fucking cigarettes," he mutters to himself for a moment, before withdrawing empty-handed.
Someone's been stealing again, he thinks as he pats himself down - jacket pockets first, then shirt, then jeans. His search is fruitless.
"Stupid fucking Dominic," he then says, and means it. He immediately regrets ever entertaining the mere hint of the idea of quitting in the first place, and he regrets even more mention this star-crossed endeavor to Dom, who had taken up the quest as his own personal mission.
Elijah's mouth itches for attention. He gnaws the ragged edge of his pinky nail instead, watching the cars careen past in a multi-colored, sun-glinted blur.
As Elijah's fingers search the recesses of the glove compartment for cigarettes that aren't there, Dom catches a glimpse of Billy from behind the voluminous purple silhouette of a mother and her gaggle of chattering children. The sound of their tittering voices Doplers with distance as Dom edges along the banks of chairs. His calves graze the molded benches before his leading hand touches the flat of Billy's ribs - their planar beauty obscured by thick cotton.
"How you been, my Dommie, eh?" and the sound of Billy's voice fills Dom's ear. Billy's arms are tight and urgent around his waist before sliding away to a respectable distance, but Billy still seems much closer than he has ever been.
Dom doesn't answer, just says yeah and then yeah and then asks what color Billy's meat was on the plane. His voice has a practiced taste to it, but it doesn't matter all that much.
He knows that Elijah is waiting outside in the car and uses it as his excuse.
Enthusiasm bleeds from the tight corners of Elijah's mouth as he greets Billy across the passenger seat. Elijah's eyes slide to the back windshield where Dom's ghost is haunting the water-stained glass, waiting for the trunk. Elijah knows the gesture is a bit too blatant to suit him, but it doesn't really matter because Billy's eyes are sliding in the same direction - eluding Elijah and his poorly placed distraction.
Elijah wonders if Dom has his own electromagnetic pull when he reaches for the trunk release.
The warmth of Billy's hand (damp from recycled air) disappears, and Billy disappears, and then Dom does too - hidden by the hood of the trunk as it suddenly fills the back window.
Outside, above the shuttling traffic, there is the sound of Billy and Dominic speaking, and Elijah hums quietly to himself to obliterate the words as they reach his ears.
As Elijah's hand reaches to get the boot open, Dom stands behind the car, watching Billy's profile from a short distance. Something in Billy's face seems to carry the lingering grey of UK skies, and Dom finds it pale-exotic-white in the tawny smog-sun of Elijah's Los Angeles.
As he bends down to pick up Billy's duffle, Dom can feel his shirt and jacket lift with the angle of his body. The air that touches him there - hot and reused by too many fuel-guzzling engines - is the same kind of air that first baptized him into California, with its smog and its orange heat and its inherent tackiness.
Dom hopes the same kind of air never touches and fully penetrates Billy's skin, because Dom knows Billy doesn't belong here, what with the cool mist of his fingers and the cool beauty of his face. He means to say something to this affect, but this is Elijah's car that he's touching and Elijah's city where he's standing and he knows that Elijah would hear, even with the cars flowing past and low-flying planes overhead.
"Go and get in, y'silly bastard," he says instead, harmlessly.
The kitchen windows are full of darkness by the time they manage to get home and figure out dinner.
Elijah wants mushrooms and Billy wants sausage, but what either of them want at this point is moot because Dom wants anchovies ("Anchovies! Anchovies!"), and is going about trying to get his way the same way he always does -- with childish taunts and incessant pokes and face-splitting grins, tinged with innuendo. Elijah is tethered by the tentative elasticity of the phone chord and flutters nervously around the kitchen as Dom follows two steps behind. He manages to win a retreat only after mustering a "Stop it!" laced with the proper amount of conviction.
On the other end of the line, a man with a thick foreign accent asks, "Excuse me?"
"How long of a wait?" Elijah repeats and then asks how much and then says his address twice, along with his phone number. The pizzeria man recites each morsel of information slowly and with poor enunciation, and by the time the receiver settles home, the kitchen is empty.
Elijah turns and his bare feet skid upon the ice-yellow linoleum floor. Billy and Dom are visible through the doorway to the living room.
The two of them are pressed up against the far wall in a strange, discombobulated tangle of arms and legs and torsos. Elijah watches, trying to match which limbs to whose body, trying to figure out who's winning and who's losing and clearly, it's Dom who's got the upper hand. This realization, however, doesn't surprise Elijah much.
If living with Dom has taught him anything, it's that - no matter how hard you try for the contrary - Dom always wins, and at everything.
As Elijah drops the receiver comfortably into its cradle, Dom pulls himself flush against the front of Billy's body. He is trying to negotiate his footing on the floor and his hands on Billy's arms when his back comes into sharp contact with the living room wall.
Dom can tell by the tiny crook in Billy's smirk that what started out as play isn't play anymore. It's evolved into something else, something that writhes and twists like ivy - evasive - something that crawls and has claws and is reserved for tiny cramped spaces like bedrooms and bathrooms and alleyways. Something like foreplay.
Dom listens for Elijah's voice in the other room, only to realize that it's no longer there. Rather, it's in the doorway, eager and clear and watching and saying "Game on! Loser plays for pizza."
The smile on Dom's face skews slightly to the left.
Billy's hand is strong around Dom's wrist as he pulls them both away from the wall, and the front of Dom's jeans brushes awkwardly against the curve of Billy's hip as they try to sort themselves out. "The two of us versus you," Dom offers and the words are more suggestion and invitation than he means to imply, but it doesn't matter because Elijah hands are immediately up in the defensive, and his feet are edging backwards for some kind of exit and he is saying "Uh-uh" (as in "no way" and "hells no").
Dom is not sure whether it's the heave of Billy's breath or the smell of lingering struggle or the startled rings of Elijah's irises in the dim light, but a small shiver scuttles across the back of his neck as the flats of Elijah's palm flash pale and white before he disappears from the room.
Billy slides his hand along the back of Dom's shoulders when Elijah goes to retrieve the pizzas from the front door, and before Dom can say no, Billy's mouth is upon his own, siphoning the oxygen from Dom's lungs with each rushed swipe of his very pink tongue. It's the first time they've kissed in what feels like years, and the urgency of Billy's lips reminds Dom of Billy's arms pressed harshly against his ribs and the edge of Billy's smile against the rise of his cheek and the solid line of the living room wall against his spine.
There is a tightness in Dom's jeans now - unwelcome and undeniable and there is also the sound of someone saying thanks and then keep the change and the shuffling of cardboard. "Elijah," Dom says, and moves to pull away, but it doesn't matter because Billy is already gone, calling "Gotta piss," cheerfully over his shoulder. Dom's eyes trail down the length of Billy's body as he walks away, lingering on the seat of Billy's jeans as he moves.
When Elijah walks in, Dom's eyes move sideways in their sockets as he wipes Billy from his mouth with the back of a guilty hand.
As Dom watches Billy disappear down the hall, Elijah enters from the kitchen with an armful of pizzas and the smell of grease trailing behind him. He catches himself in the doorway, his eyes automatically looking for Billy. Dom seems to understand the movement before Elijah does and says, "Toilet" with a short nod of his head.
When Elijah places the pizzas on the coffee table, he drops himself quietly onto the floor, his legs folding up underneath him in a complicated knot of limbs. "Are you glad?" Elijah asks innocuously, lifting the top lid to peer curiously inside. The steam that escapes into Elijah's face is salty and smells faintly of fish.
Dom's hand rests on the spot where Billy had sat just moments before. The leather of the couch is warm to the touch and - despite himself - Dom can feel the corners of his mouth tug into a small smile. "I am," Dom says quietly back.
There is a small pause, which is eventually cut by the soft squeal of the bathroom door opening and closing and the click of a light switch.
The muffled swish of bare footfall approaches upon carpet and before Billy can return, Elijah adds softly: "Then I am too."
It's officially late when Elijah decides that it's time for bed, and when he adds "I ought to get off Billy's bed anyway" Dom detects an edge to the usual nonchalant flatness of Elijah's Southern California drawl. Dom watches as Elijah's fingers curl innocently around the top of Billy's knee as he helps himself up from the floor. The rims of Elijah's eyes are red with just enough alcohol. Dom thinks he likes Elijah better this way.
Once Elijah is gone, Dom shuffles to the kitchen to clean up, his mind preoccupied with Billy still sitting on the living room floor. When he finally reaches out to help Billy up, Dom asks quietly: "You, ah, coming upstairs."
Billy fails to answer, and instead, takes the momentum of Dom's assistance and uses it to drive them both into a kiss that is less tempered and far less restrained than the one earlier that afternoon. Dom thinks he likes Billy better this way - with beer and pizza and Dom's tongue in his mouth.
As Dom takes Billy to his bedroom, he concentrates on the sensation of Billy's hand in his own; he enjoys the resistance that meets the tug of his insistent fingers. He leads them upstairs, and Dom chooses a particular path along the carpeted steps, following the faint trail of Elijah's footsteps -- crushed into lush beige carpet like careful stepping stones.
As Billy's tongue slides against the seam of Dom's half-parted lips, Elijah's feet shuffle through his bedroom door - dragging behind the rest of his body in reluctant, self-destructive curiosity. When he shuts the door quietly behind him, he immediately presses an inquisitive ear against the cold varnished wood. Downstairs there is the noise of movement and a voice speaking.
He shuts his eyes and listens harder, tries to make the sound sharp and clear and resonant in his head, but he cannot decipher which way, who, and where. This, however, doesn't matter, because Elijah's not stupid.
Not by a long shot.
Dom wakes to the sound of cotton, to the constant measure of Billy's breathing, and the steady rhythm of Billy's hand towing him in from the blurry meaninglessness of his dreams.
There's no language in his mouth, at least not yet, so instead of speaking, Dom makes a soft noise; the passage of air through his throat is halfway between a moan and a grunt. Skin moves against skin with burning familiarity and Billy is there again, filling Dom's ear - as present and pressing as his quickening hand.
"Can I fuck you?" Billy whispers, coarse as sandpaper. Dom's breath unevens and it doesn't matter whether or not Elijah is showering down the hall because of course, the answer is yes.
As Dom finds himself two strokes from fully awake, Elijah braces one hand on the frosted shower door. His handprint squeaks against sweating glass. The tiny noise he makes is swallowed up by the sound of steaming water hitting tile and metal and flesh, like sharp rain upon steaming pavement.
Elijah's whole body is doubled-up upon itself as he leans against the door, his back tracing a dramatic C-curve over the constant rhythm of his fist. The water scalds red-hot rivulets into the skin of his back.
As he flips his slow way through his fantasies, Elijah finds some of them to be green-eyed and some of them grey.
Others are both.
It's mid-morning in the kitchen and Billy is trying to get Elijah (in all his strange, desirous awkwardness) to talk to him but Elijah won't have it. He's too busy keeping the front of his body flush to the counter and his hands otherwise occupied with the coffeemaker. His hair is still wet against this scalp, which tingles from the lingering heat of his shower.
It doesn't help the situation when Billy manhandles him because now there's hope for double meaning in Elijah's interpretation. Struggle and play lead to last night, Elijah thinks and remembers vividly how Billy tried to pin wrists and mislead arms. Despite himself, Elijah wonders what kind of things this could lead to if he just struggled back properly. If he just knew how to play along.
Elijah decides to ride out this train of thought, so he allows Billy to trap him in the vice-grip of his arms - allows Billy's lips to smack up against the side of his face. When the cool air hits the spit on Elijah's cheek, it chills him as it dries. Dom appears in the kitchen doorway - shirtless and faintly sweat-shiny from Billy - and when he sidles up from behind, both he and Billy construct a makeshift cage of slender arms around Elijah. He squirms, but it only makes the situation worse. Dom's bare chest is breathing against his back and Billy's arms are pressing into his sides, and Elijah hopes that Billy doesn't surge forward any further because he's enjoying this more than he knows that he should.
Dom asks Billy sportingly as to what lesson they are on (the words hot against the side of Elijah's neck), and Elijah thinks: boys on the playground with all of their stupid stupid games can so be cruel.
Elijah is learning, however, that this simple truth doesn't matter all that much, because what they grow up to become can be even crueler.
As Billy kisses Elijah's cheek clumsily with their hips pressed against the kitchen counter, Dom watches from the doorway, a lazy hand tracing circles on his hip at the waist of his track pants. Billy is there with Elijah bound up between his arms (helpless and hopelessly trapped) and the sight plants a seed of warm satisfaction and mild arousal in Dom's belly.
Moments later, Dom is there as well, complicating the situation with a smirk, and Dom is reminded of first touching Billy's ribs (there, in the airport) as his hands travel up and down Billy's t-shirted side (here, in Elijah's kitchen). This time is different, however, because Elijah's skinny body has all of its acute angles pressed up against Dom's chest - heaving and squirming and resisting.
But before Dom can put his actual hands on one of Elijah's sharp edges, Elijah is fleeing from the kitchen like a skittish woodland creature or a tiny bird taking flight. His dusty black All-Stars make an angry, slapping sound upon the linoleum floor as he goes, and there is a beat before Billy slides up behind him - all rounded lines and gentle curves fitting properly against Dom's back.
"Do you think," Billy asks quietly from behind, his lips moving against Dom's ear, "we could have fucked him just then, the two of us?"
"I don't know," Dom says, his eyes trailing after Elijah, inquisitive and disappointed in his wake. Dom thinks he detects the same curiosity reflected in the flicker of Billy's tongue against his skin. Billy's hips push against his from behind and there is a satisfying hardness against the curve of Dom's ass.
Billy kisses the back of Dom's neck again - one of his hands sliding down the front of Dom's bare chest - and all Dom can think is Elijah. "I don't know," Dom says again and then shakes his head.
"It doesn't matter anyway."
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