slow down, boy blue.
When I woke up, my first thought was that I was going to die.
The pain in my head was killing me. And. Death felt so near.
Then it was gone. Not gone, not really. Just. Dulled significantly. Maybe it was just me opening my eyes so suddenly.
Then I realized that there were fairies and flowers painted in the ceiling.
‘Pretty. Good technique. Great choice of colors.’
So that was my second thought, before blinking sleepily and realizing that I’ve never seen this ceiling before, and I don’t remember any reason why I am seeing a ceiling like this after waking up.
Then the third thought: my body felt heavy. And it wasn’t because I was hungover. It was because someone was draped over me.
The fourth thought followed quickly enough: ‘What the fuck.’ because. You know. What the fuck.
Then it was followed by more thoughts, because my brain finally decided it was time to work. They were as follows:
Fifth: ‘Where am I?’
Sixth: ‘What happened?’
Seven: ‘Who is this person with the brown Rapunzel hair that’s practically everywhere and are they a guy or a girl- Wait, that’s a- Okay, so they’re a guy, then. Okay, okay. Cool.’
Eight: ‘WHY AM I NAKED’
Nine: ‘I don’t know what happened.’
Ten: ‘If you think about it, it’s pretty obvious what happened, but I refuse to say it because saying it would acknowledge it and acknowledging it would mean I actually did it and I am not this kind of person, I don’t do these things and I know a lot of people think I DO but I actually don’t and I don’t want to deal with WHY in the world I did it, how drunk was I to actually do this THIS IS WHY YOU DON’T GO TO PARTIES, HUNTER.’
Then the person stirred, and I looked down and they looked up and- oh. Oh.
Eleven: ‘Maybe I didn’t have to be that drunk to do whatever it was I did.’
Twelve: ‘I’m still pretty sure I was because holy shit my head still hurts like hell.’
The beautiful person spoke then, voice lovely despite being a bit raspy. “Hi.”
Okay. Wow, they’re fucking beautiful. And maybe they’re not a dude because… that was eyeshadow right there. Smudged – beautifully, if I might add – but… make-up. I’m confused. I’m trying not to be, but I am- Because who.
But. The important thing here, I decided, was: how do you reply to a person saying ‘hi’ while you’re still figuring out what’s currently happening?
“Um… hello?” I tried. It was the best I could come up with.
Pale skin, twinkling brown eyes, lovely brown hair, and a smile so stunning especially against the morning light that I wanted to capture it and try to paint it but I know I’ll never achieve that level of beauty even if I tried my best.
They said, “Oh my God, you’re so cute.”
I didn’t know what to say except “Thank you.” and then, because it had to be said – “You’re lovely.”
And. Jesus. Christ. That smile. That smile will drive me insane. Am I still dreaming.
Mystery person shifted to lean up on their elbows and look down at me. I got a very nice view of creamy shoulders and enticing collarbones. I tried to ignore the few bruises I could see, and that one bite mark on the crook of a shoulder. Did I do that? I was never a biter.
“What’s your name again?” they asked.
Why didn’t they know?
Why don’t I care?
“Ah. Yeah.” a nod. “Do you remember mine?”
I kept trying.
After five seconds, they laughed. “I’m Andrei. And…” a pause for thought, as if they were considering if it was worth it to say whatever it was they were going to say next- “Because you look confused as hell, it’s ‘them’, if you will. Though I’m not really that concerned with how others call me. Uh. I just, kinda prefer that, but you can call me what you want-”
“Yeah, sure. Okay. I understand.” I said, shifting a bit, now that my arm was free from their weight.
“You do?” she raised an eyebrow.
“Okay. That’s nice. You’re already better than a lot of people I know, Blue.”
Then I thought of what to say next. I had a lot of questions, but all of them sounded stupid.
Where are we? What exactly did we do? How did all this happen? I’m a twenty-five year-old socially awkward country boy nerd with like, two friends total (three if you count my brother, who is not even in this city), and absolutely NO GAME, so how did I score YOU?
Instead Andrei reached up and stroked my hair softly. “You’re quiet. Are you okay?”
“I’m. Uh. Processing.”
“You don’t remember much, do you?”
“If I say ‘yes’, would you think it’s lame?”
“Oh, you’re not alone. It happens to me, too. Too drunk, stranger too hot, sex too good…” they shrugged. “Hangover too bad. In speaking of. I need some water. I bet you do, too.”
“Yeah, water sounds good.”
“What time is it?”
They looked at the alarm clock on the bedside table shortly before leaning down, resting their chin on my chest lazily. “Nine-thirty. Pretty decent for a Sunday morning after a Saturday night of debauchery, I guess.”
“Debauchery.” I repeated, trying to gather information from the word usage, because I sure as hell don’t want to outright ask them to re-tell everything that happened the night prior.
“Got anything to do today?”
I found the answer quickly. “Laundry.” It was a Sunday. “Groceries. Call my parents to tell them I’m still alive.” That’s what I do on Sundays, anyway.
Andrei laughed as they got back up, slipping out from under the covers. “Well, we don’t want to make your parents think you died.”
I didn’t tell them that I usually do that in the afternoon.
Andrei wore nothing except a pair of short boxers, long brown hair falling down to their lower back, and I could only watch as they bent over to pick up a pair of black briefs before handing them to me.
Ah, right. Those were mine. I accepted the item and stood up to put them on, looked around for other clothes and found my torn jeans on the floor. I pat the pockets down. Handkerchief, wallet and phone. Good. Wait. Keys. I looked around again as I slid the pants on, then saw my jacket slung on a chair by a desk. I sighed, relieved. They should be there.
I saw Andrei standing across me, holding up and studying a graphic-printed sleeveless shirt I recognized as the one I wore the night before.
“This looks good.” they said. Then their brown eyes stared right at me, and without breaking eye contact, they put the shirt on. It was loose on me, and looked even bigger on Andrei, ending high on their thighs. As I took in the sight, I prayed for my soul.
Just as I was mulling over what in the world I got myself into, they had already walked over and grabbed my wrist, pulling me with them towards the bedroom door.
“I’ll give it back later.” Andrei said, drawing closer as they turned the knob and opened the door. Standing, they barely reached my chin, but their hands left my wrist to curl behind my neck and pull me down into a light-hearted kiss.
Okay yeah I don’t mind having no shirt on, no big. Andrei can keep it too, if they wanted. I think I’ll do whatever they wanted.
We both still tasted faintly of beer, but man those lips made me melt and I couldn’t think of anything else to do but follow their lead as we exchanged more quick kisses while stumbling out the messy bedroom.
“Oh, you’re up! Good, breakfast’s almost ready!”
Wait. Hold up. Stop.
I jerked away to look around and found someone peering at us from what appeared to be the flat’s kitchen area.
This guy was wearing a thin shirt, a pair of cotton pants, and an apron that said “Mr. Good-Lookin’ is Cookin’”.
The apron was not a lie. Deep blue eyes, dark hair and an easy smile. He said, “I hope you like pancakes, Hunter. Or if you don’t, it’s not too late for me to make somethin’ else, I think I still have some eggs and hotdogs here…”
Mr. Good-Lookin’ Who Is Cookin’ should not wear shirts like that because. Um. Damn?
Oh, also, he knows my name.
So really. What the fuck is happening now?
AM I STILL DREAMING. PROBABLY.
“Um… Pancakes… sound good.” I managed.
“Great! And I’m putting choco chips for you, An.” Mr. Good-Lookin’-Cook added.
“Jesus, I love you so much.” Andrei declared loudly as they turned, reaching for my hand to drag me with them to the small dining area.
Biceps laughed. “Sorry to disappoint, but it’s just Tristan, babe.”
“I don’t care. You’re my savior.”
“Aw, I love you too. Now go drink water for that hangover I know you both have.”
There was already a pitcher of water, glasses, and some aspirin on the table. There was also a pot of coffee and two empty mugs.
I decided to follow Andrei’s lead, downed a glass of water, took some aspirin and then drank again. I also accepted the pot of coffee and poured one for myself in one of the free mugs. I watched Andrei dump a bunch of sugar cubes on their mug while I put some creamer on mine.
Water, aspirin, and coffee was sobering.
My head was clearer.
And as I sat down on one of the chairs, I remembered in both horror and fascination bits and pieces of what happened the night before.
How dare I even forget the wildest fucking night of my life?
Moira had dragged me to a party. Some friend of hers. Someone’s house. Lots of college students and undergrads and twenty-somethings. I remembered her promising me that I can leave if it felt too much for me.
I’d agreed. I wouldn’t have, but she was persuasive and… well, she was like one of two people in this city I considered a friend. Even though she probably saw me more as a responsibility, or a pet project. I dunno. She referred me to my jobs and probably thought she was my keeper now.
Anyway. It had been too much, after all. I got too drunk, too soon, giving in to invites from strangers. Been too long since I last went into a party – and parties back home weren’t like parties in the big city. So I’d decided to opt out, but I couldn’t find freakin’ Moira, or anyone I know, or the fucking exit, so I found an empty bathroom and…
Okay, maybe the tub was a stupid hiding place. It seemed a good idea at the time.
I know now that the tub was a terrible idea instead.
Because then two people had barged in and they were making out and they had their hands all over each other and I could only watch in horror. And also, the noises. They were both. Very… uh. Expressive?
But they had noticed I was there, somehow, and they looked at me and I looked back, and. Well.
Fuck, I’m so gay. Very, very gay. That’s not the worst part. I was very gay… and very drunk.
I didn’t even know which of them I found more attractive: the slender brunette in the tight red dress already hitched too high up their thighs, or the tall, dark-haired, broad-shouldered guy with lipstick marks on his face who was giving me a nice view of his abs because his companion was already halfway to pulling his shirt off. They both looked just around my age. Red Dress was already practically riding on Shoulders-and-Abs’ thigh.
I must’ve looked pathetic, sitting there in the tub, gawking.
Okay, well. I knew I looked pathetic, and that was why Red Dress – which now I know as Andrei, promptly said, “Hey, Boy Blue.”
Because my hair was blue, get it?
I gulped. “Um. Hey.”
They shared a short look, Tristan (Shoulders-and-Abs and now I also know, Biceps) shrugged, and Andrei tilted their head to the side curiously. “Whatcha doin’ there?” they asked, perfectly casual. As if their companion wasn’t mouthing kisses on their neck.
Can’t blame the guy, it was a very nice neck.
“Hiding. But, uh. I think you guys need this… uh, bathroom… more than I do, so. Um. Bye?” I answered, trying to stand up, forgetting I was drunk and my sense of balance was gone and I almost fell over but managed to grip on the sides of the tub.
“Oh, shit. Dude. Are you okay?” Tristan asked this time. I was touched by his concern.
“Yeah! Bit tipsy, but m’fine!”
“He’s so cute, Tris.” I heard Andrei mumble as I successfully stepped out from the tub.
Tristan shrugged again. “Uh. Yeah, I guess? He’s a bit drunk. You’re also drunk. I sense bad decisions.”
“I want him.”
“Okay, not bad per se. But he looks shaken. Ask nicely.”
That made me freeze, and my hand missed the doorknob.
“Hey.” Andrei said, stepping forward, into my space. Smiling The Smile. “I’m An. That’s Tris.”
“Nice name. Also. You’re really. Nice. On the eyes.” Hands on my chest, shoulders, massaging gently. Andrei standing on the tips of their toes to whisper, “Wanna make out?”
“I- Uh- Thank you, I’m- I’m honored you asked, but. But, but, err- Isthisagoodidea?”
“Oh. Boyfriend? Girlfriend?”
Andrei blinked this time, withdrawing slightly. “Okay. Not your type then? I get it, no big-”
“No. No no no, you’re perfect-”
“Oh, thanks.” Another one of those killer smiles. “Wait- Are you ace or something? Shit, I’m sorry, I’ll stop-”
“Um, no. I’m not. I love sex. It’s great.”
Andrei snorted, and behind them, Tristan laughed.
Hunter, why is your mouth like this, I thought to myself.
“Okay then, Person-who-loves-sex-because-it’s-great. You’re just not in the mood for me, then, I guess.” Andrei said, very nicely, fixing my collar and starting to step back.
“I’m actually very much in the mood, thank you for the invitation, it’s just-”
A pout. “Just?”
“I don’t have a boyfriend.” they stated simply.
I looked over towards Tristan, who was watching us with a vaguely amused expression.
“Don’t worry ‘bout him, he’s game.” Andrei reassured, then blinked again in consideration. “Oh wait, maybe you don’t wanna share?”
I remember shaking my head, finally giving in and leaning down just slightly. “N-No, I’m…okay. With. Uh. Sharing.”
I was really okay. More than okay. Holy shit. We could share her. They could share me. Or the other guy. I’m good. Sharing is a Very Good Thing To Do.
The fuck, Hunter. What line of thought was that even.
“I. Just. I’ve never… done this before?”
And there it goes. I mean, I’ve been in a few short-lived relationships, but I haven’t really had experience with hooking up with a stranger – or two strangers, both of whom are really really attractive in my book, in a goddamn party. Of a person I didn’t even know.
Should’ve figured that Andrei would process my words differently though – “You’re a virgin?”
“No! I mean…? M-Making out with someone I just met?”
There’s a first time for everything, thought my drunk brain. Maybe. I didn’t really know. Drunk brain can be stupid. And so, very willing.
Drunk brain only hoped he made the right choice, saying yes to the gorgeous stranger in a tight red dress in someone’s bathroom.
I remembered Andrei biting their lip, pressing up against me, taking my hands and guiding them to their waist. “We’ll make it worth your while.” they said before leaning up to kiss me. I kissed back eagerly, pulling them flush against me as I tasted lipstick and cheap beer in their lips and tongue.
Between that mind-melting first kiss, I held on to them saying ‘We’, and not ‘I’.
It sounded promising – and boy was the fantasy granted immediately.
Vaguely I remembered Tristan guiding us to lean against the wall as he locked the bathroom door. He stood behind Andrei and leaned down to press his own kisses on their shoulder, one hand brushing their long hair back while the other trailed up and down their side.
We were out of breath soon enough, and I groaned when Andrei rolled their hips forward, leaving trails of kisses across my jawline while their hands slid from my shoulders down my torso and then up under my shirt. Their hands burned against my skin, and I couldn’t help but use my hands to pull their face up for another kiss.
Andrei laughed, rolled their hips again, looked down between us and grinned.
“Well…” they whispered, panting heavily against my lips, and I watched as Tristan hiked the cherry red dress up, one of his hands palming over lacy underwear. Andrei left Tristan to take care of them, while they kept their focus on me. “You look like you could use some help, Blue.”
“I… y-yes.” I choked out, and because it was just too fucking good… “Please.”
Tristan did something that made Andrei suck in a breath and bite back a moan. They still didn’t look away from me, though.
“How do you want it?” they asked me. It was an offer. It was too nice. Too tempting. Too inviting.
I didn’t know what to say then, just stammered out random words, probably, to get a response out.
“Um. An.” Tristan groaned, nosing against their shoulders, kissing along their neck. “Friendly reminder that we don’t have lube right now. So.”
Andrei’s reply was sharp. “What?”
“Probably left it in my other jacket.”
“Are you fucking serious right now.” Andrei rolled their eyes. “I’m trying to get laid here, and you wear the wrong jacket?”
Tristan’s laugh was self-deprecating as he pressed a kiss to Andrei’s cheek. “Sorry?”
Andrei just shook their head and looked at me. “Hey. Boy Blue.” they said, breathless, and I let out a groan when their hands slid down my pants.
“Can we take you home?”
Are you lost enough?
Have another drink, get lost in us.
This is how we get notorious.
Lorde: “Perfect Places”
I mean I’m not one to rate things, but that was the best fucking sex I’ve ever had in my life so far.
“So, um, whose place is this?” I found myself asking when Tristan served the pancakes.
“Ours.” Andrei answered easily, enthusiastically digging into their breakfast. They let out a pleased sound as they savored the taste. “Mm, Tris, it’s so good.”
“Thanks, you say that about a lot of things I do.” Tristan didn’t seem to be hungry, sitting with us and contentedly sipping his coffee.
“You’re not… together, though?” I asked, remembering the flat out ‘I don’t have a boyfriend’ statement from the night prior.
“We’re best friends.” Andrei said. “We’ve known each other since… what, like, we were three?”
“Four.” Tristan corrected. “I think.”
I thought about it. Best friends. Making out on someone else’s bathroom, taking some stranger home with them when they realized they left the lube there. Okay. Yup. Sure, we can live with that.
I wanted to ask how exactly they define being ‘best friends’ but hey, I’m the nerd who went with two strangers for a threesome with only a prayer for them not to turn out to be serial killers so who am I to judge?
They looked really chill, too.
And the pancakes were glorious.
I chewed on the food before asking again, because what the hell, I figured they’d be pretty chill about anything at this point. “So… last night, was that… like, a normal thing for you guys or…?”
Tristan appeared to think about it, while Andrei shrugged. “Actually, it’s been a while since either of us took anyone home.”
“It’s usually just us two these days.” Tristan agreed.
“Fuck, I’m getting old.”
“An, please. We’re twenty-seven.” – I kept that in mind. I was only two years younger than them.
Andrei narrowed their eyes. “I used to fool around with like a different person every week, Tris. Then you moved in and before I realized it, I’ve only been having sex with you. It’s like I got married while I wasn’t looking. It’s weird.”
Tristan was the one who shrugged this time. “You said we didn’t need another bed.” Then he smiled at me. “Sorry, no, last night definitely wasn’t a normal thing. But An doesn’t always get that distracted, so I figured, why not?”
“You were just so cute.” Andrei sighed, and I felt myself blush when I found that they were looking at me with a smile I didn’t dare call ‘fond’, but it sure looked like it. “And I’ve never had anyone with blue hair before.”
Thanks, hair, for getting me laid.
“Then you took your shirt off and-… anyone ever tell you your tattoo is really sexy?”
I shook my head blankly.
Thanks, huge calligraphy tattoo on the side of my torso, for getting me laid.
“It’s sexy.” Andrei confirmed. “I should steal all your shirts.”
Tristan shook his head. “You can’t send him home without his shirt. Give it back to him later.”
“This one is so nice.” Andrei pouted. “Can we trade, Blue?”
I looked down gingerly. “I… guess we can.”
While dutifully slicing my pancakes into smaller pieces, I heard Tristan sigh. “Christ, An, have mercy on the guy. Let him finish breakfast first before seducing him again.”
“Shut up, Tris. I’m trying to establish a friendship with the guy who fucked me last night.”
I choked on my pancakes. Andrei didn’t seem to notice, too busy finishing their own food.
Tristan did notice, though, and only pat my back consolingly. Why is he precious.
“In speaking of. I’m sore.” – Oh, boy.
Tristan shrugged. “Yeah, taking in two at once will do that.” – Good point. I actually didn’t know that was possible but apparently experience and proper prep can make it happen. Learn something new everyday, yeah?
“That was your dick, fucker.” – It was.
“Didn’t say it wasn’t. You were saying it was good.”
“Whatever. Not doing that again anytime soon, though.” Andrei just shook their head. “I need a shower.” they sighed, running a hand through their hair and wincing when they felt the tangles. They downed another glass of water before standing up to leave. “Thanks for the pancakes.” Andrei said, pressing a kiss on Tristan’s cheek, then walking away. They stopped by the bathroom doorway and craned their head towards us. “Join me if you want.” Then they were gone.
“You just said you were sore.” Tristan pointed out.
“I have other body parts!” came the muffled reply.
“My God, An, you kiss me with that mouth?”
Andrei’s laughter was something I want to bottle.
When I looked at Tristan, he was looking right back at me.
His tone was very casual. “Never done this before, huh?”
I shook my head. “M’not exactly the… partying-and-having-sex-with-strangers person.”
He nodded. “So how do you know Gavin?”
“Gavin. The guy who threw last night’s party?” he raised an eyebrow. Then after I just stared, he chuckled. “You were sitting on his tub, dude.”
“Ah. He’s. Friends with the friend who dragged me to the party. I wasn’t even supposed to be there.” I answered, laughing a bit. “You know him, then?”
“I just know him from An. An knows a lotta folks. Even if they didn’t know the guy, they’ll probably still get invited by someone. I usually tag along ‘cause hey, free food and drinks.”
I nodded. “Oh. Yeah, uh, thanks for breakfast.”
“No problem, man. Figured you guys needed something after last night.”
“Y-yeah, thanks for that too. You were… it was nice, what you did. I mean, after.”
It was, because I remembered that he brought us water and tucked us in warm blankets. It was sweet.
He simply grinned, and I couldn’t look away.
Dammit, Hunter. Keep it in your pants.
“Hey, it’s no big. An forgets themself sometimes, and it’s been awhile since we did something that… intense. You were nice after, too.”
“I was going crazy.”
“Mm, yeah, An does that.”
Overstimulation wasn’t something I was really familiar with. All my previous experience had been pretty tame. I was glad Tristan had been there to ground me and Andrei afterwards.
“You’re really… familiar with them, then?”
“Like An said, we’ve known each other forever.” a pause. “That includes kinks.”
“But you’re not dating, just…?”
“We’re friends.” he shrugged. “I don’t… date. Used to, not anymore. Not really for me.”
“Oh. But you… this is a normal thing for you two.”
“We fool around ‘cause it’s good, we both enjoy it. And It’s always a safe space, with An.” Then he looked at me. “You? No partner?”
“I have a best friend back home, too. He’s hella straight, through.” I blurted out. He laughed. I liked the sound of it.
“Small town in the countryside.”
“Huh. So we got ourselves a country boy.” he grinned.
“Yup. Country boy with blue hair, tattoo, likes other boys, you can see why I’m here instead.”
“I think I get it, yeah. What do you do?”
“Art. Murals, paintings. Also part-timing at a flower shop. You guys?”
“I work in this big-ass firm, getting somethin’ out of my engineering degree. I’m your boring office worker. An’s the more exciting one. They do music. Plays with a band. Not like a rock band, but, y’know, the theatre ones that play live in musicals and those stuff?”
“Yeah, that. Although An can do rock band, too. If they wanted.”
“Sounds neat. What instrument?”
“Piano.” he said, cocking his head a bit to indicate the black piano pressed up against the wall across the room. I haven’t had the time and presence of mind to really look around. “And violin, sometimes.”
Tristan nodded. He had finished his coffee minutes ago, but he looked comfortable sitting there and just making small talk.
“So you staying for lunch?” he asked.
Oh. Yeah. I gotta go home at some point, and leave these two beautiful people in this flat of theirs. Gotta go about my life. I still have that, after all.
“No, I think I’ve bothered you guys enough, I still got things to do at my place, anyway.”
He nodded easily. He must have noticed me glance towards the bathroom because he said, “Y’know An wasn’t kidding when they said you can join them if you want, right?”
I looked at him and whatever expression I had on my face, it made him laugh out loud.
“Oh, man. You’ve got it bad!” he said, shaking his head and trying to stop himself from laughing again. “That good?”
“That good and that long.” I admitted. “And- err… Never been with… anyone like them before.”
His eyes had a strange glint then, and he tilted his head a bit as if to study me. “That’s cute.”
I huffed, looking away and hiding my face in my hand. I tried telling myself I can’t let compliments from this guy fluster me so much. He probably doesn’t see me that way.
“Cute.” he repeated, softer this time. “But slow down a little, Boy Blue.” The nickname felt different, coming from him. It didn’t have the teasing, suggestive lilt that Andrei always seemed to give it. He added, “An’s a heartbreaker.”
I knew, somehow. I knew it like it was the most obvious thing in the world.
And I joined Andrei in the shower anyway.
I let Andrei keep my sleeveless shirt in exchange for a black one with cool paint splatter designs. They let me choose. Their wardrobe mostly had feminine outfits, and some tailored suits, probably for the formal concert events for their job. Absently, they told me that they stopped buying men’s clothes when Tristan moved in.
Andrei saw me off with a kiss. Their fingers lingered on my dyed blue hair which by then smelled like oranges – their shampoo – then they stepped back.
“I had fun, Blue.”
“Yeah, I. Same.”
Very smooth, Hunter.
“Come to more parties.” they advised. “Find me in the crowd.”
Because. Sure. Okay. That sounded nice.
I didn’t come to the next party Moira wanted to take me to. I was tired from work, a whole day painting before helping out in the flower shop to finish about ten dozen pre-ordered corsages. Even the thought of possibly meeting Andrei or Tristan there wasn’t enough to keep me away from my bed.
However, Moira did remember that I left with someone the last time I came with her, so when she asked, I reluctantly told her the bare minimum of what happened, that I went and had a one night stand that ended quite nicely. Just to make her go away.
But goddamn she still asked anyway.
“Someone named Andrei.” I mumbled grudgingly.
“Andrei? Long brown hair, legs for days?”
“Yeah, you know them?”
Moira snorted. “Everyone does. That tramp’s, like, the town bike.”
“You’re slut-shaming.” I frowned. “They were really nice.”
“Oh, of course they were.” she waved me off. “They wanted your dick.”
“Stop that. You don’t like Andrei?”
“Not really, I don’t care much. Just. I was a bit surprised, ‘cause last I heard, they’ve been pretty tame lately.”
“Tame? You mean they’re with Tristan?”
“Yeah, those two are like, a package deal. I’ve been here for years, I knew them way back. They’ve always been party animals. Slept around a lot. Both of them. With different people. Until lately, I heard. Wait, was Tristan there?”
“Holy shit, he was?!”
“O-kay. Nope. We’re not talking about this.”
She all but tried to kill me for details. She didn’t get any.
The next time I saw Andrei was, surprisingly, in a small local arts supply shop downtown.
“I’m here, yeah, don’t worry ‘bout it, I got ‘em. I know what I’m doing, okay? I’ve been here a ton of times. I’m your girlfriend’s baby brother, maybe you forgot.”
The voice sounded vaguely familiar, so I turned and saw Andrei. They were talking on their phone, visibly annoyed while absently loading a basket already filled with brushes, a bunch of paint tubes, canvases and sketchpads. They weren’t wearing a dress today. Instead it was a cardigan over a plain shirt, torn pants and beat-up chucks, hair held back in a bun. No make-up.
After hanging up they squinted over a messy half-crumpled piece of paper in their hand – a shopping list, I assumed – before frowning and mumbling, “Squeegee… what does she need a squeegee for?”
Andrei shrugged and turned, heading towards a specific aisle with surprising familiarity. Off, I suppose, to find that squeegee.
I stepped forward, and when they looked up and noticed me, their expression broke into one of those smiles I would go to war for.
“Blue!” came the greeting. Andrei crossed the distance quickly, beaming. “Hey, you’re here. Oh, yeah. That’s right, you do art too. Hi!”
“Hi.” I greeted back, grinning back. “That’s… a lot of stuff you got there.”
“Yeah, yeah. These aren’t for me.” they chuckled, looking down at the basket of art materials they were carrying. “I’m on an errand. My sister’s the artist.”
Something clicked, and I couldn’t help but ask, “The one who made those fairies and flowers in your ceiling?”
Andrei blinked, then let out a small laugh. “You remember my bedroom ceiling. Wow.”
“Eh, I just- The paintings. Y’know. They’re really good.”
“I know. And. Yeah, that’s her work.” they confirmed, absently brushing stray bangs behind their ear.
How does Andrei always look so good?
They continued towards the shelves where the art tools were, and I trailed after them as casually as possible, trying not to grip too tightly on the tubes of paint in my hands. It’ll be terrible if I crush ‘em. I haven’t even paid of them yet.
The squeegees were, to Andrei’s annoyance, on a shelf they couldn’t reach. I got it for them and they thanked me before moving on to the next item on the list. We made small talk while at it.
They said they hadn’t seen me in any of the parties they’d been to over the last month. I told them it’s been busy. Mostly at the flower shop. It was prom season.
I waited for them to finish the shopping list, and we headed towards the cashier. The guy at the register was Pablo, the shop owner, who knew all of us regulars by name and usual purchases.
I paid first, and Pablo wished me luck on whatever I needed that many white paint for. I didn’t tell him I was just hoarding.
As Pablo rung up Andrei’s orders, he asked, “Ragine still busy on her project?”
Andrei nodded. “She even got Liam to work with her. They can’t be bothered. Why d’you think I’m the one picking these up?”
“Heh. Tell ‘em to invite me if it’s gonna be on exhibit.”
Andrei paid for their orders, saluted Pablo, and we walked out the shop together.
“So where are you headed?” Andrei asked.
“Home, dropping these off before going to the flower shop. You?”
“My sister’s. To deliver these. We used to live together in the flat, but she lives with her boyfriend now, the traitor. At least Tris moved in and picked up the other half of the rent.”
I nodded. “It’s better than living alone, though, right?”
Andrei shrugged. “Yeah. But. The questions. Sometimes they get annoying. Like, we’re never getting married, to each other, at least. But everyone and my mom – who doesn’t even exist 98% of the time so I don’t even know why she cares – and his mom – who’s thankfully a really sweet lady – they expect us to. Whatever. We deal.” Then Andrei looked at me. “But yeah, you’re right. Better than alone, even with the stupid questions.”
I looked down, trying to come up with something to draw out the moment. It wasn’t like I want to hold them up, or want to delay getting back home and to work, but I had a few minutes to spare, and it was nice, talking to someone who didn’t mind how awkward I was. “Uh, say hi to Tristan for me, I guess?”
This is the difference between us, see – while I always look down to think, Andrei always looks up.
Then they finally looked at me. “You know, you forgot something when you left last time.”
That made me raise my head, clueless. “I did? What?”
A grin. “My number.”
It was a suggestion, and when all was said and done, it was also a promise.
Andrei gave me their number but didn’t take mine because they wanted me to send the first message.
That much was clear.
Andrei wanted me to send the first message.
Why that was so, was something I still have to figure out.
It was a Sunday. I’ve done my laundry and groceries and… I have to call my mom.
Elise wasn’t my mom, technically. She was Aki’s mom. My best friend’s mom. But the Molina-Osbournes were the ones who took me in when my parents kicked me out for being gay, so Elise has been my mom since I was seventeen.
Times like these, though. I always called my dad.
Denys wasn’t my dad, either. He was Aki’s dad. He was also really, really chill and good with advice. Elise was great, but Denys was simply the person I turn to for these things.
Yes, I call him Dad. Shut up.
He immediately asked if everything was fine. Probably because I don’t always call him.
“I-… No, I’m fine, everything’s good. I just. Uh, need to talk? D’you have a minute?”
He has more than a minute, he said. Hah. Dad jokes. But he flipped the switch easy. Dad advice time. He said that I can tell him anything, and he would always listen.
“So, um, there’s… someone.”
And he listened.
In the end, he told me to send that text, if that’s what I want to do.
It was followed by “Give some, kid. If you really want to. Let them give back, accept it, do it again, then again, see if it gets easier. That’s when you know if it’s worth keeping or not.”
I didn’t think it was that serious. He seemed to think I was head over heels or something.
I told him so, told him it was a one-night stand, and he just laughed.
“If it’s not that serious, then why are you overthinking it?”
Damn old man always being right.
‘um hey? it’s Hunter.’
‘boy blue! hi. :)’
‘just wanna ask if you’re coming to the party tonight?’
Because of course. Of course there are lots of parties that night. It was a long weekend.
‘i dont really know the guy? just a friend of a friend again.’
‘brian? i think???’
‘u mean ian?’
‘big penthouse condo?’
‘yeah. that’s him.’
‘wasnt planning to go’
‘got no tristan tonight’
‘but i’ll go if ur going’
And in a sudden brave streak I really shouldn’t have while sober, I replied:
‘like a date?’
A full three minutes, and then-
‘oh u wanna go there hm’
‘why not ;)’
Two hours before the party, Andrei texted again. It was a simple message:
‘dress or pants?’
I replied with a slightly confused but totally honest:
Because. You know. asfadsgsf.
‘thanks for the input’
‘whats ur favorite color’
‘gdi why did i even ask’
‘ok then see u’
We agreed to meet up in the party. I arrived first, quiet and without any trouble.
When Andrei got there, though, there was a general bustle of greetings and attention. I guess Moira was right, Andrei was kinda famous.
They wore a long-sleeved crop top, baring a good deal of toned midriff, a pair of impossibly tight pants that hugged their figure in all the right places, and high-heeled boots. Andrei had their hair drawn back into a ponytail, their face was perfectly made up, lips a light, almost natural pink.
Later, I’ll learn that if Andrei liked you enough, they’ll doll up for you. Always open and inviting, they’ll gladly aim to please.
At that point, I didn’t know that yet, but man was I pleased.
Andrei greeted people back when they greeted them, answered questions when asked, even as their eyes scanned the room and met mine. They weaved gracefully through the crowd, making a beeline towards me, and I stepped forward to meet them.
Before they can reach me, some guy stepped in their way, actively intercepting. “Hey, pretty.”
Andrei looked up and blinked at the taller man, sparing a small smile. “Hey, hotshot.”
“You come here alone tonight?”
“Yeah, Tris is off in some boring business trip.”
“Need some company then?”
I was about to step in, just in case, but Andrei replied quickly. “Offer appreciated, but I already have company, Vic. Thanks.”
They stepped around the surprised man who watched as Andrei stopped in front of me.
“Hi.” Andrei said, grinning.
“Hi.” I grinned back. “You look nice.”
“Thanks.” Andrei replied, taking my hand. “Let’s get some drinks.”
“Huh. You got yourself a new toy, then?” the guy from before, Vic, called out as Andrei began to pull me away.
Andrei stopped momentarily to look back at him. “Jealous?”
“Nope.” a shrug. “So you got tired of Tristan?”
The light pink smile turned just a tiny bit venomous then. “Fuck you, Vic.”
Vic laughed. “You did, actually. That one time.”
“Exactly.” Andrei nodded, eyes twinkling. “And there’s gotta be a reason why there was no round two, even when you kept asking. Think on that, hotshot.”
If Andrei had a mic, it would’ve been dropped so hard. But they didn’t, so we had to settle for them turning back, ponytail whipping dangerously, hand giving mine a squeeze as I let them pull me away again.
I should have known that being glued to the resident party celebrity would bring some attention to me too. Of course people would ask Andrei about the guy who was following them around like a puppy, complete with the big adoring expression.
That was me. Yeah. Just to clarify.
Andrei did know a lot of people, greeting and chatting with almost everyone who recognized them, laughing easily at an anecdote from a bunch of guys who had obviously drunk too much, warning some girls to take it easy on the drinks, even asking after one who greeted them sweetly, struggling to sit up straight from too much vodka. Andrei found her friend for her in two minutes flat – ‘Rachel, you gotta get to Amy, she’s passed out on the bar.’ – and brushed it off good-naturedly when said friend thanked them for the heads-up – ‘No big, we gotta look out for each other!’
They introduced me to most of these people by just telling me their names, no details on how they knew them or why they were at the party. In turn, when these strangers asked about me, Andrei’s answer was also as simple.
“This is my friend, Hunter.”
A couple of times, they elaborated.
“He’s an artist.”
The last time, some people flirted with me. Nothing too much, all relatively easy to turn down, but I still got a few offers.
This time there were none, just passing greetings. I wondered if that was because it was clear to everyone what me being Andrei’s ‘friend’ meant.
After a while, the drunk dancing and people cheering inside the large flat started making me feel uncomfortable. I was only slightly tipsy. Andrei hadn’t asked to refill our drinks after the second one. For the first time that night, I decided to lean down and ask Andrei if we can go outside for a bit.
They looked up at me, brows furrowed slightly, and their hand on my waist squeezed in concern. “What’s up? Are you okay?”
My arm, which had been around their shoulders then, tightened a bit. A kind of reassurance. “Yeah, just. Need to get some air?”
I tried to smile. Andrei’s expression shifted and they nodded. “Okay. Let’s go.”
I let them lead me through the crowd and into the less crowded pool area. There were still people milling about, some even swimming, but the air was plenty and cool and I could breathe easier.
We sat down on the granite beside the glowing pool, legs crossed, facing each other.
“Not a big fan of crowds, huh, Boy Blue?” they asked, and I heard concern masked with amused teasing as their fingers stroked my hair.
I nodded gingerly. “It feels too much sometimes.” I admitted, a momentary weakness I trusted them not to judge.
“Are you okay, want me to get you something?”
At that, I shook my head. “I’m fine. This is better.”
Andrei smiled as they leaned back, eyes on me and reaching out to take my hand. I looked down when we laced our fingers together.
Then, now that everything was clearer and I had time to really look, I saw- “Blue.”
“Your favorite color.” they said, sounding expectant.
“They look pretty.” I mumbled, not hiding my blush, or my silly grin, lifting their hand to get a better view of perfect nails painted a shimmering midnight blue.
I did what seemed like the proper thing to do. I looked at Andrei, held their eyes, lifted our twined hands and pressed my lips against the back of their hand.
It was my first time, since meeting them, that I saw genuine surprise on Andrei’s face. It lasted for just a mere second before they chuckled. “You think?”
I nodded, this time kissing his knuckles.
I hardly had time to process Andrei bringing our hands down, their free hand reaching out, tugging at my collar. I didn’t resist, let myself fall forward, my lips on theirs, my hand on the small of their back, warm against bare skin, making them shiver slightly.
At the back of my head, a faintly familiar voice rang – it was Tristan, weirdly enough – and he was saying ‘Slow down a little, Boy Blue.’
It felt like hours, but I knew that it lasted only for mere seconds before-
I blinked when Andrei broke away, our breaths hot against each other’s. “Y-Yeah?”
“They’re talking.” Andrei whispered, guiding my arms around their waist. I unfolded my legs so I can pull them closer. “About me. And you.”
I nodded quietly, looking down to where their hands gripped my shirt.
They pressed our foreheads together. “And they’re gonna keep talking, Blue. Not all of them are good.”
I nodded again, because yes, people talked. And yes, I heard what they were saying. I was Andrei’s new ‘toy’, they’re playing around while Tristan’s away, someone should start a bet on how long I’ll last-
“I won’t tell you to ignore them, that we’ll get through this together with the power of love or some shit like that.” Andrei continued, voice low, fingers creeping up higher to settle on my shoulders. “Because this. This isn’t anything serious for me. I like you. I want you. It’s fun. It’s been a while. I am playing right now. You know that, right?”
“Yeah. I know.” I said, and I didn’t want it to, but it came out so much like a confession.
That was true. I did know, at the time.
Andrei frowned. “I don’t do this. I never do this.”
“I never warn people.”
“But you.” Andrei sighed, thumb grazing my cheek. “You’re so…”
They struggled, trying to find a word. I tried to provide. “…pathetic?”
“Nice.” they corrected. “You’re nice.”
“Because I like you.” – and because it’s always better to come clean, I added: “And I want you too.”
“I know.” – a smile, then, because surely they’ve heard those words before – “So. They’ll talk. About you. You’re not always gonna like it. And I’m gonna sound like such a bitch for this, but I’ll tell you to deal with it, because I’m not gonna go around flipping people off to defend your honor or whatever. You know what you got yourself into, right?”
I let out a breathy laugh of my own, and there was that voice again.
‘An’s a heartbreaker.’
And in my head, where warning bells were ringing loud and clear, the only response I could come up with was ‘Duly noted’.
Because I was the same, kind of. I was playing, too. Maybe a more inexperienced game, but I knew better than to be all romantic and get lost in someone’s eyes and fall. Andrei won’t break my heart because I wasn’t about to give it to them.
Like they said, we want each other, it’s fun, it’s been a while, we were just fooling around.
I may just happen to be the softer, more excited one in all this, but hey. We were on the same page. That was a good thing.
So I shrugged and said, “Yeah. Okay.”
“I’ll deal with it.”
“I’m not as nice as you think I am.”
“That’s what really nice people say to sound less nice.”
“You got me there.”
Andrei laughed, and this time when they kissed me, they didn’t pull back.
Every night, I live and die. Meet somebody, take ’em home.
Let’s kiss and then take off our clothes.
It’s just another graceless night.
Lorde: “Perfect Places”
In the morning after, Andrei cooked a mean omelette.
Also, I’ve learned that the ‘Mr. Good-Lookin’ Is Cookin’ apron was the only apron in their flat.
“How long is Tristan gone?” I asked over breakfast and coffee.
We weren’t as hungover as before. Probably because this time we want to remember in the morning. That, or we both knew we need to not be a wreck the next day.
It was the former, for me.
Because shit, I still would have preferred to remember every moment of that first night.
“It’s a three-week trip, so. One more week, give or take.” they answered, absently tapping on their phone screen. Then they lifted it up towards me. “Smile for me.”
I smiled. A photo was taken, then I frowned. “Hey, no fair. I look terrible.”
“No, you’re adorable.”
I didn’t understand. Panda eyes and bedhead and an omelette-filled mouth qualified to me as terrible.
Andrei continued tapping as they asked, “Why so curious about Tris?”
I shrugged. “I just. I dunno. You’ll be alone for another week. You guys seemed tight.”
“We are.” they snorted. “I was a total bitch to deal with when he was away at Uni. People used to think I’m the sensible one and he’s the goofball. Nope. He’s like, 70% of my impulse control. The other 30% is my sister.”
Tristan didn’t strike me as a goofball. Maybe they’ve changed since then.
“I need him back.” Andrei said, suddenly. Then, just as I was going to try consoling them, they blurted out – “I’m fucking tired of my own cooking.”
“Your cooking is good.”
“Spend a few more days here and you’ll change your mind.”
“Is that a challenge, or an invite?”
I said that.
Andrei looked at me, face slowly splitting into an amused grin. “You surprise me, Blue. So forward. You’ll make me swoon.”
I buried my face in my hand, uselessly hiding the blush as I grumbled. “Stoppit…”
“Adorable.” they repeated. There was a chime from their phone, and they snorted. “My sister thinks you look weird.”
“You sent my pic?!”
“Yeah, I like to brag.” they brushed me off. “And her taste sucks. You don’t look weird. Wha-… Now she tells me I should grow up!” Andrei frowned, and the tapping got slightly more aggressive as they mumbled their reply. “Well… bitch…. please… you should grow… standards…”
I let out a laugh. ’“You don’t get along?”
“No, we’re awfully close. It’s just. It’s morning. We both talk shit during mornings.”
“Also, it’s an invite.”
“I don’t mind if you keep me company.” they said, lips quirking in a mischievous grin. “It sounds fun.”
‘u coming over tonight right?’
‘um yeah i was planning on it.’
‘got called to fill in for this concert so ill be out late’
‘if ur still coming ill leave the keys with leo and delilah’
‘thats the door across mine’
‘just knock and tell them u need the keys’
‘told them to check for blue hair :)’
‘good luck with the concert.’
‘feel at home’
‘raid the fridge’
‘but dont eat my ice cream’
‘opera people think i’m a dude.’
‘**master 😉 ;)’
‘sgfasfahkl didnt know you were into that???’
‘u up for it?’
‘ummmmm i never tried it before.’
‘u can tie me to the bed’
‘g o d’
‘you… sound really experienced???’
‘we do it from time to time’
‘ok tmi tmi tmi’
‘ur so fun to tease hahaha’
‘but just for reference i do have cute fluffy handcuffs’
‘if u wanna try it ill be super nice to u ;)’
‘aaaaaaahhhhhhh winky face’
‘is that a maybe?’
“Oh my God. Fuck. Fuck. Oh shit. Are you okay?”
Andrei’s hands were quick, as soon as they came back from the high, they were freeing my wrists from the restraints, even while still slightly catching their breath.
“Y-Yeah, I’m fine. I’m… I’m fine.” was what I managed, breathing harder than they were.
Holy shit, that was something else.
But I was fine. Really.
Well, my arms hurt a bit, but Andrei’s hands were on them, rubbing them gently, slowly easing the tension. My wrists felt a bit sore, and I winced slightly when they touched them. Andrei apologized, kissed them softly, just a fleeting touch that let me know they didn’t mean any pain, then slowly let them rest on my sides.
They leaned down, taking my face in his hands and dropping a kiss to my forehead, all soft touches and gentleness. “You did so good, you know that? So good, Blue. That was amazing. You’re amazing.”
“Mm-hm.” was all I managed to groan out as they stroked my hair and peppered more gentle kisses in my face. “You’re… you’re amazing too?”
Andrei laughed lightly, hands moving to my shoulders now. “Thanks. I’m gonna remove the blindfold, okay?”
Slowly, the cloth was removed from my face, and I opened my eyes blearily to see Andrei hovering, a tender smile on their face. I stared. It was Andrei. Yeah, it was them. And they were smiling kindly and we weren’t in that… that position, the scene. Anymore.
“Hi?” I said, lamely.
Their touch on my face was so gentle. “Hi. How are you?”
“I’m-… I’m okay. I think.”
I am. Okay. Good. It was over. It had felt… well, it felt good. Amazing, for one. But I also felt so. Damn. Tired.
“Good.” they nodded, stroking my hair again. “Let’s have you drink some water, yeah?”
There was already some water on the bedside table – a pitcher and a full glass. They took the glass and helped me sit up before handing it to me.
I felt better after that, and just leaned back against the headboard, sighing deeply. Andrei was fussing, a hand rubbing up comfortingly on my thigh as they… studied me.
“What?” I asked quietly.
They shook his head. “Nothing, just. Thinking.” they crawled up to me, pulling a fresh blanket with them and draping it over our laps as they settled beside me, wrapping their arms around my torso and resting their head on my shoulder. I hummed, relaxing against them, draping my own arm around their waist.
“You really did good. For your first time.” they said.
“Thanks.” I replied in a whisper.
Andrei had talked me through it, before we started. Made sure I understood what was gonna happen. Made me remember the safeword – made me promise to use it if I felt the need to, no need to act tough and bear it if I couldn’t. And they promised that they’ll take care of me afterwards, asked me if I’ll need anything specific, and I told them I’ll trust them with it.
Now, slowly I understood what they were doing – being gentle, caring, trying to be smaller so I could feel bigger, cuddling up to me, quiet and pliant, letting me hold them to make me feel more in charge.
It was far from what just happened – the actual thing. Me, blindfolded with hands and arms restrained, Andrei on top and in full control of the situation. I was helpless as they teased me in all the right ways. Bringing me high and then low and then even higher than before and then low again, repeating the process until I begged, quiet at first, and then louder. Then, they finally allowed me to let go, desperately, inside them, all while not being able to see anything, holding on just to the obscene sounds we were making.
It was frantic and filthy and. Fuck. Overwhelming.
It was also strangely wonderful – succumbing, coming undone like that.
But damn I was so fucking tired. I didn’t know it would take that much out of me.
The aftercare, though, was working.
I snuck a kiss to the top of their head and they held me a bit tighter.
After a while Andrei spoke again. “Don’t you feel sticky? Wanna shower? Or soak in the tub?”
“Can I kiss you?”
Andrei snorted, and tilted their head in offering. “Okay.”
‘are u still at work?’
‘getting off in fifteen. why?’
‘i dont feel like cooking’
‘okay. what do you want?’
‘chinese if theres any on ur way’
‘will call later for your order.’
By then I’ve slept over at Andrei’s for a total of five straight days.
Moira had looked at me in pity when she knew.
“Oh, Hunt. Don’t get your hopes up too much. They’ll run out of tricks sooner or later and bail. Andrei never had a steady partner. No one ever lasted long.”
When I brushed her off, she only huffed and asked, dubious: “Is the sex that good?”
And I frowned, because yes, the sex was mind-blowing, but that was not all we do.
After that one time the first night, all we’ve done for the next few days were cook, eat, watch a movie, binge a short series on Netflix, paint our nails and do our own stuff – me sketching while Andrei went through some piano drills. We were adults with other things to do, thank you very much. We had a video call from Tristan once and he didn’t look surprised to see me hanging around the place, so I assumed Andrei had told him I was around for company.
“It’s none of your business, Moira.”
I didn’t want to snap at her, but that was me – dealing with it – like I told Andrei I would.
‘im trying to compose a piece’
‘yea i got a nice melody going but i lost it a bit’
‘i’m sure it will come back.’
‘i need to get out’
‘looking for inspiration?’
‘ur doing ur art thing all day right?’
‘can i come over and watch?’
There was no comment on how my bed was unmade, clothes from the drier were still stuffed in the basket, there were a few unwashed dishes in the sink, and I was a wreck surrounded by paint and paper and tissues and cans of spray paint along with various airbrushing tools, working on a canvas pushed up against a messy wall.
Andrei watched for awhile, quiet, listening to me discussing the commission details, what I was doing, who ordered it, where the finished work will go…
Then out of nowhere, they announced, “I’m gonna do the dishes.”
“Wha-… Come again?”
“They’re bothering me. It’s one plate, two mugs, a spoon and a fork, Blue. It’ll take less than five minutes. How are they still there?”
“You sound like my mom.” – then I realized – “Wait. Actually. Like my dad.”
“Whatever, I’m gonna do it.”
“You don’t have to.”
I wanted to stop them, but Andrei was already working on it, and I didn’t want to leave my work.
So when, after the promised less-than-five-minutes, they asked, “Where are the spare sheets?” I simply answered and let them make up my bed to their heart’s (or boredom’s) content.
When Moira came over, Andrei was the one who got the door. Moira was surprised, to say the least, as Andrei let her in.
“Hey.” I said, only glancing shortly from my canvas.
“Uh, hey.” she managed, looking between me focused on my work and Andrei who had returned on the other side of the room to continue folding and ironing my clothes. There were already several finished stacks on the bed. When I looked up at Moira, she quickly averted her look and then turned to me. “You look… busy.”
“I kinda am.” I was busy, yeah. Just. Doing the work she assigned me with. No big. “What’s up?”
“Nothing. I was just… checking in on the progress. You know we need that in three days, right?”
“Yeah. I should be done by tomorrow.”
“What about the other piece?”
“I meant this and that other piece. Both of them, tomorrow. Specially because someone,” – I made sure to emphasize that – “claimed all my chores to themself.”
Andrei simply rolled their eyes before doing what I could only grudgingly call an impression of me and saying, “Thanks, An, for coming over and cleaning up my whole dumpster of a house for me. I appreciate it so much, I’m just so busy with this giant solar system I’m painting!” – then they dropped the impression and deadpanned, “You’re welcome, babe! Anything else you need? Maybe I can call your mom for you, tell her you haven’t called because you’re so busy with work? Oh, and what do you want for dinner?”
I turned back to Moira and shrugged. “Yeah, I can get them done tomorrow.”
“O…kay.” she said, her gaze flickering back and forth between us before clapping her hands together once and laughing awkwardly. “That… sounds good, man. That’s-… totally everything I came here for. You’re working, and you’re almost done, and you’ll be done tomorrow. Okay. I’m. Just. Gonna leave now!”
As soon as she left, Andrei asked, “Do I know her?”
I decided to withdraw from my artwork for a few moments to face them. “M’not sure, but she knows you. Since way back, she said.”
“She goes to parties?”
“Yeah, drags people with her, including me.”
“Then she should know me, yeah.” they shrugged. “Problem child with a rich daddy, unashamedly sleeps around, you get popular.”
“Dead rich daddy now, I guess.”
I simply nodded. “Hey. I really-… I really appreciate it. The dishes and the bed and the clothes – what you’re doing for me right now.”
Andrei looked up at me and raised one perfect brow. “What, this? It’s nothing, like I said, I was bored.”
“Yeah, but. You’re kinda my guest? My mom would kill me if I told her I made a guest do my chores.”
They just shook their head. “I like chores. It’s one of my redeeming qualities.”
“Yeah! Why do you think the flat’s always neat and tidy? Tris and I fight over who get to do the dishes because we both want to do it. We’re weird. And you know, you should’ve said you had shit to do in here. If I’d known, we would’ve been hanging around here instead. You’re a lot busier than I am. Hell, I feel more useful here.”
“Are you really gonna cook dinner?”
“You bet your ass I am.” they huffed. “I know how artists work. My sister is one. Her boyfriend, too. You guys work on this shit all day and drown in it and forget stuff. So I can’t, in good conscience, leave you on your own like this. I’m gonna make sure you eat dinner.”
In the time it took for them to vent, I had taken out my phone and lifted it up. “Hey.”
They did. A picture was taken.
It was unfair, because does Andrei ever look not gorgeous?
“Who’s that for?” they asked, correctly guessing why I took the photo.
“My brother.” I answered. “I like to brag, too. Sometimes.”
Andrei only rolled their eyes before mumbling, “About damn time.”
I fought a smile.
‘Okay. Sorry I was busy and didn’t see your message earlier.’
‘BUT HOLY SHIT DUDE WHO IS THAT’
‘MINISKIRT AND THIGH HIGHS JESUS TAKE ME NOW’
‘CUTE GIRL HANGING OUT IN YOUR FLAT????’
‘IS SHE FOLDING YOUR CLOTHES IS THAT WHAT’S HAPPENING THERE’
‘WTF HUNT I’M YOUR BRO AND YOUR BEST FRIEND AND YOUR FIRST LOVE’
‘Also I thought you were gay???’
‘bi leaning more on men.’
‘just figured that out lately.’
‘and their name is Andrei.’
‘not a girl.’
‘Oh. That’s new.’
‘And you and them (am i using that right) are???’
‘SPILL IT EDISON HUNTER MOLINA-OSBOURNE’
‘bro you did you just’
‘bro i did’
Did he actually. Type in my name? And end it with his own last name? His parent’s hyphenated last names?
If he had done that a few years back, I would have died. First love, right?
“Holy shit, this nerd.” I said, trying not to laugh, and then I remembered that I had company.
“What was that?” Andrei asked, coming out from the bathroom, having changed out of their sweater and skirt and into one of my bigger shirts. They had decided to stay the night.
They left the black thigh-highs on because apparently I couldn’t stop staring and they were enjoying that.
Andrei’s words, not mine.
“Nothing.” I said. Then because they gave me a dirty look, I quickly relented. “My brother’s freaking out about your photo.”
They blinked as they let their hair down from its messy bun. “Freaking out how? Not like I was naked.”
“He thinks you’re cute.”
“Good.” they said with a smirk, and instead of dropping down on the bed, which was big enough for both of us, Andrei sat on my lap instead. “I was going for that today.”
I’d gotten used to Andrei’s forward, confident, playful nature fast, so I just grinned and shifted to accommodate them. I made a point to pull them in by their thighs, touching the bare skin in appreciation before my hands trailed down and grazed against the thin material of the stockings. I tugged lightly and let it go just as quickly. It was enough to let them know I liked that they were keeping them on. Andrei curled up against me contentedly.
It was obvious that neither of us were up for anything other than sleeping that night, but it still felt nice to be cuddled up with someone.
Then my phone chimed again and I remembered that – yeah – I was in the middle of a conversation. Huh.
‘CMON MAN DON’T LEAVE ME HANGING???’
‘what do you want me to say???
“We do stuff.” Andrei snorted. I didn’t bother hiding the conversation from them. “I guess tying you up and blindfolding you during sex does qualify as ‘doing stuff’.”
“Aw, come on. It was one time.”
“That you want a repeat of.”
I couldn’t argue with that, but I could complain. “Do you really have to do me like this?”
“Oh, yes, and there are a lot more ways I can do you, Boy Blue.”
I will. Never. Win.
I don’t mind much.
“Please don’t do this right now, I’m trying to be decent in the presence of someone who’s practically my brother and you’re making that impossible.”
‘You lil shit.’
‘I’m going to call.’
‘SHOW ME YOUR GUILTY FACE’
‘NO NO NONONO’
‘WERE IN B ED’
‘ABOTU T O SLE E !P!!!’
It was too late, he had probably hit the call button as soon as he declared he was going to, and missed my last messages.
Andrei and I stared at my phone screen as the alert for the video call appeared.
“Well?” Andrei asked, peering curiously at me.
“Are you going to answer or not? It’s your best-friend-brother person, right?”
“C’mon, do it.” Andrei encouraged, nudging my shoulder slightly, teasing. “You have me. Now show me off.”
Like you’re a trophy, I thought, but didn’t say. Like you’re something I won, and own. Like this is something I earned for working hard. Did I? Work Hard? We were both easy, it wasn’t even impressive. But fuck, she was so beautiful, in a shirt I own, legs bare and enticing, hair down and disheveled and looking so perfect – sitting on my lap, yielding, like she was all mine to take anytime I wanted.
So why not?
Aki had freaked out and was a total nerd like always. A stammering mess, not expecting The Cute Person I Do Stuff With to be present when I answered his call.
Andrei looked like they were having fun being cute and flirty, introducing themself and telling Aki that they’ve been hearing about him from me.
Actually. I’ve only told Andrei a grand total of five facts about Aki: one, that ‘Aki’ is a nickname; two, we were best friends from high school; three, he was my first love; four, he’s straight as a ruler so that’s my first heartbreak; five, we’re more like brothers now after his family took me in when my parents kicked me out.
Of course Aki would throw in a lame line that asks Andrei what a cutie like them was doing with a loser like me, and of course Andrei would have the time of their life telling him that we met at a party and they took me home and we Did Really Fun Stuff With Each Other (and one other Really Hot guy), and of course, of course Aki’s eyes would turn into saucers as he struggled not to spontaneously combust.
“Bro.” Aki managed, even clutching his chest for drama – this fucking nerd. “The Big City has changed you.”
“Not really, I’ve always been down for Doing Stuff.” I shrugged, leaning back against the wall, which was filled with posters and other artsy shit. “Just didn’t have people to Do Stuff With back there.”
“You can say ‘fuck’, it’s okay.” Andrei offered, making Aki crack up in laughter before he remembered the time and covered his mouth to stifle the noise. Dad was probably asleep already.
“So you two are dating or what?” he asked, tilting his head, honestly curious.
We exchanged a short look before both answering.
“We just. Hang out and stuff, like-”
“-I cook for him because he’s around-”
“-and I can do winged eyeliner now.”
“Barely passable winged eyeliner.”
“Ouch. That was-… Rude. Your cooking is barely passable.”
“Oh, excuse me then, I am so not coming over tomorrow, or ever again, I’m letting you die in starvation with your art.”
“I’m kidding, your cooking is great. Please cook for me again tomorrow.”
Andrei was about to retort, but Aki beat them to it with a snort.
“You guys argue like my parents.”
We are not dating and we will not be parents together.
Because The Feelings are Not Allowed Here. Nope. Not happening.
(The Feelings are good, kids. But. You know. When you’re fooling around with someone who likes fooling around, sometimes you just brush The Feelings off to the side because Feelings Are Complicated and you don’t want to jump into that. Not yet. It’s been, like, a week. And we both made a show of We’re Too Cool For Feelings to each other before starting this out. How the fuck were we supposed to know we’ll end up doing each other’s nails and makeup and chores? So. Yeah. Move over, The Feelings. This compartment is currently occupied.)
I push back against his smug smile, because I can. “You ask questions like your parents.”
Aki got the message, his smile twitching a bit from an effort to fight a grimace when he realized he should have said something else, something less intrusive.
“Fine, fine. Geez. Well, I should go. I’m sleepy, and there’s stuff to do early tomorrow.”
“It’s Friday night.” I said.
“Something at the farm, dad’s dragging me with ‘im. Also. Ree’s quince is almost here, everyone’s all over it-… You’re coming home for that, right?”
“Yeah, she’ll kill me if I’m not there for it.”
Perks of new family after coming out: cool new mom, cool new dad, best-friend-brother, cool big extended family… and a sweet but demanding little sister.
“Oh, and we gotta get her something. You buy it, I’ll pay half. She wants the new Barbie doll.”
What-… “She’s like… turning fifteen, right? That’s what a quinceno- quincenea-”
“Quinceanera.” Andrei provided.
“Yeah! That’s fifteen, right?”
Aki clicked his tongue. “Barbie is Forever, fucker. We’re getting the Starlight Princess one with the space hoverboard. And something called a Pupcorn.”
“What the fuck is a Pupcorn.”
“I don’t know either. Ask the toy shop people.”
“Okay. Got it. Barbie Starfire and Popcorn.”
“Starlight Princess and Pupcorn with a U!”
“Jesus, man. That’s a strong reaction. Send a text.”
We wish each other goodnight and sweet dreams. I set my phone aside as soon as Aki hung up, and tucked myself and Andrei snugly under the covers.
They asked to be the big spoon, and I decided not to say ‘no’ to the person who did all my chores all day and was staying to look after me for the next one.
“Hey, Blue?” they whispered, breath tickling the back of my neck.
“I have a question.”
“S’it about Aki?”
“Yeah.” – I felt Andrei shift a bit, and then – “Did he change much from high school?”
“No. He didn’t change, at all.”
Andrei chuckled. “I see why you fell in love with him.”
I didn’t reply to that.
“You still feel that way?”
“No.” – it was the truth. “Not anymore.”
“Mm. Makes sense.”
“How ‘bout you?”
“What about me?”
“…been in love before?’
“Yeah. But just the one time.”
“No.” – it was the truth, too. I felt it. “Not Tristan, somehow. But he’s my everything right now, you think that makes sense?”
Strangely enough, for me it did. “Yeah. You’re his everything, too. Everyone can see that.”
I felt pressure against my back, Andrei snuggling closer. “Mm. We’re so weird.”
“Yeah, but you’re weird together, so. Should be nice.”
I felt the soft laughter from them, then recognized the feel of a kiss against my shoulder.
“You’re too good for me, Boy Blue.”
And that moment, I didn’t want to think about what Andrei meant by that, so I only hummed in reply and let sleep take over.
‘So I know I’m not your keeper or anything’
‘And it’s not my place to say it or judge you or whatever’
‘And I’m really happy you have someone you’re comfy with over there’
‘Are you sure it’s just Hanging Out and Stuff?’
‘That one word answer in lowercase and without any form of punctuation does not inspire confidence.’
‘you’re a fucking nerd’
‘if you insist.’
‘Yes, Alexis Kian Molina-Osbourne, I am SURE.’
‘Does mom know?’
‘b4 you ask dad knows too.’
‘I’M THE LAST TO KNOW?!????!!!!!!!’
‘chill bro. they know i have someone and they know it’s casual.’
‘they just said to always stay safe and consensual.’
‘like they did.’
‘STOP TMI THOSE ARE MY PARENTS’
‘ALSO YOUR PARENTS’
‘BRO WHY ARE YOU LIKE THIS’
‘seriously tho. you’re the one who met them first.’
‘Don’t get involved in too many crazy shenanigans out there bro.’
Three days later, Tristan came back home.
It was in the ungodly hours of the early morning when I woke up, groggy, to the creak of the bedroom door opening, some rustles, and the sensation of the other side of the bed dipping under a new weight. I didn’t get up, but felt Andrei’s arms withdraw from me as they rolled to their other side.
“Welcome home.” I heard Andrei whisper sleepily, their voice a drawl. “Y’were gone too fuckin’ long… ‘nd what time is it, even.”
“Scheduling mistakes and other stuff.” Tristan mumbled back, voice just as soft and low. Maybe to avoid waking me up. “And I told you I’ll take an extra day to stay with mom.”
“Doin’ fine and happy. Stuffed me with food. Asked about went we’re getting married. Again.” he bit back a yawn. “You?”
“Fine and happy too. Missed you. A lot.”
“Mm-hm, but you weren’t too lonely, from what I’m seein’ right now.”
“So what’s happenin’ here, really?” there was a strange note on Tristan’s voice then, a curious question, his tone careful. “Are you dating him?”
“What?” a stifled laugh. “No, fuck you.”
“It just looks like it.” a sigh. “You like him, obviously. And spent a whole week together, that’s. Like. Dating.”
“F’your criteria for dating someone is week-long sex and liking each other, then buddy I got news for you, you and me, we’ve been dating each other since we were seventeen. With… like, a one, two-year break in-between ‘cus of Chase. Wouldja look a’that, we’re goin’ strong.”
Tristan chuckled. “S’unfair y’gotta be so witty at 2 am.”
“Fuck, it’s 2? Go th’fuck to sleep, what the shit.”
Shifting, movement, and the arms that had been wrapped around me returned. I felt Andrei’s face smushed against my back again.
“Hey beautiful, I love you.” was muffled sleepily against what I only assumed must be Andrei’s hair or shoulder, and from the movements that followed, Tristan must have snuggled against them too.
“Didja really say that while I’m spooning another guy.”
I couldn’t help the low hoarse chuckle that got out, and then everything fell silent.
Andrei groaned. “Shit. Are you awake?”
“No.” I said. I didn’t move, just stayed still, not moving to face them.
“Good.” Andrei grumbled, then sighed. “And. Hey loser, I love you too.”
Tristan’s rumbling chuckle reached me as he replied with, “Didja really say that while you’re spooning another guy.”
And because I couldn’t help it, I asked, “What am I, a body pillow?”
“Both of you, go the fuck to sleep.” Andrei sounded so done, it was hilarious.
“Boo. I don’t get an ‘I love you’. I’m sad now.”
And Tristan was really, albeit sleepily, laughing now. I didn’t know if I was hearing things, but I might have heard ‘You’re in for it now, Boy Blue.’
“Shut up. I’m. Stupidly. Fond of you.” – Andrei’s tone bore a hundred grudges. Like being fond of anyone was a mortal sin, and I drove them to the path paved with mistakes. “Stop me from talking before I say any more shit I’ll regret.”
“Okay, okay. Goodnight, An.” Tristan said, saving the day as he always did.
My answer was a hum, and I let myself fall asleep again.
When I woke up in the morning, it was only Tristan fast asleep on the other side of the bed. I shifted to lie on my side to admire the view.
Because. Like, maybe Andrei and I have been not-really-but-kinda-semi-somewhat-but-really-NOT seeing each other, but. Tristan was there that drunk first night, and I remember slightly dying when I saw him naked.
Confession time: he was more my usual type. But it had always been pretty clear that he was just in this for Andrei, and I respect that. Besides, Andrei was enough to keep me busy. More than enough. She could keep both of us busy at the same time without trying.
So I stared. Tristan slept on his stomach, an arm curled under the pillow, half of his face burrowed in it, his other arm splayed out on the empty space between us on the bed. He didn’t have a shirt on, so I was treated to a good view of his toned arm and back muscles.
I do. Love arm. Those biceps were unfair.
I must have started to drool at some point because when Andrei peered inside the room, they immediately declared, “Dude, that’s gay.”
“I know.” I didn’t bother moving. Or denying. “I can’t help it. Look at him. How can I possibly escape gay thoughts with this specimen just two feet across me?”
Andrei snorted, but simply shrugged. “I feel you. Anyways, when you’re done pining after my soulmate, go and get up. Breakfast is almost ready.”
I sighed. “I want him to be my soulmate too.”
“This is a gays-only household.”
This time, there was a snigger. “You should roll him over so you can touch his abs.”
“No, what the hell, don’t touch him, I’ll end you.”
Andrei laughed. “Stroke his hair, maybe. He likes that.”
“What is he, a cat?”
“A giant corgi.”
They left, and it only took a few more seconds of staring before I did reach out and stroked Tristan’s dark hair.
His brows furrowed slightly at the touch, but his groan didn’t sound displeased.
“Mmhmm… An, wha-…?” he mumbled, cracking an eye open.
I jerked my hand back.
“Uh.” he blinked. “Hey, man.”
I cleared my throat and tried to look away. “M-Morning.”
He frowned at the empty space between us. “Hm. Never woke up in a bed with just ‘nother guy before. First time for everythin’.”
“Yeah, never really got it on with guys? It’s always been. Girls. Or An.” he shrugged.
Also maybe makes me a little bit of a creeper, so. “I can… go away? If you want me to.”
“Wha- no? No, no. It’s cool. I mean.” – he smiled easily. “Technically, we already slept together. What’s even the point of getting shy now?”
Well, if he put it like that…
“So…” he started, more awake now. “You and An…”
“Oh, dude.” I groaned, hiding my face in my own pillow. “Don’t.”
He laughed. “What? I haven’t said anything yet!”
“Good??? So please please keep not saying anything???”
Because. I was dying in there, okay.
“Fine, fine. Just. Uhhhh…” he thought about it, then with a grin that screamed how hard he was trying not to laugh at a joke he hasn’t said yet, he asked, “Are your intentions pure?”
I looked at him.
He stared back.
I couldn’t believe. That he was making me say it. Goddamn. The things I do for some hot topless guy in bed.
“I think… we can safely say… uhhh, our intentions have never really been even close… to pure?”
He choked. “Jackass.”
“Bro, we had sex. You were there. Also getting the sex.”
“You little shit.” he reached over and gave my shoulder a playful punch. It’s been a rough month since that first morning after, but I still like the sound of his laugh. “You know what I mean!”
“I know, I know!” I laughed with him. “C’mon, man. I-… Look, Biceps. You’re ripped, you can snap me in half if I even force Andrei into anything, I won’t pick a fight with you???”
“You’re worried about me?” He huffed. “Just so you know, between us, I may pack the meaner punch, but An has perfected the art of kneeing someone in the balls.”
“Noted.” I said.
That was when we heard Andrei’s voice from the kitchen. “I hear laughing! Are you talking about me?!”
I shouted “No!” at the same time Tristan cried “Yes!” and this time it was his turn to snigger while I punched his arm.
“Y’know, Andrei said you’re they’re soulmate. That’s… kinda heavy.”
Tristan’s smile turned soft, private. “Is it really?”
“A bit.” I said. “Being connected to someone, like that. Like, s’one thing to talk about sex, ‘nother about love hearts and stuff, but like… souls? That’s kinda extra. Kinda something else.”
“Hm. Yeah, I guess it kinda is.”
“What you two have.” I continued. “Years. And more, I think. It’s different, and it’s not something anyone can just- I’m just saying- I’m not gonna-… I don’t think I’m ever gonna-”
“Whoa.” Tristan cut me off, and I shut up, because I was screwing it all up, just by talking, am I?
He waited for me to calm down, before he laughed lightly.
“Slow down, Boy Blue.” he said, eyes amused, like he’s seen it all before, but he was still looking forward to something new. Then he reached over, and gently pat my arm, “You’ve got time.”
And… Yeah. I know that, yeah.
He was right.
Whatever this was I’ve walked into.
There was no rush. I can slow down.
I’ve got time.
All the nights spent off our faces, trying to find these perfect places.
What the fuck are perfect places anyway?
Lorde: “Perfect Places”