(1,798 words) // (r)
Sometimes, Tom will get up to get a drink from the fridge four times in a little over an hour and end up with half empty cans scattered over the surfaces in his bedroom. Tom says he's just thirsty and he hates when his soda gets warm or loses the bite of the carbonation, but in the back of his mind, he knows it's so he can look into Sean's room, past the half open door, and watch him do whatever he does. Most of the time Sean's writing, a pencil behind his ear as he messes with his keyboard that's lying across his bed, but sometimes, just sometimes, Tom catches him sleeping in the mid-afternoon sunshine and Tom knows that buying several packs of soda a week is worth it.
Tom never hangs out anywhere without his camera. When he passes by Sean's room at noon, pokes his head in and lifts the Canon dangling around his neck, he smiles and asks Sean to come out with him.
"You're my best inspiration," he says, "I just like hearing you talk when I'm taking photos."
Sean smiles, kind of sleepy eyed, and pushes his hair away from his face. Normally he'd say no, but for Tom, he throws his legs over the side of the bed and stands, promising he'll be ready in five. Tom lifts the camera and snaps a shot of Sean's hair, sticking up in every odd angle it could possibly manage, and turns to find a pair of flip flops.
Tom's favorite place to take photographs is at home in Chicago. He likes the buildings and the people, and he even likes the way the sun seems to shine differently. He's listening to Sean with half focus, but he knows whatever his friend is saying isn't too important because Sean's learned by now that Tom isn't all that aware.
"Hey," Sean says, scuffing his foot on the pavement as he waits for Tom to finish in this area. "Do you ever wish you were still with them?"
Tom doesn't stiffen this time because he's long since gotten over his grudge against his former band. "I wouldn't be here with you."
Sean nods and doesn't say anything further, instead lights a cigarette and blows smoke out between his lips, up towards the sky.
Tom takes a picture of it against the building and then watches it disappear with his own two eyes.
Tom and Sean like to get drunk. They get drunk on weekdays, after shows, on weekends, and sometimes early in the afternoon on Sundays. Tom's painfully honest when he's drunk and Sean's painfully stupid, so together, they make a pair on the old couch, springs poking up against their legs. They're too drunk to notice.
Tom looks over at Sean and says, "Hey," in the same tone they always use with one another when they want the attention.
"Hm?" Sean's eyes are closed, but his head is still tipped in the direction of Tom, and when he doesn't hear anything, he opens his eyes and focuses on his friend.
Tom clears his throat, tastes the beer there, and says, "I love you."
"You too, man, you too," Sean says, and for a minute, Tom believes it's true, that he means it in the way he wants him to.
On occasion, drunk isn't enough. They get downright wasted one night when Jon's home on break and brings a couple bottles of Jack Daniels with. Tom couples that with beer and can't remember whose cup is which by nine pm.
Jon kicks his leg when he drinks right from the bottle of Jack and Tom nearly spits it out over himself. "You owe me, Conrad. That shit's not cheap."
Tom knows it doesn't matter because Jon's made a fortune off of Panic. Tom knows this because he's been shopping with Jon and Spencer when he toured with them. He takes another sip, bigger, and Jon laughs, but Sean's looking at him.
"What?" Tom asks and Sean shrugs, tips his beer into his mouth as Jon pushes himself off the couch and nearly trips in his flip flops. He gives a drunken goodbye and both Sean and Tom wave, but don't make a move to actually see Jon out.
Tom looks at Sean and Sean looks at Tom and they smile, look away. Sean says, "You're wasted," and Tom just grins, shakes his head, and says, "No, you are."
Sean gets up before Tom, but he's on his feet to follow seconds later, sort of stumbling, weaving along behind him. Tom doesn't go to his own room, but follows Sean into his and collapses down on the end of the bed, nearly falling off.
"Go to bed, Tom," Sean says, and Tom groans, shakes his head, but says nothing more. There's a lot of thoughts in his head, ones about beds and sheets and sweat and Sean, but he can't say any of them before he passes out.
When they play in little clubs with little stages, Tom sometimes walks right up to Sean and plays beside him. He can smell Sean's sweat and hear his words when he turns from the mic to sing to himself, and Tom will turn, play, and listen to the music that they make together. For a moment, it's just him and Sean, even though there are three other guys in their band.
At the end of the night, they're drunk again, walking home with Tom's guitar case knocking between the two of them. Tom switches hands and in the process, their fingers brush together. Sean doesn't acknowledge it, but the blush high in Tom's cheeks says he does.
"Let's watch a movie," Tom suggests when they get into the apartment. Sean shrugs because he's neither a television or movie person and he knows Tom isn't either.
Sean says, "What do you want to watch?" and this time, Tom mirrors the shrug. He doesn't know what he wants to watch, just knows he doesn't want to say goodnight and part into their respective rooms.
It's pouring the entire day, but it doesn't actually storm until it's ten pm. Sean's writing in his room when the desk lamp goes out and douses him in darkness and it's only seconds later that he hears Tom's voice cut through the apartment, "Sean?"
Sean rubs at his eyes and yells, "Yeah," back, not a question, but more or less letting Tom know he heard him.
Tom gets up, pads into Sean's room, and stands at the foot of his bed in darkness. He doesn't like the dark and Sean kind of knows this, though they've never spoken the fact out loud. They wait and the lights never turn back on, so Sean sighs and curls his legs up, crossing them so Tom can sit at the end of his bed.
"Were you writing?" Tom asks and Sean nods, barely can see the outline of his head until his eyes better adjust, but he knows he's nodding.
"Music?" Another nod.
"I was messing with photographs on my hard drive," Tom says, wanting to hear his voice, Sean's voice, a voice, because the dark is too fucking alone. He doesn't mention he was editing a picture of the two of them.
Sean asks, "Did you lose anything?" Tom shakes his head this time. "Good."
Tom can see Sean, but it's weird not seeing him in color. He reaches out, pats his way up from Sean's forearm to his bicep and finally to his neck, his fingers resting against the soft curve before he reaches with the other hand. Sean speaks before that one can touch him too. "You're not blind, Tom."
And Tom knows this, but it doesn't stop him from reaching with his other hand and pressing the pad of his thumb against Sean's lips. He drags it across the surface and wishes he could see just how pink his bottom lip is, but he settles for touching instead.
Sean says, "Hey," in that tone and Tom looks at him, though he's not sure if Sean can even tell he's looking. It's too dark to distinguish the direction of eyes.
Tom leans forward easily and pushes his lips to the cushion of Sean's bottom one where his thumb had just been. It's an easy kiss, doesn't involve tongue or teeth or anything more invested than what it is, until Sean pushes for more and Tom lets him. Then it turns rough, leaves tentativeness behind as Sean's hands fist in Tom's shirt, kind of grips him close, then shoves him back. Tom's head knocks against the headboard and there's a groan of sorts, but Sean doesn't stop.
There are hands everywhere and in the dark, Tom doesn't know where his are or where Sean's are moving, so he just yanks at any and all fabric. He can feel Sean's arms beneath his calloused fingertips, the way his biceps bunch and contract as he moves above and around Tom. And then there are lips on his neck and on his chest and he arches and he thinks that he had no idea Sean was into this, into him. Tom reminds himself not to care.
Tom's awake for hours later when he's twisted in Sean's sheets that smell like him and sweat and stares at the ceiling as he watches the lightning turn the room white.
Sean's head is safe on his chest.
In the morning, Sean's not there, but the rustle of cereal is just around the corner. Tom gets up, pads out in his boxers that have since been replaced and grabs a bowl for himself before sitting across from Sean. He doesn't usually like to eat in the morning, but at least if his mouth is full, he won't have to speak.
"Hey," Sean says, watching him with his spoon swirling what's left of his cereal, mostly swollen Fruit Loops that are halfway to sinking.
Tom looks up, pushes his messy hair from his eyes so that Sean knows he has his attention, but doesn't say anything.
Sean says, "Let's do that again sometime," and Tom breathes a smile.
Tom gets up one afternoon, his third trip in the last hour, and peeks in Sean's room. There are two other unfinished sodas in his room, but Tom's convinced they've lost their flavor and that he needs a fresh one. He looks a little too long, the way the sun hits Sean's hair and his blue eyes look almost frustrated with whatever melody he's working on.
Sean doesn't look up, but he says, "Hey," and Tom knows he's been caught.
He spends the afternoon in Sean's room, at the end of the bed, and later, in his sheets.