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|Title: Selsun Blue, Gore-Tex Green
Author: Eleanor K.
Posted: 22 July, 2003
Disclaimer: They're not mine.
Notes: Trent's tent was, in fact, orange, but I didn't know that when I wrote this, and orange is not a soothing color, so please forgive this small deviation from canon.
Xiexie to Chrissy for the lovely beta.
A spring in the driver's seat of Tom's old beater was digging into his back. There was something sticky on the steering wheel too, which wasn't in itself an uncommon thing, but it disturbed him that he couldn't identify it this time.
Soda? He glanced at it and decided no. Soda tended to dry transparently, and this was sort of blueish. That should narrow the field. He pressed his thumb to it and peeled it off again. The pad of his thumb retained a slight adhesive quality.
It was a mystery. Maybe Jane would have an idea. He pulled into her driveway, noting the car already parked there, almost as sad looking as his own. Jane's brother's, maybe, though he wasn't sure.
He rang the doorbell. No one answered, but he was used to that. In the past he'd waited five minutes here, leaning on the bell, before anyone opened the door, particularly if Jane was out. Should have called ahead, he thought. Too late now. He rang again and waited.
It wasn't just the mystery stickiness on the steering wheel that he wanted to talk to her about. His father's voice was suddenly there in his head, replaying an earlier scene in THX surround sound. Certain words gained an echo: Trust fund baby, parasite, wasting your life like this. College. Grades aren't everything.
Jane Lane was, in fact, one of the few areas of Tom's life that his father had left alone. Even the car had not been spared. It was an affectation, and Tom was trying to be something he wasn't. He should have taken the Subaru he was offered.
He stabbed at the bell again. It wasn't so much that he wanted to talk to Jane about it as *not* talk to her about it. Or anything else. Ideally, he would be up in Jane's room right now with its art clutter and familiar mess and strange things in the corners. He and Jane would sit on the bed next to the easel and he'd lean over and kiss her and smear her lipstick, smell her shampoo--Selsun Blue had recently become a very arousing scent for him.
His eyes had closed somewhere in that little fantasy, and when he opened them, the door was open as well. Jane's brother was standing in it, squinting at him.
"Hey. What time is it?"
Tom glanced at his watch, a present from his father. "Not quite four. In the afternoon. Did I wake you up?"
"It's okay. It had to happen sooner or later." The guy's voice was low and slow, dragging out the words, with a gravel undertone. "Hey... Aren't you that guy? Janie's guy?"
"Yeah, that's me. Janie's guy."
"Janie's not here. She went somewhere."
"Ah." So much for that. "Do you know when she'll be back?"
"No. You could wait." He rubbed his eyes. "You could make coffee," he said hopefully.
Tom thought about it. For about a second and a half. Hell, it wasn't as if he was so keen to go home, and where else would he go? Daria... But that was a bad idea. Even if he broke up with Jane it would probably continue to be a bad idea.
"Sure. I'll make coffee."
The kitchen was organized. This had come as a shock to him the first time he'd realized it, given the state of the rest of the house. It was organized around the coffee machine, which was not such a shock.
Above the coffee machine were the mugs, and he pulled out two--one yellow with black letters that said 'Dirty deeds done dirt cheap,' and the other black with a picture of a guy in a suit with big white wings coming out of his back. It bore the inscription 'Harvey Birdman, attorney at law.'
There were beans in the freezer and instant in the cupboard. He knew there were beans in the freezer because he was the only one who ever used them. Jane had bought them but never took the time to grind them, and he didn't think Jane's brother--what was his name again?--knew how.
Trent. That was it. He always forgot because it seemed like such an unlikely name for a guy who looked like that. Trent looked more like a Lance or a Chip or something, some poseur band name.
The name seemed to fit him well enough right now, though. Trent was perched on a stool, watching Tom with heavy-lidded eyes and a vague expression. The hard edge Tom usually saw in him was gone.
There was silence of an almost religious quality as the coffee brewed. Once done, Tom filled a mug and handed it over.
"No problem." He watched as Trent sipped at the coffee and made a face. "Is it okay?" he asked.
"Yeah. It's good. I just expected it to be bad. It's always bad when I make it."
Tom found a stool of his own. He listened to Trent slurp at his coffee and wondered if he should leave after all. Talking to people wasn't usually such a problem for him, but there was something about Jane's brother that made him uncomfortable.
He shifted on his stool and glanced toward the door. It was hard not to be obvious about it since the direction he was trying to glance in was directly behind him.
"I don't think she's back. I usually hear her."
"Yeah, I guess you would," said Tom. What was it about Trent that left him so stupid that he could only come up with lame rejoinders like that?
The clock ticked. The refrigerator hummed. The linoleum aged.
"Hey," Trent said suddenly. "Do you want to hear this song I'm working on? I asked Janie to listen to it, but she said she wasn't deep enough for it. Or something."
"Sure." Anything was better than this, and he knew if he got back in the car he'd end up at Daria's, and the only way that could end well was if she was out--and even if she was, she and Jane would probably get back just as he pulled up.
"Come on. This way."
He followed Trent upstairs. The room they entered wasn't what he'd expected. For some reason he'd thought Trent's room would be painted black or something equally cliche. In fact it was off white, dirty around the edges, and poorly lit by an overhead light fixture that would have looked more at home in a 1950s ranch house. There was a tent in the corner.
"Is that a tent?" He nearly hit himself in the forehead for that conversational gem. "I mean, obviously it is, but..."
"Yeah. I used to live in it. I got kind of attached to it." Trent picked up his guitar and flipped some switches on the amplifier. "The song starts kind of slow."
The first chord made Tom cringe. He thought he knew why Jane had refused to be the guinea pig. Trent's music should be appreciated from a distance. Possibly a distance of some miles. He looked around surreptitiously for something he could stuff in his ears.
Trent's slow voice spoke the lyrics over the crashing wave of the amplified music, but even so the words stood out. Or maybe it was because of Trent's voice. It was calm and unhurried, a stark contrast to his playing.
"I set out for the edge, but you got there first-- Plugged in and sizzling, that third rail came as a shock-- But don't you know, you gotta know, of course you know that third rail was you..."
There was more, but Tom wasn't getting all the words, and it was easier just to listen to Trent's voice. He clapped when it was over.
"Good song. I liked it."
"You did?" Trent sounded mildly surprised.
"Yeah. What's it called?"
"Third rail of love. Well, that's the working title anyway. Jesse thinks it's dumb."
"Something like that. Are you and Janie going to break up?"
"Uh...what?" he managed to say after gaping for a while. The question by itself was bad enough, but he hadn't been sure Trent was even aware he and Jane were together, despite what he'd said at the door. He wasn't sure Trent even knew his name, and now he was throwing this at him.
"You guys don't seem to be getting along so well. You know, the past few weeks. I know what that's like. I broke up with Monique again last week."
"Oh." He didn't know what to say to that. "Have you broken up with her before?"
"Oh, yeah. Lots of times. So... You and Janie?"
"I don't know." He got up to pace. "I like her. I really do. She makes me feel better by just being there, but..."
"It's hard to base a relationship on making fun of people on television?"
That seemed entirely too sharp an observation for Trent. Maybe there was some thought processing going on in that head after all. If he was smart too, the lean body and the sexy voice would make a deadly package. Objectively sexy, Tom told himself quickly. What girls would think of as sexy.
"Yeah," he answered. "I guess it is. I don't want to hurt her feelings. I'm sure she's getting bored with me, too."
Trent didn't reply, and Tom couldn't think of anything else to say. That said it all, really. They were getting bored with each other. It was just a matter of time.
Trent started picking out random notes on his guitar.
"How long have you been playing?" said Tom, just for something to say.
"A long time." Trent came over and sat on the bed where Tom had settled. He held out the guitar. "Here. You want to try?"
Tom took it awkwardly, shifting it and trying to find a way to hold it so some part of it didn't stick him somewhere.
"Put your hands like this." Trent arranged his fingers one by one and gave him the guitar pick.
"My hand doesn't go like that."
Trent reached an arm around him and moved his fingers back into the positions they'd slipped out of. As he leaned closer, Tom was suddenly and overwhelmingly aware of the scent of Selsun Blue. Jane and her brother used the same shampoo.
Maybe it was just the scent, or maybe it had something to do with Trent's objectively sexy voice walking him patiently through the C chord and the G chord, or maybe it was the fact that he'd come here in the first place with the idea of kissing so firmly in his head, or maybe-- He didn't know. He just turned his head to say something and sort of got stuck, with Trent's lips *right there* and his own lips *right there* and the only thing that stopped him was the goatee. He'd never kissed anyone with facial hair before and he wasn't about to start now.
Trent didn't seem to have any such compunction. It was only a light brush of lips, but it made Tom's mouth tingle in anticipation of more--not that there would be more. No. Definitely not. There was something he should be doing. Getting up and leaving, yeah, that was it. He blinked quickly and swallowed through a dry throat.
"What was that supposed to be?" he heard himself say. Oh well, so much for getting up and leaving.
"You looked like you needed it." Trent took his hand again and repositioned his fingers for the thousandth time.
"I...what? You don't just...just..." What if Trent hadn't meant it as a kiss? But what the hell else could he have meant it as? But... But... Tom's mind went into a feedback loop just thinking about saying it out loud, if Trent by some possibility hadn't meant it that way. His hand clenched uneasily on the neck of the guitar. "I think I should go," he said.
"If that's what you want."
Tom didn't move. There was warmth breath by his ear. Trent's arms were around him, and whatever logical justification there was for that, Trent had also just kissed him. His girlfriend's brother had kissed him. He had to leave. Really, he told himself. Now.
Trent took the guitar and set it aside. "Or you could stay for a while. You seem kind of tense."
Tom laughed and thought it sounded more than just kind of tense. "No," he said. "Really, not at all." Despite the removal of the guitar, and hence the logical justification, Trent still had his arms around him.
"You want to see my tent? It's green, and when you're inside it everything looks...green. It's very soothing."
Yes, now would definitely be the moment to leave. Tom stood up. "Yeah," he heard himself say. "I'd like that."
It was green inside the tent, and it was soothing. Tom crossed his legs to make room for Trent.
"Yeah. I like it."
The awkwardness was back full force, quadrupled by the fact that Tom was unsure whether he'd just agreed to have sex or possibly a make-out session with another guy in his girlfriend's house. The problem was that, well, he didn't want to leave. He liked Trent. And if the kiss had startled him, it hadn't actually been gross or anything. Which wasn't to say it would happen again, because that would make him gay, which he wasn't. He should probably let Trent know that.
"I'm not gay. Or anything. You know." He didn't know what he meant by 'you know' and he kicked himself for not just stopping after the statement, but it wasn't something he was comfortable saying without qualifications.
"Yeah. I know. You're dating my sister."
"Yeah. So." He decided to say it. "You kind of kissed me. Didn't you?"
"I told you that already."
"I looked like I needed it?"
"Yeah. Well, looked like you wanted it, really."
Like I wanted to be kissed by a guy with a goatee and a tattoo? I did not! Out loud he only said, "Oh. I...didn't mean to look like that."
"You still kind of look like it. Does that mean I shouldn't do anything about it?"
"What? Like...kiss me again?"
"Like that, yeah."
Tom wondered what he was supposed to say. There didn't seem to be any rules for this situation. It was a situation he wasn't even supposed to be in. Half the guys he knew would have punched Trent or run away, depending on their respective physical prowess; the other half would have said thanks, but no thanks and gone on to show how cool they were by continuing the guitar lesson until rescued by Jane's return. What did that make him? If it wasn't just the Selsun Blue...was it him?
"You're not saying anything."
He looked up, startled. "Um, no. I mean yes. I mean... This is a little weird for me."
"Yeah. Me too. Janie's my sister, after all. And she's kind of jealous about you."
"Yeah. I noticed that, too."
"And you're going to dump her for Daria. She won't like that."
"I don't want to break up their friendship. I won't do that."
"That's for them to decide. I think they'll be okay. You have to do what *you* want to do." There was a significant pause. "So what *do* you want to do?"
Tom was silent. There was no way he could say what he was thinking. A slow heat crept up his neck, and he looked at the green Gore-Tex tent floor.
He should be more worried about cheating on his girlfriend. No, he should be more worried about cheating on his girlfriend with a guy, for god's sake. He put his head in his hands and suddenly wished he'd just stayed home and fought with his father because...well, because if he wanted to go, he'd already be gone. So he didn't want to go. So he wanted...
A pair of hands framed his face and tipped it up. Wiry beard hair touched his chin, and lips met his and parted. He leaned forward, letting his own lips open. A tongue met his and slid deep into his mouth, moving against his own and tickling the roof of his mouth. Large hands clamped on his shoulders, pulling him closer. He fell forward against a body that was hard and strong and not at all curved in the way it should be.
Hands suddenly at the fly of his pants, and god, he should be doing something about that, shouldn't he? He never made a decision, and this was just happening, and things like this couldn't just happen. You had to decide--this was life-changing shit! It couldn't just--
Trent's boney fingers, larger than his own and slightly cool, closing over his dick. Shit, shit, shit.
Trent stopped. Stopped moving, stopped everything. "Yeah?" Voice calm as ever.
"I...I want to do this."
Trent chuckled and then coughed. Gave Tom's dick a light squeeze. "Kind of thought you did."
It was easier somehow than he'd expected it to be. Maybe not such a big deal after all.
Getting Trent's pants undone turned out to be much harder than making huge life-altering decisions. The zipper stuck. Tom yanked on it. It stayed stuck. He was trying to be subtle about it, but Trent was bound to notice.
Trent did. He did the chuckle followed by a cough again. Too many cigarettes, Tom was thinking, instead of thinking about trying to get a guy's zipper open when the guy in question had his hand around-- Oh, god, Trent's hand moving on his dick again, spreading the slickness from the head up and down, and-- Trent jerking his own pants open with a sound of frustration, taking Tom's hand and wrapping it--and the feel. Oh, god. Shouldn't seem so strange, but it did. Someone else's dick in his hand, and it was just as different as Trent's voice from his own.
Tom leaned forward, a slow fall that ended with his forehead braced against Trent's shoulder. Their hands were moving in counterpoint, so fast now, and the world swam in green shadows and Trent's Selsun Blue smell and it was hard to tell one hand from another. Then he was coming, trying to keep his hand moving as he felt Trent's hand close on the back of his neck, hearing rough gasps that might have come from either of them.
Afterward he let his hand fall away, listening to Trent wheeze gently in his ear.
Trent patted his shoulder and shuffled on his knees toward the door of the tent.
"Wait a minute," Trent said. "I'll get a towel."
Minutes later, a hand stuck through the opening with a damp cloth, followed by the rest of Trent. Tom took it and cleaned himself up, slowly. When he was done, he would have no excuse for silence, and he still had no idea what to say.
From downstairs came the sound of the front door opening, of laughter. Jane's voice. And Daria's.
"Oh, god." Tom buried his face in his hands.
"Don't worry." Trent took the cloth from him and laid a hand on his shoulder. "Everything works out. You know. Sooner or later. Stay here for a while. I'll tell them...something."
Trent crawled out of the tent. Tom stayed, not knowing what else to do.
After a minute he heard Trent's voice and Jane saying something in reply. He couldn't make out the words, and found he didn't care that much. He lay down.
It was warm in the tent. It smelled like sex now, and probably he did, too.
He felt loose and relaxed, and it felt like it had been months since the last time he relaxed. His father, Jane, Daria, school, college, the sticky stuff on his steering wheel--it was all out there waiting for him.
It could all wait a while longer.
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