More Than This

by brooklinegirl


Rating: NC-17, my god, would be even if not for the sex, due to the gutter mouths on these guys.

Disclaimer: Hard Core Logo and its characters belong to Terminal City Pictures, Shadow Shows, Michael Turner, Bruce McDonald, and Noel S. Baker.

Summary: Joe and Billy, that first night after the Rock Against Guns show and what happens when they keep drinking, and keep drinking, and keep drinking.

Notes: A sincere thank you goes to SnowFlake, my personal beta goddess, who went through this one with me step by step, and helped me figure out just where I was going every step of the way. Kat Allison, without whom I'd never have been brave enough to post this thing, and who gave major feedback and plot point advice. Couldnít have done this without you guys.

I'm too fucking old for this.

Same places, same faces, same clubs, same everything. I am too goddamn fucking old for this. Billy Fucking Hollywood; fuck you, Joe, itís got nothing to do with that. It has to do with being thirty-five fucking years old and still living like this. I used to think I wanted to live my whole life in the back of a van, that nothing could be any better than that. Shows you how little I knew about life back then. I didn't know anything but this. I didn't know anything. Only this: the guys and the van and the shows and the booze and Joe, always Joe. He's the one who showed me this; he's the one who dragged me along, pulled me here.

I didn't always know that this was what I wanted. I bitched and argued and fought, but when I got here there was a smile on my face, because yeah, yeah, this is where I wanted to be and how the fuck could I have not known that?

He's always known what I want before I do. Dragged me there when he couldn't get me to go any other way, cursing me and calling me a stupid motherfucker, but getting me there, and that was the only way I'd figure out where I belonged. Had to get there before I knew. Had to get there with Joe before I knew.

And eventually, yeah, I thought this was where I belonged. In the back of a crappy van on a crappy road tour and nothing could be better, man, nothing could be better.

I am so fucked up right now. My hands shake as I look for another cigarette and that doesn't seem right. I can handle much more than this. I can handle fucking anything. If I can handle Joe, I can handle anything. I'm the one with the talent.

But he's Joe. Okay vocals, okay guitar, huge fucking stage presence and that is it, folks, that's all she wrote, all it takes. I'll be back-up guitar forever, he will forever be Joe fucking Dick. My guitar gets noticed, sure, I'm good, I am that fucking good. But Joe, he gets noticed. He's got that something, that fucking something, and yeah, I see it. Why the fuck else do I follow him? Why the fuck else am I here?

I sit here with him at the bar and my head is spinning and I don't know how I got here. I was okay, I was fine, hey, I was fucking sober. Then suddenly, real quick, it was all about Joe, about the music, about that smile he gives me and this seriously easy back and forth we got between us and suddenly I was beyond fine, I was me again, felt like me again. Maybe the me I was trying to escape, but it's hard to escape when it is so, so fucking easy to be with him.

I want it to be this fucking easy and that pisses me off and so I order more whiskey and more whiskey and more whiskey. And then I'm moving real clumsy and I guess I'm not good at getting drunk anymore. Fuck. I need to get my act together, need to get good at this, like right away, like tonight, because I am wasted, I am so wasted. Billy Fucking Tallent, right here, but gone. JustÖgone. I grab for my cigarettes; pull one out with fingers that fumble.

Start to search for my lighter. Pat my pocket, wasn't it in my pocket? My hip pocket. No. My coat pocket. No. Jesus, where the fuckÖ There's a flame in front of me; Joe's there holding out his own lighter and I am at the same time grateful and pissed because fuck, fuck, I'm the one who takes care of him, not the other way around.

I wonder what he's been doing for the past five years without me. Maybe he didn't need me to take care of him. Maybe he let me take care of him.

We are so fucked up, him and me, both. I'm pretty damn drunk, but he's been drinking half again as much as me, and he's not doing that well either. Though Joe can hold it. Joe has always been able to hold his liquor, mostly. Maybe that's why he went on to coke; bigger and better highs, 'cause it got so he could hold his liquor too well.

Heís giving me that look, that Joe look, all fuck-you and hey-you. Like he wants me by his side, always. Like this is where I belong; weíre in this together and I still donít understand how I managed to leave him long enough to get to LA. I was glad once I got there, pretty damn glad. Itís easier when I canít see him, when heís not right here, because then I forget how good this can be, how damn good it is.

Sometimes it doesn't matter to him, how obvious he is. Sometimes it is right out there, how much he needs me, how hungry he is to have me right here next to him. You can see it in his eyes and if you caught just a glimpse from the outside, you'd call it love. Sometimes the walls are down and all we have is history, so much, too much fucking history here, and not all of it good. But it's all shared and it's easy for that to look like love. And if he cares enough, is tired enough to let the walls down, then maybe he'd call it love, too.

He's complicated, is what he is. All hard eyes and hard laughter and mean, he is one mean son of a bitch. But he is so fucking sure of himself, so fucking sure of Joe Dick, that he doesn't care who knows. He'll kiss me on stage, he'll pull me close, and anyone in the world can see that he loves me to death.

That doesn't mean that he won't hurt me. That makes it all the more certain that he will.

And I don't know why it's right. But it's like we struggle, when we try to make room where there isn't any, between us. That's the hard part, the impossible part, when we're fighting each other to make some space, find some air. And sometimes we just give in. Sometimes I just give in. Because it's easier. Because I want to. Because he wants to, and because it gets to the point where I want what Joe wants because yeah, okay, fine, he knows me better than I know myself.

What he won't let himself know is that the second we give in to this, the end is in sight. Maybe I donít want to know that either. In that distant, hazy part of my brain, I know it, but all I can think now is that maybe it'll be okay, maybe it'll work this time.

Itís like instinct, how we read each other. Iím wasted and I can still read him and he can read me just as good. Why does that scare me so damn much?

Heís still sitting there close to me, watching me smoke, his eyes following the cigarette up to my mouth and back down. I flick the ashes and watch him through slitted eyes.

ďWhatíre you thinking about, Billy?Ē His voice has that almost-mocking tone that sounds somehow kind, or maybe real thoughtful. ďWhatís going on there, whatíre you thinking?Ē

He takes another drag off of his cigarette but doesnít look away from me. I stare back at him with not-quite-focused eyes, and donít respond. The smoke curls up around his face and I watch him watching me and all I can think is, Jesus Christ, here I am again, getting drunk with Joe Dick, and didnít I tell myself Iíd never do this again? Didnít I tell myself, never fucking again?

ďYour heart ainít in that, Billy.Ē

I didnít realize Iíd said it out loud. ďShut the fuck up, Joe.Ē

ďThatís not buddies. You know you want to be here.Ē

ďFuck you.Ē

ďYou wish.Ē And he gives me that measuring look again, reading me through a haze of smoke and alcohol. A shiver runs down my spine. We're so close, too close, thereís no fucking room between us. Never has been, not when weíre here like this. Itís me and him, itís our show, and all our words mean nothing, because itís what goes on between them that matters. Itís what happens on stage that matters, when we move like fucking clockwork and he always knows where I am. Itís what happens afterwards when weíre high, so damn high on the music alone.

Thereís not enough air in the room all of a sudden, but I take another drag on my cigarette anyway, because I need something to help my hands stop shaking. Joe raises an eyebrow. ďYou okay there, Billy?Ē Gentle teasing again, and sorry, no way, no way should you be able to read ďgentleĒ into anything this guy says.

I stumble off of the barstool. Gotta get out of here, gotta find some air. Joeís up real quick, catches my arm as I sway and almost fall. Heís way steadier than he should be, fuck, not as drunk as I am. Nowhere near sober, but not totally gone, anyway.

He walks with me as I head towards the door, after tossing some money on the bar to cover our tab, like we were done here anyway. Gets me outside and the freezing air hits me like a slap in the face, wakes me up, but makes me stumble again.

ďDrunken fucking bastard,Ē I hear Joe mumble, and Iíd argue with him if I could. Instead I get myself situated, straightened out, trying for at least a semblance of sobriety. Like I could ever fake it with him. Or maybe all I was ever doing was faking it with him.

"Jesus, Joe," I say, and I don't even really know which part I'm complaining about. It's more like, how the hell did I get back here? Did I ever really leave or was it LA that was a fake and this was here all the time, just waiting for me to get back? Makes me want to bang my head against the wall, that I thought I had escaped it, only to find it was this fucking close all along.

Joe has his hand under my arm, propelling me down the street, to the hotel, I guess. I shake him off, stumbling into the wall only slightly as I do so. "Dumb fuck," Joe says, but he lets go of me, digs in his pocket for a cigarette. He lights it as we walk, the smoke from the cigarette mixing with our breath in the freezing cold air. It's all I can do to keep walking in a (mostly) straight line. No way am I coordinated enough to get my cigarettes out myself, let alone light one.

We cut down through an alley, heading to the back door of the hotel. Joe's holding the butt between his lips, hands jammed into his pockets as he walks. I don't even think about it, just reach out and take it from his mouth. Next thing I know, I'm slammed up against a brick wall, and it's a kind of distant thought in my mind: I forgot how dangerous he can be. How the fuck did I forget that?

"What the fuck do you think you're doing, Billy?" He's drunker than I thought, though he carries it better than me. I can see it in his eyes, how very drunk he is.

I don't struggle, because I know he has weight against me, know I can't fight him off like that. I raise my chin and glare at him. "Get your fucking hands off me, Joe." My voice is tight, only a very little bit slurred.

His expression changes, just that quick. It's sly, now, edging away from mean to calculating. His eyes narrow as he looks at me. "Oh, Billy, I don't think that's what you want, now, is it?" It's gentle, weaving mockery (not gentle, not really, not anywhere near gentle) and I'm tense now, wishing like hell I could focus better and get my act together here. Because things move fast with Joe and I am way the hell past deep waters.

He tilts his head, and looks at me close, and his eyes are like razors. "Is that what you want, Billy?"

I've forgotten the question.

He's got his hands twisted tight in the collar of my coat, and he pulls me towards him, then slams me up against the wall again, not as hard as he could have. "Is it, Billy?"

"Get the fuck off of me, Joe." I growl it, and he just looks at me, his breath hot against my face, clouds of it in the cold winter air. Then he lets go of me so fast I fall forward, stumbling, as he backs away, hands held wide.

"Sure thing, Billy Hollywood, sure thing." He snarls it at me with a grin. "No fucking problem, hands off."

I hate him. I hate him. I fucking hate him. I'm breathing hard, and the world is spinning, and again, just as quick as anything you'll ever find, his arm is around my shoulders and he's pulling me gently along the alley with him. "C'mon."

And what do I do? Because I'm that fucking stupid?

I follow him, of course. Because that's what I do. I follow Joe.

And we make it to the hotel, and it was me who rented the room (because I knew better than to rely on Joe. Back in LA, I knew better. Here? Now? I don't know a goddamn thing). But it's him who has the key in his pocket, who turns the lock and shoves me through the door, and follows behind me. He throws the lock behind us and it feels, just for a minute, like I can breathe again, because it's just me and him here, and we're never as good as when it's just me and him.

It's not always perfect with him, but it's always something.

He stands back, leans against the door, just watching as I take off my coat. He's got a smile on his face, a Joe smile, which means that even I can't read it. Could mean fuck off, could mean fuck you, could mean come here. I don't know. I never knew. Even back then, I never knew. But for sure, it means be careful.

I'm not doing this. Not again. Not anymore. I'm Billy Tallent, not part of Joe and Billy anymore. I'm just slumming here, and I'll be back in LA before too long.

I say it out loud. "I'm not doing this, Joe."

"Not doing what, Billiam?" And there it is, he's dangerous again, in a way I've never really understood, but always been aware of. Dangerous even though he hasn't moved, is completely relaxed against the door.

"This. With you," I say, wishing like hell my head was clearer.

"What?" he says, all innocent. But he's pushed himself off the door, taken a step or two towards me. "What aren't you doing, Billy?" His voice is real soft.

"Joe," I say, trying to sound dangerous, dangerous like him. But there isn't enough air here either and I'm still so fucked up. I don't sound dangerous. I sound desperate.

He hears it, too. "Billy," he says, mockingly, matching my tone.

"Don't," I say, but it doesn't sound true even to me, and it sure as hell doesn't sound true to him.

"Don't what, Billy?" he says softly, that half-smile on his face, advancing on me. "Tell me what you want, Billy." And now he's right up in my face. "Tell me what you want, 'cause how else am I gonna know what not to do?" He breathes that last part against my lips, and I want to pull away. Wish I was back in LA, but I'm nowhere else but here.

He stops just before his lips touch mine. "Tell me what you want, Billy." But I can't do anything but suck in breath, because I donít know, I donít know, I don't fucking know. And then he's kissing me, hard, kissing me like no one else. And it's been five years and I wish I knew what the hell I'm doing back here.

He's stronger than me. I've always known that. I can feel it in the heavy weight of his hands as he yanks my hips forward against his. He's holding me fiercely and in the drunken haze of my mind, I suddenly realize that it's something to do with the fact that he's terrified to death that Iím going to pull away. But he doesn't know how to play the LA game, doesn't know how to fake it, doesn't know how to lure me in any way but his own. This game. The same one he was playing to get me up here to begin with, the same one he was playing back in the bar.

I put my hands on his shoulders and shove him as hard as I can. He stumbles back heavily, his mouth wet with our kissing. I'm slow, I know, reflexes off. His eyes gleam and I push him again before he can get his bearings. I keep pushing and then I have him pinned him against the wall, because all I can think is you're not the only one, Joe, you're not the only one here.

I'm hard already. Even in the cold of the alley outside, with him pressing me up against that wall, before I'd let myself know we'd get here, I was half-hard. And he knew it. He's hard himself. I press against him with my body but pull my mouth away, donít let him kiss me.

He growls low in his throat. "Thought you weren't doing this, Billy." It's supposed to be scornful, but his voice is rough. I know better.

"Iím not." It makes sense in my head. I'm not giving in to this. I know better, even if the hazy part of my brain doesn't. Iím not doing it his way, not letting him make me. He's holding on too tight, but Iím meeting him halfway. That makes a difference.

He forces his hand between us, presses it against the front of my jeans, and I groan without meaning to. How the fuck does he get me like this, so hot, so fast? His grin is quick and fierce. "I think you are."

"Fuck you, Joe."

There's just a moment there, a brief flicker in his eyes, and it's like I said something completely different, something about love, because it's all there in his eyes, all this complicated stuff between us. Then another flicker, and he says, "Come here."

And he propels me backwards, and I realize I was never holding him there, that he was just letting me keep him there up against the wall. Letting me hold onto him, because he doesn't know what'll happen if I let go. I hit the bed and he keeps pushing me backwards, and then I'm on my back and he's on top of me. His hands clutch at my wrists and for a second I can't tell if he's holding me down or just holding on. I'm looking at him, and he doesn't want to meet my eyes.

I growl at him a little, struggle to lift my head, arching towards him. He hesitates, but then he kisses me, harsh, forcing his tongue in, my head back, his hands still holding on to me tight. When he pulls back, there's that flicker of fear again in his eyes. Christ. This is what we can't handle, all of this, it's too much. It'll take us down, we'll fucking drown in it. But he doesn't care about that, it's worth the risk to him, and I think that's what scares him: that he's willing to lose so much, just to have me for right now.

He tilts his head and his eyes narrow in a glare, and then he's pulling on my t-shirt, yanking it off of me, and I can hear it tear as he tugs it over my head. It's cold in the room, but his mouth is immediately against my neck, the crook of my shoulder, biting hard and warm and I groan again, my hips coming off the bed.

I don't know how this happens between us, but while it's happening, it's real, so fucking real, like we've stepped outside everything we thought we knew and this is what we've been looking for. But it's not gonna last. It can't. Which is maybe why I let myself get lost here. Convince myself I have a choice in the matter, and that my choice is to do this. To let Joe pin me to the bed and bite my neck hard. To let him run his hands roughly down my sides and yank up on my hips, which are already meeting him more than halfway.

To kiss him like he holds all the air in the world, like I've been waiting forever to do this. Because you know what? Five years in LA is pretty much forever. And it's like there is never any space between us and all this fighting for room is useless. Because we're like magnets and when we give in, when I give in, the second I let go the fight, it's easy, it's so fucking easy, and I can't, can't remember why I was fighting.

So I give in. Because he wants me bad, and I know it, so we're both caving. And I know he loves me more than anyone ever will or ever has. Doesn't mean it's gonna work between us. I know that. He knows that. But right now, his cock is hard against me, and he's fighting to get his hands between us, to get rid of the rest of our clothes, to touch me, and I can't stop arching up against him, my hands gripping his shoulders tight enough to leave bruises. Once we give in, it's good.

Besides. We are so fucking drunk right now, the both of us, it's all the excuse we need and we know that, too.

So he licks his way to my shoulder, then lifts his head to look at me as his hands work my zipper down. I glare at him, defiant or something, and he grins, suddenly. Leans back to pull his sweater off, and now it's just his worn black t-shirt between our chests. And in the next second his hand is in my jeans, on my cock, and I'm hissing at him between my teeth because it feels so damn good.

"God," he grunts, and I know he loves the feel of me in his hand. Fuck, I love it too, and my hips thrust up against him. "So fucking hot," he says.

"Do it," I hiss, and I don't even know what I'm saying. Telling him what to do, telling him what I want, and I pray to god he forgets by morning. "Do it, Joe, you know you want to, do it."

His eyes narrow as he looks down at me, sweaty and fucked up. His smile comes out twisted. "Careful what you ask for, Billy."

But he's got his belt open, and then his jeans, and he shoves them down enough, out of the way, and yanks mine down too. I lift my hips to help him, kick them off. Because I want this. All right? I fucking want this, and maybe this is our problem. We can't love anyone else as much as we love each other, but we aren't actually that good at following through on that love. It doesn't work in the long run. No way, no how. We can balance it for a while, if we just fuck when we're drunk and the rest of the timeÖthe rest of the time, we talk and we fight and we're close enough but not so close that we can't breathe and then, no matter what we do, no matter how fucking careful we are, it all implodes and it's over, it's gone, it's so finished it's not anywhere close to funny.

It happens again and again, and we both pretend to believe that this time, this time, it'll work. We'll find that balance and it'll goddamn work.

Fuck it. Just fuck it. All I want to think about right now is Joe's hand on my cock, and I'm drunk enough to convince myself that this is enough. He's stroking me roughly and I buck up into that grip, biting hard on my lip to stop myself from groaning. He likes this, likes seeing how I want it, how I like it, and I need to balance this somehow. Because it's not in me to give in this much. Not to him. Or maybe this much, only to him, but no further. There has to be a line. Doesn't there? There has to be a line.

But he knows how to move his hand, after almost five years he still knows just how I like it. And his breath is hot against the side of my face, and tinged with liquor, and I can feel his cock against my hip, can feel him hot and hard against me. He's been waiting for this for five fucking years; he's been waiting for this forever. And I wonder, I can't help but wonder, if he gets off on the idea of being with Billy Fucking Hollywood, if there isn't a bit of a brush with the rock star here for him. He'd never fucking admit it, but I think he likes it, think he likes the idea of that, if only because he gets to fuck me; he gets to bring the rock star back to earth.

He thinks it's the closest he'll get to having me. He doesn't know a goddamn thing. If he didn't have me, if he didn't have me even when I was in LA and so far gone from this nowhere fucking band, then I wouldn't be here. I'd have never gotten on that goddamned plane.

Christ, who's fooling who here? Does he know? Does he know how when I got the call, that I couldn't tell, could honestly not tell, if I was excited or fucking terrified? That I smoked a dozen cigarettes in the half hour before the plane took off and by the time I got onboard, my hands were shaking so bad I could barely hold onto my guitar case?

He bites me again, then licks down my shoulder, traces the edges of my tattoo with his tongue at the same time as he moves his hand steadily on my cock. I lift my hips to thrust against him, into the circle of his fist, and when he lifts his head to look at me, I grin at him, fierce. He doesnít smile back, just narrows his eyes, but the rhythm of his hand falters, and when I lift my head to kiss him hard on the lips, he lets me. When I push at him, he falls back, lets me roll over on top of him. I take his mouth, hard, forcing my tongue in. When I pull my mouth away from his, he's gasping for air, and I don't let him catch his breath before I'm down between his legs, his jeans still half on, and I take his cock in my mouth.

"Fuck, Billy," he gasps, his hands tight on my shoulders. When I let him slide out of my mouth, tilt my head to look up at him, and murmur, "You wish," he laughs. I take him back in my mouth and he arches up, gasping again. I'm thrumming with it, with the heat and the want and Christ, I don't know what I'm doing back here, but it feels so fucking good.

He doesn't let me suck him for long, never does. I think he doesn't like giving in to this, that he's okay only so long as it's him holding me at the edge and not the other way around. The second I get a rhythm going, he curls his hands in my hair, lifts his hips a few times, then yanks me off his dick with a groan. I lift my chin at him, wipe my mouth with the back of my hand and give him a hard smile, because I know it'll get to him. He growls and then his hands are on me. He grabs my shoulders hard and pulls me up, pushes me to the bed, kicking his jeans the rest of the way off at the same time.

I'm letting him hold me here, because I want him to hold me here. I fight him, though, press up and bite and push against him and he loves it. He loves it. He's losing it here, losing the battle, pressing himself up against me. We do this, we push it to the edge, till we both want it so bad that we're willing to forget about it come morning so long as we get to do it tonight. I'm at that edge. It's always so fucking close, so easy to get to. We fight it tooth and nail, but it's always, always near. He knows it too, he plays with it, stumbles along the edge like a balance beam, just tempting fate, just waiting to fall.

He's crazy beyond my understanding, but when we're together like this, I don't even have to think. All I have to do is move against him, to ask him with half-words, not begging, not yet, but close. And when his hand moves up, moves against my mouth, I open immediately, suck his fingers inside. They taste like nicotine, like sweat, like him. I suck them wet, and he watches me, his expression not so amused as before, and I wonder if maybe even he didn't know how really very close the edge was.

He pulls his fingers out slow, drags them over my lips, still with that same serious expression on his face that makes me shut my eyes tight because it sort of hurts to look at him. Then he shifts, and I feel his fingers pressing into me, not real rough, careful, but it doesn't matter. It hurts a little, but it doesnít fucking matter, because this feels real. God, he knows what he's doing, knows what he does to me, knows it real good.

I can hear his harsh breathing, and then, "Billy," he says, and all I can do is take gasping breaths. "Billy," he says again, fierce, and I open my eyes, just as he twists his fingers inside me. It feels like lightning, that jolt inside. I groan out his name, and even here, even now, there's that uneasy feeling, of this being too much, too close, and please, please let's forget this by morning, let's both of us forget this, because it is too fucking much.

He's leaking like crazy and he pulls his fingers out, swipes them over the head of his cock and uses that to slick me up. I donít care, I donít care, Iíll be fine, no problem. Now, now, is what Iím thinking, only Iíve said it out loud, because Joe lets out a bark of breathless laughter, and says, ďTake it easy, William, always in such a goddamn hurry.Ē

But he wants this too, wants to get inside of me. Pushes my legs up, makes room for himself between them, nudges the head of his cock inside me. Heís been watching me all along, and heís watching me now. I lift my chin, try to stare at him defiantly, even though my breath is shaking its way out of me, because it feels like weíve been fighting, like we've always been fighting. Sweat runs down into his eyes, as he braces himself on the bed, moves inside of me. All the way in, and even he has to close his eyes, because itís too much. Too much for either of us; itís never going to last.

Stop thinking, stop thinking, youíd think Iíd be drunk enough to stop thinking for once. But this does it to me, it centers me in my own skin and my brain wonít stop racing. Till he reaches up, grips my sweat-soaked hair with one hand, leans on his elbow and moves steadily inside me, head down, lost in this, lost in me.

ďFuck, fuck, Joe.Ē I move to meet him, as much as I can, and he groans low in his throat, clutches at me harder. My cock is aching and I need, I need... His hand is on me, moved down from my hair to grasp at my cock, perfect, just the right touch, angle, pressure, Christ, Christ. I force my eyes open, see him over me, watching me, his face blurred to my eyes. He twists his hips, slams into me at the same time he twists his hand around my cock, and itís a battle here. Iím sweating and soaked and so close, so fucking close, but I wonít do it, wonít give in. Heís shaking, holding on, glaring at me, heís losing it, and what I say is, ďJoe, Joe, címon, Joe.Ē Not mean, not baiting, but almost, almost asking, and he shuts his eyes, turns his head sharply to the side, but itís too late, his hips lose the rhythm and he slams into me, once, twice, holds it, and comes inside me.

His hand is skidding along my cock, and Iím gone too, lost in watching him, been this close to the goddamn edge all night. His calloused thumb swipes the top of my cock just right, and Iím twisting, arching, coming in long, hard spurts that coat my stomach. Itís pulsing in me, the aftershocks hitting me again and again, and I donít know how long it is, how long before I come back to myself. Heís still slumped over me, boneless, the closest he ever comes to holding me. Soft, heís slipped out of me, and Iím suddenly exhausted. Drunk and exhausted and this is never gonna be enough because - yeah, he rolls off of me, sits up with his back to me, and I am too tired, too old for this.

He fumbles for his cigarettes, gets one lit, takes a long drag. Looks back over his shoulder at me, his eyes narrow, and I could probably figure out what he's thinking, only I can't focus enough to even care. Here we are again, just like the old days. It never fucking changes. He tosses the cigarette pack over to me, and then his lighter lands with a soft thump beside it. I twist over onto my stomach, my head spinning, too drained to even reach for the cigarettes, though I could damn well use a smoke.

My fingers find the lighter instead, heavy cold metal in my hand, and I lie there flipping it over on the bed, again and again. Watching my hand moving against the lighter, instead of watching Joe. Come morning, we can push that edge a little further away. Right now weíre still too close. My brain feels dull, leaden. I watch the dim hotel light glint against the lighter as I flip it again. I can feel Joe's eyes on me; he's still watching me over his shoulder.

I hear him sigh, shift around on the bed. His hand is suddenly in my field of vision, holding his half-smoked cigarette, offering it to me. I let the lighter fall to the bed, let my hand slide up over his, take the butt from between his fingers. Shift over to my back and smoke Joeís cigarette, staring up at the ceiling with bleary eyes. I can hear him moving, slipping his jeans back on, turning off the light, so the glowing butt of the cigarette, close enough to almost burn my fingers, is the only light in the room. He pushes at the covers, gets into bed, a heavy weight at my side.

This is what we do. It should feel weird, after five years apart, but it's like when we were on stage, like afterwards with his arm slung around my shoulders. This is where we belong, this fucked-up, fucked-over place. Lucky to have a hotel room, lucky to have a bed, and of course we share it; what else would we do? It's cold in the room, and I roll over, sit up. Crush the stub of my cigarette out in the ashtray, feel around on the floor for my jeans. Because, yeah, fucking doesn't make us fags, but we can't curl up naked. Too many rules, too many lines. I'm tired and dizzy and I donít even know where the lines are.

Finally find my jeans, thrust myself into them, stumbling a little in the dark. "Get the fuck in bed, Billy," Joe says, already half-asleep. I stand there for a second, swaying, peering at him through the darkness. Joe rolls over in bed. "Billy," he mumbles again, and I scrub at my hair, and go to bed with Joe. Where the fuck else am I going to go? I tug on the blankets, pull them up over the both of us. Close my eyes to make the world stop spinning. Feel a wave ofÖwhat? Homesickness? For where? LA? I never belonged there. I am fucking home.


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