Nobody's Side

by brooklinegirl



This story was written with love and stalking admiration for the wonderful sister_wolf's birthday. Which was. Yeah. A while ago. I'm a little slow, but I get there eventually! Happy Birthday, dear Alex!

I owe a huge number of people thanks for this one: SnowFlake, for beta'ing this for me so damn fast, for telling me what worked and, more importantly, what didn't work, for nudging me on how to fix the problems, and really for just rocking my world. Estrella for reading fifteen rewrites of Billy's damn orgasm, and for listening to me whine about it daily. Lynnmonster for answering my cries of desperation and looking at this in its first incarnation, and telling me to make a decision about how mad I wanted Billy to actually be. And to Heuradys for taking the time to read this over for me and telling me that, no, really, it doesn't suck.

And a special mention to the loverly Dira, whose lyrical associations gave me my title!

A veritable team of beta-readers, and I heart them all.

Summary: Takes place back in the day, when Hard Core Logo was just starting.

I see my present partner
In the imperfect tense
And I don't see how we can last.

- "Nobody's Side," Chess

"You're being an asshole, Joe." Billy watches Joe through narrowed eyes and lights another cigarette. "Not that that's much different from usual," he mutters to himself, taking a pull from his beer.

Across the room, Joe's pacing like a caged animal, the set of his shoulders and the beat of his boots on the floor making Billy think he should maybe be careful here. Thing is, Billy's tired of being careful. Joe's so wound up in himself, he doesn't care about another goddamn thing in the world. But arguing with him never particularly accomplishes anything anyway; Joe never listens to a damn thing he says.

"Yeah, well, it was bullshit, okay? You know it, and I know it," Joe says, pulling another cigarette out of the pack, even though he already has one burning in the ashtray. He looks at Billy for a long second, his eyes unreadable, then wheels around and throws the empty bottle across the room. Billy winces at the crash it makes, then shrugs; at least Joe has managed to get it through the doorway. It smashed on the kitchen wall this time and didn't come close to the ratty couch Billy is sprawled on.

"Look at you, all dressed up for that stupid-ass fucking meeting." Joe gestures at him with his cigarette, sneering.

Billy glances down at himself. He's been home for over an hour now. The jacket and tie are long gone, and the first few buttons on his dress shirt are open. His good pants (you can't see the worn spots, or the small tear in the knee, unless you look close) are rumpled, and he's barefoot. This is what Joe calls "dressed up."

Well. He looks over at Joe, who's dressed per usual: worn black jeans and heavy, scuffed boots, a ragged gray sweater that's stained and has more than one cigarette burn. Everything's relative. Billy just shakes his head. Joe's just looking for trouble. "Maybe it was bullshit, but you're still an asshole."

In the doorway to the kitchen, Joe has his head tilted back as he chugs his way through his current beer. He lowers the bottle and swipes at his mouth with his sleeve, then gives Billy a wicked smile. Fuck, Billy thinks, quickly finishing his beer. He's going to need to be much more drunk than this to deal with Joe tonight, if this is the kind of mood Joe's in.

"I don't fucking like it, Billy."

"You set up the appointment, Joe."

"Doesn’t mean I have to like it." Joe takes a long drag off his cigarette.

"Doesn't mean you have to go, apparently, either."

Joe shrugs. "The guy was an asshole."

"Then why the fuck did you arrange for us to see him?"

"I don't fucking know. Seemed like a good idea at the time." Joe looks at Billy's empty beer and goes back to the kitchen, the glass on the floor crunching under his boots. "Changed my mind," he calls back. Moments later he's pressing a beer into Billy's hand. "Drink up, Billy-boy," he says. "We're celebrating tonight."

Billy twists off the cap, flicks it at Joe. Joe just raises an eyebrow and grins some more as he throws himself down beside Billy on the couch. "What are we celebrating, Joe?" Billy asks dryly.

"Freedom, William," Joe taps his bottle against Billy's.

"Nothing left to lose, Joseph," Billy says, matching Joe's tone.

"At least we won't be controlled by some corporate fuck."

"That's fucking great, Joe." Billy taps out another cigarette from the pack and lights it before noticing that his is still burning in the ashtray as well. Fuck.

He thinks about how the rep from MCA had heard of them. Knew about the band. Knew about him, about his guitar. Told him quite frankly that he could get gig work in a second, could get gig work in America in a second, and that he should think about the fact that staying with Hard Core Logo might actually be holding him back.

Billy had considered it, then slowly blown smoke in the guy's face, and asked, politely, "Are we done here?" Then he got up, shook the guy's hand, gave him a broad smile and left. Abruptly. Guitar in hand. His tie was off before he hit the street.

And now here he is with Joe, and fuck it, just fuck it all. Hard Core Logo is going forward, that's for sure, and he could get gig work, but he'd be a fucking ghost if he left Joe. There'd be nothing left of him but a guy with a guitar, and that just isn't good enough.

"What are you thinking about?" Joe's voice sounds slower, thicker. Billy glances over. Joe's traded off his cigarette for something stronger. He takes a pull on the joint as he watches Billy. You, Billy thinks. Us. It never fucking changes.

"I'm not." Billy holds out his hand, and Joe passes him the joint. Billy holds the smoke till his lungs burn before letting it out slowly, watching the smoke drift up. "Not thinking about a damn thing."

"Liar," Joe says comfortably, lifting the joint out of Billy's hand.

Cocky fuck. Billy tips his head on the back of the couch to look over at Joe.

"You're always thinking," Joe says tonelessly

Joe rides that edge of anger and gentleness like no one else and times like this, Billy never has a clue as to which way he'll go. Billy knows him better than anyone, but Joe knows Billy better than Billy knows himself. Makes it real easy for Joe to play his fucking games right up to the last minute.

Billy thinks sometimes that it should be easy to leave. The offer today wasn't the first of its kind. He's never even come close to going, though. Him and Joe - it's fucked up and it's messy and it's who he is. No changing that - and he can't walk away from Joe; it would be like walking away from himself.

Billy reaches for the joint again, but there's a flicker in Joe's eyes and instead of handing it to him, Joe's leaning in, pressing his mouth against Billy's and blowing the smoke in. Billy inhales automatically, dizzy suddenly. Oh. It's going to be that kind of night.

Joe pulls away a little, and watches Billy with eyes that are way too focused for Billy's taste. Joe, alert like this, is dangerous. Makes Billy want to push him off-balance before things are too far gone. Billy blows the smoke back in Joe's face, and Joe barks out a harsh laugh before winding his hand in Billy's hair and yanking him close to kiss him. Billy, beating Joe to the punch, slips his tongue between Joe's lips the second he can. He's rewarded by Joe groaning deep in his throat and kissing him harder, harsher. The taste of smoke, sweat, and Joe hits him like nothing else, makes him really fucking hard, really fucking fast.

Before he can think, he shifts, swinging a leg over Joe. Joe's hands are immediately, firmly on his hips, hoisting him over, holding him in place. Joe shifts beneath Billy, lifts up, slanting his hips. Billy hisses as Joe presses against his erection. It feels so fucking good like this. The two of them. A little bit drunk, a little bit stoned, a lot messed up. This is what they know, and fuck it, Billy thinks - sometimes it's just good this way.

Joe pinches out the joint and leans to toss it on the table, pressing up and forward as he does so. Billy gasps before he can control it. Joe's grin is wide - nasty - as he puts his hand on the back of Billy's neck, holding him there, kissing him hard.

Billy is so fucking dizzy, with the smoke, the taste. His heart is beating fast and he thinks part of it is that he isn't always sure with Joe. That even now, with Joe's tongue in his mouth, it feels like they're balanced here, that it could still go either way. Kissing Joe feels like fighting, sometimes.

He's so caught up in the fierce kiss that he doesn't even realize that Joe's twisting them over till he lands with a harsh thump on his back on the wide couch.

He blinks up at Joe, licks his lips where they still taste like him. Joe runs his fingers down Billy's chest, then yanks the shirt the rest of the way open. Billy hears the buttons go skittering across the floor. He wonders if Joe does stuff like this on purpose, fucks up every damn thing that can possibly lead to success. He shakes his head; of course Joe does it on purpose.

Now, though - Joe pinches Billy's nipple roughly, and Billy doesn't gasp, just sucks his breath in slow. Joe's eyes glint. "You playing with me, here, Billy?" he says mockingly. He runs his hand down Billy's stomach (hot, his hands always feel so hot against Billy's skin) right down to his crotch. He cups Billy's cock through his nice dress pants, and Billy's hips jerk up without volition.

"Fuck, Joe." Billy somehow manages to sound almost angry instead of almost asking.

Joe, half-sprawled over him on the wide couch, grins. Billy bites his lip hard, and forces his hips to stay still. "Come on now, Billy," Joe says, looking amused. "Give it up - it's just you and me."

Just you and me. Billy lies there, breathing fast, Joe's hand pressed snug against his hard-on through his pants. Even with just the two of them, when it should be easy, Billy can't help putting up a fight. And with Joe, it's all about reaction. Billy needs to just hold on here, can't let Joe know what nights like this do to him.

Joe strokes Billy's hard-on again, and Billy holds himself very still. Joe raises an eyebrow, thoughtful, then slides open the button on Billy's pants smoothly and draws the zipper down slow. Billy's heart is pounding in his ears, and it occurs to him that Joe's giving him plenty of opportunity to put a stop to this. He takes a breath, but then Joe's hand is on him, feeling even hotter now, skin against skin. Billy's cock twitches hard, and he moans. Joe's winning. Joe seems to always end up winning.

Joe's grin gets wider and his hand strokes Billy's cock. Billy's hips move, jerk up again and Joe shifts on the couch next to him. Billy can feel his erection pressing against his hip, but Joe's paying no attention to it, is intent only on jerking Billy off slow. His thumb is rough against the head of Billy's cock, and Billy can't stop moving up into the circle of Joe's hand.

"Joe," he grates out, sounding harsh, sounding like it hurts to say. Fuck. Fuck. He has to get control here, but it's not possible, not even close to possible. He's panting for breath and sweating, the white dress shirt that lies open beneath him sticking to his back. Joe does this to him, gets him like this, has him wide open and begging for more no matter how hard he tries not to. There's no way to hide it, not when he's thrusting up hard into Joe's hand, not when his cock is leaking like crazy, leaving a fucking puddle on his stomach.

Joe's smile is gone now, his eyes intent as he moves his hand on Billy's cock. "Come on, Billiam," he orders. "Come on."

Billy tries to breathe - if he could just fucking breathe - but Joe has a rhythm going now. Billy's doing most of the work, since he can't seem to stop his hips from moving up, and up, but every few strokes, Joe swoops his thumb over the top of Billy's cock, and Billy's gasps end in a moan every single damn time he does that.

Billy's holding on - just barely holding on - until Joe leans closer and licks hotly at the crook of his neck, that perfect fucking spot that seems to have a direct connection to his cock, making it jerk in Joe's hand. Billy groans, caught up in the heat of Joe's mouth, and Joe sucks hard, digging his teeth into the skin. Fuck, oh fuck - Billy gasps Joe's name and loses his rhythm, his hips thrusting unevenly to meet Joe's hot hand, slick with sweat. Close, so fucking close...

Joe pulls his mouth and his hand away at the same time, and Billy groans before he can stop himself. Joe's got Billy there, right on the goddamn edge, the air cool on the wetness he's left on Billy's neck. Billy's hands are clenched in Joe's sweater, and he sucks in a lungful of air, arching up under Joe. Frantic noises are coming out of his throat, and he thinks he's going to stroke out if Joe doesn't finish this now.

Joe, his body taut against him, breathes hot into his ear. "What do you want, Billy?" His voice is rough and demanding.

Billy's mouth opens wordlessly, as he struggles against Joe, fucking desperate. He manages to take a breath, grates out, "Joe. God. I…" Then all he can do is gasp, because whatever he managed to say was somehow enough. Joe presses his mouth to the crook of Billy's neck again and bites down, perfect spot, perfect angle, Christ, Christ. Billy moans (hard and harsh and loud), finally, finally coming, arcs of it spurting over his stomach.

Billy slumps back on the couch, every muscle in his body limp, still breathing in shaky gasps. Jesus. Joe does this: leaves him feeling ragged and half-destroyed every damn time. Billy struggles to open his eyes as Joe pushes himself up over Billy, straddling his thighs. He's opening his jeans, tugging his cock out, and his expression is almost grim.

Joe's eyes are dark, out of focus, and he's breathing heavy as he swipes the come off of Billy's stomach - making Billy shudder again - and strokes himself with it. He's been holding back, but now he's close, Billy can see it in the set of his lips, the urgent movements of his hand on himself. It's so fucked up, this familiar, desperate need that drives them to do this. Different from the one that keeps them from talking about it, from acknowledging out loud what neither of them really understand.

It feels necessary, somehow, important, for Joe to look at him. Billy reaches up, grips Joe's shoulder, hard. Joe's eyes go wide, the rhythm of his hand on his cock faltering. Putting his hand over Joe's, Billy moves it steadily, making Joe stroke himself harder, faster. Joe groans and twists his head away as he comes, shuddering, onto Billy.

Joe sags on top of him, and Billy has to force himself to release the hold he has on Joe's shoulders, his hands aching from how hard he's been clutching. He feels half-wired, half like he could just pass out right now. He lies there for a few seconds, feeling the springs of the couch dig into his back, before shoving at Joe's dead weight and twisting out from underneath him. He stumbles to his feet, using the trailing tail of his shirt to mop off his stomach. Sitting back down on the edge of the couch, he reaches for his cigarettes. It takes him three tries to get one lit. He takes a long pull and lets the smoke out slow, rubbing at his eyes with the heels of his hands. God. Damn. He'd been right: he wasn't nearly drunk enough to handle this.

"You're fucking doing it again," Joe says. His voice is lazy.

Billy looks over his shoulder to where Joe's now propped on his side. Joe's sweater has a few new stains now.

"You think too goddamn much, Mr. Tallent." Joe gestures for the cigarettes and Billy tosses him the pack.

"Makes up for you not thinking at all, Joe." Billy tries to match Joe's tone, but it just comes out tired.

"Shut the fuck up," Joe says automatically, reaching past Billy to snag the lighter from the table. He lights his cigarette, takes a drag, and exhales the smoke loudly. "It doesn't matter. It's nothing."

Billy keeps his face still.

"We don't need MC-fucking-A," Joe continues. "We got plenty of gigs, we got plenty of press, we don't fucking need anyone fucking around with the band. We do fine by ourselves."

Billy takes a breath. "Yeah," he says. He gets up to go get another beer before remembering the broken glass in the kitchen. He sighs, bats Joe's feet out of the way, and sits back on the couch with a sigh, taking another drag on his cigarette.

Joe nudges him with his feet. "It doesn't matter, Billy."

"Yeah, Joe. I know." This whole thing would be easier if he wasn't so fucking tired. "We're good. Hard Core Logo is going places."

"You'd better fucking believe it." Joe sounds tired himself, and he stares at the ceiling, holding his cigarette without smoking it.

Yeah. Billy crushes his cigarette in the overfilled ashtray and sits back, joining Joe in his ceiling-watching. He'd better believe it. Had to believe it, because he fucking needs this. Needs the band in general and Joe in particular. Billy lets his eyes slide shut, tired, finally, of thinking. Like Joe says, he does it too damn much. Right now, he's just gotta have some fucking faith that they'll get where they need to be.


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