Curtis was so tired he nearly wrecked his car twice on the long drive from Colton High School. To be fair, the first wasn't strictly his fault. A couple of boys had taken it upon themselves to tie a cardboard box to a piece of twine and pull it across the road whenever a car came. He'd been distracted enough not to identify the box for what it truly was, and he'd slammed on his brakes and veered into the other lane. He'd just brushed his shaggy brown hair from his eyes and sighed.
Pranks. It was Halloween weekend, and the town was alive with pranks. Lucky for Curtis, the road leading from the high school was pretty deserted at ten on a Saturday evening. As the boys ran off laughing, he eased his foot off the brakes and made it almost all the way home before braking hard for a deer just before the driveway. It took him a long time to pry his freckled hands from the steering wheel after that. At least the box had spooked him enough to keep one foot on the brake. Otherwise, he might not have missed the deer.
He blamed Seth. The black-haired man with the dreamy, quiet voice was invading his every thought, showing up in the corners of his mind when he least expected it. He thought about Seth constantly, counting down the hours until his husband of two fantastic, perfect, rocky, angsty, comfortable years would come home. He was down to fifteen hours now, if the flight was on time.
Seth had been gone for almost two months, and Curtis was going mad. He had plenty to keep him occupied during daylight hours-- he was an underpaid, overworked high school teacher, after all--but when school was finished and drama practice was over and he wasn't keeping kids afterwards to work on their lines, supervising set construction, or grading English papers, he was desperately lonely.
He felt it the most acutely when he was in bed. It was too large, too empty, too cold without Seth. He'd taken to lying on Seth's side, just to feel more connected to the one great love of his life. He'd used Seth's pillows and Seth's pajamas. He hadn't even washed the dirty clothes Seth had left behind before he went on tour to play keyboard for some well-known rock band as they toured the west coast.
Seth had been contracted for the Wintering Ink's last two months of shows after the usual keyboardist died of an overdose. Sam, a friend from their college days, had been childhood friends with the drummer and had all but dragged Seth and Curtis from their new home in rural Iowa to the band's next venue in Seattle within twenty-four hours of a frantic call. Sam was a musician who knew classical players, and the band's piano parts had been complicated enough to need someone with fingers that knew how to move in just the right ways. After a few run-throughs with the sheet music and an hour with the studio-recorded track, Sam had pushed Seth in front of a keyboard and convinced him to play as the band's manager anxiously paced the aisles. Seth had played the first song perfectly, and had been unanimously welcomed to that evening's performance. The band had even made comments on how much they loved his scar, how his looks added character to the otherwise boring instrument.
Seth had tried to ignore that, and when the contract came, he read it to Curtis, signed it, and had been whisked away by the band's manager for a little styling overhaul. Curtis had to leave for Iowa-- he had classes to teach, after all-- before he could see the leather pants. For that, he was still upset.
So Seth had gotten used to draping his hair over his scars and hiding along the back of the stage, pounding out the fast-fingered, obnoxiously catchy melodies that melted into the guitar, bass, and drums. The audience could barely pick out the piano when the songs came together, but without Seth's speedy keywork, the whole thing sounded wrong.
Curtis thought that Seth could have been the star of his own tour, playing his own music in front of large crowds, but he hated to be the center of attention. He didn't want fans, didn't want the publicity. As a part of the ever-changing back-up section of the band, he could play on stage and not be a household name, not have his past dug up and smeared across tabloid headlines. The groupies left him alone, the press could have cared less, and he still got to stand in front of an audience and show the world his heart. After a month on tour, he'd guiltily admitted that it was the best therapy he'd ever had. Curtis could tell how much Seth loved it from the phone calls.
Seth had been petrified of playing, and it took a lot of smooth talking on Sam's part to get him on a stage just to play back-up. It had taken Curtis days to convince Seth that he was okay with whatever decision the smaller man made about his own future, even after the contract had been signed. Curtis was enjoying his position as English teacher and head of the high school drama department, despite his misgivings when taking the job two years before. He'd invested so much of his own time in the drama department since his hire, earning the high school a new reputation for a growing performing arts program. He couldn't have done it without Seth around to deliver pizza to the starving students when rehearsals ran late, to teach their orchestra pit the music, to bring Curtis graded papers he'd forgotten at home when his mind was so full during production weeks, and to give him the best shoulder and neck massages known to man when he got home. Seth had supported Curtis over the last few years. Curtis was doing his best to reciprocate. If Seth wanted to stay a back-up pianist for rock bands, Curtis would do what he could to support his lover. They would get by.
Curtis nearly collapsed when he finally made it through the door and into their too-empty, too-quiet house. It had been a long night at practice, since the students had been preoccupied with their Halloween plans. There were parties all over town tonight, and Curtis had been invited to more than a few. He'd refused. Without Seth, none would have been enjoyable. The liberal citizens loved to have the token gay teacher on display, showing their sensitivity to social justice issues and support for public education in one attractive-looking package. The more conservative citizens either ignored him completely or tried to pressure the school into kicking him out, but the school board either wasn't concerned by his sexual orientation or just couldn't find a replacement willing to teach three theater classes, four English classes, and run the entire drama program for just over thirty five thousand dollars a year.
He'd been invited to several student parties as well, but he'd just laughed and told them he was too old, too un-hip, and too busy. If they still hounded him, he'd informed them that if he showed up, he'd call the cops on any underage drinking. That had conveniently eliminated one set of invitations.
He was almost afraid of what kinds of parties they'd get invited to once Seth came back from his tour with Winterized Ink. Half the kids in his homeroom class were fans, and they'd been even more excited for Seth's new job than either half of the married couple.
The phone rang. It was too early for Seth. He hadn't even gone on stage yet. The caller ID informed him that an unidentified caller was on the other end. He answered, knowing who would be on the other end.
"Derek, Seth doesn't come home until tomorrow," he yawned. His husband's younger brother called often since the death of his mother, whether he knew Seth was home or not. He'd cancelled his cell phone plan the week after Mama Martha died in a car accident and had never left another phone number in case they needed to reach him, but he made a point to check in on a regular basis, and had repeatedly informed them that if there was an emergency, they could email him.
"I love you too, big brother." Derek's dark chuckle was the kind that crawled into every sexually active human's gut and sparked a fire, no matter who you were. Curtis sighed. His brother-in-law needed to learn to tone it down a little, or at least find a man to direct it at. He exuded sexuality, but Curtis had never heard of him speak of anyone in a remotely sexual way. Derek's single status bothered the hell out of Seth, but Curtis had decided to leave it alone. Derek's sex life was his own business, and Curtis suspected that his job was too demanding to make time for a relationship. The boy worked, but he never really said what he did.
The mature boy Curtis had met at eighteen had grown and changed into a complete enigma.
"What's up, mystery man?"
"Not much. I wanted to warn you to be prepared for anything tomorrow. Seth has been emailing me a lot lately, and he sounds pretty overloaded. I think he's slipping down the slope, if you know what I mean."
"He never gave me any hint things were going poorly." Curtis said, startled. Then he groaned. "Of course he wouldn't. He doesn't like it when I worry, and he knows I'd worry. God! I thought he was doing well! He kept talking about how the gig was working better than therapy."
"Don't freak, Curtis. It won't do you any good. Just keep an eye on him when he gets home. Pull it out of him. I've given him some ideas on how to take out his frustration, but be prepared for anything. And I do mean anything." Curtis could practically hear Derek's thick black eyebrows wiggling suggestively.
"I don't even want to know," Curtis said.
"Thanks for the heads up," he grumbled, but the dial tone was sounding before he finished the sentence. Derek was abrupt, on top of everything else, but he could always read his brother better than anyone else. It was one thing Curtis always felt just a tad jealous over. Even if Derek was on the other side of the world-- which apparently happened often for his mystery job-- he always knew if something was wrong. He always called when Seth was turning toward more extreme forms of pain again, was always conveniently around when Curtis needed the most support dealing with Seth's continual psychological issues. He was the best brother Seth could have possibly had, though Derek didn't seem to know how important he really was.
Curtis turned on the TV after Derek's warning, flipping channels without really paying attention to what was floating across the screen. He was worried, but not terribly worried. If Derek had thought it was really bad, he would have done more to warn Curtis. Curtis needed to hear Seth for himself, now. He was waiting for Seth's call, though it was going to be a late one. Seth was two timezones away and had one final concert to complete before the phone call that kept them both sane could happen. One last concert, one phone call, one plane ride, and he'd be home.
Tonight they would talk until they fell asleep, and then Seth would get on a plane the next morning and make his way back to the middle of Iowa, the middle of nowhere. Once he was home, Curtis wouldn't have to worry.
He couldn't wait. He could barely breathe with the knowledge that he'd get to see his pale, black-haired lover. He had tomorrow off. He'd worked hard to get all his papers graded, to finish all his lesson plans. He had everything lined up for play practice Monday night. Nothing needed to be done tomorrow. Nothing at all, except for one excruciating trip to the Des Moines international airport and an even longer trip back. The forty-five minute drive home with Seth in the car would be hell on both of them after two months apart.
Curtis blinked awake to the sound of whistles and applause. Seth had recorded the audience's reaction to Curtis's first high school production and set it as his personal ringtone. It had been cheesy, but very, very cute.
Seth was still embarrassed every time the phone rang. Curtis had refused to change it.
"Hey," Curtis croaked into the phone.
"Did I wake you?" Seth's sultry voice drifted into Curtis's brain and jolted him wide awake.
"Possibly. I think I missed most of Saturday Night Live. What time is it?"
"Midnight for me. Two for you. Want me to hang up?" The voice was too light, too cheerful to be typical Seth, though Curtis probably wouldn't have caught it if Derek hadn't warned him. Seth was overcompensating for something, and he needed to talk.
"No, no," Curtis yawned. "Tell me about your final show. You're in LA, right?"
That broke the dam, and Seth's chipper attitude crumbled into something a little more sincere.
"Yeah, though I'm starting to wish I wasn't. The show went pretty spectacularly, but the band members are pitching a fit. I never knew how bratty rock bands could be, you know? Andre didn't like how Travis sang, and Travis didn't like that Casey was drumming drunk, but instead of a normal argument, there were destroyed instruments, broken amps-- I think I still have plastic in my hair from when Travis slammed Andre's guitar into my keyboard. I got out of there as fast as I could after a little intimidation on my own behalf, though I think I can still hear the screams and yells coming from their hotel. I'm so glad to be done with the toddlers." He sounded exasperated, but not entirely upset.
"Shit, Seth, they broke your Roland?" Curtis was outraged. The RD-700nx had cost them a hefty sum.
"Yeah, Travis broke my favorite keyboard. He's not my biggest fan since he thinks I want in his pants-- all the girls do, why not the token gay guy, right?-- and I don't cater to his ego like the rest of the world. When screaming at him over the butcher of my instrument didn't work, I took off my shirt and offered to knife fight him. You should have seen his face." Seth broke down into giggles. It must have been a long night if he was willing to giggle. "Apparently Sam had left out the fact that I was a violent psychopath when he introduced me to the band."
Curtis laughed. If Seth could joke about things, he was doing all right. "Did you take some pictures of the carnage? We could probably sell them to the tabloids for enough money to buy you another keyboard."
"I didn't stick around that long," Seth replied in his most serious voice. "I had to get back to my hotel room so I could call the most attractive man I've ever had the chance to meet..." Seth sighed dramatically. "You should meet him. He's a prime specimen of manhood. He's got curly brown hair that looks like spun gold in the sunlight and giant honey-colored eyes that I just want to gaze into all day. He has these muscled arms that can pick me up and swing me around, and is the proud owner of the most delicious ass I've ever seen. And his freckles! I could spend hours licking every single freckle on his body, if he'd let me."
Curtis laughed. "He sounds fantastic, when can you introduce us?"
"Mmm, I'll see what I can do," Seth said impishly.
"Great. What do you want this prime specimen of manhood to do to you right now?" Curtis asked in as deep a voice as he could muster.
"I think I'd really like him to barge into my room and push me down onto the bed, chest down, ass in the air, before I can put up a proper struggle."
Curtis licked his lips and pushed himself up from the recliner. He needed to be in bed for this. Seth's personal fantasies were always a little hot and steamy, a little over the top, a mix of pleasure and pain that appealed to both of them. They were always enough to get Curtis horny as hell and desperate to sink his cock into Seth's beautiful ass and pound away until they both collapsed in a pile of cum and limbs. Seth had perfected the art of fantasy-telling in the last two months, and Curtis was already hard and aching.
One line, and it sounded like the start of a pain fantasy. Curtis slid into their bed and grabbed the lube and a paper towel. He might not like it when Seth drifted too far over the pain line, but dancing along the edge did it for the both of them.
"I want you to grab my wrists and pull my arms behind my back, hard enough to make me think my shoulders will pop out of their sockets. I want you to whisper exactly what you'll do to me in my ear before biting my neck. Leave marks, Curtis. Draw blood. Make sure the world knows I'm yours."
"I'll suck your neck until you bruise, Seth. I'll decorate your creamy skin with teeth marks." Curtis could imagine his husband's neck covered in red and purple blotches.
"Then I want you to make me kneel. Keep me from struggling, overpower me, let me feel how strong you are..." Seth's voice had dropped into a whisper. Curtis groaned. Seth loved to be restrained, but only with hands. He'd had enough bad experiences with ropes to last five lifetimes, so Curtis's hands acted as the ropes. His hands were strong, loving, and safe. His grip could loosen immediately if Seth began to panic, and even after eight years of healing and therapy, Seth could still panic. Little things would trigger memories. Sights, sounds, impressions could initiate flashbacks to Seth's personal hell.
"I'll hold you as tightly as you need me to," Curtis rasped.
"Hold me down, Curtis, hold me down and spank my ass. I want to feel the sting. Tease me until I beg for you to enter me, to push your way to the hilt, to fuck me. Make me scream and cry for more of your touch."
Curtis was stroking himself firmly, keeping pace with Seth's voice.
"I can't wait," Curtis gasped. "I'll wait until you start to barter and see what kind of deal I can get. A private concert. Your firstborn son. Perhaps I'll wait until you agree to top me again."
They both moaned at that.
"When my voice is hoarse from all the yelling, make me suck your finger. Tell me how you'll breach me using my own spit as lubrication. Give me--" Seth broke off, and Curtis could hear loud pounding on the other end of the phone line. "Motherfucking bastards," Seth hissed. "I am so fucking sick of this shit."
"What is it?" he asked, pulling his hand away from his blood-darkened shaft.
"Hang on, let me check." Seth's voice was seriously annoyed, and Curtis pitied whoever was on the other side of that door. The man could make the most hardened bastard feel guilty when he was pissed off.
Curtis caught words like 'club' and 'fight' before Seth's long-suffering sigh signaled his return.
"Apparently, two of the band members continued to be seriously pissed at each other and came to blows in the middle of some nightclub. Both are now threatening to quit. The manager wants to know if I can try to talk some sense into Andre tonight before I head out. Lord only knows why I'm the one asked..." Seth growled.
"Do what you feel you need to, but make sure they pay you extra for the hassle. And for your keyboard." Curtis dropped his hand to his side in defeat.
"I'll make it up to you when I get back," Seth promised.
"Oh really?" Curtis asked sardonically. "How do you plan to do that?"
"I'll think of something. In fact, I know just the thing." Seth gave a self-deprecating laugh. "I'll have a hard-on the entire flight home, planning this."
"Uh-oh, you aren't taking any of Derek's advice, are you?
"I might be, and I know you'll like it," Seth teased.
"Good," Curtis said, smiling to himself. "Make sure whatever handsome men you get sandwiched between on the airplane know exactly how taken you are when they start to eye that erection."
Seth was still laughing when they hung up. It was a beautiful sound, one that Curtis was thrilled to hear. It had taken a long time for Seth to learn to laugh again, and Curtis had noticed a distinct lack of laughter in their phone conversations lately. Perhaps that was what had bothered Derek so much.
Not good. He'd have to fix that, just like he now had to fix his damned erection. He gave up on a long, drawn out masturbatory session with Seth and hauled himself to the bathroom for relief. Tomorrow, he'd take care of them both properly. For now, a quick jack would have to do.