Disclaimer: And the punk rock response is... We don't fuckin own 'em, so back the fuck off!

Warnings and explanations: NC17 for m/m sex. Set in the old days, Joe and Billy are 20 years old in this one.

Thanks and love to Kat and Amy, not only for their awesome beta capabilities, but for being incredible women of substance, intellect and wit.

Song title and lyrics borrowed without permission from Iggy Pop, and song lyrics borrowed without permission from Jimi Hendrix.


Beside You
Zen&nancy


I took too many pills, and now I can't go to sleep. Codeine always gives me nightmares if I fall asleep high, bad ones, so I end up playing the waiting to come down game until dawn. I'm too out of it to write, even if could reach the light, which is on Bill's side of the bed, and my mind is starting to drift around, getting on all these dark, twisted highways I really don't want to drive. The room is totally dark, and there's nothing to do but stare straight up into blackness, and think about the song we were working on before Billy crashed out on me. He's sleeping soundly next to me, the barely audible sound of his breath the only way I'm sure he's still here, because I can't see him in the darkness. I'm starting to freak out, but it's nothing new. I end up here a lot.

Even without being all fucked up on downers, I hate being awake when he's sleeping. There's nothing to do, and I have to fight myself to keep from fucking it all up and touching him; rolling my body up against his and feeling him touching me, solid and warm. It's such a fucking temptation, when he's lying right next to me. We share the same bed, been sleeping on this mattress together for almost two years, but that doesn't mean shit. It just means that we have to live together because most of the song writing work gets done late at night, when we're ready to crash, and because we couldn't afford two separate rooms, even if we wanted them. He moved into my rented room when his parents kicked him out, day after he turned 18, and so far it hasn't occurred to either of us to get a second bed in here.

"Wake up, Bill." I nudge him, only giving him a half-hearted jab with my elbow. If I just make a lot of noise to wake him up, he'll get all pissy. Then we'll have a fight that'll last long after the pills are out of my system. Billy holds grudges for months. He's always been like that. I don't know why he'd rather me shove him or shake him, but for some reason, loud noise is not what Bill likes to wake up to, not even music.

"Why? No." He grunts at me, not moving.

"Because. Please, Bill?" I go all soft and urgent on him, which works, sometimes. If I can convince him that I really need him, he'll wake up, but he'll give me shit for it tomorrow, in front of John and Pipe.

"Whassa matter? You sick?" He's barely awake.

"Yeah." It's not really a lie. My stomach's all fucked up from taking a dozen codeine in a six hour period, and I itch all over, which is sorta like sick, in a way.

"What's wrong?" He asks again, kicking a leg out this time. The leg kicks the covers off, and pretty soon his arm is dropping off the mattress to grope for the lamp that sits on the floor next to the bed. He doesn't turn it on, waiting for me to speak before committing himself to awakeness.

"I can't sleep."

"Fuck. Fuck you." He pulls his arm back up without turning on the light.

"No, really. I need you to fuckin' talk to me, or I'm gonna go out of my fucking mind." I'm glad he didn't turn the light on. It's a lot easier to say this in the dark.

"So what?"

"So wake up."

He makes a long groaning sound that's mostly A's and R's, and then gropes at the side of the bed for his cigarettes. "Say please again."

I laugh, giving in because it means I win, and I don't have to lie here alone staring at the ceiling all night. "Please again."

"What time is it?"

"I don't fuckin' know. You're the one with a watch."

The alarm clock broke last month, and we haven't had the dough to get a new one. I keep meaning to stop at the secondhand store and pick something up to last until we can get a new one, but Billy hates going in to the those places. He says that all those dragged out women with their broods of dirty kids depresses the fuck out of him, but I know what that's really about-- Billy's afraid of poverty. It scares him, it's creepy to him, he doesn't want to let it touch him. Doesn't bother me, I'm used to it, but Billy and I are from two very different worlds, class-wise, and sometimes I still have to remind myself of that.

He's crawled to the end of the bed to reach his jeans on the floor, and comes up with his watch, pressing the button to make the face glow blue. "It's four o'clock in the fuckin' morning. You haven't been to sleep yet?"

"Uh-uh."

"Why not?" His tone of voice is more than suspicious, it's telling me that he already knows the answer.

"Took too many pills."

"Well that was fuckin' smart. How come you never know when to stop?" He's lighting a smoke, and I don't even have to say "gimme one", he just does it out of habit.

"I do, it's just my enough is more than everybody else's."

I take a drag off the cigarette and prop my pillow up against the cracking plaster wall. Billy grabs the giant green ashtray from the floor on his side of the bed, settling back against the wall beside me, with the ashtray between us. He won't let it go, has to go right back into lecturing me. What I want to know is, what's the point of telling somebody not to use drugs when they're already high?

"You're blowin' too much money on pills and coke, we can't fuckin' afford this habit you're building." I watch the smoke come out of his mouth in puffs; he exhales while he talks.

"It's my fuckin' money. Besides, I didn't see you complaining Sunday night. Oh wait, that's right, you were so fucked up that drooling was a challenge."

"Fuck you." His voice is loud in the dark room. He takes a long pull on his smoke, and then, a lot quieter, he says, "You know what I mean."

And I do. He means he's worried about me, which is cool, but he won't come right out and say it, which is cooler.

"I can handle it, William." I give him the granny voice, and a poke in the ribs that's as close to saying "thanks" as I'm gonna give him. He knows what it means.

"I don't have to go through all the bullshit, and point out that that's exactly what everybody says before they go teetering over the edge of addiction, do I?"

"Fuck no. What, you think I'm an idiot?"

He laughs, softly, pulling hard on his cigarette. I watch the cherry getting longer and brighter, a solid line of orange in the dark.

"Nope."

"See, so get over it. Just talk to me."

And like a magic trick, like I got the words right, abracadabra, he does. He starts rambling, low and steady around his cigarette, telling me about everything we have to do this week, before the show on Friday night, and how many times the new song got played on college radio last week, and this chick all the way in fuckin' Slave Lake that did a Zine about us and sent him a copy, along with this picture he wants me to see, from way back when we were still in fuckin' high school.

I can listen to him go on like this for hours, in that monotone, undertone thing of his. It's his road voice, the one that keeps me semi-alert for two hundred mile drives in the van. The sound floats right through me, soothes all the weird stuff down and gives me something to focus on. He pauses, and his hand reaches out and grabs my arm, stopping the compulsive scratching I was doing without even being aware of it. When he runs his fingers down the welts I made, I realize I've been scratching my arm the whole time he's been talking to me.

"Freak."

"It's the fucking codeine, I don't even know why I do the shit. It sucks, it's not even worth it, but I got like fifty of them, for almost nothing, so I just keep taking them."

"Why'd you buy it?" He mumbles, finally breaking down and lighting the joint that I've been waiting for him to pull out since he started talking. It's the last of our pot, and I was wondering if he'd be a bitch about it and act like he forgot about it until tomorrow morning.

"Because he didn't have any vicodine."

"I'll take asinine rationalizations for two hundred, Alex."

"And I'll take that joint, asshole."

He laughs at me, and I get to see him for brief flash when he flicks the lighter. His face is all scrunched up, lighting the joint; his whole face goes forward toward the joint in his mouth, making wrinkles so he looks like an old man. His eyes are squinted shut against the proximity of the flame... I always dug that about Bill, that he's only twenty years old, but sometimes he can look like he's fifty. I've been watching him make the lighting a joint face since we were twelve, but it's an even better look now that he's got whiskers.

He mumbles around the joint while he's taking his first hit, twisting it in his mouth to make sure it burns evenly. "Quit starin'. You need to put me under a microscope, or what?"

"You love it."

He passes me the joint, holding on to it after I cover his fingers to make sure I've got it in the dark.

"Conceited much?"

I say it again, trying to make him laugh. "You love it."

It works, he blows out his second hit laughing, a fine spray of spit landing across my hand when I reach to take the joint back.

He doesn't say anything for while, and we pass the joint back and forth, the smoke hanging in a thick cloud over the bed. We smoke it down to nothing, not even a roach. That's one really good thing about having thick callouses from playing guitar all day and all night, you never burn your fingers no matter how small the joint gets. He puts the ashtray back on the floor, and the shifting of the mattress completely fucks with my balance, even though I'm basically lying down. I was hoping the joint would drown out the nastiness of the codeine, but it doesn't.

For the second time, his hand reaches out and grabs mine, stopping me from scratching. I've got a low-frequency shake going, like I'm trembling on the inside, all the little nerve endings wigging out individually, doing their own little slam dance on my muscles. I can tell he can feel it, because he doesn't let go, his thumb and forefinger are wrapped tightly around my wrist.

"You're on downers, why the hell aren't you asleep? It's four-thirty in the fucking morning. You're acting more like you're on coke."

"No, it's the pills." I have to force myself to unlock my jaw, waiting for him to let go of my wrist and not really wanting him to at the same time. "Cheap drugs, cheap high. They don't kick in till I take like six of them and then after a while I'm jumpy as hell. I could fall asleep, I just don't I want to, because then I'll have these fucked up nightmares."

He cuts me off before I'm done talking, his voice rough and dry. "Yeah, I could do without another black eye, thank you very much."

He sighs, and lets go of my wrist, his fingernails skimming up and down my arm, over the scratches. Last time I passed out really fucked up on these pills the dreams were so intense that I was actually swinging punches in my sleep, and landed one in Bill's face. That must have been a hell of a way to wake up.

It was only a couple of weeks ago, and I remember thinking it was funny that no one asked him where he got the blackeye, they all just assumed I'd punched him, which I had, but it was nothing like everyone thought. If it hadn't been for his blackeye, I wouldn't have been sure it had happened at all. After he woke up enough to realize what was happening, and got over the initial shock of being punched in the face, he really surprised the shit out of me. He was so fucking cool about it. Instead of hitting me back, he just grabbed my arms and talked to me. Kept saying my name until I was finally sure that this time, I really was awake. I remember that I kept trying to wake up, kept fighting my way up towards awake over and over again, and as soon as I was sure I was out of sleep, in the safe dark room, wham, the floor would fall out and I'd be back in the dream after all. That was the first thing I said to him, asked him if I was really awake this time, if I did it.

He put his hands on my face and pulled my forehead into his, so that I could see right into his eyes, even in the dark. "Yeah, you did it, you're okay." He wrapped his arms around me and rubbed my back, and talked in my ear for a few minutes. "What, you were fuckin' time traveling on me again? I keep tellin' you that shit is dangerous. Trust you to fuckin' time travel into trouble. Can't go to fuckin' Hawaii, lie out in the sun?"

He just kept talking about time travel, half telling me stories and half giving me shit, so I knew it really was real and not some other, entirely different dream. His voice was softer than he's ever talked to me, a whole new Billy voice. Afterwards, days later when we had already established the fact that we were never going to talk about it, I realized that I must have scared him. Knowing that he gives a shit is so important that it makes the nightmare worth it, but it freaked him the fuck out, and I don't want it to happen again, even if I did fall asleep with his arm curled around me that night.

Billy's soft laugh pulls me out of the memory, his fingertips still grazing up and down my arm, which is the only thing that will keep me from scratching myself bloody. "So what do you want me to do, you fuckin' baby? Sing you a lullaby?" He says it playful, not mean, quiet enough that I can pretend not to hear.

I shake my head, my eyes wide open in the dark. "Like you would."

"Might."

"Wouldn't." I laugh, turning my arm up so that his fingers scrape over the underside. He hesitates for just a second, and then starts again, even lighter.

"Angel came down from heaven yesterday, maybe just long enough to rescue me." He's breathing the words more than singing them. I can't see him, but his breath is warm on my face, and his lips have to be close.

"And she told me a story, yesterday, about the sweet love between a woman and the deep blue sea. And then she spread her wings high over me, and said, she's gonna come back tomorrow..."

His voice fades off and I have to stop myself from asking him what kind of fag lullaby is that? But I don't want to, I don't want to break the silence right now, because it feels different, important, charged with something. I wait for what feels like a long time, and finally, he says something.

"That's Jimi Hendrix, like you give a shit. Now go to fuckin' sleep." But he doesn't move away and he doesn't stop stroking my arm with his fingertips, up and down, the rough callouses giving me goosebumps.

Even though we haven't said a word about that night, when he fucking held me, and chased away my fucking nightmares, we both know it happened, and we both know what it means. It feels the same way tonight, like it's out of time, and that whatever happens, neither of us will ever say a fucking word about it. That's why I can say what I do.

"You wanna know what will make me go to sleep?" I think I can hear him swallow, like his throat's suddenly gone dry. I know this can't be a surprise for him, that he already knows what I'm going to say.

"If you took your hand off my arm and put it on my dick."

He doesn't do it right away, but his hand twitches on my arm right when I say it, and that sends a shiver straight to my dick, as if those light, constant touches were going up and down on me. "That's it?" He whispers, a daring, challenging kind of question in as few words as he can make it. He doesn't want to talk about this, which is cool.

I think about it, if I could actually fall asleep if he just held my dick, and didn't jack me off or anything. I think I could. I bet I wouldn't have nightmares, either. In fact, I know I could, because all I really want from him is to solidify the connection, seal the pact, in whatever way works for him, for the unstoppable fucking force that is "us".  I know I always want to take it one step further, but so far, he's always followed.

"Yeah."

He does it, but he can't keep his fingers still. He keeps moving them, like he did on my arm, so light I can barely feel it. I'm pretty fucking determined not to give in, so I just clench my teeth and let the almost aggravating pleasure of the barely felt touch build and build, sure that when I start leaking precum on his fingers he'll stop, but he doesn't. I realize my breathing has gotten loud, and I open my eyes, squinting into the dark until I can make out the shape of his features, and I see that he's smiling.

I'm so surprised that he's touching me, not actually jacking me off but touching my cock none the less, and smiling, that I lose the tight lock I had on my mouth and let out a humming sound that gets louder and deeper until it's a groan that could wake the dead.

"Shh. Freak." He laughs, quiet and real close to my ear. When I lean forward just a little my chin bumps his shoulder. "Thought you were gonna go to sleep?" His hand wraps around me, holding me in a gentle, unmoving fist.

"I am asleep." I tell him, and then I drop my head onto his shoulder and start gnawing on him with my teeth, until he lets out a groan of his own. We both move at the same time, shifting towards each other, rolling onto our sides. Our knees bump a couple of times, until we both straighten our legs out and let our bodies touch. He's breathing in my ear and I'm sucking on his shoulder again, rubbing my teeth back and forth on the wet skin, but his hand stays perfectly still and I don't try to move into it, liking it enough that if he just wants to hold me I think that'll be okay.

It takes me awhile to realize that the warmth that's hard against my stomach is his cock, and then when I do, I feel stupid for not knowing right away, so I don't say anything. It feels different than I thought it would, a cock touching me.

I start to think about it a little too much, concentrating on feeling his cock on my skin, instead of his hand on my dick, and my stomach flips and I wonder what the fuck we're doing, because one thing I know for sure is that me and Billy are not a couple of fucking fags. I start to freak out, but then I realize that it's okay, not a problem, because it's Billy, and this is just between us, it's never going to go anywhere else, and we'll probably never even talk about it, and it's not really about sex, it's just about us. Which somehow makes his hand feel even better at that moment, and right before I'm about to lose it and start thrusting into his touch, he moves for me, against me, his hand and his cock both shifting in the same motion. His rhythm feels familiar, which doesn't surprise me, even though he's never touched me before. Thinking about how this is exactly how he jacks himself off gets me even more excited, because it fits me better than my own fucking heart beat.

I've always wanted more of Billy, craved more, but I never really got into details in my head. This is more, no fuckin' doubt about it when I feel him shift his body, and his cock slides perfectly against the crook of my hip, like it was made to go there, which it probably was. Of course, he never loses his rhythm, never falters the beat of his hand stroking up and down my dick. I let my free arm slide up his chest, and up around the back of his neck, burying my fingers in his hair.

I'm lost in the smell of us, the constant, singular wave of motion that we've become, and the way we sound; his husky moans harmonizing with the growls and grunts I can't seem to control. I'm not even me anymore. There is no me, or him, just us, this completely connected, totally fused entity... as one, the way it should be.

That's when I feel like the top of my head has been blown off, and I'm shooting come all over his hand, his stomach, my stomach, and possibly parts of the fucking Yukon. It doesn't even feel like I have a body anymore, I'm just nerve endings and pleasure receptors, exploding all over the fucking world.

Before I can get a breath, his hand is gone and he's pulling me against him, curling his arm around my back, his leg around my waist, so we're plastered against each other. I pull my hand from his hair and wrap my arm just as tightly around his bony back, not wanting to lose the balance, not wanting to be me instead of us. He's humping his dick against my stomach, sliding through the come I splattered us with, and my hand slides down into the arch of his back. His spine curves as he pulls back, his ass sticking out for a second before he grinds forward again. I'm so aware of him, feel so much a part of him, that I swear I can feel each vertebra moving individually. His skin is slick with sweat, and on the next roll of his hips, my hand slides down, my palm fitting perfectly against his flat, hard ass cheek.

He jerks his hips back, into my hand. I let my fingers dig into him, pushing him forward again, and his muscle comes alive under my fingers, clenching as he grinds into us. I squeeze, and he comes, shuddering, moaning, and holding onto me so fuckin' tight I can almost feel the bruises starting to form. I lean my head forward and lick the sweat from his shoulder and then his neck, taking in a deep lungful of us, imagining I can taste it.

He quiets down fast; his body goes still after a couple of straggling shudders, his raspy breaths falling into rhythm with mine. He clumsily strokes up and down my back a couple of times, like he doesn't really have control over any of his muscles yet, and then he lets his full weight lean against me, pushing me onto my back. He passes out like that, one arm flung across me, our sticky come gluing it there, his leg hooked over mine. I feel myself drifting, and I know that I won't have any nightmares. I know that when we wake up, we'll both act like this never happened. I also know that it will happen again, because it's me and Billy. Always has been, always will be.

The End

feedback? houseofslack@hos.slashcity.com


I been hungry way down where it hurts
Waiting for a reason
I been hungry like a lot of guys
I wanna be beside you