Disclaimer: This story contains mature themes, naughty language, and gay sexuality. If you are uncomfortable with that or under-age, don't read it. I don't know Rob Thomas or Stephan Jenkins. I seriously doubt they're gay, but what do I know? Anyway, it's just fiction and no malice is intended towards them.

Notes: Italics denote a flashback.

Hi everyone! I'm Griffin and I've never slashed these guys before, so please give me feedback and let me know what you think of the story! Mail Me

Thanks, and happy reading!

"And Rob Thomas?"

"He's the guy from Matchbox 20?"

"Yes, he is."

He's obsessed; he won't shut up about me. I don't know him."

"You never said he was fat?"

"I have no idea. But if I blew up to Elvis-like proportions, I would expect ROLLING STONE to make fun of me, and I would take it in stride."

"He called you 'a good archenemy.'"

"He's not my archenemy - I don't know him. I don't have any idea what he weighs."

"He then said to you, 'I just think you are walking, breathing, living cheese.'"

"See? Even when he's talking about me, he has to use food references."

--Stephan Jenkins in Rolling Stone, March 18, 1999


The blizzard was the worst the area had seen in decades, not since the "great one" of 1928 --as the old timers told him anytime he got near-- had anyone seen this much snow. While their old eyes crinkled in delight, Rob Thomas could only feel a little jipped that he'd rented a cabin up here for a week. Sure, he'd planned on "battening down" and doing the songwriter thing, but the lake was calling to him. He'd never been ice fishing, after all. Now, though, it didn't look like he'd be able to set foot out of the cabin until the snow stopped, which, from what he gathered, could be a week. Rob shivered in his blanket. His bare feet were firmly planted in front of the fire, toasty warm. He sipped hot chocolate and watched the snow dance outside. Only a fool would go out in this weather. Unfortunately, his girlfriend wasn't a fool. So, unless pigs sprouted wings, there was no hope of her showing up to relieve his boredom. He wiggled his toes and tried to set the snowfall to music, but succeeded only in replicating the Star Wars theme.

Just then, a fool happened by. Screeching brakes, honking, and a car swerved off the road into a ditch. Rob bolted up, nearly spilling his beverage in his excitement. He pulled his boots and winter gear on and raced out the door. Finally! Adventure! And, hopefully, an anecdote for his next talk show appearance. He walked five minutes through the blinding snow, often falling, sometimes losing his way and starting off in what he hoped was the proper direction, before he fell against the metal, thinking blithely that perhaps he should ask the person inside to rescue him. He took a breath, readying himself for the heroic reception he would receive from the rescued party, and banged on the window with a thickly gloved hand.

The window slowly lowered itself, as if the cold had made even it reluctant to budge. The driver was turned away from him. All Rob could see were black curls beneath a knit cap.

"Hey, buddy, you alright?"

No sound came.

Rob stuck his hand through the window and hesitantly touched the man. "Hey," he said, more urgently.

"I'm fine," the man mumbled.

"Look, pal, why don't you come with me. I'm staying right over there, you can get warmed up."

"Yeah, okay," the man said. He turned slowly to face Rob. His eyes grew wide, and his lips set themselves in a thin line.

Rob voiced his sentiment with typical verbosity. "Oh, shit."

"Hello, Rob," said the man.

"Hello, Stephan," Rob replied, through gritted teeth. "Looks like you didn't drive off the ditch fast enough."

"Seemed a good speed to me."

"Well, you're still alive, so it obviously wasn't."

Stephan rolled his eyes. "Can we continue this feud someplace not freezing?"

"By all means, if you think any place with you could be any less than frigid." He stepped back, allowing Stephan to get himself out of the car. Rob knew if he helped Stephan would end up with a footprint on his back and a quart of snow down his throat.

"There is a rest stop up the road," Rob said.

Stephan raised an eyebrow snidely. "Three miles?"

"How'd you know?"

"Lucky guess," Stephan muttered, trudging towards the cabin. He didn't bother holding the door for Rob, and it blew shut in his face, missing his nose by a fraction of an inch.

"Thanks," Rob muttered, but he couldn't fault him too much. He would have done the same thing, had he gained the door first, except if he'd done it, Stephan's nose would be broken right now. Stephan shrugged at him, or maybe it was just him removing his coat, which he dropped in a sopping heap on the floor. He kicked his shoes off, but not before tracking snow across the cream-colored carpet. He dropped onto the couch, in the exact spot Rob had claimed, and put his feet up. The wool hat stayed on. Rob toed off his shoes and neatly lined them next to the door. He hung his coat and Stephan's--not for any sense of goodwill, he just didn't want waterstains on his floors. The shoes he left alone.

"I was sitting there," Rob said.

"Well, you're not anymore."

"Yeah, because I came to save your stupid ass."

Stephan shrugged. "You'll know better next time."

"I could just put you back out there."

Stephan smiled sweetly at him. He grabbed a magazine off the stand next to the couch. "Rolling Stone. The one I'm in. You would have this."

"You know I keep everything about you, Stephan," Rob said, his voice honey-sweet. "Or you would know, if you knew me. Which, of course, you don't. Or so you say."

Stephan nodded. He threw the magazine down. It scuttered across the table and fell on his shoes. "Then again, we are having a feud. Or so you say."

"Aren't we?" Rob stomped past him. He grabbed a stack of books off the floor and started shoving them onto a shelf. Busy hands can't punch unwanted houseguests. His eyes flicked to his guitar. The only thing keeping him from decking Stephan was the fact that he rather relied on his hands and couldn't go around mucking them up and risk ruining his career. Of course, if he were to make an exception to that rule, well, the exception was currently bundled up in his blanket. In his spot. On his couch. He doubted Stephan had any such hesitancies, despite being in the same situation, musically speaking.

"Do you remember the first thing I ever said to you?" Stephan asked. His voice had an off-hand quality. As if he'd just casually decided to bring it up.


"Yes, you do." It was said with absolute boredom, as if Stephan couldn't be bothered to even consider that Rob might not remember. He was right, though. Rob remembered. All too well...

Seventeen years old, looking fifteen, and on the run. From what? What else? Himself. Experienced; He knew his way around, but not cynical. Not yet. Still a little naive. But not much. He bribed his way into a dive bar with his guitar.

"I'm with the band, man."

"They've started, kid." The bouncer didn't even ask for an id. Didn't ask the name of the band he was "with." In a place like this no one cared. He used his last two dollars for a beer. Cheap, filtered, one step from water. He sipped it slowly. His mother would be proud. He watched the band. They were good. But not that good. Covers of Duran Duran. All the rage here in...wherever the hell he was. He could do better. And he would. Some day. His eyes drifted around the bar. He might have noticed that there weren't any women. But he was too young to think anything of it. There's that innocence thing, again. Just enough to keep him safe. Just enough to keep him stupid about bars that don't have women. A man stared at him. He wasn't the only one. Rob saw four men staring at him. He didn't think anything of it, except that he wasn't in the mood for a fight. He didn't know any other reason for a man to stare at another man. Men were like dogs. He knew that much. Stare until someone backs down. If no one does, then attack. He was small. They were four. He was one. He locked his eyes on the band. His way of backing down.

He flicked his eyes around a few songs later, checking. All the men were gone. All but one. This one still stared. Except it wasn't staring, really, more like the way someone looks at a bug right before he squashes it. Rob sized him up. He could take him. He stared back. But he couldn't look in his eyes. They were too dark, too...deadly. Someday he'd have eyes like that, if he kept coming to places like this, kept chipping away at himself. He focused on the man's black hair, subconsciously counting the curls which fell in no random pattern, silent rage illustrated in their chaos. The man moved towards him. Rob stood his ground. Not because he particularly wanted to, but because the bar was at his back. He glared at the man with what he thought was a menacing scowl. The man smiled, looked like he was trying not to laugh at him. He leaned towards him, brushed past him to set his dirty glass on the bar, despite having a good two feet on either side of the young man. His fingers lingered on Rob's side as he pulled his arm back to himself. Rob glared harder. Seeing him now, close-up, Rob guessed he was about ten years older. He could be wrong, though. The man could be much younger than that. Everyone looked older here. Except Rob. Surrounded by these hard faces, his youth practically made him glow. 'Use me,' it said. The man stared at him with that same nonchalance. Rob balled his fists. If this guy wanted a fight, he was going to get one.

"Are you going to fuck me or what?"

"What?" Rob spun around. "What did you say?" he asked the man on his couch.

"That's the first thing I ever said to you," Stephan said. "Don't tell me you don't remember."

"I remember," Rob said through gritted teeth. "Bastard."

Stephan laughed. Rob went back to shoving books onto the shelves. More violently than necessary. He stopped after he accidentally tore a cover off a Wallace Stevens Collection.

"I suppose you remember what I did?" he said to Stephan. He folded his arms, waiting for the self-satisfied smirk to fall from Stephan's face. He should have known better. Stephan grinned. Rob glared. He didn't turn around, though he'd rather be organizing the shelves than doing this. He couldn't break eye contact. If he did, he'd lose. That's how the game was played. He'd taken too long to learn it, but he knew it now. All too well.

End of Chapter One


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