Disclaimer: This has gay sex. If you have never had gay sex. I recommend it.

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Rhythm Section Pt. 2

"God, you look good. Hurry up and open that door," Leon said behind me, towing his suitcase up the uneven concrete steps and lightly touching my leg.

I propped my suitcase against the wall to find my keys in my pocket, turned, and leaned down to him, kissing his mouth.

"This is Fremont," I said. "It's cool here."

So he set his suitcase down and stepped up to me and kissed me in the sun.

"Well, well, I see you're back," said Randy, also gay as hell, from the window above mine, making Leon jump a little. "Who's your trick?"

"Randy, this is Leon," I said with such love and pride Leon actually looked abashed. "This one's not a trick. This one's a keeper."

"Well aren't you cute," gushed Randy. "Welcome to the neighborhood, sweetie. I know you'll love it here. We all love Eric. I just know we'll love you, too."

"Uh, that's cool," said Leon. "Thanks."

Inside, we cracked up.

"Randy's awesome," I said. "Nicest guy in the world."

"What a character," said Leon. "I can't help but like him."

He looked around as I flipped the lights on and turned up the thermostat. It was a little stale, but it was my place, and I loved it. If I lived here all the time I'd have plants, but my books were all on the shelf and my second upright bass was in the corner by its music stand and the room was flooded with light once I open all the curtains. Randy's cat prowled the deck rail outside, tail twitching.

"Your place is awesome," said Leon, hands in his back pockets, looking around. In another moment he went straight for my books. I grinned to watch him lose himself.

I went back out to get the rest of the gear and a moment later Leon remembered where he was and ran to catch up. We stashed it in the garage I use for storage. Then I showed him my room, now our room, a futon mattress on a stand, more books.

His hand touched mine, we smiled at each other. Finally, no more choking to stay silent in hotels with thin walls. Randy, if he heard anything, would likely pour a glass of wine and applaud.

"You look great in my place, Leon," I said. He smiled.

"I love being here," he said. "I'm glad we got fired, now. Fuck Hick."

"Speaking of that..." I pulled out my phone. Time for damage control.

"What the fuck happened?" yelled Claudelle. "What the fuck did Leon do? Did he really attack Hick?"

"Back up, Claudelle, let me tell you how this went down," I said. "You weren't kidding. Hick's the worst piece of shit on earth. Look, I didn't tell you I was gay 'cause I didn't think it was relevant. It's not like I jump on every gay dude I meet, okay? And the reason Leon's got such a reputation for being a warrior is he had to be. Any gay dude traveling with that sorry bunch of thugs had to be a fighting motherfucker. But about a month ago, me and Leon finally figured out we had it bad for each other. Claudelle, he's so amazing."

I stopped myself.

"Anyway, we kept that to ourselves, as you might imagine, but Friday Hick walked in the green room when we thought the door was locked. It wasn't like we were getting busy or anything, all I was doing was giving my baby a little kiss, but Hick flipped the fuck out and swung that goddamn cane at my head."

"He did?" Claudelle was aghast.

"Yeah. But Leon blocked him and popped him one."

"Oh my God," she said. "What was the thing with Hick yelling something on stage?"

"So Hick lay there on the floor where Leon put him and fired us and we went to go get our gear off the stage with the whole fucking club looking on and then here comes Hick, ice all up on his head yelling into the mike it was our fault we were canceling, hell, who wouldn't fire a bunch of faggots like us? So Leon decided to own the whole deal and walked over and stuck his tongue down my throat in front of God and the world. That's what that was."

"He did?" Claudelle laughed in awe in spite of herself.

"Look, Claudelle, here's the deal," I said. "You've known me a long time, what, six years? And I hope you feel positive about how we've worked together. Here's the t on Leon. Yeah, he is a tough and feisty little bastard. But he is also the most professional and talented drummer I've ever worked with. And he's a truly, truly nice guy when you treat him right."

I was looking at Leon when I said it, and he wouldn't look at me. Sometimes he's so sweet and shy he breaks my heart.

"Now neither one of us has enough money to make it but a couple months before we got to go back to work," I said. "You know how it is. Now, I'd really, really, really like to work with Leon. We are the baddest-ass rhythm section going, and I think you may have heard."

"So I might have heard that," she said.

"Here's the deal," I said. "If you can't find work for the two of us, please, God, don't be afraid to put Leon to work. If he can make it five years with Hick, when I couldn't make it five months, and I'm the mellowest guy ever, then you should feel confident you can put him with anyone, so long as that person treats him with the respect he deserves. I love to play bass, but if Leon doesn't make music, it'll kill him, so you go ahead and give him a call, okay?"

"Oh, Eric, you do have it bad," said Claudelle. "I'm not afraid to put Leon to work, tell him that, okay? And I'll see what I can do for you guys. We're done with Hick, by the way. We pulled tour support. He's headed home, too."

Leon and I gave each other a long look when I hung up. Neither of us wanted to think of touring without the other, but the reality was that finding work for a complete rhythm section wasn't easy, and it wasn't going to be any easier for a rhythm section that was an openly gay couple.

Leon set his book down and walked over to me and touched my face.

"So what day is your birthday?" he asked.

"September 4," I said. "Yours?"

"June 19," he said. "I can't wait to get you that birthday present."

"I can't wait to get you that second one," I said.

We were going to have to watch our spending for now, though, until we were working again. We headed to the grocery store rather than eat out. I couldn't believe he was there, next to me, throwing things in a shopping cart.

Later, after we put our few dishes in the dishwasher, I took his hand, kissed his scabbed-over knuckles, and took him to bed.

There is nothing in this world that makes me a crazy as the sound of my man losing his mind as I work on his body. At last we didn't have to try and silence ourselves, and the sound of his broken cries as I tongued his nipples and took his cock into my throat undid me.

In the next weeks, we sent out a million resumes, I called everyone I knew, and so did he.

We took local gigs in the city, sometimes together, sometimes separately, and went to each other's gigs when we weren't working ourselves. Leon met all my friends, and soon we had a whole tribe of friends coming over all the time, playing music, doing political stuff with Leon, shooting the shit.

"I love Seattle. I could stay here forever and never leave," Leon said one night, his head unbraided and soft on my chest, and a warmth spread all through me.

We were nuts about each other. Sometimes we just lay in bed all day, cuddling and being stunned at our good fortune. I'd worship that brown skin, kiss his huge dark eyes, he'd tickle me to make me jump and we'd wrestle. We'd never, either of us, been half as happy in our lives, we agreed.

But we were running out of money.

Then in May, Claudelle called Leon. I could tell she was telling him about work. Just for him. I flipped on my back on the couch and stared at the ceiling, trying not to panic.

"I got to call you back," he said. "I got to talk to my boy."

He came around the couch.

"Little Chester Malone needs somebody," he said.

It was a zydeco band out of Baton Rouge. Leon was a reasonably good chanky-chank drummer from his years in New Orleans and what he didn't know, he could learn in no time, I knew.

"When?" I said.

"Tour starts in two weeks. Malone's freaking out. The drummer he had just found out his wife is pregnant and bailed."

"Jesus, how long is the tour?"

"Nine months."

"Oh, my God," I said. "Nine months." I felt like crying.

"Let's look up the tour stops on line," he said.

We looked in growing dismay at the lineup. A lot of it was on the east coast. About half was in Canada and Europe. It was back to back, no breaks. It would pay great. But if he took the tour, I basically wouldn't see him for nine months. We were silent. We knew he had to take it. There wasn't much work out there, the economy the way it was.

"Call Claudelle," I said. "Tell her you'll do the gig. I'm your man for life, Leon. It's only nine months."

It was the first time either of us had voiced a commitment that strong. He bowed his head and walked out onto the porch. I saw him lean on the rail, look up at the sky, and when he turned back, I saw silver trails down his face. Then he dialed.

When he came back in, he took one of my hands in both of his and held it to his lips.

"I'm your man for life, too, Eric," he said, those long lashes hiding his eyes.

We made love like he was going to prison instead of on a lucrative world tour with a well-known band and a well-liked band leader.

I worked on the material with him. I could tell in spite of his grief at our parting, he was excited to get out playing again. He tried to hide it. I tried hard not to be jealous. Two weeks later, I put him on a plane and cried all the way back home. Randy came down.

"Oh, honey, oh, baby," he said, and held me while I cried on his shoulder like a child. He made me tea and for the next week he brought me a plate of whatever he'd made for dinner every night, and watched me to make sure I ate it.

I lived in terror of losing my phone. If I went in the bank and realized I'd left it in the car, I left my place in line and ran back to get it.

Little Chester Malone was a really decent guy, said Leon. The band was laid back, smoked a lot of pot, and seemed to forget he was gay as soon as he mentioned it. But he missed me. He called every night and we talked for hours.

I ended up getting a three month out-and-back to Florida with Daisy Fuller out of Houston. Once I was working, I felt a little better. After much thought, I got Leon a Kindle for his birthday in June and sent it to him FedEx to Georgia.

"The first of many, birthday gift guy," I wrote.

He saved the FedEx package until it was his birthday, and called crying when he opened it.

"I'm so fucking lucky to have you, what am I doing away from you?" he said. "God damn it, boy. You got me out here crying like a little bitch. It's only been three weeks and I miss you so bad. I miss you worse every day. How the fuck am I going to do this? Jim's a good bass player, but I miss you every fucking time I hear him play. I think how it was working with you and I even fucking miss Hick."

I did, too. I'd have gone back to Hick cheerfully just to be back on the road with Leon, standing next to him in the brilliant white lights, watching him crack a grin in that impassive face halfway through my solo.

"We'll keep looking for something," I said. "We'll get another situation."

He called later that night, alone in his room, and I walked out of the hotel, took my key and got in the tour bus where I could be alone. I told him to touch himself, and he did. I lay back in my bunk and reached down and grabbed my cock, and told him what I was doing.

"You know what you do that drives me crazy, boy?" he said. "I love it when you suck my nuts, that drives me out of my mind."

"I love it when you call my name," I said. "I love the sounds you make."

"When I'm up in you and you come, you get so tight, it almost hurts."

"I love it when you swallow and kiss me after," I said. He groaned.

"I love to suck you off till you come in my mouth," he said. "You taste so good, like you. It's your own thing. It's Eric."

I felt my bones melt.

"I love the way you shake, right before you get off," I said.

"I'm shaking now." I could feel his voice get tight, the way it does.

"I love the way you make me look at you when I come sometimes," I said. "Leon, I love you."

"Shit! Oh Eric, shit!" It was a cross between a scream and a whisper and I could hear him muffle his voice into a pillow as he came. I could see him in my mind, dark, beautiful head thrown back, gritting his teeth with his eyes squeezed shut.

"Leon, I'm going to come, your going to make me come..."

"Eric, you are so beautiful to me, I want to see you come, I want to look right into your ice blue eyes, look at me baby."

I could see him, looking down into my eyes, and I came hard.

"Happy Birthday, babe," I said later, when we'd cleaned up.

"You're not here," he said. "But even just knowing you're mine, it makes me the happiest dude in the world."

I slept on the bus with the phone right by my ear. I didn't want to go back in. I wanted to feel him next to me, as best I could.

The summer wore on, and when you love someone as much as I loved Leon, and when you are 35 and no longer believe that your options are unlimited, you don't let a thing like distance ruin shit for you.

And he was from the street. He took nothing for granted. I sent him flowers sometimes. I knew the band ribbed him for it, but he needed to know I loved him. He put books on his Kindle and called me up and read his favorite things to me so I'd know he liked what I got him for his birthday.

We sent postcards and gifts to each other's hotel rooms. I roomed up with the keyboard player on the Daisy tour and at first he was uneasy, rooming with a gay dude, but after a while he looked forward to seeing what I got from Leon and I could tell he was touched by our thing, and I became his confidante about his problems with his wife.

Daisy's drummer was good, but he was no Leon.

We sent each other Mp3 files of all the stuff we were doing, Skyped each other to see each other talk and watch each other jack off when we got a little privacy. We texted each other from backstage where ever we were, carried pictures of each other, even wrote each other letters longhand just so we'd have something to carry around and read again.

September 4, Daisy's crew brought me out a cake on stage in Santa Fe, the last stop before we went home.

"And this is from your baby," she said on mike, and the whole crowd sighed, awww. She handed me a little box.

It was a Tag Heuer watch with two separate clock faces on it, that easily cost him two weeks pay.

"Set one to my time," said the note. "The first of many, birthday gift guy."

My eyes teared up and I turned my back and wiped my face dry, to the delight of the crowd.

Missing Leon became a sickness.

I got back home and made the rounds of clubs, trying to stay busy.

At Neighbors, I ran into an old friend I hadn't seen for a while, a beautiful gay hippie named Evan I almost didn't 'recognize without his trademark dreadlocks. He was terribly in love with a quiet, handsome athlete named Mickey who seemed equally off his ass over Evan. Their love hurt to see, but I was glad for Evan.

We caught up on old friends; what Evan didn't know about Seattle bands wasn't worth knowing.

They became regular friends at the house. Evan was one of the most caring souls alive, and he and Mickey made it a project to keep me company through the holidays, and on weekends I wasn't working, they dropped by with Mickey's adorable first-grader Jacob.

I got a semi-permanent spot in a jazz band that played the greater Pacific Northwest and that kept me both busy and closer to home, and that was nice.

Leon was getting frantic to see me. He was not growing accustomed to being away from me. Instead, he was going crazy. I started to worry a little bit. He seemed sad a lot.

Then, as we all helped Jacob carve a pumpkin on the porch, Randy squealing in horror at the slimy seed pulp to make Jacob giggle, Evan looked up.

"Hey, you know Smooch Carlton, don't you?"

I laughed out loud. I used to gig around Seattle with Smooch when we were just barely old enough to get into clubs. She was one of my favorite people, brassy, irreverent, and as good hearted as they come. And disgustingly talented, she played sax like Candy Dolfer and sang like k. d. Lang, only with a latin-flavored funk style of writing. I always thought if she could ever quit drinking, she'd get somewhere.

"She got signed," said Evan. "I just ran into her."

"She did? Does she still drink ?"

"No," said Evan, "She went to rehab like, five years ago and she's done great ever since. Shit, you guys ought to call her."

I went and washed the pumpkin off my hands and looked her up on line and called her before my hands were dry.

"Smooch, it's Eric Novokov," I said.

"Novacaine!" she squawked. It had been her nickname for me.

We caught up for a minute.

"Listen, I wish I was calling to say hi, but I'm calling because I heard you got signed, and I wondered if you'd put your touring band together yet."

"Hardly," she said. "I only got signed Thursday."

"Will you use the band you have?"

"I can't. They all have families. None of them can tour."

"What's your label?"


I nearly fell out. "Claudelle?"

"You know her?"

"I've been working for her for years. She's awesome."

I explained about me and Leon, and she laughed long and hard when I told her the story of Hick.

"When you run auditions, will you schedule us one?"

"You better believe it," she said. I loved Smooch. I was so glad she got sober. I told Leon about it a few minutes later, called even though it was 4 a.m. where he was, and he sounded like a death row inmate hearing that the governor was going to look at his case for possible pardon. He got out of bed while I was still on the phone and began looking for Smooch's stuff on iTunes.

In the next days we charted out each song we could find, even her old, self-produced albums, and rehearsed on Skype every chance we got.

"I'm praying, Eric," said Leon. "Feature that."

I prayed, too.

Right before Thanksgiving, Smooch called back.

"Can you guys get in to audition next week?"

I ran to the computer, looked at Leon's schedule. He had a Tuesday off, but he was in Ireland.

"How's Tuesday night?" I said.

I spent the next hour and a half on a flurry of extremely expensive airplane ticket buying, and had to use two different airlines, but I scheduled Leon to fly in at 8 p.m Tuesday, audition from 9 to midnight, and fly back out from 1 a.m. to get him to London for his next stop by 5 p.m., just in time for the next show.

Then I called Leon, who nearly died of joy to hear he would see me on Tuesday, never mind the audition. For the next week we were in agony, trying to wait.

Tuesday night I sat at the gate, staring out the window, watching the slow approach of Leon's plane, fidgeting and tapping my feet. It was taking absolutely fucking forever.

Finally I saw that black mesh jersey and those black cornrows, his duffle bag over his shoulder.

Leon saw me, and slowed, and we just stared at each other, until the rush of people around him swept him forward again.

I started for him and he for me and he threw his duffle on a hard plastic seat and we embraced as hard and fierce as we could.

"I listened to Smooch's album and everything she ever put on Youtube I swear 150 times on the plane," he whispered. "This has got to work, baby, cause I gotta be with you."

I just crushed him and we rocked, foot to foot, until I could trust my voice.

"Hurry," I said. "We don't have much time." And he knew as well as I did I didn't mean the drive.

We headed for the parking garage at a flat run, and I unlocked the van while he threw his duffle in the back and jumped up into the passenger seat.

I didn't even bother to pretend we were going anywhere for a minute. I just threw the keys up on the dash and leaned for him. He was already reaching for me. We fused at the mouth, straining to get closer.

We both struggled against the seatbelts, the console, the steering wheel, out of breath, shaking with need, until he broke away and scrambled backward out of his seat into the rear of the van. I twisted around and followed, falling onto his body on the floor of the van, thankful for the darkness.

There he was, Leon, my Leon, full length, under me again, as desperate as I was, crying in the back of his throat like I was as we kissed each others mouths, faces, hair.

"Baby, I missed you, I missed you so much..."

"I love you, Eric, baby, I can't be without you any more..." He was on the verge of tears.

We had no time, no time, we really needed to leave now to be sure to get to Smooch's place in time, maybe we could get away with a few minutes. Planes are late, aren't they?

I couldn't stop.

We dry-humped like kids, frustrated, clawing at each other to get closer, closer, and to my shock I realized I was going to get off. I buried my face in his neck and drove against him, the back pockets of his jeans under my fingers.

"Jesus, I'm going to come," I gasped.

"Oh my God, me too," he said, and we clutched each other, shuddering, bursting into laughter against each other's shirts.

"Christ, when was the last time I did that?" I said.

"I think I was 12," he said.

"We got to go, we're due at Smooch's in 40 minutes."

"I got to clean up," he said. "Let me get my bag up here." He slid open the side door, dashed laughing for the back, wrenched out his duffle, and dropped back in the side.

I hitched myself into the drivers seat, sucking my stomach away from the cooling wet spot.

"Here," said Leon, throwing an undershirt at me. I stuffed it down my waist, wiping up as I turned the engine over and backed out. In the back, Leon was skinning his jeans off, and I wished I could watch.

A second later, he swung up into the shotgun seat, and we started laughing again, exhilarated. I tossed the undershirt into the back and drove like hell for Kirkland, where the studio was, and on the way we verbally rehearsed each song, reminding each other of accents and punches and breaks, holding hands and touching all the way.

We made it with minutes to spare.

When we actually played the songs, Leon was positively eerie, playing the tracks so close to the original I don't think the studio engineer could have told the difference.

"That's a trip," said Smooch after we'd played three of them. "It sounds like our old drummer Tom is in here."

Her horn players nodded.

"That's just weird," said one of them. "You copped it so close it's freaky." They were looking at Leon like he was some sort of magician. I died of pride.

"Hey, let's try those again, and this time, play them like you'd play them if you wrote the parts," said Smooch. Leon took a deep breath and looked at me. We'd talked about that, even worked up a slightly different groove for several them.

I could tell it did it for Smooch. She played her horn like a dog shaking a rag, and when we finished, she folded over and stomped her foot.

"Fuck!" she shouted. "Fuck! Now I want to go cut the whole fucking album again!"

We played until midnight, and I could tell it had gone well, but we were out of time.

"I got to get Leon back to SeaTac, and I mean I got to hurry," I said.

"I got a couple more guys I got to hear," she said. "I'll call you next week."

Leon and I kissed frantically at the security gate, ignoring some bitch who walked by us snarling that we should get a room. Just before he disappeared from sight, he held up crossed fingers and I did the same.

On Friday, I ran into a keyboard player that had just tried out for Smooch.

"I think you guys got it," he said. "She's asking everyone she tries out if they have any trouble traveling with a gay couple. She says she doesn't want any bullshit about players not wanting to see a gay couple hold hands and kiss."

I was so excited I couldn't eat for the rest of the day.

Then Claudelle called.

"Listen, I love you guys for the Smooch gig, but there's a problem," she said. "Smooch's tour starts at the end of January. Little Chester's doesn't end till Valentine's day. How's Leon going to do both tours?"

"Jesus Christ, Claudelle, if we're the right rhythm section for her, it could last for years," I said, feeling sick. "For God's sake, let's try to think of something."

Leon couldn't walk off the Little Chester tour. That would be a shitty thing to do to Little Chester, who had treated Leon well.

"I don't know what we can do," said Claudelle. "You might have to wait until the next tour."

I felt sick.

I agonized all day. I finally called Smooch. I figured I didn't have anything to lose.

"Smooch, I don't know where you're at on auditions, but Leon's tour isn't over till Valentine's Day," I said. "I'd love to go to work for you. And Leon thinks your Latin funk stuff is the coolest thing in the world. He's dying for a shot at it. But the tour thing is a problem."

"You guys are far and away the best players we tried, and not only that, I like you as people," she said. "Let me see what I can do."

When I saw her number come up on my phone on Tuesday, my hands shook so bad I could barely respond.

"Novacaine!" she shouted in my ear. "My old drummer will handle the first month! You're on! We're on! What do you think of that?"

Relief made my legs give out. I sank onto my couch.

"Smooch, if I wasn't gay as fuck, I'd marry you," I said with tears in my eyes. "Smooch, I swear to God, we will work ourselves to death for you. I love you."

"I told Claudelle we didn't need to rehearse a unit. Leon did so awesome rehearsing on his own on the road I said I wasn't worried about it. And that you would fly him all the way from Europe and back just for a shot at it said something," she said. "I told Claudelle that I'd never have to worry about your guys' dedication after having seen that."

I could tell Smooch had gone to the wall for us.

"Smooch, we're yours till you say different," I said. "I mean it. I'm going to get a 'Property of Smooch' tattoo."

"Oh, Novacaine," she said. "I'm so glad you guys get to be together. I'm glad I have a part in it."

That big, soft heart of hers. My throat tightened up.

"Smooch, I'll die if I can't call him and tell him right now. You have no idea what this means to me. Or him. I mean that."

"Call him," said Smooch.

Leon broke down and cried.

"Baby, I thought I was going to have to give up music," he said, through tears. "I didn't tell you, but I thought about it. I'm going to be old one day and have to stop anyway. But I'll still have you when I'm old, if I don't fuck this up leaving you alone months at a time, first. Baby, I've never been in love like this in my life. It ain't likely to happen again. I decided you were more important. I was going to tell you after this tour was over, if we didn't get the Smooch gig."

Getting through Christmas was awful, and January seemed it would never end. We kicked off the first leg of the tour down the West Coast without Leon, and although Tom was a great drummer, I couldn't wait to see the last of him.

Valentine's Day we were in Dallas. It had been almost a year since Hick fired us. Nine months since the last time I'd seen Leon naked. One year and two months since that first kiss on the bed in Omaha. I made a decision.

Leon was flying in from Chicago that morning. I took a shuttle and went to go get him at baggage claim. There he was, at oversized bags, picking up his drum cases.

"Are you the guy Sterling sent?" I asked.

He whipped around and saw me and burst into a brilliant white grin.

"Yeah, does your boss know I'm black, gay, and fucking the bass player?"

"She says you better know all the tunes. First show is tonight."

"Tell her if the bass player doesn't blow me I'm on a plane back to Seattle and she can fuck off." I broke up, laughing.

"Is that really what I sounded like when I met you?" I said.

"Worse," he said.

We grinned at each other as travelers crowded around the carousel.

"I love you so god damned much, boy," he said.

We had three hours before soundcheck. We were not going to spend it rehearsing.

I called Smooch to let us in the tour bus to load his stuff up and she met us at the door.

Leon stepped up to her and his long lashes were down over his eyes.

"I don't know how to thank you," he said, almost formally.

"My bass player's been a moping bitch," she said, smiling at Leon affectionately. "Make him happy."

She put what felt like a credit card in my hand.

"A little upgrade," she said. "Happy Valentine's Day."

A room key. The 24th floor.

It was the honeymoon suite. Leon and I looked with awe at the roses on the table, the huge bed, the hot tub, the immense view of the Dallas skyline.

Fuckin' Smooch.

Leon turned to me and gently, slowly brought his mouth to mine. I forgot everything but his fantastic mouth, tongue, the hand at the back of my neck, pulling me close.

He was so warm against my body, so alive.

"It's been so long," said Leon. I lost myself in the feel of his tongue, the rasp of his skin, his soft lips. I crowded him back to the bed, lifting his shirt off him, running my hands all over his naked chest. A second later he had my shirt off and kissed down my neck.

"I want you naked," he said. "I'm going to make you scream, boy."

I couldn't breath right.

He stepped back and waited. I stripped and stood before him. He nudged me back to the bed, cocked his head and gave me an order.

"Lay down and put your hands behind your head," he said. "I've been waiting for this for a long, long, time."

I eased back and did what he said, harder than I'd ever been in my life. He eased over me, still wearing his jeans.

"Don't move or I'll stop," he said. He spent a long time kissing me, and the snaps of his jeans against my hard cock was an agonizing pleasure.

He moved down my body, and his mouth covered a nipple and I jerked and swore, but managed to keep my hands behind my head. The sensation was unbelievable.

He took so much time on it I was nearly crying when he moved to other side, and soon I was begging.

"Leon, enough, fuck me." I was out of my mind.

When he wouldn't, I couldn't hold still another second and reached for him. He instantly stood and looked down at me, shaking his head.

"Get your hands back up there," he said.

"Leon, please," I said. He shook his head and folded his arms. "Oh, god damn it," I said, and put my hands back up behind my head.

"Now you got to wait longer," he said. He stood another moment, then relented and trailed his fingers up the inside of my thigh. I was so sensitive by then I couldn't hold still. He took my balls in his hands and rolled them, stroking the spot behind them, but he wouldn't touch my cock.

"Leon, tell me what I got to do," I said. "I'll do anything. Just fuck me."

"Hold on as long as you can, baby," he said, and lowered himself to my side. He seemed bent on kissing every inch of my chest, but he was working his way down. His fine dark hands touched me everywhere, startling against my pale skin.

Finally he got to my navel, and then kissed the head of my cock. I tried not to beg for fear he'd hold out on me some more. And then he closed his mouth over the head of my cock and slid on down until his lips reached bottom. I twisted my fingers together behind my head, desperate to keep them clasped so he wouldn't stop. I was fucking his face as best as I could without being able to grab his head, but his strong arms grabbed my hips and held me still and slowly withdrew and then went down again, and I could feel him swallow as he took me all the way in.

I was helpless and all I could do was let him take me slowly and relentlessly to the edge, and then I did yell, a long, wordless cry as I erupted in his throat. It seemed like it would never end, I just kept coming, and he took it all, and when it was done and all I could do was shake, he made his way up beside me and kissed my mouth and I tasted myself, that taste of salt and chlorine, and then he gently took my hands from behind my head. I could hardly uncurl them.

I rolled into his embrace and we held each other until my breath returned to normal, telling each other how much we loved each other, how much we missed each other, how sexy we thought each other was.

And then I got up.

"Your turn," I said. "Strip."

He grinned and did as I said.

"I'm going to come in 20 seconds no matter what you do," he said, folding his hands behind his head.

"You better not," I said.

I trailed my tongue down his neck, which makes him crazy, and bit his ear and made him moan. His eyes were closed.

"Watch me, baby," I said. "I want you to watch what I do to you."

His brown eyes followed me as I lightly bit his nipples, and he sounded like I'd burned him.

I had missed him so much, and longed for him so endlessly, that I indulged myself in an orgy of touching him, tasting his brown skin, kissing every part of his body, stroking his long, perfect legs until he jumped every time I touched him.

"Okay, Eric, alright," he said. "That's enough."

I just laughed.

His thick arms were knotted, straining at the effort of holding his hands behind his head. His six pack abs were in sharp relief, as he bucked against the pillow, and he was covered in a fine sheen of sweat.

I started at his feet and kissed my way up his legs, the inside of his thighs, and he was losing control of his body. Tense, vibrant, he responded to my touch like a violin.

I lifted his heavy balls in my hand and kissed them, buried my nose in them, took one, then the other in my mouth.

"Oh, fuck, yes," he hissed, and squeezed his eyes shut. I pulled away.

"Watch me, babe,"

He opened his eyes again, and the need in them nearly killed me.

I finally gave in, took him in my mouth and down my throat in one slow move.

He gasped like I'd thrown water on him, but he kept watching me.

"God, yes, God, yes," he repeated, mindless. Taking him down my throat like that nearly broke my jaw, he was so big, but I had a few more minutes in me.

That's all it took, and then he thrust against my mouth hard and nearly drowned me and I had to swallow fast to keep up as he cried out in full voice. It was so intense for him he actually tried to pull away before he was done but I held him still and he jerked like I'd electrocuted him.

When he was finally still, moaning softly, I helped him unlace his fingers and kissed them, and then he rolled into my arms and I held him and his arms came around my back and we lay like that until the last possible second.

"We're going to go running together in the mornings again," he said.

"We're going to go to bookstores and pick out more books to read," I said.

"We're going to get online and find things to give money to again," he said.

"I'm going to play music with you again," I said.

"We don't have to hide this any more," he said.

"No, thank God," I said.

"I love you, boy."

"I love you too."

The band gathered at the bus, and for the keyboard player and the new horn section, it was the first time they had met Leon. He clasped hands all around. It was a good crew, but they all knew Leon was my lover and that we'd been apart a long time, and that he'd arrived several hours earlier. I felt like I had "freshly fucked" tattooed on my forehead. There was a lot of shuffling of feet and repressed mirth in the crew.

Along came Smooch, all swinging braids and rattling beads. She looked around, taking in the silence of the band.

"So, anybody have great gay sex recently?" she asked. Leon shouted with shocked laughter and bent over, shaking his head and I turned and rested my head on the bus, nearly crying, I was laughing so hard.

"Shut the fuck up, Smooch, God," I said, horrified.

"Well, everyone was thinking it," she said, and the band was staggering with laughter. After that it was cool.

I tried not to look at Leon too much during sound check, but it was so good to see him setting up his gear on the riser, taking his place behind his kit, fitting the headset to his ear.

The first song of the show that night was an insanely catchy instrumental. When the lights came up Leon started the song alone, laid it in perfect, powerful, and I dropped in four bars later, and the groove was monstrous, we were an invincible, perfect machine.

The crowd went bat shit when Smooch sailed over the top of it with a searing horn solo, she has so much stage presence she is like a human eclipse of the sun.

Leon and I were a perfect unit. To play music with him was for me to adore him. We responded to each other's nuances like a single organism, and I adored his immobile, flawless face, the white flash of a grin when we pulled off a complex fill and snapped back into place with laser precision that gave me a fierce, sexual rush.

Smooch was electrifying, and her uninhibited joy brought us all to bring everything we had. The guitar player sounded better than I'd ever heard him, arcing back, eyes shut. Leon and I worked that first guitar solo through a climax that echoed the one I'd had earlier that day, and when we reached the pinnacle Leon smacked the snare like a gunshot and we dropped to a whisper, maintaining the groove like the gears of a clock, a perfect machine.

The crowd paid us back, roaring in frenzy.

At the end of the night we were all sweaty and shaking and looking at each other with awe and delight. Even Leon smiled, eyes shy and pleased at the praise heaped on him by the other band members.

"What a fucking band," yelled Smooch, throwing her arms around all of us at once and nearly mowing us over en masse. "What a fucking band this is."

She dropped her voice and muttered into Leon's ear so I could hear.

"What ever you did to my bass player, keep doing it. He's a new man."

Leon broke into a helpless grin and shook his head.

It was more than an hour before we were done signing shirts and CDs and posing for pictures.

When we got back to our room just after midnight Dallas lay below us in a spectacular sea of light. Leon and I stood hand in hand, talking over the amazing performance we had just turned in.

"This band is the best possible thing we could ever have found," Leon said.

"I can't believe how lucky we got," I said.

There was no better time than now, I knew, with the city spread out below us, roses on the table, the fantastic room, Valentine's Day.

"There's something I want to say to you," I said. Leon looked at me, defenseless as a boy.

I took his hand and sat with him on the edge of the bed, my knee touching his. I was so nervous I was shaking.

"Your birthday isn't for four more months, and this year I'm going to get you a couple things," I said. "I want to show you one of them now."

He frowned and smiled at the same time, puzzled.

I took a small jewelry box from my shirt pocket and handed it to him.

"When I said I was your man for life, I meant it," I said. "On your birthday, we're going to be in Boston. Massachusetts. I want to put this on you that day."

He took it slowly and awareness dawned on his face. He opened the box and saw the simple gold ring.

He looked at me from the side of his eyes.

"You're asking me to marry you."

"Yes. Let's make this rhythm section official."

He fell back on the bed, pulled me with him, pulled me over his chest and looked up at me, serious. I petted his braids and he ran his hand down the side of my face.

"It's you from here on out, boy," he said. "You're on for Boston."