the mystery, as it turned out, was the kind that gnawed when twenty-four hours later, ollie was still thinking about what else was hiding under adam's clothing. they'd joked about a number, made allusions as to what might be tattooed on the man's body, but ollie had waved off the idea of seeing any more skin. he knew himself and his urge to touch things would have prevailed just as it had when he'd seen the shadow man outlined in solid black along the inside of adam's arm. "i'm one hundred percent sure now that ether-ollie told you to get this done," he'd joked while letting his fingers pass over the silhouettes. even if it wasn't the case, part of ollie liked that in some way he'd be imprinted on the memory of the tattoo now.

they'd parted ways after that. ollie taking half the beach with him in the sand that stuck to the bottoms of his jeans which he'd cuffed up to walk the beach before adam eventually showed him his malibu home. the uber he'd gotten back to his own place probably hadn't appreciate the grainy souvenirs he'd left behind but ollie didn't mind tracking them all the way to his bathroom where the evidence was washed down the drain. adam lingered just the same. in ollie's full belly and how he thought of the shared drinks and pie between them. the fork fight that miraculously hadn't ended with either one of them getting stabbed. the midnight laughter still ringing in his ears against a backdrop of tidal waves. he'd gone home wistful and grinning ear to ear. he couldn't remember the last time he'd felt like that.

his smile lingered. a perpetual thing even as he half hung out of his car's window to call for the man to get his ass inside, that they were going vandalizing. as if it were the most natural thing in the world to be shouting in the dead of night. the laughter was raucous, mischief lighting him up because god did he love trespassing where he didn't belong and having a partner in crime always made it better. he let adam pick the tunes, handing without ceremony his phone and dictating the numbers that would unlock it. it was just easy. that free rein. handing it over without thought or regret.

it was late enough that the drive-in was all but deserted by the time they arrived. there was enough litter and popcorn to suggest the earlier showings had been a success but it wasn't what he was interested in. the big digital marquee was alive and bright in its led refusal to be tampered with. craning his neck to get a better look from over his steering wheel and through his windshield, ollie didn't sound surprised as a, "huh," escaped him. it was 2019. of course they weren't changing the fucking letters by hand.

"well so much for that." yet the evening didn't feel like a wash. it felt like instead the potential had just opened up for a different adventure. ollie turned in his seat, perfectly at home in the spaces of his car to the point where he didn't need to fidget or pick and poke at its interior. and for some reason, when he looked at adam, he knew where they'd go next. "i've got another place we can check out." and ollie didn't think too much on the implications that his first thoughts were of home and then the church he'd grown up with.

mutable. that was the word occupying him lately, how things changed, were in the process of changing, how his last tattoo that began as an allusion to his own shadow nature now adopted something of ollie into the dark ink. fingers that had skated along the outline and the skin underneath imbued some magic meaning to the hieroglyphs he was still compelled to imprint along his body. twenty-four hours later and he recalled with night clarity the way his gaze had fixed on ollie in that moment, the crush of the ocean and the moon as mantle to the moment. "ether-ollie isn't bound by time and space," he said, joking but not joking.

back in his house he offered drinks, they sat around for some more minutes talking with the windows open, adam in a lazy sprawl until ollie started to yawn. at the door, a brief embrace though his hand lingered for some heartbeats in the middle of ollie's back. he was tactile, and fondness brought it on; down at the beach he'd touched ollie's arm to emphasize a point of conversation, lain back in the sand letting it get into his hair, pushed ollie over onto his side in playful aggression.

the mosaic of the night glittered in and out of his inner vision, not linear. his saturday was spent in random chores and talking to friends not named ollie and eating and drawing and smoking. night fell and he lit a joint, probably two, before going outside his home to sit on the porch letting the smoke curl around his head, arms resting over knees. when ollie drove up and shouted at him. adam laughed - loudly - an evil sound before rising to his feet and sauntering over, unconsciously loose, smoothed out by the drug, the narrow ends of his shirt flapping in the movement, away from the layers of t-shirts beneath. he found music for their night, hung his arm out the window and let the passing breeze sift through his fingers.

maybe they talked a little, maybe it was only in his mind or through sliding glances and mischievous grins. he didn't see the blank screen of the drive in and the marquee until ollie pointed it out and for a moment it didn't click over that their night was now hijacked. "well fuck." paused, he chewed in the inside of his cheek, about to suggest they break in anyway to run around, climb shit, but he waylaid that at ollie's sudden suggestion.

"yeah?" his hand braced at the headrest of ollie's seat and he tilted his chin up. "name it, let's go."

time sluiced away from him like he had an excess of it. as if all the memories they'd cultivated together over the last twenty four hours had become more; minutes stretched out into infinity as ollie recounted the way the silver of adam's graying hair caught the moonlight but was no match for the brightness of blue eyes that made the ocean itself forget what color was. the waves had looked black like the sky had decided to wash everything in a pale monochromatic hues to better remember adam's face by. flashes of it lost in their brief scuffle of flailed hands and laughter before the pillow of ollie's leather jacket had been used to playfully smother adam under. so, as ollie had declared, by transitive properties the beach was now his. hobo law.

the highlights were brief but lasting. until it wasn't hard at all to imagine being under an actual blanket fort with the guy; the images supplemented by his imagination as much as they could have been memories of an ollie who had started this rapport months earlier in another world. but this was the world where they basked in the relative silence of a night drive with good tunes that bled into one another one after the other like they could have a conversation purely with music and all the looks they stole between each other. how ollie still felt the need to playfully shove adam at red lights or smack the man's hand away when a song was endangered of being skipped only to find out that the volume simply wasn't loud enough.

that's why the night couldn't end at the drive-in. why ollie refused to allow their urge to conquer and climb be half realized. "we're not far," was his only hint and then they were reversing out of the lot, taking a backward trip in time that made ollie wonder how he'd never indulged in this particular fantasy of his before. maybe he'd just never found the right inspiration.

the windows were down but the salt of the ocean was long gone. it disappeared the further east they went, but the whip of the wind around his outstretched hand still felt good on his skin. "i've been thinking about where i'd want my first tattoo," he offered up without prompting. "i kinda like the idea of it running down along my spine but i know that's like the worst fucking place to get it." so of course that only made ollie want it more. "you ever get something done there?" his gaze flicked from the monotonous spread of empty road ahead to the mellowed out body beside his own. ollie's hand reached without fear of recourse, ruffling some of that long hair as he nudged adam. "how're you feelin', slick?" because at that moment, adam wasn't the only one high as kite. ollie just hadn't needed to smoke to feel the dizzying effects of their time together.

he had something new in his memory—ollie's scent from being pushed under a leather jacket, he remembered the dark and the leather but something else that he knew was just boy or young man or just man but it was youthful and woodsy and blended with ocean air. mere seconds but he had that now, a thief of scents, and the urge to press his face into ollie's collar now to thieve some more was strong.

he didn't. they touched in other ways, hands on the music, a braiding of laughter, or the breeze passing through from one side of the car to the other taking some of each to each. he wondered why now, but not for any real answer. realized maybe because three or less years ago ollie would have been around twenty and he would have been looking elsewhere, not looking at all. a small prejudice. what a difference, maybe, a couple years made. he remembered that age, some nights it didn't seem that long ago. there was no wistfulness to it, but lightning—how the world was immediate and also stretched out ahead, more than behind, and he'd felt wild and grounded and serious and ridiculous.

still felt that way. felt it now in ollie. "mysterious..." was his reply to their unknown destination. the slouched further in his seat, long legs finding the end of the car. arm hanging out the window, grazing door. they were lazy twins until ollie began to speak and adam looked over, a half-smile. "yeah...that'd hurt. anywhere on the bone, on the nervy parts. but you could still do it. i've got one that goes across my spine, and one near my lower back...it didn't hurt, like, a lot. you'd have those thin lines too, not like you're gettin it blacked out."

that was probably the most he'd spoken all day. he laughed to feel the hand mess his hair, didn't try to "fix" any of it, let the wind make it worse. he reached back instead and smoothed his fingers back through ollie's hair, revenge or reciprocation...but slower. the soft texture was an answer to a question he hadn't realized he had. the night lost its edges. he stroked a couple times. "i'm good." OLLIE
the mysterious vibe had started long before their new trek to an unnamed destination. it has permeated their friendship for as long as they'd known each other because in all that time they hadn't really known each other. not in the ways they were learning to now. that shrouded vail between them hinted at their true selves but adam had been right when he'd said you could never truly know a person. just facets. there were new ones now to help identify the man through the fog; how ollie could pick him out by his laughter alone or the flash of ink on skin that felt sun warmed even in the middle of the night.

he intentionally tried not to think of the black outlines around adam's stomach. things he'd seen in flashes and knew about because of their mention but not having glimpsed in their entirety. or not that he could recall with clarity in their adventures together. and of course by not wanting to think about it, that was all he did. the shape of the body next to him a sprawl of indecency for the way it made ollie's brain turn itself over to chase thoughts that had no business coloring the night a different shade of mystery.

that half-smile pulled one out of ollie like they were mirrors of each other, destined to echo what the other did. he reached for adam's hair which was why he wasn't surprised when the man sought to do the same. the duck of his head to prevent the worst of adam's retaliation was unnecessary when all the fingers did was pet through the loose styling that was more windswept than intent at this point. he straightened and rolled his head into the open palm, as if he could touch in turn with a lazy grin of his own. a chuckle, low and throaty to match the general atmosphere escapes him as ollie agreed, "yeah you are. lookin' like a floaty jellyfish over there." over there. as if the inches between them hadn't already been conquered again and again during the car ride.

the tactile sensation made him want to close his eyes more than he wanted to keep them on the road but when it came to adam, ollie was a newly minted master of denying himself small pleasures. an uncommon practice but one he felt was necessary to keep the electric thrill between them from overloading and blowing a fuse in both of them prematurely. diffusing some of that want, ollie turned his head away from the fingers, biting at the air like some kind of animal to encourage them to shrink away before he nodded out his side of the window. "cemetery," he pointed out with a deliberate release of the gas so they could drive slowly past the sprawl of unseen corpses. "see any ghosts?"

rebuffed, but in a fun way. the push of ollie's head against his palm, then dislodging, and adam laughed as he just rested his hand back on the headrest of ollie's seat, out of the way of gnashing teeth. the synth grind emanating from the stereo all dark tones and neon lit in his mind even as the city trickled away lights in his periphery and the soft membrane of his awareness swelled and shrank with every breath, riding on the dregs of the drugs he'd smoked. he loved nights like this where it felt like a million things could happen but all he needed was one. one thing. his arm waved out in a sinuous replication of a jellyfish limb, in time to the music.

this was possibly obsession and he didn't care. what could be misinterpreted over text was impossible to miss in energy and vibe, both of them vibrating to the night. he only looked away from ollie when the car slowed to a crawl and shadowed headstones jutted on the other side of ollie's open window. of course ollie brought him here and he laughed, an intrusive bark to the dead quiet. "not yet. can we get out?" the boyish eagerness in his voice was more demand than question. "have you ever been to new orleans?" didn't need to draw the connection between where they were and that city, suddenly wishing he could teleport them there in an instant.

the car wasn't small by any means but the way adam's stretched out limbs seemed to conquer every square inch of it made ollie wonder if the man weren't actually part squid. even the tendrils of adam's hair felt like they could reach out and brush along his face if the whip of the wind was strong enough. the air was still now instead. they were too deep in the mountains of altadena for much more than a soft breeze, especially as the car rolled to a stop. not their intended destination but a welcome roadside attraction for someone who had played in his fair share of cemeteries.

parked along the curb where adam's laughter might rouse the dead, ollie's own chuckles rose up to meet some of the noise as he left the car idling. unwilling to cut them off from the soundtrack that had filled their night with a cybernoir vibe. "yeah," a casual shrug to accompany the confirmation. "couple of times for work. voodoo and haunted hotels and the horrifying~ axe man of new orleans!" his voice carried the spooky undertones of the last bit while his fingers waggled like they could tickle from his place in the driver's seat. "good food, good haunts, but shitty fuckin' humidity." the song found its ending, helping them along their night, so ollie turned off the car with the windows still down and opened his door to signal their departure from this small world of intimacy they'd been living in to a much larger one of possibility.

"never met the axe man. unless you're talkin about the cologne. that's some serious horror right there." he was leaning toward ollie as the car idled. he was following ollie out the car—from the driver's side—when they finally shut down and the quiet enveloped them. maybe this wasn't their final destination but spontaneity was the name of the night. wasn't all of this spontaneous? rising from the earth regardless of a full moon. he tumbled his way out the car in more or less minor grace, straightening up beside ollie to regard the tombstones lined like soldiers in the ground.

"let's try to find the oldest one," he said, quietly. this was a place of rest after all. quite naturally his arm descended over ollie's shoulders, he had a few inches on him and what had been awkward to do in a car was now possible in the open.

he didn't often go to cemetaries, certainly not the way ollie might. in his youth, sure, who didn't? some rebellious, daring inclination for anything even remotely taboo. but there was no taboo here, just the mortal realization that one way or another they were all going to end up here, if not physically then metaphorically. though the thoughts were grim his feet felt light sinking into the ground as they threaded their way from gravesite to gravesite. he was drawn to the elaborate headstones, he had to reach out one hand to touch the cool stone every once in a while. like a child trailing fingers along a stair bannister.

real horrors were ticked off as ollie thought of them. enclosed spaces with the axe man. having to attend a talent show with the axeman as the band's front runner. pouring milk into a bowl of cereal only to find out the axeman has been drinking from the carton. he laughed his way through each one while adam ungainly climbed out of his car, looking more or less like a newborn gazelle trying to find its legs. ollie caught him around his middle, stabilizing him with a hand pressed to his chest and an arm looped around his waist, and the proximity made him realize he was the lion. wanting to sink his teeth in the exposed flesh available to him because he'd been starving for it since they said their goodbyes in a lingering embrace the previous night.

"you're holding him," ollie joked of the way adam righted himself and kept him tucked close. something ancient and slumbering existing inside of ollie that he had no name for but felt rumbling to life in their shared proximity that had only increased in intimacy as the days ticked by. there were no leather jackets tonight. just sweaters for the approaching fall that brought a chill only a californian would shiver with.

they untangled only so they could meander through the headstones. adam drifted towards the ornate and like his shadow, ollie followed him but reserved his touches for the old and decaying. the ones that looked like they hadn't been tended for awhile. whose stone was cracked and unpolished. the cemetery wasn't old. not like the ones back east or down south, but there were still plenty that had seen a century of wear.

watching adam touch things made ollie want to touch adam in turn. he thought a lot about that. wanting to see the differences where they were the same. like the photograph in his phone of adam's hand and how ollie had looked at his own for entire minutes just to find every point of contrast.

he felt perfectly at home among the dead. maybe it was skepticism but ollie liked to think of it as acceptance. if there were such things as ghosts, they were there whether he didn't want them to be or not. better to just embrace the possibility without fear than constantly look over his shoulder at every cool breeze along his neck. when adam lingered in front of one of the headstones to admire it, ollie joined him by nudging his head between adam's arm and side, wiggling his way between both so he could read the inscription on the grave.

"what do you want on yours?" he asked in a reverent whisper. he didn't usually afford the night such luxuries but adam seemed to respect where they stood so ollie followed in turn as he craned his neck to look up between the inches that differed between them.

crawling vines and greenery like the arteries of the dead still feeding some pulsing of underground life. what was dead could rise again, find something new in the night, like the way ollie felt against his side. you're holding him and adam thought yes. i am. not the axe man, though his grin flashed to acknowledge the implication. no, he was holding him. being held. the arteries of the dead now thudding with new life.

not that he'd been dead. maybe stasis. maybe not even that. he didn't feel on any kind of decline, his world was buoyed by so many elements: his art, his friends, even sometimes his family. new discoveries and places visited. long bike rides and racing cars. but even out of that spinning carousel of pleasures one young man trailing the dead with him stood out as bright, incandescent. he weaved from the shiny marble under moonlight to the decayed and eroded stone that attracted ollie. found new interest in the old. thought of the weathered cracks in his own body now, despite inward feeling and a wiry ability to run into life headlong. he had moments viney and scrawled by time. and others like this, where heartbeat leapt twice as high as his throat to feel ollie sneak up under his arm so the natural thing to do was fold it completely aross the front of ollie's shoulders, beneath his neck, a loose choke, a pulling in half against his own chest.

"a grave question," he whispered back, marring the seriouness but only gently. he thought about it though, knowing he had less time ahead of him than he did behind, and while that was something he never much dwelled on it was a fact of his reality, part and parcel of his world.

this person though. this person was also a part of his world, right this minute and vibrantly for the past few days.

"maybe it should just simply says he was loved. that's all that matters in the end." said without a lick of bashfulness, or corniness, because strip away life to its barebones and that was what it amounted to. "what would yours say?" he looked at shadowed features that still caught whatever ambient light filtered from the sky. ollie's eyes were deep ice blue. their bodies tucked together, sharing warmth.

mortality had a way of putting things into perspective. but he wasn't thinking of death standing in that cemetary. he thieved more of life when he barely gave the younger man a minute to reply before locking up the distance between them, what little of it remained, and kissing him. lips, mouth, breathing, not breathing.

that feeling of being wrangled, half hauled in against the solidity of adam's body, made it impossible to ignore how full of life they were compared to everything around them. even the grass seemed wane and parched by comparison. that same monochromatic quality washing over the graveyard in that same way it had the sea so that they were the only colorful thing for miles. all the green of the trees become a black backdrop against the gaze that flitted down to meet his own.

his smile widened at the levity that prevented them from thinking of the inevitable. it was all speculation right now. death wasn't around the corner for either of them, at least with the way they spoke about it. "mm," ollie hummed his approval as he pulled his lips into a brief purse, wondering where he'd even wind up if not in the dirt. cemeteries as much apart of his life as an editing bay. "probably... he'll be back." not just because ollie believed nothing truly stayed dead but because he liked the idea of giving grave tourists like themselves an eerie chill when they read the inscription.

pride made the apples of his cheeks more pronounced as the grin grew with his impish delight. so that when that distance was conquered, their kiss was more teeth than lips before ollie's mouth softened against the offering being fed to him. unlike the fingers in his hair or the offer for more skin, this wasn't turned away from. if anything it gave him permission to have those things as let their mouths stay slotted against one another while his fingers inched beneath the fabric of everything that hid the dark lines curled around adam's stomach, touching what was hidden so that the warm skin would know it had been found.

ollie gave him one breath, then two, maybe ten. he gave willingly in his simply desire not to pull away. absorbing instead the feeling of adam's beard and how that too scraped against his chin as if to find other ways to continue touching him. and maybe the kiss was chaste for its lack of tongue and urgency, but ollie didn't feel like this was a thing that needed rushing. just like how they'd fallen into one another, their conversations folding effortlessly like all those desserts they kept luring each other in with. they kissed and it was warm and sweet and heady and alive just for being exactly what it was. and for a long moment they were the envy of all the dead.

adam could imagine their headstones side by side. he was loved. he'll be back. it was macabre and maybe he would draw it later, scenes of this or that rising out of paper in bleeding black ink in his mind—

then all of it disappearing into shadow as he felt ollie lean into him and kiss back with such ease that if he didn't know better he would've thought he was still in the center of a drug haze. but no, there was nothing to blame here but simple desire and if there was some taboo to it like trampling through a graveyard, neither of them excused themselves. ollie made a living of tracking ghosts and adam never let a ghost dictate to him. nothing that did now hold some solid place in his life could ever tell him right and wrong and even then he would push against walls and edges to be free.

softer skin but it was hardly an uninvolved kiss. his hand spread at the base of ollie's throat, fingers stroking absently along the pulse. a graveyard kiss but he felt hearbeat in both of their chests leaping urgent and alive, even if the play of their lips over each other was slow, exploring in pressure and texture, eventually tapering off. he brushed a little in the denouement, across ollie's mouth to the corner and across his cheek, his jawline. taking the scent of him, confirming it had not all been leather jacket last night.

despite the cooler air his body felt warm. he didn't separate them. didn't avoid ollie's eyes either, but the opposite. "where to next." his voice low and a little rough and thinking, with a low hum revving up at the back of his mind like a car with the brakes still pressed, how anywhere could be where and he wanted his hands inside these clothes like he'd felt ollie's slipping beneath his. he wanted hands and mouth and skin and this hunger that was roaring to the fore but he tugged on its leash and that was desirable too, this restraint, this first taste of an ache he had not felt in some time.

it wasn't a hesitant exploration nor a cautious one. rather, ollie found that it was like their meandering through the graveyard. slow, exploratory, full of reverent curiosity. because the kiss wasn't a surprise. there had been something brewing beneath their conversations and under every indulgent glance. the tinder was there, ready to be lit aflame. or maybe they were already smoldering, a steady heat ready to blaze. whatever they were, ollie leaned into it. touching as much as he was being touched. taking the moment to seek out the answers to questions he hadn't dare let himself ask.

questions like what adam's hands felt like on his body, the hand along the base of his throat a presence that he wanted to encourage wordlessly, revealing the hummingbird flutter of his pulse without shame because of course his heart wanted to climb up into his throat, one more thing to feed adam that wasn't just ollie's low rumble of contentment.

they saturated each other for a long moment. in smells and tastes and the skimming of fingertips along uncharted skin. somehow even with the ocean well behind them, ollie found that there was still a sea salt quality to adam's scent; this rich aroma of freedom that smelled of open air and unending roads. by the time their mouths had begun to part, ollie's breath had begun to catch; an irregular pant he wasn't proud of but that only made him smile wide and indulgent as adam continued to drink him in.

the scratch of that beard, the flutter of lips across his face, ollie tipped his head back to give him unfettered access to it all while his eyes stayed closed, enjoying the new ways in which he'd be able to recognize adam by touch alone. when adam drew back, the blue of ollie's eyes were lost to the black of the night, reflecting all the darkness of space but none of the emptiness. not with how full he felt as he watched the older man.

"mm," a considering sound made in his throat because he didn't quite trust himself to open his mouth and not sound breathless. as if this were just another detour in their evening that had been full of pleasant interruption. his fingers smoothed around the curve of a hip and around to the small of adam's back, taking freely but with no hurry. just enjoying the feeling of his palm flattening in that space that allowed him to coax their bodies a little closer together. carnal wants tempted him and he could see now that he wouldn't be denied, but there was something about the wait that made it more exquisite. the question of when forever looming in the background of their words. "funnily enough," he said in a low drawl that was thick and ragged enough to give him away, "church." as if the night had always been destined to reverse its way through time. a burial then a service, an entire life to follow.

"church huh." they were both smiling now. idiotic, enamored, he could read a bit of everything on ollie's face and feel it in the way they took liberty on each other, where hands rested, where distance seemed immaterial and he continued on, "already, without a ring. i guess." chin lifted, big laugh to cut the night. his arm tightened, curling ollie into him, a surprisingly smooth transition maybe to this developing tempo. "let's go."

he didn't question. as they picked their way back through tombstones and gravedirt, how if he wanted to propel ollie into the backseat instead, and climb in, and smother him not with clothing but his own body they could have themselves a ride, a hurricane of hands and mouths and getting caught up in each other in the basest of ways. yes, he thought of that and he let it simmer and sit low in his belly but did nothing because he liked this too, the unspoken, the unexamined, the unhurried.

but back at the car when ollie went to open the door adam leaned against his back for a moment, bracing his hand on the edge of the roof and pressed his face against the back of dark hair, and down a little to the nape of neck, and he kissed there and he said not a word about it, breaking off so he could go around the front of the car at an easy lope and climb in the right way this time. for half a minute a cooling between them as their bodies separated but his was still simmering, shimmering with the newness though there held a familiar patina to being close to ollie, this was not from scratch, this was not knowing nothing and this was not nothing.

something. the car started up and music spilled in once more and now when he looked over at ollie he let his stare linger completely. he took a small taste along his lower lip and knew it wasn't all himself on his tongue. he didn't question the allure, what ollie wanted, where they were going beyond church. church was as good a place as any. church was a perfect place for the likes of them and what they'd just started in a cemetary. rewinding back by going forward and disregarding all notion of proper order.

church. the last place he ever wanted to go when it was asked of him but now the clearest destination he could conjure because the idea of worship had nothing to do with god but the almighty want inside of him that was inextricably linked to a sly smile, black ink, and the way adam's beard felt when prickled at his skin like the needling of a tattoo gun. redness left behind like the constellations ollie wanted immortalized on his body.

how had he made his way through this friendship with such restraint before now? that laughter sent something surging inside of him. a brightness that made every headstone illuminate in a flash for one brief moment before the hush fell back over them. they pressed into one another like coconspirators, sharing secrets with their bodies, and ollie let himself be wrangled, kept tucked against adam who he breathed in with every step, caught in the nexus of their controlled desire.

it was a physical thing to need to brace himself for. ollie hadn't realized how weak he was with it until he felt the weight of adam against his back like a promise. that face that breathed him in caused his own breath to hitch as ollie curled a hand around the lip of the roof, clutching there in a mirror of white knuckled composure. these kisses for all their simplicity undid him. it made him throb with denied pleasure, a second heartbeat pulsing while the one in his chest continued to slam against his ribcage.

hiding how breathless he was no longer seemed an option. the heat of his body seemed to double even when adam extracted his own and his gut tightened with the urge to crawl across his front seat to settle in the man's lap like it was their final destination. by the time he was in his seat, there was a stare to greet him but ollie didn't meet it. they both knew he saw it though. his grin overwhelming him as he briefly hid his face behind a hand and laughed before he scrubbed it back through his hair and put the car back into drive.

they both seemed to take in the second hand taste of each other. adam in the teasing flash of that tongue and ollie who pursed his lips together before he let his own tongue slice through them unseen. now, with the music scoring their want of each other, the palpable tension in the car was unavoidable. ollie let himself be made dizzy with it; a strange euphoria of delay and denial. his hand wandered, as it always did when he wasn't at home in an atmosphere, and it strayed to his throat, hovering there at the base like he could cover the phantom touch of adam's hand with his own.

a five minute drive feeling like eternity as he did his best not to look at adam. to focus on the road and the parking lot and the familiar sight of the altadena community church where he'd spent so much of his youth. if he looked at adam, he'd want to desecrate every square inch of the place in his own pursuit of something holy. if he looked at adam, they weren't going to get out of the car but spend at least a good portion of the night steaming it up. so instead, when he parked, ollie nodded towards the black board and its lettering that awaited their touch. "anything you've always wanted to hear god say?" because they had that power now even if all ollie was focused on was the things he wanted to hear adam say instead.

he knew his effect on people sometimes, not to be manipulative but a life spent in fashion and at parties and watching how eyes could follow him and how people wore their thoughts on their faces and he'd learned even if he didn't take it seriously, even if it was ridiculous, even if flattery was the lowest form of liking and maybe there was a small part of him that courted ego (maybe more than a small part) and to see how he could make ollie's breath hitch, could make him maybe blush though it was hard to tell in the dim light, how he could feel the heart beating harder and it was his fault, he was the culprit, and he was fucking proud of it.

he could make this twenty-something year old laugh and cover his face and look askance at him then not look at him at all and rather than something manipulative or predatory, it was a softer feeling that pushed into his chest like ollie had pushed into it and this pride that he could affect this young man wrapped his own body in a kind of strange gratitude. it was no small thing to impact another and if this was just lust it would not feel quite this way. he knew that too.

in the short time it took to drive to the church he indulged in the last few minutes, ensconced in the passenger seat and with the luxury of looking at ollie's profile, both of them in their own spheres but also in each other's and he thought of that kiss over and over and how ollie hadn't hesitated to reach beneath his shirt even for an inch of him and how now ollie seemed to be remembering by the touch to his throat and adam thought of putting his mouth there and how ollie would let him, how for those moments by a gravestone he'd felt this person recline into him and something potent about such giving over riled and strung taut this need in him, amplified by the fact he knew now it was mutual.

they had a lot to discover. he wondered in that five minute drive what exactly they would. what shape it would all take and rather than some outside worrying about appearances or threat to friendship—those were things for people who gave a damn about what-ifs—he daydreamed instead about more drives like this, more mischief, more wrestling on night beaches and smoking joints and turning his camera on ollie and having it turned on him as if twenty-plus years of modeling could culminate in this single need.

the church sprawled ahead, familiar cross and empty lot because good churchgoing people weren't worshiping at midnight except for holidays, maybe, and only then did he let his gaze lift from ollie and out to the blackboard. he smiled.

"are we gonna write messages?" a small pause. "i always thought maybe god would admonish the most die hard believers. tell them to be kinder, less judgmental. but then i realize he's said that already and they just don't read it. judge not that ye be not judged. a strange little blindspot in modern christianity." he could talk about god while roiling with want. "what about you?" for the past two days he always wanted to know. it went back and forth, insatiable in other ways.

i'm dying to know what ollie had planned for them at the church or beyond? adam would've been happy scribbling things but also game for anything else

they were gonna rearrange the letters on the black marquee thingie to say something along the lines of "everyone deserves love" or something then sneak adam into the church itself so they could talk in the pews, maybe with his head in adam's lap or vice versa. ollie's not really afraid of being caught by any of the security guards because chances are he's known them for years so if that happened he'd introduce adam and the three of them could talk, maybe swap old church stories, before heading out laughing like teenagers

ahhh he would've loved that. rearranging the letters to say 'everyone deserves love' would be something he'd do, and he quite likes churches (grew up in them same as ollie because of his parents) even if he doesn't practice any of it. i can see him a little slouched in a pew with ollie's head on his lap and he'd put one hand on ollie's chest and the other filtering through his hair and he'd ask if ollie wanted to confess anything but not really be serious. he'd definitely ask ollie about his life growing up in the church and the kinds of experiences he had. and he wouldn't be phased if a guard came by at all, but be polite and charming af lol