Matt didn't know about Evan but it was the highlight of his week, sitting in the near-dark, just talking, listening, drinking. They created a little cocoon of their misery, a safe haven in which to feel like a piece of garbage. To be tired and bitter and a failure, with no apologies.
How exactly that moved to daily "shoot the shit" phone calls, he couldn't exactly say.
"So I got Giant tickets for this weekend--you game?"
"Where the hell did you get those?"
"Grateful client with box seats. So?"
"Yeah. Kids are away again. My sister-in-law is taking them pumpkin picking."
"Why don't you go too?"
Matt could practically hear the shrug over the phone. "Can't seem to work up the energy I'd need."
"I'll pick you up at ten a.m. on Sunday then."
"You got it."
After hanging up the phone, Matt got back to making dinner (two Lean Cuisines in the microwave) and nursing a bottle of Coors.
He couldn't pinpoint when he'd started noticing the little things, like the odd silver-blue color of Evan's eyes, or the way he moved ... in control. The way his body moved under his unassuming button-down shirts as he sprawled in his chair, tipping his head back to work out the kinks. He couldn't remember when he'd begun moving his chair a little closer during their weekly drink fests, catching the subtle scent of soap and cologne from his skin. Matt imagined one of his children bought it for him, for Christmas or Father's Day. In his mind's eye he could picture Evan standing in front of the bathroom mirror, splashing it on, rubbing his face with damp hands. He tried not to spend too much time dwelling on any of it, because it posed a much larger question than Matt was willing to ponder.
Of course the not pondering didn't help the situation once the dreams began.
The first one was just ... strange. The only thing he remembered was the USMC tattoo. At first, Matt thought he was dreaming of the bartender at O'Malley's, which was frightening in and of itself. But they weren't in the bar, they were ... in the squad room. Matt's old squad room at Homicide. He was at his desk, typing, and when he looked across to talk to Abe, he saw ... it was Evan. Smiling.
He could see the USMC tattoo on the inside of Evan's arm, a reminder of his brief time in the military before marriage and fatherhood demanded he return home. And that was all Matt could remember.
The second dream--a few nights later--was pretty unforgettable and this time Matt didn't have to decipher its meaning. He woke up in a cold sweat, his heart thundering in his ears. The sheets were damp. But this wasn't a nightmare.
In this dream--and all the ones that followed--they were sitting somewhere dark and ... soft. Side by side, almost touching. Matt whispered, because it almost felt like church. Almost. What does your tattoo taste like? Evan said nothing. He was barely more than a ghost, his eyes radiating some kind of light ... and then he pushed himself against Matt, lifting his arm to just outside the reach of his lips. Without a second thought Matt ran his tongue from Evan's wrist to the crook of his elbow. Paused. Then kept going. Up his forearm, tasting muscle. Past his shoulder, into the dip of his collarbone. The taste was addictive. Oh and his mouth...
After the latest dream--the morning after he'd made the plans with Evan for the Giants game--Matt ended up with his hands buried in his hair, breathing deeply, nearly turning to check and make sure there wasn't anyone in bed with him. This dream was driving him crazy. Every fucking night for the past two weeks he'd wake up shaking--and rock hard--his mouth burning with a memory from his imagination. This had never happened to him before. He'd always been strictly into women, 100 percent. Lost his virginity at fourteen, for Christ's sake. Granted, the past few years had been less than successful, and he honestly could not remember the last real relationship he'd had.
Like the one you have with Evan, you idiot? His inner voice sounded like his late partner Tony, sort of a cross between a wise guy and a sitcom dad.
Oh no. Matt shook his head violently, tossing the covers back to get up. He tried to pretend the hard-on was the result of needing to take a piss, but he wasn't fooling himself and hey, he wasn't fooling his dick.
Peering into his bathroom mirror he got close enough for his nose to touch. The drinking was taking its toll. He'd seen it happen to his old man, knew the signs. Was he aging badly? Would he ever find someone who looked at him with anything more than pity? Or contempt? Or casual affection? He wanted what Evan had, what he talked about from the bottom of a pitcher of beer. He wanted to love someone enough to grieve for them.
He also wanted to stop dreaming of running his tongue all over Evan Cerelli's body--well hey, we could start there and work toward the rest later.
Facing him on Sunday was going to be tough. Hard. He groaned inwardly. Don't remind me, he thought, trying to ignore the throb located in his groin. It's just a fantasy; it didn't mean he was gay. Didn't mean anything as a matter of fact. He was spending a lot of time with Evan, the first person in a very long while who listened to Matt, who made him feel comfortable, calm. His subconscious was just equating sex--which he hadn't had in a very long time--with that comfort. Man, all that time spent around his friend Liz the Shrink had apparently made him a dream analyst. How impressive. Maybe he should give her a call and ask her opinion of a been-heterosexual-all-my-life guy having sex dreams about another guy who happened to be his closest friend. And also straight. No, he didn't actually want to hear what she had to say. It would probably just make him swan dive off a pier.
He poured a glass of orange juice down his throat, trying to scrub the tingle off his tongue. Crawled back under the covers repeating his theory about his subconscious doing a little creative writing. Pretended that he wasn't thinking of Evan when his hand finished the job his dream had started.