Posted originally on the Archive of Our Own at http://archiveofourown.org/works/553313.

Rating:
Explicit
Archive Warning:
Choose Not To Use Archive Warnings
Category:
M/M
Fandom:
Matthew Good Band, Canadian Music RPF
Relationship:
Dave Genn/Matthew Good
Character:
Dave Genn, Matthew Good, Rich Priske, Holly McNarland, Ian Browne
Additional Tags:
Woke Up Gay, Coming Out
Stats:
Published: 2007-06-09 Words: 9794

Waiting for Slow Songs

by

Summary

One day, Dave wakes up gay. Well, not really, but that's the best explanation he can come up with for it.

Notes

Written for wtf27 prompt #16 - You see, I woke up gay. Title thanks to Sloan.

See end notes for a spoilery content note.

Dave is surrounded by chests. It's just—chests. They are around. They have muscles on them, and they have nipples. He's never really noticed it before, but now the prevalence of chests seems fairly obvious and he wonders how he could have missed it.

For instance, there's Matt. Matt is asleep in the twin bed next to Dave's, drooling on a formerly-crisp corner of the hotel-issue bed sheet. And Matt has a chest. He does. Dave is sure of this. He can't see it right now but he's seen it before. It sits below Matt's neck and above his stomach, and it is quite chesty. Being, as it is, a chest.

Shaving in front of the mirror, Dave notices that he, too, has a chest, but that this is much less interesting than the prospect of Matt having one. He nicks himself and, swearing under his breath, decides to try to turn his mind away from chests. But then he starts thinking about legs and he'll be damned if he isn't surrounded by those too, and—

"Hey, you two, where's the Pepto-Bismol? I think that tandoori chicken didn't agree with me or something, because I think Rich is going to kick me out of the room if I don't—"

"Ian!" Matt shouts from the bed. "I was actually really enjoying being asleep just now." Ian drops his hands sheepishly from where they've been clutching Dave and Matt's doorframe, and heads fully into the room as the door clicks behind him. "No, I mean really. I had one of those dreams where I was flying, and then I was about to go get an ice cream sandwich. I'll have to kill you now."

"You might need to get out of bed first," Ian reasons. Matt sighs.

"And I really can't be bothered, to tell the truth." He rolls over, clutching his pillow, and shuts his eyes. "Sleeping now," he says, as if to affirm that he's not just lying down with eyes closed in a bed for a lark.

"Good morning, Dave," Ian says, looking over at Dave and noticing, presumably, that half of his face is still covered with shaving cream, and part of it is bleeding. "Is there a reason you're giving me the silent treatment?"

Dave shakes his head to snap himself out of his zoned-out state.

"Uh, no. I'm just kind of disoriented this morning. Must have had a weird dream or something last night." He runs a hand through his hair and takes note that he has slept in his hair gel, again. He also notes that this doesn't really bother him, and smiles, relieved. He has not been body-snatched and replaced with a flamer. It's just that he keeps thinking about how Ian would look nice with his shirt off, and he never really noticed how attractive the way his hair falls in his eyes when he's just woken up is.

"Well, I'll personally blame Indian food, since that's the reason for my flatulence. Now, on that topic, where is the Pepto-Bismol?"

"We really needed to know that!" Matt shouts encouragingly from the bed. "I can't wait to tune into next week's episode of Ian Browne's bodily functions!"

"Yeah well, that's what she said," Ian retorts, turning back to Dave. "I think maybe I'll kill him instead of the other way around."

"Hey, make love, not war," Dave says, glancing back into the mirror before continuing shaving. And think he nicks himself again, because he's getting an image of Ian bending Matt over the hotel bed, and it's putting a jump in the pit of his stomach. "Fuck," he says softly.

"Dave, I think you should go back to bed. You're bleeding all over the place."

"Well, yeah, there go my hopes of having a presentable face. Hopefully I'm loved for my excellent personality."

Ian plays with the hem of his shirt. "This would be a great time to make a nasty comment, except there's really nothing bad I can say about your personality."

"Stop hitting on Dave. I used all the Pepto-Bismol," Matt snaps. "Sorry." Ian glares at him. "Come on, I'm sure there's a convenience store near here. Or am I just not allowed to have stomach problems anymore?"

"Obviously, only I am," Ian says, faking a pout. "You cut me deep, Matt. You cut me deep."

"Please go away!" Matt pulls the covers over his head forcefully. Dave looks away and dabs thoughtfully at his bleeding face with his shirt. Ian wouldn't really hit on him, would he? That comment was unusually complimentary, but Ian—not Ian. There's no way. Ian's been dating the same girl for two years, if Dave remembers right.

Dave heads into the bathroom to further clean up, and maybe his muddled head, too, if he can help it. He splashes water over his face. This is—he's not, okay? He likes women. He likes breasts and he likes curves. He likes having sex with women, although he isn't really sure he understands why so many other people do. Wait. Where did that thought come from?

Before he starts letting this whole thing snowball, because he knows thanks to Matt what happens when you let things snowball too far, he turns on the shower and strips. Maybe in a few hours, this will all be cleared up. There's no reason for him to worry.

---

Laughing and kicking, Matt and Holly McNarland tumble onto the floor of Holly's dressing room, in the sort of burst of energy Dave hasn't seen from Matt in who knows how long. Probably at least not since a month before he broke up with his last girlfriend. Holly and Matt seem to have a thing going—Dave is fairly sure they fucked on the floor after filming the video for "Alabama Motel Room", although he wasn't there himself so he can't verify this.

Still, he'd be glad to see Matt get out of the slump he's been in lately, and having someone with Holly's eternal optimism around would do him good. Part of him is feeling a twinge of jealousy, though—he misses having a steady girlfriend and, especially, the rush of falling in love. There's nothing else like it.

"Well?" Holly says, as she puts Matt into a chokehold. "Are you going to stay around and watch?"

"Sorry." Dave drops his hands from where they've been stuffed in his pockets. "I've been so out of it today. I think the only part of my brain that's functioning is the 'sit around and gape' center."

"I'll concede we're better than what's on TV these days," Matt says, grinning while he tries to extract himself from Holly's arms. Once he succeeds, he pins her down prone underneath him.

"Uncle!" Holly shouts, beating the floor. "Damn it Matt, I could kick your ass if I hadn't gotten all of four hours of sleep last night."

"Sleep." Matt nuzzles close to Holly's face, collapsing. "I like sleep."

Dave isn't sure whether it's his conscience or their tenderness that makes him leave then; both of them hurt.

---

Midnight approaches faster than usual, and Dave has been playing guitar alone, sitting on the tailgate of the MGB's van. Holly's band is having a barbecue (yeah, at midnight—what's it to ya?), and Dave is considering furtively snatching a burger when Holly walks up to the van, skinny arms folded over her chest.

"What is it with you, Dave Genn?" she asks, in a tone that is some sort of bizarre middle ground between condescending and comforting.

"I don't even know." He plays a quick scale in Mixolydian mode and frowns. "You don't need to do this." Holly laughs.

"I should have known. Matt keeps telling me you're a nice guy. Girl in a tank top and no bra walks up to you and you turn her away." Clicking her tongue, she shakes her head. Dave, for the record, didn't even notice she wasn't wearing a bra. He doesn't notice that sort of thing. Does he notice that sort of thing? Did he use to notice that sort of thing?

"Well, sure, if she appears to have some sort of relationship thing with one of your best friends," Dave says, setting his guitar down. "Besides, 'What is it with you?' sounds more like you're annoyed with me than anything else."

Holly whistles. "Oh boy, and he really is nice. I swear, guys like you are one in a million."

Dave can't help but raise an eyebrow at this. "And Matt isn't?"

"Matt's one of a kind."

"I can't say I disagree with that."

A flicker of light from the grill passes over Holly's face. She sits down on the tailgate next to Dave, pushing up with her arms and scrabbling when her feet don't quite touch the grass. Something about how loud and confident she is makes him keep forgetting she's even smaller than he is.

"What is it you and Matt have, anyway?" Dave speaks up after a minute or so, figuring two can play this game.

"Friends with benefits, I guess." She grins. "We could never go out; my cats don't like him." Dave can't help but laugh at the image of Holly's cats hissing at Matt's sullen mug.

"Matt's a dog guy. That must be pretty irreconcilable," he says.

"You bet." Holly wiggles her toes above the grass. "So. What is it? You looked like you needed a girl to talk to. Guys are never, ever good for talking about serious stuff with. Sometimes not even if you're dating them. They always get awkward and start going on about the weather."

Dave grits his teeth a little. "It's nice out, isn't it?"

Holly shifts. One of her spaghetti straps slides down her shoulder. "Come on. I'm offering you help. Or at least a sounding board. No one who's completely all right stands around looking like he needs directions when his friend is half-naked on the floor with a girl—"

"You weren't half-naked."

"My point still stands. I'm being nice."

They sit in silence, staring at their increasingly drunken bandmates as they skewer hot dogs. Then Dave talks, and it all just comes out in a rush.

"See, the thing is, I'm not sure if I could use the kind of help you're offering, because I think I might be gay."

He feels his face flush and his heart pound, as his thoughts scramble for coherence.

"Oh," Holly says. "Wow." She puts a hand on Dave's arm. "That's big. How long have you been thinking about this?"

"Since this morning." His blood is pounding in his ears so loud that his voice sounds like it's coming from outside of him somewhere. "Well, in coherent terms, since this morning. But I think there was always something—I was never able to put it into words, but there was a reason I didn't stay in relationships long, and I was always more interested in guitar than porn, but I thought I was just dedicated—"

"Well, I'm sure you are. You're sitting here playing on the back of a truck, I don't know how much more dedicated someone can get. But seriously. This is big. You deserve so much more credit than anyone's giving you just for trying to act normal."

"I woke up this morning and things just started to fall into place," Dave continues, numbly. "Maybe I had a dream last night—something raunchy, probably, and then I just woke up and I was thinking about men naked. And now that I'm admitting it to myself, I'm realizing it makes more sense than anything else ever has." His head droops and he braces it with a hand. "God, I thought I was just nice."

"Oh, come on. Nice and gay don't have anything to do with each other. You do sort of have double jeopardy with the whole gay and Canadian thing, though." Dave manages a laugh. "You know, you shouldn't worry about Matt and Ian and Rich finding out or whatever, if that's what you're worried about."

"Yeah, a little." He's dug himself into a hole here, but this keeps getting continually more embarrassing. "That, and—what do I do now? I don't want to suddenly start dating guys, I just don't know where to go from here. I'm sitting on the back of a truck talking to the girl my best friend sleeps with and not thinking about consequences, but tomorrow morning I'll wake up and everything will hit me like a hangover."

"You come to peace with yourself, is what you do. This is the first step."

"Do you know anyone else who's gay?" is the first thing that comes to mind.

"Sure! Plenty. If you mean dateable material, I could give you a list."

"I meant it as in, have you ever had this conversation before?"

"Oh." She laughs. "I've been on both sides of this conversation. I'm bisexual. I guess somehow I just figure people will know this without asking."

"You don't look like it," Dave says.

"Oh, fuck stereotypes. Plenty of people 'don't look like it'. You don't look like anything but yourself; I wouldn't like, see you and think, oh, that guy there, he loves the cock. I just meant I assume people know because it's just as much a part of me as having brown hair. Or, not even, because my hair is dyed blonde right now."

"What do you think Matt would say if I told him?"

"I'm not a mind reader, but I'm pretty damn sure he would just give it a second to fall into his worldview and then smile and pat you on the back."

"But Matt freaks out about things. I don't know if you've seen him."

"Oh, I've seen him freak out about things. But he won't freak out about that. From what I know of him, he only freaks out about things that actually matter."

Dave looks up at her and grins. "Holly, I don't know you well, and I sure as hell don't understand why you're doing this, but you're a damn good person."

"If you think that, you obviously haven't seen me drunk."

Holly puts her arms loosely around Dave, and Dave somehow finds himself slipping down until his head is in her lap and she's stroking his hair. He's just so thankful, not only because she's there, but also because it doesn't mean anything more than it means on the surface. But mostly because she's there.

---

Matt has a glow the next morning, because he's obviously been getting laid. He's the only one—everyone else is hung over, and Rich is doubled over puking behind the van. But Matt is glowing and laughing, and a barefoot Holly is clinging to him, tucking his hair behind his ears where it's getting long and biting his arm to make him laugh.

With friends like this, Dave finds himself wondering, who needs lovers? Holly's even making breakfast for the MGB, frying eggs over the tiny stove in the room where her band is staying.

"I can't tell you how nice it is we could meet up," Rich says as he stumbles back in. Holly tosses him a bottle of Advil across the counter.

"Take a breath mint too, if you can find one," she calls cheerily and flips another egg out of her pan and onto a plate. Dave takes it from her, smiling, and digs into it with a fork, hungrier than he thought he'd be. Holly winks and punches him in the arm, whatever that's supposed to mean. Somehow he decides to interpret it as 'talk to Matt', so he eats slowly after that and waits till everyone else is finished to get seconds, then camps out on the couch with his cleaned plate on his lap.

Matt, as usual, is not particularly perceptive, so it takes a playful shove from Holly and an "I'll be back. You two have fun," before he figures out there's something he's supposed to say to Dave.

"Okay," Matt says, hands on his hips and looking down curiously at Dave. "Am I here to apologize for something I don't know I fucked up yet?"

"No," says Dave, smiling despite himself and the fact that he's terrified. "I want to apologize for being…whatever I was being yesterday."

"Whatever." Matt stuffs his hands in his pocket and crouches, leaving his face uncomfortably close to Dave's. Dave wonders: what if he just grabbed Matt and kissed him like nobody's business?

And everything sort of happens at once then.

"I think I'm gay," says Dave, and at the same time Matt is saying "I'm attracted to you."

"No, wait," Matt continues. "That sounds extremely stupid. I have feelings for you. No. That's stupider. I want to—wait, what did you just say?"

"What did you just say, is the better question," Dave protests. "I mean, are you fucking serious?"

"Would I sound this nervous if I wasn't fucking serious?" Matt says shakily, stuffing his hands further into his pants. "I was talking to Holly and she told me I should tell you, I don't know why—"

"Because I told her last night that I think I'm gay."

"No." Matt gives Dave a sad smile. "She told me right about after you left the room. I guess that was just a coincidence." He runs a hand through his hair and then puts it back in his pocket. "Um, I guess that's pretty cool. About you. Uh, thanks. For trusting me enough. I would love to say it makes this easier, but obviously it doesn't. And this is probably really awkward for you. Maybe I should have told you back when we were just getting started with this whole band thing. Maybe I shouldn't have told you at all."

"No, no, it's fine." Dave shakes his head. "Thank you for trusting me. You're a good guy. If this hasn't come between us in—god, three fucking years, I can't see how it will magically start to now. You're a good friend. Great musician. And…." Dave cuts himself off.

"And?"

"And you're not bad looking, either."

"You're just saying that to make me feel better."

"I am not."

"Then we should sleep together," says Matt, his voice growing uncomfortably loud. Dave can tell he's ridiculously nervous, but that doesn't make it any less annoying that there are probably people in Africa who can hear him.

"No, I can't. I haven't—I don't even know how. It's not like I've studied this extensively. If there's supposed to be an instruction manual that comes with the whole gay thing, it hasn't come in the mail yet." Dave rubs the back of his neck. That really is the only thing stopping him, he thinks. At least, even if sex with girls was really weird when you thought about it, you didn't really need help figuring out how to do it. If Matt were only female, Dave could just grab him by the shirt collar and strip him and fuck him on the floor. But he wouldn't enjoy it.

"Oh, that's all?" Matt looks actually cocky for a second. "It's not as hard as it looks." Dave opens his mouth. "And before you ask and embarrass yourself, yes, I have done it before. Plenty."

Great. Matt the fuck-up gets around more than he does. The whole thing with Holly has made him aware of this, but this is just rubbing it in.

"I still don't think I'm ready for that yet," Dave admits. "I mean, I just finally put the pieces together with myself. I used to think about it all the time when I was younger, but I sort of pushed it back so I could deal with all the things people were expecting me to do."

"Can I tell you something, Dave?" says Matt, whose hands are now visibly shaking. "All my life has been the same way. All the stupid things I didn't tell anyone. I started telling people. It hasn’t made them any better, but it's done loads for my guilty conscience."

The first thing Dave thinks to ask Matt is what other "stupid things" is he not telling Dave about, but he thinks better of it. Instead he says, "You should sit down," and moves over to accommodate Matt on the couch.

"Great," says Matt. "Now this has just gotten about a hundred times more awk—"

Dave grabs Matt and gives him that kiss he was thinking about earlier, his hand on the back of Matt's head and his eyes squeezed shut. Matt squirms against him for a moment but then kisses back, and Dave can't help but think, after the strangeness of the whole thing starts to fade, that Matt is really rather good at it.

---

Holly opens the MGB show that night, and both Dave and Matt stay in the audience to watch. Matt seems to use every opportunity he can to touch Dave somehow, knocking against him constantly and linking their fingers when no one else can see. Dave is on edge, figuring out lame excuses to leave for the bathroom or push away from Matt in the crowd.

It's going to be very hard to explain, Dave realizes, that the kiss in Holly's band's room wasn't exactly Dave's way of saying okay, let's have a relationship. It was sort of Dave's way of saying, you're cute, and you're even cuter when you aren't embarrassing both of us. There is a great divide between Dave figuring out he's gay and Dave deciding he's going to start having a gay relationship with someone he never even entertained the concept of being more than friends with.

When the MGB goes onstage, Dave gets a sinking feeling that everything is headed toward an explosion.

"I really don't feel like talking tonight," Matt mumbles into the microphone, "So we're going to shut up and play. Buy our single."

So Dave concentrates much harder than usual on his solos and he fucking nails Hello Time Bomb.

It gets good after that. Really good. Just before they're about to finish up there's a sort of huddle on the stage and they decide to play Change of Season, which isn't much of a live song, but Matt insists that it's as good a song as anything else and should get the credit it deserves. Dave is on board, since it's his song as much as it is Matt's, and Ian and Rich are agreeable since it's basically a break for them.

"Get your lighters out, everyone," Ian mutters, before Rich smacks him upside the head. Good. About time Rich started finding his feet in the band. They disperse to their stations and Dave takes the keyboard while Matt strums distractedly at a guitar to warm up. Then they stumble (stumble, Dave thinks, is the right word, because Dave generally does most of the guitar and the piano on this song) into the intro.

"If they dropped the bomb, would you love me then? If I was wrong, would it be okay?" Matt sings, and then Dave feels his stomach drop to his feet, almost missing a chord, because oh yeah. Matt's singing to him. This is Matt's way of communicating. Dave wrote some of these lines, and now they're being directed at him.

He mouths what he remembers along with Matt and he makes his guitar wail the solo. It's the least he can do.

Afterwards he wipes the sweat off his forehead and blinks it from his eyes just in time to wave goodbye to the crowd. He's going to need a long time to think about this.
---

Dave lounges on the couch in their new hotel room, staring not at the flickering TV screen but somewhere past it. Somehow This Hour Has 22 Minutes reruns just can't compete with what's on his mind.

He's been turning it over for the past few hours, and it's taken the form of words: he could love Matt. This is a new development and a tentative one at best. But it's just—this is the way he'd want someone to tell him. He is a romantic at heart.

Or maybe not. Maybe this is just his reaction to figuring himself out. He doesn't want to end up sleeping with every guy he knows, and he has no interest in perpetuating the stereotype of gay guys who hop in bed with everything convex. On the other hand—does that mean he has three hands?—Matt just happened to be in the right place at the right time.

And yeah. If Dave were going to date, or even hook up with, any guy, Matt would probably be near the top of the list. Well, Vin Diesel would probably be number one, but this is supposed to be strictly reality-based.

"God damn it." Dave throws the remote at the wall. He really is gay. Really, really gay.

---

Holly and Dave make tea the next morning. Well, Holly is really doing all the making, but Dave's mom was always extremely specific about how long teabags should be left in the water and keeping the teabag-to-water ratio precise.

"This isn't exactly helping your image," says Holly when Dave fishes out the bags and sniffs them reproachingly.

"What image? I don't have an image!" Dave lowers the teabags into Holly's trash can as Holly moves over a can of wildflowers to make room for some mugs. "Or should I say that cooking with a metal teapot is ruining your flower child image?"

"Flower children don't take no shit from no one," Holly chides, shaking a finger and smoothing her skirt down. Glancing around, she pulls a wildflower from a different can and tucks it behind Dave's ear. Dave pulls it out, rolling his eyes.

"I'm still the same person, you know."

"I'm not trying to treat you different! Maybe I'd have put flowers in your hair even if you traveled with posters of Carmen Electra. Maybe—"

"What the hell is this about?" Rich butts in, sidling up to the stove for all the world like he's the sheriff in an old western. Or maybe the deputy, the one Eric Clapton refrained from shooting. "What happened to Dave that he might potentially not be the same person after? Or is this another one of those things that I'm not going to understand until I've been in this band for four years?"

"Can I take a rain check out on that question?" Dave says and interests himself thoroughly in pouring the tea into the mugs. Tea. Yeah, tea is great!

"Is this about Matt?" says Rich. And Dave, of course, despite priding himself on his self-control, turns around so fast he fears whiplash. Holly seems to have done the same, though, which takes the sting out of it a little.

"About Matt what?" she asks, hands on her hips. "Could you try narrowing it down a little? There's a lot of Matt stuff for stuff to be about."

"Maybe I should just talk to Dave alone for a minute," says Rich. Well, there goes Dave's only lifeline. Holly is nodding.

"Don't you two kill each other in my kitchen," she says, before ducking out. "Now I'll go get some fresh air. It is a gorgeous day out!" she calls from the doorway.

"Look," says Rich. "I know there's a lot I haven't figured out yet, or maybe I'm too thick to. But you just need to stop being so protective of Matt."

Dave drops the mug he's holding. Luckily it was only about two inches from the stovetop.

"I," he starts, and that's about all he can manage.

"Matt's not a baby, and he's not your wife. He likes girls. He likes Holly! Okay? Yes, I think it's probably pretty idiotic of him to go around flaunting the fact that he's getting some ass—"

"Holly's not 'some ass'." Dave has a hair-trigger feminist reflex—another inheritance from his mother, and now, he's thinking, another strike against him appearing anything but flaming. Maybe the fact that he's in sweats will save him, but he's probably a lost cause.

"Whatever he's getting. I don't care. My point is back when I first met you guys, I thought you two had it all squared away and were probably dating or at least sleeping together." What the fuck? is all Dave can think. "But now it's pretty obvious you're not, and I know how you feel about Matt—" Hilarious, because Dave doesn't know how he himself feels about Matt. "—but you just need to step back. Let him be with Holly. They're like little kids. How the hell can you get in the way of that?"

"Rich. Rich, please stop. I'm sorry, it's just that I'm not sure if you could possibly be any more confused or—or misdirected than you are right now." Dave hangs his head. "Matt and Holly aren't a couple, and neither are Matt and I." Rich blinks, shaking his head.

"If Matt and Holly aren't a couple, what is a couple?"

"Matt and Holly are fuckbuddies. That's all. They have been since they met."

"And you and Matt?" Dave closes his eyes, preparing himself to explain. "Look, it's not like you have to hide anything from me. I'm not any kind of bigot. I didn't know if it was me you were hiding stuff from or everyone else."

"Is this some sort of cruel comedy where everyone knows the entire damn story except for the main character?" Dave says, bracing himself with his hands against the stove. "I don't have—I mean, okay. Matt. Matt just confuses me. I could say more, but it's Matt's business."

"Have you slept with him? Can you at least tell me that much?"

"No, I haven't slept with him! Where are you even getting this?"

"Small signals."

"Men aren't supposed to notice small signals." Dave realizes a split second later this is probably more of an insult than it was meant to be.

"Okay, so I live with women. Sue me." Rich tosses his hands up in the air. "I date them, too, as it happens. And Kate sees what I see too."

"Kate's in on this?" Gaping, Dave shakes his head. "I think I need to sit down." So he does, flopping onto the rough, sagging couch.

"Kate just said you two were sweet. Nothing graphic. Honestly I don't know why you're freaking out so much."

"Rich."

"Dave." Rich does an obnoxious little head movement, and Dave resists the urge to throttle him.

"Matt and I aren't a couple. In fact, we weren't anything until yesterday—yes, you heard me right, yesterday—Matt comes up to me and tells me he has a crush on me." He instantly regrets it, but the words are out and he'll have to grin and bear it.

"And?"

"And I told him we'd figure things out." This is, of course, a blatant lie, but Dave has honestly had it with this whole conversation. "Because my personal life is very confusing right now."

"You're in a band," says Rich, sounding suddenly pained as he moves toward the door. "You don't have a personal life anymore."

---

"You just can't keep your big mouth shut, can you?" Matt asks, walking behind Dave and breathing hot on the back of his neck. It makes Dave's skin prickle in the sort of way that he can't decide whether he likes or not. "Holly pulled me in to listen to your conversation. I really appreciate it, Dave, just so you know."

"So I'm not allowed to talk to Rich about things I have questions about?" Arguing with Matt gives Dave a sickly feeling. It's like hitting a puppy after it bites you because it doesn't know better.

"Not if they involve my private business. Honestly, Dave, I thought you knew better." Matt stops walking for a moment and Dave suddenly gets afraid Matt's going to hit him. But he doesn't, he just exhales and resumes his pacing. "Dave, you know, and you should know because I have a feeling you're in the same position; I didn't choose to feel the way I feel about you. You're just here in my life and you're handsome and brilliant and generally a pretty decent person."

"I can't be decent when I'm this confused."

"Fuck you." Matt flings the words casually, but they still hit Dave hard for some reason. "You think you're confused?"

"Yes. I am confused. I've been trying my best to act normal when my life has just made about the biggest one-eighty I can remember."

Now Matt stops pacing and grabs Dave by the shirt collar, staring him straight in the eyes. He doesn't speak, only stares. Matt's eyes burn holes in Dave's skin; Dave is somehow reminded of how damn attractive Matt is. An angry Matt is not something to be trifled with, but he's just—he's sexy. Okay. Dave admits it now. His body is, what's the word, it radiates with whatever he's feeling. He's a physical person, that's it.

This is pretty well exemplified by the fact that Matt is still twisting Dave's shirt collar in his hand.

"That's fun, isn't it? When your whole life is a confusing mess, and nothing is familiar? Try living it every damn day." Matt finally lets go. "There are a lot of things I want to say and do and do to you right now, but I am going to have sex instead. You should leave now."

So yes, that is all Matt has to say, leaving Dave smoothing out his shirt and frowning as he walks out of the room and into the rain. Holly rolls her eyes at him as he passes, and he can't tell whether she's amused or angry or making some sort of secret signal to tell him everything's okay.

He stands in the rain for a while—quite poetically, he thinks—while Matt and Holly fuck in the little room and life goes on without him.

---

It storms.

The MGB is supposed to pack up and leave, but the general consensus is "In this weather? Like hell I'm driving," so Ian calls in to their next venue and lets them know they may have to cut their sound check short for tomorrow's concert.

Dave lies on his bed and phones his sister. He gets the machine.

"Hi, this is Sara. Please leave your name and number, and if this is James, when the hell are you going to give me back my videos? Those weren't cheap, you know. 'Kay, bye!"

"This is Dave. Call me back when you've got some time. I need to talk to you about some stuff." The words sound hollow in his ears, or maybe that's just the echo inside the receiver. "I'm at a hotel till tomorrow, the number's—"

"Dave?" Sara sounds groggy. "Fuck, what time is it?"

"It's only eight. What are you doing asleep?"

"I haven't been sleeping, you idiot! I was meditating—"

"Same thing."

"It is not. But what did you want to talk about, Dave? Dave who never calls me while he's on tour unless he's lost a limb or been abducted by aliens? Which one is it?"

Twirling the cord around his finger, Dave stares up at the ceiling. The best way to do it is just take a deep breath and let it all go, right? It seems to have worked well enough before. Well, when you take 'well' very loosely.

"We're in Calgary with Holly McNarland and her band," he starts. Sara gasps audibly.

"Holly McNarland, really? I love her! Get me an autograph, Dave, will you?"

"If she'll talk to me."

"Oh God, is she one of those awful singers who think they're divas and don't talk to anyone who doesn't kiss their feet? Say it isn't so, Dave. I'll be heartbroken, you know that."

"No, no, not Holly. We have room for only one diva here and Matt's not giving up the position." He laughs bitterly, realizing Matt would usually find that hilarious. "Holly is the nicest and most approachable person around. She's just—well, they're both mad at me, and Rich too."

"Okay." There are shuffling sounds on Sara's side, and Dave figures she's sitting down (sitting up?) to prepare herself for a long talk. "What's going on?"

"Sara." He takes a deep breath. "I think—well, I'm pretty sure, but I've only really known lately, and I guess—"

"Come out with it already. I'm sure my world won't be too shattered."

"I'm gay."

"That's all?"

"That's not very supportive." Dave's heart is starting to slow down now.

"I love you, Dave, and I'm proud of you. There, is that better?"

"Much." It isn't necessarily what he was expecting, but that's not a bad thing. He wonders whether Matt would have liked the response—Matt seems to live by the belief that once you've been worrying for over two hours, verbal abuse is the only solution. He also wonders why it's Matt he can't stop thinking about.

"Is there someone you have your eye on?" Sara laughs. "Damn, it's Matt, isn't it? You're always talking about him when you call me. On the rare occasion that you call me, mind." There goes Dave's hope of retaining a normal heart rate.

"You know, Rich thought Matt and I had a thing, too. We don't! It's Matt who wants to sleep with me. Oh, and the fact that I told Rich that is the reason why Matt wants to kill me. And Holly wants to kill me because Matt wants to kill me and Holly and Matt are friends with benefits and—"

"And you even sound like him. Aww, young love. Or are you too old for young love now?"

"Sara!"

"Sorry. Little sister. Annoying's in the job description." More shuffling on the other end of the phone. "Dave, I'm not excusing what Matt's doing or anything, but I think if I were in his place, I'd be pretty emotionally unstable too. So just—don't think he hates you, or anything. He's probably just working everything out in his head, and he'll come back to you on his knees telling you how sorry he is." She giggles. "And possibly doing other things. While on his knees."

"Pervert."

"I'm your sister. Any and all corruption of my brain should be blamed on you." Dave hears the smirk in her voice. "Also, you can't tell me your thoughts weren't wandering in similar directions."

"Why does everyone want me to get together with Matt? Maybe sometimes in real life, everything isn't as perfect as it could be. Maybe I don't know if I'll ever want to be anything more than Matt's good friend. Maybe—"

"Maybe you can at least try."

"I am so stressed right now, Sara. I don't know what to do." Dave wipes the sweat off his forehead. He knows exactly what he wants to do—he wants to go apologize to Matt and have a perfect ending with a kiss and non-awkward sex that makes complete sense and doesn't need explaining or require mistakes to get right. Yes. He wants to try all the gay stuff possible with Matt. Matt is attractive and would be agreeable. He wants to say fuck the consequences, but he doesn't. He never does.

"I'm telling you want to do, David Genn."

"You're not my mother."

"No, but Mom would probably kick you out of the house."

"And then remember I didn't live in 'the house'."

"And then bake you a pie."

"Yes, and it would be a really good pie, too. Probably blueberry. Can I go home now?"

"Stop whining or I'll hang up on you."

"Whine, whine, whine. I've ranted at you long enough anyway. Love you, Sara."

"Love you, Dave. Now stop being a big pansy and go fix everything. Save the world for me, Davy."

"Don't call me Davy."

"Bye now." Sara hangs up. Dave stares at the ceiling a while longer.

---

"One Mississippi, Two Mississ—shit," Dave mutters, when a clap of thunder fills the room and makes him clamp his hands over his ears.

"That's annoying," says Matt.

Says Matt?

"Aren't you getting laid in another room somewhere else that's distinctly not here?" Dave says, more relieved than anything else. When he turns around, he sees a dripping wet and grinning Matthew Good who's twiddling a lock of his hair around his index finger. "Why are you gorgeous?" Matt snorts.

"I could ask you the same thing."

"Are we going to talk about it?"

Laughing, Matt falls down onto the bed and lies next to Dave, making Dave yelp and shiver when cold wet fabric presses against his skin. It's that laugh Matt always gets when he's just done some major soul-searching—frightening and somewhat panicked and delirious.

"What's there to talk about?"

"Matt, your hand is on my knee."

"Yes." Matt laughs, high-pitched, almost a giggle. "It would be, wouldn't it?"

"Please tell me you're all right. I would really like to know that you're all right." Dave knows he's not going to get a satisfying answer to his questions, no matter how he phrases them. But on the other hand—maybe the best thing about Matt is the question. He's a big question mark in Sharpie marker on the script of the universe. And God if that isn't the worst metaphor Dave's ever come up with. Metaphor. Simile? Metaphor. "No, actually, new question." Dave is grinning too, for the record. "Metaphor. Is it metaphor when you say 'she is the ocean' or 'she is like the ocean'?"

"Is. Is like is a simile." Matt rolls over and looks Dave straight in the eye. "I'm getting the bed wet. Am I getting the bed wet?"

"Metaphor. Am I getting the bed like wet?"

"Stop talking," Matt says. He clamps Dave's head between his hands and pulls him close and kisses him on the lips. "Dave, I'm sorry. Dave, let's work this out. Dave, let's lock ourselves up in here and talk for hours and fuck ourselves blind. Dave. Dave. Dave."

"Are you crying, Matt?"

"Noooo, not crying." Matt puts his head on Dave's chest and keeps laughing.

---

And keeps laughing. Five minutes later, he's still laughing, and maybe weeping. That could be the rainwater though. Those sorts of things make it incredibly hard to tell, especially when it counts.

"I'm not sure I'm comfortable with this level of male bonding," Dave jokes, trying to change the status quo somehow. Any way you want it.

"Dave Genn."

"That's the name, don't wear it out."

"I need to rephrase." Matt coughs. Okay, he was just laughing. That's safer. "From, you know. Earlier. Yesterday. Whatever."

"Rephrase what?" Matt is squirming now, shifting so he's not in a fetal position against Dave any longer but instead lying on his back, looking to the side at Dave. He's not sure why, but Dave decides it's important at this point to touch Matt's hair, which he does, separating bunches of hair with his fingers.

"I love you."

"Um."

"I have been in love with you practically since we met. I know, this is ridiculous. And I never say that word. It's—what's that word—anathema. I don't love anyone. But I love you, Dave Genn, and it is so damn good. I don't care what you do to me, or with me, or for me or whatever. I don't care, I don't give a fuck, I love you and Dave if you're gay or if you're straight or if you can only get off in the presence of small woodland creatures, I will follow you till the ends of the earth or what the hell ever the phrase is. I love you. There. I said it. Okay. It's said. And I said it. Me. Said. Okay. Okay." Matt exhales, still grinning like a maniac. Dave is wondering why his mother never warned him about skinny myopic chain-smoking singer/songwriters, because this is the sort of person your mother is supposed to warn you about.

No, scratch that. The main thing Dave is wondering is more like this: Why do I feel this intense desire to shove my hands down his pants or kiss him or I don't know what or—.

He clears his throat.

"I said it," Matt says again; Dave supposes this is in case he didn't hear the first four hundred or so times. "The thing I was going to say to you. I said it."

"Tell me something, Matt Good. Did Holly tell you to tell me that while you were screwing her?"

"We didn't screw. We drank tea and she read a book while I stared out the window. I can't have sex with Holly when I'm mad at you." Dave shakes his head.

"You're not making any sense, Matt."

"Oh, trust me, there isn't a day when I don't wish I came with an instruction manual." Matt shifts again, and now he's leaning back into Dave, pressing the palms of his hands against Dave's chest. Dave presses back, inching his hips forward until they make contact with Matt's, and Dave realizes he's been holding his breath.

"Matt, you're freezing."

"Standing in the middle of a storm for forty-five minutes will do that to you."

"God Matt, you did that?" And then, lowering his voice, Dave adds, "You did that because of me?"

"I might have."

Dave sighs and puts his hands on Matt's shoulders. It's probably not enough to convince Matt he's being objective here, because the fact that he's hard against Matt's thigh is proof that objectivity is light years away. But it'll have to do.

"Matt, I'm still figuring myself out. That’s one. Two, I don't even know whether I'm completely gay or just going through a weird phase—a weird patch—and I'm hardly ready to say whether I return your feelings. Three, provided this is me doing that returning thing, there's a lot I'll have to do before this can even approach an actual, regular relationship. Four, I've never had sex with a man before."

"Please, get to the point."

"I might break your heart."

"Okay."

"That's it? Just 'okay'?"

"It's happened before. So, okay."

"Well, then, Matt—I won't say anything permanent but right now, at whatever ridiculous o'clock it is, I want to take off your clothes and kiss you and jerk you off till you're sore and I want to fuck you, Matt Good."

"Um."

Dave is becoming increasingly aware that Matt is squirmy and soaking and cold and straddling him. Yes, straddling him; Matt is wrapping his legs around Dave's and he has an erection. It's really strange to think of Matt as the sort of person who has erections; he fucks, of course, but somehow Dave doesn't really start thinking of his best friend as getting aroused until, well, until he's the one doing it, and how weird is that?

"Matt, you're—"

"If you're going to point out that I'm getting hard, you're forgetting that I, too, can be perceptive when I want to."

"No, I was going to say you're freezing. Let's get those clothes off you." Matt gives Dave a silly smile.

"Oh, okay. I should probably, uh, get off you then." Matt scrambles up into the center of the bed, sitting on his legs and looking expectantly at Dave like he's waiting for instruction.

"Matt, you don't have to pretend like you don't know what you're doing. I don't get off to that. Just be Matt—be Matt who's done this before and can sort of show me around and be Matt who loves me and be Matt who keeps getting more interesting to me every day."

"Do you mean that sexually?"

"I might. I am extremely attracted to you right now." Matt shifts, pulling his legs to the side, so his sitting position is lopsided and awkward. Dave sits up too and starts to peel Matt's shirt off his chest. It's hitting him that yes, he's undressing Matt, but on the other hand, he's undressing Matt and not only that but he wants to, too.

"That's good," Matt says, making conversation. "You're obviously attracted to something, and I was hoping it wasn't, say, the bedside table, or the lamp, or the wallpaper."

"Well, as the gay man in authority, I have to say that if you are attracted to that wallpaper in all its coffee-stained, hideous glory, I'll turn you out." The shirt is being very stubborn, but it has finally come free of Matt's nipples—and oh God, Dave is realizing the gravity of this situation; not only does Matt have a chest, he has nipples—in a way that looks like it might not be entirely pleasant. It's left red marks in places. "This isn't hurting you, is it?"

"It might be," Matt mumbles.

"I'm sorry, I'll be more—"

"Ahem," Matt interrupts, clearing his throat, "I said it might be, but I didn't say you should. You know. Stop. Or anything."

"You have some serious baggage, don't you, Matt." While Dave pulls Matt's shirt over his head, Matt frowns. Annoying, because Dave wanted to get to touching and licking and biting all the chesty stuff that was under Matt's shirt right away, but now it's looking like he'll have to wait.

"You're not being fair. Everyone has baggage. I'm sorry if mine is heavier than others', or if it has some of the stuff in it you're not allowed to take on planes." Matt's hands are shaking. He puts one of them on Dave's knee—again! and this means Matt already has parts of Dave he likes and this means he's thought about this before and how hot is that. "I—if you want to do anything more than take my shirt off and gape at me, you'll have to accept that there's—"

"Shh, shh." On a whim, Dave actually leans forward and touches Matt's lips with his finger. "I like your baggage. I used to always avoid baggage with, you know, with girls. You're different. I like different." He takes his finger off Matt's lips and then plucks off Matt's glasses. Matt grabs him by the neck and kisses him hard, kisses him again and again and bites his neck and runs his tongue down it, pulling Dave's shirt aside so he can bite Dave's shoulder.

"I thought I was undressing you," Dave gasps, his heart pounding and his dick getting harder between his legs. "Matt."

Matt doesn't reply, because he's pulling Dave's shirt off and then unbuttoning his pants. Pushing down the waistband with the heels of his hand, Dave helps him get them off and leaves pants and socks and boxers on the edge of the bed. Both of their hands reach for the radio and Dave turns it on first. REM is fading into 54-40's "Ocean Pearl"—"Turn it up, I don't mind this song," says Matt—and they tumble back onto the bed, kissing and pulling down Matt's jeans off his hips and down his legs and over his feet. His socks are like little sponges of water, and Dave momentarily thinks those are going to stink to high heaven when they wake up tomorrow but what does that matter?

Next thing, he and Matt are both naked and hard, their erections rubbing against each other whenever they make the slightest movement, and his hands are sliding down Matt's back. How could he go back to anything else, ever, after this?

"Do you want to have, you know, actual sex? Or just a handjob? Blowjob? I can do anything you want. Anything at all. I'm versatile. Flexible."

Unable to let the double entendre slide, Dave interrupts, "You're flexible, are you?"

"Mm, very." Matt presses his lips to the side of Dave's chin.

"I want to be able to say let's fuck. But uh."

"I know, Dave, I know." Matt's hand slides between them and wraps around Dave's cock. He can get used to this. When Matt runs his thumb over Dave's head, Matt pauses and looks up at Dave meaningfully. A gesture with his eyebrows confirms what Dave thinks he's asking, and Dave swallows.

"This is the first time I've ever done this." He considers the possibilities, and decides that one, he wants to do it and two, it can't kill him. So he lays the palm of his hand against Matt's erection, and then when the shock wears off, he gets his whole hand around it and grins. Matt grins back and starts moving his hand.

"And I got an ocean pearl," and he's not going to say he loves Matt or anything else, but somehow coming in Matt's hand is—it's just satisfying. One thing that makes sense.

---

So they wake up and, with few words, clean up, and they leave Calgary.

That handjob in the hotel isn't the last one. Every time they stop at a rest stop, after wordlessly staring at each other Dave and Matt will duck into an empty corner of a bathroom and challenge each other to see who can be quietest. Among other things, Dave has learned that Matt always tastes like sweat and cigarettes, that Matt has a tendency toward the (sometimes creatively) profane during orgasm, and that Matt, no matter how he appears to take them, is a sucker for compliments.

Oh yeah, and he's good at sucking cock too. Dave tries this himself in Edmonton, his back scrunched against a stall door and his hands at Matt's ankles.

"I keep wanting to talk to you," he mouths, and Matt mouths back, "I know"—things about Matt to remember number four thousand and one: Matt can read lips—but it's a moot point, and Dave just lowers his mouth over Matt's cock and runs his tongue along the veins on the bottom and sucks his head and oh, he can get used to this. When Matt comes, biting off a "fuck" with a shuddering gasp, Dave feels his cock twitch and then he's coming too, collapsing on the floor and licking Matt's come from his lips.

"Yeah," he says to Rich when they get back on the van, "I'm gay. I'm really, really gay."

---

"Let's go to a restaurant," says Matt. "This is Montreal. We'll blend in with the local color."

"More so if I actually spoke French."

"I'll give you that." Matt tosses the t-shirt he's wearing onto his bed and starts rummaging through his back for another. "But seriously," he says, pulling out a much less wrinkled shirt, "Let's go out. Let's go ahead and announce this thing to the world."

"What thing?" But of course Dave knows what thing. He knows all too well, and he knew this would happen.

"Us. Our thing." Irate, Matt tosses his new shirt onto the bed and goes in for a third. "You can't say our relationship is only about fucking when last night we talked for two hours about writing songs. And when we don't even fuck. Not that I have a problem with that."

"Look, Matt."

"I know what you're going to say. And I know all too well it's completely right. I'm not going to walk out of this room and give you the silent treatment because you're not ready for something I want." Matt shifts back and forth on his feet. Well, this is good. This is Matt being rational, which is something Dave would love to see more of. Not to mention the part where he always looks great when he's deep in thought. "It's just that I do want it. And I can't stop myself from wanting it."

"What do you want more, though? It or me?" Dave immediately regrets asking it, and quickly continues before Matt can get another word in. "I mean, that's not what I mean. All I know is that I'm still figuring myself out, and until that happens, you'll have to put up with my reclusive indecisiveness."

"So basically what you're saying is, until you get everything squared away, I'm going to have to deal with being in a relationship with a shorter version of myself?"

"Well, when you put it that way…"

Matt smiles and shakes his head.

"Dave, I'm going to be annoying as all fuck for the next few months, but if you can put up with that, then I can put up with whatever you just asked me to put up with. I could even put up with you deciding I wasn't your thing—no, that's a lie, I would probably have to be hospitalized." Dave knows this is not an idle threat. "But I also won't guilt trip you any more than I already have."

"Thanks," Dave mumbles, kind of awed. "Let's kiss. I think this is a part where we kiss."

"Mhmm." Matt leans forward and their lips press together. Matt's glasses kind of get in the way, and Dave is still, even though it's been over a week, getting used to this whole thing, and—God this is awkward—Matt's hard, his erection pressing into Dave's leg. So it's not like this is easy basically. But Dave isn't about to ask for it any other way, so it'll do.

---

Fittingly, Dave is shaving in the mirror when Ian walks in, wearing only a towel and frantically searching the shower area.

"What are you looking for?"

"Mouthwash," Ian mutters, finally finding what he's looking for under the sink. "I got shampoo in my mouth in the shower."

"I hope that's not mine," says Dave, since lately he's had his mouth in more interesting places than he ever has before.

"Me too." Ian glances around. "You and Matt, you're—what are you? You keep disappearing off into your own world more and more every day. I don't mind it, I just wanna understand."

"We…I wouldn't want to go into too much detail."

"Oh. Well." Silence fills the room, except for the sound of Dave's electric razor. "Well, I guess you and him living in your own little world isn't really all that different from before, is it, except now there's more kissing."

"Pretty much."

Ian has a chest, Dave notices suddenly. It kind of reminds him of Matt's. Matt has a chest and shoulders and a tongue and a stomach and hips and legs and balls and a cock and that's sort of why it took that long for Dave to figure out the whole Ian chest thing.

The prospect of Dave not being gay but just really liking Matt isn't necessarily a bad one, though. He's been thinking about it ever since he woke up this morning and yeah, he could live with that.

End Notes

Content note: This story has a "we're not gay, we just love each other" ending.

Yeah, in a discovering-sexuality/coming-out fic.

Yep.

I couldn't think of a good ending back when I wrote it, and somehow I landed upon the worst possible choice.

I'm really unhappy and uncomfortable with the ending now, and as you can probably see I think it completely subverts the premise of the story. I'm working on editing it now, and hopefully I can think of a better conclusion for the story. I'll update the post then.

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