|The events described in this story are fictional. The author makes no assertion about the lives or characters of the real people whose names and identities she has used in the writing of this story, and makes no money from it.|
He didn't know why it happened. He didn't know why he was standing there, in the middle of the dinner hall, holding his tray and staring at the table like an idiot. Their table. His and Daniel's table. The table at which there was no longer a spare place.
"Sorry," Daniel had said, as Billy walked up. "Martin sits here now." Martin had grinned at Billy, his fleshy face stuffed full of chips.
"What?" said Billy.
"Oh, did you not hear?" said Daniel. "You are not wanted. No room. Bye." He opened his eyes wide, pronouncing the words coldly and precisely. "Bye, Billy." He waved.
Billy wasn't even sure why he cared. It wasn't as though he really liked Daniel all that much. All Daniel ever wanted to talk about was his brother, who played on the football team at the High School.
"Adam scored two goals yesterday," Daniel would say through a mouthful of limp cabbage.
"Aye. He was brilliant."
But it was better than sitting and eating your lunch on your own. It was better than sitting and glaring down at your mashed potato and trying not to blink. Trying not to catch the sympathetic dinner lady's eye, so she wouldn't come over and ask if you were all right and make your humiliation a thousand times worse than it was already. It was far, far better than that.
Billy pushed a forkful of potato and beefburger into his mouth, chewed and swallowed. If he forced himself to eat enough, he thought, maybe it would form a solid, stodgy mass down in his stomach, and stop the wet, soggy sniffiness, the twitching down-turned grimace, and all the salty, bitter wanting-to-cry feeling from coming back up. He pushed in another forkful, chewed and swallowed it down. He didn't know why it always had to be like this.
They are both awake before the alarm. Billy deliberately does not turn and look at the bags he packed yesterday, sitting forlorn and efficient near the door. He lies instead and looks at Dominic. Dominic is lying on his side and his eyelashes scrape on the pillow as he blinks once, twice. Billy thinks that if they were his own eyelashes he might hear them making a little scratchy sound.
"I could still drive you," says Dominic.
"No," says Billy. "It's fine. You don't have to."
"I want to." Dominic reaches across and runs his hand down Billy's arm to the wrist.
"Too late," says Billy. "Booked the taxi last night."
"Sorry," says Billy.
Dominic sighs and moves closer to Billy. Billy feels warm breath on his face, and Dominic's tongue sliding in between his lips, and then away.
"C'mon," murmurs Dominic. His hand wanders all the way down Billy, over his chest and stomach, and under the band of Billy's boxer shorts. Dominic isn't wearing any boxer shorts. Dominic isn't wearing anything.
"Billy," whispers Dominic. "Billy." His hand is strong and clever and warm.
"Dom," says Billy. His voice catches slightly. "Dom, I've got to get up."
Dominic brushes his lips gently along Billy's jawline. "I don't want you to go," he says, and it buzzes softly on Billy's skin. Billy swallows.
"Sorry," he says again.
Dominic breathes out slowly, and the pent-up air gusts coolly underneath Billy's chin and down his neck. He removes his hand from Billy's boxers, and rolls, in one fluid movement, away from Billy and out of the bed. He picks up underwear and a T-shirt from off the floor and shakes them out.
"Fuck's sake," he mutters, as though to himself. Then he turns and looks down at Billy in the bed.
"Have you ever, Billy," he says. "Have you ever -- 'cause I'm interested to know -- have you ever given a shit about anything in your entire fucking life?"
Then he turns and stalks out of the room, slamming the door behind him.
Billy heaves himself up on the bed and leans against the headboard. He reaches over and rests his hand in the pool of heat left by Dominic's body. In ten minutes, he thinks, Dominic will be back in here with a cup of tea in his hand and a smile on his face.
When the prickle-smart-sick feeling starts, it's easy for Billy to blink it away, and swallow it down. It's not much of a problem now. But still, though, he doesn't know why it always has to be like this.