Crandall rode in silence as Mike maneuvered his ‘Stang through the city streets. Jon lived on the outskirts, in a quiet little neighborhood a couple of miles from the last T-station. Sometimes, Jon would pick them up at the station so they didn’t have to drive through the city, but tonight, Jon’s wife had his car while hers was in the shop for a few days.
Crandall preferred it this way. He hated riding the T. He hated traffic more, but since he wasn’t driving, he preferred this – Mike’s old car, and Mike as his only company.
Travelling could be so exhausting. So many people. It seemed he rarely got a chance to be alone anymore. Mike didn’t count. Crandall liked having Mike around. More lately, of course, but even before they’d started having amazing sex, Mike seemed the exception to Crandall people-hating rules. Ash was okay, and Crandall liked him, but Crandall was ready to start apartment searching on behalf of his friend.
He needed his space, his sanctuary, his peace and quiet where he didn’t have to work to conform to society’s expectations of polite small talk, tolerance of irritations, and other things he could avoid by simply staying home. This afternoon, he’d left work early to take a much needed break from people, but Ash had the stereo blasting while he belted out awful lyrics from annoying electro-dance tunes made popular by stupid sheep who listened to whatever the local station played whether it was good or not.
Crandall picked a fight by telling Ash he’d never find an apartment if he melted his brain listening to shitty music. It started low and went downhill from there. By the time Mike got home, Ash was sitting on Crandall’s back, pushing his face into the carpet while Crandall strung together curses and threats of painful and drawn out bodily harm.
“Okay now?” Mike asked, breaking into Crandall’s internal world.
Crandall grunted, and expected Mike to drop the conversation at that.
“C’mon, man, cut Ash a break. He is looking for a place, but he had a good deal before. Cheap. We don’t make much from the Crane. He can’t move into just anywhere.”
“Fuck.” Crandall snorted a sigh.
“I thought you two were getting along.”
Crandall stared out the side window, watching shadowy buildings flash by. “We were. We are.” He closed his eyes and let his head fall back against the rest. “I need my apartment back, Mike. I can’t completely relax with guests in the house.”
“Don’t think of Ash as a guest.”
“Easy for you to say.”
“I know, man. I know. You’re okay with me around. Ash can be that kind of friend too.”
“I don’t want to fuck Ash.”
Mike made an odd snorting sound. Crandall opened his eyes and turned to look at him. “Are you laughing at me?” Crandall asked.
A smile snuck through as Mike shook his head. “No, not like that. I’m glad you don’t want to sleep with Ash.” He chuckled, then his expression sobered. “We lived together okay before we started sleeping together.”
“I don’t get it either.”
They drove for another couple of miles. “Would you rather blow off practice tonight, get some quiet time in?”
“Fuck no. Music is…” Crandall shook his head. “It makes it better.”
“Okay, good. So you won’t try to kill Ash when we get home?”
“Only if we stop for pizza, and Jon has some MJ on hand.”
Crandall shifted in his seat so he could lay a hand on Mike’s thigh. “I didn’t mean to start shit tonight. I wanted to lock myself up alone for a couple of hours before practice, and Ash was home, making a racket and being a dick about it, and I lost it. I need to be alone sometimes, Mike. You know that.”
“I do.” Mike nodded. He covered Crandall’s hand with one of his own. After another couple of miles, he added, “Feel free to hole up at the Crane if you need to. You’re welcome to the office; bring your laptop and headphones, and just crash.”
That was Mike, always thinking. It wasn’t Crandall’s business, but the guys had embraced him as one of the team with all the vampire hunting bullshit. Dragon wouldn’t mind Mike’s offer one bit, and Ash, well if Ash was at the Crane, Crandall wouldn’t need a place to hide out.
Crandall rubbed his chest with his free hand. Damn Mike, made Crandall give a shit about someone. About Mike. He’d been good for Crandall. Very good.
“Thank you,” Crandall said softly. He squeezed Mike’s thigh. “I appreciate that. You. Definitely you.” He smiled and leaned his head on Mike’s shoulder. “I bet a blow job would make me feel more grounded.”
“Not while I’m driving.” Mike’s voice broke. He was definitely thinking about it, even if his words objected.
“Okay, later.” Crandall sat up straight in his seat. He brushed against Mike’s crotch before removing his hand from Mike’s lap, feeling much better than he had all day.