Neon Red – Chapter 19

(DISCLAIMER: This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. It’s important to remember this is all totally fabricated, embellished, and exaggerated for entertainment purposes.)


If I go, I’m goin’ crazy

Let my darlin’ take me there

Gregory Alan Isakov – If I Go, I’m Going

The sound of the phone vibrating against the balcony woke me some time after 3AM. I weighed whether it was worth dragging my ass out of bed to collect it, knowing it would probably be irrelevant once I made my way over and checked the caller ID. Still, something urged me go, pulling me from an unbending sleep paralysis and guiding me across the room in the nude. It rang again and I found it through the utter blackness like a lighthouse on a distant shoe. It lay face up, the screen shattered in the corner where it had clapped against the sliding door. When I saw that it was him, I instantly popped awake, dropping to my knees to answer.


“…you don’t love me,” he whispered. I could smell the booze on his breath through the line. “You’re tired of me. You’re embarrassed by me. You want to hide…”

“That’s not true…”

“I don’t wanna be a burden to anyone. I can’t bother you anymore. I guess it’s my cross to bear, if you’re done with it all.”

“Not remotely done. You’re not bothering me, baby…” I whispered into the speaker.


“Stop apologizing…” I smiled tiredly, toying with the carpet at my knee. “I should be the one apologizing…”

“I thought you were my forever…”

“Who says we’re entitled to forever anyweh?”

“I don’t want it to end…”

“Maybe it won’t. Just don’t let it, baby.”

“I won’t give up on uz. You think I’m joking when I say that, but I never will.”

“…I believe youh.” After some time, I murmured, “I’ll never give up on us either, y’know?”

“I know. ” But he didn’t know. He was petrified of me and worried about what I was thinking. After the engagement, I’d given him no reason to trust anything I said going forward. But I knew he could feel how special it was. Knew he would never meet anyone else like me in his life, and this notion equally invigorated and intimidated him. I was all he had, and that had given me unspeakable power. Power I never asked for and didn’t want.

When we hung up, I climbed in the bed and shut my eyes, despite being wired. My heart was still racing from hearing his voice. I knew he was drunk, but I think it made him unguarded enough to speak his mind. I only wondered if he would feel the same come morning. When I took the elevator downstairs to meet the rest of the boys, would he be back to ignoring me like yesterday? Or would his eyes resonate with the syrupy sweetness that had coated his words tonight? All it took was one word from him, no matter how inebriated, to make me feel right again. A calm washed over me and I thought of what I’d say when we met tomorrow. I formulated how to let him know we needed to erase the things I said in the stairwell and start over.

Before long, I got a video message. It was him. He was being cruel but nice at the same time, like he hated that he pitied me. He knew how much I was hankering for him still. Itching for a hit to get me through the night. I opened the video and the first thing I saw was his butterfly because his t-shirt was raised. He stroked his stomach with achingly soft caresses, teasing himself, and I wanted to kiss every place he touched. I pressed my lips to the back of my wrist to occupy them, but continued watching. His room was quiet; so was mine. I could hear him breathing. I could hear myself breathing. He dipped his hand beneath the sheet and groaned softly as he did so. I shuddered at how vocal he was, even when he was alone. He never let me see his face. It was a habit of his, hiding his features any time he sent me anything. He just didn’t want me to read him.

“Cmon, baby…cmon…” I whispered, slipping a hand beneath the sheet to mirror his every move. “Cmon….” I begged, dick tingling and flooding with blood. I needed him to move the sheet so I could see it. Hot, hard, and pulsing. Dripping for me. Jumping for me. I needed to see his pretty hands wrapped around it, white against the pink tip. Finally he had mercy and flung the sheet aside. He spread his legs and stroked the inside of them, cock springing towards his belly the second he let go of it. He ran trembling fingers up the inside of his thighs, flinching at his own touch. It was favorite place to kiss. I licked my lips and tasted the sweat forming along the top of them.


Radiohead’s “True Love Waits” spread over the room as I finished dressing around noon. There was one more Adelaide show before we headed over to Perth, and we’d be meeting for soundcheck in the evening. I’d promised to grab a bite to eat with Liam, and we had settled on a restaurant in the hotel so we wouldn’t have to worry about being mobbed anywhere else. It was a sushi bar he was only willing to try on my recommendation alone, as he said he still wasn’t too sure about eating raw fish. 

As I headed out of the room towards the elevator, my phone rang and it was Haz. I answered with a knot in my stomach, slinking into the corner of the lift like a jittery schoolboy.


“Hey…” I grinned.

“What even happened last night?” he chuckled.

“Don’t act like youh don’t know…” I laughed. He was in a good mood and I was glad.

“I guess I don’t want to be mad at you anymore.”

“Then don’t.”

“It’s not that easy. I’m still incredibly upset with you. I just feel like to do right by myself I need to hate you for a while.”

“Youh don’t, babe.” I pleaded “It’s okay to forget about the stupid shit I do. I wanna see youh…”

“We’re just friends…ok?”

“Yeah, okay…” A guy stepped into the lift mid-route so I lowered my voice. He said something about the weather and then laughed awkwardly at his own joke.

“Wanna hang out?”

“Can’t, actually. I’m meetin’ Liam…” he said “okay” in a resigned way, putting up so little of a fight I couldn’t stand it. I halted immediately and changed course: “Of course I do. Where are youh?”

“My room. Haven’t left for the day yet.”

“Coming right up.”

After the guy got out at his floor, reeking of aftershave, I reset the lift and headed back to our floor. Once there, I passed my room and bent a corner at the opposite end, searching for the number he’d given me. I knocked a few times before he answered in his t-shirt and briefs, looking as though he had no intentions of getting dressed for the day.

“Youh quit or sumthin?”

“Something like that…”

He moved some stuff off the sofa and told me to have a seat while he finished his shower. He took his shirt off on the way to the toilet, and all I saw was his gorgeous back and shoulder blades, his underwear slipping off his hips to reveal the top of his ass. I bit my knuckles and tried to focus on pulling out my phone to call Payno. I couldn’t just stand him up again, so I texted, but he called back right away. That was my absolute pet peeve.

Yooo…Payno….rain check?”

“What the hell, mate? Twice in a row?!”

“M’soh sorry, broh. Not feelin’ too well, yeah? Think I might be catchin’ sumthin'” I cleared my throat and pulled at the collar of my t-shirt as though he could see. 

“Aw, well now I feel bad for yelling. Need anythin’? I chuckled at his sincerity. He was so easy to lie to. That showed he was a good guy who genuinely thought most people he encountered meant well.

“No, mummy, m’alright. I’ll just have a lie down, broh.”

“Sounds good. We’ll have a raincheck, then. And you’re paying  for making me eat alone!”

“F’sure, bruv. Talk to youh then?”

“Feel better.”

“Thank youh,” I laughed softly, hanging up.

Now I listened to the rush of the shower and pictured the hot water pelting his skin. How soft and warm he must’ve been. Dripping wet all over like he’d been doused in oil. Red from head to foot. I wanted to get my hands on him. My tongue ached to put his girth in my mouth and stretch it until the corners ripped. To spread his cheeks and eat him raw. I thought about taking all my clothes off and joining him without warning, but that was a privilege I had squandered, and it was up to me to earn his trust in that department again.

To take my mind off it, I got up and snooped around his things, picking up one of his used t-shirts and inhaling the dying scents. I saw a few knickknacks packed carefully in his luggage. A gold watch he never wore. An old coin he kept as a good luck charm. A rabbit foot keychain that fulfilled the same purpose. When had he become so superstitious? Then there were other things lying around prototypical of a dude of his stock. Vintage rock t-shirts and cassette tapes.  A leather journal.

I stopped dead when I saw the journal, glancing back over my shoulder to make sure the bathroom door was still closed. Then I unraveled the binding and flipped to the last page, trying to get a look at where his head was at currently. On page was filled from header to footer with the same sentence written like a thousand times. “I’m fine, I’m fine, I’m fine.”  I flipped to the next page before I made myself sick. His desperation was alarming. He’d die if he knew I had seen this. There were scattered bits and phrases. Incomplete thoughts. It took me a while to realize they were lyrics and song titles. “Tired of feeling alone.” “Black and blue.” “Said you wouldn’t let go.” “Same old song.” “On my own.” “She’s got you.” “It’s not like it used to be.” “Still Waiting.” “Hate to see you coming.”

The bathroom door open and I dropped the book in the suitcase without fastening it, and hopped away from the bed. It was too late to look inconspicuous now. I’d been caught red-handed. He came out grinning, a towel wrapped around his waist and his hair.

“What’re you doing over there, mate? You’re not fooling anyone.”

“Nothing, nothing…” I shrugged, looking off to the side as naturally as possible.

“You really suck at lying sometimes. You know that?” He headed over to the bed to give his things a once over. “You clearly moved this.” With a few fingers, he lifted the t-shirt I had sniffed and thrown down like a loon. “And this…” He resettled his watch back into place. Damn, was I that obvious? I hadn’t bothered to set anything back in place like I hoped to.

Ohhhh…” he paused. “I see.” I looked over at him and he had lifted the unfastened journal. “You can read it if you want. Go ahead…” I was so shocked he wasn’t yelling at me that I didn’t know how to respond. I just swallowed the lump in my throat and shook my head.

“Noh, I’m gud. Sorry…”

“Don’t apologize.” He mimicked my words from last night, letting me know he had remembered our conversation. That meant it was as significant to him as it was to me.

“I wish I could write like Joni….” he muttered, almost to himself, winding the cord back into place and shutting the journal.

“I think you’re pretty decent, babe.”

“Oh yeah?”

“Fuck yeah,” I grinned. “Y’know I didn’t get too far, but from what I’ve seen, and what I’ve heard over the years, you’ll be giving Joni a run for her money soon.

“Thanks, mate. Even if you don’t actually mean it, it still made my day.”

“Of course I mean it.” He laughed and took the towel off his head, throwing it at my face. I slapped it aside and leapt after him, chasing him to the bathroom and bursting through the door as he tried to shove it closed. Then he ran back into the shower and I followed; massive boots splashing in the leftover water.

“Noooo…” he gurgled, sinking into the farthest corner of the stall and covering his head with his arms. I snatched the towel from his waist and he hid his cock. I pulled his wet hair and he threw his arms over his head again, so I tried pulling them away by his wrists. I settled for biting his arms and grabbing his belly, which reflexively made him pull away to protect his stomach with a dying sound in his throat. His laughter filled the bathroom and proved contagious. I had a laughing fit, falling into him until it ebbed. 

“I could fuckin’ eat youh…” I uttered afterwards, pressing up against him and staring at his lips.

“Friends don’t eat friends….” he said quietly.

“Is that soh?” I watched him bit his bottom lip. “Gimme that lip…I want some…”

“No…we have to get under control. C’mon, Z. Let’s just talk for a minute.” I didn’t think I was capable of resisting him, not when he was completely nude and begging for mercy, but somehow I managed to pull myself together and step out of the shower. He told me to wait in the bathroom while he got dressed, then finally called me out when he was ready to come in and style his hair.

“Can I help?” I asked, looking for any excuse to run my fingers through it. It was still damp, laying limp against his head. I took up the hotel hair dryer and he marched over to me in his t-shirt and jeans, sitting on top of the counter and waiting for me to start.

I stood between his legs for no reason other than I wanted to be close. I wanted to feel surrounded by him. Flicking on the dryer, I waved it back and forth over his head like a wand, lifting his damp tendrils with my fingers until they dried and become fluffy. When he pretended to eat the hot air I laughed like an idiot. Then he wrapped his legs around my hips, locking me into place.

“Me mum used to do this for me.” I said. “She was always soh careful about everythin’. Not wantin’ to burn our scalps. I didn’t understand youh had to keep it movin’ and brush at the same time to get it just right.”

“I always used to let mine airdry. M’lazy that way…”

“Youh can do that. Yours looks amazing noh matter what, yeah? All youh have to do is tease it a little and presto! Like magic…” He let his hands rest on my waist in a gesture that spoke of familiarity. Intimacy that refused to die. His arms slinked all the way around occasionally, grasping me up in a half-hearted hug. It felt so right to be in his arms, no matter what I had to do to get there. I’d shine his shoes if I must. 

“I was drunk last night…”

“I know.’

“I still meant the stuff I said.”

“Me too.” At that he looked into my eyes. I shut the dryer off and planted my hands onto his thighs, bearing down into his eyes. He looked like a sleepy cat, longing to snuggle the first passing thing. 

“Get any sleep?” I asked. 

“A lil’…” he mumbled, lashes blinking slowly. I leaned in and kissed the corner of his mouth before I could stop myself. It was one of my favorite places and I couldn’t deal with it being claimed by someone else. I needed to remind him it was mine. His dimples emerged as he struggled to stifle a grin. He didn’t want to approve of what I had done, but couldn’t find it in himself to curse me either.

Stawppp…” he laughed. “No…wait…again…” he demanded. “Only the corner, though.” Right away I pressed my lips to the corner of his again, and his smile deepened. Then I said fuck it and kissed his teeth, forcing him to laugh.

“You’re an idiot!”

“Yup…” Now I took his head between my hands and kissed his eyes, meditating on how good things felt between us. I couldn’t afford for anything to shake this moment. I didn’t want anything coming between us…not one decimal of air. 

“I love when you do that,” he breathed, setting our foreheads together. “This feels like torture, Z. Like we’re denying ourselves everything for no reason…”

“I’m ready to stop fighting whenever youh are…” I nudged him on the temple with my head, setting our cheeks together. Then I fell into his arms and he wrapped his legs tighter around me, crushing me with every limb. I nearly broke my nose, against his chest, burrowing as far and as hard as I could. Suffocating myself. Absorbing him.


It’s how I knew we were good again, when he started feeding me some of his snakes onstage. They were Haribo. He made sure to eat around the red ones so he could save them for me. That was a big fucking deal too, because he liked the red ones just as much as I did.

Throughout the day, he kept whispering to me, and it was such a relief to no longer have to worry about being estranged. Even if we were still fucked up and ill-defined and still walking the line between friendship and everything, we were in a good enough place where we could banter and feel at home together onstage. Every time he looked over at me, I got weak-kneed, and it made me realize I could never be fully at ease around him. It was like edging. I was always wired, always on ten, always waiting for one of us to cross the line that would send us falling back into the deep end, ready to devour.

As I sat on the side of the stage waiting for Niall to finish his speech before “What Makes You Beautiful,” Haz sat down beside me and whispered something in my ear. I couldn’t quite hear, so he wrapped his arm around my shoulder, pulling me closer, then removed my ear piece and whispered it again. It was something about how tired he was. He hadn’t gotten much sleep last night after sending the video. That instantly took me back to bed where I had lain unclothed, skin on fire. Dick in my hand and waiting to follow his every instruction.

I had no idea why he was telling me how tired he was now, but it didn’t stop there. His speech slowed to an almost incomprehensible degree. Now he wasn’t saying anything at all, just holding me and breathing deeply. Something gooey spread through my belly. I knew what he wanted; he just didn’t know how to say it. Luckily I’d learned the rhythms of his heartbeat and the tell-tale signs that could be used to measure his body language.

I leaned closer to encourage him, and that was all it took. Now his lips were brushing my ear. Now he was straight up kissing it, soft, playful pecks that promised more once we were alone. The fleshy warmth of his mouth drew closer as I waited. Waited for the thing I knew would fucking kill me. I was breathing so deeply I could see the rise and fall of my own chest. Colored spots flitted throughout my vision as I lost sight of the corporeal world. He was far too fucking good at seducing people. I couldn’t trust myself around him. 

His tongue brushed my lobe and I nearly panicked, even though it’s exactly what we both had wanted. Suddenly I was no longer conscious of the crowd, only his tender exhalations and the half-moans as he craned his neck to delve deeper; tasting all; head pressing impulsively into mine. His tongue flicked the inside my ear and it felt like spiky fires had been ignited all over my skin; the blood rushing to my groin. As he worked he sighed when it got too good, forcing my eyes into the back of my head. There they were lost . Had anyone stood in front of me it would have been a dead giveaway.

I started shifting in my seat, wanting to climb onto his lap like I always did, but it would have ended our careers in the blink of an eye. Imaging the headlines and front-page photos of me straddling his lap made me laugh deliriously. My throat was getting dry, becoming more constricted. My ass refused to sit still, and Haz had flagrantly intensified the strokes in my ear; trying to make me flip. When I heard someone step near, I darted from the seat like I had sat on an upturned nail, rushing backstage and leaving him grinning. I ran to the bathroom and splashed some water on my face to calm down, following which I took a piece of tissue and dried out my ear. For the rest of the show, he’d just look at me and grin and I couldn’t help but do the same in return.

(Thanks for reading! ❤️)

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