Summary: Sometimes, it just takes one look and you know. You just know things, and it's scary, but not in a bad way. It's scary because it's so new, and you know your world's about to change.
The sun always reared its head at the wrong time. Sean thought this as he attempted to look across the beach at a man standing with a woman. He was dressed in a white t-shirt that hung loose and blue swim trunks that hugged his legs. His skin was familiar to the sun's rays, colored with its heat. Normally, Sean would dismiss him as just another guy on the beach with his girlfriend or wife or whatever she was to him, but this was different. There was something about the way they interacted, the way she laughed and pushed him, and he pushed back, the way they leaned away from each other, standing too far apart.
"Dude, what's your deal?"
Sean turned back to Trey, one of his oldest friends. Trey was a hulking mass of black skin, always smiling with all his teeth like he'd never seen adversity. They'd been friends since college, and one of their oldest traditions was hanging out on the beach like this, tossing around a Frisbee and just enjoying the weather.
"Nothing, dude. Sorry." Sean replied, turning his attention back to him.
"Let's try this again, without the damn breeze this time." Trey replied, tossing the disk his way. Sean went long, lunging across the sand for it. Hot sand ran across his stomach, warming his skin. Disk in hand, he stood, sending it across the beach toward Trey. He tried to focus on the game, but instead found his mind pinned on that man, windblown hair and earnest smile practically demanding his attention. It took everything in him not to turn around and give him a look-over again.
"Lauren, why don't we just go grab a lifeguard? I mean, they look busy."
"Holden, I haven't seen a lifeguard since we got here. Besides, I need an excuse to talk to that fine piece of man." His cousin replied, smiling in that way that made all the boys fumble their words.
Holden sighed, hands on his hips as she walked over to the two men. The larger black man grabbed the Frisbee and held it as he noticed her approaching, the tan, smaller one turning to her. Holden had noticed him earlier, but a view from behind didn't do him justice. He was built like a lumberjack, all bulging muscle. He had a short beard and his grey swim trunks clung to his hips far too suggestively. Guys like him had a different woman in bed every other night. Holden rolled his eyes and returned to looking at the beach, trying not to focus his desires where they weren't welcome.
"Holden, Holden! I just got us invited to a par-tay!" Lauren exclaimed, hitting him on the arm.
"What?" Holden asked, raising his limb in defense as she landed another blow, joy uncontained and casting her face aglow.
"Yeah! I asked Trey – that's the hot one – and he said that there's an awesome pizza shack just a few miles down the road. He says it gets busy sometimes, but whatever the wait, it's totally worth it. Then he said that Sean – that's the one you'd think is hot – is having a get-together on the beach tonight. That's his house right over there, the massive mansion!" She exclaimed, pointing.
Holden turned and eyed the house. It was a formidable structure, modern and yet somehow still oozing testosterone. He doubted this Sean man had actually picked it out himself.
"Anyway, he's having a party tonight, and Trey invited us! Sean sort of looked at him, but then when Trey asked if that was okay, Sean said 'the more the merrier!' I can't believe we've been here for a week and we actually got invited to a beach party! I mean, does that sort of thing happen to normal people?"
Holden shrugged, looking over at the two men, who had returned to their game of Frisbee. "I don't know, but I'm starving."
"You were crushing on that dude hard; don't even try to deny it."
"Yeah, whatever." Sean mumbled, grabbing an apple from the fridge and tossing it at Trey. He caught it and took a bite as Sean got a glass of water.
"I still think it's weird that you keep your apples in the fridge, by the way."
"It makes them taste better." Sean explained, for the twelfth time, surely.
"Anyway, I did you a favor. You're too cautious all the time. Somebody's gotta get you laid."
"You ever think maybe I'm waiting for the right person?" Sean questioned. Trey snorted, and Sean was smiling before he even finished the words.
"You're a professional football player, dude. I know you have to be careful to not let people know, but there's also a line of guys from here to Washington that would jump in your bed if you looked at them."
Sean shrugged. "I don't know, I like it to be at least a little special, you know?"
Trey nodded. "Yeah, that's how I was during my college days. The easy ones were never as fun as the ones that took all the effort. That guy today is probably gonna take some persuading."
"Yeah, if he even swings my way." Sean replied.
"Oh, he swings your way. No way in hell he's just friends with that fine ass honey and straight."
"How do you know they aren't together?" Sean asked.
"Dude, did you see the way she was checking out my chest?"
By the time they arrived at the party that night, Holden was rethinking this idea. He hadn't been to something this sketchy since all those frat parties in college. He didn't think it was exactly the same thing, but he hadn't even met Sean himself, and Lauren's interaction amounted to a few seconds of dialogue.
"Come on, Holden, stop being so weird!" She said, pulling the sleeve of his flannel toward the front door. There were already cars filling the spacious driveway, some of them sideways on the road. He just knew Lauren was going to try to jump that Trey's bones, and he'd be left to make friends like the new kid in high school. As drunk as people were bound to be, he really didn't like that idea.
She knocked on the front door, and when there wasn't an answer within thirty seconds, she turned the doorknob. It was unlocked, and Lauren stepped inside. Having no other options, Holden followed. The place was very nicely furnished, once again not likely to be due in any part to the homeowner.
"Where are the drinks?" Lauren asked a friendly-looking blonde standing by a couch.
"In the kitchen. It's self-serve."
Lauren walked them over, as Holden was mildly surprised that Sean hadn't hired a bartender. She grabbed a bottle of Grey Goose and filled a glass half full, taking a bottle of orange juice and filling the glass two-third's full.
"Why mess around?" She justified. Having been out to bars with Lauren before, Holden didn't question it. He opted for a bottle of beer and followed her out onto the porch. The beach was lit by a small fire, which aided the moon in illuminating the majority of the guests. There were only about twenty-five people there, about a third as many as Holden had been expecting, and probably a fourth as many as could be fit into Sean's house.
Lauren headed down the steps and to the beach, in search. Holden once again followed her lead, spotting Sean there by the fire, talking to a pretty brunette in a dress that was too low on her chest and too high for her legs. He grumbled inwardly as another of his preconceived notions was proven true.
"Come on, I'll introduce you to Trey!" Lauren said, like he was some long lost friend she'd recently discovered. She tugged his hand in the opposite direction of Sean, for which he was grateful. He glanced at Sean once last time, to find the man looking over at him. He tore his eyes away and fought off the way his lungs sort of collapsed in his chest.
Trey was talking to a shorter man, who looked like a dwarf beside the hulk.
"Hi, Trey!" Lauren greeted brightly.
"Well, hi, Miss! Lauren, right?" He asked, tilting his beer in her direction.
She nodded, beaming with joy. "I thought I'd introduce my cousin, Holden."
Trey nodded at him. Holden noticed something catch in his eyes, but it was gone before he could read it.
"Hi, I'm Trey." He stretched out his hand, and Holden shook it. "This is Matt. He's one of my friends from work."
"Where do you work?" Lauren asked.
"At an advertising company." He replied, and Holden chuckled inwardly. Any answer besides personal trainer or professional weight lifter would've seemed odd.
"Have you met Sean?" Trey asked him.
"Yeah, I should take you to meet Sean!" Lauren replied, turning to search out the other man.
"Actually, Matt, do you need more to drink? I downed this beer quicker than I meant." Holden said, sighing in relief when Matt nodded.
"I could use another beer."
"Okay; Matt and I are gonna head back to the kitchen and give you two some time alone." Holden replied.
"Oh…okay." Lauren said, immediately perking up at the prospect of time alone with Trey.
Holden struck up some easy conversation about work and business with Matt on their walk back, this time being sure to completely avoid Sean's general direction.
Sean looked up and down the beach for that man. Holden, Trey had told him on his way across the beach with Lauren. Apparently they had hit it off, because Trey had decided to take her on a stroll down the beach side. Sean had watched Holden head back to the house with one of Trey's friends, fighting a twinge of disappointment at the sight. Whenever he had finally managed to catch Holden's gaze when he was walking over to talk to Trey, he had tried to show some interest as best he could, but Holden had looked away so quickly he had considered that his initial theory was wrong. Now though, he thought it was just him.
That idea was thrown to the wind though when he looked up at the porch to see Holden leaning against it, staring out at the ocean in the sort of way that made Sean want to go talk to him. It was a stupid idea, he knew, but he really wasn't doing anything other than feigning interest in yet another of this desperate woman's stories of her bad behavior in college.
"Excuse me, I think one of my best friends is here." He said, offering up one of the poorest excuses he had ever given. She seemed a bit taken aback, but he left her by the fire regardless, walking across the sand with his eyes staying on Holden the entire time.
He stepped onto the porch, vacant of any other guests, and leaned against it beside Holden.
"Sorry the party's kind of a bust. Trey wanted to hire a DJ, but I figured that was a bit much." He began, as easily as he could.
Holden jerked a bit at the sound and looked over at him curiously before offering a slight smile. Just as Sean was feeling warmth in his chest, Holden looked back out at the ocean. "Yeah, that might've been a little too far."
"You have any suggestions about how to liven things up? I mean, you seem like the type to be the life of the party." He said.
"Sorry; I'm just sort of awkward in big crowds. I'm sure everybody else is having a great time."
"Well, I'm not worried about anyone else." Sean replied. It was a risky reply, and he drew a breath as soon as he said it. Holden just sort of looked at him, kind of like he had moments before, but then something in his shoulders gave, something Sean hadn't realized he'd been holding until it was gone.
"I'm…well, I'm good now that you're talking to me."
Sean couldn't fight the smile he gave him, and Holden returned it before looking back out at the ocean. Sean turned his attention there as well, scooting closer so that their arms brushed. Holden didn't budge.
"So, Holden's the name?" He began.
"You'd be correct. Sean, I believe?"
Sean smiled despite himself at that, noticing the lack of irony in Holden's tone. "Yeah, that sounds about right. Sean Jackson."
"Holden Wilson." It was the end of the reply. Sean left it at that, cherishing this moment where they were equal in both their eyes.
"So are you new to the city?" Sean asked.
"Yeah; my cousin and I are just here for the summer. We thought a summer on the coast would a great getaway."
"No job to tie you down?"
"I work in realty. They're pretty lenient as to where I can do business. What about you?"
Sean cringed. He hated this moment. Every time, without fail, it was the moment it no longer became about getting to know him, and all about getting to know his bedroom.
"I'm a professional football player." He replied.
Holden looked over at him with an eyebrow quirked and a slight smile. Sean braced himself for the response; a new spin on the same idea.
"You don't say? I don't think I've ever met a professional football player. I'm surprised we're actually getting along. The jocks at my high school always drove me crazy." Holden said, and then turned back.
"That's it?" Sean asked, incredulous.
"What, you wanna sign my chest or something?" Holden asked, his face contorted in annoyance but his eyes filled with good nature.
Sean shrugged, going along with it. "Yeah, actually, I was. You have a better place for it?"
Holden laughed. "Yeah, maybe once I actually get to know you, big guy."
Sean smiled genuinely, and silence fell peacefully over them. Some of the guests were getting playful on the beach, alcohol loosening morals as several couples formed.
"I don't know what to do now. That was my main selling point."
"Don't even; those pretty eyes of yours do a lot more for me than your salary."
"I was actually admiring your beautiful personality. Who's the shallow one now?"
Holden laughed again, and Sean liked the way it sounded. He actually considered telling everyone else the party was over and just stay on the porch with Holden. It was nice in a way he hadn't known since high school, when he'd sit with his best friend in his car and talk about college.
"Can I see your phone?" Holden asked suddenly.
Sean fished it out of his pocket and handed it over. Holden pushed several buttons, and then typed for a little while before handing it back.
"Now you have no excuse not to get ahold of me again." Holden explained.
"Trust me, I wouldn't let you pass me by." Sean replied. The grin he got from Holden was big, and he couldn't help the urge to mentally pat himself on the back.
"You wanna go somewhere quieter?" Sean asked.
Holden raised an eyebrow. "Is this you trying to get me into bed?"
"I can honestly say it's not." He replied, falling serious.
"Okay then; take me where you may, Sean."
He couldn't help but enjoy being called by first name, so simply. Like it was just so easy. He led Holden back inside and upstairs, to his bedroom balcony. There were several padded chairs there, and he took a seat, Holden following suit.
"This is a nice little arrangement." Holden commented, looking up at the moon, glimmering bright in the sky.
"I try. And by that, I mean my interior decorator tries."
Holden snorted, smiling. "Yeah, I figured as much."
"So tell me about you, Holden Wilson. Tell me what makes you who you are."
"Only if you promise to do the same." Holden replied.
"I think I can do that."
Sean woke up to the sun glaring in his eyes. He forgot the repercussions of not closing his curtains at night. His senses returned to him, and he blinked a few times, realizing he wasn't alone. Tangled in the sheets with him was Holden, flannel gone but jeans still in tact. The slight rise and fall of his chest signaled his sleep, leg hooked over Sean's, arms tucked against his chest.
Sean's memories returned to him. Talking until every guest was gone. Trey's knowing eye as he took Lauren home with him. Having another beer and just sitting out on his balcony, talking more and laughing a bit louder as the alcohol hit their bloodstreams. Holden getting up to leave at three, but Sean convincing him to stay the night, considering he'd had several beers by then. He remembered pushing Holden against his wall and kissing him hard, but then a little more gently. He remembered Holden returning it. And then he remembered them collapsing in his bed, Holden complaining of the heat and discarding his shirt.
And now they were here. Now, with the sun up and nothing to mask the happenings of the previous night. Sean sat up, looking out at the ocean that stretched past the horizon. He looked back down at Holden, a beautiful picture of limbs and blankets. What was he supposed to do now? He hadn't really been in a relationship since he went pro. Was he supposed to ask Holden to leave? Because right now, seeing the other man in his bed, he didn't want him to ever leave. Was he supposed to ask him out on a date, this soon? Was he supposed to tell Holden how much he'd connected with him, how he felt like he'd known him for years? Was he supposed to kiss him good morning or let him wake up himself and pretend like they had just met? Technically, they had just met, but it felt so different.
He didn't know. He didn't know what he was supposed to do now, and as he looked at Holden again, he didn't care. He would figure it out in time. He wanted to figure things out and fit this man into his life, but it could wait. Right now, he was going to go make them each a cup of coffee.