Chapter 1 [Jonne's POV]
To me, today is just an ordinary day. I woke up, went for lunch with Tommi, worked on some songs... nothing out of the ordinary. And now, as usual, Tommi has Janne, Antti, and I out scouting the clubs, looking for bandmembers. I'm not very hopeful, and to be honest, a sort of depression has begun to set in. I'm feeling restless, as if I will never do anything with my life. The band's been together for three years now, well, Janne and I have at least. I've known him since we were in school together. Antti we met last year, and it didn't take him long to join the band. But we've had a hard time keeping guitarists, and that's the problem. That's the reason Tommi has the three of us at this club. To scout guitarists.
The first band is horrible, and the second is almost as bad. I'm about to dismiss the night as a complete waste when I see not the guitarist, but the singer/guitarist of the third band. I can't take my eyes off him. He's so adorably awkward, and yet his guitar playing is completely refined, and the voice that is coming out of his mouth makes me weak in the knees. I'm filled with awe and terror at the same time as I watch him, knowing that I need to talk to him, need to find out who this man is. Well, he's not truly a man, he seems about as much of a boy as me. He can't be a day over eighteen.
Entranced, I watch the rest of their performance, my eyes never leaving the curly-haired angel that is their lead singer. When they go offstage, I follow, ignoring my brother's calls behind me - I'm busy. "Uhm, excuse me," I say with about as much elegance and grace as a child learning to walk. "My name is Jonne. I just wanted to tell you that I really enjoyed your performance." Stupid, stupid, stupid!!!
He gives me a shy little smile as he lays his guitar back in its case, handling it as carefully as he can, as if it's extremely precious to him. "Thank you, Jonne." He closes the guitar case, picks it up, and starts to walk away.
"Wait!" I call after him, getting him to turn around and look at me. "I... I have this band... and... I know this is really weird, but... I wanted to ask you if you would come sit in on one of our rehearsals and see if you would be interested in playing guitar for us."
He scratches his head a little, setting the guitar down as he looks at me. "I don't know... I mean, I'm already in Shannon, and I'm used to having most of the creative control in the band..."
"You could have creative control," I say a little too fast, nodding my head.
"Isn't that a big promise to make?" he asks, laughing. "You've hardly heard any of my stuff."
I blush a little and stare at my feet. "Well... I like what I heard. I'll want to hear more of course, but... I could really use the help on my songwriting."
He smiles at me. "Alright Jonne, you've got yourself a deal. My name is Lauri, by the way. Let me put this guitar in the van and we'll have a drink, talk a little more about this band of yours." With a wink of his eye, my heart melts. What the hell are you doing, Jonne? Tommi is going to KILL you.
While Lauri is putting his guitar away, I find Tommi. I know he's going to kill me for being so stupid, so I want to make this as quick as possible. Let him know where you're going, and then run. "Tommi! Over here!" I call out over the music.
My big brother turns around and starts to walk towards me, giving me an evil look. I know I'm in trouble when I get that look. "Where have you been Jonne? I told Mummu we'd be home half an hour ago!"
"I think I found us a guitarist. I'll take the full blame when we get home, I promise. Just let me do this. Pleaseeeeeee?" I give him my best little puppy dog look, which I know will work on him. It always does.
He sighs and shakes his head. "Fine. But if she bends you over her knee, don't come crying to me."
I hug Tommi tightly, grinning. "Thank you. You're the best big brother in the world."
"Oh shut up," he laughs, swatting at me playfully. "Go talk to this miracle guitarist of yours. And hurry up!"
Walking away from my brother, I find Lauri waiting for me at a table. He smiles at me. "Didn't know what you'd want to drink, so I ordered you a beer. I figured everyone drinks beer."
I blush as I sit down across from him, playing with the cold bottle between my hands. I'm not quite sure what to say to him. I finally ask him some completely meaningless question about the band, trying to make small talk. We talk for a while, about music, about our friends, drinking and laughing, until I see Tommi lurking over my shoulder. "That's my brother, Tommi. I think he wants me to go home..." I frown at the thought, not wanting to leave Lauri. I have really enjoyed our conversation and have discovered that he is just as kind and caring as he is attractive.
"I can drive you," Lauri suggests eagerly. "Really, it would be no trouble at all."
My eyes light up, and my cheeks start to hurt from smiling so much. "Let me go tell him. I'll be right back."
"Alright," Lauri says, smiling back at me, then nodding to my brother.
I run over to Tommi, knowing he isn't going to like this, but trying not to act too enthusiastic because I know Lauri is watching us. "Please don't make me beg, because I don't want to look like an idiot in front of him," I say, giving Tommi a pitiful look while making sure my back is turned to Lauri, and that he isn't able to see me. "Lauri offered me a ride home and I really want to take it."
"Alright," Tommi gives in, not being able to tell me no. "Just don't make any stops and make sure you're home as soon as he can get you there."
I grin appreciatively at Tommi before turning back to the table, so excited that I can hardly stop myself from skipping. What in the world has come over me? "He said that's fine, we just have to head straight home. My grandmother is going to be upset because I'm late," I tell Lauri, shoving my hands in my pockets.
He nods, standing up from the table and taking his keys from his pocket. I follow him to his van, getting into the passenger side. The drive back to Mummu's place is spent listening to Guns 'N Roses, which I discover is a common interest we have. They're his favorite band, and I love them too. When he pulls up in front of the house, I sigh a little, not wanting to get out of the car. We have exchanged numbers earlier, so it's not like I'll never see him again. I am just enjoying this. "We're practicing tomorrow morning, if you want to come?" I ask hopefully, looking down at my hands.
"Ten a.m. Tommi rents us this place, it's really nice. I'd like for you to come." Please say yes, please say yes...
"That's a little early for me, but I think I can manage. Call me in the morning and give me the address, alright?" He smiles pleasantly at me, and I can feel my heart about to beat out of my chest.
"Alright. Thanks for the ride. And the beer," I add, leaning in the car door for a moment.
"Thank you for the company," he says genuinely, and I get the impression that he doesn't just randomly spend time with people he doesn't know very often.
I wave at him as I walk back into the house, having to fight myself not to run back out and ask him to come in. I already know that I am going to be in trouble. I am not quite eighteen, and staying out past my curfew is not something that will endear me to Mummu. She's very protective of me, and I don't mind that, actually. She took Tommi, Ville, and I in, and... well, let's just say it's nice to have someone who cares enough to lay into you about missing curfew.
"Jonne Aaron Liimatainen, where have you been?"
I hear her voice scolding me the second I shut the front door behind me, and I half expect to be told I'm grounded or something. "I... I was out trying to find a guitarist for the band," I say feebly, praying she doesn't say I'm not allowed to go to practice tomorrow morning.
Instead, she pulls me in for a tight hug, nearly suffocating me. "I should ground you. You had me so worried about you! But Tommi told me what happened." She pulls back to look at me. "What's his name?"
I am confused at her wording, but do not say anything about it. "The guitarist? Lauri. He's going to sit in on our practice tomorrow."
She pats me on the head lightly. "Alright, well be a good boy and go get some sleep. It's late. And be careful when you go in, Ville's already asleep."
I nod, and after saying my goodnights with Mummu, enter my room. My little brother is asleep on the bed beside mine, so I try to be as quiet as possible while kicking off my shoes, stripping down to my boxers, and laying on the bed. I stare at the ceiling for a long time, thinking about Lauri, wondering how this has happened so fast. I know I have a crush on him, and that is strange to me, because before now, I've been straight. But the feeling has me excited, hardly able to sleep.
"You like him, don't you?"
My big brother's whisper causes me to nearly jump out of my skin, and I look up at him, wondering how long he's been standing there. "Well... I guess he's a pretty nice guy. So yeah." I fake the best lie I can, a little nervous about telling Tommi I like another boy.
"That's not what I mean Jonne, and you know it." He sits down on the bed beside me, running a caring hand through my blonde hair. "Just be careful, alright?"
I smile at him, nodding. "Alright, I promise. Please don't say anything to Mummu?"
"I won't," he swears, kissing my forehead. "Get some sleep. We've got an early start tomorrow."
I curl myself into a little ball and close my eyes, pulling the covers over myself. It takes me a while to fall into slumber - I'm soooooo excited about Lauri - but when I finally do go to sleep, my dreams are pleasant. I can't wait until tomorrow morning.
Chapter 2 [Larry's POV]
When I first saw this extremely self-conscious blonde boy, I almost didn't take him seriously. Here he is, approaching me, acting like I'm some sort of fucking rockstar idol or something. But then it hit me - he likes me. And I'm flattered, I'd be lying if I said I wasn't. I've been with boys before, and some I'm sure would not be surprised to hear that I like them best of all. So I'll stick around. Sure, I'm as much of a boy as Jonne is, but I'm very attracted to him. It amuses me to watch his reactions - not in a cruel way, but because I can't believe he doesn't realize how incredibly beautiful he is. Somehow, I think I might have the urge to protect him, to save him from this self-conscious mindset that seems to haunt him.
Don't get me wrong, I'm also very seriously interested in this band offer he's laid out for me. He has the eyes of an artist, and I know his music is going to be something special, something amazing. So for all intents and purposes, I'm "in". He convinced me last night with his kind eyes, pleasant smiles, and sweet, shy little gestures. And that's why I didn't even groan when my alarm went off so early this morning. I certainly didn't bounce happily out of bed, but I didn't crawl either, like usual - there is a lot more passion in me, something new, fresh.
As my fingers wrap around the doorknob leading to the practice room, I pause for a moment to listen to the music that emerges. What strikes me immediately is this voice - somehow I know it is Jonne's, even though he has not told me that he is the singer - and I am absolutely mesmorized. How such an amazingly strong voice could come out of such a tentative, small boy is beyond me. And before I can contemplate the answer to that question any longer, my hand gains a mind of its own and twists the doorknob.
There he is, in deep concentration, singing so hard he doesn't even notice me enter. The voice pouring from his very soul envelopes me in honey, in velvet. Sweet and angelically soft, but so strong and deeply soulful at the same time.
When he finishes singing, he turns right back into cheerful, sweet Jonne, but I saw in those eyes and heard in that voice a part of him that I know he's showed to no one. I wonder if I'm the first to notice this, because really it can't be that hard to see. He needs someone, really. And when his blue eyes light up as they land on me, I wonder if maybe I could give it a shot.
"Lauri! I'm so glad you could make it!" Jonne tells me, shoving his hands deeply into his pockets, and I know he wants to touch me or to hug me, but he doesn't because he's not sure if it's proper or not due to the short amount of time we've known one another. So, I complete the action for him, pulling him into an embrace, establishing that from that moment forth, our relationship will be an extremely warm, physical one - not something cold and dead because we couldn't get our egos or self-consciousness out of the way.
"Thank you so much for inviting me Jonne," I say genuinely, letting the petite little blonde boy loose. "Your music is... absolutely the most fabulous thing I've ever heard."
The smile that lights up his face over those simple words is something that tells me immediately that he would never sell himself out - he's really in it for the music. Because I can tell that he would rather be complemented on his music than his looks any day. He truly lives to create. This realization makes a matching smile cross my lips. Jonne and I are both genuine artists.
"That was amazing," I tell him, nodding my head. He wants to know how much I heard, and I inform him that I am fairly sure I started listening somewhere in the middle of the second verse. After I name off a few lines of what I heard him sing, he replies that my guess was correct. As he speaks, he seems somewhat shaky - nervous - and it sortof makes me want to just hug him. What could possibly make someone as beautiful as he is so damn self conscious? I'm not quite sure, but the few ideas I have make me want to hug him even more; it can't have been something good, that's for sure.
Practice goes by in what seems the blink of an eye - them playing a few more songs, me showing them what I can do, then me jamming with them - and when it is over, Jonne approaches me again, making small talk. He seems reluctant to leave me; he is not ready to go home just yet. "Do you want to go get some coffee with me?" I ask suddenly, not even thinking about the question before it leaves my lips; it was pure instinct.
For a moment he seems surprised, but when he recovers, the cutest little smile spreads across his lips. "I-I'd love to." But then his expression darkens, and his eyes are on his feet. "But I don't have any money."
"Don't worry about it," I say reassuringly. "My treat, I insist. C'mon, let's get out of here." Grinning, I take his arm in mine before he can argue, knowing that he can't refuse me. He calls out across the room to tell his big brother where he is going, and barely has enough time to finish talking before I drag him out to the street, laughing. I am not sure why I am laughing, actually, but somehow I am having a really good time already.
He climbs in the car and I quickly follow suit, starting it up before shock wears off and Tommi has the chance to change his mind and tell Jonne he has to go straight home instead of going out with me. As I do so, I suddenly look over at him, catching him looking at me with an incredibly vulnerable look in his eyes. He is communicating his feelings for me, purposefully, into that one look. I'm not sure how to take it, or what to do, so I simply smile at him and reach to turn on some music, opting for the 'mysterious' approach - for now. Peeling out of the parking lot, I laugh, amused at the fact that he and I haven't known each other for a day and here we are half-running away together. This is the beginning of something great, I know it. And even though running away with Jonne is probably not the brightest idea I've ever had, I could not resist the temptation - I enjoy his company too much. We sing along together to some song on the radio, and had someone just been a random observer at the moment, they probably would have thought we'd known each other for years, not hours.
"Jonne, I will come to band practice with you anytime. I'm enjoying myself so much!" I finally tell him, turning the music down so that we can talk. He blushes a little, and I put into action the second part of my plan, which I have been thinking about since yesterday. "You don't think the others would not want me in the band if I liked men, do you?" Make your availability and preference known and see if he takes the bait.
Of course, he does take the bait, his hands fumbling nervously in his lap. "N-no. I don't think it would matter.... Do you?"
"Hm?" I ask, confused.
He looks at me a little uncomfortably, shifting in his seat. His shyness is adorable. "You said if you... l-liked men.... Do you?" he asks, his voice cracking a little.
If I hadn't been plotting this, I might have been slightly offended by his nosiness. But I was, so I can't be. "Promise you won't act weird?" I ask, to which he responds with the tiniest little nod. "Yes. I do."
He looks me over with a grin, making his happiness about that fact a little too obvious; had I not known his feelings for me before, I certainly would now. But since I already knew how he feels, I find that a little smile has made its way across my lips as I park the car as close to the coffee shop as possible. "Well, we're here." I look over at him and give him a little smile as I shut the car off and take the keys out. "C'mon."
Fifteen minutes later, we are staring at each other over our cups of coffee very quietly - a sort of shyness has set in after a while of making small talk, and somehow I think it might have something to do with the little fact Jonne found out about me in the car a few minutes ago. While I'm still too afraid to say anything, somehow I know this is one of those moments that will last forever in my memories. This shy little blonde boy with his hair in his eyes, peeking at me, trying to hide behind his coffee cup. It's absolutely the most exquisite sight I've ever beheld.
"Do you wanna..." My finger plays at the inside rim of my coffee cup as I examine him. "Do you wanna come back to my place and listen to some records or something? I've got Guns 'N Roses, Aerosmith, Led Zeppelin, Alice Cooper... all kinds of good stuff. Or we could watch a movie or something."
A grin lights up his boyish face - as if he has been waiting for me to ask a question like that - and he seems embarrassed by his own enthusiasm, this time trying to hide beneath his hair. But unfortunately for him, it's not quite long enough. "That sounds really good, actually."
I finish my coffee and wipe my mouth with a napkin. "Are you finished with yours?" With a nod, he confirms that he is, and I stand up, giving him a little smile. "Thank you for indulging me. I'm having a wonderful time."
A little blush turns his cheeks pale pink as he too stands up, pushing his chair under the table. "Me too. I just hate that you're paying for everything."
"Nonsense," I tell him, wrapping an arm around his shoulders and starting to lead him out the door. "You're worth every last bit of it." Judging by the smile that statement earned me, I'd be willing to bet that my saying that just made his day. His smile made mine.
Chapter 3 [Jonne's POV]
Spending time wih Lauri has only further confirmed to me my feelings for him. At first I was a little unsure, and it wasn't completely due to the fact that I've never cared about another male this way before; there was a girl. A girl with rosy cheeks and beautiful eyes and flowers in her hair. But I doubted myself, so I left her. And by the time I realized what an idiot I was and came back, things weren't the same. She was the first person I ever really loved and I broke both our hearts. So I guess maybe I don't trust myself not to hurt Lauri, and maybe I'm scared of love altogether. Though I'm probably getting way ahead of myself here since he doesn't know how I feel and I have no clue how he feels. What can I say? I just tend to overthink things.
I look over at him, sitting in the driver's seat, watching the road as he directs the car back toward his flat. It's started to rain, and the sound of the windshield wipers only sends me deeper into thought. What if he does like me, and we're together? What does that mean for me? It means there would never be any great grandchildren for Mummu. And what would my friends think? I'd be gay. I'm not gay... And jesus, if the band makes it, can you imagine?... I don't think I could hide our relationship like that. I sigh as I look over at him and he reaches for my hand and squeezes it, sensing the negative change in my mood.
"If you want to talk about it, you can. I promise to listen," he tells me, only looking at me after he has finished speaking.
I think about this quietly for a moment, but then suddenly the words just start pouring out of me. "Haven't you ever worried what people would think about you being gay? Haven't you ever worried about how it will affect your life?"
He chuckles lightly, his eyes remaining focused on the road. "I'm not gay."
"Wh... What?" I ask, shocked and confused. "But... You said..."
"I said I like men," he smiles, still not looking at me. "I never said I don't like women too. If I said that, it would be a lie."
"Oh." I sit and think for a moment, pondering this. I hadn't really thought about middle ground - I had only considered gay or straight. Maybe somewhere down the middle wasn't so bad. "Do you normally date men or women? Do your girlfriends know you like men too? Who do you like more?"
Eyes still on the road, he ruffles my hair a little. "You sure do ask a lot of questions."
With a shrug of my shoulders, I settle in against the door, curling my body into a ball of sorts. "Just curious, I guess. Will you answer one question for me, though? Please?" He nods his head for me to continue as he one-handedly reaches for a cigarette, places it between his lips, and lights it, keeping his other hand on the steering wheel. "When did you first realize you liked men too?" I ask, eyeing his cigarette wishfully. I 'quit' last week.
"I always did, I guess," he says, exhaling smoke. I watch, entranced, as it curls around him. "It wasn't like one day I just woke up and decided to like guys too. I just... always have."
I'm quiet for a long time as I think about that statement. It's not really something I even considered possible before. But now... Well, I'm not so sure. I'm not so sure of anything anymore.
The next thing I know, I'm waking up on his bed. I must've fallen asleep in the car. I had trouble sleeping last night, and I was so tired, I couldn't help falling asleep. The first thing I sense is the smell of something cooking, and my stomach growls demandingly; it must be lunchtime. Following my nose, I wander down the hall and into the kitchen, where I find Lauri behind the stove. Smiling, I watch for a moment before I gently put a hand on his shoulder, accidentally startling him a little. But the smile he gives me once he's realized it's only me tells me he's just glad I'm awake.
"How long was I asleep?"
He looks at the clock on the wall before answering me, calculating in his head, looking so adorable as he attempts to concentrate. "Couple hours. You fell asleep in the car, so I carried you inside."
I blush. "You didn't have to do that."
"I know," he says, smiling at me a little. "But I wanted you to be comfortable. You weren't very heavy, anyway." Turning around again, he gestures to the food in the pan. "I've made chicken and potatoes. Hope that's okay with you."
My tongue darts out to lick over my lips. "That sounds... and smells delicious," I tell him, nodding my head.
It takes him a few more minutes to finish cooking, and in the meantime I lean against the counter and watch him. He asks me to get out a couple plates and indicates which cabinet they are in, and after I hand them to him he serves up our food. Then we eat together at the kitchen table, and though neither of us say much, I find that I am enjoying his company immensely. My quietness, I know, is due to the fact that I'm still so sleepy, but I couldn't tell you the cause of his.
I'm the one who finally breaks the silence after both of our plates have been cleaned, complimenting him on his culinary skills. In reality, the food wasn't actually that good, but it was much better than anything I could have done. He seems flattered and thanks me for the compliment, then suggests we sit and watch a movie together. He puts in Evil Dead, which I have never seen before; I'm not much for horror movies, I scare too easily. Halfway through it, I'm buried in his shoulder, unable to watch anymore.
"Jonne, are you alright?" he asks, a hand gently rubbing the small of my back.
I lift my head off his shoulder the tiniest bit, just so that I can look at him. "This is too scary for me," I respond.
He reaches for the controls and turns off the television, and I am thankful for the fact that he didn't press any further. "Okay, we won't watch it then."
Slowly, I start to untangle myself from him, peeking around my hair. "Sorry, I'm really not a horror movie fan."
He smiles and starts to play with the blonde strands, tucking a piece behind my ear. "You should've told me. I would've put in something else."
I watch him for a long moment, considering. I'm halfway in his lap still, and my body gives a little shudder as he continues to play with my hair. "Lauri?"
"Would you... kiss me?"
He just stares at me blankly for a moment, and I start to feel embarassed, searching for a way to explain myself. "I just want to know what it's like to kiss a man."
He pulls back a little bit, looking me over, but his hands are sill playing with my hair, so I know I haven't said anything wrong. One hand slips down a few inches to cup my jaw, his thumb lightly ghosting over my bottom lip. "Are you sure?"
I hear his voice, and it seems so far away, not because it sounds that way, but because I've gone off somewhere else altogether, in my own world. I know I'm nodding my head, because I can feel it, but it feels like someone else has taken control of my body. My eyes flutter closed as he leans in, brushing his lips lighly over mine, giving me a feel for it. Then we're really kissing, mouths moving, lips parting, tongues exploring. He kisses harder, more hungrily and demandingly than any girl I've ever kissed, and his taste is sharper and much more masculine. It feels really good to kiss him. We kiss for what seems like an eternity to me, and I can feel my heart beating wildly in my chest the whole time. When I finally pull away, it is because I can't kiss him anymore without wanting more. I know what more entails, and I'm not sure I'm ready for that yet.
My eyes still closed, I can feel his breath against my neck as he leans in to whisper in my ear. "Did I live up to your expectations?" he asks, his voice rough, panting a little.
Silently, I nod. Boy, did he...
~To Be Continued~