Was this rejection taking him firmly by the wrists and pushing his hands away? He found himself shrinking against the wall, grateful for the shadows that obscured the confusion and disappointment in his face as Cash stepped back. This wouldn’t be his first rejection, but it would be the first one to follow a heated kiss in a darkened alley, which held such delightful promise.
But then he grumbled his order, and it gave him pause, a moment’s hesitation, before he nodded quickly, overly-eager (personally, he couldn’t tell) when Cash had already turned and started walking. He followed hurriedly, but stayed a few steps behind him, arms crossed tightly over his chest, eyes peering in either direction like an unaccomplished thief en route to an ill-conceived heist.
They didn’t speak, and each step brought with it a heightened sense of alarm. Three times he considered turning back, but each time, his more heightened sense of exhilaration won him over.
(East Side, he noted eventually with a shiver. East Side, wrong side, no side for his kind. He trudged wordlessly on.)
The building felt almost surprising when they finally arrived; for a while, he’d expected he’d end up in some abandoned warehouse. (Did they ever catch that serial killer? No matter. It was a dramatic way to go, at least.) Instead, an apartment building, though run-down and filthy at that, with a rat rustling in a nearby trash can. An unmitigated relief, even so; the tension in his shoulders started to fade. He watched Cash from the back, studied his contours as he found his keys, watched the hair at his nape, smiled ever-so-slightly as he dropped his keys and swore, but followed him inside without a word.
(Knowing himself, he’d muck it all up at the finish line if he opened his stupid gob.)
He didn’t think too much of the stranger. As he passed him, he offered him a noncommittal, polite smile, and then quickened his pace to keep up with Cash.
And then the door, at last, the promised land of 4C; he stood directly behind him with his head cocked lightly to the right and an eyebrow arched at Cash’s glance back at him. For a moment, the thoughts rushed his mind: Could he even get a taxi to drive to East Side to pick him up, or would he have to call his brother (horror of horrors) if he was turned away now? Then Cash’s eyes returned to the door, he turned the key and stepped inside, grumbling his impatient invitation back at him.
Mati’s lips quirked into a crooked smile. “Thankfully not,” he said quietly, very quietly, unsure if he even wanted the older man to hear, then followed him inside.
He didn’t hesitate. Some rush of confidence struck him once he was inside, and he simply stepped forward into the private space of Cash’s home, peering around himself. A final demonstration of certainty; he removed his jacket and laid it over the arm of the sofa, then turned, sat down on the edge of the very same arm and faced the older man with a half-smile.
“Nice place.” A blatant lie. It had taken most of his life to learn to mask insincerity this well.