Excerpt for Afterglow by , available in its entirety at Smashwords

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Published by Elliott Junkyard

Smashwords Edition

Copyright 2017 Elliott Junkyard

All rights reserved. No part of this ebook may be used or reproduced in any manner without permission of the publisher, except for the purpose of reviews. This book is a work of fiction and all names, characters, places, and incidents are fictional. Any resemblance to actual people or events is coincidental.

Edited by Jo Ladzinski

Cover photo by Liane Metzler

Courtesy of Unsplash.com

Cover design by Elliott Junkyard


Elliott Junkyard

Zach leans his head back against his seat, his eyes growing heavy. A few feet in front of him, the flight attendant drones on about safety instructions. Zach has been on so many flights in the past two years, he can probably recite them in his sleep. First class is a nice perk of being on the top of the Billboard charts but sometimes he misses playing coffee shops and sleeping in his own bed every night.

His album dropped a week ago. It isn’t his first since signing to a major label, but it is his first since the mainstream media has been aware of his existence. The teenagers of Tumblr jumped on board as soon as they realized the majority of his songs don’t explicitly gender the love interest. In spite of the pressure to conform, he stood by that decision throughout his writing process.

The rest of the Internet joined the bandwagon when his first EP came out. It was only three songs, but the label agreed to do a music video for each one to build up buzz for his upcoming full length. The first one featured a straight couple, the second a gay couple, and the third a lesbian couple.

Signing with Ocean Records meant a lot of things. It meant a platform for his music. It meant not having to work a shitty retail job any more. But, it also meant keeping his preference for dudes over girls to himself. He and Alicia had been together for over a year when he signed. At the time, the pros seemed to outweigh the cons. He’d been stealth since he started his transition nearly a decade ago, but he’d never been closeted about his queerness before. He knew they were taking a huge risk on him, which he appreciated. He was willing to keep himself in the closet, but he wasn’t going to let them straightwash his music.

It’s been a point of contention with his PR people since day one.

He expected more of the same type of buzz as over his EP: A couple local radio interviews the day of the concert, maybe a few TV spots. He thought he knew what he was getting into, but reality threw him for a loop. He’s spent the last four days in three different time zones. By the end of the third, he could barely remember what city he was in. London is his next stop before starting a six-city tour across Europe.

It’s his first major headlining tour. On his first time out of the U.S.

He closes his eyes as the plane takes off. His thoughts drift to when he lands and he’ll get to break in his brand new passport. Name: Zachary Allen Orzechowski. Gender: Male. First stamp, London.

When he opens his eyes again, he notices the dimmed light in the cabin. The sun sets over the horizon. He’s been asleep for hours. Exhaustion must have taken over. The next thing he notices is that his mouth tastes like death. He unbuckles his seatbelt and rummages through his carry-on for his travel toothbrush and toothpaste. The inconvenience of brushing one's teeth in an airplane bathroom far outweighs the suffering of morning breath until the plane lands.

He bumps into a guy about his age who was waiting outside the bathroom. Zach had thought he was alone in first class. The guy is a little bit taller than Zach with dark curly hair and large wire-rimmed glasses. He’s wearing a bright blue hoodie underneath a navy blazer and black skinny jeans ripped at the knees. He’s the kind of nerdy-cute Zach was totally into when he was in high school. And now too, apparently.

Zach returns to his seat. He calculates the number of hours left. A flight attendant comes by to offer him “coffee, tea, or something stronger.” He’d really like to take her up on the latter but he knows drinking will only make his jet lag worse. He asks for a blanket instead.

The other passenger returns from the bathroom and smiles at him on his way back to his seat. Zach notices that his hoodie has Smokey the Bear on the front. There’s some text that accompanies the image but it’s covered by the blazer. Zach smiles back.

Zach spreads out the blanket over his lap. He reclines his seat and pulls his earbuds and phone out of the pockets of his cardigan. He opens his podcast app and chooses an episode of This American Life at random. He drifts off halfway through the broadcast and wakes up to silence.

He checks his watch. They land in roughly an hour and a half. He puts his seat up, throws off the blanket and stands up. When he was a kid, he never understood why the crew told you when it was okay to move about the cabin. When he got older, he realized those announcements were more or less for the folks in first class who had the space to move around. He does a couple laps around the cabin, stretching his legs and on his third go round, the other passenger meets him at his seat.

The guy is fiddling with the strings of his hoodie as he stares awkwardly at Zach. He looks like he’s in his early twenties, but he could be older.

People still have a hard time believing that Zach is 28. Trans fountain of youth, he and his friends used to call it. He fakes a laughs whenever some middle-aged talk show host asks him his secret, but he wonders how they would react if they knew the real answer.

“Um. Are you Zachary Allen?” He asks with a nervous shudder.

“The one and only,” Zach says, rubbing his weary eyes. “What can I do for you?”

“I’ve been debating coming over and saying hi for like the last hour,” he says. He sits down on the armrest of the seat across the aisle. “I really liked your new album.”

Zach turns on his ‘talking to fans’ smile.

“Thanks,” he says. “What's your name?”

“Gabe,” the guy says. He’s grinning when Zach reaches out to shake his hand.

“Nice to meet you, Gabe.”

“Okay, I know this is totally lame, but could I get a picture with you?”

Zach is glad he managed to get in a few hours of sleep since they took off. Maybe he won’t look like a complete zombie in this photo.


Gabe's face lights up and he pulls his cell phone from the pocket of his hoodie. He taps at his screen a for a moment and then holds the phone up above his head, aiming it down at the two of them. Zach leans into the shot and hears the fake camera sound go off a second later.

“Looks good. Thanks,” Gabe says before he pockets his phone.

“No problem.”

Zach sits back down. Gabe doesn’t.

Zach tries his best not to be an asshole when fans come up to him in public. He's usually more than happy to take pictures with fans, spend a few minutes talking to them, whatever. But right now he really just wants to be left alone so he can mentally prepare himself for the non-stop schedule he has a head of him.

“Shouldn’t you get back to your seat?” he asks.

“We're the only two people in first class,” Gabe says. “I don't really think they'll mind.”

“Oh. Right.”

He supposes it won’t be the worst thing in the world if Gabe wants to talk until they land. At the very least he’s nice to look at.

“My cousin introduced me to your music,” Gabe tells him. “She came out last year and she’s been having a rough time. The video for ‘Your Beauty and My Madness’ really helped her.”

“Thanks, it means a lot to hear that,” Zach says. He means it genuinely. There’s only so much he can do under the guise of ‘ally’ but he still wants to give kids what he never had when he was growing up. “I mean, it’s what I was hoping for when I made those videos.”

Gabe smiles. He’s even cuter when he’s smiling. Zach looks away when he realizes he’s been staring.

“So. Um…” Gabe says after a long moment of silence. Zach glances back at him. When their eyes meet, this time, Gabe looks away. He’s fiddling with his hoodie strings again. Zach waits patiently for him to finish.

When Gabe never does, he prompts, “So?”

“So are you -- you know?”

“I don’t really like labels,” Zach says automatically. It’s the pre-packaged response that his PR guy wants him to use when it comes up in interviews. He hates himself a little bit every time those words come out of his mouth.

Gabe stands up and walks across the aisle. He squats down next to Zach’s seat, his arms crossed over the armrest.

“You know,” Gabe says. “It’s not everyday you meet a rock star.”

Zach laughs nervously. He wouldn’t call himself a rock star by any stretch of the imagination. Bruce Springsteen is a rock star. He’s an up and coming pop star at best.

“I don’t know that I would get too excited,” he says. “I’m no Beyoncé.”

“Obviously,” Gabe says. “Nobody is Beyoncé except Beyoncé. But I’m pretty sure when you run into the next Ed Sheeran on your flight, it’s kind of big deal.”

Zach buries his head in his hands. He made a deal with himself that he wouldn’t read any reviews of the album this time around. On the plus side, it’s kept his head clear of all the doubt and self-criticism that the articles and, god forbid, the comments bring to mind. On the down side, he has no idea what people are saying about him or the album until it comes up in conversation.

“Are people really saying that?” he mumbles. He looks up at Gabe who just shrugs like it’s no big deal.

“I don’t know about people,” he says. “But Buzzfeed is.”

Zach groans. Buzzfeed.

Gabe laughs. He props his head up on one hand and looks at Zach like he’s considering his next move. This close, Zach can’t stop staring at him. His eyes are a deep brown behind his glasses, and Zach notices the laugh lines whenever he smiles. The longer he looks at Gabe, the more he remembers how long it’s been since he really let himself have a crush on a guy.

There’s a word tattooed on the side of Gabe’s hand. Zach didn’t notice the letters inked into his brown skin at first, but now that he has he can’t look away. Alive. He wonders if there’s more beneath the sleeve of Gabe’s jacket or if it’s really that simple. He reaches up and runs a finger over the crisp letters. Gabe raises an eyebrow at the touch but doesn’t shy away.

“What does it mean?” Zach asks.

“Nobody gets out of this alive,” Gabe says. “I want to make the most of it.”

“Gets out of what?”


Zach tenses at the feeling of something like butterflies in the pit of his stomach. He’s not falling for some fan he met on a plane. He’s not. He can’t. He stares at Gabe’s mouth and wonders what it would be like to kiss him.

Gabe leans back for a moment, almost long enough for Zach to try to come to his senses but not quite. He takes Zach’s right hand in his left and brings it to his mouth, kissing his knuckles. Zach opens his mouth to say something but he can’t seem to find any words.

And then Gabe takes two of Zach’s fingers into his mouth. His eyes flutter closed as he sucks on them. It should be ridiculous, like a high school virgin avoiding giving her boyfriend a real blowjob. But it isn’t. It feels amazingly intimate. He can’t look away as Gabe’s lips slide slowly over his fingers.

“Like I said, it’s not everyday you meet a rock star.”


He doesn't sleep with groupies. Ever. It’s not a practice he adopted because of his label. It doesn’t even have anything to do with the fact that they’re fans. He just doesn’t do one night stands. Guys like him don’t have the luxury of inviting a stranger into their beds. And groupie is just another name for a stranger.

Zach doesn’t usually have to remind himself of this fact. But he doesn’t usually have a cute guy looking at him like he hung the moon. He takes a deep breath.

He should stop this before it goes any farther. The rumors that he’s not entirely straight are one thing, but he’d really like to keep what’s in his pants slightly more private.

“This isn't a good idea,” Zach finally manages to say.

“Really?” Gabe looks disappointed but he doesn’t move.

“Look, you seem like a nice guy and,” Zach pauses. He considers how truthful he wants to be and his gaze drifts back to Gabe’s mouth. “I think you’re really cute. But I don't hook up with groupies.”

Gabe laughs.

“I’m not exactly a groupie,” he says. “And I won't tell anyone.”

Zach snorts. He's had friends who fell for that one before. They were trending on Twitter before they’d even gotten home that evening.

“And I'm just supposed to take your word for it?”

Instead of answering, Gabe reaches over the armrest, braces one hand on Zach’s thigh, and pushes himself up until they’re face to face. Gabe’s mouth is soft against his and Zach feels the brush of his stubble against his chin. Zach’s heart pounds in his chest. He performed on Good Morning America last week for fuck’s sake. He didn’t know he could still get this nervous.

“I don’t kiss and tell,” Gabe whispers when he breaks the kiss.

Zach can’t actually remember the last time he made out with a guy. He and Alicia broke up almost a year ago and there hasn’t been anyone since. They’d been together nearly five years. He had plenty of opportunities to cheat, with girls and guys, but he had always been faithful.

He watches Gabe sit back down on his heels and push his glasses back up with his knuckle. He reaches out and puts his hand on Gabe’s shoulder. Gabe curls his fingers lightly around his wrist, pulling gently as he turns his head and kisses the palm of Zach’s hand. Zach stares at Gabe’s fingers, the stark contrast between his pale skin and Gabe’s tawny brown.

“So what do you do?”

Gabe raises an eyebrow at the question and Zach realizes exactly how much of a come on it sounded like. He pulls his hand back and shifts awkwardly in his seat.

“Shit, I didn't mean it like that,” he says. “I meant like -- in life.”

Gabe chuckles and rests his head on his crossed arms.

“I'm a poet.”

“Wow, really?”

Zach doesn't know what he was expecting but it wasn't that. Gabe nods, looking amused.

“And you make a living from it?” Zach asks.

“Nah, not even close,” Gabe says. “I have a shitty retail job for that. But you asked what I do, not how I pay my rent.”

Zach cringes internally. It wasn't so long ago that was his reality. Morning shifts at the cafe, weekends working retail, open mics and gigs whenever he could fit them in. He wonders briefly how a poet can afford first class and immediately pushes the thought away. He hates that he thinks about money so much more now that he actually has it. His seat suddenly feels claustrophobic. He needs to move, as though standing up will help him get away from the nagging thought that he's a sell out.

“Going somewhere?” Gabe asks. He stands up as Zach does, backing away to give him room to move.

“I just need to stretch,” Zach says.

He does a lap around the cabin and arches his back. Gabe sprawls over the seat across the aisle, one leg over up over the armrest. Zach can't understand how he can possible be comfortable like that but he says nothing. He leans against the back of his seat, crossing his arms over the headrest and looks over at Gabe.

“What are your poems about?” he asks.

Gabe shrugs and leans back in the seat. He stretches his arms up towards the ceiling.

“Politics, depression, getting my heart stomped on,” he lists off the topics like items on a grocery list. “You wouldn't want to date me,” he says. His tone is casual but self-deprecating. “I'm worse than Taylor Swift when it comes to talking shit about my exes.”

“No love poems?” Zach asks.

He's partly joking, partly genuinely curious. He's not sure why, but he gets the hopeless romantic vibe from Gabe. He would have thought love poems would be the obvious choice. But then he's reminded of something he read once about all bad poetry springing from the obvious. He thinks about his own work and wonders how much of it falls into that category.

“Not for public consumption,” Gabe says. “I do a lot of slam poetry. The angry stuff is better for a live audience. If I write a love poem, it usually stays between me and the person I wrote it for.”

Zach tries to imagine Gabe up on a tiny stage at a coffee shop or hole in the wall bar, spitting words into a microphone and purging his demons in the process. He wonders if Gabe's going to be performing while he's in London or if he's just going on vacation. He doesn't get the chance to ask because Gabe stands up so suddenly it startles him out of his thoughts.

“I really want to kiss you again,” he says.

Zach would be lying to himself if he said he didn't want that too. He's so damn tired of lying.

“Fuck it,” Zach says, more to himself than to Gabe. He might be about to make the biggest mistake of his life, but he doesn’t particularly care. “Come here.”

Gabe doesn't waste time. Two steps forward and his hands are on Zach's hips. He kisses Zach once softly, pulling away before Zach can part his lips and ask for more. Zach wraps both hands around the back of Gabe’s neck and pulls him in. If he's going to do this, he's going to do this. Gabe laughs when Zach stops to breath and steers him back into his seat.

“How long has it been since you’ve been with a dude?” he asks as he climbs into Zach's lap.

Zach doesn’t answer right away. He traces a finger over Gabe’s swollen bottom lip and thinks.

“A whole lifetime,” he says. Gabe laughs again. He probably thinks Zach is being dramatic but it’s the most accurate answer he can think of. The last time he seriously dated a guy he was in high school and he’d never even heard the word trans before. “Is it that obvious?”

“You kiss me like a drowning man gasps for air,” Gabe says, a sad smile pulling at his lips.

“I’ve been drowning for a long time,” Zach says.

Gabe kisses him again and rests his forehead against Zach’s.

“I forgot what it was like hooking up with musicians,” he says with a smile.


“Equal parts drama and passion,” Gabe explains. He kisses along Zach’s jaw, steadies himself on Zach’s shoulders and bends his head to press soft kisses to his neck. “The only people more dramatic are poets.”

Zach can feel it when Gabe laughs against his skin. He sighs and tips his head back, baring his throat. If Gabe leaves marks, at least it’ll give the make-up artists something to do. Gabe tugs at the collar of his shirt and sinks his teeth into the juncture of Zach’s shoulder. All other thoughts disappear from his mind.

“Fuck,” Zach gasps as Gabe sucks at the already abused skin.

He bites down on his bottom lip and tries to stifle the groan climbing up the back of his throat. His hands find their way to Gabe’s waist and Gabe seems to take that as encouragement. He rocks his hips against Zach’s. Zach is at once both relieved and utterly disappointed that he can’t get hard.

Before he can stop himself, he slides one hand to the front of Gabe’s jeans, presses his palm against Gabe’s hard-on. Gabe moans, his hips pushing forward against Zach’s hand.

“Now we’re getting somewhere,” Gabe says. He kisses Zach on the mouth and leans back, grinning.

For a split second Zach thinks about tugging open the button of Gabe’s jeans and shoving his hand inside. About how it would feel to have Gabe’s cock in his hand, the weight, the warmth of skin on skin. He licks his lips unconsciously.

And then he hears the sound of the drink cart rolling down the aisle and it brings him back to reality.

“Fuck,” he swears under his breath.

The flight attendant stops in her tracks.

PR is going to murder him if this gets out. Gabe just laughs and climbs out of the seat. Zach breathes a sigh of relief. That is until he realizes that Gabe is whispering something to the flight attendant, a mischievous glint in his eyes. He swipes a bottle of water from the bottom shelf of the cart as it rolls away and walks back towards Zach. He takes a long swig from the bottle and tosses it onto the nearest seat.

“Now, where were we?” Gabe says. He nudges Zach’s thighs apart with his knee and stands between them.

“I can't – I can’t do this,” Zach says, flexing his fingers at his sides, trying desperately to keep his hands to himself. “I’m sorry for leading you on.”

“I told her not to bother us,” he says. “You don’t have to worry about your precious reputation.”

Anger flares up within him. He wants to say something to rebuke him, but Gabe’s right. Zach wants this, he’s just worried about getting caught. It eats at him how much he cares.

“But honestly, I don’t think anyone really believes you’re straight.”

“You don’t know anything,” Zach says bitterly.

Gabe bends down, his hands on Zach’s thighs, their faces close enough that Zach can feel his breath on his face.

“So tell me,” Gabe says, his words a dare.

It’s a dare Zach wants to take.

He grabs Gabe by the chin and crushes his mouth against Gabe’s. Gabe gasps and opens his mouth to deepen the kiss, but Zach pushes at his shoulders. His hands go to Gabe’s waist and he tucks his fingers under the waistband of his jeans, pulling him closer. He tugs open the button of Gabe’s jeans and eases down the zipper, his heart racing as he does so. He steals a glance down the aisle to make sure there isn’t a flight attendant getting a scoop for TMZ. When he’s certain it’s safe, he looks up at Gabe again. His eyes are wide and his mouth parts slightly, as though he’s just as surprised by this turn of events as Zach.

“Let me see you,” Zach growls.

Gabe smirks at him and shoves his jeans and boxer briefs down just low enough to get his cock out. There are more tattoos on his hips and Zach finds himself immediately tracing the inked lines with his fingers, even as Gabe licks the palm of his hand and wraps his fingers around the base of his cock.

The lust addled part of Zach's brain wants to him to bend forward and choke himself on Gabe’s cock. Thankfully, common sense remained stashed away somewhere. He has to perform tomorrow and he’ll already have jet lag to deal with. He doesn’t need a sore throat to accompany it.

“Let me,” he says as he tugs at Gabe’s wrist.

Gabe rests a hand on his back and makes quiet desperate sounds as Zach jerks him off. It’s been almost a decade since Zach has done this. He didn’t realize how much he missed it. Gabe comes with Zach’s name on his lips, shuddering and beautiful.

The sound of Gabe’s labored breathing is loud to him, even though Zach is certain it’s being drowned out by the roar of the engines and the howling wind outside. Gabe pulls up his underwear and zips his jeans without speaking. He looks Zach in the eyes and holds his gaze for a long moment. He lowers himself down to his knees and brings Zach’s hand to his mouth again. His tongue slides over Zach’s fingers and the backs of his knuckles as he licks away the remnants of his release.

“Goddamn,” Zach whispers.

Gabe smirks.

“Your turn,” he says. Before Zach can stop him, Gabe has his zipper down. He stops and looks up, concerned expression on his face. “Why aren’t you hard?”

Zach can barely hear his own thoughts over the roar of his heart in his ears. There isn’t a lie he could tell right now that would make an ounce of sense.

“Because my dick is made of silicone,” he says quietly, truthfully.

Gabe looks momentarily confused and then slips his hand into the slit of his underwear.

“Oh,” Gabe says. The tone of his voice isn’t disappointed the way Zach was expecting. It’s the sound someone makes when all the pieces finally click into place. Gabe pulls his cock out and Zach hurries to cover his crotch with his hands.

“What are you doing?” he hisses.

Gabe has the audacity to look bashful as he says, “Um, blowing you?”

Zach glances around the cabin, making sure they’re still alone before he removes his hands and relaxes into his seat. Gabe wraps his lips around the head, sucking lightly and keeping eye contact the entire time. Zach lets out a shaky breath. He reaches up and gently rests a hand at the back of Gabe’s head. Gabe moans quietly around his cock and takes him deeper. Zach tightens his fingers unconsciously and tries to stifle a groan.

He arches up into Gabe’s mouth and he can feel Gabe’s nose press into his stomach. It doesn’t even matter that Zach’s packer is soft and not that big, it’s still the hottest thing that has ever happened to him.

Alicia didn’t like sucking his cock. She told him once she didn’t see the point if it couldn’t get hard. She said she’d rather put her mouth on a part of his “actual body.” And that was great and all, he never complained, but what he never told her was that his packer is a part of his actual body. It makes him feel more complete, even if he can't feel it in the same way.

As he watches Gabe’s head bob up and down the thought occurs to him that this is the first time he’s ever gotten a blowjob from a guy. He still had first times left. The idea that this one is happening on an airplane with a total stranger makes him laugh.

Gabe looks up at the sound. His lips are spit slick. His glasses are slipping down his nose. Zach really wants to kiss him again.

“What’s wrong?”

“Nothing,” Zach shakes his head. “I just – you’re really good at that.”

Gabe ducks his head but Zach can still see the faint blush on his cheeks. What they’re doing is closer to a one night stand but it feels more like high school, awkward and fumbling but no less intense.

“Can you – you know,” Gabe starts to say. “Can you get off from this?”

“Um,” Zach pauses. He’s been truthful so far, no use lying now. “Probably not.”

Gabe pushes up his sweater and presses a kiss just below Zach’s belly button. Zach lets the hand on Gabe’s head drift down the back of his neck and settle on his shoulder.

“I really want to make you come,” Gabe whispers as he looks up. Zach can feel himself flush from head to toe.

“Show me how?” Gabe asks, his eyes wide and hopeful.

Zach chews on his bottom lip nervously for a moment before nodding. He tucks his cock back into his boxer briefs and reaches for the blanket he’d left on the floor. Once it’s spread out across the two armrests, he lifts his hips. He shoves his jeans and underwear down over his hips, his packer going with them. When he slips a hand underneath the blanket, his fingers find Gabe’s. They entwine briefly before he guides Gabe’s hand between his legs.

Gabe’s fingers are thicker than his own and Zach shifts his hips to push against them. He gasps when Gabe’s thumb brushes over the head of his clit. His fingers tighten around Gabe’s shoulder.

“Yeah?” Gabe asks, seeking confirmation.

“Yeah,” Zach says with a breathless sigh. “Come here.”

Gabe nearly falls off the seat as he tries to find a place for his knees without displacing the blanket.

“Nailed it,” Gabe says with a grin as he finally settles down onto Zach’s lap.

Zach laughs.

He’s still laughing when Gabe leans forward and kisses him. Gabe’s fingers slide back into him and Zach gasps against his mouth. Gabe kisses him in time with the maddeningly slow thrust of his fingers. The pressure of Gabe’s thumb against his clit is just enough to keep him right on the edge. He tangles his fingers in Gabe’s curls and kisses him roughly. When he breaks the kiss, Gabe leans back in almost immediately, or he tries to. Zach holds him in place by his hair, barely an inch between them. It’s just enough space that he can feel Gabe’s breath on his skin, see his own desperation mirrored on Gabe’s face.

“Fuck me,” he growls.

It’s a simple command but they must have been the magic words. Gabe presses his thumb down hard and buries his face in Zach’s neck. His kisses are erratic, but the movement of his hand is steady, intensity increasing by the second. Zach brings his free hand up to cover his mouth, muffle the stream of groans escaping from his lips.

Gabe kisses his way back up along Zach’s jaw, pushes his hand away and reclaims his mouth. He rests his forehead against Zach’s and looks into his eyes. Zach releases his grip on Gabe’s curls and his fingers trail down the side of his face, brushing gently over his cheek. He’s not used to this intense level of intimacy during sex with guys.

His orgasm hits him in waves. It starts in his thighs, his muscles shaking and then seizing as his body clenches around Gabe’s fingers. He grips onto Gabe’s biceps as he rides out the tremors. He hadn’t even realized he’d closed his eyes until he opens them again and finds Gabe staring at him, a goofy smile on his face.

“Shit,” Zach pants.

His heart pounds in his chest. Gabe’s grin widens. He stands up and Zach watches as he sucks his fingers into his mouth and wipes off his hand on his jeans like it’s no big deal. Zach feels his cheeks flush. He looks away and shimmies back into his pants, adjusting himself and trying to remember how to breath.

The fasten seatbelt sign chimes and the captain announces that they’ll be starting their descent soon.

“That’s my cue,” Gabe says. He leans down to press a chaste kiss to Zach’s mouth, and then fishes a business card out inside pocket of his blazer. “Just in case you want a rematch. I’ll be in London for two weeks.”

He's on his way back to his own seat before Zach has a chance to respond. A flight attendant walks through the curtain not ten seconds later, trash bag in hand. Zach has never felt more like a deviant in his life. He waits until she’s passed him before escaping to the bathroom, fasten seatbelt sign be damned. He washes his hands and splashes cold water on his face.

When Zach finally makes his way back to his seat, he sees Gabe with his hood pulled up, his head tipped back, his eyes closed. He shoves a hand into the pocket of his jeans and runs his fingers over the raised typography of the business card. He doesn’t plan on making the same mistake twice, but stranger things have happened.


About the Author

Elliott Junkyard is a queer trans man and angry socialist. In addition to writing queer romance, he is an artist of many media. His other work includes subversive, feminist, and occult embroideries, acrylic and watercolor paintings and zines about why tea is so awesome. He currently lives in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania and spends his free time listening to audio drama podcasts, tending his herb garden and being as queer as possible. You can reach him at his twitter account: @elliottjunkyard

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