We don’t talk on the train ride back. Murph stares out the window while I...also stare out the window.
I try to read the book. But I was right about it. It’s way too technical for me.
But he was right about it. It is a little interesting to me.
When we speed through Doncaster, I nudge his foot.
He eyes me, goes back to looking outside, and nudges mine back.
I can’t breathe.
He feels so far away.
My stomach twists.
By the time we pull into King’s Cross, Murph turns to me as everyone stands up to grab their things. But he doesn’t look at me. “I’m...sorry,” he whispers.
I stand up and kind of pull him off the train. “I’ll walk ya back, yeah?” Because that’s what people who like each other do, right?
I mean, I would’ve done it anyways. Probably.
Murph nods. He swallows. “...okay.”
I reach out to hold his hand.
He shies away as we head back into the station.
Something in my chest hurts.
He still doesn’t look at me.
I don’t know what to do.
By the time we get to his door, it’s not that late. But every light is on, the neon signs hum, and it smells like burned petrol.
He unlocks the door to his building. Murph’s fingers’re trembling, so his keys rattle. “Thanks,” he whispers. His ears’re still pink. “For...” He points to the door.
God, I need him to look at me.
I nod my head. But now I can’t look at him. “...your welcome.” And I take a step back.
“Do you – !”
I step out of the street. A biker passes right behind me.
Murph swallows hard, and opens the door wider. “Do you want to hang out? For a little?”
My heart pounds in my ears. I can feel it jump into my throat, but I don’t say anything. I walk past him up to his flat’s door. I wait there until he unlocks it, and then unlocks his bedroom door.
Which is, as you’d expect, filled to the brim with books.
Like, I’m surprised anyone’ll let him legally leave the country with them. There’s enough books here to start a small library. They’re everywhere – on the windowsill, on the two shelves over his desk, his desk. Murph’s whole room is just a collection of books, small gift bags, stuff from his uni classes, pamphlets and brochures from everywhere he’s visited, and a stuffed bear from Harrods.
Granted, most of the books he’s gotten are from museums, like limited editions and special stuff from exhibits. Y’know, stuff that’ll be collectors items someday.
It smells like garlic and cheese. Probably from how stuffy it is in here.
The window’s closed, but the traffic outside seeps in still.
Murph closes the door and flicks on the light switch. “I…” He starts, but doesn’t finish. He has this pained look on his face. He’s still by the door, like he just can’t bring himself to move.
I step closer to him. “Are…”
He takes in a breath, but he doesn’t say anything.
Words feel stupid right now.
I wouldn’t know what to say, anyways.
I don’t know what to do.
He finally looks at me with his blue eyes. They look almost black because the room’s lit by one shitty light bulb behind me. But I can tell Murph’s still red. Beet red. His ears’re still pink. Really fucking embarrassed.
I put my hand on his shoulder.
I take it off him.
He looks away.
I don’t know what to do.
But I’m just so desperate to touch him.
My hands snake into his again, and I lean down.
And I just listen to him breathe, my face against his. Because I don’t think he’d be into snogging right now. Or even anything, really.
My stomach’s all knotted up.
Murph lets go of my hands.
I think I’m going to pass out.
He puts his hands on my face.
I don’t know what to do.
I close my eyes.
I don’t remember the first kiss. I just know he did it.
I open my eyes.
He opens his. “...Tommy?” he asks.
I lean my forehead against his, sighing. I let out this breathless chuckle, and go to give his hands a good squeeze. They’re around my neck, so I wrap my arms around him.
My nose brushes up against his, and the traffic’s just outside, but I can only hear his breathing. We kiss lightly, and it’s just. Light. Sweet.
I kiss him again, but he leans in like we’re both desperate for it. Something twists in my stomach and I kiss him again. There’s no one here, and it’s perfect.
My head’s spinning. My hands get to his face and I just kiss him harder. My hands get to the back of his head and I’m a second away from basically eating his mouth. His lips just move with mine. It’s like breathing.
Murph pushes me back a little after I don’t know how long it’s been since we started. “W-wait.”
I kiss his neck. “Wha?” I step and put my leg between both of his.
He shudders. “D-do you think that – ” I bite, and he shakes. “Are you li-listening to me?”
“Mhm,” I mumble.
No I’m not.
I’m indulging myself.
My head’s spinning.
And I’m trying not to think.
“T-Tommy,” he chokes.
I’m on autopilot. My hands sneak their way up his shirt. He’s hard, and so am I.
“Tommy!” Murph squeaks, grabbing my hands and holding them away from him.
I step back and take him in. Murph’s hair’s a mess. His glasses are crooked. I’m not sure if he’s smiling or not, but I see the dimples. His hands fall to his crotch, and he’s shielding himself. Somehow the room’s gotten darker.
He’s really fucking cute.
God, fuck, is he still really cute.
I take his wrist and pull him towards his bed. I push, and he falls backwards onto it, and it groans under him. I climb on top and go back to kissing his neck.
He’s still hard. “W-wait. Tommy.”
“Yeah?” I ask, kissing him.
“M-my flatmates – ” I kiss him. “The, the walls are – ” I kiss him again. “I just don’t want – ”
I kiss him. I put my hands on his face. My head’s spinning. I just can’t stop. I’m drunk on this weird need to kiss him. I just can’t stop. He kisses so good. His lips are perfect.
A door opens in the distance.
“MANCHESTER UNITEEEEEEEED!” someone screams. Five other voices pop up, and I pull back from this cute nerd in frustration. Not even the walls of my flat are this thin.
“Fuck,” I whisper, sitting down on the edge of the bed.
“I tried to tell you,” whispers Murph. After adjusting himself, he puts his hand on my shoulder and sits beside me. “It’s really awkward, and I don’t want to...get caught, you know?”
“Doing something...” He looks away and rubs his fingers against his duvet. “...for lack of a better word, compromising.”
He can’t say “sex”.
He’s going to kill me with whatever this innocent obliviousness is.
I mean, I can’t say it either. It’s just a thing. British people don’t say shite like that.
“...so what do you want to do?” I ask.
He looks at me. “We could go to your flat.”
I raise my eyebrows. “R - really?”
“I just – ” He grabs my hand with both of his. “I want to talk to you about this. I’m going back in two weeks. And I need to talk to you about this. Now. There, just, isn’t another time for it.” Murph’s blue eyes drop. “I want to make sure we start off on the right foot, you know?”
I swallow, but that seems hard to do. My stomach’s twisting. Everything he said kind of scares me a little.
But I snake my arm around his neck. “I, uh...I get it,” I mumble. And I squish my cheek into the top of his head.
It would be a nice moment if I couldn’t hear his flatmates getting drunker in the common area.
God, these walls are the worst.
We stand up and sneak out. The windows would work, but his flat’s on the second floor, and there’s a carpark under the window. And I don’t think he wants to go to hospital for that.
Murph closes the door behind us, and there’s this, like, electricity in the air. Neon signs are buzzing. The smell of Japanese food floats in the air. Cars’re everywhere. The smell’s fucking awful. The people in this city just never seem to stop.
But he stands close to me as we cross back towards Old Street Station.
If only we could stay out and, just, never go back.
He looks at me and smiles.
My hand brushes against his.
I can’t help but smile back.
My stomach’s still twisted.