Bunch of crapples in my coffee… or something like it. Excerpt of “Ersatz” included. Pls enjoy.

Silly stuff: Is there some way I can be known as “Harper Kingsley, God MC” without knowing how to do anything? *~* Listening to “Conquest” by the White Stripes. I realize that it’s practically prehistoric, but it’s still on my playlist. Kind of hard to believe that someday it might be seen as “Classical music” by teens everywhere. *~* So true. You eat ONE White Castle Burger and you’re like “Ugh!” but THIRTY of them? That’s insane, man. “Harold & Kumar Escape Guantanamo Bay” is on TV right now. Very nice 🙂 I love NPH, don’t you? *~* If anyone is interested in being given free copies of my stuff, let me know. I’m thinking about picking some pre-readers in return for BJs (just kidding!) [Not really.]

Real life: Nothing much here. Everything good happens in my head. I save all the bad stuff for real life.

Ersatz
by Sol Crafter
genre: mm contemporary romance
audience: ADULT

Summary: Two roommates are asked an incredibly awkward question — “So, what’s it like being in an ersatz homosexual relationship?” — which starts a whole bunch of trouble.

ERSATZ
by Sol Crafter

“So, what’s it like being in an ersatz homosexual relationship?”

“What?” His head whipped around so he could stare at Julie in surprise.

“Seriously, you guys have been living together for years, right? Neither one of you has ever questioned why that is?” Julie laughed derisively. “When was the last time either one of you had a girlfriend?”

John glanced at Charlie sitting next to him. The other man’s body was tense and the perpetual smile had been wiped away.

“You’re not very funny,” John said, standing up. “I think maybe it’s time for you to leave.”

He didn’t care that the way he hustled her out of the apartment was rude. Her question had been even ruder.

“Can you believe her?” He shook his head and made a quick detour to grab a soda out of the refrigerator. “You want one of these?” He waited a long moment until he realized that he wasn’t going to get a response.

He looked over the top of the refrigerator door and saw Charlie still sitting frozen on the couch. “Hey, are you okay?”

Charlie gave a slow blink, then turned his head to look at John. “What did she mean by ‘ersatz homosexual relationship?'”

John gave an uncomfortable shrug. “Why don’t you look it up on Wikipedia or something? I personally wouldn’t worry about it too much. She was just trying to be a gigantic bitch, that’s all.”

He brought Charlie a soda too, carefully setting it on the coffee table before sitting back down in his usual spot. Only now it felt a little awkward to realize just how close he always sat to Charlie. Their legs were practically touching.

“So…” He hated how awkward he felt. Damn that stupid bitch anyway. “Do you want to watch TV?”

Charlie leaned forward just enough to pick up his soda. “That’s fine,” he said, his long fingers popping the top on the can. He immediately took a couple of gulping swallows, his Adam’s apple bobbing up and down.

John had the crazy thought to wonder what Charlie would do if he bit his Adam’s apple. Not hard enough to break the skin, just enough to be able to feel the firm shape under his teeth and maybe leave a little reminder mark.

“Yeah, TV, cool,” he said dumbly, forcing his eyes away from Charlie. He raked a hand through his hair and hurriedly picked up the remote control. “Let’s watch TV.”

They sat there in silence, the TV the only sound until their doorbell rang. It was Michael and he got pretty pissed off when he realized John had kicked Julie out.

“Listen, dude, your girlfriend is no longer allowed in our apartment,” John said for what felt like the tenth time. He was getting pretty irate.

“She’s totally banned!” Charlie called from the couch. He’d finally relaxed enough to slouch back on the cushions and prop his feet on the semi-dirty coffee table.

“What the hell, man?” Michael pushed his way past John to stand in front of the couch. “What do you mean she’s banned?”

“It’s just the way it is,” Charlie said. “You’re still cool, but she’s gotta go. Our ‘Welcome’ mat is withdrawn to that chick.” The way he said “chick,” it was obvious that he’d barely refrained from calling her a bitch.

“Dudes, seriously, what the hell did she do?” Michael was honestly confused. He’d known them for a long time and they’d always had an open door policy, welcoming anyone that was cool.

John opened the drawer on the side of the table and pulled out a small bag of weed. “She’s banned, that’s all. Don’t try to talk us around.” He looked at Charlie. “Do you have your bowl? I don’t want to have to go get mine out of my room.”

Charlie reached into the side pocket of his jeans and pulled out a swirly green and gold Chameleon Glass pipe. He wordlessly passed it over and John had to ignore the way their fingers brushed in passing. There was definitely no spark of electricity in their touch.

“I am going to load this bitch and we are not going to talk about your girlfriend anymore,” John said, settling on the couch. “If you want some of this, you’re not going to talk about her either and we’re all just going to have a peaceful time. Maybe play some Halo or something. What do you say, man?”

Michael glanced at the door, looking indecisive. “I don’t know. She’s kind of upset and she’s waiting for me to come back and…”

“Whatever,” John said, expertly packing the pipe. He pulled a lighter out from under the cushion where he’d stashed it earlier. He flicked the Bic and took a couple of quick puffs before passing the bowl to Charlie.

“Ah, fuck man.” Michael threw himself onto the ugly brown recliner they’d saved from a trip to the dump. “She can just deal for awhile.”

After they’d each had at least four hits on the pipe, Charlie dug out the Xbox controllers and they played some Halo. And for a couple of hours everything was all right, until John’s stupid brain insisted on hearing that voice ask, “What’s it like being in an ersatz homosexual relationship?” just when he was handing Charlie the bowl.

He’d always had a thing where smoking pot lowered his inhibitions, so he shouldn’t have been so surprised at popping a boner right then. It’s just that his brain insisted on associating his hard on with Charlie and that was really bad.

Because Charlie was his best friend and his roommate and they’d known each other for forever. And neither one of them was gay.

Except that John’s cock was perking up with definite interest and there was nothing he could do about it, not sitting there with his controller in one hand and his other hand sagging limply in the air. His eyes were locked on Charlie’s face bathed by the quick flicker of light from the lighter as he drew in a deep puff on the pipe, his cheeks sucking in a little, his lips still slightly pursed when he pulled the pipe away from his lips.

Charlie blew out a long trail of smoke toward the ceiling, then coughed and pointed. “Look at that,” he laughed, shaking his hand at it.

“Okay,” John said slowly when he was sure Charlie wasn’t going to say any more. “That’s pretty apropos of nothing.”

“I know, right?” Charlie laughed. He handed the pipe and lighter to Michael, then lifted his controller with his left hand. “I’m gonna whip both your bitch asses now. You’re gonna be respawning in hell tonight, brothers.”

“Whoa, that was a pretty weak Hulk voice,” Michael said. He gave a quick racking cough before doing an eerily good impression of Hulk Hogan, “It’s Hulk mania. Step into a Slim Jim!”

That was so amazingly hilarious that John found himself laughing uproariously. It didn’t even matter that he had half an erection just because Charlie was in the room. It probably wasn’t the first time it had happened, he just hadn’t noticed it before, not until Julie’s little question.

He figured that everything would go back to normal soon and he’d forget about the whole “ersatz homosexual relationship” thing.

Except his brain refused to let it go, and every time he turned around he was popping a boner. He’d started to wear looser pants and had taken to always having something on hand to hold in front of his lap. It was actually getting pretty awkward.

He really didn’t want Charlie to know what was going on, and not just because he didn’t know what was happening himself. He’d never been into dudes, so why was his eye drawn so helplessly to Charlie? Why was he starting to get erections just from hearing Charlie’s name?

“This is so stupid,” he muttered, kicking his heels.

He was lying on his back on the bed, his legs stretched up the wall. He could see where he’d had his feet before from the smudges against the paint, but he didn’t even care. He was going through an existential crisis at twenty-nine.

John fumbled with his pipe and lighter, picking them up off his bare chest and lighting the pink Bic–it was the last from a pack of four.

A few puffs later, he was experiencing a definite head change and he was starting to think that maybe things were going to turn out okay. Sure, he’d had some unexpected physical responses, but he could deal with that.

Just as long as Charlie didn’t suddenly decide that their friendship wasn’t worth having. Because if Charlie disappeared off somewhere, he honestly didn’t know what he was supposed to do. Charlie was his best friend.

John sighed heavily and stared at the smoke curling up toward the ceiling. His mind felt as though either the world had slowed down, or he was thinking super fast. At the same time, he didn’t think that very much could bother him at the moment.

Weed seemed to make his problems more bearable. Unfortunately, the side effects included the munchies, laziness, paranoia, and talking too much.

So when there was a quick tap at his door before Charlie pushed it open, John was just high enough not to completely freak out.

“What up?” he asked, letting his head flop sideways toward Charlie, taking in his stupid striped polo shirt and well-defined upper body. His eyes traced over muscular upper arms and he couldn’t help the idle thought that it would probably be very nice to run his tongue over every flex and bend and that it would be hot to maybe nibble a little at the inner seam of Charlie’s elbow, just to see what it was like.

Charlie was silent for a long moment, then he blinked and was back to normal. “I’m thinking about ordering some pizza. You got any cravings?”

John thought for a second. “Can you get me ham and tomato?”

Charlie made a face, his nose crinkling just a little. “Gross.” He mock shuddered.

Seeing him standing there, John had to acknowledge the fact that Charlie really was good looking. Not in the conventional sense, not with the knot on his nose from when it had been broken and the slight bagginess of his eyes, but he was interesting to look at. He had long, artistic fingers and a nice looking body he always tried to care for. He always wore a kind of porpoise smile that always seemed to make girls think of kissing. His dark brown hair flopped into his blue eyes and from the bridge of his nose up he could have been Tom Wellington.

What made Charlie the most attractive to John was his personality though, his exuberant sense of humor that always seemed to find the best in every situation. Even when it seemed as though the whole world was crashing down, Charlie had a way about him that got people to believe that maybe, with a bit of work, things would be all right. He always just felt so safe.

John thought that if the zombie apocalypse ever happened, he wouldn’t mind having Charlie with him.

“Well, I’ll make our order,” Charlie said, turning and leaving the room, the door clicking softly shut behind him.

John closed his eyes for a long moment and just breathed.

Everything felt so strange and surreal and he honestly didn’t know what he was going to do, but he knew he had to do something. Charlie was probably the most important person in his life and there was no way he was going to let himself lose that.

John drew in a deep breath, then exhaled slowly before opening his eyes.

Everything was going to be okay. He had half an erection, but everything was going to be okay. Because the only thing going on was that he loved Charlie and probably always had.

It wasn’t like the whole “I love Charlie” thing was new though. Sure, he’d thought it was just a really strong friendship, but really the only thing that was going to change between them was John possibly approaching Charlie for sex. And sure, there was a chance that that could go disastrously, but there was no way he could sit around with rejection hanging over his head like the Sword of Damocles.

Because now that he was questioning things, there was just no way he was ever going to be able to forget the fact that he loved Charlie in a non-friend way. So if at some point in the future he had to watch Charlie with someone else, it would be a terrible wound, especially if he changed their friendship paradigm.

Even if it was in his own mind, it would still fucking hurt.

John sighed heavily and set the pipe and lighter down on the unused side of his bed, then he rolled up onto his feet. He had to find a shirt and go out into the living room where he would have to pretend that everything was all right.

/ EXCERPT

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