Of course switching bands didn't go overnight. Well, not normally. If Jim was more like many front men who thought about themselves as rebels (but Jim often thought they were simply just self-centered assholes), maybe he would have done that. But he was not like them and his conscience wouldn't have left him alone knowing that he’d ditched his current band in the middle of the festival season.
So what he did was getting on stage with them, finishing the remaining one and a half months from their tour, meanwhile communicating with Corey and his future band through the phone or via e-mails.
And sometimes he tried to find someone to fuck in preparation of being around Corey much more often. Maybe it wasn't going to be as bad as on that fateful night when he was asked to join Surfacing, but he couldn't know and wanted to be prepared for anything.
And finally the day came when he was to meet up with the guys for their first rehearsal. Jim has been practicing some of the demo songs he got from the band, but he still felt a bit nervous about that day he was going to spend in Corey's garage, practicing for the first time with Surfacing. Not to mention that he was to move into the house too.
Slowing down with his Ford Raptor he checked the address once more before parking next to the curb. He saw a few other cars on the driveway and the street, guessing that they were the other guys' so he was probably at the right place. Taking a deep breath he got out and grabbed his duffel bag and guitar case with one of his favorite babies inside and walked towards the house. It didn't take long to spot the guys in the open garage. And he tried to calm his quick heartbeats a bit while greeting them. "I'm ready if you are. Let's do this shit," he smirked a bit shy but still confident in his skills.
Those almost two months was hard on Corey. But still better than before waiting for Jim's reply. Of course he went out and stalked the new guitarist a little every now and then. Just to be sure that the feeling was still there.
Surfacing was doing its own share of the touring and Corey started to talk over more and more with Sid and Mick how they should add Jim to the band and their lives.
During the phone calls they already agreed that Jim could stay in Corey's house with Sid and Mick. Maybe the tall man found it strange that those three lived together but he didn't show any signs of it that it would bother him.
Everyone was ready to meet up with the new member and the guest room – the closest to Corey's bedroom for reasons – was prepared too.
As he felt Jim getting closer, all Corey’s cool disappeared. He was trying to prepare himself for meeting Jim again. But seeing the tall guy walk into his garage all shy and blushing and smiling... His heart melted without him allowing it. "Hey! Good to see you here! Sure we are ready! Been waiting just for you."
To that Jim dropped his duffel bag of clothes and stuff somewhere along the wall and knelt down to do the same much more carefully with his guitar case. "I see. Sorry if I made you wait for long. But now I'm here," he said without knowing how much deeper the meaning of his words got.
Standing up with a small smile to look around where he could hook up his guitar, he quickly found his spot and thanked Mick for his help, feeling Corey's eyes practically burning his back, but he tried to ignore him and his alluring presence. Damn, it didn't get better with those few one-night-stands and the more regular help of his own hand.
Focus! You're here to play, he scolded himself as he got up once again and strummed the strings. While adjusting them a bit with practiced ease, he glimpsed around, feeling and seeing everyone's eyes on him. "I've been practicing what you've sent, don't worry. And you can ask whatever you want. I know I'm the new boy," he giggled a bit nervous, although he was used to being the odd one out after trying to fit in into so many bands in the past.
"Don't worry. We’re all kinda weird here. Like… there is V-man…" Corey stepped up and laughed taking a guitar too for the practice. "And Sidney is one of the kind, right my pirate boy?"
"Oi, oi papi! Let's try out some songs, ey?" he plugged his electronic piano in and sat down to play the intro of one of the popular songs.
"Hey!" Alex grunted disapprovingly but there was a huge grin on his face nonetheless.
Jim smiled too, already trying to study his new band mates. True to Corey's words Jim knew them well enough not to doubt that they were all a bit crazy from the good kind. He kept his eyes on the singer and the keyboardist, immediately recognizing the intro. His fingers unwittingly picked up on the melody where he was supposed to.
"When I said to Corey I'm in, I meant all the way," he stated, meaning that he'd accept everyone's weirdness. Letting his hair fall into his face, he let his long and slender fingers play the following guitar solo without much effort, looking up with a sweet smile and a little shrug when he messed it up once towards the end.
The practice was really good. But all of them expected such quality playing from their new and well-known 'legendary' guitarist. They had a lot of laughs too and Jim felt to everyone like he’s been in the band goofing and jamming with them for many years.
After a few hours they called it a day and the band, aside from Sid and Mick, said goodbye and went home. Even Sid and Mick announced that they would go grocery shopping. So it left Corey with Jim, who was standing there shyly with his baggage in his hands and waited for the singer to show him around.
"Come on. My home is your home from now on. Well, ours with the other two," Corey chuckled opening the door from the garage into the kitchen for Jim to enter.
The house reflected the wolf's actual age and nature more than anything else, really. It had a lot of dark hardwood from the floor till the richly carved and decorated wooden furniture. There were handmade decorations in the corners. Mostly Native American tribal motives, which were in some contrast with the almost colonial style furniture and colors. In many pots herbs and all kind of plants were in the diner, the kitchen and the corridors. And lavender was put everywhere.
"I moved into this house a long time ago with my ex. Then we had Sidney and Mick come to have a bit more life in it. It's good, though. Especially after we’d lost my pair in an accident," Corey explained opening the door to Jim's room. "Here we are. My room is next that way, and the others’ bedroom right across. You have your own bathroom and working room like we all do. Hope you like it."
The fact that Corey, Sid and Mick were living in the same house wasn't strange for Jim. Many musicians who didn't have much money did that to share the money for the bills. Or at least that was the simplest explanation to someone like Jim who used to live like this. And he was more than willing to give in his share now that it seemed he was going to stay for a while. He didn't really have much aside from his truck and motorbike that was covered in the back of his Raptor outside.
But as he followed Corey around in the big ass house, he had to admit that he didn't expect such an interior. It was... dark, full of history and meaning. Also some of the furniture looked rather expensive.
He looked at his "host" now as he was talking about the past of the house and them. "I'm... sorry about your ex," he said quietly, feeling that it was still painful for Corey. "Was she or he Native American? I mean... there are a lot of native stuff around the house. Which is cool. I love the symbols and dark colors and the vibes of the house," he said, his more sensitive hippie self showing a bit as he took off his sneakers nearly the moment he entered his new room and put his bag down on the bed in the middle between two windows while drinking in the details.
There were plenty of dark colors in this room too, but some white and cream colors balanced them nicely. There was a couch with two armchairs to Jim's right, a book shelf in the corner. Opposite the bed – to the right from the door where Corey was standing – there was a flat screen on the wall, a small table with a sound system underneath it. There were two doors on the further wall. Jim suspected one was the bathroom and the other the working room Corey talked about. "This place is so sick," he mumbled. "I like it very much," he walked around, taking a closer look at everything.
"No, well, not really. He was taken in and accepted as an honorary member. And later on I was as well. We went on hunts and did some rituals. I guess this house really reflects all that," Corey smiled watching Jim closely. "I'm glad that you like it. If you don't like shoes don't bother with them. We always walk barefooted inside. Except for Mick who was probably born in combat boots," he grimaced with a laugh. "Come, I'll show you the living room and dining room. Also we have a small soundproofed studio-like room."
So it was a he, Jim thought, but left that like that for now since he still had a lot to discover in his new home. "That's cool, man. As I heard, not many can become honorary members," he said then looked down at his bare feet, wiggling his toes a bit. He didn't even notice he did that. It was how he usually walked around wherever he lived. Shrugging it off after laughing on the Mick joke, he followed Corey. "Lead the way..."
Jim was so busy looking around that he nearly bumped into Corey from behind when he stopped by the living room to show that to him too. The decor followed the previously seen style here as well, but some modern equipment – like a big ass flat screen, sound system and PlayStation could be found there too, not to mention the few Doctor Who and Star Wars posters on the walls. Strangely they didn't stick out like a sore thumb.
"I smell geek in here," Jim chuckled, eyeing one of the SW posters. "We should totz do some Star Wars marathon. I love those movies, man. But now... show me that studio. I have a feeling it's the Holy Grail of this house," he joked, feeling more relaxed now that he knew a bit more both about his surroundings and Corey. Though looking at the expensive and big ass house made Jim think. Was it left to Corey after his ex’s death? Or a gift to them perhaps? Not that money would interest Jim in the slightest. Until he had a roof over his head, some food in his belly and something to play music on, he was okay.
"We usually have such marathons. You will see the geek is strong between these walls," Corey smirked. "Studio is at the end of the corridor. Small but have some cool stuff," he shrugged.
He loved that Jim felt more eased up and at home so fast. Of course all his higher senses were on the other man, and the vibes coming off him made him also ease up. So far Jim took in the information about him well. Maybe it won't be that hard after all. Though soon the talks about Sid and Mick and many other things would have to happen. He didn't want to wait long with those. Or too long. The last thing he wanted Jim to think was that he was leading him on for long and wasn't honest or trusting him…
"So... 'our holy grail'," he chuckled opening the door and letting Jim step inside to look over the otherwise fully equipped recording studio with a full mixing consul table and all kinds of instruments.
"Dude... dude!" the tall man stood in the door for a long moment nearly speechless, knowing nothing about Corey's inner turmoil. Jim was too occupied with "fan girling" over the studio. Not needing any nagging he walked in and did the same as before: took a good look at everything. Even picked up a few guitars to strum them a bit after plugging them in. He knew the basics of handling a mixing table, but he didn't touch that just yet. Maybe later. Now melting from the studio was more important.
"It really is a sacred room where the magic happens," he said with an ear-to-ear grin and he brushed his hair out of his face as he was listening to the short melody he was playing on a red guitar. Then he switched things off, satisfied and leaned over the mixing table to take a closer look, the musician in him happy as fuck because if these guys had such equipment and a label already, they were probably taking this more serious than any other band Jim could be a part of in the past.
"Oh, real magic happens in my room actually. But that's a different topic," Corey added with a naughty smug smirk as he walked in and just watched the 'big kid in the candy store' adoringly. "Yeah we’ve always been taking things seriously. And even wanted to use this to make our own recording tapes and such with working together with the back then only forming Roadrunner Records. They used this a few times even for other bands too. Then we lost our guitarist and he was my mate, you know… And so it all halted six years ago... Label still uses this and wants us and all. Plus we have been getting some new bands to get to know them. So it's a good working relationship with the label. You don't have to worry about professionalism regarding that," Corey walked closer and looked deep into Jim's eyes to emphasize his words.
"Oh… You like curry? And mango chicken? The guys brought Indian food. Come, let's eat."
Not so surprisingly Jim flushed beat red from that naughty comment, because for a moment he could see Corey spread out naked on the sheets way too vividly. Well, that didn't help much on staying calm. Luckily the short man talking about the studio and the record label (wait! did he even said those thoughts out aloud?) was a good enough distraction for now.
"I was just thinking about these," Jim nodded and looked grateful from Corey sharing this information with him. "It's good to know you have such connections, because I want to take this band seriously now that I've made up my mind," he reassured Corey that he wasn't there just to jam and be a free-loader. Right, that was another thing they would have to talk about. How he could contribute to the food and bills and all with money.
But that thought was halted by Corey's strange words. How could he smell it from this far? Jim wanted to ask it, but the loud grumbling of his stomach urged him to instead follow the short man.
After dinner and a few more beers and chatting with the other three, Jim said good night. He was tired from driving and all the new impulses and information of the day. He couldn't even remember how many times he'd started his life over like this, but he had a good feeling about this despite the small strange things happening around the house.
He was lying in his comfortable new bed only in his boxers since it was still warm. He was wide awake despite being exhausted. His mind was trying to process that day's happenings and sleep seemed to elude him in the new and yet unknown room. With all the new noises to learn. Like the crackling of the floor boards and furniture, the sound of the water in the pipes or that... strange fumbling noise coming from outside... maybe from under one of his windows? It sounded like some animal and it lasted long enough for Jim to silently get up and go check it. To his surprise, for a moment he thought he saw a wolf... or something very similar disappear in the garden. Maybe his tired eyes and brain were playing tricks on him.
Corey was not sure if Jim saw him under his window. Maybe it was better if he did, actually. After they all called it a day and went to their rooms, Corey shifted his form to look around the house and the neighborhood a bit. Just for safety reasons and to feel the energy of the stars and nature clear up his mind a bit. This will be all okay. He shouldn't have doubts now after moving Jim into their lives.
He was bitten by his ex pair when he was young and that was a very long time ago. He never had to choose or include another person like this into his life. Sid and Mick knew what they were but that is different from choosing a mate for himself for the first time in his long life. But he’s been having so strong feelings towards that man in his house for many years now. Even his 'family' of the two humans urged him to act on his feelings. It will be good and alright.
After the run Corey slept surprisingly well. His sensitive nose filled with the sleeping man's scent brought some new kind of calmness on his senses.
He woke up early and got busy in the kitchen as always, half-naked and barefooted as he usually was around. He was the main chef in the household and always spoiled the others with good breakfast and coffee when they woke up.
As much as Jim was worried about not being able to fall asleep quickly in his new environment, after a while a sense of calmness fell upon him and he slept like a baby for the rest of the night.
In the morning he got through his usual routine, finishing it off with a quick shower. By the time he got dressed, the scent of coffee and breakfast was filling the house, making his stomach grumble hungrily. On the corridor he met up with Mick and they followed the mouthwatering scents to the kitchen.
And there another kind of hunger attacked Jim seeing the barefooted and half-naked man with his tattooed back towards them. To distract himself he mumbled a good morning and sat down to the table to pour some coffee and somewhat collect himself.
It's already been three days and four nights since Jim had moved into Corey's life. And as the small wolf let himself get lost in his thoughts while soaking in his bath tub, he was almost sure that Jim was awake each night he went out in his wolf body. Still the tall man hasn’t shown any signs to ask about the strange things.
Corey agreed with Mick and he tried to still live his life as before, thinking that would be the best for everyone. Even for Jim. The earlier he gets used to the signs, the better it could be. Still Corey felt uneasy and the nightly runs were a great way to ease his mind. Plus he connected to the other spirits of nature, so fulfilling his purpose as well to keep balance in the spirit and living world.
Jim was learning the songs fast. Mick and V-man spent a lot of time with him in the studio working on the songs. And Sid and Corey have been talking with the record company about the progress and took care of the household.
Corey felt like a virgin. Good thing that Mick was there and gave some kind of support. He didn’t know much about the habits of Corey's kind, but compared to the total zero Corey knew about how to pick and get close to a new mate, it was still something.
Maybe he was overcomplicating all this and should just approach Jim like he was a human too, wanting him as a lover. Thing is, Corey hasn't had much experience in that either. Wolves pick a mate for a lifetime, and before his bite and pair the singer didn't have many gay encounters.
It was getting ridiculous really. With an annoyed snort he lowered more into the hot bubble bath. Jim was into him. It was clear even without wolf senses. Maybe this 'being band mates' thing kept him back to act on it. Though Corey could feel how much his habit to walk around in just sweatpants all day was affecting the guitarist. By that time Corey also freely flirted with him and the double talking and joking around were daily routines into which the others got into as well. Teasing Jim or Corey about blushing or staying together alone in the studio etc.
The short man got out of his tub and opened his window. In the morning he would try to get closer. He would. Another decision to stress over. Good thing he could howl his frustration into the night. And with that he jumped out through the window, landing on his four paws and ran into the night.
Jim has been hesitant since the day he had moved into Corey's house. He liked it there. He liked hanging out or working with the guys. They were fun to be around. Also he liked Corey. A lot. But he wasn't sure he should act on it. He could feel and see that Corey liked him too, but still. Was it a good idea to start something with their singer? What if things went south with that? It would surely affect the band and Jim didn't want to mess up this good opportunity. Finally a good band with good songs and goals. He felt they were going somewhere and also for the first time in his life he felt like he belonged there. As if he was finally at home.
Probably that's why with each day it was harder to resist the short guy's alluring presence and fucking hot body. The heavy flirting happening between them and the other guys' teasing didn't help either. Every night Jim was lying in his bed, staring at the ceiling while trying to decide what to do.
Usually he didn't hesitate this much when he wanted someone to end up in his bed. But then again, most of the time those were just one-night-stands. He couldn't really remember his last long-term relationship. It's been years, really. He was an introvert person by nature, hiding his real feelings behind the goofiness he often used as a shield to protect himself. And most of the time those with whom he got together didn't have the patience to wait him out to fully open up. So they always lost interest in him and left. Making Jim kinda hate himself for being like this. Maybe that's why aside from satisfying his sexual needs he hasn't been looking for anyone steady for quite a while.
He wasn't sure about Corey though. Yes, the man excited him sexually. It was easy to see. But he was also the first person in a very long time whom Jim found interesting beyond the physical part. He was funny, talented, maybe a bit crazy and very... mysterious.
Jim had noticed a few strange things around him since he'd moved in. Smelling or hearing things others couldn't, for example. But those weren't the only strange things around this house. Every night Jim could hear the same animal sounds from under his window, although aside from that first night he caught only glimpses of that wolf-like creature. Did wolves live in this part of the country? Or was it a stray dog and his overactive imagination was playing tricks on him?
Maybe he should ask Corey. He'd told Jim that he's been living here for a long time. He must know more about what's going on around his house. Also maybe talking and spending more time with the short man would be good. It could bring them closer. It could be a step towards what Jim was afraid of. But maybe it was time he faced that fear.
With that resolve Jim pulled a T-shirt on and adjusted his sweat pants before he quietly padded over to Corey's room, knocking on the door. He waited a bit then repeated the knock but when he didn't get a response, he hesitated. Finally he pushed down the door handle and stuck his head in. "Corey? You in here?" he asked, listening to a response that didn't come, though a lamp in the corner was on, giving Jim the opportunity to quickly look around.
Strangely, Corey never invited him in to show Jim his room. Too bad, because there were some very fascinating things in it. Jim felt a strange pull and found himself entering instead of chickening out and going back into his own room. It was kinda funny how Jim wanted to ask about that strange "wolf" and what he found was a room full of demon wolves Mick had mentioned once or twice before. Well, not real ones, of course, but the wolf motifs were repeating on different objects in the room. Like the bedspread with native wolf figures on it, or some antlers with detailed wolf carvings. Jim even saw a small statue on top of a drawer that looked like a wolf-like man on two legs. Next to it there was a silver talisman on the wall too, but still the most intriguing piece to Jim was a grey wolf's cut off bushy tail. That was a bit shocking too, to be honest, while Jim tried to guess why the hell someone would put that on his wall.
But a sound from outside made him realize that he was intruding into someone else's private space and while shaking his head he left Corey's room to retreat into his own, his head full of what he'd seen.
The next morning Corey served everyone their breakfast and coffee, for each as they liked it. Many times he thought that he was spoiling his family with his morning habits, but they were everything he had. And now a little bit Jim was that too. That made him smile.
Last night he could smell that Jim was in his room. Not that Corey had anything to hide there from his, hopefully, future mate. But he was curious what the tall guy thought or wanted. Maybe he should ask now during breakfast. Or when he comes back from his business.
With a sigh he placed the pot of fresh coffee onto the middle of the table and waited for the magic to happen. Jim will probably be surprised to see him all dressed up in a suit.
Breakfast was a daily ritual Jim quickly became a part of. This was something new to him too. The way these guys were living together reminded him of a family. Sid was like a kid with calling Corey papi time after time. Mick was helping out like a protective big brother. At least that's how he saw the long-haired guitarist after noticing Corey always telling him where he was going. What was with that anyway?
Maybe today he was going to get some answers from the big guy since he was going to stay home with him and Sid while Corey takes care of some business. And when he said business, Jim didn't think that he meant it literally with a suit and all.
"Fuck..." that slipped the tall man's mouth before he could stop himself, legs rooted to the spot in the door from where he was staring not subtly at all. Well... the picture of Corey wearing a probably custom made suit was surely going to Jim's jerking off material. "I mean..." he cleared his throat, ignoring Sid and Mick's chuckle. "You look good, dude. Good luck today!" And with that Jim sat down to the table and tried very fucking hard to avoid looking at Corey. He even forgot telling him about why he went into his room the previous night.
Not getting any reaction from Jim about looking around in his room made Corey a little silent. Finishing his coffee he called Mick away to tell him about how his day would be and about Jim. Then he went to do his duty.
Mick on the other hand wanted to take some steps for Corey. Just watching how those two were dancing around each other and silently suffering has started to get onto his nerves too.
"So, dude. It's been a while now. How do you feel in this house? We’ve been so busy writing music I forgot to ask," he faced Jim with a question and his piercing eyes studied closely the slightly taller man once they got into the studio.
Jim was a bit glad that it was just the other guitarist and him there. Looking up from strumming his instrument he thought for a moment, feeling the other man studying him. "I like it here with you guys. It's starting to feel like home. Which is unusual for me, but a nice feeling nonetheless, you know," Jim started then met Mick's eyes. He'd already noticed that his was a colder shade of blue while Corey's was like the ocean. Warmer and dangerous in a different way.
"I have some questions though..." he tucked his hair behind his ear then scratched his nose. "What's with Corey and his obsession with wolves? I mean... last night I wanted to ask something from him in his room and well, couldn't help but notice that his room was full of such native designs..."
"You know about the native legends of the demon wolf spirit? This house is full of native art pieces they got as gifts from the tribes and people. I'm glad you feel at home. He… is quite secretive about his personal life. I think you can see that. We have our story and past. And reason to keep a distance from others. He let you close to him," Mick told him in his intimidating tone, not like he wanted it that way. But Corey's safety was primary to him. "Sorry about the monologue. I just want to keep him and Sid safe. But you're a nice guy and I'm glad that you are getting to know us. So... what do you know about spirit wolves?" he finished with a smile.
But why would they get so many tribal gifts? Because Corey and his ex were honorary members? But then again Jim didn't know much about how such things worked in a tribe so he let that slip for now. Deep down he felt it that there was... much more behind all this. But was he ready to know the truth?
"Yeah, I noticed..." Jim mused after Mick's little protective outburst, which failed to scare him, but what he said was duly noted. "It's cool, man. I'd want someone like you to look after me too if that was the case," he smiled a bit at Mick then frowned lightly. "But why me? I'm nothing special or particularly interesting. Just a simple guy wanting to play guitar," he finally voiced his thoughts on that matter. "I don't know much about spirit wolves. I know they are sacred to the native tribes. Also heard that they guide them at times and natives pray to them."
"Yes. Basically that. The demon spirit wolf once was a human who got the gift of the bite and let the wolf spirit inside them. Something like a wolf man. Not werewolves," Mick chuckled shaking his head like he was sad about something. "The demon wolf is like the person it was before. If the human was evil the wolf will be evil and use the skills and longer life that comes with the gift for bad things. If the person who gets bitten was good the wolf will connect the living world with the spirit world and the people consider them sacred, yes," he smiled then patted Jim's shoulder. "Let me ask you, man... You like Corey? I mean as a man… like… sexually and as a person? Don't you feel like there is some kind of connection between the two of you?"
"Fascinating, dude," Jim mumbled, thinking that Mick probably knew about all these because he used to hunt game in the past. For a moment Jim wondered what made Mick stop in the end.
He was about to think more of the legend when Mick's pat on his shoulder and his questions took him off guard and Jim was blushing hard as he let his hair fall back into his face. A nervous little laugh slipped him as he plunked the strings absently. "I'm afraid it's clear as day," he finally snorted before looking up questioningly. "I feel... drawn to him. But what does that have to do anything with the wolf topic?" he looked at Mick confused.
Mick just laughed at him wholeheartedly as he kept patting his shoulder. "It has to do with why you are being let close to him and us. He feels drawn to you as well. Remember that Alex mentioned you as a guitarist around five years ago? Corey was watching you and felt this... pull and liking towards you. So it took all these years to ask you. So, what I'm trying to say is... that if you really like him like that, don't hesitate man. We accepted you to be in our… let's say family," he gave Jim a smile at the end just when Sid came back to start the practice.
Confused and flattered. That's how Jim felt even after the practice was over and Corey came back from whatever business he had to attend to looking so smoking hot in his suit. Later that day during watching some movies while drinking beers with the guys, Jim found his mind going back to the conversation with Mick and his eyes wandered over to Corey several times. Sometimes their looks met for a few seconds and Jim felt more and more that Mick was probably right. He shouldn't hesitate, instead he should make his move perhaps.
With the intention of catching Corey for that much needed conversation once the others retreated into their rooms, Jim went through the house, catching a glimpse of the short man in the kitchen. "Corey..." he started as he entered, but there was no one in there. Some movement caught his eyes from the garden and Jim thought that through the glass doors he saw that wolf run off and in a few moments he could even hear a howl from outside.
"What...? Impossible," he rubbed his tired eyes. He probably had too much to drink. He should really catch up on his sleep, because he thought he started seeing things.