"You think he'll like it?"
Chris rolled his eyes. "Of course he'll like it," he said, impatiently. "Get that feed working and you'll see."
AJ muttered something under his breath, and poked at his laptop. "Ah!" The blank screen was brightening. Grey shapes resolved into color, and then the two of them were looking into Howie's bedroom, from the slightly drunken angle of the camera hidden amidst the clutter of memorabilia on the windowsill. The ornate edge of a silver photo frame obscured one corner, but overall, the view was good, and AJ felt he had done well.
On the screen, Howie pulled off his necktie and flung it to the floor. He peeled out of his suit jacket, and hung it neatly on a hanger. A moment later, the pants followed.
"Maybe we shouldn't be watching this," AJ muttered. It wasn't like he hadn't seen Howie changing before, of course he had, but this was different. Besides, Chris hadn't seen Howie changing, at least, not as far as AJ knew.
"Wimp," said Chris, pushing at AJ's shoulder. "Move over. Man, how can your skinny ass takes up so much space? If he's gonna be our boyfriend we get to see him strip off, so where's the harm?"
"He isn't our boyfriend yet," AJ muttered, but it was okay, because Howie was putting on a bathrobe now. Maybe he was going to have a shower.
"Ah!" Chris crowed with triumph. "He's seen it."
Howie had stepped back, and was staring in bewilderment at the unexpected object on his bedside table. A moment later, he was casting about, but apparently was satisfied to see that the simple wooden lamp with the cream shade which usually sat by the bed was now on the chest of drawers by the door. He bent—and Chris complained about the bathrobe, and really, AJ had to agree, because AJ had seen Howie's ass, from close quarters, and it was just criminal to have it covered up when he leaned over like that—and yes, he was plugging it in to the socket.
The lamp's blue and scarlet glow shone brightly on the monitor.
"He's not supposed to ignore it!" Chris said indignantly. "Look at him, he's just putting stuff away!"
"Howie likes his things to be neat and tidy," AJ said. "He's a bit anal about it when we're on tour. So if you don't like your boyfriend to be—" He intercepted Chris's next remark with a well-timed hand over Chris's mouth. It was like dating a five-year-old, he thought sometimes, except ew! Chris always pounced on anything he could make into a crude joke. AJ was all for crude jokes, usually, but this was Howie here. "Better hope he doesn't decide to straighten the pictures on the sill," he mumbled. They would be so dead if Howie found the camera, so, so dead.
But Howie did not approach the camera. Instead he wandered into the bathroom, and they wasted seventeen minutes looking at an empty room. Well, no, not wasted, exactly, because after the first twenty seconds, once it became clear that Howie was not coming back into the bedroom for a while, they started making out, so not wasted at all, really.
Things were starting to get really interesting when Howie came back into the bedroom, stark naked and rubbing at his hair with a smallish towel.
"Woo hoo!" shrieked Chris, and stopped what he was doing, much to AJ's annoyance. They grappled for a moment for possession of the laptop, but Chris won, by virtue of being heavier and lying on top of AJ's prone and somewhat squashed body, so AJ gave in and returned his attention—most of it, anyway, since the hard ridge pressing against his ass was a little distracting—to what Howie was doing.
Howie seemed to have remembered that there was something new in his bedroom.
He stared at the lamp, which was now in full-on display mode. Scarlet tendrils grew, fat and sinuous within the shining blue liquid, bright blobs scattered and floated, a hypnotic, sensual flow. Howie seemed to feel the lure of the lamp, he sat on the bed and gazed at its bright gleam, and AJ could see Howie's hands start to move. Chris's snicker tickled at his ear.
"Told you he'd like it."
They watched. Chris rubbed himself against AJ's back like a large, denim-clad cat, while Howie lay back on his bed and stroked himself in leisurely harmony with the bubbles that rose and fell. Then, startled, the two of them saw Howie lean over and tug the plug from its socket. The flex coiled idly over Howie's groin as he sat back, and even in the dimmer light they could see quite clearly what he was doing.
"Did he see the note?" Chris asked suddenly.
"I'm not sure."
"I hope he saw the note. Otherwise he won't know it's from us."
"We can tell him," AJ said absently. He didn't think it was going to matter. Howie obviously liked his gift. Quite a lot.
"Man, that's hot," AJ muttered.
"Yeah," Chris agreed. "It's been on for, like, nearly half an hour. Oh, my God!"
AJ smacked angrily over his shoulder. "Hey!" he complained. "I need my ears, you freak!"
"Sorry," Chris said, not sounding it. "But, look—oh, Howie, man, you can't put it there!"
"Aww, fuck," said AJ.
They could still—just—see Howie. At least, they could see one of Howie's legs, angling across the wide bed. But the rest of the screen was a symphony of red and blue blobs, with the lava lamp—now plugged in again—in pride of place on the table in front of the window.
And they didn't have a sound feed, dammit.