"My feet are killing me," said Charlie without turning around, like he knew exactly who was coming up behind him. Or maybe because he'd have made the same complaint to anyone.
"You could—" started Tom, but he didn't finish the sentence because, actually, he didn't want Charlie to take the shoes off. "—go back inside and sit down?"
Charlie did, though, he did take them off in spite of that, kicking one foot back and reaching down to peel it off like a woman would, instead of just bending over or toeing them off onto the street. He was wearing stockings underneath, fresh new ones that still had a bit of a shine on.
"Give us a hand, would you?"
Tom wasn't sure Charlie was talking to him at first, then rushed forward all at once when he realised Charlie wanted him for balance, to get the other off. He sighed in relief once he had them off, dangling them off two fingers and wiggling his toes inside the sheer of the stockings against the pavement.
"Go on, have a laugh," he said. "You've been holding it in long enough."
"I never hold anything in," said Tom. "You could've passed, you know, if it had been for real. You look really fit in that dress."
"Thank you?" said Charlie, smoothing his dress uncertainly before giving Tom what could only be a sly smile. Tom didn't quite know how to read him yet, but he knew that look when he saw it. "So this is what does it for you?"
"What? No!" said Tom. Too quickly, he knew, but deny everything was still second nature. He pointed a finger at Charlie while he struggled for the right words. "You're making everyone have very confusing feelings right now, you know. I mean, your legs alone."
"What about my legs?" said Charlie, leaning down to run a hand up his calf which did not help. "I couldn't be arsed to shave them, if that helps. There's just a thin layer of silk holding back the forest here."
"It does," he had to admit, but Charlie was still standing there bent over with his hand on his leg and looking at Tom like it was an invitation. And so Tom took it, crouching down next to him and reaching out to cup his hand around Charlie's calf.
"Feels smooth to me," Tom had to admit, swallowing hard.
"My thigh, then," said Charlie. "It's not sexy." He dropped his shoes carelessly and pulled Tom's hand up to his thigh, just above his knee, which really did not help anything whatsoever because he had to push his skirt up a little to do it and Tom was basically kneeling in front of him now, face hovering near crotch height.
When he looked up at Charlie, that was when Charlie seemed to figure out this was not having the intended effect. Tom still had his hand on Charlie's leg, and without looking away from Charlie's eyes he removed it slowly, tugged Charlie's dress back down again, and levered himself back up to his feet. He still had to look up, but at least it wasn't as far now.
"Very confusing feelings," he said again, just to fill the awkward silence.
"Well," said Charlie, coughing politely. "I've been told more than once tonight that I'm a lovely girl, so. It doesn't have to be a thing."
"You're a lovely boy in a dress, is the problem," said Tom. "I, uh... Jess is... I should." He gestured at the door leading back into the pub, but he didn't quite manage to make himself move.
"Right," said Charlie. He didn't move either. "I should get out of here. Change. You have no idea what this underwear is doing to me."
Tom hadn't been thinking about that. As soon as Charlie said it, he couldn't think about anything else.
"I remember," he said faintly. "Jess made me wear proper pants, to hold all the bits in. Did she make you...?"
"Do I look like I'm showing any bits?" said Charlie and Tom's hand went involuntarily to Charlie's waist, to feel the thin, tight line of lace hidden by the ruching of the dress. "That was a serious question. I'm not showing, am I?"
"Oh!" said Tom, but even though his brain told him to pull his hand away, his body ignored it. "I...no, you're not showing anything you shouldn't be. Assuming you're supposed to be showing the bits you don't even have, which I think it's safe to say."
"Jack told me they looked natural," said Charlie, adjusting his bra.
"Mistake most people make is going too big," said Tom. He reached up and slipped one finger under the shoulder of Charlie's dress, moving the strap just a little. "How's that?"
"The same," said Charlie, but his lips were parted and his eyes had caught Tom's again. "It's all right."
Tom withdrew his hand, then left it resting on Charlie's shoulder, nearly curling around the back of his neck. He had to be crossing so many boundaries, but then Charlie was letting him. Charlie was reaching out and pushing a finger through the hole in the cuff of Tom's hoodie meant for his thumb, hooking it there. Hooking Tom there.
"Do you really think I look pretty?"
"I think you look distressingly beautiful," said Tom and Charlie smiled at him. He didn't grin, he didn't smirk, he definitely didn't grimace. He just smiled and tugged Tom closer and Tom ran one hand back down again to Charlie's waist, following the line of the panties that swooped down to the small of his back then descended invisibly.
"So you are into this," said Charlie, quietly, just for Tom.
"I wasn't," he insisted, but he couldn't bring himself to say he isn't because...well, the evidence was against him on that one right now. "You weren't supposed to look like a model. How is that even fair?"
"Nothing about this is fair," said Charlie, and Tom slid his hand back up his back again, fumbling to try to unhook his bra with a layer of fabric between them.
"As soon as that's gone, I won't have any tits at all," murmured Charlie, one finger of his other hand hooking Tom's belt loop.
"I think we'll both like it better that way," said Tom, though he was meeting with little success.
"If you want to take my whole kit off, we probably shouldn't do it here."
"Not the whole thing," said Tom, "just the uncomfortable bits." Those words became one of the uncomfortable bits the moment they were out, one step closer to admitting out loud what he was thinking, but he didn't want to get rid of those.
Charlie smiled at him again, and it occurred to Tom that they'd been at the party for a couple of hours now but Charlie hadn't even washed off his make-up, let alone stripped out of anything aside from wig and earrings. The bra finally came unhooked with a whimper, not a bang, loosening beneath the dress but not falling away; Charlie sighed, softly, just loud enough for Tom to hear.
"Leave the stockings," said Charlie after a moment and Tom's hand slid back down again, over the barest curve of ass and to the hem of the dress that he pushed up just high enough to brush his fingers over the lace at the top of the stockings.
"Maybe I do want to get you out of the rest of it," he said, more of a breath than even a murmur.
"I'll tell you this much," said Charlie. "These pants aren't going to hold much longer."
If they'd been anywhere else, anywhere, Tom would have pushed him up against the wall and reached up under Charlie's skirt and torn them off. Instead he just fingered the edge of his stockings and breathed hot against his throat.
The door slammed open and Tom jerked his hands away. It took Charlie another moment to get untangled but they still managed to get about a foot away from one another by the time Jess's head poked round the door and spotted them.
"Oi, there you are," she said. "You're missing all the fun."
"We're good," Tom tried to say, but he couldn't make the words come out so Charlie said it for him.
"We're good. I'll be in in a minute." Jess looked him up and down and snickered and Charlie just shot her a scowl, the one Tom'd been expecting all along but never got again.
"Your tits are crooked," said Jess, tutting at him and shaking her head. "I can't take you anywhere."
Charlie rested his weight back on his heels, completely changing the shape of his body, and buoyed up his tits with one hand. The loose bra did him no favours, but the dress hid a multitude of sins.
"Come on lads," said Jess, "I'll buy you a drink." And she put her arm through Charlie's and escorted him, or let him escort her, back into the pub.
"We're coming," said Tom and followed Charlie through the door, watching his ass and wishing they were anywhere but here. When Charlie looked back at him over his shoulder, Tom realised that later on, after all this was over, maybe they would be.