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But this is about Colin’s friends’ fixation with his love life and not about their own sexual aberrations.
– Colin/Orlando –

You turn me on, I’m a radio – A story in four chapters

~.~.~.~.~

Something else overlays it all, he is sweating out his soul, he stinks of needing Sean something desperate.
– Sean/Viggo –

Wild horses
Cold Water
Ordinary night

~.~.~.~.~

What Orlando loves best is that Eric lost his left Nike sneaker in Kansas but still refuses to throw away the right.
– Orlando/Eric –

At night, on the road, in the middle of nowhere
On a sunny day, in the middle of nowhere aka Kansas
After a cloudburst, in the kingdom of kitsch aka Colorado

~.~.~.~.~

"I'm gonna need a hearing aid and will fart a lot. 'Cause that's what old men do."
– Karl/Eric –

Fork in the road
Fiat panda
Chop suey
Xmas ADD
Not even if they tried
And the living is easy
Dead wood

 

His eyes follow the words that appear on screen, almost as fast as he’s thinking, thoughts shape themselves, worlds unfold on their own and he’s in midst it all.
– One-off AUs –

Out of here
Romantic boner
The joy of cabbage throwing midgets
But the feeling’s gone
Hit by lightning
Thunderstruck
Attention
Definition
Ahab
Flying man in a loincloth
Nightclub: October 14th
Nightclub: A good kind of Camping
University: Her Beauty
University: Historians
Fuckable
Butterfly
Band aid and pudding
Silent night
Red hot hoochie coocher
Beds belonging to nobody
So fucking clichéd
Disgusting pervert
Unlikely
Clear
His sire, his mate, his psychopath, his fucking messiah
Altroculumus
No power in the verse

 

 

You turn me on, I’m a radio

But this is about Colin’s friends’ fixation with his love life and not about their own sexual aberrations.

 

Chapter 1

“All I did was show interest in her career and compliment her on her physical appearance!” Foxx throws his hands in the air, hitting the roof of the car accidentally.

“You said ‘Girl, you got a degree in sexy ladyness?’,” Adrian replies dryly, popping a Dorito into his mouth and steering one handedly. “And I think you drooled on her.”

“Hey!” Foxx protests indignantly.

“It got him laid,” Eddie points out next to Foxx without looking up from his PDA. Adrian weighs his head to the side before he nods as if he actually remembers anything of last night. In the back view mirror Foxx glares at Ade for a second longer before he seems satisfied and turns back to Colin.

“As I was saying – if you need a wingman, I’m here for you, bro.”

“Thanks,” Colin replies, grinning. Adrian neglects the traffic for the second it takes him to toss a Taco in Foxx’s general direction who retaliates by hitting him over the head from behind. More chips fly through the air.

“He’s a fucking movie star, dickweed,” Adrian says exasperatedly while Colin and Eddie share smirks, “he doesn’t need the help of some back street karaoke singer to get some.”

“Anal?” Foxx huffs back and points at Colin as a general reminder that Colin is both, gay and overly picky. He picks up a Dorito from Eddie’s lap, licking the spice off of it. “I’m just offering pointers.”

“How to bag a Victoria Secrets model?” Adrian asks back skeptically with an amused glance at Colin.

“Wait, mate,” Colin cuts in, turns in his seat to look at Foxx with interest. “She was a woman, wasn’t she?”

“Fuck you,” Foxx replies, then turns his head towards Adrian and repeats, “Fuck you.” Then finally he picks another Dorito from Eddie’s thigh and uses it to point at him. “Fuck you, too.”

“Hey, what did I do?” Eddie asks confusedly, just as the car stops at the sidewalk. “But hey, Lin, Foxx has a point. Who you’re gonna take to People’s Choice Awards?”

Colin groans and rubs his face – it’s too early in the morning to talk business. 

Adrian pats his thigh, “We’ll go with you.”

“Yeah, Ade’ll look dashing in his LBD,” Foxx chirps.

Colin glances out of the window as his boys gather all their stuff. He tries to make out the words on the huge building they have parked in front of while Ade is practically in his lap now. He doesn’t succeed though, since the sun’s too bright and there’s palm trees and random busty blondes obscuring the view. 

It’s too early in the morning for Colin to read anyway, he figures, and someone will tell him where they’re headed sooner or later. He’s swallowed a handful of – well, some painkillers that Foxx handed him (why is that asshole never hungover?) and got dressed when Eddie told him to after brekkies, so he supposes he’s done his part of the deal so far and just has to wait for the meds to kick in. 

Colin rubs his hands over his face and pulls his shades down before climbing out of the car, and the hot sun is nice on his skin as he stretches and yawns.

“Morning,” Eddie chuckles.

“Want breakfast in bed?” Adrian chirps just as Colin has finished with his mega-yawn.

“If I ever woke up and saw your ugly mug,” he replies and steps onto the sidewalk, following Eddie on autopilot while tying his hair back. “I’d sure as hell wouldn’t get anything down at all.”

“That’s why Ade’s got barf bags in his nightstand,” Foxx laughs, though out of the four of them Adrian sure is the one getting the most tail. Which, okay, might have to do with him highly profiting from Colin’s ‘Sexiest Irishman’ (never mind that he’s from Boston) status and having real low standards. Colin on the other hand is ‘outlandishly choosey’ as Eddie calls it, unless he drinks Tequila. But then he never remembers anything after that anyway, so he just trusts his mates that they won’t let him wander off with someone a. overly ugly or b. owning a Polaroid camera (both of which? Bad career choices).

They reach the large open place in front of the building and Colin yawns again before he turns to Eddie at his right,

“Where are we going again?”

“Hollywood Wave Radio,” Eddie replies and checks his watch, “you got an interview in twenty minutes.”

“I don’t get why you booked him for a fucking radio gig,” Foxx quips in from behind Colin as they make their way past palm trees and blondes flashing them smiles like sunshine. 

Adrian seconds that, by the sound of it around another handful of chips, “Yeah, you’re not gonna look-cute your way out of the shit you usually talk yourself into when no one can see your face, Lin.”

Without breaking stride, Colin turns around and gives them a one fingered salute and screws up his face, tongue lolling out, eyes crossed and everything. The security guard at the entrance to the building doesn’t even bat an eye and lets them in, so Colin figures either his grimace wasn’t that good or he looks really terrible on screen if he still gets recognized like this.

Colin slows down once they’ve entered the building, he’s crap with directions even if it’s just about hitting the right button in the elevator. While Foxx is squinting to read the small print on the panel, Colin stuffs his hands into the pockets of his ratty jeans and asks,

“Anything I gotta know?”

“Oh, now you ask,” Eddie grumbles and his own Irish accent thickens as he imitates Colin’s voice. “What happened to ’Call Momma and tell her, maybe she gives a shit.’?”

Colin (who had a perfectly good reason for that – he was on the fucking can when Eddie wanted to do the briefing) turns his cute look on him, and Eddie rolls his eyes at exactly the moment the elevator door opens.

“It’s an hour, you’ll be the only guest,” Eddie informs him as they step in, “The usual questions and don’t be a bitch.”

“Yeah, don’t, Lin,” Foxx echoes and wraps his arms around Eddie from behind and frantically pumps his hips against the other man’s ass. “Cuz you know what happens to bitches…” 

Both Adrian and Colin crack up and Eddie looks like he curses the day his ancestors left Ireland and had the stupidass idea to emigrate to the US only so he could be dry humped by a demented black Bostonian.

“I’ve never castrated someone with my pen,” he says, “but I’m willing to give it a shot, Foxx. I don’t care if your wailing is heard all through Bloom’s studio.”

“Oooh,” Adrian whistles at the mentioning of the name (at least Colin hopes that it’s that and not the prospect of the gelding of someone he considers another brother). “Orlando Bloom’s doing the interview? Huh.”

“What?” is the instant reply in three voices – curiosity from Colin, skepticism from Eddie, and well, Foxx just likes choirs.

Adrian makes a big show of looking worried for a second, which makes Eddie grow at least ten inches in order to tower over him and be all protective over his baby brother.

“What, Ade?”

Colin appreciates the sentiment but really, Adrian isn’t that good an actor. He promptly grins and shrugs, says more to Colin than to Eddie in a rare attack of seriousness,

“Nothing. I just like his show. He doesn’t fuck around, asks good questions. And he got a good voice.”

“Well, you know what they say about radio presenters,” Foxx says, even though as per usual none of the other three has an idea what he’s on about. The elevator stops and the doors open to a brightly lit hallway. “The nicer the voice, the uglier the mug.”

“Who says that?” Adrian asks, laughing as they get out of the elevator and step into the brightly lit and well populated hallway.

“Probably the same someone that taught Foxx his pick up lines,” Eddie mutters under his breath and tries to figure out where to turn next. Colin snickers but replies the next moment,

“Oi, wasn’t that you?”

“You should all just be happy to benefit from my wisdom,” Foxx says in a voice as if he’s actually believing that. Eddie asks a tiny girl where to find that Bloom guy and they all march on, past office doors and busy looking people. 

“It’s the rules of the business,” Foxx says, ”Got a nice face, become an actor. Assface but a big cock? –“

A girl that is walking past them gives Foxx a funny look. Colin hides his smirk behind his hand but Adrian happily finishes in Foxx’s place. 

“Get in the porn business!” 

Which, all things considering, probably isn’t the best first thing to say to a girl. She shakes her head and hurries the other way. Foxx however clasps Adrian on the shoulder approvingly as Eddie finally steers them into the right direction. 

“And if you’re fugly but got a good voice?” Foxx goes on, never breaking stride at Colin’s left, just as they reach a door with the Hollywood Wave logo and ‘Studio’ on it. “You grow up to be a radio moderator.”

“He’s right, you know,” Adrian says at Colin’s right. Eddie glances over his shoulder, gives him his patented ‘Order of the universe, bro’ look and knocks.

Colin laughs and shakes his head, “This is a fucking interview, not a blind date, retards. I’m not planning to get laid –“

The door is pulled open and cuts Colin off and sorta makes him forget the entire concept of the English language, too. 

Because the guy standing now in front of him is straight out of Colin’s dirtiest wanking fantasies – fucking long legs and broad shoulders, ultra short but still messy dark curls and the most fucking handsome face Colin has ever seen (at least since he shaved this morning). And when the guy smiles, Colin is pretty sure that even Foxx, Ade and Eddie, the straightest blokes in the whole Hollywood area, want to go onto their knees for him.

“If you’re looking to get laid,” the guy says with a fucking sexy rumble of a voice, “the brothel is three doors down the hall. Ask for Giselle, she rides you like a pony.”

“Uhm,” Colin says.

“Late,” Eddie says and steps aside, out of Colin’s way. “Lin said we’re probably already late. We’re here for the interview at 10.30?”

“Oh,” the guy says and while something of his initial amusement still shimmers in his eyes, his smile is more professional now. His dark eyes return to Colin and he nods in recognition. 

“You’re Colin Farrell,” he states, sort of redundantly (Colin knows his own name. Well, most of the time anyway.). “Big fan.”

“’llo,” Colin replies and the engine might have stuttered for a moment but now he’s back on track. He gives the guy his best ‘your room or my room?’ look and squeezes the offered hand firmly when he makes quick introductions. “This is Eddie, Foxx and Adrian.”

“Nice to meet you,” the guy says. “I’m Orlando Bloom.”

Chapter Two

“Good morning, guys! This is Orlando and with me today is Colin Farrell, whose latest movie “S.W.A.T.” has just started in the theatres. – Hello, Colin.”

“Morning, Orlando. – Interesting name.”

“I was conceived in Disney World.”

“Didn’t know that was in the UK, what with your accent. Isn’t it raining too much over there for candyfloss?

“Do I detect a bit of Irish animosity there, Colin?”

“Nah, not really. Besides, I’m from Boston.”

“Yes, I know. From an Irish neighborhood though?”

“Yeah, good catholic upbringing and all.”

“How was it to come from that to Hollywood? A clash of cultures?”

“I reckon everyone’s blown away by this city to some extent, right? I mean, we’re talking about standing in line behind Martin Scorsese at ‘Starbucks’. Messes with your brain, doesn’t it?”

“What did he order?”

“Some sissy vanilla frappé, I think.”

“No too sissy for you not to know its name, though.”

“It was Martin fucking Scorsese! I was pretty close to ordering one myself, some form of hero worship.”

“And now it’s you that people are starstruck with in line at a coffee shop?”

“This town is crazy, absolutely fucking crazy, everybody in it included. It’s great. And I got my mates from back home with me, and my brother, so it’s – I’m having a real good time.”

“The best of both worlds?”

“Definitely.”

“I picked out a song or two as a shout out to your hometown –“

“Aiming to make me weep with homesickness?”

“Wouldn’t dream of it. – So, this is ‘Don’t look back’ and we’ll be back after that with some insiders on the filming of S.W.A.T. from Colin.”

“Looking forward to it.”

Orlando presses a button and the song starts playing quietly in the background. Colin glances over to the huge window, showing the adjoining room, and grins when Foxx and Ade wave in synchrony. 

His eyes flick back to Orlando who stares right back. Colin is used to being measured and to being flirted with and is pretty okay with both. Hey, life is a cattle market – and that’s the kind of crap metaphors his brain comes up with before noon. It’s true nevertheless and as long as he gets paid well or the whole thing ends up with someone pretty jumping his bones, he is fine with the general order of the universe. Everyone always wants something from someone.

Orlando however, merely looks. Like he’s trying to get a reading on Colin but can’t yet decide where to start. Like he’s already trying to figure out looking past – past something in Colin’s expression, when Colin himself isn’t really sure whether it’s a part of his acting or of himself.

Then Orlando welcomes the audience back and asks him about his movie now, how it was to work with Samuel L. Jackson, what he liked best about the filming. He cuts in with a bit of music before they stray to stunts, live fire training, and the original series. 

Adrian was right, Orlando chooses the more interesting questions, actually listens to what Colin’s saying and God fuck, that voice. Still, sameold, sameold. Colin gets to choose the next song to play, and when’Figure’ starts, he gets a thumbs up from Eddie for the self promotion.

Orlando pulls his headphones down and when Colin does the same, the moderator says,

“I had Linkin Park here just last week.”

“How was that?” Colin asks back.

“Nice guys,” Orlando replies. “Not half as good as making up believable bullshit as you, though.”

Colin arches a brow and then grins. “I can’t really say that Samuel is a fucking diva or that better than the SWAT training was getting blown by Olivier, can I?”

“Probably not,” Orlando agrees and Colin expects a joke about tabloid lies next even though what he’s just said was nothing but the truth. The moderator merely shrugs and then adds, “Well, you got your priorities straight.” 

Colin isn’t really sure whether there is a bit of judgment in it or whether he’s just under-caffeinated. He doesn’t really care and scratches his nose, deliberately using just the middle finger.

“C’mon,” he says, “like it’s different with you, do all for the benefit of the show, innit?”

Something flicks over Orlando’s features but in the end the moderator slowly nods and repeats noncommittally,

“Yeah, probably.”

Probably? Fuck evasiveness, that’s boring as hell. Colin considers himself to be a fairly good actor but he’s not really trying to play it down right now and his mates know him – so when he glances out to them (sees his own reflection in the window) he expects to see Eddie shaking his head vehemently, knowing already that all his silent advice will fall on deaf ears… well, blind eyes. Colin switches on his best smirk when the current song comes to an end and Orlando starts the last bit of the interview.

“You got the reputation of liking to party hard – ‘Farrell drinks birthday bash dry’?“

“Oh, wasn’t that a great headline?” Colin says lightly. “The things I learn about myself from tabloids.”

“Such as?”

“Apparently, last Tuesday I dressed up as Batman and proposed to Paris Hilton.”

Orlando leans back a little but his low chuckle is still caught by the mic in front of him. Colin decides he could get addicted to that sound. 

“Oh, that wasn’t you?

“Nah, last Tuesday I was busy dressing up as cake and stalking Roseanne.”

This time Orlando laughs, short and barking. 

“What kind of cake?”

“Chocolate.”

“I’m sure she appreciated it. I would’ve.”

“Does that mean you’re into sweets or kinky sex?”

Colin fixes Orlando with his stare, changes gears from fucking around to just that little bit more serious. Orlando’s tongue darts out and there’s this tiny crinkle appearing on his forehead. Gotcha. 

“Bit early in the morning for both.”

Colin leans, lips almost touching the mic when he counters, baiting, “Never too early for chocolate.”

Orlando blinks and for the first time he has to look down at his notes to remember what he wanted to ask next. He rubs his index over the crinkle on his forehead, smoothening it, and then murmurs, “Right.” before he catches himself again and continues, 

“Speaking about culinary delights and entertainment, do you have any favourites for tomorrow’s People’s Choice Awards?”

Colin has and he doesn’t mind sharing, especially since Orlando seems to agree with him when it comes to the music nominations. But honestly, Colin doesn’t really care for awards one way or the other, especially not when flustering his interviewer provides so much more entertainment.

“So, Colin, we’re gonna see you in the coverage tomorrow then?” Orlando concludes their gossiping.

“Actually, I’m not sure yet,” Colin replies slowly, playing again.

Orlando arches a brow in interest, “Oh, why’s that, you have something better planned than People’s Choice?”

“No, definitely not,” Colin carefully licks his lips and waits for this fraction of a moment too long that secures him Orlando’s full attention. “It’s just that I don’t have a date yet. I mean, I could take my guys but we know how that always turns out.”

Orlando’s eyes flicker towards Eddie and Foxx (poking his teeth) and Ade who’s trying to chat up the sound assistant. His voice is soft with amusement when he suggests, “Proposing to wannabe celebs while pretending to be a hero from a graphic novel?”

“Oh yeah,” Colin sighs.

“I find it hard to believe,” Orlando says, voice like dark chocolate, “that it’d take you long to find someone willing to go with you.”

“Well, I’d take you,” Colin says.

Fuck. What? Messing with Orlando’s head by laying on a bit thick is one thing. But apparently his subconscious decided today is time for Colin to march in the front line of the self-humiliation parade. With his proverbial pants around his knees. 

Orlando, however, just laughs lightly.

“Right.”

“Oh, I mean it,” Colin repeats because he’s Colin Fucking Farrell and he doesn’t back down. He’s like whatshisface, the Captain from the Titanic. So, he lets these three and a half words resonate in the wires and doesn’t break their eyelock. “I mean it.”

Orlando makes a low little sound of surprise at that, too quiet for anyone but Colin to hear as the silence stretches. And the most fucking hilarious thing? Colin actually wants him to say yes. Pathetic reaches a whole new level – fuck it, he’s not the Captain, he turned into Leo Di fucking Caprio. Well, gay Leo anyway. 

Orlando raises his hands to fold them behind his head, unfolds them again in one fluid-nervous motion, then he leans towards the mic,

“Sorry, Colin, I really don’t do award shows.”

“You’re missing out.”

“Probably.”

And with that, Orlando steers the conversation back to a bit of praise for S.W.A.T. that Colin takes graciously as the consolation prize it is intended to be.

When they’ve finished – Orlando has thanked him and Colin was allowed to choose one last song, ending the show – Colin leaves the studio and is greeted by an only slightly green nosed Eddie. Apparently, he hasn’t made that much of a fool of himself. 

Orlando is all smiles and politeness and Colin bets he even includes ‘probably’ into his evening prayers, fond of the word as he is. 

Ade pats Colin on the back and slings and arm over his shoulder like he did it in on school trips when the teacher was afraid that Colin would get lost in the lions’ house. Only that Ade didn’t smell of some radio assistant’s cheap perfume then.

“Ready to go? I’m starving,” Foxx says, and from the corners of his eyes, Colin sees him already moving towards the door. He registers Orlando’s eyes on him – that look, the one that Colin can’t read but really wants to, on his face. He untangles himself from Adrian’s monkey arm and clasps the hand Orlando offers, squeezing it that little bit too tight. He can’t help it, even if his lips bear their custom carefree smirk, the words slip past them,

“If you change your mind, give me a call.”

“I don’t even own a tux,” Orlando replies, laughing. Which is not a no and he’s still holding on to Colin’s hand.

“Me neither,” Colin shrugs and lets go, suddenly not knowing where to put his hand next. He stuffs it into the pocket of his jeans and jokes, “Didn’t Björk go to the Academy Awards dressed like a swan or something?”

Orlando’s eyebrows shoot up and create that kinda dorky crinkle on his forehead. 

“Colin, you’re hot, but I’m sure as hell not gonna dress up as some fluffy animal for you.”

Hot, huh? Well, it’s a start. Not that Colin isn’t aware of that himself, thank you very much, but still, it’s something to go on. He relaxes a bit (when has he tensed up?) and shrugs,

“Well, you’re a bit of a bore then.”

“Actually,” Orlando replies and leans in like he did it in the studio, when his mouth almost touched the mic and he was whispering secrets to the rest of the world. The world that is now consisting of just Colin. “I’m all for tying up, public sex and possibly whipping, I’m just not into yiffing.” He pulls back again, smiling. “But y’now whatever.”

“Honestly,” Colin exhales, “do give me a call.” 

The door to the recording room is pulled open, someone comes in, someone leaves, everyone buzzing like annoying flies. Colin’s eyes flicker back to Orlando and it’s kinda strange, something must be in his look, something he certainly hasn’t put there, something in his voice, too, when he adds a quiet, “Please,” before he lets himself be shepparded out of the studio.

Chapter Three

“Long term? What do I care for long term?” Adrian laughs and shakes his head as if – even for Foxx’s standards – his suggestion is completely nuts. “Dude, I go where the pretty is.”

Foxx is close to grabbing Ade’s shoulders in order to shake some sense into him. “Yeah, but you get what, like one and a half hour of that? Me, I have years. Beat that, dipshit.”

Adrian runs his hand through his hair, buzzing party around them forgotten as he zeroes in for the kill. “Popcorn,” he said. “And not stupid microwave shit, but the real deal from the machine.”

“Popcorn?” Foxx repeats. “That’s all you got?” He ticks off on his fingers, “Couch, fridge, sweatpants, man.”

Adrian doesn’t seem all that impressed but still half turns towards Colin, looking for affirmation. “All Foxx got going for him is spectacularly bad acting, right?”

Colin just shrugs, no way he is gonna get in the middle of this. The girl he’s been talking to smiles approvingly before her ultra high heels scamper towards the dance floor and she crooks her finger, wanting Colin to follow. 

“Bad fucking acting?!” Foxx shouts right into Adrian’s face, catching Colin’s attention once more. “Says the guy who has Angelina fucking Jolie batting for his team, hah!”

“Oi,” Adrian pokes Foxx’s shoulders. “Don’t diss Angie. I’m gonna rat you out to Brad, see where that gets you.”

From the crowd of people around them, Eddie emerges and leans against the wall next to Colin, their shoulders bumping. He toasts him with a paper cup of something alcoholic. And really, isn’t this Hollywood? Way classy, paper cups… But hey, beer’s beer and it’s not like they’re here for classy entertainment anyway. Colin strongly suspects that the half naked girls currently dancing on the bar would call anyone a pervert who suggested such a thing, too.

“What’s it this time?” Eddie asks right into Colin’s contemplations and one of Foxx’s unintelligible rants. 

Colin replies with a grin, “Television series versus movies, the chick perspective.”

“I take it, that Foxx is on the TV’s side?”

“Him and Anna Friel?” Colin says, “Epic love story. 4.5 kids. She just doesn’t know it yet.”

Adrian turns towards them, huge smug grin all over his face, right when Foxx throws his hands in the air in agitation and with a howl of frustration storms off towards the bar. 

“That never gets old,” he announces with satisfaction. “So, guys, I heard rumours about a whirlpool on the roof?”

No one in their right mind would let Ade into their whirlpool willingly, and Colin is not really drunk enough to admit to himself why (bubbles have something to do with it). And anyway, it’s kinda nice down here, close to the bar, and surrounded by pretty girls that continuously bat their fake long eyelashes at him. Colin would say that he’s a man of simple pleasures, only that probably a Hollywood party with supermodels in bikinis and fuck expensive booze doesn’t really rate as ‘simple’.

He shakes his head at Ade who promptly tries to at least throw Eddie over his shoulder to come with him, a stupid idea since he never could beat Eddie in an honest fight. Colin slowly backs away as long as he still has the chance. He has almost reached the relative safety of his tiny brunette from before and her equally slender companion – from the looks of it he might just be her brother, and finally the night gets interesting – when his cell phone rings.

He flicks it open and a distracted “’lo” is all he can utter before a verbal thunderstorm blasts into his ear.

“I hate you so much right now, fuckhead. You better make sure not to come home before the next millennium! Because I swear I will kill you, take your body apart piece by piece and eat the best bits right now because there is fucking nothing else in the fucking fridge. At least re-stock, asshole!”

Colin, who has stopped dead right in the middle of the impromptu dance floor, blinks in confusion.

“Uhm,” he says, and because his momma has raised him and Eddie right, a good deal of automatic catholic guild embedded deep inside him swells up and he offers, “Sorry?”

“Damn right, you’re sorry,” the voice on the other end of the line grunts, only slightly mollified. “But don’t think that this will get you out of it – I know the weed has killed most of your braincells, fairly few to begin with, and really, mate, in all honesty? If you’re counting on your prettiness getting you through, you’ll be starving in no time. I’m not a fucking good Samaritian, dude.”

“Who,” Colin shouts over the thumping beat of the dance music, “who are you?”

“Jake?” says the man.

“I don’t know any Jakes,” Colin grunts and finally manages to get out from between writhing bodies, aiming for a quieter part of the house.

“No,” the voice replies and sounds like the person on the other end of the phone call is blushing, “I mean, isn’t that Jake’s phone?”

“No,” echoes Colin. “It’s not. It’s Colin.”

“Shit,” says the voice.

Colin rubs his temple, wishes for a drink and doesn’t really know why he hasn’t hung up yet. “Who is this?” he repeats.

“Uhm,” says the voice and laughs, kinda embarrassed. That’s when it clicks in Colin’s head.

“Orlando?” he asks, a grin starting to form on his lips. Randomly, he opens one of the closed doors and finds himself in a pink paradise, obviously usually the residence of the house owner’s preteen daughter. The mortified silence on the other end of the line stretches until Colin has closed the door, then he hears the other man sigh in defeat and admit,

“Yeah, Orlando.”

“Who exactly did you think you were talking to?”

“Well, Jake,” Orlando answers readily, even if a little redundantly. “My pot head neighbour. Who ate my pizza.”

Colin sits down in an armchair that is pink and fluffy. He silently pulls a face and then fishes out a little stuffed giraffe out from under his butt. “Uh-huh,” he says, eyebrows arched.

“I kinda missed by one in my address book.”

“You don’t know any people between ‘Colin’ and ‘Jake’?” Colin comments and sits the giraffe down on the floor, facing away from him. “Lonely life, that of a radio DJ?” 

“I saved Jake under “Fuckhead”,” Orlando explains.

“C and F? Still a way to go.”

“You’re “Furry”,” Orlando says deadpan but Colin can hear his mouth curling when he cracks up.

“Hey, I thought you weren’t into that kinda stuff,” Colin says and is really happy that none of the stuffed animals are facing his way. He’s pretty certain they’d disapprove.

“Hell, I’m not.”

“Gotta try everything at least once, isn’t that what they say?”

“Bet that’s what Jimmy Hendrix said ‘bout H that first time,” there’s a wry grin very audible in Orlando’s voice and Colin knows he’s getting his chain yanked and doesn’t care the least bit. “So shove it.”

“Alright,” Colin draws the word out, wanting his brain to come up with something, anything really to prolong this conversation. “So, I take it that fuckhead ate your pizza?”

Orlando growls again and judging from the background noise he’s still rummaging through his fridge as he tells Colin all about this constantly stoned neighbor of his who thinks that Orlando’s kitchen is a hotel bar and who Orlando once has found fast asleep in his bathtub, no water involved.

“Oh, come on, that hardly qualifies as a mild nuisance.”

“Yeah, well, I don’t find it too great to have someone complaining from behind a shower curtain about the sound of me pissing. Invasion of privacy and all.”

“Clearly, you’re an only child.”

“Nope, I’m not. It’s just that my family isn’t demented, see.”

Orlando orders pizza online and Colin reciprocates with a story involving his five year old self, Eddie and a flooded kitchen because Colin had been certain he was a raccoon and water was his natural habitat.

Orlando laughs out loud at that, especially when Colin goes into detail how Eddie (slightly drunk, in case you hadn’t figured) tried to waterproof the kitchen door with sponges while Colin stood with both feet in the sink and hollered, “I’m the mightiest coon of all!”

“So, you’re method?” Orlando asks once he’s caught his breath. “One of those actors no one can stand to be around if they happen to score a role as a bad tempered drug addict?”

“Good thing for you that the next movie I’m doing is a romantic comedy,” Colin replies and laughs when Orlando responds with retching noises before paying his pizza man at the door.

“It’s sorta unfair that you have food now,” Colin remarks once the squishy sound of melted cheese and Orlando’s little moans of pleasure filter through the line. “I’d have to get my hands into a little girl’s cookie jar.”

“Ew, Colin,” Orlando complains around a mouthful of cheesy goodness. 

“Get your mind out of the gutter, will you?” Colin laughs and what the hell, he drags the princess chariot shaped cookie jar, sitting on the bedside drawer closer to him. “I’m mean really.”

Despite the food Orlando singsongs, “That night I made a move, man I felt hard, when I put my hands in her cookie jar, she was more than a girl, she was a cabaret star –“

“Did you just song quote Bon Jovi?”

“Oh oh, shalala,” Orlando replies happily and adds, “Man, I love sardine pizza.”

“And you call me a pervert.”

“Aw,” Orlando coos, “that’s ‘cause you are.”

Colin laughs good naturedly and pops a heart shaped cookie into his mouth. “Thanks a lot.”

“So, how was People’s choice?” Orlando asks, “Did you find someone to go with you?”

Colin tells him that he had to take Foxx in his little black dress because Orlando’d refused to come and the other man’s laughter is heartfelt and uncomplicated, so they linger there – awards shows and the infamous after parties – and Orlando wins the oddity contest with a story about Val Kilmer wanting to teach him the secrets of wig making during a pool party.

Colin steals three more heart shaped cookies before giving up pretense and pulling the jar into his lap, leaving twenty bucks on the nightstand. He looks at the glow-in-the-dark star constellation on the ceiling while Orlando tells him about how he became to be a DJ. It’s all rather ridiculously schmaltzy – a little girl’s princess fantasy land and Orlando’s dream come true job – and maybe Colin should feel sorta guilty for wanting a beer to go with it.

Every time when someone outside is walking past the door Colin tones down his voice to a whisper, to which Orlando responds to in kind (and really, Colin could listen to him murmuring all day) and then he mocks him for trying to be all super secretive.

“It’s a bit like you’re someone’s mistress, hiding in the walk-in closet.”

“What’s that make you? A clothes munching moth?”

“Bzzz, bzzz.”

Colin gets an earful of Orlando’s cursing when fuckhead aka Jake tries to sneak into Orlando’s flat a bit later, and he’s pretty sure that the thumping sound and the muffled ‘oow’ means pizza box connecting with forehead, even if Orlando doesn’t tell him as much. He just uses fifteen of quite inventive curse words to usher Jake out again before seamlessly continuing his story about College radio stations.

They’re in the middle of an argument about the best route to sightseeing in Boston – Orlando apparently has been everywhere on the globe but still Colin doesn’t plan on giving up his home field advantage – when above the constant subdued party sounds outside of the room, there’s a distinctly louder hollering. It takes Colin a second to recognize the voice (Adrian’s) and the word (“Linny!!”) before he sighs and says,

“I suppose I gotta go. My guys are completely incapable of having fun without me.” For proof he holds up his cell right when Adrian calls his butchered variation of Colin’s name once again.

“I believe that,” Orlando chuckles. “You’re a right role model, aren’t you?”

“Hey, someone gotta uphold the standards of debauchery.”

“What, stealing a little girl’s sweets isn’t the highlight of your night?” Orlando asks and Colin can hear water running on the other end, china clanking together in a sink. “Where are you anyway?”

“Private party of whatshisname, some producer,” Colin answers. “Eddie thinks I should be showing my face.”

“And you spend the evening locked up in some dark room talking to me?” Orlando says, slightly disbelieving as if he didn’t partake in the two hour conversation just now. “Tsk, tsk.”

“What can I say,” Colin replies, steals the last cookie and gets up as Adrian’s shouts are backed up by Foxx’s slightly darker voice. “Bad boy and all that.” He stops with the doorknob in his hand, reluctant to push it down just yet. He bites his lower lip, shakes his head over himself (too much candy, for sure) and then says, “Listen, we should really do this again.”

The other end of the line falls silent, no response, no china clinking in the sink. Merely the quietness of Orlando’s breathing filtering through the connection for a moment. Colin stops chewing and waits.

He has no idea what Orlando’s thinking – his brain runs through the most obvious possibilities ( I don’t do casual. I just do casual. I don’t date actors. You’re not my type.) – but none of it really seems to fit the silence. And what’s more, for all his fondness of casual pick up lines and equally unfuzzy turn down ones, Colin really wants to know what Orlando’s thinking, can’t figure out why he actually and truly cares so much.

“Orlando?” he asks, voice unfamiliar and tentative to his own ears. “You still there?”

“Hm? Yeah, yeah,” Orlando responds. “I just –“ and he doesn’t finish the sentence. Patiently, Colin waits for another moment, starts chewing again, until finally Orlando says with a voice full of strangely firm decision, “You know, this really was fun. I’ll call you.”

“I might pick up.”

“I might not call you a fuckhead first thing next time.”

“I might dance with joy.”

“You can dance?”

“I’m Irish bred, ‘course I can dance.”

Orlando laughs loudly at that before he says, “Have a good party, man.”

“Yeah, thanks,” Colin replies with a grin before flipping his phone shut.

For a moment he stares at the wooden door, separating him from the life of the party. Then he stuffs his cell into his pocket and turns the doorknob, planning to get spectacularly drunk so the tiny leprechauns that are currently stepdancing somewhere around his liver actually have an excuse for their giddiness. 

Chapter Four

Colin has never been a man of many words. There was never any need for it, he had this smirk/wink thing going for him, his mates were always there too (because Colin also is a lazy arse) and yeah, there’s the thing that he is being paid for speaking other people’s sentences for a living.

That doesn’t mean he doesn’t like to listen, though. It’s not surprising anyone that the person he likes to hear talking best is Orlando – because of the dirty jokes he can tell with a deadpan voice, because of the good and solid advice he can give when asked and because he talks in this pornstar dark rumble that has only grown sexier in all the years of moderating late night shows and drinking too much red wine.

Colin lets other people talk as well, it is part of the package that still earns him millions for each role he plays that other people are allowed to talk about his life. The fact that the pack he calls his lifelong friends have the most slanderous mouths and never paid him anything don’t stop them. They’re more persistent than the bloodhounds of the tabloids and that means a lot.

They all have their favourites bits and pieces of Colin’s life that they share (unasked for and for the nth time) during Christmas parties or other piss ups. And alright, Colin might pay them back in kind and embroider that story when Foxx crossdressed or Ade had his brandnew car stolen by a prostitute. But this is about Colin’s friends’ fixation with his love life and not about their sexual aberrations.

The curious thing is that of all of them, only Colin has been in a monogamous relationship for a quarter of a century now. You’d think they get bored re-retelling the same story with the same protagonists over and over again. They don’t though. And Colin doesn’t really mind.

Usually on New Years Eve, Adrian gets a little sentimental and tells another bit of the story. This sounds like the opener to one of those big schmoopy romcom endings, doesn’t it? But of course not in Adrian’s world who has, in the fifty something years Colin has been friends with him now, always held onto his two groundrules of friendship: One – Make sure your mate is happy. Two – Make sure he gets laid a lot. In Ade’s mind there is (unsurprisingly) a very close connection between those two rules. So, it doesn’t really surprise Colin that quite early on, Adrian started with a happy sigh and then continued to tell the story when he walked in on Orlando and Colin, half naked and pressed against a wall during that very first time (and man, it couldn’t have been more unromantic) at the ‘Farewell, Farrell!’ party before Colin left to film ‘Alexander’. 

Foxx usually tells the part where he, Foxx, kidnapped Orlando and dragged him to Marrakesh. By now Foxx is flying the plane himself and he has Orlando gagged and drugged in the back because he put up too much of a fight against his own destiny. ‘Destiny’ is Foxx’s favourite word in this, Colin knows that since Foxx wrote a frigging song about it. A song that starts with ‘My friend was oh so blue, so blue, so blue. What to do, do, do but kidnap you?’ and (if you hadn’t guessed by now) is utter crap. Orlando still, two decades after the release date, plays it on his shows regularly and still snorts with laughter when Foxx sings about his relationship skillz, yo. By now it doesn’t matter that yes, in reality Colin was feeling a bit sorry for himself when he was filming ‘Alexander’, but that Foxx sweet-talked Orlando into coming to Europe to speak about all the things that hadn’t been said. There was no ballgag involved at any time, nor were there any Columbian drug lords giving chase. 

Ade is actually the most empathetic of their little group. He was the one who talked sense into Colin when – during the following time of withdrawal and (inevitable) doubt – Colin needed someone to take him by the shoulders and shake him. He was the one that understood when Colin showed up on his doorstep and didn’t really want to talk. It appears that every aspect of Colin’s life is always a matter of public discussion, aside from what happens between him and Orlando in their home, and what’s been said in some of the nights with Ade.

Ade never tells any of those stories. His official 'Lin and Orlando’ tale usually involves great details of how tiny Orlando’s buttocks look and how much like a boar in heat Colin sounds when having sex. Colin kind of loves him for that. Even though he suspects that this respectable looking 55 year old gentleman Ade successfully plays, actually is a sex obsessed closet case.

It is Eddie who is of the firm belief that it is only thanks to him that Colin and Orlando really got together after that tentative talk in the hotel in Marrakesh and the ‘don’t mention what happened on the party’ phone conversations after that. No slapping him over the head seems to get Eddie to think differently (and yes, Colin has tried that, tried the shoving-bro-into-the-pool approach repeatedly as well, to no avail). ‘If I hadn’t been drunk and talked you into getting me Doritos and jam from the supermarket, you’d never have run into Orlando, isn’t that right?’ he insists. 

Colin is a bit adverse to the idea that he is supposed to own the love of his life to his brother’s perverted food cravings, but whatever. He did run into Orlando that hot Indian summer night and they kissed in the cheese section, went back to Orlando’s flat and talked about Colin’s fear that his and Orlando’s world simply wouldn’t fit, about Orlando's confusion over the fact that he hadn’t been gay pre-Colin.

It turned out that their worlds really didn’t fit and that neither of them gave a damn. Orlando always had a good laugh when he heard about the craziness that was Colin’s career and Colin yawned in gentle mockery when Orlando told him about his utterly normal life. Then they crawl into bed together, and Colin gladly admits to be stupidly happy about the feeling of the simple linen covering their naked bodies. 

Eddie always makes sure that Colin has this time. When one of the movies didn’t do as well as expected Eddie always keeps Colin’s options open, never lets anyone compromise Colin’s talent and ability in general while Colin is with Orlando, getting his head around the failure. When Colin is once again everybody’s darling (which is always the case, no matter all the drunken incidents in the tabloids) Eddie plans in enough time for Colin and Orlando to be together. Colin never has to demand anything because Eddie already knows what he wants anyway.

Some stories aren’t told, Colin figures they don’t fit the Kodak moment profile. Colin is a bit too codependent and Orlando is stubbornly autonomous, and there has been that time when Orlando asked him whether he was the Yoko to Colin’s Lennon and Colin hadn’t disputed it then. And sometimes Colin gets sucked into this floating kind of disorientation after a project and Orlando tells him to get over himself before walking out on him and his booze. 

Some stories simply tell themselves. Like this ‘a picture says more than a thousand words’ thing maybe. That proud and happy, beamingly boyish smile on Orlando’s face for example when Colin’s name was said at the Academy Awards. All the times Colin passed on an offer for a night out in God-knows-where in order to sit in his hotel room and listen to Orlando’s voice on the radio, talking about politics and music. The first nights they are together again after Colin has been away.

So, Colin isn’t a man of many words. If his life is ever made into a film, he wouldn’t be too surprised if that’d be the beginning of a new silent-movie era. It’s a kind of weirdly thrilling thought, the idea of him and Orlando kissing in b/w and then the white writing on a black screen saying, ‘I love you. Always.’ But then, Colin doubts it. His and Orlando’s story is a bit too average, too boring to be told for generations. Orlando (who breathes normalcy) would very much appreciate this. Colin doesn’t disagree on the long run.

 

 

 

 

Wild Horses AU
Something else overlays it all, he is sweating out his soul, he stinks of needing Sean something desperate.

 

Wild Horses

When you seriously contemplate if you can drive with just one eye open because you are so tired, you really need to pull over and sleep. Viggo had done that, wouldn’t do no good to end up dead in a ditch, even though he didn’t feel much better now. He did in fact feel more dead than alive, just that death probably wasn’t that much of a dire thing, muscle cramps, shivers, blackening bruises.

His arm felt as heavy as lead when he raised his hand to wipe a strand of hair out of his dust covered face, and above the quiet country music coming from the radio and the rumbling of his truck he could hear himself wince at the ache in his right shoulder. Wolf whimpered compassionately and shuffled over to let his big smelly head rest on Viggo’s jean clad thigh.

“Only a couple of miles, pal,” Viggo said, to himself and the dog, and tried to hum along to the only vaguely familiar song to keep himself from drifting off again. The road got bumpy and made the rusty truck rattle and clatter, threatening to fall apart any second now. Viggo knew the feeling. Nothing broken at least, just dust etched into his skin, hoof prints engraved into his flesh. Rodeo. Silly, stupid job. More addictive than alcohol, drugs, anything. The strain of his muscles felt like an invisible vice, closed tightly around him.

When he pulled into the drive the truck’s headlights slid over grimy chrome and the dim shimmer made Viggo’s chest ache. Wolf recognised the motorbike parked in front of the porch and started barking. Viggo shut the engine down and had a lap full of dog as Wolf climbed over him to get out of the driver’s door, big paws doing no good to bruised body parts. His gaze automatically followed the dog sniffing and circling the motorbike as if that would tell it where its owner had been, but he couldn’t get himself to move just yet. Then the front door opened and Viggo got out of the truck and walked.

He walked, his well worn boots kicking up dirt, legs and back and shoulders stiff and sore, but his steps were steady, almost hurried. Sean’s frame was visible in the dim moonlight but even in complete darkness Viggo would have found him. His body, his being was drawn to him like a sinking ship seeking the harbour in a storm.

He didn’t slow down, literally walked into him, his body’s motion stopped by the solid form of Sean’s. Instantly Viggo’s arms wrapped themselves around him, clinging to him and pulling Sean against him, aching so much Viggo wanted to mould into him, to vanish completely. Until he was embraced, held, careful and sure, and Viggo was happy he was still himself, even if his body was hurting like a bitch, simply because he could feel Sean. He inhaled his scent, freshly showered and still earthy and like the wind that rushed around him when he rode his bike, thought that he could never tire of that smell of home and serenity.

“’lo, cowboy,” Sean said, his lips kissing Viggo’s tousled hair as he spoke, his whisper just as intense and gentle as his scent, his touch. Sean’s hand cupped his cheek, his eyes followed the trace of his thumb and Viggo realised he must have a shiner, skin tender to the touch, but he didn’t flinch away.

Long drives, long waits, all for a few seconds of pure adrenaline and a few bucks, same old, same old. But Viggo didn’t say anything, just clung a little tighter, buried his face in the crook of Sean’s neck. And Sean’s hand found the back of his head and cradled it, so much urgent tenderness between them.

“Didn’t know you’d be back,” Viggo finally said and pulled back enough so he could see Sean’s eyes. His arms still wouldn’t let go of the other man. He wondered if it would always be like this. His inability of letting go of Sean for at least a few precious minutes and then following him around the house like a newborn foal.

Cold Water

The house is quiet and dark. The air feels like the central heating hasn’t been switched on for quite a while, the impersonal coldness seeps from the walls, envelops him in a reluctant embrace at the front door. He shrugs off his leather jacket as his hand automatically reaches for the light switch. The single bulb in the hall flickers on and he listens to his own footsteps, his own breathing loud in the silence.

“Vig?” He doesn’t really expect a response and still he calls out half loud. The sound of the short name echoing from the walls makes the place feel welcoming somehow. “Vig, you ‘round?”

The yellowish light curls around the corner to the living room, he can see the couch is empty, the thick blanket neatly folded on its back. The familiar pair of dusty boots lies in front of it, though, and he drops his jacket as carelessly next to them. It’s dirty in its own way, just that it’s not sand and horse but the stale dust of the highway that doesn’t really smell like freedom but like exhaust gas and tarmac.

The table in the kitchen is set for one, the plate used, the glass half full. He eats directly from the pan, paella or summat, leaning against the counter. Hungry, stomach rumbling, doesn’t really matter whether it tastes dubious, cold as it is. He prolly should’ve stopped on the way somewhere, gotten something to eat. He knows the good places on the way here from every direction, knows where to get the best coffee, hot meals, an undisturbed bit of shut eye in the back of his truck. But really, he just wanted to get home. Wolf down cold leftovers and sleep in his own bed. With him.

The back of his hand serves as a napkin to wipe his mouth and damn, it feels good to have something in his belly. He unbuttons his shirt on the way to the bathroom and it hangs loosely from his shoulders when he steps over the threshold. He stops.

His lover lies in the tub and even though the water temperature must’ve dropped by now, he is fast asleep. His arms lie on the rim of the tub and his head is sagged to the side. The water is a bit milky from soap but even so, he can see every bruise on his body. There’s a dark black one on his upper thigh, hoof shaped, his soft cock rests right over it. Similar discolorations on his stomach, his chest, too. His half long hair clings damply to his skull, making it look oddly fragile.

He stands next to the tub and watches his chest rise and fall slowly, watches a tiny pool of water in the hollow of his throat vibrate with each intake of breath.

Funny thing, love.

It’s like getting your breath punched out of your lungs, something really physical, only it doesn’t hurt. Maybe he’s only overly tired himself, but right now he just wants to climb into the icy water, boots, jeans and open shirt and all, simply to hold him.

He crouches down next to the tub, knees cracking, and touches his lower arm, gently to not startle him. The skin is cold but seems to warm under his palm instantly and his lover stirs.

“Wake up, love,” he says, unnecessarily really, “let’s get to bed.”

Slowly, slowly eyelids flutter open and grey eyes try to focus. Focus on him. “Mm hm,” he hums. His voice is rough from fatigue and he winces when he moves to sit up, sore muscles stiff from the cold water.

“Sean,” he exhales in greeting and that and the little smile make this place home.
Ordinary night

He is battered and bruised. He washed off the adrenaline and its temporary healing powers under the shower, low water pressure just enough for that, just enough to leave his body aching. Which is nothing new, and Viggo isn't complaining. Just like taking stock. Just like every morning when he's at home, checks the barn to see whether everything is just like always.

He is battered and bruised, hoof shapes in blue always the same no matter that the horses and rodeos change. His nameless need to get himself into that state - yes, an addiction, he's well aware of it - has been quenched again; he won't dream of bucking broncos and ache for them, won't look at his own horses through that sort of feverish blur for a while. He is tired and hungry, he longs for the burning taste of whiskey in the back of his throat, longs for the soothing taste of Sean, the soothing feeling of something of Sean in the same place. He asks himself whether everything is just like always. And it is.

Wolf raises his head as the pick up slows down in front of the truck stop. Red light reflects in black eyes and the dog looks mildly interested. Viggo's eyes try to search the parking lot, the rows and rows of slumbering giants, but he doesn't spot the one he's looking for and Wolf gets impatient.

Viggo is not worried. They were supposed to meet up here and they always do. Wolf whines quietly as Viggo's petting fingers grip the shaggy grey fur a little too tightly.

His hands smell of dog, his clothes smell of horse, but Viggo is sure that none of this is of any importance. Something else overlays it all, he is sweating out his soul, he stinks of needing Sean something desperate.

He locks up the truck, Wolf a step behind him as he walks towards, enters the diner. The dog barks exitedly, draws attention to them as the large beast acts like an overly agitated puppy, claws scrambling on the well worn cheap linoleoum as it catches Sean's scent. Neither Sean nor Viggo show the same excited enthusiasm - a nod, cowboy boots lightly pushing against one another under the table as they eat. But Sean's grin around a saussage makes Viggo hide his smile behind his cup of coffee; he can't help being so figging obvious with his simple happiness that they both made it.

It's a starless night and if Viggo walks too closely to Sean it is just so he won't lose him in the darkness. The truck next to Sean's is rocking rhythmically and Sean's low chuckle at that sounds so warm and familiar that Viggo has to stuff his hands into the pockets of his jeans. He climbs after Sean into the sleeping space behind the seats.

In the long run, Viggo reflects later (eyes closed, warm thanks to Sean's body heat), his life is ordinary, boring. The ten seconds of adrenaline rush on the back of a bucking horse don't count for nothing in the long run. His life is made up of routine, of long drives and bruises, of too little sleep and even less money, of crappy food and an alarm clock always going off at the same time.

Sean's lean naked body presses against him, arms wrapped around him tighly not only because the confined space doesn't allow anything else. He always does that, hold Viggo, and even when Viggo's injuries make him think he's one single big bruise, it never hurts. The opposite of hurt. The opposite of thrill. Sean's breathing tells that he is asleep but his lips still nuzzle Viggo's neck and Viggo relaxes against him.

Everything just like always.

 

 

 

 

Roadtrip AU
What Orlando loves best is that Eric lost his left Nike sneaker in Kansas but still refuses to throw away the right.

 

At night, on the road, in the middle of nowhere

The road stretches in front of them seemingly endlessly, Eric knows that, but all he can see are the few yards within the reach of the headlights. They shimmer on the wet tarmac, twisting with each turn of the wheel in a curve, always trying to reach as far as the pale moon, hanging low this night, but never making it.

Eric shakes his head and blinks furiously, gripping the steering wheel of his Falcon harder when he realises that he's been about to drift off into a dangerous slumber. Without taking his eyes off the deserted road he reaches for the radio, changing channels. Credence Clearwater Revival instead of the quiet lure of some country song or another.

Orlando shifts on his seat beside him, Eric can hear him grunt quietly as his subconscious adjusts to the change and probably creates a dream world of a rock concert within seconds. No one has as vivid and strange dreams as Orlando and it always surprises Eric that the same man who dreams about unicorns and Jack the Ripper at once can write such sharp and witty analysis of political situations in his day time job.

 

"You got the job?" Orlando said and a beam threatened to split his face when he wrapped his long arms around Eric right there on the doorstep. "That's bloody fantastic!"

"Yeah," Eric said, smiling a little undecidedly. "I guess it is. Just -"

"What?" Orlando asked immediately.

"It's in California," Eric replied and waited. California was the other end of the world, if you had lived as long - and as happily - in Washington as they had. A little bitterly he added, "You'd think they still built houses here too, but apparently not."

"You want to work for them?" was all Orlando asked and when Eric nodded reluctantly (other end of the world or not, this was one of the best architecture firms in the States). A smile tugged at his lips when Orlando sloppily kissed him the same moment Rollo reached the door too and slobbered all over his master's hands.

"So, California it is then," Orlando said. "It's not like they weren't in dire need of proper journalists over there, right?"

 

Rollo's big head appears next to Eric's now and in the dark he can hear his yawn, followed by the smacking sound of the Newfoundlander licking his flews lazily.

"Morning, bud," Eric murmurs quietly and takes one hand off the wheel to scratch Rollo's chin. The dog presses his wet nose against Eric's temple in response before grumbling something to himself and resting his head on the soft upholstery right next to his master. Black eyes watch the road curiously and contemplatively at once but after a while he doesn't seem all too interested in their whereabouts and lies down on the backseat once more. Eric smiles when he can hear Rollo's breath grow slower again and he starts to snore softly, in sync with Orlando.

Eric turns his head to glance at his lover. Dark shadows rush past the window that he's leaned his head against and his lips are slightly parted, his eyes closed. He is fast asleep, Eric knows that and had sometimes envies him this ability to nap even under far less comfortable circumstances than a slightly bumpy road and rock music on the radio.

The first light of dawn sneaks up on the horizon and with it trees and houses appear in shades of grey along the road. Eric squints against the change of light and yawns, yawns again, for the first time in hours noticing how tired he is. He isn't really sure in which state they are right now which probably indicates how much he needs a cup of coffee. Rubbing his hand over his face he shakes his head again and decides that he can go another 50 miles before caffeine becomes a necessity.

 

"Coffee, coffee, coffee," Orlando chanted, still half asleep judging by the slurr in his voice and the fact that he'd just rolled on top of Eric.

"I'd get you some if I could," Eric replied, trying to save the latest issue of the 'Architect Design' from getting crumpled by Orlando.

Orlando raised his head and opened one eye to look down at Eric. "I decided something," he said solemnly and ruined it by yawning. "We're gonna go on a road trip."

Eric swatted Orlando's head gently with his magazine and asked, "Where did that come from, genius?"

"Think about it," Orlando replied dreamily, "We can stop the car anywhere we want to and scare the shit out of the wild life of Kansas by shagging in the middle of naaaature," he yawned again.

"Since when do you have something against the loo on the airplane?" Eric, who wasn't even sure they would have to pass through Kansas, asked innocently as his hands crept lower on Orlando's back.

"I don't," Orlando said and pressed closer, "it'd just be nice not to have you bitching about how your legs are too long and your shoulders too broad to fit into the plane slash your seat slash the loo."

"Very considerate," Eric said and licked along Orlando's neck.

 

When the sun paints the sky in orange and lilac colours Eric fishes his sunglasses out of his shirt pocket, stifles another yawn and starts looking out for a roadhouse. He knows that sooner or later their stomachs will be rumbling right along to the dark purr of his car. And it is better to wake Orlando with the promise of scrambled eggs than to listen to his and Rollo's combined laments.

Sure enough, Rollo awakes with a surprised huff and Orlando must've been lingering on the edge of dreamland for a while now because he instantly opens his eyes.

"Where are we?" he asks, stretching his arms in the confined room and letting his left hand rest loosely on Eric's shoulder. "I could eat a bear."

"You want me to stop so you can go look for one?" Eric asks with a small smile and the light cuff Orlando gives him has been expected.

"Rollo would help me hunt one down, wouldn't you, buddy?" Orlando coos and the huge dog yips like an overeager puppy. "And hey, we could have sex on bearskin in front of the fireplace."

"Very romantic," Eric says with irony in his voice and turns right into a smaller road, following the promising sign announcing a roadhouse.

"Says the man who insisted on fucking me against the hood of his car," Orlando grumbles good naturedly before they fall into a companionable silence.

Orlando's fingers sneak into the back of Eric's neck, idly playing with curls of his hair and Eric hears him sigh contentedly when his big hand comes to rest on Orlando's thigh.

 

"Last chance to back out, mate," Orlando said, leaning against the driver's door, and looked at Eric and Rollo.

The Newfoundlander tilted his head to the side, looked at his masters contemplatively and trotted off. Orlando chuckled.

"Pfft," Eric made a dismissive noise and shook his head. "This is gonna be fantastic."

"Cause you plan to be drunk by the time we reach Pennsylvania?" Orlando asked with a smile and politely opened the back door when Rollo returned from his detour to the nearest tree.

"Nah," Eric said and stepped in front of Orlando after he'd shut the door again. He placed his hands on either side of his lover onto the roof of the car and Orlando hooked his thumbs through the belt loops of Eric's jeans.

"Cause you plan on taking in dubious hitchhikers that will brutally murder us?" Orlando tried again in his sweetest of voices.

'Because I get to spend a few weeks alone with you,' Eric thought.

"You're an idiot," he said and lightly bumped his forehead against Orlando's. "Now, get in the car."

On a sunny day, in the middle of nowhere aka Kansas

Orlando's hands rest loosely on the steering wheel, nothing to do since the road stretches before them straighter than - well, a very straight thing. His fingers drum against the smooth surface to the rhythm of the music.

It's his turn to drive this morning. The purr of the engine sings a love song to the wind in the wheat fields left and right. He inhales deeply and swears he can smell the blue of the sky, the green of the grass. What a great day.

When a by now familiar song starts on the radio Orlando grins. Because to his right Eric whoops and instantly leans forward to turn the volume up.

"You know," Orlando shouts, raising his voice over the noise, "it's really rather dubious that you know the lyrics to that by now."

Eric doesn't answer, can't answer because he's too busy singing along to the music and Orlando listens to his lover duetting with Travis Tritt (poor bloke). It is a great day to be alive indeed, he figures and glances to his right.

Eric's window is open and the wind has tousled his curls completely. Normally he'd mind, he takes up more time in the bathroom than a teenage girl - Orlando teases him about that mercilessly even though he knows that selling brilliant ideas for houses is easier when looking respectable. But now is not normally, now's Eric-and-Orlando quality time and honestly, Orlando doesn't even mind the awful hollering that Eric thinks is singing.

"God, seems I'm in love with Mariah fucking Carrey," Orlando laughs.

"Ahwooo!" Eric answers on top of his lungs, still singing along and tilting his head into his neck. From the backseat comes Rollo's responding howl. Orlando suspects his pack has rabies.

It's midday, it's really too hot in the car and the air is humid despite the opened windows - but it doesn't really matter. Sweat is running down Orlando's face, gets caught by the rim of his shirt and he figures they stink like a couple of pumas - but it doesn't really matter.

Eric's eating something. Again. Sounds like crisps this time and Orlando grins when he thinks of how Eric carried arms full of junk food out of their motel this morning. They spent the night in a little place a few miles off the highway and it was quaint in a way. Well, except for the horrific orange and pink curtains that honestly gave Orlando nightmares (there might have been Jack the Ripper involved or, even worse, George W but he can't really remember). As per usual when Orlando isn't sleeping well and shifts restlessly, Eric solved the problem by simply rolling on top of him. There is no tossing and turning when you have a 6'2'' hunk covering you and drooling onto your shoulder. Nightmares never stand a chance.

“You want some?” Eric asks after turning the volume down again and a pack of cookies is waggled under Orlando’s nose.

“Nah, thanks,” Orlando shakes his head without taking his eyes off the road. “I’ll pass. It’s too hot for food.”

“It’s never to hot for food,” Eric says, sounding offended and indignant on behalf of his chocolate chips cookies. “Isn’t that right, bud?”

Rollo shifts on his blanket on the backseat and barks shortly, without ever looking up, Orlando suspects. Theirs is the laziest dog in the world.

“Ice cream,” Orlando says, “I’d eat ice cream.”

“Spoiled brat,” Eric replies affectionately around a handful of cookies. “Where should I get ice cream from? We’re in the middle of,” he hesitates for a second and Orlando figures he has (once again) forgotten what state they’re in, then he finishes elegantly, “nature. Not a soul around and you want ice cream.”

“Anything cold would do,” Orlando replies cheerfully, and adds, “wouldn’t be a problem if this car had aircon.”

Silence to his right and Orlando hides a smirk. Eric’s far too easy a target when it comes to his precious Ford. The cookie bag rustles and Eric chews on another one, sulking probably.

“Well,” Orlando says, a peace offering even though the tease is still present in his voice, “I could always take my shirt off to cool down.”

“Hmpf,” Eric grunts, swallowing, “you’d end up with a cold and a snotty nose. You’re a bitch when you’re sick.”

Orlando turns his head to look at Eric, both brows raised in indignation, only to find the older man grinning back at him. Cheeks round because of the hamstered cookies.

“Why do I put up with you?” Orlando asks warmly.

Eric shrugs but still grins from ear to ear. “Must be ‘cause I’m pretty fucking amazing. Plus, I own a Playstation.”

“That you do,” Orlando agrees and pats Eric’s naked knee. “One of the few qualities you got.”

“Shut up,” Eric laughs. “And let’s just hope it arrived safely in Sacramento.”

Orlando glances at him again, picking up on the slightly contemplative tone of voice his lover used.

“Would you rather have flown?” he asks, seriously now. “It’s a bit stupid to do this when we could’ve afforded first class tickets.”

It is, really. And even if you take crappy motels out of the equation it’s still so many days and so many miles to go that maybe you’d – Eric leans over and presses his nose against Orlando’s temple.

“Don’t be silly,” he says quietly, ending Orlando’s musing, “I’m having the time of my life.”

Orlando’s eyes are on the road and the blue of the sky seems a bit brighter for a moment, the gold of the grain a little more golden. He really loves Eric’s nose there on his temple, his favourite spot for it because he can hear him breathing. Orlando tilts his head a little, leaning into the touch and replies, equally softly, “I know.”

Their road takes a slight turn to the right and, following it, they find themselves between pastures now, wide as the eye can see and Orlando supposes the black and brown spots here and there might be horses or cows. Wooden fences run along their sides for a while, when they come to ends the green seems to stretch even further and -

“Stop!” Eric yells suddenly.

There’s nothing to see but Orlando steps onto the breaks without even thinking. Their tires aren’t screeching but it wouldn’t have taken much more. He steers the car to the side of the road where it stops completely and turns in his seat.

“What is it?” he asks, wide eyed, but Eric has already pushed his door open and is half out of the Falcon. Orlando blinks dumbly. Rollo is quicker on the uptake and squeezes through the small space between seat and car frame, following his master.

“Eric? What the hell?” Orlando demands, puzzled.

Eric turns and leans down to look back into the car, grinning like a maniac and pulling his sweaty t-shirt over his head at the same time. “Come on,” he urges, “follow the leader.”

“I don’t believe it,” Orlando says, more to himself than to anyone else because lover and dog are already off, running over grassland towards a small assembly of trees. Rollo jumps excitedly around Eric and while Orlando suspects the Newfoundlander doesn’t know what has gotten into the tall man either, he doesn’t question it.

Orlando shakes his head again and then mentally changes gears.

“Wait up, you loon!” he calls out and sprints after Eric, who’s too busy stumbling over Rollo every other step to really gain from his head start. He has, however, already undressed down to his cut offs and Orlando runs past his toed off shoes as well. Eric disappears behind the trees and Orlando follows. He takes the same turn just in time to see.

Surrounded by the large trees a little lake comes into view all of a sudden and Eric runs over an old landing stage and jumps headfirst into the water. Rollo follows suit, droplets splashing everywhere.

For a moment Orlando is a bit mesmerized, first by the existence of the lake and then by the sight of Eric in the water. But then he’s out of his shirt and Flipflops in no time and on the landing stage in even less.

When he dives into the cold water and the waves close over him all sound is gone, all weariness and heat. It’s just him and the almost mute bubbles of air from his lips prickling over his skin as they race for the sky. Of course, when he resurfaces Eric’s right there, too.

“Hey there, Arielle,” Eric says, treading water and looking extremely pleased with himself. “Took you long enough.”

Orlando’s eyes fix on a spot slightly higher than Eric’s forehead and he replies dryly, “You got duckweed on your head.”

Eric looks a little puzzled and that’s all the distraction Orlando needs for his attack. He closes the distance between them with a lurch and, both hands on Eric’s (completely duckweed free) head, he pushes him down under the water. Eric’s long arms wave around frantically as he struggles and one of them wraps around Orlando’s waist, pulling him down with him and flipping them over under water. Orlando kicks and squirms and giggles because his side is extremely ticklish – it’s all a big mess and he swallows about half a gallon of water. A bit of a triumph is that he spits the other half right into Eric’s face when his lover decides to let him resurface.

“Eeww,” Eric pulls a face, “how many cows might’ve used this as a water closet, you think?”

Orlando rolls his eyes. “Says the guy who jumped in first.”

“That might have been an accident,” Eric replies evasively and flops onto his back, swimming lazily with his chest just above water surface. “Some huge black hellhound chased me.”

Automatically, Orlando turns his head to search for Rollo and has to laugh when he spots him. The Newfoundlander has climbed out of the lake and strategically placed his soaked self on the very end of the landing stage where the sun shines through the crowns of the trees onto his shiny black pelt. His large head rests on his paws and he watches his masters’ antics with huge indulgent eyes. With a few strokes Orlando is right in front of him, hands on the old wood.

“Hey, sweetheart,” he coos, “Eric says you’ve been being a bad doggie. Is that true?”
Rollo blinks, tilts his head and the look of innocence is more than a match for the puppy dog eyes Eric usually gives Orlando.

“Thought so,” Orlando says, hand reaching up scratch the back of the dog’s nose. “He always gets you in trouble, though. You should keep better company, pal.”

“Oi!” Eric calls out and raises his head out of the water, “I heard that!”

“But,” Orlando continues, ignoring the interruption, “I suppose I have to cut you some slack for finding this lovely place.”

Rollo replies with a little yip and the movement of his eyes tells Orlando that Eric is coming up behind him. Strong arms wrap around him, wet warm skin is pressed against his back.

“It’s not ice cream,” Eric murmurs, “but it’s cool.”

“And a natural water closet, so I hear,” Orlando says and leans back into his lover’s embrace. “Which is really romantic.”

“Hey, at least it doesn’t have orange and pink curtains like the motel you picked yesterday,” Eric says, “so, I guess I win.”

Orlando turns in Eric’s arms, naked feet on the muddy ground. His hands glide down muscular arms, cupping elbows, and he tilts his head. Eric’s damp curls frame his face and there even are droplets clinging to his lashes. The silvery smooth water around him reflects the sun and makes Eric’s skin shimmer in dark bronze, makes Orlando want to lick the wetness off his jaw, his cheeks to taste him underneath. The laugh lines around Eric’s eyes have grown deeper over the time they’ve been together and they crinkle at him now as Eric smiles. Fucking beautiful.

“Alright,” Orlando finally says, “you win. Do I get to congratulate you properly?”

Eric laughs quietly and his big hands slide down Orlando’s back to rest in the small of it.
“I don’t even remember what we were arguing about,” he admits as he pulls Orlando a little closer yet, “but yay me.” He leans down, his head tilted slightly to avoid bumping noses, and Orlando can feel his hot breath against his lips when he offers, “Go ahead.”

Orlando leans in to kiss Eric and the touch of his soft lips, the taste of his mouth has the usual effect on him. He wants to climb into him and never come out again. It’s almost silly how very much in love he is with this man, with the way he moans ever so quietly when Orlando does that little flick with his tongue, with how gentle his large hands can be when Orlando knows how much strength they have. There are no words for it, however sharptongued and precise Orlando usually can be, and he is so very grateful that Eric doesn’t need words, seems just fine or better with him just pressing against him and burying his fingers in Eric’s hair to keep him right here, where he belongs.

Eric hums happily when he pulls back a little and he licks his lips. He rubs his nose against Orlando’s and even though Orlando can feel how hard he is against his own erection, his voice is teasingly casual when he says, “So, we’re in the middle of fuck-knows-where –“

“Kansas,” Orlando interjects helpfully.

“Kansas,” Eric repeats dutifully, even though Orlando doubts it really stuck. “And the dog’s asleep.”

Orlando’s lips curl into a smile. “Rollo doesn’t bother me.”

He usually bothers Eric though. Something about the intensity of Rollo’s stare when he watches them make out, he once said, makes him feel like a science project.

“Mmm,” Eric hums, dipping down to nibble at Orlando’s jawline, tongue darting out to lick up his throat. “Nobody else around either.”

That Orlando would mind. It’s not that he’d terribly mind being naked in front of an audience and it’s not the sex itself either. Still - Orlando’s fingers dig into the strong muscle of Eric’s upper arms.

“I like having you to myself,” he murmurs, then moans when Eric lightly bites his earlobe, presses their groins together.

“Why’s that?” Eric asks, voice rough and rumbling, aroused even though or maybe because he already knows. Orlando’s hand sneaks between their bodies, finding Eric hard and waiting. He grips his lover’s cock firmly through the soft and wet material of his cut offs.

“Probably because I’m a bit possessive,” he says, nudging Eric’s cheek with his nose to get him to turn his head. Under water, his fingers push the button open, pull the zipper down, find what they’re searching for, hot hard flesh.

Eric groans his appreciation and his mouth is hovering over Orlando’s when he asks again, “Probably?”

“Yeah,” Orlando responds, playing along and stroking his lover with sure and gratifying flicks of his wrist, “maybe ‘cause I don’t like to share.”

“Share -,” Eric asks, breath hitching once, “- what?”

“You know,” Orlando says casually, shrugging, but his voice is dark as Eric tightens his grip on him, fighting to stay upright, “the usual. The look on your face when you come. The tiny embarrassing noises you make.”

Eric’s breath hitches again, and there it is, that sound, undecided whether to be a growl or a mewl, and it lingers on Eric’s lips until Orlando leans in to kiss him again. He groans when Eric’s tongue curls around his, when Eric’s fingers curl around his cock and it takes him less than a second to fist Orlando in the same rhythm that he’s being stroked.

Orlando relaxes, is pushed back a little, back against the wooden pillar of the landing stage and he gives in to Eric’s skillful coaxing. Those hands, he is in love with those big hands, is a whore for them really, unashamed and wailing for more, for their tight grip pushing him close to orgasm in no time.

“Come on,” Eric grunts against his mouth, “I know you’re holding back.”

He flicks his thumb over the head of Orlando’s cock, knows exactly what he’s doing and Orlando bites down on his full lower lip, causing Eric to grip him harder yet, almost painful if it weren’t so very, very – Right. Eric growls as Orlando feels his entire body shuddering, back arching under the touch of Eric’s palm, closer, closer and he comes with a groan.

“Fuck,” he hears Eric swear, his eyes closed, vision swimming in a sea of stars behind his eyelids. He still feels Eric’s stare. “Just look at you, baby.”

He opens his eyes to see Eric’s turn black, out of focus and still looking at him and Eric’s mouth drops open when he climaxes into Orlando’s fist. He can’t resist, can never resist the vulnerable curve of Eric’s lips like this and he leans in to caress it with his own. The kiss slow and gentle even though Orlando can still hear his pulse racing in his ears, still feels Eric’s body being shaken by the aftershock.

“That,” Eric says when they pull back a little, still not able to keep their hands of each other, “that was nice.”

“Ahwoo,” Orlando replies dead serious and earns himself a barely-awake woof from Rollo, a splash of water in the face and the grin that puts the sun to shame.

“I love that song,” Eric says with conviction and sounds so happy about this realization that Orlando decides to buy him the CD and a cowboy hat to match when they come to the next town. And well, if that requires a slight detour and a few more days on the road, that’s fine with Orlando.

After a cloudburst, in the kingdom of kitsch aka Colorado

Alright, so maybe being a journalist doesn't really make you an expert in road trips. Orlando can totally concede that - as long as it's followed by 'but being an architect doesn't either'. Which is the problem. Because Eric thinks he's the world's biggest boy scout. And maybe the mental image of Eric in a boy scout uniform might do something for Orlando (after all, Eric has magnificent calves and should show them off more often) but his desperate need to fix things on his own really can get on Orlando's nerves.

So, when the bubblegum chewing blonde behind the counter of the shabbiest motel Orlando has ever been to (and he did coverage stories about third world countries) looks at him condecendingly he turns to glare at Eric.

Eric's jeans are torn and he has mud all over him, smearing his face like war paint of the tribe of the demented. There is mud in his hair, too, and it's just not sticking up to all angles because it's completely soaked. Which pretty much sums up how Orlando himself looks and feels, if you add 'rather pissed off' to the list. Right next to a large artificial palm tree near the door, Rollo is dripping wetly onto the crappy motel's carpet and kinda stinks of huge wet dog. Which isn't really surprising.

"It's his fault," Orlando mutters under his breath, meaning Eric. Because it is. 'Oh, not a problem, I can fix the car on the way. No need to stop at a garage.' - 'Oh, look, a few clouds on the horizon. No way that's gonna turn into the biggest rainfall since the Flood.'. - Right.

"Huh?" The woman grunts which is probably this town's brand of 'Excuse me, could you repeat that?', only that she doesn't really seem interested in anything Orlando has to say. She is too busy staring at Eric, reminding Orlando a bit of that hugeass Hercules beetle they saw in Colorado Springs. If Orlando wasn’t currently mad at him, he’d almost feel sorry for his lover.

"Got caught in a drizzle," Eric all but chirps and Orlando turns back to him because he can hear the smile in his voice and that's just not right. "Sorry to mess up your carpet."

Right. As if that could be messed up 'cause the vomit coloured carpet isn't an insult to the eyes all on its own and the old stains on it might actually be vomit...

But Eric is beaming at the twenty something woman like nobody's business, all white teeth and crinkles around his eyes and for a moment Orlando wants to lick off the smears of mud around them to kiss Eric's closed eyelids. Except, he's still pissed at Eric for getting them into this mess.

The woman, however, has no such handicap and when Eric walks over to the counter and places his huge, perfectly manicured (even if currently covered in car grease and mud) hand onto it, she eyes it with so much badly concealed lust in her eyes that seriously, Orlando wants to tell her in detail how good that hand looks wrapped around his cock and only that.

Okay, so he might be a bit cranky and possessive.

Eric seems completely oblivious to the sound of Orlando's teeth grinding in perfect cacophony with the clapping of fake eyelashes behind the counter.

"If you had a room for us and maybe knew a guy who could tow the car to the nearest garage..." he lets his voice trail off and looks at her with eyes so huge that they seem both innocent and promisingly wicked.

"Earl down the road can fix your car," bubblegum woman drawls with what Orlando suspects is supposed to be a flirtatious tone of voice. "We got vacancies. But just the king suite left." The strange look she gives Orlando might not solely be due to their state of dressing now.

"Ah well," Eric says sweetly and pushes his credit card across the counter, "that's alright."

In front of the counter Orlando kicks Eric's shin hard. Eric's smile never falters.

On the way out, Rollo looks over his shoulder at Orlando while trotting beside Eric. His watery brown eyes always look kinda concerned, even when they stare at a giant bowl of food, so Orlando isn’t feeling guilty for disrupting the pack harmony with his sulk. Really, he isn’t.

He follows the stench of wet dog and the sight of Eric’s muddy backside and drops their emergency duffle right behind the thin door of their room. He knows that his lover is watching him from the corners of his eyes but doesn’t react when the older man pats Rollo’s head and says, “Come on, bud, let’s get you a shower. You smell ripe.”

The huge black dog jips, a little offended, but obediently follows. Orlando hears his claws clack-clacking on the bathroom tiles and, with pointed fingertips, pries his soaked shirt from his chest. It smacks back like a worn rubber band when he lets go of it again and he huffs in annoyance when, to the sound of the shower and Eric’s and Rollo’s muttered conversation, he peels of jacket and shirt even before giving the room a once over.

Colorado is gifted with a beautiful landscape. However, captured in a make belief oil painting, framed in (what a surprise) ornate gold over the bed… – the lilac and pink of the bogus sunset fits the vomit coloured carpet and wood paneled walls perversely well, though. But aside from the mismatching colours the room is okay, and it’s dry and windless, so Orlando guesses it’s way better than spending the night outside in the broken down car.

From the bath, laughter bubbles into the kingdom of kitsch.

“Bad dog, Rollo,” Eric chides, the tone of his voice saying differently. “No shaking till I’m out of range, remember?”

“He probably thinks you reek,” Orlando remarks, leaning against the doorframe, a smile on his lips despite himself. He might be cranky and tired after their involuntary hike, but Eric is shirtless and sits in the tub with Rollo. Their huge bodies are too large for the cramped space, so the dog is half in his master’s lap, bushy tail wagging furiously over the rim and sprinkling the entire bathroom with dirty water.

“You reek,” Eric gives back and Rollo barks in affirmation. Orlando wants to bury his face in his muddy hands but chuckles.

“What are you? Five?” he asks and briefly wonders since when he sounds like his own mother.

Eric stands up, 6’2’’ tall and still boyish because of the grin on his face. Michelangelo’s David in the middle of bad taste capitol. Rollo slumps down in the tub and watches over the rim as his master closes the distance between him and Orlando.

“I’m sorry,” he says.

Orlando looks down at himself when the backs of Eric’s fingers run down his biceps. There’s something about his way to apologise that makes Orlando forget why he was pissy in the first place. Cause Eric doesn’t say it with irony, like an accusation in a flimsy disguise – ‘I’m sorry you’re such a bad sport about it’. He doesn’t force it out, like it hurts his pride - ’I’m sorry that I have to do this’. He doesn’t proclaim it with an intensity supposed to impress Orlando ’I’m sorry that I can’t give you world peace and save the rainforest’.

Eric has never been afraid to show Orlando how he feels, the gentle touch of his fingers that run up and down Orlando’s arm, the way he stands a little too close so that his sock clad toes almost touch Orlando’s boots. And Eric has never been afraid to tell Orlando either. They’re not that kind of men that communicate by huffing and shoulder shoving alone (though Orlando doesn’t mind being shoved by Eric or listening to his quiet huffs that only stop when he comes).

“Yeah, I know,” Orlando replies and his hands find their favourite place on Eric’s hips. When he steps closer and the wet denim of their jeans rubs together, Eric’s naked chest feels solid even if a little clammy against Orlando’s. “Your poor baby, though.”

“I know,” Eric says, his voice a little whiney and yes, melodramatic now. He shakes his head sadly, muddy waterdrops that clung to the tips of his curls rain onto the green tiles. “She isn’t supposed to spent the night out all alone. Some hick might spot her and do unholy things to her.”

“Like what? Hump her hood?”

Eric looks horrified at the thought of his Falcon being abused like that and, rather randomly, Orlando thinks he’s in love with the crease on Eric’s forehead that just appeared there. And with the tiny sneeze that disturbs his frown when the wetness and the cold seems to catch up with him abruptly.

“C’me on, let’s get outa these wet clothes,” Orlando decides, his thumbs sliding into the rim of Eric’s trousers and tugging lightly.

They get a reluctant Rollo to leave them the tub. Orlando smiles against Eric’s lips when the dog lets out a huge sigh before he slumps down in front of the heater in the adjoining room.

Endless wheat fields, blue skies and wind ruffling tree’s crowns before curling in through the Falcon’s window. Heavy bellies of thunderclouds brooding above them, watersplashes from the sky obstructing the view despite the wipers’ efforts, black shadows rushing past them. Regardless of his bitching, Orlando really enjoys their road trip, loves how it makes him feel insignificantly tiny and like the center of the universe at the same time.

But what he loves best about the past few weeks is Eric’s passion for pies from roadside diners, is Eric’s drool on his shoulder when Orlando drives through the night while he’s sleeping. What he loves best is that Eric lost his left Nike sneaker in Kansas but still refuses to throw away the right. It’s the sight of him leaning against his Falcon’s hood at the roadside as he waits for Orlando to relieve himself of a gallon of breakfast coffee, the sun reflecting in his shades. It’s him talking in his sleep, murmuring about the sensations of the Buffalo Bill Wax Museum (don’t ask) and their plans for California.

It’s Eric’s hands roaming over his back while they share the thin shower spray, it’s his unique brand of laughing and groaning when Orlando offers to clean his chest with his tongue rather than a washcloth. What Orlando loves above all are all the quiet sounds, all the lingering touches, it’s Eric’s imperfect rhythm when he’s inside him, his large hand flat on Orlando’s belly to hold him close while Orlando’s scramble for purchase against the bottle green tiles.

In post orgasmic bliss it is a bit difficult for Orlando to take his bearings, so he guesses it counts as a success when he ends up sprawled over the bed, even if diagonally. He grunts into the remotely clean smelling duvet when Eric’s huge hand slaps his bare ass and he doesn’t even turn his head to look at his lover when Eric proclaims, “I’m so hungry I could eat a buffalo.”

“Tired,” Orlando answers.

An already clothed again knee nudges his right foot which dangles over the edge of the bed.

“Take you out to dinner, darling,” Eric coos.

“Go away.”

He hears Eric huff in good natured capitulation. “I’ll find us a grocery store then. Or take out. I’ll ask at the reception.”

“Whatever,” Orlando grunts and half raises his arm to blindly wave Eric goodbye. He’s already drifting off when the door opens and closes as his everhungry lover leaves.

He rouses from a pleasant slumber because he has to giggle. Instinctively he wriggles his left foot to escape the tickling sensation that woke him and his big toe pokes something soft and damp, followed by a woof of indignation from the owner of the wet nose.

“Rollo, foot fetishist much? Kinky,” Orlando laughs before rising. The Newfoundlander looks at him contemplatively and licks his flews with a loud smacking sound. As per usual it reminds Orlando of Eric eating spareribs and he grins, automatically searching the small room for his lover. Without success.

“Where’s tall, dark and peckish?” he asks Rollo. The dog sits down in front of him and his tail thumps onto the floor. No watersprinkling this time, in fact, his fur has dried almost completely by now. Which means Orlando has been asleep for quite a bit and Eric is still not back. Huh.

Under Rollo’s watchful gaze he drags a fresh pair of jeans out of the duffle back as well as Eric’s Nats shirt. He’s still buttoning that up when he leaves the room.

The air is fresh and clear after the storm and just a single cloud keeps the pale moon company. In the deserted parking lot Orlando catches himself searching for the Falcon before he remembers that it’s not here. No sign of Eric either. If there is a diner within walking distance he might very well be there, the entire menu arranged in a circle around him and a dopey smile on his lips. But after this afternoon’s incident Orlando isn’t sure whether Eric’s gonna find his way back to the motel.

There’s light shimmering through the window of the reception, so Orlando walks over and through the open glass door. He almost gets tangled up in the branches of the artificial palm tree and stops dead when he hears his lover’s voice.

“I really should be –,“ Eric says, sounding oddly helpless.

“So, a Ford Falcon, yeah?” The bubble gum woman is leaning against the counter on the customer’s side, her rack thrust out in plain self advertisement. Which is not really subtle but Orlando guesses that it’s usually quite effective. Eric, however, looks a little scared. And judging from the tension in his shoulders he’s been trapped for a good while now. “I really need to –“ he tries, bravely.

The bubble of the pink gum plops and shuts him up again. The blonde smiles sweetly at him, takes a deep breath that pushes her breasts against her thin pullover, and tilts her head. “I bet it sounds great when you make it purr, doesn’t it?”

She bats her eyelashes.

Eric sweats.

Orlando snickers.

“Say, how quickly do you get it from zero to –“

“Food!” This time it’s Eric doing the interrupting, and there definitely is desperation in the one word now. “I mean –“

It’s enough for Orlando. Really, he can listen to his sweetheart being sexually harassed all day, but when it comes to withholding basic needs –

“Eric, there you are! I’ve been looking for you.”

Two pairs of eyes focus on him as he steps around the palm tree into view. There is so much relief on his lover’s face that Orlando can’t do anything against the amused smirk that creeps onto his lips. When he flings an arm over Eric’s shoulder he feels him relax into the half hug instantly. And when he smiles innocently at the receptionist she responds with a defeated sigh.

Orlando looks up into Eric’s eyes.

“Take you out to dinner, darling?”

 

 

 

Getting dirrty
“I don’t care that he’s gorgeous and the most fucking influential bloke in the universe. He does summat like that again I’ll kill him.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Carpenter/Architect AU
"I'm gonna need a hearing aid and will fart a lot. 'Cause that's what old men do."

 

Fork in the road

"Do you ever wish you'd done something differently?"

Karl's question bursts into the lazy afternoon haze with the grace of a drunken party crasher and Eric is tempted to just thump him one for that.

"Huh?" he asks and really, he hates the feeling of damp Speedos on his skin.

"I'm asking if you ever wish you'd made different choices in your life," Karl repeats and Eric hears him sitting up on his deck chair. "You know, like, become a Nascar pro. Or an actor. Marry someone and have kids."

Eric slides his index finger under his shades to rub at his left eye but his brain/hand coordination isn't too good after hours in the sun and he pokes himself in the eye. "I never considered becoming a pirate," he murmurs, eye pinched shut, and trusts Karl to understand and shut up already.

Karl doesn't. Eric hears the ziiip clacking of a beer can being opened and squints with his good eye to watch Karl's Adam's apple bobbing happily at the cold company running past it.

"When I was 17," he offers, "I wanted to work for Fosters."

"Really?"

"I do like beer."

Karl grins down at him and when he hands Eric his can, their fingertips brush against one another on the slick and cold metal.

"I could've stayed at uni for a PhD," Karl says, the beer a pelty goodness on Eric's tastebuds.

"You're outsmarting me as it is", Eric replies because it is true. Karl's the brains in their relationship. Eric isn't quite sure what he is. The heart sometimes. Which organ is stretchy enough to wrap around the two of them and hold them together like really strong duct tape? Eric is probably that one, mostly.

Karl's naked foot kicks him in the thigh. He really should cut his nails sometime.

"Did you doze off on me again?"

"I would never," Eric huffs. "PhD, famous scientist, fancy white lab coat, physics Nobel prize. I am listening."

"You're not," Karl laughs and rolls the fresh can of beer he's gotten out of the cooler between his hands. "I told you that just often enough already, that's all."

Eric pushes his shades up onto his head and settles on his side, the sight of Karl in his black boxers more than making up for the fact that now he's aware of the dampness of the towel underneath him.

"You know you could still go back and do that, right?"

Karl thinks for a moment. Then he shakes his head. "Nah, I don't think so. Twas good to finally get outa there, earn money for real."

His eyes drop to his hands, strong and calloused and careful, just the way you need them to be when you're working with them as much as they do.

"Those hands'd be wasted in a lab," Eric agrees. He always craves their touch something fierce, gets hard instantly - even after all these years - when they curl around his hip bones just so. "You coulda become a massage therapist in Bangkok, though."

Karl rests his elbow on his thigh, cradles his chin in his palm and just looks down at Eric. His eyes do that sparkling thing, Eric hadn't known black could be as shiny and joyous before he met Karl, and there are the wrinkles around them.

"Thanks. Just one more chance that I didn't use."

When they're old they might both have arthritis and Eric is pretty sure he's gonna be a good candidate for Alzheimers as well what with the amount of stuff he's forgetting already. But there'll be lots of wrinkles around Karl's eyes permanently then, and laugh lines around his mouth and on his cheeks, even when he sleeps. And Eric has already set aside a good deal of his retirement time for staring at those and reminice about the first times he's seen them appear.

"I'm gonna grow old with you," he declares.

He might be a bit in love with the additional tiny lines that appear on Karl's forehead now as he frowns lightly. Because Karl gets it, gets him and them, even though he might worry a lot more about the future when instead he could be enjoying their brand new back yard pool.

There might be a million decisions to make each day, the same old fork in the road question over career choices, locations, morals, brands of lube or whatever over and over again. But Eric knows his truths - the grass is green, the sun will always go up in the morning, he will be at Karl's side till one of them carks it, the Wallabies will forever rule rugby. Simple. When Eric looks back, there has never been a different road than this one, there has never been any other way than theirs.

"I'm gonna need a hearing aid and will fart a lot," Karl replies after a moment of holding his face into the sun. "'Cause that's what old men do."

Eric flops onto his back once again, the half empty can of beer loosely in his left hand. "You already got an unholy liking for cauliflower."

"Yeah, I love you, too."

Eric hears a contented sigh lingering on Karl's lips, the one that usually tastes like spunk when he kisses him, indication for postcoital bliss and all. He allows himself a smug smile before he drifts off again, determined not to wake again before his trunks have completely dried.
As it is, I am a morally corrupted Fiat Panda

As it is, Eric is a 6’2’’ God turned man, is the Bentley Continental GT of human bodyworks. He is built, he is good looking and he has lovely hair, thank you very much. But when it comes to character traits he is not so much a Bentley and more a 1984 Fiat Panda.

He knows that everyone has their faults. It’s only human and all that, right? He himself is very much guilty of never taking out the garbage and there was this other boy back in school that he used as a spitball target for years. In fact, now that he is thinking about it he doesn’t even now feel remorse for that because that guy was a douche and had stupid hair, too. Which says a lot about him again – mostly that he is kinda superficial and should maybe have become a hairdresser or something.

Somehow, life had other plans for him however and he turned out to be a carpenter slash gardener slash pool boy. The latter is a recent addition and that’s mostly due to the fact that Eric has decided that between him and Karl, he makes the better eye candy.

Not because Karl isn’t hot. Karl is hotter than the hood of a black BMW parked for hours in the Sydney sun. Speaking of sun, Karl is so scorching that Eric sometimes is a bit afraid that if he looks at him for too long, his eyes will burn in their sockets and he’ll end up looking like Johnny Depp in that Rodriguez flick. So, Eric’s pool boy status is not related to Karl’s smoking hotness.

Eric however, is capable of fulfilling certain pool boy requirements such as a. cleaning the thing without getting ideas of grandeur and planning a huge water slide for their backyard (Karl being an architect is kind of a calling, yeah) and b. lazying about on a airbed for hours without doing anything at all.

So, he’s on pool boy duty right now and in the heat of the afternoon even splashing water onto his belly is sort of hard work.

“Hey, lazy bum,” Karl calls out and kicks a white and red beach ball in Eric’s direction. Eric opens his eyes in time to see the ball landing on his belly and it bounces off him with a sad little flat bump and lands in the water. Karl stands all suited up and tres chick next to the pool and grins down at him without remorse.

“Stop kicking my balls,” Eric complains and thinks about rescuing his white and red toy. But since that would probably end up with him accidentally rolling himself into the water (which has happened before), he leaves it be.

“What are you gonna do about it?” Karl taunts with a grin and kicks another ball into the water – they lie around everywhere. Eric has bought a couple of them because they were on sale and well, shiny; but he swears they’re reproducing on their own. Faster than fucking bunnies, they are, too.

“Dunno,” Eric replies as a ball hits his foot. “Wait till you sleep and then uhm –“

“Impressive,” Karl says when Eric doesn’t really have anything to complete that sentence. He walks closer, fancy dress shoes kicks another ball in the pool’s direction. It hits Eric’s head and he really wishes he hadn’t been that thorough when blowing them up. Outch.

“Outch,” he says and rubs his forehead, accidentally splashing pool water into his face. “Stop that, dickhead. How was your meeting anyway?”

Because Karl and Eric? They have a mature and meaningful relationship. In which they ask each other how their day was and not just have mindblowing sex for hours and hours and hours and talk about which Star Trek episode rocks the most (The Naked time, for obvious reasons, is undefeated). Ahanyway, Eric’s brain zones in again just in time.

“ – and that’s when I told the fucker that if he wanted to have a cock shaped building he should hire fucking Disney not me,” Karl concludes, brows furrowing dangerously.

“They wanted you to design a penis house?” Eric asks, mildly interested. “I kind of approve of that. I’d model for you.” Because his dick, 1500 feet tall? Would rock.

Karl rubs the back of his neck and there are sweat stains under the armpits of his baby blue shirt. The sun is kind of hot, too hot to wear more than a flimsy pair of neon green Speedos, Eric is pretty certain.

“Rooster shaped,” Karl clarifies. “It’s Kentucky Fried Chicken, mate. Do you ever listen to anything I say?”

Karl looks pissed off and grumbly about that designing job gone awry. Any good lover would try to comfort him and tell him that he was too good for KFC anyhow (which he totally is) and that he’ll score an even bigger deal next week (which he definitely will). Any considerate lover would do something like that.

“Did you bring Hot wings?” Eric asks and slowly paddles towards the edge of the pool. “I’m starving.”

Karl doesn’t respond and he usually doesn’t stuff food into the pockets of his suit pants (different from Eric who thinks it’s a perfectly good place to temporarily park his half eaten apple while fixing the rest of the roof). He kicks another ball in Eric’s general direction and hits him in the head. Again.

“Fucker,” Eric growls. “I’m gonna do stuff to you, y’know.”

“Stuff?” Karl replies and from this angle, Eric still on his back on his airbed and Karl standing right next to the pool, he looks like the fucking Colossus of Rhodos. World wonder, is Karl. “That’s about the lamest threat ever.”

“NC 17 rated stuff,” Eric growls. “Can’t go into detail here. Mrs. M will run me over with her walker again.”

Which is true enough because Mrs. M., their blue haired neighbor, doesn’t approve of porn stuff happening within her hearing distance. And she has really good ears for someone who is about 120 years old, and the tiny wheels on her walker really hurt Eric’s flipflopped feet before…

Karl looks mildly disappointed however, so Eric drags out his bedroom voice and purrs, “If you want details, you gotta come down here.”

He pushes himself up to his elbows, making the airbed wobble rather dangerously, and looks up expectantly at Karl. Karl rolls his eyes ostentatiously but crouches down next to the pool. His neatly bound red tie (which Eric has tied for him this morning because he rocks at this domestic stuff) gently wafts in the breeze.

Anyone remember that thing about Eric being a morally corrupted Fiat? That becomes rather undeniably apparent now. Because Karl’s tie is within reaching distance of Eric’s hands and there is just no way in hell he is able to resist that.

Eric grabs the tie and pulls hard. With a rather undignified yelp Karl overbalances and falls face first into the pool.

The waves that causes as well as his laughing fit make it quite hard for Eric to stay on his airbed and that is before Karl comes up for air. Eric forgets for a moment that he has declared an unrestricted submarine war just now when Karl resurfaces. Because two things in the world are certain: Eric is a bit of an ass, and Karl is fucking fucking sexy. Especially when wet and pissed off. Eric has about 0.2 seconds to appreciate the sight before his airbed is capsized and Karl dunks him.

He flails under water until he can grab something of Karl’s and fight back. It’s rather unfortunate for Mrs. M. that it’s Karl’s pants that are target of Eric’s underwater attack. One doesn’t have to be a genius to know where that will lead, Eric contemplates rather serenely while breathing out bubbles and nearly drowning.
True love or: if you only so much as look at my Chop Suey I’ll kill you

There are two loves in his life, his engine and Karl. Well. Maybe he should phrase that differently, right? Wouldn’t want to sound all insensitive and shit. Reverse, and again:

There are two loves in his life, Karl and his engine.

Eric looks up from the work he’s been doing under the hood of his car – delicate work and the one task his hands are not too big for, aren’t ever clumsy or paw-ish – and feels the surge of something very deep and philosophical running through him at that realization about his lover and his baby. Good thing that the need to scratch his balls through his overall and the burrito he’s had for lunch that makes him burp every ten seconds, reminds him that he is actually a grown guy and not a teenage girl in lust.

Otherwise, he thinks and closes the hood, strokes over the perfect, perfect paint, he might end up airbrushing Karl’s face onto the hood of his car, pink sparkly hearts and all. He bets Karl would most def appreciate being bent over his own superhuman face and be eye to eye with himself when Eric decides that the two loves of his life so close in one place deserve a celebration, one of the kind Eric is best at (he kinda sucks at this canapé, stand around, polite conversations kinds of parties but man, he’s awesome at the whole his-dick-in-some-part-of-Karl variety).

He starts cleaning of his tools with a meticulousness that Karl sometimes wishes he’d show when it comes to foreplay, doing the dishes or buying Christmas gifts for parents (foreplay issue aside, he still doesn’t get why a few remains of pasta in a pan should make it unusable and what the fuck is wrong with Zensation10W-40 motor oil as a present? Karl’s mom should be more appreciative.). As he wipes off the wrench and feels something between anticipation, pride and plain horniness rising up inside of him at the thought of taking his baby out for a spin later, he thinks that he was born for this.

It’s not a thought he has particularly often since it’s one of those ‘well duh’ ones and Eric doesn’t care much for redundancy, especially not when it’s about feelings and stuff like that.

It is something he has known forever. He’s always loved cars, ever since he can remember; loved them so much that he decided not to make a living out of it. Playing with tools and pretending to be a serious carpenter isn’t bad, mind you, but it’s still work and he has to deal with idiot-bosses and even-more-idiot-customers all the time and yeah, that might spoil the whole thing from time to time. Karl then just pats his head and coos to him until Eric has to hit him and everything is fine again but Eric couldn’t very well know that he’d meet his fairy Godmother and she came in the form of a six foot something Kiwi with a stupidly sexy laugh and a heart the size of a proper continent (like, say, Australia).

Anyhow, he didn’t become a mechanic because cars are his passion, something that belongs to just him and he’d be, like, a man hooker if he made that into money.

The other thing (and he smiles wryly to himself as he puts his tools away and half-strips out of the overall, arms dangling on his sides, while he makes his way back into the house: he’s started with cars, not Karl, after all, didn’t he? Bad Eric.) – the other thing he’s always known, always been sure of was Karl. Apparently that sounds even stupider than the whole car thing – not that Eric believes that personally, he wouldn’t think stupid thoughts, he’s no idiot. But his brother called him a tool when (somewhat drunk, and somewhat unreasonably over the moon in love) Eric explained this thing with Karl to him.

Because Karl? Is Karl.

Eric gets himself a beer out of the fridge, leaves dirty smudges on its door and the one to the living room and is a good husband (or whatever) because he toes of his boots before he lies down on the couch and switches on the TV. ‘American Chopper’. Nice.

Something inside of him seems to have missed the ball-scratching, burping and car-repairing affirmation of total manliness and gives a good impression of aforementioned teenage girl however. Because while usually that one sentence – Karl is Karl – is damn enough explanation for Eric, he feels the need to exemplify.

Because Karl, man, Karl. First time Eric has met him he was sure he had known him all his life and at the same time it felt like something that’s always been broken without his knowledge had finally been repaired. Like when your power steering fluid level is low but you got used to the whining and then you fix it and you can’t believe what crap noise you’ve endured before.

Karl’s presence makes everything in Eric’s world work, just by the force of his pure physicality when he comes back from the office, slightly sweaty and flexing his muscles that he hasn’t used enough, bent over his desk. Eric’s heart always takes up speed like an engine tuned up when Karl walks into the room, when he smiles lazily first thing in the morning. When he kisses him goodbye (hands on Eric’s hips) each day before work, when they touch – never have to be careful with one another, but always may – the adrenaline level in his veins easily tops that on a race track.

“Hey lazy bum, what’s for dinner?” Karl calls from the hallway, and Eric blinks when he hears the front door being kicked shut.

Dinner?

“Don’t tell me,” Karl continues, his keys clattering on the shoe cabinet as he puts them down. “You spent your day wanking over your engine. Again.”

Eric looks down at himself, engine oil all over him, including his previously white tee and oops, parts of the couch. “Uhm, no?” he calls back and fruitlessly wipes his hands on his shirt.

“’course not,” Karl says, low and dark but Eric isn’t stupid and can hear the smile in his voice even before the other man leans against the doorframe. And lookit, there goes Eric’s heartbeat again. He’s fucking whipped. Well, except for the part where he does what his lover has asked him to, specifically: preparing chow. Karl arches a brow and inquires, “So, what is for dinner?”

Eric knows there is an elegant way out of this. One that means admitting nothing and coming out with his pride intact. He stretches on the couch and grabs his dick through his overall, meeting Karl’s gaze. “Me.”

If Karl had planned on trying to resist this ‘all you can eat buffet’ that is Eric, then at least his dimples disagreed, because they are showing up on his cheeks even as Karl shakes his head.

“Bana with a side dish of grease?”

“And cum, loads of cum,” Eric nods and gives his dick a squeeze. “Special offer.”

Karl loosens his tie and chuckles. “Yeah. It’s not like I could just holler ‘Let’s fuck’ any time of the day and you’d be on your knees and prepped in 0.2 flat.”

“That’s not true,” Eric objects and kind of reluctantly takes his hand away from his groin, “sometimes I’m watching Nascar. And sometimes I have to take a crap and I certainly wouldn’t – .” He pulls a face and shakes his head. “You’re really disgusting, you know that?”

Karl nods matter-of-factly and finally steps into the living room. Eric sits up and sniffs once, twice because somehow he smells even more delicious than normally.

“Since I kinda suspected you’d be preoccupied –“ Karl starts.

“I spent a big part of the day thinking about how much I love you,” Eric interrupts and is not the littlest bit surprised that this isn’t even a lie.

Karl ignores him, like he should (saves some of Eric’s dignity – damn that teenage girl inside of him), and continues, “Since yadayada, – I got us take out.” He holds up the plastic bags dangling from his wrist before he stops in front of the couch.

Eric tries to get to the food, nearly ripping off the arm attached to it. Karl’s free hand finds its way onto his head, fingers weaving through short curls. Eric says, “I think I'd miss you even if we'd never met.”

Karl grunts affirmatively as he strokes down and cups Eric’s jaw, briefly lingers, before he sits down. “I’ll kill you if you only so much as look at my Chop Suey.”
Xmas ADD

So, every December Karl turns into an enabler of epic proportions.

It’s a good thing that Eric doesn’t really notice because he is being to busy being even more of a dorkface whackjob than usual. Rephrase that. Eric isn’t actually a dorkface – he is the posterboy of tall, dark and handsome even on his worst days and those include too much tequila the night before and forming an intense relationship with the toilet by hugging it the entire next day. Karl would still do him then and there any time and he doesn’t care that it’s probably a fetish (Eric not letting go of the toilet while being molested is just a given) that you should see your shrink about.

Fine. Rephrasing. Eric is too busy letting his inner Christmas elf come out to play, to notice that Karl turns into a makeshift drug pusher come first advent every year.

Let’s focus on Eric’s Christmas related ADD for a moment. Not only because the whole drug dealing issue actually is a bit embarrassing, but also because Eric is just too damn entertaining to be overlooked just like that. Karl secretly wants to put him into a flower-press like hug if only so afterwards he can put him in a pink picture frame with sparkly hearts on it. Shut up, everyone.

Eric is passionately in love with Christmas. Sort of like a junkie wanting to sing odes to his drug of choice. And that simile is even more accurate than you think because in order to get his fix of Christmas, Eric is willing to go through any troubles and leaves a path of destruction in his wake.

Every December apparently a big fat (male) Christmas fairy vomits tinsel all over Karl’s and Eric’s house. It’s something to which Karl can vehemently relate, the barfing bit, because Eric turns the house into a mutant of a neon sign Christmas strip club slash house of horrors.

This, believe it or not, is actually a compromise they have reached over the years. Because, you see, when Karl met Eric it was like that the entire year, not just December. Not that Eric had Christmas decorations up all year, no. He isn’t even that particular about the event itself. It’s the rigging and the SHINY! that does it for him.

Proof? You want proof? Rigging and shiny it is then.

Eric owns a model railway with approximately 5 miles of railroad track just because he likes putting it together and making all the lights blink at the same time. He owns not one, not two but three different huge Carrera slot car race tracks and the only time Karl ever beat him was when Eric accidentally fell asleep in the middle of the tournament (Karl noticed but did not wake him. He was desperate, okay?). Give Eric anything that works with electricity and the promise to make noises and random lights and Eric is a happy, happy camper. In fact, the tinier the thing with all the more care Eric’s huge hands will treat it and transform it into something loud and flashy.

So, Karl is well aware that Eric could turn their house into an all year theme park of raunchy oversized Easter bunnies, jingling pinball machines and fairy lights. He doesn’t though – why bother with shrapnel fire when you have a proper WMD handy each December?

This year, Eric already nukes their entire electricity system on thanksgiving because he plugs in the huge neon reindeers on the roof. Thanks to him blowing all the fuses they have to eat turkey in the dark (and Eric is so damn apologetic that Karl is hung over from too much sex the next day). Merrily, Eric fixes their lamentable no-lights situation later. Karl once again gets fucked to the point of permanent damage when Eric wants to celebrate because he manages to get his reindeers to blink and his Santa to wave his oversized arm from the top of their chimney.

This is just the beginning though.

He then decides that they need a Christmas tree in every major room of the house and spends his entire Saturday decorating the one in the garage. He is rather picky with the baubles since they have to match the latest paint job of his car exactly.

He buys approximately 10 miles of fairy lights and isn’t even put off by them when Karl has to rescue Eric after he has entangled himself good in the blue and red and yellow cable.

When Karl comes home late from work one evening the entire house smells like a pine forest. Means that Eric found the seasonal scented bathing foam in the supermarket. He locates him in the bathtub, one of his impossibly long legs hanging over the rim, as he is reading the paper. Karl watches pine scented foam trickling down Eric’s leg until it reaches his toes, then he picks up his dirty work clothes from the floor and Eric rubs his damp calf against Karl’s leg. Sitting down on the toilet lid, Karl cradles his chin in his palm and listens to Eric reading out parts of the sports section for him while swirling the water to create more bubbles. In his opinion, Karl says, Eric should put his carpenter skills to good use and carve angels out of soap bars. He gets a blinding grin as a response.

Eric gets them a life sized stand up doll of an angel that he puts in their front garden. Its wings actually sparkle and it whispers, “Peace! Love! Joy!” every time you pass it. Eric also rapes – there is no other word for it – another one and turns it into some kind of street walker that shouts “Sex! Drugs! Rock’n’Roll!” every time you accidentally walk by. Karl maybe kind of suggested all of that.

Which brings us back to Karl being an enabler. And horrifically sentimental.

You see, the part carefully left out in these whole December shenanigans so far has been Karl’s.

So, Karl? Is an enabler. A horrible enabler that enables. Exactly like a drug pusher, only that he doesn’t get paid in dirty crumpled dollar notes but in silly smiles and bruising hugs. And sex, but that’s more a bonus than actual payment.

There’s that Tuesday for example when he accompanies Eric to the hardware store because Eric needs new blades for his stationary saw. While Eric fetches these, Karl lingers in the tinkering section or however they call it. On special offer are Styrofoam balls, glittery pins and sequin. “The perfect set to create your own baubles!” the saleswoman says and “Your little girl will love it!” – Karl doesn’t tell her about the nonexistence of a daughter, and even less about his 6’2’’ arts’n’crafts closet case. He buys the entire set anyway, he knows Eric will love it.

Also, when Eric brings back yet more fairy lights (tiny white stars this time) he helpfully suggests that Eric should decorate the ceiling with them. Then he sits back on the couch and watches Eric stand on his tiptoes to attach them to the ceiling, arms stretched and muscles playing in his shoulders while he handles his nail gun. His t-shirt rides up and reveals a strip of the small of his back and he starts sweating about half way through. Karl barely lets him put the nail gun down after finishing the job before he makes him see stars for real.

He is also guilty of bringing home spray cans with fake snow that sticks to stuff like the pest. Eric pays him back by writing lewd messages onto walls with it.

Karl is pretty certain that Eric has robbed a Christmas card shop (he can just see the poor old lady-owners face when his 6’2’’ Christmas high loony barged into her kingdom…). Because Karl receives letters each single day, every time with Eric’s handwriting clearly on the envelope no matter how many times Eric denies it. And even though he knows better, he opens each and every letter and is greeted with Christmas carols blasting into his face the second he unfolds the cards.

The fact that each card includes handwritten messages reading anything from “Buy me STUFF for xmas!!” and “I love the smell of your burps” to “You are the tinsel to my fir branch” makes up for the carols, though.

Karl happily lets Eric spend both their Christmas bonuses on utter nonsense every year anew. He’s an enabler, remember? Actually, ‘enabler’ merely scratches the surface. It’s more like he is so stupidly in love with Eric that his easygoing happiness keeps him on a permanent high that shuts down his reason and (apparently) his good taste and his sense for propriety. Anything for that happiness. – ‘Sentimental enabling’ is just the simple way of putting it.

On Christmas morning, Karl wakes to Eric’s lips caressing his belly. He hums with pleasure and stretches leisurely on the sheets, feels Eric’s large hands tugging on the waistband of his sweats. He lets himself be undressed, spreads his legs so Eric can settle between them and drifts in and out of a half sleeping dreamlike state, soft kisses and the tickling sensation of Eric’s beard against his naked thighs. When eventually, he reaches down to pat his lover’s hair and encourage him to get on with it, his fingers don’t find tousled curls but soft fabric.

He opens his eyes just as Eric licks up his cock and his pleased moan mixes with exasperation – Eric is wearing a Santa hat with blinking lights.

“Dork,” Karl says and his voice is unfittingly dark with lust. Eric pulls back a little when Karl tugs at the hat, and Karl can feel his slight pout against his oversensitive skin. But when Eric takes off the hat, Karl gratefully slides his hand into his lover’s curls, finally able to pull him closer.

“Grinch,” Eric murmurs, tongue swirling around the head of Karl’s cock, purposefully avoiding what Karl by now desperately needs him to do. Karl growls in frustration, his cock hard enough to be painful. Eric grins up at him when Karl finally groans in defeat, takes the hat from him and puts it on hid own head, not fitting properly and more than a little askew.

“Happy?” Karl asks. Tiny Christmas lights blink above his brow.

Eric doesn’t answer. He swallows Karl whole, the back of his throat working around the tip of his erection convulsively, his eyes never leaving Karl’s.

“God, fuck, Eric,” Karl laughs, breathlessly stuttering, tightens his grip on Eric’s hair and pushes deeper into his mouth. He knows that Eric would hum some stupid Christmas carol right about now, if he just had the breath to do it.

Much later their sheets are soaked with sweat and cum. Eric settles on top of him, softening cock still inside of Karl. A drop of sweat runs down his nose, clings to the tip of it for a second before it falls. Karl licks his lips, blinks and tells his eyes to regain focus already so he can look at Eric properly. He bends his leg, calf in the small of his lover’s back, drawing him closer. Eric’s hand still cradles his face and his thumb caresses the skin over Karl’s cheekbone. When Karl’s smile broadens, he can feel the heat of Eric’s palm, turns his head to nuzzle it.

“Merry fucking Christmas,” Eric grins, dimples on his cheeks deepening, and he tugs at the pompom at the end of the Santa hat. A green star blinks excitedly in his hand.

“Stop cussing, Father Christmas,” Karl replies fondly and rearranges the hat on his head. He won’t be taking the flashy disaster off any time soon, he might just as well wear it with pride. “What did you get me?”

Eric’s lips touch Karl’s in the softest of kisses when he growls, “Now, that’d be telling, baby.” When he shifts, Karl can feel Eric’s cock inside of him hardening again. He isn’t afraid of his gift. Really, he isn’t.
Not even if they tried

Day 1 – Karl

They fly first class and Eric still makes the seats look like they come from a doll house. Of course, he doesn’t complain, never complains except when Karl only brings chopsticks when they have Chinese take-out – he just gracefully folds himself into his seat with a loud oomph and then sprawls all over it and Karl’s as well, inviting him to sit on his lap by patting his own thigh. The stewardess squeezing past Karl mistakes the gesture and Eric’s broad grin to be for her and winks at him and from one second to the next Eric goes from suggestive and sexy to seriously confused (and still sexy).

When automatically he looks at Karl to reassure him that his flirting with the crew was merely accidental (as per usual) Karl has to laugh, despite the stress and the pressure of his upcoming presentation and he tells Eric that it’s his own fault and that he loves him nevertheless. Not in as many words, he just shoves Eric’s impossibly long leg from his seat and slumps down next to him. But his right hand lingers on Eric’s left thigh until they are up high in the air and Eric covers it with his own, his little finger playing with the simple gold band around Karl’s ring finger to which he wears the counterpart.

Eventually, Karl once again feels restless enough to dig out his papers. While he distantly worries that his French – particularly his vocabulary regarding skyscrapers and building techniques of the future – might not be good enough to impress, Eric finds and autoshop show on one of the many channels, purrs like a big cat or the engine the mechanics are about to put back together and settles, his shoulder touching Karl’s comfortingly.

 

Day 3 – Eric

As far as big cities with tons of history go Paris isn’t bad. Eric is perfectly aware that what with the French Revolution, the nifty invention of the guillotine and oh yeah, the whole freedom, brotherhood and equality thing, the rest of the world owes the French a big fat thank you for good thinking. And Paris is alright from an unhistorical point of view as well, even if the Parisians are sort of really sick in the head and try to make him eat snails – snails! – when all he is looking for is a nice and juicy steak. Eric won’t hold the snails thing against them, he probably just misunderstood them (it’s not like anyone seriously eats snails) but that’s just the wicked thing about Paris and France – all its inhabitants speak French and for several good reasons – the main being that he had better things to do, like work on cars or Karl – Eric really, really doesn’t.

And since his own personal tour guide / the man who is worldly no matter which part of the world they are in / the love of his life is still stuck at that conference about houses of the future or something, Eric is all on his own and nothing of what is happening is really his fault. Not the thing with the woman on the market who he thinks he asks for the way and who tries to hit him with her baguette. Not the thing where he buys fugly souvenirs for everyone they know just because the people in the souvenir shop speak English. Not the thing where he wanders into a travel agency with a promisingly English name and – wait that is his fault, because the idea of an impromptu holiday on Gran Canaria (wherever that is) is brilliant and he’s definitely taking credit for that.

When Karl returns to their hotel in the evening, all suited up and smelling of power and influence – and by that Eric means manly Karl sweat – Eric has to inform him that he was slightly unsuccessful in fulfilling his task for the day of finding a suitable romantic restaurant for the two of them to dine in. He did stumble across about a gazillion of Mickey D’s but he’s not suggesting them, mostly because the sight of Karl eating a Big Mac, a slice of apple pie, chicken wings and a strawberry milkshake all at once is just disgusting.

Karl makes him wash his back to make up for it, something Eric is absolutely fine with, and then promises under the shower that he’ll find a restaurant for them where they serve the best snails.

Steaks, Eric corrects him. Steaks.

 

Day 5 – Karl

The first time Karl and Eric met was eight years ago and in a traffic jam. Not one of the usual ones where you unwisely decide to drive home during the ill named rush hour but a traffic jam that was caused by a donkey and a cart loaded to the brim with melons – which in itself would have been bad enough in terms of slowing down the traffic. But then the donkey decided – in the middle of a one way street – to stop pulling his cart and upon that the cart in question decided to break apart and spill melons all over the street and hence bring traffic to a complete standstill.

Of course that led to a concert of honks within seconds and Karl was just about to join in when seemingly out of nowhere (from the perfectly restored vintage Ford Falcon standing right behind Karl’s SUV) a giant man appeared next to his window, holding a small box of strawberries. He offered them to Karl who automatically took one, which was reason enough for the other man to lean against the side of Karl’s car and – from his advantage-of-height point of view – offer a running commentary on the melons, the melon owner and the donkey that pretended to not be acquainted with either of the other two.

For the first five minutes Karl might have been a little baffled and frantically searched his memory whether he was supposed to know that stranger. But then he got out of the car, handed the giant man one of the beer bottles he’d just bought, leaned next to him and spent a good hour or so drinking beer and sharing inappropriate donkey jokes.

It was Karl who – when the melons (and the donkey) had eventually been removed – finally introduced himself and suggested a repetition of this, minus the honks and the donkey. But it was Eric’s amicable nature, his good humor that could turn even the most annoying circumstances into something pleasurable, it was Eric who got the ball rolling. And ever since then Karl has complete faith in him doing it over and over again.

So what if their plane to Gran Canaria is three hours late and the only vehicle available at the airport’s car rental service is something that looks more like a giant fucking blueberry than a proper car (It’s a Citroen C2, built about 2002, Eric informs him expertly and then adds that fucking blueberry works, too). Eric is still grinning when he squeezes himself behind the steering wheel of the miniature car and his right arm rests half on Karl’s backrest, half on Karl’s shoulder for lack of room. And suddenly Karl doesn’t mind the tininess of the car anymore.

When – predictably and about a mile away from their hotel – they get stuck in traffic, Eric’s booming laughter fills the blueberry, Karl pulls down his shades and starts telling donkey jokes.

 

Day 6 – Eric

Karl might be the visionary when it comes to futuristic architecture and revolutionary building designs, but it’s Eric who makes houses inhabitable.

When they’d just met and Eric finally managed to lure that handsome and wickedly smart man back to his lair apartment, Eric’s brilliantly thought-out plan of seducing him was interrupted by Karl asking whether Eric was an interior designer. Eric was momentarily distracted from his ‘get Karl naked and begging asap’ scheme in favor of being greatly offended. Interior designer? Fuck no. He was a fucking carpenter, good a working with his hands and lugging around heavy shit and other intensely manly stuff and he certainly didn’t spent his days contemplating whether mauve and lavender matched.

Mauve and lavender? Karl asked, a smirk playing around his lips and Eric knew that somehow he’d lost that argument without Karl even having to say anything. He recovered quickly however, and returned to what he was way better at than winning arguments about interior design, and that was getting Karl into his bed.

Somewhere between then and now – probably when they built their house together and Karl had signed over all control over what happened inside to Eric without arguing and Eric bought the giant BBQ grill that same afternoon, even if the terrace hadn’t even been built yet – Eric came to terms with the fact that he was a genius at making a place homey.

Their hotel room is one with a giant bed, a balcony facing the ocean and a hot tub so ridiculously large that it is even bigger than the one they have at home. When Eric returns from his early morning swim, having been mistaken for the hotel’s entertainment captain and a Speedo model already, Karl is asleep again. Eric managed to drag his half-comatose and completely overworked boyfriend to breakfast earlier and stuffed him with orange slices, coffee and other healthy stuff, but apparently they haven’t helped yet.

Something that Karl accomplished however in his five-minutes-awake time is make the room homey in his own way. Mind you, this has nothing to do with Eric’s (or anyone else’s) idea of proper interior design. It’s more that there are wet footprints leading from the bathroom to the bed, it’s a shower towel just having been dropped onto the carpet somewhere on the way and some of the bottles from the minibar are empty and decoratively strewn all over the place. It’s Eric’s suitcase having been thrown open, half its contents spilling out and making it look like a gutted pig, and the shaving cream mess in the bathroom gives Eric a good idea what Karl was looking for. And for some reason the cargo shorts that Eric made Karl put on for breakfast now hang down from the ceiling fan, however they got there.

Karl lies in the middle of all the mess he’s made, in the middle of their bed on his back and fast asleep. The thin blanket has slipped down to his waist and his naked and peacefully rising and falling chest is cooled by the mild breeze from the fan. He shifts a little as if he’s feeling Eric’s gaze on him, and the blanket slides lower, over his flat stomach and exposing his hip bones and the dark treasure trail.

Eric pulls down the cargo pants from the fan, knows that Karl is naked under the thin white blanket and decides that he has slept long enough. He drops his own towel and steps out of his still damp Speedos, wakes Karl up by gently biting along the tattoo that curls over his collarbone. Karl’s only response is a slow moan and his hand finds the back of Eric’s neck, gripping it loosely to keep him there and fitting perfectly.

 

Day 7 – Karl

Eric is the biggest lie-teller that ever told lies. Karl has always known that and not just since that time with the aquarium and the egg-rolls.

Until yesterday Karl has sort of refused to leave their hotel room except for for meals. This has less to do with Eric being a notorious liar (although sometimes when they meet new people and Eric tells them that, say, they are marine biologists researching the mating habits of huge mammals under water – respectively in their hot tub – Karl sometimes harbors thoughts of never leaving the house again). Anyway, his self-proclaimed exile has less to do with Eric’s questionable relationship with the truth and more with Karl being so utterly exhausted that all he wants to do is eat, sleep, fuck Eric or better even get fucked by Eric without ever really waking from his slumber, eat some more, sleep some more. All of which can be accomplished without leaving the hotel room, even if Eric now hid the room-service menu from him.

Eric seems fine with that and simply explores the hotel and its surroundings on his own, even though Karl doubts that his intensely lazy soulmate ever comes further than the hotel pool. When he returns from his ‘most excellent adventures’ as he calls them he flops down on the bed next to Karl and makes him listen to his tall tales of what he did that day.

Like save a kid in the pool from drowning because it got stuck in its blow-up doughnut and it capsized. Like getting chatted up by a group of mid-fifties ladies who promised to stuff his Speedos with dollar bills if he just followed them to their house. Like how he bought a huge water pistol, the biggest he could find, because some ten-year-old wouldn’t stop shooting him with his own and Eric needed to have his revenge. Like how he discovered this strange crossover of a bookshop/coffee shop/hairdresser that served the most awesome iced coffee but he had to flee from it before the hairdresser could talk him into getting his chest waxed – because the hairy Sean Connery memorial look is just so last season. Like how at least five people tried to chat him up while all he wanted to do is lounge by the pool and read his book and how he got irritated with guy number five who in turn told him that it was his own fault, his Speedos were so ridiculously tiny that he could just as well be completely naked.

Karl listens patiently, then either tells Eric that he is a liar or just plainly points at him and laughs, either way, they end up wrestling on the bed or on the carpet and Karl gets him out of his Speedos that are – at least that bit is true – really ridiculously tight fitting.

On the morning of the third day of their impromptu vacation Eric says that he is going to find himself a speedboat to rent and will spend the entire day pirating – harhar – and that by the end of the day he’ll have lots of booty to bring back to his cabin boy. Karl is opposed to that idea, mostly because the combination of Eric’s absolute lack of sneakiness and his too good heart would make him an awful criminal and Karl has better things to do on his vacation than bail Eric out of jail. He really digs the speedboat idea though which is how – after the two of them have raided the breakfast buffet like true pirates – Karl finally leaves the hotel and its premises for the first time.

The looks that Eric gets from a few people they pass by – some elderly women, a small boy with a giant bazooka and a lot of people with a nervous twitching around the eyes – kind of make Karl re-think his ‘Eric is a liar who tells lies’ rule. But maybe it’s just because while not wearing his Speedos but a pair of cut-off cargos, Eric has refused to wear a shirt and the Sean Connery look definitely is not last season.

 

Day 9 – Eric

Eric is not the jealous type. He knows that Karl’s not only the best thing that’s ever happened to him but for some good fortune Karl thinks the same about him. Not in a million years would either of them cheat on the other.

Doesn’t mean that Karl isn’t one hell of a flirt. Eric has stopped counting the times when Karl took him with him to some fancy investor’s dinner as his plus one and Eric got to see Karl ‘at work’, schmoozing like a pro and flirting like his life depended on it. Not only was that damn clever in a line of work where you didn’t just have to sell your product but had to advertise yourself as well, Karl was also so very smooth at it. His slow and bashful smiles (bashful! Karl! Hah!) and his dark promising looks made him so fucking sexy that Eric sometimes forgot to eat because he was so enthralled. Flirting comes to Karl as easy as breathing and nowadays Eric just laughs in his face when he tries to deny it.

On Gran Canaria they find this bar with completely tacky lampions but the best beer on tap on the island and all Eric has to do is turn his back on Karl for just one second, just to go for a piss. When he returns Karl is already deep in conversation with some blond guy who is as handsome as he is hopeful.

Eric isn’t jealous but he isn’t a particularly nice person either and while he doesn’t believe that anything or anyone could ever come between him and Karl, he also thinks that laughing into strangers’ faces and telling them hah, this one’s MINE, bitch is a fun pastime.

So he walks over and slings his arm over Karl’s shoulder, his hand coming to rest on that spot on Karl’s chest where he has the same tattoo that Eric has. Karl automatically leans into the touch, apparently doesn’t even realize it because he looks confused for the fraction of a second when the blond guy makes a hasty retreat.

What’d you do that for, he asks then, I was talking to that guy. And Eric just shrugs and grins – just ‘cause he can. Karl shakes his head – you coulda just pissed on me, that’d have been as subtle. Eric shrugs again, grin growing broader yet. Maybe he will, next time. Karl pats Eric’s stomach affectionately. Of course you will, Bana.

 

Day 12 – Karl

Eric is an artist at making bumming around look like an honorable occupation. He gets his work done – quickly, efficiently and meant to last for a century – but when he unfastens his tool belt he is done working and that’s that. Karl’s normally different, he spends the occasional night sleepless and ruminating, but on Gran Canaria he decides to model his life after Eric’s example, at least for the time they are here when there isn’t anything to do but bum around in the sun in the first place.

He drags Eric to the beach and Eric complains that the pool would’ve been perfectly fine and (more importantly) not a five minute walk away but he comes along anyway and sighs happily when he slumps down on one of the deck chairs on the beach. Karl offers to help him apply his sun-block – a completely ridiculous suggestion since Eric is deeply tanned already and doesn’t get sunburn anyway – and Eric nods vigorously and flops onto his belly before Karl can take the offer back.

He oils his hands up and starts running them over Eric’s broad shoulders; their muscles twitch under his fingers when Eric shifts so he can turn his head to look at Karl. The lazy but still smoldering look he’s giving Karl, the feeling of hard muscles under his hands and the sight of so much exposed skin, glistening with oil in the sunlight, makes Karl swallow hard.

He leans over Eric as his hands slide down his back and Eric’s eyes flick towards the never ending stream of beach guests that stroll past them only a handful of yards away as Karl starts whispering to him in a low voice. Eric’s eyes flutter shut then though and he starts purring low in his throat, a dark rumbling pleased sound that is this shy from a groan, when Karl continues oiling his back and tells him about all the things he wants to do to him, all the places he wants to lick and bite, all the ways to make Eric roar with want and need, all the ways to make him beg for things they both know Karl would never refuse him.

 

Day 14 – Eric

One thing of the many things that Eric loves about Karl is how Karl gets how important cars are, particularly Eric’s car. True, Karl might make fun of him about it occasionally, like that time when he dressed in formal funeral wear and proposed that they should give Eric’s Falcon’s old carburetor a proper burial in their backyard, like Eric was some eight-year-old with a shoebox full of dead hamster. But that’s okay because not only does that give Eric permission to make fun of Karl in return all the time, it also gets him right out of the funk that he finds himself in whenever there is something wrong with his beloved baby.

Also, Karl understands how it might be good for a laugh for a bit to drive around in a fucking blueberry but that Eric needs a proper car to drive after that. Sneaky as Karl is he first fucks Eric stupid and while afterwards Eric lies on his back, tries to catch his breath and remember his own name and soaks the sheets of their bed with afterglow sweat, Karl slips out of the room and returns with car keys in his hand.

They belong to a pitch black Mercedes SLK 300 convertible and Eric nearly has his second orgasm of the day when he puts his foot on the pedal and 170 kW answer with a loud roar.

There are just two ways to explore Gran Canaria – clockwise and counterclockwise – and they decide on the latter. Karl gives him the finger when Eric stops at the first gas station to fuel up and buys him a cheap plastic camera in the form of Nemo the clownfish, but he starts taking snapshots nonetheless. Some are from Gran Canaria’s ever changing and seriously stunning landscape but most consist of Karl slinging his arm around Eric’s neck and holding the camera in their faces while the wind is blowing into them at 90 mph. Karl tells Eric to stop with the cross-eyed-look, not because it makes Eric look like an imbecile but because it might be a good idea to keep his eyes on the road, especially considering how twisted the roads are and how fast they are going.

Eric obliges, he is a responsible driver, except for when he’s racing and even on the race track he toned it down a bit ever since that accident he had two years ago in which he totaled his Falcon. He remembers waking up in the wreck of his baby after being briefly unconscious and for two minutes he couldn’t move, wouldn’t get out of the car because he thought he couldn’t bear the look of his beloved Falcon wrapped around that tree. Two minutes, that’s how long it took for the racing officials to arrive and for Karl. And Eric remembers the look on Karl’s face as he runs towards the Falcon, his face white with fear too huge for him to hide it. That was when he climbed out of the remains of his baby, didn’t even spare the Falcon a look but just walked over to Karl on legs surprisingly shaky and hugged him, was embraced in return with the force of a scrap press.

Two weeks after that he started rebuilding his car in their garage, Karl offering completely unhelpful commentary while sitting on a work bench and drinking beer.

Eric glances at Karl now who his half hanging out of the car to get a better view of the cliff right next to their road. When he turns around to grin at Eric, broad and happy and like only Karl can, Eric stops the car in a tiny parking space nestled right at the edge of the cliff and ignores the magnificent view over the ocean in favor to kiss Karl like his life depended on it. Karl isn’t even surprised by that nor by the force of Eric’s kiss, he just grabs Eric’s head with both hands and kisses him back with equal sudden passion.

A couple of cars pass them, each of them honking in what can only be appreciation, and Karl laughs in response and Eric thinks that he couldn’t be any happier. Not even if he tried.
And the living is easy

Let’s just get something straight first: In Eric’s and Karl’s relationship – which is pretty much the perfect mixture of ‘opposites attract’ and ‘birds of a feather’ – it is Eric who wears the ‘lazy arse of the month’ badge every month. He has several novelty t-shirts to prove it, not to mention the early (well mid-morning) love making sessions when Karl tried to fuck him out of bed (once actually fucking him unconscious, which is probably the opposite of success but Eric thinks Karl was too smug to actually notice that).

So, Eric isn’t all that surprised when he wakes up to birds singing into his ear – the window is open and the tiny fellows are doing their best to greet the already too hot day by hollering their vocal cords out through their beaks – and Karl isn’t in bed with him anymore. A little disappointed he is maybe because he is sporting wood and would like Karl to do something about it, but not surprised.

First things first though. He grunts, shoves his pillow out of the bed, blindly reaches for Karl’s and sighs happily when his cheek connects with the new pillow that not only smells of Karl but is also not damp from his own drool. Small pleasures and all that. Speaking of pleasures, he dozes for another ten minutes or so until his morning hard-on gets annoying enough for him to want to do something about it. He shifts onto his back with a sigh – seriously, where is your hot boy-friend when you need him – and slides his hand into his boxer shorts.

It takes him a while, this solitary jacking-off business, because what with it being early in the morning he falls asleep again twice and there is no hysterical laughter from Karl there to wake him up again. Eventually though, he comes with the image of Karl in his mind, bent over the kitchen table and begging Eric to do him harder, and hallelujah and good morning, world!

Still panting heavily he opens his eyes properly for the first time to look at his hand that is now rather inconveniently covered in jizz but then decides that it’s not that bad. He holds his arm out so his messy hand dangles over the side of the bed, safe distance from the sheets because he’d be the one having to change them after all, and dozes for another few minutes. When the come on his hand has dried to a crust and it feels like he will need a file to get it off again, he decides that it’s probably time to get up after all.

It’s bloody hot in the room anyway and squinting at the window and the brightness invading the room proves that it’s gonna be another fricking scorching day. He rubs his eyes with his un-dirty hand while stumbling towards the bathroom and directly under the shower and that doesn’t only take care of the crust but also of the rest of sleepiness lingering in his system. The laziness temporarily makes way for hunger and he pulls on a pair of fresh boxers to find himself some food.

Usually when Karl doesn’t have to work early but flees the bed thanks to Eric sawing wood there (or so he claims) Eric is usually greeted with the smell of fresh bacon and eggs and coffee and other delicious things that make him trap Karl against the fridge and kiss him with the same hunger that his belly is performing a continuous drumroll to. Karl usually laughs and responds with the vigor that Eric knows and loves by shoving his tongue down Eric’s throat and then complains that next time Eric better swallow a gallon of mouthwash before doing this. Then they’ll have breakfast and plan the day and when Eric happens to be shirtless he might also ‘accidentally’ spill some jam on his chest so Karl can lick it off.

But today, there is no coffee smell, no bacon or anything else tasty in the air and it proves that Eric isn’t completely awake yet after all when he stands in the kitchen for a minute without knowing what to do now.

Right. Fridge.

He helps himself to half a carton of milk while he leaves the door to the fridge open because damn, it’s hot. Then he eats a banana, and a second one too, in the same fashion, and with the worst hunger taken care of he supposes he can now go and search for Karl and claim his morning snog.

With the house being unusually quiet he checks the drive first but both Karl’s Jeep as well as his bike are there and the garage door is closed, meaning that Eric’s Falcon is still sleeping her beauty sleep. He picks up the newspaper from the doormat and has a quick chat with Mrs. M from next door. He compliments her on her new hat and she – raised by parents who taught her to always return a flattering remark – says that she likes his brightly colored shorts. Eric doubts that she really appreciates the awesomeness that is pacman but it’s the thought that counts and so he invites her and her husband over for some barbie later before he closes the door and continues his search for the missing resident hunk.

Karl is still nowhere to be found, not in the living room, the theater or his office and he isn’t even in the laundry room which Eric secretly hoped because he has run out of shirts. Chewing on an apple he found he finally notices that the veranda door is ajar and that is how he finally is successful.

He steps out and even this early in the day the pavement of the veranda that he re-did last year is already warm from the sun. The swimming pool is untouched, only Eric’s bright green waterbed is swimming there all on its own, and the lawn chairs are unoccupied. The lawn sprinkler however is still doing its job by dutifully wetting the grass before it’s too hot and it gets burned.

And right in the middle of the lawn lies Karl on his belly.

Eric leans against the house’s wall, looks at him and continues eating his apple. But mind you, not even a seven course meal would be enough time for him to look his fill because Karl’s probably the most beautiful thing that’s ever happened to him, and certainly the loveliest that has ever camped out in his garden. Well, granted, usually all he finds there is Mr. Freckles, their next door neighbor’s pincher who is as ugly as he is dense; Eric and Karl have spent whole mornings watching the stupid dog trying to catch the sprinkler water.

Karl hasn’t even bothered to lay out a towel for himself which, Eric reckons, makes sense because it would be soaked now anyway. Instead he lies naked, save for a pair of Eric’s checkered boxers, on his belly directly on the grass with his head pillowed on his arms. He has his eyes closed and Eric can tell from how his shoulder muscles look all relaxed that he is napping. Every three minutes or so, the lawn sprinkler’s spray reaches him and rain droplets of artificial rain onto his naked back and the back of his thighs. As it turns away from him again it leaves his skin damp, glistening in the sun, and small rivulets of water run down over his shoulders, down his upper arms, run down his spine and pool in the small of his back, cling to the tiny hairs on the back of his thighs. The rays of the sun are already hot enough that Eric can watch them dry his skin, watch how the tiny drops of water disappear and leave nothing but warm tanned skin until the sprinkler wets it again.

Eric finishes his apple and tosses the remains in the general vicinity of the rhododendron that can always use the extra vitamins before he crosses the lawn. He kneels down next to Karl and for a moment just stops like that because he can’t decide which piece of Karl’s perfect body he wants to touch first. The sprinkler reaches both of them and the cold water on his skin feels like a thousand tiny kisses and very quietly, he hears Karl sigh with contentment. Karl shifts the littlest bit, spreading his legs a little wider as if in invitation, Eric doesn’t follow but knows which part of Karl to touch first. He bends down and kisses the lowest part of Karl’s thigh, right where it dips and turns into the back of his knee. A few drops of water still linger there and Eric licks them up, tasting water and grass and Karl, and thinking that he wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.

“Piss off, goddamnit.”

Eric raises his head, both eyebrows arched, at the grumbly sound of Karl’s voice. Karl hasn’t even opened his eyes but his brow is furrowed as if he’s trying his best to look threatening without even having to move.

“Not exactly the reaction I was going for,” Eric says.

Karl squints at him, raising his head slightly from his arms.

“Oh, it’s you. I thought it was that mutt again, it treated me like a lollipop all morning.”

Eric pulls a face and sticks his tongue out, for a moment contemplating whether rubbing it clean would get rid of all the potential dog germs. Karl watches him and Eric can see the dimples forming around his mouth, always a telltale sign for the shiteating ‘gotcha’ grin that is to follow.

“You’re not a very nice person, you know that?” Eric says. “First you abandon me in my bed, then you don’t feed me and now you take advantage of my gullibility.”

“Why am I picturing you with a walker and a 1920s hat now, grandma Bana?”

Eric slaps Karl’s arse in response and while Karl grunts and reaches for his bum to rub it, Eric flops down on the lawn next to him, his head on the same level as Karl’s thigh. The grass is damp and cool against his back and the sun is bright in his face and he can so see why Karl chose this spot for his morning nap.

“I invited Mrs. M over for a barbie later by the way, so at some point of the day you’ll need to go and buy some meat.”

“Why me?”

“Because last time I checked they required shirts in the supermarket and I’m not planning on wearing any today.”

“Because you’re too lazy to put one on or because you want to wear that ridiculous chef apron of yours?”

Eric turns his head to look up at Karl and finds the same smile on Karl’s lips that he himself is wearing.

“That apron isn’t ridiculous, I can do without singing my chest hair when grilling. Again. And besides, it’s not because of that it’s because you didn’t do any laundry and I am out of clean clothes.”

Karl groans and rests his head on his arms again.

“We need to get ourselves a house keeper.”

“I manage to do my half of the shit pretty nicely, thank you.”

“Ironing and buying beer isn’t really half of it, you know.”

“I also offer a 24 hours blow job service.”

“Well, there’s that.”

Blindly Karl reaches for Eric’s head, possibly to pat his hair in a slightly patronizing manner, but all he manages is to awkwardly slap Eric in the face. Eric catches Karl’s wrist and kisses his knuckles sloppily before pushing it away.

“So, a barbie later?” Karl asks. “Any other plans?”

“Nah, I think that’s enough excitement for one day,” Eric replies and yawns.

“Word, mate.”

Karl chuckles and Eric can feel him relaxing next to him once again, settling for another half hour of napping. Eric half shifts to his side and smiles to himself when that brings his face directly in front of Karl’s thigh. He shuffles a little closer yet, so he can nuzzle his face against the warm soft skin, kisses it once or twice before he finds the perfect position. He rests his head in the grass, his nose and cheek still pressed against Karl’s thigh, and drapes his arm over Karl’s legs before he closes his eyes. Karl hums contentedly and when he reaches down this time, his hand finds Eric’s head and he loosely weaves his fingers through Eric’s curls.

Eric dozes off before the sprinkler reaches them again.
Dead Wood

Eric had promised to take down the dead old tree in front of their house for years now. However, Eric was a lazy arse who didn’t care about anything but his car and sex (in this order). Karl, being a smart cookie and clearly the brains in this relationship, tried to withhold the latter to get Eric to finally own up to his promise and chop the bloody nuisance of dead wood down. Inconveniently that resolve lasted until Eric just took his clothes off in the middle of the kitchen. Karl’s second plan (well, less of a plan and more of a dangerous but hopefully symbolic coincidence) involved nearly getting killed by a branch that fell off the tree just when he got out off his motorbike. Instead of prompting Eric to finally get to work all this resulted in was a very wide-eyed Aussie squeezing the living daylights out of Karl, then Eric hurried to park his beloved car on the other side of the house and spent the rest of the day polishing its hood in a rather obscene manner. Good thing Karl knows Eric. For his birthday, he got him a chainsaw. Vrroom, vroom, vroooom. Problem solved.

 

 

 

 

His eyes follow the words that appear on screen, almost as fast as he’s thinking, thoughts shape themselves, worlds unfold on their own and he’s in midst it all.
– One-off AUs –

Out of here

"I have to get out of here," Karl said, casualness and definity mingling in his voice.

"Huh?" Eric grunted, caught unaware, and pushed his ridiculous straw hat out of his face. "Out of where? My place doesn´t stink that bad."

Which was not true, Eric´s place reeked of stale beer and left over pizza and most of all of sex. But that had never bothered Karl before.

"No, dummie," Karl said, predictably, "not just the apartment. The fucking island."

He waved his arm, gesturing over the low wall of the balcony. Eric´s gaze stuck to Karl´s exposed broad chest rather than to follow and look at tops of palm trees and the ever blue sky. Karl dropped his arm and hooked the thumbs of both hands into the pockets of his cut off jeans. Eric noticed with appreciation that the top button was open.

"- this fucking piece of rock drives me insane. - Are you even listening to me?"

"Uh-huh," Eric said and wanted to lick down the trail of dark hair south of Karl´s belly button. "Insane piece of rock."

Karl laughed, shook his head and pushed himself away from the white washed wall. He came to stand next to Eric´s chair and wove his fingers through Eric´s thick curls, pushing the straw hat out of the way.

"So," he asked quietly, "are you coming with me?"

Eric tilted his head back and squinted against the rays of the sun that flooded around Karl´s head.

"Dummie," he said, returning the affectionate insult. He slid his arms loosely around the other man´s legs and let his big hands rest on the back of muscular thighs. "Do you think you even have to ask?"

Karl flashed him a grin, the crazy and happy one that Eric loved best.

"Let´s steal us a boat then," Karl decided, "We´ll go sailing."

Romantic Boner

There is a reason that most people would rather have a heart attack than be in a fifty mile radius of Karl when he is drunk.

There are several reason that Eric will never be more than fifty inches away from Karl when he is drunk.

The top reason probably is that Karl turns into something of a giant slut when he is drunk and Eric enjoys that immensely. And – which is sort of tragic if you think about it – that isn’t just because Karl is utterly hilarious as soon as he is slightly inebriated, especially since alcohol (and tequila in particular) has the magic effect of turning him into a giant slut for the entire world in general but for blondes with curvy bottoms in particular. Eric sort of really appreciates having Karl sit in his lap (even when there is a perfectly good chair right there for him to use and the people in the bar find it rather odd, Karl’s impromptu and really not all that professional lapdance) and do obscene things to a shot glass right there in front of Eric’s face and then nearly spit said shot into Eric’s face because he starts laughing mid-swallow.

Also Eric has to say that watching Karl first stare at some blondes arse for half an hour, then try to chat said arse up for half a minute and be all surprised when the owner of said butt finds it a bit offensive to be reduced to aforementioned bottom and makes sure Karl knows it by throwing her drink in his face – that is kind of funny. Eric usually offers to lick the liquor from Karl’s face afterwards, to console him and because he secretly kind of likes these pink girly drinks that usually find their way into Karl’s face at some point of the evening. Only that Karl won’t let him – as if a quick shower with alcohol does wonders to sober a man up and that is the only downside of Karl’s arse staring and the chain of events that normally follows.

Because Eric really wants to lick girly drinks from Karl’s face. It is about his second favorite thing on the list of things he wants to lick from Karl’s face (the first being his own come – a realization he has come to while contemplating the beauty of Karl’s face in general and his mouth in particular during a lazy afternoon wanking session and the second the thought of his own milky come dripping from Karl’s lips popped into his head he came all over his fist (and half his sofa and since then he stopped jerking off in the living room, yes)).

But Karl, while being incredibly funny and stupidly intelligent and Eric’s best mate in the whole world (and the best mate anyone could wish for, Eric will punch everyone in the face for saying differently), Eric’s gorgeous alcohol-soaked best mate never waits for Eric to do the cleaning up for him but just wipes the remains of the pinkish girly drink off with his sleeve, and tells Eric that the blonde’s arse wasn’t all that fantastic to begin with, and relies on Eric to bring him home (which he mostly manages, not counting that one time when they got thrown out of a Laundromat because Eric, slightly tipsy himself, had mistaken it for Karl’s kitchen).

It’s a good thing that Eric a. is not easily distracted from his target, b. can hold his liquor and c. has no problems with drastic measures.

Which is precisely why it is now eleven o’clock, they are at the bar and Karl has only been staring at the arse of the evening for five minutes and hasn’t even thought about chatting it up and still already has a drink in his face.

“What the fuck?” he asks and looks at Eric, eyelashes dripping with beer and blinking at him in utter confusion. He looks down at the now-empty beer glass in Eric’s hand and then back up into his face. “Did you just -?”

“Yes,” Eric says (because there’s not really any chance he could deny this, what with the glass still in his hand and all). “I did.”

“Whyever the fuck would you do that?” Karl asks, his arms raised dramatically (even if it makes him sway the slightest bit, dramatic gestures aren’t the go to thing if you’re shitfaced, really).

“Look, Karl,” Eric starts very seriously – so seriously that he contemplates for a moment whether this would be the moment to drop to his knees now in a similarly dramatic fashion. He doesn’t but just puts his glass down purposefully. “Look Karl, I have to tell you something and you need to listen very carefully now.”

Karl doesn’t say anything, just blinks and the beer is still dripping temptingly from his lashes and from his chin and Eric really, really has to focus on his important announcement before he forgets all about it.

“I increasingly sure that am in love with you,” he says and nods several times to make sure Karl understands the importance of this.

“Okay,” Karl says slowly, nods as well, and licks beer from his lips. “Can I ask one question?”

Eric nods, very eagerly.

“Why did you spill beer over my head before telling me that?” Karl asks, licks again. “Or where those two things unrelated? I’m not always sure with you, you know.”

“Of course they were related,” Eric says, scandalized and a bit too loud maybe because some of the other patrons turn their heads to look at him.

“Okay,” Karl repeats, acceptingly, sniffs because some of the beer’s foam must’ve found its way up his nose. “I don’t get it.”

“That I love you?” Eric asks quickly, alarmed.

“No, I get that,” Karl shakes his head. “Course you do. I’m awesome and it was about time my giant romantic boner for you was reciprocated. The beer though. Mate, what the hell?”

Eric spends the two seconds after Karl has finished staring at him dopily – so this is how Juliet felt when Romeo did that romantic balcony wooing, he gets it now – before he explains the beer thing. Demonstrates, rather. Because he takes Karl’s head into his hands and swipes his tongue across Karl’s left cheek and his eye.

“I see,” Karl says, still soso close, even though he clearly doesn’t because he has his eyes closed. “You are not quite right in the head, I hope you realize that.”

“You talk to arses,” Eric counters, smacking his lips and feeling slightly drunk from the mixed taste of Karl and beer on them. “I think you should shut up.”

Karl does. Mostly because Eric kisses him then and talking with two tongues in your mouth is kind of difficult.

The joy of cabbage throwing midgets

"I really have big hands," Eric says with a sort of wonderment and awe that no thirty something year old should feel over bodyparts of his own.

"Huh?" is all Karl replies in a whisper more appropriate for the theatre even if the stupidass play they're stuck in really doesn't require any kind of propriety. He looks over to Eric who sits right next to him, wearing a suit that cost a fortune and makes him look like a fucking multimillionaire casino owner or whatever, powerful and sexy and just that bit of wicked. Eric is holding out his hand in front of his own face before he shoves it into Karl's. Karl automatically draws his head back a little because Eric's slightly sweaty, huge palm bumped against his nose.

"The fuck, Eric?" he hisses and turns his head to face the other man, even if that means leaving the hand with no concept of personal space out of his sight.

"Look at it," Eric says, "It's really, really large. I bet if I try I can -" his voice trails off but Karl gets the idea anyway because the same moment Eric's fucking huge palm presses against his cheek and his fingers curl against Karl's skull. And really, normally when Eric's hand does that Karl is much more naked and much more on his knees and decidedly not in a public place (well, except for this one time but there was whiskey involved and Eric's Speedos...). So, alright, his cock might twitch a little but he still grumbles at Eric. That earns him an irritated look over the shoulder look from the bloke in front of him. Karl can't exactly see him because of Eric's hand, but he hears the disapproving pretentious hiss of cultural etiquette and Eric's answering caveman growl. The 'I can manhandle my man any place I want to' caveman wins that one and Karl's cock for one is all for that.

"Stop pawing me and pay attention to the fucking play," Karl huffs and tries to squirm away from Eric's hand of doom.

"I'm just saying," Eric replies, hushed now but with the slightly hurtful look of a boy who really doesn't get why his mom doesn't approve of the dead bug he just found. Then he pulls his paw away from Karl's face and his fingers wriggle somewhat sadly for one last time before he drops his hand into his lap.

Karl is still facing him and at first he just keeps on staring because he's sure that it'll take just one second until Eric starts to do stupid things with his extremities again. But Eric has lifted his gaze and tries to follow the play, really tries, with the sincerety of a very eager even if totally clueless 6'2'' puppydog.

The play really is a fucking bore, Karl agrees. Seriously, why is it that these modern experimental plays always seem to require a naked, growth restricted ensemble throwing cabbage while clog dancing or whatever? Karl figures that staring at Eric's open palm really would be more entertaining and educative both.

He looks down at his lover's hands, neatly folded in his lap, ridiculously long fingers resting against one another, almost still except for the one that absentmindedly strokes over the smooth silver ring on his right index. Karl shifts in his seat so that their knees bump together and when Eric looks at him again, that ever friendly, slightly crooked smile purses his lips. He leans into the touch all too willingly when Karl cups his chin and runs his thumb over its dimple.

"So, big hands, yeah?" Karl whispers almost conspiratorially. "What was it again they say about blokes with large hands...?"

"Lotta things," Eric all but purrs back and Karl feels his hand heavy on his tigh. "They're really good for clapping at the end of this, for one. I clap with the best of them."

"You don't even know what the fucking play is about," Karl says affectionately and brushes his thumb over Eric's lower lip, "No clapping can make up for the crappy audience you make."

"Huh," Eric hums, not really denying it, and tries to catch Karl's thumb with his teeth while at the same time his huge, warm and fucking sneaky hand disappears between Karl's legs. "That's just cause I don't get a proper show, is all."

Of course it takes Karl's mind about 0.2 seconds to connect the dots in that mental picture and he sees himself jerking off under Eric's thunderous applause. He tries to swallow the snicker but doesn't really manage to, which earns him another pissed off, even if slightly intimidateed hiss from up front and a turned on throaty purr from his lover. Eric's hand has reached his crotch now, seemingly rather happy with its current location.

And really? Vegetable throwing, dancing nude midgets become much more tolerable when you have your lover's hugeass hand wrapped around your cock under your coat. Seriously, Karl is rather enthusiastic about the whole experimental theatre thing.

But the feeling’s gone

Eric didn’t do melancholy very well. He usually got around it quite successfully by either being happy or depressed properly, no mixing of the two for him, thanks. Only sometimes…

The song caught him off guard. Maybe it was because its melody was peaceful, even if a bit quiet and slow. Maybe it was because the singer’s voice didn’t overdo it. Anything that screamed melancholy in bold letters from a big cardboard sign Eric avoided for fear of getting bashed over the head with it. But the singer had weaved the melancholy in very carefully, so that Eric didn’t even notice he was being drawn in, captured and wrapped in it before it was too late. He hadn’t even listened to the lyrics and yet somehow they snuck up on him. As the pictures unfolded they made him so unbelievably inappropriately sad and still crave more.

A hand touched his elbow, stroked up his upper arm in a gesture both habitual and affectionate and Karl stepped up beside him.

“Swordfish? Kind of an odd choice for a bbq, mate.”

“Huh?” Eric made, not completely shaken out of the fictional story, not even noticing the huge frozen fish in his right hand. “I wouldn’t read that book again either, Karl,” he blurted out and shook his head sadly.

Karl took the swordfish from him and put it back into the huge freezer, and he didn’t let go of Eric’s hand that was cold from the ice. Rubbing it like a father would do it after a snowball fight with his kid he looked at the taller man questioningly.

“What book?”

“The one where the hero fails and the ending’s not happy and the wishing well and the movie queen,” Eric babbled, mixing metaphors and stanzas. Only belatedly he judged from Karl’s baffled expression that the other man had no idea what he was talking about.

“The song,” he said accusingly and maybe with a little whine even.

“What song?” Karl asked in confusion.

Eric gestured vaguely at the ceiling where he supposed the loudspeakers were hidden. “The one they’re playing.”

“Eric,” Karl said patiently, “are you telling me you get worked up over a song they play in the frozen foods section of the supermarket?”

Eric blushed a bit and looked at his feet but didn’t draw his hand back out of Karl’s hold.

“Maybe,” he said a little sheepishly.

“A Gordon Lightfoot song?” Karl added, a smile turning his accent thicker.

“Fuck off,” Eric said and attempted to pout, using his free hand to cuff Karl’s shoulder. “It’s a sneaky bastard song and they don’t even know why they’re not in love anymore.”

“That’s real horrible, doll,” Karl said, ignoring the cuff and trying hard to bite back laughter and not really succeeding.

“I hate you,” Eric stated and withdrew his hand, “I think I’ll kill you with my swordfish.”

“Nah, you won’t,” Karl said with confidence. He picked a huge bag of fries out of the freezer that he had sent Eric out to fetch before his trip to sentimentality. “Cause then I’d be dead and couldn’t tell you that I always know why I’m in love with you.”

“Who’s being sentimental now,” Eric grumbled, hiding a smile, and piled corn combs and frozen pies onto the pack already in Karl’s arms, stroking his thumb over the back of Karl’s hand afterwards.

Hit by lightning

You know I’m gonna write songs about this night“, Orlando announces and steals the bottle right from Mark’s hand.

“You write songs about every fucking thing,” Mark says, unimpressed and much more invested in the part of their current encounter in which he tries to retrieve his alcohol. “Last week you wrote one about the bliss of taking a dump, you nutjob.”

“Did I?” Orlando asks, honestly surprised, his face scrunched up in a frown and he doesn’t pay attention anymore so Mark can grab his whiskey bottle and flop back onto the couch. 

“You were stoned out of your skull. And we all had to suffer under it.”

“Sort of like when you manage to score a redhead and think we ALL need to hear about it in detail?” Orlando asks back and falls onto the couch next to Mark. He puts his feet up on the small table – coffee table isn’t really the right expression for it Mark supposes since he seriously doubts that anyone ever drinks coffee in the chill room of the backstage area.

“If you didn’t want to hear it then why do you keep asking?” Mark answers belatedly.

“Need to know whether they are worth the effort, don’t I?” replies Orlando with a shrug. After a moment of severe contemplation he asks, “Say, that song about taking a shit, was it deep?”

“I cried,” offers Jensen completely serious from where he’s slouched in an armchair, some brunette on his lap.

“That’s because you’re a weird psycho,” says Mark, “who can cry on demand. Dude, something is wrong with your tear ducts, I keep telling you. Probably a brain tumor.”

“Would explain certain things,” agrees Orlando, smiles brightly at one of the stage hands passing by and charming the glass of beer from his hands. “I always thought Jen was a psycho, he seems the type.”

“Type for what?”

Karl appears out of nowhere next to Mark (which is seriously creepy and he needs to stop doing that), hands in the pockets of his frayed jeans and a mildly curious look on his face.

“For being a serial killer,” explains Jensen with his regular deadpan face. The girl in his lap giggles and what is it with the groupies in this town, Mark asks himself. Yeah, Jensen is sort of good looking and the band he plays bass in is phenomenally successful and shit, but girls need to stop finding psycho dudes sexy if they don’t want to end up dead in a ditch.

“We were just talking about you, man,” Orlando shouts – someone has just turned up the music another few notches – and smiles his most shiteating grin.

“Is that so?” asks Karl and gestures for Mark to pass him the whiskey who only reluctantly lets go of the bottle.

“You smell of sex”, Mark says and it sort of pains him that there is a disapproving note in his voice.

“What?” asks Karl and shakes his head, pointing at the loud speakers, indicating that he didn’t hear him.

“He said”, shouts Orlando, “that you smell sexy!”

“No, I did not!” Mark protests and punches a laughing Orlando’s shoulder. “Cunt.”

The brunette in Jensen’s lap whispers something into his ear and Jen’s lips twitch before he answers loud enough for them all to hear, “Yeah, he does look well fucked.”

“I don’t want to hear about this,” announces Mark and grabs his bottle back from Karl, eyeing Karl’s crotch suspiciously as if it could tell him whether or not he has to be afraid of tmi now. (He should know better because what with Karl’s insistence to not fuck-and-tell (Orlando is convinced he writes a diary about his few and virginal encounters instead and locks it up in a secret place in their tour bus) and what Jensen has falsely dubbed ‘Mark’s latent homophobia’, they hardly ever hear any stories about any of Karl’s road encounters. Anyway.)

“Well, I do,” contradicts Orlando cheerfully and looks up expectantly at Karl. “Hey, I was just telling the guys that I was gonna write a song about this.”

“No, you’re not,” says Mark.

“Oh, I so am,” laughs Orlando, now even more determined.

“Don’t say you didn’t see that coming,” points out Jensen from somewhere in his brunette’s rack.

“Dude, you’re not,” says Mark in his serious!voice, his I-am-the-frontman-and-you-are-gonna-do-as-I-say voice of command. 

As per usual, this voice does not have the desired effect, in fact Orlando shifts on the sofa and fishes around in the pockets of his slightly too tight leather pants, producing several of his steel picks, condoms, coins and his ever present rumpled notepad with a pencil stub.

“I’ll start right away,” he announces, scribbles down something and then looks at Mark as if searching for assistance. “Say, Mark, you know any word that rhymes with ‘rock’ – no wait, I got it! C – O – C –K.”

“You’re a shithead, Orlando.”

Ignoring him, Orlando taps the stub against his chin.

“Now, what rhymes with ‘I just got sucked off by one of our roadies again, and I liked it’…?”

“I’m not singing that,” says Mark.

“Karl”, provides Jensen.

“Sorry?” Karl frowns.

“It rhymes with ‘Karl’”, repeats Jensen. “At least from what Orlando’s been telling me.”

“Are you all high?” Karl wants to know, looking back and forth between all of them. Then, a moment later his post-orgasmic-haze brain apparently connects the dots and with narrowed eyes he looks at Orlando. “Have you been stalking me? Again?”

“What?” Orlando looks up from his notepad, an expression of pure innocence on his face. “I’m merely concerned for your safety, man. Making sure that you don’t get dragged into any dark alleys and raped by groupies.”

“Yeah,” Mark says deadpan and looks up at Karl’s huge frame, “because that’s a real danger with Karl.”

“He is sort of gullible,” says Jensen but pulls his brunette in the line of sight to not fall victim to Karl’s glare of doom.

“I wish you wouldn’t do that,” Karl says with a sigh and finally sits down next to Mark on the huge sofa.

“Don’t know what your problem is,” replies Orlando without looking up from his pad. “Mark and I fuck in the same room all the time, hell, we share all the fucking time.”

“You seriously want me to share my hookups with you?”

“No!” shouts Mark instantly, scandalized, and shakes his head vehemently. “Now give me back my whiskey, damnit!”

Orlando on the other hand just shrugs and gnaws on his pencil stub.

“I don’t really bat for that team but judging from what I saw earlier – and repeatedly this past week, yeah – , you do have good taste.”

“Jen, will you please trade places with me?” asks Mark, feeling uncomfortably trapped between Orlando and Karl in gay-hookup-land.

“Fuck off,” laughs Jensen like the horrible friend that he is. “Just suck it up.”

“Yeah,” Orlando says with a leer. “Like Karl’s roadie did.”

“I am going to throttle you,” Mark promises.

“He’s not ‘my’ roadie,” Karl corrects.

“Ooh, do I detect a tad of sadness that the possessive pronoun is not suitable?” asks Orlando with eyebrows raised in amusement. While Mark privately contemplates that Orlando, especially given how wasted he already is, should not throw big grammar words around or he might hurt someone, Karl just looks at Orlando pointedly. 

Mark glances back and forth between his drummer and his lead guitarist and frowns when Orlando’s face loses the mocking smirk and instead he just tilts his head and looks at Karl with serious interest.

“Hm,” Orlando hums, a quiet sound in the middle of the racket that is their after-show party and way uncharacteristical for him, too. Mark’s frown reaches the deepness of crevasses but neither of the two elaborates. Instead, Orlando just stuffs his notepad back into the pocket of his pants and Karl leans back on the sofa, sipping from the beer he stole from somewhere.

“What?” asks Mark. 

He looks at Jensen for help but the bassist is too busy adjusting the brunette on his lap and – is he snickering?! 

“What the fuck is going on here?”

Orlando pats Mark’s thigh and then uses it to push himself up from the sofa.

“C’mon, Wahlberg, let’s see if we can find us some twins”, he announces and offers him a hand to pull him up. He pats Mark’s shoulder as they squeeze past the coffee table but turns his head around to Karl once more.

“And you, man, you should find him and tell him, you fuckwit,” Orlando remarks, but kindly. And to Mark he says with sort of the benevolent version of his mocking smile, “Seriously, he couldn’t behave any gayer even if he tried.”

“I’m pretty certain that was offensive,” Mark says slowly but then his eyes catch sight of two of the most perfect breasts in the history of breasts and he instantly forgets about this whole big gay crush thing. Thank the Lord for tits.

Thunderstruck

Harry was laughing so hard, he had to sit down on the floor and lean against the bathroom door for support. From behind that the godawful racket, that Karl called singing, echoed into the hallway. The shower stopped, as did Karl but not Harry’s laughter. A loud indignant thumping noise (fist against wooden door) made him stifle his giggles. 

“What now?” Karl bellowed from the inside and Harry pictured him as he was right now – scowling and grinning both, oh yeah, and naked. 

“Nothing”, Harry replied and swayed a bit as the bathroom door was yanked open. He looked up at Karl (naked indeed, and frowning down at him, and fucking gorgeous). “Just considering that your band sells millions of records – ,” he said, laughing again. “That singing voice of yours? Christ, I think my ears are bleeding.”

“I’m the fucking drummer, man.” Karl growled and slapped Harry over the head with his wet towel. 

***

„You’re totally ruining our quota, my friend!” Mark complained with a smirk and lightly hit Karl on the shoulder, adrenaline high from the gig and the prospect of busty blondes looming behind the backstage door. And he had a point. It did lower the stats quite significantly when one forth of your band didn’t do their share of women conquering because they were too wrapped up in fucking one of their roadies. And exclusively so.

“You jealous again?” Karl asked, rumbling challenge in his voice, but he raised his bottle of water in an amiable toast.

The front man looked uncharacteristically wistful for a moment, then shrugged. “Just saying. Pass me that bottle!”

***

Karl’s drumsticks tapped a quiet rhythm against the already partially uncovered steel construction, his long legs dangling from the edge of the stage. Harry stopped dead in his tracks because –

Frayed jeans and a t-shirt, or leather and khol.

A smile flashing in his direction as he patiently waited for Harry to finish, or bared teeth, and sweat soaking long hair and running down exposed skin in rivulets.

This quiet performance for one (like the first thick raindrops drumming onto the roof of your car), or the full on three hour thunderstorm for thousands of voyeuristic eyes.

- because any of it, all of Karl, left Harry thunderstruck. 

The symbolism of the huge spotlight, currently cradled in his arms and pointing in his lover’s direction, wasn’t entirely lost to him.

Attention

Something always held Viggo’s undivided attention. One week it was bird watching, the next it was expressionistic art and the week after that Viggo bought ten different kinds of breakfast cereals, trying to figure out if there was a connection between flavour and featured gimmick. Nobody really found it surprising that eventually Viggo was drawn to Sean. It seemed only logical, natural, because Sean was fun and danger and sincerity and sex, was like poetry come to life, just the person that would attract Viggo’s interest. It really wasn’t surprising at all that in the second month of filming Viggo’s world suddenly started revolving around Sean.

What was surprising though, was that this time, the interest wasn’t temporary. Viggo didn’t even seem to notice that this time it wasn’t a week’s span passing but ten years, twenty. There were still days in which Sean looked up from whatever he was doing and found Viggo standing in the middle of the room, holding a forgotten coffee cup. And Viggo would stare at him with almost reverential fascination, as if even after all these years Sean was still a treasured mystery and his love for the other man held all his attention.

 

Definition

What he does, every day, is this: He takes a deep breath, his shoulders straightening as he does so, lungs filling with air. Then his hands find the familiar plain of his keyboard, his fingerprints rest lightly on the smallest fragments of consciousness, letters that wait patiently to be assembled into mindfulness. His eyes follow the words that appear on screen, almost as fast as he’s thinking, thoughts shape themselves, worlds unfold on their own and he’s in midst it all. The sound of unspoken anaphors and alliterations curls soft in his ears as he hears nothing else, sees nothing else but things that don’t really exist. He’s god and it’s not blasphemy, he’s slave without limitations.

He closes his eyes, something warm against his skin, sunshine sneaking in between the shades. He listens to his own breathing that might just as well have stopped during the day, he isn’t sure. When he looks up the sunrise has changed into dusk and who is to decide who did it – if he doesn’t live the day, has it really happened? Slowly he gets up but still feels a little dizzy, his brain stutters at the unexpected task of moving something else but thoughts.

The first touch startles him, but some part of him is dimly aware that it always does. He knows he’s lying in bed, knows how he got here, but still can’t feel the mattress, the sheets, the weight of his own body. The hand is warm and heavy on his stomach, it glides up his chest, fingers trace his collar bone and he consists of that; belly, chest, collarbone, cock – an unfinished torso until the gentle caress continues to explore him, to discover him, to recreate him. Lips against his and they are moist, as are his own, nose against his and it’s cold, as is his own.

He surrounds himself with words all day. Unrelenting children crowding around his knees, kings touching his shoulder with a blunt sword or striking him down with it. Joy, despair, pain, hope, he dissects them, strips them of their abstractness until one can feel, can taste them. It’s what he does. It’s who he is, who he would be – taxidermist, puppet master - if it weren’t for that hand, for that mouth, for that body. That weights him down, that presses against him, sweat and saliva and semen. He could dissect that as well, could interpret the cock breaching his guardian muscle, could find words to embellish the imperfect teeth in his pectoralis.

What he does, every evening, every night, always, is this: He buries his fingers in soft hair, he laps nicotin stained lips, he digs his heels into strained thighs between his own. He is the one that breaks the silence with groans, he is the one that spills hot tears and drops of precome, he is the one that sucks in air harshly when the last brutal thrust is followed by heat, slickness, shudders, first his lover’s then his own.

This is who he is.

Ahab

He takes refugee here, when there’s a hurricane threatening to bring chaos to his world. His world is one of words of course and these days so often some force is wreaking havoc in his mind, leaving him confused and soaked with something that he can’t put into words.

Shelter is what the pub provides and he, having stumbled in here one evening when there was a little bit of rain and a lot of wind outside, he appreciates that. The old wood paneling on the walls soundproof this place against the world outside, against the change and the bustle and everything that Viggo happens to get so lost in every day. The people in here are friendly, just the kind of friendliness that he needs – they smile at him, recognize him from around, but they don’t talk to him. They hardly ever talk to one another either, just seem content to sit here and drink their ale and be for a while.

He would envy them that if there was such a thing as envy in this place. As it is, he leaves that at the door, together with all the unwritten words that he should have brought to paper today and didn’t. Together with his damp raincoat he hangs all of this, all of what he doesn’t like about his life on this particular day, on the crooked hook by the door. There’s always a woolen hat hanging there, grey and brown and showing faults in the knitting pattern. He doesn’t know whether its owner is just always there before him or whether he just left it there one day, forgot about it, never came back for it.

The bar man’s name is Sean. Viggo’s seen him around, too, he plays in the pub’s footie team. Sean nods a greeting when Viggo comes in and he smiled when he bumped into him at the grocery store, told him to buy some of the apples because they were delicious. 

Viggo wants to write about him, about this, but he doesn’t. 

Doesn’t mean that these little things that Sean does, that evoke big things inside Viggo’s head, bigger ones inside his heart, that these little things aren’t the reason for the hurricane. A butterfly’s wings. He can’t think straight, can’t write and doesn’t care. He feels sick from being tossed around inside his own mind and doesn’t even try to look for something to hold on to. 

Because it’s okay every time he walks into the pub and sees Sean sitting at one of the old men’s tables, randomly helping one of them cheat the others at cards. It’s okay when he sees Sean lightly pat a young guy’s arm in passing, lick his fingertips after putting down a plate of greasy chips in front of two teenagers before he lights the candle stump on their table.

Eventually, Sean will come over to where Viggo has found a quiet spot to sit. He’ll pull a chair up as he puts down Viggo’s ale, careful to not spill any on the papers laid out on the table. This is the only place where white unmarked paper isn’t a silent reproach. Sean will mumble something, and Viggo will smile and respond. They’ll converse and it won’t matter what’s being said, the words don’t matter because the sentiment is clear. Sean’s smiles will vary from a small bashful one to a broad grin, and he will look at Viggo in a way that Viggo understands. Feels with equally intense quiet force. 

When he writes he pursues words like Ahab did his whale. It’s painful most of the time, strenuous always, satisfying occasionally. 

With Sean, none of this is necessary, none of this is relevant. 

It shouldn’t make sense that he is the cause of the tempest and the port in the storm. It really shouldn’t.

Saved by a flying man in a loincloth

If you asked Viggo, he’d tell you that life outside was one big jungle. But mind you, he’d say it with a smile on his face – not just any smile but that slightly mad one that simultaneously makes Sean half-hard and check his seat-belt for safety – and of course Viggo would find the jungle metaphor intensely true and exciting (like everything in his life). Sean is pretty certain that Viggo, if prompted, would also go on and on gorging himself on that metaphor and making himself the Tarzan in the modern jungle, if only so he can run around half-naked in the streets of New York to show everyone his hairy chest and to call Sean his whatshername, the bird who Tarzan saves all the time.

Sean is not sure why it is that Viggo, in his randomly prompted day dreams, always ends up making Sean the damsel in distress to his strapping hero. It’s not like Sean particularly looks all that much like a damsel – if anything it’s Viggo with that youthful twinkle in his eyes and his soft smile who could pass as a woman if he chose to dress up like one (again). Sean is pretty much the stereotype of ‘bloke’, and he’s not even trying all that hard. It’s just that when they are invited to parties, it’s always Sean who ends up enthusiastically discussing football (and ‘enthusiastically’ includes the odd brawl) and thongs whereas Viggo, at the same party only a couple of feet away, has intensely deep discussions about Mr. Darcy and, curiously, about shoes even though or maybe because he hardly ever wears any.

If you look at what they do for a living, it’s not like Sean is the one working in the almost all-female field of kindergartening. Sean does proper gardening as he likes to point out (and it makes Viggo cackle every time and say that Sean’s play on words is legendary and he should write poetry). Cutting back trees and hauling around sacks of mulch is pretty manly work, at least manlier than trying to dig crayons out of the noses of four year olds.

Not that Viggo doesn’t excel at that kind of work – their house is full of framed artwork done with said crayons given to him every day. Some mornings Sean comes down for breakfast and catches Viggo standing in their living room still in his pyjamas and looking at the gallery that has grown there over the years. There is so much quiet joy and happiness on his face when he looks at one particular drawing that shows their house and in front of it them holding hands. In that picture Sean holds a crooked sunflower and has a beard that makes him look like the strawberry blond version of Santa Claus, and when Viggo hears him and turns around to him he always comments on it, strokes Sean’s jaw tenderly before he leans their foreheads together and slides his arms around Sean’s waist.

So yeah, anyway, Viggo’s kids give him presents regularly and adore the ground he walks on, so much that Sean is pretty sure that Viggo could start his own cult in no time, if he set his mind to it, and easily instantly had a string of forty followers. Viggo agrees with him there but says that it’s pretty hard aiming for world domination when your army consists of under six year olds, and if he can’t be ruler of the world, then why even bother. Privately, Sean thinks this pretty hilarious because no one is less suited for war and dictatorship than Viggo who is both too gentle and too muddleheaded to ever succeed at tyranny.

At least that is something they have in common – the muddleheadedness, not the gentleness because Sean is a bit of a klutz when it comes to emotions and kindness and romance and things like that, but he does have a tendency to get lost in his own thoughts sometimes. If Viggo is known for his crazy and random ideas then Sean is for his tendency to stray in his own mind.

Which is why this whole idea of the world out there as one big jungle makes him kind of uncomfortable. Sure, he likes being outdoors and there’s hardly anything more lovely than spending a lazy summer’s day in his garden, tending to his flowers and trees and watching the grass grow, so to speak. But of course that’s all domesticated things, and Sean might like the occasional brawl and has turned pub-crawls into an Olympic discipline, but he likes his life ordinary and well-arranged. Viggo sometimes calls him a control-freak – usually when Sean makes him clean up after himself and insists that it may be okay for his kindergarteners to leave their socks lying all over the place, but Viggo is fifty, not five, so the same rules don’t apply to him – and Sean supposes that he is indeed a bit of a be-in-command fanatic. It’s not just that he prefers it like that in bed, he likes to have control over his life in general and if he hasn’t, he gets scared that he might get lost. He wouldn’t do well in the jungle, real or metaphorical.

It’s something that intensely fascinates him about Viggo. It’s not envy because Sean loves him too much to ever be jealous of anything that Viggo has or does with the easiest matter-of-factness that would cost Sean a lifetime of effort. Viggo faces each challenge in his life, each set back (and there have been a few, the kindergartening career certainly wasn’t what he had imagined when they finished school) with the same early morning well-rested confidence – just stretch your muscles once and smile broadly, and your day will smile back. Sean is definitely not a morning person (again both literally as well as metaphorically), is more the ‘grumbling and hiding in his kitchen behind a huge pot of coffee until the sun is fully up’ kind of bloke. And there’s no convenient hiding place like that in the jungle, is there?

So, come to think of it, Sean – despite his beard and his sometimes too quick fists and the fact that he’s the one topping – might be the damsel in distress after all. Because life outside his house, his gardening centre, his tight circle of friends is the great outdoors, is the jungle. There, it’s so easy to get lost or to never get anywhere, to forget where you wanted to go in the first place.

There was a time in his life when he sort of felt just like that, utterly alone in the middle of nowhere, sitting in the rain and feeling sorry for himself.

Enter Viggo, who of course had to come in in style. It wasn’t dangling from a liana and hollering Tarzan’s trademark cry but it was close enough anyway; at a party in, what, 1977, Viggo did this eye-opening impersonation of Bowie and made Sean cry with laughter and fall so hard for him that it felt like he had actual bruises from it afterwards. Viggo was right there in front of him, grinned at him crookedly and scratched his chest like he still does it when he’s somewhat torn between that sweet coyness and shameless flirting. Sean didn’t hesitate for one second. He asked him out then and there, no uncertainty but utter sureness, just like when he proposed to him a couple of years later. He just grabbed Viggo’s hand and told him that they were gonna get hitched and that was that. He has been holding on him ever since that first moment. Because he may be a lot of things, but he isn’t stupid.

If you find meaning in your life, you hold on to it. You do it tightly and never let go again, not under any circumstances.

“You know I’m pretty okay with that,” Viggo says contemplatively, and Sean hears him scratching his chest.

It’s a good ten minutes after Sean has told him about his jungle theory in a moment of pre-coffee foolish affection. In the meantime, Sean has sort of fallen asleep again next to him and only opens his eyes when he feels Viggo’s hand on his chest.

“Okay with what?” he asks back, yawns lazily and rubs his beard, then shifts to his side, propping his head on his hand. “Me sticking to you like a beggar’s button?”

“How about I start calling you that?” Viggo suggests and in turn flops back onto his back, looking up at Sean expectantly. “My little button?”

“How about you don’t?”

“Fine, fine, I’ll stick to ‘Jane’ then, though that is a bit plain and boring, compared to my Tarzan.”

Viggo shrugs easily, and Sean can feel the motion, he’s lying that close to him. Viggo reaches up and brushes a strand of hair back behind Sean’s ear, his fingers pressing lightly against Sean’s jugular vein afterwards.

“There’s always a place for you in the tree house, beautiful. After all, you’re my pretty jungle bimbo, and I love you. Always have, always will.”

Sean rolls on top of him, his legs between Viggo’s, and he easily pins Viggo’s hands down on the pillow on either side of his head.

“Your jungle bimbo, huh?” he growls.

Viggo nods simply, not at all intimidated, but Sean can feel him growing hard against his naked thigh.

“I think we should adopt a cheetah, button,” Viggo says conversationally as he twists his wrists in Sean’s grip, testing it.

“We’re not gonna get any other pets that I’ll end up having to take out for walkies,” Sean decides. Viggo switches to bedroom eyes. Sean tenderly kisses his forehead, rubs their noses together but insists with a low voice, “That’s not gonna work, Tarzan. Nor will your sexy hairy chest or your hollering five minutes from now.”

He rocks against Viggo, making his point, and Viggo laughs, carefree and self-assured, and leans up to kiss him. So sure and tender and right like everything he does. Sean knows he’d give in to anything that Viggo wishes for in an instant, even something as demented as a cheetah. He knows that in turn Viggo will always be there to guide him through the jungle or keep him company in their tree house.

 

 

 

Nightclub – Remember October 14th

Eric had always thought it a bit of a waste that the sun started shining in the morning. Not that he didn’t like sunlight, he did and very much so, but exactly because of that he found that the sun should better shine at night because that was when he was up. Running his nightclub. Stupid sun.

Something about this reasoning struck Eric as not 100% logical – would it still be night when the sun shone? Would TROY be a dayclub then? What the fuck was a dayclub supposed to be? – and he frowned deeply until he was awake enough to realise that he was still mostly asleep. No good state of mind to start questioning the order of the universe, really.

He opened his eyes and stared at the white ceiling of the bedroom, sunlight reflecting from the light surface. He turned to his side, facing his sleeping lover. A ray of sunlight found its way onto Orlando’s features. Eric propped himself onto his elbow and watched how the younger man wrinkled his nose like a kitten teased by a fly before he turned his head and buried his face in his pillow.

Dark brown locks fell over his neck and his cheeks and Eric reached out to let one of them curl around his index finger. The soft hairs wound themselves around it and tickled his skin, bounced when he left them alone to trace the shell of Orlando’s ear. Again, his lover stirred in his sleep but this time he leaned into the caress, his subconsciousness deciding that whereas sunlight in the morning was a pest, Eric’s touch was always welcome.

Eric’s finger drifted until it reached the spot of sensitive skin right under Orlando’s ear and the older man watched a lazy smile appear on the beautiful face on the pillow when he started drawing tiny circles onto the soft skin. Orlando nodded in his sleep and exhaled with a low purr. The other fingers of Eric’s hand joined the first and tapped lightly on Orlando’s skin, imitating the touch of raindrops as they trickled down his slender neck and his shoulder before drawing idle patterns onto the broad shoulder blade. Eric wrote his name in invisible letters. He decorated it with idle flourish that expired in a curved line, tickling Orlando as it ended in his armpit. The younger man shifted, the corners of his mouth turned upwards, seemingly undecided whether to draw back or to enjoy the strange sensation.

“Knew you were ticklish.”

Eric’s voice bore the deep satisfaction of a scientist having made an important finding and he curled his finger again so that Orlando giggled in his sleep and turned onto his side, his back towards his lover. Shifting to get closer, Eric let his hand rest on Orlando’s side, the firm but gentle touch not intended to cause discomfort any longer, and kissed his lover’s shoulder.

When Orlando jerked a little, overly sensitive at the moment, Eric grinned and murmured, “No use in denying it any longer, is there?” His lips kissed a path up Orlando’s neck to a curl covered ear. “Pity, though, hm? You tried so hard to prove me wrong on Hawaii.”

Eric’s last word elicited a low hum from Orlando and a voice, roughened from sleep, repeated quietly, “Hawaiiiiii.”

“Yeah, Hawaii.”

Eric nibbled on Orlando’s earlobe while his hand drifted south, over Orlando’s sharply outlined hipbone down to his thigh.

“Remember that time on the beach? When you did _this_?”

His fingertips lightly touched Orlando’s knee bend and pressed down, causing Orlando to jerk again and chuckle and grunt at the same time.

“Tickles, doesn’t it? And you told me I couldn’t harm you ‘cause you were immune. Liar.”

Before Eric could go on with his teasing torture Orlando contradicted him sleepily, “Great pretender, more like.”

Then he snuggled closer and Eric felt his shoulder muscles flexing against his chest as Orlando made himself comfortable again.

“All right, you genius, but time for pretending is over now.”

“Bugger.”

Eric chuckled and pulled Orlando closer by encircling his waist with his arm. After cursing so wholeheartedly, the young man hummed happily the next moment and seemed to drift back to sleep instantly. Eric leaned down and kissed his lover’s shoulder again, sucking lightly on perfect skin and constantly kept Orlando on the edge of wakefulness.

“Hawaii was nice, though, yeah?”, Orlando murmured finally and Eric took this statement as what it was supposed to be, a request to go on talking.

“No, I wouldn’t say ‘nice’ covers it.”

Eric pressed his flat palm over Orlando’s heart, heard the steady beating resonating in his body.

“Remember what the sun felt like? I could taste its warmth when I kissed your skin.”

Gentle lips mapped Orlando for the nth’s time, tasting summer, sweetness and sweat, sucking soft skin that covered lean muscles. Keeping his eyes closed Orlando turned onto his back and blindly reached out to bury his hand in Eric’s hair.

The older man let himself be pulled down and resumed his ministrations, licking Orlando’s collar bone, while he whispered, “Remember when we were on the beach and you said you could lick away all drops of water before they dried?”

Orlando hummed his affirmation and moistened his lips in the memory, arching his back lazily when Eric’s tongue lapped at his skin, cleaning it of imagined liquid marks of the ocean.

“Remember when you did _this_?”

Eric closed his teeth over one of his lover’s nipples and bit down lightly, hearing Orlando hiss at the tiny jolt of pain and yet he tightened his grip in Eric’s hair. Eric smiled against the peak, “Kinky, love. Maybe you should get a piercing…”

Orlando grunted noncommittally, either indecisive regarding Eric’s suggestion or too distracted by Eric’s tongue to think about it, the older man couldn’t be sure. He repeated the teasing gesture with the other nipple, that was already hard and waiting when he gave it a first experimental lick.

Only when Orlando’s soft purr turned into a pitiful whine and his wriggling got too much, Eric stopped teasing him and kissed his way up his lover’s body again, slipping between willingly spread legs. Instantly, Orlando arched upwards and rubbed his groin against Eric’s.

“Wanna know two things I love about you?”

Eric sucked hard on Orlando’s neck, leaving a dark bruise and his lover groaning helplessly.

“One: You sleep naked.”

Orlando nodded and grunted disapprovingly, his left hand tugging at the rim of Eric’s silken pyjama pants.

“Two,” Eric went on unaffected, traced the rim of his love bite with his tongue and slipped his hand between their bodies, “You’re _really_ responsive.”

“Fuck, yeah!”

Orlando’s shout of agreement was backed by his body’s instincts. He thrust into Eric’s fist that had closed around his erection. Eric squeezed and rubbed his bearded cheek against Orlando’s smoothly shaven one, encouraging him to repeat the instinctive motion.

“You like that? A firm touch instead of endless teasing?”

Eric’s mouth was right next or Orlando’s ear and he could feel the younger man’s enthusiastic nod rather than see it.

“Don’t know whether you deserve it, though,” Eric slowed down his fist’s motion and ignored Orlando’s whispered pleas, reasoning on, “since you tortured me for hours back on Hawaii. When you bit me and scratched me,” Eric’s voice got lower, smooth like velvet, “licked me and sucked me but didn’t let me come. Even though I begged.”

Orlando changed his chanting from ‘please, please’ to ‘sorry, sorry’ and tried desperately to keep Eric as close as possible by wrapping his legs around the older man’s waist.

“Uh-uh,” Eric shook his head and let go of Orlando’s cock to free himself from the tight embrace, “forget it, Orlando.”

Orlando first growled, then pouted, then opened his right eye to see if Eric was being serious. Sitting back on his heels, Eric grinned down at his drowsy lover and shook his head again. Orlando opened his second eye, batted his eyelashes in slow motion.

“What?”

“Please.”

“Please what?” Eric enjoyed himself immensely.

Slowly, Orlando propped himself onto his elbows, locked eyes with Eric and said with a low voice, mingling threat, plea and promise, “Remember back on Hawaii? When you fucked me so hard I could still feel you when we already were in Australia?”

Eric’s mouth suddenly was too dry to speak. He nodded. Started to sweat.

“Please that.”

The left corner of Orlando’s mouth curved upwards when he saw the effect his words had on his lover. But before the right corner could follow and create a full smile of victory, Eric’s mouth had covered Orlando’s, kissing him hard.

Orlando was pulling his hair roughly and rained his scalp with butterfly like touches, Orlando was biting his lower lip and tenderly licking it better, Orlando was thrusting his tongue down his throat and humming quietly, soothingly into his mouth. The moment Eric thought he’d figured his lover out, thought he had caught up with him, Orlando changed the pace radically, so Eric could just cling to him and trust him to know where he took them next.

Orlando’s fingernails scratched his skin when he pushed his hands under the rim of the pyjama pants and yanked them over Eric’s ass. The older man groaned deep in his throat when possessive fingers dug into his flesh and held him down against slowly rolling hips.

Eric broke the kiss but Orlando kept touching his lower lip with the tip of his tongue, curling and uncurling against its softness.

“You’re gonna be the death of me some day.”

For a split second a big, deliriously happy smile lightened up Orlando’s face before his eyes glinted and he snorted, “How utterly poetic, Eric.”

“It’s not gonna be poetic,” the older man contradicted him, rubbing his nose against Orlando’s, “since I’ll most probably die in a situation like this and hence will be crushing you with my body weight. Serves you right for constantly being mean to me.”

“I’m not being mean,” Orlando pouted indignantly, “I’m desperate. To have your cock inside me as you fucking promised. I swear to pay you back with crappy romantic bollocks the moment I have your dick up my ass.”

Eric shook his head and chuckled, rising a bit to reach the nightstand with the lube. “If that was a foretaste of your ability to sweet talk, I’ll make sure your mouth is occupied otherwise, love.”

“Now we’re talking.”

Orlando purred, the steady-going sound interrupted by the beginning of a giggle, and he bit Eric’s earlobe. The older man wisely waited until his ear was set free again before he brought his hand, generously covered with lube, between Orlando’s spread thighs. He smiled overly sweet when Orlando squeaked at the sudden cold and made up for the unmanly sound by cursing explicitly right afterwards. Orlando’s swear words mid sentence changed into sweetest encouragement and his dark glare suddenly resembled melting chocolate when Eric pushed two fingers into him, easily sliding through the tight ring of muscles.

“Always so tight for me.”

For the fraction of a second Eric saw the instinctive reaction to his hint of a smirk gleaming up in Orlando’s eyes, and he half expected another ironic remark, but in the end only got a breathed, “Yeah.”

He leaned his forehead against Orlando’s, trapping locks of their dark hair between them, and concentrated on the missing focus in his lover’s eyes. Orlando kept them open as long as possible, Eric saw his eyelids fluttering violently and saw Orlando struggling to not just give in to the sensation Eric’s strokes generated inside him. Kept his eyes open so Eric could stare into them all the while.

When it finally grew too much for him and his lashes dropped down so he could concentrate on breathing, it was all further encouragement that Eric needed to proceed.

He positioned his cock at Orlando’s entrance and when he pushed in, the younger man turned his head slightly and rubbed his cheek into Eric’s palm. Eric, too, closed his eyes as he was suddenly and expectedly engulfed by tightness. For a second he waited, giving himself and Orlando time to adjust, to cope but then Orlando inhale in and seemed to inhale Eric completely with that quietly drawn breath. Eric groaned deep in his throat when with one smooth motion he slid completely in, buried to the hilt inside Orlando and feeling his lover’s pulsing erection trapped between them.

Neither of them talked when Eric started to move inside Orlando. To Eric listening to Orlando’s constant and deep breathing was all the conversation he needed. Words and thoughts drifted through his mind like floatsome, he wouldn’t be able to array them anyway. He just buried his face in the curve of Orlando’s neck, taking in his scent with each breath. He felt Orlando’s hands roaming feathery light over his body and yet holding him tight, mirroring Eric’s own touches and caresses like motions in a slow dance.

Eventually, Orlando tightened his inner muscles hard around Eric, causing the older man to swear with a shaky voice before returning the pleasure by changing the pace of his thrusts rapidly. He looked down at his lover as he fucked him harder, moving Orlando’s entire body with each vigorous thrust. He saw Orlando’s face reflecting concentration that shattered again and again as the younger man tried to keep up, panting quickly now and still seemingly on the edge of suffocation.

Making it worse, making it impossible for Orlando to regain composure, Eric leaned down and closed his mouth over parted lips. He sucked a moan out of his lover’s lungs and Orlando jerked helplessly under him. For an instant he struggled against Eric’s tongue invading his mouth then he seemed to remember how to breathe through his nose and melted under the touch of Eric’s lips.

Eric felt disoriented, the harshness of their lovemaking and the utter tenderness of the kiss wound around his body, entwined like poison ivy and bound him so he wouldn’t get free ever again. Pushed too fast, too soon, too close to climax to be able to come and his entire body suddenly felt sour because he couldn’t cope.

Orlando broke the kiss then, sucked in air in huge gulps, swore and hissed, “Gods, slow down, slow down, dying here, too much, too much everything.”

At the same time he thrashed under Eric as if heavy current ran through his veins and Eric stopped moving altogether. He rolled them over and dragged Orlando on top of him so he could circle his arms around the slender form and hold him tightly. Still, Orlando shuddered repeatedly and Eric did too, receiving electric jolts from his lover’s heated body with each motion.

“Wowza,” Orlando finally stated, “that was a bit intense.”

“Wuss.”

“You were trying to murder me, you bastard.”

Orlando poked his nose accusingly against Eric’s carotid artery and giggled when Eric ruffled his hair.

“You set the pace then.”

For a while Orlando didn’t move at all, except for the attention his tongue gave Eric’s left ear. So Eric was already purring like a big cat when the younger man sensually slow started rolling his hips. He still lay completely on top of the taller man but rose a little as he took Eric’s moans of appreciation as a signal to move faster. Eric placed his palm over Orlando’s collarbone and pushed his lover into an upright position, impaling him even more on his cock. Orlando threw his head back in pleasure, both of his hands on the sides of Eric’s chest with his fingers mimicking the circling motions of his hips.

The older man’s fist closed around Orlando’s weeping cock but he didn’t palm it, trusting that the rhythm of Orlando’s own movement would suffice for now. He felt the urge for harderfasterdeeper building up inside him again like the birth of a hurricane but got distracted by Orlando’s little moans, the way the thin layer of sweat covering his skin let Eric’s left hand slide over it, was calmed by the tenderness in Orlando’s eyes when he looked at Eric once his long lashes had blinked away pearls of sweat.

They locked eyes and for a moment or an hour just exchanged looks as they exchanged touches, met and drifted apart only to find each other again. Of course, eventually Eric saw a smirk creeping up his lover’s lips and curling them and as per usual he grinned back without knowing the reason for the younger man’s amusement yet.

“See? This is how it’s done.”

Orlando’s voice was full of fake complacency so even though Eric noticed in surprise how close he indeed was to orgasm, not really having realised the slow built up after all, he arched one eyebrow.

“Yeah. Ever thought about turning pro?”

“Prick.”

Orlando scowled at him and sat back on his heels, or on Eric’s thighs, to be more precise, interrupting their love making without Eric having a chance to pick up the rhythm again. Consequently, though, when Orlando’s hand travelled up his thigh to close around his own erection, Eric wouldn’t let go either.

“Forget it. You’re not gonna jerk off and make me watch.”

“I thought you liked that.”

“You’re not coming until I say so, full stop.”

Orlando pinched Eric as a response and the older man slapped the offending hand away with his free one.

“That’s not gonna get you anywhere, you know.”

Orlando leaned down and framed Eric’s face with his hands before he kissed him, teasingly gentle. During the kiss he started to roll his hips again and Eric groaned happily but didn’t move his hand.

“What,” Orlando whispered against Eric’s moist lips, “do I have to do, hm?”

“Give me a good reason. Why should I let you come?”

Orlando’s mouth had travelled over Eric’s cheekbone and was now close to the older man’s ear. Persuasively he purred, “Because you love to be inside me when I do and Milk. Your. Cock?”

It took Eric a second or two to reply to that, the wicked words and the promising tightening of inner muscles momentarily rendered him speechless. But, cupping one of Orlando’s buttocks with his big hand, he then gave back, “Hm, yeah, but I also like to taste you… Maybe I should make you wait until you can come on my tongue...”

“Mmm, yessss…,” Orlando hissed and purred at the same time and rubbed his chest against Eric’s wantonly, “I mean no. Want you inside me, always.”

Eric bent his legs, so he finally was able to thrust upwards and Orlando was too busy gasping to object.

“That’s silly. Not even I can stay hard for that long.”

“Funny, Eric.” Orlando’s reply was intended to sound sarcastical, the older man guessed, but that somehow didn’t really work out since it was more a moan than anything else.

“Only passing the time until you give me a good reason why I should allow you to come.”

Orlando whined and rubbed his nose against Eric’s cheek, seeking help and understanding. Still, he tried again and murmured, “Because I ask very nicely and you can’t resist my endearing charm?”

“You do have lovely eyelashes…,” Eric agreed thoughfully and placed tiny kisses on top of closed eyelids, “but no, I know you’re just tricking me, ‘cause you’re no nice boy, you’re a minx. – Try something else.”

“Oh, bloody hell, because it’s October 14th!” Orlando finally burst out in despair and bit down hard in Eric’s shoulder.

Eric’s grunt of pain turned into a groan once Orlando replaced his teeth with his lapping tongue and created a trail of tiny love bites down Eric’s neck and his shoulder, while still moving up and down on Eric’s cock. The marks burned exquisitely, so Eric ran his fingers through his lover’s thick curls to hold him in place. His cock, too, felt like it burned as he tumbled closer to his orgasm and he was sure Orlando, rhythmically contracting around him, bitingkissingpossessing him, could feel the heat deep inside of him.

He groaned breathlessly, Orlando whimpered soothingly and then gasped tiny gasps that almost broke Eric’s heart when the older man finally moved his hand. It didn’t take him more than two or three twists of his fingers and his thumb was stroking over the head of his lover’s cock when Orlando came. Eric could feel the pressure of his orgasm, could feel the first, second, third thick spurt of come pulsing against his thumbprint and turned his head so Orlando could kiss him while he rode out his climax.

Of course Orlando had been right. The moment he pushed his tongue past Eric’s teeth, the moment the violent shuddering began after the instant of frozen time Eric did follow him. One last hard thrust and his arm securely around his lover’s waist, Eric let go and came with a low groan. Thinking nothing, feeling everything and only Orlando as he filled his lover’s quivering body.

They clung to one another, both trying to catch their breaths and slowly even if unwillingly remembering unimportant details like their own names.

“Okay,” Eric said after a while, moistening his strangely numb lips and still cradling Orlando against him, “I admit it without envy: You _are_ good.”

He felt Orlando smiling against his neck before the young man raised his head and nodded, “I know.”

They shared more kisses, flawlessly turning from light to sloppy, to deep, to chuckling.

“’Because it’s October 14th?’” Eric quoted and looked questioningly at his lover. Orlando finally rolled himself off Eric’s body and reached for a wet nap to clean up. Eric watched the white paper rubbing his fingers and asked, “What happened on October 14th?”

Orlando smiled a small private smile, fully concentrated on Eric’s hand, and shrugged, “Just today’s date.”

“What kind of reason was that then?”

Orlando looked up. Happy, sated, mischievous.

“As good as any other, wasn’t it?”

Eric looked at him, amazed how weird Orlando could be without even trying very hard. He let the younger man pull and push at him until in Orlando’s opinion he was in the right position to be snuggled thoroughly. Once again looking at the ceiling and having Orlando draped elegantly half across him he put his arm around his lover’s shoulder.

“Well then. October 14th shall forever be remembered as the day I saw the light and finally acknowledged your uber-human fucking skills.”

“Ah, sweet memories.”

“You know what?”

Eric shifted a bit and turned his head, so he could look at Orlando in his arms.

“I don’t really need them. Memories or wishes, I mean.”

Orlando lifted his right eyebrow and the right corner of his mouth questioningly.

Stroking his lover’s cheek Eric quietly went on, “I do remember the first time you smiled at me or that time when you jumped onto my back and nearly drowned me because you _thought_ you had seen a shark in the ocean.”

Orlando opened his mouth to correct that last tale but Eric pulled him close and kissed the objecting mouth before continuing.

“And sometimes I stare out of the window with a stupid grin and think about how you’ll look with grey temples and that I want to kiss all future laugh lines and little wrinkles on your face.”

He buried his face in Orlando’s thick brown hair that was warmed by the sunlight and felt a low purr against his jaw.

“But I don’t really need this. They say when you spend too much time reminiscing about the past or dreaming out the future you’ll miss today, you’ll miss reality. – You’re here. You’re now. That’s all I need.”

Slowly Orlando shifted in Eric’s arms and only stopped wriggling when again he was on top of the taller man. He tilted his head and looked at Eric strangely. Like Eric had said something immensely cryptic, in Chinese, with his second head or something. But before Eric could try to make it right, try to translate and probably make an even bigger idiot out of himself, Orlando started to smile.

Smiled so broadly, so happily that Eric kept his mouth shut and smiled back.

“You know,” Orlando said quietly and poked Eric’s chest with his index finger, “I think I do love you an awful lot.”

Eric propped himself onto his elbows so that their noses were touching, still smiling like someone had injected a gallon of endorphins in his blood circuit.

“Enough to go downstairs and get me some breakfast?”

“Nah. But almost.”

Orlando nodded reassuringly and Eric pouted.

“Please? I’m close to starving. Feed me!”

“Why should I?”

“Because it’s October 14th.”

Orlando laughed and – being Orlando – for some reason couldn’t stop laughing anymore, infecting Eric with it, too. In the end they both stumbled down the stairs, the laughing fit not really overcome by then, and searched the kitchen for food. Naked and successfully.

Because it was October 14th.

 

Nightclub – Like a kind of Good Camping

Eric and Orlando had barely made it to their bed after a long night in TROY, dead tired as they’d been. But as usually they rose late morning because Eric’s stomach had started to growl loud enough to wake them both. The club owner padfooted into the kitchen and rubbed his eyes all the way through his improvised breakfast because the sun shining through the window was so damn bright.

He chewed on an apple but halted to listen when an unusual noise came from the hallway, something soft and large slowly tumbling down the staircase. Eric carefully peered around the corner of the kitchen entrance and saw their bedspread sprawled over half of the wooden staircase and Orlando skipping down the steps, kicking the covers down the last bit with his naked right foot.

Orlando saw him standing there and grinned at him with that mixture of mischief and completely innocent joy.

“Morning, lover”, he chirped far too chipper before he picked up a corner of the bedspread and started dragging it after him into the living room.

Eric, a little dumbstruck, pointed at the covers in question.

“Why are you kidnapping my bed?”

Orlando looked over his shoulder, shrugging as if it was the most natural thing and Eric was stupid for asking, “’Cause we’re sleeping out there?”

Eric’s gaze followed Orlando’s outstretched finger even though he knew perfectly well that it was pointing right through the billiard room’s large doors leading to the garden.

“But - ”, Eric started and his face said that he didn’t understand why they couldn’t just continue using that perfectly fine big bed upstairs.

“Come on, Eric”, Orlando said in his persuasive ‘you know you wanna’ voice he normally only used when he wanted Eric to fuck him even if the older man could barely keep his eyes open.

Other than in that sex-situation Eric wasn’t as easily talked into this particular idea and he shook his head.

“But it’s lovely outside”, Orlando said, “sun’s shining and it’s warm – we can sleep there just as well, can’t we?”

Orlando started dragging the covers again, something which Eric put to a rapid halt by walking closer and stepping right onto them. Orlando felt the sudden resistance and turned around, finding Eric glaring at him with his arms crossed in front of his chest. The older man did his best to look resolved even though his state of dressing (boxers) somewhat worked against him.

“Please, Eric? It’ll be like camping!”

“You hate camping”, Eric pointed out and started imitating Orlando’s voice, “’Eric, I think there are bugs that will crawl into my ears when I sleep. Eric, I don’t think that this sleeping bag is as comfortable as the guy in the store promised. Eeeeric, you didn’t tell me that I’d get sand into places like that!’”

Orlando lurched forward and almost succeeded in tackling the older man. Eric took half a step back, catching Orlando, who now growled at him for good measures.

“What?” Eric asked innocently. “You do hate camping, don’t you?”

“Yeah,” Orlando conceded but added, “but it’ll be like a kind of _good_ camping. Because you can use the house’s facilities and we have a fridge within reach, too.”

Eric let Orlando go again and sighed loudly when the younger man picked up the cover’s corner once more, apparently not giving up that easily.

“Orlando, I can’t even sleep when there’s a light in the floor still switched on,” Eric tried to reason, “how am I supposed to do it with the fucking sun shining down on me directly?”

“Well”, Orlando said and even before he continued Eric knew he was fighting a losing battle just from the sound of that little word. “You can go back upstairs if you insist, but I am going to sleep outside and that’s final.”

Eric glared at Orlando. Because the younger man knew perfectly well that Eric couldn't really sleep when Orlando wasn’t lying next to him.

“I hate you”, Eric said.

“I got your favourite pillow”, Orlando said sweetly.

“You threw my favourite pillow down the staircase?”

“You do know that you sounded like a pouting two year old just now, don’t you?”

“Says the lunatic who wants to camp in the garden.”

“What you need”, Orlando decided and laid his free arm around Eric’s broad shoulders to guide him outside, “is another few hours of sun-napping, trust me.”

“I’ll probably get sunburn and when I wake up I’ll be as red as a fucking lobster,” Eric replied grumpily but let himself be pushed through the terrace door into the sunshine.

Orlando rushed past him and the older man watched him quickly spreading the covers onto the grass next to the large tree on the left and arranging the pillows on top of them. Eric still had his arms crossed in front of his chest, his tiredness taking its toll and making him a little moodier than usual, but he still couldn’t help but smile at Orlando’s energetic eagerness.

Having placed their make believe bed in a way that half of it was in the sun and half of it was overshadowed by the tree’s crown Orlando plopped down on the sunny side and then gestured Eric to come over.

“Fucking stupid idea, that’s what it is,” Sighing the older man stepped into the sun and walked over to Orlando to lie down next to him. Orlando turned onto his belly, propped himself onto his elbows and looked down at Eric who, on his back, still tried to look grumpy. However the bright smile curving his lover’s mouth made the frown disappear from Eric’s face before he even noticed it and his own lips smiled when Orlando leaned down to place a kiss onto them.

It had been a long night however and even though Orlando’s lazy kiss made Eric feel maybe even warmer than the rays of sun he was slowly drifting off. He grunted softly when he noticed it and tried to open his eyes again when Orlando pulled back a little, remaining leaned over him.

“Shall I be offended?”

Eric heard the teasing tone but still shook his head and tried to wake up enough to verbalize that, too. But Orlando kissed him silent again and murmured quietly to him.

“You sleep a little more, love.”

Who was Eric to object? He felt Orlando shifting a little until their sides touched and the younger man hooked his right leg over Eric’s. Small patches of sunlight danced with warmth over his skin whenever the wind moved the tree’s crown. The grass’s earthy smell made Eric dream of the woods and Orlando’s tree house. Wooden floor under naked skin. Orlando’s fingertips in his neck. Berries with whipped cream. Orlando’s rough tongue licking over his collarbone.

Eric’s dreams in dark rich colours were disrupted when Orlando moved beside him. Even half asleep the older man knew that his lover had left his side and he opened his eyes, turning to his side. Orlando indeed was gone and Eric was too lazy to rise but he still could hear where he was. The water moved in the pool, small rhythmical waves splashing quietly against the tiles. Eric closed his eyes again. Night swimming in the lake. Water rivulets running down Orlando’s chest, painting, caressing perfect skin over hard muscles, Eric’s tongue tracing them.

His feet were hot. Now, that was odd. Eric wriggled his toes to test – he didn’t really know what that results he was expecting but his feet were still hot. He opened his eyes and saw branches above him. Raising his head a little he peered at his feet and saw that the shade of the tree had moved and the afternoon sun blazed down onto his naked feet. He rubbed his right toe over his left foot experimentally but his skin didn’t hurt yet. No sun burn then. Still, he shifted and pulled his feet out of the light, coming to lie on his side to face Orlando.

He must’ve slept for a while because the pool water had dried on the younger man’s skin and his dark curls were merely damp. Orlando hadn’t noticed that Eric was awake, he was too engrossed in his book. So much in fact, that his lips were moving as if he was reading the words in front of his eyes aloud in his mind. Or maybe he was singing along to one of the songs he sometimes had stuck in his head for an entire day. Eric looked a little closer and noticed that Orlando had the phones of his ipod stuck into his ears and was indeed very quietly repeating the lyrics to ’God gave Rock and Roll to you’.

Eric didn’t disturb his lover but was content looking at him and getting his own private low voiced rock concert with the leaves rustling a soft chorus and Orlando’s feet tapping the inaudible beat. However, the next track on Orlando’s playlist was – and that alone would give Eric teasing material for the next twenty years – some Whitney Houston song. A tiny frown formed on Orlando’s forehead at first, obviously he wasn’t sure how that song had gotten onto his ipod either. But he was apparently too lazy to change it and despite his earlier reservations he started to sing along to that too. And, well, let’s just say that pulling off KISS didn’t automatically qualify him for hitting the notes like Whitney could…

Orlando looked up from his book and to Eric when the older man’s chest was trembling and he had difficulties to hold back silent tears of laughter. Arching one elegant eyebrow with interest, Orlando freed his right ear from the headphones and looked at Eric questioningly. Eric however, had lost the ability to speak altogether and helplessly snickered, shaking his head and pointing at Orlando’s ipod as an explanation.

“Now,” Orlando said and turned the music off, “you wake up and the first thing you do is make fun of me? That’s not very nice, is it?”

“But,” Eric started before a fit of giggles took hold of him again, “but,” he tried once more and hickuped, “you… Whitney… you…” Eric shook his head again.

Orlando glared at the older man which only made it worse and even when he leaned over him, blocking the sun out and staring intently at him, Eric looked up but still snickered quietly.

“I think,” Orlando said, apparently not the least bit embarrassed by his performance, “you need to be taught that it’s not nice to sneak up on people and laugh at them…”

“I didn’t sneak up on you,” Eric tried to defend himself but nevertheless parted his legs so Orlando could slide between them, “you were fucking lying next to me.”

“I thought you were sleeping, you lazy bum, like you did all day.”

“Yeah, and apparently you thought giving me nightmares by channelling Whitney Houston might be a nice way to wake me up.”

“I wasn’t channelling the fucking woman, I was just singing along to one of her songs, you idiot.”

“If you want to call it that, my little nightingale…”

Orlando at that point decided that arguing with Eric was pointless. So instead of replying he leaned down and closed his mouth over the sensitive spot of skin where Eric’s neck met his shoulder and he sucked hard. Eric yelped, first in surprise and pain, before the sound pouring from his lips changed into a quiet whimper and he arched up against Orlando’s body.

Orlando had not only brought Eric’s favourite pillow in the morning, he’d also brought lube. Eric noticed him fiddling with the bottle while his teeth were still buried in the older man’s neck and he eagerly dragged his own boxers down when Orlando got out of his swimming trunks. Eric didn’t get much preparation, the teasing tone of their bantering and the heated flesh of Eric’s neck underneath his mouth seemed to have awoken a need in Orlando that demanded quenching immediately.

Still relaxed from sleep the older man didn’t mind the hasty prep and breathing heavily he offered Orlando the other side of his neck when the younger man sank into him. But as quickly as it had arisen the urgency behind Orlando’s actions seemed to have vanished the moment his cock had breached the entrance to Eric’s body. Instead of another sucking bite Eric quivered under the lightest of touches from Orlando’s tongue on his sweating skin. His pleas for more of – more of anything, everything, were ignored and Eric whimpered first and then growled in frustration.

Orlando’s tongue reached his ear and dipped into it and Orlando started to hum that wretched Whitney Houston song, the pistoning motions of his hips in perfect synchrony with the rhythm of his serenade. Only a little breathless he sang deliberately off tune but with all the more dedication. And while the hard and fast fucking Eric received left him gasping helplessly the older man had tears of laughter running down his face at the same time.

‘Pleeease don’t cry, we both know’ was Orlando’s answer to Eric’s hysterical sobs, I’m not what yoouuu neeeed.

Eric very much begged to differ there and finally caught hold of Orlando’s still damp curls, dragging his head above his own and kissing him hard, shutting him up by shoving his tongue down his throat. Orlando’s persistent hums turned into far more melodical dark groans when Eric closed his inner muscles around his cock and Eric replied in kind when Orlando pushed his right leg up and over his shoulder, changing the angle of his thrusts and hitting Eric’s sweet spot hard with each renewed motion.

They came together, Orlando’s needy whimper that heralded his orgasm triggering Eric’s and Eric’s convulsing inner muscles sending Orlando over the edge. Unwilling to break their liplock they screamed their completion into each other’s mouths and only distantly Eric was aware of Orlando’s weight growing much heavier as the younger man collapsed on top of him, utterly spent.

“Fuck,” Eric said eventually and felt Orlando chuckling against his damp skin.

Orlando raised his head from Eric’s chest and looked down at him. The older man saw something gleaming in his lover’s eyes and his brows shot up and he shook his head but there was no way to stop a determined Orlando.

The younger man cleared his throat and shouted on top of his lungs and once again completely off tune,

“And Iiiiiiiiii will aaaaalways looooove yoooohuuhuuu!!”

Eric covered his eyes with his hands, admitting defeat. He heard Orlando’s satisfied cackle and felt warm lips closing over his own a second later, offering a truce that he gladly accepted.

They kissed lazily for a while before Orlando moved off Eric and even was so kind to clean up the mess Eric had made on his own belly. The older man had his eyes closed again and drifted happily somewhere between afterglow and a light slumber, enjoying the warmth of the afternoon air.

“When do you have to be at TROY?” Orlando asked, having settled next to Eric.

Eric turned his head and it took him a moment to catch up with his young lover.

“TROY?” he asked in confusion.

“Yeah?” A grin spread over Orlando’s features and he propped his head up on one hand, looking down at Eric. “You know, that nightclub you own? - Jeez, I really must’ve fucked your brains out.”

“Nah,” Eric shook his head and stretched his arms over his head, “you weren’t that good.”

He mouthed an ‘ow’ when, predictably, Orlando hit his chest and thought about the initial question for a moment before he answered, “Around eleven, I reckon.” He looked up at the perfectly blue sky and inhaled the warm summer air, “It really is kinda nice out here.”

“Hah! I told you you’d like it!” Orlando cheered triumphantly and laid his head on Eric’s chest so their bodies formed a “T” shape and he was able to gaze at the sky as well. He made a show of stretching and folded his hands on his flat belly before he said with utter contentment and that ever present hint of enthusiasm, “Total holiday feeling – and hey, we could, like, barbeque for dinner!”

Eric stroked through wild brown curls sprawling over his chest.

“Yeah, we could do that.”

“And have a cold beer directly from the fridge with the steaks.” Orlando went on, a self satisfied smile on his kiss swollen lips. “That’s what I call a good kind of camping.”

“Good thing we didn’t camp for real,” Eric murmured, fighting a losing battle in trying to sort through his lover’s messy hair. “Chances are we might’ve mentally scared some bears or racoons that were innocently strolling by.”

Orlando turned his head and a frown knitted his brows together when he asked, “With what? Fucking in front of their eyes?”

“No,” Eric replied and smiled crookedly, “With your singing, Whitney.”

Orlando rolled his eyes at Eric as if he wanted to say that the older man’s jokes were the lamest jests on the planet. Then he shifted again, rolling onto his belly so his face was over Eric’s again. And with a voice full of conviction and maybe a little gloating he declared, “But you love me anyway.”

Eric grinned broadly and tried to look shocked. “Shit,” he said, “What gave me away?”

Orlando chuckled and pressed his nose against Eric’s as if he wanted to stamp a ‘mine’ logo onto it. Then he placed a slobbery kiss onto the older man’s waiting mouth and turned onto his back again, resuming his former position and staring intently into the sky.

“Eric?” he asked after a while of silent contemplation.

“Huh?” Eric grunted, a little distracted by the delicate curving of Orlando’s neck that his tongue already longed to trace again.

Orlando scratched the bridge of his nose with his thumb, wrinkling it like a kitten as he did so, and then asked, “Do you think they have consultancy for mentally deranged raccoons?”

 

University – Her beauty

"My God, she is so beautiful."

Eric tried to keep his voice low but the dark rumbling still carried and echoed in the high hall.

"Look at her skin. It would warm under your fingertips if you were allowed to touch it."

Eric's hand twitched and he almost reached out to solemnly trace perfect cheekbones.

The silent gesture caught Orlando's attention. He freed his left ear from the headphones and grunted, "Huh?"

"Those lips. Men would kill to know what they taste like."

Eric licked his own lips and kept staring at the outline of a perfect mouth, the outer rim sharp, a contrast to the smooth curves. Then, for a short moment, Eric looked at Orlando who had tilted his head, investigated closely and didn't reply.

"And her smile."

Like a moth drawn to the light Eric's attention wandered back to his object of desire. He drank in her smile, how it curved the perfect lips slightly upwards. Not enough for dimples to appear on her cheeks but enough to make her seem omniscient and forgiving, royal and yet a little mischievous.

He smiled back instinctively, he just couldn't help himself. A little embarrassed he looked down and blushed when he felt Orlando's gaze on him, glinting in amusement.

"Yeah, but the hat fashion? _So_ out of date, man."

Eric elbowed Orlando for that comment but the displeased look didn't stay on his face for longer than a second. He couldn't resist her beauty and looked up again. He caressed her chin, he cheeks, her tiny nose with his gaze before he locked eyes with her.

"Like she knows what you're thinking," he said quietly, losing himself in the intensity of her stare, "Like what they say is true and the eyes are the mirror to the soul..."

"Bugger 'bout the missing eyeball, though."

Eric's eyebrows went to meet his hairline and this time he did turn his head to scowl at the younger man.

"You utter philistine!"

"Orlando looked back steadily, well acted hurt making his eyes huge.

"Don't say that! I fully appreciated the beauty of a pissed and pissing Hercules, did I not?"

Eric glared.

Orlando batted his long eyelashes and with the innocence of a choirboy he went on, "And Pan and that goat? I didn't know one could fuck in that position. Highly educative, professor."

Eric laughed out loud, his eyes watering with the effort to control himself. The museum guard in his dark suit, professionally 'not amused', looked daggers at him. Eric muttered an embarrassed "Sorry, sorry" and Orlando smiled brilliantly at the general public.

The professor touched Orlando's elbow and growled, "I hate you." into his lover's left ear, right next to the audio guide's headphones.

"No, you don't." Orlando's voice was confident and with honesty he added, "And I really liked the tour you gave me through Herculaneum."

"I kinda spammed you, didn't I?"

"Nah, it's sexy when you are on professory overdrive."

Eric chuckled and almost rubbed his nose against Orlando's smooth cheek.

"What do you say? Enough culture for today?" He lowered his voice and whispered, "It's a beautiful day... Sunshine, blue skies... How about a trip to the Wannsee?"

Orlando beamed, nodded enthusiastically and practically dragged Eric with him out of the venerable halls of the Old Museum of Berlin. Eric only protested very halfheartedly.

All the way, he could feel Nofretete's knowing smirk in his back.

 

University – Historians

I am responsible for the way you think. Mine is the work that started this, is the reason for this place and these people. The way I wrote marked the beginning of historicism, I was the first historian. Conceited you might think. But today, here, 2500 years after my death, they still think my way. Just look at those two, opposite my shelf, at that table. Every once in a while one of them looks up from the heavy books and papers, from the analytical and academic thoughts, and there’s the fascination and need-to-know sparkling in their eyes. Nothing can match it, nothing but the knowing smile on the other’s face, sharing the love for history and for each other.

Mine is a tale of the nature of the world. You know me best for my account of war but I tell you a secret, it’s not destruction that fascinates me most, it’s creation. I have seen the world, seen the nature of it and the glory of ancient high cultures. Science and art and lifestyle, pompous and proud and fascinating, and it made me restless, always wanting more. But what is the mightiest temple against a soft touch, a hand lingering for a moment on a naked forearm when they walk past one another? What is Kalliope’s wisdom compared to a murmured word of affection, whispered behind an open book? I see them now and feel at peace, content for the first time.

I am a humble servant to the Gods, capturing their deeds and doings on paper for future generations, for you to remember. I studied them all, fear and worship them for they are eternal, ideas in corporeal form. Eros, son of Chaos, lingers here, his presence unknown to most but felt strongly by two. His bow rests now because his work is already done. His arrow left no wound that couldn’t be cured by a stolen kiss. Just look at them and you know what I mean, you’ll find faith, too.

I portrayed the life of the Teutons and found their unpretentious way exemplary, alluring even. They were upright and honest, I saw the love for freedom and the bravery in their wild eyes. That light I see again now, from my hiding place, though this time it’s not for clan and country but it sparks between two men. It doesn’t show in warfare, doesn’t sound in battle cries. It’s naked skin on naked skin, sweat, tiny motion, and a hand over a mouth to muffle suppressed moans of pleasure. A deserted library and urgency, no time to wait, primal need. It’s obvious and secret. It’s tender and yet more untameable than any Teuton.

Fuckable

"I'm telling you, she wants me."

"She doesn't. That's just you, needing new contacts."

Shove. Growl. Shove back. Snicker.

"Shelly wants me. Badly. Last week after the game, she was talking to Amy bout me."

"And you know that because Amy told Paula, and she told you during your secret slumber party?"

"Jabberjabber, dude. She said I had a fuckable mouth. There. How's that for straightforward?"

Karl arches a brow and pointedly looks at his mouth. Jensen holds still, which in itself is nothing short of a miracle for a seventeen year old with way too much stolen beer in his system. Still, he has a point to make and if that's what it takes -

"Right," Karl says, and that one word has Jensen throwing his arms in the air, because hello, sarcasm. 

"Dick." 

The fine art of argumentation is lost on either of them tonight.

"So, tell me, what exactly is a fuckable mouth?" Karl asks and crosses his arms in front of his chest before slouching back in the recliner. "I mean, you do have kinda girly lips -"

Jensen leans over from his spot on the couch and wacks him over the head with the pizza box from his lap that had been almost empty. Well, safe for the one slice that sails through the living room now and lands on the miniature palm tree. 

In response, Karl tosses his empty can of beer in the rough direction of Jensen's head - and for a damn good wide receiver he has damn shitawful aim. Jen's so gonna tell Coach about that, but right now he's kinda busy howling and throwing himself at his best friend, tackling him and the chair to the ground.

"I'll show you girly lips, asshole," he half threatens, half laughs. Karl, fucking long limbs and muscles under him, isn't even able to put up a proper fight. He's laughing in Jen's face and looks kinda insane with his dark hair even wilder than usual.

"Yeah, sorry, Ackles, so sorry." 

Suddenly, his leg is somehow between them and his knee in Jensen's stomach, pushing him off and back so he hits the coffee table. Jen shakes his head, momentarily confused and glares at Karl who's still sprawled over his mom's godfucking ugly carpet. Jensen huffs, gingerly rubs the back of his head where it connected with the table and runs his hand through his hair, spikes no doubt a fucking mess by now.

"'Course you could get it on with Shelly," Karl says matter of factly and looks entirely too happy over the cheeto he just found under the recliner. "I think I saw her at the tattoo parlour in Thompson street the other week, getting your name inked onto her ass."

Jensen grins broadly and holds out first his left, then his right hand, fingers stretched out, as he purrs, "Jen - Sen."

Karl mirrors the gesture and the self-indulgent tone of voice. "Jen - Ny."

Jensen kicks his foot for that but is satisfied enough with Karl finally listening to reason and lets it rest. Karl, however, doesn't.

"Seriously, though," he says in that honestly scientifically interested voice that make their teachers give him A's though he never does any assignments (neither does Jen, but he gets his well deserved C's and D's for that). "How can you have a fuckable mouth? It's not like she has anything she can stick into it -"

"You mean besides her tongue?" Jensen asks as if beer has made Karl even stupider than usual. "Her studded tongue?"

Karl makes a dismissive gesture. "That doesn't count." A slow smile spreads across his face, which usually means that someone gets plowed under on the one yard line. "Unless she's really a dude."

"With breasts." Jensen says dryly, not because he really thinks that could stop Karl. 

It doesn't.

"A transexual then."

When Karl gets like this, you just gotta roll with it. Or hit him (and then roll with it). Karl does it on the field, too - he tackles people randomly and if you don't respond with a punch and a grin (just one of the two won't do) he doesn't take you seriously. See, that's why they get along that well - Jensen lets Karl indulge in his occasional five minutes of utter insanity and Karl lets Jen decorate his living room with cold pizza slices or whatever.

"Hey, as long as that makes you acknowledge the fuckability of my mouth," Jensen says and shrugs.

"Not like I got another choice," Karl shrugs back. "I don't consider it below you to go down on me to prove your point."

"Nice choice of words there, idiot." Jensen laughs and tries to sit up. Whoo, who transformed the Urban's living room into a merry-go-round? "Man, if I was bendy enough, I'd totally blow myself."

Karl's eyes lose focus for a moment and he obviously tries to picture that because the next second he breaks out in helpless giggles and has to lie back on the carpet, holding his belly. Jensen crawls over to him and looks down at him with his best condescending expression (which is a combination of a glare and a pout, really). 

Karl sticks out his lower lip and it takes Jensen's beer bathed brain a second to realise he's being mocked. By the time it registers that, though, it helpfully points out that if full lips are 'fuckable' then Karl's should be R-rated.

Jensen's thoughts might have lingered on his best friend's mouth for a moment but when their gazes meet again, Karl's eyes look up at him. Steady and patient and getting it and with that soft kind of humour, all the things Karl isn't for anyone besides Jensen. Then he shoves Jen's shoulder and Jensen ends up sprawled next to him.

When the chandelier on the Urban's ceiling has stopped swaying in Jensen's head, Karl turns his head to look at him.

"So, Shelly?"

"Hm," Jensen grunts and when he shrugs, mix of mellow and unsure, his shoulder bumps against Karl's. "She's alright, isn't she? I mean, bit like Paula, yeah?"

Karl considers the comparison to his own girlfriend, then he nods. "She's cool."

"Yeah."

They lie like this for a while, Jensen doesn't know for how long. He only realises that his eyes have closed on their own volition when Karl's voice prompts them to snap open once more.

"I think my fuel injector is screwed," Karl says, a frown on his forehead. 

Jensen blinks slowly and raises his hand to rub his eyes sluggishly, feeling entirely too comfortable to get his mind to fully concentrate on the state of Karl's Pick Up.

"I'm not deaf, I heard the backfiring," he replies with a yawn. "I keep telling you, we need to dismantle the whole fucking thing."

It's not like they haven't worked on Karl's piece of junk over the last thousand Saturdays. But Jensen can't really think of an even half way acceptable alternative to hanging with Karl, oil smeared and at their wits end, or sweaty after a win, or whatever, really.

Butterflies

“This is crazy,” Jensen murmurs and looks over his shoulder. Too many people, dammit. And why is it so fucking hot in here? Nervously, he tugs at the collar of his football jacket.

“Dude, trust me on this,” Karl says confidently and looks entirely too relaxed, hands in the pockets of his black army pants –and what was up with the all black gear anyway? Jensen is really not cool with his best friend drifting off into some heavy metal scene (without him). 

“Jen?” Karl’s right eyebrow shoots up and his elbow in Jensen’s side brings him back to the here and now. Though really, he would prefer some fucked up Rock concert or possibly even geeky LotR roleplaying. Anything but the jewelry store in the mall.

“This is insane,” he repeats and looks down at the seemingly endless assembly of glittery stuff laid out in front of them. “I have no idea what I’m doing.”

“Hello boys!”

The shiny stuff tries to hypnotize Jensen, so it takes him a moment to look up from the display case. The shop assistant, a really hot blonde, a bit older than them, smiles at him.

“Can I help you?”

Now Jensen is a bit busy being hypnotized by her breasts to answer immediately, and that is never a good thing. Because, see, between him and Karl, he definitely is the sane one.

“Yeah,” Karl replies to the girl. “I really like this one,” he points at a silver bracelet with – what, little butterflies? attached to it. “But my boyfriend here thinks it’s too girly. What do you reckon?”

“Uhm,” the shop assistant squeaks and blushes. 

“I’ma kill you,” Jensen growls (and blushes as well).

Karl, of course, is grinning broadly before he says to the confused girl, “Just fucking with ya. He’s looking for a Christmas gift for his girl-friend.”

Jensen glares at Karl again just for good measures and then turns on his best puppy dog eyes (that’s what Shelly calls them, Jensen prefers to call this his subtle come-hither look).

“Help me, please?”

Ten minutes later, they leave the jewelry shop, and Jensen holds a little plastic bag in his hand that contains a little box with a bracelet thingy. Walking past Christmas decorations in all the other shops’ windows, Karl lets him fiddle with his bag until they reach the escalators.

“Jen, you need to put that away now. It’s getting embarrassing.”

“Says the dickhead who passed me off as his boyfriend,” counters Jensen and hits Karl over the head with his pink little bag. “You think Shelly’s gonna like it?”

Karl makes a show of tapping his lower lip with his index and looking undecided, until Jensen gets nervous again and they reach the lower floor. Then he laughs and steps off the escalator.

“Paula said she’s gonna blow me every day after practice for a month if I get her something from that shop.”

Jensen looks at the little bag in his hand again and then grins at Karl. “She really said that?”

“Something like it,” Karl shrugs and bumps his shoulder against Jensen’s. “Lighten up, you’re like the Grinch, dude.”

Jensen has no clue how anyone can ever figure out what kind of gift you are supposed to get a girl. He hates not having complete control over things. And on top of that, Karl just called him a buzzkill and that is so not on. 

“I hate Christmas,” he grumbles, kinda inconsequently.

“Shelly’s gonna adore it. Trust me.” 

For once earnest, Karl nods at him reassuringly, and with that Jensen stops worrying. Only Karl can do that – but then it’s only in front of him that Jensen ever really lets on that he has control issues sometimes. Actually, it’s the other way around as well, Jensen is always able to pull Karl out of one of his random rages. And that’s only fair, Jensen figures. It’d suck, feeling like you owed your best friend all the time. They aren’t like that.

“You up for a Big Mac?” Karl suggests, cutting into Jensen’s thoughts, and already steers them towards the closest Mickey D’s. “I’m buying.”

“I love you,” Jensen purrs, his mouth instantly watering. “Hey, I want fries, too.”

“Shut it, idiot,” Karl laughs.

Band aids and pudding

Karl really didn't have a problem with pain. It was not like he didn't feel it or anything because your body made damn well sure that you noticed bones breaking and all that shit, thank you very much. But it was part of life, part of being a stuntman. You didn't throw yourself out of helicopters, didn't crash cars against solid walls, didn't walk into buildings you knew would explode if you had a problem with pain like some five year old girl.

But that didn't turn him into an addict or anything. Being unconscious wasn't that fantastic either, really.

"You're just a whore for pain, aren't you?" Orlando said dryly, looking down at Karl when he opened his eyes.

"Hmpf," Karl said and glowered up at the other man and the fucking bright white light above him. Gave him a halo around his messy curls, it did.

"Honestly," Orlando went on conversationally, crossing his arms over his chest, "It's getting really hard to come up with new pervy things to write on your casts, you know."

Karl redirected his dark glare to look down at his body. Full of painkillers he was, or so he presumed because his left leg was completely wrapped up in plaster, as was his left arm, but he didn't feel anything but a wooly nothingness. He pulled a face and growled at life in general.

"The car is a total wreck. Some pretty spectacular footage, though. You shoulda seen the dailies." Orlando provided matter of factly, sat down and started eating something that Karl figured was supposed to be his lunch. "The doctor said you're lucky your head's still attached. I told him not to worry, you didn't use it much anyway." 

"Fuck off," Karl grunted and tried to sit up. Didn't work very well with all the plaster and tubes sticking out of him. "Is there pudding?"

Orlando arched a brow. "You know I always eat that first."

"I wish you'd stop stealing food from me when I'm fucking unconscious," Karl grumbled.

"Well, I wish you'd stop nearly dying on me on a weekly basis," Orlando replied with a light voice but didn't look up from his mashed potatoes. "Can't always have what we want, mate."

Karl stared at Orlando, and maybe it was the painkillers making his mind woozy, but he reached out for Orlando with his good hand. He could only touch the other man's upper arm until Orlando turned and let Karl losely entwine their fingers.

Karl licked his dry lips. "Know what I see every time something fuck's up and I'm about to -" die, but he didn't need to point that out.

Orlando licked his fork clean from potatoe remains but even though his tongue stuck out his brown eyes gleamed with interest. "What?"

"You," Karl said. "Eating my desert and bitching at me that you run out of obscenities to scribble onto my band aid."

Orlando squeezed Karl's hand and put down the fork. He leaned forward and placed a soft kiss onto Karl's forehead before pressing his own against it. 

"Never gonna happen, babe."

Silent night

“Mery Chismas!” 

The tinkered card had fallen onto the floor, and lay at Orlando’s feet now, lettering cheering up to him. He picked it up and put it back onto the shelf where some of the glittery stuff it was decorated with had already rained onto pill boxes and gauze around it. A girl smiled crookedly at him – bright yellow hair drawn with crayon just like the rest of the picture. She waved from the picture, and Orlando noticed for the first time that she had six fingers.

“Better too many than not enough,” Orlando commented quietly, but a crooked smile stole itself onto his face. Absentmindedly, he wiped his hand on his scrubs, and it was just as well that some of the pink glitter stuck to it, too. 

Most likely all the Christmas he was gonna get this year. Sighing, he switched the radio on before he got back to sorting next day’s pills according to the patient’s charts.

Slightly tinny Christmas music filled the empty hallway in front of the nurse’s room. It was early evening and dark outside. Snow that lay thick in front of the hospital and on the windowsills provided a cocoon and emphasized the quietness within the walls. Visiting hours were over and the patients already had had their Christmas meal and probably all slumbered, sated and tranquil – but of course, Christmas Eve or not, someone had to do the night shift.

“I thought you wanted to cook?” a dark subdued voice rumbled and pulled Orlando out of his contemplations.

“As if you’d have agreed to that,” came the smooth response. “I’m sure you said you wanted to!”

Orlando smiled to himself and knew who was arguing there. He looked over his shoulder, and indeed, it was Doctor Bean and Doctor Wenham at the other end of the hall, just leaving the doctors’ lounge.

“Aye,” Bean replied, “I did say that, but then you were all ‘No, no, I know this fantastic Australian recipe, let me’!”

“I did?” Wenham replied, thoughtfully.

Christmas or not, some things never changed in this hospital, and one was that the two men were always bickering. They held it together in front of the patients of course – Wenham always assured them that they were in the best of hands before they got pushed off into surgery and the way Bean clasped Wenham’s shoulder during rounds returned the gesture.

If you worked here for a while, though, you got the impression they hated one another. Just like now – the surgeon glared at the attending and then rolled his eyes when belated realization dawned on Wenham’s face. Antipathy shouldn’t be surprising, since they were complete opposites. Bean’s men’s man behavior had to collide with the Aussie’s gentleness, right?

“I might have said that,” Wenham conceded as the two doctor’s walked down the hall, closer to the nurses’ room. “In which case… oops.”

He flashed the other man a boyish smile, so unfitting to the authority figure usually inhabiting the white coat, and Bean broke into sudden laughter.

“Good thing I happened to prepare some stew before I left this morning,” the surgeon said. “Just didn’t think of wine…”

The other doctor’s mirroring amusement was of much quieter nature, but the smile was still audible in his voice when he said, “In that case we might wanna unpack what I got you for Christmas.”

If you hated someone, you didn’t get them Christmas gifts, right? Or share Christmas dinner. Or, for that matter, share a flat. So, Orlando knew better than to believe first impressions (but then, it was sort of part of his job description to keep up with the gossip as well, yeah?).

“You drew the short straw this year?” 

Wenham stuck his head into the nurse’s room, and Orlando waved a patient chart at him in hello.

“Seems it’s gonna be a… silent night though,” he joked.

Doctor Bean threw his arm over Wenham’s shoulder as he peeked into the room as well. 

“Aw, Orlando,” he boomed, “Christmas elves need to make house calls this year?”

Orlando leaned back against the table and crossed his arms in front of his chest. 

“Please, Doctor, no dressing up for me this year. Green really doesn’t suit you as well as you think,” he gave back sweetly and earned himself a low chuckle from Wenham and an amused growl from Bean.

“Merry Christmas to you as well,” Bean said and Wenham elbowed him good naturedly. Both doctors grinned before bidding Orlando good night. 

Orlando – despite all the hospital rumours – had never been of the interfering sort, and so he didn’t point out the mistletoe under which they stood but returned to work.

The patient’s bell sounded and its light flickered in the cheap Christmas decoration that was spread over the nurses’ room.

Orlando found the lights still on in room 2412 after he’d knocked quietly.

“Come in, come in,” the patient called out to him and his grand waving gesture made Orlando bite back a smile. A pair of brown eyes gleamed not quite feverishly at him and damn, if there was a weekly trophy for the most hideous case of bed head, then Orlando would bet good money on it that Mr. P. Jackson would win it continuously.

“Merry Christmas,” Orlando said as a form of a greeting and automatically checked the patient’s IV. “What can I do for you?”

For someone who had only recently undergone surgery, Jackson seemed chipper enough.

“You know,” he said now and crossed his short chubby arms in front of his chest, looking intently at Orlando. “You elves certainly have a great sense for hospitality.”

Orlando hid another smile and quickly bent down to straighten the bed sheets. 

“You think so?”

“Oh yes,” Jackson replied and in a stage whisper he added, “but between the two of us? Strider really can’t wear a white coat. It’d get all muddy within seconds. First thing’ll be to get him out of that.”

‘First thing’, Orlando reckoned, ‘is to get you off the morphine all-you-can-eat.’ 

But what Doctor Mortensen ordered for his patients they got – who was Nurse Bloom to argue? So, he kept that thought to himself and smiled at the patient and said,

“I’ll talk to him, Mr. Jackson,” he promised, “anything else you wanted?”

Jackson eyed him with a strange kind of intensity and said, “How do you feel about growing your hair out and dying it blond?”

This time, Orlando didn’t hold back his grin. He carded his hand through his curls and replied, “Don’t you think that’d make me look a bit too girlish?”

Jackson replied with an exuberant wave that seemed slightly uncoordinated. “Nonono. Not with all the weaponry – you’re a magnificent archer!”

Orlando supposed that his skill with syringes counted as having a bit of talent with pointy objects, so he nodded slowly. “I suppose I could pull off the blond look.”

Jackson’s grin nearly split his face in two. “Fantastic. Now, would you be so nice and pick up my remote control? Must’ve dropped it…”

It took Orlando a second to shake out of Middle Earth to realize that the patient’s zapper had slipped under the hospital bed – and with two broken legs (having fallen off a ladder while building miniatures, talk about irony), he couldn’t regain it on his own. Orlando picked it up for him, and after making sure everything else was in order, he left the other man to his telly.

“Have a good night,” he said as he left the room. “Oh, and thanks for not turning me into an Orc.”

Thing with night shifts, Orlando thought as he sat on the office chair back in the nurse room and spun around, thing was that it was so frigging tedious. He didn’t even mind the ‘it’s night, yet I’m not sleeping’ thing – granted, it could fuck with someone’s head but not when you were used to partying as hard as he was, really. No, it was those nights where not even the patients needed him (in itself a good thing of course) that he got so very bored that he’d be half tempted to perform open heart surgery on himself just to do something against the monotony.

He cleared up his locker, even re-folded his extra pair of scrubs, started reading some girl magazine that Liv had forgotten on the table. Then he thunked his head onto said table repeatedly.

On any other night, he’d maybe call Sean to chat about world politics (Sean was usually doing the talking there) or Dom to talk about women (again, mostly Dom doing the jabbering). But he supposed that right now, the Astin family was gathered round the Christmas tree and Dom was probably – actually, Orlando didn’t really wanted to picture in detail what kind of NC17 activity Dom was up to right now.

He fiddled with the tiny TV (shittiest programme of the year), got all excited over a patient ringing him for a glass of water, re-sorted patient’s charts by hideousness of sickness, chewed his nails for a bit.

God, he was SO bored.

“There’s a big crash on 15th – at least three amputated limbs included.”

Orlando swirled around on his chair. 

“Really?” 

He gaped at Karl leaning in the doorframe in street clothes with his backpack slung over his shoulder.

“You probably shouldn’t sound as excited about that.”

Orlando merely snorted and turned around again, propping his feet onto the table.

“Yeah, and you probably shouldn’t make stupid jokes about other people’s health. Don’t you physios have the Hippocratic oath as well? ”

“Don’t be too disappointed,” Karl’s big hands landed on Orlando’s shoulder and squeezed them through the light material of the scrubs.

Orlando lay his head back and looked up at Karl, his smiling face upside down.

“I have to work on Christmas,” he whined, and of course Karl’s hands immediately responded by gently kneading the tense muscles underneath, thumbs pressing into the back of his neck.

“So, I suppose it’s a good thing that I brought your present with me,” Karl said and one of his hands left Orlando’s shoulder to fling his backpack onto Orlando’s lap. He didn’t need to finish his sentence because Orlando had the zipper open within a second and cheered when he saw his Playstation in there, a small, game shaped parcel lying on top of it.

“Merry Christmas,” Karl grinned and easily followed Orlando’s hand, tugging at his shirt, to receive his slightly sloppy upside down thank you kiss before they set up for the night.

 

Red hot hoochie coocher

Karl lets himself into the house to the sounds of Beethoven coming from the upstairs living room. Nice, he thinks as he puts down his briefcase and sheds his coat, to be welcomed by music and to always know what it means. Orlando isn’t exactly a mute either, he talks and talks and talks all day and even in his sleep but he’s also providing the soundtrack to their lives on his piano. The big black thing acts as a stress relief as much as an instrument to express his joy and Karl sometimes jokes that he’d think Orlando would marry it if he weren’t already married to Karl.

So, it’s Beethoven today and this and the enticing smell of food tell Karl that Orlando’s in the best of moods and he enters the kitchen with a smile. The table is set and dinner is obviously ready; apart from a wizard on his piano Orlando is also a half decent cook. Of course at the same time he acts like he has no idea what a water tap or the sink are for and Karl is certain he doesn’t even know how to turn the dishwasher on. Karl hangs his suit coat over the back of one of the chairs, rolls up the sleeves of his blue shirt and turns the tap on to tackle the dirty pots and pans in the sink. 

Beethoven reaches his flourishing finish and then there is silence coming from the hallway. Karl turns the tap of and two of the pots clang together when he rearranges them in order to clean them. The noise is loud enough to be heard upstairs now and the living room door is opened.

“Is that you, Karl?” Orlando calls.

“Nope. Home invasion, I’m afraid.”

Orlando’s laughter rings through the staircase.

“Some burglar you are, doing the dishes first thing. Did you bring me flowers, too?”

“I thought a straightforward molesting would be more up your alley,” Karl calls back with a smile on his face, his hands still submerged in dishwater.

“Promises, promises,” Orlando replies. “I’ll be right down. Just hiding from the burglar in the shower for a tick.”

“It would help if you would leave a trail of clothes leading to the bathroom like Hansel’s and Gretel’s breadcrumb trail,” Karl shouts after him even though he knows better. 

For some reason Orlando hardly ever wears anything but boxer shorts in the house and actually makes Karl bribe him with sexual favours before he puts something more on occasionally, say, when they are expecting some of Karl’s business partners over for dinner. It’s a bit odd, considering that outside the house Orlando prefers wearing at least two coats over one another and never parts with his woolen hat before May, earliest.

The shower starts upstairs and the slight change in the tapwater’s stream pulls Karl out of his contemplations. It’s too quiet all of a sudden, it always feels like that when Orlando’s not talking or playing the piano (or both), so he turns the radio on, awkwardly because he’s mostly doing it with his elbow, his wet hands careful to not sully his shirt or trousers. Dance music starts playing, fitting for a Friday night, and going out after dinner is a plan that instantly forms in Karl’s head as automatically his body responds to the rhythm. One can’t really dance and do the dishes at the same time, not properly, Karl supposes when a few splashes of water get onto his shirt after all as he scrubs with a bit too much enthusiasm. Still, he hums along to the music and can feel the need to dance and move his hips growing ever stronger, so why not give in to it at least a little bit?

“Doing the dishes and giving me a private dance? Where did you go to home invasion school?”

At the sound of Orlando’s voice Karl stops moving momentarily and looks over his shoulder. Orlando is leaning against the fridge, naked save for a pair of checkered boxers, his long hair still wet from the shower and tied back in an untidy knot. Karl puts the last pan down on the side of the sink and dries his hands on the towel, swirling in to the beat of the music afterwards while shaking his hips. Orlando laughs.

“I have no idea,” Karl says, “why Beethoven is your good-mood-music. Honestly, compared to this?”

“It’s because Lady Gaga sounds shite on the piano,” Orlando replies and pushes himself away from the fridge, stepping up to Karl. 

His hands find Karl’s hips and loosely rest on them, not stopping their movement but rolling with it and easily, Orlando picks up Karl’s rhythm and goes along with it. Karl arches an eyebrow when Orlando presses their hips closer together and he can feel Orlando’s half hard cock. Orlando just smiles a little broader and shrugs, the motion only slightly aborted when Karl rests his lower arms on Orlando’s shoulders and pulls him in further. They stay like this for the rest of the song, Orlando barefoot and still damp from the shower, Karl in his expensive Boss suit and with the dish towel still in his hand. Somehow they manage to slow dance in the middle of their kitchen to the beat of dance floor music and Orlando mouths “Good to have you home, doll” against Karl’s lips when the room echoes with the last repetition of the meaningless chorus.

“How about we go out after dinner?” Karl suggests when the song has ended. “Do some real dancing?”

Orlando pulls a face but doesn’t pull away. “’s that mean you want me to dress up?”

“I’d want you to dress, yes. I hate it when I feel like I’m the pimp to your Eastern European prostitute, only because you can’t be bothered to wear anything but your sexy lingerie.”

Orlando laughs, a sound so rich and dark that it makes Karl want to change the plans for the evening, have a private party for two in their bedroom.

“Poppycock,” Orlando says and pulls away, mind set to get dinner on the table now. “It’s bad enough that I have to wear proper grown up clothes on stage. Why can Axl Rose go up there in his boxers and I can’t? The classical music industry is clearly discriminating me.”

Karl reaches around Orlando to pull them two beers from the fridge before he sits himself down.

“Poor baby,” he coos. “Imagine what people feel like who have to wear suits every day.”

Still bent over the oven Orlando gives him a look that is clearly a once over.

“Yeah, but I look like a tool. You on the other hand totally rock the stuffy accountant look. Now shut up and eat, sexy.”

Karl’s responding growl turns into a purr when a plate filled with Orlando’s latest cooking experiment is put down in front of him. Karl is instantly hungry as fuck and they share the meal in silence. After finishing his second helping, Karl looks up from the plate that he just licked clean to find Orlando slouching in his chair comfortably, beer in his right hand, and watching him.

Orlando asks, “So what’ll it be for the rest of the evening? Dancing or shagging?” 

“Both?” 

Orlando weighs his head from side to side as if considering.

“Yeah, we could do that. But alternatively I could play ‘Minnie the Moocher ’ for you on the piano,” he replies and when Karl looks at him blankly, he sings, “ Hey folks here's the story 'bout Minnie the Moocher, she was a red-hot hoochie coocher, she was the roughest toughest rail, but Minnie had a heart as big as a whale – hodehodehodeho, raderaderadera. And so on. ‘Jeeves and Wooster’, man. Genius.”

Karl swallows and picks up his beer.

“It’s probably an affront to the best British culture has to offer but I still say we go dancing.”

Orlando shrugs lightly and noisily pushes his chair back.

“Fine by me. We can do Minnie the Moocher tomorrow night then.” He gets up and stretches, looking down at Karl. “You wash up while I get dressed? Or do you want to shower first, ‘cause then I suggest shag and then go dancing.” And singing again he adds, “My boy Karl had the roughest toughest luck but at least he had a huge cock I liked to suck – hodehodehodeho, raderaderadera.”

“And people actually pay to hear you perform,” Karl says with a shake of his head and gets up as well. 

Orlando catches his eye and completely unsubtly strokes down his treasure trail. 

Of course Karl buckles.

“Fine, give me five minutes and I’ll have the dishwasher running when you have the shower water at a decent temperature.”

Orlando mock-salutes him and turns on his heels, calling over his shoulder as he leaves, “You’re the best. I’ll even wear trousers and a shirt for you as a reward.”

Karl calls after him, “I’m so happy I could pull all my clothes off and play Beethoven for an hour!”

And again, Orlando’s laughter fills the hallway. And again, Karl knows he hasn’t been lying and would already be sitting at the piano, rocking Beethoven or ‘Minnie the Moocher’ if he could actually play the damn thing.

Beds belonging to nobody

It’s hotel rooms after that first night. Darkness and the unfamiliarity of beds belonging to nobody, constantly used for the same purpose. Sean would possibly find that comforting if he felt guilty.

The moment he enters, closes the door, hands search for a moment in the dark. They brush against the front of his shirt, then suddenly they are sure and steady on his chest. They push him back against the nearest wall. A picture frame protests, edges dig into Sean’s shoulder blades.

Orlando’s mouth descends on his, his kiss is fierce, angry almost, like he has waited for hours (longer) for Sean. He uses his body to pin Sean against the wall, tongue wet and hot, and just like this, weeks of carefully executed self-control mean nothing anymore.

Sean bites Orlando’s lower lip, wants it to bruise under his teeth, wants to taste blood as the ‘hello’ he deserves – he knows he can’t, knows he should care but can’t do that either – 

‘Jesus, fuck. Come on, come on,’ Orlando urges, and these are the only words that matter.

 

It’s exactly once that they have a proper conversation, and it is on the evening they meet. Sean’s company is possibly only so up-and-coming in the TV industry to get away with celebrating their souls out every weekend. Because she is smarter than he is, his wife hasn’t bothered coming to the party, and up to this point Sean wishes he hadn’t either. The company of people – high on success, alcohol and a variety of substances – gets old quickly if you’re sober and clean.

It’s seven years to the day that he has touched anything seriously addictive, that is the evening he meets Orlando. The irony of it doesn’t escape him.

 

Orlando growls, and it could be protest, but Sean is sure it isn’t. A steely grip around his wrist pries Sean’s hand from Orlando’s face and pushes it down to his jeans. There, Orlando’s cock is thick and hard against Sean’s palm.

Sean knocks his head back against the wall, tries to catch his breath as he presses his hand firmer against Orlando, his eyes blink uselessly, still trying to make sense of the dark. Deprived of one of their allies, his other senses tumble over one another as they try to make up for it. He swears right now he can smell Orlando’s arousal, despite layers of fabric, tastes Orlando’s salty sweat on his tongue as he licks his neck.

 

Orlando’s kisses taste of champagne and tequila, subsequently his laughter is a bit on the drunk, hysterical side when they finally find an abandoned office. Twenty feet away from the heart of the party is an entire universe for all Sean cares as his senses zone in on Orlando. 

 

Orlando’s forehead slumps against Sean’s neck, Orlando groans as Sean uses his other hand to tear at his belt, fumble with his button fly. ‘God, man, yes.’ The response to Sean’s hand pushing into his briefs. Sean slides his fingers around Orlando’s cock, finds it slick with precome already. His mouth waters. Hard, hot, hard – his brain once again short-circuits on one-syllable words.

 

He makes his living putting words into fictional persons’ mouths, makes them clever, injudicious, depraved, above suspicion. Being a decent conversationalist is a side effect. It’s probably the same with Orlando who owns a bookstore and has a soft spot for R. M. Rilke’s poetry. Those are two of the few things that Sean learns about him that evening.

 

Sean has learned how to twist his jerks at exactly the right time to appease Orlando for a few seconds. The fog lifts enough to allow the outline of a rudimentary plan – locate the bed and start using it. He loosens his grip enough for Orlando to partially snap out of it, then tugs at his shirt by way of suggestion. Orlando reacts instantly and starts yanking his shirt over his head. Sean can’t be expected to wait, soft cotton is still being pulled away when he leans forward to kiss hastily revealed skin. Sean remembers abruptly that there is a tattoo there somewhere on his pectorals. He wants to trace the outline of whatever permanent commitment Orlando inked into his skin but can’t in the darkness. Salt and Orlando is what he tastes but no ink, of course not. He is about to reach around blindly for a light-switch, but he doesn’t. Instead he releases Orlando’s cock, and Orlando shoves him towards the bed, gets dragged along by Sean’s hand around the back of his neck. Sean knows he’s going to fuck Orlando within the next five minutes, yet it seems as inconceivable a concept as the end of days.

 

The music from the party provides the soundtrack to the slap of skin on skin and wet kisses; ridiculously fitting for an off-the-rack romantic B-story. A drunken fumble, but Sean is stone-cold sober. He knows what he’s doing when he holds Orlando down on someone else’s desk, knows what he’s doing when he responds to every single one of Orlando’s gravelly demands, knows what he’s doing when he is thrusting –

 

It’s so not going fast enough.

When he has Orlando, naked, on top of him, finally, Sean’s kiss is one of relief, is like coming up for air. Skin, so much skin and Sean wants his hands everywhere, digs his fingers into each and every flexing muscle. Orlando cut his hair since the last time. It feels short between Sean’s fingers, causes him to growl when it refuses him a proper grip. Orlando’s knowing chuckle makes his lips quiver against Sean’s. ‘Bummer, isn’t it?’ Sean kisses him harder, tightens his grip on his shoulders and the back of his head, presses his lips against the smooth skin of his chin, his cheek, pushes him down, needs that mouth somewhere else.

 

It’s only afterwards that Sean tries to suss out whose office they are in. Half-heartedly he restores order on the desk they just finished misusing. Orlando is still restoring himself; after he has fastened the last button of his jeans, his thumb twists the simple golden band around his ring finger. Sean is a TV writer. His brain is hard-wired to find small gestures to attribute symbolic meaning to – over-interpret everything, as his wife likes to call it.

‘We should pick up our discussion about Rilke’s work some time.’ Orlando asks him for his number, and it’s not to chat about poetry. Sean knows that. Like a school lad’s stealing sweets, his hand trembles with inexperienced eagerness when he enters his number into Orlando’s mobile.

 

His fingers tremble, he can’t keep them still against Orlando’s scalp. He wants to push him further down, keep him there, feel his throat constrict; he wants to pull him up, kiss that mouth, taste himself in it, feel Orlando’s body, more of it, against his own.

Decision made in the fraction of a second, he jerks Orlando up, a hiss, sudden cold air against his wet skin, and Orlando crawls up, a smear of sticky precome on Sean’s stomach from Orlando’s own heavy cock as he kisses Sean briefly. Sean’s too impatient for this as well, he craves to be inside of him, but still, first he has to have something else. With his hand on Orlando’s hip, he tries to pull him further up, and Orlando complies once again, straddles his chest.

Sean closes his eyes, his head sinks back against the cushion only to be adjusted by a hand against the back of it right after. His lips drop open in a breathless pant, the sharp salty taste accompanies Orlando pushing between them, fingertips caressing Sean’s chin as he holds himself, holds Sean’s jaw in place. Sean sucks, still too greedy, and wraps his hand around his own dick as Orlando refuses to give him all of his, right this second, at once.

Orlando gives in for a third time and thrusts forward, but he reaches around and nudges Sean’s hand away from his erection.

‘No. Focus on this now.’

For the moment Sean does. He tastes Orlando, feels his thickness, can control the urge to just hold him down and shove into him, and that pacifies him. For a moment.

 

It starts as an itch to scratch, a quick thirst to quench. It develops into a gut-wrenching hunger that is lacerating him from inside, becomes a Pavlovian response, is looked forward to like the last day of school. A haunting poltergeist to scare away the daily grind, desire and denial chase each other like rabid dogs, two in the bush is better –

He hates it when he mixes metaphors, loses control over his army of similes and stops being the deus ex machina of his play. His puppets yank themselves free from their strings, and under their stomping heels they crush his 3D model of how things are possibly supposed to be. 

 

He comes inside of Orlando

stupefied his mind is hopelessly trailing as

words fail him

They always do. It’s the one comfort.

 

Orlando, he tells himself, is not the reason for this.

He is in the business of selling fictional concepts of love, obsession, other marketable emotions to the world at large. Too bad he doesn’t believe his own lies. The days, weeks, months (months, weeks, days) in between are the off-season with all its time for recuperation, boredom, anticipation; they are exercises in holding his breath underwater. 

 

His fingers fumble with his lighter in the darkness. Like the rest of his body, they are numb from exertion. The little flame, once lit, does a poor job illuminating the room.

Still, as he lights the fag between his lips, he glances at Orlando next to him– a snapshot of an athletic body, long legs sprawled over the now crumpled sheets, right arm draped over his face in a gesture of satisfied defeat. His chest is still heaving, and after the flame dies, Sean still hears him taking in slightly too fast, too deep breaths.

Nicotine isn’t exactly what Sean craves right now, but he still groans with quiet relief when he exhales the first drag.

Orlando pushes himself up, and Sean knows from everything they’ve just done that it is one single fluid graceful motion. The thought alone causes the panther inside of him to start pacing in its cage again. Orlando’s shoulder brushes against his as he leans back against the headboard next to Sean, and Sean holds his pack of cigarettes out to him.

‘Nah, thanks. I quit a while back.’

Sean tries to recall the taste of tobacco on Orlando’s tongue but falls short. He tries to remember any titbit of information that could explain the break with an old familiar habit. He knows he won’t find anything. He could ask, but as it is, the only questions they ever trade are via texts (‘Thursday at 7? Same place?’). He doesn’t have to ask anyway. He doesn’t believe in questions. Automatically, his imagination starts filling in blanks with possibilities. He has got enough practice.

‘I can put it out.’

It’s the polite thing to say, and it’s something to say. He takes another drag and holds his breath for a moment, looks at the gleaming tip of the fag. Instead of answering, Orlando leans in and kisses him open-mouthed, curls his tongue around the smoke, steals it. He hums deep in his throat, still hungry, and the way he licks Sean’s lips is slow enough to be savouring. Without pulling back, he glances at the glow-in-the-dark hands of his wristwatch.

‘I need to be gone in half an hour.’

With his free hand Sean strokes down Orlando’s chest, his fingers curling in the curve of his hip bone. He leans forward and brushes his lips against the sharp outline of Orlando’s jaw.

‘I won’t fight you for first shower.’

Orlando turns toward him again, smiles against his lips.

For this exact moment in time, Sean wants, needs, craves to see that smile in daylight, every day. He leans his forehead against Orlando’s. It’s something that passes, he knows that from experience. He’d make a good survival expert. Man vs. Wild, Sean vs. – 

He chuckles to himself, reality reinstating itself. He takes a last drag from his cigarette and stubs it out as Orlando’s hand caresses his thigh, fingertips traipsing upwards. He cups the back of Orlando’s head and brings their mouths together again.

Twenty-something minutes later (easier ones, with easy kisses, touches, verses easier to comprehend), Orlando’s retreat to the bathroom is a hasty affair, laughter intercutting muttered curses. Sean remains seated on the edge of the bed and smokes another cigarette. Behind the closed door, the sound of pouring water indicates the shortest of showers.

He squints against the light coming from the bathroom when Orlando emerges again, a black silhouette against the syrupy yellow glow of energy-saving lamps. Orlando is already dressed, straightens his collar when he sits down next to Sean, closer than he has to. He checks his watch again, cusses once more as he ties his shoes.

‘I’m so fucking late.’

‘That wasn’t completely unforeseeable.’

‘Oh, shut up.’

Sean laughs but does as he’s told. Orlando leans in, done with his shoelaces, and before he gets up, he drops a kiss onto Sean’s bare shoulder.

‘I gotta run. I’ll see you.’

In the semi-darkness, Sean smiles at the choice of words in that statement, not sure whether it even was intentional. Another quick lingering kiss on his lips (Orlando’s now taste of spearmint), then Orlando is gone.

When Sean enters the bathroom, the air is still warm and foggy from Orlando’s shower. He stands in front of the sink, in front of the large mirror. The tiles are damp under his feet.

He tells himself he doesn’t need to check his skin for any revealing marks, but his eyes still insist on the search. Orlando never leaves any. Sean doesn’t either, even when he’s slamming into Orlando, and Orlando tells him to, implores him. He’s not sure how he’d feel if he found any. He’s good at omitting the truth which doesn’t mean he likes to lie outright. He’s generally comfortable with not labelling this, and still he sometimes might want proof (or an explanation) in big bold letters of any alphabet.

He showers. Ironically, it is only now that his skin smells like Orlando’s, like hotel room soap.

As he dries his face with the remaining clean towel, he catches a glance of his watch. Today’s date (tiny digits that nestle underneath the steadily moving hands) makes him chuckle. He shakes his head and regards the bloke in the mirror again. 

Ten years to the day since he’s sworn off booze and the powdered occupational hazard of the television industry.

What is it they say?

Once an addict –

So fucking clichéd

"This is so fucking clichéd," Orlando gasps, his hands clutching Karl's broad shoulders.

Karl just laughs, his thigh pressing firmly between Orlando's, and nudges Orlando's chin with his nose so he can get to his neck. When he starts sucking, right above the collar of Orlando's shirt, Orlando both groans and tries to push him off. 

"I'm not leaving this closet with bite marks all over me," he protests, manages get his hand between their chests. He pushes hard, but keeps his fist wrapped around Karl's tie so he doesn't move too far away. Not that there's really a chance for it, confined as this space is.

"But you'd look really hot," Karl argues while his fingers play with Orlando's shirt and pull it out of his trousers. The only light in this room comes from under the door, dimly reminding Orlando that there is an outside world, one with people in it that might stand outside the door just this moment, one that doesn't only consist of them, right here.

"Really hot," Karl repeats and Orlando knows that coaxing voice just as he knows Karl's cheating lips that nuzzle his chin now and along the line of his jaw. 

"I'd look like you'd fucked me in the closet," Orlando corrects him, his firm voice undermined by his hips apparent need to push against Karl's, to keep at least their lower bodies tightly pressed against each other. "During the office Christmas party."

Karl's hands lose some of their urgent franticness and he catches Orlando's quivering inhale with his mouth when his fingers start stroking naked skin with teasing gentleness.

"You're right," he all but whispers against Orlando's mouth, "this really is fucking clichéd."

"Don't," Orlando starts, gets side-tracked when Karl's hand slides lower, cups the bulge in Orlando's pants and rubs lightly. "Don't stop."

Karl's mouth is next to his ear, his breath hot against Orlando's skin. „But,” he whispers, amusement warming his voice, "Orlando, someone might hear us!"

Orlando growls and Karl chuckles, both of them know that Orlando's shyness is an easy button to push but that his reticence towards any form of PDA in the office does not include the supply storage. Proving that to be true once more, Orlando pulls Karl in by his tie, so much determination behind that that they all but stumble against one of the shelves with staplers on it, causing the metallic frame to creak loudly. Both of them freeze and listen intently.

"Someone will have heard that," Karl whispers, hand on Orlando's hip and on his fly. The distant noise from the party seems loud to Orlando's ears now, like their entire office really is just outside the door. Still -- 

"I don't care. As long as the next thing they hear is --" Orlando can't finish, groans instead when Karl pulls his zipper down and his fingers stroke over the soft cotton of Orlando's briefs, that touch alone being enough to make Orlando's knees threaten to buckle. 

"Is what?" Karl asks against Orlando's mouth, he exhales -- all amusement gone now -- when Orlando pushes up into his hand, all but rips Karl's shirt out of his trousers and open to finally get his hands on skin. "What'd they hear, Orlando, huh? Would they hear you begging me not to stop, hm? 'Karl, don't stop doing this?'" 

He pushes his hand into Orlando's briefs, wraps his fingers around Orlando's hard cock and there is no teasing, no gentleness to his touch now, his breathing growing heavier and encouraging as Orlando fights to not just give in and start begging like a needy slut. He leans heavily against the shelves and all that saves him is Karl's equally dark groan when Orlando grips the short hair on the back of his head and pulls him in for a kiss. It's messy and it's fucking loud, both of them groaning and Karl cussing against Orlando's lips when Orlando manages to get his belt open and pushes his hand down the back of Karl's trousers, cups his ass possessively.

"God, I want you," Karl says, breath still coming in stutters, as he leans his forehead against Orlando's. His hand is still stroking Orlando's cock, sure and steady and just like Orlando likes it and Karl knows it.

"Karl," Orlando replies because what else is there to say. Right this moment there is nothing else but Karl and Orlando's need for him.

"I always want you," Karl murmurs, his other hand now finding Orlando's cheek and his thumb strokes over Orlando's cheekbone. "Can't help myself sometimes."

Orlando smiles at that and when he leans in to press a soft kiss onto Karl's lips he can feel the responding smile right there.

"I can tell," he says, meaning the closet and how once again they found their way into it. "What is it with office supplies that turns you on like that, huh?"

It's a stupid joke, not the least bit funny, but sometimes -- times like this -- this thing he feels for Karl is so much bigger than anything that Orlando can handle, seems too big not just for this closet but for Orlando's heart as well and so he jokes, makes light of the situation, yeah?

Karl knows it and Orlando thinks he loves him even more for understanding it, too. So when he replies there is that same ridiculous lightness in his voice.

"So, how about the next thing that people outside hear is --" he asks and adds a slurping noise, similar to how he sounds when Orlando made that Asian tomato soup and Karl insists that it tastes better when slurped.

Orlando snorts but tightens his grip on Karl's ass, rubs his cheek against Karl's, light evening stubble a stark contrast to his skin.

"What?" he asks. "You drinking a milkshake?"

Karl chuckles, a sound that changes into a low groan when Orlando can't help himself but closes his mouth over Karl's Adam's apple and sucks. Karl pushes him back though, ignores Orlando's growled protest and kisses it away.

"No," he then murmurs, "I was thinking more about me sucking you off."

Orlando snorts, that ridiculous slurping sound still clear in his ear, but even if he wanted to, he can't think of a joke now.

"Please," he says instead, "please." And his hand on Karl's shoulder instantly tries to push him down, he can't wait to get him to his knees.

"Greedy," Karl comments but lets himself be pushed down, kneels as gracefully as he can manage, knocks against two of the shelves anyway because this place is cramped and his legs are long. 

Orlando stares down at him, eyes as wide as his breathing is frantic and he fears he might hyperventilate just from that sight. Karl's looking up at him, his tie still around his neck but askew now and there is such a hungry look in his eyes as he pulls Orlando's slacks down to his thighs for better access. Orlando hisses when he leans back and the metal of the shelf is cold against the naked skin of his ass. Karl's hair is a mess, Orlando's frantic hands have been the cause for it, and Orlando now reaches down to smooth it, fingers quivering as Karl leans in and he can feel the warmth of his breath against the wet head of his cock.

Karl pushes up the front of Orlando's shirt, to get that out of the way as well, and he presses a kiss against Orlando's stomach, right above his belly button. The touch is so soft and slow, not at all what Orlando's body expected, what it needs. And yet a shiver runs right through him as this gentleness completely throws him off balance for a moment, makes his need return with so much more vengeance in the next.

"Karl," he whispers as his stomach muscles quiver against the soft touch of Karl's hand now. "Please, please, come on, your mouth," he continues quietly, the begging loud and clear in his voice.

"You're so damn hot," Karl murmurs, almost reverently, his eyes not meeting Orlando's but firmly fixed on Orlando's cock, hard and wet and curving up against his belly.

Orlando grips the shelf for support, hand knocking over a few staplers, when Karl's lips touch the head of his cock, and he bites down hard on his lower lip to not shout out. Karl's mouth is wet and hot, his lips pressing around the crown of his dick and it makes him want to keen and come right then and there and it still makes him greedier than ever.

"God," he breathes, hands tight in Karl's hair. "God, Karl I --"

Karl's response is immediate, he takes Orlando in further and Orlando's eyes slam shut when he sucks hard, pleasure shooting through his body, and it's still not enough, it can ever be enough when you're as addicted as Orlando is to Karl, to this.

He tries to hold back, tries to give Karl a moment to adjust, and focuses on the almost painful grip Karl's hands have on his hipbones, focuses on the cold metal of the shelf and the dim strip of light under the door. But to no avail, Karl's around him and the pressure of his tongue against Orlando's dick is just right and still --

"I can't --" he chokes out, need and apology mixing together until he can't tell them apart anymore. He grips Karl's head, fingers digging into the back of his skull, and he pulls him in, thrusts his hips hard. The back of Karl's throat refuses to yield, hard pressure against the head of his cock, and Karl makes a choking noise, jerks like all his body's reflexes tell him to pull back. But the grip on Orlando's hips doesn't falter, and Orlando won't pull back, can't pull back. He pushes in even harder, mouth open as he looks down at Karl, at the tear that runs down his cheek and the wetness in his eyes when he directs them up at Orlando. And still Orlando is not where he needs to be, can't get in all the way, won't stop pressing either. His hand slides down from Karl's head to his throat, cups it and strokes it lightly, and Karl groans lowly right before his throat finally gives way. 

One second his thrust is met with seemingly unyielding resistance and the next he can slide further, feels Karl's throat contracting around his dick as he pushes it in so deep that Karl's lips close around the base of his cock and he keeps it there. The feeling is amazing and Orlando nearly buckles under the intensity of it. He groans long and low, then he starts moving a little, his thrusts only aiming to get him deeper yet every time, and Karl's throat is contracting around the head of his cock, swallowing him continuously. 

He knows Karl can't breathe like that and maybe he would care, maybe he would if he hadn't decided that right now Karl does not need to breathe, if he wasn't sure that Orlando's pleasure, his dick down his throat was all Karl needed. He stops thrusting altogether, buried as deep as it gets and licks his lips as Karl's possessively close around the base of his cock and Karl stays like that, his nose lightly touching Orlando's belly.

"Look at me," Orlando whispers, strokes through Karl's hair and instantly Karl's eyes shoot up, the wetness gone and replaced by a drunken haze. Orlando pulls back an inch, just enough for his dick not to block Karl's breathing for a moment, and Karl's nostrils flare as he inhales a huge gulp of much needed air, and another and another and right before Orlando can't stand it anymore, needs to push back in to feel that tightness again, Karl sucks him back in, slightly rises on his knees to get another angle and to get him deeper yet.

Orlando's responding gasp sounds broken, strange to his own ears, and there is that need again, stronger than ever and he doesn't know how to handle it. He nearly sobs with relief when Karl pulls back, eases the suction and wraps a cold hand around the base of his cock as his tongue toys with the head.

"Your fucking mouth," Orlando chokes. When Karl chuckles smugly he is glad because it gives him something else but this raging thing inside of him to focus on. "You're vindictive, you know that?" he says accusingly, his fingers curling around Karl's ear.

Karl pulls away enough to talk but his lips still brush against Orlando as he says, "How is you fucking my throat like a wild thing vindictive of me?"

"Whose fault is it we're in here?"

"Yours. You were giving me these looks from across the room," Karl replies, tongue lapping at Orlando's cock in between words and making it insanely difficult for him to focus.

"Shut up," he therefore says automatically but of course he can't let it go. "Looks? When was that? When I was at the buffet or when I was talking to Mr. Tidwell about the Crane accounts?"

Instead of replying Karl just takes him into his mouth again and sucks hard.

"Fucking cheat," Orlando growls helplessly but whines when Karl pulls back again.

"Do you want me to stop?"

The noise of the party abruptly grows much louder for a moment, like someone has opened the door to step out. 

Footsteps follow and someone says, "Jesus, have you seen Dom from IT? He is so shitfaced."

A second deeper voice laughs and replies, "What gave you that idea? The fact that he's wearing his underwear over his pants?"

Orlando holds his breath because the voices grow louder, the two speakers clearly walking down the hallway that leads to the supply closet. Karl however? His shoulders shake in silent laughter and Orlando can see the glee in his eyes when their gazes meet. Orlando shakes his head in response, somewhat frantic but still very very silent, and he doesn't even know what he is saying ‘NO!' to. But of course Karl ignores him.

"I heard that was Bean's idea," continues the first voice, definitely female. "You know, from management?"

Karl licks over Orlando's cock and Orlando repeats the frantic headshake.

"Really?" says the male voice. "Wouldn't have pegged him for it. He looks like such a bore, you know?"

Orlando's heart nearly stops when both of the footsteps stop and it takes his brain a second to process that the door one of the two is rattling on isn't the one to the closet but the one directly opposite of it. Only in the very last second his fist finds his mouth so he can muffle his groan because Karl sucks him down again just as the male voice says,

"Fuck it. Who locked up the door?"

"Dunno, the cleaning staff?" guesses the woman, giggling.

Karl's teeth deliberately scrape against the underside of Orlando's cock, all the way as he pulls back almost completely and Orlando can feel the burn, feels the responding burn in his eyes from the effort to not make a sound.

"You got your keys on you?" asks the man.

"Don't think so. Wait a sec..." Rustling of clothes.

Karl sucks Orlando back in and Orlando's other hand finally remembers how to move, twists in Karl's hair in an effort to hold him back. But of course all that does to Karl is spur him on further and Orlando has to bite down on his lower lip painfully hard when Karl's fingers reach around him and start playing with his ass as he swallows Orlando down completely again.

"Shit. Must've left my keys at our table," says the woman, so loud and clear that Orlando can't think of anything else but that she stands not five feet away from where he is, currently getting his dick sucked. If he could think clearly he'd probably even know the voices -- he's getting head while two of his colleagues stand right next to him, Jesus fucking Christ.

"Let's get them then," says the male voice.

The woman giggles again. "And now," she says before the sound of their footsteps indicates that they walk back to the main rooms.

"I will kill you," Orlando hisses as soon as they are out of immediate earshot. "Honest to fucking God kill you."

Karl hums, which may have been ‘you can try' but he still has his mouth full of cock and Orlando can't understand him properly. He growls again, reaches behind himself to grip the shelf and steady himself before he thrusts hard into Karl's mouth, groans when Karl takes that exact second to press his dry fingertips against Orlando's hole. They don't slide in, no lubricant and no previous prep making it near impossible, but the pressure alone and Karl's throat working around him are enough to push him over the edge. 

The metal shelf clatters loudly as Orlando all but falls against it and he can't hold back the loud groan but he can't hear either of the sounds properly, can't care about them at all because his blood is rushing like thunder in his ears and all he can focus on is filling Karl's mouth with his come. 

Karl's hands find his hips again, to help he stay upright and to hold on to him. Orlando feels like he is still coming when the intense warmth and suction is suddenly gone. He manages to open his eyes and watch Karl get up from his knees, hand gripping Orlando's shirt and his tie as he does so, and he stares at Karl's mouth and parts his lips in anticipation of the kiss he is dimly aware is to come. 

Karl's mouth is on him, God, that fucking mouth, and the kiss is hard, demanding. His lips taste intensely salty, Orlando's mind fleetingly registers it even before what feels like his entire load of come is pushed back into his mouth. He groans and presses his tongue against Karl's to share the taste with him, grunts when Karl leans against him and rubs his own hard cock against Orlando's thigh in something like mindless frantic need. 

Even though his mind is still hazy from the orgasm, Orlando's body takes charge. His right hand finds the back of Karl's head, holding him close so he can feed him back his come, while his left wraps around Karl's rock hard cock and starts jerking him off. Karl groans low in his throat, a sound so desperate that all Orlando can think is that he wants to take that sound from him and own it, that he will never stop kissing him, never let him go, never let him come down from this helpless high. And even though Karl struggles, powerful muscles straining as he tries to regain any sort of control over himself, Orlando doesn't slow down, doesn't give him a chance to compose himself, wills him to come right now and just like this.

He feels the wetness coating his hand and his belly even before Karl seems to realize that he's coming and he strokes him through it as Karl shudders, his mouth completely pliant and just there for Orlando to possess as he comes, spurt after spurt, into Orlando's tight fist. 

Only when Karl's breathing has slowed down a little, Orlando loosens his grip and Karl pulls back a little, lips moving against Orlando's in an almost chaste kiss. Orlando swallows the rest of the come, the taste of which is still heavy on his tongue. He can feel the press of Karl's hand against his chest, warmth reaching his skin even through the fabric of his shirt.

"I love you," Karl says quietly and smiles against Orlando's mouth as he reaches up to straighten Orlando's tie.

"I love you more," replies Orlando, smiles, too, when Karl laughs.

"Not true."

"So true," Orlando insists. "I regularly let you drag me into supply closets and I have your come on my hand. Isn't that proof enough? Of the level of my love?"

"You protest too much," says Karl. "I'm pretty sure you enjoyed all the lunch breaks spent in here. As for the come, we're in a supply closet, there has to be something you can wipe that off with."

"Like what exactly? Staplers? Paper clips? We work in accounting, Karl, not in a porn studio. There are no mountains of tissues in our supply closet."

Karl waits for another second or two even after Orlando has finished and lowered his (come smeared) hand with which he was gesturing.

"Jesus fuck," escapes his lips when Karl grips his wrist, lifts his hand to his mouth and just starts cleaning it with his tongue.

"See, all prim and proper again," he says quietly after he's finished and licks his lips that sport a smug smile.

"You --," murmurs Orlando, still staring at Karl's mouth like it had hypnotized him. Only long moments later he tries again. "I mean. You know, I don't hate this closet."

Karl laughs and pulls back enough to pull up his trousers again, something that Orlando instantly does as well.

"Don't hate?" Karl quotes as he stuffs his shirt back into his trousers. "Two negatives, wow, that's some intense emotion there."

"Oh, shut up," Orlando mutters good naturedly and pulls a face when he remembers the wayward splatters of come that he has now drying under his shirt on his belly. "Staplers still aren't romantic."

Karl waits until Orlando has zipped up again then he lightly grips Orlando's tie to pull him in for another kiss. "So, what isromantic then, in your opinion?"

"I dunno," replies Orlando, deepening the kiss for a short moment before pulling himself together. "Our bed, you tied to the headboard and completely at my mercy for hours and hours?"

Karl hums approvingly and strokes down Orlando's chest.

"Or the other way around," Orlando continues, stuffing his shirt back into his trousers while still lightly kissing Karl. "Either way is fine with me."

"I don't disagree with that," Karl says and finally pulls back. He runs his hands through his hair, straightening it, and waits for Orlando's nod before he pushes the closet door open again. Orlando follows him out.

On the opposite side of the hallway, not six feet away, stands a man with his back to them, obviously trying to open a door. A woman in a short black dress leans against the nearest wall, patiently waiting even if grinning. Orlando recognizes her, it's Liv from exports, and now that he sees her he can put a face to the female voice earlier as well. Which would make him… Larry, Harry? Something like that.

"Hi guys," says Karl who apparently has never heard of sneaking away unnoticed so no one asks what they were doing in the supply closet.

"Oh hi!" greets Liv cheerfully. "What were you doing in the supply closet?"

Orlando blushes as hard as Karl grins as he blindly reaches for Orlando's hand, mostly to keep him from running away.

"Looking at staplers," Karl says, still with a huge smile.

"Really?" she asks.

"Jesus fuck," Orlando mutters and Karl grips his hand a little tighter.

"Great party so far, yeah?" says Larry-Harry, pointedly looking at their joined hands before his own finds the small of his companion's back. 

"If you excuse us now," says Liv and lets herself be pushed through the now open door, "Harry and I... need to sort paper clips."

To his credit, Karl only bursts out laughing when Harry has shut the door behind them.

"We're going home now," Orlando decides. "Before you get it into your head that it's a good idea to shag me on the photocopier."

Karl uses his grip on Orlando's hand to pull him against him and then wraps an arm around his shoulder. Automatically Orlando leans in and buries his face in Karl's neck, presses his nose against the warm skin right above his collar. Karl hums contentedly in response and Orlando feels so very stupidly blessed. It's only a moment later that he realises where Karl is leading them despite his pre-emptive veto.

"Karl, I am not coming to the office on Monday to find my cubicle decorated with a hundred copies of my arse. I mean it. Once is quite enough."

You’re a disgusting pervert and hopefully mine forever

When Orlando and Sean first meet they have worked in the same firm for two years and have known of each other for about six months. Only that they’ve never been introduced, there haven’t even been names mentioned.

Orlando works in IT and it is a running gag that at least once every week ‘that effing twat from upper management’ will call because he nuked his computer by catching tons of viruses while surfing for bdsm porn on the net. Though Orlando never really manages to proof the bit about the porn at that time he sticks by his theory and really, only a completely idiotic bastard like those management blokes would need IT support every sodding week.

Meanwhile Sean, assistant director of the firm (and hence definitely upper management), spends at least three hours every week writing furious emails to the world in general (after his computer has been fixed again) in which he complains about ‘that ruddy cockhole from IT’ who apparently has his mind stuck so deep in WoW or other completely nerdy internet activities that he can’t properly fix Sean’s computer.

Fast forward to the office Christmas party where – somewhat miraculously, considering they have in fact both been working there for the last 24 months – Sean and Orlando meet for the first time and spend a jolly good two hours amicably bitching about the eggnog and the godawful decoration before they skip the pretence of shared disgust and go straight to outright and proper flirting. Someone points out to them the effing twat / ruddy cockhole thing eventually but it is only after they had a good snog in a closet (it is an office Christmas party after all) and exchanged phone numbers.

No one at their office or in their circles of friends is surprised by it and no one is particularly sad about them being off the market now either. That, from the stranger’s point of view, might come as a bit of a surprise since both of them at first sight seem like a really, really good catch. Orlando for one is handsome enough to convince people at parties that his full time job is being London’s most expensive escort without even having to say anything. His face puts the whole section of Greek statues in the British Museum to shame, every woman in Britain envies him his dark brown curls and matching eyes and the force of his broad and beaming smile could supply an entire city with electricity.

Fittingly, with his ruggedly handsome men’s man charisma and his voice that is the siren’s song of London (in a totally manly way) Sean can charm his way into anyone’s boxers or panties in less than five minutes. It is something that he has done often enough for it to be a kind of party trick by now.

Handsome and charming, you’d think that London in general would be sad to see them off the menu.

But.

But Orlando is most possibly the most disgusting human being in the greater London area, if not the entire kingdom. He is about as watershy as a cat only that cats spend a good deal of their free time cleaning themselves and carefully licking their private parts. And while Orlando wouldn’t mind the ability to blow himself – at least before he met Sean, who is kind of the king of blow jobs (seriously, no gag reflex whatsoever and Orlando has been in love with his throat since the first time it and his cock met) – he most certainly has better ways to spend his time off than personal hygiene. Hence he kind of reeks. Of fresh sweat, of computer dust, of old sweat, of motor oil, of kebab, of Sean’s spunk (which happens rather a lot, especially on days when Sean can afford to come in late and thinks that early mornings are the best time to remind Orlando to whom he belongs by coming all over Orlando’s chest and belly and Orlando reckons that rubbing it in is really way more effective than washing it off).

Orlando doesn’t even own a washing machine but just either randomly hangs his clothes out to air out or tosses them into his bathtub, squirts shampoo over them, rinses them off and then forgets them there for a couple of days. He shaves infrequently, mostly when it starts to get annoying that food gets stuck in his beard, thinks that deodorants are a total waste of money and believes that eating in bed is the best invention ever, even if Fries with Mayo still beat Fries with spunk.

Also, since he happens to have the most angelic and beautiful smile and can get away with burping and farting about everywhere, he does exactly that and frequently so. It partly has something to do with yet another intensely disgusting habit of his which is eating absolutely anything, no matter how way over the best-before-date the product is or how completely appalling it looks or smells or tastes. It has earned him the nick name scavenger and quite a few quid from bets with strangers who idiotically thought that he wouldn’t eat old bratwurst with custard and liquorice.

Orlando is, to sum it up again, the most disgusting person ever and no one could ever fall in love with him if they stand within smelling distance. No one, except for Sean that is, who might claim that half the time he has sex with Orlando he has to do it with a clothes pin on his nose but who sits next to him on the train without having been dared to, holds his hand no matter the questionability of the substances under Orlando’s dirty fingernails.

Sean now, he showers regularly, owns a washing machine and knows which fungi are actually supposed to be eaten and which aren’t. It doesn’t make him any less filthy though, if you ask well, anyone. For one, he has a porn collection about the size of the library of Alexandria before it burned down and aside from scat, which he personally doesn’t think a turn on but is still willing enough to discuss at length with anyone, he owns everything. People have frequently pointed out to him how it is unsettling that when they come to visit him the entire big wall of the living room holds racks and racks of neatly organized hardcore porn. Sean frequently answers that the pictures of a tit job with huge double D knockers has never killed anyone, in fact it is something that he believes to be good for the soul. His obsession with huge cleavage may seem a bit odd, considering that he and Orlando have been together for a year now and Orlando may possess a lot of qualities but big tits aren’t among them. Still, every Friday evening is porn Academy Awards night in Sean’s living room and the Oscar always goes to some big breasted woman thanks to Sean’s enthusiastic vote and Orlando’s ‘eh, whatever, now that you’re sporting such nice wood, how about you let me suck it’ attitude.

Sean is also the kind of person who, after Orlando has introduced him to the world of WoW spends his free time ripping people on the other side of the world off via internet. He tells the filthiest jokes in the most inappropriate of situations, openly hates children and mothers, has absolutely no inhibitions to tell everyone how every person he ever slept with is like in bed and sometimes he starts fist fights in pubs just because he thinks it’s funny.

Sean is, in total, the kind of bloke people warn their children about. Orlando doesn’t give a toss about other people’s opinion, whether that might be ‘oh no, you can’t possibly eat this’ or ‘he isn’t good for you, dear’. People, in Orlando’s opinion, are a bunch of pussies who don’t have a fucking clue and wouldn’t see a good thing even if it stood in front of them, punched them in the face and insulted their mother.

So, no, their colleagues and friends aren’t all that sad that Sean and Orlando are off the market. It’s more like this: Sean gets text messages from Orlando’s work mates suggesting that he’d buy a garden hose because frankly, Orlando stinks and it’s Sean’s responsibility to take care of that now. Orlando has to listen to the complaints of heavily pregnant women when the two of them accidentally stroll past the playground on the way to their Deli and Sean, with his voice being (aside from fucking sexy) very carrying, complains that – bigger tits or not – pregnant bellies are about the most disgusting thing ever and a fence should be erected around the playground so he is spared the visual. Orlando, who has just temporarily parked his bum on the park bench next to the playground because he wanted to eat his smurf ice-cream and pickled olives in peace, stares at the bitching women without comprehension until he realises that holding hands with a bloke makes you responsible for his actions, similar to when you’re walking a dog and have to take care of the dumps it takes.

They talk about it eventually – well, Sean gifts Orlando with a basket full of Body Shop hygiene products, all smelling heavily of strawberries, and starts calling Orlando ‘me little strawberry’ until Orlando twists his arm behind his back until it hurts and proves to him that a. nothing of his smells of strawberries and b. nothing of his is little. And Orlando buys Sean a dog collar and a muzzle which leads to yet more sex (obviously) and Sean’s download track record on the net heavily featuring bdsm-special-interest-porn over the next two weeks.

Okay, fine, they don’t exactly talk about it but neither of them feels the need to anyway. Thing is, neither of them really minds. Not the very obvious (and many) faults that the other one has. Not the complaints about them. Not the responsibility of constantly having to defend the other in front of strangers (and friends and family). In fact, they quite enjoy it, all of it.

Sean lures Orlando under the shower with the promise of blow jobs (which of course he delivers and nearly kills Orlando with them when he almost passes out and hits his head on the shower wall) and when they come out of the shower Orlando is smelling fresh as a daisy and is deeply satisfied and Sean has with a slightly sore throat and the intense need to fuck Orlando through the next available surface.

Orlando starts grabbing Sean by the collar and kissing the daylights out of him whenever a pram is in sight.

Sean starts washing Orlando’s clothes that he forgets at Sean’s flat and takes the following mockery like a man when Orlando keels over laughing when his socks suddenly smell like lavender instead of foot.

Sean comes home one day to find Orlando sitting in the middle of the living room floor with IKEA bits and pieces surrounding him as he builds a brand new storage cabinet for Sean’s beloved porn. Orlando even attaches doors to the cabinet which could hide the fact that the dirtiest that the internet has to offer is stored there if it weren’t for the life sized poster of a naked Chasey Lane that he sticks onto the door afterwards.

Sean takes a cooking class – which in itself has nothing to do with Orlando and all with the bet he lost against some blokes at work – and afterwards tries to start teaching Orlando about the different food groups and how they aren’t called ‘edible stuff’ and ‘fucking gross but still edible stuff’. Orlando still eats anything that happens to be in the fridge when he’s hungry but dinner at Sean’s, all with candlelight and good wine, is something that makes his stomach flutter. With proverbial butterflies, not with stomach acid like normally.

And their friends and family don’t even witness the seriously adorable couple kind of things. Orlando and Sean aren’t really what you’d call private (quite the opposite, considering Orlando’s lack of inhibition and Sean’s professionalised indiscretion). But they got a reputation to uphold for one and they don’t really invite other people into their bedroom so no one is there to see Sean kissing up Orlando’s naked upper arm before he nestles his face into the crook of Orlando’s neck and falls asleep only minutes later, possessively draped over him.

No but them is in Orlando’s kitchen when after a piss up the previous night, Sean hand-feeds Orlando Kellogs’ Smacks until Orlando is at least able to lift his coffee mug on his own, sending grateful even if still watery looks in Sean’s direction over the rim of the mug.

No one but Sean reads the emails Orlando sends him to his work address – tons of youtube videos of children being attacked by cats or squirrels or pigeons or all three when Sean has a hard day at work and Orlando knows just what can cheer him up.

No one but Orlando is there in Sean’s living room when for once they aren’t watching porn on the telly but some documentary and sure enough Sean is asleep after fifteen minutes with his head comfortably resting in Orlando’s lap and purring in his sleep while Orlando cards one hand through his soft hair and shovels peanuts into his own mouth with the other.

But it’s not like being with each other suddenly turns them into nice people per se. Or even just half way pleasantly smelling ones.

Orlando still lights his farts on fire if anyone dares him to. Or just mentions it. Or foolishly hands him a lighter at the birthday party of Sean’s father. Sean still makes threatening faces at kindergardeners that probably scar the kids for life; especially if it’s Orlando’s sister’s brats.

When Sean asks Orlando to move in with him, Orlando clutches his heart dramatically, squeezes a tear out of his eyes and replies in a high pitched voice, ‘Why yes, Sean, I will be your lawfully wedded wife. – My God, you’re such a sentimental twat.’, even if he has his stuff in Sean’s flat by the next weekend.

When Orlando is tied to Sean’s bed and Sean has been torturing him for hours by not letting him come and Orlando finally breaks and whimpers, ‘please, please, I’ll do anything, I love you, please, Sean, let me come, please’, Sean sits back on his heels and looks down at him, a huge grin on his face. ‘You love me, eh? Fine, means you can wait another five minutes while I go for a piss, love,’ he says before he leaves the room. Orlando hates him fiercely for the ten minutes but then nearly goes insane with lust and something so much more when Sean returns and kisses him all over, makes him come three times in the next hour, each touch tender enough to break him apart entirely.

It’s not long after these last two incidents that their family and friends and co-workers – and even the occasional stranger on the street, especially if he or she happens to be pushing a pram – notice something: The effects that cohabitation and open declarations of love have on two disgusting perverts are not necessarily as expected and most certainly not as desired.

It’s the little things at first.

Sean starts thinking that money he previously spent on aftershave could better be invested in hilarious fart cushions.

Orlando has the brilliant epiphany to pimp their broadband so he can start filling the ‘gay hardcore porn’ wing in the perverted library of Alexandria in their living room.

Everyone knows where this will lead. Once wedding vows have been exchanged – ‘Oi, you stupid twat, say you do already.’ ‘If you don’t stop poking me – Yeah, yeah, preacherman, ‘course I do – I swear I’ll do you in right here, you cockhole.’ – the unholy union of Orlando and Sean will bring down the entirety of Western civilisation.

Bummer.

Clear

Orlando appears and the picture is fluttering a little. Eric registers it but it is part of the charm, he thinks, part of Orlando. As if the material itself noticed him appearing and halted, stuttered for a moment while trying to capture him. 

Orlando comes closer, his eyes big, the personification of innocence; as convincingly as he portrayed sin and debauchery. The picture is larger than life, the image grainy because it’s stretched onto too big a screen, trying its best to convey his beauty nevertheless.

Orlando’s mouth moves, the only sound to hear is that of the ancient projector (humming and stuttering as well from time to time). Then the black screen appears with the words Eric has already read from Orlando’s lips, knows by heart since 1924.

Orlando reappears and starts to work until the girl (Eric has forgotten her name, it’s been too long) shows up and they start their dance of flirting eyes and gestures, lingering touches and gazes; no words spoken but the meaning so clear, so evident, so pure.

Everything Orlando does on screen is that. Pure. Before he met Orlando all that fascinated Eric was the ‘how’ of cameras, of lighting, just like his fascination with automobiles continued to spark curiosity in him. After? He has learned to appreciate art merely from watching him.

Orlando’s face larger than life in front of him, he sits back in his comfortable chair in the darkness now. No matter the countless of times Eric has watched this scene over the years; he is still enthralled by those eyes, by that mouth that curves just this little bit and says more with it than words ever could.

The first time he met Orlando was on that set where he worked as a glorified light-boy, long ago in that era that everyone nowadays is just remembered as the days of little black and white people rushing this little too fast over movie screens. Eric shook the hand of the star as Orlando said hello and replied, baffled, “You can talk?” 

He didn’t mean to say it, never meant to be insulting, and thankfully Orlando laughed, clapped him on the shoulder and bought him a beer. They drank and smoked, listened to this swing music that Orlando liked and Eric loved because it made Orlando hum along.

Orlando’s forever young perfect features in front of him now. His eyes never blinking as the light catches on his cheekbones, captivated as well.

He proved to Eric that he could talk, and boy, he could. Stunningly fast and what he said was so jumbled sometimes as it was clear and precise, words like knives, other times. Orlando had made enough films by then to be slightly jaded (‘experienced’ as he himself called it). The first time Eric saw that innocence, that pure joy on his face – the one he could switch on for the camera whenever he wanted – for real, Eric was too shocked to say anything, do anything but stare. Orlando, naked sated body atop him, looked down at him and noticed, stilled and just let him look his fill.

Orlando and the girl start fighting now, her wild gestures and wide eyes comical as they were supposed to be back then, his reactions as funny but timeless and real. Orlando must be the biggest fool of all times as he sends the girl away, Eric catches himself thinking; he believes his performance even after all these years.

Secretly, and even though this development has never been to Eric’s disadvantage, Eric resents the end of the silent movie. He likes the new effects, the dialogue, the more complicated plots and the special effects (he wouldn’t have turned that into his area of profession otherwise). And he loves Orlando’s voice, dark and smooth and kind even when he rants about Roosevelt and his politics. 

Orlando doesn’t need his voice to act. He doesn’t need his voice to be convincing. He doesn’t need his voice to tell Eric all he needs, all he wants to know.

The darkness of the room is disrupted as the door is opened. Behind Eric’s eyes the irregularity of the ancient movie still flickers as he turns his head.

In colour now, Orlando looks at him, black and white only noted by the grey of his temples. The whiff of dinner has followed him through the still half open door. Just like with the big screen Eric wants to reach out and touch, but that would be silly; he doesn’t need to prove to himself that this is real. 

Orlando briefly glances at his own image on the wall, then his eyes return to Eric’s, kind humoring as well as a hint of mockery in his expression. He doesn’t comment, doesn’t judge, doesn’t say anything. 

He doesn’t need to, Eric gets his meaning anyway. Dinner is ready, stop being a sentimental idiot, light boy; and: I love you. 

His sire, his mate, his psychopath, his fucking messiah

You think that it’s just because the lifespan of a human is so short that hardly anyone ever really gets the deeper meaning of life? Well, then you might be disappointed to learn this: Karl is 478 years old – not counting the years he wasted as a human – and there’s one thing he knows for a fact: There is no answer.

Okay, it prolly doesn’t help that he is not a great fan of religion – if you don’t count ritual sacrifices which he always reckoned to be an acceptable form of entertainment, at least till porn channels came along.

Point is: There is no meaning to life. Humans are born and from that day on, their bodies start decaying (which is a rather gross thought, considering that he’s talking about chow here). And one day they drop dead and become worm food.

Now, being a vampire on the other hand, that makes so much more sense. Well, okay, it doesn’t, Karl figures, if we’re talking in general there.

Being himself makes sense, all the whole 478 years of bloodshed at Eric’s side.

Crucial (excuse the choice of words) factor being Eric.

His sire, his mate, his psychopath, his fucking messiah.

The typical concept of human consolation is telling themselves that they might not be immortal but that because of that they can enjoy each passing second. Carpe diem – and if you like hubris take Brad Pitt’s word for it (not in that silly vampire flick, but the one about the Trojan war): ‘The Gods envy us our mortality.’

Of course humans usually end up moping anyway. And it’s bullshit to begin with.

Eric is thousand something years old (he says, he lost track of a few decades during the Hundred Years’ War) and has enjoyed every single second. The first 500 years mostly screwing vamps that Karl had a busy time killing once he got into the picture (’MINE’ every fiber of him raged, even when he was covered in their blood). Since 1530, every single second shared with Karl.

And Karl’s not just talking about creative ways of hunting / torturing / feeding because Eric might be a nutcase but he’s not a blinkered geek. Eric just loves being undead, loves the feeling of stolen blood boiling in his unbeating heart, loves the rush of new things and excitement, of speed and danger and everything else that usually sends you to an early grave – witch hunts, revolutions, Moscow’s night life, fast vehicles (even before Nicolaus Otto - man, the carriage races they instigated…).

Eric greets every dusk with a maniac’s smile and traces his sharp fangs with the tip of his tongue as he looks down at Karl, already plotting new ways to celebrate unlife.

Karl? He just loves Eric. Makes sense, doesn’t it

Altocumulus

Sean was a whirlwind as a lad, stealing apples and bathing in the river completely naked in winter. He was brandmarked as troublemaking youth, ever since his dragon had set fire to a greater part of the forest because Sean had never bothered to tame it properly. Now, as a grown man he antagonised and enchanted people on equal terms. Not everyone loved him, but everyone respected or feared him to some degree. Everyone knew him.

Viggo was always there at Sean’s side, the quiet one, the inconspicuous one who could blend in effortlessly as if a magician had given him the ability to be invisible. Sean noticed him though, from the first day they met, when he offered to take Viggo on a ride through the altocumulus clouds on his emerald dragon. Viggo clung to Sean then, his knees tucked into the hollow of Sean’s, his arms wrapped around the other kid’s body, Sean’s whoops of joy in his ears. He had clung to Sean ever since.

Sean didn’t understand what made people see him. He didn’t understand why people kept coming up to him, knowing his name even and his reputation, and never even noticed Viggo at his side. Sean always saw Viggo, was always aware of the other kid, youth, man and even after two decades of spending each day in each other’s company he felt Viggo’s presence right next to him every second.

Viggo saved Sean’s life during battle a few times, coming to his aid on his silver dragon like a flash out of nowhere when Sean’s Green was wounded and Sean practically helpless. Sean saved Viggo’s when he caught him falling through the clouds unconsciously in a stormy night. But there were more important things than scattered heroic deeds. Sean’s smile every morning when Viggo’s Silver rose to fly next to him was one.

Sean shared his secret with his Green one night, the huge dragon curled up like a cat, listening attentively to words it didn’t understand with its big head in Sean’s lap. Sean rested his head on top of the dragon’s and confessed his love for his best friend as his hands stroked over emerald gold scales, craving smooth warm skin. The Silver landed silently next to them, both it and its rider unnoticed. Quietly Viggo crouched behind Sean and wrapped his arms around him like that first day they’d met. Back when Viggo had begun loving Sean.

 

No power in the verse
You’d think that there are very few excuses to fly a Firefly. You can’t afford a proper ship, for one. You are chased by Reavers and the only alternative form of transportation available is a three legged horse. Or, finally, you have one of them romantic bones in your body (and an old browncoat in your closet) and think that owning a flying junkyard makes you something of a rebel. 

Sean, Orlando has known that for a very long time, just has very very bad taste.

Orlando wakes because the ship is breaking apart. Or that’s what he thinks for a frantic, disoriented second until he realizes that there isn’t anything following the initial loud clank-and-groan. Certainly no big explosion and being sucked into space. Orlando would notice that. Grudgingly he sits up and isn’t surprised to find the bunk empty. His own clothes are still strewn all over the place, and somehow his shirt landed high up on the wall, dangling from an askew bar, but Sean’s always neatly stacked clothing on the sole chair is gone and so is Sean. 

He gets out of bed and just like every morning – or noon, whatever it is – the metal floor is cold under his feet and he thinks they should get a carpet when they are stopping somewhere next time. Hell, if they had the money Orlando’d be all for hiring a gorram interior designer. It’s not like he is seriously picky when it comes to decoration and coziness and whatever, but like he said, Sean has very bad taste and it doesn’t just show in his choice of vessel.

He finds his pants half under the bed but his belt is miraculously missing and he spends another five minutes looking for it without result which puts him in an absolutely shiny mood. Having to hold up his pants by hand he climbs out of the bunk and goes in search for the captain.

“This ship is a big piece of feh-wu,” he says as he steps onto the bridge. 

Sean turns his head but otherwise doesn’t move from his pilot’s seat. He has his feet propped up against the console and Orlando finds it slightly fascinating that his boots are caked with mud. They haven’t touched ground for six days. Sean flicks some switches, allowing the autopilot to take over, so he can concentrate on Orlando. The mug of tea in his hand that, compared to the slight taste of rust in the air, smells like heaven. Orlando rakes his hand through his hair but hurriedly reaches back down because, once again, he lost his belt somewhere and his pants threaten to just slide off if he doesn’t hold them up.

Sean chuckles. “Good Morning, sunshine. Did you sleep well?”

“Woulda slept better if that gorram racket hadn’t woken me,” Orlando grunts. He steps up to Sean, one hand coming to rest on his shoulder as he peers at the control screens. “Did we lose another part? Please tell me we didn’t lose another part, Sean. Fucking ship.”

Sean sips from his tea and as per usual seems vaguely amused by Orlando’s disgruntlement which doesn’t do anything to make it better for Orlando.

“Don’t disrespect my ship,” he says with a mock serious voice. “I can get a new mechanic faster than you can say ‘Fruity Oat Bars make my special place all tingly’. One that calls me captain, even.”

Orlando picks at the cheap foam that spills out of the holes in the back rest of Sean’s ancient chair, rips a small piece off and drops it into Sean’s mug.

“Won’t be any ship left in the near future, so I don’t need to call you captain. And besides, I thought I was the only thing making you feel tingly in your special place?”

Sean chuckles warmly and has to crane his neck back to be able to look at Orlando who is still standing behind him.

“That you do, bao bey,” he says fondly. Orlando doesn’t reply but slides his hand up Sean’s neck so he can curl his fingers behind Sean’s ear. Predictably, Sean purrs and his eyes drift shut. Orlando leans down and kisses his forehead but then returns his attention to the computer screens.

“We’re heading towards Londinium?” he asks unnecessarily because that’s undoubtedly what it says on the star map. “I hate that place.”

Sean opens his eyes again and routinely checks the controls before he swirls around in his chair, his hands on Orlando’s hips stopping his motion.

“If you start hating every planet where you got thrown out of a bar we’ll have to discover a new solar system soon.”

“It was a brothel, not a bar. And it was your fault because you tried negotiating prices.”

“That’s what you’re supposed to do!”

“Not after services rendered, you cheap son of a bitch,” Orlando disagrees for the nth time but has to laugh anyway. “Your ideas for anniversaries, honestly.”

“You liked it,” Sean says with utter conviction because he knows it to be true. With that he stands up and pats Orlando’s hand on his shoulder before he leaves the bridge. 

Orlando sits down on his chair because that way he doesn’t have to hold his pants up any longer and stares critically at the large window that shows the black and nothing but black of outer space. 

Some days are just like that, Sean says something, something that would seem off-hand and mundane to anyone else, and then leaves. Like he knows that Orlando likes to think about it for a bit, like he can draw out eating a single strawberry for two hours by just enjoying the taste of it to the maximum.

Sean’s big on walking away from him anyway, and it seems funny to Orlando to put it like that, because there is no power in the verse that could really tear them apart and they both know it. But Sean has this thing for big entrances and exits. Orlando supposes it has something to do with him being the captain, albeit of a fucking piece of tsao gao, but still a captain and Orlando usually is his only audience. 

There are days when they both seem to talk to themselves more than each other –like Sean sitting on one of the catwalks in the cargo bay and telling his life story or something to the cattle they’ve loaded. Orlando has walked in on him doing that, or something similar, more than once and usually sits down somewhere unnoticed and listens in until he just has to wisecrack. And he knows that Sean does the same, Orlando’s endless loud (and one sided) arguments with the engine are something that Sean obviously finds insanely entertaining.

Today’s not one of either of these days and Orlando knows perfectly well why that is. One of the central planets as their destination means they’ll be amongst millions of people in close range in a couple of hours, people he’ll have to share Sean with. He’s sort of spoilt he figures, just the two of them on the ship and the darkness of space surrounding them usually. 

“Oi, breakfast!” Sean hollers and his dark gravelly voice echoes from the ship’s walls. 

Orlando can smell warmed up food and fresh tea and with another cursory glance at the control he, too, leaves the bridge. Naturally he almost trips over his pants. He curses, halts and fishes in his pockets for something to fix this mess. He finds a cable that he’s ripped out of the ships engine yesterday because it was continuously producing sparks whenever energy went through it. Will have to do. Pulling it through the belt loops of his pants and knotting it up in the front, he finally follows Sean into the mess.

By chance he almost instantly spots his belt. Sean has used it to keep the tab from falling down by tying it to one of the pipes. Not that it particularly stands out in the mess, everything here looks like it’s either from a junkyard or like Sean has just picked it up floating in space. The mug that Sean puts down in front of him as he sits down at the large table hasn’t got a handle anymore.

As he blows the steam away from his mug Orlando offers, “If you want to I can put on a suit later, check which part we lost. We don’t have to actually land for that. Specially not on Londinium.“

Sean turns a chair around, so he can rest his lower arms on the backrest, shoveling branshaped protein into his mouth while he looks at Orlando. 

“It’s is the nearest place where we can get the shit you want for your engine.” 

“The shit I want for my engine?” Orlando produces a spoon from somewhere in his pockets and steals himself a mouthful of Sean’s breakfast, too lazy to get up and get himself some. 

“Fine,” Sean concedes, pulls his bowl out of Orlando’s reach only to have him following it anyway, “the important parts that my tyen tsai mechanic needs to keep my piece of feh-wu in the air.” 

Orlando shrugs and takes another spoonful of bran. “Oh, whatever. I’m sure I can make do with a tuna can, a biro and your suspenders instead.”

“That’s great ‘cause then we can spend our last platinum on food instead of bolts and nuts and blinking things.”

Orlando groans. “You mean we’re out of money? Again?” He licks his spoon clean and gestures with it at Sean. “We weren’t even in a bar for the last two weeks, so what did you do with the cash if you didn’t lose it at poker?”

“Bought food, fueled up, bailed you out of jail after you stole that horse. You know, the usual.” Sean shrugs easily and finally, with a roll of his eyes, gives his bowl up to Orlando and gets up to get himself a new one.

“I didn’t steal the horse,” Orlando says in between chews. “It’s not stealing if you don’t intent to keep it.”

“I think it is, if you’re not giving it back to its original owner,” Sean contradicts him with amusement.

“So, I’m getting you a lovely birthday present and that’s the thanks I get? Really?”

“Oh, I think I thanked you properly. Thrice that night if I remember correctly and you were complaining you couldn’t sit down for the next two days.” He imitates Orlando’s slight Dyton accent, “’Feels like you shoved your gorram Mare’s Leg up there.’.”

Orlando doesn’t argue with that and the protein tastes a little better after Sean has put that memory in his head.

“Londinium it is then,” he gives in. “Gorram high maintenance shithole.”

Sean chuckles but doesn’t reply and they finish their meal in silence, only the occasional creaks and groans of the ship breaking it. Orlando takes Sean’s bowl from him after he’s finished and quickly washes up, counting the food cans on the shelves as he does so. Not much left there, that’s true enough, and with the ship bucking and stuttering its way through space he supposes that it’s always safer to stock up before hitting the outer regions of the verse again.

Getting stranded in the middle of nowhere is bad and they’ve been there a few times. You might call sleeping on the bridge romantic, what with the panorama view of the stars and everything, but if you just did it because it was the only place still above freezing and because you were desperately hoping for someone to respond to your emergency beacon, it lost some of its romantic appeal. To do this again, and without food on top of it, is not that high on Orlando’s agenda. No matter how much he despises Londinium.

“When do we get there?” he asks from the sink.

Sean doesn’t even look up from the book he’s reading. “Couple of hours. Six max. Better have your shopping list ready by then.”

Orlando snorts and says sarcastically, “Only to have you laugh hysterically at me?”

“I only do that when you put ‘Buy a new fucking ship, hwun dan ‘ on it. Again.”

“Bi-jweh. It really would be the most reasonable thing to do. After all, this thing has no sentimental value to you, has it? I mean like it being the vessel in which you kidnapped me from Sihnon where I was being educated to be the verse’s greatest companion ever.”

This time Sean does look up, the crinkles around his eyes growing deeper as he laughs.

“Oh, this is how you’re telling the story now, is it? Where did you learn to be a mechanic then? Did I teach you that?”

“In exchange for me becoming your cabin boy, yes,” Orlando replies with all the seriousness he can muster and rubs his crotch. “Exploiting go neong yung duh, this Captain Bean, that much is true.”

“One thing is true,” Sean counters, still chuckling. “When I picked up that hitchhiker I didn’t think he’d turn out to be the prince of lies.”

“Verse is full of surprises, that’s the beauty of it.”

As if to agree with him – or mock him mercilessly – the ship creaks loudly and Orlando is pretty sure that the distant sound of something being stretched too far and finally breaking is not a good thing. Still, no explosion, no void, and they’ve both grown accustomed to it. So he just sighs and says,

“C’mon, let’s have a look at the engine then.”

“That’ll put us in a cheery mood,” Sean predicts ironically but still gets up from his chair and follows Orlando down the hallway into the engine room.

There, Sean steps up next to him, his elbow brushing against Orlando’s as they stand right in front of the laid bare central engine. The smell of warm machine oil is heavy in the air and Orlando smiles to himself as he steps next to the huge engine. That smell, dark and somewhat musky, that sound of steady motion, the sign of bolts pistoning; there’s a reason why he’s become a mechanic and it’s because all of this. Nothing could be more like sex and he loves being in the middle of it, being the one orchestrating it and feeling it run powerful and smooth.

“You can bitch all you want about this ship,” Sean says and when Orlando turns his head he notices that it’s him Sean is looking at, not the engine. “But you’re fooling no one, bao bey.”

“Fei-hua,” Orlando grumbles, then, slightly embarrassed, points down. “Port Compression Coil’s been acting up for weeks now. I can fix it if I have a new catalyzer but honestly, that’s just temporary. We’ll need a new coil eventually, six months max.” He looks at Sean. “What’ll it be, cap?”

Sean rubs the back of his neck and sighs. “Your call, you know that.”

He doesn’t sound happy about it, and Orlando knows the reason, too. “Can we afford a new coil?”

“We can’t even afford a new cat,” Sean replies unsurprisingly. But as per usual, the funky mood leaves him after a couple of seconds and he shrugs, the sparkle back in his eyes. “I’ll check how much money we have left and once we’re in Londinium you go and buy us as much half way decent second hand parts as possible with it.”

“You’re not coming? You’re the one who’s legend at haggling.”

Orlando says it without envy because nothing could be truer. Sean can talk a used spaceship dealer into giving him credit, he can talk a cowboy into handing over his horse for just a smile in return. It’s sort of how they could afford the last drive pots cleanout for the small change in Orlando’s pocket, and somehow Sean managed to get thirty pairs of socks for free on top of that.

Sean hasn’t answered him now however and Orlando knows that kind of silence.

“What is it you’re not telling me?”

“I’s just thinking that knowing you you’ll be glad that you have stuff to do in the engine room once we’ve left Londinium again,” Sean replies somewhat cryptically and for the second time this morning walks out on him.

This time though Orlando is on his heels instantly and is following him down the stairs when he asks with irritation, “Wait, you’re not saying we’re picking up passengers, are you? Jien tah-duh guay, Sean!”

“Easy money, easy work. Dong ma?” is Sean’s reply and really there is nothing Orlando can do about it anyway. It’s not because Sean’s the captain and he’s the one making decisions – because that may be so, but he’s always taking Orlando’s preferences into consideration and more often than not really just does what Orlando tells him to. It’s because deep down, Orlando knows that there’s not really an alternative.

He leans against the doorframe as Sean checks out the unused bunks in this part of the ship, testing the facilities and the air supply vents, checking under the bed for any unwanted house guests. He knows that Sean doesn’t really want people on his ship any more than he himself does. In fact, he’s always been pretty closed off and short with any passengers they’ve taken on over the years. Civil, yes, and he took care of them and took them where they wanted to go and everything. But every time when someone alien sets foot on their ship Sean’s uncomplicated demeanor, his easy affection somehow disappear into a box in the cargo bay and are only to be taken out again once their ship is really fully theirs again.

“It’s not so bad,” Sean says finally, and Orlando is not sure what he means, the state of the bunks or their near-future travel plans. Sean’s eyes finally find his again and instead of slipping past him in the doorway he stops there, one hand against the doorframe above Orlando’s head as he leans in close. “We’ve done this before. And you usually have fun once you decide to come out of your engine room, remember?”

He’s right and Orlando does remember. He’s the one of the two of them who makes friends easily, who is the life of the party without even having to try. Still.

“I’ll miss your laughter,” he says quietly and hooks his fingers through Sean’s suspenders. “You never laugh when we’ve got company, you know that? Not really I mean, not so I can hear it in the cargo bay when you’re up on the bridge anyway.”

Sean leans his forehead against Orlando’s and exhales quietly, stops moving altogether. And Orlando is fine with that, the two of them just floating through space like this. In the darkness and without destination, in utter silence because everything important has been said, has been shown so many times that it doesn’t need repetition.

The ship creaks and now a sort of pressed hissing sound follows, sounding very much like a fart. It’s a piece of effing feh-wu but it’s home and it sure as hell always makes sure that they don’t let the romantic bullshit get the better of them. Orlando rolls his eyes and Sean snickers.

“So, I buy shit and you find us passengers,” Orlando sums up. “If it means we’ll maybe be able to afford a new coil – and maybe a trip to that brothel on Persephone again – I even promise to be nice. Cross my heart. Except when we happen to load some crazy preacherman.”

Sean instantly knows who Orlando is referring to. Hell, a fistfight between a reverent and your mechanic in your cargo bay isn’t something you forget so easily. 

“It’s pretty irrational to judge people by their hairstyle,” he reminds Orlando mildly.

“He had crazy hair, he turned out to be a mental hardliner. My theory has yet to be proven wrong.”

“What about your own hair then?”

“Tells that I have bad taste in men who pull at my hair and mess it up while I’m giving them head. I rest my case.”

“Yeah, whatever, Orlando,” Sean gives in, places a kiss on his lips and pushes away from him. Through the common area where neither of them ever really bothers cleaning up, he spots something on the low table that lets him add, “Maybe it’d be good though if this time you didn’t scare our passengers half to death with your silly Reaver fei-hua.”

“It isn’t nonsense,” Orlando argues. Looking down at the table he sees two of his Reaver dolls lying there all twisted and winded, making them appear even more wicked, in addition the custom made disfiguring face paint. He picks one of them up, the one with the particularly crooked grin and the crazy eye and holds it in front of Sean’s face, hissing, “I’ll wait till you sleep and then I’ll eat your face, harhar.”

“Bring ketchup. I hear it tastes great with human flesh.”

Orlando grins, pleased. “See, ever since I made those dolls story time is like little miniature theatre. Mighty entertaining.”

“For you, though not for the people with the nightmares,” Sean points out.

“Of course for me.” Orlando tosses the doll back onto the table before he pushes past Sean into the Cargo bay. “Bloke’s gotta see that he keeps himself amused when his captain’s orders say no fucking outside the bunk once there’s paying passengers on board.”

“Never stopped you.”

Sean steps up behind him on the catwalk. Orlando turns around and tilts his head. It’s usually all the invitation Sean needs.

“Never will. Still, how ‘bout we make good use of the time we still have the ship for ourselves?”

A slow smile steals itself on Sean’s lips and he loosely puts his arms around Orlando’s waist. “What do you know, I’ve always liked it how your voice echoes from the walls when the cargo is empty.”

Orlando rests his lower arms on Sean’s shoulders and lightly rubs against him. “I know that. Let’s see if you can get me to beg in Chinese this time.”

Sean can and Orlando throws in some Russian as well, mostly just because he can.

About twelve hours later the cargo bay is stuffed with sheep. Orlando sits on the catwalk with his legs dangling, a second or probably third-hand catalyser lying next to him, and watches as Sean shepards the handful of passengers he found through the peaceful animals. A young fancy one that kind of looks like a lizard has his arm protectively around a graceful young girl’s shoulders, clear family resemblance in their features, and he is watching another, smiling brilliantly as she bends down to fondle one of the sheep. 

Orlando smiles to himself and catches Sean looking up at him while he’s waiting for the passengers to follow. Suddenly and completely out of the blue Sean grins broadly, the equivalent to his booming laughter, and Orlando knows he’d follow him to the end of the verse even if he’d loaded the ship with gorram Reapers.