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Play The Game

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It was Nora’s idea.

The press have been all over their heads for weeks, not including the years they hound them on a daily basis with speculations about their split and how they are only pretending to stay together for the sake of their image and international peace. Paparazzi often follow them around—Alex at his university and Henry at his NGO office, despite the presence of Secret Service and PPO—as they try to catch them in action. In and of what? They’re not sure either. Is there a third party? Secret affair? Is one of them doing drugs and the other can’t tolerate that hence the breakup? It frustrates Henry a great deal, because “why can’t they focus on the youth shelter or your mental health awareness campaign instead of writing garbage?”.

It’s something utterly ridiculous (for Henry) and hilarious (for Alex) that they feel they need to address something. And soon.

And what better way to do that, than film a short clip and post it on their social media, like the true model millennials they are.

“Troll them,” Nora had shrugged, her body pixellating on the laptop screen with the movement of her shoulders. It was their weekly catch-up with her which she insisted on, because she said that just because they are in New York and she is in DC doesn’t mean they can get rid of her. Alex doesn't know where she gets the idea. It’s not like he's going to cut off one of his best friends now that he’s living in a different state with his Prince Charming.

Said Prince Charming snorted over his Cornetto, white cream dotting the tip of his nose, and Alex felt strongly about cleaning it up, maybe with his tongue, but controlled himself. “Troll them?" Henry said. "We’re more educated than that, Nora.”

“Oh, Henry,” Nora said, sounding like she just aged twenty years. “Despite having Twitter and Instagram for years you seem to lack the proper etiquette in netizenship. Tell him, Alex.”

“I think it’s a fun idea,” Alex had said, bumping his shoulder against Henry’s, eyes mirthful. He might even be buzzing on his seat. The idea of fucking with the media’s head greatly excites him.

Henry looked at him, and was that fondness in those deep, blue eyes, like he couldn’t believe this neurotic, caffeine addict 25-year-old handsome man was his? Sometimes, Alex had a hard time believing it either.

Alex made up a quick and absolutely lame excuse to Nora as to why they had to cut this week’s call short. Nora just knowingly looked at him before waving and dropping the call.

It was time to kiss this stupid, chaotic royal prince and his cute little freckles.




A few days later, they are in their car (Henry’s technically, because he was the one who bought the Audi) with Alex on the wheel and Henry riding shotgun beside him, alternately tapping and scrolling on his phone screen with a purpose. They are cruising down the Brooklyn bridge and are heading home after a long day, the sun just setting down the horizon, painting the sky a pretty orange and purple hue.

Alex has just turned right and is entering the private village where their brownstone is located when Henry let out a laugh.

“What?” He asked, glancing at Henry before looking back at the road. They are a couple of blocks away from home.

“I think I found our article.”

“Oh? From which unfortunate tabloid?”

Henry’s grin is wicked, and he briefly wonders if he got that from Alex. “In Touch Weekly.”

Alex snickers as he pulls up at their parking space. He can see the black sedan parking behind them. Cash and Shaan are not going to get out of the car until Alex and Henry do.

“Okay, I’m so  going to do a Live,” Alex said, fiddling with his phone and tapping Instagram, switching the camera to front cam and selecting Live. He fixes his hair and smiles his press smile, watching as the view count goes up from a thousand, to sixteen thousand, to fifty and then he isn’t paying attention to it anymore. That’s enough viewership, and one of these people will certainly upload this on whatever platform they can think of. There are a few comments asking about how he is, how Henry is, and if the rumors are true. Alex ignores them all before his smile disappears as he turns, dramatically, to Henry.

“Babe, what’s happening? What’s going on?”

Henry turns his doe eyes on him, turning his phone to the camera, the front page of the tabloid magazine on his screen. In a somber voice, he says, “It’s over between us.”

It's over between us?" Alex repeats, sounding aptly shocked, looking at the camera and furrowing his brow. “Oh my God, I don’t believe this. What are we going to do?”

“I felt suffocated,” Henry says, shaking his head as he keeps looking at his phone.

“You felt—Oh, I was too overbearing, wasn’t I? Is it because I won’t let you sleep on your side of the bed? Wait! Is it because I keep hogging you like a blanket every night? What else is going on?”

“Also, I took David. And the ice cream supply,” Henry points at the magazine cover.

Alex is a little shocked that the view count is already reaching half a million, but he doesn’t let that faze him. The more, the merrier. In Touch is going to burn.

“You took David?! I don’t get David anymore? Oh, my poor baby. And what will I do without the ice cream supply? Oh, no...”

Henry nods, a smile hinting at the corner of his lips as he says, “And you have...You have this very dark secret...Alex, what — “ Henry stops, sighs and puts his hand on his forehead, looking slightly aggravated.

“Oh, my gosh,” Alex groans. “What was the dark secret? It’s not my asshole, is it? You know I had my asshole bleached, you can see it better than I do most times—“

And then, Henry is losing it. It starts small, a shaking of his shoulders, his cherry lips splitting into a wide grin, and then he is laughing, head thrown back with his knuckles covering his mouth as he guffaws .

Alex is also laughing, but he holds it in enough to look at the camera and wink, “Thanks for this, In Touch. Really, thanks.” And then he cuts off the stream, and laughs with Henry. He could have sworn the car’s shaking with their laughter.

“Oh God,” Henry wheezes. “Oh God, love, that was brilliant. These articles are bonkers, I tell you. Bonkers.”

Alex is still catching his breath, eyes twinkling as he looks at Henry. Henry looks so beautiful like this, with the gold and orange light of the sunset lighting up his face, making his hair bronze instead of blond. Alex would do anything to keep Henry’s smile on his face.

“Have I told you today that I love you?” He asks, reaching for Henry’s hand that isn’t holding his phone and brushing his lips on each of his princely fingers.

“Only about five times since we woke up this morning,” Henry says, eyes already swimming with so much emotion.

Alex chuckles, “That won’t do. No. Should we get inside so I can tell you again? Maybe  a thousand times more?”

Henry’s laughter is music to his ears, and he leans across the gear to press a kiss on his smiling lips. Henry hums against his own, Alex’s lower lip caught between his teeth. He murmurs, as soft as it can get, “Only if you let me say it back a thousand times.”