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In Pursuit Of Happiness

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They were five pints in now - or was this the sixth?

It was so rare these days with their other commitments, and generally being in their mid-to-late forties, for them to spend time just the two of them any more. It hadn’t started just the two of them of course - Mat and Jim were always up for at least a couple of drinks after a Friday meeting and Martha had come along “just for one, okay?”. She had kept her word and ducked out after her glass of wine. Jim had apologised and sped off after his second pint when he’d noticed his unread messages and missed calls. Mat stuck around for a third and begrudgingly bowed out of the pub despite “really craving” a fourth. Larry had looked to Ben to see if he was going to need to head off too, and to his utter surprise and delight the older man shrugged and said simply “I don’t know about you, Larry, but I feel like getting absolutely shitfaced.”

Five-or-six pints in now, they were both quite drunk - but neither absolutely shitfaced, yet. They’d stayed sitting exactly where they were when the other three were still with them, meaning they were side-by-side on a bench at a table in the corner of the pub. Larry chuckled softly to himself at the idea that it might look like they were on a date. Or, no, did they look more like an old married couple maybe? Either way he and Ben had always been very comfortable in each other’s personal space the way other men seemed not to be, so neither chose to swap chairs after several trips both up to the bar or downstairs to the bathroom.

It was nice. It was really, really... nice. Just to get to spend time with just Ben, for once, without vying for his attention in a group. And tonight there seemed an endless flow of conversation. It’s not like they didn’t get opportunities to talk - and regularly - but tonight’s refreshments had more than lubricated usual discussion and the filters were down.

There had always been a flirtatious edge to their banter. More a boyish, schoolyard pigtail-pulling than any out-and-out sleaziness. But it certainly had sometimes, in the past, edged towards being more heated. The sort of thing that quirked the eyebrow of anyone in hearing distance. But they were best mates and everyone, especially them, laughed it off and then the moment was soon gone.

Tonight though, amongst the usual TV and film recommendations, work talk (gossip) and gentle teasing, there had been a generous amount of flirtation. Mostly humourous, done for effect. Larry loved making Ben laugh so he would argue that that was his motivation. Mostly. He was just making rude comments to illicit a giggle or a shocked, plosive burst from the silver-haired man and every time he succeeded a happy warmth spread through his chest and cheeks.

Ben had left the table to make another trip to the gents’ so Larry was scrolling through Twitter in his absence. He had to check his own profile to remind himself of the last thing he’d posted, and of course it was a picture of Ben in a meeting last week, looking impossibly handsome peering intently at his laptop, blissfully unaware that he was being photographed and shared on social media. Larry actually laughed out loud re-reading his own commentary on the picture: “ Imagine having to look at this absolute monstrosity at work every day. ” Ben had retweeted it and added “Love you too babe” with that god awful kissy-face emoji. Larry had just at that moment noticed that Martha had responded to them both - “get a room you two xxx” and the replies from the fans were, well, as they were accustomed to now. He pinched thumb and forefinger on the photo of Ben and zoomed in so that his face filled his phone display. Ben really was a sickeningly good-looking bloke.

The sickeningly good-looking bloke in question loomed suddenly over him and Larry jumped in his seat, caught gazing almost lustfully at the photo.

“Bloody hell Larry, you miss me that much when I go for a piss, do you?” Ben said, feigning exasperation but grinning from ear to ear as he nudged Larry’s shoulder with his hip so he’d make room for him to sit down again. This was a way in for Larry, clearly signposted, and he jumped in immediately.

“I was simply marvelling at the fact that you really are the most hideous man I’ve ever clapped eyes on, Benjamin. Goodness. I imagine kissing you would be awful. Your strong jaw, dazzling eyes. Soft lips. Terrible. Just horrible.”

“Oh, so you’ve imagined it?”

“One tries everything possible to keep the wolf from the door and your face truly is my last resort.”

“All I’m taking from that is, you’ve thought about me while erect.”

Ben held his pint up as to triumphantly clink glasses and Larry humoured him in acceptance of perfect one-upmanship. He was eager to regain the upper ground in their game - after all, that was the point. And Ben had just offered up a perfect opportunity.

“I need something salty. I crave salt.” His hands slapped the table. “What have they got here? Or should we get something horrible? A kebab?!”

Larry adopted a clearly put-on sleazy sneer, raised an eyebrow and retorted, “I’ve got the perfect salty snack right here if you’re interested?” He pointed down at his own crotch and bit his lip, nodding.

Ben exploded. “ Salty snack ! You absolutely horrible man!”

His voice had gone high pitched, his face red and he clung onto Larry as he dissolved into fits of laughter. Larry’s skin prickled at the contact. Ben’s hand slapped down onto Larry’s thigh as his laughter died away but he showed no signs of moving it. ‘Probably the drink’ mused Larry to himself. ‘He’s actually forgetting where he’s put his limbs’ . Ben’s face was now closer to his own. Red, shiny and beaming.

“You want to be careful, I might just take you up on that. Do you come with chips?” Ben asked in faux-seriousness, eyebrows aloft.

Larry was marginally taken aback but, not one to back down, replied: “No, I come increasingly infrequently but loudly. So you’ll have to cover your ears.”

“Oh I will, will I?”

“You will, Willbond. You will.”

Throughout the exchange, the two men had moved closer, bodies pressed at almost every possible junction, their faces now only millimetres away from each other. But it felt all too real for Larry. And, given his drunken state he feared what might happen if he allowed himself to continue. The last thing he’d want after such a lovely and unexpectedly fun night with his friend would be to do something that ruined the chances of it ever happening again.

He’d been through all this before. Years ago. It was misplaced, one sided and best left packed in the neat little box marked British Man’s Feelings - DO NOT PROCESS in his brain. He pulled away, laughing at the game of chicken he’d just turned the situation into. It took Ben’s drink-tampered brain a second to catch up with what had just happened. He looked baffled and definitely, Larry thought, a little sad.

Ben took a moment to regroup, clearly organising words in his head into an order that wouldn’t show him to be as drunk as he might otherwise appear.

“You’re a fine actor Rickard. I almost believed you for a moment.” He smiled fondly, a tiny hint of sadness playing at the edges.

Larry smiled back, quizzically. The questioning shape of his brows prompted Ben further. The smile dialled back slightly, it was obvious now that this was more serious. The joking left in the distant past of just a few moments ago. He took a drink, grounding himself in the motion of solidly replacing the pint glass on the table.

“You know, I used to have a mad notion you meant all that.” His face was open, genuine. The shift in the conversation was clear. This was now ‘A Talk’ and not an invitation for more banter.

Larry ran instantly cold. The clammy, boozy sweat that covered him cooled instantly and a shiver ran down his back. He really did not expect this. Not tonight, not after all these years; not at all. A bolt of clarity ripped through his alcohol-induced lethargy and the room came into rapid sharp focus. He knew he couldn’t bat this aside as a joke but he so feared the ramifications that could come from a genuine answer. He thought it best to turn the question back. Feel Ben out a little. So to speak.

“Oh? And what disabused you of the notion?”

He tried to keep his face as neutral as possible but it was fighting with him, feeling like it was trying to contort into optimism. Ben turned more fully towards Larry, allowing their bodies to make gentle contact once again.

“Well, you never took it any further.”

Ben gently touched his leg. More of a gesture of his sincerity in the situation rather than anything, well, more . Larry was still terrified to show his hand. To be as open as his heart was begging him to be. It seemed easier to respond with questions. He swallowed thickly.

“Did you want me to?”

He could feel the rise and fall of his chest exaggerated by the adrenaline that coursed through his body. Ben played Larry at his own game.

“Did you want me to want you to?”

Larry was baffled. As much as the conversation had sobered him up, he was definitely still drunk enough to be utterly flummoxed by the conundrum that had just tumbled from Ben’s mouth. Ben laughed gently, aware that this was far more his fault than Larry’s.

“What I mean to say is, I didn’t want to think there was more to it than there was, if there wasn’t. But if there was more to it, well, it wouldn’t hurt to know”.

Well, that was a little easier to understand. But it left Larry more confused if anything. He wanted to be honest, but he still couldn’t tell if Ben was asking because he wanted the answer to be ‘yes’ or just wanted to clear up something that had perplexed him. Would clearing it up affect their friendship? But Ben had asked. Outright. And he deserved an answer. That and five or six pints or so really does help a man feel brave.

“Yeah. Back then. Yeah. There was a bit more to it. If I’m honest.”

“And now?”

“Well it doesn’t just go away.”

“No. No it doesn’t.”

Larry’s eyes had at last found Ben’s. His face was serious but kind. His hand, which was still on Larry’s thigh, squeezed slightly. This all felt positive but Larry struggled to translate it all exactly. Was Ben agreeing? Was that agreement general or was he in the exact same boat? Was he sympathetic at his friend's plight? Just being supportive?

Larry looked at the firm hand on his thigh then up to Ben’s face. As their eyes locked, he felt the hand on his thigh slowly inch higher up his leg. Ben raised an eyebrow. It was both a question and a statement. Larry raised an eyebrow in response, allowing his thighs to fall open fractionally, though enough, that Ben’s little finger would just graze something more intimate. He waited for Ben to recoil. To laugh. This was his out. The line between a game and something more serious. Ben pushed his hand further between Larry’s thigh and squeezed hard on the sensitive flesh. Without notice or control Larry’s mouth fell into a perfect ‘o’ and he exhaled loudly.

He might have backed out now, his usual overthinking getting the better of him but a crashmat of booze lay beneath the fall of his actions and he was bolstered by the dizzying surge of heat to his groin. In one decisive movement, he slid his own hand into Ben’s lap and by no accident, landed his palm firmly against the crotch of Ben’s jeans which, he noted, showed every promising sign of this all being anything but a game. Ben’s eyes widened in surprise but a crooked, filthy smile parted his lips.

Without breaking eye contact, Ben grabbed his pint, swigged the remaining dregs and said “Right Rickard, I’m going to the gents. And if you wouldn’t mind joining me in a minute or so, I really rather think I could use a hand”.

He thrust up against Larry’s palm as he spoke then calmly rose from the table and away, throwing a small wink over his shoulder as he went.

Larry’s sober brain fought limply to question everything that had just happened and what could be about to happen. But drunk forthrightness and absolute teenage lust shushed them powerfully and had only focus enough to look with one eye at the second hand on his watch to count the exactly-sixty-seconds required to leap from the table and half run downstairs to the toilets.

Never had a minute seemed so long. Each ten second milestone felt like a week. He rose at 55 seconds which, given his achingly hard dick, deserved a fucking medal. He rose and clumsily skip-ran to the toilets, stomach flipping as he burst through the door. Luckily it was empty save for one almost closed door. Knocking felt too formal but just bursting in felt a little too dangerous.

Deciding instead to shout he called out, voice breaking treacherously, “Ben?”

The almost-closed door swung open revealing a predatory Ben behind, one arm above his head leaning against the wall. As Larry approached he felt a strong hand grab his shirt as he was bodily launched inside and slammed against the door, Ben’s hand sneaking behind him, forcibly sliding the lock closed.

There was no space, no air inside at all. Both men visibly panted as they eyed each other. Before Larry could formulate something funny or clever to say, Ben grabbed the back of his neck and kissed him hungrily. It was powerful and desperate. Full of need and want and years of things unsaid. Larry turned to something soft and incapable in Ben’s grasp, opening his mouth and moaning wantonly without any control or care. Ben’s free hand reached behind him, grabbing possessively at his arse and Larry realised his own hands were hanging lamely by his sides.

He raised one to cup Ben’s jaw, pulling him closer to his own mouth and feeling his lips bruise in the ferocity of the kiss. His other, he snaked under the hem of Ben’s shirt, trying to claw at and claim every hair, muscle and fibre he could reach beneath it. Ben pulled away panting, lips shining and swollen.

“You have no idea how long I’ve wanted to do this.” He peppered his speech with kisses on Larry’s face.

Larry managed a perfectly inarticulate “Mmm...me, ah, me too. Fuck!”

Ben’s hand had moved from Larry’s arse to palm his straining cock through his jeans. Larry dropped both of his hands immediately in an attempt to undo himself. Not only did he have a seemingly medical need to relieve some of the tension within but never before had he felt such an overwhelming need to be touched. Ben grinned at the frenzied haste but matched Larry’s actions, pulling his own jeans and boxers down a fraction as he went.

That was all the invitation Larry needed.

Abandoning his own task, managing only to undo his button in his clumsy haste, he ran a flat hand down the plane of Ben’s stomach, allowing his fingers to dip into the waistband of Ben’s boxers and make immediate contact with his painfully hard cock. He roughly wrapped his hand around it and squeezed. Ben’s eyes rolled slightly in his head as a breathy gasp escaped him. Larry shimmied Ben’s pants down a little further, freeing his cock with a heavy and satisfying bob. Larry stared unashamedly making Ben slightly self conscious, but before he could worry too much, Larry dropped to his knees.

Ben allowed a single, breathy “fuck” to escape his lips before Larry looked up at him, licked his lips - ‘licked his fucking lips!’ Ben’s brain screamed - and said -

“Is this… can I?”

“Y...yes! Please!”

The last word was certainly spoken more in desperation than out of any conversational formality and it sounded through Larry like a choir in a chapel. Ben was pleading. As much as Larry wanted to seduce Ben, toy with him and enjoy every movement, sound and inch of him, this wasn’t the time. He surged forward and took Ben as far into his mouth and throat as his gag reflex and experience would allow. Ben’s hands grabbed into thin air as he sought something to steady himself, his legs buckling beneath him. Larry, noticing this, brought his hands up to tightly grip the back of Ben’s thighs and hold him in place. He dug his fingers in firmly, marvelling at the muscle and sinew of his friend and realised that from this position he could full-bodily thrust Ben’s cock further into his mouth. Ben clearly didn’t want to grab Larry’s head and do this himself - out of what? Larry wondered. Friendly respect? Fear? - and this was the best way he could see to lead Ben in doing exactly what he wanted and not letting any other complications cloud the issue.

“Jesus shit Larry!”

Ben allowed his hand to tangle in the hair of the kneeling man but as tight as he gripped (and this was rewarded with a moan from Larry that vibrated around his cock in a way he wanted replicated immediately and on a loop for the rest of his life) he only followed Larry’s movement rather than forcing or guiding it. If nothing else, he rather liked Larry taking control. Larry was valiantly managing to suck him to the hilt and his saliva was running down Ben’s balls and thighs in what he considered to be a wholly satisfying fashion. He thanked the several pints he’d sunk for just taking the edge off his arousal enough that he hadn’t already unravelled.

He looked down and saw Larry wriggling a little uncomfortably, clearly trying to take the pressure off his own straining erection. Ben pulled Larry’s head off his cock and gasped slightly as the cold air hit the wetness left behind. Larry looked up at him, pupils blown, mouth swollen and wet - utterly, brilliantly wrecked - but with a question knitted into his brows.

Clearly - ‘why do you want me to stop?

Before he could actually verbalise what his eyebrows were already succinctly expressing, Ben bent down, hauled Larry to standing and pulled him into a deep and messy kiss. Larry rutted needily against his thigh, perfectly demonstrating why Ben had stopped him at his task in the first place. Ben pulled away - begrudgingly - from the kiss, his hands feverishly attacking the fly of Larry’s jeans as he husked “I didn’t want to be the only one here having any fun”.

As he finally managed to win the assault on the denim and shuck the jeans and boxers down Larry’s thighs, Ben licked a primal strip up his throat and neck, ending at a plump earlobe that he sucked into his mouth. Larry let out a girlish whine that belied his usual sonorous timbre. Ben grabbed for Larry’s cock sightlessly, preferring instead to pant hotly into his mouth, and was  more than pleasantly surprised by the distance between his own thumb and fingers as his hand closed around it.

“Wow!” he uttered unthinking as fire burned Larry’s cheeks from within and his eyes shot to the floor.

Trust Larry to find this embarrassing.

He thought saying anything more might worsen the situation so instead he dropped to his knees and took as much of him in his mouth as possible while bringing up a hand to deal with the rest. His lips stretched and his jaw ached and he was utterly, utterly delighted in his discomfort. He reached down between his legs with his free hand to match the movements of his mouth on himself. Larry, whose eyes had all but rolled back into his head in reverie took a while to realise quite what Ben’s other hand was doing. But in opening his eyes he was rewarded with a scene that, ideally, he’d save as the desktop image on every device he owned forever if it wasn’t probably a crime. He’d just have to settle for tattooing it on the inside of his eyelids instead.

He had clearly made some sort of noise that he wasn’t aware of as Ben tilted his head up and locked eyes with him, the smile this provoked in the kneeling man stretching his lips further still against his twitching dick.

Larry knew it was game over.

The sensory overload was going to end in a short circuit and pretty abruptly down his best mate’s throat. He tried to express that thought quickly enough that something could be done about it, grabbing Ben’s head and uttering ‘I’m gonna, erm…’ but Ben’s hands came up in response, holding Larry firmly by the hips and shrugging simultaneously.

Well that was quite enough.

He was gone.

He braced his hands against wall and stall side, closed his eyes and felt his entire body contort with an explosion of longed for pleasure. He felt Ben suck strongly against his pulsing cock, swallowing down every drop of him, and it would seem, gladly, judging by the satisfied moans he appeared to be hearing by way of the reverberations through his balls alone. Larry’s entire being tingled as the crest of his pleasure fell, ever so, and his breathing became heavy as the world - his world at least - came into focus again.

Ben.

He didn’t know if what he was feeling was actual love or simply some chemical afterglow but he didn’t care. He’d never been happier.

Ben carefully withdrew himself, stood up and with a look on his face that seemed to somehow perfectly echo exactly what Larry was feeling and pulled him into a lazy mouthed but electrically languorous kiss. Larry felt like he was hovering a few inches above the tacky lino. It took him a lengthy moment to reconnect with his surroundings. He pulled away from the kiss to survey Ben, a smile so broad breaking across his face his eyes almost closed entirely obscuring the near-perfect man in front of him.

“Christ, you weren’t wrong. You are bloody loud. Back on earth yet? Seemed to lose you for a moment there. Only I believe I asked you in here for a hand? And your assistance would be greatly appreciated.”

As Ben spoke he grabbed Larry’s hand and wrapped it tightly around his own cock. It took Larry a fraction too long to catch on being as he was on some post-orgasmic time delay but as soon as his hand made contact with the thick, velvet heat of Ben’s dick, the world was once again thrown into perfect sharp focus.

He threw himself into the task with unbounded enthusiasm. He twisted his hand just so stroking him root to tip allowing his thumb to gently tease the end while bringing the other up to grasp the back of Ben’s neck. He pulled him towards his mouth as if to kiss him then at the last moment used his hand to turn Ben’s ear towards his lips. In a voice almost too quiet to be even be described a whisper, Larry breathed “I have never come like that. You have no idea what you do to me. And now I’m going to make you come. And I want to hear you. I don’t care who walks in. Let yourself go. Tell me what you want. What you need.”

Larry didn’t move his mouth, instead choosing to lick and nibble Ben’s ear and neck. Ben let out a series of gaspy moans in response. There was too much to take in. The shiver that ran down his neck from Larry’s tongue, the hand skillfully in control of his cock and hearing Larry talk like that meant actually trying to formulate an answer to his question required more thought and concentration than his finals had.

“Oh God… keep doing … I mean this is … ah… this please. And keep talking. Please. Christ.”

Ben Willbond. Master of three languages and currently commander of none.

“Keep talking?” Ben could feel Larry smiling against his neck. “What do you want me to talk about? How I’ve imagined this, and all the things I want to do to you, for years? How I want to catalogue the feel and taste of every last bit of you?”

Ben gasped in response. His innate shyness liked that he could listen without having to make eye contact right now, and he relished this lack of self consciousness. He kissed Larry’s neck to spur him on. 

“How I want to hear you say my name? Hear you beg me for more? Or maybe how I want to hear what you sound like when you come with me inside you?”

Larry had increased his speed and felt a shift in Ben’s weight pressed against him. He made a low sound in the back of his throat and Larry knew he was on the edge.

“That’s it, Ben . Come for me.”

Ben managed a half shouted “fuck!” in response, thrust back into Larry’s hand two, three times more before being full-bodily arrested by the power of his climax. He almost buried his head in Larry’s neck before remembering ‘ he wants to hear me’ so he closed his eyes and allowed himself to feel every wave through his being, every pulse of his cock still firmly gripped by Larry, the breath blown hotly into his ear. He wasn’t sure he’d ever made the sound that tore out of him before but also wasn’t sure he cared. Larry pulled him close with his free hand in a firm and protective motion that made his heart flip. The two men stood content in each other’s arms in a moment shared before reality nudged at their consciousness. Each grateful and sated but mostly, happy.

“You alright?” Larry finally ventured.

“Am I alright?!” Ben retorted in high-pitched mock indignance. “I can’t remember… don’t think I’ve ever… Yes. Yes, I’m just perfect. Are you alright?”

Larry pulled away slightly to properly survey Ben. His face crinkled in pure joy.

“Yeah. I’m great, thanks. Could you pass some toilet roll please?” He lifted his hand which was covered in cooling stickiness.

They both fell into gales of laughter. Reality hit them both but - and they both inwardly sighed with relief at this - it was definitely hilarious rather than in any way awkward. Ben grabbed a handful of paper and handed it over, turning his back to Larry so they had a moment to sort themselves out with a margin of dignity intact.

Wiped down and zipped up, Ben knew this was the point at which Larry had the potential to spiral. Knew him well enough to know the anxiety-fuelled questions that would be banging round his head right now, so in an attempt to reassure him and stop the thoughts before they got too far (and selfishly because he absolutely wanted to) Ben turned back to Larry and pulled him into a deeply passionate kiss. Once he felt the lack of oxygen tickle at his extremities he pulled his face back but still held Larry close.

“I don’t know how busy you are next week... but if you’ve an evening spare I wouldn’t mind finding out - at length -  what else you’ve imagined.”

Larry’s smile was noticeably tinged with relief: ‘ Thank fuck this wasn’t a one off’. Still emboldened by the booze in his system he managed to maintain eye contact while replying “Oh, I’d much rather show you”.

Ben tried to keep his cool demeanour but he made a noise along the lines of “whu..heh” that ruined the whole thing. Larry kissed him again then turned to open the door.

“I’ll see you at the bar in a couple of minutes.”

“Yeah, I need a drink after that snack”.

He heard Larry laugh all the way out of the toilet as he sat on the closed seat, a smile coursing through his entire body.

Roll on next week.