His voice, the delivery of my name, is supposed to make me go all soft inside, hard out. Took me ages to realize. He's a tease, that Stuart. Especially with me. He wants me ready for him all the time. Like when he rocked against me on the hospital roof the night Romey gave him Alfred. ‘Oooh...Vince's got a hard-on.' That's how he wants me. Hard and desperate. Usually, I take it. Glutton for punishment, that's me.
But tonight, the edges are a little too sharp, and it's not right. Not right. Not after he got me up in this hotel room. Not after making me strip, then rejecting me. Not while we're lying here in the dark, in this wide, warm bed, half-naked. Not when my throat's closed like a fist.
Don't play his game. Don't even look at him. Just this once, don't let him win. "I'm trying to sleep, Stuart. Work, and all that." You want me? Fine. Come after me. But I'll know it'll be just ‘cos you're hard and there's no one else around. I'm not going to be your last dance tonight, Stuart. Last call. Last chance. Last dance. That's me. Not the one he's been saving, mind you. The one you do with the last person in the club. The last desperate dance before you sod off for a quick one, with your eyes closed.
This time, my name's drawn out. Teasing still, but with a layer of annoyance. He can sandwich a lot into a single word. But then, he's had practice. Fourteen years of it. "Stuart, go to sleep. You know how you get when you haven't had enough sleep." How many mornings-after have I seen? When he has me pick him up after a night's shagging? He's satisfied, yeah, but a little mean, ‘cos the pleasure's over, and he's back with me. The non-shag. The un-fuck. The never-was. And now, the last dance.
"I want to talk," he says, petulant like Alfred. Only Alfred's a baby, and Stuart's a grown man. On the outside, anyway.
"You always want to talk, Stuart." It's like your tongue's a cock, and you'll fuck me with your words. And now I know, after tonight's latest rejection, that you'll never give me the real thing. Just tease me. Tango me around your life.
"No, I mean really talk, Vince. You know, real stuff."
I almost fall into the trap, down the rabbit hole. It's just too easy to give in when he's like this, when he's warm as the sheets and smells like fermented pears. What was he drinking, that smelled so sweet? In an impressive parody of ‘I don't care,' I roll onto my side, presenting him with the wall of my back. "Yeah, sure, Stuart. Real stuff. Like how there's no one left in the world to shag. You've got my sympathy." No one left in the world. It cracks my heart when he says things like that. Like I'm from another planet. Like I'm trapped inside a Doctor Who episode, with a clear sheet of glass dividing us. He can see me, laugh at me, but never connect. Could be why we can lie here like this, not touching. Untouching. Untouched. That's me.
"You're in a mood, aren't you?" And he wriggles up against me, tossing an arm around my waist.
It's almost too much. I'm like... I'm like bloody Winnie the Pooh. Some frayed and grubby plush-toy he's had for years, that he can't quite bring himself to toss on the rubbish heap. "It's too hot for that, Stuart."
"So take your shirt off, Vince. Here, let me help you."
I shake his hand away. "Leave me alone. I just need to sleep." In the morning it'll be alright. When he's not rubbing his cheek against my shoulder blade. When his hand's not stroking my bare hip. When his cock isn't thick and hard against my ass. I've been hard for ages. I'm always right on the edge of it when he's around. Sometimes it's the full deal. How can I not be hard when he's constantly touching me, kissing me?
Lately, ever since Cameron, he's been really affectionate, even more than usual. I thought it'd end when I got out of that relationship, but it only got worse. Or better, depending on my mood. Now, though, it's like someone's stuffing my heart with handfuls of broken glass. I reach up to touch my chest, see if the blood's leaked through, but he catches my hand.
"Why're you always fighting me?" he asks.
It's an odd thing to say. I never fight him. I always give in. That's me: Vince, the human doormat. "What d'you mean?"
His breath tickles my ear. "You always fight me. Don't you know? It's why we never finished that first wank."
Now that bothers me. I mean, he's just wrong there. "Stuart, we never finished it because Hazel caught us."
"But we could've done it after that. She wasn't really upset or anything. No, we didn't ‘cos afterward, when I sat down beside you on the bed to finish it, you got up and left."
"I didn't. You're completely mad..." Only he's right. Why've I blocked it? He came back after the first scare. Only when he sat down, I panicked. "It was just... too good." He'll think I mean the physical part, and it wasn't only that. It was kinda like what I'm feeling now: like my veins are crisscrossed, and the blood's not getting where it should. Breathing's tricky, too. Some people call it love. To me, it's a heart attack.
"You're always fighting me, Vince. Like that night at the hospital, when Alfred was born and we were up on the roof. It was all pretty strange--"
He remembers that?
"--and I rubbed against you a little bit. Made you hard. I was hard, too, ‘though you didn't say anything about that. I'm always hard around you, Vince. But you wouldn't give in then, either. Just gave me that look. That ‘oh Stuart, you're such a sex-crazed twat' look."
"It was just the situation, Stuart. I knew it didn't mean anything. That you didn't want me--"
"And then that night. In the car. When I was fucked up on drugs, and making a fool of myself with Nathan. You swerved the car. Couldn't remember much the next morning, but I remember that. You swerved the card to split us up. Not ‘cos you were jealous--'cos he was fifteen and it was stupid. You like to point out when I'm being stupid. You're the only one. That's how you fight me. It's your little power thing."
He's not moving at all behind me, not rocking into me, but I can feel him. The whole hard length of him, right against me. "I'm just trying to help, Stuart. You need someone to keep you under control. Not that I do a very good job."
That low laugh. He's always laughing at me. "Vince, if I listened to you every time, you'd be bored. You wouldn't like me if I was good." Gently, he pulls his hand away and starts running it over my thigh, like he's polishing me.
Panic again. Because this feels way too... Like a dream I have. Totally romantic. I've never told anyone. After all, Stuart's my best friend, and I can hardly tell him, right? It plays out like this, like what's happening right here, right now, but in black and white, like an old movie. We're at a hotel, too, and we're mostly naked. And Stuart tells me he loves me, only it fades to a tiny pinprick of light before the sex gets going. The classic fadeout. It's ‘cos in the dream, I always come when he says it.
It's funny, because I sort of know that Stuart loves me, in a brotherly sort of way. I think that maybe I don't let myself get to the sex, ‘cos if I felt Stuart inside me, I'd break in two, like a wish bone. Hearing love's great, but feeling it... That's the thing I'm not getting. "Look, Stuart..."
"I was stupid before. I let you stop me tonight, Vince. I mean, you folded your pants. Pretty obvious sign to me. You were dragging it out. You didn't want it to happen. And I was going to let you blame me, let you tell Hazel and Alexander and everyone that I'd turned you down. Only it wasn't me. I was just letting you win, like I always do."
Something warm and damp touches my ear. It's his tongue. Just a light sweep of my ear lobe. "Stop that," I tell him, and try to sit up.
He grabs my shoulder and lowers me back to the bed. "Nope. Not this time."
"You're going to do it even if I don't want it?"
In the silvery light, I see his face change. Just for a second, the firm lines soften. He's a boy again, and I've hurt him.
"Vince, are you telling me you don't want this? Because I do. I've wanted it for ages. Tried to fuck half of England so I'd stop wanting it. Nothing works. Nothing is ever going to work. Just tell me you want it."
But I'm back in my room that first time, and the panic roars over me, like an ocean wave. I can't hear anything but the crash of my blood. "No, I don't want this." A slick, fat lie that comes out too easily, like bile.
I feel him shift, move away from me. Can't see it, though. Only feel it in the dark. It's God, with one of those oddly appropriate gestures he tosses down sometimes to show he's actually paying attention. He's giving us proper lighting by sending a cloud across the moon. It's all very melodramatic and over the top, and for a second I almost laugh. ‘Cos this isn't a movie, is it? We're not Romeo and Juliet, after all. Not Joe Orton and Kenneth Halliwell, even. We're just two old friends lying here in a posh hotel room. Two old friends who're finally going to take their relationship one level further. No, it's not a movie. It's...I dunno. Life. "Stuart."
He says nothing.
"Stuart." I keep my voice low, sultry, like his.
The mattress shifts as he turns a little.
"Vince, go to sleep. You know what you're like when you don't get enough sleep."
God blows the cloud away, and I can see his face now, the little grin. I think he knows what's going to happen.
"I suppose you want to talk, Vince." The dialogue's all written out for us, and he's grinning while he says it, eyes open now. He watches as I tug off the tshirt. "Nice," he says, when it drops on the floor.
"You're not following the script anymore, Stuart." I take off my last piece of clothing, and he sees my hard cock.
"Nicer," he adds, and raises his hips so I can make him naked like me. He lets out a soft sound when my hand brushes against his cock. His legs part, and he spreads his arms out.
For a second, I'm startled. Apparently, I'm to take the lead here. All the way. I'm the one who has to show him how I feel, what he means to me. It's not the dance I was expecting... Or maybe it's the one I've been scared of all along. That I'll stumble and fall, disappoint him somehow. That'll I'll fall and I dunnno... Break something. Him. Me. But there's no turning back now. He's naked and open for me, and if I don't fuck him, I think we'll both die. And I'm sick of being a wallflower at the dance of Stuart's life.
There's a tube beside the bed, and I have to lean over him to get it. Our cocks touch, and Stuart makes another sound, low and deep this time. Fuck the condoms. This is our first time, and I want to feel him hot against my cock, let him feel the slippery smoothness of my cock moving against him. But I don't want to hurt him, either. Not Stuart. So I squeeze a little bit onto my fingers, and spread it over my cock.
"You'd better stop, or this'll be over before it starts," he says, still smiling.
It freezes me, makes the room arctic, until I realize he doesn't mean me. He means him. He's getting off watching me rub the oil onto myself, and he's going to come because I'm turning him on. "You can come if you want, Stuart. I'm still going to fuck you. I'll just make you come again." I will, too. I'm getting that confident. It's the look he's giving me, you see. How could I have missed it all these years? "You're in love with me, aren't you?."
"Of course I'm in love with you, you twat. Now hurry up, because I can't wait any more. I don't want you changing your mind and going off to watch Doctor Who or something."
"Twat," I say back affectionately, and smear the rest of the lube against him. Even at that light touch, he opens for me. My breath's coming in hot little bursts, and my heart's speeding like a Brit Rail express. I half-lean and take his legs, wrapping them around my hips. I'm not inside him yet, just pressed right against him.
"Ready to dance?" he asks. Like he wants to make sure I'm doing this because I want it.
"Been ready for years." And I start to push. My cock's a fair size, and he's tight. Really tight. "You're not nervous, are you?" Imagine him nervous for me.
"‘Course not." It's the old Stuart, the one who hides things. "Just...just a little. I'm only human, you know. Not some alien with no feelings."
"How ‘bout if I tell you something to relax you?"
"Vincer Tyler! You're going to talk dirty to me?"
My turn to laugh, even as the head of my cock penetrates him. "Feels kinda dirty, only ‘cos I've never said it to you. Not like this, anyway."
"I love you, Stuart," I say, and slide my cock home.
We both gasp, and then I start moving, sweet and slow. His whole body contorts into a perfect convex curve, and he moans my name, over and over again, anchoring himself with it. I understand him now, better than ever before. See, I always thought we were different, Stuart and I. But now I know we're not. Now I know we're the same.
Sorry, but it's time to dance. Not just for tonight. Forever.