But It’s Better If You Do

by Hinotori (火鳥)

(mirrors http://s2b2.livejournal.com/162288.html)

“And you can bring that nice young man of yours along, too.” Cusarn’s grandmother patted him on the hand.

“I… Pardon, who?”

“That lovely partner of yours, the one you brought to the benefit that time.”

“Rekala? But we’re not… I mean, he’s not my… We just work together! We’re not romantic partners!”

His grandmother winked at him. “A grandmother always knows, dear. Now, if you’re keeping it on the down low because it’s against work policy, that’s one thing, but you shouldn’t be ashamed to admit it to your grandmother.” She fixed him with a severe eye, the one that had always had him promising things he didn’t mean as a child.

“I… I’ll see if he’s free,” said Cusarn.

His grandmother smiled at him and patted his hand again. “You’re a good lad, Cusarn.”

Reks’ reaction, when Cusarn approached him the next morning, was a little less flattering. “You want me to go to your family reunion?”

“My grandmother specially requested it.”

“Your grandmother? Have we even met?”

“Yeah,” said Cusarn tiredly. “If you remember, she was the little old lady who you danced with at the Red Diamond benefit.”

“That one? I didn’t know she was related to you.”

No need to explain why he hadn’t pointed that out at the time; Reks would understand. “Yeah, well, she’s my grandmother, and she seems to have got it into her head that you and I are dating.”

Reks blinked.

“And she is insisting that I bring you to the reunion.”

“Didn’t you tell her she was wrong?”

Yes, of course I did! But she tells me I don’t need to hide it from family even if we need to keep it from work.”

“Why would we need to hide it at all?”

“She seems to think,” said Cusarn slowly, “that it would be against work policy for us to date.”

“Oh. Huh. She’s never met Kyla and Everris, obviously.”

Their boss had been dating the head of the theft team for six months now and the relationship showed no signs of leaving the giddy honeymoon stage. “Anyway, I already promised her I’d ask you, so please, save me from my grandmother. It’s just one night.”

“Yeah, one night with your crazy family.”

“They’re not crazy, they’re just… different.”

“Loud. Pushy. Opinionated.”

Cusarn’s uncle had been the mayor of the city for one term, and not terribly popular — except perhaps with the press.

“Well, if you won’t do it because you’re afraid of my grandmother — which you should be, by the way, if I tell her you can’t make it she will hunt you down and demand an explanation in person — do it because you’ll be saving me from a night of excruciating embarrassment.” Memory of the last family function he’d had the ‘pleasure’ of attending swam to mind. By the end of the night he had been convinced his cheeks would be permanently stained red.

Reks sighed loudly. “I’ll see what I can do.”

It was all lip-service – they both knew that Reks’ calendar was serially empty. That was why they spent so much of their down-time together, and that was probably why Cusarn’s grandmother had reached this ridiculous conclusion in the first place.

“Thanks, Reks. You’re the best partner a man could want.”

Reks rolled his eyes. “Now, do we want to get some actual work done?”

Cusarn grinned, and opened up their latest case on the screen. “All right. Do we have anything new?”

“The background check on the boyfriend came through,” said Reks. “Nothing out of the ordinary, a couple of warnings for rowdy behaviour, that sort of thing. His neighbour thinks his parties are too wild.”

“Fairly typical stuff, then.”

Reks nodded. “But what’s interesting is the sister…”

Detective work. Much easier than grandmothers.

Cusarn sneaked out of the office after lunch and returned juggling a cup of plain black coffee for himself, plus one of the sugar-infested creamy concoctions that Reks took a ridiculous amount of pleasure in consuming.

He placed it carefully on Reks’ desk, to the side of his inbox.

Reks glanced at the drink, then back up at Cusarn. His look said clearly that he knew what Cusarn was trying to do and he didn’t want it to work. “Thanks.”

Cusarn shrugged and turned to his own desk. “Thought you needed it.”

A knock on the window separating their office from the rest of the floor was their only warning before Kyla strode in and flung an envelope across Cusarn’s keyboard.

“Please remind your family that you have a personal address for personal mail,” she said, leaning casually against the door frame and making it clear that she wasn’t going to leave until she found out what was going on.

The envelope was silver in colour, with neat handwriting that was alarmingly familiar to him.

Cusarn tore open the envelope with trepidation.

“Well?” asked Kyla.

“It’s an invitation,” said Cusarn, taking out a slip of stiff paper and reading it from start to finish.

“On real paper?”

“Your grandmother really goes all out, doesn’t she,” muttered Reks.

Kyla deftly plucked the invitation out of Cusarn’s hand and read it out loud in a haughty accent. When she’d finished, she raised her eyebrows. “Both of you? How did he manage to talk you into that?”

Reks mumbled something unintelligible and turned back to his monitor.

Kyla gave Cusarn a disapproving look. “Anyway, make sure your personal mail stays personal in future. And you both owe me reports from last night.”

“Yes, ma’am,” they said in chorus.

Silence reigned for a moment after Kyla had departed. “Sorry,” said Cusarn.

Reks shrugged. “Stop talking about it before I change my mind.”

“Understood. The rest of the week will be a Cusarn’s-family-free zone.”

“I guess I’ll take what I can get,” murmured Reks.

“I’ll pick you up at six tomorrow, okay?” said Cusarn, as he picked his jacket up from the back of the chair and slipped it over his arm.

“Yeah, sure… No, wait a sec, don’t go yet, Cusarn.”

Cusarn stopped in the act of putting his jacket on and raised his eyebrows. “What’s up?”

“It starts at six-thirty and you’re only picking me up at six? We need to meet earlier so you can brief me.” Reks lifted a hand to scratch behind his right ear, a nervous gesture that Cusarn had always found oddly endearing.

“Reks, this is a social occasion, not a job. You don’t need briefing.”

“I need briefing on acting like your boyfriend! As your partner I don’t need to know things like your sister’s name but it’s going to be kind of rude if I don’t know you had, say, a brother, or if your parents are divorced or whatever.”

“You already know all that,” said Cusarn. “I have a brother, a sister, and my parents are divorced.”

“Yes, but what else is there?” Reks was starting to look a little wild around the eyes.

“Um.” Cusarn mentally ran over his list of the relatives that were likely to be at the function. “Okay, fine, how about you come by my place at five and we can talk?”

Thank you.” Reks looked relieved. “And if there could be alcohol there that would be great, too.”

“My family aren’t that bad. Just stay calm and they’ll leave you alone.”

“Cusarn, when have you ever known me to be calm at social events?”

Cusarn paused. “OK, point.”

Reks nodded decisively. “Good. I’ll see you tomorrow.”

“Bye, Reks.”

Cusarn took the subway home and collapsed on his couch, letting his jacket and tie fall into an untidy pile on the floor and unbuttoning his shirt halfway.

They’d caught the guy, but he had been a tough one to bring down and shots had been fired. Both shots had missed them, but it was an adrenaline rush Cusarn really didn’t need. Shots at himself he could deal with, shots with his partner always left him shaken and in dire need of some heavy alcohol.

That, or baked goods .

It would be a bad idea to get drunk the night before a family event, so he ordered three slices of cake and a plate of assorted cookies from the local patisserie instead.

Reks, for all his nervousness about anything that involved small-talk with strangers, didn’t even bat an eye at gunfire and threats to his life. He just continued on, brushing off people’s concerned “are you okay?”s with a “no harm done” and a smile.

And then he worried about not being able to fake being Cusarn’s boyfriend well enough to fool Cusarn’s family.

Well, that was Reks all over.

Cusarn heated up some frozen lentil soup so he’d have something nutritious in his belly before he assaulted it with sugar.

He ate it sitting on a stool at the kitchen counter and wondered what things would be like if he really did have a boyfriend. Would they eat at the counter or would he be forced to get a dining table? Would he have to get a second couch or could they share?

What if said boyfriend didn’t like Starflight 3050 or #9 Microphone? What if he hated reading?

Cusarn hadn’t dated in years, not since he decided to join the Department of Criminal Investigation. His dad had been a cop and he knew intimately the toll it left on a marriage. Cusarn had decided almost immediately after receiving his badge that he wouldn’t do that to another person, so he’d switched that part of his brain off. No more flirting, no more chatting to people in bars, just work and movies and reading.

Friends were just as good, anyway, and they were usually guaranteed to at least share some of your interests.

Reks arrived at his door at five o’clock on the dot. Cusarn wouldn’t have expected anything different. His partner was dressed nicely in a pressed white shirt and black trousers. He carried a suit jacket and a tie over one arm.

Cusarn waved Reks in behind him and closed the door. “You mentioned a desire for alcohol?”

“Please.”

Fifteen minutes later they were sitting on opposite sides of the couch, drinks on coasters on the coffee table.

“So your family.”

“My family. All right. You already know my mother.” They’d met two years earlier, when Cusarn had been shot on the job. His father had been on the other side of the country and unable to get the time off to come – particularly not since Cusarn was in no imminent danger of dying.

“My dad won’t be there, of course, this is a Yelaso family reunion. All right. I have a sister and a brother, whom you’ve also met.”

“Ainna and Enar, I remember. She’s a lawyer, he’s an accountant.”

Cusarn nodded. “My mother has two sisters and a brother. Three of them have children – one, two and one respectively. My grandmother’s sister will also be there. She has three children of her own, they between them have five children.”

Reks blinked slowly. “You did me a chart, right?”

Cusarn called it up on the wall screen. “I did indeed.”

Reks stared at the chart for a moment. “All right. I get the picture. Who do I need to be most wary of?”

“My aunt Vala,” said Cusarn. “She never approved of my father; was delighted and completely smug when my parents divorced.”

“And was therefore horrified when you decided to enter law enforcement yourself?” finished Reks.

“Pretty much. She’ll probably be snide at you, the best approach is to try and make her feel like she’s the one who is ill-bred.”

“All right. Next?”

“Aunt Diala has been nagging me to settle down for years, I can’t quite say how she’ll react but she may ask you about your plans for children.”

“Understood.”

“Uncle Luka will probably want to grill you on your political opinions. Just brush him off if you’re not comfortable talking about it.”

“I see.”

“My cousin Esior is fifteen and wants to be a cop. I imagine he’ll want all the gory details, but don’t get too enthusiastic or you’ll annoy his mother.”

Reks was rubbing his temples. “How about I just stick to you and let you direct all the conversations?”

“I’m just pre-warning you so you won’t decide you have to jump in and defend my honour.”

Reks flushed. “Oh, come on. It was only the once and I was half-delirious with fever.”

“Nonetheless.”

They both took simultaneous drinks.

“Does your mother know I’m coming?”

“Oh, yeah, I mentioned it.”

“Did you tell her the truth?”

“I… not exactly.” His mother had been so delighted to hear that Reks and Cusarn had ‘finally admitted how they felt about each other’ he’d felt like an utter heel telling her she was mistaken, so he just… hadn’t.

Reks sighed loudly.

“Hey, it’ll make it easier to maintain the facade in front of my grandmother.”

“I still don’t quite understand why you can’t just tell your grandmother she’s wrong.”

“You didn’t grow up with her. I spent at least four afternoons a week in her house during most of my formative years. The woman can command blind obedience from me and my siblings with just a look.”

Reks rubbed his temples again. “Do your siblings know?”

“Uh, no, I haven’t brought up the subject yet.”

“So we can expect to be told off by your sister. Got it. And your brother hates me, in case you’ve forgotten.”

“He doesn’t hate you, he just…” Blames Reks for Cusarn’s being injured. Completely without justification.

“Yes. Exactly.”

“Anyway, I’m sure he won’t be a problem.”

“Mmhmm.” Reks took another drink. “All right, I think we’ve covered enough here. If I know too much it’ll look studied.”

“I don’t think anybody’s going to be suspicious.”

“If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing properly,” said Reks archly. “Are you wearing that?”

Cusarn looked down at his ratty jeans and t-shirt. “No, of course not.”

“Then I suggest you get changed.”

Cusarn swigged down the last of his drink and headed to his bedroom to get changed.

Suits and ties and pressed white shirts… For all that his job required shirts and ties, it was a completely different deal dressing for a family do. He needed different shirts and jackets and ties.

When Cusarn returned downstairs he found Reks attempting to tie his tie in the mirror and failing miserably.

“Don’t you do this every day?” asked Cusarn, stepping in and finishing the job.

“Not this knot. I understand the Parker knot is the norm for this sort of dinner.”

“Oh, right, yes,” said Cusarn. He’d tied his tie without even thinking about the knot, just choosing the right one through muscle memory alone. Some things were bred into you.

The knot tied, Cusarn found himself strangely reluctant to remove his hands from the silky fabric. This position brought them close together, right up into each other’s personal space, and it was… intense, somehow.

Reks flushed and cleared his throat.

The spell broken, Cusarn let his hands drop to his sides. “Shall we?”

Reks nodded. “You’re driving.”

It was a joke. Reks never drove. “Yes, yes.”

Only Cusarn’s family would choose a cocktail reception for a family soiree. Formal dress, and a group of loud opinionated people only getting louder and more opinionated the more alcohol they consumed. He was surprised they hadn’t been banned from every venue in town.

Reks put a hand on Cusarn’s arm as they entered the building. His fingers tightened to an almost uncomfortable level as they signed in and walked into the ballroom.

“Relax,” Cusarn murmured out of the side of his mouth. “This isn’t any worse than the annual ball.”

Reks gave him an incredulous look. “Yes it is.

“Shh. Hi, Aunt Diala!” Cusarn pasted on his biggest and brightest smile as his aunt kissed him on both cheeks in greeting.

“I’m so glad you could make it, Cusarn,” said his aunt. “And… this is?”

“This is my partner, Rekala,” said Cusarn. “Reks, this is my aunt Diala. She’s my mother’s eldest sister.”

“Very pleased to meet you,” said Reks, his smile brittle.

“Has he been telling you awful stories?” said Aunt Diala. “There’s no need to be so nervous, we don’t bite unless you ask us to.” She winked.

“No stories,” Reks lied with remarkable skill. “I just… hadn’t expected there to be so many of you.”

“Oh, we’re a big clan, but we’re all very close, aren’t we? You take care of one of us, we’ll take good care of you.”

“I see,” said Reks helplessly. “Well, I’m very pleased to meet you.”

Aunt Diala gave Cusarn a slightly bemused look, something like ‘him, seriously’? Cusarn attempted to convey ‘he’s not usually like this, I swear’ with a shrug, but he wasn’t sure the message got through.

Cusarn’s grandmother floated over to join them, taking Cusarn and Reks’ hands and kissing them in turn. “I’m so glad the two of you could join us.”

Reks murmured some mindless platitude in return, stiff as a board. Cusarn pasted on a smile, excused them and guided Reks towards a waiter carrying a tray of drinks in tall glasses.

“We are so doomed,” moaned Reks under his breath.

“Shh. Here’s my brother.”

“Cusarn!” said Enar, clapping Cusarn on his back so hard Cusarn choked on his drink and started coughing.

Cusarn gasped for breath. “Hey, Enar, it’s… been a while.”

“And… Rekala,” Enar said frostily.

“Enar. It’s nice to meet you under more pleasant circumstances.”

Enar raised his eyebrows. “Is that so?” He turned to give Cusarn a look. “I thought Cusarn would have come to his senses by now.”

“I’m very happy with my line of work,” Cusarn replied pleasantly.

They were rescued by the arrival of Ainna. “Knock it off, Enar. You two both look well.”

“Yeah, we escaped the latest round of bullet-fire without even a scratch,” said Cusarn, just to see his brother glare at Reks again.

In the course of the next two hours, Reks got into an argument with Uncle Luka about urban planning; completely failed to justify to Aunt Diala why he didn’t want to have children until he was in a nice, safe desk-job; made a permanent enemy of Aunt Vala by telling cousin Esior the juicier parts of their last (non-classified) case; and had a long, heart-to-heart, vaguely worrying conversation with Cusarn’s grandmother that Cusarn was barred from.

It was rather like Reks had made a bingo card for how to annoy Cusarn’s family.

Just as Cusarn was starting to think they may be able to get out with all limbs still intact, Cusarn’s grandmother called for the lights to be dimmed and the music to be turned up. “It’s time to dance!”

Cusarn was on the edge of panic, but Reks seemed unnaturally calm about it. He held out a hand for Cusarn to take. “Shall we?”

Bemused, Cusarn followed Reks to the dance floor.

The first song was slow and melodic. Reks pulled Cusarn closer so that they were standing cheek-to-cheek, and they swayed gently in each other’s arms, not talking. It was very easy to let the rest of the dancers slip away and just concentrate on dancing. Reks wasn’t an accomplished dancer by any means, but he was coordinated enough that they weren’t tripping over each other’s feet, leaving Cusarn’s brain free to catalogue little things — like the warmth of Reks’ hand on his waist and the funny way his fringe fell over his eyes when he dipped his head.

When the song finished, they pulled back a little so that they could look each other in the eyes, still so close that Cusarn could have leaned forward a little and maybe kissed Reks, just a little bit…

Then Cusarn’s grandmother demanded that the DJ up the beat, and the moment shattered like glass.

“That,” said Reks, as they stumbled through Cusarn’s door, “was easily one of the worst nights of my life.”

They kicked off their shoes and moved in unison to the couch. “The really, really… horr… bad thing is,” said Cusarn, collapsing in one boneless motion, “is that it could have been worse.”

“Forgive me if I find that hard to believe.” Reks leant back as far as he could on the couch and flung one arm over his eyes.

“At one of those things, my uncle Luka decided he was going to sing the entire Wrethborne Saga. All fifteen verses. Including all the choruses.”

Reks’ mouth fell open, although his arm didn’t move. “Was he drunk?”

“No,” said Cusarn, in tones of utter despair. “No, he was completely sober. My youngest cousin had never heard it before, you see, and…”

Reks removed his arm so that he could fix Cusarn with his best look of abject horror.

“I know. I know.”

“It’s bad enough that they’re all snobs, but they’re all insane.”

“Just be glad you’re not really marrying into the family, then.”

Reks gave Cusarn a long look, then returned to his earlier position. “Did it make you… uncomfortable?”

“Huh?”

“Taking me as your date.”

Cusarn wasn’t so drunk that he thought he should be having trouble understanding things, but this was incomprehensible to him. “No. Why should I?” He snorted. “Everyone says we’re practically married anyway.”

“That’s it,” said Reks sincerely. “That’s the thing. Everyone was so happy we were ‘finally together’. Your sister said that to me. And your mother. And your Aunt Diala, although I have no idea why given I’d never met her before.”

“Well, they’re idiots,” muttered Cusarn.

“But I felt guilty,” Reks wailed. “For lying, and because they were happy for you, for us, and it’s not true.”

“I’m sorry,” said Cusarn helplessly. “I didn’t know they’d be like that.”

Reks sighed. “Never mind. Can I stay here tonight?”

Cusarn nodded. “Sure. You know where all the rooms are. I mean… you know what I mean.”

They looked at each other for a moment. With his shirt unbuttoned halfway, hair in disarray and tie undone but still looped around his neck, Reks looked like he really belonged in the pages of a fashion magazine, or perhaps in some kind of advertisement. Cusarn was starting to feel a little light-headed.

Reks broke into a huge yawn. “Right. Bed. Yes.”

Cusarn’s phone buzzed, waking him from a deep slumber. He picked it up, staring at it blearily until the shapes resolved into letters. His grandmother?

“I’m disappointed in you,” said his grandmother.

“Buh?” said Cusarn.

“That was a hint, you know. You weren’t supposed to make him pretend. You were supposed to make it actually happen.”

“To make… what are you talking about?”

“Your young man. Rekala. Tell him how you feel, you idiot.”

“But I don’t…”

His grandmother let out a noise of utter frustration. “How are you so blind?”

Cusarn was starting to wake a little. “You know, it is possible for two people to be good friends without being interested in each other sexually.”

“But you’re not asexual, and neither is he, and you are in love. Now do something about it.

“What?” yelped Cusarn. “Grandmother!”

The phone rang off.

Cusarn sat up.

Someone knocked quietly on the door, then Reks came in. “Everything okay? I heard the phone.” He was dressed only in the pair of boxer shorts that lived in the closet in Cusarn’s spare bedroom.

“Yeah, it was my grandmother.”

“Oh. Did she…?”

“We didn’t convince her,” said Cusarn. “But it turns out she never really thought we were together anyway.”

Reks scratched his head. “How does that work?”

Cusarn flopped back down on the bed. After a moment, Reks walked around to the other side and sat down stiffly.

“Do you ever think that maybe rather than just being practically married, we should get married for real?” Cusarn couldn’t see Reks’ face while lying face down, so he rolled over.

Reks was looking somewhere in the direction of the wall, his expression unreadable. “I always figured there were reasons you… we… didn’t. You know. Cross that line.”

It was impossible to have this conversation with only one of them lying down, so Cusarn shimmied up the wall so he was leaning against it, the same as Reks. “It’s not like I don’t find you attractive,” he said, thoughtfully. “I just… compartmentalise.”

“You don’t see me that way because you don’t want to see me that way?”

“Because I don’t think I should. That’s different.” Cusarn pouted.

“I just figured you weren’t interested.”

It was like the moment when you looked at all the evidence for a case and suddenly the true story started unfolding. Suddenly you could see a motive, you could see opportunity, you could see the entire picture.

He took a moment to try and put the epiphany into words. “I’ve never really had an adult relationship before.” He flapped a hand impatiently as Reks protested. “I dated at college, of course, but it was always… strangers, people I’d met in bars or in clubs and we were never really much like each other. So I figured that relationships were like that, and friends were the people you actually liked spending time with.”

“That’s not how relationships should work. When I dated Inakara…”

“I know that now,” said Cusarn impatiently. He paused. “Although I think I took you and Inakara as evidence in favour of my original theory.”

Reks groaned. “Idiot. Kara and I were great together, but she couldn’t stand having to share me with you.”

Cusarn blinked. “But that’s ridiculous. You can’t stop your partner from having friends.”

“She admitted that it was illogical at the time, yes,” said Reks. “But in the end we decided it would be better for both of our sanity if we broke up.”

“Huh.” Cusarn pondered that for a moment. “I’m sorry.”

Reks waved a hand. “Not your fault. Not really, anyway.”

Cusarn slumped back against the wall. “So you don’t want to?”

“What, exactly, is the question here? Do I want to get married for real? Because the answer to that is no, I’d like to try dating first,” said Reks dryly.

Cusarn blinked. “I suppose that was coming on a bit fast.”

“Just a little.”

“But… I don’t even know how to even begin dating someone like you.”

“I imagine,” said Reks delicately, “that it will be a lot like our usual time together, except with more making out.”

Cusarn felt his cheeks set aflame. “Right. Of course.”

Reks was looking at him directly, his eyes warm and amused. “I wouldn’t have ever pictured you as shy before.”

“This is new. I’ve had an epiphany, it needs a while to settle.”

“Speaking of which,” murmured Reks, “it’s seven o’clock in the morning and I didn’t get nearly enough sleep.”

Cusarn blinked and looked at the clock. “My grandmother phoned me before seven on a Sunday?”

“Your grandmother is a harsh taskmistress,” murmured Reks. “I’m sleeping here, I hope your epiphany is okay with that.”

Cusarn rubbed his eyes. “Yeah. Yeah, I’m fine with that.”

It was the first time they’d shared a bed, although not the first time they’d shared a room or even slept in proximity to each other. They’d on several occasions accidentally fallen asleep on the couch together, and of course the department was always making them share hotel rooms.

Cusarn lay on his back and let sleep slowly settle over him. He could feel Reks beside him, hear his soft breathing, and let it lull him into oblivion.

It wasn’t awkward when they woke up, and that surprised Cusarn. He opened his eyes to find Reks propped up on one elbow, watching Cusarn quietly.

“I always thought watching people sleep was creepy,” said Cusarn conversationally.

“I only just woke up myself,” said Reks. “Hi.”

“Hi,” said Cusarn. He smiled at Reks through half-lidded eyes. “What time is it?”

“About nine.”

“We should get up or we’ll completely mess up,” Cusarn yawned, “mess up our sleep patterns.” He sat up gingerly.

Reks took this as an opportunity to shuffle closer and gently draw Cusarn into a kiss.

For a moment, Cusarn forgot what he was supposed to be doing. This was a kiss, it was unexpected, he wasn’t sure how Reks liked kissing or what kind of kiss Reks wanted it to be… After a short span of this, Cusarn remembered to use physical cues rather than mental and relaxed into the kiss.

When they broke apart, they grinned at each other giddily for a moment.

Just as Cusarn was starting to feel ridiculous, Reks kissed him again and coherent thought slipped out of reach.

He couldn’t remember kisses ever feeling like this before.

“I’m an idiot,” breathed Cusarn, dropping his head on Reks’ shoulder.

Reks gently stroked his hair. “You are. I flirted with you for six months straight before I gave up.”

Cusarn lifted his head to stare at Reks. “What? When?”

“The second year we were partners.” Reks pressed another kiss to Cusarn’s lips, then the underside of his chin, then the crook of his neck. “We were both single, I thought it would be a good idea.”

“I didn’t even notice.”

“I know.” Reks moved his hand down the back of Cusarn’s neck, making him shiver. “I’m over it now.” His hand drifted lower, over Cusarn’s shoulder-blades, and joined its friend to slip under Cusarn’s t-shirt and tug it over Cusarn’s head.

Not content with merely removing Cusarn’s t-shirt, Reks’ hands moved lower still. “You have no idea,” said Reks, tugging at the waistband of Cusarn’s boxers. “How long…” He slipped them over Cusarn’s hips in a practiced motion. “I have wanted to get you in this position.”

If Cusarn had ever given any thought to imagining what Reks would be like in bed — which he hadn’t, and which suddenly seemed like a gross oversight — he would probably have concluded that Reks would be a little awkward; a little hesitant.

Reks never hesitated in the heat of the moment when on the job. Maybe this wasn’t any different.

Reks nipped at Cusarn’s collarbone. “What’s on your mind?”

“You,” said Cusarn, deciding it was time his own hands got in on the action. “How are you so good at this?”

Reks didn’t dignify that with an answer, flinging an arm over Cusarn’s shoulder to draw him closer and following up the action by weaving his legs in between Cusarn’s to bring their crotches in contact.

Cusarn let out an involuntary moan.

Reks kissed him again, tangling Cusarn’s fingers in his and moving their linked hands lower, until their wrists were caught between their bellies and Cusarn’s hand was on Reks’ cock.

Cusarn explored the heated length of it with his fingertips, gently at first, but then with more confidence as Reks breathed gentle, non-verbal encouragement. With a little twisting, he managed to wrap his hand around it, hard but soft-skinned, and Reks mirrored the motion on Cusarn’s own cock.

All thought disappeared into a confusion of touches and kisses and heat. At some point their hands fell away and they just moved together, cock against cock.

The hot wetness of Reks’ orgasm against his skin was the final catalyst to send Cusarn tumbling into his own climax.

It was several moments before Cusarn managed to move again, and even then he found himself reluctant to pull away from Reks. He didn’t think he ever wanted to let go again.

“I think this is going to work,” said Cusarn, later. His voice was hoarse.

“Of course it will,” said Reks.

Of course.

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