Sleeping

by Dr. Noh
illustrated by justblue0162

(mirrors http://s2b2.livejournal.com/57536.html)

illustrated by justblue0162

“You make a terrible drag queen,” Carla said.

“Hey, this was your idea. And make sure you get all the fucking glitter off, yeah?” Rey peered at his reflection in the mirror. Freaky as it had been to see it all go on, it was weirder watching it come off. She rubbed a cotton ball along his cheek, and his scar was back like it’d never been gone.

Most of the make up was gone now, and he had his normal clothes back, which was fantastic. Those shoes, Jesus wept, worst thing to happen to him in pretty much ever.

She gave a last wipe at the pink glitter on his lids. “There,” she said. “Done. You’re big and mean again, so walk me to my car, ‘kay?”

He faked a sigh and stood. “Rey, tend my bar, Rey, break up that fight, Rey, dress up in girls’ clothes and be in my fucking chorus line. You don’t pay me enough. There is no way you could pay me enough.” He offered her his arm.

Autumn was finally driving the heat out of the city, and their breath steamed when they hit the parking lot. Carla’s was the only car left, parked next to Rey’s cheap, old Suzuki motorbike.

“You’re doing pretty well now, huh,” Rey said.

“The place is starting to come together. The show’s doing better than I hoped.” She smiled sideways at him. “Are you really asking for a raise?”

“Nah. Just asking for information.”

“I’d probably give it to you if you did.”

“I’m good for now. Don’t wanna get greedy.”

“I don’t think there’s much chance of that, honey. You’re about the only one who hasn’t asked for a raise.”

He shrugged. “My place gets broken into every couple months anyway. No point keeping nice stuff around. I got enough for rent and food.”

She squeezed his hand. “You just let me know.”

“Sure. I will.” He opened the car door for her and waved as she drove off.

He could leave. He’d always planned to leave when the place took off and Carla could afford to pay a bartender and a bouncer and a handyman and all the crazy jobs he ended up doing. He’d thought it would be a relief to leave.

Somehow though, he’d gotten used to getting off work at two or three in the morning, gotten used to girls with dicks and guys with tits and to getting hit on by all of them. Carla paid pretty decently and always let him crash on her couch when he found himself without a place to stay.

He figured it was because she’d known his mom for a while, back when he was a little kid and Carla was still Carl. It was sort of like still having family. But not really.

Still, he knew he’d gotten lucky. He’d been turned down for a whole lot of jobs before Carla took him on, even after he’d stopped mentioning that his last job had been making license plates for New York state.

He was heading for his bike when he heard a voice behind him say, “Don’t move. I just want the cash, you can keep–”

Rey didn’t wait for him to finish before driving an elbow backwards towards what was hopefully his would-be mugger’s stomach. Moving was always a good idea, especially when some fucker told him not to.

There was grunt. “Bastard,” the man said. The streetlights lit up something in a flash of silver, and a streak of fiery pain cut across Rey’s upper arm. He spun around and put his fist in the man’s face.

That was that. The guy went down. Rey kicked at his side. “Jesus. Your lucky day, asshole.” He wasn’t about to go to the cops, for this or anything else.

He ripped a strip off the bottom of his t-shirt and tied it around the cut, but the blood soaked through. Dammit. That was going to need stitches. His bike wheezed to life, and he pulled onto the road.

The streets were shiny-dark from the rain earlier, and silent. His arm burned, and the hospital seemed stupidly far away. They should build them closer together, like Starbucks.

Two blocks went by, three, four. The fifth block held his favorite liquor store, the video rental place, and the free clinic. The first two had closed up at midnight, but the light in the clinic was still on. He frowned and slowed, coasting to a stop. The door was propped open too, and it looked way more welcoming than a Starbucks right now.

The bandage around his arm was sopping with blood now, and there were little drips and spats of it running down his arm. He felt queasy and a little dizzy. The little dizzy turned into a lot dizzy as he straightened up and got off his bike. His vision closed in, but he ignored it, shook his head and bent low as he made for the door.

The front office was empty, receptionist’s desk unmanned, but all the overheads were on. It made his eyes ache after the dark of the streets. A drop of blood splattered on the polished floor. He didn’t remember this place being so clean.

“Yo,” he called. “Anyone here?”

“In the back.”

Rey pushed through the door to the doctor’s office and nearly ran into–well, probably the doctor. He had the white coat anyway.

“What do you,” the doctor said, and, “Oh,” when he saw the soaked cloth tied around Rey’s arm. He steered Rey quickly towards the exam table and sat him down.

Rey had to admit, sitting was a good thing. He ducked his head down and breathed until his vision went back to normal. “S’just a scratch,” he said. “Didn’t know this place stayed open so late.”

“I was catching up on some paperwork. I had no idea there would be so much.” The doctor was removing Rey’s bandage as he spoke, wiping away the blood with a wad of gauze. “A little more than a scratch, but not so bad. What’s your name?”

“Rey. You?”

“Oliver Lovely.”

Rey blinked. “Really?”

Dr. Lovely smiled a little, all his concentration on Rey’s cut. “Would I joke about a name like that?”

“Nah, guess you wouldn’t. Get beat up a lot in school?”

“My school frowned on violence except as properly directed into sporting activities, but I assure you I got thrashed quite often at chess.”

Rey didn’t know what to say to that, and besides, that was when Dr. Lovely stuck him with a needle and started on the stitches. The stuff in the needle numbed his arm, but the stitches still weren’t fun. Rey always hated that weird, painless drag of the thread through skin. He’d almost rather it hurt.

There was a chess set, he noticed, perched on top of the low bookcase on the far side of the room. It looked like a game was already in progress. A pile of pawns sat on the corner of the small, formica-topped desk next to a plain, white coffee mug. The floor was same in here as out front; greenish, peeling linoleum. Rey thought he’d have to take anti-depressants if he spent all day every day in this place.

Dr. Lovely frowned over his work. He looked more annoyed than depressed. A piece of his hair kept falling across one of his eyes, and he kept blowing it upwards. Every time, his frown got deeper. It made Rey smile.

Lovely’s hair was white-blond, and his skin was so pale Rey could see the blue of the veins on the back of his hands clearly. His eyes were a much deeper blue. He’d make a good looking girl, Rey thought, and that was Carla’s fault. Dammit.

He shook his head and stopped watching. “You know the door’s wide fucking open out there?” he asked, instead.

Lovely flipped his hair back and blinked at him. “Yes?”

“This isn’t a great neighborhood. Anyone could walk in.”

“Anyone did. I believe that’s the point of a free clinic?”

“You must be new around here.”

“Hm. You are the fourteenth person to have said that to me in two days.”

“Number’s gonna get higher if you keep doing dumb shit like this.”

“That’s all right. I’ve already decided I shall stop counting at twenty. How did this happen anyway?”

“Kitchen accident.”

“I see. You sliced your arm open accidentally. From behind. While you were cutting a bagel, perhaps?”

Rey stiffened. “Who says it was from behind?”

“The pathology of the cut. It starts out deep here, as if someone–pardon me, you–had swung the knife in from the side. And then it becomes gradually shallower along here as the initial force is not sustained.”

Dr. Lovely’s gloved finger traced the length of Rey’s cut, skirting the edges of the stitches. With the anesthetic still hanging in there, it was just pressure and coolness, but it still sent a tiny shiver across Rey’s skin.

“You sure you’re a real doctor and not a dead people doctor?”

“Quite sure.” Dr. Lovely fixed a bandage in place and snapped off his gloves. “You talk far too much to be dead. I would’ve noticed. I’m sharp like that. Now, if you’ll wait just a second, I believe I have an astonishing amount of paperwork for you to fill out.”

“I don’t think so, Doc.”

“No, you really have to. It’s for–”

“Don’t care,” Rey said, heading for the door. He felt bad, but Lovely wasn’t the only one who’d be suspicious about that cut.

“Wait!”

Rey was prepared to ignore that too, but Dr. Lovely caught his arm and pushed something into his hand: an orange pill bottle.

“You take those twice a day. With meals. And come back next week so I can look at that.”

“Without your paperwork?”

“Just don’t let it get infected. And try not to have anymore ‘kitchen accidents’ at least until the stitches come out.”

“My food doesn’t usually fight back.”

“I’m glad to hear it. Now go home and get some rest.” Dr. Lovely shooed him out into the front office.

Rey hesitated by the still-open door. “You should close this. For real.”

“You should get some sleep. For real.”

“Yeah, whatever. You want to get mugged, that’s your problem.”

“I do have this,” Lovely said. He pulled a gun halfway out of his coat pocket and let it slip back in.

“Yeah, so someone can shoot you with it? Great idea.”

“Your concern is appreciated, but hardly necessary.”

Idiot. He revved his engine louder than he needed to before he pulled out.

At home, he made himself fold his clothes before he fell into bed, and he set his alarm for an hour later than usual. Stitches definitely earned him nine hours of sleep.

***

Rey managed to avoid any serious fights during the week, even when Antoinette dumped a pitcher of beer over some guy’s head for asking what she had left under her skirt. Rey had to hit him, but only once, and he used the fist not attached to his injured arm.

When he got off work, he found the clinic open once again.

“Hey, Doc. You back there?” He got a muffled reply and headed back into the office. The first thing he saw was Lovely’s ass in tight khakis. The doctor was bent over, searching through a file drawer. There was a stack of folders beside him and several more on his desk and on the exam table.

“Sit.” Lovely waved towards a chair without turning around.

Rey sat. He tried not to stare. It shouldn’t have been much of an effort. He didn’t check out guys’ asses. He didn’t check out any asses, recently. Still, it was harder than it should’ve been to look away.

The chess set was still there, he noticed. There were more pieces piled on the corner of the desk now, not just pawns.

“Who’re you playing with?” he asked.

“What?”

“Chess.”

“Oh. An online opponent. I prefer to set the game up on a physical board. It helps me think my moves through. I’m not very good at chess.”

“Why do you play it then?”

“Do you only do things you’re good at?”

“Guess you’ve got a point there. Do you want to be good at it?”

Lovely paused before he answered, turning to face Rey. “That is a very good question, and one most people don’t think to ask.”

“So what’s the answer?”

“None of your business.” Lovely dumped the pile of files he was holding on his desk. It matched the piles on the floor and the pile on his desk chair. “I assume you’re here to get those stitches out?”

“I was hoping, yeah.”

“Right. Shirt off.” He went to wash his hands. The height of the sink bent him over again. Rey couldn’t see any sign of boxers or briefs under those pants. Not that he was looking.

He shrugged out of his leather jacket and pulled off his t-shirt. “What’s all this stuff for?” He waved at the papers scattered around the office.

“I am falsifying paperwork for the truly frightening number of people who require treatment and won’t leave their information.”

“You’re–doing what now?”

Lovely lent over him, prodding at his cut with latex-covered fingers. “You’re an old man named Salvador Cruces who sliced his palm open dealing with a difficult bagel.”

What?”

“All the supplies have to be accounted for somehow. Yes, these can come out.” He started snipping.

“So that makes me Salvador the bagel fanatic?”

“It does.”

“You’re nuts, Doc.”

“Coincidentally, you are the fourteenth person to have said that to me as well. What happened to your hand?”

“Knocked it against a door.”

Lovely pressed his lips together and looked at Rey over his gold-rimmed glasses. “Salvador is much too old for this kind of behavior.”

“It’s not my fault you made me some grandpa. Maybe he knocks his wife around.”

“In that case, I believe I’ve met your wife as well. Would he be a large gentleman with several gold teeth and a bruise on his jaw to match this one?” Dr. Lovely tapped the green-purple splotches on Rey’s knuckles.

“He came here for that? Wuss.”

“Yes, much better to show up only when one is about to pass out from blood loss. There,” he added, wiping over the cut with a cotton swab. “You’re done. Congratulations, you will live to commit further senseless violence another day.”

“Are you always this much of a cranky bitch?”

“Only to people who create needless work for me and injure their fellow human beings over–oh, what was it? He spilled his drink on your favorite shirt? Or maybe something ‘gang related’? Those I suppose you’re a bit old for that.”

“So I’m not just a thug, I’m an over-the-hill thug? Thanks, Doc. Nice bedside manner.”

“You wouldn’t want me by your bedside.”

Rey crossed his arms over his chest. “Guess I wouldn’t. Am I done?”

“Yes. You may go.”

He pulled his shirt back on and tried oh so hard to keep his mouth shut. It worked about as well as it always did. “You know, you could try not making fucked-up assumptions about complete strangers. Asshole.”

“For example, assuming your use of profanity must mean your vocabulary and possibly reading skills are somewhat lacking?”

“It’s a fucking miracle nobody’s fucking hit you in the fucking mouth, Doc. For serious.”

“Several people have, actually.”

“I’m not fucking surprised.”

“You’ve made your point.”

“Oh, yeah? ‘Cause I know worse words.”

“Do you.”

“I do.”

Lovely stood back a step and picked at the cuff of his latex glove. His hair was falling in his eyes again. “Such as?”

Rey wanted to go for shocking. He did. Lovely had been a jerk, was still being a jerk. He deserved shocking. And he had no business looking like that. Rey sighed inwardly and called himself a sucker.

“Cockwaffle,” he said solemnly.

“…What?”

“Oh, you heard me.”

“I’m quite sure I didn’t,” Lovely said, but his mouth was twitching, and the corners of his eyes were creased with amusement.

It felt like triumph to Rey, and he wished he weren’t so damn stupid.

Lovely opened his mouth, and Rey didn’t know what to hope for. Lovely didn’t get a chance to say anything at all though, abusive or otherwise. A crash from the front office made both of them jerk their heads around just in time to see a man push through the office door.

The guy was big, taller than Rey, and that was saying something. Bigger across too. He was swaying a little, red in the face, one fist bloodied. Rey wondered if he’d punched through the window. Rey stood, sizing him up, but Lovely stepped between them.

“Mr. Harris,” he said calmly. “Welcome back.”

“He needs those drugs,” Harris rumbled. The edges of his words slurred together.

“Then you’d better bring him in so I can examine him. This is not a pharmaceutical pinata.”

“He needs them! And you–you just better give them to me. Right fucking now!”

Rey started to edge forward, but Lovely pointed a finger at him and stopped him in his tracks. Harris raised his fist and stepped up, less than a foot away now. The three of them stood very still. Rey could hear Harris breathing and the tick of the clock on the wall.

“Don’t,” Lovely said. “I know you do have a young son, and while I doubt he needs morphine, I’m sure he could use a check up. Which I would be happy to perform, provided you turn around and leave right now. I’ve made you an appointment with the methadone clinic. Tomorrow morning, nine. I know it seems like a long time right now, but you can make it.”

Harris clenched his fist tighter, and Rey was convinced there would be blood in a minute. Lovely deserved it for being such a damn fool, but Rey still itched to do something.

Harris turned and punched the wall with his bloody fist. “I’d sooner take my kid to see a fucking witch doctor, you–” He spat on the floor and stomped out. There was another crash from the reception area as he left.

Rey gestured after him. “What–?”

“Junkies.” Lovely shrugged. “One can’t take such things personally.”

“You’re nuts!” Rey found he was waving his hands in the air. There was too much adrenaline in him to keep still, but the hand waving wasn’t doing anything except downgrading his cool. He made himself stop it and paced instead. “What the hell, man! Forget mugged, you’re gonna get yourself killed.”

Lovely looked at him for a long second and then turned away abruptly to straighten an already-straight stack of folders on his desk. “How nice to have someone who cares,” he said. He’d probably meant it as sarcasm, and Rey was just imagining the little edge of surprise. Lovely cleared his throat. “I’ll expect you at my funeral.”

There was mild interest on Lovely’s face when he turned back to Rey, but nothing else. He leaned against the wall and crossed his arms over his chest.

Time to leave, Rey thought, but he wasn’t leaving. He was walking forward those few steps until he was right in Lovely’s face, just as bad as Harris had been. “Somebody oughta,” he said. “Since you obviously don’t.”

“What?”

“Care.”

“I don’t need an over-the-hill thug to protect me, thank you.”

“If he’d hit you just once, you’d be fucking unconscious on the floor, and he could do or take whatever he wanted.”

“You would know,” Lovely said, but the hand he closed over Rey’s bruised fist was almost gentle. His thumb slid across the back of Rey’s hand, and Rey swallowed hard. “I was going to look at this,” Lovely said. “If you could sit back down.”

“Nothing to look at,” Rey mumbled. He was staring at Lovely’s mouth. Couldn’t help it. It was right there. “I should go.” Or push him up against the door and kiss him. Same difference, right?

Lovely ducked his head, hand twisting into his own sleeve. “Yes, perhaps you should.”

Perversely, it made Rey want to kiss him even more. He got as far as brushing his fingers along Lovely’s jaw, but Lovely turned his head away.

***

It would be so much better to stay away. He knew that, and he still found himself cruising by the clinic on his way home after work. Midnight, one, two in the morning. The light was always on, and the door was always open. Everyone in the neighborhood said Lovely saw patients during the day, too. Rey wondered when he slept.

A full two weeks went by before Rey cracked. It was something about the painful sparkle of the huge plate glass window, washed fresh every day, and the clean swept sidewalk. One of Carla’s girls said she’d seen Lovely out there at dawn, sweeping up cigarette butts and broken beer bottles. It was the only clean patch on the street.

Rey didn’t bother to announce himself this time, just went straight back. He found Lovely curled up asleep on the exam table. The piles from last time were squared up neatly on the desk and on top of the bookcase. The remains of a take-out dinner from Pluck U sat on his desk near the much smaller pile of chess pieces. He must’ve started another game.

There was a blue cotton blanket folded on top of the low bookcase, and he spread it over Lovely. He was going to leave, he told himself. Because it’d be stupid to hang around. He could lock the door on his way out. Yeah.

Instead, he sat down on the orange vinyl chair next to the exam table and watched Lovely’s face. Asleep, he looked much older, more worried. He was frowning faintly.

“I’m not,” Rey mumbled to himself. Not attracted to guys in general, to this guy in particular. Only he was, and he’d never been real good at lying to himself. It was hard even to get that worked up about it. He’d fucked a couple of guys in prison. Fucked no one but hookers since he got out. And then he’d gotten a year and a half of Carla’s House of Gender Confusion. It was no wonder he was a little messed up.

He watched Lovely sleep for a long time and carefully didn’t touch his hair or any other part of him.

He came awake sometime later with no memory of when he’d fallen asleep. The desk lamp had been switched off, and the wash of fluorescent light from the hallway coated the walls in a sterile gloom. Lovely was sitting up cross-legged on the exam table, hunched over with the blanket around his shoulders.

“I suppose you’re not bleeding to death,” he said quietly.

“Nah. Just. Thought I’d stop by.”

“Who told you?”

“Huh?”

“I assume you’re here for some sort of–assignation. Who suggested I might be inclined that way?”

Rey rubbed a hand over his face. He could read and shit. He’d done pretty damn well on the SATs back in high school. That didn’t mean bumfuck o’clock was an okay time for words like assignation.

“Nobody. I mean. What? You’re gay, is that what you’re telling me?”

“Homosexual. I’m very seldom gay.”

“And you think I came here to screw around with you?”

“In one of the various senses of that phrase, yes.”

Rey blinked at him. His eyes felt blurry, and his neck ached. He’d barely gotten to the part where he admitted he might have some kind of attraction for Lovely. This felt like fast forwarding to the end of the movie.

“Look, you be gay, or homosexual, or whatever all you want. That’s cool. But it’s got nothing to with me. I just came to–” He stopped there, out of words.

“To what?” Lovely said.

“Nothing. Shit. Nothing at all. What the fuck time is it?”

“Is that really relevant to this conversation?”

“Yeah, it is. ‘Cause if it’s past three, you’re not allowed to use words like relevant and assignation.”

“And if it’s before three, you’re not allowed to swear.”

“Deal.”

“It’s two-thirty.”

“Fuck.”

“Excuse me?”

Lovely sounded so outraged that Rey couldn’t help laughing. When he recovered enough to look up, Lovely was smiling at him. He was pretty sure it was the first time he’d seen him smile. He would’ve remembered.

He shook his head. “We both ought to go home,” he said. It made Lovely’s smile fade and his eyes dim, and Rey regretted saying it. But it was still true. High school was the time for staying up all night mooning over some chick or drinking with someone until you thought they were your soulmate. He’d been too old for that shit when he was twenty, and now he was on the wrong side of thirty.

“Yes, I suppose we ought,” Lovely said. He paused. “Are you leaving then?”

“Walk you to your car?”

“I’ll be fine. I don’t suppose–”

“What?”

“That you’d like a–a drink?”

Rey stood and stretched and took Lovely’s arms to pull him gently off the table. “Yeah, I would. But you’re right, I’m too old to be a thug. Too old for a lot of shit. Things.”

“Too old to stay up past your bedtime?” Lovely said. His face was tipped up towards Rey’s. From this angle, even the fluorescents were as good as moonlight.

“Yeah. Exactly. Eight hours of sleep and a decent breakfast,” Rey said. “That’s my life now.”

“Is it the one you want?”

Rey rubbed a hand over his mouth and tried to get his thoughts together. He’d never had to try to say any of this out loud before. “You know, most of the kids I knew growing up are dead or in jail or moved way away, like this one guy’s a cowboy in Montana now. Honest to God, a cowboy.”

“Please tell me that becoming a cowboy is not your life plan.”

“Hey, shut up. I’m talking here. Anyway. A lot more dead guys than cowboys. And I’m still here and alive. And I’m not going back to prison, and I don’t know if this is the life I want, okay, but I want a life. And this is the one I’ve got. So if you want to have a drink with me, let’s pretend like we’re normal people, huh?”

“Adults, you mean?”

“Yeah. That. Responsible and shit.”

“We are adults. I don’t think we’re supposed to have to pretend.”

“Well, maybe it comes easier to you than me. Anyway. You could come by the bar I work at tomorrow. If you wanted.”

“All right,” Lovely said, and kissed him. He had to stretch up to do it, and it only lasted for a second. “Though I don’t feel particularly mature at the moment.”

Rey bit his lip–his own, not Lovely’s, though he wouldn’t have minded that either. “Right. Okay. Come on.”

“Where are we going?”

“I said I was walking you to your car, didn’t I?”

“That’s not necessary.”

“It’s not a safe neighborhood.”

“So you said. But keep in mind no one’s been chaperoning me for the past month.”

“Just start walking, Doc. I am so much stubborner than you it’s not even funny.”

“Stubborner is not a word.”

Rey just looked at him.

“I hadn’t planned on going home tonight,” Lovely said finally.

“You should.”

“Be that as it may. Just tell me where you work, all right? And I’ll see you tomorrow.”

Rey wrote it down for him. With directions. And a little map. He almost scribbled over the map before handing Lovely his paper back, but he was going to look like just as much of a goof either way, so he left it.

***

Carla’s bar was called The Duck. He’d asked her why, but she’d only said, “That’s for me to know and you to find out.” Only he never had. Neither had anyone else, as far as he knew. Sometimes customers asked him, and he’d learned to look smug and stay quiet. They never believed him when he said he didn’t know.

He was behind the bar tonight serving a pretty laid-back Thursday night crowd. Most of them were regulars, here to see their friends and watch a show they knew by heart. It left him with, unfortunately, plenty of time to watch the door and note who was coming in and who wasn’t. Rey had a few good hours to get worked up and pissed off and make all kinds of assumptions. And pretend he didn’t remember exactly what it’d felt like when Lovely kissed him.

Lovely didn’t walk in until midnight. It was like a scene in some old Western, where the new guy in town pushes through the saloon doors and everyone turns to stare, only the guns this crowd went for weren’t the kind that shot bullets. Rey waved him over to the bar and tried to forget he’d spent the last three hours wanting to strangle him.

“Hey,” he said.

“Hello.” Lovely frowned. “You work at a–a– Are those female impersonators on the stage?”

“Yeah.”

“Oh. Maybe I could have a drink?”

He didn’t specify, so Rey gave him a beer. He turned the bottle gently between his fingers and pushed it back. “Sapporo? Or at least something not American?”

“You’ve got pretty high-class taste to be hanging out with me.”

Lovely watched him from his lashes. It was a weirdly direct look even so. “I don’t know how to answer that without being offensive,” he said. He took his Sapporo and tipped it back, throat bared as he swallowed.

Rey swallowed too. “Well. Nice of you to make an effort. But maybe you should just answer it.”

“I have high-class taste where I can afford it.”

“So, what? I’m cheap?”

Lovely pressed his lips together for a moment. “No. That’s not actually the word I would choose.”

Rey looked at him, tapped his fingers on the bar. He stole Lovely’s bottle and took a drink from it.

“You’ve no manners at all, have you?” Lovely said.

“Maybe that’s why you like me.”

Lovely’s pale cheeks flushed, and he looked down. He took his bottle back, hands wringing at the neck.

“Oh,” Rey said. “It is?”

“Not like that.”

“Not like what?”

“Why do I like you? Are we honestly having this conversation?”

“Not when you put it like that.”

“Good.”

“Maybe you just want me for my hot bod?”

Lovely smiled down at the counter. “Yes, let’s assume that’s what it is.”

Despite the show on the stage and the enthusiastic participation of the crowd, they managed an uncomfortable silence.

Rey cleared his throat. “How’s your chess?”

Lovely took another drink of his beer and turned the bottle between his hands. The silence stretched.

“Okay, fine. Don’t–”

“You asked if I wanted to be good at it.”

“Yeah,” Rey said cautiously.

“I don’t, especially. My father regards it as the height of human achievement, a particularly shortsighted and stereotypical view, in my opinion.”

“So…why do you play exactly?”

“He’s as bad at it as I am. It’s the only thing we’ve ever had in common.”

“Huh.” Rey tapped his fingers on the bar. “That’s…kinda sweet.”

“There’s no need to rub it in.”

“There’s no rule that says you gotta be an asshole all the time.”

Lovely hunched over his beer, and Rey sighed. “You wanna dance?” he asked.

“Aren’t you meant to be tending bar?”

“Daphne can do it for a while. Yo, Daphne!”

Daphne was halfway across the bar, but she’d been a linebacker in college. The crowd parted for her easily, and she vaulted over the bar despite the cocktail dress and high heels. Rey had seen her do it before, but it never failed to impress him.

“Take over for a few minutes, okay?” he said.

She looked between him and Lovely. “Take as long as you want, babe. I’ve got it covered.” She gave him an enthusiastic and possibly obscene hand gesture that he pretended not to see.

Rey walked around the bar and caught Lovely’s hand on the way past, tugging him towards the mass of people dancing in front of the stage. Lovely’s hands settled firmly at his waist as they turned towards each other, which left Rey awkwardly holding onto his shoulders. He wasn’t that good at the kind of dancing that involved touching the person you were dancing with and definitely no good at letting someone else lead.

It got worse when some bastard decided it was time for a slow song. He really didn’t remember his feet being that big, and why had he thought this dancing thing was a good idea? But Lovely gave him a stern look over his glasses and sorted their hands out. And then, suddenly, it was kind of nice.

Their bodies fit well together, with Lovely’s hand in his and Lovely’s head tucked under his chin. His hair tickled and smelled like soap. The hand at Rey’s waist crept under the hem of his shirt, fingers just touching his skin.

“That’s not fair,” Rey said, mostly mumbled really. For a second he thought, hoped Lovely hadn’t heard him.

“What’s not fair?”

“This. You. The–the touching and everything.”

Lovely’s hand slid up his back, palm flat on his bare skin. “For a man who works in–this place–you don’t seem overly sure of yourself.”

“I’m straight. Was. Something. My life has been kind of confusing for a few years.”

“I rather expected you to be more…predatory.”

“Is that what you wanted?”

“I don’t know.”

“At least I’m not the only one who’s confused.”

“No.”

They danced for another song or two after that, and then Lovely was pulling away, heading for the door without more than a muttered excuse. Rey caught up with him just outside.

“What?” he said.

“I should go.”

Rey crossed his arms over his chest. “Okay.”

“I don’t owe you any sort of explanation.”

“Nope.”

“Are you just going to stand there and agree with me?”

“Yeah, pretty much. Until you let me take you home.”

Lovely raised an eyebrow at him.

“I didn’t mean– Drive you home! Just. That’s all. Just drive. Drop you off. At the door.”

“Oh, good god. Please stop talking.”

Lovely kissed him. Again, stretching up a bit, because Rey was too surprised to bend down at first, and then Rey pulled him closer and Lovely’s arms went round his neck. Lovely’s mouth was soft and warm. A hind of wet tongue flicked across Rey’s lips, and Rey’s hands slid down to his ass and squeezed. Both of them sucked in a breath and broke apart.

Lovely licked his lips and then touched them, holding his hand there for a moment. “I’ve been sleeping at the clinic,” he said.

“I noticed.”

“No. I’ve been sleeping there because I haven’t anywhere else to sleep. The position doesn’t pay particularly well.”

Rey frowned. “Your receptionist has an apartment. And two kids.”

“Perhaps she manages her money better than I do.” Lovely’s eyes slide off to the side, and he shoves his hands in his pockets. “Perhaps she doesn’t go to the number of clubs I do. And I’m fairly sure she didn’t recently buy a tuxedo for a two-hundred-dollar-a-plate charity function.”

“You–what now? I’m sorry?”

“I have appearances to maintain.”

“Oh,” Rey said, and he suddenly got it. “Oh. Like. Appearances that don’t include seeing a bouncer at a drag club.”

But Lovely looked startled. “No. I only meant… I didn’t mean that.”

“Well, good. Since this was all your idea.”

“I’m not sure I’d agree with that.”

“Whatever, man. I was not hitting on you.”

“Be that as it may,” Lovely said, and then stopped and shook his head. “I had a point. Stop distracting me.”

“I’m just standing here.”

Lovely’s eyes traveled over Rey’s chest and then somewhat lower. “Yes, I can see that. My point, however, was that I have no disposable income to spend on you, so if that features in your reasons for associating with me–it shouldn’t.”

Rey just stared at him for a second. “Wow. That’s gotta be the rudest thing anyone’s ever said to me, and I spent six months in prison. You oughta get a prize, Doc.”

“I just wanted to be clear. I have helped to support other–friends–in the past, but that’s not something I can do any longer.”

Rey was still staring at him. He couldn’t come up with a better reaction. “You get punched in the face, like, a lot, don’t you?”

Lovely opened his mouth and closed it again. “Perhaps more than my fair share.”

“Exactly your fair share, I’d guess.”

Lovely shrugged. “If you like.”

“What’d you do before the clinic that got you invited to fancy charity dinners?”

“I had a trust fund. And I was my father’s son.”

“Had?”

“My father’s a surgeon. When I refused to join his practice, the trust part of the equation disappeared and the fund with it.”

“And he’s letting you sleep on a fucking exam table just because you won’t do what he wants you to?”

“I can have an apartment or I can have the appearance of the life I used to have. My choice is not his fault.”

“You’re wrong, you’ve got at least two things in common.”

“Pardon?”

“Chess and stupidity. Why do you even care about that shit? Any party you got to wear a tux to go to is gonna be a whole lot of no fun.”

Lovely stiffened. “You know this from experience, I presume?”

“I know my prom sucked ass.”

Lovely frowned. “Oh. Well. Mine did too.”

“And these ones you pay a bazillion dollars to go to are better?”

“Somewhat. More people are willing to talk to me.”

“I’m talking to you.”

“Even though I’ve just accused you of gold-digging?”

“Yeah, you should apologize for that.”

“I was only trying to be clear.”

“I don’t want your fucking money. How’s that for clear?”

“Crystal.”

“So? I’m waiting.”

“And an apology will magically fix everything?” That was the second time Rey had heard him try for sarcasm and miss. He sounded almost hopeful.

“Yeah,” Rey said. “That’s what they’re for.”

Lovely turned away abruptly. He was quiet for a long time. Rey put his hands on Lovely’s shoulders and rubbed his thumbs lightly over the back of Lovely’s neck. There was something fascinating about the skin there. It was soft and gently creased, and his hair brushed over Rey’s thumbs, shaggy at the bottom.

“I apologize,” Lovely said, at last. He held himself stiffly upright, even when Rey pulled him back against his chest.

“Okay. You’re forgiven.”

Only after that did Lovely start to ease up a little. He bowed his head as Rey kissed the back of his neck.

“You can stay with me tonight,” Rey said. “We don’t have to have sex. Just to be clear.”

“I’m fine at the clinic.”

“You can stay with me,” Rey said, more firmly this time. “And I’ll make you breakfast in the morning.”

There was an even longer silence this time, but eventually, Lovely nodded.

illustrated by justblue0162

***

They moved in together, more or less. Lovely didn’t have much besides clothes and a toothbrush and a few CDs. There was no sex. Rey was pretty okay with that. He was working up to the dick thing. For now, having a roommate who occasionally shoved him up against a wall and sucked on his tongue was just fine.

Lovely brought home groceries, and Rey cooked, sort of. Eggs and bacon, pasta, grilled cheese. Lovely seemed okay with it. Some time, Rey thought, he would try something fancier. Maybe steak.

One Tuesday, Carla closed up so late it was early, and the farmer’s market on 3rd was open when Rey went by. He stopped to get some blueberries and made blueberry pancakes when he got home.

Lovely shuffled out of Rey’s bedroom–Rey had somehow ended up offering to take the couch, permanently–in sweatpants and slippers. He rubbed at his eyes and accepted the coffee Rey passed him.

“What is that?” he asked.

“Pancakes. Almost done.”

Rey served them each up a plate and sat. Lovely took a bite and smiled. He leaned over and kissed Rey, tasting of syrup and coffee, mouth and body both still soft with sleep.

“Good pancakes,” Lovely said against his lips. “Thank you.”

“Jeez. I might make them more often.”

“You don’t have to cook for me.”

“Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.”

“So you keep telling me. It’s possible I’m starting to agree with you.”

Lovely pulled him into the bedroom after they were done eating, and Rey slept with him for the first time. Just slept, back to back, feeling Lovely’s warmth behind him.

Rey always picked him up from work at night, even though Lovely tried to convince him not to. It was only a matter of time before someone tried to roll him. He wouldn’t give up the gun either, even though it was only a .22 and looked like barely enough to stop a squirrel.

The night that followed the blueberry pancakes, Carla had closed up early after they ran out of beer–not just one brand, all the beer, there was nearly a riot–and Rey showed up around midnight at the clinic. He found Lovely in the front, hands braced on the receptionist’s desk. His head hung down, and his dark circles looked more like black eyes.

“Hey,” Rey said, and pulled him upright, tipping his face up with a hand on his cheek. Lovely sighed into his mouth as Rey kissed him and grabbed the lapels of Rey’s leather jacket. He pulled so hard on them that it felt like that grip was the only thing holding him up.

Rey put his arms around him and slid his cheek against Lovely’s. “Tired, huh?”

“It’s been a very long day.”

“Yeah.”

He picked Lovely up, which made him frown, and set him on the desk. It put them closer to the same height, and Lovely leant forward, cupping his face and licking into Rey’s mouth.

Someone cleared their throat. It made Rey jump, but Lovely held him closer for another second, sucking on his bottom lip. Rey was hard when Lovely let him go.

There was a moment of weird silence that sucked all the air out of the room. Rey knew this would be bad before he even opened his eyes. He was expecting maybe a gun pointed at them, a knife, something. It was just some old guy.

“Hello,” Lovely said. “How particularly unpleasant to see you.”

“There’s no need to start off by being rude, Oliver. Are you going to introduce me to your friend?”

“No. I believe I’m going to ask you to leave.”

“Rey Vales,” Rey said. He stepped forward to offer the guy his hand.

The guy shook it, trying a little too hard for a manly grip. “Dr. Lovely. Oliver’s father.”

Like that had been a big leap of logic. Lovely Sr. looked past Rey to his son. “I’d like to speak to you privately.”

“No.”

“Is that all you plan to say to me tonight?”

“That’s all I plan to say to you for the rest of my life.”

Lovely was still sitting on the edge of the desk. His lips were red and wet, and his hair was ruffled. He looked perfectly calm. It was a little freaky.

“If you’re going to be so unreasonable–”

“He’s not,” Rey said. He nudged Lovely. “C’mon, man. He’s your dad.”

That was when Lovely pulled out the gun and aimed it steadily at his father’s chest. “Leave,” he said.

His father looked as stunned as Rey felt. His jaw sagged, and he wasn’t focusing on his son anymore, only on the barrel of the gun. His hands twitched and smoothed down the front of his pants. “Oliver,” he started, but he was talking to the gun, and that wasn’t going to work.

Rey watched Lovely’s finger hover near the trigger. His face was perfectly calm and smooth, and Rey figured either he wasn’t really going to do it, or he’d made up his mind to do it a long time ago. Too bad it was impossible to know which. There was something funny about the gun too, but no time to worry about it.

Rey moved fast and closed his hand over Lovely’s hand and the gun at once, pushing it up and away. Lovely let him do it, looking at Rey with a growing frown between his eyes, like he couldn’t imagine why Rey would want to do such a thing.

Jesus, what is wrong with you!” Rey said.

“I thought you’d know when you got a good look at it,” Lovely said.

“Know what?” But he had the gun in his hand now, and he was starting to understand. It wasn’t heavy enough. It wasn’t metal. It sloshed.

Lovely pulled it out of his loosening grip and squirted him in the face with it.

Rey sputtered, but Lovely was smiling, swinging his legs against the side of the desk as he blew imaginary smoke off the barrel of his water pistol. It was pretty much impossible to stay mad.

Rey shook his head. “You suck.”

“Your vocabulary sucks.”

I love you, was what Rey wanted to say next. He didn’t know where the hell that had come from. It was just there, like a fucking ninja slinking out of the shadows of his brain. He hadn’t said that to anyone since his mom died and he didn’t think now was the time to start.

“Your gun sucks,” he said instead. “It sucks donkey dong.”

“Yes, but it’s a very good water pistol.” Lovely squirted him again, and Rey had to take the thing away from him. There was a struggle, Lovely’s hand on his ass, some tickling, and Rey forgot Lovely’s father was still standing there until he cleared his throat again.

“Uh. Sorry, sir,” Rey said. Both of them gave him an odd look for that, but he’d been brought up to respect his elders, dammit. And in the case of his grandma, to respect his elders or else. That kind of thing stuck with a guy.

“It’s all right,” Lovely’s father said. “Thank you. For what you did.”

“Didn’t actually do nothing,” Rey muttered, shooting Lovely a dirty look.

“I hear it’s the thought that counts.” Lovely’s father was looking at his son now, like that should mean something to him. Going by Lovely’s expression, it did, but Rey had no clue what.

“Did you come here to apologize?” Lovely said. It came out less hostile than Rey would’ve expected, and maybe less than Lovely had planned. His hand twitched towards Rey’s, but in the end stayed where it was.

“I came to see if you might like to join me for dinner this Saturday.” He paused. “I– I’ve been learning to cook. It won’t be very good.”

Lovely hesitated, but shook his head. “Thank you, no.”

“Your friend is welcome too, of course.”

“I– He is?”

“I am?” Rey said.

Lovely’s father smiled thinly. “He is. You are. I hope you like pasta.”

Lovely looked like he had more to say, but his father walked out before he could say it.

Lovely’s hands twisted around each other. “I’m not going,” he said.

“Suit yourself.”

Lovely glared up at him. “Why are you so–”

Rey raised his eyebrows in question.

“So fucking zen!” Lovely burst out.

Rey tried to smother his laughter, but was only partially successful, which made Lovely glare harder.

“Sorry,” Rey said. “Sorry. He seems like an okay guy for someone who cut you off like that.”

The glare vanished abruptly. “He didn’t. Exactly. He…bought me a car, when I graduated from med school. A Jaguar.”

“That bastard.”

“He wasn’t there. For that, or college, or high school. Or really any of my birthdays that I remember. I sent it back. I said I didn’t want his money and that sometimes it actually is the thought that counts. I suppose I was asking for it.”

“Little bit.”

“You didn’t have to agree with me.”

“What do you want me to say?”

Lovely sighed. “Say you’ll go to dinner with me.”

“Sure, if you want.”

Lovely hesitated and put his hands on Rey’s waist. “I never asked about your family.”

“Dad split, mom and grandma died. Not much to tell.”

“I’m sorry.” He slid off the counter and pressed closer, forehead resting against Rey’s shoulder. “I suppose you think I’m some rich spoiled brat now.”

“Now? Baby, this is not news to me.”

Lovely jerked his head up, indignant. “If that’s what you think of me–”

“Didn’t say it was a bad thing. I don’t care about the rich part, and I wouldn’t really say you’re spoiled. The brat part’s kind of cute.”

“Oh.” Lovely didn’t blush often, but when he did it showed up nice and clear.

“Hey, don’t you have that thing Saturday?”

“Thing?”

“One of your tuxedo things.”

“Oh. No. I… I cancelled. I was going to ask if you’d like to go somewhere. Out. For dinner.”

Rey smiled. “Well, your dad’s place wouldn’t have been my first choice, but…”

“You’re stuck with it now, I’m afraid.”

“I’ll live. Are we going home now? That was plenty of excitement for one night and don’t think you’ve heard the last about that fucking water pistol either.”

Lovely nodded. It took them a few minutes to close up the clinic, and then Lovely got settled behind him on his bike, arms tight around his waist. The two of them were pressed together, bodies fitted from chest to knees. For the first time, it seemed odd that this was the only time Lovely ever held him so tightly. Really, Lovely hardly ever touched him at all.

At home, he noted Lovely’s medical texts and complete set of “The Cat Who…” mysteries. Lovely’s dirty shirt crumpled on a chair. Lovely’s coffee cup from this morning sitting on the table with his own. It really was Lovely’s home as much as his now, and more of a home because he was sharing it. He wondered if Lovely knew that.

Lovely pulled away when they got in the door and switched on the computer. “I’ll just be a second,” he said, in a way that clearly meant ‘do something else and give me some privacy.’ Rey hung over his shoulder anyway. Lovely glared, but didn’t object.

Rey watched him type out an email to slowlearner47, his online chess partner. It included Lovely’s next move and ended with, I’ll see you on Saturday.

Rey boggled. “That’s– Slowlearner is your dad?”

“Yes.”

“And you knew? All along?”

Lovely shrugged. “I wasn’t sure at first. But I’ve known for a while, yes.”

“I am never gonna understand you.”

Lovely hit send and pulled Rey over to the couch. “Don’t worry. The feeling is mutual.” When they were settled, Rey’s arm around him, Lovely leaning against his side, Lovely spoke again. “You grabbed it right out of my hand. And you thought it was real.”

“Wasn’t anything else to do.”

Lovely didn’t reply. After a minute of silence, Rey turned on the TV.

Lovely liked to watch Iron Chef reruns and laugh at the grossed out faces Rey made. Rey exaggerated sometimes, but the giant roasted fish eyeball really did make him gag a little.

“Oh, fuck. Come on, man! Eyeballs aren’t for eating.” He glanced over to catch Lovely’s reaction, but Lovely was just looking at him. His smile was oddly soft, and it vanished when he saw Rey watching.

“But the banquet in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom doesn’t gross you out?”

“Snakes are not giant gloopy fish eyeballs. That thing’s as big as my fucking hand.”

Lovely leaned over and put his hand on Rey’s cheek, tipping his face toward him. The kiss was soft and easy. Lovely’s tongue slid across his lips, dipping into his mouth. Rey reached out and held onto Lovely’s shirt, crumpling expensive cotton in his fist. Lovely pulled back a little, forehead against his.

“Thank you,” he said.

“What for?”

“Existing, I suppose. I don’t think you understand how strange it seems to me that anyone can tolerate my company, let alone enjoy it.”

“Hey, come on. You’re not that bad.”

“I’m not that bad with you. I don’t know why.”

Rey put an arm around his shoulders. “You’re not that bad, period. Come on, you’re a good guy. You help people. You’re funny. Sometimes.” Lovely snorted quietly at that. “You’re living with me, and you never even asked what I got sent up for.”

“I don’t care.”

“Maybe you should. Maybe I’m some sick freak luring you into my clutches.”

“I’ve been in your clutches for some time now, and nothing’s come of it.”

“I could tell you.”

“I don’t care, Rey. Honestly. I don’t care.” He tugged Rey down by his hair until he was in kissing range, licked at his mouth and slid a hand up under his shirt to rub over his chest and nipple. Rey caught his breath and tensed a little, stupidly, but that was all Lovely did for a while. And, Rey thought, it wasn’t as if he hadn’t know where this was going. They’d already moved in together, for God’s sake.

They sat like that, his arm around Lovely’s shoulders, Lovely’s thumb slowly rubbing over one nipple. The giant fish eyeball came out of the oven, and Morimoto moved on to noodles made of fish paste. Rey was too focused on Lovely’s touch to be grossed out. Lovely’s fingers teased and rubbed and lightly pinched, and Rey was starting to get hard.

“I’d really like to fuck you,” Lovely said softly, about the time the fish noodles went into the hot oil. When Rey sucked in air instead of answering, he went on. “I used to fantasize about you fucking me, you know. Bent over the exam table or my desk with you behind me, ramming me deep.”

His tone was conversational, but the words still stopped Rey’s brain dead and made him close his eyes. “Yeah?”

“Yes. I can’t remember when I changed my mind. Maybe when you let me lead.”

“I knew that was a bad idea.”

Lovely cupped his hardening cock through his pants and squeezed gently. “You don’t think any of this is a bad idea. Do you?”

Rey couldn’t help pushing into the touch. “No. Guess not.”

“I’m glad to hear it.”

And for a while, that was it. Lovely went back to watching his damn TV show, just rubbing lightly between Rey’s legs every minute or two. His finger pressed down the length of Rey’s zipper, and Rey tried not to squirm. He was ten seconds away from doing something himself when Lovely popped the button of his jeans open and pushed him back on the couch.

“We should be naked, ideally,” Lovely murmured. His teeth scraped along Rey’s throat. “It’s so much more convenient.”

Rey gripped Lovely’s arms. “Maybe. Don’t stop.”

“I won’t.”

He pushed Rey’s shirt up and over his head, but left his arms tangled in it as he bent to lick over one nipple and then the other. Rey kept his arms over his head and let him, breathing harder, wishing Lovely would get his pants open. His cock was hot and aching now. Lovely looked up at him with a little smile and started tickling his side.

Rey flailed uselessly until his shirt came free and flew across the room. He got hold of Lovely’s wrists, breathing hard. “You little shit!”

Lovely just grinned and kissed him. “I’m sorry. I couldn’t resist.”

“You weren’t even trying.”

“No, not really.”

Lovely pulled free and got Rey’s pants unzipped, stroking him with a firm grip, and Rey was willing to forgive him as long as he didn’t stop.

“Oh, fuck…yeah, that’s it, that’s good.”

Lovely maneuvered them onto their sides, still stroking him. His other hand pushed at Rey’s jeans until they slipped below his ass. Lovely squeezed one bared cheek and then the other. “Have you done anything like this before?”

“Only from the other side.”

“In prison.”

“Yeah.” Rey hoped like hell they wouldn’t have to stop and have a Talk about this.

All Lovely said was, “Well, don’t worry. I’m a doctor, you know.”

Rey laughed silently against Lovely’s neck, but stopped abruptly when Lovely’s fingers pushed between his cheeks. “Easy,” Lovely said.

“Easy for you to say.”

“We’ll stick with fingers tonight, all right? I think that’s quite enough for a virgin.”

“You’re enjoying this.”

Lovely looked at him very seriously and touched his cheek. “You have no idea how much. I feel rather honored, in fact.”

“Aw, man.” Rey ducked his head. “Stop that.”

Lovely pushed at Rey’s jeans until they were down around his knees, and Rey struggled out of them. Lovely’s hand slid along the back of Rey’s thigh and pulled his leg forward over Lovely’s. It spread Rey wider and let Lovely rub and stroke his balls and run one finger lightly between his cheeks again. Rey’s cock was caught between their stomachs, sliding along Lovely’s own. Lovely shifted and leaned, and Rey heard the snap of a lid, and suddenly Lovely’s fingers were slippery and cool against his skin.

“What the fuck is that?”

“Lube, of course.”

“Where did you just get lube in two seconds flat without moving?”

“From under the cushion.”

“Why the fuck is there lube under my couch cushions?”

“Because I put it there.”

“Jesus. You must’ve been the scariest boy scout ever.”

“I was never in the boy scouts. My father felt it was a bit declassé.”

Rey thought Lovely’s father was a little odd, but the thought didn’t last long with Lovely easing his cheeks apart and rubbing a wet finger right over his hole. He swore and did his best not to squirm.

“All right?” Lovely said.

“Fine,” Rey replied, a little tightly.

Lovely frowned at him. “Do you want me to stop?”

“No– It’s. I like it, okay? It’s–hot,” he mumbled. And it was. And he didn’t think it should be, at all. From the other side, okay, a hole was a hole, mouth or ass or pussy, it didn’t much matter to a cock. But this, he was sure, wasn’t supposed to make him sweaty and a little shaky and so fucking hard he thought he could get off just rubbing against Lovely’s stomach.

“Oh, I see.” Lovely nearly smirked, and Rey would’ve been pissed at him for that only he was still touching him, which made it kind of impossible. Even when Lovely added, “I should’ve known, really.”

“Hey! What’s that supposed to mean?”

“Nothing at all.”

Lovely’s finger pressed against his hole, lightly at first, and then harder, and then inside.

“Well?” Lovely said quietly, right by Rey’s ear. His lips brushed Rey’s neck, and his finger pushed in a little further.

“Feels weird.”

“But you like it.”

Rey swallowed, feeling Lovely’s finger twist inside. It felt invasive and fucking huge and yeah, weird. Somehow, none of that was stopping him getting off on it. Maybe it was something to do with Lovely nuzzling at his neck, Lovely’s other hand drifting between his side and chest and cock, spreading pre-come lightly up the shaft with his fingertips.

“Yeah.” His voice came out a little rough. “I like it, okay?”

“Okay. I’m not going to mock you for it, you know. Easy as it would be. I like it too.”

“Okay. Then just.” Rey shook his head and tucked his face against Lovely’s neck, breathing in faint traces of anti-bacterial soap and his own shampoo. Lovely kept forgetting to buy more of his brand. “Just don’t stop.”

“Don’t worry about that,” Lovely said, and he pushed deeper, changed the angle a little, and Rey sucked in a sharp breath.

“That’s–fuck. That’s actually good.”

Lovely snorted. “Don’t sound so surprised.”

That one finger slid in and out of him, rubbing just right every time. After a minute or two, he stopped trying to pretend he wasn’t panting and breathed open-mouthed and wet against Lovely’s neck, tasting his skin. Lovely made a soft noise and closed his hand around Rey’s cock.

Rey let out a strangled moan and thrust into his hand, but that was the only movement he got to make. Lovely rolled towards him, pushing him flatter against the back of the couch. It was enough to hold him still while Lovely fucked him slowly with one finger and jerked him off hard and quick.

“Jesus,” Rey said, and couldn’t get much past that. He clutched helplessly at Lovely’s shoulders and squeezed his eyes shut, and it was over too fast.

Lovely held him down afterwards with a hand on his chest and rubbed his other hand slowly through the mess on Rey’s stomach. He stared and rubbed his stiff cock against Rey’s hip, leaving a wet trail against his skin.

“Do you want me to–” Rey started.

“Just watch me. I want you to watch.”

His cheeks were faintly flushed, lips wet and red. Rey could hear his breath coming faster as he started to stroke himself, slow for a second and then fast and almost desperate. His glasses slid down his nose and he stared at Rey over them and licked his lips.

Rey reached up and slid them off and heard Lovely’s near whimper. His hand worked faster. The sounds of it, wet with lube and pre-come, slap of skin on skin, filled the room to overflowing. Lovely came silently, cock spurting over Rey’s stomach.

Rey saw Lovely watching that intently, saw the little shudder than went through him. “Perv,” he murmured, and kissed him, both hands cupping his face.

All the tension went out of Lovely’s body. He lay against Rey’s side and kissed him back and didn’t argue.

Iron Chef was still on. Rey watched it with Lovely’s head on his shoulder, feeling Lovely’s fingers trail through the mess on his stomach. “I’ve eaten that,” he commented.

Rey squinted at the screen. “Ew. What is that?”

“Natto.”

“But what is it?”

Lovely paused for a moment. “If soy beans could blow their noses, natto would be the result.”

Rey grinned. “You’re disgusting.”

Lovely held up his hand, fingers smeared with white, and licked one. Rey made a face. He couldn’t help it.

“Tastes better than natto, I assure you.”

“Whatever.”

Lovely smirked and offered a finger–the middle one. Rey caught and licked it without letting himself think too much. It was worth it to see Lovely’s eyes go wide like that.

“Well?”

“I’ll suck you off, but I’m never swallowing.”

Lovely gave him an odd smile.

“…What?”

“Nothing. A sensible stance to take.”

They watched TV a while longer. Morimoto won, of course. When Lovely said, very quietly, “It’s more than I expected,” Rey pretended not to hear. But he agreed completely.

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