Dropping the Ball

by Noel Oliver

(mirrors http://s2b2.livejournal.com/166231.html)

Lex pushed his way through the crowd, wanting nothing more than a nice tall beer. The club was hopping as usual, but somehow he found himself out of place. He used to come here all the time in college, but his visits had gotten fewer and farther between; after he’d met Jared they’d started to taper off altogether. The last time Lex had been here was almost a year ago, back when things with Jared had been getting serious. In that year apparently everyone here had gotten younger. Not that he minded skinny barely-legal boys in tight shorts; eye candy was eye candy, after all, but Lex himself was closer to thirty than to twenty, and the idea that he might be getting too old for this was rather distressing.

He slid onto a barstool, hunching his shoulders against the thumping bass beat, which was starting to give him a headache already. When his beer came he gulped half of it and wondered what the hell he thought he was doing. He knew he wasn’t ready for anything serious, and even back in college he’d never been good at one-night flings. But the idea of spending yet another Friday night in an empty apartment with a frozen dinner and Internet porn was just too much to bear. He sighed, turning to lean back against the bar and watch the dance floor. Everyone just seemed so young, and so desperately superficial (not that Lex should be one to judge, he knew — he was wearing a pair of $150 jeans that had come with artful tears in the knees, and had spent half an hour staring in the mirror and worrying over whether his blond sideburns were even.) Maybe it was just time for a new club, something farther from campus, somewhere a little more mature, where everyone didn’t look exactly like everyone else.

Draining his glass, Lex turned back toward the bar, and caught himself in surprise. Down at the other end of the bar, nursing a glass of dark stout and eyeing the dance floor thoughtfully, sat a man Lex certainly hadn’t seen earlier. He had wavy brown hair, and wore a white dress shirt unbuttoned just enough to look sexy without being desperate for attention. A silver stud adorned each ear, glinting in the multicolored lights, and when the man took another swig of his beer Lex found himself staring at the line of his throat.

The man lowered his glass and glanced in Lex’s direction, meeting his eyes. Lex was embarrassed to be caught staring but the sharp grin the guy gave him made him go instantly warm in the pit of his stomach. He slid off his own stool and went to introduce himself.

“Sorry,” he said, fighting down his nerves. “Rude of me, huh? I didn’t mean to gape like an idiot, it’s just that you kind of stand out.” He cleared his throat and held out his hand. “Name’s Lex.”

“Quinn,” the other man said, shaking Lex’s hand. He had a firm handshake, and calluses on his thumbs. “‘Lex’, huh? Short for Alexander?”

“Lexington, actually,” Lex explained. Quinn had a deeper voice than he’d expected; it sent a little frisson up his spine.

“Lexington. Interesting.” A little line appeared between Quinn’s eyebrows, and Lex knew he was being sized up; he realized suddenly that there was a very real possibility that he could get laid tonight. “So,” Quinn continued. “I stand out, huh? Is that a good thing?”

“Oh, I think it’s more than good,” Lex said, sliding onto the stool beside Quinn. “You come here a lot?”

“First time. I haven’t been in town long. Not sure it’s exactly my kind of place; seems a little flashy.” He threw his head back and drained his glass. “Mm. The beer isn’t bad, at least.”

“Hey, uh, Quinn,” Lex said impulsively. “You wanna get out of here, go somewhere else? Where we won’t have to shout to hold a conversation?”

That sharp grin returned. The temperature in the room seemed to have risen several degrees. “I just met you, and you want me to go off alone with you, God-knows-where?”

“You can always say no,” Lex shrugged, struggling to stay casual even though inwardly he was babbling Please say yes, please say yes, please say yes!

“Well, why not,” Quinn said, sliding off his stool. “You only live once.”

There was a chill wind blowing outside, causing them to huddle into their coats as they walked down the block. Lex suggested they go for coffee, which seemed to amuse Quinn. Maybe he should have been more forward, but Lex wasn’t sure exactly what he was even trying to do. Some form of sexual act with Quinn was a future goal, certainly, maybe even tonight if he was lucky, but something held him back, some little shred of doubt. So they went for coffee, at a little 24-hour place just down the street. Aside from a middle-aged barista Lex was probably the oldest person in the coffee shop; at least half the tables were taken over by college kids studying for finals or writing papers. He had Quinn to distract him, though, and the acoustic-guitar Christmas carols drifting through the overhead speakers were actually rather soothing. Lex paid for two lattes, and they sat on a pair of scuffed leather-bound armchairs in a corner of the room. In the more natural light of the coffee shop Lex could see that Quinn’s eyes were a beguiling shade of gray, and his brown hair held a hint of auburn. Lex’s fingers itched to touch it, and he wrapped them around the warmth of his mug.

They babbled about the relatively mild November they’d had, speculated on the likelihood of a white Christmas, and debated over which holiday song was most overplayed (Lex said it was Sleigh Ride; Quinn had his money on Walkin’ in a Winter Wonderland) before Quinn showed a hint of impatience.

“Lex,” he finally said, licking a bit of whipped cream off his upper lip, “you certainly didn’t bring me here just to talk about the weather, did you?”

“Not exactly,” Lex said. This was it, he realized, the do or die moment; if he didn’t make his intentions clear now, Quinn was going to lose interest entirely. “It’s just, uh. I… I just went through a pretty bad breakup, and I’m not really back into the swing of things yet.”

“I see,” Quinn said. “So you invited me out for coffee because…?”

“Well, I like listening to you talk. And I like looking at you. And asking if you wanted to go back to my place right off the bat seemed a little rude.”

Quinn chuckled. “I wouldn’t have said no.”

Lex wasn’t sure he was breathing any more. “What would you say if I asked now?”

Quinn leaned over the table, and Lex leaned toward him, close enough that he could feel the warmth of the other man’s coffee-scented breath. “Lex. You’re friendly. You’re hot. I’m a young gay man out alone on a Friday night. What am I gonna say? I’m gonna say ‘Do you have any condoms or should we stop at a drugstore on the way?’”

“I haven’t had sex in three months,” Lex blurted.

Quinn laughed again, a rich, warm sound. “Oh, you poor thing.”

They did not have to stop at the drugstore. Lex was always prepared, and had gone out that night feeling vaguely hopeful, though as he lead Quinn up the stairs to his apartment he mentally ran through the list of things he hoped the other man wouldn’t notice: the dishes in the sink, the pile of unpaid bills on the kitchen table, the laundry on the bedroom floor. Well, he’d just have to get him right into bed, then, and not give him a chance to notice any of that. Good plan.

Quinn seemed pretty keen on the plan himself. As soon as the door shut behind them his hands were on Lex’s waist and he was leaning in for a hungry kiss. Lex hit the back of his head on the door but barely even noticed; Quinn’s tongue was in his mouth and his knee was pushing between Lex’s legs. Lex took the opportunity to finally thread his fingers through Quinn’s hair as their mouths tried to devour each other. It was even softer than he’d imagined.

They pulled apart, gasping for breath as they struggled out of their jackets. Lex tossed them over the back of the couch and grabbed the front of Quinn’s shirt, intending to drag him into the bedroom, but Quinn seemed momentarily distracted, glancing over Lex’s shoulder. He came back to himself when Lex tugged on his belt loops. “Sorry,” he laughed, letting Lex lead him down the hall. “I just couldn’t believe you actually own a velvet Elvis. I guess I assumed only little old ladies bought them.”

“Yeah, well. Elvis was the first guy I ever got a boner for, so you could say he holds a special place in my heart. I saw Jailhouse Rock on TV when I was twelve, and that was that.”

“That is adorable,” Quinn said, leaning in to nuzzle his neck.

“Not really,” Lex insisted. “I was at my grandma’s. It was actually incredibly awkward.”

They’d made it to the bedroom by this point and Lex backed up, falling onto the mattress and pulling Quinn down on top of him. He was a perfect weight – warm and solid without being smothering. Lex tugged on Quinn’s left earring with his teeth, very gently, and was rewarded with a gasp and a very pleasant rolling motion that shifted a telltale bulge against Lex’s hip. They suddenly seemed to be wearing too damn many clothes, so Lex slid his hands between their bodies, pushing Quinn’s chest away just far enough to let him work on undoing his shirt buttons.

It took entirely too long to get Quinn’s boots off, but Lex had to if he wanted to get Quinn out of his pants. Which he did. Preferably five minutes ago.

“Damn, you’re hot,” Lex grunted as he finally got Quinn down to his plaid flannel boxers. He ran his fingers lightly over Quinn’s chest, lingering on a barely-visible line of scar tissue a few inches long just to the left of his navel. “What’s this?”

“Appendix,” Quinn said, sitting up to help Lex out of his shirt.

“And this?” The second scar was a bit higher up on the other man’s side, just under his rib cage.

A hint of annoyance tinged Quinn’s voice. “Running with scissors. There’s a reason your mom says not to. Now are we going to keep playing twenty questions or are you going to fuck me?”

Having that question answered for him without even having to ask was such a relief Lex could have cheered aloud. He was a flexible man himself, his position preference shifting with his mood, and Jared used to get annoyed at his lack of opinion on the subject. Lex pushed Quinn onto the mattress, kissing him again. That long, lanky body felt just as good under him as it had over him. He just kept kissing for a while, lingeringly, their chests barely touching and their hips apart; then Quinn pushed upward, and when the hot length of his erection slid against Lex’s – even through both pairs of underwear – Lex suddenly felt like he was going to explode. He pulled away just enough to slide open the top drawer of the nightstand and fish around for a tube of lube and a condom.

Quinn shimmied out of his boxers, a little awkwardly because he couldn’t lift himself up very far. Lex left the lube and condom on the pillow and kissed Quinn again, then moved to his neck, nipped at his collarbone, licked at his scars – he wondered absently if he was developing some kind of scar fetish – then ran his tongue slowly up the underside of Quinn’s cock, drawing a long, drawn-out moan from the other man.

Lex loved sucking cock. He loved the heavy, salty taste, the slippery-smooth texture of the head under his tongue, and he loved the way Quinn’s fingers dug into his scalp as he licked around the length. He probably could have worshipped Quinn’s cock with his mouth all night, but after a few minutes, during which he reduced the other man to a series of incoherent groans, he felt Quinn grab his hand and press something into it.

The lube. Lex got the hint, but he wasn’t quite ready to let go of Quinn’s cock just yet. Instead he coated his first two fingers and worked them slowly into Quinn’s hole, mouth still wrapped around him.

Dammit, Lex,” Quinn gasped, squirming against him. Lex pressed the palm of his free hand down on Quinn’s thigh, trying to keep him still, and pulled his head back slowly, letting the hard length slide from his mouth.

“You aren’t the most patient man in the world, are you?” he asked, licking his lips.

“No, not really,” Quinn admitted. “Don’t get me wrong, you’re damn good with your mouth, but I came out tonight wanting to be thoroughly fucked.”

“Better toss me the condom, then,” Lex said, twisting his fingers slowly, and grinning when Quinn broke into a string of mumbled profanity.

Lex hadn’t had many casual pickups, even before he’d met Jared, and he certainly wasn’t used to taking charge like this. If he’d let himself think about it, it probably would have scared him. Instead he rolled the condom on, spread Quinn’s legs, and proceeded to give the other man exactly what he wanted.

“Oh, god,” Quinn gasped as Lex pushed his way inside in a long, smooth stroke. “That’s more like it.” His hands came up around Lex’s back, and he rolled his hips into the thrust, making Lex give up all pretense of starting slow and gentle. He lifted Quinn’s ass off the mattress a bit and lost himself in the tight heat of the body beneath him.

Quinn babbled the entire time, breathless little gasps of fuck and yes and oh god, his fingers digging into Lex’s back and his legs around Lex’s waist. Lex could feel Quinn’s cock leaking against his belly and worked his right hand between them, wrapping his fingers around the length and helping Quinn along. He knew he wasn’t going to last long himself, and before long Quinn caught him off guard by nuzzling up against his shoulder and then biting, and against all the laws of casual one-time flings with strangers, they came at almost exactly the same time.

Afterward they lay panting in the dark, side by side, and Lex wondered if it was all right to hope that he might see Quinn again after this. If he was still there in the morning, well, they’d go from there.

Unfortunately, Lex woke to an empty apartment. He wasn’t entirely surprised, but there was a vague twinge of disappointment in the pit of his stomach. He made himself a cup of coffee, then stumbled to the shower, where the hot water made the fingernail marks on his back sting. It wasn’t until a few hours later, when he’d decided he should probably get off his ass and go grocery shopping, that he discovered the cash had been emptied from his wallet.

The remnants of the year slipped away. The clothing store where Lex worked dumped more and more hours on him as Christmas neared, which he shouldered without complaint; at least working kept him busy. Christmas Day came and went, and he survived his mother’s well-meaning insistence that breaking up with Jared wasn’t the end of the world and of course he’d find someone else soon. Suddenly it was almost New Year’s Eve, and Lex had no plans. The previous two years he and Jared had gone downtown to the park to watch the midnight fireworks, but that obviously wasn’t an option now.

When his friend Dustin called on the thirtieth and invited him out to his hole-in-the-wall bar of choice, Lex accepted gratefully. Dustin was a mountain of a man, six foot five with a linebacker’s shoulders and a shaved head; his girlfriend Violet was five two, and arrived to pick Lex up at his apartment wearing a black newsboy cap over her dark hair and a peacoat that couldn’t hide her curves. They were a strange-looking couple, but obviously completely smitten with each other, and Lex was a little afraid he was going to spend the evening as a third wheel.

They got to the bar at 10:30, and by eleven it was so packed they were very possibly breaking a fire code. Lex nursed a Jack and Coke and chatted with Dustin and Violet and just enjoyed being with people who didn’t want anything from him at all. Every TV in the bar was turned to American Bandstand rather than the usual sports, and Lex found himself getting caught up in the excitement as they all waited for the ball to drop. A new year might just be an arbitrary number, but it also meant a beginning, a chance to make fresh starts. Lex finished a second Jack and Coke and then excused himself to go to the bathroom.

“All right, man, but make it quick,” Dustin said. “You’ve only got about five minutes.”

It took some patient finagling to make it through the crowd, but Lex finished his business and washed his hands with time to spare. Edging his way past the bar, his eyes fixed on Dustin’s head towering over the crowd, he nearly brushed right past a familiar face without even realizing it.

The look Quinn gave him when he realized who was pressed against him was almost funny – a moment of sheer wide-eyed panic. He glanced quickly right and left, but there was nowhere to go, and after the briefest of moments the panic was gone, that confident mask he’d worn when Lex met him in the club back in place.

“So,” Lex said. “Did you want to steal my watch this time?”

“You aren’t wearing a watch,” Quinn pointed out.

“I guess I should be thankful you left the credit cards.”

“Look,” Quinn said, mouth twisting into a frown. “It was nothing personal.”

“Ten!” On the TV screens, the multicolored ball in Times Square had begun its slow descent, and the crowd in the bar took up the count. “Nine!”

“I actually had a really good time with you,” Quinn continued. “But a guy’s gotta eat.”

“Six! Five!”

“I would have made you breakfast,” Lex said.

Quinn’s mask quivered for a moment, but just then the countdown hit one and the crowd erupted into cries of “Happy new year!” Noisemakers added to the cacophony, and all around them couples leaned in for their first New Year kiss.

Quinn’s hands suddenly cupped Lex’s face, and then their mouths were meeting, a firm, brief kiss that was over so quickly Lex’s slightly inebriated brain was left wondering what had just happened. Quinn leaned close to Lex’s ear to be heard over the racket and murmured, “Make me breakfast tomorrow?”

Lex stared at him. It was a ridiculous question, coming from a man who had once stolen his money and run off, but for some reason he found himself saying, “Just promise to leave me velvet Elvis.”

“Of course,” Quinn swore.

“All right then,” Lex said. “Let me go tell my friends I’m going to get a cab.”

Quinn was waiting for him just beside the door. Lex reached out and linked elbows with him, and arm in arm they stepped out into the new year.

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