All the gift shops said you should say it with flowers. Rich Tabron preferred to say it with ’80s music lyrics.
“Mick, wait up! Hey, Mickey!”
Mick’s backpack swung off his shoulder as he turned and Rich backpedaled quickly to avoid getting clocked by a metric ton of homework.
“Oh, hi Ricky,” Mick said and Rich suppressed a cringe at the nickname. The fact that they matched was always going to be kind of cool, but he’d grown out of being called Ricky in sixth grade. Not that Mick had ever noticed. “How’s it going?”
“Good, yeah, good.” Rich was probably grinning like an idiot. Mick didn’t look terribly impressed. Rich decided not to let that bother him. “On your way to practice?”
“Just like every week,” Mick agreed, in a tone of voice that wanted to know why Rich was bothering asking when he’d watched every one of Mick’s basketball practices since Mick had joined the team in the ninth grade. “Why?”
“Oh,” Rich shrugged, trying not to sound to eager for an invitation. “No reason.”
“Right,” Mick said, sounding slightly off in a way that Rich couldn’t quite place. He glanced at his watch. “Look, I gotta go, Ricky – was there anything you wanted?”
Rich deflated. “Not really, I guess.” He gave Mick a resigned smile. “Have a good practice.”
Mick clapped him on the shoulder. “Thanks. See you.”
Shoulder tingling from the contact, Rich watched Mick stride down the rapidly emptying hallway. “Oh, Mickey,” he sighed sadly, and Toni Basil picked up the lyrics inside his head, singing out all his frustrations in a disconcertingly catchy swirl of hopeless pining.
Oh Mickey, what a pity, you don’t understand, you take me by the heart when you take me by the hand. Oh Mickey, you’re so pretty, can’t you understand? It’s guys like you, Mickey!
Rich joined in when she hit the next verse, mouthing the words to the air. “So come on and give it to me, any way you can. Any way you want it do it, I’ll take it like a man.” Mick turned the corner without looking back and Rich’s shoulders slumped. “Goddamn it. Why do fools fall in love?”
“I think you just answered your own question,” Joker told him, most of his attention on the hem he was stitching. “And isn’t that song from like, the 60s?”
“I’m branching out,” Rich said irritably, slouching deeper into the battered couch the theatre club had stolen off the back of a garbage truck late last year. It was surprisingly comfortable, all things considered. “And since when do you know anything about music anyway?”
“Since I got a crazy audiophile for a best friend.” Joker – whose name was actually Steve, which made Rich terribly jealous that his own nickname had to suck so much – pulled the thread tight and flicked his eyes at Rich. “Why didn’t you go to the practice?”
Rich shrugged. “Didn’t seem to want me there,” he answered sulkily.
“That’s never stopped you before,” Joker pointed out and Rich scowled at him.
“Shut up. You have no idea what I’m going through.”
Joker hummed noncommittally. “Oh, I think I’ve got a pretty good idea. You complain a lot, you know.”
“I just don’t get it!” Rich exclaimed, distressed leather creaking as he flung his arms wide. “We’ve been friends forever and suddenly he can’t be bothered to give me the time of day? What’s up with that?”
“It’s hardly sudden, Rich,” Joker reminded him, with a tone that could almost have passed for gentle if Rich didn’t know him so well. “You’ve been moping over him since I met you.”
“I know! It’s just not fair!”
Joker shrugged. “Maybe not, but you’re not exactly making it easy for him to be friends with you, acting like a pathetic love-sick puppy all the time. It’s kind of creepy.”
“You suck at this moral support stuff.” Rich buried his face in the cushions with a groan. “And even if I was acting like a love-sick puppy – which I’m not, by the way, asshole – it’s not like he’s even around enough to notice. We used to hang out all the time and now I barely ever see him!”
Joker rolled his eyes. “God, you’re such a drama queen. People fall out of friendships all the time. And you can’t really say you fit into his friend-circle anymore, Rich.”
Rich pouted. “Why not?”
“Because he’s the student body president and the captain of the basketball team and you’re a great big loser?”
“Jerk.” Rich tossed a pillow at him that Joker somehow managed to avoid despite being focused on his sewing machine. “What’s that make you then, Mr. I Hang Out With Great Big Losers?”
Joker’s grin sparkled. “Easily amused. But seriously Rich, funny as it is to watch you moon around like a twelve year girl after the most popular boy in school, why are you so hung up on him? I know you were best friends growing up, but that hardly seems worth all the grief you’re putting yourself through.”
Rich sighed heavily. “He’s just…everything, you know? All those songs about love and the right one and forever – he’s just all of it. I mean, he spins me round like a record, he makes me hungry like the wolf, he’s every breath that I take, he’s every step I make, and I-”
“You quote one more word of Endless Love in my hearing and I’m never talking to you again,” Joker informed him pleasantly.
Rich made a face at him. “You’ve got no soul at all. Why do I confide in you?”
Joker gave him a look that was at once amused, commiserating and patient. “Because no one else would put up with your gay emo drama with such equanimity. Now get over here and help me pin this seam.”
Growing up, Rich had always figured that the theme song for his life (oh shut up, everybody had one) would be something upbeat and poppy and awesome. Footloose, maybe, or The Eye of the Tiger, or something by America. He’d even have been willing to accept A-Ha’s Take on Me, even though the lyrics had nothing to do with anything, because that was a great song and who wouldn’t want a great song like that to be the background music to their life?
Except then puberty had happened and he’d gone and fallen in love with his best friend in the whole world. Which sucked since now, an entire four years later, Mick was still completely oblivious to how he made Rich’s heart pound and his voice stammer like it was spelling bee day in Miss Morin’s grade three class all over again, and Rich was forced to acknowledge that, although awesome, none of those songs were really appropriate for his theme song anymore.
“Invisible!” his speakers blasted, because even sad 80s songs deserved to be played at extreme volumes. “I feel like I’m invisible! You treat me like I’m not really there, and you don’t really care! I know this romance, it ain’t going nowhere!”
“Turn that shit down!” Will bellowed, banging on his door like he was trying to take it right off his hinges.
“Shut up!” Rich shouted back at his brother, hugging his pillow tighter to his chest. “I’m suffering in here!”
“Well I’m suffering out here thanks to your piss poor taste in music! Can’t you listen to hip-hop or emo crap like a normal retarded teenager?”
“Philistine,” Rich muttered, though he turned down the volume far enough to get Will to go away. Jerk.
Alison Moyet faded into silence and the Police took her place, because the soundtrack to Rich’s life really was just that hopeless these days.
“I can’t, I can’t, I can’t stand losing, I can’t, I can’t I can’t stand losing,”
“You,” Rich finished with a sigh. “But I think it’s already too late.”
Because there was unrequited love and then there was knowing that your best friend had given up on you because it had taken you so long to get your head out of your ass after your unexpected sexuality crisis that there wasn’t much of a friendship left to salvage. While being in unrequited love.
“Damn it, Mick,” he growled into his pillow. “Why you’d have to be so perfect?”
And alright, Rich might be a little biased, but the truth was that Mick really was just that awesome. Smart and friendly, Mick was the kid who got on with everyone and was always ready with a helping hand when he wasn’t busy leading their basketball team to the championships or organizing canned food drives at Thanksgiving.
He was also smoking hot; he’d already been the epitome of all the reasons why Rich had come out to his parents at fourteen at what was probably the most mortifying family dinner in the history of mankind. And Mick at seventeen was even more impressive than Mick at thirteen had been; tall, tanned and dark-eyed, with muscles that made Rich a little weak in the knees and a smile that could light up an entire city block. Rich was morbidly certain that he wasn’t the only person in the school sighing like a girl in a bad romance novel over Mickey Rosetti. He was definitely the most pathetic though, Rich didn’t have any doubts about that.
“Don’t you, forget about me! ” his stereo emoted and Rich decided abruptly to go watch TV for a while instead. Even he wasn’t pathetic enough to sit around in the dark listening to Simple Minds. Really.
“I’ve come to a decision,” Rich told Joker the next day.
“Congratulations,” Joker answered. “Is that why you’re hanging around here reading the script for the senior play when you could be mooning over Mr. Tall, Dark and Basketball Playing instead?”
“I don’t moon,” Rich said automatically, glancing guiltily away from the script in his lap. “I pine.”
Joker rolled his eyes. “Thanks for clearing that up. Are there any 80s songs that say ‘my best friend is acting like a great big girl’?”
“Girls just wanna have fun,” Rich muttered snidely, and was seriously put out when Joker grinned at him.
“You know, considering the way you’re moping that’s probably the best defense you could have given of your manhood. Which is really, really sad.”
Rich threw a pillow at him and missed dramatically. “Oh shut up. You wanna hear my decision or not?”
“Oh, by all means. Go ahead.”
Rich took a deep breath. “I’m over Mick.”
“No you’re not,” Joker said, matter-of-fact and almost fond.
“Well no, not yet,” Rich allowed. “But I will be. I’ve decided I’m giving up. On being best friends again, on going out with him, everything.”
Joker actually stopped pinning down the pattern he’d just cut out to fix Rich with a look. “You’re serious, aren’t you?”
Rich shrugged with a nonchalance he didn’t feel. “Yeah. I mean, it’s been four years – I’ve got even less chance with him now than I ever did and it’s just, yeah. I’ve had enough.”
“Huh.” Joker stared at Rich for long enough to make him squirm, then turned back to his cutting table with a swish of dark hair. “Well, good for you. Guess this means I’m going to be putting up with your sorry ass a lot more often then, huh?”
“Yep,” Rich said, with determined cheer. “Now that I don’t have any basketball practices to watch.”
“Or debate team meetings to cheer at or student council rallies to sleep through,” Joker agreed. “So you finally going to join the drama club, then? Cause if you’re going to be here all the damn time, don’t think I’m not going to put you to work.” He flicked a hand in the general direction of the script in Rich’s lap. “We’re looking for extras to fill the bit parts in that if you’re interested.”
“Who me?” Rich laughed. “Are you serious? I couldn’t act my way out of a paper bag.”
“And yet Mick is still oblivious. It’s astounding. Alright,” Joker continued, a grin slanting across his face that let Rich know he didn’t mean anything by it. “Guess I’ll have to find something else for you to do.”
“I’m not letting the make-up crew practice on me again,” Rich warned. “Last time it ended up in the school newsletter.”
“Aw, but Rich, you looked so pretty. Really brought out those baby blues.”
Rich made a face and firmly told himself that this wasn’t the time start singing Elton John’s Blue Eyes. “You’re a jerk,” he said instead.
Joker laughed and Rich returned his attention to the script, humming under his breath.
“You know what this play needs?” he said after a moment.
“More 80s music?” Joker guessed.
“More 80s music.” Rich smacked one hand against the page. “This scene where he confronts his daughter? It’s just crying out for a montage to Maniac.”
“Whatever gets you through the day, Rich.”
Rich’s newfound resolution to get his head out of his ass (again) and get over Mick worked out okay. He went cold turkey on all Mick’s many after-school extra-curriculars and was surprised to find out just how much time he’d spent watching Mick be awesome. He shuffled most of those empty hours into spending time in the drama department, helping out Joker and the rest of the drama club as they got ready for the senior play. He painted sets and taped down extension cords and hid from the make-up girls and learned more about costume design than he’d ever wanted to know (“How is it,” he’d asked Joker one day, “that you’re the head of the costume department and I’m the gay one?” “Stop being sexist, homo. It’s ridiculous.”). He even got stuck as a stand-in dummy for some of the costume tailoring, though Joker thankfully told him that they’d found enough people to fill the parts so Rich wasn’t about to get surprise tossed onto stage on opening night.
And really, Rich was glad for the distraction. The more time he spent up to his eyebrows in work, the less time he spent pining over the loss of his last tenuous links to his ex-best friend. Oh, he still saw Mick in the hallways on a pretty regular basis and Mick, being Mick, was always quick to greet him (“Hey Ricky, how’s it going?” “Oh, just another manic Monday.” “What?” “…Never mind.”), but he generally managed to keep his withdrawal symptoms from showing too much.
Relevant lyrics always helped.
(“You sure you’re alright?” Joker asked him one day, about two weeks after the Mick ban.
“Ain’t nothing gonna break my stride!” Rich sang at him, grin only a little manic. “I’ve got to keep on moving!”
“Riight. And that was…?”
“Matthew Wilder, Break My Stride. Peaked at number five on the Billboard Top 100 in 1983.”
“Jerk,” said Rich and changed the subject).
So yeah, it was all going really well. Well, aside from the fact that he was still in love with Mick, a point that was reinforced every time Rich saw him in the hallway, or went to one of his basketball games, or woke up in the morning, but Rich figured he might get to that point eventually. Maybe. In a decade or so.
He was starting to think that he ought to add Always Something There to Remind Me to his life soundtrack, just in case.
A month and a half into the Mick ban, it all went to hell.
“Oh, Sherrie!” Rich belted out, crashing into the drama department with an enthusiastic slide and a shimmy. “My love will hold on! Hold…oh.”
He stumbled to a halt both physically and lyrically, flushing to the roots of his hair as he realized that the person staring at him with shocked brown eyes and a strange, twisting frown was Mick. His mouth was half-open, like he’d been talking before Rich had Steve Perry’d into the room, and his spine was straight enough to make him look even taller than usual.
Joker was kneeling at Mick’s feet, hands on his waist.
Rich’s brain snagged on this detail with the force of an engine exploding.
Well, he thought inanely. This is certainly a Bizarre Love Triangle.
“Um,” Mick started.
“I’m interrupting,” Rich blurted, hands reaching back for the doorknob even as his eyes refused to drag themselves away from the tableau in front of him. He’d remember how to breathe in just a second, he was sure.
“Nope,” Joker corrected easily. “Just a spaz. You wanna stop fidgeting for half a second?” he asked Mick, though it didn’t look to Rich like Mick had so much as breathed since he’d walked in. “Cause I’m not above making you go on stage in nothing but your boxers if I can’t get my measurements. What are you skulking around in the doorway for, Rich?” he said then, making an impatient gesture with the pencil in his hand. “Sit your ass down.”
Rich wandered forward in a daze. “You’re going to be in the play?” he asked Mick, too distracted by the sick thump of his heart as it started up again to care how much of an idiot he probably sounded like.
“Um, yeah,” Mick said, looking more ill at ease than Rich thought he could remember seeing him. “I heard they needed extra people and so I uh, figured I ought to, y’know help out.”
“That’s,” Rich started, just as Mick said “I probably won’t be very good but-” and they both clattered off into awkward silence.
Joker flicked a ‘you’re being an idiot’ look over his shoulder and Rich mustered up a smile he hoped was sincere. Ain’t nothing gonna break my stride, he reminded himself firmly. “I’m sure you’ll be great,” he told Mick, hiding a wince at how fatuous 12 year old girl he sounded.
“Yeah,” Mick said, sounding unconvinced and terribly uncomfortable with the whole situation. “Are you, uh, going to be in…?”
“Huh? Wha – oh. Oh no. No no no, not me.” Rich realized he was waving his arms rather more emphatically than the situation called for. He lowered them with a will and tried a sheepish shrug on for size. “No one wants to see me act, believe me.”
“And apparently I’m the only poor schmuck who has to listen to him sing.” Joker wrote something on his notepad and stood. “You’re all done,” he told Mick, who looked kind of disgruntled for reasons Rich couldn’t even begin to fathom. “It’ll be done in time for the dress rehearsal.”
“Great,” Mick said flatly, then winced and tried again. “I mean, thanks. Really.”
Joker waved an absent hand. “Thanks for filling in the cast. Rich, are you gonna sit there all day or are you gonna try earning your keep round here?”
“You’re the one who told me to sit down,” Rich defended, though he was dragging himself upright even as he spoke. “And I’m not even in this club, you lazy ass. Oh, um,” he added, as Mick made a beeline for the door, because apparently he just couldn’t help himself. “Good luck in the game on Friday.”
“Thanks,” said Mick, looking surprised. He hesitated for a second. “You gonna be there?”
Rich blinked at him. “Of course,” he said, because it was really just that obvious. He’d never missed one of Mick’s games – he wasn’t about to start now just because he was an idiot.
Mick smiled and Rich couldn’t help but think there was something terribly weary in the expression that didn’t belong there at all. “Right. Cool. Well, see ya.”
“Bye,” Rich answered dumbly, and watched as Mick pushed open the door and vanished into the hallway beyond it.
“He doesn’t have a girlfriend,” Joker said behind him, and Rich turned to find Joker eyeing him with a look that was somewhere between exasperated and ruefully sympathetic.
“Huh?” said Rich eloquently.
Joker gestured at the closed door that Rich abruptly realized he’d been staring dreamily at for rather a long time. “Mick. Doesn’t have a girlfriend. Despite being the most popular guy at school and not all that bad looking.”
Rich shrugged, failing miserably at pretending not to care. “Yeah? Maybe he’s too busy – he does a lot of stuff.”
Joker’s eyes rolled. “God, you are such an idiot.”
“Wha? What did I do?”
“Oh, nothing,” Joker said, in a tone that suggested the exact opposite. “Except I’m suddenly wondering whether you’ve actually even tried to talk to that boy about anything other than homework or basketball at any time in the last year and a half.”
Rich’s retort was immediate and indignant. “Of course I have!”
“Oh yeah? Enlighten me.”
“Lots of times,” Rich said, then paused, considering. “Like the time I, uh, well, no I guess that doesn’t really, but definitely the uh… maybe in February when I um… I…”
Joker raised an eyebrow.
“Shut up.” Rich frowned, thinking hard. “I asked him if he dropped his pen after bio in October?” he tried.
That earned him a disgusted snort. “Oh yeah, because I’m sure he got the subliminal ‘ravish me!’ in that.” Joker paused, his voice calm and level as he added, “You should, you know.”
Rich blinked. “Ask him to ravish me? That seems a little forward, don’t you think?”
Very casually, Joker reached over and whacked Rich upside the head. “I mean you ought to talk to him, you utter moron,” he said, over Rich’s indignant yelp. “Even if you’re embarking on a great campaign to move on with your life – which, by the way, really isn’t fooling anyone – he deserves to know why you’ve suddenly decided not to even bother trying to be friends anymore.”
“You didn’t have to hit me, jerk,” Rich muttered, rubbing his head. “And what for? He probably hasn’t even noticed that I’m suddenly four million times less irritating and loser-ish in his vicinity.”
“…He signed up for the school play five weeks ago.”
“Um,” Rich said, more confused than ever. “Okay?”
“Five years of high school, he’s never had any interest in theatre and now he’s suddenly picking up a bit part in the senior play?” Joker said this like it was somehow relevant. When Rich stared at him, nonplussed, Joker sighed. “No more than a week after you decided to stop stalking him and started spending all your time in the drama department?”
“I wasn’t stalking him!” Rich protested. “And so what? I mean, maybe he’s embracing his thespian side?”
“Rich.” Rich blinked at the serious tone to Joker’s voice and found himself on the receiving end of a forbidding look he’d never seen Joker direct at anything other than particularly recalcitrant zippers. “Give it up. You’re miserable and you’re sure as hell not over Mick and you’re never going to be as long as you continue to ignore it and pretend things are okay instead of dealing with them.”
Rich blinked again. “Are you… worried about me?”
Joker cuffed him again. “Stop trying to change the subject. You can’t keep going on like this, Rich. Seriously.”
“So you’re going to push me into making a fool of myself instead? No thanks.” Rich pushed Joker away and stalked back over to the couch.
“Oh, don’t be such a sissy. What’s the worst that could happen?”
“Gee, let me think. The entire basketball team beats me up for being a great big homo?”
Joker snorted. “As if. Not only is the small forward dating a guy on the swim team but you wouldn’t be head over ass about Mick if he was the type to be a homophobic douche. Try again.”
“He’ll never talk to me again?” Which actually bothered him more than the idea of getting sucker punched by the basketball team, but Rich wasn’t going to admit that.
“And that’s different from now how?” Rich glowered at him and Joker sighed again. “Look, you’re going to the play right? Come backstage after it’s over and I’ll give you a chance to come clean to him without the whole school being in attendance.”
“This is a terrible idea and I hate you. Why should I?”
“Because you were humming Crying Over You in Calculus yesterday and I’m sick of people asking me if you need to be put on suicide watch or sent to the loony bin.”
“Clowns to the left of me,” Rich muttered sourly, not even caring that that was the 70s. Sometimes the situation just called for it.
“And Joker’s always right,” Joker shot back without missing a beat. “Not to mention he’s sick of getting stuck in the middle with your stupid ass. Either you pony up and go confess your big gay love to Mick or I’m going to sew you up inside a body bag and throw you in the river. Now, come help me make these adjustments to Mick’s costume.”
“I’m gonna say it like a man, ” Rich told his mirror seriously. “And make you understand. I lo-oh fuck it all.”
He spun away, still not convinced that Amanda was really the best choice for declaring his love to a man whose name was not, in fact, Amanda. The lyrics were a pretty good match aside from that though, and they were the best that Rich’d been able to come up with despite hours of agonizing following Joker’s ultimatum. Now he was down to the wire and Rich was paralyzed by fear and the painful almost-whisper of hope.
If I tell you today, Boston whispered in his ear. Will you turn me away? Let me go?
“I don’t wanna lose you,” he told his empty bedroom sadly.
“Hurry it up or you’re walking!” Will yelled from downstairs and Rich snagged his jacket off the bed with the air of a man headed to his own funeral. What was he going to do if he really did lose Mick this time?
Rich found his seat in the second row, absently humming Thriller under his breath as he waited for the rest of the audience to settle in. He was torn between the desire to go find Joker – who was certain to be up to his eyeballs in work right now and might actually castrate him for the interruption – and fleeing before he made a complete fool of himself.
The person about to sit in the seat next to him gave him a funny look when Rich surreptitiously did a few of the hand movements that went with the song and Rich corrected himself mentally. Before he made a complete fool of himself in front of people who actually knew who he was.
He fidgeted until the curtain went up, then settled for drumming his fingers restlessly on his thigh so he didn’t bother the other spectators with outward displays of his neuroticism. It was next to impossible for him to concentrate on the play, especially after Mick’s first appearance had him snapping upright so fast he banged his foot on the leg of the chair in front of him. He hissed a hurried apology and turned his watering eyes towards the stage, struggling to focus.
Mick really wasn’t a very good actor. Stilted and clearly uncomfortable, he staggered through his lines with none of the ease Rich had grown to expect of him and he somehow managed to make his costume – which Rich was sure had been tailored to the inch – look like it was trying to strangle him. Rich figured he really must be in love if even this sorry spectacle made him sigh dreamily.
Rich managed to zone out through most of the second half of the play, more focused on the lyrics to The Final Countdown sloshing around inside his head than the plot. He’d really only come for the costumes and Mick anyway, and Rich figured he was justified in ignoring the rest of it considering that the soundtrack was terrible.
Thanks to his preoccupation, the curtains coming down came as something of a surprise. Rich raised his hands belatedly to clap as the cast came out for their bows, Mick’s eyes fixed firmly on a spot somewhere near the back rafters. Rich was almost grateful – at Mick’s basketball games there was always that stupid hope that Mick might catch his eyes from the court and remember to give him a smile. At least here, Rich didn’t have the option of trying.
Then the lights came on and the gym filled with the bustle of a hundred people in a hurry to get home and Rich found himself standing in front of the stage door without any clear idea as to how he’d gotten there.
“Any time today, sunshine,” Joker said, suddenly at his side.
Rich blinked at him, voice locked panic-tight.
“Oh for, come on.” Joker’s hand wrapped around his wrist and Rich let himself be tugged through the backstage chaos towards the collection of tiny change rooms.
“Breathe, Rich,” Joker admonished him. “It’ll be fine.” His mouth quirked improbably into a grin. “And try to be nice, okay?”
“Wha-” Rich managed and then he was being shoved into one of the rooms, the door slamming behind him with an ominous click. Mick was stood in the middle of the room, hair a static mess and his shirt dangling forgotten from his fingertips.
Rich might have whimpered, just a little.
“Ricky?” Mick asked, sounding… strange. “What are you doing here?”
“I…er,” Rich started. “Joker, he said… I thought, I mean, I wanted.” Breathe he reminded himself. “You were good out there.”
“Not really,” Mick said, looking at Rich like he was about to bolt any second. It was, Rich thought, a fairly astute observation. “M’better with a basketball. Acting’s… not really my thing.”
“Then why…?” Rich tried, only to be cut off by Mick shaking his head.
” Never mind. It was stupid. You… was there anything you wanted, Ricky?”
Rich had heard it a thousand times before, in practically every not-conversation he’d had with Mick since he’d gone and screwed them up so badly, and he very nearly turned tail and ran right then, sure that they were never going to get past this.
Mick was still watching him, his expression tentative like he was the one waiting to be let down. And it was crazy, and Rich was almost certainly going to regret this, but he couldn’t, just couldn’t leave Mick looking like that.
So he took a deep breath. “I wanted to tell you something,” he said in a shaky voice that hardly sounded like him at all.
Mick looked at him. “Yeah?”
Rich hunched a shoulder sheepishly. “I’m kind of really in love with you?”
Everything stopped for a breathless minute as Rich stared at Mick and Mick stared at Rich and those words hung in the air between them.
“Sorry!” he blurted hurriedly, fumbling blindly for the doorknob. “I’m sorry, I just…”
“Ricky,” Mick said and Rich froze, hardly daring to breathe.
Slowly, ever so slowly, Rich realized that Mick was saying something, so low he could barely hear it. He stepped closer without thinking, straining to hear.
Mick was singing.
“So lift your eyes if you feel you can. Reach for a star and I’ll show you a plan. I’ve figured it out, what I needed was someone to show me.” Mick’s voice was tentative and soft, and his singing wasn’t much better than his acting but Rich couldn’t even begin to care because this…
“Are you… singing Lost in Love to me?”
Mick’s cheeks went scarlet. “Erm, maybe? I thought, music, that is, you… and the 80s are, d-don’t you…?”
Rich took another step closer, a terrifying feeling of hope hitting him like a freefall. “Was there anything you wanted, Mickey?”
And oh, he could get used to Mick looking at him with that smile. “A kiss would be nice,” Mick said, almost shy. “And I’d really kind of like it if you’d be my boyf-mmph!”
Rich decided he could get used to Mick kissing him with that smile too. “Oh my god, you’re fantastic,” he managed, when he pulled back for a gasp of air, the taste of Mick lingering on his lips. “How long have I been an idiot?”
“Too long,” was Mick’s answer, his words broken around a flurry of kisses. “I thought- you and Joker…”
“Oh yuck,” Rich groaned, laughing just a little at the thought. “He’d kill me within a week. And he’s so not my type.”
Mick hummed. “Was afraid to believe him when he told me I was.” Mick pulled back far enough to look at him, the look in his eyes anything but safe. “You know you can’t fool me I’ve been loving you too long.”
Rich kissed him again, just because he could. “Oh god, I don’t think I’ve ever loved Air Supply more,” he laughed, right against Mick’s mouth. “And I’m about two seconds away from sucking your dick so you’d better tell me if you don’t-”
“Please,” Mick interrupted him, looking shell shocked and kind of deliriously happy. “Oh god, Ricky, please.”
Rich was on his knees before the words had finished coming out of Mick’s mouth, fingers trembling as he reached for the waistband of Mick’s sweatpants.
“Ricky, Ricky, Ricky,” Mick was chanting and Rich took a moment to stare at Mick’s cock, thick and hard in his hand, before diving right in, licking and kissing with enthusiasm. He had next to no idea what he was doing but Mick didn’t seem to mind, head thrashing and long fingers dark against Rich’s pale hair as they threaded into it.
“N-not exactly how I was – ah – picturing this would go,” Mick panted, with a crooked little grin that melted around a groan as Rich licked up the underside of his cock.
Rich pulled up long enough to throw a smile back. “Sweet dreams are made of this,” he sang at him, quite seriously. “Who am I to disagree?”
“Oh jeez.” Mick’s head thumped back against the wall and he gave a helpless little half-laugh. “It’s like a singing candygram blowjob. Wow. Er,” he rolled his eyes down to grin shyly at Rich. “Really not complaining, just so you know, but if you start – nngh god – start singing Happy Birthday Mr. President, I might have to laugh.”
“That’s from the 1960s – you’re all good.”
“Oh, that’s g-g-god!”
Rich grinned around Mick’s girth, sinking down as far as he could until he was panting with the heady smell of Mick’s arousal and the weight of him heavy on his tongue.
Mick’s hips stuttered as Rich sucked him carefully, swallowing around the head. “I c-can’t, I’m gonna-”
Rich hummed at him, flicking his tongue deliberately against Mick’s slit, and Mick groaned out his name as he came, come splashing hot and thick and sudden down Rich’s throat. Rich gagged and drew hurriedly back, coughing as he fought to swallow. Mick’s cock slipped free and Rich felt the hot burn across his cheek as the last few drops of Mick’s come splashed over his face.
“Jesus.” Mick sank to the floor like his legs couldn’t hold him any more, big hands cupping Rich’s face as he kissed him, hard and filthy with the tang of Mick’s come on both their tongues. Rich whimpered and hung on for dear life, opening for Mick as he sucked the taste of his own come out of Rich’s mouth, as his thumbs rubbed the rest of it into Rich’s skin in a way that should not have been nearly as hot as it was.
Then those hands disappeared and Rich keened unhappily until they reappeared low on his waist, fumbling at his belt.
“Mickey,” Rich managed, kisses turning sloppy as Mick’s hand worked its way into his boxers. Mick’s fingers wrapped round him without a trace of shyness, and Rich groaned low in his throat as Mick started an awkward but steady rhythm.
“God Ricky,” Mick breathed against his mouth, his grip hot and sweaty and Rich never wanted it to stop. “Look at you. Come on, Ricky. Come for me, been waiting for this.”
“Fuck.” And Rich was groaning his release into Mick’s neck as his hips bucked into Mick’s hand and he totally ruined his shirt. He couldn’t really bring himself to care though, because holy fuck.
“Wow,” Mick panted, looking about as shell-shocked as Rich felt. “That was… wow.”
Rich chuckled weakly. “Very wow.” He cocked his head. “Does this mean you’re my boyfriend now?”
Mick’s cheeks pinked. Rich thought it was adorable. “I hope so?”
“Good,” Rich smiled. He leaned in for a quick, affectionate kiss that Mick readily returned. “I’m going to owe Joker for, like, the rest of my life now, thanks to you.”
“Um,” Mick said, pulling back and directing a slightly grossed out look towards their come-sticky clothes. “Am I supposed to apologize?”
Rich’s smile was definitely more than a little goofy. “Nope,” he said, letting Mick pull them both to their feet and thrilling at the firm press of Mick’s body against him. “Not even a little.”
It was Mick’s turn to smile. “Good.” He hummed lightly under his breath as they cleaned themselves up as best as they could and Rich laughed in sheer delight when he recognized the song.
“I am the man who will fight for your honour,” he sang, linking Mick’s hand with his.
“I’ll be the hero you’re dreaming of,” Mick sang back, tentative but game, and yeah. This was gonna work out just fine. They both barreled into the next line, not caring how badly they were mangling the harmony. It was just for them anyway.
“We’ll live forever, knowing together that we did it all for the glory of love.“