After the Rain

Angst, sexual tension and romance. Julian wants Noel.


Characters: ,


Genre: , ,




Length: words

After the Rain by Sooty

I was listening to Bonnie Prince Billy’s The Letting Go while writing this, intending it to be pure fluff/romance, but got carried away and ended up in bumming land. As usual.

Many thanks to the fabulous planetbanjo for beta reading this fic.

Today we are writing our movie script. It should be a simple process, one that we are prepared for by iteration, and one that is as natural as breathing. But today everything is different, because for the first time in our lives together I watch him.

Once I believed that words—lyrical poetry and exquisite prose—were my only source of stimulation. Now I realise that the visual is of the utmost importance to my existence. After I acknowledged this fact, his paintings, clothes and body began to preoccupy me. The visual is now all I can see. Fragments and flashes of images—his hair and sweat and skin and teeth—appear in my mind when I try to work. I hit my head on the laptop over and over, trying to exorcise these pictures, but they are released temporarily only to return when he enters the room and the fantasies become flesh again.

During these moments the only thing I am certain of, with every fibre of my being, is the approaching storm.

He moves with a combination of swagger and grace, announcing his entrance to the room with a ruffle of his hair and an exaggerated sigh, throwing himself onto the nearest sofa. A long, lean body, lips that either pout in mock sulk or stretch into a cheeky smile, and inquisitive hands that are always touching—people, things, himself; never deliberate but innate, as if he was born to physically feel those around him in order to justify his presence in the world. His movements and gestures flow like silk; he is loose and patently comfortable in his skin. In contrast, he is also angular, carved and pointy, but there is softness to this sharpness. It is only after he leaves my sight that I realise I have spent a quarter of my life watching him. But on this day, half of me wants to hold him and never let go, and the other half wants to shake him for making me feel this way—part disgust, part longing, all desire.

I begin to define him in terms of what he does to me: when we touch he makes me ache; when he speaks he makes my stomach turn; and when he hurts, during those tough times when the sunshine disappears temporarily, he makes me hurt with him. How can you work with someone when you feel like this? When they occupy you in such a way? Paradoxically, for all these feelings I don’t really think about myself when he’s around, except for what he makes me feel. It’s all about him. My movements, my gestures, my entrances no longer matter because I focus only on him. He is beguiling and these uncontrollable feelings confound me.

Tomorrow we will write at his house. This afternoon he wants to write in the pub but it’s crowded, with too many distractions and an opportunity to get drunk. So we do. I watch and wait, and listen to the thunder rumbling in the distance.

Early in the morning when the day seems endless and my thoughts are clear, I decide on resolution if only to spare myself further self-flagellation. Whatever it is I’m feeling has to be resolved; these distracting emotions have occupied me for too long. My plans are contingent on so many ‘what-if’s’ that I almost opt out of the process altogether. What if I chicken out? What if someone walks in? And most importantly, what if he doesn’t feel the same way? Today will take courage, patience and timing. I call and ask him to come along to the bookshop, on the pretence that I need a particular book on screenwriting to help us write the script. He agrees to accompany me on the condition that we stop for a late lunch.

We eat and drink in a congenial silence, interrupted only by the occasional person asking for an autograph or photo. In contrast to the storm clouds brewing in the sky, he is sunshine, bright and happy, and I feel caught up in his wave of joy and offer to take photographs of him with his fans. His stare is intense for the camera and—I pretend—only for me. When he grabs the camera from my hand, I flinch with tenderness from his touch and then melt when he stares at me. My body visibly softens when he’s around because with him I can relax and breathe and know that he will take care of the people who want a piece of me. He will always take care of me. And I will always return the gesture.

While I pay the bill, he puts his left arm around my waist and his chin on my shoulder, looking up at me with a smile. It is a familiar action now heavy with connotations that didn’t exist last month, even last week. He is comfortable, but for me, today, his touch is loaded with lust, longing and desire. Pulling him closer and kissing him in public is not part of the plan so I ignore the longing in my chest and my groin, and move on.

We arrive at his house and sit opposite each other at the dinner table, and I make a half-hearted attempt to work. The bright pictures on the insert of a CD distract him, but I am distracted by his half-open mouth, his soft alabaster skin, and the dark eyelashes framing his eyes. He is so, so pretty. I turn red with embarrassment when he looks up, catching me mid-stare. His eyes look confused for no longer than a second but what seems endless to me, then he smiles and suggests we get on with it. It is my turn to be confused—‘get on with what?’ I think—and then realise he means work and my face burns some more.

I offer to cook dinner, and he chuckles and scrambles around in the fridge, producing a bottle of wine to supplement the meal. We drink while I cook and talk about friends and life, and none of it makes any sense except the fact that I’m here in his kitchen talking with him, watching him move and smile and dance and speak. He has a fluidity about him that I lack, a presence that belies his size, and a mellifluous laugh that, if manifest physically, would sprinkle glitter in its wake. Fuck, I adore him.

We sit, eat, drink and talk some more and I notice that he is looser than usual, his eyes moving around in his head, his smile more languorous. As we converse I touch his hands more than is necessary. He is drunk and so am I. Damn. I needed to be sober to stick to my plan.

After dinner I wash up and he sits on the kitchen table, glass in hand, and is silent. When I turn around I realise he is watching me. For the third time this evening my cheeks turn red, but this time, rather than only localised in my face, it is a hot, heavy drunken weight that overtakes my body and makes me woozy. Our one-sided conversation goes like this:

“I need to talk to you about something. And ask you a question. And I need you to shut up and let me finish.” I am not slurring yet. This is a good sign.

He smiles and is silent. There is no turning back now. I stare at him, then lean backwards on the bench, tea towel in hand, and begin to speak in staccato tones:

“Erm, we’re good friends, yeah? Oh fuck, this is hard. Shit. It is lightness… fuck! Stupid. Me, not you. No… you are lightness… erm… and I really need to let you know this… because it is unbearable. What I feel for you… it is unbearable. And so, so good. I love you. I have always loved you… but this is something more… now I want you, all of you. And I need to tell you because I can’t go on pretending that I don’t feel anything or that I can carry on like before… and I know you won’t be able to either because the very act of telling you this means that you can’t deny what I’m feeling and it will change how you think about me. And I know this will happen but I have to do it anyway because I love you and I want you.”

The words end in a flurry but they are clear and almost coherent, as lucid as I can be tonight, and he cannot have any questions regarding my intentions. He stares at me, his mouth hanging open, eyes glazed over, and a blank expression on his face.

Suddenly I am absolutely terrified, fixed to this one position, trapped by my words and fearful that I’ve lost him forever. I remain in this state for what seems like a lifetime but in all probability is no more than five seconds. Time alters, and everything is in slow motion but sharply defined at the same time. Weird. But my one constant thought is: ‘the storm is coming’. And these words, like a mantra, are in my head and I can no longer read his expressions or his body, and I’m lost in a forest, waiting for the tempest. And it’s neither calm nor quiet because my head is screaming with other images, all in technicolour, of blood and guts and being turned inside out. I stare at him; we gaze at each other. I cannot read his thoughts and a sick panic rises in my chest. But I know that puking won’t help to quell this feeling.

The eternal wait is interrupted by a knock at the front door. Our gaze is broken, snapped apart, and I look down at my feet in blistering shame. He jumps off the table—too quickly—and runs to the door. My flight is also fast. I grab my bag and head for the door, ignore the person saying ‘hello’, and without looking at him I’m off down the stairs, on to the street and walking fast, my head down, and I don’t stop until I’m on my doorstep panting and crying from the exertion. I am no longer drunk. In fact, I can no longer feel a thing.

The following days are a blur. The rain is heavy—so much rain—and the thunder cracks while I lie on my bed alternating between disgust and anger at my stupidity. Knocks at the door are ignored and the phone goes unanswered, and when I check there are no messages from him anyway, so I don’t bother returning any calls. I’m not sure if I can face him again after spilling my guts so spectacularly. And his face, his blank expression remains burnt onto my retinas and is there every time I close my eyes. I try to shake the images from my mind, flushing them out with whiskey until the nights blend into days and I am sleeping at two o’clock in the afternoon. After three days of this routine I am drained, absolutely fucked up, and I want to pretend that nothing happened between us. Pretend, like I’ve been doing all along. Or forget. That’s what I’ll do, I decide. Forget, and efface that moment. And hope that he will agree to do the same. Dragging myself out of bed, I brush my teeth, dress and run my hands through my hair, and do all the other things that are part of my morning routine, except it’s 4pm and the day is almost over.

There is a knock at the door. I am certain it is him; I can feel his presence through the walls. The panic rises again. I’m not ready, and it’s not supposed to be like this. I drag myself towards the front door, and squint through the peephole. There he is, all lean and lanky, and jumping around like a meerkat preparing for a fight. Oh, fuck. I breathe deeply and he knocks again, sending my agitation into overdrive. He yells my name and I know that reedy tone—he is scared, changed, someone else. Maybe I misread his actions as a rejection? And anyway, I ran away too. This fact aids to calm me down, and it helps to know we’re in this mess together.

I open the door tentatively and there he is, precious and adorable. His brow is crinkled with worry and he looks like he is about to cry; his coat is wet from the rain. For an instant I wonder what I look like but am fairly sure I look like shit. He moves past me quickly, brushing his shoulder with mine and I smell him—cigarettes, alcohol and no shower for the past three days. Just like me. This heartens me somewhat and I’m now desperately hoping for a little sunshine. My emotions are in turmoil and I know I have to be careful or I’ll spill my guts again, so I deliberately slow down and pace myself with the voice in my head: ‘go slow’ and ‘don’t panic’. Then I turn around and see him and my chest is screaming, or is it my heart? I’m not sure anymore, except my body is no longer my own. The thunder still rumbles outside and at this moment it seems there is no endpoint. He yanks off his coat, runs pale hands through his hair and sits at the table. It becomes a barrier between us. I sit opposite him and cannot take my eyes off his. He sits up straight and still and returns my stare, unreadable and silent.

Don’t be the first to speak, I implore myself. But my resolve is weak and my heart is so bruised that I begin:

“Hi.” That, and a small smile, is all I can muster.

He smiles slightly, and then looks at my hands. I panic because he reads my hands; he once said: “Your hands play guitar so beautifully. Do you know they are expressions of your heart, indicators of your feelings?” And at the moment they are open, palms up, one gripping the other, a right thumb rubbing the palm of the left. What does this mean? I begin to move them but he grabs my right hand and I look up. Then he says softly and slowly, far quieter than his usual speech:

“We need to take it slow… hmmm?” He nods.

Breathing hurts my chest and my stomach is doing somersaults. His hands are shaking and all I can feel is relief. I grasp his right hand and pull it up to my face, pressing his warmth to my cheek, and he is smiling and moving his thumb to gently stroke my cheek, across my moustache, then over my mouth. I open my lips to speak but he shakes his head and I am silent. Outside the thunder has stopped and I can hear the rain falling softly on the ground.

And now, here we are, gazing at each other, shyly, tentatively, for we’ve never known these feelings before. He breaks the silence.

“What do we do now?”

I stare at him, flashing an apprehensive grin. And shrug.

“I have absolutely no idea,” I laugh, high and throaty. “Erm, I didn’t actually think past the first bit. How slow is ‘slow’ anyway?”

He laughs then closes his eyes, nods and hums.

I grab his shirt and pull him up and across the table, and he’s on his knees, leaning down, and pushing his tongue into my mouth. His breath is hot and smoky and I moan at the urgency of his gestures; his hands are grasping at my head, his tongue thrusting deeply into my mouth and his face pressing into mine. We kiss, urgent and rough and then tenderly, sweetly. I push my chair back, my mouth still on his, and pull him onto my lap. I cannot believe he has wanted this for as long as I have, and this very thought makes me want him more. I want to feel him, taste him, and be inside him, to know his warmth and to possess him.

He drops to his knees on the floor and fumbles with my belt buckle. My cock bulges in my pants and he stares at it in amazement. I frantically pull his shirt over his head, he unpops the buttons on my shirt and rips it back, and then he simply looks at my body, glancing at me in wonder. In this quiet and intimate moment, he is my world. He strokes his fingers across my torso and up over my arms and neck.

“Beautiful man,” he says softly. My eyes meet his and he is almost crying, his expression changing from joy to love in an instant. Gently, I kiss his mouth and he looks into my eyes. “I love you. Always have,” he says.

My head drops into the crook of his neck. “I love you. I adore you. You are my everything,” I whisper and he trembles. And then his name tumbles from my lips and I can’t stop; I don’t want to anymore.

I lift him up, trousers fallings to my ankles, and carry him to the bedroom. He clings to me, legs wrapping around my waist like vines on a tree, and his jagged breath is hot on my neck. With one hand on my back, he steadies himself; the other hand grasps my hair, pulling until it is almost painful.

My room is a mess. Empty bottles lie on the bedside table and dirty clothes are strewn carelessly across the floor. Bed-sheets and the duvet hang limply off the bed and two pillows lie, sad and deflated, at the centre of the mattress. The room is piquant with the smells of sweat and sorrow, yearning and whiskey.

“Sorry for the mess”, I mumble into his chest. He knows what I mean: the room is me at my worst.

He drops his head to look at me, and smiles tenderly. “Don’t worry, mmm? Mine’s worse.”

I set him down on the bed; he is made of nothing but light. I lie on top of him and attempt to manoeuvre my arms around to get my shoes and trousers off. He giggles and rolls his eyes, then pushes me off gently.

“Here, let me do it”, he grins.

He leaps off the bed, and in one swift movement pulls my shoes and socks off, rips my trousers and pants away and throws them into the pile of clothes in one corner, then flips me over so I am on my back staring up at him.

“See? Easy,” he laughs. I smile. Fuck, he is gorgeous. And then I notice his cock pushing through his trousers and I catch my breath—I want him now. My hands grab his face and I edge him slowly towards me but he murmurs with dissent. He drags me up into a seated position and gets down on his knees. Then his mouth is on my cock, erect since we left the kitchen, and he is dragging his tongue along the shaft and my head is thrown back of its own accord and little noises escape from my mouth, unshapen moans that I can’t recall making before now. This continues for some time. I can’t hold on—the feeling, it’s too much—and my hands again grasp at his head, trying to lift him off me.

“I’m going to come. I can’t… uh.” I cannot speak; everything is blurry.

He pushes my hands away and keeps his mouth around me, but now it’s fiercer and searingly hot, and his hand is wrapped around the base of my penis and his fingers stroke my balls. The movements are rapid, more insistent, and I can see light and stars and it feels like the whole world is about to explode.

“Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuuuuuck,” I cry, high and thin. I am pouring myself into his mouth, his hot, tight mouth, and he is moaning and I can’t stop shouting “fuck”, and the sensations continue until I am spent, shaking and sweaty. He removes his mouth from my leaking cock, smiles with a closed mouth, and points towards the bathroom. I attempt to nod but my head is uncompliant and I fall backwards into the bed.

When he wanders back into the room, he is wiping his mouth with the back of his hand, naked, hard and grinning wickedly. He lies on me, his body warm and for the most part, soft.

“You taste good,” he says. We kiss, his stronger and more urgent than mine, and I can taste the residue of me, salty and strange. I hear the sound of a lid being flipped open. His hands leave my body for a short time, and then I feel his legs pushing mine apart, and some fingers, cold and slippery, exploring my anus.

“OK?” he asks, but before I can respond he’s inside me. The sensation of his fingers (two? I’m not sure) moving around makes me grunt and moan simultaneously, but he is gentle and I can feel myself relaxing, letting go, and then suddenly, sweetly, tingles of pleasure emanate from my insides.

“Oh, fuck. That’s good,” I moan and his reply is to push in deeper up to his knuckles. My reaction is to dig my nails into his back, sharp and deep: he groans.

“Easy,” he says softly, and retreats slightly from his position. I tug him back into place, urging him on. But his head is now on my chest and he slowly extricates his fingers from my arse; the warmth is gone suddenly and I groan. I am hard again and wonder at what point that occurred.

I watch, fascinated, as he strokes his rigid cock with lube, his face filled with lust and longing. My desire to have him inside me overwhelms a small twinge of fear, but as I lift my legs, placing them around his waist as he pushes against my entrance with effortless strength, it feels like we’ve been doing this forever.

One of his arms hauls my leg up over his shoulder, the other steadies his weight on the bed as he moves within me. It feels glorious: I never knew. I draw him towards me for a kiss, and he leans down to meet me. Our mouths converge and we remain like that for a while, his cock inside me, tongues tangled in warm wet mouths, and our staggered breathing the only sound in the house. The rhythm is perfect, we are in tandem and nothing will ever be the same.

His arm releases my leg but I manage to hook it over his shoulder while his movements become quicker, and his spare hand gropes insistently for my aching cock. There is a sharp intake of breath from my mouth as his lubricated fingers wrap around me and stroke my cock, in time, on the beat, to his body rhythms. I am moving with him, taking him in and swallowing him whole.

He murmurs my name into my mouth and I know he is close to climax. His hand movements on my cock are quickening and the pleasure surging through my body is almost unbearable. We move like this, quickly, silently except for the release of the occasional moan, for what seems like a long time—then it happens. We come together, yelling each other’s names, both released from the pleasurable plateau into a crystal-pure moment that realigns the boundaries of possibility. Life will go on forever if only we can stay like this.

Later, we lie close together, smiling and lightly touching each other. He grins and turns to look quizzically at the ceiling.

“The rain. It’s stopped at last,” he observes, and then whispers, “It’s so quiet.”

I had noticed that too.

He turns away, and his arm snakes behind him and he pulls me over to face his back. I spoon his warmth and smell his skin, and then fall into dreams of unbelievable colour that I never before imagined possible.

I awake earlier than him but that has always been the way since we began. Leaning over him, I trace my hand lightly over his chest and up past his face, raking my fingers gently through his soft, black hair. He wakes, focuses his gaze on me, and smiles: the same smile he gave me that first time so many mornings ago. Noel. I look at him once more, and the sun shines on his face and he looks like perfection. And then his mouth is on mine and his hands are grabbing the flesh on my back and I know for certain that this will never end.

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