Category: Real Person Fic
Length: 5-10k words
Notes: Thanks to the Lizard for the awesome beta.
Alright by Replenished
Julian glanced up as Noel entered the room then looked back down at his book.
“I had a blinder of a New Years, let me tell ya.”
Julian sighed, bookmarked his place and put his book down on the coffee table. He was in for an inane story for sure.
“So me and Courtney are at this party. You should have seen the celebrities….”
“And so the photographer asks Courtney who her date for the evening is and she says…”
Julian eyes had glazed over.
Maybe if I pick my book up he’ll get the hint and shut up. Nah. More likely he’ll keep on talking without even noticing.
“Are you even listening?”
Julian’s gaze swivelled back to Noel.
“I was, but there’s only so much celebrity name dropping I can handle in one afternoon.”
Noel narrowed his eyes.
“Well maybe you don’t give a shit but I find the whole thing exciting so the least you could do is not spoil it for me.”
Noel was right. Julian knew that but he was sick to death of stories like this. Every time they caught up with one another it was ‘me and my celebrity friend did this, me and some stupid vapid junkie did that’. Julian realised how much Noel enjoyed all this stuff and often he was glad that his comedy partner enjoyed basking in the media spotlight as it meant that he didn’t have to. Yet whenever Noel talked about that stuff, Julian would inwardly grimace.
“Well…. You gonna say sumfing?”
“Yeah, we should do some writing for the next season.”
Noel raised his eyebrows: “You’re rid-ic-ul-ass.”
“Oh, for fucks sake. You’re not quoting Brand now.” Julian turned the book over in irritation and tossed it on to the coffee table.
Julian pulled his fingers through his hair roughly. He’d pushed things too far and he knew it. It had been ages since Noel had thrown a full-on tantrum. He’d known Noel long enough to know which buttons not to push and yet there here he was, intentionally pushing. He held his breath and waited for it to kick off.
“If you could stop being a pretentious, judgmental bastard for a bit and talk to Russell you would realise he’s a sweet guy underneath all the posturing.”
Huh, Noel was keeping his cool despite his needling. Oh well, in for a penny, in for a cliché.
“You’d certainly know all about being pretentious and posturing.” Julian crossed his arms and mumbled the words just loud enough for Noel to hear them.
Noel’s eyes darkened and he stood up quickly.
That had done it.
“I’m going home. I can’t be fucked with your shit,” he hissed through his teeth, stalking towards the exit.
Noel flounced out, slamming the door on the way. Julian reached for his book from the coffee table. He sat there for a long time, holding the book in his hands without opening it.
Noel distractedly tapped the side of his coffee mug.
“What’s up with you? You’ve been a moody bitch all afternoon,” Russell said with a cheeky smile.
Noel let out a slow breath and stared into his mug.
“Me and Ju had a fight.”
“See, this is the advantage of being a solo act. Although even I find myself a pain to work with sometimes,” Russell said as he flung his hands about.
Noel chuckled and looked up at his friend as he continued.
“So, what was it about? Creative differences? Sleeping with your woman? Stealing your styling product without asking?”
“Shutup,” Noel rolled his eyes, “he was just being, I dunno, a jerk. He was in a bad mood right from the word go. And Dee’s in Finland or something, so it’d be quite the accomplishment in cheating,” he said dryly.
“Maybe it’s about his missus?”
“Nah. They split up quite a while ago now. He recovered pretty well.”
“You sure? I mean, has he started dating again or anything? Or at least sleeping around with as many anonymous partners as possible,” he raised an eyebrow suggestively.
“Julian is not really that kind of guy. He’s strictly a relationship man. And I don’t think I’ve seen him look at a girl more than in passing in the last few months.” Noel blinked. “Huh, maybe you’ve got the right idea there, but it seemed more than that; he was annoyed at me, specifically.”
“So, what did you do to incur his ire?”
Noel shrugged and stared into his coffee again.
What did I do?
Noel strolled into the club like he owned the place, looking around as Julian shuffled slightly a step behind him. His plan was genius in its simplicity: Take Julian out, get him a bit pissed and get him to flirt with a few girls. There was nothing quite like a sexy woman giving you the eye to improve your mood. He had called Julian a couple of days after the fight and suggested a night out at the pub. When Julian had begun to stammer over an apology, Noel had interrupted with ‘ah, we all have our bad days’. Then the night was planned in earnest. They rang around all their mates with an open invitation for anyone to join them. Almost everyone had turned up at some point, different friends coming and going. As the drinks flowed Julian had been surprisingly relaxed and high-spirited, cracking jokes with Mike, making up a little dance with Rich.
Dave slung his arms around them as he and Rich stumbled in. Everyone else hadn’t been up for a club, so it was just the four of them. Rich made a bee-line straight for the bar.
“So,” said Dave, pulling them into a bear hug, “shall we head for the dance floor?”
“Yeah, why not!” Julian said and swayed slightly.
Whoa, he must be drunker then he looks. Julian voluntarily dancing in a club was a rare thing. Noel untangled himself from Dave’s iron grip.
“I’m gonna join Rich for another drink.”
He watched Dave and Julian head towards the mass of dancers, Dave still leaning on Julian.
Oh, it’s gonna be a good night.
Rich was dancing like an idiot, as usual, with a woman of advanced years. He was going to regret that tomorrow. Noel was watching Julian and Dave going mental, almost falling over each other in their drunken state. Noel was a bit less pissed, but only a bit and he was swaying to the music with a drink firmly in hand. A bunch of girls started giggling at him and when they saw him looking they swooped in, gyrating and groping. He laughed and gently tried to disengage himself. The girls closed ranks, surrounding him. Noel glanced over at his mates and made eye contact with Julian. He widened his eyes in the universal sign of ‘help me’. Julian grinned and nudged Dave, leaning over to shout in his ear. Their plan was masterful; they shouted gibberish, shoved through the women and grabbed Noel, dragging him away to the bar. Noel was laughing so hard he could hardly breathe.
“You guys should’ve have been in the army with all that offensive strategy. That was brilliant!” Noel laughed.
This prompted another bout of giggling, with Dave crying into Julian’s shoulder. Noel glanced towards the dance floor as the gaggle of women headed towards them.
“Oh fuck, here they come again.”
“Let’s leg it outta here, yeah?” Dave said, wiping the tears away.
Julian nodded and Dave grabbed both their arms, hurriedly pulling them with him. Outside they hailed a cab. Dave opened the side door and as he did so the girls came out of the club door.
“Noel!” they screeched, the heels of their shoes clattering on the pavement as they tottered towards the taxi.
Julian shoved Noel and Dave into the car and quickly followed them in.
“Let’s get going, mate!” Julian called out to the driver.
As they pulled away they watched the crestfallen expressions of the girls. They looked at each other and burst out laughing. When the laughter had died down Noel told the cabbie his address.
“So shall we call it a night?” asked Julian.
“Aw, and I never had a chance to put my cunning plan into action,” Noel smiled.
“What plan?” Julian looked at him quizzically.
“My genius plan to get you flirting with some attractive young things to cheer you up.”
Julian’s face hardened slightly.
Dave leaned towards Julian.
“Noel, that’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard, but if it helps any….”
He batted his eyelashes at Julian then slapped him on the arm playfully.
“Oh, you’re such a handsome and strong man and I just love your show,” Dave said in a ridiculously camp voice.
Julian looked at him for a second and then a huge grin spread across his face. Thankyou Dave for helping me dodge that one.
“Well the mission is a success and…..” Noel paused. ”Oh shit, we forgot Rich.”
Noel looked back towards Julian and Dave on the couch and hung up his mobile. Dave seemed to be taking his duties as avoidance scrumpet a little bit too seriously. Julian had an arm hooked loosely around his shoulder and Dave was smiling up at him with his hand resting casually on Julian’s thigh.
“So, Rich is fine. I think he is having a good time with that, ahem, mature lady.”
Dave glanced at Noel and smirked.
“There is nothing wrong with hooking up with someone of experience, right Julian?” he said as he rubbed Julian thigh.
Julian’s eyes darted towards Noel and down to Dave’s hand.
“Ummm, what?” Julian lurched upright and grabbed his drink. He skulled the whole drink down and wiggled the bottle at Noel. “Another?”
Noel moved into the kitchen alcove and opened his fridge. As he perused the choices, he caught sight of Julian leaning back into his seat in the other room.
‘Fuuck,’ thought Noel, ‘this has taken an interesting turn.’ They would always kid about this sort of stuff but the two of them looked mighty cosy on that couch.
When he came back into the room Julian looked suitably embarrassed but didn’t move away from Dave. He took the drink that Noel offered to him and squinted at it drunkenly.
Noel thought about a subtle way to extract himself from the room. It looked seriously like his two friends were going to mess around. Noel shifted uncomfortably and was about to suggest that he head off to bed. As he opened his mouth, Dave patted the empty space on the couch next to him.
“Come sit with us Noel.”
Noel grabbed his drink and took a large mouthful. Oh man, I’m going to need a lot more alcohol. He moved past his friends towards the empty seat. Dave reached out and stroked his arm. Noel looked at Dave intently, who merely smiled slightly and raised an eyebrow. Noel sat down but left a small space between himself and Dave. As he took another big gulp of his drink, Dave turned back to Julian who suddenly looked like a deer caught in the headlights. Noel watched Dave lean in slowly towards Julian, who fidgeted like he was going to pull away. Then Dave pounced, kissing Julian hard. At first, Julian just sat there gripping his drink but then he started to kiss back, relaxing into it. Noel’s mouth was slack and he stared, wide-eyed, as his two friends kissed passionately.
“Noel!” said Russell enthusiastically as he opened his front door. “Do come on in!” he motioned. Russell quirked his eyebrow, “So what’s up? Why are we meeting here instead of the coffee shop?”
“Oh, you know,” Noel shrugged as he stood by Russell’s sofa, picking cat hair off it.
“Clearly not. Else I wouldn’t have to ask.”
“Does this conversation require sitting down in a serious manner?” Russell interrupted.
Noel snorted and looked at Russell from the corner of his eye.
“Oh shit, it is one of those conversations!” Russell sat down on the one seater and motioned Noel to sit on the other couch. “No-one’s dying, are they? ‘Coz if they are, just blurt it out now.”
Noel sat down gingerly, his eyes lingering over the couch. His life seemed to take place on a series of couches at the moment.
“No no, it’s nothing serious. I just,” he sighed, “wanted to talk in private. I… guess I just wanted to talk to someone impartial. Get some, I dunno; advice, opinions, something.”
Russell raised his eyebrows, “When did I become the agony aunt? Because clearly I’m so together that I’m the obvious choice. Julian seems the solid choice for…” Russell paused and watched Noel tap nervously. “Ah, it’s about him. Another fight? Last night did not go to plan then?”
“Ah… Look, ok… just shut up for a while and I’ll tell you the story. But seriously man, I know I don’t really need to say this with you but this is strictly between us, okay?”
Russell’s eyebrows lifted further. “Look man, you know I don’t talk about anyone’s private life but my own. So spill.”
“So, we went out like I planned, down the pub. We were all having a great time. And then me, Julian, Rich and Dave go to a club. Everyone was pretty drunk; Julian and Dave were pretty messy. These girls started hassling me and so the three of us, we forgot Rich, headed back to mine.” Noel paused and took a deep breath, blurting out his sentence. “And DaveandJulianstartedmakingout…” He looked to Russell for a reaction.
Russell didn’t move for a second, and then bit his lip in thought. “Huh.”
“Oh, it’s not over. Then I kinda… made out with Dave, a bit.”
“And now I’m freaked.”
“Well, what do you think?”
Russell shifted in his seat and narrowed his eyes. “I feel like I’m missing something here,” he gestured expansively. “How do you get from heading back to yours to make-out session?”
Noel sighed again. “Good question. Dave was pretty flirty most the night, but so what. A lot of people get pretty handsy when they’ve been drinking.”
“And I don’t even need the booze anymore,” Russell quipped, trying to ease Noel’s discomfort.
“He and Ju were dancing together, but again, that’s not unusual. And even in the cab, I accidently let slip my stupid plan and Dave pretended to flirt with him then. I thought it was to stop Julian getting mad at me but maybe Dave was just flirting.” Noel gestured wildly. “It feels like I missed a step when I was on the phone to Rich, back at mine. ‘Coz when I turned back around the mood had changed; I picked up on their vibe straight away. I remember thinking that they might get together and I was about to excuse myself to bed, when Dave invited me to sit down… and then it was on.”
“And then they made out, and you watched? And then snogged Dave yourself?” Russell said with a slight smirk. “Don’t take this the wrong way, but if you were that freaked, you wouldn’t have hung around. Instead you stayed and got into it yourself.”
“It wasn’t like that exactly. Initially I stuck around because part of me didn’t really think anything was going to happen. And when Dave kissed Ju, first I was shocked but then….” His voice trailed off. “Well, it was hot, okay?” he said, almost accusatory.
“Mellow, yeah, what the fuck do I care? I ain’t exactly the poster boy for heterosexuality.”
Noel sighed, continuing: “They were snogging and then Dave was kissing Julian’s neck and Julian looked right at me. It was simultaneously disturbing and disturbingly erotic. I’d never seen him like that before really. He and Julia were pretty private about that stuff. He…”
Noel stopped and looked at Russell, searching his friends face. For what, Noel thought, a hint of disgust maybe or even shock? However Russell merely sat looking at him earnestly and intently.
“Ju kind of sighed and closed his eyes. He was definitely getting off on it, but then so was I. That’s when Dave turned around to me. He just raised his eyebrow and licked his bottom lip and I leaned over and then started to kiss him. It wasn’t any chaste or stage kiss; it was a proper messy, tongue-twisting kiss.”
Noel rubbed his hands on his thighs, trying to get rid of the nervous sweat from his palms.
“That’s when Dave broke away and said that we should probably call it a night. Then they called a cab and headed off.”
Russell nodded slowly. “So, it was Dave who brought the night to a close? That’s interesting. So what do you think would have happened if he hadn’t have stopped things?”
“I’m not gonna think about that.”
“Per’aps you should. It’d probably answer some of your questions. Would you fuck ‘em? Or would you have stopped anything serious happening?”
“I don’t know,” Noel said as he hung his head and then drew his palm over his mouth in exasperation.
Rushing out of his bedroom, Noel grabbed his phone eagerly. He was expecting a call from Dee, and he just knew she would make everything better. In the split second before putting the phone to his ear Noel had reached a decision. He would tell Dee everything that happened. She wouldn’t be too angry, they had always had a fairly open relationship, and he would get some much needed advice from someone who knew him so well.
“Oh, hey Ju. How are you?”
Oh God that sounded so strained. I am so transparent.
“Good, good,” Julian muttered. Noel could hear the forced lightness in his friends’ voice too. “It was a pretty crazy night, last night.”
“So… coffee? We can get a bit of writing done. If you’re not too hung over, that is.”
Noel was quiet for a moment. “Are we just going to leave stuff like this then? All awkward.”
He could hear Julian huff into the receiver.
“It wouldn’t have been awkward if you hadn’t brought it up. We could’ve happily pretended it hadn’t happened. But now we have to have ‘conversations’. And we’ll probably fight again, mainly because I’ll start one so I can avoid having to talk.” Julian breathed in deeply. “So please Noel, let’s just leave it, alright?”
“Okay. Lets meet up and I won’t mention anything that could possibly make you uncomfortable.”
“But I just want to ask one thing first.” Noel could practically hear Julian grit his teeth. “Did you and Dave go home together?”
“I’ll see you at the usual place in an hour. Bye. And no.”
He hung up.
Dee was laughing at Rich as he was creating a particularly obscene dance. She was leaning on Noel who was grinning too, his gaze flicking around the room, watching his friends’ high spirits. When he glanced at Julian they made eye contact for a moment, then Julian looked back towards Rich practising what Dee had named The Spank Dance.
He and Julian had spent several weeks together, trying to create new material. There was a tangible awkwardness now; a self-consciousness that hadn’t been there previously. Noel had always been able to count on their spontaneity and easy chemistry; it was what made them a great writing duo. However the ideas hadn’t been flowing so easily recently as they both had measured every action and sentence carefully.
Noel watched Dave out of the corner of his eye; he was definitely sitting very close to Julian. His leg was gently resting against Julian’s and it looked as if Julian had no intention of pulling away either. Noel wasn’t quite sure how he felt about that. Even though Julian had said that they hadn’t gone home together, that didn’t mean they weren’t screwing. The thought made him uneasy but he shrugged it off, trying to focus on having a good night.
They were having a little get-together at Julian’s to celebrate Sue and Dee’s return. They had gotten back from their tour the previous day and although they were drained they couldn’t wait to see everyone. Noel had been so happy to see his girlfriend; the unusual circumstances of the last few weeks negating his usual independence. He had kissed Dee so furiously that she had pulled back and laughed. Their sex life had always been about fun, laughter most often their foreplay. Dee had giggled at his intensity, whacked him on the arm and ran to the bedroom shouting for Noel to join her.
Tonight was important, Noel knew it. This was the first time they had all been together since that night. Dee was back and he had somehow not seen Dave this whole time. He was a little desperate for things to go smoothly, for it to be like it used to be.
Noel was brought out of his reverie by Dee elbowing him in the ribs. I really spaced out there. Mike was talking to Rich and Dave was telling Dee a story.
“And she drew the picture of his penis!” Dave exclaimed as Dee laughed. Now I wish I’d been listening to that one.
“So Dave, what you been up to? Any new photography projects?” Dee asked.
“Not much really.”
“How ‘bout your love life?”
Noel tried to make his sudden interest go unnoticed by taking a big gulp of his drink.
“Love life, not so much, sex life, some possibilities.”
“Really, do spill.”
Noel realised that Julian was now discreetly listening in on the conversation.
“Oh, you know how it is in the early days of something. It’s the fun of the chase, the anticipation of what’s going to happen.”
Dear god, he’s loving this. His hand is actually touching Julian’s leg.
“It started as a rebound thing. This person, they’d just gotten out of a serious relationship and they got really drunk at this party. It was only a few weeks after the split, and they were messy and a little desperate. We’d been hanging out as they regaled me with stories of how miserable they were. And then they tried to kiss me. Well, I pulled away, because taking advantage of someone in that state is not cool. Plus, I was pretty sure they would seriously regret it the next day. And then things cooled off until the other week when we got into some serious snogging. Now, who knows, I think all signs point to something more but for now I’m just enjoying the moment.”
Dee furrowed her brow for a moment. Noel knew that look. She could tell something was up; Dee had always been perceptive about people. She would sometimes be in a room with him and would indicate two people. She would then predict if they liked each other, or were sleeping together, or were in love. It was unnerving how often she was correct too.
“I always loved that feeling. Although there wasn’t much of that with Noel,” Dee laughed. Everyone knew that Noel and Dee had slept together and started dating within a day of meeting each other.
Mike shuffled over and put his hands on Noel and Dee’s shoulders.
“We’re heading off guys. Welcome home, Dee. See ya.”
As Mike and his girlfriend headed off the conversation switched gears, the previous topic forgotten.
Someone was snoring loudly, through the fuzz in his head Julian could hear it rumble through him. As consciousness reared its ugly head, Julian tried to cocoon himself in his blankets. Little thoughts started to creep in, like the fact that he wasn’t actually covered with a blanket. Someone’s coat was filling that role. Why do I do this to myself?
The snoring stopped when the other person choked and began to have a coughing fit. Julian scrunched up his eyes in an attempt to stave off waking for a little longer. Someone else groaned. A little part of Julian’s brain put up a red flag.
“Jesus, Dave, shut up will ya,” someone croaked. That was Dee wasn’t it? Julian felt like his brain was positively stalking him now, taunting him.
The coughing subsided and everything went quiet but it was too late. Julian’s brain was officially awake and taking stock of the previous night. There seemed to be a number of holes in his memory. He remembered Mike leaving and a few more friends slowly trickling out as he got drunker and drunker. Alcohol had always given him confidence, particularly when it came to picking up. So his plans for the evening had required copious amounts of drink.
“Well now I’m awake.” It was Dee again. “Where’s your paracetamol, Ju?”
Not yet, I’m not ready to wake up yet.
“It’s in the side cupboard in the kitchen.” Oh no. Julian was officially conscious now. That was Noel. There seems to be a number of my friends in my room. What the fuck did we do last night?
Julian peered out through slitted eyes and saw Dee stumble up from the floor next to him and head through to the other room.
Calm down calm down calm down. They all just crashed in your room. It’s perfectly innocent.
So his bastard brain decided to torture him further with a flash of memory from last night. He and Dave, panting and rubbing. Looking over towards Noel and Dee, who were watching, Dee pressed up behind Noel.
Shit shit shit. That didn’t happen did it? That wasn’t part of my plan. Dave was meant to be the only one who stayed last night. We were meant to have a friendly shag and then I wouldn’t be gagging for it all the time. Then I can get focussed again, get writing.
“You guys as wrecked as I am?” Noel said, from the spot Dee had just vacated.
“Yes,” Dave murmured from the bed next to Julian. “That’ll teach me to be all Dutch courage and no actual courage.”
Dee slipped back in the room and Julian realised that she wasn’t wearing any pants just a t-shirt. She had several bottles of water, which she gently lobbed at Dave and Noel.
Am I wearing pants? Yes, but no shirt.
“You awake Julian?” she said, far louder than necessary.
No, I’m not awake. I’m fast asleep. Please don’t talk to me. For once be subtle and leave me to die of embarrassment.
“Yeah, he’s awake. I can tell by his breathing.”
Damn you Noel.
Julian let out the breath he hadn’t realised he’d been holding.
“I seem to be dying.”
“Here, drink this.” Dave whacked his arm with the water bottle.
Julian opened his eyes and propped himself up on his elbows. This caused the room to spin in a manner that rooms generally don’t do. He took the bottle from Dave, doing his best not to look at anyone. As he inhaled the water, Dee wandered over towards the bed. Julian could see Noel on the floor next to him, wound up in the blankets that should have been on the bed. Noel reached up to Dee, casually running his hand up the inside of her thigh.
It all came back to him in a big brain-thumping chunk. Julian pushed down the coat, Noel’s favourite green one and legged it into the bathroom, shutting the door as quickly as possible. He still had the water bottle in his hand and he stared at it for far longer than was necessary, like perhaps it had some sort of special power not previously discovered. He went over to the toilet, pulled the cover down and sat on it. He knuckled at his eyes, trying to block out last nights memories.
He caught little snippets of the conversation from the other room:
“I think he’s….”
“… you should talk to…”
“Alright, Ju?” Noel said through the door.
Julian ignored him and twisted the bottle top open and closed repeatedly. He closed his eyes and turned over the events of the previous night.
“We really need to have fewer clothes on,” Julian slurred.
Noel leaned over Dee and nodded exaggeratedly.
“You’re pish…pish… drunk, Julian. None the less, you make a sound point. I’m all for access… belts and stuff but sometimes the only way to relax is to nude up.” Noel was leaning heavily on Dee, who stroked his head like a cat.
“We’re not as messy as these two, are we Dee?” Dave asked.
“I don’t think its possible Dave.”
“I’m going to head in the direction of the floor; does anyone care to join me?” Julian muttered as he slid down. He cuddled up to Dave’s leg, wrapping his arm around it as he used Dave’s thigh as a pillow.
Noel waved, indistinctly.
“On the other hand, a good hat improves any look, even nudity.”
“We’ve moved on from that Noel,” Julian said into Dave’s leg. “Now we’re talking about the floor. It’s quite nice, I gotta say. It’s a nice leg too.”
Dee smirked at Dave.
“So Dave,” she said rather pointedly, “we were discussing your sex life.”
Dave smiled back and began to mimic Dee’s actions by stroking Julian’s hair. Julian murmured contentedly.
“We were, weren’t we Dee,” he said playfully.
“Oh fuck it. Can’t we just ask outright,” Noel grumbled.
“Its true,” Julian snuffled, “I’ve decided to become gay. I’m here, now queer, mind your own fucking business everyone else.”
“You’re not gay, Julian,” Dave said.
“Our previous activities might suggest otherwise, Dave.”
“Snogging another bloke doesn’t make you gay. Hell, shagging one wouldn’t. You fancy women, but perhaps occasionally don’t mind getting off with a bloke if you fancy him enough. Clearly, because of my unbelievable hotness, I can temporarily turn straight men.”
Noel laughed, “They’re Davesexuals.”
“Blokes turn over me too, you know.” Noel slurred, “The number of offers I get from all sorts of people. What about that guy with his wife who offered to blow me in the toilets?”
“You’re very attractive,” Dave said placatingly. ”No man would think of turning you down.”
“That’s right,” Noel sniffed.
“Well… Dave sorta did,” Julian piped up.
Noel froze for a moment. His body tensed, waiting for Dee to react. Dave looked at Dee a bit nervously.
“Well kissing someone is not quite the same thing as begging for sex,” he said.
“You two kissed while I was away?” Dee said quietly.
“He kissed me first,” Julian proclaimed in a sing song voice, “then Noel kissed him.”
Dee resumed her stroking of Noel’s hair.
“But that was weeks ago,” Julian carried on, oblivious to the tension he had caused. “And I keep trying to find a subtle way I can jump Dave without feeling…” he waved his hands about wildly, “weird, scared, old. I think the alcohol has done what my sober brain couldn’t.”
“So you kissed Dave?” Dee said to Noel softly.
“Yes.” Noel paused and looked up at his girlfriend. “It was the heat of the moment and I wish I hadn’t’ve chickened out of telling you before. I never want to keep anything from you and I could’ve really used your judgement. Plus you always know when to tell me off for being a wanker.”
“Well that is most of the time.” Dee smiled slightly.
“And you’re no better Julian.”
“Pfft. I’m deep me.”
Dee looked at Julian “So… the two of you didn’t kiss then. ‘Coz I’d be pissed if I missed that. What with all the prompting I do.”
Julian shook his head, simultaneously rubbing it against Dave’s leg. Dave widened his eyes at the friction and cleared his throat.
“Still,” Dee continued, “I’m sure it’d have been an enjoyable thing to witness. There’s nothing hotter than tasty man-on-man action.”
“Perhaps,” Dave said slowly, “we could recreate the events, for your sake of course Dee. We wouldn’t want you to feel angry or somehow excluded, right guys?”
Dee and Noel could see Julian grin through his hair.
“It’s a good plan. And I’m just sober enough to be able to get off the floor. Although don’t think I’ve forgotten about you floor. You’re a saucy one aren’t you,” he said as he slapped the ground, and then used Dave as a crutch to stand up. “Man-on-ground action, a whole new area for the porn industry to explore I think.”
Julian moved to sit back down next to Dave, who grabbed Julian’s hand and guided him to the other side of the couch.
“No, you were sitting on this side of me. And Noel,” he patted the other seat, “you were over here.”
Noel raised his head and pressed his lips to Dee’s ear.
“You sure?” they all heard him whisper.
Dee grinned evilly and grabbed Noel’s arm, briefly wrenching him towards the couch.
“Go on then.”
Noel stood uncertainly, he was still very drunk, and moved to sit beside Dave.
Noel quietly opened the bathroom door and looked in. He watched Julian pick at the label on his water bottle fretfully. Noel entered the room and gently closed the door behind him.
“You know they say that picking labels off bottles is a sign of sexual frustration.”
Julian snorted. “Well they clearly don’t know what they’re talking about because I’m certainly not sexually frustrated, not after last night.”
“Julian,” Noel began, “I understand that you’re freaked about you and Dave but it’s not such a big deal in the scheme of things.”
“That’s not it.” Julian looked up at Noel and frowned.
“Its not? Then why are you in here, hiding, when you could be out there enjoying some lazy hangover sex with Dave?” Noel gestured towards the door. “So what if you fancy a guy? Dave’s great and you two seem to really get off on each other. In a figurative sense as well as literally,” Noel said, smiling.
Julian smiled sadly, “I’ve had quite a bit of time to get used to the idea of me and Dave. From right back when I first tried to kiss him, I’ve been mulling it over, getting comfortable with it. Last night was something I’d been trying to work up the courage to do for ages.”
Noel moved closer to Julian and sat down cross-legged it front of him, hugging his shins.
“It’s you and Dee that threw me,” Julian continued. “Specifically you.” Julian tongue darted out, nervously licking at his lips. “It freaked me out having you there, that time with Dave. You must have picked up on my awkwardness, even more than usual, that is.”
Noel looked up at Julian intently, attempting to read his friend.
Julian continued, “When you’re young, you think that by the time you get to a certain age, you’ll have it all sorted out. That everything just falls into place and life gets easy.” Julian rolled his eyes. “Yeah right, here I am, almost 40, suddenly shagging men and having orgies with friends.”
Julian held Noel’s eyes for a long moment, who returned the gaze with equal intensity.
“The problem with all this,” Julian said huskily, “with the discovering a little more about my sexuality than I thought existed, is that it’s basically opened up some doors I didn’t know were there.” He half-closed his eyes. “When I started to think about the way I am with you, how I get so protective and so jealous, I realised. I realised that it wasn’t just friendship, that it’s more.”
Oh God, I’ve actually said it. I’m fucked now, there’s no going back.
Noel tilted his head. “Well,” he said, clearing his throat, “I was not prepared for that. Just a second.” He raised his index finger and looked off into the distance, his eyes flicking around.
Julian tried to laugh lightly, but turned into a strange rumble deep in his throat, he could feel the lump stopping him be able to swallow.
“Okay, um, Julian, guess all I can say is, you’re my best friend no matter what. And yeah, um.”
Julian stood slowly, interrupting. “That’s cool Noel.” he sighed, “Being your mate is more important than any other shit. And hell, maybe getting everything out like this will make us better, well eventually anyway.”
Noel jumped up and they both suddenly became aware how close they were standing. Julian could see how strangely tense Noel was holding himself.
Great, now I’ve screwed up everything.
Noel moved his hand up, like he was going to pat Julian’s arm reassuringly. Instead he held it up in the space between them, frozen.
Just keep it together until you’re alone. He could feel the slightest tears in the corners of his eyes.
“Fuck Julian, you can’t just say stuff like and expect me to know how to react. I’m not that smooth,” Noel said not taking his eyes off the hand between them. When his eyes flicked up to Julian’s, his expression softened. He gave a little growl of exasperation.
“Will you two just kiss each other already!” they heard Dee shout through the door.
“Yeah!” It seemed Dave agreed.
“Do I need to come in and help or what! Get on with it!”
They both grinned, and then looked at each other nervously. Noel was the first to act; finally reaching out with his hand he slid it around the back of Julian’s neck and pulled him in. He gently pressed his lips to Julian’s and then saw his eyes sparkle cheekily. Julian smiled and flicked his tongue around his front teeth, then leaned down and kissed Noel, flicking his tongue in the same motion.
“Should we cheer, Dave?”
It was Dee, she’d opened the door. She and Dave stood there, identical smirks on their faces.
“I think we should, Dee.” Dave agreed. They applauded loudly.
Noel and Julian were still pressed against each other, foreheads touching, and hyperaware of the other’s body.
“Now, come back into the bedroom so I can enjoy the show.” Dee held out her hand to Dave, who took it, and they walked back into the bedroom, swinging arms.
“Well this is…different,” Julian breathed.
“But fun, I think.” Noel gently circled a finger, still wrapped behind Julian’s neck.
“I think we’ll be okay don’t you? I mean, you know.”
Noel took Julian’s hand and swung it in imitation of Dee and Dave. He began to lead Julian back into the bedroom.
“You know what, I think we’re gonna be alright.”