In Old Sargasso

Julian has rules about this; Noel is determined to dismantle them.

Category:

Characters: ,

Pairing:

Genre: , ,

Rating:

Warning:

Status:

Length: words


In Old Sargasso by jeudi

He brings Julian gifts for the babies. Julian’s look of surprise when Noel shows up at his door with an armful of toys stings a little, but Noel bites it back and smiles widely and pushes his way inside. It is usually Julian who is dragged into Noel’s world, blinking and uncertain, and it feels strange to be standing in his home which is quiet and adult and all the things that pull him away from Noel.

They climb the stairs to the nursery together. Julia is out, Julian tells him. This is the first time Noel has seen the twins since the hospital. He looks at their strange, clear eyes and their tiny hands like sea anemones and he looks at Julian staring down at his children in rapt wonder and he knows that Julian will never again love him best of all.

Noel kisses him when they have gone back downstairs. Julian clutches a radio that crackles with static and each cooing breath his babies take. After a moment of Noel’s mouth touching sweet and feather-light to his, Julian takes a self-conscious step back and pats Noel awkwardly on the arm.

“What are you doing tonight?” Noel asks. Julian inclines his head towards the stairs. Noel imagines this will always be his answer from now on. “We should do some writing soon,” he presses on with an almost masochistic urgency.

Julian’s eyes, shadowed with lack of sleep, dart everywhere apart from Noel’s face. “Yeah,” he says. “I’ll see if I can get away tomorrow.”

The next day Noel buries his mobile in a drawer, beneath a pile of t-shirts so he doesn’t have to hear it not ringing. He gets a multitude of missed calls and texts, but none from Julian.

He goes out that night, like every night, and takes everything that’s offered to him, a long fall off of a cliff and he willfully plummets headfirst into oblivion. He dances to the pounding music, drowning in the crush of bodies and neon lights. He thinks he is coming apart slowly like the red shift of the universe and he is frightened when he realizes that everyone in the club is a stranger.

He calls Julian while a dark wind swirls around him. He doesn’t have to say anything, the harsh pant of his breath is enough and Julian, grim and hard, says, “Where are you?”

Noel closes his eyes and tries to remember.

“Where?” Julian snaps and the answer comes coughing out of Noel’s mouth.

He drinks more while he waits for the telltale buzz of his mobile against his thigh. He drinks until each swallow brings bile to his throat because he doesn’t want Julian to think he’s been inconvenienced unduly.

It is with desperate relief that he stumbles outside into sharp night air and Julian’s waiting arms. He knows that Julian can tell that his blood is crawling with chemicals, but he mercifully makes no comment.

With terrible efficiency, Julian bundles him into the car, slamming the door closed as soon as Noel is settled and sliding into the driver’s seat. Noel rests his clammy forehead on the window and watches the streetlamps fly by in streaks of golden light.

“I can’t keep doing this,” Julian says, his fingers tapping tensely against the wheel. His eyes flicker briefly to Noel and Noel can tell that he is trying to be kind and it hurts more than his anger, like a knife to the gut, like he’s nothing but a burden that Julian wishes to shrug off. He says nothing, imagining abstract landscapes of black and neon violet looming outside and he pretends that he and Julian are going to drive forever.

Julian helps him up the stairs and into his flat and Noel tries to tell Julian that he’s lost all of his organs and he’s sure Julian has them if he would just put them back correctly like jigsaw pieces. Julian hushes him gently like one would a child or a pet and he ushers Noel firmly to the bedroom. Dee is gone for the week and the entire place feels lifeless in her absence.

His head spinning, Noel lets Julian seat him on the edge of the mattress. Sure hands remove his boots and jacket. They pause at the button of his trousers and Noel is thinking about this moment in another context, refracted a thousand times – back when they were young and new and giddy with the possibilities of the future. He falls limply onto his back and he can feel Julian start to retreat. Panic blooms like an ink stain inside of him.

His fingers snarl in the loose knit of Julian’s jumper. He touches Julian’s face, pulls him inexorably closer, and then Julian’s tongue is in his mouth. “I miss you,” he whispers, the words lost between them, slipping down Julian’s throat before they are properly heard. It is a long kiss, cruel in its tenderness, and it makes Noel ache for things he is supposed to know better than to want. Noel reaches to trace the curve of Julian’s spine as he leans down. Noel wants Julian on him, over him, with him, fevered skin against fevered skin, tangled together in cool sheets, but Julian will not be budged from his hunched position by the side of the bed. Surrendering to Julian’s stubbornness, Noel releases him and lets his head drop onto the pillow, a sigh escaping to ghost across Julian’s cheek.

Lips, wet from Noel’s tongue, touch his forehead. “Get some sleep,” Julian mutters and he is impossible to disobey.

The world is stale and grey when Noel wakes. There is a dull throb in his temples and his tongue tastes sour and briny in his mouth.

Julian is snoring softly in a chair for which he is too large. Noel hates him for a moment for not crawling onto the mattress and curling into him and sharing the bed, but it is a useless anger that quickly subsides.

Noel stumbles to the kitchen, nauseous. He puts on a kettle and pours two mugs of tea. Every second that ticks by is another triumph for Noel as Julian’s stay is prolonged. Returning to the bedroom, he kicks a little too harshly at Julian’s ankle to wake him. Julian scrubs his face with the heels of his palms and blinks up at him with reddened eyes. “Fuck,” he says, slowly stretching his limbs and cracking his joints.

He meekly accepts the cup of tea Noel holds out for him. He looks tired and bemused and Noel feels a surge of affection in his chest. Julian’s eyes crinkle at the edges far more than they used to. His hair is sad and bedraggled and the new haircut Julia gave him makes him look too exposed. Noel loves him more than he’s ever loved anything in his life. He thinks sometimes that they have become one being, that their bodies have gotten so hopelessly entwined that their limbs have become one another’s.

Noel settles on the floor next to Julian’s chair, pulling his knees to his chest. “I miss you,” he says before he can help it, nudging his shoulder against Julian’s leg.

“I’m right here,” Julian says, shaking his head in confusion, still groggy with sleep. “I’ve always been right here.”

Noel bites his lip, frustrated. “You know what I mean. I miss being with you.”

Julian sips his tea in reflective silence. There’s no point in him feigning ignorance. “We agreed,” he finally says. “That we were done with that.”

“No,” Noel says crossly. “We didn’t. That was a bit of a one-sided decision as I recall it.”

Exhaling heavily, Julian leans back in his chair. “I don’t know what you want me to say.” Noel wants to throw something, to hit Julian. His rage curdles into determined spite and he gets to feet and slips onto Julian’s lap, his knees on either side of Julian’s thighs, his arms loosely around Julian’s neck, insinuating and serpentine.

From experience, Noel knows to make his movements molasses-slow to keep Julian from feeling too threatened. Julian’s hands settle lightly on Noel’s back, if only to keep him from tumbling to the floor. “We can’t,” he mumbles against the side of Noel’s face as Noel shifts his weight enticingly.

Noel knows they can, they have, they will again. “Please. You don’t have to do anything,” Noel says with a fragile smile on his face that makes Julian shudder and close his eyes, gulping in a deep breath. He is docile as a lobotomy patient when Noel takes his arm and leads him gently to the bed. Even this, just this, takes so much out of him. Sure and steady, because it is the only way Julian will allow it, Noel urges him onto his back, and then follows to cuddle close to his side.

Though on edge, Julian consents to putting his arm around Noel’s shoulder. Their proximity and Julian’s beautiful passivity are too much for Noel and he turns to kiss Julian’s neck. Julian shirks away. “We agreed,” Julian says again, a bit more frayed than before.

Noel feels his chest clenching. “That,” he says harshly, an inescapable accusation, “Is not what happened. I told you how I felt…”

“Don’t.” Julian’s voice is broken and reedy and it makes Noel furious because if he’s going to do this to them, Noel wants him to at least have the courage of his convictions.

“…And you kissed me,” he continues. “You kissed me and then you fucked me and you told me you loved me and then you kept doing all of those things for three months. Three months, Ju, and then we hit a few bumps and you panicked and you told me we were risking too much.”

He’s rubbing himself minutely against Julian’s thigh, a slow, steady pressure and everything is jumbled in his head: anger and arousal, the past and the present. Julian’s hand is spread across his collarbone as if he wants to push Noel away but hasn’t the strength.

Almost without thinking, Noel’s hand steals to his jeans, trying to relieve the pressure of the stiff fabric against his erection. Julian sucks in a nervous breath, feeling the movement between them. Undoing his jeans and pushing them down just far enough to get a good grip on his cock, Noel starts to stroke himself, knowing that Julian will not protest while he is pinned by Noel’s heavy gaze.

It’s not really what he wants, but at least he has Julian here, warm and solid against him. He keeps his eyes locked with Julian’s and he wants to laugh because Julian’s tongue darts out to lick his lips and Noel can tell how badly he wants to look down. He finally does, embarrassed and reluctant, cheeks flushed as he watches Noel touch himself.

Noel wants to drag this out, make Julian breathless and hungrier with each twist of his wrist, but Julian is staring at him, seeing only him, and it makes Noel moan and arch, seeking to align his body more fully against Julian’s. He turns his face into Julian’s shoulder to quiet himself and mouths wetly at the earth-toned fabric of his shirt. Julian’s hand splays against the back of his head, an artless gesture that Noel remembers well.

When he comes, trembling and with cotton clenched tightly between his teeth, he is vaguely pleased that it is all over Julian’s shirt as well as his own fist.

His breath slows and evens and he realizes that Julian is keeping very still. Unable to stop himself, he moves down, a clumsy shuffle of skin and clothes and sheets, and he nuzzles his face against Julian’s crotch. Julian’s pulse stutters beneath Noel’s fingers where they are pressed to Julian’s arm and a stiff erection shifts against his cheek. Noel’s heart sings for a brief moment, but then Julian is pushing him away, folding his limbs around himself defensively.

“No,” Julian says, and it’s not the skittish, pat protesting that Noel can push his way through – it’s hard and cold as steel. Julian strokes Noel’s hair away from his face in an incongruous caress and then shakily gets out of bed. He touches the damp spot on his stomach with an indecipherable expression and pulls his jumper over his head and then leaves without another word.

Julian rings him the next day and in his grumbling early-morning voice asks if he can come over.

When he arrives, he smells of baby powder and the fags he is not supposed to be smoking anymore. He stands in the middle of Noel’s room, anxious and uncomfortable. Noel fidgets with the necklaces and rings that are strewn across his bureau. He glances up at the mirror and catches a flash of something agonized and conflicted in Julian’s expression.

He turns, not sure whether he wants to reassure Julian or watch him unravel completely. Before he can say anything, Julian takes a long step forward. His hands close tightly around Noel’s hips, thumbs digging punishingly into flesh. Noel squawks in surprise as he is pushed back to tumble gracelessly into the same chair Julian slept in the night before.

Afraid to hamper Julian in any way that might make him change his mind, Noel digs his fingers into the chair’s upholstery. His boots and trousers are stripped off with an almost mechanical dexterity and Noel’s eyes squeeze shut because the sight of Julian peeling his drainpipes down his legs is too unhinging.

Julian moves further up between Noel’s knees. He slips one hand beneath Noel’s t-shirt, fingers spreading across Noel’s stomach. There is something so assuming about his touch and it sends sparks through Noel’s nerves. Julian gives Noel’s cock a few experimental licks through his briefs and then Noel is squirming and lifting his hips, begging Julian wordlessly to continue.

He is a bit surprised, though immensely grateful when Julian complies, tugging his underwear down to his ankles, smiling when Noel kicks them away. He wraps a broad, warm palm around the base of Noel’s cock. Noel whines in the back of his throat and spreads his legs as far as the chair will allow. There is a hint of sardonic humour, but little enthusiasm when Julian takes Noel into his mouth, bearing down until his lips are pressed to his hand. He sets about the task of getting Noel off and Noel doesn’t care that it seems more about compulsion than passion because all that matters is that it’s Julian.

Noel’s fingers scratch across the short length of Julian’s hair. One hand settles on the back of Julian’s neck, the other stroking absently at his shoulder blade as Noel curls forward. Even awkwardly on his knees, Julian still feels large and strong to Noel. He keeps trying to jerk his hips harder into Julian’s mouth just so he can feel the thrilling pressure of Julian holding him still.

An urgent need to have Julian inside him grips Noel, winding its way through his body. It’s not an unfamiliar feeling, not since Julian had shown him what it could be like, had taught him to crave it – Julian’s tongue, fingers, cock, anything. He’d tried fingering himself during those first few awful weeks after Julian had called everything off and he hadn’t known how to deal with the emptiness, but the angle, the depth was never right.

He intertwines his fingers with Julian’s where they are digging into his hip. When he shifts forward and tries to pull Julian’s hand suggestively towards his arse, Julian just swats him away and grips Noel’s hip even tighter. A drumbeat in Noel’s blood demands more, knows that there’s more that Julian can give him, but is holding back.

It’s still good, though, more than Noel thought Julian would offer – his mouth and hand moving in tandem. He’s gentle and ruthless all at once, his tongue finding and exploiting all of Noel’s most sensitive points and all Noel can do is come, his legs locked around Julian’s torso, gnawing on his own knuckles to keep from wailing.

“Come here,” Noel gasps as soon as he is able, after Julian has swallowed smugly and pulled away. Noel tugs without result at Julian’s collar. “Come here,” he hisses, but Julian just looks up at him stonily. Refusing to admit defeat, Noel slips to the floor, his weight split precariously between the chair behind him and Julian’s lap. For a moment all Noel can feel is a visceral need for Julian to fuck him.

He’s mindful of pushing Julian too far, though, contenting himself with yanking down the zipper of Julian’s trousers and reaching in with greedy hands to finally, finally take Julian’s cock in his hand, the feel of it familiar and missed. A smirk spreads across his face because Julian is already fully hard and after just a few strokes he is nudging his forehead against Noel’s and panting, his breath damp against Noel’s face like whispery kisses.

Julian groans when Noel’s touch disappears, a gratifying sound. Noel holds his open palm to Julian’s face. Irritated when Julian doesn’t immediately cooperate, Noel pushes the heel of his hand into Julian’s chin demandingly. Snorting, Julian licks a broad stripe up the inside of the proffered hand, taking great care in laving each of Noel’s fingers with his tongue, making Noel’s eyes flutter closed in pleasure.

He grasps Julian’s cock again, chuckling when Julian’s position on his knees thwarts him from properly thrusting into Noel’s fist. Glaring, Julian orders him to go faster through gritted teeth, tense with frustration. As if in reward, Julian tilts his head and lets Noel take a forceful kiss when he obeys. With Noel’s hand slick and sure around his erection, it doesn’t take him long to come. Noel waits until Julian’s eyes are clear and focused and then lazily licks his hand clean.

Julian looks so wilted and ashamed in the aftermath that Noel grudgingly retreats to the bathroom, leaving Julian to collect himself and creep away in peace.

A couple weeks go by and Noel waits patiently for Julian’s next relapse, his days filled with painting, his nights with parties and drugs and jerking himself off to thoughts of Julian, hopes for the future that he doesn’t allow to materialize completely for fear of jinxing himself.

They start the flurry of promotion for the third series, spending every second of the day together but never getting a moment alone except for those they steal in the car that zips from TV studio to radio station.

Julian seems half-dead with exhaustion most of the time, and he depends on Noel more than usual to get him through every public appearance. It makes Noel feel oddly tender and paternal. It’s a strange, warm sensation that he clings to while Julian calls Julia at every spare moment to check how things are going at home.

There’s a party after the first episode airs. It’s the best kind of party possible, where everyone wants to dance with him and congratulations and drinks flow endlessly. He keeps colliding with Julian to exchange fierce hugs and wide smiles. When things begin to slow and the sky is pink with the coming dawn, he finds Julian leaning against the wall, nursing a drink and watching Noel approach him with a secret sort of smile.

He eases himself into Julian’s space and lights a cigarette and Julian ducks in closer to breathe in the smoke. “You’re so fake about it,” Julian laughs. “You don’t even inhale properly. It’s a complete waste of a perfectly good fag.” Noel turns his head and exhales against Julian’s face. He takes another puff with an affected smack of his lips and Julian laughs again.

Glancing over his shoulder uneasily, Julian takes a long swallow of beer and touches his fingers gingerly to Noel’s elbow. “Julia and the twins are at her mother’s,” he says offhandedly, trying to be nonchalant, but he breathes in a rapid, agitated manner and picks at the label on his bottle.

“Invite me over,” Noel says, flicking ash onto the floor.

Julian’s mouth opens and closes a few times, his expression muzzy. His face is ruddy with the amount he’s had to drink, something Noel has always found endearing. “What about-” Julian gestures towards Dee with his drink.

Noel smiles indulgently as he watches her arm wrestling Melvis for a moment. “This is just about us,” he says in a tone that allows no argument. Then, sure of the impending outcome, Noel tips his head coquettishly and waits.

“Come home with me,” Julian says, his voice low, his squinting eyes fixed on the other end of the room.

When they are back at Julian’s, Julian goes to the bathroom to take a piss and Noel takes the opportunity to strip and spread himself seductively across the bed.

“Presumptuous,” Julian harrumphs when he sees him, but he shrugs off his shirt and collapses next to Noel, snaking his arms around Noel’s waist. Noel nods playfully and reaches to undo Julian’s belt. Julian lifts an eyebrow, but allows Noel to remove his trousers and boxers.

Sighing happily, Noel rocks against the cradle of Julian’s hips. Groaning at the friction, Julian rolls onto his back, pulling Noel on top of him. Noel lines up their cocks and thrusts at an easy pace. Julian lets his head rest on the pillow, eyes falling shut, hums reverberating in his chest as Noel moves. It’s a hazy sort of pleasure, pleasant, but unlikely to push either of them to orgasm.

“Do you still keep the lube in the medicine cabinet?” Noel whispers against Julian’s mouth.

“Where else would it go?” Julian mumbles, his eyes still closed. Noel kisses him fondly on the cheek and goes to retrieve it, taking delight in how unwilling Julian is to give up the contact between them

When he steps back to the bed, Julian has thoughtfully bunched a blanket up under his hips and Noel goes dizzy at the sight. He shifts obligingly to let Noel settle between his thighs, hands braced along Noel’s ribs and one leg hooked pointedly behind Noel’s knee.

“Really?” Noel breathes in awe, hands fanning across the breadth of Julian’s chest.

Julian looks up at him, his eyes surprisingly clear and his face composed and resolute. Noel knows Julian doesn’t want to have to ask for it. In tacit understanding he covers Julian’s body with his own. Julian’s chest shudders with the panicked breath of a wounded animal, but his knees slide up to accommodate Noel.

Crooning more to himself than Julian, Noel slathers his fingers with lube, moving back to tease one, then two fingers inside of Julian. So very well-behaved, Julian just tips his head back and breathes for him. Noel takes his time, loving the sense of importance it gives him to prepare Julian.

Practically vibrating with eagerness when he carefully removes his fingers, Noel scrambles back up between Julian’s thighs. It’s wrong and it’s terrible and Noel knows it, but he’s selfish and covetous and he doesn’t want to wear a condom, not with Julian. He strokes the lube onto his cock and moves in to trail the head of it along the cleft of Julian’s arse, nudging gently against his entrance. Julian bites his lip and rolls his hips upwards.

He’s given a short, jerky nod and then Noel guides himself cautiously inside of Julian. The feel of it floods his entire body. “Fuck,” he whispers raggedly. “Oh, fuck.” Julian’s hands come up to his shoulder blades, and it’s like being caught, held safe and secure in a warm blanket.

Surely, he thinks, surely Julian must realize how necessary this is, how silly it was to deny it, but when he drags his gaze to Julian’s face, Julian’s eyes are closed and even as Noel thrusts slowly into him, it seems like he’s somewhere far away. Noel licks at the seam of Julian’s slack lips, wanting to keep them in the moment together, but Julian is either too far gone or unwilling to kiss him back.

He fucks Julian harder, angry and terrified that Julian might go somewhere he can’t follow. “Look at me,” he says and his voice sounds quivering and pathetic in his own ears. He shakes Julian’s shoulders desperately. “Look at me.” There are parts of Julian he needs to touch, to smear with dirty fingerprints that can never be completely wiped away.

Julian’s eyes slide open lazily in an aggravated, defiant gesture. “There,” he says and it’s like Noel is hearing the words through layers of cotton. “Do that again.”

His hips instinctively follow Julian’s directions. “Tell me,” Noel says when he knows he’s found Julian’s prostate. “Tell me how it feels. Tell me where you feel it.”

“It burns,” Julian says, his voice gravel-rough. “Everywhere.”

Noel grins slyly and slows his thrusting to an agonizing, incremental pace. “What else?” He cajoles. “How deep?”

Julian’s hand wavers in the air as if he is considering the question carefully. Finally, he brushes his fingers over the skin beneath his navel. His eyes have drifted nearly shut, but there is a warm gleam in them, and in the smile that twitches about the corners of his lips.

“You flatter me,” Noel says, laughing.

Julian stretches with a groan, a languid, feline movement that pushes all of his skin closer to Noel’s. “If it’ll make you hurry up,” Julian says with a flash of his incisors.

They’re both moving slow and deliberate and it makes Noel think of burnt sugar and melted taffy and he knows with complete confidence that they could have this all of the time if Julian would just allow it. He is certain that it would damage nothing and that all Julian needs is a bit more convincing.

He wants to make it last forever, but he can feel his impending release tingling in his balls, at the base of his spine and he grasps Julian’s cock because he at least wants to make sure Julian comes first. He brushes his thumb over the head and whimpers because Julian’s cock is hard and red and leaking. Julian grips his bicep tightly and Noel’s hand quickens to keep pace with his thrusts against Julian’s arse.

“Noel,” Julian says breathlessly, his eyes and mouth open in surprise and then his entire body spasms and he comes in a hot, sticky mess between them. The clench of it is almost too much and Noel presses himself harder into Julian, trying to take those last searing inches. “Come on,” Julian whispers fiercely, his hands stroking roughly along the length of Noel’s back “Do it.”

His thrusting degenerates into desperate rocking and he remembers suddenly, just as he coming, that he hadn’t used a condom. He moans, wretched and blissful, against Julian’s sweat-slick skin and Julian makes a soft noise at the feel of Noel’s semen inside of him.

They are both panting as Noel withdraws, their arms still around each other uncertainly. When he is sure that Julian is not going to panic or kick him out, Noel drapes himself tiredly over Julian’s chest, his head tucked into the crook of Julian’s neck. Julian’s fingers comb distractedly through his hair until Noel drifts off into dreamless sleep.

When Noel awakens, Julian’s arms are loose around his waist and he pushes himself up onto his elbows, a bright smile of good morning on his face. It dies instantly when he sees that Julian is staring bleakly at the ceiling, and Noel wonders if he ever fell asleep at all.

As the series winds down, Julian retreats back to domesticity and fatherhood. Noel sees him to work on writing the live show, and his face, both haggard and beatific, mystifies him.

The stories come with much less ease than ever before. Noel knows that Julian is silently blaming the difficulty on their indiscretions and that he is vowing to himself that he will never be that weak again. Noel has been patient long enough, and he is tired of Julian’s cowardice, his patently false conclusions.

They are sitting next to each other at Noel’s kitchen table and Noel’s chair scrapes loudly as he stands, the sound of it making Julian jump slightly. “Perhaps a change of scenery might help,” Noel says.

“What do you mean?” Julian asks suspiciously, his fingers pressed in neat line against the edge of the table.

Noel jerks his head towards the bedroom and Julian shakes his head. “Come on,” Noel prompts coaxingly. “We used to write like that all the time. It might help.” He finds himself unable to breathe because for once he doesn’t know what Julian is going to do.

After staring at the blank notebook before him for a long moment, Julian sighs and gets up and Noel exhales sharply in relief. He takes Julian’s hand to reassure himself and his palm is moist in Noel’s tight grip. Julian is acquiescent until the bed looms before them like an inevitable conclusion, and then he freezes.

Noel immediately wraps himself around Julian. He presses his mouth wetly to the underside of Julian’s jaw, trailing down to feel the bob off his Adam’s apple as he swallows nervously. “It’s alright,” he murmurs, fingers slipping beneath Julian’s shirt to touch his lower back.

“You really don’t get it, do you?” Julian says in faint shock.

“What?” Noel asks absently, preoccupied with the taste of Julian’s skin.

“That this is wrong,” Julian seethes.

Noel looks up. He can feel his face hardening. “You were mine first,” he says icily. What he doesn’t understand is why Julian has to fight this with ever fibre of his being. They share everything and it’s only natural that they should have this too.

Julian’s hands shake at his sides and Noel can see that he is wavering. He touches the back of Julian’s neck, looking up at steadily until Julian is compelled to meet his gaze. “You want me,” he says, slow and hard, holding Julian in place.

“Always,” Julian whispers miserably.

“Then fuck everything else.”

Something shifts in Julian’s features, too fleeting for Noel to name. He presses his other hand to Julian’s cheek. Weak with fear, he stretches to brush his lips against Julian’s in a final, humble plea. The proof is all laid between them – their bodies tense and flushed and taut with twin yearning. There’s nothing more for Noel to say and if Julian runs from this he knows it will really all be over.

A growl rumbles from Julian’s chest, ambling slowly to his throat. Noel’s heart stops for a split-second, but it seems to stretch excruciatingly to infinity and then Julian kisses him – all teeth and wet, messy heat. It’s as wonderful, as terrible as Noel remembers, the first real kiss they’ve shared in such a long time and Noel feels like he’s drowning, like he’s being dragged into dark, mysterious depths of the ocean.

He is reduced to clinging to Julian’s shoulders as Julian impatiently divests him of his trousers, heedless of causing any discomfort with his jerky movements. He kisses Noel again when he realizes that Noel is watching him enthralled, hands hard on Noel’s face to tip his head back.

It’s exactly what Noel wants, has always wanted from Julian, this overwhelming, focused desire. He’d known that it was there, like some slumbering giant inside of Julian. They tumble onto the bed, Noel falling heavily on his back. He feels like Julian has stripped his skin away along with his clothes. He opens his mouth wider for Julian’s probing tongue and spreads his arms and legs, offering everything up.

Julian pulls away to stare at him and his ravenous expression makes Noel even harder. “Turn over,” Julian says, choking on the harsh command.

Movements wobbly, Noel obeys. His limbs seem to have turned to jelly and Julian chuckles darkly and self-deprecatingly and helps him onto his hands and knees. Noel’s breath catches in anticipation. He closes his eyes and waits.

He can hear Julian settling on his knees behind him. A hand comes down to grip the nape of his neck tightly, brusquely pressing Noel’s face into the mattress. He feels the wet drag of Julian’s cock up the back of his thigh and a crescendo explodes inside of Noel, like fireworks skittering across the underside of his skin. He thinks he would dissolve were it not for Julian anchoring him so firmly and Noel laughs, wild and triumphant because there is a coppery tang in his mouth that tastes like victory.