Russell has always wondered what they'd be like together. He orchestrates a demonstration. Julian Barratt/Noel Fielding/Russell Brand threesome.


Characters: , ,


Genre: ,




Length: words

Notes: In addition to being irredeemable smut, this is also decidely not fluff.

Meretricious by jeudi

Russell always has a post-coital cigarette when Noel is over. It seems fitting somehow–his two remaining vices together. Noel will lie on his back on the bed while he does this, arms folded behind his head with the length of his nude body on display, a cheap tactic that never fails to make Russell want to do everything all over again.

He’d pursued Noel for what felt like forever, flirting shamelessly only to have Noel flirt back but always demur when Russell pressed too far, and now…now he’s discovered that having Noel isn’t really having him at all and it’s much the same as wanting him, which is to say endlessly frustrating.

Today Russell is smoking, still naked, and staring out the window. The relative quiet is broken by Noel’s mobile, a tune that Russell thinks is one of his girlfriend’s. He hears the rustling of linens and looks over his shoulder to see Noel roll onto his stomach with an unseemly eagerness to grab his cell off the nightstand.

“Hey,” Noel says, hand cupped around his mouth like he wants to hide the conversation from Russell. Intrigued, Russell moves closer and sees an excited flush in Noel’s cheeks. “Yeah, anytime. Alright.” He hangs up hurriedly and grins at Russell. “I have to be off,” so very flippant, “It’s been lovely as always,” as if just moments before he hadn’t been moaning like a whore with Russell’s hand on his cock.

Mirroring Noel’s breezy expression, Russell drops to sit straddled over Noel’s hips. “Whoever might that have been?” He says in a high voice, cocking his head and tapping his finger against his chin thoughtfully.

Noel tries very hard to look casual. “Julian. He’s coming over so I’ve got to get home.” His valiant attempt at nonchalance is completely undermined by the brightness of his eyes and his impatient twitching. Russell walks his first and middle fingers up Noel’s chest and refuses to budge while Noel visibly teeters on the edge of anger.

“Surely your bestest mate has the key to your place?” He is still using his radio voice; it’s hard to shake it when he’s with Noel. Noel glares up at him and Russell knows he is courting danger. He’s known Noel to throw quite a hissy fit, complete with hurled objects and slammed doors. Noel looks over at his mobile, again on the edge of the nightstand, and chews on his lower lip.

Russell is hit by a sudden moment of clarity. “You and Julian are fucking,” he exclaims, clapping his hands in delight. He watches Noel carefully, ready to play this off as a joke if he doesn’t receive confirmation of what he’s suspected for so long.

Noel looks frozen for a brief moment, completely giving himself away, before he laughs and tosses his head and denies it. Russell refuses to relent, pressing him for the truth until Noel can no longer pretend he isn’t preening at the attention Russell is giving him, until finally, finally, he nods and looks a little embarrassed, but far more pleased to have it out.

The sheer possibilities overwhelm Russell because Julian has always been a taboo subject and now there’s a multitude of avenues before him. “All this time,” Russell whispers in feigned outrage, moving fully on top of Noel on his hands and knees. “You’ve been stealing away to get a proper bumming from your rough, manly Northerner.” He nips teasingly at Noel’s bottom lip between words.

Noel arches his back theatrically, as vain and decadent as Russell expects, no, wants him to be. “I’m sleeping with my girlfriend too,” Noel says coyly. For all Russell knows he’s doing a multitude of groupies on top of that, but that’s not the point. The point is he’s fucking Julian Barratt, so fuck Noel for thinking this is some kind of jealousy issue because Russell has no shortage of birds to shag. It’s just…Russell has imagined Noel and Julian together countless times, has wondered what they’d be like.

“Come on, you naughty girl,” Russell says in his campiest voice. “Give us a bit of titillation. What does that brute do to you?”

Noel fidgets beneath him, suddenly uncomfortable. “I really shouldn’t…” He peers up at Russell through his fringe. His lips are beautifully swollen and Russell is getting hard thinking about Noel and Julian and if he doesn’t give Russell this he just might strangle him.

“Come on,” he breathes, catching Noel’s earlobe between his teeth, sliding a hand between his thighs to encourage him. “We can pretend you’re talking about some tall, dark, and handsome stranger.”

“Well,” Noel says, warming up to the idea. There’s nothing he loves more than being the center of attention, even if it’s just an audience of one. “It’s been on and off forever.” Russell makes the occasional noise to urge him on, lips and tongue carving a path from Noel’s throat down to his clavicle to give him further incentive.

“We’re like two animals in heat.” There’s something dreamy in Noel’s tone, almost girlish. “It just happens sometimes. I don’t even know what sets it off. It’s this collision, this explosion, and then we’re just going at each other. It’s like, one second we’re working on a script and the next thing I know I’m on my back on the sofa two rooms over and my pants are around my ankles.”

It’s easy to picture. He knows what a slut Noel is. It’s still not tangible, though, still too much like a fantasy in his own mind. Russell looks thoughtfully at Noel who is preoccupied with his memories. Movements excessively shimmying, Russell nestles against Noel’s side and presses his mouth to his ear like he’s got the most salacious secret to share. “Ever thought about having it off with the both of us?” he whispers.

Noel freezes, eyes going impossibly wider. “No,” he sputters, but his gaze has gone a little cloudy and he’s sure as hell thinking about it now. Russell can see Noel drawing the tableau in his mind. He knows the vain little prat won’t be able to resist the idea of his two paramours worshipping him at once. Noel blinks and then his face clears. “Fancy it?” He asks, teasing and self-assured. Russell smiles wickedly and nods. Noel is so easy. “Perhaps it could be arranged,” Noel says, hand running idly down Russell’s chest.

“See what you can do, dearie.” Russell slides off the bed to let Noel stand and collect his clothing. Noel gives him a perfunctory kiss goodbye and Russell can tell he’s still lost in his new fantasy.

He gets a call a few days later. “Tomorrow night,” Noel says. “Come over at ten.” They’ve never fucked anywhere other than Russell’s before and Russell knows what this invitation means.

“Yeah, I’ll clear my schedule,” he says and then hangs up.

When Russell arrives at Noel’s at the appointed time, Noel answers the door with an anxious, twitching expression. He leads Russell to the sitting room. Julian is there and he shows no indication of being nonplussed by Russell’s appearance. It is clear from the crackling tension between them that the sticky subject has already been broached.

Noel’s eyes flit to Russell quickly as he sits next to him on the couch and then he clenches his jaw and leans forward to hiss determinedly, “It’s one night.”

Irritation flickers briefly across Julian’s face. He looks stiff and uncomfortable where he is sitting in an armchair. “Jesus, Noel,” he says tiredly. “What’ll I say to Julia? I’ve got to think about the twins…” He trails off and sighs, turning his head to look at the wall.

Noel purses his lips and glances nervously at Russell and Russell realizes two things at once: that Noel is embarrassed to have him witnessing this and that all is not as idyllic with him and Julian as Noel would have him believe. It seems to him that Noel is trying to entice Julian back into bed. He sits back and presses his fingers to his mouth to hide his grin.

Julian looks at Russell as if begging him to knock some sense into Noel. Surprised at the acknowledgement, Russell just shrugs. Noel’s hands curl into sharp-knuckled fists on his thighs. He is still staring at Julian with an awful, desperate expression. Russell can only imagine how hot, how fucked up they are together, how much better than any piece of pornography ever created.

“You’re a selfish cunt sometimes,” Julian says softly. Noel’s mouth tightens, but he doesn’t bat an eyelash otherwise. “Alright.” Julian’s hands flutter in the air in a helpless gesture. Try as he might, Russell can’t seem to make himself stop grinning like a maniac because this is actually going to happen and he feels extremely pleased with himself for machinating it.

Julian appraises him with a hard, searching stare. They’ve met of course, a few times, talked, but never really clicked. Russell likes him, though; it’s impossible not to with the way Noel goes on about him. He meets Julian’s gaze evenly. “Well, gents,” he says, a bit too loud, “Shall we proceed?”

It’s a strange, silent trek to the bedroom. Noel, puerile little hedonist that he is, dims the lights. Russell is surprised he doesn’t throw silk scarves over the lamps and set out some candles as well. Noel undresses first, his eyes dark and fixed on Julian. Russell thinks Julian looks particularly impassive, but perhaps Noel knows him well enough to glean something from that blank expression. God only knows how many times they’ve both seen Noel’s body being bared, but Russell still finds it fascinating to watch.

Once naked, Noel turns to help Russell out of his clothes, rolling his eyes as he undoes Russell’s belt at the hip where he has buckled it. He kisses Noel when they are both nude except for their various trinkets–rings and necklaces and Russell’s leather cuffs. “What’d you tell him?” He whispers into Noel’s ear, making it look like another caress.

Noel’s eyes flicker up at him, gleaming mischievously. “That you fancied a go at me, but I didn’t feel right unless he was here too.”

“You little tart,” Russell says, loud enough that Julian looks over with an amused little smile on his face. He’s surprised, actually, that Noel thought of that. It’s easy to forget that Noel is quite clever. He’s less surprised that Julian is ignorant of what he and Noel have been getting up to together.

Noel winks at him and slips away to press himself to Julian, craning upwards to kiss him. Clever, varnished fingers start undoing the buttons of Julian’s shirt. In instant response, Julian seeks to hasten the process by starting upwards from the bottom button. Their fingers tangle together in the middle and Noel frantically pushes Julian’s shirt off of his shoulders, never letting his tongue leave Julian’s mouth.

Their kiss is prolonged another moment despite precarious balance. Russell can practically taste Noel’s need it is so palpable, like he wants to crawl inside of Julian. Then, with an audible gasp, Noel breaks away and stretches to grasp Russell’s elbow, tugging him forward until he can curl an arm over his shoulder and press their mouths together again in a series of teasing, open-mouthed kisses.

Russell watches through slatted eyes as Julian finishes undressing. Julian’s composure cracks and he looks a bit embarrassed to be standing next to the two younger, slimmer men. Russell knows the picture they make together–wiry frames and deviant smiles and strands of styled black hair snarled together. Perhaps sensing his sudden unease, Noel ends their kiss with an affectionate lick to Russell’s chin and he turns to hug Julian tightly.

Russell catches Julian studying him and smirks. “Shall we? Complete the circle and all that nonsense,” and then it’s too awkward for Julian to avoid it and he determinedly takes Russell’s face in his hands, and bends to kiss him. Noel’s head is still resting against Julian’s shoulder and he watches them with a lazy, half-lidded gaze. It’s so very different from Noel; Julian is taller and broader and his facial hair rubs against his where Noel is usually clean shaven. He kisses with a focused, thorough intensity. Though it lacks the fire he shares with Noel, it still makes Russell want more, want everything.

He decides to up the ante and reaches blindly for Noel’s crotch, his hand colliding with a sharp hip before he finds Noel’s cock. Something between a laugh and a moan escapes Noel and he hardens quickly in Russell’s confident grip. Only a year ago Russell would have scoffed at the idea that he’d ever have sex with another man, much less two at the same time. He’s a different person now, though, and while the unbidden memory of wanking off a stranger in a public toilet for laughs comes to him sometimes, this thing with Noel is light-years away, is purely for mutual pleasure.

Julian’s tongue slides along the roof of his mouth and then he’s gone, forehead pressed to Noel’s temple, nose nudging against his cheek, whispering something that Russell can’t make out over the blood pounding in his ears.

Russell does his best sashay over to the bed, sliding to sit against the headboard in a decisively decadent pose. Julian and Noel are kissing again, Noel’s fingers digging into Julian’s jaw to keep him close. All too soon, Julian pulls away, but only to firmly push Noel towards the bed. Noel looks blissful as Julian urges him onto his hands and knees on the mattress. He winks at Russell, dipping his head to press a light kiss to Russell’s thigh.

Julian kneels behind Noel and looks at Russell. He licks his lips, a short, nervous gesture, and then slides his hands to Noel’s buttocks, spreading them apart. His mind has gone hazy from watching the scene being set before him and from Noel’s breath ghosting over his erection and Russell thinks blearily that it’s awfully abrupt of Julian to get to the buggering so quickly. Belatedly, he realizes Julian’s intentions as Julian bends to press his mouth to Noel’s entrance. Oh, Russell thinks. Oh. He hadn’t really been expecting that. Nor had Noel apparently, because his mouth drops open and he makes a little strangled noise in the back of his throat.

Though never with Noel, Russell has done this before and has had it done to him; there isn’t much he hasn’t tried. Noel’s lips are brushing his cock and it would be so easy to make him take it in his mouth, but Russell is content, for the moment, to watch and to listen to the noises they make. Arousal and a bit of disgust unfurl in his stomach and spread outwards. Noel shifts restlessly, and Russell can’t even imagine how Noel feels to have him watching this. He knows how it makes the pleasure muted and far away, knows that Julian’s tongue is slowly and ruthlessly making Noel feel open and wet and dirty.

There’s something horribly vulnerable in Noel’s expression when he looks up at him and Russell can tell this isn’t exactly what Noel had in mind when he agreed to this menage a trois, but Julian seems quite bent on reducing Noel to a pathetic, writhing creature of need and Russell certainly isn’t going to complain. He wonders how Noel will react to Russell seeing him like this, if this will shatter their arrangement which is built so strongly on appearances. Noel lets his forehead, sticky with sweat, fall onto Russell’s thigh. “Fuck me,” he gasps, ragged and pleading, “Please fuck me.”

Julian pulls away and sits up, fixing first Russell and then the back of Noel’s head with an imperious gaze. “No,” he says and the hard tone of his voice makes Noel shudder and whimper. There is a mad, dangerous glint in his eyes and a sly smile on his face. “I want him to fuck you.”

Russell bristles at the insult–him–but his cock twitches at the thought. He’s only done this a handful of times with Noel. When they are together it is usually a flurry of hands and mouths, groping and rubbing against each other and kissing deeply and messily, the kind of kisses Russell had wanted for so long and Noel had held back from him.

Contrary to popular opinion, Russell knows when it is best to keep quiet. He nods at Julian and Julian indicates with his head that he wants Russell to move. He didn’t expect Julian to be thrilled to have him here, but Julian regards him with a terrible ambivalence as they switch positions. He would rather Julian resent his presence; if there’s one thing Russell cannot stand it is neutrality. Before Julian is out of reach, Russell grabs his shoulders and kisses him, tongue pressing into his mouth insistently. His fingers sweep across the expanse of Julian’s chest, brushing a nipple. When he lets go, there is a startled, but not displeased expression on Julian’s face. Noel, however, wiggles and huffs to drag the focus back to him.

Julian kneels in front of Noel and lets Noel drape his upper body over his thighs as Russell settles behind him. Russell strokes Noel’s hips and shifts his weight experimentally. “Have you any–?” His voice seems to startle the two of them out of some private reverie.

“Of course,” Julian says after a moment, clearing his throat. Showing a remarkable familiarity with the whereabouts of Noel’s sex accessories, he quickly produces a condom and a bottle of lube from a nightstand drawer. Russell makes short work of the preparation; he can’t quite bring himself to linger over this part of the proceedings.

“Alright,” he says, waggling his eyebrows for Julian’s benefit. “Ready, then?” Noel groans in affirmation, pressing back against him wantonly. Julian strokes Noel’s hair gently as Russell pushes in. Once he’s in about half way, he pauses and adjusts his hold on Noel’s hips, and then slowly presses on. Noel lets out a long breath when Russell finally stills, his head resting on Julian’s thighs and his arms around Julian’s waist. It looks to be a wholly uncomfortable position to Russell, but Noel seems content.

Very quickly, Noel begins to rock against the penetration impatiently. “Harlot,” Russell says without malice, thrusting in a smooth, unhurried rhythm. Noel grumbles in protest of the slur, but he is far too pleased to be getting fucked to put up much of a commotion. Julian chuckles affectionately and shifts his legs apart meaningfully.

Fascinated, Russell watches as Julian presses his thumb to the corner of Noel’s mouth and his lips part like a hinge swinging open and Noel swallows Julian’s cock. Noel’s tousled hair blocks most of Russell’s view, but it’s not hard to follow the movements of his head and the hitching of Julian’s hips. Russell can picture Noel’s face perfectly, has seen it enough times himself–a thick cock disappearing into his mouth, cheeks hollowed, wide blue eyes peering up, at once innocent and devilish.

He can tell when he gets the angle just right because it’s like an electrical shock up Noel’s spine the way his entire body spasms. Julian’s cock slips out of his mouth and Noel moans shamelessly, shifting his weight carefully onto one arm as he reaches down with the other to touch himself. Julian smiles cruelly, eyes connecting with Russell’s for a moment, and then he grasps Noel’s wrist tightly and pulls him back. Noel pitches forward, head bent low enough to allow Russell to see him start lapping eagerly at Julian’s cock and it’s filthy, but so hot.

He grips Noel’s hips tightly and nudges that spot again just to make Noel wail in frustrated arousal. “Please,” he whines, his cheek resting again on Julian’s thigh. He tries to look behind him with a pleading expression, but Russell, following Julian’s cues, shakes his head and mouths, ‘Sorry, pet,’ to him. Looking rather like an angry child, Noel turns back to Julian. “Let me,” he whimpers.

Julian cups Noel’s face in his hands. His mouth and eyes are gentle and Russell is keen enough to realize that this does not bode well for Noel. “I want you to show us how much you love this,” Julian says, his voice almost a lulling coo. “You’re going to come without a single hand touching your cock.”

Noel bangs his fist against the mattress. “Fuck,” he says emphatically. Soothingly, Julian strokes his cheek with one hand and holds his shoulder firmly with the other. He looks at Russell, sharing a furtive smile. As if spurred on, Russell’s thrusts start to quicken. He feels like nothing so much as a dildo or an extension of Julian’s will–an arm or an extra cock. He concentrates on fucking Noel hard and deep because if nothing else he knows he’s good at this.

Noel huffs and groans and rests more of his weight on Julian, reaching behind him to grasp Russell’s thigh, nails digging in sharply. His face red with the effort, he spreads his legs farther apart, pushing back against Russell’s thrusts with a single-minded determination, clenching around Russell’s dick each time it brushes his prostate. Julian murmurs soft encouragements, his fingers still caressing Noel’s face.

One hand braced on the mattress, head hanging between his shoulders, Noel’s entire body suddenly stiffens. “Don’t move,” he gasps raggedly and Russell stills in surprise, despite every instinct that screams at him to keep thrusting rough and fast until he is spent. “Don’t move, just–” and then Noel freezes and comes hard with a strangled cry, his muscles clamping tightly around Russell’s cock.

Russell hadn’t actually believed it was possible and he forgets about his own impending orgasm for a moment, but then Julian’s eyes lock with his, his teeth bared in a good-humored, but no less sadistic smile. “You can come too,” he says mildly and Russell is unwillingly impressed by Julian’s sheer audacity

There’s something in him that responds to Julian in a primal and automatic way and he imagines it’s a tiny fraction of the way Noel feels about Julian. It only takes a few more thrusts with the tight heat of Noel’s insides still contracting in pleasure. He presses one hand to Noel’s stomach to feel the sticky mess of his semen and just the thought that Noel had actually come without his cock being touched pushes him over the edge. He knows he isn’t imagining Julian’s appreciative gaze and that makes it even better.

He pulls out with care when he is finished. Noel makes a quiet noise, but is otherwise docile under Russell’s hands. Rolling the condom off distastefully, Russell collapses gracelessly onto the mattress, rolling onto his side and stretching along the length of them to watch Julian finish.

Restraint visibly slipping, Julian grasps a handful of Noel’s hair and jerks his head towards his erection. Noel obediently takes it back into his mouth, tongue swirling skillfully around the shaft. Russell’s breathing catches in anticipation as Julian shoves forward harshly. He grunts and hisses Noel’s name and then he’s coming, Noel surging forward and swallowing expertly.

Julian lets Noel have a few mouthfuls before he grasps the base of his cock with one hand, the other still entangled in Noel’s hair, and removes himself from Noel’s mouth. After a few quick strokes the rest of his cum splatters across Noel’s face.

“Bastard,” Noel says tenderly, wiping himself with the sheet. Julian laughs and pulls Noel into his arms, licking his cheek. Noel kisses Julian sloppily and then pulls a face. “You know where my mouth has been,” Julian says in the warmest tone Russell has heard from him yet. He reaches over, then, and pats Russell on the shoulder. Russell is reminded fleetingly of his father, but quickly swallows that thought.

He doesn’t mean to fall asleep there; the sheets are disgusting, but he slips easily into unconsciousness for a few hours. He wakes up soon after dawn. Noel is, of course, still in the middle, spooning Julian from behind. His narrow back is pressed to Russell’s side and Russell’s arm is wedged under Noel’s neck.

Feeling restless and needing to take a piss, Russell carefully extricates himself and haphazardly pulls his clothes back on and pads to the bathroom. He winces when he catches sight of himself in the mirror afterwards. His hair is flattened, less of an artful mess and more of a rat’s nest. His eyeliner has been sweated away to two slight smudges. He takes a deep breath and splashes cold water on his face. There is something haunted in his expression that he doesn’t like and Russell stares at himself for a long time, twisting his features into exaggerated grins and snarls, and then putters about with Noel’s hair products and makeup until he feels presentable again.

He returns to the bedroom just in time to see Noel lower himself onto Julian’s cock. A sharp gasp that could have come from either of them splits the air. Swallowing thickly, Russell takes a seat across from the bed, arranging his suddenly shaky limbs in a relaxed pose, thinking this is a nice bonus.

Julian’s back is against the headboard, one leg stretched out in front of him, the other bent to support Noel who has his arms tightly around Julian’s shoulders. They rock together, kissing fiercely. It’s the most intense thing Russell has ever seen–the way Noel trembles as he lifts himself and the way Julian moves subtly to aid him. Almost in wonderment, Julian’s hand reaches to touch where his cock is buried in Noel’s arse. He looks at Russell, something wild in his eyes.

Then, Julian ducks his head suddenly and his mouth fastens onto the side of Noel’s neck. “Don’t,” Noel squeals, pushing at Julian’s shoulder half-heartedly. Julian growls and clutches him tighter. “How am I supposed to cover it?” Noel’s question is lost in the harsh panting of his breath and Julian looks at him and smirks and Russell can see the unspoken accusation: You asked for this, all of it.

With a determined expression, Julian grasps Noel’s arse, the muscles in his legs straining as he redistributes his weight. Noel lets out a startled yelp as he is tipped over. He ends up on his back, knees pressed nearly to his chest. Julian begins to thrust in earnest and Noel gasps. His arm stretches above his head, his hand slapping with a sharp smack against the mattress. Julian’s hand quickly finds it and clutches it tightly, Noel’s other wrist scooped up and pinned alongside it.

Russell leans forward, all pretenses of casualness gone. He is painfully hard, but he doesn’t want to risk missing any of this while bringing himself off. The ability to replay this in his mind later is more important. They way they’re staring at each other they both look like they want to cry and Russell finds it fascinating because he’s never wanted a single person like this. Oh, Russell knows what it’s like to want sex, to want to come, but not what it’s like to need someone so badly. He knows cravings, though; he knows addiction.

Noel’s face is smeared with black eyeliner and mascara, turning his eyes into deep shadows. His chin and mouth are slick with spit and lip gloss. He exhales with a short moan at each hard thrust of Julian inside of him. Russell lets his erection press against the crotch of his jeans as he shifts in his chair, watching with rapt attention as they move frantically against each other like they are seeking something beyond an orgasm.

Noel jerks his arm free, his hand going to his erection a split second before Julian’s joins it, his larger hand curling around Noel’s. Julian rests his forehead against Noel’s, their mouths almost touching, not quite kissing, but just sharing breath. “Oh God,” he pants. “Noel.” Noel’s lips move in response, but no sound emerges.

They come almost simultaneously, limbs locking tightly around each other’s frames, pressing closer as if frustrated by even the barrier their skin provides. They stay like that as the air becomes still and heavy, shuddering together and kissing softly. Russell feels paralyzed by the force of it with a kind of powerlessness he hasn’t felt in a long time.

His breathing still labored, Julian rolls onto his back. Noel immediately drapes himself over Julian’s chest, nuzzling tiredly against his neck. He touches the bruise Julian gave him and looks like he doesn’t know whether to be irritated or pleased. Russell thinks Noel probably enjoys the danger, and he will thrill at every near-discovery by his girlfriend.

Noel holds out his hand to beckon Russell over. Julian looks sated and lazy like a lion and he gives Russell a tiny smile to indicate his approval. He studies them for a moment, the way they curl around each other with practiced intimacy. Even now, Noel’s eyes are sharp and hungry and his grip on Julian is just a bit tighter than the situation merits. He can see how Noel will never be satisfied and how Julian needs him just as badly but is afraid that this will destroy them. Russell knows how to recognize a sinking ship when he sees one. They are all rolled up in their own needs, slavish to their desires and these are things that get called warning signs and triggers and red flag situations in rehab.

Russell has been farther down than either of them. He’s four years clean after putting himself back together bit by bit. He knows himself well enough to recognize his own self-destructive behavior. He knows the kind of itching desire that leads to habit. He’s come a long way in not letting anything control him. As tempting as they are, Russell knows how easily he could come to need this, need them.

He takes Noel’s hand and kisses it. “It has been my profound pleasure dallying with you lads,” he says with a debonair smile, touching Julian’s knee. “But a man such as myself is much engaged.” He thinks of crack and heroin and all he has done to claw his way to the top of the world and Russell does what he knows is best and leaves.

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