Title: As it happened
Pairing: Kay (mhw)/Cygnus (malachan)
It was everything I'd hoped for. Not everything in the Great Scheme of Things, of course; I'm old enough, and I've been burned often enough, to know that you don't get that from one person, no matter how wonderful she - or, in this case, he - may be. A cynic, you say? fair enough; I admit the charge. Cynical, but not bitter, not pessimistic. Only romantics get that way. Me, I enjoy what happens, while it happens, and then I let go. Fair's fair.
People think that autumn should be a time for letting go. I don't. To me the crimson and gold aren't a last hurrah, but a token of steadfastness. The days wane, and as the night comes quicker we draw together for warmth. Let winter come, let the storm rage outside; it can't touch us here, curled up on his bed, listening to music and, for the moment, sated. I think I recognise the music. I'd bet money on it being Mahler, and perhaps a bit less on Das Lied von der Erde. Music for romantics. He likes his Mahler and his Berlioz, his Tchaikovsky and his Brahms. I don't dislike them, but they always speak to me of unfulfilment, of promises never realised, of necessary and inevitable disappointment. Give me Bach, any day. You know where you are with good old JSB - he never leaves you yearning. Everything works steadfastly towards its end, and then finishes. Clean. No dragging out, no succession of imperfect cadences, teasing with possibilities of completion. Everything in its place, and to everything its season.
Anyway, I wasn't going to talk about music. That's a bad enough habit of mine in real life, and this is a story. So, by authorial fiat, it was a blustery day in October, the rain splatting the windows, Mahler was smooching out of the speakers, and Cyg noticed that perhaps I wasn't concentrating on him as diligently as I had been for the last hour or so. He didn't say anything, but he looked at me in that 'a penny for them' way that he has. I pretended not to notice, while making it quite clear that I had. Oh me - why ever did I tell him about that really sensitive place, the one where, if you touch it correctly, I'll melt into a babbling pool of Kay-plasm? Perhaps part of love - and I think it was love, of a kind - is becoming vulnerable to each other, of showing one's Achilles' heel, of pledging trust against trust.
Eventually he relented, but not before he was straddling me and looking down into my eyes.
"Go on," he said, getting ready to touch me there again should it prove necessary. "What were you thinking?"
I yielded. Not without some interior struggle, I admit, even if I didn't try - futilely, of course - to dislodge his body, because there are things that aren't easy to speak about. I've never been one of those who think that sex answers any questions at all; to me, it's always meant more to talk about, rather than less, and even when bodies have yielded up their secrets and become commonplaces, a situation which we were by no means yet in, the mind remains a land of mystery, of here-be-dragons and Dark Towers, and it's a reckless Childe Roland who goes tantivying around without at least giving some thought to where he may be heading.
Ah well, I thought. Here we go. Excelsior!
I looked up at him and chuckled. "I was thinking that, for a straight boy, you're pretty damned good."
He doesn't blush often, I've found, but that brought some colour to his cheeks. "It's true," he insisted. "You are my first man. I'd never even really considered it before..."
I laughed. "Before I wrote you that RPS story about you and me?" He stiffened - in all the best ways - and I knew that I'd made my mark.
We spent a little time dealing pleasurably with the stiffness, and then curled up in each other's arms again. He wasn't relaxed, though; even though we'd been together such a short time, I'd learned to read his body fairly well, and I knew there was more to be said.
Eventually he sighed and twisted round to face me. "That isn't the whole truth," he said soberly. "I had considered it. Right from the first time we met at MacT00bage. I think it was because I was the only person there you seemed determined to not flirt with. It made me wonder why."
I kissed his nose. "Because I respect people, Cyg. Teasing Mark about him claiming he's straight when everyone was convinced he just couldn't be, that was a game. If he'd been uncomfortable about it, I'd have stopped immediately. The whole joke about straight male HP fans... it's only funny if people aren't hurt by it. With you..."
"What about me?" he asked, looking uncertain. He looks so dreadfully vulnerable, sometimes.
I let out a soft sigh and shrugged. "Don't ask me to explain. I can't. I honestly can't. Just a gut feeling that it wouldn't have been right. That it might have hurt. And that it absolutely, definitely wouldn't have been the right time to talk about it, if ever there was going to be a right time. So when did you..."
He didn't answer for a while, which was fine by me. Some things need to be run through in the head before committing them to speech; you don't have the writer's option of recanting an inopportune word, line or paragraph. I lay there and waited; and there are many worse ways of waiting than running your fingers through a cute guy's hair, I can tell you.
"Probably even then, a little," he admitted. "But I hardly knew you at all. Then the first time you came to Oxford, I kept wishing you were staying here, not with your friend Kate. Maybe that should have given me a hint. And then, of course, there was London..."
"The night we slept on the mattress on Marysia's floor?" I remembered it well. Waking up just in time to stop myself reaching out to him, feeling horribly embarrassed that my body had decided that it knew my heart better than I did.
He nodded. "That night." He glanced down at his body and chuckled. "Why do you think I had to sleep face-down?"
Somehow that struck me as tremendously funny, and I laughed so hard I almost couldn't breathe for a while. "I had no idea," I gasped when I finally got my breath back. "If I'd..."
He shook his head, serious again. "No. It wasn't a good time in all kinds of ways. I'd have been flattered, but..."
So it came to the crunch. The big question, Numero Uno, heart of the matter. "Then what did..."
"That story," he said softly. "The way that the sex wasn't important. The way that the affection was." He reached for my hand and held it tight. "The way it promised me it wouldn't be just another cheap fuck."
Now, you see, that's where he and I differ. As far as I'm concerned, there's nothing at all wrong with a cheap fuck just so long as it's paid for in honest coin, but that's a matter of personal history. I don't go looking for love, but that doesn't mean I'm not over the moon when I find it. Friendship's what matters to me, no matter how it's celebrated, and I hadn't intended the story as a means of seduction, more as an expression of intimacy, of trust and acceptance, that even if things didn't happen as I'd written them - and of course I'd had no basis for thinking that they would - that our friendship was strong enough for us to be able to consider what might happen if they did.
I smiled and curled up closer. "Nobody knows," I said. It wasn't a question. Well, perhaps there was an element of questioning in it, but I was almost certain of the answer.
He nodded and brushed my lips with his. "Nobody knows," he murmured.
It wasn't until after supper, when again we'd ended up in his bed, Brahms on the CD player this time, that he sprang his idea on me. I took some persuading, because even though the idea was funny, I'd named people and places in the story, but he managed to convince me that the premise of the tale was so outrageous, the construction so literary - like an O. Henry short story - that nobody could possibly think of it as anything other than a work of fiction. So I edited out the sticky stuff from the story I'd written for him - hell, some things aren't anyone else's business, after all, and it's nice to come in with a PG-13 rating - but left the rest of it pretty much intact, and now it's out there as an amusing little RPS fic called As it happened.
We get the occasional "Oh my God!" comment from people, of course, but since he'd carefully laid the ground by saying in his LiveJournal that it might be fun for him to appear in an RPS fic, as long as it wasn't too graphic, we're still fairly sure that nobody's guessed the truth of the matter. Which, of course, is just as it should be.