I was fucked.
My story should be simple, but of course, being me, it wasn't. Blame it on Murphy, blame it on fate, say whatever you wanted, but the end result was the same - I was fucked.
And it was all my best friend Quatre's fault.
It had started simply enough during one of our twice-monthly-meet-me-at-the-bar nights, and us talking about my never ending search to find the perfect partner. Quatre already had his, and believed it his right to lend a hand in finding mine.
"It's because you don't bottom," he told me and I nearly spit my drink in his face.
"What's that got to do with anything?" I demanded, wiping off my chin.
Quatre gave me one of those looks that's half soulful, and half I'm going to kick your ass into next week. "No one likes to be dominated, and you exude it."
I only snorted and looked away, waving for Eric to come pour me another. "You're a top, and Trowa's still with you." The silence hung between us far longer than it should have. When I turned back, he was drawing circles on the bar in the condensation from his glass. "You two didn't break up and not tell me, did you?" I finally asked.
"No!" Quatre looked startled. "Actually, I was thinking of recommending that you go see someone." His cheeks colored a pretty pink - which looks great on some young girls, but looked horribly wrong on my friend. "He's a specialist and can help you overcome your fear of being a bottom."
My lip curled. "What? Go to some guy who'll... what? Fuck me?"
"It's not that bad, really." Quatre glanced around the bar, and leaned closer to me. "I went to him myself. When Trowa and I were having trouble."
That was new. "You and Tro were having trouble?"
He waved a hand impatiently. "Yes, but that's not what we're talking about. This counselor, he'll help you with your need to dominate. He works with you to relax and accept what's happening."
I was already shaking my head. "Fuck that. I'm a top, and that's the way it's going to stay." I took a drink and changed the subject. "How's Mena these days?" Quatre's face lit up; he loved to talk about his sisters, and the guy's got enough of Žem. We were on the third one when I tossed out, "you let Trowa top you?"
Quatre did that pink cheek thing again, and told me, "Yes, I did." He made a show of looking at his watch and stood up abruptly. "Shit! I was supposed to meet Trowa ten minutes ago."
Yeah, sure you were buddy. But I let it go. "Since when do you cuss?" I asked, wanting to laugh my ass off at the thought. Growing up with twenty-something women can really warp a guy.
He had his wallet in hand, pulling out a bill. "You don't have the monopoly on swearing, Duo. As much as you'd like to believe. Hey Eric," he called out, slapping his money on the counter. "This should cover what we drank, and anything more this lush might have tonight. The rest is yours."
I glared at him. "Fuck you, Quatre. I pay for my own drinks." He was laughing his happy ass out the door. Shit. The guy was a total top, no matter what he said or who he let fuck him.
Eric was there, picking up the hundred and Quatre's empty glass. "How's it going, Duo? Haven't seen much of you in here lately."
"S'kay," I mumbled, turning the glass between my fingers. Eric and I had a thing a few months back - a one night thing, but I had the idea if I gave him a sign, he'd jump at the chance again. I wound up giving him a smile and asked for another drink, not really needing one, but just for something to do. While he was gone, I checked out the bar.
Once, in my not so distant past, this was my hangout. I knew everyone who circled here, the hunters and the prey. When the feeding ground got scarce, I moved on, only I didn't. I just stopped hunting. Though, at the end of the bar, there was a guy watching me. I pretended not to notice and accepted the glass Eric handed me.
"Hey listen," I leaned closer. "See that guy on the end?" Eric shot him a quick glance and nodded. "Use some of my tab money and get him a refill for me."
"But he's not..." Eric protested. He stopped abruptly. "Very good, sir." And he actually smirked.
I watched surreptitiously as Eric mixed and served the tall blond his drink. I could tell he asked the bartender a couple of questions and Eric was smiling as he answered. The guy looked at me, a bit surprised, I thought. I gave him a smile and lifted a brow. He winked. An invitation as I'd ever seen one, I stood up, grabbed my drink and went to introduce myself.
The man was gorgeous. Tall, lean with broad shoulders, and long legs, he had hair to rival my own. Blond to almost white cascaded straight down his back - too bad it wasn't as long as mine. A face that'd launch a thousand ships, and a thick, pouty mouth deserving nothing but the best of kisses. What a walking, fucking, wet dream.
Too bad he was straight. Turned out he wasn't winking at me, but his contact chose that moment to act up. I stuck around anyway, lending him a hand and a couple of napkins. We had a bit of a laugh, even if it was at my expense, and spent the next hour shooting the shit. When his girlfriend showed up, things really got good.
Zechs - yeah, that was the guy's name - told her what'd happened, and after she stopped laughing, she told me her man had this thing for long hair on guys. That seemed weird to me, cause she had some of the shortest hair I'd ever seen on a woman. She asked if there was anyway I'd let my hair loose, just to show and I balked. No one gets that close. Neither of them seemed to mind my reluctance.
They took me back to their place, and she cooked the best fucking Italian food I'd ever had. She even made her own noodles! And the wine! Shit, I was in heaven. I neared the end of my second serving, when I looked up at Lu.
"If you were male, girl, I'd fight this guy for you," I told her, waving my garlic bread in the air.
While Zechs only laughed, his girlfriend looked me over. "If you were male, I'd kick his ass to the curb."
Even though I laughed, it bruised a bit. "I might prefer my tits flat as they make Žem, and my plumbing to be external, but I'm all male," I said, probably a bit too loud - after all, I'd been drinking steadily for the past four or five hours. "I'm a top." I said it as proudly as I could.
Sexy Zechsy was clearing the table by this time, and paused to frown at me. He shot a glance at the woman, and her eyes never left my face. "You're afraid to let anyone in."
Great. Just my luck to meet up with a couple of armchair psychiatrists. Lu and I, and to some extent, Zechs, spent the next hour tossing arguments back and forth as to why I didn't bottom. Like I needed in-depth psycho-babble from strangers. Zechs finally ended it by saying it didn't matter who penetrated, it was the idea behind being penetrated, and I wasn't in the position to let that happen.
The rest of the night we talked a bit about our lives, as new friends did. Funniest fucking thing ever, turns out Zechs was an exiled prince from some dinky European country and while not quite as rich as Bill Gates, he didn't have to work for a living. But he did, and for the same publishing company as Lu did. Before the night was done, I was pretty sloshed. And they let me crash on their couch. At least, that's what they let me believe; I'd passed out in the middle of discussing international politics, and they couldn't wake me. Someone removed my shoes, and covered me with a blanket.
The best part of it all, I didn't have a hangover in the morning.
I left their apartment before either woke, leaving a brief note of apology on the kitchen counter. A quick cab ride to my apartment, a shower, another cab and I was at work more or less on time. Some time later that afternoon, Lu's words came back to haunt me, and I thought them over. For about five seconds and forgot about it.
Over the next month, nothing new seemed to happen. I wasn't getting laid, but wasn't too terribly unhappy about it. Maybe I was getting old, but the one-night jollies weren't doing it for me any more. I had dinner with Zechs and Lu a couple of times, and we even caught a sports game together. Never having been to a Lacrosse game before, I was a bit lost as to the rules of the game, but enjoyed the roughness. Sort of like hockey without the ice.
My drink nights with Quatre continued, and I met up with both he and Trowa on more than one occasion. We usually met once a week or so for dinner or lunch. And one Friday night, almost a month after Quatre first brought up the subject, I was having dinner at their house.
Quatre hadn't gotten off work yet, and I was in the kitchen helping Trowa with the meal. He'd set me to chopping up the lettuce for salad. At least, I was chopping the lettuce for salad, Tro preferred to have each leaf ripped to bite-size pieces and believes a knife kills all taste in lettuce. But he let me do what I wanted, it was my task, so I did it my way.
"You should go to the gym with me tomorrow," Trowa was saying.
Tossing the diced tomatoes in the bowl, I glanced at him. "You know I go to the best gym in San Francisco."
He was shuffling one of those light saute pans around over a burner. "There's a guy I think you should meet."
I couldn't help shaking my head. "You're not setting me up, man. I hate that shit." So what if my knife attacked the cucumber a little more vigorously than what it should have.
"I'm just inviting you to the gym, Duo. I'm not setting you up." He spared a moment to glare at me. "Though if you two hit it off, so much the better." I smacked his ass with a hand towel.
"Hey!" Quatre called from the doorway. "No one touches that but me." He grinned and loosened his tie. Shit, he looked tired.
"When you going to work normal hours?" I asked, already knowing the answer.
"These are." He came into the kitchen far enough to give Trowa a kiss, dip a finger in a sauce pot and scoot out before Trowa could swat him. "I'm going to grab a quick shower." And he was gone.
I went back to chopping vegetables. Here was another Murphy's Law story for ya. Quatre was probably my oldest friend. We'd known one another since the first day our freshman year at the university. I was supposed to room with a guy I knew from high school, but he flaked out over the summer, and I was stuck with some unknown foreign guy. Turned out to be one of the best things that happened to me.
Quatre and I had this instant like going on from the start. We didn't share classes, but spent a lot of time in between together. Fuck, we even tried dating, kissing, and even screwing one another. It wasn't working. He was a top. I was a top and neither wanted to give. We settled by remaining friends and fighting over lovers like all good roommates did.
At least until he spotted Trowa. We were out of college by then, and I was off doing my thing in my own little world trying to become successful. He was already successful in the family biz, but needed to prove his worth all the same. Trowa was still working his way up in his chosen profession.
To hear Quatre tell their story, it was like a fairy-tale. He'd gotten lost on his way back from a downtown office meeting and decided to grab dinner at some hole-in-the-wall bistro. The meal made such an impression on him that he had to personally thank the chef. When Trowa stepped out from the kitchen, sparks flew and the rest - as that guy always says - was history. They hadn't separated since. Shit, they barely come up for air when they're in the same room. Gets so a guy can't breathe with them around, you know?
So, there I was, still sort of stewing over the unfairness of it all. I mean, why couldn't I have been the one lost in the city - not that that would ever happen - but you know, I really wanted to find my Trowa as well. Just watching them, I felt the jealousy simmer. It wasn't like I wanted them separated, to be miserable. Shit, they were made for one another, you could just see the connection between them. They had these shared looks that made everyone else around them obsolete, almost like they'd just had sex without touching.
And I wanted it.
"How's your hunt for Mister Perfect going?" Quatre asked, spooning out more tamuli.
I finished chewing the veal in my mouth, glaring at him. "Just fucking fine, asshole."
He only laughed. Why is it my friends can find humor in my predicaments? "Speaking of assholes, lose your cherry yet?"
Between Trowa choking, and me spewing wine all over the tablecloth, I thought Quatre would have fallen over in his chair. "What is it with you? Since when did my sexual position preference became an acceptable topic of discussion?"
"Since you mope about it all the time?" Quatre supplied, sobering up quickly. I started to protest, or at least I meant to but he beat me to it. "It's not just being a top or being a bottom, it's being able to let someone inside enough to let them be close." I decimated the veal flank on my plate. "Truthfully, Duo, I only want to see you happy. You spend too much time with us, at work or with your other friends."
How do you tell your best friend you can't be happy because he's stolen more than his share? I frowned at my plate, no longer hungry. "It's easy to say that, coming from you. You and Trowa have it all." I hadn't really meant to say it aloud, but too late now.
"Duo..." Quatre started.
"That's not true," Trowa's quiet voice interrupted, and drew my immediate attention. He laid down his fork, and looked from me to Quatre before staring me down. "We've had a lot of problems, and there have been times we didn't think we would make it." I swallowed hard, and as Quatre's hand picked Trowa's up off the table, I wanted to look away, but wasn't able to.
"What Quatre has been trying to tell you, is that even if you do find the perfect bottom," his cheeks colored, but he didn't drop his eyes. "It's not going to be heaven on earth. Even as close as we are, we have fights."
Shit. Talk about making a guy feel bad. "So, what do I do to join you two on this roller coaster of happiness?"
They shared one of those looks again, and both spoke at the same time.
"Come to the gym with me."
"Go see the counselor I was telling you about."
"No, but thanks anyway." I rose and started clearing the table. "I don't need to meet some guy just as desperate as me, and I certainly don't need to see some fuck shrink." Stomping wasn't exactly my style, but I thought I managed to make it into something that didn't look too teenage-miff. Quatre was lucky I didn't break a plate scraping them clean.
"Duo," Quatre said from the doorway, carrying a double handful of dishes. I continued to load the dishwasher, and he piled the sink full. "You know we don't mean to pry or tell you what to do, right?"
I sighed and grabbed a dishtowel. "Yeah, Quat, I know."
He rinsed and handed stuff for me to load. "I know you feel... uncomfortable around Trowa and I sometimes." He smiled fleetingly at me. "We just want you to know what we know, share what we share."
"And you think by me becoming a bottom will do this?" I actually laughed.
The fact he chuckled made me believe he knew how stupid it sounded. "I think it's not so much becoming a bottom, but more becoming willing to offer something more of yourself." His eyes held such a pleading quality I could only stare at him. When I stopped loading dishes, he pushed me out of the way, shoving me towards the livingroom. "Go keep Trowa company. I'll finish up in here."
Trowa stood at the entertainment center, queuing music when I walked in. The drapes covering their wall of glass were pulled open to show the view of the city, and I plopped down on the couch watching the winking lights. Having money had some advantages; living in a high-rise apartment on prime real-estate, would be one of them.
Trowa sat on the end of the couch, and pushed me over, pulling my sock-clad feet up into his lap. It'd become a tradition of sorts, for one or the other to rub feet. In the early stages of Quat's and his relationship, it'd just been the two of us waiting for the guy and I complained about my aching feet. It wasn't until after I told Trowa what I did that he asked me to show him how to do it, and ever since, we'd trade off.
I had to admit, he learned well. He was on my other arch, and I lay there making sounds that shouldn't come from me outside a bedroom, when Quatre pulled my head into his lap -sort of. He was sitting on the arm of the couch, his legs spread to either side of me, so I mainly lay on his stomach. He was running his fingers up along my hairline, circling my temples and dragging nails over my scalp. The double assault was doing some interesting things to my libido.
Like putty, I melted into Quatre's caresses, and didn't even jerk when Trowa's hands traveled up past my ankles to knead calves. Somewhere between clouds six and seven, Quatre kissed me. By that time, I was so lost to sensation, I was kissing him back. My arm had come up to circle his neck; my mouth opened to let his tongue in. Damn, I'd forgotten what a great kisser he was. Trowa's hands were at my thighs.
Quatre broke away, his fingers still caressing my skin, his lips ghosting over my face. Parts of me were humming, wanting more; parts of me were dancing in anticipation.
"Let me top you," Quatre whispered against my temple.
I thought it wasn't so much what he said as it was a combination of what exactly Trowa's hands were now touching and oxygen actually reaching my brain. Just what the fuck did I think I was doing? I threw myself to the floor, nearly whacking my head on the coffee table in the process.
"I take that as a no, then," Quatre said leaning over the couch.
"What the fuck is going on?" I demanded. "Did you like, lose brain-cells somewhere or what?"
And if those two didn't share another one of those fucking looks. Trowa sat forward, his arms braced on his knees. "Look, Duo, Quatre and I have talked about this more than once and we're both okay with it. Sharing our life, what we have with you, helping you to open up to someone." He gave me a smile and for a minute, I almost lost whatever sense was left in my head.
Instead, I pushed backward, farther from him. I looked from one to the other, feeling a little wild, a little bewildered. What the hell had happened, and where did my friends go?
"We thought," Quatre continued the narrative, sliding down the arm to sit on a cushion. "That you'd feel more comfortable with friends. People you knew and were comfortable with already. Someone you trusted."
"You?" I spat out, blinking the haze from my eyes.
Quatre nodded, making no apologies. "You're so locked away. And, we thought this could help you."
Suddenly it was too much. I jumped to my feet and was half way to the door before they even realized I'd moved. "Well, thanks for the offer, but like I told you once before, buddy, it's not going to happen." I shoved my feet into my shoes, not bothering to tie the laces and grabbed my windbreaker.
"Duo, wait." Quatre was at the door when I opened it. He put his hand on my arm. "I'm sorry. I shouldn't have presumed." I only nodded. It was too much to think about. "Just, call me tomorrow, okay? We'll talk and I promise to never speak of this again."
I let him kiss my cheek and turned away without saying anything more. Something burned inside, and a stinging around the corners of my eyes happened. I stopped a half block from their apartment building to tie my shoes. It wasn't me who had the problem. I could let people in, let someone get close. Hell, ask anyone. I had more friends than could be housed at an average high school stadium. I knew more people personally from all over the country than most folks could claim meeting in their life.