Possibly the late hours, the gentlemen callers and the tight and shiny tops ought to have been a bit of a giveaway, but Ewan honestly didn't twig to it that his flatmate was a rentboy til he walked in on him sucking some geezer off.
"Do you mind?" said the geezer indignantly, and then he looked twice and said to Jude, "That's flattering, love, but I think you'll be quite enough for me, no need to call for backup."
"Funny," said Jude, tugging away at the other man's plonker with one hand to keep the momentum up, his mouth moist and red.
"You what? I'm not on the job, I live here," Ewan said.
"Give us a tick, would you mate," said Jude, politely insistent. "I did mention I'd need the room." His mouth made a ripe wet succulent sound as he went right back to it, with Ewan still standing there.
"Right, sorry," Ewan said automatically, and withdrew, shutting the door.
Then he scoffed at himself, because honestly. Sorry? He should've followed his first instinct to paste one on that geezer. He still might if he saw him again, so Ewan walked around the block and had a smoke before he went back.
Jude was stretched out on his bed with a cigarette of his own. "I did say I'd need the room," he repeated, watching Ewan coolly.
"I thought you were working as a waiter," said Ewan, because after walking around the block that was still the foremost thought in his head. Ewan himself had a horrible job as a stockboy, pittance of a wage slipped under the table, but he'd lost his last decent job when he skived off to take a theatre role, and then the show flopped, closing after just three weeks.
"Look at me," said Jude. "Why would I ever take a day job?"
Ewan couldn't quite argue the point. He'd thought from the first that Jude was one of the most beautiful people he'd ever seen, but then, Ewan had been paid compliments like that himself a time or two, and the grind of auditions had since taken it out of him. We want someone taller, someone more muscular, someone more traditionally handsome, could you turn round please? We'll let you know. He could still pull even though he was skint, that should've built him up a bit, but the shine was off it somehow. It had been ages since Ewan felt as if his looks were worth much.
"Aren't you worried that if you make it, it'll come out, this?" asked Ewan.
Jude laughed. "When I make it, I'll be shagging so many people, no one will bother to look back to what I did before. And what would they say? 'I paid for sex with him!' Dodgy. Who'd believe it?" He studied Ewan, still smiling. "Really, I half thought you were doing the same, rougher trade maybe. But you could get in with this lot as well, you know, you're that good-looking."
And it was just as if a light switched on over Ewan: he felt warmer, and everything seemed brighter, and he could see things he couldn't see before. It hadn't been auditions bringing him low, not really. It was rooming with Jude, openly omnisexual and unbearably beautiful and never seeming to give Ewan a second look.
"Don't think I could," he said, and unbelievably, he was saying it with real regret, he was that far gone on Jude; that far gone and he'd never even realised. "First time one of them took a liberty, I'd be kicking heads in, I couldn't help it."
"That'd be why I thought you were doing rough trade," smiled Jude. "All right, you might be a bit skittish to take on this lot on your own. But I know a few who'd pay a good price for the two of us."
If someone had told him this morning that he might seriously consider putting a price on his arse before day's end, Ewan would have pounded them one.
But he looked at Jude and he asked, "How much?" while the real question in his own mind, something else entirely, went unspoken.