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Muffled sounds of music and chatter flow out on the streets through the fogged-up flat windows. As he walks up to the doorstep, Liam tosses the last of his cigarette and sees two chattering girls leaning against the doorway. They give him a blank glance. It’s nothing special, but the anxiety and the nicotine in his system make him feel as if they’re judging him.

He knew that he should have put on something “fancier” going to a party at Jarvis’s, with all his posh and educated friends. It was a wise choice of his friend to have this party, being the first Friday of the term - they’re still in the period where most of the students are excited before everyone loses their spirit and ambition as winter approaches. It’s the last taste of summer.

Anyway, not that Liam gives a single shit about that.

He makes his way up the staircase, two at a time, as if he’s in a hurry passing by the snogging couples and cackling friends. He tries to hype himself up as the music grows in volume around him, shrugging his shoulders to the beat as he makes his way to the end of the corridor.

He hates uni parties. Anything centering around class privilege and spoilt behaviour annoyed him. However, he has a soft spot for Jarvis, and he doesn’t want to miss it for him. That is what he says to himself, anyway.

Liam strolls into the room without knocking. Smoke, sweat and expensive perfume filled the flat and he glanced over to see if the windows were open for the sake of fresh air. Liam would be more than okay with all of this excess in very different circumstances but now… he’s honestly not loving it.

“Liam!” The tall man approaching him is wearing a dark purple suit. It’s a well-fitting thing in corduroy that he probably found at one of the local second-hand shops. Liam respects him for that - he always had a taste. “I’m so glad you came!” Jarvis embraces him in a friendly hug, and Liam awkwardly pats him on the back in kind.

“Well, I couldn’t leave you alone with all the posh cunts, could I now?”

Liam and Jarvis are different in every way possible. Their Northern roots link them, according to the Londoners, but Liam thinks that they wouldn’t know Northern unless it kicked them up the arse. Unlike him, Jarvis adapted smoothly to London. Blessed with an understandable accent in comparison to Liam’s snarling Mancunian tones, he flitted between the posh students like a natural. That made Liam uncomfortable, and unsure how to feel.

“You need to stop being so defensive mate, not all of them are posh!”

“Yeah yeah, tell that to their old man’s net worths.” Liam shoots Jarvis a cocky look that he simply waves away, and the pair begin to make their way through the crowded room.
Liam tries to ignore the sympathetic-cum-pitying looks thrown his way as they entered the kitchen. Unlike Jarvis, he is still viewed as an outsider. Growing up relatively skint never bothered him - everyone around him was the same.

Once he came to London, he stuck out like a sore thumb. Even Jarvis’s social circles refused to let him in. Liam could guess why. Jarvis goes to Saint Martin’s, where the boys wear skirts and the girls shave their heads, and studies some kind of art Liam doesn’t even bother to try to understand. Liam views art students as underfed dreamy toffs who had fantasies of starving in Garretts but could always afford to fall back on Mummy and Daddy’s silver spoon when they inevitably ended up dropping out. Working at a supermarket or flogging houses or running a shop - that’s a proper job. Not building bloody statues with some poodle clay. Liam cringes even thinking about that.

Liam’s life is that of painfully bright Fluro-lights, and an unidentifiable smell, and the endless rigour mortis of the mundane. The kind where the everyday life of common people was washed out in its true grey tones. And yet… somehow, these toffs are dying to look and act like that. It baffles him, the romanticisation.

Liam leans against the sink as Jarvis walks over to the fridge to fetch a beer for him. He nods in thanks and pops open the can before slurping up the foam like a kid with a can of Coke. He watches a couple of people at the kitchen table having a discussion about the latest political debate between the Tories and Labour with the kind of intensity he thought was reserved for football matches. He’d overheard some workmates talking about it yesterday, but he didn’t engage with politics so he hadn’t contributed.

He feels a hot blush spread up his neck at the realisation that he is surrounded by people who is both wealthier and more in tune intellectually than him. He grimaces and takes a harsh swig of beer. He needs to pull himself together - he is at a party, for fuck’s sake! The place to forget your troubles, not fucking zero in on them!

Jarvis, somehow sensing his discomfort, placed a hand between his hunched shoulder blades. “Come on, let’s get you out there socialising a bit, huh?” He throws an arm around Liam’s shoulders and tugs them both out of the kitchen and through the living room. Just as they reach the doorway of another room, Jarvis’s name suddenly chimes above the music and chatter, and he looks apologetically at Liam.

“I’ve gotta go and talk to Saskia, but my friends are in there so you can just go in.” Liam gawks at Jarvis. He doesn’t know anyone here! Jarvis put his hand on Liam’s shoulder and shakes him a bit. “C’mon mate, I’ll be right back! It’s not like they’re any different from us.”

Liam swallows, a silly grin spreading on his face, trying to neuter his fear. “They’re posh kids, Jarv,” he mumbles. His anxiety churns in his stomach, crashing around. He thinks of that old Japanese painting of the wave in Jarvis’s room.

Jarvis giggles, giving his shoulder a friendly slap before letting him go. “Don’t be a baby and get in there Leeum. I’ll be there in five.”

He sprints to the end of the hall, where an angry-looking girl is stood waiting for him. Liam smirks at this act of eye-warfare towards his friend. He turns away from the brewing conflict, and back towards the door Jarvis led him to. With a deep inhale, he steps inside.

***

“Damo, truth or dare?”

Damon sighs, his eyes fixed on the chipped bottle in front of him, his fingers playing with the cuffs of his jeans. He’s almost got off scot-free the whole night - if you count kissing Brett and telling everyone he’d shag the cleaning lady of their accommodation as scot-free. The universe isn’t done with him yet if Justine counts as the universe. Her dark eyes glitter as she waits for his answer, elegant fingertips tapping the glass.

Damon adopts an aloof expression. “Dare.” Justine smiles and spins the bottle with a flex of her wrist.

Knowing Justine and her ways, he’ll probably end up in the wardrobe for seven minutes in heaven with Alex. And it is never heaven with Alex. Justine suddenly stops the bottle with her hand, and leans in to whisper something in Brett’s ear, who smiles. Damon’s brow furrows as she perkily leans away, grinning.

God, he hates them so much.

“Okay, Damon. You will kiss the next person who walks into the room.” A laugh ripples through the circle. “Tongue and everything,” she adds with a snicker.

Damon rolls his eyes at her big grin. The downside of being the courageous, up-for-anything friend of the group is that he ends up embarrassing himself for their entertainment. They all look at the doorway, trying to will someone through, and Justine is just about to spin the bottle again when a lad walks in.
The darkness of the room and the shitty fairy lights in the front room cause Damon to struggle to see his face. He can tell it’s a boy, though. Build, hair, movements, etcetera. Not rocket science. Just his luck.

Justine beams at him, giving a Damon look and winks as he stands up with a sigh. He slips over to the newcomer, who’s a bit shorter than him. He’s probably gonna have to lift this guy’s chin up for a proper kiss. He can feel nerves radiating from him. His first rodeo, Damon guesses. Or at least his first of Jarvis’s parties? This provides him with some confidence, at least - he doesn’t have to snog someone he knows again.

The upside of being closer is that Damon can make out his face. The boy, who’s gorgeously shaped brows are furrowed in confusion, lifts his chin up, and bright blue eyes meet Damon’s dull ones. They seem to shine in the darkness of the room, pupils blown wide. Damon can feel blood thrumming at his temples and chalks it up to nerves. Damon wants to open his mouth and say something to him even though he really doesn’t get why he can’t just kiss the boy immediately. Then suddenly, without any warning, he leans in for that kiss.

His lips are soft and plump, just like a girl’s, and Damon is pretty sure it isn’t written anywhere that the kiss should be deep but he can’t help himself. He brings his hands up to hold the boy’s face, feeling smooth skin and slight stubble.

He’s not holding back, probably responding in kind to Damon’s sudden leap, and exhales into Damon’s mouth. Damon blushes at this oddly personal action and sucks on his lower lip. The boy’s tongue suddenly snakes into his mouth, and Damon feels a deep moan leave his mouth. His eyes shoot open and he immediately breaks the kiss, leaving a trail of spit which quickly snaps. Jesus, he just moaned in front of everyone. Shame, shame, shame.

Someone in the circle coughs. The boy’s eyes are still fixed on Damon. He looks like he’s never been kissed, and Damon can’t help but smile at him. His blue eyes are shadowed by thick black lashes, and his eyebrows are jostling for a room with a hairstyle that screams ‘Beatles fan!’ Or maybe Stone Roses, for that matter.
He’s delicate, pale and gorgeous. A high pink blush suddenly spreads up his cheeks as the boy raises one of his eyebrows slowly, opens that gorgeous plush pink mouth, and says - “Did ya just kiss me, ya cunt?!”

Brett cackles, and Damon smiles wider. His Mancunian accent is just brilliant. A cute boy with a Northern accent - what’s not to love? Beatles Fan blushes furiously and wipes his mouth with the back of his hand.

“Guess I just did,” Damon smiles, extending a hand to shake. “I’m Damon.”

He looks at his hand for a moment, then back at Damon with a bewildered expression.

“Liam,” he replies, he looks back at Damon sternly, his blue eyes sending electric shocks to him.

Damon slides his hand back in his pocket, playing it cool. “Sorry for the abrupt meeting. My friends were playing Truth or Dare and Justine here-” He points at Justine who’s resting her head against Brett’s shoulder while sending Liam a funny smile. “-was so very nice to dare me to kiss the next person who came into the room.”

Liam glances over at Justine, almost as if it hurts him to look, his eyes immediately going back to the cool spring of Damon’s face. “C’mon, sit down with us!” Justine calls from the circle. “Do you know Jarvis?”

“Uh, yeah. We’re-we’re…” Damon ushers Liam to sit down on the floor next to him. Liam sits carefully, crossing his legs, keeping a small gap between them. He stares at the bottle on the floor. He sighs. “Yeah, we’re mates.”

***

“So you’re from the North?”

They’d peeled back to the kitchen after Spin the Bottle dissolved into strip poker. Liam felt too queasy to witness Brett undo his silk shirt, and Damon had made some quick excuse about being thirsty. So here they are, leaning side by side against the now-empty kitchen counter.

Liam snorts at his words. The North. Of course, he’d say that. He turns to Damon with a sarcastic expression, which promptly melts away when he sees Damon is actually incredibly earnest and not at all taking the piss out of him.

Liam tries to be nice and confident this time. “Yeah, Manchester. I’m surprised you Southerners can understand me. How far North have you been?”
Damon grins, taking a swig from his can of beer. “A fancy restaurant in St Albans,” he replies with a laugh. “And I like your accent. It’s…” He waves his can around, looking for the right word. “Charming.”

Liam smiles inside, coughing outwardly. “Uhh, thanks.” He swallows the last of his beer. “So, what about you? Take it you’re from ‘ere?”

Damon crunches up his can. “Yeah, born in Whitechapel.” He grimaces as he says it. “Just got back, actually. I was living in Greece for a while. Dad thought I was too much trouble here, so he sent me there to study.” He giggles and Liam wonders how he can just brush off studying abroad. “Got a tan, came back, now I’m taking Art at Saint Martin’s. That’s how I know Jarvis and how I met Justine and Brett and all that lot.”

Liam just nods at him. He’s not shocked that Damon’s from a posh family, given his flippant attitude towards Greece and Jarvis’s party. But… he didn’t think he was from somewhere like Whitechapel. Peckham, sure. Damon’s trashed jeans and attitude made him think that.

He blinks as he realises they’re much more different than he first thought. Damon starts telling him about his family, what he’s studying, how Athens is. They talk about music, discovering they share the same love of mods and the Beatles. Under all the chatter, Liam can’t ignore the tiny nerve that ignited inside him after Damon’s kiss. The hope that with that kiss, he wouldn’t be seen as an uneducated, uncultured lout.

God, his friends would make fun of him just for thinking about this.

Liam didn’t care if Damon was serious about his interests or not, but Damon’s genuine wide-eyed alertness towards Liam’s opinions on Quadrophenia shoved that in a biased direction. Liam felt his chest puff with pride when he showed off his obscure Beatles knowledge, facts about b-sides and recording sessions tumbling out. Well, it was better not to say anything personal about himself to Damon now, was it? All the facts in the world don’t change that Liam is slightly intimidated by Damon’s confidence.

After Liam runs out of steam, Damon wets his lips with his tongue and gestures towards his bottle. “More booze?”

Liam nods, and pushes himself upwards to the counter and sits. There are only dregs left now - cheap wine and a few crushed cans of beer. All the vodka and Irn-Bru and Schnapps disappeared ages ago. Liam quickly opens his third beer, hoping for the alcohol to reduce the tingling sensations Damon was causing in his lower body with his every look. Not that he’s complaining, mind you.

Liam is a lot of things, but he’s not stupid. He’s noticed Damon’s smirks, winks, and glances over his body. He saw the way Damon licks his lips when the conversation between them lulls into silence or sighs when Liam looks away from him. This was pure, grade-A flirting. He didn’t want to bolster Damon’s confidence any more than he had done, and besides, it felt nice to be chased.

Damon rummages through the fridge and pulls out a bottle of rum. He plonks it on the table and shoves around some more for a bottle of Coke. Smiling at Liam, happy blue eyes sparkling, he quips, “I don’t think Jarvis will mind.”

“Knock yourself out, mate,” Liam replies.

Damon skitters around, filling a glass with coke and rum sloppily. He grabs a teaspoon to stir it, like some kid pretending to make a potion, before expertly tossing the spoon into the sink with a clatter. He turns around and gives the glass at Liam.

“Uh, beer,” Liam replies awkwardly lifting the can, and Damon is more insistent.

“Come on, drink! That beer is piss-weak anyway.”

Liam raises an eyebrow at him in jest, taking the glass and setting down the beer. “Are you trying to get me pissed?” he fucking giggles at him.

Damon just smirks, as if he knows the effect he has on him. Bastard.

Liam chugs the drink down, handing the empty glass back with a giggle, before leaning up and shoving in his back pocket for some cigarettes. He places one between his lips without breaking his eye contact with Damon. He reaches out with the package, offering one to Damon who willingly takes one. “Cig?”

“Ta.” Liam follows his movement as he places it between his lips. Blinking and adjusting his eyes, Liam pats his coat pockets awkwardly. “Got a light?”

“Oh, sure.” Damon reaches for his pocket, exposing a strip of golden sun-kissed skin, and Liam inhales sharply. He wants to see more of that. An image of Damon naked flashes in his mind and a furious blush spread up his cheeks.

The click of the lighter sounds, and suddenly Damon’s forehead is almost touching his, the ends of their cigarettes touching as the flame lights them. Damon’s eyes dart up to meet his before he leans away, and Liam inhales the smoke a little deeper than usual.

Grey smoke wafted over Damon’s Baroque face. His pixie-like cheekbones were shadowed by the sliding lights from outside, and his bitten pink lips were like a rosebud closing around the yellow of the cigarette. God, Liam thinks, what does he even want?

Damon suddenly swans over and places both hands to the counter, to the sides of Liam. Liam’s taller now, for once, sat up on that messy counter. Damon’s cigarette pushes up as he pouts that pink mouth, and his messy golden hair falls over his shiny eyes.

“Hello,” Liam says with a nervous laugh. “Bit close.” However, Damon feels his fingertips fall over his hand, and he moves up to pull the cigarette away. Damon scrunches his face up as Liam exhales smoke, and before he can prepare, he captures his mouth in a kiss.

This is different from the game’s kiss. It’s more passionate, more private, rougher. Liam tastes of beer and fags, and Damon snarls into the kiss and he grips a fist into the back of Liam’s denim jacket. The faint laughter from the party, just a few meters away, melts away, and Liam breaks for air with a gasp before diving back in again. It’s tender, in some kind of feral animalistic way. It’s a kiss between two people who didn’t realise they needed this.
Damon breaks their kiss to leave his cig onto the ashtray next to him. He huffs out the last smoke in his system and presses his body back to Liam, who feels a bit cold and empty without him.

He presses his forehead against him and rubs his nose to his softly. His genuine smile makes Liam’s face burn more than ever, so he closes his eyes. His body is already shaking. “Fuck, kiss me again,” Liam begs between their breaths. He is too scared to open his eyes, too scared to see Damon witnessing his desperation for him. “Please, Day, kiss me.”
Liam doesn’t even remember when he felt the press of Damon’s sweet lips against his but he knows the feeling of his body relaxing under his kiss and touch. He pushes his lips into Liam’s wet mouth more and the tender touch of Damon’s lips feels almost addictive.

Liam whines as Damon’s fingers skitter under his t-shirt, and his mouth starts to sprinkle kisses over Liam’s jaw and neck. When he feels Damon’s tongue and wet lips hit a sensitive spot, his back arches, his feet crawl in his shoes, and he moans loudly. God, he’s feeling Damon in every single part of his body.

“Leeum,” Damon’s voice trills, sing-song. “Open your eyes, darling.”

Liam opens his eyes slowly, breathless from all that kissing. His head is swimming in a lustful haze, and he only focuses on Damon. Damon’s fingers dance over his cheekbone, and he bites his lower lip. “Fuck, you’re so beautiful,” he whispers, and a shiver travels down Liam’s spine. His lips part needily, wanting that touch. Damon kisses him again, softer this time, his hand dragging down Liam’s thigh, and just as Liam is about to moan louder than before-

“So I see you got some socialising done, huh?”

The pair look around quickly, still trapped in their own little snogging world. Jarvis is stood in the kitchen doorway, his arms crossed and a smug smile on his face. He was probably the only person in the world who unabashedly didn’t feel any shame towards what he just saw. Damon sniggers, leaning into Liam’s frame, making himself comfortable. Liam blushes, burying his face in Damon’s shoulder. As discreetly as possible, he breathes in the scent of Damon’s shirt. It makes him all warm and squishy inside. Liam cringes at himself.

“Oi, I’m a little bit pissed you kept Liam here from me for so long, Jarv,” Damon says, crossing his arms.

“Well, I had my suspicions the two of you would get on a bit too well.” Jarvis raises an eyebrow, strolling over to the table to pick up the rum. “I see you demolished my rum too. Lovely.”

“Sorry,” Liam said weakly, sending Jarvis an apologetic smile.

“It’s fine. I’m sure Damon will be merciful and kind and bestow upon us a new, way fancier kind of rum.” He gathers up the bottles and turns back to the pair with a sigh.

“Everyone’s leaving now, and I’m sorry if I interrupted your little heavy petting session.” Liam wanted the ground to swallow him. “As much as I’d like to party all night, I’ve got work tomorrow, so if you’re not gonna help clean up, kindly get lost.”

Damon waves and tugs Liam down by the hand. They exit the kitchen and stumble towards the hallway, where Damon grabs his jacket. Jarvis comes back to give them both a quick hug, and they leave for the night.

It is cold outside, and the temperature slaps them both in the face. Liam begins to stroll down the road, and Damon swings around him, walking backwards while staring at Liam with his hands in his pockets.

Jesus, this boy.

“Y'know you could fall over, right?” Liam points out with a raised eyebrow while trying not to laugh.

“Guess you’d have to catch me, then.” Damon stops abruptly, causing Liam to crash into him with a curse. Damon grabs the collar of his jacket and kisses his lips quickly, followed by a smile. Liam raises his eyebrows and the two walk to the tube station in relative silence.

Damon is practically skipping, and Liam prays that his heartbeat doesn’t thrum between their linked hands. Their comfortable silence is brought to an end as the red and white sign in front of them pulls into view, and Damon clears his throat as they walk through to the gates. The tube station is practically empty. It’s the first time since they met earlier tonight that he sounds remotely shy. It’s quite endearing, really.

“So,” he begins slowly, smiling as he lets Liam’s hand slip from his.

“So,” Liam answers, not knowing what he wants to say, or wants at all. “I, uh, I have work tomorrow so I better get home.” He feels dumb the moment the words leave his mouth and shoves his now-cold hand in his pocket.

“Yeah, of course,” Damon replies softly. His voice sounds a little high and sullen as if he’s jealous he can’t keep Liam all night. “A cruel mistress. Well, I’ll let you get off home.”
He starts to walk to the gates, but Liam grabs him in a fit of emotion and kisses him in his first moment of proper courage all night. It’s hard and sweet, and he’s only really doing it so Damon knows he wants to kiss him too. He quickly pulls away, laughing at Damon’s exhilarated face.

“Night, Damon,” Liam says with a smile and turns around to walk away. Damon stares at his funny walk, his brown hair fluttering in the wind, and sighs softly.

***

After he’d pulled himself from his bed, Liam goes to meet his mates at the pub. He lits another cigarette and stares at the sunrise. It’s that weak early winter sun that doesn’t actually warm anything up, but it reminds Liam of home, so he likes it.

He steps up through the pub door, his shoes sticking a little to the floor, and orders a beer. The football is on, and he stares lazily at the figures running on the little TV screen. Grabbing his bottle with a nod of thanks, he steps out to the pub garden and spots Richard and Bonehead lounging on a bench. He doesn’t know why they aren’t inside. It’s fucking freezing. Liam made his way over regardless, catching the strains of conversation. Richard was in a discussion with Bonehead about some bird he’s been seeing lately.

“At least she’s not as stuck up as the last one,” Richard says with a shrug. He takes a deep drag of the cigarette and blows out the smoke to the air above him, nodding at Liam in greeting as he sits beside them.

“Well, that’s what you get for going for posh birds, y’know,” Bonehead replies, giving Liam a look as if to see if he agrees.

“Yeah, fuckin’ alright,” Richard waves his hand dismissively at Bonehead. His last girl was someone he had met while working as a waiter at a charity ball. He had accepted the job mostly to have a laugh with his mates at the toffs but then ended up shagging the charity holder’s daughter.

She had gotten a thrill from being with someone from the ‘wrong side of the tracks’, which the term makes Liam shiver in embarrassment, but the adventurous affair came to an end when her mother had made it very clear she was not going to end up with a bloke like Richard. Apparently, she needed a proper young man to take care of her and not some lad making a living on serving shrimp cocktails to rich people.

“They’re all th’ fuckin same! They love the idea of a council flat and-and cheap food and shitty beer but as soon as you dunk them into reality, they fuck off back to their parents and their money.”

Liam scuffs his toe on the patio as he listens to Bonehead, his brain whirring. He thinks of all the people he saw at the party. The way they drank and spoke and acted. The way their clothes show who they are and what they earn.
Liam wonders if they ever lie awake and wonder about what would happen if they didn’t get their blessed job as an independent fucking artist. He wonders if they can listen and understand the Stone Roses just like him, feel the emotion in the same way.

Then he thinks of Damon, who despite his background had not treated Liam any differently to anyone else.

Well, you could say that he’d even made Liam feel things for once.

Regardless of if it was his head, his heart or his lower body -wait, no, it can’t be in his heart. Stomach, yeah, could be his stomach. After all, he made him feel things.

Shit, not his heart.

“Don’t you agree, Liam? Patsy was a real brat, wasn’t she?”

Liam forces himself out of his own thoughts involuntarily and glances up from the bench to Bonehead, who’s speaking directly to him.

“Yeah, yeah of course,” he pauses and takes a big gulp from his beer. “She was a bit stuck up. Always wanted to go to them fancy restaurants.”

Richard laughs at him. “You still had somewhere better to stay than that shithole you live in now, innit?” It’s true - when he’d been with Patsy, they’d shacked up in her fancy Notting Hill abode, paid for by her dad. Apparently it was necessary for her to focus on her studies instead of needing to work and earn her own money.

“First of all, me flat is not a shithole, ya cunt, and d’yuh reckon you’d crash there every second of the day if it was? Second, I couldn’t be fucked to have her geezer up my arse every other week asking about when I would get a proper job. I have a proper job!” He exclaims and throws out his hands as if to empathise Patsy’s ridiculous father.

“Alright, touchy!” Richard backs off and goes back to talk about his charity ball sweetheart. Liam, who doesn’t want to tell his friends that he thinks they’re exaggerating or generalising at all, thank you very much, falls back into his own thoughts.

Liam wonders if he’ll meet Damon again, and thinks about Damon asking Jarvis why he hadn’t introduced them earlier. Liam wonders if he would have met Damon earlier had he accepted one of Jarvis’s many anonymous offers of a partner. He feels a pang of regret sting inside him and makes an informed and democratic decision at that moment to visit all of Jarvis’s parties for the slim hope of potentially seeing Damon again.

Liam chokes on his beer as his eyes caught an ugly tone of brown across the street. It’s fucking Jarvis in a brown suede suit. Jesus! He swears that man isn’t fully human, or just appears at the worst times like some chaotic trickster god to fuck with him personally.

Jarvis looks rather confused, his hair ruffled and unkempt, his suit jacket only held together by one button. Liam sinks down into his bench, hoping with all his extremities crossed that Jarvis won’t see him. His friends already hate people like Jarvis, and it is not helping that their last encounter was tainted by the fact that Jarvis had just come off a snogging session with some boy, causing his lips to be magenta pink. Richard had imitated his giggles for weeks after and Liam had wanted to die.
It looked like God was not on his side today, either.

Before he can register what’s happening, Jarvis is lolloping across the street towards them, a big smile on his face while he waves. “Liam, hey!”

Liam inhales, trying to stay calm. “Alright Jarvis. Didn’t think you were the type to visit this shithole?” Liam replies loudly as if to ask what the fuck he is doing in Brixton of all places. It’s the darling of stuck-up papers who like to clutch their pearls on why left-wing politics simply won’t work, or who want to get statistics for stabbings. Liam scoffs at that. He’s walked around at night no end of times and he’s never been stabbed. First time for everything, he supposes.

“Yeah, I’m only here ‘coz I’m out looking for some stuff Saskia asked me to buy for some recipe she’s making and she made me come here. Not that I’m doing a good job at finding it, either way.” Jarvis chuckles, combing a hand through his messy hair.

Liam opens his mouth, about to make some quip and send Jarvis on his way when a light bulb flashes over his tall friend’s head.

“Oh! Thank you so much for coming to the party, by the way. I hope you had a good time!” Jarvis says enthusiastically. Liam suddenly finds it hard to breathe, and he can feel Richard and Bonehead’s questioning glances boring into him. Of course, he hasn’t told anyone he went to the party. It wasn’t their business and he didn’t want them to go on some rant about why he’d been hanging out with ‘that posh prick Jarvis.’

They keep their mouths shut. Liam knows he’s in for the bollocking of a century after Jarvis will be gone.

“Yeah, it was, uh...” He fumbles with his words. “Alright, Jarv. Thanks.”

“I told you the people wouldn’t be that bad, didn’t I?”

“Yeah, yeah, they weren’t bad.” The words tumble out of his mouth, falling over each other. The silence from his friends is starting to become unbearable.

“Well, me and the band are havin’ a gig this Saturday. It’s by that park, the one like five minutes away from my gaff.” Liam nods hurriedly - it was the park next to the tube station where he’d seen Damon odd. “I’d love it if you could show up. You still haven’t seen us play, y’know.”

Liam nods casually.

“Oh, by the way, some people from the party will probably be there too,” Jarvis adds with a smirk.

Liam feels a sudden amount of heat swim down his body. He folds his arms, trying to act aloof, trying to think of anything but Damon. Jarvis, mercifully, stays quiet.

“Well, consider it, yeah? I really need to get going now, I’m already running late.” Jarvis salutes Liam and company and loped back through the pub’s garden doors. Liam, arms still crossed, lets out a massive breath he didn’t even know he was holding. He lifts his chin, like the conversation hadn’t happened, and takes a swig from his beer. His head turns towards a sudden huff that escapes from Richard, and he and Bonehead exchanges look before Bonehead speaks.

“What the fuck was that all about?”

“Dunno what yer talkin’ about.”

Bonehead cackles mockingly. “I’m talkin’ about the tall poof you were just talkin’ with, Leeum.”

“Oh, piss off! Jarvis invited me to one of his parties and since you two twats were out with your posh birds, I went. I had fuck all else to do anyway.” He tries to play it down, make it seem like it’s not a big deal.

“Glad to know we’ve been traded in for those rich twats,” Richards murmurs with raised eyebrows.

Liam glares, a hot mix of anger and disappointment churning up inside him. Are they aware they’re being just as cunty as those so-called rich twats?

“Wait, mate, you’re not actually going to go to that gig, are you? Fuck me, I dread to think what those posh cunts are gonna do.”

Liam feels his mouth go dry and something feels stuck in his throat. He’s confused. They talk like this all the time, the air turning blue with their own prejudices. So why does this one hurt so much?

Deep down inside, a little private voice wonders if they’d also call him those names if they’d seen him with Damon last night. They probably would, and worse.
The chilly air and the idea of Damon’s eyes on him again make his whole body tingle and Liam can’t even get angry at himself for it - he’s aching for Damon’s touch again. Fuck no.

Liam swallows and musters up a surprisingly confident tone. “No, of course, I’m not fuckin’ going. Why would I?” He lets out a light laugh, fingers tapping on the bottle, the nod Bonehead gives him leaving him feeling as if he’d been stabbed. Now, there’s a stupid statistic for the papers.