When Jason comes back from watching a bit of the Pet Shop Boys' show, there's mayhem in the dressing room. He stands in the door and blinks. When he left all was calm and quiet: Gary warming up his fingers on the keyboard in the corner, Robbie browsing some odd corner of the internet, Howard flexing his muscles and stretching his legs, humming along to Gary's tinkling, and Mark reading a magazine, sipping tea. Calm and quiet. Jason likes calm and quiet ahead of gigs. But calm and quiet have left the building.
Howard and Gary are in stitches, breathless from laughter, listening to Mark reading out loud: “…he was so clumsy he tore my bra apart while trying to open it...” Mark snorts and grunts before he’s able to continue: “I was gutted, because it had been expensive.” Robbie, Jason notices, has his arms folded and pouts sourly. Mark sniggers and gasps but manages to read on “He didn't even care enough to send me a new one!” Gary, Howard and Mark burst out into another mad fit of laughter.
Jason sighs and flops down on the sofa next to Robbie. “Another kiss-and-tell-story?” Robbie rolls his eyes.
Howard giggles “you know, mate, maybe you shoulda bought her a new bra and she’d not have sold her story”.
“Yeah, Rob,” Jason says calmly, “you should listen to what our Dougie says. To this very day he hasn’t learnt how to open a bra without destroying it. But perfect gentleman that he is, he always replaces what he's broken...did you know he’s got his own shop assistant at M&S?” Howard frowns and gestures rudely into Jason’s direction.
Gary throws in a breathless “…and even though he buys them replacement lingerie they still sell their stories…”
Jason shifts closer to Robbie, bringing their shoulders together, glancing at him conspiratorially. “Look who’s talking, Rob! It’s Mr Wait-a-minute-are-you-saying-piano-playing-alone-does-not-lead-to-sex?” A short glimmer of a smile appears on Rob’s face. It’s weird, Rob thinks, how it still surprises him that Jay can be so funny. And even weirder how the slight touch of his shoulder can make him feel so much better immediately.
Mark would love to join in the teasing, but he doesn’t dare. Something to do with glass houses and stones. Even though Mark knows that none of them would raise his issues, not even here in the safety zone that is their dressing room, where nothing is sacred and the taking-the-piss is never-ending.
Later that night, after the show, when Jason is still in the ice-bath and Howard and Gary are…wherever they are, no one really knows, but everyone suspects…Mark tries to make amends. “You know, Rob, we all know it’s just a story. Who knows better than us that it doesn’t mean anything!” Robbie enjoys the sight of Mark’s signature smile for a while (never ever fails to cheer him up), then says, quietly, unusually shy, “it’s not just a story, Markie. It’s all true, I’m a bloody rotten lover, I’m seriously fucking clueless.”
“Oh, c'mon, Rob, can't be that bad?”
Rob hangs his head. “I’d not enjoy having sex with me if I was a girl.”
“Mmmmh,” Mark looks at Rob affectionately, strangely finding it soothing to know that Mr Biggest Fucking Popstar isn't invincible, “you sure?”
“Mmmh, want help, maybe?”
“I think I know someone who can help you improve.”
Rob looks puzzled. “Help me? How?”
Mark smiles and pats his arm. “5-day-program, mate. I’ll sort it for you, I’ll ask him, he can work wonders! Even turned Gaz into Mr Lover Lover!” he giggles.
Robbie still is confused and a bit alarmed and a bit worried, too. “Who are you talking about, Markie?!”
“Well, who always got all the best women back in the day?”
Of course, Rob thinks. “Jason. Always Jason.” He sighs - it’s funny how after all these years and all the giddy heights of poptastic fame and the shitloads of shitloads of money, this still hurts.
“So, show me how you kiss.”
“Huh?” Robbie is confused, basically because Jason is standing very close to him, and lately he finds he's always a bit bedazzled when Jason's that close.
“Show me how you kiss – it all starts with kissing. The better the kissing, well...y’know.”
“Erm, and, uhm, how do you want me to show you?” Rob can't believe it’s actually happening but he’s blushing. He's not supposed to show Jason how he kisses by kissing him, is he? He bites his lip.
“Oh! I forgot...” Jason turns on his heels and heads over to his bed.
“...I forgot to introduce you: Megan this is Robbie, Rob this is the lovely Megan, courtesy of Howard. He says he can manage without her for five days.” Megan is a 5’ 6” blonde with big blue eyes and velvet skin. She’s wearing a dress Rob could swear belongs to Howard’s girlfriend. Somehow she seems to be weak in the knees, too, because Jason needs to steady her by placing his hands around her hips. Or maybe it's because Megan is a luxurious life-size full-latex doll with real hair and three holes. Somehow Rob likes the first theory better.
“What the fuck does he need...” unbelievingly staring daggers at the poor open-mouthed doll.
“Rob, just show me how you kiss, okay?”
Rob approaches Megan slowly. Reluctantly. He's never kissed a doll before. She reminds him oddly of that doll they had on tour once, the Olivia Newton-Orange-doll. Creepy thing. Rob remembers vividly how it used to scare the hell out of all of them lying around in the backstage area. Rob shudders, but can't help but wonder why the friggin' heck Howard owns a doll who looks like...
“Rob? We don't have all night.”
Rob would love to point out that actually they have, since sleep can't really be expected by either of them, but he figures that's not what Jason means - he just doesn't wish to spend the whole night with him. No, he only wants to spend that odd part of the night with him in which Rob will look ridiculous, kissing a creepy doll. Oh well, Rob thinks, and starts kissing Megan. Or at least does what he thinks is kissing.
Jason watches Rob's efforts for a while, long enough to get an idea of the damage he's supposed to fix. Looks like this is going to be more difficult than he imagined. He doesn't really worry, though – after all it's not as bad a starting position as it was with Gary. That was seriously hard work; Gaz was the only one who needed an 8-day-programme.
Jason places a hand on Rob's shoulder and notices Rob trembles under the touch. He wants to say “You call that kissing?”, light and funny, to make Rob laugh and relax, but figures that might not quite be the right strategy now.
“Mmmmh, Rob....I think, uhmmmm, maybe you're a little bit too....eager? Why not start a little softer, slower? No need to hurry things, you know? She's here with you, you managed to talk her into your room, you can take it easier now.”
“Yeah, and too much tongue.”
“What the fuck? I don't use too much tongue, I...”
“Rob, please! You're supposed to kiss her, not check if her fillings are all solid.”
Rob whimpers. “I wasn't...fuck…”
Jason doesn't want to give the impression he’s impatient, but this isn't getting anywhere and needs to be stopped in its tracks. “Acceptance, Rob, please?” He doesn't need to explain any further, Rob's been to rehab twice.
Jason smiles fondly - this part was a lot harder with Mark and Gary and took forever with Howard. Rob may be loud and full of swearwords, but he’s honest with himself, after all. Jason approves muchly, this, he muses, is one of the wonderful sides of Rob he never got a chance to notice first time ‘round.
“Okay then, try again. Slow, nice and easy, with feeling...”
Rob relaxes. Visibly. And tries kissing nice, slow and easy. Jason studies him intently, just so he knows when he's ready for the next step.
“Far better, mate...now we need to improve your tongue work, especially the intertwining.”
“The inter...o c’mon, Jay! You kidding?”
“No, Rob, I’m not kidding.”
“But, Jay, Megan has no tongue, how can I intertwine?!”
“I know Rob, Megan does not have a tongue...”
Rob gasps silently. What’s this bastard planned now? Jason’s swaggered to the bathroom with a “just a second, Rob, relax…” casually glibbed over his shoulder. Robbie nervously wonders if there’s a doll with a tongue, or a girl waiting in the bathroom, when he hears the familiar sound of someone using mouthwash. A glance over to the bathroom and yes, it’s Jason, burbling. Rob feels something very thrilling might happen next. Anticipation prickles nicely on his skin and he knows he’s more than just a little bit nervous, trying to dry his sweaty hands on his trousers. An effort completely wasted, because the sight of Jason returning from the bathroom licking away the rest of Listerine from his lips, leaving them moist and shiny, marks the return of the damp palms.
“So”, Rob croaks, “you'll, uhm, play the girl?”
Clever boy, Jason thinks, smiling. “Yep. Just pretend I'm pretty.”
“You are pretty.”
“Plonker. Now go on.”
Rob swallows hard and tries to get his thoughts sorted. So difficult when big blue eyes look at you expectantly. Rob just stands and stares and he could swear the air is buzzing. All he can see is Jason’s face, extreme close-up and, God, he likes what he sees. The chiselled cheekbones, slowly moving as he breathes, the small wrinkles around his eyes, the ones that tell Rob that he’s actually smiling a little bit, that big-brother-I’m-so-fond-of-you-smile that he used to hate so much first time round, and that now he can’t get enough of. It’s sympathetic and arrogant at the same time, a weird combination only Jay is able to smile and get away with. It used to make Rob feel small and unworthy and vacant (something Jason never realized), but now he understands, it’s nothing but pure, clean affection and fondness and yes, awe, and it should make him feel safe and loved and appreciated. But all it does right now is make him nervous, because there is something else that sparkles from those blue eyes, something dark, sensual and do-you-dare-like. Something that definitely wasn’t there back then, but is now, which makes Rob a happy chap and a jittering wreck at the same time. There’s “challenge” written over the way Jason smiles, the way the corners of his mouth twitch bemusedly. Rob feels hot and a bit aroused and a part of him wants to run away from this room, run away from that effin’ 5-day-program. Fuck, this is only day 1? How’s he going to survive the other 4 days? But there’s another part of him, the part that wants to accept the challenge, the part that wants to explore what’s behind that darker glimpse in Jason’s eyes. The part of him that won’t let Jason win that easily.
Rob tries to breathe slower, concentrate, compose himself. How was that? Slow, nice and easy? He wants slow, nice and easy? He better watch what he asks for. Rob moves forward, slowly, tilting his head slightly. He can feel Jason’s breath on his cheek and even the smell of Listerine can’t destroy the sensation in his tummy, or stop the blood pumping beneath his ears. He moves even closer, literally catching Jason’s breath. Slow, nice and easy. Rob closes his eyes and lets their lips brush together. Slow, nice and easy. A glorious feeling in his belly when he feels their noses rub against each other. Slow, nice and easy. Carefully he lets his tongue play around Jason’s lips, just to see if he’s allowed inside. And he is, Jason opens up gladly, and Rob’s tongue moves slowly, seeking for Jason’s, asking it to come out and play, carefully, softly, but finally intertwining. Slow, nice and easy. Rob’s knees are very weak. Or is the floor being wobbly?
Jason, however, still knows what this is about and breaks the kiss after what Rob thinks is a too short while. A wave of disappointment rushes over Robbie, he backs away, his brow creases. But Jason just looks at him, fondly, mildly surprised, strangely aroused, he catches his breath and extends the task.
“Use your hands, Rob. Just so I see what you do with them?”
Rob's officially in wonderland.
Two breathless hours and four bottles of water later Robbie wonders if a tongue can actually fall off if used too much. And, blimey, he never had the faintest bit of an idea just how many ways to use your tongue are out there! All the things you can do…and feel…and…
Jason says “See you tomorrow. Suit and tie and clean underwear, please.”
“Show us how you strip.”
Jason and Megan sit on the sofa and look at him expectantly.
“Show us how you strip. Undress yourself. Get rid of your clothes.”
“Why is she watching?”
“Well, she’s your love interest, isn’t she? Let’s see if you can turn her on.”
“But, Jay...she's a DOLL!”
“Oh c'mon, mate, only kidding. Just show us how you strip. Don't be shy!”
Robbie doesn't like the smug grin on Jason's face a bit. Still he strips. How was that? Nice, slow and easy. Jason and Megan sit back and enjoy the show. Quite pleasurable, Jason thinks, he’s really worked a lot in the gym, nice one! No one knows what Megan thinks, but she’s used to that.
Two minutes thirty-two seconds later, Robbie's naked.
“Okay, Rob. Quite nice.”
“Quite nice? What the fuck?!?”
“You want to seduce her, right? You're not a Chippendales dancer...”
“Rob, no swearing! You're seducing a beautiful lady. Now get dressed and try again.”
“Acceptance, Rob. Remember?”
Fucking acceptance, Rob thinks, while dressing up again.
Three hours and fourteen more attempts of getting rid of his clothes later, Rob’s shattered, Megan’s fallen over on the sofa, and Jason’s sorting his notes.
“Right,” he says, smiling a very complacent smile, “brilliant! You see, you’ve got a little bit of a variety now. You might need to work on the one or the other detail here and there, but overall I’d say this is very, very good. You’re not quite Mark yet, but…”
“Better than Gazza?!”
“Definitely better than Gazza.”
So, this was exhausting and Rob’s going to be very sore tomorrow – but he feels happily accomplished. And he could swear he saw Jason’s hand slightly trembling while taking notes.
Jason says “See you tomorrow.”
“No further instructions?”
“No further instructions.”
Jason sits cross-legged in the armchair of his suite’s sleeping room, biting the corner of his lip to stop himself from giggling. The room is spread with Megan’s clothing and on the bed, Robbie, in his pants and one of his socks, is fumbling around with the remains of what once was Megan’s left silk stocking. Jason forces himself to think of something sad in order to stop sniggering. Good old actor’s trick, always works!
“Huh?!” Rob’s still fighting with the silk stocking.
“I think I’ve seen enough.”
Rob looks over to him, with big eyes. “It wasn’t very good, was it?”
Jason gets up from the armchair, walks over to the bed, casually picks up Megan’s bra from the floor and sits down on the edge of the bed. “What makes you think so?”
Rob brings the stocking closer to Jason’s eyes. “I’ve torn a ladder!”
Jason nods, biting his lip once more. “Actually, it's more of a hole, Rob.”
Rob spreads the ladder with two fingers, looking sad. “Yeah. Fuck!”
“Never mind, mate. We can buy new stockings…I’m more worried about Megan…” He looks over to the other side of the bed, where poor Megan lies on her back in a more than awkward position. “If she was human I guess this”, he points at her left leg, “would really hurt.”
Any other occasion Rob would’ve burst into laughter, but right now he’s angry with himself for again being a clumsy oaf. He wanted to impress Jason with his undressing skills, but no, everything, from the damn dress to the bloody damn shoes to the fucking damn bra to the fucking shitty stockings was against him. Not to mention his own clothes. “It’s just these fucking stockings, they’re fucking sticky and…”
“Rob.” Jason says calmly. His patience, Robbie thinks, must be never-ending.
“Acceptance?” Rob mutters, playing around with the bundle of silk in his hands.
Rob sighs. “Okay. All right. Acceptance.”
“Right, now let’s see…how can we improve this...?” Jason thoughtfully strokes his chin, weighing the means. This part was actually easy with Gary (pianist hands!) and with Mark, who loves clothes so much he can’t stand them being torn. Howard, on the other hand, was so clumsy and impatient that they thought of another way of…yeah, that might work for Rob, too.
“You know what you should do, Rob?”
“Make them strip for you – tell them nicely you like this a lot, you know? Make them part of your play.”
“Jesus, you’re fucking brilliant.”
Jason frowns and shakes his head. Robbie’s excited, “so, how do we practise this? I can’t make Megan strip?” His eyes glisten mischievously and he desperately tries to suppress the naughty grin that is trying to creep onto his face. In his head he’s planning half a dozen different strategies of how to make someone strip. Scratch ‘someone’. Jason. “I’m afraid, my friend, you’ll have to be my guinea pig.” Trying to look as innocent as possible. Failing big time.
“Dream on. We don’t have to train something you’re perfectly capable of.”
“Afraid you might like it, eh?”
Jason says “See you tomorrow. Wear something comfortable.”
Rob wears something comfortable, just like he was told. Jason wears something comfortable, too. His definition of comfortable is slightly different, though. Tracksuit bottoms. Nothing else. And he hasn’t even bothered to tie the drawstring. They sit down on the sofa and Jason has no intention of wasting time.
“So, what do you know about erogenous zones?”
“Yeah, that’s exactly the answer I was dreading. Right, imagine. You’ve talked Megan up to your room, you’ve kissed the last bit of sense out of her, you’ve talked her out of her clothes – what do you do now?”
“I got the gift, gotta stick it in the hole, it’s time to move your bo-dy-iiiih…!”
“Sex is not about sticking the gift in the hole.” Jason marks quotes in the air while saying “gift” and “hole”. You know that, don’t you?”
“Erm….yeah, course…” Not very convincing. Jason sighs.
“Right then, mate, tell me what is sex about?”
“Uhmmm, fun? Satisfaction? Feeling good?” It’s not that Rob’s not trying.
“Mmmhh.” It’s a start, Jason thinks. “And who, my friend, is supposed to have fun? Who’s supposed to feel satisfied?”
“Exactly. And now tell me, Rob, do you think that everyone you got involved with previously was left feeling good and satisfied?”
They spend the rest of the night on the sofa, talking. Well, Jason’s talking – Robbie is listening. Learning things he would know if he’d ever cared to think about them for a minute or two. Jason obviously has spent quite some time thinking about them. And Rob doubts he’s only thought about them. And so he listens and learns that getting there is more important than climaxing, that the journey is the reward, and that sex is not a competition. He listens and learns that it’s important to use all senses, watch carefully, move slowly. “Something you do with your finger causes a tremble? You notice that placing a kiss on a certain spot induces a shudder? If you caress a body part it provokes a moan? Take note, mate, and adapt. Listen to your lover’s breathing, you know you’re doing things right, if you only listen carefully... and it’s nice, you know? Breathing is something beautiful, really.” Robbie loves when Jason comes up with stuff like this. Breathing is beautiful, that’s true, but only a few people notice, or think about it. Very few people. Precious people. “Dare and try something new, did you know”, Jason asks, “how sensitive the tip of your nose is? Do you know how good it feels to slowly rub it against your lover’s navel? Did you know the sensation you can cause with softly kissing someone’s armpit or tenderly licking the crook of the elbow?” “Forgotten areas”, Jason calls them, and Rob can see he’s really sad they don’t get half the attention they deserve. And so Jason tells Rob all about the soft skin behind the ears, and the delicate spot between the shoulder blades, and the breathlessness your fingers can unleash simply by travelling up the inside of a thigh.
Rob’s mouth is very dry and he feels the blood pumping beneath his ears and he finds himself staring at the open ends of the drawstring peering out of Jay's tracksuit bottoms unnaturally often. And, goddamnit, they haven’t even halfway reached the specific zones. Sometime around an excursion that has to do with the tip of the tongue and the area around the nipples, Rob’s had it. Whether it’s the lush description, or Jason’s soft voice, or his hands, slowly moving through the air while gesturing, Rob doesn’t know. All he knows is he’s hard, and if this is what Jason can do only with talking, Rob doesn’t want to know what he could do if he actually put any of this into practice.
“Loo!” he squeals and jumps and runs to the bathroom and now he’s glad he’s wearing “something comfortable”.
Two hours later, when Rob is the bathroom for the third time, he figures it’s probably pretty silly to try and keep his moaning low while he jerks himself. Jason, he figures, is either utterly oblivious or a perfect gentleman, but surely not daft.
The sun almost comes up again when Jason thinks he’s told Rob all he knows. Rob is somewhere between a never-stop-talking longing and a if-he-says-more-my-cock-will-explode fear. Blissfully torn. Jason doesn’t know, or doesn’t mind, Rob’s not so sure.
Jason sighs, he’s going to miss this, their nights together. Not that he's going to tell Rob. It’s just not…appropriate. And so all he says is “Tomorrow is day five, the day you go and put the theory into action.” He pauses, thinks, then adds “if you like, we can… uhmm, talk about it…afterwards. Only if you like, not mandatory, y’know.” He waves around with his hand, in a way Rob has seen him do before, when he wanted to shake something off, a weird thought, an awkward remark, a strange situation.
Rob waits a little while, his hand on the doorknob, but Jason doesn't say a word about his extended visits to the loo.
It’s been two hours since they got back to the hotel from that night’s show when there’s finally this knock on Jason’s door that he’s been eagerly anticipating and awkwardly dreading in equal shares. It takes him some time to nervously unleash the drawstring he’s swathed around his fingers. He’s awfully well aware that he might have created a monster, and so he takes a very deep breath and forces a couple of muscles to create the illusion of a smile before he goes to open the door.
“So, you want to talk about it?” he asks, unnaturally cheerful.
“Possibly.” Robbie shrugs his shoulders and walks into the room.
“Possibly?” Jason turns around on the threshold, looking perplexed.
“Possibly.” Rob graces him with a smile that's far beyond pretty and all kinds of lewd. “I’ll decide afterwards.”