He was too hot. Still mostly asleep, Eddie shifted away from the warm body pressed up against his back. The arm around him tightened, and a deep voice muttered a protest. Suddenly wide awake, Eddie grabbed the arm and threw it off him, reaching for the switch by the bed.
Pippin groaned and screwed his eyes tight against the sudden glare of light. "God, what'd you go and do that for?"
"What the hell are you doing here?" Eddie said, sitting up and staring in disbelief at his partner.
"I needed somewhere to crash," Pippin said, as though it were perfectly normal behaviour to break in to your partner's house, climb in to bed with him and cuddle him.
"Well, you can't sleep here!"
"Have a heart, mate. I can't go back to my place."
"Why—" Eddie shook his head. "You know, I'm not even going to ask. What's wrong with a hotel, anyway?"
"You'd do that to your mate? Your partner? Your—"
"Fine. There are spare blankets in the hall closet. You can sleep on the couch."
"You're kidding, right? Your dog sleeps on that, and I wouldn't want him to get the wrong impression. Besides, isn't this more cosy?"
"I don't think 'cosy' is the word I'd use," Eddie grumbled, giving in – but only because Pippin had a point about Pete. He turned his back to Pippin and pulled up the covers over his shoulder pointedly.
But Eddie couldn't get back to sleep. Pippin was fidgeting next to him. Eddie ignored him. He ignored the heavy sigh Pippin gave, too.
"This is ridiculous," Pippin's voice said, after a while. "You know what would help us both get to sleep. An orgasm."
Only Pippin. "Not tonight, dear. I have a headache," Eddie said.
"Seriously, dude. You've been really uptight lately. You need to get laid."
"As it happens, I have met someone."
"No!" Pippin exclaimed incredulously. "Who? When have you even had time? You spend all your free time with me."
"No one you'd know," Eddie said, wishing he hadn't mentioned it.
"Wait, you don't mean that girl that thrashes you at racquetball?"
Eddie turned to stare at the shadow lying next to him.
"Fiona talked," Pippin explained. "I didn't even have to bribe her."
Pippin wasn't going to drop it. Eddie banged his head on his pillow a couple of times. "Her name's Lucy," he said, into the darkness. "I met her at that party you took me to."
"Lucy…Lucy…not Lucy Reynolds?"
"You know her?"
"You could say that."
"Oh, man. Is there a woman in London you haven't slept with?"
"It would have been better for you if I had."
"How could it possibly be better for me if you'd slept with the woman I'm dating?"
"Well, it would mean she wasn't a lesbian."
"Lucy's not a lesbian!"
"Why would she go out with me if she was gay?"
"Because I am your friend, I will manfully ignore that opening, and merely ask, are you sure she knows that's what's going on? I thought you guys were just playing racquetball."
"Well, yeah, so far. But I was planning on asking her out. Soon."
"So you haven't actually gone out on an actual, real date?"
"Well, then," Pippin said, his voice even more innuendo-laden than usual, and a hand slid into Eddie's shorts. Instinctively he jerked back but Pippin's hand followed, and Eddie's body betrayed him.
"Nice," Pippin said, sounding satisfied.
"Jeez, Monty, you ever heard of subtlety?" he complained, while of their own accord his legs parted slightly to make more room for the hand groping him.
It seemed Eddie's body agreed with Pippin. And when the bedclothes were lifted and Pippin shifted in the darkness and Eddie found himself on the receiving end of a pretty damn impressive blowjob from his best friend, well, it seemed only fair to return the favour.
Eddie opened his eyes and stared up at the ceiling. After a long while he turned his head. Pippin was curled on his side facing him. The duvet had migrated to Eddie's side of the bed and Pippin was all long limbs and pale freckled skin.
He was an attractive man. Eddie hadn't let himself think of guys that way since he joined NYPD. It hadn't seemed worth the grief, back then. Now he was, literally, worlds away from that life. Maybe it was time to review that decision.
Pippin was drooling into his pillow. Eddie smirked. He'd be sure to mention that at an opportune moment.
A movement in the corner of his eye and Eddie looked up.
Fiona was in the doorway. Watching him. Watching him watch Pippin. She raised her eyebrows and gave him an exaggeratedly knowing look.
Eddie sat up and rubbed his hands over his face. "This isn't what it looks like," he said, knowing it was pointless.
"Oh Eddie," Fiona said compassionately. "This is the twenty-first century. You don't have to be ashamed of who you are."
Eddie was about to throw back the covers when he remembered that he was naked. He stared at Fiona. "Do you mind?" he asked meaningfully.
"Not at all. Unless..." Fiona looked him pityingly. "Oh, I'm sorry Eddie. I didn't mean to embarrass you. Of course you don't want people to see you and pity you. It's not your fault. Nature can be cruel. I'm sure you have other...attributes...that compensate...you know..."
Fiona was on a roll. She obviously didn't expect him to get up while she was standing there.
Too bad. Eddie got up and grabbed some shorts, ignoring Fiona's little gasp, and the tinge of a blush on her cheekbones.
"Did you want something?" he asked, pulling them on.
"Actually, I just came to tell you that Lucy's here," she announced airily, recovering her poise.
"She is?" He squinted at the window. It still seemed really early, but England could be deceptive that way. "What time is it?" he yawned.
"Nearly eight o'clock. She's in the living room." Fiona smiled at him. Maliciously. "Shall I tell her you'll be right out, or would you like to clean up first?"
Eddie glared at her. She blinked innocently at him. "Could you please tell her I'll be down in five?" he asked her extra-politely. Fiona smiled sweetly and disappeared.
Eddie didn't trust Fiona as far as he could throw her. He pulled on some sweats with record speed and took the stairs four at a time.
"Lucy, hi. Sorry, I didn't mean to sleep in. I didn't sleep well, and I think Pete chewed my phone again-"
Lucy tossed the magazine she'd been reading onto the coffee table and stood up. Her outfit was form-fitting but not tight and her red hair was pulled back into a casual ponytail. He liked that she didn't pack on the make-up to exercise, unlike most women he'd dated before. He liked that down to earth quality about her. Maybe it was a British thing. He'd ask Fiona but the most exercise he'd seen Fiona do was that time he'd caught her and Nigel in flagrante delicto and quite frankly he wasn't ready to unrepress that trauma.
He watched her tilt her head as she looked him up and down. "You do look knackered," she said bluntly. "Are you sure you're up to a game this morning?"
"No, I'm good." Eddie grabbed his sports bag and picked up his keys. He nodded towards the door. "Let's go."
With impeccable timing, Pippin wandered into the room, yawning, clad only in a dark blue pair of the tight boxer shorts that he favoured, his hair attractively dishevelled. He looked, to Eddie's prejudiced eyes, like he'd spent the night having wild sex.
Fiona followed him in. "Have you met Eddie's friend Monty, Lucy?" she said eagerly, with only the tiniest emphasis on the word 'friend'.
Dismayed, Eddie looked at Lucy, expecting…expecting…well, some reaction.
But either she was completely oblivious…or Pippin was right, and Eddie had been misreading the situation.
"Hi Monty," Lucy was saying to Pippin.
"Lucy, hi," Pippin mumbled. "Eddie, all right if I use your toothbrush, yeah?"
"No," Eddie said firmly. "There's a spare in the cabinet, you can have that." Pippin had already vanished into the bathroom.
Eddie looked at Lucy. She was looking at her watch.
Well, Eddie wasn't that desperate, despite what some people said. And he knew when to cut his losses. "You know what, I am kinda beat. Do you mind if we reschedule?"
Lucy smiled at him in a friendly manner. "Not at all," she said, not looking at all disappointed at the cancellation of their plans. "Give me a call when you're feeling better," she said, and leaned up to kiss him on the cheek.
"Here, let me show you out," Fiona said sweetly, and followed Lucy into the hall. Between the sound of the front door opening and the faint sound of the shower running, Eddie wasn't positive, but he thought he heard Fiona saying something about herpes.
Not that it mattered, it seemed. Eddie smiled to himself. It was kind of a silver lining that all her interference had been a waste of Fiona's time.
He wandered into the bathroom to piss. Pippin stuck his head around the shower curtain, his red-gold hair damp and plastered to his temples. The room was very steamy.
Eddie glared at him in the mirror as he was washing his hands. "You were right."
"Never mind, mate," Pippin said cheerfully. "What did Julie Andrews say about somewhere a door closes and a window opens?"
"God said it?" Pippin sounded confused.
"What?" It was too early in the morning for this.
Pippin turned the water off. "You like me better, anyway. Admit it," he said, stepping out of the shower and casually reaching for Eddie's towel on the rail, smirked as he caught Eddie checking him out. Accidentally, of course.
"So? What?" Eddie said, baffled. "Is this a relationship, now?"
"Could be. Could be. We could go on a date. I like candlelit dinners, long romantic walks on the beach…" Pippin shrugged. "Who are we kidding? We'll stop at the pub for a quick pint and then go back to my place and shag like bunnies." Pippin waggled his eyebrows. "The 'pint' part of the plan is negotiable."
Eddie just looked at him. After a few moments Pippin's smile faded. "Or we could take it slower. Do it proper-like," he said, sounding uncertain for the first time.
"I don't share," Eddie said, flatly.
"I can do monogamy," Pippin finished drying himself. "I can," he insisted, when Eddie looked at him sceptically.
"What about Audrey?"
"She'll understand," he said, hanging up the towel. He stood in front of Eddie, unselfconsciously naked. "In fact, I suspect she might just be happy for us, after she stops laughing her ass off."
Eddie looked at him, gauging his sincerity. Pippin had been flirting with him practically since the moment they met. Eddie had just assumed it was something he did as naturally as breathing. As thoughtlessly. This sounded like more, like Pippin had feelings for him. And Eddie liked Pippin. Cared about him, even. Last night had proven they were good together. Great, even.
Maybe this was something worth taking a chance on. "Monty—"
"Oops, sorry boys. I hope I'm interrupting," Fiona chirped, sticking her head in the door. "Just thought you'd like know that someone's phone is ringing."
"As a matter of fact you are." Eddie said pointedly. "A pint it is," he agreed and, without bothering to check if Fiona was still there, took a step forward and slid his arms around Pippin's damp, naked waist. Pippin smiled at him hopefully, and with that his last reservations vanished, and Eddie leaned forward and kissed Pippin with intent.