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not like the old days

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There are a lot of places Cecil could take Carlos on a date. There's Big Rico's, Arby's, Chili's, Pinkberry, the coffee shop on Old Post Road- as long as they're gone by 7:45 at the latest, because it tends to blink out of existence around 8 and not reopen until 6- but Carlos is much, much happier when Cecil just invites him over for dinner.

Carlos doesn't ask about the steak, which is slightly blue in the middle in a way that steak shouldn't be blue. It tastes great, and it's always better not to ask about Night Vale food as long as it's not actively attacking you. He only has one glass of wine, though, because it's smoking gently in its bottle. He's a good guest, but he's not that good of a guest.

They're chatting- Cecil is a good conversationalist, mostly because he's a good listener. Maybe that's strange, given that he talks for a living; maybe he just likes to have a break when he's at home.

And then very suddenly Carlos is out of things to talk about. There's not a single thought in his head at all, except things that are either very trite and obvious- this steak tastes almost like cow, doesn't it?- or unfit for the occasion- did you know that the light reflects off your hair perfectly and makes it look like silk?- or a mix of the two- do you pay a lot for your shampoo?

Cecil is waiting for him. He's gone past the period of patient calm, waiting for Carlos to speak, and into the worried look of someone convinced they've somehow done something wrong, but still Carlos has nothing to say.

"I haven't done this in a very long time," Cecil says, looking down at his plate. Carlos isn't sure whether that's surprising or not; he's mostly glad Cecil broke the silence. "I think most people think I'm going to announce my love life on the radio."

Carlos immediately makes a note not to ask Cecil if he's going to announce this- what he hopes this is, what he wants to happen- on the radio. He's not going to lie and say it wasn't on his list of questions.

"Don't worry about it," Carlos says, putting his hand over Cecil's, and Cecil smiles.

--

It's been eight years. Carlos was still doing his masters. It wasn't even a thing, just a guy he met in a bar, and it's only memorable by virtue of the fact that it was the last time.

--

It's three dates before they so much as kiss. Cecil starts to worry that Carlos doesn't want to kiss him at all, and he doesn't see how he could possibly do it himself, not when Carlos is so perfect, so singular. But then on that third date, they're sitting on the couch talking, and suddenly Cecil can't not; he cuts Carlos off mid-sentence, leaning over and kissing him. He makes to pull away, certain he's done the wrong thing, but Carlos doesn't let him go, holding him close.

Cecil ends up on top of him, their legs tangled together. They kiss until they're breathless, until Cecil feels lightheaded from all of it, and then they take a breath and do it all over again. Carlos is rocking his hips now, and Cecil can feel him hard against his thigh. It only makes him press down against him, try to get some relief for himself. It's so good, so much better than it's been in so very, very long, and Cecil can't get enough. It's amazing, stunning that Carlos is letting him do this, that Carlos wants him like this, and Cecil is suddenly so close, so ready, and then he pushes down and-

"Shit," Cecil says passionately. He broke himself of the habit of swearing years ago, behavior unbecoming a journalist, but if there ever is a time to swear, this is it. "I'm so sorry."

"It's okay," Carlos says, with a self-effacing laugh. "I did too. It's been a really long time."

"This isn't how I wanted it to go," Cecil tells him, sighing.

"Maybe we should take it slow," Carlos says gently, and Cecil doesn't tell him that he's pretty sure what they just did qualifies as taking it very fast indeed.

"Alright," Cecil says, bending down and kissing him.

--

It's been ten years. Jenny walked out on him one Sunday morning, and Cecil didn't notice until Tuesday, too busy at the station. On Thursday she was swallowed by the void on Route 800. She didn't deserve it and Cecil missed her, but her lack of continued existence did make things less awkward.

--

And then one night Cecil and Carlos finally make it to the bed.

Carlos presses him down into the sheets, kissing him hungrily as Cecil fumbles with Carlos's boxers, pushing them down and wrapping his hand around his cock. Carlos accidentally bites down hard on Cecil's lip, struck by the pleasure of it, and Cecil hisses. Carlos pulls away, kissing his neck instead, a spot behind his ear that Cecil likes particularly. He knows Cecil must be wanting, waiting for Carlos to touch him, but the angle is kind of funny and he's not sure how to do it without Cecil stopping.

"Stop," Carlos says, despite the fact that he'd gladly let Cecil bring him off right now. "Just stop for a second." He takes his boxers off, awkwardly maneuvering so that he doesn't knee Cecil in the groin or something. Cecil pushes his down around his thighs, and Carlos decides that that's good enough.

He reaches for the lube and condom that are sitting hopefully on the nightstand, ripping the condom open and rolling it onto Cecil's cock. They hadn't really talked about this, hadn't decided who was going to do what, but Carlos is going to be greedy. He's going to take what he wants now, ask questions later. He slicks up his fingers, opening himself quickly, probably too quickly, but he has to do this right now, right now, because he can't stand not doing it for another second.

He kneels up, positioning himself, his breath hitching at the first push of Cecil's cock inside of him. Cecil is panting, sweating, but he doesn't move, doesn't do anything to hurry him along. Carlos drops down slowly, so slowly, lowering himself delicately as he can. It's been a long time, it's been a very long time, but that doesn't mean Carlos hasn't been thinking about it, pressing his fingers into himself while he jerks off and wishing it was Cecil's hand, his cock. It hurts, but Carlos doesn't give a fuck.

Carlos tries to move slowly, draw it out, but he's just too turned on. Cecil is moaning, his hands on Carlos's thighs, and Carlos drinks it in, the look on his face, the sound of him. It feels really awkward, bouncing up and down on him like this, but it's worth it if Cecil will just keep looking at him like that, keep making those noises.

Cecil's not any more patient than he is; he puts his hand around Carlos's dick, stroking it quickly, wanting to push him on, needing him to give it up, and Carlos makes a noise he's embarrassed of and comes all over himself. Cecil swears loudly, pushing up into him, and Carlos knows he's just come. The knowledge is powerful, the idea that they've done this together, they've finally done it, and despite everything, no matter what, it was perfect.

--

It's been two hours. Carlos rests his head on Cecil's chest, looking up at the ceiling fan. Cecil has a bruised lip and Carlos is sore as hell. They both need showers, and though Cecil hasn't had a cigarette since he was twenty, he really wants one, not that he would admit that he wanted something so risky to his voice and cliche as that. Carlos mostly wants to go to sleep, but this is too nice, the two of them together, talking softly, their fingers intertwined.

Carlos shuts his eyes, moving closer to Cecil. They will both still be there in the morning.