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This One Is Forever

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It’s the thudding headache that wakes Roger up. His mouth feels sticky and his whole body is covered in a film of sweat. He’s naked, which is odd, because he always prefers pyjamas when he’s on his own. Mirka hasn’t come with him. She’s back in Switzerland trying to get the paperwork ready for when he gets back. He probably just fell into bed when he came in… actually, he can’t remember coming back to the room. He hasn’t been that drunk in years. Possibly ever. He feels like an idiot. Something rolls unpleasantly in his stomach and he puts his hand over his eyes and groans.

“Sí, I know,” says a voice behind him. The lurch with which he turns over sets his stomach off again, but he swallows down against it and just stares at Rafa on the other side of the bed.

Rafa is half asleep, one arm over his eyes, slightly green about the gills. He’s suffering too. And… well. As far as Roger can tell, he’s also naked. “What… I mean, I don’t want to be rude,” he says, because Rafa looks so soft and sleepy and warm, so he doesn’t want to sound harsh. “But, you know. What are you doing here?”

Rafa heaves a sigh and takes his arm away from his eyes. He’s sheened in sweat, too, and tendrils of his hair are stuck to his temple where he’d slept on them. His right side, Roger notes absently. That meant he slept curled in behind him. “Is a little fuzzy,” says Rafa. His voice is rough and sticky, like his mouth is lined with cotton wool. There must be water in the minibar, Roger thinks. He’ll go get it as soon as he’s figured this out. “But probably something to do with this.” Rafa holds up his left hand. There’s a plain platinum ring on his finger. His ring finger. Which is odd, because Roger’s pretty sure he’d have heard about it if Rafa had gotten married.

Rafa’s eyes flick down to Roger’s hand. Roger’s wearing a ring, too, but of course that’s not odd. He’s wearing his wedding ring as usual. He glances at it and there it is, gleaming against his skin. Gleaming… wait. Platinum. His wedding ring is gold.

Rafa is just staring at him, waiting for something to click, and when it does, it’s seismic. “Oh, shit,” says Roger. “No, this… no. Wait. We couldn’t have. That doesn’t really happen. They don’t let you if you’re…”

“Drunk?” says Rafa, quirking an eyebrow. “I think they do, Rogi.”

Roger flops onto his back, side by side with Rafa. He’s pushing tenderly at memories in his brain: sitting at the hotel bar with Rafa after their exhibition match, both of them feeling celebratory. They hadn’t played each other in years, what with them never quite meeting up in tournaments for a while before they both retired, and then after they both took a break for a while. They’d started doing exhos again for charity, though again their schedules never quite came together until Andre Agassi invited them out to Las Vegas. Roger called Rafa about it, and when it turned out they were both free, they agreed immediately. They’d looked forward to it. The fact that Rafa was still carrying an injury in his knee and Roger was still lighter on his feet meant that Roger won it, but only by a tie-breaker in the first and then one break in the second, so really it was a good match. They’d been miked up, too, so they got a few laughs from the crowd with their banter and reminiscing.

“Remember at Cincinnati 2013, Rogi, the point I won to break you in the third?”

Roger said no, because he honestly didn’t, he didn’t have Rafa’s ridiculous memory for this kind of thing.

“See if it works again,” Rafa said, and he’d try to mimic plays from their matches, from Miami in 2004 to their last match in the fourth round of the Australian Open 2017, when Roger had come back from injury for his last eighteen months on the tour. Halfway during the match someone decided to search on YouTube and show their highlights on a big screen during changeovers. Sometimes they’d even delay starting a game just to watch the end of a point or a game on the screen. From their French Open finals, their three Wimbledon finals, their Australian Open matches, and all the other tournaments they’d met at.

“It’s what, like, forty-something matches to choose from!” Roger commented after a compilation of Rafa’s banana forehands flying by him at various stages throughout their careers. “Of course he got a few of them past me.” Rafa just grinned at him.

It was at the end of the match that the big compilation came: someone had obviously been hurriedly throwing it together behind the scenes, because this was so many of their hugs at the net, so many of their trophy ceremonies, and Roger was a little taken aback at it, if he’s honest. He’d never really looked at anything like that before. Points and games, sure, but when he was running tapes with a coach or just looking up old matches, he always turned it off as soon as the last point was played. So seeing himself and Rafa touch like that, so close almost every time, over and over and over… it was strange. Maybe just nostalgic, he told himself. Maybe that’s all it was.

 

Turns out maybe it was more than nostalgia. Turns out maybe it was a lot more, even if just in a moment of drunken madness. Rafa takes his hand and holds it up, putting their ring fingers side by side. The rings are exactly alike: thick, platinum bands with grooves at the rims. Roger slips his off and looks at it. Inside there’s an R engraved. “Check yours,” he says to Rafa.

Rafa takes a look. “Same,” he says, holding it out to Roger. There it is, the same R, with flowing curlicues, the kind of thing he’d choose.

“Do you remember where we got them?” Roger asks.

“Not really,” says Rafa, shaking his head. He slips the ring back onto his finger and Roger turns to stare at him.

“Why aren’t you more freaked out?” he says. He wants it to sound accusatory because he feels like Rafa isn’t really holding up his side of things, but instead it comes out softly curious.

Rafa gives him some strange combination of facial expressions that’s so completely him that Roger can’t help smiling a little. A quirk of an eyebrow, half a shrug, a comically downturned mouth. “I’m freaked out, Rogi,” he says, in a way that betrays absolutely zero degrees of concern. “Is very strange.”

“Strange,” says Roger. “Yeah, you could definitely call it that, at least.” Now that he’s lying down like this, facing Rafa, looking at the shape of him in bed, memories are surfacing. Memories of Rafa naked underneath him, of kissing him, of easing his legs apart and fucking him. Even with that much alcohol in his system, he managed. He’s half weirded out by the memories, but even weirder is how much he actually wants to remember. How he almost feels like rolling on top of him again, if he didn’t feel so lousy. Then he notices the box of condoms and the dry sachets of lube on the bedside table and his stomach does a strange flip that has nothing to do with alcohol.

“I need water,” says Rafa, as if that’s a far more pressing issue than the fact that they are legally wed and they apparently had sex last night, and he rolls out of bed and hunts two bottles of still water out of the mini fridge. “That’s mostly empty,” he says, on his way back to bed. There are bottles scattered around the room, and tumblers with nothing in them now but melted ice and old, drying slices of lemon. Rafa gets back into Roger’s bed as naturally as he might get into his own. If Roger lets his eyes run over the shapes of Rafa’s body, his gorgeous chest, his stomach that’s still flat even though he’s retired now, and sure, his cock in its dark thatch of hair, then it’s only because this situation is so weird and he’s trying to remember what he can. If mostly what he remembers is sucking on that cock last night, then, that’s essential to know. Obviously the more they remember, the more certain they can be that they can’t get an annulment.

No, Roger thinks, remembering more and more. Definitely not an annulment. They could never argue that this marriage wasn’t thoroughly consummated.

Rafa drinks from the bottle, letting trickles of water leak from his lips, and Roger has to tear his eyes away from his bobbing throat before he gets far too lost in memories. Maybe he’s remembered enough. He half sits up against the pillows and drinks several gulps of water, until his mouth feels a little less sticky and disgusting and his brain clears just a touch.

“What do you remember?” he says to Rafa.

“Meeting at the bar,” says Rafa. He’s lying there with the sheet across his waist and his legs bent up and slightly apart, as if that doesn’t trigger even more flashbacks. Roger tries just not looking, but that leads him to looking at Rafa’s face instead. That causes a lot more eruptions of memory: he has a vague sense of hours of conversation with Rafa, staring at him, gazing into his eyes. And Rafa gazing back. “Then we get a call from Andre, remember? Saying he can’t come, his kid is sick.”

Roger remembers that much. “We told him to stay home and not worry about it,” Roger continues. “We’d find our own way.”

“Then we went for dinner. Steak, remember? Delicious.”

It’s blowing Roger’s mind how calm Rafa is about it all. Bringing up the deliciousness of dinner seems hardly relevant. But Rafa’s grinning at the memory, looking at him with bright eyes. He swigs down more water and Roger does the same.

“And then, oh yeah. We decided we’d go to the Bellagio.”

“Sí,” says Rafa. “So we went. And we drank… hmm. We drank a lot, I think.”

“You think?” says Roger, incredulously.

“Well, I don’t remember very well. Then we left and went to that other bar.”

“What other bar?”

“You don’t remember? With the music, and all the guys dancing? Was so much fun.”

“Oh. Yeah, I remember,” says Roger. He suddenly remembers more than that. He’d spent an hour in the Bellagio explaining to Rafa about the problems with the marriage.

“You and Mirka?” Rafa had said, looking worried and sad, and Roger rushed to reassure him.

“It’s just a paperwork thing,” he said, drinking an excellent scotch. He waved his hand for another. “Apparently there was some problem no one noticed with the marriage certificate. With one of the witness signatures or something? I’m not even sure. Mirka knows the details.” He vaguely wondered why he’d never really been curious enough to ask her more about it, but she’d been so busy with the founding of the PR firm with Tony Godsick that he hardly had time to ask. He couldn’t really remember the last good conversation they’d had that wasn’t about the kids or the firm, if he’s telling the truth. But he didn’t say that to Rafa. Not then, anyway, but later, when they were in that other bar, their ties rolled up and shoved in their pockets, and they’d slid into a booth and ordered cocktails, that’s when Roger told him about it. Maybe he told him too much. He remembers Rafa leaning close. Really close, right into his personal space, his eyes kind of fuzzy and so, so tender. Like when he was young, his emotions written all over his face. Roger had loved that about him, before he’d learned to shut that down a little, be more guarded. And even then he’d loved to see how long it took him to get Rafa to open up, to give him one of those gorgeous, broad, dimpled smiles, to look at him with those eyes, to look at him like a co-conspirator in a long game that they hadn’t even given a name to yet.

Roger holds up his hand and looks once more at the ring. His ring. His wedding ring. Maybe they’ve given a name to it now.

“You told me you and Mirka, turned out all this time you’re not really married,” says Rafa. “Not legally.” He’s looking thoughtfully at the sheet, twisting it in his fingers. Lost in his own memories.

“Yeah,” says Roger. It was ridiculous really. That one tiny error in the paperwork meant that the documents were null and void, that Mirka was still Mirka Vavrinec, not Mirka Federer. There were implications for all kinds of things, from the kids to the insurance to their wills, to the ownership of all their joint property. It was a nightmare. They’d have to clear so much up and then get married again, start from scratch. Roger was unaccountably dogged by the sense that he didn’t want to do it again. He told himself it was the fuss he hated. The paperwork to be done. Mirka stood in the kitchen one night, taking a break from some spreadsheets she’d been working on for ages, and said she’d just hire a lawyer to sort it all out. Roger had wearily replied that that was fine, which led to a moment of poisonous silence between them, and then that became one more fight about how she’d given Roger seventeen years of her life and now she was just asking him to do the same for her while she got the business off the ground. He had nothing to say to that. Because she was right, of course she was right.

“But it was never like this when I was playing,” he slurred drunkenly at Rafa in the dim light in a booth at the bar. “It always worked between us then. Now I feel like… I don’t know.” He took another mouthful of whatever fruit concoction Rafa talked him into drinking. It was pleasantly pineapply but it coated his mouth in sweetness and he’d need another whiskey after this to cut through it. “I feel we’re just so far apart. That I’m boring for her now.”

Rafa leaned in close at that, taking one of his hands in his own. “No,” he said, shaking his head. “Not that. You can’t be boring, Rogelio.” He was slurring a little himself, but all it did was make his accent deeper. Roger couldn’t help it, it always filled him with joy to hear Rafa talk. He smiled at him now and Rafa smiled back. He looked so good. He always did, from the seductiveness of his youth in those sleeveless shirts and piratas, to the more tailored shirts he started to wear later and then the short shorts that showed off his ass and made his legs look like they went on forever. Roger had always enjoyed looking at Rafa. He was hot.

“You’re hot,” he told him now, earnestly.

Rafa grinned. The music was upbeat and the cheap lighting rigs over the dancefloor were doing their colourful thing, catching in Rafa’s hair, making him glow golden for a moment. “So are you,” he said. He held out his hand. “Come and dance with me,” he said, finishing his drink and standing up, as if there was no chance of Roger saying no. He was right, there wasn’t. Roger finished his pineapple cocktail and followed him out to the dancefloor. Rafa left his jacket in the booth so all he was wearing was dark grey pants tailored around his ass and a white shirt, the sleeves rolled up to his elbows and buttons undone to halfway down his chest. He looked astonishing, smiling in the lights and waiting for Roger to join him, and when he did Rafa took his hand and danced like somebody’s uncle at a wedding. He was so bad. Roger loved it. He thought wildly that he could very possibly dance with Rafa like this for the rest of his life.

He looks over in bed at him now. “We danced,” he says.

Rafa nods. He takes Roger’s hand in his, squeezing it a little. Roger feels it in his heart, a tightness, but it’s not scary. It’s laced with something thrilling, something true. When the music had slowed and Rafa gathered him into his arms, he’d just wanted to stay there. He pressed his cheek to Rafa’s and then looked him in the eyes and they talked about anything, he can’t even remember all of it now. They talked about life, about what they wanted, how retirement had opened up like vast deserts ahead of them but Rafa had watered his, he’d developed his academy, he was on the board of one of his father’s businesses. He’d been to Chennai to visit the academy there a few times. Roger hadn’t really done anything. He’d always said the time after his retirement would belong to Mirka, but he didn’t realise how thoroughly Mirka would leave him behind.

“That’s not fair, actually,” he said to Rafa. “She didn’t leave me behind. Maybe…” He sighed, and Rafa smoothed Roger’s hair back from his temple. It was such an intimate gesture, Roger lost his breath for a moment. “I think I just stayed behind,” he said, raw honesty being drawn from him in the intensity of Rafa’s gaze. “I think it was me.”

Rafa was terrible at fast dancing but he was amazing at slow dancing. He pressed his hand against the small of Roger’s back, drawing him in close, holding Roger’s hand in his against his chest. Roger worried that maybe he should feel a little weird about being the girl but he didn’t feel weird at all. He felt wonderful, just dancing here with Rafa, so close together. Rafa told him how he and Xisca broke up soon after he’d retired, though she was still on the board of his academy and they were still friends. “But, you know,” said Rafa, looking at him curiously. “Maybe you don’t know, but me and her, was never like you and Mirka.”

“You weren’t married,” said Roger. “Well, neither were we,” he added, and laughed a little grimly at his own joke.

Rafa shook his head and said, “We were… we were real, but I wasn’t only with Xisca.”

“What are you talking about?” said Roger. Rafa’s arm tightened around him, almost like a reflex. He looked uncertain. “What is it, Raf?”

“I was with Marc Lopez also,” he said. He was obviously studying Roger’s face for some kind of reaction, but Roger didn’t really feel one except for thinking that suddenly some things slotted into place and a lot about Rafa’s life on tour made more sense. The way Xisca came and went, the way he shared a room with Marc when she wasn’t around. The way he was always so tactile with him, the way they were together, so smiley and happy and close.

“Huh,” was all he said, and Rafa seemed pleased with that. Relieved. Roger was glad. “Do you want to get another drink?” he said, then, because he was in such a gorgeously mellow place and he didn’t want to lose it, and with the logic of the drunk he was sure that another drink would keep him right there in the sweet spot.

“Good idea,” said Rafa, still smiling softly, and Roger led him back to the booth holding the hand Rafa had pressed against his chest. They slid in close together, shoulder to shoulder, until with a sense of expansive love in his chest he slung an arm along the back of the seat behind Rafa and ordered a scotch and another of whatever cocktail Rafa was drinking.

“You are adorable,” he said to him, sticking his nose against Rafa’s temple and just inhaling.

“Adorable, hot,” said Rafa. “Sí, you’re right, Rogi, I’m all these things.”

He was so very attractive, so heartbreakingly open and pure and real and smiling at Roger in a way that filled him up with such a deep affection. Roger cradled his face in one hand in case he turned away and just looked into his eyes. Around them lights and music swirled and the waitress came back with their drinks but they didn’t even notice. Rafa’s hand was on his thigh, proprietorially, as if it belonged there, and you know what, Roger told himself with sudden, furious certainty, you know what, it does. Then he leaned forward and kissed Rafa, pressing their mouths together, knowing that Rafa was going to lean into him and kiss him back, and he did. He did. They kissed and kissed like they’d been waiting to kiss for years. They had been waiting to kiss for years, Roger realises now. Everything had become so clear.

 

Everything. “I kissed you,” he says to Rafa.

Rafa’s hair is tousled and his face is soft, a little uncertain, when he says, “I know. I remember.”

Something breaks inside Roger and he draws Rafa close to him, putting an arm around him again. Rafa sighs against his neck, curled in around him, his hand on Roger’s belly. “Tell me the rest,” says Roger.

“You kissed me,” says Rafa, drawing back to look at him. “And kissed me and kissed me. And then we danced again, and more drinks, and kiss some more until the bar is closing, and we went outside and you pushed me against a wall and kissed me again.”

“I kissed you a lot,” says Roger.

Rafa smiles up at him. “Yeah,” he says.

He remembers now, another burst of recollection triggered. He was kissing Rafa against a wall and then he stopped for a moment and they were beside a jewelry store, the kind of place that had cheap stuff and high-end stuff and everything in between. It was near enough to the Strip to attract high rollers and stayed open twenty four hours so it caught them drunk. At first Roger’s only thought was to buy Rafa something, a gift, something to remember this night by. Rafa was reluctant, though, pulling Roger back against him and kissing him again. “Don’t need a gift, Rogi,” he said. “I’ll never forget this, no?”

“No?” said Roger. “How do I know? I want to be sure.”

“I wanted to do this for years,” Rafa told him, pressing his face against Roger’s neck, kissing under his jaw, pushing back his shirt to kiss his collarbone. “Years and years I want you. I want to kiss you. I love you.”

Roger went still. Around them people stumbled by, some of them wandering off the Strip, some of them wandering back on. Roger could suddenly hear his heartbeat thundering in his chest. “You… what?”

Rafa’s face shuttered down for a moment, but then he sighed and wrapped his arms around Roger’s waist. “Many years, Rogi, I love you, no?”

“But I thought, I thought, Marc Lopez, or Xisca?”

Rafa shook his head a little sadly. “Marc, I wanted to love Marc. But I never could, not as much as you. So he married someone who did. And Xisca, soon she will get married, next year I think. Met someone better than me.” He smiled a little self-deprecatingly, but something inside Roger rebelled at the idea that there could ever be anyone better than him. Anyone. Because Rafa was one of the best people he knew.

“I’ve missed you so much,” he told him. “I don’t think I even really knew how much until I saw you today. Well, probably yesterday now.” They both breathed out a little laugh, more to break the tension than anything else. “I forgot, when I retired, Rafa,” he said, then, groping for a way to articulate it. “I forgot that I wouldn’t see you all the time. You know? I forgot that until it happened and I think… oh god. I think maybe it broke my heart a little.”

Rafa was clinging to him like he was holding on for dear life. “Should have called me, Rogi,” he whispers against Roger’s mouth. “I would have come any time.” He kisses him. “Any time.”

A lot of things were becoming clear to Roger. A lot of things were starting to make sense. Like why he broke down so completely after retirement that he let his marriage crumble. Why he could not shake the idea that he didn’t want to get married again. At least, not to Mirka. He could marry Rafa. Honestly, he could marry Rafa and then he’d never be without him another day in his life. The idea ached in his chest and weakened his arms. He leant against Rafa, just feeling him, breathing him in. “I think maybe I’ve been in love with you too, Raf,” he said to him.

Rafa kissed him again. “I sometimes thought this,” he said. “Sometimes I think I see it, I feel it. But until today you were married, no? I thought you were married.”

“So today you took your chance?” Roger grinned, pressing against him.

“I just ask you to dance, no?” said Rafa, his eyes crinkling with a smile. “You kissed me, Rogi.”

“I did, didn’t I?” It felt like so much the right thing to do that he did it again. He could get lost in kissing Rafa. He could do it forever. For the rest of his life. “Do you want me to keep kissing you?” he whispered.

“Of course,” said Rafa, leaning towards him, but Roger pulled back.

“No, no. I mean, not just tonight. Every night, Raf,” he said. “Every day. Imagine. Getting to do this every day.”

Rafa frowned a little in confusion. “Yeah,” he said, like he was explaining something to someone very slow on the uptake. “Of course I want to kiss you every day, Roger, no? I wanted to kiss you for years.”

Roger glanced at the window of the jewelry store. He assumed they had nicer pieces in the back but whatever, if they didn’t find anything here they’d trawl the Strip until they did. He felt like he was being swept along in some gentle current but if he left it, if he swam against it, he’d never find it again. Never anything so certain and lovely and real. “So,” he said to Rafa, letting it carry him along. Both of them. “Marry me.”

 

“You said yes,” Roger says.

Rafa nods. “After I realise you were serious,” he says. “Took me a minute to believe you, no?”

“Yeah,” Roger says, softly. “Understandable.” He’s brushing the backs of his fingers along Rafa’s cheek. Staring at his mouth. He’s so beautiful. He really is so beautiful. He always has been. “Then I took you into that shitty shop.”

Rafa grins and looks at his ring again. “Not so shitty, Rogi,” he says.

It was the kind of place that had two doors for security. They got through the first one and then had a bit of trouble co-ordinating pushing the buzzer and opening the inner door at the same time. There was a sign on the glass that said “Engraving While U Wait”. Inside there was an old guy with a scruffy beard leaning on the counter, waiting for them to manage the door, and finally they sort of tumbled inside, hand in hand. The guy took one look at them and began to wander towards a locked case near the back. “Is this what you’re looking for?” he said in a slow kind of drawl. Inside there were rows and rows of rings set into black velvet, gold and platinum, engagement rings and wedding rings, rings with stones the size of rocks and clusters of small ones. There was one that reminded Roger of Mirka’s ring but he let his eyes glaze over it and moved on to the men’s rings, less flashy, more solid. He looked down at the gold ring on his finger and Rafa followed his gaze. Roger just slipped it off quietly and put it in his pocket.

“We’re looking for something in platinum,” he told the guy, who grinned at him like a shark. Roger couldn’t blame him. He was going to be an easy mark. He didn’t care.

“We’ve got a full range,” said the guy. He unlocked the case and slid a tray of rings out and put it on the countertop. Roger saw them immediately, a pair of solid bands with grooves at the sides.

“Can you engrave them?” he asked the guy.

“Sure can.”

“An R,” he said. “An R on the inside of each one.” He looked at Rafa, who just smiled at him and nodded his head.

They walked out fifteen minutes later with the rings in their pockets. The guy gave them directions to the nearest wedding chapel. It was all lit up in white neon and there was a picture of Elvis in the window, getting married to Priscilla. Roger still felt that current inside him, aglow, his vision maybe still a little blurry but everything else so clear. “Do you think we’ll have to wait long?” he said to Rafa.

“Don’t care, Rogi,” he said. “I’ll wait all night.”

Roger wrapped him up in his arms again and kissed him fiercely, and then led him inside.

It turned out it wasn’t one of their busiest nights. They just had to wait ten minutes or so until a bride and groom stumbled out, and Roger didn’t look at them. He didn’t want to see who else might have been getting married there that night, who else might have been drunkenly throwing themselves together. He knew he was drunk, he was aware of that, but he was so filled with a mellow clarity that he didn’t want anything to get in the way of it. Someone asked them if there was any particular music they wanted but neither of them cared.

 

He remembers now. He remembers walking up the aisle with Rafa, together, side by side, and a tired looking minister waiting for them. An expression crossed his face, like maybe he recognised them. Maybe from the billboards around town advertising their match. He didn’t seem to know their names. Roger remembers being explicit about the paperwork, insisting that nothing went wrong. The minister assured him that it was all done properly, everything signed and witnessed and legal. Real.

“Shit,” he says to Rafa, pressing his face into Rafa’s hair, closing his eyes, clinging to him. “We got married.”

Rafa is stroking him, his sides, his skin, curling in closer to him. “Yeah,” he says. “We did.” He looks up at Roger then and it doesn’t matter that his headache is still lingering or that his stomach still feels a little weird. Or that he hasn’t brushed his teeth and he still tastes like he drank an entire bar. He presses his mouth to Rafa’s and kisses him again, here, in bed.

He kisses his husband.

And his husband smiles like the sun.

“And then we…”

“Yeah,” says Rafa. In his eyes there's a kind of delight, remembering it.

They came back to the hotel and got out of the elevator on the wrong floor, and then climbed up two flights of stairs to the right floor. Roger’s room was closer so that’s where they went.

It all comes flooding back to him. The hunger with which he stripped off Rafa’s clothes and pushed him towards the bed. The crazy need he’d felt to touch him everywhere, to taste all of him. The box of condoms he went and found in the bathroom, then, with the sachets of lube tucked inside, and the way Rafa had spread his legs and Roger fucked him, gentle at first, still in that place where everything was perfect, and then harder until Rafa was groaning and begging and everything was better still. The best. The best thing he’d ever felt in his life.

“We didn’t get married because we were drunk,” he says. “I mean, we were drunk, but that’s not why.”

“No,” says Rafa. “That’s not why.”

They both know why. Because they’d been in love for years, because they’d thought it wasn’t possible, but the moment it was--the moment, as soon as it was possible at all--they’d done it. Like they couldn’t wait a second longer. There’s a lot to do, Roger knows. A lot to sort out. Maybe even a heart to break, though Roger isn’t sure Mirka still really loves him that way. Of course she loves him in a general way, and he loves her, but their life together hasn’t been right for some time. They'll have to explain it to the kids. Maybe he could have worked at it, changed things, maybe he could have gone on never realising this, never even knowing how he felt, the way he’d been oblivious for so long.

But that’s impossible now. Now he’s married, really, truly married, and this one is forever.