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From the moment Gwaine sat down to watch the match, he just knew: it was going to be a historic day. And so far, his team was proving him right. Ireland was in the lead and New Zealand faced an upset for the first time all season. Everyone had been on form all game, creating the stuff of legends, and were just pushing for the last bit of time to run out.

Even as he was sitting alone in his living room half a world away, Gwaine could feel the energy of it. Normally he didn’t mind that none of his friends in the States cared about rugby and he was content just texting the lads back in Dublin or commenting on Facebook posts during the matches. But today? With a match like this? Well, Gwaine wished he had someone else around who would root for Ireland with him.

It wasn’t just that he wanted to share every single second of this amazing, historical, probably life changing match with someone... It also had to do with the fact that his roommate and his roommate’s boyfriend hasn’t taken a break all afternoon, despite Gwaine’s not so subtle comments regarding the thickness of the walls in their old converted Victorian home. A good shouting match or debate about a call would be preferable to blowing out the TV speakers – something Gwaine was in risk of doing if he turned the sound up any higher.

Gripping his beer tighter, Gwaine leaned forward on the couch cushions and turned up the volume another level. He tried resolutely to ignore the increase of sounds coming from Merlin's room as the match returned from a commercial break and entered the last few minutes of play.

“No, no, no. Not focking now,” Gwaine yelled, accent stronger than usual due to the match, as the lights flickered and static momentary flashed across the TV screen. “Knock it the fuck off!”

This? This was the other problem.

Gwaine wasn’t an idiot; he had known there was something different about Merlin minutes after they had moved in together. He'd grown up with a Gran who'd told him stories and taught him to respect fairy magic and leprechauns, so whatever it was that made Merlin special never really concerned him. And since the weird things that happen around the other man didn’t seem to interfere much with any of Gwaine’s business, he never mentioned it. But ever since Merlin had started dating Arthur things had gotten a little unstable. Any other time Gwaine wouldn’t care about a couple of flickering light; in fact he’d be right proud of his friend for getting laid.

But this was too much.

Merlin’s whatever was now fucking with the TV during the Ireland vs. New Zealand match. And that was something Gwaine wouldn’t stand for. Especially not when Ireland might win against the All Blacks for the first time in one hundred and eight years.

A particularly loud moan floated through the walls and all the electronics in the house flickered and died.

Gwaine roared and flew to his feet, hair flying and beer sloshing over the lip of his bottle.  

The lights turned back on almost instantly, but the TV remained stubbornly blank. Gwaine scrambled desperately for the remote, cursing both Merlin and Arthur.

“You should spend the afternoon at Arthur’s,” Gwaine muttered angrily to himself as he frantically jabbed the power button. “Oh, no we’re good here,” he said in a mimic of Merlin’s voice.

The screen turned on and Gwaine sighed in relief, raising his beer to his mouth.

And then he realized the match was over.

The final score showed Ireland 22 – New Zealand 24. In those last moments of the game, in the minute that the TV had been turned off, Ireland had lost.

“Are you focking kidding me?” Gwaine howled in horror.

The commentators were discussing the match, replays of the final moments flashing across the screen. Gwaine stared down at his half empty beer, still in shock, when everything turned off again.

 “This is why we can’t have nice things!” He yelled, then downed the rest of his beer and threw the smashed can against the wall of Merlin’s room.

Ireland lost to the New Zealand. His roommate was getting laid and he wasn’t. Gwaine needed a drink – a big one. He grabbed his jacket and stomped down the stairs, pounding on his downstairs neighbor’s door.

Will opened the door a few moments later, smiling but looking confused.

“Elena’s not here,” Will said slowly.

“Don’t care. Bar. Now,” snarled Gwaine before he stalked off with a flick of his hair, without looking back to see if Will was following.

 

 

If you asked Gwaine (and you really shouldn’t because he will talk your ear off about it), the best thing that ever happened to him was making the Senior Rugby team, or The S, as it’s known, during his last year at school. It was, of course, part of his plan – ever since he made the team as a second year, he knew he would make The S, then if he didn’t get recruited to the Leinster (it had to be Leinster), then maybe play at University first.

The thing is, that most sports dreams don’t come true, most people accept this and move on. But his fall from grace had a lasting impact on the teenaged Gwaine. He had been a top player on a top team, and he choked going into the final game of the Leinster Schools Cup, costing the whole team the victory.

It hadn’t been all Gwaine’s fault, of course, but he couldn’t be consoled. Instead he spent the rest of his final year studying and ended up with a ridiculously high Leaving Cert score, especially for a former rugby player. The score got him into engineering at University College Dublin, and he was eventually recruited by Camelot Gaming in San Francisco.

But he never played rugby again.

Normally, Gwaine would be the first to tell you he had a brilliant life. But a strange thing happens over time: you forget the bad things and only remember the glory days. Gwaine didn’t remember the crushing feeling of losing the match; he only remembers the high of being the talk of the town, the star of the team.

So, to this day, Gwaine still believed he’d been the best thing that never happened to the Irish Provincial Rugby League. And if he’s had enough Heinekens (it only happens with Heinekens) or if something tragic happened in the world of rugby, Gwaine would recount the tale of how he could have played for Ireland one day.

Which explained why Melissa, their usually friendly bartender, was giving him a wide berth when Will finally showed up. He had gotten a few rounds of Heineken in during the twenty-minute lead he had on Will, and was still trying to talk to Melissa despite giving him the cold shoulder.

“Hey, buddy,” Will said, clapping Gwaine on the shoulder. “Everything alright? Melissa is giving you serious stink eye, and normally you’ve got her tricked into thinking you’re an angel of the lord.”

“One hundred and eight years,” Gwaine lamented without looking up from his beer.

“What?” Will asked distractedly, trying to wave down Melissa at the same time.

“We could have done it,” Gwaine said earnestly to Will. “If I had kept at it, I could have been there today and led Ireland to glory. I could have been one of the greats: Brian O’Driscoll, Johnny Sexton, Gwaine Orkney.”

“Ah,” Will nodded, understanding dawning on him. “Rugby. So, I take it by the general air of disappointment hanging over you that the game didn’t go well,” Will ventured, still trying to get Melissa’s attention. She was standing with her back resolutely towards Gwaine’s side of the bar.

“We were robbed,” Gwaine insisted. “The match was in the bag and we were going to make history. It was our moment to conquer the All Blacks.”

“I’m not really sure what that means,” Will confessed. “But it sounds tragic.”

“Do you know when the last time we beat them was?” Gwaine asked.

“One hundred and eight years ago?” Will guessed, finally catching Melissa’s eye and gesturing for a drink.

“One hundred and eight years ago,” Gwaine repeated. “One hundred and eight years of defeat and today we had the chance to turn it around. And at the last second we lost. And I didn’t even see it.”

“Bummer,” Will acknowledged.

Gwaine glared at him over his drink.

“Hey, now,” Will held his hands up defensively, “I realize that this is probably a big deal, but it’s not like I really know what you’re talking about here. I can’t give you an adequately sympathetic response.”

“That’s because you never listen to a damn thing I say,” Gwaine snapped. He let out an exasperated sigh. “I’ve been telling you all about the Ireland legends since we’ve met.”

“True,” Will agreed. “But to be fair, most of the time I was drunk, and to be honest, not really paying attention.”

“Clearly,” Gwaine muttered.

“Oh, don’t be like that. It’s not like you pay attention to American sports.”

“Oh, please!” Gwaine turned so he was fully facing Will. He flicked back his hair and flashed a smile, turning on the charm despite himself.  “For half the year I have to listen to you bang on about the Giants every chance you get.”

“And you were paying attention?” Will asked, returning Gwaine’s smile skeptically.

“I admit that when I first got here, it took me a while to cop on to the fact that you were all talking about a baseball player and it wasn’t that everyone had a sudden fascination with an aging Beach Boy, musical genius of Pet Sounds aside.”

Will laughed, but Gwaine just continued.

“Recent World Series wins in 2010 and 2012, which I could find out from the Internet, but, yes, I do just know that. You think that Lincecum looks like Baby Loki and you’re worried about Buster Posey’s knees since he’s such a good batter in additon to being a catcher. You’re not sure why everyone needs to grow beards especially after they lost in 2011, but after Matt Cain pitched a perfect game, you only wore the hoodie you were wearing that day whenever the Giants were playing.”

Will stared at Gwaine in a mixture of awe and disbelief.

“Wow, um. OK,” Will managed. “You actually listen. To me. I feel like a dick.”

“Well, you do go on. But no, you’re grand. And I bet your dick is grand too,” Gwaine said with a wink, laughing at his own joke before slumping and taking a sip of his beer. His point made, he seemed to remember why he was miserable. “It’s Merlin that I want to kill.”

“Yeah, let’s not get hasty. No need to kill Merlin just because Ireland lost,” Will said. “Besides, if you kill Merlin, you’ll really be throwing off the dynamics of our group. We’ll have to find a new friend and that just seems like too much work at this point in my life. And chances are, you’d be stuck hanging out with me since I’d be out a best friend.”

“I’d be fine with that,” Gwaine muttered.

Will winced. “Wow, things must truly suck if you’re willing to put up with me.”

“That’s not what I meant. I just really wanted this to be an epic and historical day. It’s nothing to do with you,” Gwaine backpedaled, “I actually don’t mind you all that much.”

This last bit was said with an extra lilt and a wink, as Gwaine tossed back his hair. Will burst out in a laugh, and nearly choked on his own beer.

“Oh, well then,” Will said, cheeks flushing slightly as he raised his glass. “Here’s to that, then.”

A silence settled between them and for a few moments both men sat in silence sipping their drinks.

“I just don’t understand the guy,” Gwaine said a little while later, breaking the silence and shaking his head.

“Um,” Will poked Gwaine in the arm. “I’m not sure if you’re unaware you said that out loud, or if you think we’ve been having a conversation but it’s all really been in your head.”

"Sorry, was just thinking,” Gwaine said, tipping his beer towards Will in an apologetic gesture.

“Is this still about rugby?” Will asked hesitantly.

“I don’t get Arthur,” Gwaine confessed. “Honestly, why would a guy who’s as loaded as that want to hang out at our flat? I mean, it’s not horrible, yeah? But you know what I mean.”

“Well, there was that whole thing where his uncle tried to have him killed in his own condo. And he tried to kill Merlin, too,” Will reminded him. “I mean, I wouldn’t want to go back there anytime soon. They’re supposed to be looking for a new place for him, I guess.”

“Doesn’t the princess have body guards or whatever?” Gwaine asked, tried to insert some playfulness into his voice, but mostly he just felt like an ass.

Will snorted, “As much as I’m still not sure about the guy, I don’t blame him.”

Gwaine raised an eyebrow. “Not a fan, I take it?”

Will shrugged and waved Melissa over for another round. She seemed to take his presence as a safeguard against more of Gwaine’s stories because she came right over with two fresh beers.

Gwaine took a few sips before looking at Will expectantly. Will sighed.

“I mean, Merlin is happy but Arthur seems like he can be a bit of a douche, you know?” Will confessed. “I just… Where Merlin and I grew up no one had any money. We weren’t poor because that’s how everyone was, you know? And then when we went to Berkeley, we were on scholarships, but it was pretty obvious that we weren’t going to fit in with all those fucking trust fund kids who didn’t have to work hard to stay in school and hold down a job just to eat. It’s just that sometimes Arthur reminds me of those guys.”

Gwaine studied Will for a moment, brow furrowed, as he toyed with his necklace.

“Merlin would never complain about any of that,” Will added, recognizing the look on Gwaine’s face. “But that’s why he resisted so hard when you tried to pay all of the rent. He doesn’t want to feel like he owes anyone.”

“Huh,” Gwaine mused, surprised that he didn’t know this about his good friend and flatmate. “He should have said. I was a scholarship kid back in Ireland, one of the few working class kids at this fancy public school. First year was pretty rough, but once I started playing rugby it all turned around. No one cared as long as I was bringing glory to the school.”

Will nodded like he understood. “Like football in small town America?”

“Exactly,” Gwaine agreed. “But yeah, there were a lot of guys who had no problem reminding me about where I was from and why I shouldn’t have been there.”

"I don't trust Arthur not to hurt him, even if it's by accident,” said Will, getting back to his point. “I just think that he might not know that it’s an issue.”

"And that’s why you’re not sure about him?”

“Well, I’m not sure about anyone who Merlin dates. It’s not personal, usually, but like I said, I worry that he can be a bit of a douche,” Will confirmed.

“Aw, you’re all protective of your mate,” Gwaine said in sing-song voice. “That’s adorable, Will.”

“You think I’m adorable!” Will said with a fake gasp, clutching at his shirt and fanning his face. “Stop it, you’ll make me blush.”

Gwaine considered Will for a moment as he took a long drink of beer. “No,” he said finally, voice deep and accent thick, “I don’t think I will stop.”

Will paused, the smile sliding from his face, his drink inches away from his mouth. “What?”

“I don’t think I’ll stop trying to make you blush,” Gwaine said clearly, holding Will’s gaze for a moment that seemed to stretch out between them. He held it for a beat longer that what seemed comfortable, then finally broke eye contact and downed the rest of his beer.

Will made a noise somewhere between a laugh and a shocked “oh” before finally getting the drink to his mouth.

Gwaine pulled on his necklace, bringing it up to his mouth, as he was accustomed to doing when he was thinking.  As he tapped the ring against his lips, he watched Will’s face color slightly and he smiled to himself.

“See, it’s too much fun,” Gwaine said after another long moment.

Will turned in his seat to face Gwaine. His eyes glinted as he leaned forward, elbows on the bar, “Yeah?”

Gwaine felt a subtle shift as Will inched into his personal space, Will’s foot pressed against his on the bar stool, part for balance, part for… Gwaine let his eyes linger on Will’s hands toying with the beermat, and then they slid up and his gaze hovered on Will’s lips.

He opened his mouth to throw out another line like he would anytime he was on the pull, but somewhere, maybe around his seventh beer, his motivations had shifted from teasing to sincerity. Gwaine felt a sharp stab of panic as he realized that he actually wanted this and that the last thing he needed was to screw this up now. Maybe it was all the beer, or the weight of his own epiphany, but the noise of the bar was suddenly too much for him Gwaine to handle. So, instead of leaning further into Will's space, he pushed his hand through his hair and got to his feet, surprised at how unsteady he suddenly felt.

“I think I’m ready to head back,” Gwaine said lightly, tossing his hair back as he gestured towards the door with his head. He raised an eyebrow at Will.

It was a question, but he wasn’t sure if he knew what he was asking – if Will knew what he was asking.

“Yeah, I think Percy’s on his way here, so I should probably wait for him,” Will said slowly, brows creased in confusion. “Lemme know when you get home?”

Gwaine plastered on a large, unconvincing smile, “Whatever you say. Cheers.”

And then he was walking out the door and, for some reason, fighting the urge to look at the man he had just left at the bar.

 

*

 

Gwaine was having a shit day at work. He was still destroyed from the night before: both the devastating loss and the ill-advised time spent at the bar. He had stuck to beer all night (albeit quite a lot of beer) but he wasn’t willing to admit that he couldn’t quite drink like he used to. And underneath the partial hangover, was a dull sense of loss that Gwaine was resolutely  not dwelling on. On top of all of that, testing for the major title Gwaine was working on for Camelot Gaming was not going well, and if things didn’t change they would have to push back the release date.

When people found out that Gwaine worked for a gaming company, they usually thought of a startup type of environment where people played games all day, and spent more time having fun than they did actually working. But more often than not, that wasn’t the case. Sure, everyone Gwaine worked with was a laugh, and given the chance they’d abandon projects to play Mario Kart or Rock Band… but not with a deadline impending. With a deadline, everyone worked extra hours and kept their nose to the grindstone. Gwaine, and most of his coworkers, embodied the phrase: work hard to party hard. Once the game was released, the Camelot Gaming offices would be like a frat house for at least a week.

But unfortunately for everyone,  there was so much to be done that the inevitable party was no where in sight and did nothing to lighten Gwaine’s mood. In fact, the only thing that made a dent in the gray monotony of his work was that he found himself the recipient of multiple text messages from Will throughout the day. He had only been able to check his phone a few times, but each time, there was a message awaiting him.  This was odd for a few reasons: first off, aside from the drinks they had shared the night before, he and Will weren’t typically this chummy; secondly, Will worked post-production on documentaries, and like his roommates, who were also various artists, he was often absorbed in a project or sleeping during the day; and thirdly, most of the messages didn’t require a response, they were just there.

WILL (@9:56 AM): Did you know that the bodega around the corner still has frankenberries in stock this long after halloween?! I wonder if they’re poison… OR IF THEY’LL TURN ME INTO A FRANKENSTEIN!

WILL (@11:23 AM): I may have just wasted two hours looking up cereal on wikipedia which led somehow to roller coasters. I am now terrified of roller coasters.

WILL (@11:24 AM): NOT the rides themselves. Roller coasters are awesome. But the concept. Like someone thought of them. IN THEIR HEAD. I just wanted to clarify that.

WILL (@11:28 AM): Also I didn’t turn into a Frankenstein. Or a Frankenberry. Just in case you worried.

WILL (@3:41 PM): Like once a year I REALLY need donuts. Today is that day.

WILL (@4:01 PM): Ok it turns out I only need like half a donut and I’m set. Do you want 95% of a dozen donuts?

WILL (5:07 PM): Hope you didn’t actually want any because Percy just ate a dozen donuts. Seriously. MIND BLOWN.

Gwaine wasn’t sure what any of this was about, why Will was suddenly texting him something other than “Bar. 20 mins” or “have you seen Merlin” but in those few moments where he had time to check his phone, he found himself smiling.

Gwaine was coming off a 12-hour day, hauling his bike up the stairs to his apartment when his phone buzzed in his pocket. As a man who could rarely be deterred when he had a goal in mind, he proceeded to ignore the buzz as he kicked off his shoes, and again as he scrounged around for something to eat. When he did finally sit down at the table a while later with a newly baked frozen pizza and a bottle of beer, he decided to stop ignoring the world and found he had three missed texts from Merlin and one from Will.

MERLIN (@ 9:12): Stopped by to get a change of clothes and you’re not here. Please tell me you’re not still at the office.

MERLIN (@ 9:14): Seriously go home and eat something. There’s a ton of frozen pizza in the freezer and I think there’s leftover Chinese from the other night too.

MERLIN: (@ 9:20): If you don’t let me know that you’re home and eating and not dead in your office I’ll send Will over. I’m not kidding.

WILL (@ 9:45 PM): Why do I have a text from Merlin telling me you’re on a death watch? Why isn’t he watching you himself?

Gwaine rolled his eyes and thumbed the text message from Will, still annoyed with Merlin from the snafu with the game, despite his offerings of leftover Chinese.

GWAINE (@ 9:47 PM): Why do you two always jump to death? I’m fine. He’s at Arthur’s. I’m not going to kill myself.

WILL (@ 9:50): Do you think I’d be texting if I thought Merlin was serious?!

WILL (@ 9:51): But on the off chance you do die can I have your record collection?

GWAINE (@ 9:54): I will be buried with Deep Purple and The Pogues. FUCK OFF.

WILL (@ 9:57): But the rest are fair game? I dibbs your old Rolling Stones records. WRITE THAT DOWN. GET SOMEONE TO NOTARIZE IT.

WILL (@ 9:58): I’m serious. Merlin works with lawyers. One of them can make this official.

GWAINE (@10:01): Keep your mitts away William. I am on to you.

WILL (@10:05): But seriously are you ok? You seemed pretty down at the bar last night.

GWAINE (@ 10:08): It’s just been a shite few days. I’m fine. I don’t know why Merlin texted you.

WILL (@10:10): Well, if you need company...

GWAINE (@ 10:11): Thanks but I’m grand. Honest.

WILL (@ 10:11): I have whiskey.

Gwaine stared down at his phone for a while but didn't respond right away. Instead, he took in his frozen pizza dinner, his empty house, and all the spaces that used to be filled with Merlin. It would be so easy to hide away, for him to just crash for the night and then do it all again tomorrow.

He remembered when he used to be the party guy. It hadn’t even been 10 years since he was going out with the lads, drinking every night, and then playing rugby every morning. When had things changed? When did he become just some 9-5 guy who worked in an office, even if it was an office that made video games…

He stared at his phone a little longer, feeling the pull of something else and remembering that Will had already managed to brighten his hectic day.

GWAINE (@ 10:17): I’ll be right down.

 

*

 

Normally Gwaine didn’t hang out at Will, Percy, Elena’s without Merlin, and especially not on a Monday night; it was usually a place where they would pre-game before heading out to the bars. But maybe Merlin had a point. Sure he had alcohol at home, but maybe was lonely, maybe he did need someone to check in on him, get him out of his own head.

“Fair warning,” Will said leaning against his door, the door next to Gwaine’s own apartment. “Elena and Percy are out for the evening, so it’s just you and me.”

Gwaine looked confused. “And?”

Will looked a bit sheepish. “Look, I know you and I haven’t ever been the best of friends, and I’m 90% certain that you hang around here without Merlin just to flirt with Elena.”

“I do not flirt with Elena!” Gwaine insisted, pushing past Will and into his apartment.

“You do so,” Will said, closing the door and leading Gwaine into the living room. “Your accent always gets thicker when you’re flirting. I’m not sure Elena even understands half the things you say to her.”

Gwaine rolled his eyes. “Oh, it’s harmless. And never mind that. I wouldn’t have come down here if I didn’t want your company.”

“And here I thought it was just because of the whiskey.”

“That was a motivating factor,” Gwaine said with a wink and threw himself onto the couch.

Will produced some glasses and some whiskey, as promised, and settled himself on the other end of the couch. He turned down the TV that was still playing a Law & Order rerun, and angled his body towards Gwaine.

“Seriously, dude,” he said after studying Gwaine for a long moment. “What’s the deal? I’ve never seen you so,” Will gestured at Gwaine, apparently unable to find the right word.

What was going on with him? Gwaine thought about the question and he swirled his whiskey in his glass. Something did seem to be off: he was working himself to the bone and he couldn’t remember the last time he had pulled. It didn’t help that his roommate was constantly getting laid. Gwaine was happy for Merlin; he just wanted to be happy for himself, too.

“You know, tonight is the first night in ages that Merlin has actually gone over to Arthur's flat since that whole thing,” Gwaine said, ignoring Will’s question. “I think Merlin might think I’m mad at him. He offered his Chinese leftovers from the place down the street he loves so much.”

“What did you do?” Will asked, frowning at Gwaine.

“Maybe I shouldn’t have yelled so much the other night,” Gwaine admitted slowly.  “They were getting rather amorous during the match, and well, it kinda interfered with my ability to watch it.”

“Shit, Gwaine, just turn on the surround sound. That’s what I do when Elena brings a date home,” Will told him. “And you need to cut Merlin some slack. As we discussed last night, once he’s gone you’ll be left with just me, and we both know you don’t want that.”

Gwaine rolled his eyes at Will’s self-deprecation. He rolled his eyes a lot when he was around Will, he realized. “I dunno,” Gwaine said, “you do provide me with proper whiskey.”

“Well, don’t get used to it. There’s only one bottle and it’s already half gone.”

“I’m sure you have other redeeming characteristics,” Gwaine said. “I just haven’t found them yet.”

Gwaine replayed the words in his head, wincing slightly as he realized his accent was just the slightest bit thicker. It must be the whiskey – proper Irish whiskey always has that effect. So does flirting, part of his mind supplied, sounding way too much like Will’s taunting voice for his liking.

“Lies! I have a million redeeming qualities. Ask anyone,” Will challenged.

“Like what?” Gwaine scoffed.

“I’m loyal,” Will counted off on his fingers. “I’m hilarious. And I am amazing at bar trivia, especially the entertainment categories.”

Gwaine snorted with laughter. “I didn’t ask for your internet dating profile, Will.”

“Oh yeah? You’re not as charming as you think you are, you know? You flirt with everything that moves and you hook up with more than half of them.”

“If I wanted aspersions cast on my character, Will, I would have just called one of the lads back at home. They’ve got nothing better to do then take the piss out of me whenever they can,” Gwaine said.

Will held up his hands innocently. “I’m not saying anything that isn’t true and you know it.”

“Yeah, well I could say the same about you, then,” Gwaine pointed out. “You aren’t exactly choosy when we’re out, are you?”

“You can’t be choosy when you get turned down most of the time,” Will countered. “If I was choosy I’d never get laid.”

Gwaine laughed and knocked back the rest of his drink. He had missed this and he didn’t even realize it. He used to have this easy banter with Merlin. Not that their relationship had changed, but half the time Merlin was away and when he was at their apartment, Arthur was mostly there. And for some reason, Arthur always seemed slightly uncomfortable with Gwaine and Merlin when their interactions got like this.

A sudden thought occurred to him: did Arthur think he was flirting with Merlin? It was such a crazy idea. Gwaine had only flirted with Merlin consciously once, and that was years ago when they first met (and what a disaster that was).

Gwaine got up and grabbed the bottle of whiskey – Jameson, nice – and refilled his own glass along with Will’s.

“Let me ask you a question,” Gwaine said, settling himself back down on the couch, a little closer to the center, a little closer to Will. “Does it seem like I flirt with Merlin?”

Will took in the completely serious look on Gwaine’s face, mouth in a slight frown, and eyebrows furrowed and then burst out laughing. He had to take a moment to calm himself down, he was laughing so hard.

When he finally collected himself enough to talk, he asked, “Why would you think that?”

“It’s like you said, I flirt with everyone. Or, at least, it seems like I do,” Gwaine amended, trying and failing to defend himself. “And its not like Arthur knows me that well…”

This set Will off on another round of laughter, his knee connecting with Gwaine’s. Somehow they had both ended up more or less in the middle of the couch.

“Oh god, you’re even worse than I thought!” Will exclaimed. “Not only do you flirt with everyone, you assume everyone thinks you’re flirting with them. I bet you think everyone’s flirting with you, too. Like normal things, like a barista saying ‘good morning,’ or someone holding a door open for you!”

Gwaine shrugged and decided to go with it, “Of course they are! Will, why wouldn’t they want to flirt with me?”

“Please!” Will gasped as he caught his breath.

“I am a gift to the ladies,” Gwaine insisted. “Just ask anyone. I was the guy that everyone wanted to take to their Debs back when I was on The S.”

“And that was how long ago?” Will asked dubiously. “Besides, no one cares about your rugby days.”

Gwaine glared at Will. “You take that back.”

“Well, it certainly gave you a big enough ego, thinking everyone always wants you,” Will snapped.

“They do want me. I have references,” Gwaine joked and Will gave him a hard look before dissolving into laughter again.

Gwaine studied Will carefully, taking in his relaxed posture as he sprawled across the couch, their knees edging closer together. There was a flush high on his cheeks from the laughter and the drink. His words were harsh, but his body language was still open, almost inviting… Gwaine shifted so that their legs were now touching from their knees to their hips.

“OK then,” Gwaine started carefully, wrapping a finger around his necklace and toying with it thoughtlessly, “what is it when someone texts you, for no real reason, all throughout the day.”

Will’s laughter died in his throat, and he looked over at Gwaine with a slight panic in his eyes.

“Oh, that? I was just, you know, bored.” Will tried to sound casual as he rubbed his hand through his hair, giving him a bit of a bedhead look that made him seem softer somehow.

“What if I told you that those texts were the only thing that kept me from killing everyone in my building,” Gwaine continued.

“Oh, um. Glad to help?”

“So, what was it then?” Gwaine pressed on. “Were you flirting with me Will Forde?”

Gwaine hitched one leg up, folding it underneath himself as he turned to face Will fully on the couch.

“Uh.”

“Because I keep thinking about last night. And I keep thinking about today and your texts, and if I was on the pull, that’s something that I might do, roysh?” Gwaine let right come out in a full South Dublin accent. He figured if he was reading things wrong, then what the hell – Will already thinks he’d flirt with anything.

Will’s eyes widen at the sudden increase in Gwaine’s accent, and if there was any doubt, was now gone.

“See,” Will said weakly, “You think everyone’s flirting with you.”

“Fuck, Will, if I’m wrong, you need to tell me.” Gwaine held his breath, waiting for Will to say something. When he was greeted with nothing but silence, he pressed the issue, “otherwise, come right here, right now.“

If Gwaine had any real doubts, they were dashed away by Will lunching forward and pressing their lips together.

Gwaine had been with both men and women in the past, but all of them on the more submissive side. Now, Gwaine was fighting for dominance with Will, their tongues both trying to force their way into each other’s mouths, both trying to push the other one back onto the couch. It was the same as the verbal sparring that had been happening all night: quick and tinged with whiskey. And Gwaine loved it.

“See, I knew you were flirting with me,” Gwaine said when he finally came up for air.

“I’m pretty sure you were flirting with me,” Will countered. “That accent? You were killing me!”

Gwaine opened his mouth to respond, but Will didn’t wait for an answer.  He slid his fingers into Gwaine’s hair and pulled him into another kiss. Gwaine let himself be maneuvered by Will so that he was laying mostly on his back with Will pressed against his front. Gwaine raked his fingers down Will’s back and Will mouthed at the hollow of Gwaine’s neck where his necklace rested.

 “Are you fucking serious?” Will gasped long minutes later when he finally got Gwaine’s shirt off. “I mean, I knew you were in shape, but seriously?”

Gwaine made a pleased sound and pulled off Will’s shirt, running his finger up Will’s chest. “You’re quite fit yourself,” Gwaine observed, biting down on Will’s shoulder.

“You have got to stop it with that accent or I’m gonna cum in my pants,” Will moaned, pressing himself against Gwaine’s thigh.

“Not gonna happen, sorry,” Gwaine said with a smirk and pressed his hips up.

Will and Gwaine both moaned as their trapped erections pressed together through the fabric of their jeans. Gwaine felt like a teenager again, getting off on a couch quickly before someone’s parents got home, as he and Will continued to kiss like it was going out of style and rut against each other.

When Will finally reached between them both, pushing both of their jeans down on their thighs, and grabbed both of their cocks in one spit slicked hand, Gwaine buried his face in Will’s neck and whispered a long and low, fock into his ear.

“Shit, Gwaine,” Will gasped, and then he was coming, hot and wet over both of their stomachs.

Gwaine lasted only a few strokes longer before he followed, whispering fock over and over into Will’s ear.

Will lay sprawled out on Gwaine’s chest for a few minutes as they both caught their breath, hearts racing against each other’s chests. Gwaine’s arms were loose around Will. He he felt content and for the first time in a long time and he wasn’t looking for a way to sneak away from his conquest. Instead he could feel the cum and sweat between them, and something else, warm and content in his chest.

“Oh god, I’m sorry, but if I don’t move the pen is going to be Pierce,” Gwaine said apologetically, edging himself out from under Will and sliding off the couch, looking around for his shirt.

Will threw an arm over his eyes, “I literally have no idea what you just said. And you already scored. You can lay off the accent.”

“It means we must smell bad,” he gestured at his cum and sweat slicked chest. “See: pen, ink… You know what? Never mind.” Gwaine looked down at Will and shook his head, abandoning his explanation.

A long moment of silence hung between them for a moment.

“So, now what?” Will asked, carefully not looking at Gwaine who was whipping his chest with his shirt and fixing his pants.

“Well,” Gwaine said slowly. “What are you doing on,” he quickly checked his phone, “14 February?”

Will finally sat up and looked at Gwaine, confusion plain on his face. “Valentines Day?”

Gwaine just smiled, “Ireland are playing Scotland. First game of the new year.”

Will laughed and threw himself back on the couch. “Of course,” he said, laughter in his voice. “Of course, I’ll watch it with you.”

 

*

 

“So, there’s Leinster, Munster, Ulster, and Connacht,” Gwaine was saying.

“Did you just list the Pac Man ghosts?” Will asked through a mouth of nachos.

“You’re supposed to be paying attention!” Gwaine scolded and tried to pull the nachos away.

“I am,” Will insisted. “I need brain food. I’m getting tired watching these guys run around and smash into each other. It seems way more taxing than Football.”

“That’s what I’ve been saying for ages. You never listen,” Gwaine said.

“You know that’s not true, babe,” Will said, and tried to rub at Gwaine’s hair.

Gwaine swatted his hands away and flicked his hair back in his usual fashion.

“You know, I really hate you two,” Merlin said, leaning against Arthur and glaring at his roommate and his best friend. “You were bad enough as friends, but this? And now we’re all watching rugby!”

“I like it,” Arthur said pleasantly.

“Oh, you would,” Merlin snapped.

Gwaine looked around the table. This wasn’t how he expected to get everyone to watch a match with him, but as Will’s hand settled on his thigh, he realized he wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.

"Just wait,” Gwaine said. “You’re all gonna fall in love with it. I promise.”