Harry’s gone oddly quiet.
He was noisy at first, whimpering and cursing and urging Nick to fucking do it, to push, to use more lube, to put some muscle into it, to stop treating him like a fucking princess and fucking give it to him already. It would’ve probably been hot if it wasn’t so fucking irritating.
He makes a pretty picture now, his chest sweat-damp and flushed pink and sticky with his own come. Nick fucked him once to knock the bitchiness out of him, then brought him off a second time with a cruel twist of his knuckles that had Harry’s spine arching off the bed and his palm slamming against the bed frame. He’s barely gotten hard again since, his cock lying slick and soft in a patch of fuzzy curls as Nick carefully works his way inside him.
Nick doesn’t even know how long they’ve been at it anymore, all the air in the room sucked out, time ground to a halt, everything in the world reduced to Nick’s fist slowly twisting its way into Harry’s spent body and Harry slowly opening up around him. The bed’s a fucking mess around them; Harry’s torn the sheets off the corners, thrown pillows on the floor and knocked just about everything off the nightstands.
He’s quiet now, though, his eyes shut tight and his mouth moving around overwhelmed little gasps. His legs are flopped uselessly to the side, but he’s holding on to the headboard so tightly the veins and tendons bulge in his arms. Nick has a sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach about it all, a sneaking suspicion that this is more than either of them can take.
Nick isn’t even properly in him yet, his knuckles still pressing against Harry’s swollen, red rim. He’s close though, so close it feels like another little nudge forwards and Harry could swallow him up.
He doesn’t know why he’s so terrified to do it, why his heart’s hammering in his chest, why it feels so much like this will be the thing that finally undoes them. He can’t help but feel like they’re on the edge of something they can’t turn back from, like this might be what finally tears everything to pieces.
Another twist of Nick’s wrist and a slight press forwards, and Harry groans out a garbled noise that isn’t “stop,” but probably should be.
It’s not too late, Nick thinks. They could still walk away from this.
Then Harry breathes, “Do it,” as though sensing Nick’s hesitation, his muscles fluttering around Nick’s knuckles as he bears down again. His voice is all hoarse and fucked out, his eyes still squeezed shut. “Please.”
Nick swallows thickly, his breath all caught up in his chest. “Don’t want to hurt you.”
“You won’t,” Harry says, digging his heels into the mattress as he stubbornly pushes against the pressure Nick’s got against his hole. “Fucking do it already. You promised.”
“I don’t want to hurt you,” Nick says again, instead of I don’t want you to hurt me, or I can’t do this when you’re not looking at me or I maybe can’t do this at all.
“Doesn’t hurt,” Harry says, which has to be a lie, considering how much of Nick’s hand is currently shoved up his arse and how impossibly widely his tiny, tight, pink hole is stretched around the widest part of Nick’s hand. “Just do it.”
Nick flutters his fingers inside him to buy time, and Harry keens, writhing like a bitch in heat and reaching down to wrap his fingers around Nick’s wrist. “Want it,” he mutters, digging his nails in. “Want you. Nick, please, want you so fucking deep inside me.”
There’s a difference between want it and want you, and Nick hears it even if Harry probably doesn’t. It doesn’t matter, though, not really. Harry’s not going to stop fucking girls or boarding aeroplanes; Nick’s never going to ask him to.
“Fuck me,” Harry whines, sounding frustrated and impatient and pleading as he pulls at Nick’s wrist again. His brow furrows deeply with the effort. “Get out of your fucking head and just— get inside me, just fucking— please— I want—”
“—for fuck’s sake, I can hear you thinking—”
“—just fucking— I fucking want—”
It’s barely a shove forwards and then Harry screams, shrill and startling and bloodcurdling, like Nick’s torn him to literal fucking pieces. Nick squeezes his hand so tight it almost cramps, trying desperately to make himself smaller, to pull back out, to undo this fucking mistake, to—
“Nick,” Harry snaps, stilling Nick’s wrist and breathing hard into the terrifying silence between them. He’s curled up tight, his arms and legs locked around any part of Nick he can reach, his face pressed tightly against the side of Nick’s shoulder. Nick’s wrist aches, the angle all fucked up, Harry’s short nails likely drawing blood. “Don’t fucking move.”
Nick breathes, or at least tries to. The pressure around his hand is excruciating. He can’t even tell if that’s his own pulse or Harry’s exploding between them. “Haz.”
Harry shakes his head, his forehead slipping in the sweat on Nick’s shoulder. “Don’t. Don’t move.”
“Won’t,” Nick promises, vaguely aware that the only reason he isn’t running for the fucking hills right now is that he can’t. He’s all trapped inside Harry, like some sort of fucked up hostage situation he willingly walked into. “Does it hurt?”
“Nick,” Harry says again, the name sounding sticky-slow and honey-sweet and breathless from Harry’s lips. His head lolls against Nick’s shoulder, his breath still coming in harsh gasps. “Fuck, Nick, fuck.”
Nick thinks vaguely that this would be a bad moment to have a panic attack. “I’m right here.”
“Right here, love. Right here.”
Harry still hasn’t opened his eyes, and that’s probably the most terrifying part of this — Harry’s mouth all twisted up, veins bulging in his forehead, his eyes squeezed so tightly shut. “Haz,” Nick whispers. “Try to lie back down. Relax.”
“‘S so fucking much,” Harry says, the hand not gripping Nick’s wrist clumsily skating up Nick’s shaking arms, curling around the back of Nick’s neck. It feels like he’s shaking, too, or like maybe the Earth is. “Nick, please.”
It takes Nick a while to register what he’s even asking for, his pulse pounding in his ears like a war drum. Harry whimpers the moment their lips touch, sinking his teeth into Nick’s lower lip and holding on. It fucking hurts.
Nick’s inside Harry, but in every way that matters, it feels like it’s the other way around, like Nick is so full of Harry there isn’t room for anything else, like Harry could tear him to pieces in an instant.
It’s oddly quiet like this, the two of them soft and breathing hard and barely kissing. This isn’t what Nick thought it would be when Harry asked him for it, again, on a phone call from LA — when Nick said no and Harry asked why not? and Nick was quiet for so long that Harry had said his name again, worried the line had gone dead, and Nick finally sighed fine, princess, I’ll do it.
It isn’t sexy or hot or filthy like in a porno. It’s just the two of them caught in one endless, breathless moment; Harry wrapped impossibly tight around Nick and Nick so completely fucking lost inside him. It’s devastating and heartbreaking and Harry still hasn’t fucking looked at him.
“Haz,” Nick whispers, already regretting it. “Haz, love, you have to look at me.”
The bottom falls out of Nick’s world when he does.
When Nick comes back from walking the dogs the next morning, Harry’s sitting up in bed. Perched on the edge of the mattress, still in the T-shirt and pants he slept in, one bare foot curled around the other on Nick’s carpet. He’s looking out the window, as though he hasn’t heard Nick climb the stairs and stop in the doorway, as though he can’t quite face Nick after what they did last night. Nick doesn’t blame him.
Nick has a cup of tea for him, but he can’t bring himself to come closer. Gently, he says, “How’re you feeling?”
Harry turns to look at at him, taking in Nick’s unruly hair and glasses and rumpled clothes and the two mugs in his hands before he says anything. “Sore,” he finally says, his Adam’s apple bobbing in his throat. His voice is still all hoarse and fucked-out. His eyes look unexpectedly pink. “Probably going to be for a while.”
Same, Nick thinks, in more ways than one.
Harry turns back to face the window. He’s all quiet still, like he was last night after Nick pulled out of him, melancholy and distant and not quite right. It makes Nick want to run all over again.
Nick forces himself to sit beside him, careful not to jostle him. He hands over Harry’s tea. “Do you wish we hadn’t?”
“Don’t—” Harry says softly, rubbing his knuckles under his nose and sniffling. Nervous habit, that, Nick knows. He takes a sip of his mug, wincing when it’s too hot still. “I wanted it.”
I wanted it, past tense, isn’t the same as I don’t regret it, present tense, but Nick knows better than to point that out. Then again, he knew better than to go through with this, and yet.
Harry frowns deeply, swilling the tea in his cup. Nick wishes he knew why Harry’s eyes are all pink, what’s been going through Harry’s head while Nick walked the dogs for an hour straight and smoked three consecutive cigarettes on his front steps. Wishes he’d had the balls to ask last night, instead of holding Harry as they lay there not talking. “You kept the flowers I got you.”
“The— oh.” Right. The forget-me-nots are still downstairs where Harry left them months ago, freshly watered and bright blue and miraculously still alive. “Wasn’t going to throw them out, was I?”
Harry sniffles. “You can’t keep a fucking cactus alive.”
Nick swallows thickly. He wonders if Harry knows they’re perennials, that they’re going to bloom year after year, that Nick could move them from the pot to his garden and they’d survive the winter and bloom all summer long. “I set an alarm on my phone to water them twice a week.”
Harry turns his head to meet Nick’s gaze again. His eyes aren’t just pink, they’re bloodshot and swollen, his eyelashes wetly clumped together, like he woke up alone after a messed-up night and Nick wasn’t there for him.
“How long can we keep doing this?” Harry asks, biting down on his bottom lip to forcibly stop his chin from wobbling. He looks a mess. Nick hates all of it. “You and me. This.”
Nick doesn’t know what else to say than, “You’re my best mate.”
Harry scoffs, dropping his gaze to the tea in his lap. His soft curls fall into his eyes. “I’m your best mate. Great.”
That horrible heaviness that’s been in Nick’s stomach all morning gets impossibly worse. They don’t ever talk about this. First rule of fight club. “Don’t know what you want me to say, here.”
Harry presses the heels of his hands into his eye sockets, folding over and sloshing tea onto the carpet. He doesn’t seem to notice and Nick’s too paralysed to take it from him. “I didn’t think it would feel like this,” he says, his voice muffled. “I didn’t know.”
Like what? is on the tip of Nick’s tongue, but he can’t bring himself to ask what it felt like for Harry. It still feels like hell for him. “Did I hurt you?”
Harry sighs. “No, you didn’t fucking hurt me. Lay off, I’m trying to say something here.”
Not saying something seems to be the foundation upon which their whole arrangement is built. Saying something can’t possibly be a defensible course of action when everything’s gone this pear-shaped. “It’s been a weird 24 hours,” Nick tries. “Maybe you’ll feel different once you get some rest and some space. Some, you know, perspective or summat.”
“Perspective,” Harry snaps. “Space. That’s what you think, isn’t it? We fuck, I get on a plane, and then I don’t think about you anymore?”
“It’s okay if you don’t think about me anymore. You’ve got a lot on your—”
“Don’t fucking do that. Don’t patronise me.”
“I’m just saying—”
“Don’t fucking patronise me, Nick, I swear to—” He shoves his cup onto the nightstand and looks Nick in the face again. “What, is that what it’s like for you? You forget all about me when I’m not here?”
Nick swallows thickly. “This isn’t fair.”
“Answer the fucking question.”
Nick draws a slow breath into his stomach, then another. No good can come of this, no good at all. And yet, he hears himself whisper, “How could I, Harold? You got me flowers.”
“I got you flowers,” Harry repeats in an equally hushed tone. He sounds like he’s going to cry all over again. Nick can’t bear it, cannot fucking bear it. “And you didn’t kill them.”
“Tried quite hard to not kill them, actually.”
“The lady at the nursery said they’re perennials,” Harry says softly, reaching to tuck one of Nick’s curls behind his ear. His hand lingers on Nick’s jaw, tilting their heads together until their foreheads are touching. “It means—”
“I know what it means.”
“—it means they keep coming back over and over and over again, year after year, that they come and go, but they always come back.”
It’s too much, this. Nick’s going to be sick. He brings his own hand up to cover Harry’s on his cheek. “Very poetic.”
“Nick, I—” Harry clears his throat, linking their fingers together and squeezing tight. His hand is clammy and warm and proper shaking. “Nick, love. I think we need to talk.”