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Gethen

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gethen

Jocelyn had enjoyed The Left Hand of Darkness, and so Grigg had just sort of presumed she’d understand once he explained it all to her. And whilst she wasn’t outright cruel about it, it clearly changed things between them. Which sort of surprised him a little. Not least because he felt she always had a little masculine energy about her. Perhaps an unfair way to look at it, and more projection on his part? He had just been caught off guard by how much it was a problem for her.

She hadn’t really understood and it was a few short and awkward weeks before she inevitably said we need to talk.

Everyone at the book club was great, though neither of them explained the reason behind their breakup - only saying that it had been amicable.

Which it had been in the sense that they didn’t fall out, but it was hard for Grigg to pretend he wasn’t hurt.

This whole move to Sacramento was meant to have been a fresh start for him, a chance to be himself, and it hadn’t been in the end. He had met Jocelyn almost immediately and then the book club happened. And before he knew it he had a whole social group that he’d have to explain everything to, or at least he felt he’d have to. His sisters told him he didn’t owe anyone an explanation and he knew they were right, but it really wasn’t that simple in practice. Especially with the relationship and now the breakup.

It was a lot for people to understand, rightly or wrongly. It had been months now, but things with the entire book club seemed to be getting more awkward as time passed. Projection again perhaps? Paranoia?

Grigg let out a heavy sigh and moved back from his desk, leaning back in his chair.

He realised it moved back further than expected, at the same time it made a crunching sound. Something was definitely broken, and that something had him crash painfully to the floor, whilst still essentially seated.

“Fuck,” The word came out with a tired resignation and he remained laying on his back, legs propped by the remains of the seat, as he looked at the ceiling contemplating that his week could surely only get better from here.

He was still laying on the floor when his assistant, Zeller, popped his head in to see if he wanted coffee.

“Uh, Grigg, are you okay?” He could hear the uncertain concern in Zeller’s voice. They’d been working together a few months, since Grigg realised he needed someone to support him beyond the engineering team now that the business was taking off. They got on but weren’t social. He was pretty sure Zeller thought he was a little weird, not that he much cared these days.

“I’m fine,” Grigg let out a long sigh, making no attempt to move. Definitely resigned to it.

“Do you want me to get Nigel? Or, like… a first aider? Are you hurt?”

“I’m fine,” Grigg repeated with no more enthusiasm, whilst discounting the minor bruise to his rather small ego.

“I’ll get Nigel,” Zeller decided. Grigg turned to look at him, dragging his eyes from the small stain in the ceiling panel that he was sure must have been an exploded soda bottle.

“Who’s Nigel?”

*

Nigel wasn’t bored as much as he was disinterested. It was an easy life, just lacking in the sort of excitement he'd been used to. And really, that wasn't a bad thing.

When he started over, taking a payout from what Darko owed him for his stake in the club, he had given serious thought to his skill set. Aside from drug dealing and violence, he was low on transferable skills. The only thing he had going for him beyond that was the decade he’d spent from around the age of 13, working with his old man in trade. His dad had run his own small business as a handyman, which he knew he’d wanted Nigel to take over when he was older. But by the time his dad passed when Nigel was 25 years old, he’d already met Darko and started down a different career path.

He never thought he’d one day be doing the same as his dad after all. And whilst working as the maintenance man for the multi occupant office building was far from taxing, it was also extremely far from exciting.

Nigel had just lit a cigarette when a head appeared around the door of his small basement office.

“Nigel, um… are you free?”

“For you darling, always!” Nigel liked Zeller, he had that sort of geeky look that Nigel secretly enjoyed, and a great ass that he was always happy to watch walking away.

At least that was one benefit of the US over Romania and working with Darko - he didn’t need to hide his preferences or appetites, and boy did Zeller whet the appetite.

“My boss broke his chair,” Zeller started, sounding a little uncertain as he lead the way back to the cluster Zeller’s boss rented - a small office and two tech rooms where the engineers remote IT supported various clients. It wasn’t that Nigel made a point of knowing all the businesses within the building, just that sometimes it was so quiet that he had nothing better to do.

Nigel hadn’t had much cause to go there since the guy moved in, only fitting the specific lighting they needed for their tech rooms before they arrived.

Craig or Greg or something, but Nigel hadn’t actually met him at all in the last year or so. It was a busy building and the wiring in the southside always had the bulbs and fuses blowing.

Strangely, all these thoughts were bumbling through Nigel’s mind the second he set eyes on -

“Grigg, Nigel’s come to help.”

Grigg was on the floor. Still sat in a chair that was flat on it’s back, leaving him staring at the ceiling.

“Shit, are you hurt? Should we get an ambulance or something?” Nigel asked. He thought Zeller was meant to be pretty smart, surely he should have called more than just the handyman?

“I’m fine,” Grigg’s voice was soft and forlorn. It made Nigel’s heart ache a little - he hated to see someone so beautiful seem so sad.

“You’re flat on your back, darling,” Nigel’s words were a low purr, an attempt to be friendly. Very fucking friendly given the gorgeous way in which the man’s tongue came out to wet his lips whilst he was thinking.

“I think I’ll just stay here a while,” Grigg’s words came out resigned and Zeller seemed uncomfortable. The whole situation looked a fucking mess.

“What was their name gorgeous?” Nigel asked softly, wanting to know that the asshole who caused this despondency was out of the picture, and Grigg was hopefully in need of a shoulder to cry on, or a rebound fuck.

Grigg turned his head, looking rather comical still essentially seated but now turned to frown at him.

“Who?” The way Grigg’s brow knit together was so fucking adorable, Nigel wanted to smooth it out with his thumb.

“Whoever broke your heart. Believe me… I know the look,” Nigel gave a gentle smile, moving to lean against the door jam.

Grigg let out a soft sigh, then - “Jocelyn.”

So, not a fella, but Nigel was happy to live in hope that Grigg was bisexual, or at the least bi-curious.

“She did a number on you, huh?” Nigel folded his arms and settled against the jam, happy to stand and draw Grigg out of his melancholic episode. Happy to just stand there and look at his gorgeous face, if he was honest.

Dealing drugs had oddly made him a good talker and listener - sort of like being a barman but with everyone really fucking high. He’d also had more than enough fucking experience of talking junkies out of stupid fucking situations.

Grigg sighed again, looking back to the ceiling and speaking as though he had a little lump in his throat, “I thought she would understand but instead it just weirded her out and then I had no one to even talk to as all my friends… our friends, they were her friends first.”

“Understand what, darling?” Nigel pressed gently, dropping slowly so that he was now on his haunches - a better height for Grigg to look at him.

Grigg’s mouth turned down at the corners, such was his sadness. It took everything in Nigel not to close the metre distance between them and stroke a comforting hand down the man’s cheek.

He seemed to be getting soft in this new life. Or maybe he just wanted the excuse to make physical contact, he wasn’t sure.

“It doesn’t matter,” Grigg grumbled, frowning at the ceiling.

Nigel gave a slow nod, “Sure. I mean, I’m a total stranger, but I get off work in a half hour and if you felt like you needed to talk with someone… It kind of sounds like you need to, and that you don’t have really anyone else around right now.” Met with silence, Nigel coaxed, “You don’t even need to talk.” He stood and slowly walked the distance between them before lowering back to his haunches next to Grigg.

“Believe me, I’ve got a mother fucker of a breakup story I can share with you. Might even make you feel better,” Nigel grinned.

Now so close, it was difficult for Grigg to ignore him, so he turned his head the slight amount that it took to face Nigel.

When their eyes met, Grigg’s frown eased and a half smile tried to set up home on his lips.

“Let’s get you up, okay? Before you really do put your back out and before poor Zeller has some sort of anxiety attack,” Nigel smiled warmly, completely sucked in by the ever growing if gentle smile on Grigg’s face.

Grigg held out his arm for help.

*

Grigg had no idea what the hell he was doing in the bar two blocks from his office.

Nigel had suggested they meet there once they finished work and he’d agreed. He’d had to work for another hour on finishing off a few things for a client, during which time Nigel checked out his chair and declared it unfit. He’d gone off and returned with duct tape, strapping the whole thing back together to get Grigg through the day but telling him he needed to order a new chair.

Grigg had focused back on his work, but been polite all the same.

He’d had to focus on his work. For one thing he’d had things to do and lost god knows how long laying in the ruins of his chair. But also he welcomed the focus so as not to allow himself to be distracted by Nigel.

Who was definitely a distraction.

It had been a while since Grigg had been with a guy, in fact in some ways he always felt he leaned more towards guys - just lacked the confidence for it. And then he’d met Jocelyn and had been immediately drawn to her. But throughout the rest of the afternoon and the short cycle ride over to the bar he couldn’t help but think about Nigel.

That smile, the crooning words in that - quite frankly - sensual accent. The way Nigel had gently helped him up like he was incredibly precious. At that point it didn’t seem like there was any saying no to an afterwork drink - as thanks if nothing else.

Zeller had looked on the whole time, perplexed and concerned. Mostly about the chair. He was a strange guy sometimes.

And now Grigg was at the bar, wondering what to do with himself and wondering if his bike would be okay where it was, chained to the rails at the side of the building.

Nigel said he would have already finished work, so Grigg was hoping he hadn’t come and gone whilst waiting for Grigg to arrive. Grigg would hate to seem rude like that but… also… Damn he was gorgeous and between his chair collapsing and arriving at the bar Grigg had pretty much decided that a rebound hookup might be exactly what he needed.

“Fuck. Gorgeous… that doesn’t leave a lot to the imagination,” Nigel’s grin was feral as he approached out of nowhere once Grigg entered the bar. He must have been waiting and spotted Grigg come in. Which… on reflection he was maybe hard to miss in his spandex cycling suit.

“Oh, um… force of habit, it’s a fair cycle home. Maybe I should have worn my clothes from the office? I have them in my bag I can-”

“Not on my account,” Nigel interrupted, making a very clear point of looking him up and down.

They stood for a moment. The silence wasn’t awkward, in fact it was incredibly charged.

Okay, so there really was no denying why both of them were at the bar. Unless he was reading things wrong, which apparently he did sometimes…

“So,” Grigg started, “you wanted to talk?”

“I can darling, or you can. I just… You seemed like you needed company,” Nigel moved slightly closer as he spoke. The bar was fairly busy and people were moving around them so it wasn’t an odd move for the man to make. Even so, Grigg felt the air crackle between them.

“Fuck,” Grigg found himself spitting the word under his breath as he felt his palms start to sweat.

“Huh?” Nigel asked.

“I… I guess talking would be good. But it’s… a big thing. The reason we broke up. Or at least to her it was a big thing. For me it’s just my life, so,” he sighed and shrugged. “It’s kind of frustrating. And of course sad. I thought we were… there were obstacles to us getting together and I thought we were beyond all that...”

Grigg trailed off and then shook his head, letting out a deep breath and shrugging it off.

“It’s all kinda involved.”

“I don’t mind listening darling,” Nigel practically purred and moved closer into his space, a gentle hand pressing to the base of Grigg’s spine as more people started moving around them to get to and from the bar. Grigg shivered at the contact and was sure from Nigel’s growing smirk that he felt it.

“Or… I don’t live far from here, a few minutes walk. We could get out of here?” Nigel suggested, barely more than a whisper against Grigg’s ear.

They hadn’t even made it all the way to the counter much less ordered a drink. Even so the words made him wince as he felt his cock thicken slightly - something that would be very noticeable in the lycra he was wearing. Grigg felt his face begin to heat up.

“Yeah, sure. Let’s um, do that.” Grigg nodded, suddenly breathless.

The bar was even busier as they tried to make their way out, and hitting the fresh air was welcome. Grigg could feel his face was incredibly heated, and was very glad of the poor street lighting.

“My bike,” Grigg lead them to the side street and his bike chained to the railings.

“Should be safe here, you can collect it tomorrow,” Nigel grinned. Those few words making all intentions clear if they hadn’t been before.

“Oh, sure… yeah…” Grigg wasn’t so much nervous as he was sort of out of his depth. He wasn’t exactly shy and retiring when it came to romance - or sex - generally, but with guys it always seemed more difficult. Terrifying. And Nigel’s no nonsense, almost aggressive, clarity of intent was quite a lot to take in.

“Only if you’re sure gorgeous, I want to make sure we’re on the same page,” Nigel’s tone was a little more serious. He took a step to Grigg, backing him against the side wall of the bar.

Grigg felt his heart hammering, his palms getting sweaty again and his cock… damn, his cock was now pressing quite obviously against the spandex - really leaving nothing at all to the imagination.

Nigel put an arm up, caging Grigg on one side as he stroked the other down the side of Grigg’s cheek.

“I think you need someone to take care of you as much as you need someone to listen. Would you like me to take care of you darling?” Nigel asked, moving forward into what little space remained between them. He let out an amused but appreciative hum when he clearly felt Grigg’s erection against his hip.

“I guess you could take that as a yes,” Grigg replied with a half nervous chuckle, finding himself glad that Nigel was taking such a forceful lead. He felt sure that if he turned Nigel down that would be the end of it, but his unwavering interest ensured Grigg didn't have chance for his nerves to get the best of him.

“Glad to hear it,” Nigel responded before leaning in and pressing their lips together.

His kiss was consuming. A hardness to the way he encouraged Grigg to open to his tongue, even though his lips were gentle. He ground against Grigg a little, giving his hard cock something to think about.

When Nigel pulled back, framing his hands around Grigg’s face, Grigg tried to follow the kiss and whimpered when he was held back. That earned the most delighted smile from Nigel who gazed at him like a man thirsty for whatever relief Grigg was offering.

“You’re so damn beautiful,” Nigel muttered, nipping at his lips again for a moment before adding, “I can’t wait to see how fucking gorgeous you look when you come.”

Grigg swallowed, hard and let Nigel lead him by the hand.

_________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Art commissioned from Acxadental

Grigg and Nigel by acxadental

Chapter Text

It really was only a short walk to Nigel’s place. Certainly not long enough for Grigg to overthink what was happening and change his mind. Which, might have been impossible anyways the moment Nigel let them into his small apartment and immediately pressed Grigg to the wall.

The kiss was bruising and they rut against each other for several minutes as they tasted each other like over eager teenagers.

Nigel’s hands slid behind him, one to the small of his back, pressing him close. The other up into his hair, not quite holding him in place but clearly enjoying the feel of his curls.

It felt strangely intimate, and Grigg couldn’t help but moan at the sensation, feeling a shiver all the way from Nigel’s hand down his spine and to his groin.

For his part, Grigg’s hands were clutching tight to Nigel’s shoulders for want of somewhere else to place them. It was maybe a little awkward, but Nigel didn’t seem to mind and grunted when Grigg dug his fingers in as Nigel ground against him.

Nigel pulled back, grinning and panting. He looked like the cat who got the cream.

“Do you want to fuck me darling? Or I can fuck you, either way I want us both to come at least three times each before dawn.”

Grigg bit his lower lip, not that it did anything to hold back the whimper.

He genuinely had no idea. He hadn’t been penetrated by another person in a long while - another thing Jocelyn had been very much not interested in trying. And yet the thought of Nigel taking him in that way made his knees go weak.

“Jocelyn never wanted to fuck me like that,” He found himself admitting as his eyes focused entirely on Nigel’s lips, wanting to feel them everywhere he possibly could.

“What a fucking bitch,” Nigel growled, grinning even wider as he nipped at Grigg’s lips before kissing hard again.

*

Nigel wasn’t sure what the fuck he had done in some other life for this karma, but he wasn’t going to question it.

Grigg Harris, who had been working quietly away in his building for the last year or so under his very nose, was sent from fucking heaven. He looked like an angel, his curls all soft and framing his face perfectly. And he kissed like he wanted Nigel to own him, aggressive whilst also being sort of submissive. Wanting.

When he’d first started down this path of seduction, he had honestly been okay with any sort of sexual outcome. He didn’t even care if all they did was wank over each other all night. But part of him had assumed that Grigg would want to fuck him. Maybe he was bi, maybe Nigel was just too damn hot for even a straight guy to turn down? All Nigel knew was that Grigg’s most recent sexual encounters had involved pussy. It stood to reason there was every chance that Grigg would not be interested in taking it up the ass, and would feel a lot more comfortable pushing himself into Nigel’s hole instead.

This was evidently a completely wrong assumption to make, he realised as he progressed them from the wall by the front door, to the wall next to his bedroom door. Not least because Grigg was using the pauses between kisses to beg Nigel to fuck him.

At this rate Nigel was going to come in his pants like a fucking teenager. He really couldn’t remember the last time he’d been with anyone so beautiful. He definitely wasn't sure he'd ever been this turned on before.

When he did get any cock back in Romania, it had very much been a case of take what you can get. It was a habit he hadn't thought to break when screwing around in the States either.

Nigel pushed open his bedroom door, finally pulling back from Grigg so that it didn’t take them another 30 minutes just to get to the actual fucking bed.

“Come on gorgeous,” Nigel crooned as he took Grigg’s hand and lead him into the room.

It was sparse and tidy. Tidy because it was sparse, because he’d brought fuck all with him from Romania and wasn’t in a hurry to put down any kind of roots. Not ever really. When things had gone sideways back home he’d checked out from all of that. What was the point? The semblance of life he’d had as a criminal, married to a truly wonderful woman who he was never going to connect with in the way she thought she’d connected with him. He wasn’t sure when he was going to feel sorry for using Gabi the way he had, but it was done now and she could move on and find herself another husband who wasn’t a homo.

He’d made his peace with every part of that as best he could.

And now he was living free and easy in the US, able to do as he pleased and fuck as many guys as he could possibly pick up in a weekend. What more did he need?

Nigel looked over at Grigg when he realised the man was trembling, his hand shaking ever so slightly the closer they got to the bed.

He frowned, “It’s okay if you want to change your mind gorgeous. We don’t need to do anything you don’t want. You can leave and I won’t stop you.”

Grigg looked over at him, studying his face intently. He didn’t look worried or scared, but there was some sort of trepidation.

Grigg shook his head, “No, it’s not… I don’t want to leave. I… I just can’t believe I’m doing this.” Grigg huffed out a chuckle, his expression breaking into a goofy grin that Nigel wanted to fucking snog off of his face.

“Sometimes we all need a little rebound fuck,” Nigel growled, “and I am so happy to help you with that.”

He grabbed Grigg’s spandex top and let himself fall back onto the bed, taking Grigg with him. With Grigg flat on top of him there was no escaping how hard the man was through his biking shorts - which were the cutest fucking things. Nigel was half tempted to see if Grigg would let him fuck him whilst he was still wearing them, just pull them down to his thighs and let the spandex keep him tightly together.

His cock throbbed at the thought, and he grabbed Grigg’s thighs and pulled them up until he was being straddled.

“Tell me how you like it darling, let me make this good for you.”

He ground his crotch up into Grigg’s, who let out a low, long groan and shuddered.

“I don't know…” Grigg seemed a little unsure, “It's… I haven't been with a guy since college. I'm…” Grigg trailed off and trembled.

“Are you nervous darling? I'll take care of you-”

Grigg was shaking his head, he'd closed his eyes and was circling his hips. Which was fucking delightful.

“No… Just… really turned on,” Grigg's expression was that of someone trying desperately and painfully not to come.

Nigel grinned, grabbing Grigg's hips and rocking them together. Grigg let out a defeated whimper as Nigel forced their hard dicks to grind together through spandex and denim.

“Nigel, I'm-”

Grigg’s words disappeared into breathy panting as he shuddered. His face was fucking beautiful - that creased brow returned at the moment of release and then his eyes closed and his mouth went slack with pleasure. He looked like he was high and Nigel wanted to make that happen again and again.

After a moment Grigg went lax and collapsed into Nigel’s arms, burying his face in the crook of Nigel’s neck.

“Oh god, I’m so embarrassed. Sorry about… Um, sorry,” Grigg’s words were muffled and warm against his neck.

Nigel let a low laugh rumble from his chest as he stroked his hands up and down the soft lycra at Grigg’s back.

“Darling, I am making it my personal mission to see that you come so many times tonight you won’t even remember your own name, let alone anything that might be getting you down. This is just score one.”

Grigg huffed a laugh against his skin and it made Nigel shiver.

“Just need to work out how to get this fucking thing off you, gorgeous,” Nigel dragged his fingers over the skintight lycra. “Are you sure it isn’t fucking painted on?” Nigel chuckled and nuzzled against Grigg’s neck. “Maybe by the time I’ve worked out how to get it off, you’ll be hard enough again for me to get you off,” Nigel growled.

Grigg let out another light laugh and then sighed against him. And if it wasn’t the most delightful fucking thing he’d ever experienced.

*

Grigg, despite his initial nervousness, wasn’t sure the last time he’d felt so comfortable around someone.

Despite near looking like a thug, Nigel was considerate and tender in his own way. Grigg wholeheartedly believed him when he said he would take care of him and was set on bringing Grigg as much pleasure as possible. It was a kind of giving that Grigg had never experienced, and certainly not with Jocelyn. He hadn’t ever doubted her love but he also was never able to escape her desire to be obeyed in the way her dogs obeyed her. Someone who was there when she wanted them, only on her terms, and not when they needed her in return.

Grigg had been aware before their conversation about Gethen, that their relationship was incredibly one-sided on many levels. But he had been in love with her, or maybe just the idea of her? Of someone wanting him? And then it was over despite him always having done the right thing - until Gethen at least. That had been the dealbreaker. Or maybe a lucky escape, he now pondered.

He had been so sad since they broke up, but as the minutes passed in Nigel’s company he realised that it wasn’t because he missed Jocelyn. It suddenly seemed so clear that he didn’t miss her at all. He was sad because of the reaction she’d had - that she couldn’t love him once he’d told her everything. That he wasn’t wanted.

Grigg clenched his jaw, a tight feeling in his chest at that before it eased off.

Nigel sat in front of him on the bed, palming his cock through his jeans as he watched Grigg with a hungry expression.

Grigg took a deep breath, studying Nigel intently, as he began to strip out of the spandex. His breath was shaky as he started to peel it away, self conscious of his actions for a moment before he thought about Jocelyn again.

He was always so conscious of how he carried himself around her, wanting to fit the mould she had pictured in her head. Be accommodating as he always was.

But Nigel was practically a stranger, and one that didn’t seem like he would judge him anyway. And what would he care if he did?

Grigg swallowed, trying to suppress his nerves as he continued to strip, stroking his hands over his body, canting his hip just so. Letting the soft material peel off of him like a second skin.

“Fuck,” Nigel muttered, slowly starting to undo his jeans.

Grigg felt bolstered by the reaction, dragging the material down to rest on his hips as he then stretched up. He felt feline and slinky, and wanted Nigel’s hands on him, though Nigel was now too preoccupied with pulling out his dick and giving it a couple of leisurely strokes.

He was thick and uncut, the thought of having Nigel inside him made his stomach flip.

Grigg pushed the spandex over his hips, down further and further until he was able to delicately step out of them, prowling towards Nigel with what felt like borrowed confidence.

*

The little striptease was probably the hottest thing Nigel had ever fucking seen. The way Grigg held himself in an almost feminine way was fucking glorious. Nigel really couldn’t claim much attraction to women, but the confidence Grigg had displaying himself like that was a fucking turn on.

He’d practically ripped his own clothes off as Grigg came to the bed, before pulling him down and rolling them, Grigg beneath him, sighing happily.

“I want to fuck you darling,” Nigel voiced his intent in a husky whisper that had Grigg nodding eagerly, his jaw doing this adorable little jut that made Nigel want to kiss him.

But kissing could wait. He pulled away and grabbed the lube and a box of condoms from the side drawer, throwing them down on the bed before sitting in the centre of the bed. Without prompting, gorgeous Grigg climbed onto him, straddling his thighs and ignoring his cock in favour of leaning in to steal a kiss.

It was sweet and soft, the little nipping bites giving away the passion of it.

As they kissed Nigel popped the cap on the lube, squeezing some onto his fingers before running them along the crease of Grigg’s ass. It only took that encouragement for Grigg to scoot closer, their cocks pressed together once more, this time with nothing between them, as Nigel stroked his fingers up and down the crack of the man sat in his lap.

Their kissing became breathy as Nigel focused his efforts on Grigg’s asshole, circling gently with slick digits before pushing a finger slowly to the first knuckle.

At that Grigg gasped and pulled back, his hands going to Nigel’s shoulders and holding them tight as he bore down through the intrusion. His eyes were closed and he looked so fucking blissed out that Nigel wondered if anyone had ever truly fucking pleasured this man before.

Nigel pulled away to add more lube, the action met by a little disappointed huff at the loss. He returned his fingers quickly, beginning to work them in more ardently as Grigg responded with little sounds of pleasure. Nigel started to nuzzle at Grigg’s jawline, enjoying the rub of their stubble together.

He couldn’t stop picturing the way Grigg had moved as he stripped, and he knew he’d never truly found femininity beautiful until that moment.

Nigel wasn’t one for all the ‘who is the girl’ bullshit, but there was something with Grigg that he couldn’t quite put his finger one. He wasn’t effeminate or camp - things Nigel didn’t mind at all. But there was something feminine about him in a way that made Nigel’s cock throb. Which was something he’d never have thought possible before that moment.

It was these thoughts that made him mutter, “You’re so gorgeous darling, such lovely curves,” he ran his free hand over Grigg’s hips and thigh made shapely by cycling, feeling the man hesitate a little and tense up slightly.

Nigel worked his fingers slowly in and out, Grigg’s fingers digging tight into the meat of Nigel’s shoulders.

“Don’t tense darling,” Nigel crooned against his ear. “I know your tight little pussy is eager to be filled, but you have to let me in.”

Grigg tightened completely at the words, his inner muscles gripping Nigel’s finger as he whimpered. Nigel wondered for a moment if he were going to push Nigel away, or maybe even come again. What an amazing feat that would be, to make Grigg come untouched. Was he turned off or turned on?

Grigg relaxed then though, and Nigel couldn’t help but want to make him come over and over. See how many times he could get hard this quickly.

For now he focused on the interesting reaction he had drawn from Grigg.

“You like that darling? You want me to finger your pussy open until it is wet and ready for me?”

Grigg’s fingers dug painfully deeper and he arched his back as he let out a high whimper. Definitely turned on then.

Nigel growled, thoughtful, his cock aching with knowing how this was turning Grigg on. He paused for a moment, wondering if he dared… but then what did he have to lose?

Nigel moved his lips next to Grigg’s ears and spoke in a low, soft tone, “And you have such perfect little tits too.” He slid his free hand up to squeeze Grigg's small pecs, running his thumb over the hard nipple.

Grigg shuddered, his breath escaping him as a long and shaky exhale.

As Nigel drew back Grigg’s arms came around his neck and pulled him into a hungry kiss as he pushed down on his fingers, riding them as best he could. Nigel grinned into the kiss, spreading his fingers and pushing in a third.

“You’re so gorgeous like this darling,” He muttered the words against Grigg’s lips, “so wet and tight for me, so beautiful.” Nigel dropped his head down and kissed at Grigg’s chest before taking a nipple into his mouth and gently sucking on it.

“Nigel,” His name shuddered from Grigg’s lips as he worked himself harder on Nigel’s fingers and arched into his mouth.

“Fuck, gorgeous…” Nigel groaned as he pulled back, creating space between them.

Nigel grabbed the condom from the bed and sheathed himself in it quicker than he was sure he’d ever done before in his life. He picked the lube back up and poured a generous amount onto his fingers, working it up and down his cock before spreading the surplus on Grigg’s ass and pushing it into him.

Grigg was still holding onto him, allowing hardly any room between them now as Nigel lined himself up and pushed in. Grigg gasped and clutched tighter so the Nigel could do little more than rock as he waited for Grigg to slowly relax.

“Ahnn, so nice and tight for me gorgeous. So wet. You liked riding my fingers so much you’re practically gushing, huh? You get so wet when you’re turned on, it’s fucking beautiful.” Nigel couldn’t stop the litany of words falling from his mouth. Especially with the way Grigg was reacting, undulating and whimpering against him in response.

“I love your fucking pussy darling,” That drew another soft moan which only deepened when Nigel snaked a hand up between them and cupped Grigg’s tit, squeezing it and thumbing over Grigg’s nipple again.

“Nigel unngg,” Grigg cried as he moved in time with Nigel, meeting each shallow thrust. “You… you feel so good… i-inside,” he could just tell that Grigg’s face was red hot with blushing. “Inside me… so good… you… my… my… t-t…”

Nigel grinned and leaned in, pushing Grigg’s chest up a little so that he could meet nipple and lips together. Grigg loosened his arms so that Nigel could lick and suck at his nipple as Grigg continued to push down on his cock.

“Such. Great. Tits,” Nigel muttered again, punctuating every word with a thrust up into Grigg’s welcoming heat.

“More…” Grigg groaned.

Nigel adjust his position enough so that he was able to essentially bounce Grigg on his cock whilst nuzzling at his chest, licking his nipple, sucking it into his mouth and closing his teeth lightly around it.

That gentle pressure, combined with Nigel’s firm fucking, had Grigg crying out again, and this time he was coming. Shaking as his breath hitched and he made these adorable little noises - all the while his come spilled between them. Nigel wasn’t sure when he’d ever been so turned on in his life. Making someone come completely untouched on his cock felt like Christmas.

Grigg pulled Nigel closer, his hands running down his back until he was able to grab his ass, encouraging him on.

Nigel grunted against Grigg’s chest as he pumped his hips, fucking up into Grigg as his ass undulated and gripped around him.

“Oh fuck gorgeous,” Nigel groaned, his rhythm faltering as he spilled inside Grigg’s pulsing channel. He thrust twice more, sharp and hard as he grunted, burying himself deep as he filled the condom.

They stilled and breathed together for a few minutes, sweaty and come slicked skin pressed close to each other. Finally, Nigel rolled back on the bed, taking Grigg with him, not pulling out as he settled them next to each other, holding each other.

“You feel so good darling, best pussy I’ve ever had.”

Grigg made a noise and tried to pull away from him then, and Nigel realised he’d pushed a little too far on this kink, or whatever the fuck it was.

He silently pulled Grigg back to him soothing him with his hands. Grigg didn’t resist.

___________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Thank you Moonstag for this amazing art -

Gethen 2 by moonstag1

Gethen 1 by moonstag1

Chapter Text

Grigg blinked his eyes open, realising immediately the heavy arm around him. Not exactly how he had woken many times in his life. In fact he could count them on one hand, and most were the same guy he’d hooked up with a few times at college. Usually after a heavy night of drinking, fumbling and then passing out - his companion always leaving in a panicked hurry the next morning.

It was no surprise that he’d been more nervous and reticent with men than women, when the recurring experiences he’d had of men had been sleeping with someone who had to be drunk to do so. And then there was the waking to them experiencing gay panic every damn time, being ignored on campus until the next time the guy wanted to fuck around.

It had been disconcerting and Grigg realised he had grown to expect and be wary of it, if not outright avoid it.

Part of him expected it from Nigel. But then he thought back on the less than 24 hours that he’d known him, and was pretty sure the guy was as far from a gay panic as anyone could get.

As if on cue, Nigel’s arm tightened around him and he nuzzled into the nape of Grigg’s neck. Nigel took a deep breath and let out a little hum of approval at Grigg’s no doubt sex and sweat ladened odour.

“Mmm, you smell like you’ve been well fucked gorgeous, and I’m delighted to have had a part in that,” He felt Nigel’s mouth curve against his skin, his teeth exposed to Grigg’s flesh by the feral grin.

Grigg let out a contented sigh and sank back against Nigel, feeling the fuzz of his chest against his back and enjoying the sensation of it. He’d never really indulged like this when he’d been with guys before.

“This is nice,” Grigg didn’t mean to say it out loud, expecting Nigel to recoil as a result. Instead Nigel just hummed again and pulled Grigg tighter to him, his hardening dick slotting against Grigg’s ass.

Grigg felt his own twitch and begin to fill in response, a blush rising on his face as it did so.

Memories of the night before flashed into Grigg’s mind and he shuddered. His face heated further and he went rigid in Nigel’s arms. He had been… very free with himself. He’d explored a very private side of himself with Nigel after only a couple of hours of knowing him, and initiated by Nigel rather than himself. It had been somewhat of a revelation. One which he was now deeply conscious of.

“I… I should go…” Grigg started to pull away, and for a moment Nigel let him as though surprised. But then he reacted and gently pulled Grigg back to his chest.

“What’s the hurry, gorgeous? I was going to invite you to shower with me,” He could hear the grin in Nigel’s voice. Thankfully the man loosened his hold as Grigg wriggled forward, clearly no intention of impeding him if he really did want to leave.

Grigg was going to rise out of the bed completely, but changed his mind and instead used the space between them to turn over until he was face to face with Nigel. It felt like, after really a wonderful evening, the least he owed him was an explanation or apology or something.

“I’m… Thank you for last night, I’m sorry if I made things weird,” His cheeks were hot again and he knew he was likely just making things worse. He was so awkward around this whole thing. The Gethen thing, as Jocelyn had called it after the comparisons he’d made to the Le Guin book.

Grigg wasn’t sure how to explain it all to Nigel, but it struck him - he really had no need to. He didn’t owe anything to Nigel and this might even only be a one night thing. Which, he had to admit, made him feel a little disappointed. It was the most enjoyable night he’d had in a long while - including those with Jocelyn. Not just the sex but the intimacy and comfort, right down to the feel of the man and the way he treated him. It was just… so beyond anything he’d had with anyone else. Nigel seemed to understand him on a physical level with barely any words between them. It was something Grigg had never considered might exist out there for him and he was loathe to let it go.

“You’re thinking too hard gorgeous,” Nigel’s voice was a low rumble and he reached his hand up to smooth his thumb over a frown Grigg hadn’t realised he had. He let his brow relax and found himself smiling without even meaning to. Nigel leaned in and pressed a gentle kiss to his lips.

It was soft and domestic, as though they woke every morning like this. Maybe Nigel was like this with all his hookups? The thought caused a bitter little ball in Grigg’s stomach, though he knew he had no right to it.

Nigel’s hand moved until it was cupping Grigg’s cheek, softly holding him in place as he deepened the kiss with no apparent care for morning breath.

The kiss was languid, lazy. Slow. Grigg found himself relaxing back into the pillow. Nigel made no move to overpower him, content to remain in the unassuming embrace as they made out with no expectation of more. It was the best way he’d ever started a day.

Grigg chuckled and pulled back, “Nigel, I really do need to get my bike and…” He trailed off, not finishing the sentence because really, it was the weekend and he was his own boss. He could do whatever he liked.

Nigel was watching him intently, waiting to see what he said - possibly so he could form his own counter argument. And Grigg, well he really wanted Nigel to not let him leave. But life wasn’t that simple, and he was incredibly aware that this was a casual hookup and he was on the rebound. Even if he hadn’t thought about Jocelyn since he left work yesterday, other than the brief mention last night.

“Nigel I… I’d like to stay longer but… I think maybe we should make clear what’s going on here first. I don’t want any misunderstandings,” Grigg chose his words carefully, though wasn’t certain he’d chosen the right ones. He’d spent months enduring all the misunderstandings that Jovelyn pushed him into before she finally decided she wanted him. He wasn’t going to let anyone do that to him again. “And if it’s just casual, that’s fine. I mean… I’m just coming back from a break up and-”

“Darling, as long as I get to fuck around with you a hell of a lot more, I’m happy,” Nigel cut him off with a grin before moving forward again.

Grigg frowned and held him back, his hands pressed to Nigel’s shoulders.

“I mean it, we need to be clear.” Grigg near huffed. “I’ve already been kept off kilter by someone whilst I spent the whole time trying to figure out where I was going wrong. If this is just casual I need to know that.”

Nigel cocked his head, his smile not quite a smirk - something a little more gentle.

“Darling, casual is fine, I think the kids call it fuck buddies.” Nigel chuckled, “I can’t think of anything better than knowing, when you leave here, it won’t be the last I see of your perfect ass,” Nigel swiped his tongue over Grigg’s mouth and Grigg couldn’t hold back the shudder. His cock was already starting to get painfully hard.

“So… you want to… again? Like not just now. But…”

“I’ll give you my number gorgeous, any time you want some casual fucking, I will be there in a heartbeat.”

Grigg shuddered, his hands no longer pressing back as Nigel moved forward to claim his mouth.

*

It took everything in Nigel not to keep Grigg in that fucking bed all day... fucking or otherwise.

There was something about the guy that was driving him crazy, even after just one night. He had butterflies in his stomach and it wasn’t just the sex. He had never before just snuggled in bed gently kissing. It was usually fuck and done. Sometimes just in the clubs, not even making it to an actual house let alone a fucking bedroom.

He usually didn’t have an interest in anything beyond that - wanting to make the most of being footloose and fancy free these days. He wanted to get as much cock as was humanly possible in this short life, and up until now those cocks had all been attached to different people. None of which he had ever allowed, or been remotely tempted to allow, to stay over.

But now Nigel was very much all about one cock. Grigg’s cock. And he desperately didn’t want to let him leave. His heart had been in his throat when Grigg woke up and said he should go. He wasn’t about to physically restrain the guy, though keeping him there liplocked was working out just fine. Nigel really didn’t want him to leave… Hadn’t been ready for him to leave.

He was trying to be okay with keeping things casual. At first he thought that was what Grigg was asking, and by the time he wondered whether other options were available, it became clear that was perhaps all Grigg could give. The guy was coming out of a shitty break up for fucksake, he wasn’t going to muscle in and force something more when Grigg was clearly in a vulnerable place. Nigel wasn’t even sure he was interested in something other than casual, or at least he was telling himself that.

But he would happily fuck around with the guy every chance he got. And maybe that was what Grigg needed? Nigel would like to try and convince himself that he would be okay with just casual sex. But he knew himself well enough to know he was already fighting heart eyes for this beautiful fucking nerd.

Nigel pushed the thoughts down. Grigg didn’t deserve to face the brunt of his obsessive personality, he just needed to keep that shit in check.

“Time for one last orgasm before you leave, darling?” Nigel grinned.

Grigg lay butt naked, face down, snuggled into a pillow. After another fuck session, a shower and then a snack, they’d ended up back in bed for snuggles - another thing that Grigg seemed to need and Nigel was happy to provide. He’d fallen asleep almost immediately, leaving Nigel to watch him like a total creep.

Fuck he was perfect. Not just because he was definitely Nigel’s type and they’d already spent most of the night making each other cum, but everything! His skin was oh so smooth and lightly tanned from the Californian sun. His hair was soft and wild now that Nigel had had his hands in it so many times. His cock and ass were the kind carved on statues you find in museums. His smile was angelic. If that wasn’t enough, he was fucking smart and ambitious, Nigel just loved to fucking listen to him talk.

Grigg sleepily hummed, bringing a smile to Nigel’s face.

Fuck. This was actually fucking amazing and Nigel was loving it. The thought of having this man in his bed again and again filled him with a warm fuzzy feeling.

Unable to help himself, Nigel climbed over Grigg, laying flat on his back and burying his nose in the crook of his neck. He sunk completely onto the man below him who let out an appreciative sound and nuzzled his face further into the pillow.

“You’re so fucking sexy,” Nigel murmured against his skin, at which Grigg hummed again and then pressed his ass up, grinding it against Nigel’s cock.

Nigel’s chuckle became a groan and he wriggled so that his now hardening cock was nestled in the crevice of Grigg’s ass. They moved slowly together for a minute, lazy friction between them as Nigel relaxed against Grigg.

Before he had chance to take full advantage, Nigel nodded off, dreaming of how many times they might come again before he finally let Grigg go home.

*

Zeller wouldn’t stop glancing at him. Grigg wasn’t sure at first whether to be amused or annoyed. It had been going on most of the morning and it was starting to put Grigg on edge. He considered going to the bathroom and washing his face, but it felt like that would draw more attention.

He wasn’t sure what the hell had possessed him. He just… he’d felt so good about himself after the weekend and had felt confident enough to do it. To be himself that little bit more.

Neither Bev nor Jimmy, the two engineers working from the office today, had batted an eye when they’d arrived. Maybe they just hadn’t noticed?

“Uh, Grigg… you-” Zeller started and Grigg froze, wondering what he might say, but he was cut off when the office door opened and Nigel strode in, grinning.

“Lunch, gorgeous?” He asked as Grigg nervously turned to face him.

Nigel’s face lit up, his mouth curving into a grin as he bit into his lower lip. It was damn near predatory and made Grigg’s heart skip a beat.

“You look fucking beautiful,” Nigel growled, stepping into the room and towards Grigg. He was almost there - clearly about to reach for Grigg - when he spotted Zeller. He stopped flashed a smile at Grigg’s colleague, “how do you concentrate with this beauty around?” Nigel teased.

Both Grigg and Zeller flushed, though Grigg was sure his face was far more red than that of his assistant. He had found the eyeliner in the little box of things he kept, things he bought and then hid away and tried to forget about. He had applied it with a shaky hand and been surprised at how amazing it made him feel. But that was before he left the house and his confidence had been yo-yoing painfully all morning.

Nigel turned back to Grigg, keeping a respectful distance. “Do you want to get some lunch? I’ve brought along that catalogue I mentioned,” Nigel’s tone was now somewhat professional, even though Grigg had no idea what he was referring to. “The office equipment, you can choose the chair you want. Get a fancy one with gidgets and gadgets. It’ll be like a fucking spaceship.”

“Oh!” Grigg raised his brows in realisation, “Right, that would be great.”

“Great,” Nigel repeated, turning on his heel and leaving with a clear expectation that Grigg would follow.

“Um, I’m… going to lunch. To, um, look at chairs,” Grigg told Zeller, who was now somehow gawping and frowning at the same time.

Grigg hesitated only a moment and then followed Nigel.

*

When Nigel had first laid eyes on Grigg it had taken all the restraint he could muster not to push him up against the wall and rut against him.

Nigel hadn’t ever thought much one way or the other about men wearing makeup. He’d never really thought much about women wearing it, though he could acknowledge a well made effort. But fuck! The barely there eyeliner Grigg was wearing made his ocean deep eyes pop. Rather than feminine, it made him look somewhat more male in a punk kind of way. Or maybe more androgynous like David Bowie, which Nigel had no idea he’d find a turn on until his dick twitched in his jeans and let him know that was in fact the case.

He started back to his office, clenching and unclenching his fists, knowing Grigg followed behind him through what seemed like far too many hallways, resisting the urge to turn and kiss the man.

The resistance lasted as far as his office door, which he unlocked in record time before turning and grabbing Grigg by the shirt and dragging him inside. Within moments he had the door closed behind them and Grigg pressed against it.

“Fuck darling, I almost ravaged you in your office. If I hadn’t realised Zeller was there I fucking might have,” Nigel chuckled against Grigg’s mouth before pressing their lips together in a firm kiss.

Grigg allowed it for a few minutes, before gently running his hands up to Nigel’s shoulders and pushing him back. He was grinning at Nigel though, he hadn’t pushed him off because he didn’t want him - which relieved Nigel. As he really hadn’t been sure if he’d crossed a line. But Grigg’s smile was something else, it lit up the fucking room.

“It looks okay?” There was an excited lilt to his quiet words.

“You look amazing, gorgeous,” Nigel encouraged, finding himself returning the grin without thinking about it.

Grigg blushed and looked down, and Nigel had to stop himself from grabbing his chin and pulling his face back up.

“Thank you,” Grigg muttered, “I… I don’t usually, but uh, I felt um, after the weekend I felt…” Grigg swallowed and looked back up to him, a sort of imploring expression. Willing him to understand. Which maybe he did. Whatever this was that was going on with Grigg, it was clear that the weekend had given him some freedom to explore it in some way. And Nigel couldn’t help but feel pretty good about that.

He moved his hand up to run a thumb over Grigg’s bottom lip, wondering what he would look like in a pale pink lipstick. Grigg let out a low moan as his hands slipped up around Nigel’s neck and they were somehow kissing again.

Chapter Text

The last three weeks had been wonderful and reckless.

Not least because he wondered if there was a chance of Nigel getting fired or himself being evicted by the building management, should someone find them fucking in Nigel’s office. Which had now happened several times. The last time he had clearly looked well and truly fucked when he got back from his lunch and Bev Katz gave him a knowing look and a quick wink.

Grigg wasn’t sure of the last time he had blushed so hard.

It was getting too reckless and Grigg was loving it. He had never been free with himself like this before, never just… not cared. But he knew he should. He’d worked hard to build his own successful business, he couldn’t throw it away over some guy he, really, barely knew. Even if…

He shook the thought away. Fucking around with Nigel as a rebound casual thing was one thing. Could he imagine himself being in a relationship with a guy? If pressed, maybe he’d say he was bisexual but probably an 80/20 split in favour of women. Twenty percent wasn’t enough think about getting serious with a man. Turning his whole life upside down like that, like the way his sister Kat had when she married her girlfriend, because bi people were just experimenting, right? She’d been hassled so much over it by straight and gay people alike.

He didn’t want to deal with all that for only liking guys twenty percent of the time. Was that how it worked? Because after less than a month he was sure he liked Nigel one hundred percent of the time and that terrified him.

It was Tuesday when Nigel tried to lure him away on his lunch break, but Grigg had already steeled himself. For a multitude of reasons ranging from Nigel getting fired to Grigg maybe falling in love with him if he gave it half a chance, he put a stop to it.

“Sorry, I’m busy, I… have some things I need to take care of for the engineering team,” Grigg muttered, trying to sound convincing as he kicked himself for not having come up with a prepared excuse ahead of time despite having agonised over this.

He ignored Zeller’s look across the office and hoped that Nigel didn’t catch it.

“No problem Mr Harris, I can look into those…. uh, light fixtures and come back to you,” Nigel looked disappointed for a moment but unphased. He gave them both a nod and disappeared back around the door.

“Uh,” Zeller started, sounding somewhere between concerned and uncomfortable, “you guys, um… doing okay?”

“What?!” Grigg felt the blood drain from his face and an unsettling panic washed over him.

“You and Nigel, you’re uh… together, right?”

“I… Uh…” Grigg’s face heated as the rest of his body broke into a cold sweat.

Zeller held up his hands, looking as awkward as Grigg felt, “Look man, it’s none of my business. I was just… You’ve been really happy the last few weeks and it… It didn’t seem much of a secret that you guys were… boning or whatever-”

“Oh god!” Grigg exclaimed, burying his burning face in his hands and feeling sick in the pit of his stomach. They had clearly been a lot more obvious than he had realised.

Of course they had! The lingering looks when they happened upon each other. The fact that they were always seeing each other under a ruse of his ordering office equipment or getting something fixed or upgraded - and yet none of these things became evident. Except that original one - his new chair.

“I… Uh,” Grigg stammered again.

“Look, it’s cool, no one is…. Like, everyone is cool with it. To be honest, I think we’re all just happy you aren’t miserable anymore..”

There was a moment of silence and Zeller cleared his throat before making himself busy and effectively ending the conversation.

“I uh…” Grigg struggled once more before standing abruptly, “I need to get some lunch.”

That had been Tuesday, and for the rest of the week Grigg went out of his way to avoid Nigel. When he turned down his lunchtime advances again on Wednesday he didn’t renew them the rest of the week. Maybe he was being respectful of the boundary Grigg was silently establishing, or maybe he was just losing interest. The thought of that made Grigg feel terrible on many different levels, but he was completely unsure how to address it.

By Friday they hadn’t even glimpsed each other for a day. Grigg hadn’t realised before he knew him, how often he’d seen Nigel around and just not really noticed him as he went about his job. They hadn’t had direct contact until the chair incident. Now his absence was noticeable and Grigg wondered if Nigel was avoiding him. The thought made him ache.

Perhaps he should call him? Message him?

The thought sent a sudden chill through Grigg. With Jocelyn the effort had been all his, he had done all the running. And whilst what he had with Nigel wasn’t the same - something more free and casual - he couldn’t do that again.

If Nigel wanted to back off then he wouldn’t chase after him.

*

Nigel hadn’t been to this night club in a while but he remembered it being a pretty good bet for getting his cock sucked. It was loud, busy - always packed. The dance floor essentially extended to the bar, so people could press on each other the length and breadth of the place.

He stood at the bar knocking back a pint, content to let the occasional twink come over and grind on his half interested cock before they moved on. One or two he thought idly about taking into the bathrooms. Maybe for a suck or a fuck, he wasn’t sure which. He… didn’t want to take them home. He had before now and then, but it seemed odd to do that - take them to that personal space with Grigg in the picture.

But that was casual too, right?

The week had been fucking awkward and it was the first Friday night in about a month that Grigg hadn’t been in his bed. This definitely was not to Nigel’s liking

Unlike Grigg himself, who was, increasingly, very much to his liking.

He was not in anyway able to deny that he was totally falling for the slightly goofy, smart, funny and fucking gorgeous man. He could tell something was holding Grigg back, and whether that be his break up or the unspoken thing that he was waiting for Grigg to confide in him, he wasn’t sure.

Their first night together it had been obvious that there was something Grigg was just touching the surface of exploring, and he’d be all in for helping with that. But Grigg had backed off from it in the bedroom, maybe taking stock again and unsure how to move forward. Nigel would wait.

Nigel had decided not to push it. He didn’t want to scare Grigg off, and if casual was all he could do then Nigel would take it. He’d take everything Grigg would give and call himself an idiot for it.

And he really was a fucking idiot. It was just too good to be true that this was what he wished he’d been able to have with Gabi, and now maybe he could have that for real? Not that he fucking deserved it after how he treated her.

Here he stood in a fucking bar, looking to get his end away because the person he’d been hooking up with seemed not to be giving him the time of day. It wasn’t like they owed each other anything - friends with benefits, right?

Fuck it

Nigel downed the last of his pint and started towards the bathrooms, eyeing potential new friends along the way. There were a few he locked eyes with, gave a look up and down. It was a twink from the bar earlier that caught his eye for more than a moment - gorgeous pouting lips, looked like he was wearing lipstick. It wasn’t something he cared for one way or the other usually, but then Grigg flashed to mind. He had started to occasionally wear eyeliner to work - and it looked fucking gorgeous.

Nigel’s cock gave a twitch of interest.

In that moment, the twink was on him, arms around his neck and grinding in time to the music as their mutual intent of a bathroom rendezvous became clear. He was light and Nigel was able to keep moving forward with him essentially attached like a limpet, those lovely lips finding purchase on his neck. That made Nigel stop in his tracks.

Grigg was the only person who had touched him in weeks and this felt strange. Not just the unfamiliarity - where before the unfamiliarity of stranger after stranger had never been an issue - it felt fucking wrong.

“Want me to suck your cock? I really wanna…” The man poured the words into his ear and Nigel’s cock couldn’t help but show interest, even as his mind flicked to Grigg. The number of times he’d gone down on that gorgeous man now. The couple of furtive and fucking adorable times the inexperienced Grigg had sucked him off in return.

“Fuck,” Nigel muttered.

He was hard and this kid was grinding against him and all he could think of was having Grigg in his bed again as soon as possible. Hoping whatever this weirdness had been during the working week wasn’t Grigg wanting to call this quits.

They’d fucked a lot at his place and even at work, and Grigg seemed to have enjoyed all of it. But maybe he was done? Nigel was the first guy he’d properly been with since some college experimenting, from what he said, maybe this was just more experimentation and he was done?

Nigel was dragged from his thoughts by a firm hand palming over his cock, “Are going to the backroom or shall I drop to my knees right here?” The words were followed by a flirtatious giggle.

It was just… not Grigg.

Nigel winced and took hold of the kid’s arms, holding him away at arm’s reach.

“Sorry, just remembered I have to be somewhere,” Nigel muttered like a fucking loser and then turned and walked off.

He heard his spurned would-be-lover respond, “Asshole,” but continued to walk.

*

When Nigel got home he showered and went to bed. It was only just midnight, which seemed a fucking waste of an evening but too late to message Grigg, right? Yeah, it was too fucking late even if his dick was still trying to convince him it wasn’t.

Nigel sighed and relaxed back against his pillows, his mind replaying Grigg going down on him, and he was fucking hard again within moments.

He practically growled with something close to annoyance at himself and his lack of ability to let someone suck his fucking dick. They were meant to be casual and totally not exclusive. This was a fucking joke and his cock was laughing at him.

It was only after a couple of long, slow pulls on his cock that the image shifted to their first night together. He hadn’t talked to Grigg like that again since that night. Though he longed to, it was such a fucking turn on - for them both as far as he could tell. But that night it felt like he’d pushed it maybe a little too hard, harder than Grigg was ready for. So it would be best to let him bring it up again if he wanted to, right?

Nigel grunted, reminding himself that communication wasn’t always his strongest point, as he jerked his cock to thoughts of being buried in Griggs ‘tight pussy’. Fuck, it was so hot, the way Grigg seemed so into it. More than that, it seemed like it freed something within him.

Nigel had done some bedroom roleplay in the past - trying out kinks and such - it definitely could be freeing but this was something more.

All it took was Grigg’s voice in his head begging, no, fucking ordering ‘Fuck me harder Nigel,’ and Nigel came all over his fist.

As he lay there panting, coming down from a pretty amazing solo orgasm, he had to stop himself from grabbing his phone. Fuck, he wanted Grigg in his bed. And not even just to fool around. He had started to enjoy those times after when, instead of kicking Grigg out, they wrapped themselves around each other a drifted into a warm, sated, sleep.

Nigel let out a sigh, grabbing a tissue from the bedside table and cleaning himself. The come already felt cold and grim.

When he woke the next morning, the first thing Nigel did was grab his phone from the bedside table, quickly composing a message inviting Grigg for lunch, before he could stop himself.

The reply was swift.

~As friends or as friends with benefits?

It felt like such a fucking awkward thing for Grigg to say and Nigel had to wonder how long that had been playing on his mind. A clarification of where they stood? Was that why he had been standoffish at the office? Maybe he wasn’t backing off so much as trying to find where the boundaries were. Which, well Nigel couldn’t fucking blame him. It was hard to know where the boundaries were when they were making out every other lunchtime and had fucked in Nigel’s office more than once.

It took everything in him not to reply - “a date”.

~Whatever works for you darling, I’m hungry and I don’t mind eating your ass for dessert if you’re willing.

He was only half joking - trying to set Grigg at ease. But he couldn’t help the wicked grin, especially when the response came quickly back -

~Carlo’s in an hour

Nigel chuckled. Yeah, he was happy to work with whatever boundaries Grigg wanted to firm up, as long as it also involved firming up their cocks whenever he deemed appropriate.

*

“Nigel, oh my god,” Grigg both spoke and laughed with his mouthful of food and fork still in hand, which was better than him spitting it out, which had also been a close thing.

“What?” Nigel tried to claim innocence but Grigg wasn’t buying it for a moment.

Grigg chuckled as he swallowed his mouthful, shaking his head at Nigel, “You can’t say stuff like that about my colleagues.”

Nigel raised a brow at that and replied, matter-of-factly, “Aren’t you their boss!”

“Yes, but they are still my colleagues and you still can’t talk about people like that,” Grigg was trying so hard not to grin.

“Hey, all I’m saying is Zeller would be more pleasant if he’d take it up the-”

Grigg was out of his chair and leaning over the table to clamp a hand on Nigel’s mouth before he could even think. And certainly before Nigel could utter more profanities on the nice decking area. This was a respectable cafe and they were already getting very bizarre looks.

Maybe he shouldn’t have worn his cycling shorts?

“He’s not gay,” Grigg countered as he removed his hand and went to sit back down.

Grigg paused for a moment when he realised that Nigel had snatched his hand, drawing it back to his mouth to place a kiss on the palm before moving it to the tabletop and covering it with his own.

Grigg was surprised his gulp wasn’t audible.

“Don’t have to be gay to enjoy that, darling,” Nigel winked and rubbed his thumb over the back of Grigg’s hand for a moment.

He’d never been on the receiving end of, what seemed like, thoughtful romance. These little gestures seemed to be completely second nature to Nigel. He was an affectionate person, Grigg knew from their sleepovers, he liked intimacy. But Grigg had never imagined something like this, nor the fact that this felt more and more like a date and so natural.

The thought made his chest swell, but his stomach sink.

Grigg slipped his hand from under Nigel’s and picked up his fork again. Nigel gave no outward sign of any emotion over this one way or the other, as though Grigg’s hand had never been there. Leaving Grigg unsure on that count as he went back to quietly eating his salad.

A few mouthfuls later, whilst Nigel relaxed back and sipped at his massive mug of coffee, Grigg cleared his throat.

“I… I think we need to establish some… We need to stop acting like horny teenagers,” Grigg said with as much determination as he could muster.

Nigel’s grin was lopsided and indulgent, as though he could think a million other, probably more explicit, ways of describing how they’d been acting.

“Anything you want, gorgeous,” Nigel rumbled, sending a shiver over Grigg that nearly crumbled his resolve.

“We… we can’t keep… Um, at work. It’s not okay, we shouldn’t be doing that,” Grigg forced himself not to break eye contact, though Nigel’s gaze was penetrating.

“Darling, all you had to do was say so. I was worried that you weren’t interested in our little arrangement anymore. Which is fine, if you want us to go our separate ways, but you’re always welcome at mine for sleepovers,” Nigel grinned.

“I just… I’m enjoying what we have… are you?” Grigg found himself asking and he wasn’t sure why. Maybe it all still felt on the fence, like Nigel was either just going along with him or wanted more and not this thing in between.

Self projection much?

Nigel leaned forward, smouldering at him as he asked, “Would you like me to answer that somewhere more private?”

Grigg gulped again.

*

“Ahhnnnhg, fuck Grigg, you’re getting so good at that gorgeous, you know just where to...unhhhgg” Nigel’s legs nearly buckled as Grigg pressed his tongue against the slit of his cock, applying a dizzying pressure.

They had only just made it through the door to Nigel’s apartment when Grigg had pushed him against the door, effectively slamming it closed, and gone down to his knees.

And now he was looking up at Nigel with a wide gaze as his lips stretched around Nigel’s cock - which had been hard pretty much as soon as they’d paid the bill at the cafe. Nigel let a hand fall into Grigg’s curls, marginally longer than when they first met, he liked playing with them.

“Your beautiful fucking mouth,” Nigel muttered, willing himself to stay upright a little longer.

Grigg whimpered at the words and drew slowly off him, he wiped the back of his hand across his mouth before looking up at Nigel with a plea in his eyes.

“Will you… um, the things you said the night we met… Will you… Uh, can you talk to me like-” Grigg cut himself off before looking around furtively.

Nigel wasn’t sure how he felt about using feminising language to someone practically subjugated on their knees before him. That seemed a bit fucked up on some count, and whilst he wanted to humour Grigg, he couldn’t do it at the expense of his own comfort. If he was going to dirty talk Grigg the way he liked it, then Nigel was going to do it his way.

“Oh, gorgeous girl,” Nigel crooned softly, moving his hand from Grigg’s hair to cup his face. “So few things compare to your beautiful fucking lips wrapped around my cock.”

Nigel had a sudden flash of an image - of Grigg wearing lipstick as he’d imagined the night before. It made his cock twitch in Grigg’s mouth, pulling forth a groan.

“Darling I’m going to buy you a whole fucking set of lipsticks, see which colour looks best on you and then let you spread it all over my cock as you suck me off,” Nigel’s heart pounded at the thought and Grigg let out another low moan.

Grigg pulled abruptly off him and got to his feet, slamming Nigel against the door once more as their mouths met. Nigel could taste his precome on Grigg’s tongue and imagine the lipstick being smeared across his lips. Something he’d, until recently, only associated with women, it felt like in reality had always been intended for use by Grigg. Just awaiting him, regardless of gender.

Grigg took his cock in hand and pumped it slowly as he panted, clearly trying to catch his breath from having gotten more worked up than Nigel had realised.

“Will you fuck me Nigel? I want you to…” Grigg buried his face in the crook of Nigel’s neck and Nigel could feel his skin burning. “I want to feel you inside me, I-I’m so wet for you. I want you to finger me, feel how… how wet I am for you.”

Nigel’s chest swelled at the words, along with his cock. Not just a fucking turn on, it felt like growth for Grigg. Something he’d been wanting to say, to express for quite some time and had never managed. Maybe it was fear holding him back, having been rejected before. Because that’s what he had been getting at wasn’t it? His shitty ex had not wanted this side of him, this Grigg.

Well, that was definitely not the case for Nigel.

“I can’t fucking wait gorgeous, I’m gonna fucking eat you out and play with your sweet pussy until you are begging for me to let you come,” He rumbled the words next to Grigg’s ear and felt the man shiver.

Nigel scooped his hands under Grigg’s ass and hoisted him up, Grigg’s legs going immediately around his waist. They stood for a moment, grinding and kissing until Nigel started to walk them into the bedroom, ready to make good his promises.

Chapter Text

As he woke in Nigel’s bed to memories of the night before, Grigg felt a weird mixture of embarrassed and sated, on all levels.

It was the first time Nigel had, essentially, feminised him since that first night. He’d wanted it so many times but it had taken a while to get up the nerve to ask. And now his face heated just thinking about it, what Nigel must think of him?!

He must come across as some desperate, kink seeking weirdo to ask a gay man to treat him in this way. But he was loving it, the way Nigel managed to do it without being degrading, which seemed to be a norm in a lot of the porn he'd’ found.

Grigg knew he had to explain all this to Nigel, but he wasn’t sure he even understood all of it himself.

The Gethen thing.

Using The Left Hand of Darkness as a reference when trying to explain it to Jocelyn had made sense. Not just because the book had resonated with him and had been part of his awakening to that other side of himself, but also because she’d read it. She understood immediately the reference even if she hadn’t quite grasped what was going on with Grigg. Or maybe she just hadn’t been inclined to grasp it.

It didn’t matter now, what mattered was Nigel. Because even if this was just a casual thing, he should explain to him. For one thing he didn’t want Nigel to just see this as a kink. It wasn’t… It was… Grigg found it hard to name it. It was part of him, and there was probably a suitable label for it, he knew he might find with some googling.

If he was going to keep being this way with Nigel, being free and not hiding himself as he’d done his whole damn life even when he hadn’t realised he’d been doing so, then he needed to explain as well as he could.

“Mmm, morning gorgeous,” Nigel’s voice was sleep heavy. The arm he’d had slung loosely around Grigg’s waist tightened and he pulled him close, as he mumbled next to Grigg’s ear. “You smell so good.”

The words were sleepy and Nigel nuzzled into him a moment before he seemed to start drifting back into sleep.

Grigg smiled. Casual or not, he enjoyed this easy intimacy they had.

When Nigel started snoring softly, Grigg slipped from his grasp and went to bathroom to freshen up. He took the time to check his phone in case of work issues, but found a message from his sister Kat instead. He read it briefly and decided to worry about it another time. Today he wanted to just enjoy Nigel for as long as he could.

He wasn’t gone long but when he came back Nigel was awake, still laying out in the bed but turning sharply when Grigg came back into the room, a smile spreading over his face,

“I thought you’d left,” Nigel admitted, clearly pleased that he hadn’t. Nigel pulled back the covers, revealing his wonderful nudity as invitation. Grigg took it, sliding into Nigel’s arms and allowing himself to be nuzzled against once more as Nigel tried to fuse their bodies together.

God, Grigg loved it. He had never had this intensity of intimacy before with anyone, not even Jocelyn and it was pretty addictive. He had to keep reminding himself that this was only friends with benefits. And that was okay, he’d take however Nigel wanted to play that.

*

It had become a bit of a routine when Grigg stayed at weekends, for them to spend as much time in bed together as possible. Even if they weren’t fucking, or even kissing and anything else in between. It was just nice to chill there, listen to music or watch TV whilst, read books… Whilst naked and sharing gentle touches here and there.

It was fucking perfect to be honest. Nigel had never had this with anyone before in his life… except Gabi. Or at least with her it had been a poor facsimile of what this was. Poor kid.

“What are you thinking about?” Grigg asked, clearly clocking the frown that had grown on his face and maybe worried it might mean something it didn't. Grigg remained a little skittish, like he was expecting Nigel to throw him out at any moment, or even be repulsed by him. Neither of these things were ever going to happen!

“I was thinking about my ex… I was… A shit. A complete fucking shit.I broke both our hearts and I…” He shook his head, this was too fucking heavy.

“Tell me,” Grigg encouraged, “it’s not like I haven’t dumped on you about this sort of thing and… I’m… I’m interested,” The caution in Grigg’s tone hurt but he understood it. They weren’t together, not really, they weren’t sharing past relationships with each other… except they were.

Nigel clenched his jaw, “We were married. That’s how much of a cunt I am. She was perfect, right place and right time for me to use to my advantage. To keep myself safely in the closet. I used her and I’ll never forgive myself for it.”

Grigg frowned and then stroked a sympathetic hand over his arm, not that Nigel deserved the comfort.

“I did love her, in my own way. She’s a wonderful person and we got on well. If she’d been a guy she’d have been perfect,” Nigel continued, feeling Grigg’s hand hesitate ever so slightly at that admission.

“People cope however they can when they are closeted,” Grigg offered softly. “I’m not excusing it but, Nigel, you’re far from the first gay man to marry a woman to try and live that expected life.”

Nigel appreciated the sentiment but frowned and shook his head to dismiss it, “Nah, see I knew I was gay. I wasn’t trying to convince myself and then realised. I knew all along and needed a beard. I never told her, not until the end and… I mean, she left me anyway,” Nigel chuckled. “For some American shitweasel, well… before that. She didn’t like my...uh, my job. It made things difficult for us, and I guess she’d served her purpose enough for me or maybe I had a little bit of a fucking conscience, but I let her go. Put up a visible fight, hated her new boyfriend - which wasn’t fucking hard. Anyway, I just want her to be happy. I’m ashamed of the way I treated her.”

There was silence between them for a moment and then Grigg snuggled against him, pulling Nigel’s head against his chest, pillowed by his non-existent bossom. He appreciated it.

“Don’t go fucking feeling sorry for me, I don’t deserve it,”

He felt Grigg nod, “Okay, but I’m glad you told me.”

Nigel smiled against his skin, “As this appears to be a day of heart to hearts… you know you can tell me, right gorgeous? What it is that’s going on with you. It’s okay if you don’t want to, but I’ll listen if you want me to hear it, I’ll be here for you.”

*

Grigg shuddered at Nigel’s words, and his first thought was to pull away, which he did. He sat in the bed for a moment, noting that Nigel remained still - nonthreatening.

He took a breath before scooching down and settling against Nigel, letting his arms envelop him as they began to softly carases in that intimate way they’d become accustomed to.

“There’s a book…” Grigg started tentatively, “It’s science fiction and it’s about an envoy that goes to a distant planet to get them to join this sort of… interplanetary community. Anyway, this planet he’s sent to, the aliens that live there have, um… well they kind of have neither and both genders at the same time.”

He eyed Nigel for a reaction, of which none was forthcoming as he continued to stroke fingers along Grigg’s side and listen with closed eyes.

Grigg cleared his throat before continuing, “They are sort of genderless until they, um, need to mate. When they become fertile they will present as either male or female. And in their lifetime they might be male at one point but female at another…”

Maybe he paused too long because Nigel interjected with a low rumble, “Mmhmm?”

“Yeah, so… I guess, when I first read the book it sort of, um, resonated with me. This idea of being both genders at different times. And, um… I guess it also… Well, I’ve sort of felt in the past that I should be one thing or the other, like when I was with Jocelyn I knew I had to be the man. And I… I tried to explain to her, that I didn’t always feel like… that. She just dismissed it as another weird Grigg thing. Until she got funny about it. She… wasn’t open to it. And maybe… Maybe that was for the best. Maybe I needed to be with a guy to explore this?”

Grigg paused for Nigel’s reaction but there wasn’t one, just another hum of acknowledgement, as though Nigel was just expecting him to get it all out. Just keep spilling his guts until he was done. Which, maybe was what he needed.

“I… um, I don’t mean that I needed to be with a guy to feel feminine. It just… When I was with Jocelyn, when i was with any woman, I felt this pressure to conform to what was expected. to be the guy in a relationship. I’m not… not trans. I don’t feel like I’m a woman, not all the time. I’m comfortable with my body most of the time, I just… Part of me, I’m not really sure how much but closer to fifty percent than not, is feminine. And I… it’s something I am only starting to come to terms with but I guess I always felt like there was more to me and reading that book made me think about it. About gender and how I never fully felt one hundred percent the way I was supposed to, according to society or whatever. And then I met you…”

“Mmm, yeah…” Nigel’s contribution didn’t really mean anything, little more than a grunt of encouragement, but Grigg felt bolstered by it,

“I feel like I took advantage of you. It wasn’t purposeful. Once we hooked up, it… I felt like I could be real with you, and you totally read me and… the way you talked to me, like you understood what I wanted. I’m not sure if you wanted-”

“Wait,” Nigel interrupted him sternly, “Gorgeous, I’ve never done anything I didn’t fucking want to. I just, like you said, I read the situation. There was something about the way you were responding so I pushed it, and you kept responding and it was fucking hot. Don’t think that was at all altruistic darling. At that point I was just wanting to get my dick wet,” Nigel chuckled.

He stroked a hand over Grigg’s cheek and Grigg realised he must have looked a little crestfallen.

“Darling, I look at it like this… You thinking you can’t tell anyone this, was you being in the closet. Like, your gender is in the closet and I fucking know about being in a fucking closet. So I am all for you breaking out of it. Whether that means just acknowledging this side of yourself, or whether it means helping you connect to that part of yourself with what you wear or the things you do. The things we do. I am on board with it. Friends with benefits is still friends, right?”

He pulled Grigg to his chest, “You want me to fuck up anyone at work who looks at you sideways with this, then you let me know. And… you want me to fuck you and tell you what a tight pussy you have, I can do that too.”

Grigg couldn’t help the quiet whimper that came out on a shaky breath.

He had never expected to find this sort of support, much less in a casual hook up, and yet here was Nigel. His friend.

His friend with benefits.

Grigg pulled back enough to press his mouth to Nigel’s, and pull the man’s hand from his hip up to his chest.

“Mmm, such perfect tits,” Nigel hummed the words against his lips before taking his mouth again.

Grigg shivered and moaned.

*

The weekend was over too fucking soon, and Sunday night felt like it was moving way too fast. Several times Grigg protested that he should leave but never actually made a move to go.

It was gone ten in the evening, after only leaving the bed for food and showers, that Grigg finally pulled himself out of Nigel’s arms with a groan as the movie they’d been watching ended.

“Okay, now I really need to go,” Grigg grinned at him but Nigel could still see the hesitation there. He pretended not to, as much as he pretended that he wasn’t at all bothered by his ‘friend’ leaving when he could have happily snuggled him for a another night in a row.

Nigel hummed his understanding, not trusting himself with words as he turned off the sci-fi thriller Grigg had chosen. He moved his attention to Grigg watching as he dressed and enjoying the way he delicately pulled his underwear back on, wondering what he might look like in panties.

Nigel found it so fucking odd. He’d never found women sexually attractive, but Grigg? He was sure he could have actual tits and Nigel would still be interested. As if to corroborate, his dick gave a little twitch. Maybe it was just because he was Grigg? Nigel tried to shake that thought, wouldn’t do to get overly fond of his fuck buddy.

“You know… You could wear more feminine things to work, I’d look out for you if anyone hassled you about it,” Nigel offered. “I mean… you could do that, you should-”

Grigg froze in his dressing and fixed Nigel with a hard look, cutting him off with snapped words, “Don’t tell me what to… I… I had enough of being shaped and moulded by Jocelyn, please don’t try and force me to-”

“Darling,” Nigel started getting up from the bed, “I wasn’t trying to force you into anything. I was just saying if you want to, you have my support…”

“No,” Grigg shook his head, and raised a hand as though to ward Nigel off. “This is… this is something personal Nigel, I need to take it at my own pace,” the tone was soft but with a clear edge of exasperation.

Nigel wondered how many times things had happened with Jocelyn that Grigg hadn’t stood up to, he was proud of him for doing so now, misguided as it was. “I didn’t mean to… At your own pace, of course…”

“I think… Just back off, okay?” Grigg grabbed the rest of his clothes and left the room, A moment later Nigel heard the front door open and close firmly. He had no idea whether Grigg wanted him to back off for now or forever.

Chapter Text

Grigg knew he had over reacted. He hadn’t wanted to leave Nigel’s embrace, and he was emotionally raw from their shared stories. And, if he was honest, the message from his sister too - the opportunity it offered and how terrified he was to take it.

He knew Nigel had meant it with the best of intentions, and really it was nothing like how Jocelyn had treated him. But it had sparked something and it took Grigg until he got home and tossed and turned all night thinking about it, to put his finger on exactly what.

It was just the thought that there was any chance Nigel could behave the way Jocelyn had, terrified him. Not just because he didn’t want a repeat of that but because he didn’t want to lose Nigel, didn’t want that to happen to them.

And so much of that was mixed up in his message from Kat, as much as he’d tried not to think about it.

They hadn’t really talked much since the split with Jocelyn, he just hadn’t been up to the stifling affection his sisters would have poured on him. So for the first time in years, he hadn’t discussed his love life with them. He’s not even sure what he would say about Nigel, how he would explain the man and what was, or wasn’t, between them.

Now the message opened a whole can of worms. A reminder that they had all booked to go to a big Gala event with their parents, for the wedding anniversary. They’d booked the tickets a long while back to ensure they didn’t sell out, back when he and Jocelyn had still been together. Kat’s message was sweet, her usual careful self, as she asked what he wanted to do with Jocelyn’s ticket. If he had someone else he wanted to bring and whether that was why she hadn’t heard much from him in a while.

And damn her, she knew him so well. Of course she’d know he was avoiding her because he was seeing someone new. She probably guessed it was complicated, or else he didn’t want to speak too soon on it after everything that happened with Jocelyn.

He knew he might not have overreacted with Nigel had it not been on his mind.

Grigg sat at work thinking it all over even though he was trying his best not to. He could sense Zeller moving around the office behind him, quietly getting on with his job like he was walking on eggshells. It had been the case all week, now Friday lunchtime was approaching and he hadn’t talked to Nigel since the weekend.

It would be so easy to get up and go to Nigel’s office, but he just wasn’t sure how. This was meant to be casual and Grigg was making it into more and more drama for the man. He knew he couldn’t be worth all of this to-

“Nigel!” Zeller’s startled cry, startled Grigg in turn and he looked around to see Nigel at the door of the office.

“Hey gorgeous, can we talk?”

Grigg frowned, not sure what to say.

Zeller looked between them and then excused himself saying he was needed by the techies, before heading into the workshop.

“Nigel, I-”

“It’s okay darling… I…” Nigel shut the door and walked over to Grigg’s desk, putting a book down. One Grigg recognised. “See, I’ve been reading this and I think I get it. As much as I can anyway.”

Grigg stared down at a newish looking copy of The Left Hand of Darkness.

“So… they kinda fall in love, huh?” Nigel said, “The Genly-Genry guy from Earth and that alien politician.”

“Estraven,” Grigg provided, a little gobsmacked by the turn of events.

It had taken Jocelyn realising that she wasn’t going to get her way, before she read anything Grigg had recommended her. And here was Nigel, his casual fling, having spent the last few days reading a book Grigg mentioned to him without his reading it even being intended.

“Yeah, him… or they? That was cool. I liked that. I was sort of hoping they’d just give into it and sleep together, but it was nice they were in love.” Nigel looked into the distance as he spoke thoughtfully.

He shook his head as if pulling back from a reverie, “Anyway, like I said… I think I have a better understanding of what you were saying. The Gethen thing… which, I hate calling it that gorgeous, it sounds fucking condescending. Sounds like something your ex must have said.”

Grigg huffed a laugh at that, feeling like he was teetering on the edge of something quite euphoric.

“Obviously you can’t physically change your gender, I mean… you don’t change like they do. But on the inside you change. It’s fluid, right?”

Nigel looked at him then, a sort of hopeful look, begging Grigg to affirm that he got it right. That he understood what it was Grigg had tried to tell him.

“Yes,” The word came out breathless. “That’s how I feel. How I am. Sometimes I’m…”

Nigel nodded, giving a gentle smile, “Sometimes you’re a boy, sometimes you’re a girl. But like… not just during kemmer.

Nigel grinned then and Grigg laughed, not just amused by Nigel’s references to the book, but by the unlikelihood of all of this. He had never expected anyone to really take the time to understand something he was only just starting to really grasp about himself. And yet here was Nigel, copy of Le Guin in hand.

He let his laughter fade, studying Nigel seriously for a moment.

“You read the book. You read a book I told you about.”

Nigel frowned, “Of course I fucking did gorgeous. What kind of asshole wouldn’t do something a simple as read a book that someone they… someone they know identifies with?”

Grigg had an answer for that, but he didn’t want to invoke Jocelyn’s memory any more than he already had.

“That… that means a lot to me, Nigel. Thank you.” Grigg’s throat was tight.

“I’m sorry if I overstepped-” Nigel began, but Grigg shushed him and shook his head.

“I overreacted.”

Grigg reached out, hesitant at first, taking hold of Nigel’s shirt and slowly pulling him closer. He was biting his lower lip, a little nervous. It felt good that Nigel knew so much about this side of him - the only person that did really. But it also made him feel vulnerable.

Nigel hadn’t pulled away so far, but he owed Grigg nothing. It wasn’t like they were a couple, and this was a lot. Maybe too much? Especially after Grigg kept pushing him away.

Grigg whimpered as Nigel closed the distance between them and kissed him so softly Grigg wanted to melt.

In fact he practically was, sighing as he snaked his hands around Nigel’s neck and allowed him to continue the deep, slow kiss.

Grigg was breathless when he pulled back.

“We agreed, not-”

“Not at work,” Nigel nodded, breathing the words against Grigg’s neck before finally pulling back, running his hands through Grigg’s hair. “I know gorgeous. Dinner tonight? My place?”

Grigg smiled and nodded, not trusting himself to speak as Nigel gave him another light peck and then moved away. It was oh so tempting to ask him to stay and keep kissing him, maybe more. But he had to stick to his own boundaries.

*

Dinner was take out and half of it was left as Grigg and Nigel fell into bed together two hours into the evening.

After Grigg gave, what he told Nigel was an apology blowjob, Nigel returned the pleasure and they lay basking in the afterglow of their climaxes for a long while.

Nigel had no problem at all with lying there with the beautiful man in his arms, and as long as Grigg didn’t object then he’d go right on doing so.

He snuggled tighter into Grigg and breathed in the scent of his skin - sweat and sex. Perfect.

He ran his fingers idly over Grigg’s skin, enjoying the sounds it pulled from him.

Him?

“So, I don’t want to be forward about this, and just… tell me if I’m asking stupid questions, because I don’t want you to be uncomfortable. But should I be… Do you want to be called he? Or… I don’t know…” Nigel shrugged and clenched his jaw, hoping he hadn’t said something that might fuck everything up.

“I…” Grigg sounded nervous, and Nigel was sure he trembled a little under his fingers. “At work and… I don’t think I’m ready to…”

“I’m just talking about us, gorgeous. It doesn’t have to be beyond us, not until you’re ready. And if you’re not ready. Shit, I just… You tell me okay?”

He was warmed by Grigg’s smile, “I’m okay as him right now, but thank you for… It was thoughtful of you. I think maybe sometimes I could be she with you. Just with you, for now.”

“Of course darling, you just let me know. Is that okay?”

Grigg nodded, “Yeah… I…”

He damn near heard Grigg swallow.

“What’s wrong?” Nigel moved to try and look at him, seeing that Grigg was blushing. He couldn’t help a tweak of a smile on his lips, knowing that he was likely wanting to ask for something sexual. And Nigel was so fucking on board with that.

“I’d like to fuck you…” Grigg said in a rush, “And it’s not… I just… I don’t want things to get confusing. I’m feeling masculine right now but I also really want to fuck you and those two things aren’t… I’d still want to fuck you if I was feeling feminine. I know it’s complicated-”

“Not fucking complicated at all darling. I get it, being interested in a piece of ass is something beyond gender,” Nigel chuckled and smoothed Grigg’s curls back from his forehead. “And I’m very much okay with you topping me either way.”

The breathy sigh of relief and arousal that Grigg let out was almost enough to make his heart beat out of his fucking chest.

*

“Fuck, gorgeous, there. Right there!”

Grigg whimpered as Nigel tightened around him for a moment. It took everything in him to stay on his knees behind the man and not drape himself over his back.

“It’s so… you feel so good…” Grigg gasped the words as he started to move again, slowly pushing in and pulling out, savouring the new and exquisite sensation.

“You do too darling, so very fucking good,” Nigel pushed back against him, taking more of him than Grigg had planned and he wondered if he wasn’t going as fast or hard as Nigel wanted.

He thrust deep and Nigel moaned, but as Grigg started to increase his pace Nigel’s hand shot back to Grigg’s thigh and held him there.

“We’ve got all the time in the world,” Nigel soothed, stroking his thigh before starting to slowly move.

Grigg bit his lower lip, heaving deep breaths as he stilled whilst Nigel moved. He set a slow rhythm that Grigg joined. And he couldn’t help his breath shuddering out, he couldn’t help shaking.

It felt so good. And Grigg was trying so hard to admit that part of the reason for that was because it was Nigel beneath him.

The few guys he’d fooled around with at college, had they ever gone this far, he knew it wouldn’t have been like this.

Grigg swallowed down the emotions that threatened to overwhelm him, and moved to cover Nigel’s back. Nigel grunted at the change in angle, but the pace remained the same as Grigg’s lips found his skin, kissing and sucking along his broad shoulders.

Nigel let out a pleased sound that made Grigg’s cock twitch and he had to still for a moment.

Nigel chuckled, causing Grigg to wince at the pressure that caused.

“Darling, you come anytime you need to,” He grunted as he moved onto his elbows. “Fuck knows I lasted all of about thirty seconds the first time I ever topped.”

Grigg pushed his reddening face into Nigel’s skin, as though he could hide the blush Nigel’s words caused.

Nigel had to have realised because he balanced precariously, reached back and stroked Grigg’s thigh again.

“I… I’m not doing very good at this.” Grigg said, clenching his jaw.

“Grigg,” The word came out as an admonishment and then Nigel pulled away.

Grigg gave a gasp and a wince and quickly grabbed the base of his cock to stop the condom remaining in Nigel as he moved up the bed and off of Grigg’s cock. Grigg clenched his jaw again, feeling unimaginably awful.

But then Nigel turned, a quirked brow and gentle expression on his face. He reached his hand out and cupped Grigg’s face.

“It’s your first time. Can’t you remember the first time you fucked a woman? Bet that was a mess. It always is. And this wasn’t that. This was good, I really was having a good time in case that wasn’t clear. But you’ve got in your head about this and I want you to not do that. Here…” Nigel guided Grigg down onto his back. “Let me take the lead and you don’t need to worry about anything but coming so deep in me I’ll be really fucking glad you’re wearing a rubber.”

Nigel grinned and Grigg attempted a smile but it was hard pressed. He could feel he was flagging and he wanted to fucking cry.

But then Nigel was kissing him, softly pressing their lips together before moving them to Grigg’s neck as he began fondling Grigg’s balls. Moment by moment the kissing grew more passionate until Grigg was definitely fully hard again.

Then Nigel broke away, moving so that he could straddle Grigg and guide him back inside as he sank down over narrow hips.

Grigg’s breath hitched and his hands shot to Nigel’s arms, gripping tight hold of him and he let out shaky breaths.

Nigel set the pace, steady and shallow, barely sinking half way down Grigg’s dick at first. Even so the expression on his face made clear his enjoyment, as did the slight beading of sweat on his brow and his breathy sounds.

“You have such a nice cock darling,” Nigel rumbled the words and Grigg bit his lip against the whimper he wanted to let out at the compliment. “So good feeling you inside me…”

At that Grigg did whimper and couldn’t help but thrust upwards into Nigel.

Nigel let out a sharp cry of pleasure and sank the rest of the way down, grinding himself on Grigg a moment before leaning forward and taking his mouth. It was a desperate kiss and passionate kiss as they began to thrust against each other.

They were panting into each other’s mouths as they worked themselves closer to climax. At some point Nigel’s hands had ended up either side of Grigg’s head and Grigg’s arms snaked up around Nigel’s neck.

Nigel grunted and pulled his face away as he rode Grigg harder and harder, Grigg barely able to match his thrusts. Nigel hung his head over him, face full of pleasure and exertion, eyes closed.

Until they weren’t.

Until Nigel’s eyes snapped open and he was looking at Grigg so intently Grigg’s heart beat harder for a moment. They locked eyes, watching each other intently as they rut closer and closer.

It was so intense, more intense than any sex Grigg had ever had in his life. He couldn’t deny the connection he felt to this man who had accepted who he was without question. More than that, was understanding, had gone out of his way to be understanding. More than anyone ever had in his life.

And this was just casual…

Nothing in Nigel’s eyes said this was casual.

Grigg cried out as his orgasm erupted with a sudden force. His balls drawing up as he made a few stuttering thrusts into Nigel’s tight heat, spilling over and over until the condom was almost uncomfortably full.

He felt enough movement to know that Nigel was jerking himself off. From the moment he made the realisation to the moment Nigel cried out with a growl and came all over Grigg’s stomach, time had stilled. A hazy euphoria descending upon them as Nigel collapsed forward and they clung to each other wordlessly.

*

There had been a surprising lack of awkwardness after Grigg had fucked him.

The way they had practically gazed into each others eyes as they came, made Nigel wonder if it would be an issue. Certainly it had been the kind of intimate that they were trying to pretend totally wasn’t happening.

Instead they had quietly cuddled until Nigel had excused himself to the bathroom.

When he returned he’d dropped down onto the bed, laying next to where Grigg sat, studying his phone.

“I have… Nigel, I have a favour to ask and… just feel free to say no. This is so… No, this is unfair of me to put you in this position,” Grigg was rambling as he started to get up from the bed, placing his phone on the side. Nigel had no fucking clue what he was talking about, even so he grabbed around Grigg’s waist, pulling him back into the bed.

He manhandled him until they were spooning and Nigel’s half hard cock was slotted along the crack of his ass.

“Ask me,” Nigel said, unsure what to expect. But if Grigg was this flustered it was likely something sexual. Maybe a secret kink he always wanted to try out? Nigel was wondering if there were many things he’d actually deny Grigg, so this might be an interesting test of that...

Grigg took a deep breath and let it out.

“Will you… come to a Gala event my family are all attending, and pretend to be my boyfriend?”

Of all the possibilities, Nigel certainly hadn’t been expecting that.

Chapter Text

“I read this thing online,” Nigel said as he set the small box down in front of Grigg at the breakfast table. He had meant to give it to him the night before but they’d ended up going out to dinner. Grigg’s idea, which had surprised Nigel at first - this move into maybe dating. But then Grigg had explained that they should make sure they were comfortable around each other in social situations. Which made sense, other than the once they went for lunch they were either just sleeping together at Nigel’s, or ramping up sexual tension at work. Might be a good idea to make sure they were comfortable just being around each other without the sex, before spending the weekend with his family.

His entire fucking family, apparently, in some massive house they owned because they would not hear of their only son staying in a hotel when he could be in the bosom of his family.

The thought gave Nigel palpitations for a whole fucking variety of reasons.

The first thing he’d asked of course was if Grigg was fucking sure about doing this. It was one thing coming out to his parents as bi or whatever like this, but Nigel wasn't exactly the take home to the parents kinda guy. He looked like a fucking thug, and did Grigg really need that shit?

He knew Grigg wanted to come out to his parents, because at some point he wanted to ease them into the idea of there being a gender thing to address too. The way Grigg had explained it sort of made sense.

Sort of.

If he was going to come out to his parents by having a fake boyfriend it might as well be someone he’s actually fucking. But Nigel was sure that wasn’t really the whole reason. The unspoken reason, he was sure, was that he needed that support that Nigel offered - had been offering him for weeks now. Grigg was going through some shit with all this and even if he didn’t come out to his parents, he wanted someone there with him to not have to deal with that intense family dynamic for the whole weekend on his own. He wanted Nigel to be there to support him.

He wanted Nigel there.

Nigel tried not to let himself think about that. Maybe it was just because he was the best option and there was nothing more to it than that.

All in all it was a mind fuck, but one he had no interest in avoiding because he wanted to be there for Grigg. Whatever this was between them, Nigel wanted to support him.

He pushed the box next to Grigg’s cereal bowl, and he looked up, mouth full of food and a questioning expression.

“What’s this?” Grigg asked, a moment after swallowing down his food.

“I, uh… I read this thing, about visual cues or just… It might help with feeling more comfortable with yourself but would also be an indicator for anyone who knew…” He let the words run out. “Fuck, I sound like the website.”

Grigg picked up the box and opened it, frowning as he looked between the contents and Nigel.

Nigel’s jaw tightened and Grigg took out one of the leather bands, black with a thick dark blue stripe running the length of it. The other was a thinner band and had a more delicate swirling pattern in a light purple.

“When you’re feeling masculine you can wear this one, and when-”

Before he could finish explaining the idea or his reasoning for choosing something as discreet as he could whilst, hopefully, not overtly masculine, Grigg was on his feet. He threw his hands around Nigel’s neck and started kissing him.

“Thank you,” Grigg pressed the words to Nigel’s lips.

Nigel was starting to realise that he both loved and hated in equal measures, the way that Grigg reacted like no one else had ever been there for him in this way. He knew he was tight with his sisters, but that they didn’t see each other often and whilst he’d gone to them for advice about girls since he’d first started puberty, he had been hesitant to discuss any of these things he was exploring with them. His sister Kat identified as bisexual, so he wasn’t worried that any of his family would have issues with the situation. More that it would likely surprise them and… well Grigg had already mentioned he was worried about springing the not straight thing on them, much less anything to do with questioning his gender.

Grigg pulled back and shook his head, his eyes slightly wet as he was clearly overcome with emotion.

Nigel stroked his hands down Grigg’s back, not able to help the goofy look on his face. Finally Grigg pulled back enough to pick up the box and place the masculine bracelet back in it and take out the feminine one. He slipped it daintily onto his wrist whilst Nigel let out a shuddering breath.

There was something intoxicating about being able to do this for Grigg.

Grigg was beaming at him for a long minute before he tempered it to a warm smile, “Still okay to go shopping today? I need something to wear to the Gala and so do you.”

 

“What are you talking about darling? I have shirts, I’m sure I have a tie somewhere if we’re talking that level of classy.” Nigel rumbled and pulled Grigg back to him, he was sure it was obvious that he would rather get Grigg back to bed and keep him there all day.

Grigg chuckled, playfully pushing him away, “Nigel I’ve seen your closet.. You can’t wear that damn sausage dog shirt.”

“You just watch me gorgeous,” Nigel joked back, nipping at Grigg’s neck.

When Grigg went to protest again, Nigel kissed him. Rewarded with an annoyed huff - he knew Grigg hated it when he stopped conversations that way, but he just couldn’t fuckng help how kissable Grigg was.

When he finally released Grigg he conceded, “Fine, we’ll go shopping, but only if you let me eat you out first darling, so I have something nice to remember to dull the pain.”

Grigg whimpered in response and renewed their kiss.

*

Nigel had really taken his time in taking Grigg apart with his mouth, delaying them for more than two hours. But Grigg couldn’t be mad about it, especially not when he took into account the bracelets as well.

They were discreet and practical. Nigel hadn’t needed to ask him what he wanted, or how he wanted it. He’d just noted which bracelet Grigg had slipped on and treated him accordingly.

He kept it on as he dressed in his briefs and trousers, putting on a looser fit t-shirt that had a slightly feminine feel to it. And Nigel was right, just that little visual cue to himself made Grigg clearly feel more comfortable about not being able to present totally as he might prefer.

In fact, he noticed Grigg visibly stiffen for a moment when they walked into the men’s formalwear department.

Nigel put a hand to the small of his back and rubbed gently, trying to sooth him without words.

It surprised him for a moment when Grigg stiffened further, then he realised this was the first time they’d been anywhere so public as this. It wasn’t like a discreet restaurant or the alley by a bar, or work where people knew enough of what was going on and didn’t seem to have an issue.

Nigel was worried he’d misstepped. This hadn’t occurred to him, but now it seemed obvious in the busy mall full of strangers who might judge with every glance. That was the last thing Grigg needed, Nigel knew. And it wasn’t like they were a couple, so why make Grigg feel awkward over something that they weren’t even invested in?

But then Grigg let out a soft sigh and relaxed against Nigel’s hand and turned to smile at him.

Fuck, he had such a beautiful smile, it warmed Nigel all the way through.

They continued through the store and Nigel had to resist the urge to try and hold Grigg’s hand. He wondered if they could talk about that some time? About the benefits part of the friends with benefits, being more than just in the bedroom. Like, what would be wrong with them holding hands and having other intimate things that weren’t just about sex, but were still casual. No strings hand holding. No strings PDA?

“This one would look good on you,” Grigg pulled a dark navy shirt from the rack and held it out in front of Nigel. It was plain and simple, a classic cut and not the usual white.

“Will I need a tie?” Nigel asked, unsure of what event even fucking was to be honest.

Grigg nodded, “Yeah, it’s not black tie but it’s still semi-formal.”

Nigel returned the nod as though he had a fucking clue.

He must have looked as confused as he felt because Grigg smiled and placed a gentle hand on his arm, “Thank you for doing this, I know it’s outside of your comfort zone.”

Grigg’s hand slid down Nigel’s arm and his hand slipped into Nigel’s, giving a gentle squeeze but then not pulling away.

Neither of them acknowledged this as they started towards the tie section, still holding hands.

*

“What’s wrong, gorgeous?” Nigel leaned in close and Grigg couldn’t help but shiver.

They’d stopped in a bar for lunch after shopping, sitting on the same side of the booth they shared. Shopping had been surprisingly okay. It clearly wasn’t something he or Nigel particularly enjoyed. And... they’d spent much of holding hands, and being generally publicly acceptable levels of affectionate with each other.

He’d hesitated here and there, partly because being like that with a guy in public was something he’d never done before. And partly because this was meant to be casual and he didn’t want Nigel to forget that.

It felt like he was reminding himself of that a lot lately. It really didn’t feel casual… But he needed it to be. Casual was all he could do.

He really didn’t want anything serious and he was sure Nigel didn’t too, but it was nice to play at having something more than they did. To have those little perks of being someone without all the nonsense that came with it.

Without the emotional investment...

Nigel reached over and squeezed his hand.

“Oh, um… I was just…” Grigg pushed away the immediate thoughts and went back to what had sparked them. “I was thinking about what to wear… I’d kinda just… I have lots of shirts and ties I could choose from so I hadn’t thought about it but…”

“You don’t want to wear a shirt and tie,” Nigel provided when Grigg floundered.

Grigg nodded and squeezed Nigel’s hand back.

“What do you want to wear gorgeous?” Nigel asked softly.

Grigg shrugged, thinking about something his sister Kat had worn years ago to some black tie event.

“A… A midnight blue, floor-length, off the shoulder gown with a light wrap…” He shook his head, “Which I can’t… for one thing it would be very overdressed,” Grigg forced a chuckle to try and shrug it all off.

“You’d look fucking amazing…” Nigel sounded a little breathless as he pulled Grigg’s hand to his lips and gently kissed the back of it.

Grigg smiled and shook his head, trying not to give into the temptation to pull his hand back as his cheeks coloured.

“Okay, but you could wear something else? Not a shirt and tie.” Nigel encouraged, resting their hands back on the table.

Grigg wasn’t sure how to respond. Maybe he could if he felt like it on the day, if he felt feminine and wanted express that. He wasn’t even sure he wanted to wear shirts and ties when he felt masculine any more. A gender neutral middle ground, something androgynous, would be perfect, though he wasn't sure it existed. It certainly didn’t in his current wardrobe.

“I suppose…” Grigg tried not to sound as disheartened as he felt. As much as he loved the idea of a evening gown, he just wished there was something he could wear, even during the day or for work, that felt more like himself - more like Grigg.

Nigel leaned in and kissed his cheek, nuzzling against his light stubble in a way that was more comfort than sexual.

“Shops are still open a few more hours, we can find something for you… For the Gala or work, or… just… whenever.”

“Maybe…” Grigg couldn’t help but sound disheartened. He’d never enjoyed shopping, and had always been rather perfunctory with clothes. Smart pants and a button down for work, cycling wear, and a whole drawer full of t-shirts with various movie or comic art on. Stuff that was easy. He owned the same pair of pants in all seven of the colours they came in.

Nigel must have realised because he pulled back and looked at Grigg with a frown.

“Grigg, I will find you something if it comes to that… believe me my mind, and hands,” he snaked his hand along Grigg’s thigh, “and mouth,” he leaned in and nuzzled by Grigg’s ear, “have all your measurements memorised.”

Grigg couldn’t help but whimper even as it brought a smile to his face. He sighed and pushed Nigel back to look at him seriously.

“I feel… self conscious about clothes, always have. I hate having to put any thought into it. And now I have to because years of just wearing the same thing and not having to think about it, isn’t enough. Those clothes aren’t enough now that I know why they never really were. But I just… I don’t want to pick something off the rack only to find it looks awful on me. I don’t… I don’t think I could take that.”

Nigel nodded, his hand on Grigg’s thigh now rubbing gently - little soothing circles.

“Okay darling, how about we go and find one thing? One outfit for the Gala and forget about the rest. That can happen another time when you’re up to it.” Nigel suggested. “If you have a hard time we’ll go, but maybe it’s worth trying just in case we can find something?”

Grigg let out a soft sigh. It was good logic and he did feel better knowing Nigel would be there next to him. If anyone looked over and remotely raised a brow at Grigg’s selections, Nigel would likely scare them off with a growl or a snarl. Like his own personal guard dog.

The thought warmed him. Knowing Nigel always had his back was exactly why he wanted to take him to the Gala.

If he was going to come out to his parents then that was the best way to do it. And the best person.

Nigel was the best person…

“Okay.” Grigg agreed, silencing the thoughts his brain was heading towards. “Let’s see if we can find anything.”

*

When they had talked about it over their lunch, Nigel had had to stop himself suggesting that Grigg get something for the bedroom. The idea of Grigg in lingerie was something that made him harder than he was sure it should. But the way tight lace hugged Grigg’s hard and nicely substantial cock…

And maybe that was something he could suggest at another time, but right then the important thing had been Grigg feeling comfortable at the Gala.

They had spent a couple more hours shopping. Grigg had been really stiff at first, clearly uncomfortable, but as they’d looked through a couple of more funky men’s stores, and a few women’s stores with no hassle, he eased a bit. He seemed less concerned that people were looking at him and judging him, and more concerned about the clothes themselves.

After finding nothing in the first three shops he looked about ready to cry. Nigel couldn’t even begin to understand how hard this was on him. He had read something about social dysphoria and had to put it down to that, and it fucking sucked. A lot of it came down to Grigg feeling comfortable in himself, in how he presented himself. And in turn a lot of that came down to societal norms. Which were, quite frankly, fucked up.

Who gave a shit if a man wore a dress? Who gave a shit if that was because they were actually non-binary or genderfluid, or just gender non-conforming? What about kilts! The whole thing made Nigel fucking mad, so he’d been glad when they went into a vintage store on the off chance and Grigg’s face lit up. There were a few things in there he looked at, and a handful he bought without trying on because he just didn’t have it in him to try them on in public changing rooms.

And that was sure to account for how nervous Nigel felt when he knocked on Grigg’s door to collect him for their trip.

He wondered what Grigg would be wearing. He hoped he was happy and had found something suitable amongst the armfull of clothes he’d left with.

But he was more than a little nervous about being at Grigg’s place for the first time. It was a fucking nice neighbourhood. Sure, it was one of those mass built little townships that lacked a whole lot of personality, but it was clearly one full of respectable people who earned a good buck. Nigel didn’t need to look in a mirror to know this wasn’t his kinda neighbourhood.

It was just after Friday lunchtime so at least there weren’t really any neighbours around, twitching their curtains.

As Nigel had a fairly reliable car, they decided to drive and make a trip of it. Mostly, he was sure, it was because Grigg was avoiding interacting with people, and especially strangers, given any chance. So no public transport was preferable.

When Grigg opened the door he was gone again, calling for Nigel to come in and wait as he ran up the stairs.

Nigel frowned but did as he was told, wandering around the house while he waited. It was large and kinda bland, like Grigg hadn’t bothered to redecorate from the muted tones it had when he bought the place. But here and there, there were touches of Grigg, and the robots lined up along the top of the mantle warmed Nigel’s heart, perhaps more than it should.

He reached up to hesitantly touch one when he heard that bang behind him.

Nigel turned to see Grigg had dropped a small case at his feet and was looking at Nigel nervously, waiting for judgement.

“Wow,” Nigel breathed the word, “You look gorgeous…”

And he fucking did. And not just because of the clothes, but the way he carried them, clearly comfortable in a way he often wasn’t, even whilst he self consciously waited for Nigel’s opinion.

The outfit seemed at once vintage but also modern in the way Grigg wore it, more androgynous than feminine - just the right mix. Just perfect for Grigg.

Fitted dark blue trousers that were high-waisted but not flared, smart shoes with little white ankle socks. The shirt was vintage - cream coloured with a tie at the waist where it was tucked into his pants, and opened wide at the top despite being collared - cut to reveal the throat and some of the upper chest in order to be paired with a scarf. Grigg wasn’t wearing a scarf, he had left the area bare and looked all the more delectable for it. Nigel couldn’t help but think a necklace would look perfect there. Perhaps he’d buy one sometime.

As it was he found himself crossing the room in long strides and immediately setting his lips to Grigg’s exposed throat.

“I don’t know if you should wear this, darling,” He muttered against Grigg’s flesh between nuzzling kisses, “I might not be able to keep me hands off you… or my mouth…”

Grigg shivered in his arms as he continued to press kisses over his trembling skin.

“Please tell me you’re not wearing this tomorrow night? I don’t want to do anything indecent in front of your entire family,” Nigel purred.

Grigg let out a chuckle and gave him a gentle shove so that he had to give some room.

“No… I… Shopping gave me ideas and I bought a few things online. I have-”

“Don’t ruin the surprise for me, gorgeous.” Nigel purred, his mouth watering in anticipation.

Chapter Text

“Grigg, you look like you’ve joined a kibbutz,” His mother teased good naturedly, as she welcomed them on the doorstep of their massive fucking home “I suppose this is what happens when people move to California?”

“Hi mom,” Grigg replied with a smile, though Nigel could tell it was a little tight. Perhaps this kind of teasing was common between them, but Grigg really didn’t need attention pulled towards his clothing.

“You look wonderful sweetheart,’ She followed with, leaning in and kissing his cheek as she took hold of his hands and clasped them in hers. “Casual suits you.”

It felt like a scald, like perhaps Grigg - who would wear a blazer over a comic book t-shirt - was a little formal. Nigel couldn’t argue, and avoided the temptation to mention Grigg’s cycling shorts to the woman he hadn’t yet been introduced to.

As if she read his mind, her gaze fell upon him. Friendly but scrutinizing, not betraying any sign of concern and very little more than mild curiosity, likely as to who he was considering she was expecting Grigg to bring home some lovely young lady. Nigel made a mental note never to play poker with this woman.

“Oh, um…” Grigg stammered, momentarily forgetting that introductions had to happen, it seemed. “Nigel, this is my mother Nicole Harris. Mom, this is Nigel Ibanescu, my um…”

Grigg’s cheeks flushed with heat and he looked down, as though trying to find the words, and Nigel worried if he might have a fucking panic attack or something.

“Boyfriend,” Nigel interjeted, slipping his hand against Grigg’s and lacing their fingers together. “I’m his boyfriend. We’re boyfriends. Together.”

“Oh!” Mrs Harris’s tone was surprised but politely so. She didn’t recoil at least and it was definitely surprise rather than shock, which felt promising. She switched gear to a warm, and seemingly genuine, smile. “You boys had better come in and get settled.”

Nigel squeezed Grigg’s hand and they entered the house together.

*

Grigg wanted to muse that it could be worse, but his mother was the tip of the iceberg. And whilst he was sure none of them would have a problem with him dating men, they were rather inclined to baby him and see things as fads and phases he went through. It had taken years of massive success of his own tech company before his dad stopped referring to it as ‘dabbling with computers’.

He hoped, even if they did think this was a phase he was going through, that they were politic enough not to say so in front of Nigel.

“So, Grigg… you didn’t tell us you were seeing someone,” His mother noted as she set a tea tray in front of them in the ‘good room’. Her tone was totally friendly and there was nothing harsh in her words. Just curiosity, which Grigg could handle.

“Um, yeah. A few weeks,” He swallowed and looked over at Nigel who was helping himself to tea and sitting back in the chair. Making himself at home whilst Grigg was almost vibrating off the edge of his seat. “We work together.”

“Are you in Information Technology too?” Mrs Harris asked with polite and genuine interest.

“No ma’am, I’m the facilities manager for the building Grigg works in, we met when he had chair incident.” Nigel practically crooned the words and Grigg could see is mother was instantly - and not easily - charmed.

“Incident? Sounds intriguing…” She lead with a smile, leaning forward in her interest.

It was all Grigg could do not to gawk at the easy way Nigel had with people. Had he never noticed before how charming the man was? Well, Grigg found him charming, but not like this! He found him charming in a gruff ‘I want to fuck you gorgeous’ way. Not in a ‘old ladies love me’ way.

Well, he really hadn’t interacted with Nigel much outside or work or the bedroom…

Before they could continue charming each other, there was the sound of the front door opening and his mom called out, “In the good room John,” to his dad.

Grigg braced himself.

He had always been very close with his dad, and although he’d never had an issue with queer people and hadn’t batted an eye the first time Kat brought a girlfriend home, she didn’t have the same closeness they had. He didn’t want this to change anything between them.

His dad appeared in the doorway as he was shrugging out of his pristine mack.

“Darling, this is Nigel. Grigg’s boyfriend.” She said it in a tone Grigg knew well meant that she greatly approved of the person she was referring to and for dad to feel the same.

Grigg looked at his dad, trying to hide his fearful expression and suddenly feeling like a twelve year old again waiting for his dad to come and chat with him after the maid found porn under his bed.

His dad looked at him and then Nigel and back again. Doing so in what felt like a fraction of second, before he broke to a warm smile and stepped into the room, reaching a hand toward Nigel to shake.

“Good to meet you Nigel, glad to see Grigg dragging someone along to one of these things. Hopefully he’ll find it a little less boring with company present,” John Harris said as Nigel stood and they shook hands firmly before they both took seats.

“John,” Nicole scalded, “If we were any sort of parents we wouldn’t force Grigg to come at all,” Then she turned to him and using a mock scalding tone continued, “But if we didn’t I’m sure we’d never see him.”

Grigg scoffed, “That’s because I know the girls will be here too. Safety in numbers!”

His parents chuckled and his dad shook his head fondly.

*

Nigel had no idea what they might say in private, but to his face Grigg’s parents were two of the nicest people he’d ever met. He knew Grigg’s sister Kat was bi, but even so he was pleasantly surprised that Grigg bringing home a boyfriend didn’t seem to phase them at all.

Grigg on the other hand? Well, he’d been fine, totally relaxed into the warm family atmosphere that made them both welcome, until his mother had told them to go ahead and take their things up to Grigg’s old room.

When they got up there Grigg let out a heavy sigh, shutting the door as Nigel placed their bags on the bed. He stayed leaning against the door, talking at it rather than turning to Nigel.

“Sharing a bed is going to be weird,” Grigg turned then, worrying his lower lip with his teeth, clearly having thought - for the sake of some sort of Victorian propriety - that they would have separate rooms.

“Darling, you’re in my bed almost every weekend. In fact I can’t remember a recent weekend when you weren’t.” Nigel nuzzled the last against Grigg’s cheek.

Grigg shook his head, “But… we… I don’t want to have sex in my parent’s house.”

Nigel pulled back and looked at him, “You think I’m not capable of sharing a bed with you without come being involved?”

Grigg shrugged and his cheek’s coloured.

Nigel clenched his jaw. He strangely found himself wanting to yell at the man. Tying to ignore that this was likely frustration over the reminder that he was actually just a fuck buddy doing a favour. How could he not know that Nigel would be happy just to lay there in each other’s arms? A slow and tender kiss goodnight before curling around each other?

He shook it off and instead replied in a jokey tone, “It’ll be fucking hard darling, but I will manage.”

He gave Grigg an affectionate smile and took Grigg’s hand, squeezing it in reassurance, pleased when Grigg relaxed and returned the smile. Reminding himself he was here as moral support.

*

Kat and her wife arrived whilst they were having dinner, they had delayed a little for her but when she’d called to say they were stuck in traffic, she’d insisted they not wait on them. Grigg knew her consideration was more for the personal chef her parents had on staff.

And he had to admit he was sort of happy with their delay.

Arriving during dinner meant that she couldn’t corner him and try to weedle information out of him about Nigel. No, she’d join them at the dinner table and be polite, at most a raised eyebrow he was sure. He would at least have a little time before she started to question him, no doubt she’d pass the information directly onto their other sisters too.

At least they were all way too polite to make a fuss of the situation at the Gala.

Grigg was suddenly realising he hadn’t thought this through as deeply as he thought he had. He’d only been thinking about how bringing Nigel would help him break the idea of his being in any way queer to his family. He hadn’t considered how many of those people would actively pry into the whole thing in the politest way they possibly could.

They were just starting on the main course when Kat and Reba arrived, calling out their greetings and dropping bags at the door before wandering through to the dining room.

At least it looked less intimidatingly large with more people in it. Grigg had never quite been used to his family’s wealth, despite having grown up with it. His parents had done a great job of keeping all their feet on the ground, but it felt all the more daunting bringing someone into it who might not have experienced the same level of luxury. Which he was sure Nigel hadn’t.

However, Grigg was sure Kat and Nigel would like each other. She was solid and down to earth. She didn’t take shit and Nigel would appreciate that.

Kat immediately paused when they entered the dining room, giving a clearly involuntary smirk as she looked between Grigg and his guest. Oh, she had clocked this immediately. She walked over and gave Grigg a little half hug where he was seated, before she and Reba took their seats.

“It’s been too long Grigg… But I guess you’ve been busy.”

Grigg reddened slightly and didn’t miss Nigel’s little smirk as Kat pulled away and took her seat, leaning in close to whisper something to Reba.

“Glad you arrived safely my dears,” Grigg’s mom greeted them with a warm smile whilst they settled at the table. “Kat, Reba, this is Nigel, Grigg’s friend.” Perhaps she realised how that sounded because then she corrected herself to “boyfriend,” and Grigg blushed hard.

His face was so hot it was almost uncomfortable. But that was the only thing that was. Grigg had assumed that this weekend would be super awkward - hearing over and over Nigel referred to his boyfriend, much less them having to keep up the public pretense. He had no doubt they could do it, more that he expected to be cringing inwardly much of the time,especially with introductions and… that just wasn’t the case.

Kat and Reba had plates set in front of them and there was a repeat of some of the polite conversation his parents had already had - asking about Nigel, how they met etc. And Nigel was pleasant and charming, he asked questions back and seemed genuinely interested. He was also unphased by Reba being blind which, whilst Grigg hadn’t expected him to be weird about it, some people unexpectedly were. It gave Grigg a deeper fondness for Nigel and a warmth knowing he was the good man Grigg knew him to be.

It wasn’t until much later, when they were being served coffee, that Kat cleared her throat and asked, “So… Are we going to address the elephant in the room?”

Everyone went completely silent and Grigg’s blood chilled. If anyone could see through the charade and realise that he and Nigel weren’t really together, it would be Kat.

Nigel quirked a brow, his expression otherwise flat and yet Grigg could practically feel him tense up.

“I mean… I don’t really want to bring it up, maybe it’s inappropriate but… Grigg, I can’t tell you have relieved I am that you and Jocelyn aren’t together anymore. She was a bitch and I wish I’d done more to discourage her when I first met her. There, I said it.”

Grigg’s jaw dropped. He hadn’t expected that. Kat had met Jocelyn right before they got together, in fact maybe that had been what had prompted Jocelyn to realise Grigg wouldn’t wait around forever. Kat had said she wanted to meet her, talk to her, but then hadn’t really commented to Grigg about it after. He assumed that it had gone well? Jocelyn had come to his place not long after and that was how they got together.

Before Grigg had chance to respond - or even close his mouth - his mom joined in.

“Oh my, yes. She was… I’m sorry to say this Grigg, but the few times we met her she… didn’t impress.”

Nigel poorly stifled a bark of laughter that had Grigg staring at him.

Kat actually looked… pained, and Grigg felt terrible. Her tone had been slightly jovial but Grigg knew her well enough to understand she was truly airing her dislike of the woman, and apparently her own guilt in not trying to act in someway on her concern over it. And his mother hadn’t even tried to hide her disdain which clearly had Kat now fretting at the misjudged timing of this quip.

Perhaps sensing the rising tension, Nigel cleared his throat and leaned forward, conspiratorially.

“I’m going to be honest and what I’ve heard about the woman paints her as a class A bitch. But I can’t be mad, after all she did one thing right…” Nigel had everyone’s rapt attention. He turned and smiled softly at Grigg, taking his hand and linking their fingers before raising it to his mouth to gently kiss the back of Grigg’s hand.

“If she hadn’t been so foolish to break up with Grigg then I would never have had a chance,” He was speaking directly Grigg and Grigg was entirely caught in his gaze, his heart thumping and a shiver running over his skin. “Her loss has been my gain.”

Kat let out an ‘aww’ sound that snapped Grigg from his focus on Nigel’s gently smiling face. He looked around and saw that everyone looked like their hearts had melted, even his dad who had a slight wetness to his eyes.

It warmed Grigg for a split second. For as long as it took him to remember that none of this was real. Nigel was just doing a great job of carrying out the favour he’d asked of him. So he couldn’t be mad.

And yet part of him wanted to be. He wanted to be angry at Nigel for… something. Leading him on? No, that was ridiculous. Nigel was only doing as asked and it was Grigg who was constantly laying down boundaries. Nigel might even be interested in something more than the casual thing they had if…

Grigg pulled his hand back and placed it in his lap, shuddering a little.

“I- I’m tired. It’s been a long day.”

Nigel looked a little concerned and placed his arm across the back of Grigg’s chair, a subtle comfort whilst trying not to be intrusive. The sort of thoughtful thing that Nigel always did. Grigg let out a soft sigh and relaxed back against his arm, selfishly not able to resist the comfort offered, as usual.

“You boys go,” His mom smiled fondly at them. “Get your beauty sleep for tomorrow.”

Nigel was out of his chair before she’d even finished speaking, and then was gently ushering Grigg to his feet as they all bid a warm good night.

*

“Are you alright gorgeous?” Nigel asked as Grigg returned from the ensuite.

He’d freshened up and changed into some full on flannels whilst in there, as though he really did believe Nigel wouldn’t be able to keep his hands to himself.

As though trying to make a point, Nigel pulled back the covers revealing his spaceship covered boxer shorts - he’d already made a note to get robot ones soon - and wiggled his eyebrows.

Grigg’s stoic face broke into a smile he was unable to stop and he let out a light chuckle.

“Come on darling, this is going well. Amazingly well some might say!”

Grigg’s smile faltered but even so he crawled into the bed, snuggling up to Nigel and letting himself be wrapped up by the man.

It was going well. So well, his family had no clue that it wasn’t real. Nigel started to wonder if, for Grigg, that was the problem. Sure, it had been his idea, but perhaps lying to his family wasn’t sitting right with Grigg.

At least they only needed to get through the next day.

Chapter Text

“Grigg, sweetheart, you own your own business, surely you can take a week, or an extra few days at least? Then tomorrow we can all take a picnic out to the lake, and...”

Nigel could hear Grigg’s mom as he walked down the stairs.

He’d woken to find Grigg gone and guessed that maybe he needed some space. This wasn’t like when they just hung out at his place, naked all day. Grigg had clearly already been uncomfortable the night before about this whole situation, so Nigel took a shower and got himself ready for the day before heading downstairs to find him.

“Mom, I can’t just…” Grigg let out a heavy sigh. “Besides, Nigel has work too. We can’t just drop everything and-”

“Grigg. Kat and Reba are staying until Monday. Your father and I have barely seen you since the last time you visited with Jocelyn and… We’re worried about you. We miss you.”

Nigel stilled outside the door to the parlour where he could hear the voices coming from.

“I… I’m doing okay. Thanks to Nigel…” Grigg’s voice was barely above a whisper.

“He seems like a very charming man and he obviously cares for you a great deal.” Mrs Harris replied, a fond note in her tone.

“He’s… Actually mom he’s…”

Nigel could hear the distress in Grigg’s tone. It sounded like he was about to out the charade, and whilst Nigel wanted to support him in anything he did, he knew that would be a fucking mistake all around. If he came clean then the rest of the trip would be fucking awkward, or the Gala wouldn’t even happen at all. Which wasn’t fair on Grigg’s parents for their anniversary, and knew Grigg would hate himself for it after.

It would also open a whole can of worms. If he came clean about this then he might feel the need to explain more than he was ready to about everything that was going on with him. Which would leave him feeling like shit. Or equally he might not say anything and that would no doubt leave him feeling like shit too.

There was no way in which Grigg could explain the situation without it becoming a much bigger situation that he was sure Grigg wasn’t prepared to deal with right now. He would ask, when they were alone and if Grigg really wanted to, he’d support him. But right now he wanted to make sure that Grigg didn’t do anything in the heat off the moment.

Nigel strolled casually into the room, “a snorer,” he completed, “Sorry darling.”

Grigg’s eyes went wide and he reddened, looking guilty, as though he’d been caught out. Nigel gave him the fondest look he could, hoping it conveyed as he moved next to his would-be boyfriend and slipped an arm around his waist.

Mrs Harris smiled and let out a light chuckle, “I can sympathise completely.”

“Actually, mom was asking, um, for us to stay longer,” Grigg’s words were hesitant and a little pained.

Nigel frowned thoughtfully, he wanted to help with this situation without coming down on either side of it. “I could probably swing an extra day, but after that I’d need to get back. Someone needs to be there to change the busted light bulbs,” He joked.

“Hush,” Mrs Harris admonished, “I’m sure the place can barely run without you.” It was polite, but also didn’t sound like bullshit so Nigel took it as the intended compliment that it was. “An extra day would be lovely,” she smiled, a happy compromise reached.

She told them to come through for breakfast before she wandered out of the room with more fond smiles. Grigg stopped Nigel as he started to try and follow, and Nigel steeled himself for a telling off.

“Thank you,” Grigg said quietly. “I…”

Nigel pulled Grigg into his arms and pressed his lips softly to his forehead, “For staying?”

Grigg nodded and pulled back to look at him, “And for… stopping me. I guess you heard what we were talking about?”

Nigel nodded but remained quiet, allowing Grigg to fill the space.

“I nearly… I was going to tell mom the truth about…” He gave Nigel an imploring look and Nigel pulled him close again.

“I know gorgeous, and you can do that if you want. I will support you either way. I know… I know you feel like you’re misleading them, and this is difficult for you.”

Grigg sighed against Nigel’s chest and he wanted nothing more than to keep him there forever if he could.

“No, I was just… yeah it’s difficult and I… I want to be able to talk to my family, but… you were right to stop me, I’m not ready yet for the bigger conversation.” He signed again and Nigel gave him a squeeze.

*

Grigg lost himself to the day.

His other sister and her husband arrived and were introduced to Nigel, giving him the once over with raised brows and smirks and clear looks to Kat, telegraphing we’ll talk about this later! And then before they knew it a light buffet was laid on to sustain them whilst the prepared for the Gala.

Nigel looked completely amused by the whole thing, as everyone began running around trying to find this or that. His mom calling for the housekeeper every few minutes. Grigg was mildly embarrassed by it really, hyper aware of how a privileged family like his might seem from the outside.

It was a madhouse, with his dad calm at the centre, already dressed and sitting quietly reading his paper in the study.

If there was ever a better exemplar of his family, Grigg wasn’t sure he’d found it yet.

They’d stood around talking a while with his dad, then picked over some of the food and helped themselves to wine. Every now and then a sister would appear in a varied state of dress, or with hair in a towel, or in curlers. They had ended up standing in the main downstairs hallway, watching it all unfold as they talked quietly amongst themselves - Grigg answering questions about growing up in such a big house with a slightly eccentric family.

Grigg gladly told him and it warmed him through. He’d forgotten how much he used to enjoy these things. He’d always felt slightly alien to them at times - when he was very young and would be dressed up in a childish suit and left with his dad in the study. As he passed through his teenage years his sisters had started to include him. Asking his opinion, making him help choice clothing combinations. Sometimes they had him join in as they did their hair and makeup, putting a little eyeshadow and lip gloss on him for fun. Something light that was easily washed off the moment their mother came to chase them along and she tutted at them affectionately and made him wash his face.

He’d not felt bad about it at the time, he understood he wasn’t meant to be wearing it and had to wash it off like a good little boy, but he had enjoyed the experience nonetheless.

Reflecting on it made him smile.

“Having fun gorgeous?” Nigel asked, grinning at him and raising a hand to brush his thumb over Grigg’s lower lip.

Grigg enjoyed the gesture, wanted more of it. In fact, he enjoyed having Nigel there to share it all. Maybe he could just let himself enjoy it for a while?

He sucked his lower lip into his mouth as Nigel’s hand cupped his face, heat rising on his cheeks.

“Yes… I’m… I was just remembering my sister’s doing my makeup when I was younger. As a joke really, a bit of silly fun.”

“You want to do that now darling? I’m here to support you if you do.” Nigel offered, his voice low and his expression serious.

Grigg shook his head but melted against Nigel all the same, leaning into the man’s frame until both arms came up around to hold him. “Not tonight, I appreciate the support though.”

“Anytime,” Nigel growled before pulling back enough to lean in and kiss Grigg. It was slow but with an unmistakable hunger that nearly had Grigg whimpering.

“Oh! Oops, sorry!” Kat’s voice broke them apart and Grigg damn near jumped a foot away from his fake boyfriend. “Sorry, I was just getting some more wine for me and Reba… Don’t… um, don’t stop on my account.”

Kat looked mischievous and amused, and that warmed Grigg too. It was all too easy to feel like this was real and to allow himself to do so too. He was sure Nigel wouldn’t mind, in fact wasn’t that the whole point? They were meant to be boyfriends.

Before Grigg could think more on it, Nigel’s hand slipped into his and he raised it to his mouth to press a kiss to the back, before turning to Kat.

“It’s probably best you stopped us. If we’d have kissed much longer… Well, I’m sure we don’t have enough time for me to take Grigg upstairs and-”

“Nigel!” Grigg slapped his free hand over Nigel’s mouth so hard that it made a fleshy smack of a sound.

Kat was wide eyed but amused, guffawing through her shock.

“Come on now!” The voice of Grigg’s mom drifted down the corridor, “What is all this playing. Kat, aren’t you ready yet? Grigg, you haven’t even started to get ready!” She caught up with her voice and gave them a stern enough look that they all immediately ran like naughty children.

*

Grigg was shaking like a leaf and Nigel couldn’t help but reach out for him.

“You look amazing,” he growled against Grigg’s ear as Nigel pulled him back against his chest, keeping eye contact in the full length mirror in their room. “So beautiful.”

Nigel felt Grigg shiver against him before tensing.

“Is it too much though?”

Grigg was wearing smart pants that were high waisted with a vintage feel, but were cut short at the ankle, paired with smart shoes but no socks. His top was tucked in, slim fitted and looking like a shirt, with a collar opened deep at the throat, but no buttons. Nigel resisted the urge to stroked his fingers down Grigg’s throat.

Instead he smiled softly and gave a slight shake of his head, “Darling, I won’t lie - you’re family might be surprised by the sudden change in style, but there’s nothing that screams girly if that’s what you’re worried about. If anything, it’s that sort of effeminate a lot of gay guys can carry off. I doubt they’ll bat an eye considering you’ve just brought a boyfriend home with you.”

Grigg’s smile seemed fairly forced, but he nodded and Nigel understood it was his nerves. Grigg was scared everyone would see who he really was and he wasn’t ready for that yet.

“You can wear something else if-” Nigel started, stroking his hands soothingly up and down Grigg’s bare arms.

“No,” Grigg cut him off with the quiet but forceful word.

Nigel nodded and smiled again, placing a kiss on Grigg’s shoulder.

“Darling, I’m going to make such a fuss over you tonight, people won’t care what you’re wearing, they’ll be too busy talking about how your boyfriend can’t keep his hands to himself for a minute.” Nigel pressed a nipping kiss against Grigg’s cheek and was delighted with the slightly more relaxed, responding tinkle of laughter.

Grigg turned in his arms and snaked his hands up around his neck.

And Nigel was thrilled. There was no escaping the fact.

He knew this was just pretend, even if it was marginally more than they were already were to each other. Fun, ecstasy, companionship, tenderness, intimacy, but still always casual. Just as Grigg wanted. And he was never going to fucking push, because Grigg had enough to deal with. But he wasn’t above taking advantage of it, and treating Grigg like his fucking boyfriend whilst he had the fucking chance.

*

“Oh my!” Grigg’s mom’s hand went to her mouth as she saw Nigel and Grigg coming down the stairs.

Nigel let out a chuckle, “Scrub up well don’t I? Bet you didn’t think I could even get a tie around my thick neck.”

Grigg almost laughed at the fondly exasperated look his mom shot Nigel.

“You look charming Nigel, but it was Grigg who stole my breath.”

Grigg held his own breath as he waited for her judgement.

“Very fetching sweetheart, and so much more stylish than your usual button downs. Nigel is clearly a good influence on you.”

She eyed Nigel with some humour, a joke there Grigg knew, because clearly Nigel - whilst scrubbing up well - still looked every inch who he was even in the monkey suit. Grigg wouldn’t be surprised if people at the Gala mistook him for security.

The thought made Grigg flutter. The thought of Nigel as his own personal security. It didn’t feel that far from the truth.

“Holy shit!” Kat had rounded the corner and stopped in her tracks. She and Reba looked stunning, Kat in a very high quality pant suit and Reba in an understated cocktail dress.

“Katherine!” Grigg’s mom admonished at the same time as Reba grabbed Kat’s arm and asked -
“What is it?” Clearly not sure whether to be concerned or amused.

“Grigg is… he looks amazing.” Kat told her wife, but her encouraging smile was for Grigg.

“Here,” Grigg said, descending the last few steps until he was in front of Reba. He knew she liked to read things in a tactile way where possible, so he gently lifted her hand and placed it on his shoulder.

She felt the fabric for a moment, “Wow, this is nice. Feels fancy,” She was grinning as she brought up her other hand to his other shoulder and then worked them inwards, feeling the collar with a raised brow, stopping short of making contact with his skin. “My my, Grigg. Not leaving a lot to the imagination are you?”

She let out a chuckle and Grigg felt his face burn, all the more when the others joined in the gentle laughter. All but Nigel, who was suddenly at his side, tugging Grigg against him.

“Now, that’s enough of that. You’ve got your own Harris!” Nigel growled, though his playful jealousy was met with the humour he’d clearly intended.

Kat gave Grigg yet another approving look.

*

The most hilarious thing to Nigel, was that the Harris family didn’t consider this fancy affair ‘that fancy’. For them this sea of ties and cocktail dresses, expensive booze, five course meal, and what appeared to be half a damn orchestra playing on in the background, was just not ‘that fancy’.

Back in Bucharest shit like this would have annoyed the fuck out of Nigel, both the event and the attitude. But when he moved to the States he’d made the decision to let shit go that wasn’t important. He’d felt much better since he’d learned to relax with himself. Of course being out helped that a lot.

So now, old Nigel would be laughing at the fact that he found this sort of cute. The way Grigg blushed as his mom painted this to be quite a low key, informal event, was fucking adorable. Because whilst Grigg probably thought, comparatively, the same thing, he and his sisters were slightly more aware of the reality most people actually lived in. Well, at least the Gala proceeds were going to a children’s charity. Nigel was sure that reassured them as much as it did him.

It was Reba that interjected as they had walked into the large country club the Gala was being held at, “Even I can see the look on Nigel’s face right now,” she joked before addressing him directly, knowing everyone could hear, “It takes some getting used to.”

She held out her hand expectantly and Nigel took it in his, gave it a squeeze and then for good measure kissed the back of it with a chuckle.

“Charmer,” She said, almost an admonishment.

They had been shown to their table, eaten the fairly light courses - which was good considering there were so many. The drinks were flowing and at some point Mr and Mrs Harris disappeared and next they spotted them they were on the now bustling dancefloor.

The sun was going down and, as though perfectly timed, the strung webs of delicate fairy lights glowed to life, making the place look like some sort of fairy tale ball.

And when Nigel looked at Grigg he was pleased with that comparison. Grigg looked ethereal. Only one person so far had commented on his choice of clothes and that had been some old family friend whose daughter’s a fashion designer and mentioned how current this look was on the cat walks these days and how Grigg should have gone into modelling instead of computers.

Grigg had suitably blushed and been gracious, Nigel had found his chest puffing out with pride as he was then introduced.

Grigg was glowing, clearly the most comfortable he’d been in a long while in public. He knew Grigg had to find a way to dress as himself every damn day, and Nigel would do all he could to ensure that. Because this feeling was so fucking good.

It had gone a lot better all round than expected. Nigel had definitely wondered how excepting ‘high society’ would be there. But he and Grigg, and Reba and Kat, were far from the only same sex couples at the party. It was even Grigg’s idea for them to dance.

It was more a shuffle than a dance. Nigel was a fairly athletic person over all, but he’d never had fucking chance to waltz before in his life. But it was nice, holding Grigg close and let their bodies just sway together.

Grigg’s parents were having a great time, and many friends were there offering their congratulations on their anniversary. Nigel couldn’t help but let himself fantasize what it would be like that to be with someone that many years. Perhaps his experience had been coloured by the whole thing with Gabi, but he’d assumed his life would just be perpetually hook ups until death. It was why he was so accommodating to Grigg’s desire to keep it all casual. Not that he didn’t want more, because he was finding more and more that he did, but that it had never been a goal in life so he wasn’t missing out of something, or so he’d thought.

He couldn’t help but wonder what it would be like to have that with Grigg. Celebrate that with this family, that had been so accepting of him.

“Grigg?” And older woman’s voice broke into his thoughts just before he saw Grigg enveloped into a big hug.

“Bernadette…. Hi…” Grigg’s words were friendly but cautious, putting Nigel instantly on guard.

The woman drew back and then waited politely and expectantly.

“Oh, this is Nigel… my… um, my boyfriend. Nigel, this is Bernadette from the book club.”

The reason for Grigg’s hesitation in saying their lie was instantly apparent. This was beyond family living miles and miles away, this was someone he knew from his life in California. Someone who knew Jocelyn. Nigel instantly bristled but tried to present a friendly smile as he held out a hand to shake hers.

“Oh, oh I see,” Bernadette smiled the words as she took Nigel’s hand and gave it a squeeze. “Wonderful.” She clasped her other hand over the top before letting go. She seemed genuinely cool and happy for Grigg, and Nigel noted Grigg relaxed at least a little.

“How did you meet?” Bernadette asked them. She seemed to be coming from a place of genuine interest rather than poking at them.

“At work,” Nigel replied, “I’m the facilities manager for the building where Grigg has his office. We met when he broke his office chair, he was flat on his back just waiting for my assistance.” Nigel growled the words with a grin and Bernadette gave a light chuckle in response.

“That’s one to tell the grandkids,” She joked sweetly and Nigel didn’t for one second miss Grigg’s blush. Poor, adorable Grigg.

She turned serious then and looked at Grigg with a rather mothering gaze, “We do miss you at book club, but I understand why you… I’m sorry how things… No, I will say it. I’m sorry for how Jocelyn treated you, and I’m sorry none of us said anything about her behaviour. You seem happy now and I want to say that’s the important thing, but I know it must have been difficult.”

“It’s not your fault Bernie, but… thank you.”

Nigel was relieved that Kat and Reba chose that moment to join them. Turned out Kat also knew Bernadette and the weird tension immediately lifted as old friends caught up with each other.

Nigel moved to Grigg and slipped an arm around his waist, finding that he needed the physical contact in that moment as much as he was sure Grigg did.

*

All in all, Grigg had had a surprisingly enjoyable evening. Of course the bubble created by his family and Nigel had helped with that. And that could not be more evident as the evening neared closure and Grigg stood holding his and Nigel’s drinks whilst Nigel had gone to the bathroom.

There was a small group gathered nearby and he wasn’t listening to their conversation at first, but then he caught a couple of words that drew his focus.

“Did you see the Harris boy?”

“I thought he looked lovely, but all the same. I don’t know why the gays need to try and stand out like that.”

Grigg’s stomach dropped.

“And that boyfriend?!”

“Isn’t he a janitor, for heaven’s sake?”

“No dear, Bernadette said Facilities Manager, for an office building.” At least there was a slightly scalding tone.

Either way it had Grigg’s stomach roiling and he wanted to turn and interrupt them and run away at the same time.

“Less a janitor, more a glorified handyman,” Nigel’s voice broke in and Grigg did turn then to see Nigel and Kat stood on the outside of the gossip circle, grinning it at them. “Sure I can’t sell houses or fancy trinkets like some of you do. But I can build a solid fence with my own two hands, which will likely come in more handy after the apocalypse?”

Grigg nearly spat his drink out as he laughed, grinning uncontrollably as Kat caught his eye and gave him a thumbs up, mouthing that she definitely liked him.

“I…” Mrs Weizs stuttered, looking affronted as though Nigel had been rude, and even if he had, she’d started it. “Well, it’s ridiculous to base one’s worth in fantasy.”

Nigel chuckled and nodded, “It’s ridiculous to base one’s worth in a job. I mean, I’m not saying there will be an apocalypse, I’m just saying if it does I will come in handy, and you’ll be one of the first to be eaten when the food gets low.”

Grigg was shaking uncontrollably with silent laughter, sure he was failing miserably at hiding his amusement behind his wine glass as the circle seemed to have expanded to include all three of them.

“How rude!” Mrs Weizs exclaimed.

“I couldn’t agree more, apparently money can’t buy manners,” Was Nigel’s level response before he took Grigg by the elbow and steered him away with Kat in tow.

*

Grigg seemed to be buzzing all the way back to the house. They all were one way or another, Grigg’s parents just being the right side of hammered and everyone had had such a great time. But Grigg… it was like he was fluid under his skin, or maybe it was the crackle of electricity under there?

He had a glow about him and Nigel couldn’t tear his eyes away even as he knew the others in the car were looking at him, the way Kat smirked at him and whispered in Reba’s ear.

Nigel couldn’t help but smile back.

Everyone was merry and a little askew as they made their way into the house, each finding their rooms, until Grigg collapsed onto their bed with a happy sigh.

Nigel dropped on top of him, burying his face in Grigg’s neck and appreciating the light chuckle and another, contented, sigh.

“Thank you for tonight,” Grigg all but whispered next to his ear.

“Thanks for what? I was just arm candy,” He joked, pleased to receive another tinkle of laughter.

Grigg gave him a playful slap on his ass before snaking his arms up around him, caging him. Nigel let out a sigh of his own. He was sure he felt Grigg tense a little as a result.

“Just think of this as some bedroom roleplay. Tonight I’m roleplaying the part of your boyfriend, and he’s just fucking thrilled and so proud of how brave you were to be yourself tonight. And, whilst he is respectful of your wishes to not fuck under your parent’s roof, he hopes that doesn’t preclude kissing and snuggling, because right now he just wants to fucking hold you and kiss you senseless.”

Grigg seemed to have stopped breathing, so Nigel pulled back, his hands either side of Grigg’s head to make sure he was in fact still alive. And he was. Looking up at him and studying his face so intently that it was hard to get any kind of read on how Grigg was feeling.

Then Grigg’s hands were framing his face and pulling him down into a soft, deep kiss. Nigel wasn’t sure he was ever going to breath again.

Chapter Text

Grigg’s mother had insisted that they have a relaxing day together now that they had the extra day to fit more in. In truth, Grigg was glad of the extra day, still buzzing from the night before to the point of feeling pretty exhausted, he was happy they didn’t have to take the long drive back today but could wait until the next morning instead and leave the same time as Kat and Reba.

And, as much as he hated to admit it, he was loathe to quit this time as fake boyfriends. He’d been hesitant and resistant, but at the Gala and when they got home after, Grigg had allowed himself to enjoy it.

He still wanted to enjoy it but as the day went on, he couldn’t help but have that ill-feeling descend again. He hated lying. He hated what this might be doing to Nigel. He hated how selfish he was being over the whole thing.

Everyone had spent the morning relaxing. Grigg and Nigel had joined Reba in the pool whilst Grigg’s sisters caught up over morning coffees and brunch. And now they were all taking afternoon tea in the garden whilst deciding where they might be able to get a dinner reservation for all of them.

Grigg watched Nigel talking with Kat and Reba, laughing together and it made his heart ache.

Quite unexpectedly, Nigel slotted rather well with the entire family. He had known if Kat liked him then everyone would, and she seemed completely besotted. They talked so easily and Reba laughed at his jokes. The three of them looked so at home together sipping their tea, like Nigel really was part of the family.

The little teacup looked dainty and fragile in Nigel’s large hand, but he held it with the same tender care that he treated Grigg. The mental comparison sent shivers up Grigg’s spine.

As he quietly watched the interactions, it was hard not to imagine a future with Nigel. And not to want it. Not to want everything they’d had so far - the sex, the intimacy, the friendship, holding hands and family dinners. But he knew it would be unfair on Nigel. Grigg wasn’t in a place where he could be serious with someone right now. Maybe he was still sort of of on the rebound from Jocelyn and there was all the gender stuff he was trying to get his head around. In short he was a mess, which he wasn’t concerned about when this was just casual. But something more serious? It would be so totally unfair to get together with someone whilst he was navigating it all, making it a part of their relationship in a way it shouldn’t be.

He loved Nigel too much to drag him into the tangle of all of that.

Shit!

Grigg’s stomach dropped at the internal admission. And it definitely was him just admitting it to himself rather than realising it. If he really thought about it, he was pretty sure he’d started to fall in love with Nigel from that first night they went home together and hadn’t stopped at any point yet.

And it was all the more reason to not pursue anything serious, at least not until he was in a place where he felt he could and… Maybe Nigel wouldn’t wait around for that, if he was even interested, but it was unfair to ask.

Grigg had already asked so much of him and, really, had taken advantage of his willingness. He wasn’t blind to that and it was another thing that made all this so hard. He was using Nigel in a way he’d been used himself in the past, and he felt sick at himself for having become that person.

Grigg grit his teeth, thinking not for the first time about how much a year in a relationship with Jocelyn had damaged him. And maybe it wasn’t all her fault? Sure, she really had ended up treating him as one of her pets - expecting him to just be what she wanted him to be and do as he was told. He’d gone along with it all because it was easier. Just as it had always been easier to ignore whatever this thing was inside him. This Gethen thing. That probably hadn’t made him the easiest of people.

He knew from those experiences, there was still so much uncertainty within him, too much to have another person in the mix. Even here with his family and how accepting they had been of Nigel, of Kat and Reba, it wasn’t the same as him being able to be himself. Whoever, whatever that was. And he needed to work through all of that alone.

Grigg suddenly felt self conscious of what he was wearing. Of his hair. His name. His maleness. He shuddered and felt the blood drain from his face, a deep feeling of not belonging in his own skin settled over him. It was happening increasingly these days.

“Darling?” Nigel’s low rumble interrupted his thoughts as the man leaned into his space, “are you feeling okay?”

Grigg shook his head without thinking, glad to see that everyone but Nigel seemed to still be consumed with conversation.

“I… I’m just feeling a little drained, maybe I’ll go lay down for a bit.” Grigg replied in a small voice.

Nigel nodded and turned back to the group, “We’re going to go freshen up before we start getting ready for tonight, please don’t book anywhere too fancy!” He joked and there was a light chuckle from all but Kat, who was smirking. No doubt assuming they were going back to the room for a little action and really that was a better assumption for her to make. Grigg wasn’t prepared to say anything otherwise.

Nigel played it all out, pulling Grigg up to him and holding him close as they made their way back into the house. And Grigg needed the support, his body shaking a little with the discomfort and emotions. It had never been this bad before and he was glad to have Nigel to cling to, as selfish and angry as that made him feel.

“How are you so good at this?” Grigg asked as they went up the stairs, trying to sound more together than he was, “the subterfuge?”

Nigel chuckled, “Living life in a closet makes a good liar of you. I should go into espionage or some shit. Not that I wasn’t glad to leave all of that behind.”

The chuckle warmed Grigg even as the words cut him.

He hated being a liar. He hated this so much. It was one thing to have lied to himself for all these years, or at least so it felt, but lying to his family was so difficult when they had always been so close.

Nigel frowned at him, clearly sensing that Grigg was struggling with it all.

He opened the bedroom door, holding it open for Grigg and following him in. He let the door close as he pulled Grigg into his arms.

“Whatever is going on in that big brain of your gorgeous, it’s okay. Talk to me.”

Grigg frowned, trying to decide what more he could say, if anything.

“I… Can we have this one night? I know we’ve had this whole weekend and I’ve been so preoccupied with having to do this with my family, I haven’t let myself enjoy it like you have. You’ve…” Grigg tried to find the words, say something that didn’t sound like Nigel really was his boyfriend. “You’ve embraced this, almost like… for this weekend, we are really together and not just…”

Nigel’s arms tightened around him and he could almost feel the words lodged in the man’s chest.

It was a moment before Nigel finally responded, “I enjoy your company. And… we’ve gotten to know each other, intimately. It’s not really that hard to just let myself go with this, but I understand why that’s been difficult for you.”

“You said last night, about roleplaying as my boyfriend. I… I think I want that. Just for tonight, I want to forget it isn’t real. I’m…” Grigg let out a shuddering breath.

“I know, gorgeous,” Nigel ran his hands up and down Grigg’s back. “I know you feel like you’re lying to them all but… It’s only a little stretch of the truth. We’re together all the time, we fuck like the world is going to end, and we get along. They don’t need to know it’s casual, that’s between us.”

Grigg found himself nodding despite his frown. Nigel was right, in the big scheme of things it wasn’t that big a deal. It just felt like it was on top of everything else Grigg felt like he was hiding.

“Okay…” Grigg nodded, burying his face in Nigel’s chest, “Just for today, it can be real.”

*

Nigel wasn’t going to pretend that this was easy. Pretending to be Grigg’s boyfriend was probably the easiest thing he’d ever done. But seeing the pain it was causing Grigg was definitely up there with shit he never wanted to repeat.

But since their little cuddle nap in the afternoon, Grigg had seemed so much brighter. Much more tactile, and clearly more at ease. He was sure the family would just think Grigg had been more hesitant at first given that they were around his family together for the first time, given Grigg had just come out and all.

They’d held hands on their way into the restaurant - a place the Harris’s liked that were able to accommodate their number at short notice. And when they took their seats, Grigg scooched his chair a little closer to Nigel’s so they could practically cuddle up.

Nigel’s chest ached almost as much as his face did from smiling as they all made themselves comfortable around the table and chatted easily. It was a nice. It was so good to see Grigg smile and tease with his sisters.

Grigg had opted to wear a pair of smart pants and a shirt, feminine like the other casual tops he’d brought. It was a pale yellow, so it looked almost white at the same time as feeling a little warmer. Grigg’s mom had been right that it did look sort of Woodstock, but that really wasn’t a bad thing. After all, hippy’s didn’t seem to care much for the gender norms they’d likely grown up with in the 50s and 60s.

But beside all this, Grigg looked gorgeous. It was so easy to lean against him and even sling an arm around the back of his chair despite how this hindered Nigel’s ability to actually eat his food. This was Grigg when he was as free with himself as he could really be and Nigel couldn’t get enough of it.

“You’re beautiful,” Nigel leaned in and whispered the words against Grigg’s ear as he belly laughed at something Reba had said. Nigel was too mesmerised by his ‘boyfriend’ to pay much attention to what they were laughing at.

Nigel pulled back to see Grigg’s cheeks redden in the most extreme blush Nigel had seen on him in a long while.

“Nigel!” He turned at Kat’s chastising tone, but she was grinning like a cheshire cat. “No making my brother blush at the table. It’s uncouth.”

The disapproving look Mrs Harris shot Kat clearly was a reprimand for her pointing it out and Kat just giggled.

Nigel grinned.

“If you must know, I was actually just telling him how wonderful he looks tonight.” Nigel retorted.

There was a chorus of ‘ahhs’ from his sisters that made Grigg chuckle and shake his head.

And damn this was amazing! Being able to be this way and not worry that Grigg might get upset, that his sisters’ reaction might make him feel shitty about the whole thing again.

Nigel wished it could always be this way, and immediately tried to push the thought down. If Grigg was going to enjoy this one evening of make believe then he sure as shit was too!

“So how was it you guys met?” Reba asked, clearly practiced as diplomatically changing the subject.

Nigel went to respond but Grigg chuckled and began speaking first.

“My office chair collapsed. Whilst I was sat on it. I just kinda… ended up flat on my back at the floor staring at the ceiling and still sitting in the chair.”

There was laughter from around the table and Nigel’s chest swelled.

“One of my colleagues went and grabbed Nigel, so I could order a new chair-”

“And I took one look and was smitten,” Nigel half joked to a mixture of more ahhs and more chuckles. Grigg just looked at him though, a lopsided smile that spoke on some level of real affection.

Nigel was happy to bask in that for as long as Grigg would allow.

*

The evening had been wonderful and he spent a second night in a row snuggled up to Nigel, letting himself have the fantasy that this man really was his boyfriend.

But as the sun dawned and started to glow through the curtains, Grigg woke with the heavy realisation that today was the last day of this fiction. And really it had to be that way.

They showered and dressed in near silence before heading down for a subdued breakfast. Everyone seemed to be sad about parting, which at least made his sadness less obvious.

The mood seemed to get lower and lower until the time came for Kat and Reba to leave. They all plastered on smiles as Grigg and Nigel walked them out to the driveway.

"You have to come and stay with us, for Kat's birthday next month?" Reba suggested, hopefully.

Grigg felt the sour ball of bad feeling in his stomach lurch and twist.

"Yeah?" Nigel replied eagerly, his expression showing how happy he was to have been included by Grigg's family. So much so that Grigg had to wonder if he'd forgotten this was meant to be fake.

Grigg grit his teeth, feeling Kat and Reba's disappointment as he replied, "I… have a lot coming up at work. I'm not sure I could… I'll check but I don't think…"

Kat pulled on a smile and nodded, "Of course, just let us know. You’re always welcome. Both of you."

Grigg smiled and leaned in to accept the hug she offered. Kat moved on to hug Nigel as Reba gave Grigg a squeeze and soon goodbyes were over and the women were getting into their car.

As they waved goodbye from the driveway, Nigel turned to Grigg, an expression somewhere between concern and annoyance. Grigg could sympathise.

"I was just being polite. I didn't mean anything by it and…" Nigel's tone steadily grew more annoyed. “This was your idea, I… And I’ve liked it Grigg. I’ve loved being your boyfriend this weekend.”

“We should bring the car around,” Grigg redirected and avoided, not even able to look at Nigel as his chest and throat tightened.

He felt as much as heard Nigel huff and walk off. He stood frozen to the spot for a moment, trying to not let out the deluge of emotions he was feeling.

“Mr Harris?” Grigg looked up and one of the staff stood with keys in hand, “Mr Ibanescu asked me to bring around the car, would you also like help with the bags?”

“Thank you, no.” Grigg managed, along with a weak smile.

When he looked back to the house Nigel was bringing the bags out.

It was time for this to all come to an end.

*

Saying goodbye had been really fucking hard. Not just because he’d had a great time, but for the first time all weekend, Nigel was finding it hard to play the part of boyfriend whilst saying goodbye to Grigg’s parents.

It made his jaw clench thinking of how Grigg was already rejecting him, already closing down this fake boyfriend thing before they had even left. He knew Grigg had been struggling with it, but he… Nigel shook his head.

He’d loved it. He couldn’t even help but admit that to Grigg.

He understood why Grigg wanted to keep things casual and he wouldn’t push, but it had been amazing. Not just spending time with some great people, but being there in that way for Grigg. Holding hands and being romantic. And yeah, it wasn’t like he held back on that sort of thing at his apartment when they spent the weekends cooped up together like a dirty fucking secret. But being able to do them openly and honestly, even if the actual relationship part of it was a shame, had been fucking amazing.

And now they sat in silence. A silence that had descended the moment they got in the car and had been going strong for over an hour. Nigel felt like he was going to bust something inside from the tension in the fucking car.

“Grigg, I’m sorry if I crossed any boundaries this weekend,” Nigel finally ventured, hoping he’d hit upon the right thing. “I was just trying to be the boyfriend you asked me to be.”

He had meant that to sound gentle, but it came out more of an accusation that he was sure would get Grigg’s hackles up.

Instead Grigg was silent for a few more minutes before speaking quietly.

“I’m treating you like Jocelyn treated me and I can’t stand it!”

“What? No, darling that’s-”

Grigg turned in the seat to face him and Nigel stole a glance before setting his eyes back on the road. Grigg looked worn and pale. His eyes were red like he’d been crying for hours even through he hadn’t.

“You’ve been amazing Nigel. Not just this weekend, where you were perfect and I can’t thank you enough for that. But… but everything. Since the day we first met you’ve been amazing and I’ve been nothing but a… I’ve been despicable.” The words broke into a sob.

Nigel slowed the car as he replied, “What the fuck? Grigg, you’ve-”

He could see Grigg shaking his head from the corner of his eye. “I’ve asked so much of you, and you’ve given me every single thing I’ve asked for. In ways I didn’t even know I needed them. And it’s not fair. I’m using you and I hate it. I need… I need some time on my own. To deal with all this and… I can’t do that if we’re still seeing each other. I can’t keep sleeping with you, even just casually, it isn’t healthy for either of us.”

Nigel felt stunned into silence. It wasn’t that he couldn’t see the point, or even that these words were a surprise. He had just wanted so much for them to never be said. And maybe that made Grigg right? Maybe that made Grigg better than Jocelyn, who would have continued to treat Grigg like a doormat even if she'd recognised the behaviour. But Grigg couldn’t do that to someone else, and that made Nigel love him all the more.

Fuck.

It was so hard to keep that word inside him. But there was no way he could do that to Grigg. He wasn’t going to make this all the fucking worse by declaring the love he couldn't deny had been growing within him since the first fucking day they met.

So instead he grit his teeth and nodded.

“Okay, gorgeous,” He agreed, the words breaking with emotion. “But if you ever need a friend, I’m here for you, okay?”

Even as Grigg nodded, Nigel knew that this was the end of it all.

Chapter Text

Eight Months Later

Grigg was glad that Bev had recommended the new coffee place to them, especially given they had just assumed it to be another soulless and generic sort of place, like the sandwich shop that had opened a few months earlier in the new leisure part of the business park. But this was pleasant. Homely.

The smell of the coffee the first time they'd entered was almost enough for them to love the place instantly. But what sealed it was the atmosphere - warm colours and solid wood furniture, it was wonderfully relaxing. A great place to come for a break when they needed to think away from their desk and get a coffee at the same time.

It was actually just what they needed, not only the coffee but the subtle touches around the place that made clear from the get go that it was queer friendly. Grigg hadn’t really considered how much they’d needed that until it was there. And now they came most days, enjoying a coffee, talking a little with the owners Salim and Ifrit who they’d become friendly with, and most of all feeling free to be themself.

They never felt any kind of judgement over the way they dressed, and the first time meeting Salim and Ifrit had been the first time they had really made a point of introducing themself with their pronouns, which were instantly respected. That went a long way. As did the approving glances at Grigg's outfits, which were increasingly more immaculately styled. Sometimes more masculine, sometimes more feminine but mostly androgynous, and always very Grigg.

Grigg smiled as Salim came over and cleared the table, it was mid afternoon, a quiet time when Grigg found they could be quite productive without the bustle of the techies in the office and with the coffeeshop fairly quiet.

“Any plans for the weekend, Gigi?” Salim asked, “Have you seen they’re showing Mulholland Drive at The Empire, Ifrit and I are thinking of going Saturday night.”

Grigg smiled and shook their head, "New contract I'm trying to wrestle under control, the tech support is a mess. I'll be at it all weekend."

Salim nodded sympathetically, "Well if you change your mind…"

Grigg nodded and smiled, starting to pack their things up as Salim headed back to the counter.

And that's when they saw Nigel.

Grigg's chest went tight and a lump of anxiety swelled in their throat.

Surprisingly, they never really ran into him.

In the building they seemed to do a good job of avoiding each other, a brief nod of acknowledgement here or there if they happen to end up at a door or elevator together. But Grigg could count on one hand the times that had happened.

And it wasn't the same as running into him somewhere like this. Grigg was prepared for it in the office, and had just been grateful so far that they'd had no need to call on Nigel in a business capacity since the 'break up'.

He stood at the counter with his back to Grigg, looking up at the menu and perhaps hadn't seen Grigg given that Salim had been between their line of sight. Grigg continued to pack his laptop slowly, not sure whether to just get up and leave, or wait and see if Nigel left first. What did they do if Nigel turned to take a seat instead of grabbing a takeaway?

The frantic beating of Grigg's heart told them that they weren't prepared for the interaction that might present itself here. Not yet. At least at work Grigg was sure they could handle it, but here? Would Nigel feel compelled to say hello rather than the polite nod? Did they make conversation? With the professional boundaries removed would Nigel just snub them?

The immediate knowledge that they weren't prepared to talk with Nigel was accompanied by a sharp pain of nerves and excitement that spoke of how much Grigg wanted to talk to Nigel. How much Grigg missed him.

Grigg wanted to talk and laugh and collapse into each other as they did so. They wanted to be held and kissed and made love to in the way Nigel had, that made them feel so utterly worshipped.

It hadn't been an easy thing to give up but they knew that they'd had to. It was unfair on Nigel whilst Grigg was still trying to work so much out. As welcome as the support Nigel offered would have been, Grigg couldn't have that be the core of their relationship.

But now… Now?

Grigg didn't realise they were just sat there staring at Nigel's back until he ordered his drink, passed a few pleasant words with Salim and then turned.

Their eyes met and there was a flicker of something there on Nigel's face, as though he wanted to smile but wasn't sure he should. Grigg wondered if he felt the same internal turmoil that they did, that awful feeling of something being just out of reach. Something desperately dear.

They continued to gaze at each other, both unmoving, until Salim placed Nigel's drink on the counter.

Nigel accepted it with a grin and some more jovial words, before looking back to Grigg for just a moment. A long enough moment for Grigg to see the hesitation, before Nigel gave that professional curt nod and made his way back out of the shop. The bell above the door rang in his wake, echoing around Grigg’s brain.

Grigg sank back into their chair, not able to control the shudder that went through them.

They had wondered way too many times if Nigel would wait around, or even whether he'd still be interested if he were still single once Grigg was in a better place. But they knew it was too unfair to expect it, and even more unfair to ask it. In that moment of hesitation Grigg had hoped but...

"Gigi? You okay?" Salim asked, a concerned look on his face as he wandered back over.

Grigg forced on a smile, and gave a dismissive shake of their head.

"Just lost in my own thoughts," Grigg forced the words through the thickness in their throat.

"You work too hard, Gi." Salim scalded in a friendly way, and Grigg felt grateful for the friendship they'd developed the last few months. "Look, come with us to the Empire. Even if just for the movie? We're having dinner first and you'd be more than welcome. Just… don't think Bev hasn't been bitching at us about how hard you've been working."

There was a disapproving look there that likely meant that Bev had also told them the reason why Grigg was allowing work to consume them.

Grigg let out a heavy sigh. It had been all work since Nigel. They were busy, but in truth it shouldn't eat up the weekends, it was just easier to work than to think about what else they could be doing. Easier than to be consumed by thoughts of that time being spent with Nigel instead.

"Okay," Grigg reluctantly agreed, "Maybe I need to get out more. Just the movie though…"

Salim grinned, "Great! I'll let Ifrit know!"

*

Nigel almost crushed the coffee cup in his hand the moment he got outside, probably would have if Ifrit hadn't rounded the corner carrying a box of supplies for the coffee shop.

"Nigel, woah! You okay friend?" Ifrit's eyes darted between his own and his hand that held the cup he was about to destroy.

Nigel eased up and took a breath, not realising he'd stopped breathing.

He knew it was inevitable at some point that he'd run into Grigg in a more social situation, but he hadn't been prepared.

Hadn't been prepared to see or interact. Hadn't been fucking prepared for how gorgeous the man looked with fucking subtle eye makeup and the cutest fucking t-shirt and scarf combo. He managed to ignore all that shit at work, the few times they passed each other, because he’d been prepared for it. Though he’d made a fucking skill out of avoiding Grigg.

He just didn’t want Grigg to have to face the bullshit of running into him every day when he was still trying to get his head together. Though he couldn’t help but hope that one day Grigg would come and look for him, say he was ready and willing to try again if Nigel wanted to.

And fuck did Nigel want to. Whether something casual or, fake fucking boyfriends. Or more.

He had never been that fussed about relationships, not after Gabi, but Grigg had gotten under his skin. He’d fallen in love and because he loved Grigg, he’d had to let him go. And the hope that he might come back someday was killing him.

“Nigel?” Ifrit looked at him like he was a little nuts, and Nigel couldn’t blame him.

He let out a slow breath and tried to ignore the cramp in his knuckles as he moved the coffee cup to his other hand.

“Yeah, I’m just fine. I just… Bad breakup.” Nigel hated the words as soon he said them, but was at a loss to describe the situation without going into personal information that wasn’t his to tell.

Ifrit nodded his understanding, “You need to get out. Salim and I are going to the movies Saturday night, come with us. We’ll drink afterwards and-”

“You had me at drink,” Nigel grinned, though truthfully he would have taken any opportunity to escape his own thoughts for a few hours. Cinema with friends, given that he never went to the clubs any more, sounded just about perfect.

*

Try as he might, Nigel couldn’t get Grigg out of his head.

That wasn’t exactly uncommon, even all these months later. But seeing him in the coffee shop had broken him in some strange way. Seeing him at work was something normal and routine, but outside of work it felt like an intrusion. He felt like shit about it and wondered if he should stop going to the coffee shop.

Which was insane because Salim’s strongest grounds, that Nigel picked up on the way into work every morning, was what got him through the day. He had become friends with Salim and Ifrit since they opened the place and he’d needed that. Some days he’d really needed those friendly faces.

Nigel let out a sigh and opened the door to the bar. Salim and Ifrit had said to meet there as he’d declined dinner with them and this place was right next to the movie theatre. He spotted his friends immediately, sat almost in the centre of the bar at a high table and stools. Their obvious happiness made Nigel ache.

He pulled on a smile when they spotted him, noting how Salim’s face dropped a little and he leaned in to whisper something to Ifrit. Clearly he wasn’t concealing his pain as well as he thought, though in his experience both these men were pretty perceptive.

They greeted him warmly and Salim hopped off his stool and picked up their empty glasses, “I’ll get drinks,” he said before heading off to the bar.

“Nigel, fate smiles upon you!” Ifrit grinned as he slapped Nigel’s shoulder as soon as he was settled on a stool. “Salim has invited another of our friends, Gigi, and they are single. Perhaps a double date is just what you need!”

Nigel tried not to let the wince show, just tried to smile and seem appreciative even as he shook his head, “That’s really, um, thoughtful Ifrit. But I… don’t think I’m ready yet. And I’m also very gay.”

Ifrit stared at him a moment before letting out a bellowing laugh and slapping his shoulder again.

“Gigi isn’t a woman, they’re genderfluid,” He seemed thoughtful for a minute and eyed Nigel up and down as if evaluating him. “You know, I think you two would actually hit it off. You resonate with a similar energy.”

Nigel quirked a brow about to refute that he was giving out any kind of energy, but Salim arrived, smiling his good natured smile.

“Gigi is going to meet us at the cinema. I think you’ll really like them,” Salim told Nigel before turning to Ifrit with a wide smile, “Don’t you think they’d like each other? Same energy.”

Ifrit beamed at Nigel.

*

Grigg played nervously with the band they were wearing. The masculine one Nigel had given them and they still wore, reflecting how they felt that day. It went well with the dark, high waisted slacks and pale blue, skin tight shirt Grigg was currently wearing.

They were glad at least of feeling confident in their clothing choice for the evening given that Salim had just messaged them to say a friend would be joining them too and that he hoped Gigi would hit it off with the friend. Same energy, though Grigg wasn’t sure what that meant.

Salim had reassured that this had just ended up a coincidence, but it didn’t make Grigg feel any less nervous about meeting someone. Especially as they had zero interest in meeting someone.

For a few months Grigg had tried to run with the idea of just not wanting to be with anyone because of the gender issues they were working through. But it was a lie.

It had been months since they hit rock bottom, since they dumped Nigel and took a couple of weeks alone time to essentially have a breakdown before turning to Kat. She had been the ultimate big sister, taken them in for those couple of weeks and given them a friendly ear as well as space and time as Grigg finally came out to her. She and Reba were amazing and in the end took Grigg shopping for clothes and make-up and they ended up with a practically all new androgynous wardrobe. It was the most comfortable they’d ever felt, and although there was still dysphoria and the anxiety that went with it, Grigg had a better sense of who they were and, for the most part, a renewed confidence.

It was a couple of months later that they’d changed pronouns, and considered changing name too, but Grigg felt like an okay fit, at least for now. They had reached a comfortable balance.

So really, it was a lie that they still weren’t in a good place to meet someone. For sure, there was still a lot going on, but they were comfortable with who they were, even if it was hard some days to be that person. And maybe their confidence when it came to sex or relationships was still low, but it wasn’t that either.

It was Nigel.

Jocelyn, Grigg had struggled to move on from because of the way things had gone with her, how she had treated them. But Nigel? Nigel had been damn near perfect. He’d been everything Grigg had asked him to be and more. He’d been everything Grigg had needed without the asking.

It had been remarkably easy to fall in love with Nigel Ibanescu.

Grigg wasn't going to be over him anytime soon and they weren't sure they wanted to be. Even if there was no chance with Nigel in the future, Grigg wasn't ready to move on.

Grigg let out another deep sigh as they turned onto the street where The Empire sat amongst bars and restaurants. They tried to shake the deep thoughts from their mind, wanting to enjoy the evening and appreciate Salim's kindness.

He saw Salim and Ifrit the moment he entered the theatre, a familiar form standing next to them, Grigg's mind not wanting to register it was actually Nigel until the man turned and his face dropped.

*

Nigel wasn't sure he'd ever felt such an immediate stab of emotional pain.

Of fucking course the person Salim and Ifrit were thinking about setting him up with was Grigg. Of course life would do that to him.

He wanted to turn and walk out, walk away from emotions that were too hard for him to want to deal with. But he didn't want Grigg to think it was personal. Because it wasn't. If he could walk right over and wrap Grigg up in his arms then he fucking would in a heartbeat.

Nigel pulled on a gentle smile that he hoped wasn't a grimace, as Grigg tentatively approached them, thankful that Salim then noticed Grigg and gave an enthusiastic welcome.

"Nigel, this is Gigi," Ifrit began the introductions but before he could continue Grigg interjected -

"Grigg, um. We work in the same building."

He wasn't sure if Ifrit or Salim noted the name correction, as they both seemed enthusiastic about the idea of Grigg and Nigel already being acquainted.

"Great!" Salim grinned, "There is at least one common ground for conversation." He chuckled and Nigel wanted to laugh at the thought that that was all they could have to discuss.

They all fell silent and Ifrit brandished the tickets before turning and expecting everyone to follow. Which they did. All the way through to the screen, where a little shuffle later, Grigg ended up seated next to Nigel.

*

The whole movie Nigel had wanted to reach over and touch Grigg.

It would have been so easy to slide his hand into Grigg’s, or to his thigh. Or pull him into an embrace as they watched together, and the temptation to do so meant that Nigel took in exactly none of the fucking movie.

Even so, he didn’t remotely consider saying no when Salim asked if they all wanted to go back to the bar to chat about the movie and get some more drinks.

And thus they ended up back at the bar and Nigel wondered if Salim and Ifrit were different kinds of muslim, because Salim didn’t touch alcohol but he was sure Ifrit could drink them all under the table. He had a lot of time to consider these things as the others chatted about the movie and he tried desperately hard not to openly stare at Grigg. Who was so fucking beautiful as he relaxed and laughed.

The moment Salim went to the bathroom, Ifrit disappeared to the bar for another pitcher of beer and a soft drink for Salim, leaving Nigel and Grigg in a hard silence that felt deafening after an hour of chatter.

"Gigi?" Nigel asked, clearing his throat and trying not to sound any kind of way about it.

Grigg blushed a little "Oh, it's… a pet name. Salim's friend that comes by the coffee shop, Sweeny, started calling me it. Says I look like a Gigi.... I kind of like it but it does make me feel about twelve years old."

Grigg let out a light, self deprecating chuckle and Nigel's heart clenched at the idea of someone having a pet name for Grigg. Someone who wasn’t him.

"So you're uh… seeing this guy? Sweeny?" Nigel didn't mean to ask it and the words had come out with about as much chill as he could manage, which was not a lot.

Grigg's face heated all the more and he shook his head slightly, "No… I'm… I-I'm not seeing anyone."

Fucking music to Nigel's ears, as much as he knew it shouldn't be. He should leave Grigg the fuck alone. Grigg needed to make these moves if he was ready, and if he wanted to. And Nigel wasn't sure he could take being crushed if Grigg didn't want to.

They had been amazing together when they let themselves be. It just hadn't been the right time for Grigg and that was okay, he understood. And deep down he knew he had no issue waiting as long as it took for Grigg if he was still interested.

Nigel drained the remnants of flat beer in his glass, noticing Ifrit was on his way back and they would no longer be alone. It suddenly felt like the perfect opportunity.

“You want to get a drink sometime?” Nigel asked quickly.

Grigg blinked.

Chapter Text

Silence wasn’t a no.

Nigel kept reminding himself of that as the week wore on, with no sight or sound of Grigg.

It wasn’t like Nigel was trying to deliberately run into him, but he definitely wasn’t trying to avoid him as he had been in the past.

Saturday night Ifrit had returned to the table before Grigg had chance to answer, and Nigel had no idea what that answer might have been. Though as the days wore on, he had to assume that Grigg was avoiding him.

He'd seemed ok at the bar, he'd blushed a little as Ifrit returned but their friend didn't seem to notice. And the remaining couple of hours before they called it a night were pleasant.

Maybe Grigg had actually been hating every moment and couldn't wait to get away from the situation? And if that was how it was, Nigel knew he'd just have to accept it.

He pulled open the door to the coffee shop knowing they'd probably still be setting up for the day. He was usually one of the first customers there, especially on a Friday when the coffee seemed all the more necessary.

"Nigel, how are you?" Salim called out from behind the counter as he poured beans into the top of the coffee grinder.

"Good. Not caffeinated enough." Nigel grinned and Salim nodded with a chuckle.

Nigel placed his order and turned to look at the coffee shop, expecting to see Ifrit pulling the chairs off the tables to set them up for the day. He hadn't expected to see Grigg.

Who clearly hadn't expected to see him.

Grigg stood wide-eyed and beautiful just in front of the unisex bathroom at the back of the shop, that he must have just come out of.

"Oh, hey…" Nigel was sure he said the words but it was hard to hear over his suddenly thundering heart.

“Hi,” Grigg said quietly, fidgeting with the large bag he had on his shoulder.

They stood for a moment, neither moving, until Salim placed two cups on the counter top.

“Here you are.”

Nigel turned and he could feel Grigg walking slowly toward the counter until they were side by side.

Well, this wasn’t fucking awkward at all, Nigel grimaced.

“How was your trip?” Salim asked Grigg as they both hesitated to reach for their coffees.

“Oh, um. Fine. Busy.” Grigg replied and Nigel realised how tired he looked. Must have been a tough week.

“Did you get it all sorted?” Ifrit’s voice came from the kitchen and then he was behind the counter too, a warm and concerned look focused on Grigg.

Nigel felt the tight crush of jealousy in his chest. Salim and Ifrit clearly knew a lot about what was going on in Grigg’s life, and the fact that Nigel no longer did, pained him.

He desperately wanted to ask what was going on, unable to help but be concerned. He took in the frazzled appearance and heavy bag - Grigg must have been away. What if something had happened to one of Grigg’s family so he’d gone to see them? What if…

Nigel hated having to remind himself it was none of his business.

Grigg must have caught the concerned look though, because he frowned, as though worried what Nigel might be assuming, and spoke quickly -

“New client causing issues, I just got back on the red eye from a week trying to sort it out on the ground at their offices,” Grigg let out a sigh which indicated it hadn’t gone well, and certainly Nigel could see how that might all contribute to how run down Grigg looked.

And… Might also account for more?

Maybe Grigg hadn’t been in touch because he’d been busy. And his being out of town meant that he hadn’t been avoiding Nigel after all.

Nigel let out a shaky breath that brought with it some relief. Some hope.

Grigg was nervously biting at his lower lip as he played with the top of his takeaway cup.

“So, I should get to work. I need to try and fix things from this end. Brian has already been holding it all down for a week,” Grigg said softly, excusing himself.

As he turned to go Nigel’s brain cranked and he grabbed his own cup so fast a little spilled out of the sipping hole and he winced as hot coffee hit his hand. Even so it didn’t stop him from catching up to Grigg and opening the door for him.

“I’m walking that way too.”

Grigg gave him a soft smile, “So you are.”

*

Having Nigel walk next to them felt… odd.

A stark reminder that despite what he had come to mean to Grigg, and maybe even vice versa, they’d never really had this.

They’d had intimacy and sex, the kind of friendship that came with that, then the fake stuff with his family. They’d had support and tenderness, but they’d never had dating or even really spending much time together in public. Grigg wasn’t sure how that would even work with Nigel and whether it was something worth trying. Maybe this had run its course and the time had been had, even if they had both been more invested in it than they should have been.

Grigg had to be realistic.

He took a sip of his coffee as they walked in silence, steeling himself before saying, “The other night. Um, what you asked… about going for a drink. I… I’m not sure.”

Grigg had meant to say no, that they needed to be realistic that there was too much water under the bridge now. But as the words formed they became a maybe instead.

Nigel nodded, his own coffee held so tightly in his hand that it was clear how tense he was.

“It’s okay. I know I don’t have the right to expect or-”

“It’s not… expectations. It’s…” Grigg wasn’t sure what their argument was now that they had to explain it. “It’s dating. I’m not sure we’re capable of dating.”

Nigel was notably quiet for the rest of the walk to their building, opening the door for them both and letting Grigg go through first with the shouldered bag and hot coffee. The building was quiet, but for some of the overnight cleaning and security staff leaving.

Nigel had a thoughtful look on his face, clearly considering Grigg’s words very deeply all the way to the elevator. They stopped there and Nigel pressed the call button despite his office being on this level.

“I think we could date,” Nigel finally said. “I think we could start over and date. It doesn’t have to be casual like before, but we already have a headstart on how well we know each other, how much we like each other.” Nigel shrugged.

Grigg frowned and shook their head, despite wanting to agree completely. There was still just this niggling doubt about how that would even work. What they had before was so intense on many levels. To do that again would likely burn them out.

“I’ll think about it.” Grigg hesitantly replied as the elevator arrived and the door opened.

“That’s all I can ask, gorgeous.” Nigel replied with a joyous grin that made Grigg’s heart do a little flip.

*

Grigg sat in the coffee shop, the same window seat they’d been at most of the afternoon. The weekend had brought no respite from the mess with the new clients and they’d ended up working much of it. They might as well have stayed in the office overnight. Which was why they needed the break now.

Brian was busy running all the other clients, Katz was trying to put together some sort of action plan based on their visit to the client. And all in all this client was going to end up costing them more than the contract was worth in all likelihood. Grigg felt bad. The company was struggling, and they knew they could help it, but already the costs were piling up.

The client had signed up for a set level of tech support, having completed all the evaluation information required. Only for the contract to start and problems to begin almost immediately. They hadn’t outright been misleading on their evaluation, they just had no one in their office with any IT know how. The level of support they would need just to get them up to a good standard of operations was way beyond the plan they’d signed up for. And they didn’t really have the money for anything more.

Grigg liked to think they did their bit for charitable causes, and helped out others when and where they could. But this was business, and even with the generous discount Grigg had worked out, there was still a chance of running this entire thing at a loss. The alternative was to end the contract.

Grigg sat nursing their coffee and looking out the window as they contemplated this.

They’d been sat there for hours trying to reconcile it all on paper, but it only came down to those two options.

They let out a heavy sigh.

“Penny for your thoughts?” Nigel’s warm voice broke into Grigg’s thoughts and they looked up to see the man stood next to the little table.

Grigg blinked, “Um… work is…”

“I’m sorry,” Nigel said, holding out his hand to shake, “It was rude of me to interrupt you. I’m Nigel, Nigel Ibanescu. May I?”

Nigel indicated the chair opposite Grigg with the unshaken hand. Grigg blinked again, a little bewildered, before nodding as Nigel began pulling out the chair and dropping into it.

“This is really… well, I know this will sound like a line, but honestly I don’t usually do shit like this,” Nigel let out a chuckle, “I just noticed you from across the room and said to myself I had to meet you.”

Grigg gave a little shake of their head, as though trying to rattle some sense.

They might have thought they were going a bit mad, had Nigel not then giving the slightest, imploring look. Grigg nearly missed it but the moment they saw it everything clicked.

Grigg’s heart skipped a little beat and their cheeks heated at the realisation. Nigel wasn’t going to wait, Nigel was going to take action. And that action was starting over. Literally.

“Grigg Harris,” Grigg held out his hand, “Um… some friends call me Gigi.”

 

Nigel’s face broke into the broadest grin and he squeezed Grigg’s hand before letting it go.

“Nice to meet you Gigi,” He just sat there gazing at Grigg for a moment and Grigg wanted to find that uncomfortable but instead just basked in it.

Nigel finally broke the loaded silence with clearing his throat and continuing, “I really didn't mean to interrupt you, if you’re busy-”

Grigg shook their head, “No, it’s fine. I could use the break. I… I run and own my own business in tech support. We’ve just taken on a slightly awkward client.” Grigg let out a sigh and closed the laptop, pointless as it was. “Trying to balance their account, whilst knowing it’s impossible or I would have already managed it.”

“Can you… shut the account?” Nigel asked with genuine interest.

“Cancel their contact? Yeah. I just… they’re a small company, they’re struggling and they don’t know IT one bit. Hence why they thought it would be cost effective to hire external techies. They won’t find anyone else that can work with their budget either, not with the mess their systems are in.”

“So what are the options?” Nigel quirked his head.

Grigg shrugged, “Cancel or run at a loss. Potentially it won’t always be at a loss, but we won’t ever recover this initial layout.”

“Can you… afford the loss?” Nigel asked tentatively. Grigg wasn’t sure if Nigel was referring to the business or Grigg, given that he knew the Harris family situation.

“I… Businesses can’t function if they run at a loss.” Grigg countered, defeat in their tone.

“Sure, but lots of companies do um, pro bono? Or… I don’t know, have a social outreach thing? What’s to stop you doing that?” Nigel asked, curiously. But there seemed more to it, more like he was reaching to give Grigg the solution he knew they needed.

All the same, Grigg frowned at the question. They’d been so intent on working out how to not have the account run at a loss that it didn’t occur to them to just accept that it would.

“It’s still not viable in the long run…”

“Of course, well. I mean, you could only really cut someone a break like this if you knew it wouldn’t be forever. If you helped them out this year, would they be able to function on budget next year?”

Grigg thought it over for a moment. They’d already considered this. It was the initial outlay on new equipment and the support on that that would put them over. But once everything was running smoothly, then following years should be just fine on the contracted plan.

Grigg couldn’t help the smile that spread across their face.

“I have this feeling you’re the type of guy who likes to problem solve. Fix things.”

Nigel chuckled, “Well, I am a handyman. I definitely spend a lot of time fixing things.”

Grigg’s smile widened and they were very sure that Nigel had stopped himself from adding some terrible innuendo on the end of that comment.

Grigg picked up the laptop bag and began putting everything back into it, considering that this solution seemed like the only one worth taking. As a result, they looked forward to the first good night’s sleep in a couple of weeks.

“Um. Thanks Nigel. This really helped me out.” Grigg meant every word. They’d been so fully supported by Nigel in a specific area of his life, that Nigel’s general ability to be supportive and helpful may have been somewhat lost.

“You aren’t leaving are you? I was hoping I could buy you a drink.” Nigel didn’t quite manage to keep the desperation from his voice.

“I should get back to my office and work all this out. But… I would like… Um,” Grigg floundered unsure of how to do this. Whatever it was they were doing.

“Do you have a business card darling?” Nigel drawled, his voice low and intimate.

Grigg slipped one from the bag and slid it across the table, Nigel’s hand coming up over theirs, gently stroking over the tops of their fingers before taking the card.

“I’ll call you. We’ll make a date,” Nigel smiled and looked somewhat relieved that things had gone this way, as though he wasn’t sure if this would have worked out.

Grigg closed his bag and then looked up, thoughtful and earnest.

“I… I should tell you. I identify as genderfluid. I prefer to mostly present in an androgynous way, but sometimes I do feel more masculine or more feminine,” they couldn’t help but play with the little feminine wristband Nigel had given them, nor fail to note the way it drew Nigel’s eyes and the way his chest seemed to swell. “I use they, them pronouns and… I’m comfortable with it all, but still growing in my skin. Sometimes I’m not comfortable with things, I have boundaries. If we… If I date someone, they need to know all that.”

Grigg stopped and Nigel inclined his head, expression serious.

“I see. Well, I have to say, none of that bothers me so far. And I’m sure you’re worth any adjustments along the way.”

Grigg blushed, breath quickening a little as Nigel’s low growl was met with a flashback to him telling Grigg what perfect tits they had.

“I read this book once,” Nigel said thoughtfully, reaching over and placing a hand on top of Grigg’s once more, “Left Hand of Darkness… It’s about this planet called Gethen, and all the people there have a sort of fluid gender. You ever read it?”

Grigg’s heart swelled and felt fit to burst.

Grigg smiled.