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The Kissing Game

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It had come out of nowhere, with no warning. James had just been cleaning Greg's bathroom when Alex came in with some fresh towels. And then, all of a sudden, James was being pushed against a wall as Alex kissed him hard. Like, really hard. His hands were pinning his shoulders against the wall, and that kiss just went on for ages.

And yet, apart from the initial shock, once James settled into it, and realised he was actually being kissed and that was actually amazing, he found himself just going along with it. His hands pulled Alex close, hugging his hips, not sure why this was happening, but unwilling to question it. Because, at the end of the day, he always loved being kissed, even if he was being kissed by Alex.

And then, before he could really comprehend it, it was over, and Alex just gave him a shy look before he left him alone, leaving silence and absolutely no explanation in his wake. James stood there, touching his lips, unsure what Alex was playing at.

"What the fuck. What the actual fuck, Alex."

James thought about that kiss all week. He overanalysed it, of course, because that's what he was good at. He didn't ask Alex about it though. That would make it seem like he was Obsessing over it, when clearly Alex thought nothing of it, like it was just another one of their games. Alex was teasing. Winding him up. Trying to get him angry again so he'd have another tantrum and get in trouble again. It's not like it wasn't easy to get a rise out of him.

What James just could not get his head around was that it's not like they didn't kiss, either. They had a relationship, albeit a tenative and fragile one, because they were both so awkward about sex and intimacy that all they'd really done so far was kiss and make out a little during downtime when that sort of thing was allowed.

Because that was the thing. They really, really weren't meant to be fucking around while they were working. That sort of thing just wasn't allowed, as Alex had told him when they were just getting together, and Greg had reinforced later. So what the fuck was Alex doing just kissing him out of nowhere when they were working? What the fuck was that about?

All James could think of was that it was a kind of game. That had to be it. Sure, they'd never played games like this before, but perhaps that was the point. Kissing him was meant to unnerve him, because it was so intimate, and yet, definitely not what they were meant to be doing while working. James didn't really know for sure if that was the reason, but he guessed that's what he was doing, because about ten days later, Alex kissed him again. This time, it was just as he'd come back with the shopping, and couldn't escape. Alex pressed him against the door, and kissed him, his hands easing the shopping out of his hands at the same time.

It wasn't as hard a kiss as the last one. This one lingered a little, teasing, and James found it infuriating because he loved it. He loved being kissed. There was so much almost touching, and glancing, and it made James shiver and he almost managed to suppress a squeal of delight. He loved that kiss. It made him feel all weak and tingly and loved. It's just, he didn't understand why Alex was kissing him. It had just happened without warning, just like the last one.

And then, almost as suddenly as it had started, it was over, and Alex offered a small smile as he turned and walked back towards the kitchen, offering no explanation at all.

"Alex! Alex, wait! What the fuck was that?" James said, calling after him.

He went to chase after him, but stopped as soon as he heard Greg shout his name from his office.

"James! A little quiet please!"

James felt guilty immediately, and stuck his head in around the door to apologise. "Sorry, Greg!"

"You'd better be. I don't care what you're doing, but keep it down, will you? This call is important and I don't want you fucking it up with another tantrum," Greg said.

James bowed. "We'll be quiet, Greg, sir, I promise."

"Good. Now, get out. This doesn't concern you," Greg said.

James took a pointed note of those angry eyes and left, closing the door behind him before he scurried into the kitchen to confront Alex, who was just unpacking the shopping.

"Are you getting shouted at again? What'd you do this time?" Alex said, glancing at him as he noticed his arrival.

"It's nothing - just - seriously, you are going to have to explain yourself, Alex," James said.

"Explain what?" Alex said, looking confused.

"Er, you just kissed me," James said, as if it was the most obvious thing in the world. "And you said we weren't allowed to, not while we're working. So what the fuck are you doing?"

"Oh, are you not enjoying them? I'll stop if you don't like it," Alex said, completely ignoring his question.

The mere thought of the kisses stopping struck James harder than he'd anticipated. He was surprised by them, but he really didn't want them to stop. "No, no, I just - I just want to know why? I mean, I like it, but why? Is this a game? Are you winding me up again? Do I need to just kiss you at some random moment now to see how you react?"

"Ooh, that would be nice. I like kissing you. I didn't know this was a game, though. I like games. We can make it a game if you like," Alex said.

"No, no, I'm not making it a game, I thought that's what you were doing!" James said, frustrated.

"Oh, no, no, I'm not making it a game, no. It would be a good game, though, wouldn't it? Since you seem to get all worked up over it. I don't know if you could make me react that way with a kiss, do you?" Alex said, his face all innocence and fucking puppy dog eyes like he didn't know exactly what he was doing.

James scowled, because he knew that tone, that goading, awful voice that Alex used to get James to do stupid things, and it was fucking irresistable. That was what was so infuriating about it. It was never something Alex showed on his face, it was his tone of voice, and James hated it. He was getting better at recognising that tone, and saying no instead of falling for Alex's ridiculous tricks, but today wasn't one of those days. He couldn't resist that kind of challenge.

"Oh, fuck you, Alex, just you wait. I'll kiss you so fucking - I'll make you weak at the knees, you fuckhead," James said, pointing at him, not willing to let a challenge like that go unanswered.

"I'll look forward to that, James, thank you. That would be nice. Now, are you going to help me with the cooking? We've got to get his lunch ready. He's got guests coming over today, remember?" Alex said, breezing past the challenge to go straight back to work like nothing had happened.

"Oh, yes, right, no, I'll help."

James had forgotten about that, even though Alex had told him over breakfast this morning. At least it would push the kisses out of his head for the rest of the day.

James fell into bed later that night, but he didn't fall asleep immediately, even though he was tired. He finally had the space to think about Alex's challenge, and how he might get him back for those kisses. It had to be a good one. One he wasn't expecting. And one that was good, too. He couldn't just peck him and be done with it. He wanted to make his heart melt. He wanted to kiss him with so much love and tenderness that Alex never wanted it to end. That was the kind of kiss he wanted to give him.

The only problem was, he wasn't very good at those kind of kisses. In his head, he was amazing at it, but he knew that every time he was kissed, he just got so excited that it was happening, he lost all his cool. There was no way he could let that happen, not when he was playing against Alex. God, the shame in losing a kissing contest against Alex of all people! James knew he'd never be allowed to forget that if it happened. Fuck no, he wasn't losing to Alex. Alex who couldn't kiss for shit. No way. James was not going to lose. So how could he win?

"Maybe Greg might help? He's still awake, isn't he?" James muttered to himself.

He checked the clock. 11:10pm. To be fair, Greg's guests had only left half an hour ago, so it was unlikely his master would be in bed already. But that was another reason James was tired. He'd been on his feet serving drinks for about ten hours, and he was exhausted. He knew Alex was fast asleep, though; he'd heard him crash not long ago, and wondered if Greg had let him off bedtime duties because it was so late for him or if he still expected Alex to keep to his schedule.

"Only one way to find out, I suppose," James said.

He got up and dressed, pulling on a pair of grey cords and a shirt, and quietly headed downstairs to find his master. He checked the lounge first, and found Greg sprawled on his sofa reading. James stayed just outside, and knocked on the door, waiting to be invited in if Greg was willing to have him.

Greg looked up at him as he set his book aside. "James, I thought you were going to bed."

"I was. Can't sleep. Can I-? I need to ask you something. Sir," James said.

"Sure, come on in, take a seat. What's on your mind?" Greg said.

"Thank you, sir," James said, remembering his manners as he went and joined him on the sofa. "See, I have to kiss Alex."

Greg gave him a strange look. "You have to kiss Alex?"

"Yes, but, like, okay, see, thing is, he kissed me first, like, while we were working and I know that's not allowed, but he wouldn't say why, and when I asked him about it today after he kissed me again, I kind of accidentally turned it into a game, and then he challenged me and now I have to kiss him back, and I promised it'd be a really good one, but I don't think I can kiss him like that, and I thought maybe you could help, because I just get too excited when I get kissed and that'll spoil everything, sir, and I couldn't bear the shame of losing a kissing contest to Alex, sir, please, sir?" James said, possibly rambling a bit, but wanting to get it all out before Greg had a chance to interrupt him and tell him what a stupid idea it was.

Greg just laughed, and James laughed too, because it was stupid, but as far as their games went, it wasn't the most embarrassing kind of game he and Alex had played with each other.

"Oh, man, only you two could turn something like that into a contest, Jesus Christ. Why should I help you out with this? You got yourself into this mess, James, you've got to deal with it now," Greg said.

"I thought you'd like to see him lose for once, sir, if you help me get really good at kissing, sir," James said, hoping he could convince him to help. "After all, you're really good at kissing, aren't you, sir?"

Greg gave him a look, and James knew he'd got him. "I mean, I'm certainly much better than you two. Go on, kiss me, let me see what I've got to work with here."

James squealed; he just couldn't help it. Then he turned to face Greg and gave him his best kiss, hoping he could keep his cool, but no, he couldn't, not when Greg was just ever so gently holding his hips like that, and God, the way he was kissing him back. James felt his body go all melty.

"Aww, I really want to be able to kiss like that, sir!" James said when Greg pulled away.

"Then you need to work on your confidence as much as your technique. You're not as bad as Alex, but yeah, you do get very excited, don't you? And that wasn't even my best effort. I don't think you're ready for that, you won't recover," Greg said.

"Then teach me, sir. Please, sir? After he's gone to bed. He won't even know. I want to make him feel like that but I don't know how, sir," James said.

"Alright, and what do I get out of this if I help you win this stupid contest?" Greg said.

"I'll suck you off after every lesson, sir?" James said hopefully.

Greg reached over to tousle his hair as he laughed at his offer. "You're a stupid boy, but I do love you. Alright. I'll help you. Are you up for it tonight, or are you too tired? Because you look tired to me, James."

James went to protest, but Greg was right. He was tired, now that he thought about it. He'd got what he wanted, and now he just hurt. "Well, I've been on my feet for hours, sir, you couldn't rub me down a bit? Please, sir?"

"I think if I did that for you, you'd fall asleep. Which is what you want, isn't it? Alright, go on, go up to bed, I'll rub you down there, then at least I won't have to carry you to bed later," Greg said.

James kissed his cheek quickly in thanks before he got to his feet. "Oh, thank you, sir, I really appreciate it. I'll see you up there, sir."

Greg looked up at him. "I'll be right up. And James?"

"Yes, sir?"

"You did very well today, and I'm proud of how well you and Alex handled yourselves while I had guests over. No tantrums for once. You're learning to get along, and that pleases me. If you're not asleep by the time I'm done rubbing you down, I'll give you a little reward, yeah? For being such a good boy," Greg said.

James just could not hide his excitement. "Oh, sir! Thank you, sir! I'll go get ready, sir. Thank you so much, sir!"

James may have bowed too many times before he scampered out the door, but if Greg was annoyed, he said nothing. James remembered to be quiet halfway up the stairs, remembering Alex was fast asleep in the room next to his, and crept the rest of the way to his room. He quickly stripped off, put his clothes away, and lay down on his bed, listening out for the sound of Greg's footsteps approaching. He smiled when he saw him come in and turned over onto his back, ready to not hurt anymore.

"Where is it? Just your legs and back, yeah?" Greg said as he knelt down beside him.

"Yeah, it's legs and back. Too much standing still. Not that I begrudge it because we did such a good job, but it does hurt after a while when we have to just stand there waiting to be summoned, rather than left alone in the kitchen, sir," James said.

"You're servants, you serve, that's what you do. I can't just serve the drinks myself, can I? That's not how things are done. You're just going to have to get used to it. Use some of your free time to work out if you want. Might make it easier next time, yeah? I mean, you trained yourself to kneel, so I'm assuming you can train yourself to stand, right?" Greg said.

"Yeah, I mean, sure, sir, that's a good idea," James said, surprised at what a good suggestion it was. He hadn't thought you could train yourself to stand, but perhaps you could. He made a mental note to google that in the morning, just to see what worked best.

"Of course it is. I mean, you'll get used to it anyway, but training yourself as well won't hurt too. There are methods out there, if you have a look for them. If you find one that works, you should be good. Now, get comfy, and I'll begin," Greg said.

"Yes, sir." James clutched a pillow under his chest, and sighed in relief as Greg got to work.

James wasn't capable of coherent thought after that. Greg was just so good with his hands. He had a way of getting rid of all the aches and pains in his body, and James had to fight to keep awake because he wanted that reward, and he thought he knew what that reward might be, and he didn't want to miss out on that.

But James underestimated just how tired he was, and by the time Greg was done, and his body was all soft and melty and not aching, he was just about asleep. He was vaguely aware of Greg tucking him in and giving him a goodnight kiss, and then he was asleep.

James was sure it would be easy to get better at kissing. He just needed practice, right? He just needed Greg to show him what to do, and let him practice, and he'd be fine. But it turned out to be harder than he'd expected. There were some things he just couldn't quite grasp properly, and he hadn't really improved much after a week and a lot of blow jobs.

He was feeling dejected, because Alex had fucking kissed him again - again! - just after he'd finished serving tea last night, dragging him into the kitchen by the wrist and shoving him against the fridge to kiss him hard, and James had simply frozen until he realised what was happening and kissed him back. There was no way he was ever going to be able to make Alex react like that. Alex didn't work that way. He wasn't - emotional. Alright, he was, but not with those kind of emotions. Alex was really only good for happiness, excitement, and utter, utter humiliation. Anything else was kind of hard to wring out of him.

"This is too hard. I can't do this. I'm going to lose a fucking kissing contest to Alex, for fuck's sake. Why is this so hard, sir?" James said, frustrated.

Greg pulled him close into his arms, and James snuggled up beside him. "It's not hard, you just need to figure out what makes him tick. Spend the next week just making out with him. Try kissing him, try some of the things I taught you, see how he reacts. Use that to help you figure out what actually gets him to go all weak in the knees, because I guarantee you, it won't be what I do to him. You'll have to work that out for yourself. But there will be something. You just need to find it."

"You want me to just - practice? Won't he know what I'm doing?" James said.

"I mean, don't be fucking obvious about it, you idiot, just let it happen naturally. If he's in the mood for it, just spend some time with him. Kiss him. Get to know him. I know you two are both still new to each other, so just take your time. Let it happen when it wants to happen, or you'll set him off. And it's not like he hasn't made it a tit-for-tat kind of thing either. Maybe next week, just surprise him. Kiss him on the back of the neck while he's cooking and see what happens. Don't tell him I've given you permission to kiss him while you're working, or that'll spoil it. But just see how he reacts. You might be surprised at what gets him going," Greg said.

"You want me to just kiss him out of nowhere, sir? Really?" James said.

"Well, isn't that what he's doing to you? You won't win if you don't try. If the aim is to make him go melty the way I make you go melty, then you'll need to keep trying to see what works on him when you kiss him. I can only teach you so much, you have to see how Alex reacts to those things when you do them. Besides, you're still getting to know each other, so perhaps this is the perfect game for you two to be playing. As long as it's just kissing, and nothing else, I will overlook any worktime kissing, alright? But just kissing. I don't want you taking that and getting too excited and fucking around when you're meant to be working. Keep your hands to yourselves. That's for downtime, alright?" Greg said.

"Yes, sir, I understand," James said. He hadn't even contemplated anything other than kissing him, but now that's all he was thinking about. What if he shoved Alex against a wall and just kissed him and their hands wandered and - and -

"Don't you get carried away, now, James. Just kissing," Greg said. "I will put you both in chastity if you can't control yourselves, alright?"

James made a noise. He'd certainly never, ever considered that Greg would put him in chasity. God. "Yes, sir, we'll behave ourselves. Promise."

"Good. Now, unless you've got any more questions, I think you've got a cock to tend do, haven't you, boy?" Greg said.

"Yes, sir, I have, sir," James said as Greg pushed him down between his legs.

"Hey, Alex," James said as smoothly as he could as he wrapped his arms around his waist and kissed the back of his neck. "You up for it tonight?"

James felt Alex shiver, and he let go of the dish he was washing, turning his head slightly back towards him. "T-tonight? Oh, that would be lovely. Do- do you want to - you know? Play around?"

James leaned in close to him. "I do. I wanna suck you for hours and make you cry when you come."

Alex, to his credit, did go a little weak at that thought as James peppered his neck with little kisses. "O-oh."

"Yeah, you just think about that," James said, "while you finish off those dishes."

Alex did. So did James. James wondered if he was being too bold. It had been a week since Greg had encouraged him to just make out with him and see what happened, and he was only getting around to it now after finally getting over his nerves. He didn't want to be obvious about it, but he wasn't very good at that kind of thing.

After all, they'd barely touched each other yet, but not because they didn't want to. It was more because they were just no good at actually asking for what they wanted from each other. Alex was terrible at talking about sex, but then so was James. He had to inhabit his cool James persona that he'd developed as a grifter in order to make that request, because he knew he'd be a mess if he didn't. But he needed to be seductive. He needed to make Alex want him. And then be cool enough to carry it off when he was faced with Alex's cock and the task of making him come.

It wouldn't be their first time doing this, thankfully. They'd played with each other in scenes with Greg before, and they both had sucked each other off from time to time. James had once been allowed to fuck him too. But they were with Greg. That was different. Now, it would just be the two of them, and there would be no Greg to encourage them and tell them what to do. They'd have to do that themselves.

"I mean, it's after dinner. We're technically not working. We could just go now," James said, slipping a hand down to brush over Alex's groin.

Alex squealed. "J-James!"

"What?" James grinned. "Do you want me to just tease you a bit longer? Because I can do that if you want."

James made a point of kissing just behind his ear, holding him close, hoping this was coming across as seductive and not just weird and creepy. Alex had stopped washing the dishes. He had gone kind of limp in his arms now, supporting himself against the bench.

"Don't you think Greg will be cross if you don't finish those? Do I need to supervise you to make sure they get done before we go and fuck around? Whose room do you want to fuck around in? Yours? Can I mess you up in your own bed? Tie you to it, perhaps? Or maybe I'll take you to the shower and press you against the wall again. You seemed to enjoy that last time," James said.

"James, please. Please let me finish?!" Alex said, sounding close to hysterical.

James grinned and loosened his grip, though he didn't let go completely. "You finish those dishes, Alex. I want to fuck you up."

It's fair to say Alex washed the rest of those dishes in record time and once he was done and had taken off his rubber gloves, he turned to James and cupped his cheeks with his warm hands to kiss him and James, for once, managed to stay cool, but only because he knew Alex was needy.

It wasn't the most magnificent kiss, but it was better than James thought it would be. James felt he would be doing better if Alex actually kissed with his whole mouth, and not just with his lips. James might be able to do something with that. But no, Alex just gave soft, sweet little kisses with his lips, and James just didn't quite know how to exploit that yet.

"Sh-shower please, James. Please?" Alex said as he pulled away.

"Good choice, Alex."

James grabbed his wrist and led hm down to the bathroom. He made a point of shutting the door behind him, even though they were unlikely to be disturbed. And then, there was a moment of awkwardness, because Alex stood there as if he was waiting for James to tell him what to do, and James wasn't sure what to actually tell him? He was sure a lot of this was meant to be instinctive, but he didn't have those instincts. He wasn't really much of a Dom, despite his attempts to seduce him, and he wasn't even sure if he wanted this to be a D/s thing either. Alex was just so ridiculously submissive almost anyone could Dom him with very little effort.

"Are we...? Do you want to...?" Alex trailed off, looking at him anxiously. He was the excited kind of anxious, definitely; Alex was definitely eager, but his body language made it very clear he wanted James to take the lead.

"I do, I do, I just-" James paused. "Look, I talk a good talk, but I'm not good at this bit. Do you just...? I don't know."

"Bed then? Less-less awkward?" Alex said, offering an apologetic look as if somehow this was all his fault.

James took an awkard deep breath, but didn't want to give in. Alex had chosen shower sex, and that's what they were going to do, dammit. It was just-. Movies always made this bit seem a lot smoother than the reality. Normal people would have been undressed by now and eagerly kissing as they got into the shower. But there they were, standing around like idiots, waiting for the other to act.

"Oh, for fuck's sake, just get undressed. Do you want me to suck it or not?" James said, tired of the stalemate.

Alex blushed deeply. "Oh. Oh, yes. Yes, I do, James, please."

They both undressed with very little ceremony. James tried to at least tease him, but he wasn't quite sure what he was doing and he thought he was just being stupid with his clothes as he took them off. Alex pedantically taking a moment to put their clothes in the hamper to wash them later kind of killed the mood a bit too.

"Don't you ever fucking switch off, Alex? This is meant to be sexy times, not cleaning, Jesus Christ," James said.

"Sorry, I can't help it. Even Greg tells me off for it. But I'm done now. I'm all yours. For - sexy times," Alex said, the phrase sounding ridiculous when he said it.

"Good. Come on, I wanna have some fun with you tonight," James said.

James turned the shower on, and pulled Alex inside, allowing the secluded space to work its magic as the steam swirled around them.

"You're not going to flee on me when I kiss you, are you?" James asked.

"No, no, I won't flee, I promise. I know - you want me now," Alex said, though he sounded a little unsure.

"Do you-? I mean, can I shove you against the wall again? I just - I don't know if you even want that from me?" James said.

Alex offered a look that suggested even he didn't know if he really wanted that either. Instead he gave him a little kiss, just asking, and James held him close again, loving how he felt in his arms.

And that was what they ended up doing. They kissed under the water. James felt Alex's beard was rougher when wet than it usually was, but he didn't really care. It's not like they were French kissing. James still could not coax Alex out of just using his lips. It was as if he didn't know what to do with that so he just stuck with what he knew.

"Y-you don't need to be so tense, Alex. Just relax, will you? This is meant to be fun. We're meant to enjoy this," James said.

"I'm not - tense. What makes you think I'm tense?" Alex said.

"Your fingers are digging into my back, Alex. Don't you want to do this?" James said.

Alex responded by holding him close and pressing a soft kiss on his neck. "Please don't go. Don't leave me all alone again. Please, James. Please don't leave me like everyone else has."

"I promise you, I'm not going to leave you. What do I need to do to make you believe that? How 'bout a pinky swear?" James said.

That brought Alex out of his worries as he looked at James and tried to stifle a giggle. "Pinky swear? Really?"

"Yeah, I'll pinky swear if you want, if that'll help," James said, offering one of his little fingers. The idea had, if he was honest, just sort of appeared as he was speaking, but he couldn't think of anything else so he was just going to run with it and see what happened. "Seriously. You don't break a pinky swear."

"No, no, you don't," Alex said as he linked their little fingers together. "Promise you won't leave me?"

"I pinky promise I won't leave you. How could I leave my little brother all alone? That's not what big brothers do," James said.

James felt Alex relax then, as if he really had needed to hear James promise not to leave him. But that was about as much time for thought as he got because suddenly Alex had grabbed his face and was kissing him hard, inadvertently pushing him back against the wall. James kind of froze for a moment, because it had been so sudden, and he still wasn't really used to Alex kissing him like this, but he did relax into it, grabbing his hips to pull him close.

The biggest change was Alex starting to part his lips a little, letting James kiss him just a little deeper, if he would let him. It still wasn't a very good kiss by any standard, but James felt that wasn't really the point of this kiss, so he wasn't going to complain about it.

Looking back, James could see that was the moment he lost control of the evening. But in the moment, he was just reacting to Alex, and when Alex broke away from him, James had no time to comprehend anything before Alex knelt before him and began sucking him off. And then, well, then James just couldn't think, because Alex might be shit at kissing, but he was fucking magnificent at this.

James wasn't really aware of anything except Alex's mouth and coming so hard into him that he bent over him, with only Alex's arms holding him upright before he fell to his knees and Alex just held him close, and James was done.

"Alright, I surrender. I can't beat you at this game," James breathed. "Fuck. Why on earth would I want to leave when you can do that. Fuck. Fuck. Alex. Fuck."

Alex pressed a soft kiss to his temple. James became aware of the water crashing down around them, but he didn't care.

"I thought that might get you in the end. I wasn't trying to beat you though. But I did like the kisses. Why don't we still do the kisses? Just maybe not as a game?" Alex said.

"You want me to just give you surprise kisses?" James said.

"If you want to, I mean. But that would be nice, wouldn't it? Obviously not - not when we're meant to be working, or serving, but - those little moments, you know?" Alex said.

"Yeah, those little moments. When you just need to know you're loved. I know those moments. You need them too, don't you?" James said.

Alex nodded against his shoulder. "I do. I like them."

"You know what I think?" James said. "I think we need a bigger bed. One we can share. When we want to, of course. We don't have one, not for us, we just have singles."

Alex pulled away and looked at him curiously. "You want a bed for us? Just for you and me? Really?"

"Yeah, I do. We need somewhere to be together, but obviously not all the time, because I know we work different schedules, and you'd hate sharing with me. But maybe that fourth bedroom, since it's bigger? Could we get a big bed in there? Maybe even just a double? That could be like, our little play room, our space. That's where we can be together. Would you like that?" James said.

"I think I would like that. I've never had a space like that before. That would be lovely. We'd have to get Greg to agree though," Alex said.

"Yeah, but that should be easy. Right? Maybe we'll ask tomorrow. I don't want to think about that now. I just want to cuddle you until it's time for you to go to bed, and then I'll wait up for you like I always do," James said. "You don't want to come before we get out, do you?"

"Oh, no, no, I need to - Greg wants me tonight. It's alright. But - thanks for asking," Alex said.

"Oh, you're going to be late to bed, are you? Well, aren't you lucky?" James said.

Alex smiled shyly. "He promised to take me to bed tonight, James. So - so things are a bit different tonight, but we can still cuddle for a while. We have time to kill."

"Ooh, you lucky bastard. I love going to bed with him. Well, I guess I won't wait up for you then. Have a good time with him tonight," James said.

"Oh, I will, James, very much so. Thank you. Thank you for this too. I needed this," Alex said.

"Any time, Alex," James said.

"Even if I did win," Alex said, unable to help himself.

"I fucking knew it. You little fucker, Alex Horne. It's a good thing I love you," James said, unable to be cross with him.

James lay in bed later that evening, after Alex had gone downstairs to Greg's room, and for once, he didn't feel bad at all that maybe this had been Alex's plan all along. If Alex had been trying to wind him up, he hadn't got what he wanted. James wasn't angry about it at all.

Sure, at first, he'd been outraged at the thought of losing a kissing contest to Alex, but now that it was over, he didn't mind at all. Because he'd learnt something about himself. He didn't want to push Alex against a wall, he wanted Alex to push him against a wall. Alex had a strength in him that James couldn't match, and the feeling of being pinned down and kissed thrilled him. James had made Alex promise to keep on kissing him like that, because he loved that feeling so, so much.

But he wouldn't be James Acaster if he wasn't planning his revenge. Sure, he might have willingly surrendered in this game, but this wasn't over. He made a promise to himself, a pinky promise, to get better at kissing, so he could one day make Alex melt in his arms. And if that meant more time kissing Alex, well, that was the price of victory and he would grasp it with both hands like he would grasp Alex's face and kiss him and make him surrender. Then the final victory would be all his for the taking.