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two pair and a red trilby

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Tuco is pretty sure this hotel room is bigger than the apartment he’d grown up with in Brooklyn. At least bigger than both bedrooms combined.

He kicks his shoes off on to the mat, taking stock of what they’d splashed out part of their win on. Tall, bright windows with draw-string curtains, a closet big enough for he and Blondie to both stand in, a neat dining table with modern design chairs. A television! He’d forgotten those would just be in a place this swanky, no need to put it on the adverts.

Best of all though, an indoor jacuzzi in the corner of the room, surrounded by mirrors.

Tuco grins, throwing his Duluth next to the window side of the bed, before tumbling on to the vivid red duvet. Huh. Even the ceiling is fancy, stamped into swirling plaster patterns.

“Not bad, eh, Blondie?”

His partner has arranged his feet onto the coffee table in front of the couch, indifferent as ever to worldly pleasures. Well, except for the cigarillo hanging from his fingers.

“Looks like what we paid for,” Blondie leans his head back, takes a short drag. Figures.

“Worth celebrating with, what do you want to eat?”

“…fried chicken.”

Tuco’s smile widens under his mustache. It might not be much, but Blondie offering preferences on food does mean he was a little more pleased that they’d shacked up here than he was letting on. Mierda, what it took to get through that thick shell of Protestant restraint.

But God or the devil had been on their side, when that hand was dealt.  Or more so, when that old man had walked in the door of the would-be saloon.

Blondie had gotten the marks circled round the table, barely containing the sharkish stupidity behind their friendly smiles. Just one round and a small win before the man with the beaten-up red Trilby had pulled up to their table.

Such a funny, eager energy to him, absolutely hopeless with cards, but no one could say no to a sweet old man like that, could they? And it was just their luck that he had money to burn and no real sense of how to use it.

Blondie still dealt the hand as the marks would expect but the trilby man, well. Kept betting. Not even on a good hand too, the men stealing glances to his partner, who led up to throwing most of what he had in –

Because he knew, of course, that the man held only the two cards to make him a two pair, and that Tuco had the house in hand, Jacks over tens. The marks followed suit, one of them even had a flush. Blondie showing off his card-counting, just to build up their faith. Then his partner called out the next round double or nothing, and Tuco had started his theater.

Got out with more than three times what they’d hoped for.

The old man laughed at it, same as they all did, but he laughed without hiding it, turned down the offer of drinks. Told the marks he’d play them a little longer. It was too easy, to take his money, Tuco figures, and the men at the table knew it too.

Course, if all the marks were like that, he might feel bad about hustling them. Maybe. Hard to feel bad when they’ll be sleeping in a bed tonight, and is pretty sure the old man has the same to go home to. So no harm in that.

It’s been about half an hour of flipping through the television channels (pollas en vinagre, it has one of those remote on a cord! Not having to get up from the bed, imagine!), when they get the quiet knock on the door. Tuco bounds up to open it, and a smiling woman with soft cinnamon eyes pushes in a cart laden with roast beef, mashed potatoes, Blondie’s chicken, meatloaf and multicolored gelatin. Tuco lingers off to the side, watching her lay out a tablecloth, Jacob y Esau , they did go all out here. Some keys tumble to the ground from the maid’s pocket, which Tuco immediately reaches for, passes them back to her.

Mierd– Gracias ,” the surprise turns up her lips in a way that’s quite pretty, honestly.

No hay problema ,” he responds instinctively, and a flush darkens her cheeks.

"Lo siento, acabo de empezar a trabajar aquí hace poco. Soy bastante nueva en eso.

Suerte la mía, ¡vine a quedarme mientras usted estaba aquí!” Tuco says, and she blushes even harder then. Oh right, he should have realized how that sounded, “ Bueno, sobre todo quiero decir, es bueno hablar con alguien .”

¡Oh si! entiendo ,” her eyes downcast, but there’s still a smile in them. She resumes setting out cutlery, and he steps away, trying to catch Blondie’s eye. The bastard has his head buried pointedly in one of those dime novels. Fine, if he has to be the polite one.

Um, si quieres hablar un poco más, mi turno termina a las diez ,” she brushes a dark curl out of her eyes.

“Oh,” Tuco half-stammers, “Thanks señorita , but we’re only in town for the one night. Got to see the town, yeah?”

“Of course, Fue un placer conocerte .”

“You too, you too.”

He does give her a generous tip though, by way of apology. Any other time he would have – well, not any. Certainly not when his partner has a ghost of a smile on his lips, abandoning the book at last.

“She seemed new at the job.”

“Guess so,” Tuco figures it’s a hard job. Depending on who you’re serving.

“You weren’t serious about us going out, were you?”

“Mierda, no but – should I have told her, sorry, my date’s right here?”

“Hah, hah.” Blondie picks up a chicken leg, stubbing out his cigarillo on the ashtray.

Tuco finds the TV guide while they eat, rhyming off the late night movies while Blondie comments on whether they’re worth the look or no. His partner takes to shuffling a deck of cards, keeping his hand in even when they’ve got enough to hole up on for a month or so.

Despite the many options, the only one he figures they should stay up for is a showing of Double Indemnity . By then, Blondie’s leg is tucked next to his, nothing too overt but – well, maybe they’re doing things out of order tonight.

Just as well, Tuco thinks as he strips down to have a bath, if Blondie hadn’t been eager for something it would have been a shame to turn that girl down.

But Blondie is letting his poker face slip, has left the deck of cards on the table to quietly unbutton his shirt. Tuco steals a glance over from turning on the jacuzzi jets, watching his partner’s back muscles rippling in the fading light from the window. Cristo, it’s no wonder the women are always all over that crazy blonde. In spite of how he barely gives them the time of day.

He remembers in time to turn away before Blondie spots him staring, disguising it by dipping a toe into the tub. God but it’s so warm, so easy to slip his whole body into it, months of being on the road suddenly melting away. He’s almost too busy finding a comfortable seat with a jet digging in to his back to bother watching Blondie test the waters, slip in at a respectable distance from him.

Almost, rather. Blondie naked isn’t easy to ignore.

Tuco piles the bubbles in front of him in something of a mountain, grinning when it tumbles over next to Blondie, “What do you think, huh? Much better fun than being a priest, eh?”

Blondie does something then Tuco doesn’t at all expect. He laughs, not a careful and conscious chuckle– a surprised and genuine bark.

“What’d I say?”

“No, no it’s not you– it’s. I had very different ideas of what being a priest was like, when I came to the priory.”

Tuco tilts his head, his instincts telling him to play this carefully. Draw it out. He resumes stacking the bubbles casually, “Yeah? How’s that?”

“Well. See I had this friend, growing up. Just for a few years, but god above, he left an impression,” Blondie tilts his head back, studying the mirrors on the ceiling with a smirk before closing his eyes.

“Uhuh?” Tuco chances to float a little closer, just while Blondie is pretending not to watch.

“His name was Tim and – god, we were such stupid kids. We used to play at being Catholic, can you believe? But I don’t know. He made it sound exciting, really. Brought halloween candy as hosts, knew all the words for playing at communion.”

He gestures dramatically, an effect rather ruined by the bubbles, “This the blood of Christ, and accidentally dumped juice on my shirt.”

Tuco is left torn between laughing and -- is this blasphemous? Surely a little. But this is the most his partner has ever said about how he ended up under Pablo’s direction, and he doesn’t want to scare him off talking.

The blue in Blondie’s eyes sparkles, “I swore you know, like my Aunt would hate, god above. And he said no, no, you’re supposed to say, amen! Took it so seriously.”

Tuco has to bite his tongue on a laugh now, “Sounds like being a kid, yeah.”

“You know what he said that was funniest of all, though? I once asked him about priests going home to their wives and he laughed and said ‘priests don’t have wives. They have other priests!’ The kid really believed that chastity vows were just winking around being queer.”

Tuco can’t help it– he does laugh then, “No! And you believed him?”

“My aunt never told me shit about men being with men. I had to ask what the hell they meant by ‘sodomy’ when I got to the priory. Stupid, really.”

“It’s the Book that’s stupid there.”

He stretches his arm out deliberately, the smile falling off his face, “You’re right about that one. No, when I think about Tim. Most of what I think is I’m lucky he taught me that.”

Tuco is glad of that too. Only there’s one question he has–

“You two didn’t –”

“Tuco, we were seven years old.”

“I kissed girls when I was seven!”

“Well. We didn’t, no. Though his father and ‘uncle’ I’m guessing they were –” he gestures vaguely, unable to even reach for the word 'partners’. But he’s settled with Tuco half-leaning on his arm, so – better than the mornings where he pretends to be asleep until they’ve already gotten through the sex. Far better than when he started off by getting drunk for it.

“That makes sense.”

“So did you have any friends like that, back in Sonora?”

“Mm,” Tuco dips his head into the crook of Blondie’s neck, to hide the way the lie pinches at his brow, “Not like that.”

Tuco fleetingly considers explaining why he knows a smattering of Italian, coming clean about that old fanciful white lie when they’d hit the road.

(He’d been surprised, then, that nothing Pablo had ever said to Blondie had contradicted it. But not that surprised).

Just he’s starting to find the words for it, though, Blondie tugs him close, quick and clumsy but oh– he’s good with his mouth, all that precise-cut stubble rasping down Tuco’s neck. Tuco catches him by the lips, thinking about how fine he’d looked glaring over cards, how much he’d wanted to strip him and pin him to the bathroom wall while all the marks were growing impatient outside–

As it is though, warm and fed and surrounded by a half foot of bubbles, well, it may not be quite as fun but it’s nice to feel safe.

He slips between his partner’s legs, wrapping his arms around his chest. From this position they’re almost the same height– he grins at Blondie’s reflection in the mirror and lifts him up, the water splashing beneath them as he kisses him.

“Better not get used to that,” Blondie half-mumbles mischievously in his ear.

“Oh you think that, do you?”

Before he can decide it’s a bad idea, he ducks under the water, coming up with his arm wrapped around Blondie’s leg, Blondie’s hips more or less comfortable on his shoulder.

“God above, Tuco!”

But he’s got him secure enough now, grunting a little as he pulls them both out of the water. It’s just like when he used to do it to Pablo, to prove he could get one over on his brother. Of course, Pablo wasn’t quite has tall as Blondie – but that doesn’t matter, he still makes it far enough to half-toss, half fall with Blondie on to the bed.

“Jesus,” Blondie brushes away his hair, dazed and dripping water and goddamn gorgeous.

“That was harder than it looked, yeah– fuck–”

Tuco breaks off as Blondie’s hands press down his hips, his mouth taking his length too far, too fast not to choke, Mierda, Blondie is so damn messy with that and it’s unfair, is what it is, how easy it is for him to get Tuco all worked up. Tuco swears a stream in Spanish, gets a fist in Blondie’s hair.

One of these days, where it’s a little safer to, they should do this in a backroom closet at a bar. God, the thought of it is getting him harder by the minute, or maybe that’s the heat of Blondie’s mouth, the scratch of his stubble, now he’s just trying to take too much of him but fuck it feels like the road burning up underneath him.

“Mierda, always forget how good you look like that,  damn–” he breaks off a little at Blondie’s cough. Realizing a moment too late that Blondie always takes talk a little funny.

Tuco bites at his lip. He’s being greedy. Taking all his partner is giving him. Not doing the same.

“Hey,” Tuco slaps him gently on the side of the face, resting a hand on the softness of his chin, “Can I fuck you?”

“Mhm,” Blondie’s eyes flicker down, but Tuco has in the year learned when to spot his partner wanting in spite of all the baggage he’s got about sex.

Tuco hops off the bed, rummages in his Duluth for the Vaseline and rope for Blondie. He just loops it once, doesn’t bother tying a noose, and Blondie doesn’t complain about that. Just turns over to offer his back and ass to Tuco’s direction.

Restraint is a funny word there, the way it seems to help Blondie let go, try to get into liking the sex. Well, he likes the rope more than anything, but there’s some things they haven’t done yet.

“Going to try something nice, eh?” Tuco lets his hand crawl down the muscles of Blondie’s back, adjusting the rope just to hear his breath hitch. He kisses the curve of his lower back, drags his tongue down, almost chuckling to himself at Blondie’s choked gasp.

Tastes funny, like chlorine but at least not too much like shit, and it’s worth it hearing the way Blondie swears, the rope cutting off his voice some. Takes effort to get his partner really worked up, but it’s fun to hear him start to unravel.

Gets him worked up too, is the problem.

Tuco reaches for the Vaseline and lets the rope drop, coating his fingers and easing them into Blondie’s asshole. Easier than usual, too, so that’s something.

“Mierda, what a sight. Waited all that time in that saloon, watching you deal those cards like a proper Vegas shark, just to get you just like this.”

“Heh,” the smirk Blondie throws back at him is genuine and awfully smug for someone whose head is half crushed into the mattress.

“Hold on vaquero,” he’s ready, Tuco’s been ready since Blondie got his mouth on him and damnit, at this rate he’s not going to last much longer. Fuck, Blondie’s ass is tight.

Bony too, he reminds himself ruefully as his hips instinctively snap too hard into his partner. But he’s already too worked up to worry about bruises, the heat making every movement a wave of pleasure. His knees dig in hard to the thick duvet, his hands holding Blondie’s hips flush to his, fucking Jesus, Maria y Joseph–

He feels the rush all the way to his still-wet feet, mierda. Hopes it never stops being this good, with him.

He pushes himself out of Blondie, collapsing a minute to breathe. They’ve made a damn mess of the bed, but Tuco can’t be unhappy about it. They’re paying for it, it’s what people do in a place like this.

Blondie sits up suddenly, his cock still livid hard and dry. Pretty sight. Blondie picks up the rope on the bed, starts looping it with sharp movements.

“H- hold on a minute. Told you I don’t like when you do that yourself, come on.” Tuco has most of his breath back by now. Well. Enough.

“Look I– I don’t want–” Blondie stutters, his fingers mistying the knot.

“Hey,” Tuco swats his hands from the rope, manages to tie the noose without fumbling it this time, “Don’t work so hard for it. You shouldn’t have to, not for this. It’s just sex.”

“… yeah.” His partner avoids his gaze pointedly.

“You want something, I’ll give you that, okay?” he lays the noose around Blondie’s neck, cinches it tight, “Well, if I can.”

“Okay,” he manages, his neck straining against the pleasure that’s finding its way back to the grey in his eyes.

Hell, it might be a stupid kink, but Blondie makes it look good, when it counts. Tuco reaches one hand down to squeeze his length, and yeah, the choked-off moan Blondie manages – that’s worth it too.  

Besides, it’s no more than an exquisite minute more of watching the sensations cascade over Blondie’s face, tightening the jute by inches until he comes, strained and sticky all over Tuco’s hand.

Tuco has to grin. Always good to know his partner’s weaknesses.

Blondie gasps for breath in the aftermath, harder than usual but – he leans on Tuco’s shoulder for support, and doesn’t rush off to the bathroom without meeting Tuco’s eyes.

That’s something he must have done right.

He squeezes Blondie’s shoulder, gets up to grab a towel to wipe his hands on from the bathroom. When he comes back, he crosses to the corner of the room, gets Blondie’s cigarillos and lighter from the table, presses them in his partner’s hand. Blondie doesn’t say much, but by the time he’s sat up, rearranged his naked limbs into a devil-may-care pose, Tuco knows he’s done right by that too.

It’s be nice to get used to this. If he could. Sure, playing a reckless hustle is it’s own fun, but it’d be even more fun if they had a slice of this more often.

He takes the cigarillo from Blondie without asking, Blondie gives him a half hearted glare but doesn’t comment. It’s not like they can’t buy more, right now.

Tuco’s mind flits back to sunny Sonora, the postcards slipped in books at the bottom of his pack. He should say something, to his partner. Maybe that’s a place they could go, they ever made it big enough to get off the road for good–

– but even that sounds like it’s own curse, Santa Maria. Besides, he meant what he’d said to Blondie there, at least. Too risky, he’d have to know he could come back.

He stubs the finished cigarillo in a crystal ashtray, realizing they’re going to miss the start of that movie Blondie wanted to see. He’s just about to get up when he remembers the remote. He grins and settles back on the bed. It would be nice, to think they could someday get used to this. A nice dream.

“What channel was it, that movie?”

“Oh um. Twelve,” Blondie murmurs, half lifting his head to tumble closer to Tuco. Tuco grins. That move barely has deniability.

He finds the channel, thinking back to what Blondie said before, “What happened to that friend of yours, eh?”

“Moved away,” Blondie stifles a yawn, fixing his eyes on the screen, “I only knew him about a year.”

“Oh,” Tuco’s heart twists a little there. No matter what their differences, he always had Pablo. Well. Until he went and moved off to learn how to be holy. Not that he can complain, after who he met when he was strong-armed into following suit.

Tuco shakes off his thoughts, starts squinting at the dame crossing the screen, all black and white grace.

“Say, Blondie. Did we see this together before?”

But by now, his partner has dropped off completely to sleep. At a movie, of all things! Well, he’ll have to tease him about that later. Maybe over a breakfast they’ll order in. Maybe when they’re on the road after finally getting the car looked at.

They’ve got time, for now.