The problem is that they're a six-pack and a half down and bored as fuck. Alison and the baby are in Alaska visiting her folks, Hermann's at some tedious colloqium to which Newton couldn't be bothered to be dragged along when he had so much summer-course marking to do, and, well, Tendo had been fussing at him for a thorough drinking and catch-up session anyway. Carpe diem.
And so, sprawled on the sofa as they are, seemingly having run out of shit to talk about, it strikes Newton as an intensely perplexing non sequitur when Tendo says, "Have you seen the Grapefruit Technique video? You're a nerd about old internet crap, please tell me you've seen it."
"No?" Newton ventures, because a quick trawl of his mind tells him he hasn't. "Like, are we talking grapefruit technique as in how to peel said fruit, or . . . " He fishes for an alternative possibility, but draws a blank.
"I thought this day would never come," says Tendo, setting his beer down on the coffee table, snagging the remote control. "There's some weird online shit Newt Geiszler has never seen, and I get to show it to him." He flips through screens till he hits YouTube and then types grapefruit your man into the search field, which, Newton thinks, is the first bad sign. "Are you ready for this?"
"This is some weird sex thing, isn't it," Newton says, reaching for Tendo's beer, lazily taking a swig. "Tell me it's some weird sex thing and it is hilarious? Oh, dude. How the fuck did I manage to miss—"
"Shhh," hisses Tendo, yanking the bottle out of Newton's hand. He puts a companionable arm around Newton's shoulders and hits PLAY. "Your self-styled awesome sex guru for the evening is Angel."
Twenty-five seconds into the video, Newton is already gawping at what's come out of the confident, professional woman's mouth. He's had enough to drink that he's sure he ought to be laughing, but Angel's demeanor is so straightforward and put-together that he kind of respects the hell out of her for being willing to go on camera and say stuff like Normally you can only get this technique in one of my classes, but I wanted to share this with you because I believe every man should get grapefruited and When you grapefruit your man, it's going to feel as if you are giving him head and fucking him at the same time; no better feeling will he ever get than being grapefruited.
"I had no idea grapefruit could function as a verb," he says in reverent, drunken awe.
"Oh, just you wait," says Tendo, taking the video off pause. "It gets better and better."
Angel proceeds to explain that you need to have a grapefruit, ruby red if possible (because sweeter is easier), and then make sure it's room temperature. She rolls her specimen against the counter-top, explaining that you want to juice it up a little bit, and this, this is inexplicably the line that pitches Newton into a hysterical giggle-fit, because who in their right mind looks at a grapefruit and thinks, I am going to find a way for somebody to fuck that. He's wheezing by the time Angel explains that you want to set the grapefruit on a plate and slice off about a quarter of the fruit on each of the navel-sides; by now, it's kind of obvious where this is going and it is absolutely fucking ridiculous.
"Newt, hold it together," Tendo says, pausing the video again, but he's not doing a very good job of hiding the fact he's been silently laughing so hard that there are tears streaming down his cheeks. He wipes at them ineffectually, and Newton just chokes harder. "Stay with me, brother."
"C'mon, start it back up," Newton cackles. "There's no turning back. Angel's a class act!"
"Don't know if you're still gonna be saying that in a few minutes," Tendo sighs, and complies.
So you should have a grapefruit that has two sides missing. Just like this. Now, what you're going to do is, you're going to put a hole in the middle of the grapefruit approximately the size of your man's penis. Do not make it too big, do not make it too tight. Just approximate.
"But why approximate when you can take actual measurements?" demands Newton. "I have actual measurements! I mean, okay, I estimated in order to get said measurements, because I think Hermann would've strangled me with the tape-measure if I'd brought it to bed."
"I won't ask the reason you estimated," says Tendo, with grim resolution. "I will not."
"I don't need one," Newton says belligerently, smacking him. "Because I fucking can."
"Well, how about you shut the fuck up," Tendo drawls, "and let Angel give you one."
Angel proceeds to cut a hole in the middle of her grapefruit that's definitely too big.
"Nobody has a dick that size without surgical intervention," Newton blurts. "Nope."
"If you don't stop talking, genius, you're gonna miss the punch-line," Tendo sighs.
Now, when you grapefruit your man, he has to be blindfolded, Angel says. There's no ands, ifs, or buts about it. Why? If you came to the bedroom with a grapefruit, what is your man going to say? What are you going to do with that, is it going to burn, and all those other things. You don't want any of that, so this is what you do. Say, "Baby, you know what, tonight I want to do something a little freakier; I want to suck your dick blindfolded." Your man will blindfold himself if he knows he's going to get some head.
"Hmmm," Newton says. "Not sure I'm okay with that. Like, Hermann might not ask questions because, TMI time, when I say jump, he'll pretty much ask how high. But I'm not sure I'd want to be blindfolded without knowing what's gonna go down, I mean aside from the going-down."
"And if your partner's got a citrus allergy, that might not be the best idea, period," says Tendo.
"We just don't like citrus that much," Newton admits. "And this wouldn't work with a mango."
"Jesus Christ, are we actually discussing this," Tendo mutters, fetching another bottle of beer.
They watch Angel complete her demonstration. The pièce de résistance is comprised of the truly horrifying sound effects resulting from Angel going down on the huge black dildo she's produced out of nowhere—that and the fact that her mic is clipped to her cleavage. They don't say anything for the remainder, because it's kind of hard to say anything when somebody's working a grapefruit up and down an oversize dildo while simultaneously devouring the head in artless, noisy abandon.
Now, ladies, remember, Angel concludes, grapefruit is also a fat-burner, so you're actually losing weight while you're sucking his dick. Now, once you're doing this technique, it feels amazing to him, but he still has no idea what you're doing, so what you want to tell your man to do is this: take the blindfold off. He's going to be looking at you like, "What the hell are you doing?" But he'll never say stop; all he's going to be thinking is, "I could've been fucking a grapefruit all these years." And that's the Grapefruit Technique.
"Oh my God," Newton says. "Seriously? Losing weight? Dude, if this is your idea of getting on my case, you can fuck right off; I don't eat any worse than Hermann does now and you know it—"
"Calm down," Tendo sighs, muting the video as it starts playing again. "I just wanted to show you a funny thing. I was going through my old playlists a couple weeks ago and found this in there."
"Hermann wouldn't be looking at me like What the hell are you doing," says Newton, staring up at the ceiling, finding that it wobbles ever so slightly. "He'd be looking at me like You deserve exactly what you're getting right now —namely, grapefruit-flavored dick. And he'd totally be right, because Angel's a kick-ass lady and all, but that is freaking nuts." He pauses for breath, clutches at his jaw as it clicks, catches, seizes in pain. Well, fuck. He knows he's had a bad week, sure, but . . .
"I'd try it on you if you wanted, gorgeous," Tendo slurs, nudging Newton's elbow, and that's the precise moment at which Newton realizes they've drunk so much they're approximately beyond the pale. "I won't tell if you won't tell. And, anyhow, Al says there's this girl at work she wants to—"
"How about no," Newton mutters, but he tips over and leans against Tendo's shoulder because the video is still running on a perpetual loop, and, yeah, no question, Newton is trashed. "How about. Well. Think about the practical application possibilities here for starters, okay? With all the nightmares and shit, I grind my teeth. If Hermann ever murders me in my sleep, you'll know why. So anyway, it's been happening a lot lately and my jaw fucking hurts, and you can imagine that doesn't make deep-throating or similar pleasant, so what she's proposing might actually be a pretty cool life hack. Minus the bad sound-effects. I hate to say it, dude, but I do not sound like that when I'm sucking Hermann off and I don't think I could even if he wanted me to, but why would—"
"You're telling me," says Tendo, his fingertips playing with light imprecision down the side of Newton's thigh, "that you're going to try this for science? You've already told me you guys don't like citrus. Which do you hate more, grapefruit or oranges? Pick the lesser of two evils. Not gonna lie, my man, I almost want you to record this for posterity."
"Sorry, no sex tapes," replies Newton, trapping Tendo's hand in place. He twines their fingers together and brushes his thumb fondly across the back; every memory he has about the way Tendo had flirted with him at the Academy, Hermann also has in his possession. "Listen, we're too old for this shit. I love you, but it's not like that. I don't mind whatever you and Alison decide you're gonna do with your relationship with respect to including other people, but, like, I'm so not up for it. I'll let you cuddle the fuck out of me, and I like cuddling the fuck out of you, but I just . . . "
Tendo kisses the top of Newton's head. "You're a goddamn adorable drunk, you know that?"
Newton smiles against Tendo's shoulder and mouths a messy kiss there.
"Maybe a little, yeah," he admits. "I learned something while we were in training."
"If I can't convince you to tape this thing, will you at least tell me how it goes?" Tendo asks.
"You wanna peer-review my findings?" Newton asks, poking him. "Awww. That's sweet."
"You're an asshole, Newt, but I'm not gonna stuff you in a cab in this state when there's nobody at home waiting," Tendo sighs, staggering to his feet, and tugs on Newton's arm until he lets himself be pulled. "C'mon, let's get you settled in the guest room. You can start plotting tomorrow."
"This is gonna be either really dumb or really awesome, can't decide which," Newton mumbles.
Newton has three days until Hermann gets back. He spends most of the first day at Tendo's place a hung-over mess. Tendo, who's not much better off, makes him breakfast and fusses over him anyway, which makes Newton wonder if he ought to reconsider some of his life choices.
Alison and the baby return that evening. Daniel, speaking in full sentences now, seems so happy to see Newton that leaving is a difficult decision to make. Alison drives him home at seven, and even agrees to stop off at Wellcome so Newton can pick up his ridiculous-yet-necessary supplies. She asks if Tendo behaved himself; that's always a debatable question, although she always means it in jest.
"Does he ever?" Newton asks, grinning, and gets out of the car. "Thanks for the lift, Al."
"Judging by where he dumped your ass last night, I'm tempted to guess he was a perfect gentleman," Alison snorts. "Don't forget these," she adds, picking up the plastic shopping bag.
"Um, hah," Newton manages, taking it from her outstretched hand. "Thanks. See you later."
There's nothing but eerie quiet waiting inside, so Newton slams the front door and flips every light-switch within reach. In the living room, Bertie twists and darts in his tank; he's missed two feedings at this point, and Newton feels so wretched he gives the little guy four pellets instead of three. He sits down on the couch, tugs off his boots, and then dumps the shopping bag out on the cushion beside him. Two grapefruits and two large oranges roll and scatter, settle haphazardly beside him.
"Yep, they're colorful," he tells the fish, who's grown slightly interested in the proceedings. "But you can't watch this time. Not even if you ask nicely, dude. I'm almost ashamed I'm trying this."
Newton is too tired to do practice-runs, and his head's starting to hurt again, so he sneaks one of Hermann's painkillers, takes a long, lukewarm shower, and crawls into bed naked. He's almost asleep when his phone vibrates on the nightstand. He picks it up and squints at it.
I won't ask what havoc you've been wreaking with our most excellent friends, says Hermann's text. I've been out rather late myself; apologies. I'll call you tomorrow, and I'll see you very soon.
I love you, Newton types, but he's too exhausted to actually hit SEND, so he does that first thing in the morning when he wakes up and discovers the failure to launch. The room's bright and his head feels fuzzy, and he knows exactly what he's left on the sofa and why.
"You," he says to Bertie, gathering up the fruit in his dressing-gown covered arms. "Stop judging me."
The slicing job is so straightforward that he's not sure why he thought he needed to practice to begin with, and, in Hermann's absence, cutting a hole the size of his own penis makes the most sense under the circumstances. He's an advocate for self-experimentation, after all; the ludicrous and the dangerous aren't that far removed from each other. He feels absurd sitting alone at the kitchen table with Hermann's dressing gown open, stroking himself to full hardness. It's not difficult to think about Hermann, though, because he's been gone three days at this point and Newton misses the bastard like nobody's business.
And I you, Hermann texts in return, with impeccable timing. I'll call before too long, I promise.
Newton tries the grapefruit first. All he really wants to know is what Hermann's going to be feeling; leaving the fruit on the sofa had meant not having to worry about warming it. The sensation is wet and sticky and not entirely unpleasant, although he doesn't have the benefit of Hermann sucking him off at the same time. He tries the orange, finding the scent of it less of a turn-off. There's some kind of citrus note in the expensive cologne his mom had sent for Hermann's birthday, but this will not be easily mistaken for Newton having dabbed on some Creed Royal Service.
Hermann's phone-call comes just as Newton's pulling the orange off himself and swabbing away the juice it's left behind with a damp, clean dish rag. Having an actual voice in his ear makes finishing the job with nothing but his hand that much more enjoyable, although Hermann seems perplexed at his breathy replies and asks, with rising concern, if he's feeling all right.
When Newton comes, what he's been doing is made far too obvious by the helpless moan he lets slip before he can put down the phone.
Hermann is silent for almost a minute, and Newton can't find the breath to explain himself.
"You might have told me that's what you wanted," says Hermann, tersely. "I'd have gone back up to my room."
"Sorry," Newton manages, leaning against the table. "Yeah. I really did. Ah. I mean . . . "
"I'll be prepared tomorrow, in which case," says Hermann, wryly. "And look forward to it."
Oh no, no, you are not getting this from me; I have this shit locked down so tight you won't know what hit you till you're actually receiving it, thinks Newton, determined. "I meant what I texted."
"I know," replies Hermann; a colleague's voice intrudes. "I do, too," he adds, and hangs up.
Wasting the rest of that day is easier said than done, but Newton blows through a ton of articles and movies, and even gets a full night's rest. Hermann will arrive sometime around four, he thinks on waking the next morning, and he'll probably be tired and cranky and need a nap. Newton decides he'll err on the side of doing cut-prep on the remaining orange instead of the remaining grapefruit, because heaven knows they'll both find that more pleasant (at least in the olfactory sense).
Stowing that cling-filmed under the bed along with a few of his handkerchiefs knotted together for a blindfold is what ends up happening the next afternoon around three. After fetching their thickest towel and stashing that there, too, he wastes time watching television until the doorbell rings at almost four-fifteen. Hermann's inside and already halfway down the hall before Newton can even get there to answer.
"You ought to have come with me, I told you," Hermann murmurs against Newton's temple, kissing his way down to the juncture of earlobe and jawline. His fingers fan there, probing gently, one hand on each side of Newton's face. "I could hear it over the phone. The clicking’s worse, isn’t it?"
"Nah, whatever," Newton says, interrupting him with a kiss on the mouth. "You tired?"
Hermann draws back just enough to look at him, and then leans back in to return the gesture with complete, longing abandon.
"As if you think I'd choose to sleep when you have other plans," he whispers.
"Right," Newton says, tugging at him. "Get out of those shoes and meet me in the bedroom."
Newton's heart is in his throat, but it shouldn't be. What he's about to do isn't difficult, it's just ridiculous and will hopefully give Hermann the welcome-home that Newton can't actually give him right now because of a stupid TMJ flare-up. He finishes stripping out of his clothes and sits down on the edge of the bed just as Hermann enters the room; he takes Hermann's cane once he's close enough, sets it aside, and sets Hermann's hand on his shoulder so that Hermann can use him for support while he undresses. He ought to have suggested a shower, but Hermann is eager.
"What would you like me to do?" Hermann asks, sucking at Newton's lower lip.
This is not really the way Newton had planned for this to go; Hermann going all classy sex-master on him is not the kind of thing he has in mind. He pushes to his feet, almost setting Hermann off balance, and manages to manhandle Hermann so that he's the one seated on the edge of the bed. Next, he drops to the floor, snagging the improvised blindfold from just beneath the edge of the bed, and gets up again.
"If it's okay with you, I want you to put this on. No cheating, either. Keep your eyes closed under there if you have to, got it?"
"This is rather unlike you, but I see no reason why I ought not to go along with it," Hermann grumbles, but he does as he's told. "Mind your jaw. I don't think anything strenuous in, er, that regard would prove terribly wise—"
"Dammit, would you just lie back," Newton says, making sure the pillows are satisfactorily arranged. "The point here is that you don't have to do shit." He drops to the floor again to fetch the towel; nudging Hermann aside in order to put that down earns him a grunt of irritation.
"I rather hope you'll let me after," says Hermann, acidly, but the truth is that he's so turned on Newton kind of wishes they were skipping this experimental nonsense in favor of getting straight to fucking. Newton kisses him, nuzzles Hermann's neck, strokes his thighs. Hermann whimpers.
"I'm not actually going anywhere," Newton promises, slipping off the bed. "Just sit tight."
Hermann mutters something under his breath that Newton would've given anything to hear clearly, but fetching the orange modified as per Angel's instructions is his top priority. He sits down on the edge of the mattress and peels off the cling-film; it's amusing to watch Hermann's eyebrows shoot up from beneath the blindfold in undisguised perplexity. Newton licks some juice off his thumb.
"I have no idea what it is you've got, but you'd best be willing to explain why it smells of orange," says Hermann, testily, although he doesn't get to say much more because Newton doesn't hesitate to set the orange down on the nightstand before leaning down to nuzzle Hermann's cock up against his belly and lavish attention on the damp, straining head with his tongue. Hermann fists one hand in Newton's hair, but Newton pries it loose and guides it back to rest beside Hermann's thigh.
"Call it a novelty item, how's that," Newton says, reaching for the orange. "And here we go—"
Hermann sits very still while Newton threads his cock through the orange and works it up and down a few times for the sake of adjustment. Newton's cheeks and the back of his neck are burning, but he persists, and Hermann finally shifts his hips, makes a choked sound low in his throat.
"I tried it on myself first," Newton explains, working the orange with care. Maybe that's not a sexy thing to say, but he feels bad about the blindfold. "It felt kind of—not unpleasant, but weird. Maybe it's because I had full knowledge of the object and was doing it to myself, but—"
"Newton, if I've correctly grasped the circumstances with the senses left to me, you are using a creatively butchered piece of fruit to get me off. Would you care to explain exactly why this daft, tiresome experiment struck you as—oh," Hermann gasps, stopping short as Newton goes for broke and bends to add his lips and tongue to the action. It's not as easy to coordinate as Angel had suggested, and it does sound kind of strange (although he knows now the microphone was mostly to blame).
Newton keeps at it for a minute, two minutes, three. There's orange juice all over his chin and his hands and Hermann's thighs, but Hermann's strained breath and his softly-exhaled pleading suggest that he's either decided to set the strangeness factor aside or that he's too far gone to care. His fingers tighten in Newton's hair, gently tugging, and Newton lets his tongue dip sharply into Hermann's slit before easing off. He removes the orange, which has more or less gone to useless mush, and licks up as much of the mess as he can manage. He wants to touch Hermann, wants Hermann to touch him, and so he meets with no protest when he settles in Hermann's lap.
"On or off?" he whispers in Hermann's ear, tugging at the blindfold while he fists them both with his other hand.
"Leave it," Hermann murmurs, pressing both hands against the small of Newton's back. "Please."
"Mmm," Newton sighs, leaning in to kiss him. "I did think you'd like the blindfold thing. Go me."
They don't say anything more, can't say anything more, because Hermann groans and starts coming even as Newton releases them because his hand's getting tired and he just wants to feel this. He shudders and bucks against Hermann, gasping; he can still smell the aromatic sharp-sweet bite in the air around them and thinks, shivering as he recovers, Maybe it works better as an ambiance aid after all.
Hermann is quiet, stroking Newton's back and breathing unsteadily into his hair.
"Tell me," he asks at length, giving Newton a slight squeeze, "you got this idea from where?"
"About that," Newton says, contently closing his eyes, "there's this thing you need to watch."