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I swallow your body like meanings or whisky

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“It’s bloody freezing out here,” Henry says, somehow just audible through the many layers of scarf and jumper that partially obscure his face. He has said this exact thing roughly eleven times, by Alex’s estimation, so it’s possible that what he just said was completely inaudible, in fact; Alex is just so used to the sound of the words from Henry’s mouth that he’s able to interpret the muffled complaints from behind several feet of yarn.

“It’s Brooklyn,” Alex tells him, also for the eleventh time. The glare Henry shoots his way would be absolutely chilling if it weren’t for the fact that his nose is bright red from the cold. He looks adorable and also weirdly alluring. Alex thinks that might just be him though; he kind of always finds Henry alluring. It’s a whole thing.

They’re walking in a park somewhere that Alex didn’t catch the name of - mostly because of all the aforementioned layers around his boyfriend’s face - and it’s incredibly peaceful. Their various bodyguards are doing a decent job of appearing invisible, which is nice, and even though they’re both wearing gloves it’s nice to hold hands. Alex wishes he had a better word than ‘nice’ for all of this but it’s all just so… nice.

Although, now that Alex has noticed how alluring Henry looks in his ridiculous scarf and coat, it’s kind of hard for him to think about chaste stuff like hand holding. But also, it really is fucking freezing, so there’s the possibility that proposing a risqué outdoor tryst will go down about as well as veganuary did with David.

There are, however, a lot of trees around.

“Alex, where are you-“ Henry asks as Alex tugs him off the main path and into a more secluded area, cutting himself off with an ‘oof’ of breath as he’s pushed firmly back into a sturdy tree trunk.

“Just trying to keep you warm, Your Highness,” Alex says with a grin, plastering himself up against Henry and insinuating his thigh between the other man’s legs. Henry shivers and then glares at him, as though it’s Alex’s fault that his body is so fucking responsive all the time.

“I’m not having sex with you against a tree,” Henry says, and he really shouldn’t give Alex ammunition like that but he never fucking learns.

“Baby,” Alex murmurs, leaning forward and pulling Henry’s scarf down just far enough to get a glimpse of the cross little moue of his mouth. “That sounded so, so much like a challenge. You wanna rephrase?”

“I’m not rephrasing just because you’re a complete and utter prick,” Henry says drily, and Alex’s grin only widens. He leans forward and, bypassing Henry’s mouth entirely, slides his cold nose across the warm skin of Henry’s sharp cheekbone, mouth ending up just millimetres from the shell of the other man’s ear.

“The subtle flame ran quick through all my vital frame," Alex whispers, and Henry’s answering hiss of breath and the movement of his hips has his grin turning smug. “My blood with gentle horrors thrilled; My feeble pulse forgot to play; I fainted, sunk, and died away.”

“You utter, utter bastard,” Henry growls, and then he has a gloved hand in Alex’s curls, yanking him into a bruising kiss, all chilled lips and warm tongue. Alex crowds closer and yeah, he’s getting hard already. This was the best idea he’s ever had.

"I'm still not doing this here," Henry says a little while later, completely unconvincingly. He's hard against Alex's leg, breathless, hands in Alex's hair, and he's lying through his fucking teeth. Alex grins in that slow and cocky way he knows does it for Henry, and is rewarding with a soft little stutter of breath in response, the shadow of it hanging in the air between them, crystallised by the cold.

"Didn’t Sappho say her guts clutched up like this?" Alex says, voice soft and low, leaning back in to brush his lips against Henry's, whisper soft, even as his leg pushes more firmly against where Henry is significantly less soft.

"Alex, Jesus fucking Christ - where is this coming from?" He sounds a little bit wrecked already, and Alex is allowed to be smug about this, alright? He's been memorising this shit for a reason.

"My eyes and groin are permanently swollen," Alex continues, and he's never really thought of many of these words as particularly erotic, but with Henry pressed against him and bucking his hips just a little in response, he thinks he might get the appeal. "I’m alternatingly brilliant and witless — and sleepless: bed is just a swamp to roll in." Then Henry kisses him hard and Alex is rendered silent for a while. 

There's something about the utter desperation of Henry's mouth against Alex's, in the way he's rutting so helplessly against Alex's thigh, that tells him this isn't exactly going to take very long.

Alex pulls back and reaches down to replace his thigh with the pressure of his palm; Henry moans quietly and Alex really wishes that wasn’t necessary, but… Well, they’re still in public. As hot as this is, he doesn’t actually want to get arrested. He leans in again to press an open-mouthed kiss to the soft skin below Henry’s ear, before keeping up the litany of remembered poetry he never really thought it would be this useful to know.


whenever we embrace,

haunted, upwelling,

I know

a reunion is taking place—      

Hear me when I say

our love’s not meant to be

an opiate;


you are the reachable mirror

that dares me to risk

the caravan back

to the apogee, the longed-for

arms of the Beloved—

Henry makes a wounded noise at that word - at Alex saying ‘beloved’ against the shell of his ear - and Alex feels him stiffen against his body and hand, shaking through his orgasm with a quiet “oh” of surprised pleasure. Alex works him through it as best he can and when the tight grip in his hair begins to relax, he finds Henry’s mouth with his own and kisses him as thoroughly as he knows how, both of them sinking into it with something oddly sweet given the tone of the last few minutes.

Alex pulls back eventually, lets his hand clutch a little possessively at Henry’s hip. Breathes.

He isn’t sure why he carries on - he did what he set out to do, which was primarily to reduce his boyfriend to something liquid and ephemeral without ever getting him out of his clothes - but he finds he can’t help himself. He brushes a thumb over the flush on one of Henry’s cut-glass cheekbones, fingers curling around the sharp, cool skin of his jaw, and remembers the parting lines of a memorised fragment:

"Sweetheart, it isn’t lust; it’s all the rest of what I want with you that scares me shitless." It’s quiet, barely a murmur, but Henry’s eyes meet his and Alex is so gone on him it’s a little embarrassing. 

Henry presses his hand over Alex's where it rests on his cheek and says, voice that particular brand of achingly soft that only occurs in the aftermath, "I've never been less scared in my life."

And Alex looks at him, at the utter satiation on the face of the man he loves, and he thinks, "what's there to be scared of?"