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The Best of Broken Resolutions

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What was the point of a formal, black-tie New Year’s party anyway? That’s what Augus wanted to know. Invariably many of his colleagues would get drunk and vomit down their suits or spill drinks on their white shirts or food down their tailored jackets – though Augus had to admit he wasn’t seeing too many tailored jackets, did no one actually care about fashion anymore? – and then they’d stumble home and everyone would grumpily foist all their sweaty, disgusting garments on some poor dry-cleaning establishment.

He kept his glass of champagne up to his face, looking around the room slowly. There was Albion who – at a black tie event – decided to wear navy, and automatically earned the salutation of ‘twat’ from Gulvi as a result. Gulvi, who had turned up in a rather stunning pale pink Rodarte gown from the Fall 2014 collection, was sniping at Albion behind his back whenever she could. After all: ‘If I can manage to let my hair down and wear a fucking gown for one night, he can dig deep into that collection of sea-themed monstrosities and wear a goddamned black suit.’ She might have looked ethereal with her platinum blonde hair cascading past her shoulders, but she still swore like a sailor, which Augus found somewhat soothing.

Pinnacle Architects had converged on The Lucky Penny for their end of year function. Their boutique firm boasted forty of Melbourne’s finest architects, drafters, interior designers, ArchiCAD technicians and more. But since The Lucky Penny wouldn’t shut down for only forty people on New Year’s Eve, their daft social event manager – Gulvi’s sister, Julvia – had decided to invite their ‘friendly rivals’ (Augus snorted over his fluted glass) Ivory Wall Architects & Engineers, who were a larger organisation with the one hundred and twenty needed to fill out the function room.

Consequently, their intimate little New Year’s Party was about to turn into an ‘Ivory Wall and guests’ event.

Though, he was interested to see if one of their Project Architects was going to attend. Gwyn ap Nudd was notoriously absent at all functions, despite his high role in the Ivory Wall company. Rumours were that he’d been invited up to principal and partner roles in the past and turned them all down because of his avoidance of the limelight – though what limelight he was possibly trying to avoid in architecture, Augus had no idea.

Still, Gwyn and Augus came up through university together. They’d shared classes, laughed over tissue paper stadia (when Gwyn had finally come out of his shell enough to laugh) and their unwarranted praise, and the pretensions of their lecturers – knowing full well that they’d need to learn how to talk in pretensions themselves. Because it was just that, an industry of pretensions.

Augus looked over to where old Pete was discreetly snorting a line off the back of a menu, protectively hidden from most eyes by a wall of discreet underlings, and smirked. Well, pretensions and cocaine.

His memories of Gwyn weren’t at all foggy. Not enough time had passed for that. So Augus still remembered dragging him from the campus tavern – neither of them nearly drunk enough to justify acting as recklessly as they were pretending to – and driving him back to his then tiny apartment with its thin walls that made one of his neighbours bang hard and shout when Gwyn couldn’t keep his voice down and forgot to press his head into the mattress to be quieter – not that it made him that much quieter.

It wasn’t as though he’d gone out of his way to find Gwyn ever since. Rumours flew that he’d turned into something of a cold-hearted dick once he’d broken into the industry. But Augus’ opinion had officially turned to a negative bias when Gwyn’s team had stolen a choice tender by sabotaging the smaller Pinnacle Architects. Gwyn ap Nudd had approached several of Augus’ colleagues with more lucrative pay packets, and loyalties didn’t stretch far when an extra twenty thousand a year was on the table. The tender would have put Pinnacle on the map – and while Pinnacle did find the proverbial map some years later – Gwyn ap Nudd was the reason it took so long.

If Gwyn turned up, Augus planned on making his night a living hell.

He tipped his head back and swallowed the rest of the champagne, then placed the glass on the tray of a passing waiter.

‘Anything else, Sir?’ the waiter enquired.

‘Oh, no, I don’t think that’s necessary.’ He surveyed the room and looked back at the waiter. ‘At least one of us should stay sober, hm? Who knows, maybe someone will need a designated driver by the end of the night.’

The waiter looked a little flustered by the conversation and after a long, awkward pause, walked off again. Augus slid his phone out of his pants and looked to see if there were any texts. Nothing. He unlocked the passcode and typed out one message:

So, brother, are you sober? Or has the first wave of drunkenness found you before nine PM?

His phone chirped a few seconds later with a surprisingly legible:

scull scull scull scull scull scull SCULL SCULL SCULL SCULL WE HAVE A WINNER!!!!!

Augus rolled his eyes and pocketed his phone. If Ash was already sculling beers, he’d possibly be paralytic by the time midnight rolled around. Then again, maybe not. That boy could handle his alcohol.

A sigh and a resettling against the wall he was leaning against. New Year’s. He didn’t bother with resolutions and he didn’t see the point in midnight kisses given he’d already fucked everyone in the office he’d cared to and hadn’t been particularly impressed anyway. It was going to be a long night.

*

‘Darling, I hate the soundtrack,’ Gulvi said, sliding up to him, her pupils dilated on god only knew what. It was the rule of architecture parties; high end drugs aplenty. ‘It can’t decide if it wants to be nineties pop or noughties indie.’

‘I think, given you’ve just collectively called this era the noughties, I’d say the entire soundtrack was catering specifically to you, dear,’ Augus said, and grinned when Gulvi punched him in the arm. Her hand went flat on his elbow and she rubbed at the fabric.

‘Did you buy this number for this occasion? Or do you already have tailored black suits waiting in your wardrobe?’

‘What do you think?’ Augus said, and Gulvi smoothed his collar and then reached up to pet his hair. He lightly smacked her hand away.

‘It’s so different now, isn’t it? You with short hair. Did you lose a bet?’

‘Believe it or not, it gets tiring feeling black hair against the back of your neck on forty degree days, when you’re required to wear long-sleeved shirts into the office every day.’

‘And you lost a bet?’

‘And I lost a bet,’ Augus said, staring out into the crowd. It looked like the Ivory Wall Architects & Engineers were arriving, en masse it seemed. What, had they collectively hired all the limos they could find, in order to make an entrance? In South Yarra? He failed to see the reason for it, the pompous gits would make enough of an entrance given all one hundred and twenty of them.

‘Brings out your jaw,’ Gulvi murmured. A manicured nail traced his shaved skin and he rolled his eyes.

‘I’d think you were coming onto me, if I didn’t know that you were fucking our head of Interiors.’

‘That’s a secret,’ Gulvi hissed.

‘To whom? Gulvi, at what point did you not realise that we’re all just humouring you and Fenwrel and looking the other way? Though I have to say, I never expected you to ‘go steady’ with someone who has children, given your general attitude towards…what was it again? ‘Demon spawn?’’

‘I’ve become their favourite person by feeding them chocolate and buying them video games, thankfully I eat out Fenwrel well enough that she can’t stay mad at me for long.’

‘Who calls their company Ivory Wall anyway?’ Augus muttered, watching the Ivory Wall partners come in, kissing cheeks and touching moisturised hands to shoulders.

‘Ooo, Augus, look, the curly haired king’s emerged from his cave! Maybe he lost a bet!’

And then Gulvi sallied off to greet many of the members of Ivory Wall, not holding the same animosity towards them as Augus did, since she started at Pinnacle later and didn’t remember all the underhanded bullshit that had occurred.

Gwyn ap Nudd was indeed present. Augus picked the suit first – a very nice black J. Lindeberg that he’d dismissed for himself – and then marked the rest of him. He was slightly more tanned than he’d been at university, and his blonde hair had lighter streaks through it. The streaks didn’t look like they’d come from a salon, but were the unruly kind that one might gain from some sort of insufferable outdoor sports like running or marathons or triathlons or surfing or…Augus’ nose wrinkled, he could imagine Gwyn doing every single one of those and he didn’t like that he liked it.

A flock of architects around Gwyn – Ivory Wall and Pinnacle alike, everyone excited to see him at an event most likely. Gwyn smiled and picked up a glass of champagne and shook hands and mostly looked like he hadn’t been avoiding public events all his life. Augus didn’t move away from the wall, he’d find time to say ‘hello’ later.

He’d never seen Gwyn in a suit before. And a tailored suit, at that. His shoulders were broader than Augus remembered, but the waistline was still taut. Augus had dug bruises into that flesh once. He’d pushed Gwyn’s lower back towards the bed and snapped, ‘dip your back, Gwyn, and it’ll hurt less.’ He’d been lying, of course. And Gwyn had been a delightful masochist and pretended to protest where – about thirty minutes earlier – they’d established safewords and Augus had outlined his tastes clearly enough that Gwyn had hardened in his jeans.

Augus’ phone chimed several times in a row. He got it out and flipped through messages:

I’m having this drink in your honour, bro.

And this one.

Dringfkd! DRniks! Drinks! Therwer we arjke. FUk it.

Augus shook his head and then a message flashed up through Whatsapp. A picture of a very nice looking ass covered in a very nice looking suit. It was from Gulvi.

Just thought you’d be interested, darling.

He looked up and Gulvi waved a hand behind Gwyn’s shoulder, a mischievous smile on her face. Gwyn was distracted by the motion and turned, and Gulvi quickly turned the wave into an arm around his shoulder and a loud, ‘Gwyn! Delightful to see you!’

She kissed his cheek and stared triumph at Augus, and Augus decided that at some point this had become a Shakespearean farce, and she was clearly Puck. He’d get her back. It was easy to get someone back when they were in an office romance.

He looked back down at the photo of Gwyn’s ass and his eyebrows rose.

Fucking New Year’s,’ he muttered to himself, and put his phone away, looking for another glass of champagne.

*

Ten pm, and Augus looked up when the slowly moving bodies around him became one tall body standing, unmoving, in front of him.

‘Augus? I didn’t…I didn’t recognise you.’

‘It’s the hair,’ Augus said, not looking up from his phone, where he was doing nothing more riveting than checking to see what the weather was like outside. His skin prickled to be standing so close to Gwyn. He could smell his cologne and couldn’t pick it, which was infuriating. He knew most of what was on the market. But it was woodsy. He imagined it might be what lumberjacks would wear to a wedding, and resisted the urge to snicker.

He had to resist, because he liked that too.

What the hell is wrong with me tonight?

He finally looked up at a face slightly more weathered by the world. There were signs that Gwyn was shaving now, and his lashes were dark blonde and thicker than they had any right to be. His neck was strong, the kind of neck someone who benched serious weight might get with time. Augus cleared his throat and Gwyn’s expression was a strange mix of awkwardness and…friendliness? Really?

‘How’s the business of stealing tenders out from the noses of other, smaller, vulnerable companies going, these days?’ Augus said lightly, and Gwyn’s lips thinned. He looked around, as though Augus had said something wrong, when just about all of the older members of Pinnacle knew exactly what Gwyn had done.

‘It’s going well,’ Gwyn said finally. His face was colder now. The friendliness had disappeared. ‘How’s hanging onto the past and not being able to let it go, Augus? Perhaps if you were up to the task, you would have won enough tenders since to not need to brood about it anymore.’

Augus stared at him. The Gwyn he remembered was not capable of bantering that easily.

‘Still squealing for whatever dom will have you?’ Augus said, grinning, and Gwyn closed his eyes for a couple of seconds, his cheeks flushing pink.

‘I only wanted to say that I thought you looked well,’ Gwyn said, opening his eyes again and looking through the busy crowd. ‘I hope you have a good new year, and…well, excuse me.’

Gwyn slipped sideways through a mass of interior designers and headed towards the open bar. Augus watched him go and found that he didn’t feel nearly as satisfied as he thought he would. He sighed and put his phone back in his pocket.

*

At eleven, the music getting progressively thumpy and his work colleagues getting progressively more likely to hug him affectionately, Augus decided to take a breather. He walked out into the busy street. The clothing stores were closed but every tiny bar and restaurant and café and bistro was booked out and packed solid. He could hear the screeches and shouts of those unused to drinking, the ones who couldn’t hold their liquor and just wanted to get uninhibited enough to steal a kiss or fuck someone.

The whole thing disgusted him, really. He turned up because he had to. Before working at Pinnacle, he’d spent New Year’s Eve at home, reading or looking over blueprints. Or he’d indulge in one of his favourite pastimes, looking at the architecture of Terunobu Fujimori and quietly wondering what he was even doing in Melbourne anyway, and then remembering that if someone didn’t look out for Ash, he’d end up drunk in a ditch somewhere.

Ash would do that anyway. But at least he’d have someone in the hospital by his side when he was hooked up to an IV because of acute alcohol poisoning.

Augus’ car was nearby, opposite Grosvenor Park. He could disappear now and people were drunk enough that they wouldn’t notice. He looked back into the venue and shook his head faintly. He shoved his hands into his pockets and set off slowly towards his car.

A group of women smoking near a clothing store whistled at him as he walked past.

And then running footsteps pounding towards him, and he stiffened, turned around, not in the mood to deal with any sort of mugging just because he looked flash.

Gwyn, running towards him, with the kind of easy athleticism of someone who definitely jogged.

‘What is it?’ Augus said. ‘Are you a marathon runner now?’

‘Triathlons,’ Gwyn said, catching up to him.

Figured.

‘What do you want?’

‘I wanted to talk to you. It’s been six years, Augus. Six years.’

‘You came at us during a recession,’ Augus said, shaking his head. ‘That tender was a big deal for Pinnacle. We had to let go another four people even after the ones you fucking poached. They were good workers, we just couldn’t afford to keep them on after that tender. It wasn’t like Ivory Wall was suffering without that one job, was it?’

‘I know,’ Gwyn said, walking with Augus even though he had no idea where Augus was going. Augus could hear the thuddy vibrations of different types music streaming through bass systems all over South Yarra. He could hear laughter and screeching, the occasional sound of a glass breaking. ‘I know that.’

‘I didn’t peg wide-eyed innocent Gwyn for being a total asshole, that’s all,’ Augus said, looking up at the stars and seeing the effects of light pollution. And, in the distance, what looked like lasers painting the sky in different colours.

‘Neither did they,’ Gwyn said, his words tumbling over one another. ‘That was the problem. My job was on the line, Augus. They needed something. A sign that I was…serious, ready to play the big leagues.’

‘And?’ Augus said. ‘They were happy with you, and you cost a lot of folks their jobs. Your family would’ve been proud.’

Gwyn’s steps slowed, and Augus didn’t bother to stop for him or wait up. It was another thirty seconds before Gwyn caught up, and by then, Augus was already turning the corner down a darker street, looking out at the sheoaks across the road in the park. He could see the tiny flares of lit cigarettes in mouths, and wondered if it was teenagers having their own party in the park.

‘That was low,’ Gwyn said, and Augus smiled serenely.

‘It was, wasn’t it? Why are you here, Gwyn? Go back to the party, where everyone can marvel over you being outside for once.’

‘I get out enough,’ Gwyn said. ‘I wanted to talk to you. I know I did the wrong thing, Augus. I’m not- What do you want from me?’

‘That’s always a dangerous question,’ Augus said, thinking back.

Seven years earlier, and Gwyn was holding a pint of beer in two hands, blue eyes dulled in the dim tavern, and he’d stared at Augus and said the same words. What do you want from me? People that looked as good as Gwyn did, with that wide-eyed innocence, should not ask Augus questions like that. Especially after the flirting that had occurred. Awkward and clumsy on Gwyn’s end, and mostly concerned with keeping him that way, on Augus’.

Then again, Gwyn hadn’t complained.

‘I’m asking it, Augus,’ Gwyn said, voice more strained now.

Augus looked over at him, and Gwyn went from staring at him with a painful level of intensity, to looking down at the pavement.

‘How did you get here?’ Augus said, his fingers curling in his pockets.

‘Limousine.’

‘Fucking Ivory Wall,’ Augus said, shaking his head.

‘I knew you’d be here,’ Gwyn said. ‘It was the only reason I came.’

‘Jesus, could you be any more desperate?’ Augus snapped, staring at him, unable to feel anything approaching sympathy. ‘That’s pathetic. Six years means something, Gwyn. I haven’t talked to you in that time, despite our companies being in such close proximity, because I wasn’t a fan of the way you poached my work colleagues. What, you want a fucking dick up your ass so badly? I hate to break it to you-’

‘You told me to do it,’ Gwyn said, his voice weak. ‘You told me, in third year, it was the only way to get ahead sometimes. Find the right tender, do anything to get it, make your name in a company.’

‘I didn’t mean my company!’

‘But it’s not!’ Gwyn said. ‘It’s not your company! You had all these dreams of making your own business and instead you settled for Pinnacle? It’s forty strong, Augus. It’s forty strong in a city you don’t want to live in. I didn’t think I was hurting you when I went for Pinnacle.’

Augus stared at him. He couldn’t just say ‘you didn’t hurt me,’ when it was obvious that he was behaving like Gwyn had. But now that it was laid out in the open between them, Augus realised that he had taken it personally. He had a right to. It was a low act.

‘I did the wrong thing,’ Gwyn repeated. ‘I just want to make amends, all right? Christ, now I sound like a twelve-stepper. I just want to apologise. I did a lot of stupid things back then, and that was one of them.’

‘All right,’ Augus said, reaching his car and wondering if he’d make it home before the blast of horns, poppers, loud music, shouts, shrieks, car crashes and more. ‘You’ve said it. Go back to the party.’

‘I don’t want to,’ Gwyn said.

‘You really are pathetic,’ Augus said staring at him as he walked to the driver’s side of his car, and Gwyn stood at the passenger side like Augus was just going to let him in. ‘Anyone would have you. Look at you.’

‘I miss our friendship,’ he said, like Augus wasn’t insulting him. All earnestness and it was revolting, even more disgusting was the fact that Augus missed that too.

‘Sleep it off,’ Augus said, ‘and email me or something when the offices open again.’

‘Augus,’ Gwyn said, his voice quietening. ‘I never really learned how to pick someone up at some club, so you’re just going to have to pretend I’m trying right now.’

A slow breath in, another one out. Augus had one hand on his keys and the other resting on the driver’s side door, and he stared at Gwyn. He could pass it up as a New Year’s error. He could say he was drunk even though he’d only had two glasses of champagne a few hours before. His New Year’s resolution – not that he ever made them – could be ‘no more fucking Gwyn ap Nudd.’ He could start 2015 fresh. And, honestly, Gwyn’s hair was still long enough that it looks like it would be good to pull hard.

‘You still remember your safewords?’ Augus said, and Gwyn nodded slowly. ‘Tell me you’ve at least gone and had more experience since me. I don’t want a dog, so I’m definitely not interested in a love struck puppy.’

‘Tinder,’ Gwyn said. ‘Tried Fetlife, and…I got too many messages from too many people I didn’t…like the look of. Who wanted more than I- Who wanted things I didn’t want. Tinder worked. For the simpler stuff.’

‘You get sick?’ Augus said.

‘What?’ Gwyn said, staring at him. ‘Oh! No. Not…no, Augus.’

‘Get in the car, and don’t talk to me on the way home,’ Augus said, unlocking the locks and getting into the driver’s side, feeling Gwyn’s size and height and breadth acutely as he got into the passenger seat and immediately reached down to adjust it, so that he had more leg space. Gwyn put on his seatbelt and Augus hooked up his phone to play his classical playlist through his Spotify account. He sighed in relief as it cleared out the worst of the New Year’s raucousness.

Gwyn stayed silent the entire twenty five minutes. He didn’t fidget. He didn’t comment on the music. Mostly, he looked out the window and didn’t even pull out his phone. Augus found himself wanting to break the silence, which was absurd. He found that he wanted to know if Gwyn’s family were still awful, even though he knew very little about them barring the haunted look that Gwyn got in his eyes whenever they came up. He wanted to know if Gwyn was still addicted to cheap, poor quality lollies, the kind that you’d get from a lolly store – sherbet sticks and fantales and minties.

He looked good in the suit. Too good. Augus cleared his throat and kept his eyes focused on the road, and felt the weight of Gwyn’s gaze on the side of his head for about a minute, before Gwyn turned back to look out his window once more.

Augus had his own house now. Not one that he’d designed himself, but one he felt was more than just a cardboard cut-out builder’s home. It was two storeys, well soundproofed – including the double-glazing that was rare in Australia – because he never wanted to be told to keep it down when he was fucking someone to whimpers ever again. It came with the added benefit that he could play any sort of music as loud as he wanted to, at three am if he wanted to, and no one cared.

Gwyn followed him quietly into his home. He had nothing more than a wallet in his hand. When Augus put his keys and money clip onto the kitchen bench, Gwyn pulled out his phone and house keys from his pockets and did the same.

‘I like it,’ Gwyn said, looking around.

‘Me too,’ Augus said, turning and facing Gwyn, then sliding a hand to the buttons of Gwyn’s jacket. Gwyn’s breath hitched, and his fingers tensed where they rested on the bench. He looked down at Augus’ hands, and Augus focused on what he was doing. He slid his hand inside and found warmth and a high quality shirt, a defined abdomen beneath that, twitching at his touch.

‘What do you want?’ Augus said, lifting Gwyn’s shirt out of his pants and touching cold fingertips to warm skin. It occurred to him that someone else would offer Gwyn a drink first. And he knew that if it was someone else he’d invited home, Augus would demand that they go shower and brush their teeth. Hygiene mattered. But Gwyn’s hygiene had always been immaculate, and he found he didn’t care to enforce any of those rules he maintained with others, in this moment.

‘Anything,’ Gwyn said, laughing at his response. ‘I mean-’

Augus slid his hands up to Gwyn’s nipples, finding them soft and not bothering to tease them to hardness before pinching them in his grip. Gwyn tensed and made a small, wounded noise, but he didn’t step backwards, and he didn’t say stop. Augus kept up the pressure and Gwyn’s breathing became audible.

‘I said, what do you want?’ Augus said, his voice hard.

‘Jesus,’ Gwyn whispered. ‘You could go…easier.’

‘Is that an answer?’ Augus said, and Gwyn bit his lower lip and closed his eyes. Then shook his head. Augus let go only to adjust his grip and return with fingernails, pinching hard again. Gwyn flinched, and Augus pressed his nose to Gwyn’s neck. ‘I want an answer. Or I’m going to tell you to go home. And I won’t call you a fucking taxi.’

‘They’ll all…they’ll all be booked anyway,’ Gwyn gasped.

He squeaked when Augus leaned into the pressure. Pure pain now, and Gwyn tried to strain away, then stopped himself with a force of will.

‘Sorry,’ Gwyn said. ‘Sorry, sorry. I don’t know, I don’t know what I want. I’m not fussy. I didn’t…there’s no- I don’t know.’

‘All right,’ Augus said, easing up on the pressure and then rubbing his palms over Gwyn’s pectorals. ‘Same limits as last time?’

‘Yes,’ Gwyn said, dazed. ‘You remember?’

‘I always remember limits,’ Augus said, smirking, moving his hands out from underneath Gwyn’s shirt and reaching up for his tie. He tugged on it lightly a few times and then untied it, sliding the matt black length of it free. On a whim, he looped it around Gwyn’s wrist several times and then tied it. ‘Might need it later.’

Gwyn shivered.

‘Do you have any new limits?’ Augus asked, unbuttoning Gwyn’s shirt. Really, Gwyn should be doing this himself, but the novelty of having Gwyn in a suit at all made him want to touch, to feel, to remember this. He doubted he’d get to enjoy the experience of Gwyn dressed up again any time soon.

Any time soon? Remember that resolution? No more fucking Gwyn ap Nudd. This is it.

‘Not really,’ Gwyn said, and then shook his head. ‘No.’

‘Triathlons,’ Augus muttered, as he saw ridges and dips of muscle and spread Gwyn’s shirt open. Gwyn shifted his shoulders, his arms, so that the jacket slid and flumped onto the ground. Augus stared at it. ‘You should take better care of that clothing.’

‘Should I?’ Gwyn said, staring at him. ‘I don’t care about the clothing, Augus. Except…’

Augus was running his hands over Gwyn’s torso, mostly to satisfy himself. It was a nice side benefit that Gwyn seemed to enjoy it too. ‘Except?’

‘Except that I think you’re wearing too much,’ Gwyn said awkwardly.

‘Welcome to flirting 101,’ Augus said, sotto voce, ‘presented to you by Gwyn ap Nudd.’

‘Shut up,’ Gwyn said, looking away, and Augus turned the flats of his palms to fingernails scraping over his skin. Gwyn’s body was lightly tanned, naturally so. Augus lowered fingers to Gwyn’s belt and unbuckled it, sliding it through the loops and draping it over Gwyn’s forearm. They might need that later, too. It was quick work to undo Gwyn’s fly and reveal briefs – not boxers – in black with grey trim, an already hardening cock, and a shocking patch of pale skin when Augus toyed with the elastic of his briefs.

‘Do a lot of running along beaches then?’ Augus said, looking up and grinning.

‘Yes,’ Gwyn said, his voice rougher, his breathing more noticeable. ‘A bit. Most days. There’s a group of us.’

‘I’m starting to think I need to make sure I come to these training sessions. Who knew that a free show was being offered on such a regular basis? And then there’s me, paying for porn.’

‘You don’t use torrents?’ Gwyn said, and then his eyes widened slightly. ‘Not that I- I mean, I don’t really watch-’

‘Mm, yes, very believable. That will definitely hold up in a court of law,’ Augus said, actually – of all things – having fun. Gwyn was blushing, but he had a half-smile on his face as well, and it was like the six years of estrangement, of betrayal, hadn’t happened. Augus wasn’t quite sure how he felt about that. It almost seemed easy again.

‘So, do you have a bedroom, at all?’ Gwyn said, reaching up and tugging on Augus’ jacket. ‘Or is this some…avant garde home, with no bedroom, where you only fuck me on your tiled kitchen floor?’

‘Tch tch, you are much cheekier than I remember,’ Augus said, snapping the elastic of Gwyn’s briefs back against his skin. ‘And who said I was fucking you? You’ll take what I give you, and you’ll like it.’

‘Yes,’ Gwyn said, a little breathless. ‘That seems to be what I remember.’

*

Gwyn had scars on his body. They were even more noticeable now that he’d tanned. And Augus ran his fingers over them, still hard after the blowjob Gwyn had given him, saliva drying on his cock, the need to come a deep ache inside of him that would be satisfied very, very soon. He’d seen the scars before, and there weren’t any new ones. There was a mess of them all across Gwyn’s left hip, that looked like self-harm scars, except that the angle was awkward, and they ran around to his lower back. They looked like someone else had inflicted them, but like the first time Augus had seen them, he couldn’t imagine circumstances in which that might happen.

When Augus ran his fingers over them a fourth time, Gwyn made a sound of discontent.

‘Leave it,’ Gwyn said.

Augus pressed his fingers down into the scar tissue deliberately. Gwyn jerked. His wrists pulled at the two black ties now keeping him relatively immobile. Gwyn still managed to raise his leg and thump Augus with an ankle. He was surprisingly flexible. For someone who had been made to deepthroat only a few minutes earlier, he still had a lot of energy.

‘No,’ Augus said, pressing down again. ‘I like to watch you squirm.’

‘Asshole,’ Gwyn said, head tilting back, staring up at the ceiling. ‘I remember that too.’

‘I’m going very, very easy on you Gwyn. Some vanilla bondage and some head, I mean…this night could be going very differently if this was a second or third visit.’

Gwyn’s eyes shot back to his. ‘Do you want that?’

‘Eager,’ Augus said, smirking. ‘I don’t know yet.’

It hadn’t been that vanilla. Though it was all still light enough that Augus counted it as sex rather than a session or scene. But Gwyn was trickling blood from a couple of places where Augus had dug in his nails very hard to see how easy it would be to break the skin. Gwyn had bruises on his neck, bite marks on his chest, his arms, his wrists. He wasn’t yet done, either. He bent down and bit the top of Gwyn’s thigh, and Gwyn shuddered beneath him. Augus’ bites weren’t gentle, they hurt, and he liked it that way.

So did Gwyn, who was so hard he was leaking.

‘Well you haven’t come yet,’ Augus said. ‘So you’ve definitely learned something in the past few years.’

‘Fuck you,’ Gwyn said, no real heat in the words, as mouthy as ever. Augus thought longingly to the ball gag resting in his bottom drawer just behind him. ‘Not all of us can spend our free time jerking off to master the correct time to come.’

‘Jealousy is unbecoming,’ Augus said, licking over the bite and then biting down in the same spot again, drawing half a moan from Gwyn’s mouth. He pressed down into those hip scars and the moan choked off, Gwyn squirming beneath him again.

‘Stop playing,’ Gwyn said, after catching his breath. ‘Do you even remember how to fuck?’

Augus looked up at him, wishing he had his longer hair, it used to be an additional texture in the bedroom – brushing over skin, hiding his expression. He raised his index finger to his mouth and slid it along his tongue, licking and sucking generously before shoving Gwyn’s legs wider and finding his hole – about as tight as he remembered – and pushing in. Gwyn’s eyes squeezed shut, his body tensed, and Augus shoved hard.

‘What the fuck do you think?’ Augus said, pushing up into heat, then in, grinning hungrily at the gasp that shook Gwyn’s body. His fists were clenched where they were tied to the wrought iron at the head of Augus’ bed. Augus curled his finger over Gwyn’s prostate gland a few times, punching small breaths out of him, before withdrawing from tightness and pushing back in again, thinking that lubricant would make this much easier, but he didn’t want easier.

Gwyn’s mouthiness had disappeared, and Augus pressed Gwyn’s torso to the bed with his other hand and sped up, no longer slow and steady, but finding something rougher. Gwyn’s mouth was open, his neck flushed red.

‘You need a cock ring,’ Augus muttered under his breath. ‘You’re going to blow any second, aren’t you?’

He withdrew his finger and Gwyn muttered a sound of protest.

‘Wasn’t,’ Gwyn gasped.

‘Very convincing.’

‘No cock rings,’ Gwyn said, staring at him. ‘Not tonight. Please?’

‘Jesus,’ Augus said, reaching over and getting lubricant and condoms out of his drawer. ‘You’re mouthy. You talk back. You top from the bottom. Honestly, who have you been finding on Tinder? You’ve not had a dom take care of you for a while. You’ve forgotten how to be polite.’

Augus reinforced the word by slapping Gwyn hard on the thigh, and Gwyn’s breath caught. His eyes were desperate, hungry, and Augus wasn’t thinking ahead to what it might be like to tame him. Because that would be counterproductive. Because this was only happening once. That’s what New Year’s resolutions were about. ‘No more fucking Gwyn ap Nudd.’

Except for tonight.

It didn’t count.

‘I ought to shove a vibrator in you and leave it on until you’ve made a mess all over yourself and you’re aching. I have things I could be doing. I could go back to the party.’

Gwyn swore, his head sagged back against the bed. Augus opened the condom packet, then took it out, pinching the tip and rolling it down his cock, careful of his foreskin. He gripped himself hard at the base, took several slow breaths, staring at the picture that Gwyn made on his bed.

‘What sort of men have you been meeting on Tinder anyway? The kinds that say ‘looking for some hot tight ass to nut all over?’’

‘Sort of,’ Gwyn said as Augus moved between his legs and reached for the lubricant, staring at it. The condom was already lubricated. He wanted rough, and painful, but he wasn’t sure what experience Gwyn had had over the past few years and he had to be careful.

‘Sort of?’ Augus said. ‘Expound.’

‘Why can’t you just say explain, like a normal-’

Gwyn yelped when Augus slapped the inside of his thigh.

‘If you don’t want a fucking cock ring, stop mouthing off.’

Gwyn’s face had a mutinous expression on it, even as he stared at Augus’ cock. Finally, he looked back up at the ceiling, quieter, and Augus smiled and had to resist laughing. Gwyn wanted it bad; which was – all things being even – not helping Augus keep his own need to come at bay.

‘So tell me then, about these Tinder boys.’

‘I’m a top,’ Gwyn said, laughing. ‘I top. My profile is…you know, ‘looking for some hot tight ass to nut all over.’ Not quite. Close enough.’

Augus laughed, he couldn’t help himself. But he also opened the cap on the lubricant, because that explained the tightness. He was still laughing when he pushed two slick fingers against Gwyn’s entrance and nudged, watching Gwyn breathe through it as he entered. Augus bit his bottom lip from the heat of it, how much he wanted this. It had been too long. Far too long. He’d been in something of a drought for six months. This was some way to break it.

‘I’m just trying to imagine you,’ Augus said, pushing deeper and listening to Gwyn’s voice break. ‘I can sort of imagine it, I suppose. A cock like yours. All that cut muscle to flaunt. You’ve not taken a cock in over six years?’

‘I have, but they’ve been made of plastic, and- Jesus, Augus.’

‘I’d like to see that,’ Augus breathed, shoving his fingers up at Gwyn’s prostate and remembering how sensitive he was. Even this was painful, before Gwyn was used to it. Painful and electric, Gwyn writhing on the bed beneath him, getting his sheets damp with sweat. ‘Breathe through it, Gwyn.’

‘Breathe through it yourse- Fuck!’

‘Stop mouthing off,’ Augus hissed, his other hand wrapped mercilessly around the base of Gwyn’s cock, fingers sneaking further to ring around his balls as well. Gwyn whimpered, tried to pull himself up the bed away from that grip and Augus’ thrusting fingers, and Augus stared at him, the tension in his face. ‘Do you need to safeword?’

‘Give me- some credit,’ Gwyn gasped.

Augus closed the circle of his fingers and Gwyn was shaking his head at it. But he bit down on his bottom lip and didn’t say anything else, and a few seconds later he stopped trying to pull himself away and seemed to sag back into the pain. It really had been a while.

Gwyn was making small sounds to the rhythm of Augus’ fingers. Augus wasn’t exactly being gentle about it. He wanted Gwyn open, and he wanted to be fucking him, and fingering – while he liked to take his time sometimes – was merely expedient now. It didn’t help that Gwyn had essentially informed him that Augus was the only one who had ever really fucked him this way. It made his cock twitch when he thought about it.

‘Any New Year’s resolutions?’ Augus said, and Gwyn’s face screwed up. His eyes opened just enough to scowl at Augus.

‘You can’t think…I’ll answer that…now.’

‘You’ll answer it now, or this is all you get,’ Augus said, smiling at Gwyn’s frustration. Gwyn practically growled, his right hand tugging repeatedly at the tie. He faltered when Augus thrust harder, biting at his top lip. ‘If you break my bed, you’re paying for the next one, and this frame wasn’t cheap.’

‘No…resolutions,’ Gwyn gasped.

‘Are you lying?’

‘Augus!’

‘I can tell that you’re lying.’

Gwyn opened his mouth, looked like he was about to cuss Augus out, and instead broke off into a long, fractured cry, and Augus realised Gwyn was closer than he’d thought. He increased the pressure around Gwyn’s cock and balls with his other hand and Gwyn made a broken sound, then opened his eyes and just stared, pleadingly, no more words left. It was an eloquent expression, and hot enough that Augus couldn’t be bothered dragging it out any longer. He pulled his fingers free, and Gwyn wasn’t looking away, maintaining that intense eye contact.

‘Resolutions?’ Augus said, pushing himself into position, fisting his cock and finding Gwyn’s hole easily. He rocked forwards, but didn’t push in. Not yet. ‘Come on, Gwyn.’

‘You- I don’t- You can’t possibly-’

‘Speechless already? You’re meant to wait for this before that happens.’

Augus pushed in, harder than he’d initially intended, impatience winning out. He rode the slight bucking of Gwyn’s body and knotted his free hand into Gwyn’s hair and pulled his head back, exposing his throat. He listened to harsh breaths, Gwyn clamping down around him and then loosening again, then clamping once more. He must have been reminding himself to relax, but Augus wasn’t going easy. There was no point with Gwyn. He preferred it this way.

Gwyn groaned deeply as Augus withdrew to gain some momentum and pushed forwards once more. Augus scraped his teeth over Gwyn’s throat, bit down on his Adam’s apple, felt it shift against his tongue.

It couldn’t be possible to have missed something so much, when he’d hardly let himself think about it for over half a decade. And yet details were flooding back and reminding him that just about everyone he’d been with since hadn’t been quite up to par. They didn’t make the same array of noises, they didn’t try and hold their breath to keep control of themselves for as long, nor break as beautifully. He remembered how he fit against Gwyn’s hips once he’d sunk deep, even the taste of him was the same, which didn’t seem possible, given he must have been living on a different diet now that he was all about triathlons.

Augus bit down harder, feeling suddenly vindictive, and Gwyn only moaned, dry sobbed once against Augus’ teeth. They could’ve had this. For six years they could’ve had this. It didn’t matter that Augus was the one to call it off, there was still a chance before Gwyn had gone and fucked over Pinnacle.

Augus’ next thrust was too hard, too angry, and Gwyn’s whole body tensed and went still, and Augus did the same, realising that he was losing control of himself. He breathed harshly, Gwyn’s mouth open against the side of his face.

Gwyn didn’t use either one of the safewords – not the one to stop, nor the one to slow down – and he eventually relaxed, his arms sagging where he’d gripped the ties that were binding him to the bed. So Augus figured it had to be okay, and he tested the waters carefully, withdrawing and pushing back, easy movements. It wasn’t long before Gwyn’s hips shifted beneath, rocked up into him. Augus closed his eyes in relief. He was fine. It was fine.

Better than fine, even, because it meant that Gwyn could handle it.

He kept one hand in Gwyn’s hair, and the other went down and grasped his thigh, slipping on sweat slicked muscle, before managing to drag his leg up, giving himself better leverage. Gwyn cried out beneath him when Augus found a fast, vicious rhythm. One that was as much about revenge as it was about making sure they all got off. His release wasn’t that far away, and he pursued it, putting his own pleasure first. It was heat and sparks, the sound of chiming…

Augus’ phone was going off in his pants pocket where he’d left it folded over a chair. A few seconds later, Gwyn’s did the same. Augus blinked his eyes open and slowed, and Gwyn’s hips rocked into his harshly.

‘Augus, please,’ Gwyn said, voice strained. ‘Please, just-’

A growl as Augus’ concentration was yanked back to where it was supposed to be, and it was only a few thrusts later, digging bruises into Gwyn’s thigh and biting wet bruises into the meaty space where his neck met his shoulder, that he felt heat and more grow taut inside of him, turning tension into release. He shoved in hard, shuddering, Gwyn’s arms tugging again at the ties as Augus spilled inside the condom, feeling heat and slickness, and the tightness of Gwyn around him.

‘Please,’ Gwyn managed. ‘Please just- let me get a hand free, please. Augus, Augus-’

‘You…impatient fucking…stop topping from the bottom,’ Augus managed, his forehead dropping to Gwyn’s shoulder. He scraped at Gwyn’s thigh for good measure, yanked at his hair.

Gwyn made a single, solitary whimpering sound but managed to keep his mouth shut. Augus gathered his breathing back into something that wasn’t so jagged, he felt Gwyn’s hard cock against his belly, occasionally twitching. He was so hard it must have hurt.

In a single movement Augus withdrew and took off the condom, tossing it in what he hoped was the direction of the wastepaper basket. He looked down at Gwyn’s cock, flushed an angry red, and then looked up at Gwyn’s face and smiled. He could see the pleading in Gwyn’s eyes, could tell by the way his lips thinned that Gwyn was making a demonstrable effort to not beg. It was admirable, for someone used to having his way in the bedroom for some time.

‘Well,’ Augus said, sliding off the bed and noticing the way Gwyn’s eyes widened. He stretched casually, looking out of his second floor window, not caring about his nudity. ‘How’s it feel to get shafted, Gwyn? The way you shafted me?’

He could feel Gwyn’s gaze on his back, and he thought he knew what expression he’d find if he turned around. So he waited another few seconds.

‘Are you going to untie me, at least?’ Gwyn said finally, his voice quiet.

‘No,’ Augus said lightly. ‘Maybe I want you to stay.’

‘What?’ Gwyn said.

‘Stay,’ Augus said, turning back, walking over to the bed and crawling over Gwyn’s exposed torso. ‘You know, that thing where you spend the night and then wake up in the morning, fucked out and tired? And then we go to some over-priced, busy café where everyone is getting hangover breakfasts and decide it’s too fucking busy, and pick up some takeout to take home? There’s a great vegan place down the road.’

‘Vegan?’ Gwyn said, staring at him.

Augus lowered his hand to Gwyn’s cock, which had wilted a little. He wrapped his fingers around it and tested its weight, before jacking him off slowly. A rhythm that would ease him back into the wound-tight arousal of before.

‘Vegan,’ Augus echoed. ‘It’s all right, Gwyn. I don’t run screaming if someone eats a steak in front of me.’

‘You want me to stay?’

‘Maybe,’ Augus said, rubbing his thumb over the head of Gwyn’s cock. He had callouses from years spent holding pens and mechanical pencils and tablet pens too hard. He put them to good use now, and Gwyn’s breathing hitched, he rocked into the movement. ‘Do you want to stay?’

‘I wanted to stay seven years ago,’ Gwyn said, ‘but you kicked me out.’

‘I was confused,’ Augus said, looking at him. ‘And quite young. Also, you were acing me in almost every exam we were taking except prac. I was a little mad at you.’

‘You’re always a little mad at me.’

‘That’s true,’ Augus said. ‘Shut up.’

Gwyn was, thankfully, silent – except for the quickening in his breath. Gwyn kept tensing, relaxing, tensing again. Augus looked up at his wrists, he’d need to untie them soon. But for now, they would have this.

Words of encouragement spilled from his throat as he worked Gwyn up, hand moving quickly with not enough lubricant and Augus not willing to stop and get some from the tube. Gwyn kept his eyes closed, his mouth open, and he went almost completely silent when he was close. Augus found it mesmerising, the way all his focus went inwards towards the sensations being evoked, the way he seemed to hang in a tense, wanting place, his breathing fast and shallow, his hips seeking for something that Augus was giving to him.

Gwyn’s breath strangled in his throat when he came, his hips tensed on an upthrust. Augus shoved his hips back down again with his hand, working him through his release, and Gwyn gasped and then groaned, knees bending, feet digging into the bed.

He was already reaching up to untie Gwyn’s wrists, when Gwyn sagged back into the bed, his eyes open and blank. Spilling had always hit him particularly hard, and Augus shook his head with something like affection as he lowered one wrist to the bed, and then the other, after working at a particularly difficult knot.

Augus inspected his wrists carefully, but they were fine, and he took Gwyn’s right hand and lay it, palm flat in the biggest pool of semen on Gwyn’s belly.

Augus,’ Gwyn complained, not even bothering to move his hand away.

‘You like it.’

‘I’m sure your work colleagues think you’re so put together, they’d have no idea you’re like this.’

‘Oh, about seven of them know,’ Augus said, laughing to himself as he slid off the bed and fished his phone out of his pants. He got Gwyn’s phone and tossed it onto the bed, and then walked into the adjoining bathroom. He filled the glass by his basin with water and brought it back into the room, setting it on the bedside drawers for Gwyn.

‘Seven of them?’ Gwyn said, moving his hand away from where Augus had placed it, and wiping it deliberately on Augus’ sheets.

‘That’s disgusting,’ Augus said. ‘You’re doing the laundry.’

Gwyn gave a tired huff of laughter which showed exactly what he thought of that idea. Then he reached for his phone and his face glowed from his phone’s light, as he checked his messages.

‘Oh,’ Gwyn said, ‘Happy New Year’s.’

Augus unlocked his own phone to a bevy of messages. A lot of indistinguishable keysmashing from Ash, followed by one very sober message from Gulvi: I gave you the first picture of his ass, you have to give me the second.

Augus replied: You have a problem. Tell Fenwrel she needs to work harder if she wants to keep you. Maybe you need more than two fingers.

A few seconds later, a message from Fenwrel: Say that to my face when offices open. I dare you.

Augus shivered and put his phone away after sending a New Year’s message to Ash, followed by several reminders that he not drive home, and that he stay hydrated.

‘Am I staying?’ Gwyn said, looking at him. ‘I had resolutions you know. I had two.’

‘Did you?’ Augus said, looking up as he walked back to the bed. He placed his phone on top of his tablet, where it was charging.

Gwyn turned to his side. He went to lean his head on his hand, and then winced at the pain in his wrist, and propped himself up on his forearms instead. Augus slid onto the bed, in no wet patch at all thanks to Gwyn spilling on himself and Augus wearing the condom. He reached down and pulled up black sheets, covering them lightly. The weather wasn’t cold enough to warrant anything more.

‘Yes,’ Gwyn said, looking at Augus’ lips, and then meeting his eyes again. ‘The first was to apologise to you.’

‘Always over-achieving,’ Augus said. ‘You couldn’t even wait until 2015.’

‘Ah, well, yes,’ Gwyn said, smiling.

‘And the second?’

‘Oh, a triathlon I want to win in June.’

Augus leaned into Gwyn, pressing his nose to Gwyn’s jaw. He couldn’t even blame this on alcohol. Gwyn’s faint stubble was scratchy, and he tipped his chin forward and felt it rasping against his own skin.

‘June, you say?’ Augus breathed. ‘A lot of training for that.’

‘Yes,’ Gwyn said. ‘A brutal regimen, actually. I’ll need to take some time off work. Or shorter days.’

‘I think I’ve found my new spectator sport,’ Augus said, grinning.

Gwyn was grinning too when they tipped towards the gravity of each other’s mouths. It made their first kiss in seven years somewhat clumsy, which didn’t matter, because their first kiss seven years ago had been exactly the same. Their noses bumped, Gwyn’s hand found its way to Augus’ cheek, which Augus leaned into until he realised it was the hand that still had remnants of Gwyn’s come on it.

‘Goddamnit,’ Augus muttered, and Gwyn’s nostrils flared with silent laughter. ‘I’m still mad at you.’

‘But I can stay?’

‘Lovesick puppy,’ Augus said, biting Gwyn’s lower lip and swiping his tongue against it. ‘You can stay for one night. One. And then I want to reassess in the morning. I think I need to make a new resolution for 2015.’