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The first time Alex kisses Charlie, Charlie freezes up completely. The three seconds that Alex has his lips pressed to Charlie's seem to last a lifetime in Alex's mind, and then he's springing back like he's been burned and babbling a mile a minute.

"I—shit, sorry—I completely misread something there—can we pretend I didn't just do that?"

Charlie is staring at him with wide eyes and Alex is absolutely certain, in that moment, that he's just completely and totally ruined their friendship. He bites down hard on his bottom lip to try and stop further inane apologies spilling out of his mouth.

"Er—yes?" says Charlie after what seems like another lifetime, and his voice sounds sort of unnaturally high-pitched. "I mean. Yes. Absolutely. If you want to." And then, for no reason that Alex can understand, he adds, "Sorry."

"Right. Sorry," Alex says hurriedly. They're sitting in front of the TV watching some crappy gameshow because nothing else is on, and currently the studio audience is clapping and it feels like they're applauding Alex's stupidity. He fixes the TV with a steely glare, resolutely not looking at Charlie beside him, and then he registers what Charlie just said. "Hang on, what d'you mean, if I want to?"

He turns to Charlie again, who is biting on his thumbnail. "Um," Charlie says. He's gone very red.

"I thought you'd want to," Alex says, puzzled, and then the next words all come out in a rush, "forget about it, I mean. Because I thought—I thought you didn't want me to. Not forget about it—kiss you. Oh, shit, I'm not making any sense."

"It's—it's not really that," Charlie stammers, going even more red.

"Not really what?" Alex feels like he's losing his grip on this conversation; it's hard enough keeping track of his own side of it.

"It's not...not wanting to," Charlie says, still the colour of a tomato and now looking slightly sweaty, and Alex feels terrible for causing him so much apparent distress. "It's more just—"

"Hang on," Alex interrupts, realisation suddenly dawning on him. "Have you never kissed anyone before?"

He knows Charlie's had girlfriends, but he never knew what Charlie did with them and they never seemed to be around for very long, and suddenly everything makes a bit more sense. Until—

"No!" says Charlie quickly. "I mean, yes, I mean, I have kissed someone before, but—"

"Did it go like that?" Alex interrupts again, grinning. "Because I'm not sure that counts."

He's kind of trying to make a joke and get Charlie to relax a little, but it has the exact opposite effect. Charlie looks down at his lap, his brow furrowed and his jaw very tightly set.

"All right, fine," he says, "let's just forget about it."

"No, wait!" Alex cries, floundering now. The people on TV are doing that awful thing where they wait for like an hour before announcing whether or not someone's won, so everything is silent apart from the sound of an exaggerated heartbeat. Alex makes a mental note to track down the show's sound guy and punch him in the nose some time. "I didn't mean—it's just—" the words spill out of him before he can stop them, "—do you wanna try again?"

Charlie shifts slightly and then nods. "Um. Okay."


Thud-thud. Thud-thud. Alex wishes he'd thought to press mute. Before it was impulsive but now he's overly aware of the distance between him and Charlie, of the time it takes for them to inch closer, and tension-building sound effects really do not help. Alex hesitantly places his hand on the back of Charlie's neck, feeling the warm skin there, and pulls him in. Their lips meet, and instantly, Charlie tenses up and does not move. Very inconsiderately, the game show contestants on the TV choose this moment to win five hundred pounds, and the crowd goes wild, cheering noisily.

Alex draws back and Charlie puts his hands over his face. "I'm sorry," he says into them, his voice muffled. "Maybe we should just forget about it."

"It's okay if you don't want to," Alex says, still slightly baffled. "I mean, don't pretend just to make me feel better or anything, because I think that's gonna lead to more issues than we need."

"I'm not pretending!" Charlie groans. He removes his hands from his face quite suddenly and sort of slaps them against his thighs in frustration. "I swear, I'm not pretending. I just—augh. It just makes me—basically, right—basically, I can't do it."

At this, Alex decides things are getting serious enough to necessitate switching the TV right off. He does so, and then says, "What, kissing? Because I'm not entirely sure you've actually tried."

"That's what I mean!" says Charlie. "I can't even try, I just freeze up. It's not like I do it on purpose. And then it's not like I have much of a chance to try and get used to it and relax, because after a couple of seconds the girl pulls away and looks at me like I'm a freak. Or apologises for getting the wrong impression, like you did." Charlie is speaking very quickly, in a way that suggests to Alex he's never actually spoken about this before, and doesn't particularly want to be doing so now, but a part of him is clearly relieved to get it off his chest.

"All right," says Alex, "well then—at the risk of sounding repetitive—shall we try again?" Charlie shifts nervously beside him. "I'll just do my own thing and you can join me whenever you feel like it."

Charlie hesitates. "It's just so embarrassing," he moans.

"Charlieburg. How many times have I told you? You can never embarrass yourself in front of me."

A tiny smile quivers around Charlie's lips and he says, in a small voice, "Okay."

"But I mean, only if you want to," Alex adds hurriedly, because sometimes it's really hard to tell when Charlie is just being his usual awkward self and avoiding confrontation, or when he genuinely agrees.

"Alex, I want to. Trust me."

Alex grins toothily at him and says, "All right," and then "Relax," and then promptly kisses him again.

It is a bit weird kissing someone so unresponsive. Alex has kissed people and caught them off-guard before, and it's taken a few seconds for them to kiss him back, but Charlie is still all tense after what feels like quite a while. He tries to show that this isn't a problem, and slides his hand around to the back of Charlie's head, fingers raking through his hair. Then he wonders if that'll make Charlie feel trapped, and slips his hand down a little, thumb stroking the hair at the nape of Charlie's neck in what he hopes is a reassuring way. Charlie seems to relax very, very slightly against him, and his lips part just a little. Alex keeps kissing him, sucking gently at Charlie's lower lip and he can tell that Charlie's beginning to get used to the feeling, his muscles loosening up, his hand even reaching out to tentatively touch Alex's knee.

But just as it makes contact he seems to panic slightly, and Alex moves back instantly. "All right?" he asks.

Charlie looks flushed, but it's not just from embarrassment now, and his lips are shiny and reddened and for a moment Alex gets distracted looking at him. But then he realises that Charlie is nodding, and breathing a little shakily.

"Do you want to kiss me back?" Alex asks softly.

Charlie nods again. "I'll probably be terrible, though."

Alex grins. "That's okay," he says. "I used to kiss like a washing machine until I found a girl who taught me properly." He doesn't mention that this is all ancient history to him now, back when he was about thirteen—he doesn't want to make Charlie feel even more insecure about his lack of experience. Charlie still looks a bit troubled. "We can wait, if you want. Until tomorrow or something. I mean, we've got all the time in the world, I'm not gonna rush you."

He smiles when Charlie looks relieved. He doesn't mind if they take this slow. Honestly, it's probably better that way, because their friendship is important and if they rush into something they might damage it. Especially if Charlie's not ready. It's a little frustrating, because now Alex really, really wants to know how it feels to have Charlie kiss him back, and he wants to spend the whole night kissing here on the sofa—but he knows he's just being greedy. He never really let himself think about the exact nature of all these weird feelings he has for Charlie, always pushed the odd thoughts to the back of his mind. But then he caught Charlie looking at him like that, and now it's like the floodgates have opened.

"Okay," says Charlie, grinning shyly. "But can we not like, set a time, though, because then I'm likely to worry about it non-stop until it happens."

"All right. I won't add it to my 'to-do' list, then. 8:15pm, kiss Charlie." Alex mimes scribbling in a dayplanner and Charlie laughs.

They lapse into a silence that's only very slightly awkward, and then Charlie says, "So did those people win the money? I wasn't paying attention."

"Yeah, they did," Alex replies. "Shall we run through the channels again? There might be something better on by now."

"Yeah," says Charlie happily, and Alex smiles to himself as he picks up the remote.


Over the next few weeks, Charlie gets a lot more comfortable kissing Alex. Alex starts kissing him at random moments throughout the day—only if they're alone, of course—giving him a peck on the lips when he brings him a cup of a tea, and that kind of thing. He wants Charlie to know that he's not always expecting some kind of epic make-out session, that sometimes they can just kiss a little bit and then go back to what they were doing, it doesn't have to lead to anything. Charlie always waits for Alex to initiate the kiss and still lets him take the lead, but he gets more responsive and confident each time.

Whenever they kiss for any extended period of time, it's always on the sofa. Charlie is comfortable enough now to lie down with Alex on top of him, and not long after they've adopted this position, certain new issues begin to arise.

For a while, Alex doesn't mention it. He keeps kissing Charlie until it's almost unbearable and then there's a couple of further painful minutes of pretending to go back to watching whatever's on TV, and then they both make their excuses and disappear into their separate rooms. Alex finds it kind of funny, actually, the pretence of it, the way they both act like they're not hurrying off to have a quick wank even though it's perfectly clear that's what's happening. Charlie always puts on the radio, which is something he only does very rarely, and it makes Alex wonder if every time he's heard the radio coming from Charlie's room in the past, he's been wanking off.

Tonight, though, Alex figures this has gotten ridiculous enough. They're making out on the sofa again, a rerun of Friends on TV and being totally ignored, and they've both been hard for what feels like fifteen minutes now. Eventually, Alex breaks the kiss, reaches down between them and cups his hand gently over the bulge in Charlie's trousers, and says, "You all right there, Charlieburg?" with a grin.

Charlie blushes hotly and avoids looking Alex in the eye, squirming slightly under the unexpected touch.

"It's okay," Alex says quickly. "I mean, I've got one too." He knows there's no way Charlie wasn't aware of this, seeing as it's been digging into his thigh, but it seems fair to point it out. "We could even do something about them if you like. I mean, together, this time."

Charlie's blush deepens and Alex wishes he could say these things without causing that reaction, but it seems to be a pointless dream. He just hates feeling like he's making Charlie uncomfortable, when he's trying to do the exact opposite of that. Their friendship has always managed to work because they don't discuss sex, the one difference between them that's significant enough to potentially cause problems. And now it's become something that can't really be ignored. Alex wonders if this was such a good idea.

"I just—I don't—I don't think I can—" Charlie is stammering awkwardly, still not quite looking Alex in the eye.

"Okay," Alex interrupts hurriedly. "That's okay." He had, after all, pretty much been expecting that response. "D'you mind if I do, though? Take care of myself, I mean."

Charlie shakes his head, and Alex takes a deep breath, nods, and reaches down to undo his skinny jeans because his cock is fucking aching in there, trapped beneath the tight fabric.

Suddenly, Charlie's eyes go wide. "What, here?" he chokes out.


Alex wonders what would make Charlie more comfortable—maybe if they were somewhere less open, more familiar. "We could go in your room?" he suggests. That'd probably be more comfortable, anyway, seeing as there's not exactly much space on the sofa.

"Um—" Charlie hesitates. He breathes out, shakily. "Yeah. Yeah, okay."

"You sure?"


"All right." Alex hops up, and he suddenly has the urge to reach out and take Charlie's hand and only stops himself just in time. It's what he'd do if Charlie were a girl, he supposes—he's led many a girl towards many a bedroom, but this is Charlie, and Charlie's bedroom. Charlie gets to his feet awkwardly, hands sort of clasped in front of him in a pointless attempt to hide the bulge in his jeans.

"Um," he says, and they both dither for a second before Charlie takes a decisive step towards the hall. They hurry uncomfortably into Charlie's room and then dither a bit more, so Alex decides to just take action and get on the bed. It's very forward, he realises, and slightly rude, but luckily Charlie just does the same thing and joins him.

"Hi," says Alex goofily, as they roll over to face one another.

Charlie grins. "Hi yourself."

"Fancy meeting you here, etc," says Alex, and then leans in and presses their lips together. He finds that he's feeling nervous now, too—for some reason it makes a lot of difference being on a bed, and everything is very quiet without the TV (though they can still hear the distant sound of Ross and Rachel arguing, floating in from the living room). For a moment Charlie is all tense again, but Alex strokes the soft hair at the back of his neck and gently slips his tongue between his lips and he seems to relax, go pliant.

Alex's dick is still pretty sore and after a little while they seem to have adjusted to the new location, so he reaches down between his legs and fumbles with his zipper. Charlie gets noticeably distracted from the kissing at this point, and Alex hears his breath catch in his throat. Alex shoves his jeans down a bit, still one-handed, and Charlie begins to get quite flustered. His hand is resting on Alex's bicep, but he seems to realise that this is making things more difficult for Alex, so he takes it away but doesn't seem to know where else to put it. Alex opens his eyes for a second and sees that Charlie's hand is just sort of hovering in mid-air and trembling slightly.

He breaks the kiss and Charlie quickly puts his hand down on the bed between them. "You sure this is okay?" Alex asks.

Charlie nods, quite rapidly. "Yeah, it's just, you know," he laughs nervously, "logistics."

Alex grins. "All right. Just relax. Here." He places Charlie's hand on his chest, and Charlie's fingers splay out a little.

"Wow," he says, "your heart is beating almost as fast as mine."

"You just completely ruined my attempts at seeming all suave and laid-back," Alex replies, and when he chuckles it sounds all nervous, but Charlie seems relieved to learn that Alex isn't just totally blasé about all of this.

"Yeah, sorry about that," Charlie says jokingly, and he seems more relaxed now, wrinkling his nose.

Alex pulls him back in for more kissing, and reaches down between his own legs again. He slides his hand down into his pants and gets a hold of his cock, and almost moans right into Charlie's mouth, the contact feels so good. He wraps his fingers more firmly around himself and tries to focus on kissing Charlie as he starts to stroke himself. He feels Charlie's hand tensing up against his chest, pulling at the fabric of his t-shirt. He wonders if Charlie's still hard too, if he's really not going to do anything about it. He kisses Charlie harder, and Charlie makes a slight noise that sounds almost pained, a whimper of frustration.

"You can, you know," Alex murmurs against Charlie's lips, "if you want. I won't touch you if you don't want me to."

Charlie makes another frustrated sound. "It's not about not wanting," he says, and Alex is aware of the fact that this is about the twentieth time Charlie's had to say something along those lines.

"Okay," Alex says softly. He strokes himself more slowly, his breathing getting a little heavier. "I'm just saying, it's okay. It's only me."

Charlie just nods, a serious expression on his face as he looks Alex in the eyes. And, oh, there's something about that—the fixed eye contact—that makes Alex squirm and buck his hips, pushing his cock into the ring of his own hand. It's a little dry, so he brings his hand up to his mouth to spit into it, and Charlie sucks in a sharp breath at that, Alex's hand so close to Charlie's face after being down there, wrapped tight around his own cock.

Alex reaches down again and this time he shoves the elastic waistband of his pants right down over himself, shuddering slightly when he feels the cool air of the room on the heat of his skin. He figures he may as well get comfortable, and rolls over onto his back, still keeping his head turned to the side so he can keep an eye on Charlie's reactions, in case this goes too far for him.

He goes back to stroking himself, long fingers curled tight around his length and moving slickly now, fast. He looks up and sees Charlie's eyes flicker down, just for a split second, and he goes red when he looks back at Alex's face, his pupils blown.

"You can watch," Alex says, and his voice sounds strained as he skims his thumb over the sensitive tip of his cock, shuddering again.

Charlie is still blushing and for a moment he doesn't do anything, but then his gaze slowly slides down and Alex feels his eyes following the length of Alex's arm right down to his hand, between his legs. Alex lets out a huff of breath, getting infinitely more turned on just by the fact that Charlie is looking at him, at his cock, watching him wank himself off. It feels really fucking good. He forces himself to slow down for a moment so Charlie can get a good look, and he expects Charlie's eyes to quickly dart back up again but it's like he's transfixed. Alex groans, speeding up again, feeling himself getting close already with Charlie's eyes fixed on him like that. He brushes his fingers over his balls, feeling their fullness, and stares at Charlie, at the look on his face, the spots of colour on his cheeks, his slightly parted lips. He gulps and Alex sees his throat work with it, his Adam's apple bobbing gently.

Something twists in the base of his spine and he arches his back, thrusting into his hand. "I'm gonna come," he forces out, and he can see Charlie's breathing speed up, his chest heaving with anticipation. Alex strokes rapidly, and then feels his orgasm take over—he tries to keep watching Charlie's face but he can't, and he moans loudly, a wave of pleasure crashing through him as he shudders and splashes over his clenched fist and his t-shirt.

For a moment everything is hazy and the room is spinning slightly, and then Alex comes back to himself. He wipes his hand against his boxers and then looks back at Charlie. Charlie looks a little shellshocked, so Alex offers him a grin.

"All right?"

To his surprise, Charlie lunges forwards and kisses him, sudden and fierce, and then darts back, looking sheepish, suddenly shy again. "Um," he says, and his eyes flick down to between Alex's legs again, where his cock is going soft. "I—fuck," he says, and he almost never swears, so Alex knows he must be pretty distressed.

He gets up, and for a second Alex is really worried, and then he sees that Charlie is hobbling towards the ensuite bathroom. He grins, shaking his head, as Charlie disappears into the room and shuts the door. He really, really wishes Charlie felt comfortable doing this without several metres of space and a wall between the two of them, but he reminds himself that they have time, that things can still change. He stuffs himself back into his trousers and leaves the room, giving Charlie a little more privacy—he doesn't want him to just stay locked in there for hours because he doesn't want to face Alex immediately after he's come.

"See you in a bit then, yeah?" Alex calls when he reaches the door.

"Y-yeah," comes Charlie's strained shout back.


The next time, Charlie gets under the covers, and Alex copies him, not really understanding at first. If anything, it actually seems like a bad idea, because he doesn't really want to get come all over Charlie's sheets, but he also doesn't want to say anything and risk embarrassing Charlie so he just goes along with it. And then it all becomes clear when Charlie starts shifting around awkwardly beside him and he hears the sound of a zipper cutting sharply through the quiet in the room.

It's so hard not to touch Charlie, then—Alex aches to just reach out and take Charlie's cock in his hand, to know how it feels in his fist, the shape and the weight of it. But he knows that again, he's being greedy, because really it's enough just to be with Charlie while he's doing this, to hear the breathy little sounds he makes and to see the way he screws up his face like he's concentrating. He doesn't like Alex watching so intently, though, and he blushes and squirms and then, eventually, buries his face in Alex's shoulder to hide it. Alex holds him close, fingers playing at the nape of Charlie's neck again, feeling hot panting breath against his skin and lips bumping his collarbone as Charlie brings himself off. It's hurried, a little clumsy, and he comes before Alex does, muffling a moan against Alex's shoulder. Alex follows shortly after, still clutching the back of Charlie's head and keeping him close.

It happens like this a few more times, and Charlie lets Alex look at his face a little longer each time. It's strange—but, Alex thinks, in a really nice way—how little their friendship is affected by these changes. Alex has kissed male friends in the past and sometimes things got a little messy, but it was never the end of the world. But that was because they never really made a big deal of it; it was just a drunken snog or a couple of weeks of fooling around until they got girlfriends again or just lost interest. And he knows it's not going to be like that with Charlie. Charlie is so guarded, especially when it comes to physical affection, that there's no way that any of this could just be meaningless to him.

And yet, their friendship hasn't suffered. Things aren't suddenly complicated or serious or awkward. In fact apart from the fact that large portions of their time are now taken up by kissing, and wanking off together in Charlie's bed, things are pretty much the way they used to be. They still play games and watch TV and eat together, work on songs for Chameleon Circuit or come up with random creative ideas. And it's comfortable. Sometimes Alex forgets that anything has changed at all, and then he says something cracks Charlie up and Alex gazes at him and wants to kiss his smiling mouth—and then he realises that he can.

It's around noon on a Saturday, today, and the two of them have absolutely no plans. Alex crept into Charlie's room about an hour ago, ostensibly to wake him up, but really just because he felt lonely lying in his own bed, knowing Charlie was so close. He ended up just crawling under the covers and joining Charlie (who was still fast asleep) snuggling down into the warm bed and breathing in the smell of the sheets.

Charlie first woke up maybe twenty minutes ago, his eyes flickering open when Alex snuggled a bit closer. He blinked a couple of times, sniffling to himself, and then his mouth slowly curled into a smile when recognition dawned on him. There is little in this world, Alex thinks, that is more adorable than a sleepy Charlie. They've just been lying here, sort of cuddling, for a while now, and Alex is starting to get horny and wondering if he should do anything about it. His leg brushed between Charlie's legs a moment ago and met the stiffness of morning wood there, and now his heart is racing and heat is curling in his belly and he wants.

Maybe it's because he's still kind of sleepy, or because it's just habit to touch the other person before himself, but for whatever reason, Alex makes the mistake of reaching down between them and gently curling his fingers into the waistband of Charlie's pajama trousers. Charlie flinches, and then actually reaches down quickly to put his own hand over Alex's, and his eyes have gone wide and panicked and Alex instantly feels like shit.

"Sorry. Sorry. Fuck." Alex pulls his hand away from under Charlie's. "I just thought—I wasn't thinking."

"It's—it's okay," Charlie stammers. He's blushing again. He echoes Alex's 'fuck' and then squirms, turning slightly to bury his face in his pillow. He moans something that sounds like, "I just feel so stupid."

"You feel stupid? I feel stupid. I'm sorry."

Charlie lifts his head up slightly and looks at Alex. "I'm sorry."

Alex laughs, and luckily Charlie recognises that he's not laughing at him and joins in. Alex offers, "Shall we just—" and adds a crude hand gesture, "—ourselves, then?"

Charlie falls serious and nods, and the next few seconds are full of the rustling of fabric as the two of them squirm around under the covers. Charlie usually just gets his clothes as much out of the way as he has to, unzipping his jeans and shoving his pants down, but pajama trousers give them a lot more leeway. Alex does away with his altogether, sending his underwear the same way, but he's surprised when his leg brushes Charlie's and he feels the hot skin of Charlie's shin. And then the idea that Charlie is in bed beside him, wearing nothing but a t-shirt, really hits him and he's painfully hard and there's a weird feeling in his throat like he's being choked and there are too many feelings going on inside him to count or even recognise.

He gulps and it sounds cartoonishly loud in the quiet of Charlie's bedroom. Charlie grins nervously at him and then looks down, eyelashes fanning out, cheeks flushing slightly—and Alex knows he's touching himself now. Alex takes his own cock in his hand, and relief seems to wash over him after a moment, because this feels familiar now in a strange way, and he relaxes, palm working over himself smoothly. Charlie seems uncomfortable though, shifting beside Alex on the bed and furrowing his brow like he's cross about something.

"You okay?" Alex whispers.

Charlie's eyes dart up to Alex's face. "Yeah," he says, "yeah."

Alex considers him for a moment and then leans in to kiss him, and he's not entirely sure that it helps. He intended it to be a quick, sort of reassuring peck on the lips, but Charlie deepens it instantly, and Alex feels a shaky hand brush his chest and then slide up to his shoulder and cling there. Charlie makes a sort of mmph noise and twists beneath the sheets, and then, very suddenly, his hips push forwards and Alex's brain short-circuits. He feels hot, slick skin and then the slight bones of Charlie's fingers and he can feel the blur of movement in Charlie's hand. Their hands meet, and the movement ceases immediately, and then to Alex's surprise, Charlie's fingers thread through his, slightly sticky and warm.

Charlie stops kissing him and moves back uncertainly, and Alex curls his free hand around the back of Charlie's head, fingers teasing his hair as he thrusts his hips forward, once, and their hard cocks collide. Charlie sort of gasps, and Alex does it again, and it's clumsy—Alex's cock slides alongside Charlie's and bumps up against Charlie's stomach, against the soft cotton of the t-shirt he sleeps in—but it feels so fucking good. Charlie's grip on Alex's shoulder tightens and Alex, encouraged, does it again, and again, until he's grinding against Charlie with barely a thought in his head, and he's so caught up in the feeling of it—Charlie, feeling the hot hard length of Charlie's erection against his own—that it takes him a moment to notice when Charlie starts moving too. Charlie sinks forward, hiding his head in Alex's shoulder, biting down on his own knuckles where they've turned white from the strength of his grip. His hips start bucking to meet Alex's and Alex realises that they're still holding hands, awkwardly, fingers clasped tight together. There's a bubble of something like glee in Alex's chest, at the ridiculousness of it, and he squeezes Charlie's hand as they press and slide against one another, cocks pushing and rubbing against each other, against tensed stomachs.

It feels amazing, but Alex quickly realises he's not going to be able to come like this—it's too random, too erratic, and they're too clumsy and excited to find a proper rhythm. For the second time, he takes a risk, loosening his hand from Charlie's and slowing his movement so that he can reach down between their bodies and take both their erections in his hand. Charlie jerks back in surprise, and Alex whispers, "Okay?" and gets a frantic, red-faced nod in response. He slides his hand over the both of them with ease, the shafts slick with mingled pre-come, and Charlie is staring at him with his eyes wide and his teeth biting into his lower lip. Alex tries to do it like he would wank himself off, but it's tricky and the way Charlie's looking at him is making it hard to concentrate, so in the end he just holds Charlie close, hand cradling the back of his head, and strokes them together as best as he can.

Alex's orgasm almost startles him—he clutches Charlie's head and lets out a sort of strangled moan, coming hard and messily. Charlie is breathing hotly against his neck and Alex tries to get it together, letting go of himself so that he now only has Charlie in hand. Charlie doesn't object—in fact, he sort of whimpers into Alex's neck and mumbles something that sounds like please. Alex wraps his hand tighter around Charlie's cock and feels the pulse of it against his palm, and it's slicked with Alex's own come, and it's thick and firm under his fingers, and Alex can't get enough—but two pumps of his wrist and it's over; Charlie spasms against him and spurts over his fist.

For a moment they just lie there, panting, sticky and sweaty and disgusting, and all Alex can hear is the sound of his own heartbeat, stupidly loud in his own ears. And then he slowly becomes aware of a familiar sound outside, a noisy truck signalling the arrival of the bin men on their street.

"We should run down there and give them these sheets," Charlie jokes, his voice hoarse, his face still hidden in Alex's shoulder.


After that, Charlie really loosens up. Alex has a sneaking suspicion that it's because Charlie's realised that having someone touch his cock really isn't as terrifying as he imagined. They don't talk about it, though, because Alex doesn't want it to seem like he's mocking Charlie or belittling his anxieties at all. Plus, there doesn't seem to be much need to mention it. After changing Charlie's sheets together, they ended up right back in bed again—or rather, they stumbled wobbly-legged onto it, and before long Alex had his hand down Charlie's pajama trousers, and then Charlie (blushing and with his hands over his face) let him push the pajamas down out of the way (just so that Alex could see what he was doing, of course) and Alex made him come a second time, staring down at Charlie's skinny hips and pale stomach, and thick hard cock.

It's all so good that Alex almost forgets that there's more they could be doing. He's quite happy to continue on like this—his wrist tends to get a little bit sore and achey from jerking both of them off all the time, but he doesn't mind, because it's so good just being able to do it, to get to touch Charlie like that and make him make those little whimpery noises and bite his lip, and to make him come, all tensed up in Alex's arms like a bowstring and then deliciously satisfied and sleepy in seconds.

And then one day they're messing around on the sofa, Zelda paused and forgotten about on the TV in front of them, and Alex is reaching for the zipper on his own jeans when Charlie's hand stops him. Alex looks up at him in surprise. He's all flushed, his face almost the colour of his hair. He looks up at Alex from beneath his fringe, bites his lip and says, almost apologetically, "Can I—um—you know—can I try?"

Alex is too startled to make words; he sort of just stares blankly at Charlie for a moment before remembering how to speak. "Yeah!" he says, a little too high-pitched and enthusiastic.

Charlie flushes and drops his gaze, unzipping Alex's jeans with a sense of serious determination. Unfortunately they are one of Alex's tightest pairs, and Charlie needs a little help before he can get anywhere near Alex's cock, but then it's done, and Alex is sitting on the sofa with his trousers and boxers crumpled around his knees and his long, flushed erection resting against his purple t-shirt, and Charlie just sort of staring at it nervously.

"Take your time," Alex jokes. He actually feels rather self-conscious, sitting here half-naked in his own living room with Charlie's eyes fixed on him like that.

Charlie, who is still very red, mumbles an embarrassed, "Sorry," and then starts to move his hand forward before hesitating and dropping it back down onto the sofa beside him.

Alex frowns. He really is quite painfully hard, aching for attention, and suddenly he has an idea. "Here," he says, "how about—I can show you, if you touch me."

Charlie somehow manages to go even redder, but he licks his palm—hurried and sort of sheepish—before reaching out and gently curling his fingers around Alex's cock, uncertain and trembly. Alex reaches down and puts his own hand over Charlie's, a little more firmly. He feels Charlie relax slightly.

"See?" he murmurs. "And then—"

He starts to move his hand like he's just wanking off, and it's awkward with the bulk of another whole hand underneath, but the contact and friction bring relief, and he huffs out a breath, tipping his head back. He tightens his grip just a little bit more, encouraging Charlie to do the same, and finds a quick rhythm. Charlie has been sitting up very straight, but after a moment of this he relaxes a little more and curls in beside Alex, resting his head on Alex's chest and watching the movement of his own hand beneath Alex's.

"Okay?" murmurs Alex, tilting his chin to kiss Charlie on the head.

"Okay," says Charlie, and Alex takes his hand away slowly. Charlie falters for a second, his grip loosening, but then picks up Alex's rhythm again. Alex snakes his hand behind Charlie and rests it on his back, rubbing small, soothing circles. Charlie snuggles closer and twists his wrist a little, and Alex moans.

"Mm, that's good," he breathes, and he swears he can feel the heat of Charlie's cheek against his chest even through his t-shirt, but Charlie is definitely encouraged, his touch firmer and surer now. He strokes and smoothes his palm over the length of Alex's cock, and he keeps it very basic but Alex doesn't feel like he needs much—just the fact that this is Charlie, Charlie who freaked out at the thought of kissing not so long ago, is enough to make him feel close to coming already.

"Go a little faster?" Alex suggests gently, hoping Charlie won't take this as criticism, and Charlie speeds up. Alex shudders happily, feeling his orgasm approaching. He can hold out for longer but he wants to let Charlie know that he's good, that he can do this. "I'm gonna come," he chokes out, and Charlie's hand glides quicker over him, encouraging.

Alex comes with a moan, wetting Charlie's hand and his own shirt, and Charlie makes a pleased little sound that Alex almost misses due to the heaviness of his own breathing.

"Was that—okay?" Charlie asks.

"That was awesome," Alex assures him. He looks down at the mess. "Blech," he adds.

Charlie considers it, and then wipes his hand on Alex's t-shirt.

"Oh, great, thanks!" Alex laughs, and Charlie laughs too, sounding quite pleased with himself. "Hang on," says Alex, shifting Charlie aside so he can stand up and carefully peel the t-shirt over his head. He almost trips over, forgetting his trousers are still tangled round his ankles, and he pauses to kick those off too.

He runs his fingers back through his hair, looking down at Charlie. He still looks slightly anxious and embarrassed, but sort of proud of himself too, and Alex is filled with a sudden rush of love for him.

"Can I suck you off?" he blurts, without thinking, and startles himself. It comes out sounding like canisuckyouoff, so when Charlie responds with a stunned "What?" Alex genuinely thinks he just hasn't understood him. "Er," he says, swallowing uncertainly, "I want—if you're all right with it, I mean—I—can I suck you off? That's a thing," he finishes lamely, "that I kind of wanna do."

Charlie still looks fairly shellshocked and says nothing, just gaping at Alex.

"If you're not ready that's okay," Alex says quickly. "It's just—you were really amazing then, with that, and," he babbles something stupid about showing gratitude, and then something even stupider about wanting to know what Charlie's cock feels like in his mouth, and this last is definitely a mistake because Charlie goes so red it can't be healthy and then grabs a cushion and covers his face with it.

"Sorry," Alex whines. "I'm sorry. I need to learn when to shut up. Do you wanna go back to Zelda? I think you were winning." The rather large and obvious bulge in the crotch of Charlie's jeans suggests that he doesn't really care about beating Alex at video games right now, but Alex figures he should give him an out anyway. Then, before he can stop himself, he's adding a quiet, "I mean, not to say that we can't do the other thing. We could do the other thing. D'you wanna do the other thing?"

For a long moment nothing happens, and Alex wants to crawl into a hole, but then Charlie says something. Unfortunately it's so muffled against the fabric of the cushion that Alex can't make head or tail of it.


"Ifyouwantto," Charlie says, still mostly into the cushion.

"But—I don't want to if you don't want me to."

Charlie sort of groans. "I want you to," he says, and his voice is slightly clearer now so Alex assumes he has lifted the cushion a little more away from his face, "it's just that the thought of it happening is making me feel like I might die."

Alex squints at him. "Is that a good thing?"

"I don't know," Charlie groans.

Alex shuffles forwards and sinks down into a sort of crouching position. "Do you really want me to?" he asks quietly.

Charlie makes a frustrated noise. "Why do you have to make me say so? It's so embarrassing."

"I'm not trying to embarrass you!" Alex assures him, shuffling closer and putting a hand on Charlie's knee. "I just want to check."

"I really, really, really want you to," admits Charlie in a very small voice, and then he bites rather viciously into the cushion.

"Okay." Alex chuckles nervously. "But—can you leave the cushion alone? I'm all for going down on you, seriously, but not at the expense of our poor innocent cushions."

Charlie laughs weakly and slowly parts ways with the poor innocent cushion, and Alex grins at him in what he hopes is a reassuring way.

He hasn't exactly thought this through; nothing in his brain seems to be able to process anything beyond wantwantwant—which, he thinks, makes it quite a feat that he actually manages to undo Charlie's jeans and get them all the way off without, like, malfunctioning or something. He even succeeds in doing the same thing with Charlie's underwear, and he mentally notes both of these achievements, so it really shouldn't come as a surprise that he's then faced with Charlie's cock, resting thick and heavy against Charlie's stomach. It's leaking a little dark spot on the pale blue t-shirt Charlie's wearing, and god, that really should not be as hot as it is, but suddenly Alex's mouth is actually watering and he pulls Charlie's knees further apart and edges in between them and then his lips are at that swollen, shiny head and—

"Oh god. Ohgodohgodohgod," Charlie babbles.

Alex adds something along the lines of "Mm-hm," but then his mouth is too full to speak.

Fuck, he thinks instead, quite vehemently, fuck, fuck, fuck, as his lips stretch around the shaft and his tongue strokes against hot soft skin. He's not even sure that it's possible, but it feels like Charlie is getting even harder in his mouth, and the thought makes his own cock twitch even though he just came. He spreads his hands out on Charlie's hips and Charlie shudders gently against him, speechless.

Charlie has replaced the cushion with his own arm, flung it haphazardly over his own face so that his eyes are almost totally obscured. Alex keeps looking at him anyway, wanting to catch his eye. The best part of going down on people is seeing their reactions, he's always felt. Though he's starting to think that there are other things just as good, like feeling the weight of Charlie's cock in his mouth, heavy and thick on his tongue, the pulse just beneath the hot skin, and the taste

He comes back up, laves his tongue over the tip before going right back down, bringing one hand in to grasp the base, keep him steady, stroke what he can't fit into his mouth. It's then that he realises Charlie is watching him now, looking down at Alex from under his forearm, his lips parted and his skin sweaty and this look of total wonder on his face. Alex stares fixedly up at him and sucks, and strokes, and Charlie stares back, thunderstruck, gripping the couch cushions and then suddenly gasping and—

Alex feels it coat his tongue, tastes its bitterness, but all he can focus on is the gorgeous, desperate way that Charlie sobs "Alex," as he comes. Alex swallows, and then swallows again, and then comes up, eyeing Charlie carefully, noting his messed-up hair and his dry lips and the way his chest is heaving like he's been holding his breath.

"You all right?" he asks, and is surprised at the sound of his own voice, all rough and raw like—well, like he's been sucking cock, he supposes.

Charlie nods, wide-eyed, and then nods again more firmly. He makes a few sounds that are probably supposed to be words, and Alex smiles fondly up at him from between his legs.

And then Charlie regains control over his vocal chords and says, "I—wow, um—have you done that before? I mean, I—no, sorry, of course you have, agh, never mind."

He covers his face with his hands.

"Er—" says Alex, clearing his throat, caught off guard, "er—yeah, but, it was just, you know, meaningless experimentation stuff, it wasn't like—it didn't actually mean anything." There's a split-second, there, when something in the air changes—Charlie goes very still and takes his hands off his face, and Alex is surprised to feel his own cheeks heating.

"Um," says Charlie shyly, "did this?"

A pause. Alex's breath hitches.

"Yeah." He bites his lip. "Yeah," he says again, more certainly.

"Oh," says Charlie. "Um. Good."

He looks like he's fighting back a smile, and Alex can't help it—his face splits into a grin that is almost painful. Maybe it's that it seems like such an understatement, or maybe it's just that it's such a Charlie reaction, but he feels this overwhelming rush of love for his best friend and clambers back onto the sofa beside him just to be closer. He keeps grinning at him like an idiot.

"I—I um, I really want to kiss you now," says Charlie, all in a rush. "Is that gross?"

"Is it gross to you?" Alex asks.

Charlie flushes. "No," he says. "Is it gross to you?"

Alex answers this by kissing him, heavy and rich and real, like nothing in the world could stop them. The phone begins to ring and even that doesn't slow either of them down. It's only when the answering machine kicks in, and the room is suddenly filled with the loud and cheery voice of Charlie's Mum, that they are interrupted. Mostly because Charlie falls off the sofa.


For a while, neither of them talk about it. For maybe two days, anyway. And then Charlie is attempting to cook them both some stir-fry, and, ignoring the fact that the kitchen is filled with acrid smoke and Alex is standing on his tip-toes on a chair waving his arms frantically at the smoke alarm, he decides that now is a good time to bring it up.

"Hey, so," he says, and Alex can barely understand him over the din of the alarm, "I just wanted to say, you know, about the thing that happened the other day?"

"WHAT?" Alex shouts, uselessly, straining to hear Charlie's words.

"I just wanted to say that I'd be okay with it happening again," Charlie continues, going pink and scraping at the bottom of the pan with a spoon.

"YOU MEAN, ME SUCKING YOUR COCK?" Alex bellows, and the smoke alarm chooses that moment to shut up, so that Alex's words ring deafeningly loud around the apartment. Alex imagines that the lovely old couple down the hall have probably just had their dentures fall out in shock, because he's totally sure that's a thing that happens.

Charlie is in fits of laughter at the stove, and the stir-fry is quickly forgotten as Alex gets down from the chair and then down on his knees, and soon Charlie's knuckles are going white around drawer handles and the sound of the alarm is replaced by faint whimpering, and Alex begins to think he could really get used to this.

And he does.

He'd feel sort of ashamed of himself for just how used to it he gets, only Charlie seems just as desperate for it as he is. Even so, Alex can't help but feel that it's becoming an issue, considering the fact that his lips are all red and sore all the time, and people have been asking him about it so much that he's actually had to invent an illness as an explanation. (Charlie calls this illness 'Excessive-blowjob-itis' in private, pink-cheeked and giggly, and all it does is make Alex want to go down on him all over again.)

It's just so good that Alex isn't even bothered by the lack of balance in it. Sure, he does sometimes entertain the thought of Charlie reciprocating, but it's hardly something that keeps him up at night. It's sort of like all of his Amy Pond fantasies—fun, but not exactly rooted in reality.

Which is why he's genuinely shocked when it happens.

They're just lounging around on Alex's bed, working on a script for this sitcom idea Charlie came up with last week. Mostly, it seems like a totally normal evening, but Alex knows something is up. Charlie keeps taking his glasses off and then putting them back on again, and tearing little holes in the pages of his notebook, and sucking on the end of his biro in a totally distracting way, and fidgeting incessantly with Alex's bracelets whenever Alex goes on a long monologue about something. Generally, he is behaving weirdly.

Eventually, Alex says, "You all right, love?" and Charlie goes all red and says no, actually, he's not, because he kind of wants to—

It's at this point that he breaks off, and Alex is puzzled, genuinely wondering if Charlie has a problem with this scene Alex came up with or something. "Hmm?" he says, checking back over the last page they've written in case there's something really obviously stupid about it.

"I kind of—I want to—Alex," Charlie bursts out frustratedly, and then all of a sudden Alex is being pushed over.

"Wha—" Alex starts, sprawled out on the bed and bewildered. "Are you—really?"

Charlie has his thumbs hooked into the waistband of Alex's pajama trousers, and a very intense look upon his face. "Yes," he says, and then after a slight pause, "if you want."

Alex flails about for a second. "Yeah, uh—yes please," is all he can manage for a moment, and then "yes," again, and then, "please god yes," and he barely has the last word out before his pajama bottoms and his pants are suddenly in a heap on the floor beside him.

Charlie's eyes have gone all dark behind his glasses and Alex is hard in about six seconds, and wanting, and dizzy, and Charlie's fingers close around him and go tight. A few moments pass and Alex feels his way back to reality, blinking down at Charlie who is sort of slouched between his legs, chewing his lip.

"Hey," Alex says gently, and Charlie looks up sharply, blushing. "It's okay. Just go slow and, like, pretend you're just sucking your thumb, or something." Charlie blushes even deeper, and Alex wants to laugh but doesn't. "Hey, we've been sharing a bed for the past like, month, or something. So yes, I noticed, and no, I don't care, because it's actually kind of adorable."

"Shut up," says Charlie, grinning and relaxing. He settles down on his front, between Alex's legs, getting comfortable. His breath ghosts over Alex's dick and Alex shivers with anticipation, trying to stop his imagination going into overdrive in case he just orgasms right now, completely untouched, and ruins this for both of them.

Charlie loops his hand loosely around Alex again, holding the shaft firmly at the base, and then lowers his head. He hesitates for a second and Alex squirms, feeling the heat of Charlie's mouth so close—and then suddenly he's enveloped by it as Charlie takes the head of Alex's cock between his lips. Alex makes a gasping sort of ah! sound, possibly equal parts surprise and pleasure. Charlie doesn't even look up, totally focused, his brow furrowed as he starts to suck, and shit, that feels good. He pauses and his tongue sort of swirls over the tip, and then he takes Alex a little deeper, sucking, his eyes closed now behind the lenses of his glasses.

All Alex can do is gaze down at him, at the way his glasses are beginning to steam up and his fringe is all dark and damp with sweat. He doesn't look at all like he does when he's curled up in bed at night, sucking on his thumb, relaxed and sweet and sleepy—he looks pornographic, even with his hands trembling like that and the way he's going so slow. His lips are so red and his cheeks are flushed with something more than embarrassment, and Alex can hardly cope with that look on his face, all focus and determination like bringing Alex off is the only thing that matters in the world.

He's still just sucking on the head, slowly getting into it, and it's just starting to get a little bit too intense when he pulls off, wiping his wet mouth with the back of his hand and chuckling in that low, self-conscious, Charlie-like way that makes Alex weak.

"You're doing really good," Alex blurts out, "really, really, really good." He reaches down, sort of caressing Charlie's cheek and Charlie leans into the touch like a cat, relaxing again.

He dips his head back down, this time licking a stripe up the length of Alex's cock before taking it back into his mouth, and deeper now, and Alex feels Charlie's lips stretch and his cheeks hollow, and his tongue pressing right up against the underside of his cock, silky-smooth and so hot. Alex rakes his fingers through Charlie's hair, stroking, and then nearly chokes when Charlie takes him even deeper.

Overall, it's a little sloppy—Charlie's teeth graze him gently a couple of times and he freezes up once or twice like he can't quite believe he's doing this, and then his mouth goes tighter like it's closing up in panic against the intrusion. But then Alex strokes at his hair, encouraging and gentle, and Charlie breathes through his nose and relaxes, and keeps going.

"You're so good," Alex murmurs helplessly, "so good, Charlieburg," and at the mention of his nickname Charlie suddenly swallows Alex deeper, and Alex claws one-handed at the bedsheets, his thoughts turning to static. All he can do is stare down at Charlie, wonderful innocent Charlie, still blushing even as his mouth is filled with Alex's cock.

Alex comes suddenly and sooner than he wants to, only just managing to gasp out a warning before Charlie is gulping clumsily and not quite managing to hide the slight grimace on his face. He pulls off and there's a slight drip of it, pearly-white on his bottom lip, which he wipes off quickly with two fingers, bashful. Alex is light-headed.


Charlie is silent as he slides further up the bed, tucking himself neatly beside Alex, but he's smiling in this way that seems almost uncontrollable, like he's really proud of himself, and it makes Alex's heart swell.

"That was awesome, okay?" Alex says and he puts his arm around Charlie and tries to bring himself back down to earth, "so don't start worrying about if you did something wrong, or thinking about all the other thousands of blowjobs I might have had and how you compare."

"I'm not," Charlie says, and then adds, "thousands?" and Alex can hear the smile in the words.

"That was a ridiculous exaggeration," Alex assures him, "and you were better than all of them."

They lie there for a few moments, Alex toying idly with Charlie's hair, and then he asks, "Whatcha thinking about?"

Charlie nuzzles closer, and says in a small voice, "Nothing."

"'Kay. You just seem really happy, and it's nice."

Charlie lets out a little laugh. "It's just, you know. I feel way more comfortable now, knowing that we've basically done everything."

Alex almost, but not quite, manages to hold back his bark of laughter in response. Oh, wonderful innocent Charlie.

"Okay, not everything, shut up," Charlie adds quickly, rolling his eyes. Alex is pretty sure Charlie's blushing again too, and he thinks that before they do anything else, they should work on at least talking about sexual things without Charlie going such bright colours.

"There is a whole world of sexual activity out there, Charlieburg," Alex says, affectionately patting Charlie on the head. "A whole world of it."

"What, and you're gonna be my guide?" Charlie snorts.

Alex says, "If you want me to be," which is a super lame line, and he expects to get an elbow in the ribs and another shut up from Charlie, but instead Charlie sort of squirms happily against him, and after a moment he's making those little breathy sounds that he makes when he's about to fall asleep. And then Alex finds himself grinning like an absolute fool, feeling something inside him that is threatening to burst, and he's so stupidly happy and it's all just so sickeningly good that he wants to punch himself in the face.

Except that really, he doesn't, because it's just that good—and so instead he simply pulls Charlie closer, and flicks out the light, and keeps on smiling to himself in the dark until sleep takes him too.