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Title 18, Section 3503

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Connor didn't think this through, that much he's ready to admit. Not that he needs to admit anything – it must be pretty obvious to everyone that crashing a wedding where you don't even know who the bride and groom are, don't know anyone at all, in fact, except maybe the cute waiter who kinda looks like someone you had a one-night stand with a while ago, and of course your ex boyfriend who's probably looking forward to having you kicked out, is a bad idea. Like, a throw-gasoline-on-fire level of bad. Especially for someone with Connor's nerves. He only made it through fifteen minutes of the reception before he persuaded himself that the lady in the purple tube dress who'd been eyeing him from across the room was onto him, almost had a panic attack, and went hiding in a stall in the men's room to regroup.

So yeah, Connor didn't really think this through. Doesn't mean it's all his fault. The way he sees it, he can't be held accountable for anything he's done after it all went to shit with Oliver. He just hasn't been himself since then. Pining for his ex and thinking about him every fucking time a love song (any love song) comes on the radio and jumping whenever his phone rings in hope it's him? That was never Connor's style. He used to be cool – the heartbreaker, not the heartbroken whiner, but either he's getting soft or Oliver is some kind of sorcerer because not only did Connor really like someone for once, not only was he the one getting dumped for a change, but he's been unable to move on for the past two weeks.

Which is why he was stalking his ex on Facebook instead of being out seducing some guy hot enough to make Connor forget even Oliver's name for one night, and he happened to find out Oliver would be at the wedding of some colleague of his today. Why on earth did it seem like a good idea to try and patch things up with him (maybe even beg him to take Connor back, if need be) where he has security to drag Connor away, Connor has no clue. He's pretty sure it's still Oliver's fault, though.

He sprinkles some water on his face at the bathroom sink and looks at his reflection in the mirror. You can do this. He gives himself a devilish smirk, trying to look more confident than he feels, and walks out of his temporary hideaway and back into battle.

It could work, after all. All he has to do is hang back and have a drink, look like he's having a moderately good time, and before he knows it he'll spot Oliver in the crowd and he'll be standing alone too and Connor will go to him and apologize for how big a jerk he's been and Oliver will give him a second chance, he has to, and this time...

"I don't know you." A male voice coming from right behind him shatters Connor's fantasy, sending him back into a world of anxiety.

"I'm – sorry?" he asks, turning to face the voice. It belongs to a guy about as old as Connor, and in different circumstances Connor would automatically register his bright dark eyes, his strong arms and how well he's pulling off his light blue shirt. Right now, though, he's too on edge for any of that, and all he notices about the other guy is the way he's smirking like he knows.

"You okay, man? You're kinda pale," the guy points out, but before Connor can even begin to think of something to say to that he carries on: "I was wondering who you are. Never seen you before."

Connor swallows. "Oh. Right. I'm... Paul's cousin."

"Really?" the guy asks, and he seems to brighten up. Connor takes it as a good sign. "So you're Judge Millstone's son, then? Pity he couldn't be here today. How is he?"

"Pretty well, thank you. He would have come, but – you know."

"Oh yes, Marlene told me the Tellington case is keeping him busy."

"Exactly. He just couldn't get out."

"Far be it for family to come in the way of justice, am I right?"

"What can you do, he's an officer first and a family man second."

"True. How's Uni going, by the way?"

"Oh, you know, same-old, same-old."

"Mm-hm. And what about Linda? I didn't see her at the ceremony."

"Honestly, it surprised me too. I'm having a hard time keeping track of her myself these days."

"Oh well, you know how these artist-types are. Is she still seeing that photographer who keeps dragging her to weddings they haven't been invited to?"

"What?"

"You should talk to her about it, really. I could close an eye on the dancer who wanted her to dress up as his mother during foreplay, and even on the painter who mixed his own jizz with his colors, but showing up to a perfect stranger's wedding is just sick, don't you think?"

Connor opens and closes his mouth a few times, at a complete loss for words. Then: "Okay, how long ago did you bust me?" he asks, because he's ready to admit that he's the one in the wrong here, but that doesn't mean he'll just stand there and let some random douchebag make fun of him like this.

The guy flashes him a smug smile. "I'm Paul's cousin."

"Oh."

"Yup. Asher Millstone, the one and only," he says, pointing at himself with both thumbs. "So are you gonna tell me who you really are, or should I just call you Party McCrasherton?"

"God, I'm so sorry," Connor says, and he's surprised to find that he isn't freaking out. He's embarrassed to death, yes, but for the first time since he got here he doesn't think he's going to have a heart attack. He can just leave, and he doubts this Asher guy will make a fuss. He really doesn't seem the type.

Except... that would mean giving up his chance to talk to Oliver, and he isn't ready to do that. Not without a fight, at least. "Look, I know how shameless this sounds, but could you please not rat me out just yet?" Connor asks in a rush, afraid that if he doesn't do this right now he'll lose his nerve. 

Asher's eyes double in size. "Are you serious? What, you haven't scrounged enough drinks off my cousin's open bar yet?"

"Look, I had one drink. One."

"And that's, say, 11$ you owe Paul."

"Okay, fair enough, then I'll pay him back," Connor caves. "I just need a little more time. Please." God, he's begging a perfect stranger now. Oliver really did work some magic on him.

He must look pathetic even to a stranger's eyes, because instead of unleashing security on his ass Asher hesitates. Then he takes one step closer to Connor and asks conspiratorially: "Why?"

Connor sighs. He's come this far – no reason to start worrying about salvaging what's left of his dignity now, right?

"I'm here to see a guy."

"What for?"

"Apologize for being a jerk and beg him to take me back?"

"Wait, are you telling me you're gay?" For some reason, Asher looks like that's the best news he's heard all day. Connor quickly wonders how likely he is to be interested, and whether sucking him off in the men's room would help him in his mission to win Oliver back. Maybe. Probably. Definitely not in the long run.

So he just shrugs and doesn't make eye contact. "Yeah, I am."

"And you crashed a total stranger's wedding to stalk him?" Asher asks, even though he already knows that's exactly what happened. He's still making fun of him, and Connor would hate him for it a little if he didn't 100% deserve it. "Does that ever work outside of rom-coms?"

"I don't know, I wasn't thinking," Connor admits.

Asher laughs, and it isn't mocking this time. "Well that's kinda romantic, I have to give you that. Let's hope your dude appreciates crazy gestures." His eyes scan the room, the sea of people chatting and drinking and dancing, before he asks: "Who is he, by the way? Maybe I know him."

Connor shakes his head. "Nah, don't think so. He works with Paul, but they're not that close. Not that I know of, at least. His name's Oliver, anyway. Oliver Hampton?"

"Nope, never heard of him," Asher confirms. "So what's your plan? Steal the mic from the band and confess your love in front of everyone? Or are they in on this and they'll start playing your song in a moment?"

"God, no," Connor says, and he can't help letting out an amused huff because that would be touching rock bottom in his descent toward utter and complete pitifulness. "I was thinking more along the lines of hanging back until I can get him alone, and then talk. Possibly without drawing too much attention to myself, since I'm not even supposed to be here."

"Oh, my man, but you're too hot not to draw attention," Asher counters, and he must immediately realize how it sounded because he blushes and stammers: "I–I mean, not that I can say. I mean, you know, I'm not... into dudes or anything, so. But I noticed you, 'cause I was checking the competition, you know, and you got me worried."

"Checking the competition?" Connor inquires with a frown.

"Yep. You know how many girls at this reception are hot, single, and not related to yours truly? Two." He sounds almost heartbroken. "That makes my chances to score waaay lower than it's acceptable at a wedding. Throw in some good-looking boys like you to steal them away, and I'm pretty much guaranteed to go home alone tonight."

"Wait, is that why you were so relieved when I told you I'm gay? You were afraid all the girls would come flocking to me?" Connor asks, amused.

"Maybe."

"You know, that doesn't make you sound as less gay as you'd like."

"Fuck you. I can still have you kicked out, you know," Asher threatens, but he isn't serious. At least Connor hopes so.

"Fine, I'm sorry," he says, just to be sure. "So who are you..." he starts asking, but then he sees him. Oliver. Approaching the bar – alone. "I have to go."

Asher follows his gaze and understanding dawns on his features. "That him?"

"Yes." Connor's knees feel weak. Oliver looks even more sexy and endearing than he remembers him, and he isn't sure he wants to do this anymore.

He doesn't really have time to have second thoughts, though, because Asher nudges him forward and pats him on the back with an overly enthusiastic: "Go get him, my gay bro!"

"Yeah," Connor decides. He downs what's left of his drink and lets Asher take the empty glass from him. He's doing this, he's really doing this. "Yeah, I'm going."

He's already walking in the direction of the bar when Asher stops him to say: "And look, if someone starts grilling you, just tell 'em you're a friend of mine and come looking for me. I'll cover for you."

Connor smiles. He can't believe he found an ally here, and one as improbable as Asher to boot. Maybe he and Oliver aren't such a lost cause after all. Maybe fate is on their side or something. "Thanks, that'd be great."

"No problem," Asher replies with a wink, and he's just about to disappear in the crowd when Connor shouts after him: "Hey! Good luck with your two girls!"

He can't say for sure that Asher heard him, and it doesn't really matter. Oliver got his drink and he's about to walk away from the bar and back into the fray, so it's now or never.

Make it now, then. Connor is going in.

 

Asher is doing this, like, never ever again. Whoever decided weddings are the best place to get some has probably never been to one. Except maybe in Vegas. Now that's a place where people know how to have fun. Asher is so going back there for spring break. Or maybe somewhere on the seaside, it's been too long since he's seen some real, live babes in bikini.

He flops down on a stool at the bar and gestures for his man Vinnie to keep the drinks coming. If Asher's not getting laid, at least he's getting hammered tonight.

It's been dark for a while outside, but the party is still going strong. In a different crowd Asher might consider being more sociable, maybe even bust some moves on the dance floor, but with half the people in the room being boring accountant friends of Paul and Karen's and their perfect families, and the other half being relatives who only talk about 1. their liver diseases and 2. other relatives he cares even less about, he decides that sitting alone at the bar is the only thing he feels like doing right now.

At least until he spots a familiar face a few stools over.

"Can't stay away from the open bar, I see," Asher quips, taking a seat next to the gay party crasher from before. The gay party crasher who looks like he'd rather sit through a Twilight marathon than talk to anyone right now, let alone Asher, but is going to have to suck it up.

"Look, I'll pay for the drinks, alright?" he sighs, even though he has no right whatsoever to be annoyed at Asher. Not after Asher totally saved his bacon earlier.

Still, he looks so defeated that Asher has to reassure him. "Come on, dude, you know I don't really give a crap about my cousin's stupid open bar. How'd it go with your guy?"

"What do you think?"

"Well," Asher considers it carefully. "You do look like a man drowning his sorrows, so I'd say not well. But. I sent you on your way almost two hours ago and you're still around, so maybe you worked it out and you're waiting for..."

"Not well," the dude cuts him off. "We've been talking 'til... I don't know, fifteen minutes ago. See, he had to give me a complete list of everything that's wrong with me as a person and partner and that took a while. Said he still cares about me and wants me to be happy, but I really hurt him and I'm obviously not ready for a mature relationship and he has to look out for himself first. Anyway he's dating some underwear model now. Or maybe someone who used to date one? I'm not sure, I wasn't really listening by that point. Believe it or not, I wasn't in the mood for a special on Oliver's life and how perfect it is now that he's dumped that Connor loser."

Asher's not gonna lie, he lost track of what the guy was saying at some point during the tipsy rant. "Wait, who's Connor?" he asks.

"That'd be me."

"Right." Okay, now it makes slightly more sense. "You know what, fuck him and his model boyfriend. He's missing out."

Connor isn't listening to him, he has no reason to, but he looks pleased to have someone on his side. "Shut up," he says, and he can't help smiling a bit.

"You're right, enough about your misadventures. Wanna hear what I did in the last two hours?"

Asher is at least 90% sure that Connor is going to blow him off, thank you, I've already had a shitty enough evening without having to end it sitting here talking about a total stranger's nonexistent sex life. He's wrong. "Yeah, weren't you supposed to go seduce a very unlucky girl?"

"Unlucky? Ha!" Asher protests dramatically. "But, yeah. First one told me she was a lesbo, which I'm guessing was slightly untrue since I've then seen her make out with the bass player and ultimately leave with the best man."

"Aw, I'm sorry," Connor says, though by the looks of his shit-eating grin he isn't sorry at all. Jerk. "Well, what about the second one?"

"She said I was sweet. And nothing else. For like, an hour."

Connor snorts. "Yeah, right."

"I'm serious!" Asher insists. "It was like, 'You're really beautiful.' 'Aw, you're sweet.' 'How about we have a drink?' 'You're sweet.' 'So what do you say we get a room and I rip that dress off you?' 'You're so sweet.' 'Is that a yes?' 'You're sweet.'"

"Oh my God." Connor is positively choking with laughter now, and for some reason it's almost worth having been rejected twice in less than two hours to see him like this.

Doesn't mean Asher won't put up a mock protest. "Oh, that is so uncool of you. Did I laugh at your story? Uh?"

"Sorry, sorry." Connor recomposes himself. "You have to admit, though, my story didn't sound like it came straight from some bad sitcom."

"Please. Bad sitcom? This is top-notch material," Asher says, taking a sip of his drink. He hopes he looks as cool as he feels.

 

They've been drinking and laughing together for almost an hour when Asher risks venturing into more serious territory. "So how'd you get dumped in the first place?"

Connor's smile vanishes, but he doesn't back down. "Let's see... I realized I liked the guy, panicked and cheated, came back to my senses, came clean in the hope to be forgiven and start things over, wasn't forgiven."

"Ouch. So sorry, dude." Asher catches Vinnie's attention for another round of drinks. "Was the other guy hot, at least?"

"God, yes," Connor replies with no hesitation. His eyes seem to look in the distance for a moment and a little smile creeps back on his lips, like he's remembering a really great time, and Asher has the sudden, stupid desire to see Connor think about him the same way.

Lucky for him he's still sober enough not to say anything like that out loud. Instead, he offers Connor his fist to bump, which earns him a stare in equal parts confused and disgusted.

"Really? Are we celebrating the stupid mistake that ruined the only good relationship I ever had, now?" Connor asks, skeptical.

Asher won't have it. "Hey, you got laid by someone hot. That's always a reason to celebrate."

Connor shakes his head and doesn't cave, but there's something fond in his eyes when he picks up his drink and says: "You're so fucking weird, man."

 

"No, see, but you come on too strong. It's obvious how much you want it, and nobody wants to sleep with a desperate weirdo."

"That makes no sense," Asher argues. "Shouldn't it be flattering – hell, even hot – to see someone really want you?"

"Yeah, maybe when you're in a relationship. If you've had sex with someone a hundred times and you still want them bad, that's hot," Connor explains, and if smugness didn't look so good on him Asher would have ditched him the second he started dissecting his flirting technique. As it is, he can't do anything but sit there and let Connor lecture him: "But if you're just meeting someone, cold and detached is the go-to move. Trust me, I know."

Asher gives him the most dramatic eye roll he's capable of. "Well thanks for the free lesson in People's Backwardness 101."

"Free? Just wait 'til I mail you my bill," Connor jokes.

"Oh-ho, really? Should I mail you the check for all the drinks you've been swiping tonight?"

"That's between me and the happy couple." He eyes them, back on the dance floor, and Asher could swear he's checking Paul out. "And I'm sure we could make some arrangements."

Asher elbows him in the ribs. He's ready to stick up for Connor when they drink the bar dry, but if he gets in trouble trying to seduce the groom he's on his own. "Dude, no way. Paul so doesn't play for your team."

"Can't know 'til you try it," Connor retorts.

"That's a load of crap."

"Not in my experience."

"You know, now that I think about it I did hear somewhere that anyone can turn gay with the right amount of alcohol," Asher mentions, and he immediately regrets it. That's stupid and pretty offensive, even he can see that. And usually he's epically bad at noticing this stuff.

Connor doesn't seem to mind, anyway. He just chuckles and says: "Now that's a load of crap."

"Yeah, probably," Asher admits.

"Really, 'probably'?" Connor mimics him, still more mocking than put out. He leans closer to Asher, then, and smirks. "So what's your amount?"

Well, fuck. Connor the impossibly hot gay dude is actually flirting with him. Asher would be totally freaked out by that if he wasn't already too busy freaking out about the fact that he just used the phrase 'impossibly hot' to describe another guy.

"About..." Asher swallows. Is he really doing this? He can't believe he's doing this, he's not even that drunk. Or desperate. "... two drinks ago?"

Connor's toying with his lower lip, tormenting it between his teeth, and while it can be read as a completely innocent pensive gesture Asher would bet his ass he knows perfectly well what it's doing to him. "Really."

"Yeah."

"So what, you're telling me you're going to jump some poor bastard's bones any second now?" Connor asks, and it's a miracle Asher understands a single word he's saying because while Connor was talking he leaned closer, so much so that Asher can feel his breath tickle his lips now.

Keep it cool, Millstone. "Anything can happen, that's all I'm saying."

Connor quirks an eyebrow, leans back. "Have you ever even been with a guy?"

"Maybe," Asher tries to keep it vague. Too bad Connor's probing look is relentless, and only a few beats later Asher finds himself blurting out: "Alright, if you must know I tried experimenting once my freshman year in college, but it was pretty awful and I've had no desire to try anything again until tonight."

'Until tonight', really? Way to keep it cool. And of course that's the one thing Connor picks up from his confession. "Mm. And what, I wonder, could have changed your mind all of a sudden?" His right hand comes to rest on Asher's thigh, and Asher isn't even pretending not to be staring at his lips anymore. "Or should I ask who?"

"You know who," Asher manages.

Connor leans in, then, and Asher is sure he's going to kiss him until he reroutes at the last second, his lips suddenly so close to Asher's ear, and he whispers: "I want to hear you say it."

Asher closes his eyes, takes a deep breath. "You," he finally mumbles back. "I want you."

Connor has barely grazed Asher's lips with his own when Asher pulls back abruptly. "Woah, wait. I can't do this. Not out here," he clarifies quickly when he sees Connor's disappointed look. "I mean, I'm pretty sure my mother's still around, and anyway half the people in this room are family, I don't really want them to see..."

"Fine, okay," Connor interrupts him, impatient. He jumps off his stool and offers his right hand to Asher. "Restroom?"

Asher doesn't need to be asked twice.

 

They stumble into the men's room, the same little, spotless room Connor went hiding into during his freak out earlier. It's weird, it's only been a few hours but it feels like it was ages ago. What's even weirder is that Connor wouldn't go back to that time if he had the chance. For the first time since he realized he had feelings for Oliver, he feels okay. Like he isn't just stumbling around in a dark room, waiting for the inevitable moment when he'll trip on a chair or something. For the first time since his traitorous heart had to go and make him fall for someone, he feels fine. He feels like he's in control.

And Asher seems more than happy to let him take as much control as he wants. The second he locks the bathroom door behind them Connor pushes him against it, and the little moan that escapes Asher's lips is the best sound Connor's heard in days.

I'm back, guys, Connor thinks, and he catches Asher's lower lip between his own, feels Asher's mouth immediately opening for him, eagerly following his pace, chasing him when Connor retreats for a moment to catch his breath. It feels so easy, so fucking good, and Connor could almost cry with gratitude and relief.

He doesn't cry, of course, because that would fuck everything up and that's the last thing Connor needs right now. Instead he starts grinding against Asher, and he can't suppress a pleased groan when he finds him already hard.

"Fuck," he breathes out, dropping his head against Asher's shoulder. Asher's still kissing him, mouthing his ear and temples and hair depending on the angle he finds, and his hands move up from the small of Connor's back to wrap around his shoulders. He whimpers when Connor suckles on his nipple through his shirt, his back arching and head shooting back and that's it, Connor needs to have him right now. 

Asher's neck is still exposed and Connor takes advantage of it, kissing and licking and nibbling, relishing every single noise he gets out of the guy. At the same time he lets his hands wander down, all the way down to Asher's pants. He's tempted to take them off, but he doesn't have the patience for it at the moment.

So he only slides them down a bit, just enough to be able to take Asher in his mouth, and he dives in.

"Ohmyfuckingod" Asher says in one short, single huff of breath, and Connor would find it a little comical if he wasn't so turned on. He focuses on sucking Asher off instead, his taste and little cries and frantic fingers tangling in Connor's hair almost driving him mad with desire.

It's not long before it's all too much for the little straight boy and Asher comes, a spent groan that kinda sounds like Connor's name pushing past his lips. Not that Connor's complaining. By this point he's aching to find release himself, and it's with a hunger he hasn't felt in days that he rushes back to his feet and kisses Asher hard and deep, pressing him roughly against the door.

He wants to fuck him, bad, but the little part of his mind that's still sort of rational amidst all the haze of want knows it's not a good idea. Not here and now. So he contents himself with grinding against Asher's leg, deciding to ignore the fact that he's condemning himself to a pretty sticky and uncomfortable ride back home. It doesn't seem important right now.

What's important is Asher's hot breath tickling Connor's neck, his hand sneaking underneath Connor's shirt to feel the warm skin of his back, the rub of his leg against Connor's crotch. He lets the sensations overwhelm him, pleasure building up and up until he's coming in his pants, breathless and shaky.

Connor seems to black out for some time after that, and when he comes to he finds out with horror that he's been sobbing against Asher's shoulder for god knows how long. His eyes feel tired, his cheeks are damp and the hand Asher had on his back is now rubbing soothing circles there, which would feel kinda nice if it wasn't utterly mortifying.

Connor's head shoots back up. He prays he didn't leave a wet patch on Asher's shirt, but he isn't too hopeful. In his experience, if things can get worse they most likely will.

"I'm sorry," he says, taking a step back. He does his best to dry with his hand the tears still hanging at the corner of his eyes. "Fuck. I swear I don't usually cry during sex."

Asher smirks. "So I'm that good, huh?" he quips, zipping his pants back on. He doesn't seem as grossed out or annoyed as Connor would be in his position, and in his fragile state Connor finds it more touching than he probably should.

He huffs, half in amusement, half in gratitude, and he takes the paper towel Asher's offering him. Asher's eyes are still on him when he's done wiping his face, something close to concern in them.

"You alright?" Asher asks, serious this time.

Connor nods, clears his throat. "Yeah. Yes. Sorry about that. It's been uh, it's been a rough couple of weeks."

"I get it, man, don't sweat it," Asher reassures him, and grins. "Believe it or not, you're not the first dumped mess I take advantage of."

"Shut up."

"It's true. And all of them bounced right back on track eventually. Just, you know... Tiny steps."

As cliché as it is, it's somewhat reassuring. "Yeah, you're right. I just didn't think I'd start taking steps so soon."

"All the better for you, then." Asher scribbles something on another paper towel then, and all of a sudden he stops looking so smug. "And look, if you ever... If you feel like taking another one..."

Connor takes the piece of paper, finds himself smirking. Asher actually gave him his number, even after Connor talked about his ex pretty much the whole evening and ended up using Asher's shoulder as a tissue. He can be a disaster about everything else in his life but when it comes to wooing one night stands, he's still got it. And yeah, it's not much – it's not Oliver's perfect dating life with his grown-up dinners and faithful underwear models and commitment and plans for the future – but it still feels pretty damn good.

"Thanks," Connor says, and he isn't just talking about the phone number.

Asher doesn't say anything to that. He's looking at Connor the same way he was before, back when they were total strangers dancing around each other at the bar. It's shy and expectant at the same time, like he wants something from Connor but can't quite bring himself to ask for it, and it's only a handful of seconds before Asher's eyes drop to Connor's mouth and he starts nibbling on his own lower lip, an automatic reaction that Connor can read all too well. So he decides to put the guy out of his misery and kisses him one more time.

It's different than before, slow and hesitant but not in a bad way – Connor would almost call it tender if the word didn't make him feel like a character in some cheesy paperback romance. They actually take their time now, tasting each other with their eyes closed, hands not wandering further down than the other one's neck. And unlike their previous make-out session, this one doesn't lead to anything more – only to Asher eventually pulling back, his cheeks a little flushed, and clearing his throat.

"Right. Um, goodnight then?" He moves to leave the room, stops. "Is it okay if I go first? And then you can, like, wait a few minutes so we don't raise suspicions?"

Connor quirks an eyebrow, almost points out that with the way they were acting at the bar even Asher's 200-year-old grandma must have figured out that they were definitely going to do it before the end of the night. Not to mention that Asher is pretty fucking loud during sex.

Then he thinks better of it. Asher's been strangely good for a drunken bi-curious experiment, and he has earned the right to keep up appearances if that's what he needs.

So Connor says: "Sure, if you want", and watches him leave the room with the subtlety and elegance of a particularly clumsy Great Dane playing secret agent in its backyard.

Connor shakes his head and goes to the sink to splash water onto his face, lets it wash away the last remains of tears and tiredness. Admittedly, the day didn't go according to plan. At all. If Connor's hopes had come true he'd be on Oliver's couch now, trying to seduce him away from the terrible movie he inevitably would have picked. Nobody has a worse taste in movies than Oliver. Except maybe Asher.

This last thought comes to Connor with an unexpected surge of affection and Connor freezes in front of the sink, water still running, dread almost making it hard to breathe. Oh fuck no. No way he's falling for someone else, not right after the trainwreck that was his relationship with Oliver. And really, Asher? It's not like Connor didn't have fun today, but the guy isn't exactly the kind of person he imagines spending his life with. Not if he's planning on retaining his sanity for more than a couple of years.

On an impulse, he fishes Asher's number out from his pocket. He could always throw it away. He should throw it away, keep going like he did before Oliver, when the thought of getting someone's number, of actually calling them and seeing them a second time when he'd already fucked them once, was either pathetic or utterly ridiculous, depending on his mood. He almost does it, almost tears into pieces the paper towel with Asher's eager scribble on it and forgets all about him.

He doesn't. Not because he's already madly in love with Asher – truth be told, he still has to decide if he ever wants to see the guy again. No, what changes Connor's mind is the sudden realization that these last 10-odd years, he's been going about this dating business all wrong. Since his teenage years he's been sleeping around, not even bothering to remember his partners' names, and then he fell hard and fast for the first guy he got to know a little better. It's always been all or nothing with him, and that's a problem.

So hey, maybe it's not the end of the world that Asher gave him his number. Maybe Connor can call him and they can hang out, have a little fun without pressure or fear. And yeah, he doubts he's going to marry the guy and they're going to have a couple of cute kids and move to the suburbs together, but Connor's twenty-five and still taking loans to get through Uni. He isn't going to have to worry about that kind of stuff for a while longer, thankfully. In the meantime, the kind of relationship he needs is something laid-back and easy, something that makes him feel good and helps him relieve stress after a particularly excruciating day of studying. He needs to learn to relax and see how things go.

Well look at that. Connor might finally be getting his shit together, and all thanks to the sexy bastard who broke his heart for the very first time and the weird stranger who decided to make it his mission to help him get over it for some reason. There's probably a joke somewhere in there, but Connor doesn't feel like looking for it right now.

What he does is turn off the tap, quickly dry his hands, and get out – Asher's number still in his pocket.

A small line has formed outside the restroom, four or five people who throw daggers at him when they finally come to face with the asshole who took over the only men's room in the building for the last half hour. And of course, because Connor is the luckiest guy on the planet, one of them is nobody else than the groom. Who looks at Connor with a suspicious frown before asking: "Wait, who are you? I don't recall putting your name on the guest list."

"I'm a friend of your cousin's." Connor is almost surprised at how smoothly the lie comes out. Then again it's not really a lie anymore, is it? "Of Asher's. Lovely ceremony, by the way."

"Thanks" Paul says. He visibly relaxed, and Connor is breathing more easily himself as a result.

In fact, he feels so confident that he risks adding: "And look, if you and the wife ever need to spice things up in the bedroom... I'm open to pretty much anything."

He winks for good measure, and Paul blushes, starts muttering something unintelligible. Lucky for him, his turn to use the man's room comes before he has to come up with a response. Still. Connor is sure he saw a spark of bashful interest in his eyes before the guy disappeared behind the door.

Take that, Asher – I was right, Connor thinks. He can't wait to see that loser again and give him hell for ever doubting that Connor's gaydar is anything less than perfect. In fact, he's really tempted to call him right now to brag about it. He resists the urge, but that's not the point.

The point is that for the first time in 10 years, Connor Walsh is going to call a guy back. And he is strangely okay with it.