Another one written for the M/M Romance Group’s Flash Fiction threads. The challenge for this one involved a game of Truth or Dare leading the protagonist to realize he was in love with his best mates. My very first threesome (awww).
Again, not suitable for underage readers. Click the back button, kids.
Someone had poured another bottle of cheap plonk in to top up the mulled wine, and the remains of twelve crackers were scattered across the dining table they’d once spent three days ramming into the conservatory. The string of lights in the window was blinking feebly, and someone had rooted out Matt’s cheesiest Christmas playlist, the one he denied having and hid under the name ‘Dead Turkey Giblets’ (which, on reflection, was a bit obvious). As Wham’s ‘Last Christmas’ sagged into ‘Merry Christmas, Everyone,’ someone groaned and everyone laughed.
Matt retreated back into the kitchen to stir the wine again. It was his house, though Laura, Dan and Kayla had all lived here until they graduated, and they were his friends, but it felt like he was the only one who didn’t feel at home here.
“I thought you had better taste in music,” Shana remarked, smirking at him from the doorway.
“Some girl made it for me,” he lied defensively.
She snorted her opinion of that and stepped into the kitchen, pulling the door closed behind her with a sharp click. “You? A girl? Where is she, then? Didn’t want to expose her to this rabble, did you?”
“It didn’t last,” Matt mumbled, prodding a particularly buoyant clove back under the surface.
“Liar,” she said and came to lean against the stove beside him. “Matthew.”
Oh, god, he knew that tone of voice. She’d volunteered to “talk to Matt” again. “I’m fine, Shana.”
“Then why are you living here on your own?”
“Put the ads out too late. After the start of term, y’know.” The house was his, bought with the approval of his parents’ trustees, and he’d lived here all through his undergraduate years, renting the rooms out to his mates to pay the mortgage. Now they had all graduated and flown away, to be lawyers, bankers and teachers, or work in publishing or PR. He was the only one still here, working on his masters degree with less and less love of the subject by the day.
The only one except for Jay and Niall, of course.
“You knew at Easter that everyone was leaving.”
“Yeah, well, I thought I had something sorted. It fell through.” They’d pissed off without him, that was. Three bedroom house, him and two best mates. It should have been perfect. Except they’d turned him down, with no more than a significant glance between them to explain why.
“And whose fault was that?” Shana asked, rolling her eyes, which he thought was very unfair. Trying to ignore her, he poured himself a fresh mug of mulled wine, breathing in the cinnamon and clove scent of it.
“I’m going to sort out the music,” he said.
“Like you have any decent music,” she muttered.
He looked at her then, amused. For a moment, it felt like none of them had ever gone away. She’d spent three years grumbling about his taste in everything from music to movies. Looking at her now, he wished he could feel whatever it was that made other men stumble over their words when they looked at her. Life would be so much easier if he could fall for her gleaming black hair and darkly mischievous eyes, for her forthright rudeness and fierce protectiveness. He couldn’t though, not for wishing. She was just his friend Shana, no more, no less.
“Yeah, well,” he said, trying to make his voice jolly and only managing snide. “We can’t all like that Lady Gaga rubbish.”
It was the first artist he could think of, so he didn’t understand why Shana suddenly looked so disappointed in him. “For God’s sake, Matt, are you never going to let it go?”
“What?” he asked, but she was already brushing past him. Glumly, he followed her back to the living room, where the drinking games had started. Dan and Kayla were tucked up together on the sofa, laughing over some private joke, but everyone else was sprawled on the floor and engrossed in a particularly vicious game of Spoons. Nobody was still sober, except Jay, who always managed to pace his drinking when the rest of them couldn’t, and their grabs and feints were increasingly sprawling. Niall couldn’t even sit up straight, Matt noticed, but was lolling against Jay’s shoulder in an uncharacteristically relaxed way. His usually sallow cheeks were flushed, his lips were red from the wine, and his dark eyes were bright and sharp. He was muttering under his breath as the cards were passed around.
“Matt!” Laura complained. “Niall’s counting cards. Make him stop!”
“I am not,” Niall said unconvincingly, his voice slurred.
“I can hear you!”
“Well, then,” said Jay lazily, ever the peacemaker, “you’re at no disadvantage.” He smiled up at Matt, though it lacked a little of its old warmth, and Matt’s heart sank a little more. He missed seeing Jay smile at him. “You dealing in?”
“I’ll sit this one out,” Matt said, “especially if Niall’s cheating.”
“It’s not cheating. It’s simple mathematics!”
“Which is cheating when you’re the only mathmo in the room,” Laura complained.
“He does have the handicap of being too pissed to have any coordination,” Jay observed.
“Yeah, see—hey! You’re meant to be nicer to me!”
Everyone groaned or rolled their eyes, and Matt smiled uncertainly. He felt like an outsider again, so he distracted himself by sipping his somewhat tepid mulled wine, and thinking about the washing up. He’d cooked as much as his kitchen could manage, and the dirty dishes were piled high. Some of his guests were planning to sleep on the floor tonight, before they headed back to London or Manchester, and he hoped they’d stick around to help clean up. That was how it had always worked before.
Nothing was like it used to be, though, and he wondered if they’d all just walk away tomorrow, leaving him to the mess, his empty house and another lonely Christmas.
The game had finished while he brooded, and people were starting to argue about what to play next. Someone suggested Taboo, which was cried down, because that got even more vicious than Spoons. Niall stumbled off to the loo, and they quickly agreed in his absence that there could be no more mathematical games.
“Monopoly?” Kayla suggested.
“How is that a drinking game?” asked Kemal, who was Laura’s latest and new to them all.
“We can make anything a drinking game,” Shana said confidently and then grinned, not at all nicely. “If I Never.”
“No!” half the room cried.
She smirked back. “Well, if you’re too embarrassed…”
Eight first class degrees, Matt reflected as he watched what happened next, and four near misses, from one of the best universities in the country, and yet they all fell for that challenge every single time. Within moments, he had to head over to the drinks cabinet (an old sideboard he and Jay had rescued from a jumble sale two years ago and refitted for their own purposes). The shot glasses sat on the top shelf, and Jay came over to help him, shooting him a wry grin.
“Don’t know why we bother arguing with her,” he commented softly, and Matt’s stomach clenched.
It was that tone of voice, the low, intimate, friendly one that meant Jay liked you. Anyone would feel a little shivery when they hadn’t heard that for months. Anyone would feel flushed when they were standing this close to Jay, who was so easygoing that you had to stand right beside him to realize that he was tall and broad-shouldered and lean. His permanent stubble had grown into a scruffy almost beard, and his honey-brown hair was long enough that it was starting to curl up at the ends. Matt was drunk enough that he wanted to reach out and feel that curl, but he restrained himself manfully. Beyond the limits of friendship, that, verging on to being more than a bit gay.
“We like to argue,” he said, a little more hoarsely than he meant to.
“I think that might just explain the last three years of my life,” Jay said and led him back to the circle to pass out the shot glasses. “Right, who’s starting?”
“Me,” Shana said. She was curled up like a cat against the end of the sofa, her smile lifting smugly. “Never have I ever shaved my face.”
“Sexism!” Dan yelled, but drank anyway, along with the other guys in the room.
Kayla was next, and she shot a smirk across the room. “Never have I ever studied at a postgraduate level.”
Matt, Jay, Niall, and Laura, currently halfway through a law conversion course, all drank, although Laura muttered, “Boring.”
“You do better, then.”
“Never have I ever bared my arse in public.”
Jay and Shana both drank, Shana with a grimace and Jay with a murmur of, “We know each other too well.”
Phoebe contributed, “Never have I ever recited poetry before an audience,” which did for Matt, Kayla and Jay.
“Never have I ever owned a house,” Niall contributed.
“Hey!” Matt protested, but drank.
“Never have I ever,” Rupali said, her voice lascivious, “made good use of a turkey baster.”
“Literally or metaphorically?” Jay inquired.
She shot him a sly glance from under her lashes. “As you see fit.”
“Well, I helped Matt cook,” Kemal said, to Matt’s relief, “so that’s both of us. I don’t want to know about the metaphorical meaning, ta.”
It was Matt’s turn now, and he was beginning to feel a little victimized. His head was fuzzy now and, with a dim idea of getting back at the girls, he said, “Never have I ever kissed a guy.”
Shana sat bolt upright, glaring at him. “Matt! Seriously!”
“The fuck?” Laura said. “Do you have to be such an arse?”
“What?” Matt protested. It came out more belligerent than bewildered, but he was so sick of everyone being angry at him when he had no idea why.
“Don’t worry, Shana,” Niall said, and there was a cold fury in his voice that Matt never wanted to hear again. “We don’t care if he’s being a passive-aggressive wanker.”
“If I’m what?”
Niall sat up, lifting his glass towards Jay. “Come on, then.”
Jay didn’t look angry, just tired and very disappointed. Without another word, he picked up his shot glass, tapped it against Niall’s grimly, and then they both drank.
“What?” Matt said again, and his voice broke on the word. He felt sick, suddenly, with loss and realization.
Niall dropped his glass and reached out to hook his hand around Jay’s neck, pulling him down. Matt stared, transfixed, as their lips met, softening tenderly against each other. It was simultaneously the most beautiful and most terrible thing he had ever seen, and he couldn’t breathe. Choking, he scrabbled backwards on his hands, until he could drag himself up against the wall.
The kiss ended, and Niall turned to glare at him. His lips were damp, Matt noticed, cataloging every detail in frantic dismay, and slightly swollen. His eyes were still hot, but it wasn’t just anger now.
He’d been trying not to see this for months, since long before they refused to move in here. It had just been friendship, he’d told himself, Niall’s intensity and Jay’s natural affection appearing as smiles and easy touches. He hadn’t wanted to see this, not after so many years of behaving himself, of not allowing himself to look too long or touch too often or want too much.
“You—” he choked. “You—”
“What?” Niall said, mocking his tone from before.
He was going to be sick, he thought, and pushed off the wall, swaying on his feet as his stomach churned. Then he realized that it wasn’t his stomach that was hurting. It was his heart. He staggered away, ignoring the clamor behind him, into the conservatory, stumbling past the messy table to throw the patio doors open and hurl himself into the frost-sharp night.
He got all the way to the end of the garden, where he slammed his fist into the dry creepers that covered the back fence and then leaned against them, dead leaves brushing his face like cold fingers.
Together. They were together. No wonder they hadn’t wanted to move in here with him. They had their own secret place somewhere, a proper little love nest, no doubt.
He imagined it so vividly it hurt: tender, familiar kisses like the one he’d just seen, Jay’s long lean body wrapped around Niall’s compact passion, bodies moving together in perfect harmony, sealed against each other—sealing him out.
He’d met Niall first. They’d taken to each other at once, Niall the small, sharp, mouthy balance to Matt’s big, clumsy, quiet frame. He’d made Niall laugh by saying the right sly thing at the perfect moment. Then along came easy, lazy, peaceful Jay, who’d fitted in like a missing piece, softening the edges where they clashed and adding a warmth all of his own. They’d been the three musketeers. He’d always had friends, people who wandered in and out of his life cheerfully, but he’d never had anyone like Jay and Niall before, people he could rely on to just be there, to always have his back.
Now they were gone, for good it seemed. He missed them so fucking much.
He heard the crunch of footsteps on the frosty lawn, and tried to pull himself together. It would be Shana, come to snap at him. He needed to be calm and apologetic, and laugh it off.
It wasn’t her. It was Niall.
“Could you not find it in you to be happy for us?” His voice was shaking with hurt and anger. Matt shouldn’t be surprised that he was out here. Niall never backed away from a fight.
He needed to apologize, say something light and clever to turn things round. He couldn’t, though. He couldn’t turn and look at Niall.
“I’m so sorry you had to see all the nasty gay in your house, you stupid git, but you haven’t spoken to us in months. You just sit there, sneer and make little comments, and you’re lucky all I did was kiss my boyfriend in front of you, because I’m about ready to just punch you in the—”
“I didn’t know,” Matt said into the cold curve of his arm.
“I didn’t know.” It came out too loud and a little too ragged.
“How could you not know? It wasn’t a secret.”
“If you say so,” Matt agreed wearily.
“Fuck this,” Niall muttered. “We always knew you were a bit of a homophobe.”
That made Matt move, shoving off the fence to stare at Niall. “I’m not homophobic.” Where had that come from?
“Oh, all the gay jokes were just meant to show your support, were they?”
He’d said things, yeah, but nothing more than everyone did. One thing he’d learned at boarding school was that no one could ever suspect. Tell a few jokes, sneer a little, and you were safe. If everyone around you was straight, it didn’t hurt, right? It was just camouflage. “That was never about you!”
“So it was all for Jay, was it?”
“No!” He shouted it, and saw Niall’s eyes widen, his expression just visible in the light spilling out the patio doors. Matt never raised his voice. Bad enough that he was big enough to loom over people. He wasn’t going to yell at them.
“So it was generic hatred? Nice. I have to say it felt fucking personal.”
“I haven’t spoken to you?” It was so staggeringly unfair he could barely breathe. “You fucked off to start your own perfect lives! I asked you both to live here. How is that me rejecting you?”
“Live here and pretend to be straight?” Niall challenged, folding his arms. “Listen to your jokes?”
“They were never about you!” Matt roared.
“Then who were they for?!”
“Me!” Matt shouted, driven beyond self-preservation. “They were all about me!” As Niall gaped at him, he lunged forward, throwing one arm around Niall’s waist to drag him close and kissed him, slamming his mouth down with clumsy desperation. Niall was soft and startled beneath him, then he stiffened in Matt’s arms, shoving him away hard.
Matt stared at him, shame stirring in his gut. Before Niall could gather his wits enough to yell or hit him, he ran, stumbling back across the untidy garden, tripping on weedy flowerpots and green-streaked garden chairs to stagger inside. Jay was standing by the doors. Matt shoved past him too, terrified one of them would see how his eyes were burning with tears. He couldn’t give them that.
Upstairs, and into his room, the door slamming behind him, and he sank onto his bed, clenching his fists. Oh, fuck. Fuck, fuck, fuck. He doubled over with panic, his breath coming fast. His heart was racing.
The door creaked open, and a soft voice said, “Matt?”
He couldn’t take a deep enough breath to tell Jay to fuck off.
“Matt?” Jay sounded concerned, and here he was kneeling in front of Matt, hand steady on his knee. “Slow your breathing down for me, gorgeous.”
“You’re okay, mate. No one’s angry. We just didn’t get it.”
Was Jay out of his mind? Why wouldn’t they be angry? His head was spinning and he started to panic. He couldn’t breathe.
“You’re okay. I’ve got you.” Jay rubbed his knee. “C’mon, breathe with me slowly, yeah, one, two…”
Matt did as he was told, Jay’s calm voice steadying him until he could breathe again. Even then he was still shaking, cold to the bone. The only warmth in his world was Jay’s hand.
“Are you going to freak out if I hug you?”
Matt should have pulled away, but the idea of having anyone’s arms around him seemed like the most essential thing in the world, and to have Jay… “I won’t freak.”
Jay rose to sit on the bed, swinging his arms around Matt easily. “Bad day, huh?”
Matt sagged against him, cheek against the rough fuzz of Jay’s jumper and held on, though he knew he had no right. Jay was Niall’s, and should be angry. He’d take a few moments of kindness before the yelling started, though.
“Been keeping that quiet a while, haven’t you?” Jay was rubbing his back now, easy comforting sweeps. Matt wanted to just hold onto him forever. “We never suspected. Might have gone a little easier on you if we had.”
“You left,” Matt said, wincing at how rough his voice sounded.
“And you had a bit of a thing for Niall, I’m guessing. Don’t blame you, but it can’t have been easy. Hell, he’s not easy, though it’s worth it.”
“I can imagine.”
Jay sighed, leaning against Matt in turn. “I’ve been wanting to tell you all about it, mate, but I thought you’d hate us and now it’s not fair. It’s just—I’m crazy about him, you know.”
Jay’s voice turned a little uncertain. “But you—if he—just…”
“What?” Matt said, worried now. He’d never heard Jay sound lost.
“You were the one who got away for him, Matt. Hell, for both of us. If he decides—”
“He won’t,” Matt snapped. “He’s not like that, and he’s not stupid. He’d never let you—” Then the other thing sunk in and he stammered to a halt. Both of them?
“I want him to be happy,” Jay confessed. “I want you both to be happy.”
“I want you both,” Matt said, hesitating for a second before he finished, “to be happy, I mean.”
Jay snorted against his hair. “I know what you mean, Matt.”
Matt found a pinch of courage and sat up. “I don’t think you do. Both of you?”
“Forget I said that. I shouldn’t have—”
Matt kissed him. It wasn’t as rough and impulsive as the kiss he’d forced on Niall, and Jay reacted differently. With a little shudder, he grabbed Matt’s shoulder and melted into it, kissing him back with slow and lazy wonder. When Matt stopped, he blinked, his eyes hazy.
He shook himself slightly and said, “Matt? I’m confused.”
“Welcome to my life,” Matt told him. Most of the panic had drained out of him, and he just felt tired and a little drunk, not quite ready to hope. “I really wanted you both here with me, you know.”
“Are you saying—”
The door creaked open and Niall leaned in, voice sharp. “Anyone dead yet? I’m not helping hide any bodies.”
“No bodies,” Jay said, “but get over here.”
Niall picked his way across the room. “Any punches thrown? Unrepeatable slurs on each others’ characters? You’d better have been defending my honor, love.”
“Defend yourself,” Jay said. “On the other side of him. Sit.”
Niall did what he was told, which was new, settling on the bed beside Matt, his shoulders stiff. “Laura’s heading back to her hotel. Everyone else is beginning to argue over sleeping space.”
“I should go and help,” Matt said, trying to stand.
“No, you shouldn’t,” Jay said, pushing him down.
“You can be the perfect host some other time, Matt!”
His voice was so sharp Niall jumped. “Jay?”
“Put your arms around him,” Jay said.
Niall shuffled closer to obey. “Matt, you’re shaking.”
“He had a panic attack,” Jay said.
Niall’s arm suddenly tightened. “You okay, man? Seriously, don’t bottle this shit up. That’s your problem, you know.”
“Not a good time for lectures, Ni.”
Matt found his voice. “Aren’t you angry with me?”
“Of course I am,” Niall snapped, but his body was relaxing. “But you’re a mess, so I forgive you.”
“I kissed Jay.”
“I was working up to that, Matt.”
Niall said, “You’re doing the rounds tonight, aren’t you? Who’s next?”
Jay cut in. “Ni, remember our list? I think we have a chance.” The uncertainty had slipped from his voice and he pressed in close against Matt again, fingers tangling with Niall’s against Matt’s thigh.
“Really?” Niall breathed, and suddenly he was crowding closer, until Matt was trapped between their bodies, pressed between warmth.
“Guys,” Matt said, swallowing hard, “I could be getting the wrong impression, but this list of yours…” He lost his words as somebody’s hand slid under his shirt, rubbing his belly fondly. “Oh.”
“Nice,” Niall murmured. “Someone’s been working out. And not the wrong idea at all.”
“You guys have a to-do list which includes, ‘Threesome with loser best mate?’”
“Not exactly,” Jay said. “You’re not a loser.”
Jay kissed him, slow and tender, and Niall made a low interested noise, his breath suddenly hot against Matt’s neck.
Matt’s heart was beating fast again, and it wasn’t from panic. As Niall’s tongue traced the edge of his ear, he groaned into Jay’s mouth, entranced. His world was folding down around him, to just this room, this bed, these warm hands and mouths savoring him. Blindly, he reached out, one hand settling on Jay’s neck, under his curls, and the other landing on the duvet, reaching out.
Niall’s hand covered it at once, and he moved, pressing his chest against Matt’s back, pulling him in. Matt leaned back instinctively, drawing Jay with him, and gasped as he realized he could feel Niall’s erection pressing against his arse, hot and hard even through denim. Niall’s other hand was still on his belly, but now he reached to undo Matt’s belt before he slid his hand down.
Still dizzy from the slow tease of Jay’s kiss, Matt jerked and gasped, almost tearing his mouth free. He’d been so lost in warmth and touch he’d barely realized he was hard until Niall’s hand closed around him. Every inch of his skin was now prickling with heat, craving more touch. He was shaking, his mouth suddenly clumsy against Jay’s.
“He likes that,” Niall said, a note of wonder in his voice. “God, Matt, look at you. I’ve barely touched you.”
Jay pulled away. Matt groaned, but Jay leaned to the side and swayed forward to kiss Niall, his mouth still slick and tender from Matt. It took Matt’s breath away.
Jay said, his voice rough, “Now you, Ni. You kiss Matt. Then we’re even.”
“Even?” Matt asked with a cold rush of panic.
“You kissed both of us,” Jay murmured, his hand back on Matt’s thigh. “I’ve kissed you, Niall and I kissed each other. Now he needs to kiss you, and all’s fair.”
“Then what? Is that it?”
Niall rolled his eyes. “You always going to be this needy?”
“Be nice,” Jay murmured, slinging his arms around Matt’s waist, turning him round to cuddle him tight. “And you, stop assuming the worst. Niall’s going to kiss you. Then we’re going to just lose count, okay? We’ve got years of kisses yet.”
Matt relaxed. It felt too impossible to be real, but he’d take a dream where he was lying back in Jay’s arms, with Niall crawling closer, his eyes bright as he wet his lips. He met Niall’s kiss and this time it was easy.
Much later, when they were all lying naked and entangled, he thought to say, “I really ought to take a drink now. For the game.”
Niall snorted. “Yeah, like you’re going to go downstairs for a drink now.”
“Later,” Matt said, and believed it. “There’ll be more chances later.”
Copyright Amy Rae Durreson 2013