hardparade: (misc; alex & charlie)
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Oh my god, how great is it when a fic idea just comes to you out of nowhere and then you spend the whole day writing? I mean, ignoring the whole bunch of other ideas that I've been thinking about for ages and can't seem to write a single word of, and also the fact that this idea kept me up most of last night and I am now exhausted. My brain was just happily plotting away all on its own, and every now and then I had to get up and scribble in a notebook so I wouldn't forget things. But a part of me really loves it when that happens—I kinda like being caught off-guard with inspiration.

Plus, I've wanted to write Alex Day/Charlie McDonnell (or nerimon/charlieissocoollike) for AGES now, even before Youtube slash was an actual thing. It's always been complicated because a) I always thought I wouldn't be able to do it justice, and b) they feel much more like real people to me than the celebrities I write about, plus they are actually aware of the fanfiction and have been vocal about it, so that makes me feel skeevy. Buuut. They are massively adorable and their bromance is the loveliest thing in the world, and I really cannot ignore an idea when it comes to me the way this one did.

So here we go.


Title: contact high (or, five times alex and charlie shared a bed)
Author: likecharity
Pairing: Alex Day/Charlie McDonnell, hints of Alex Day/Tom Milsom
Rating: NC-17
Warnings: Real person slash, and...I think that's it. That's amazing, I usually have like eight warnings to list.
Summary: Alex likes to keep a mental list of Things That Make Charlie Uncomfortable, just for reference.
A/N: Various bits of this, like the lampshade hats and the Amsterdam trip, are taken from the guys' videos. (How great is it that the 'forced to share hotel bed' trope actually happened to Alex and Charlie in real life?) Also, the 20 Questions game mentioned is something like this for those who have no clue what I'm talking about. Everything else is utterly made-up though, of course.


one.

The first time they share a bed is the first time Alex visits Charlie in Bath. Alex, who isn't really one for planning, hasn't brought a sleeping bag or anything, and just figures it'll all get sorted out once he arrives. If the worst comes to the worst, he decides, he can just sleep on the bedroom floor with a blanket or something. He's done it before.

He doesn't count on Charlie's Mum, though, being horrified by the very suggestion of this. Instead, she says that he and Charlie could sleep top-to-tail in Charlie's bed. Charlie blushes furiously in response to this, and says "We're not six, Mum."

Alex gets the feeling that their small age gap is a much bigger deal to Charlie than it is to him. It seems like Charlie wants Alex to believe that he has other Youtubers coming round to sleep over at his house all the time, that people regularly crash on his floor. He seems overly embarrassed by his Mum's constant offerings of tea and biscuits, and Alex kind of hates that Charlie feels that way, because Charlie is brilliant and so is his house and his Mum and basically everything about him. He really wants to find some way of saying so without, you know, actually saying so.

It's probably for this reason that he grins slightly insanely and says, "Yeah, that sounds great, Mrs. McDonnell!" and gestures for the pillow Charlie's Mum is holding so he can settle it at the foot of the bed.

Charlie's Mum beams at him and tells him to call her Lindsay and then offers the two of them some more tea. After Charlie convinces her that they're fine, thanks, she leaves them to a slightly awkward silence.

Charlie eyes the bed. "Are you sure that's okay?"

And really, there's no backing out now, because if Alex suddenly decides to say actually, no—can we find an alternative? it's going to seem rude, and he doesn't want Charlie to think he was just humouring his Mum or something. He needs to get the message across that none of this is a big deal at all and he's quite happy to spend the night with Charlie's feet in his face and everything about the situation is awesome and perfect.

"Yeah, totally!" Alex grins. "Let's, er—"

"Oh, yeah, right," says Charlie, and the two of them turn their backs to one another and begin changing into their pajamas.

A few minutes later, they're settled into Charlie's single bed, squashed in beside one another. "Night, then," Alex says cheerily, and rolls over to face the rest of the room.

"Night," Charlie says with a sort of nervous chuckle, and turns round to face the wall.

For the past six months or so, every time Alex has shared a bed with someone it has been for Sexual Reasons, and he's grown used to the warmth of another body beside him. It's probably for this reason—as well as a pretty exciting dream (the details of which he, regretfully, cannot remember)—that he wakes up in the morning with a hard-on. Still caught between waking and sleeping, he hums happily to himself and presses against the warm, firm thing next to him. Then he opens his eyes, and the first thing he sees is Charlie's Tardis-patterned socks right next to his face. He realises instantly, with a sickening sort of feeling in the pit of his stomach, that this must mean that the warm, firm thing he is currently pressing his erection against is, in fact, Charlie.

For a moment, he doesn't do anything, because jerking back suddenly seems like it would be too obvious—Charlie might, after all, still be asleep, and Alex doesn't want to wake him and draw any more attention to the problem. Instead, he stays very very still and tries to will his erection away, which doesn't work. At all. Then he realises that the room is suspiciously quiet. Charlie is suspiciously quiet. It's not the sort of 'asleep' quiet, of slow steady breathing and little mumbles, but a very deliberate and unsettling kind of silence.

Shit. He becomes aware of how unnaturally still Charlie's body is, as well—he's not moving a single muscle, and he's very very tense, and Alex can feel that tension up against him, and shit shit shit this is not good, this is not good at all.

He tries to ease his hips back in a way that he hopes will seem casual. He edges back a couple of centimetres. Edge, edge, shuffle. He thinks he hears Charlie inhale sharply, which is very impressive considering Alex was fairly certain he was already holding his breath. Edge, edge, shuffle—

WHUMP.

Alex blinks blearily from his sprawled position on Charlie's bedroom floor. Everything has gone dark, and it takes him a moment to realise that he's managed to pull the duvet down with him and it's currently over his head. He yanks it away, and rubs a blossoming bruise on his arse as he sits up. If Charlie wasn't already awake, he certainly will be now.

"Um," croaks Alex, and then laughs hoarsely. "Morning."

He looks up, and sees that Charlie is still very stiff—but now in more ways than one. There is a very obvious bulge in the crotch of Charlie's pajama trousers, and Alex gapes at it, bewildered. He bites back the oh Jesus that is on the tip of his tongue, and then suddenly there is a creak of floorboards outside the bedroom and Alex springs into action. Moving at lightning speed, he leaps back into bed beside Charlie and throws the duvet over the two of them. The door opens about a nanosecond later, and Charlie's Mum appears in a yellow dressing gown, oblivious.

"Good morning!" she says brightly. "Would either of you like a cup of tea?"


two.

Alex likes to keep a mental list of Things That Make Charlie Uncomfortable, just for reference. It's definitely not a list of Things To Avoid Doing At All Costs; he uses it more as a guideline, keeping track of which things are really more trouble than they're worth, and which things it's okay to joke about just to make Charlie squirm. One of the things on the list, for example, is 'when Alex refers to Charlie by common terms of endearment'. He seems to be okay with having one specific nickname, but whenever Alex calls him 'love' or 'darling', in that meaningless British way that most people barely even notice, Charlie gets all shifty and sometimes drops what he's holding. This is one thing that Alex finds hard to stick to, because the words just slip out, and he decided early on that Charlie would have to just get used to it.

There's also 'porn', although Alex doesn't really understand this one because he knows Charlie watches it, thanks to that one time somebody forgot to clear their internet history (and who knew Charlie would be so into lesbians?). But when Alex mentioned the name of one of the sites that had popped up when he'd been typing something else into the address bar, Charlie got unbearably awkward about it, even when Alex made it clear that it wasn't a big deal and he was just teasing and maybe he'd check that site out when he got home. Ever since then, it has been Something They Do Not Discuss, Ever.

Another thing that falls into this category—as well as being on the Things That Make Charlie Uncomfortable list (there are quite a few crossovers)—is the issue of Charlie's sexuality in general. Pretty much anything to do with it seems to be off-limits. Most of their subscribers, if they ever thought about it, would probably assume that Alex knows certain things about Charlie, like whether or not he's a virgin, and if he is how far he's gone, and that sort of thing—but Alex honestly knows just as much as they do. He has tried asking, of course, but Charlie has responded with an awkward, apologetic laugh, and a I'm not sure I really wanna discuss that with you.

This, Alex thinks, is unfair, because Alex is happy to talk about his sexuality (and quite probably shares more than he should, which, incidentally, is another Thing That Makes Charlie Uncomfortable). Plus, the fact that Charlie's unwavering refusal to discuss it just makes Alex burningly curious—if Charlie had just slipped in a casual "I got a blowjob once," while they were playing Mario or something, he wouldn't have given it a second thought, but making it into some big mystery just leaves Alex absolutely fascinated and desperate to know.

But there are boundaries, and while he likes to see Charlie blush when Alex says the word pussy, he does respect his best friend's privacy and accepts that some people like to keep these things to themselves. So he settles for talking about his own sex life at length, hoping that if the topic is being discussed then Charlie might let something slip, even though there has been nothing in their years of friendship to support this theory.

Anyway, one of the most important of the Things That Make Charlie Uncomfortable is 'sharing a bed with Alex'. They have not ever discussed what happened the one time they made the misguided decision to do so—Alex has simply been unfailingly consistent in bringing a sleeping bag for every further visit to Charlie's house, and they have therefore been safe for an impressive couple of years now, managing to avoid any bed-sharing situations that may have arisen.

Until tonight.

Tom and Ed recently got a flat together and they're throwing a flatwarming party, to which Alex and Charlie (along with a few others) have been invited. It's not a particularly wild party, because none of them are particularly wild people—in fact, much of the night is spent playing with a little electronic 20 Questions toy, found by Tom during the move. They almost lose interest after the game guesses a bunch of their ideas right (including, to Tom's amazement, 'theremin'), but then Alex decides to see what the game will come up with if he thinks of Charlie. Tom eagerly agrees, and operates the game, asking Alex questions that seem to get rapidly more inappropriate until Tom is laughing almost too much to read them. (It is worth noting at this point that he has consumed more limoncello—for some reason the only alcohol in the flat—than he perhaps should have.)

"Is it—" Tom begins, and then dissolves into hysterics for the third time.

"Is it what?" Alex prompts, encouragingly, trying to make sense of the word that comes out of Tom's mouth and sounds roughly like ahaha-haaaa-hd.

Ed finally takes pity on him and reads over his shoulder. "Hard," he says, and then cracks up himself. "Is it hard?"

"I think we'd better ask Charlie that one," Alex says, grinning and shooting a look at Charlie across the room. Charlie is sitting with his head in his hands. "Let's go with no."

"If you're aroused by this, Charlie, you have issues," Tom tells him through giggles, and then inputs the answer. "Right, do you—" he says, and then laughs for a while before managing to compose himself. "Do you put things in it?"

"Oh my god," groans Charlie, sinking further into his own hands.

"This game is so pervy," Alex says. "Uh—am I answering like, from my own point of view?"

"What, because other people might put things in Charlie?" Tom asks, cracking up.

"They might!" Alex says defensively. "We don't know, do we?! I don't wanna make any assumptions."

"Why is nobody suggesting that it might just mean food?" asks Charlie in a despairing voice, but he is ignored.

"I'll put 'unknown'," Tom decides, and Charlie groans again on the other side of the room. "Can it—" Tom splutters with suppressed laughter, "can it be used for recreation?"

"Yeah!" says Alex, and then sighs when everyone in the room erupts into giggles. "Not like that, but I mean, you can have fun with him. Not like that. Oh, shit. Just put 'sometimes'."

Alex moves around to sit beside Tom now, because Tom has become incapable of reading the questions aloud. After answering whether or not Charlie brings joy to people, whether or not he has buttons, and whether or not one would 'use him in the dark', the game asks 'Is it straight?'. Alex opens his mouth to read the question to the group without thinking, but to his surprise, Tom very quickly presses the 'unknown' button and moves on. It occurs to Alex that perhaps everyone who knows Charlie has a mental list of things that make him uncomfortable, and they all know how far they're allowed to go when it comes to embarrassing him.

In the end, the game declares Charlie a Labrador, and, utterly confused, they give up. (Apart from Tom, who remains transfixed by the game for the next hour, testing it on its knowledge of philosophical concepts and every now and then shouting out that truth is a filing cabinet and love is a pair of slippers, and so on.)

It gets late, and Ed heads into his room with a handful of people who are staying the night and some sleeping bags, and then it's just Alex and Charlie left, trying to prise the 20 Questions game from Tom's hands.

Charlie is the one who manages it, unconcerned by Tom's insistence that he was just about to find out the meaning of life. "It's a croissant," Charlie tells him without looking at the screen, and stuffs the game under a sofa cushion.

"Hey, where are we sleeping, Tom?" Alex asks, trying to sound as casual as possible and steadfastly not looking at Charlie. He's just remembered that neither of them actually brought any sort of bedding with them, because Tom and Ed insisted they'd have something lying around.

"In my room!" Tom says gleefully, leaping up and slinging his arms around their shoulders and leading them down the hall. "There should be enough space in my bed, it's really big."

"I thought—" says Charlie nervously, "I thought we were gonna—"

"I will be horribly offended if you don't want to sleep with me, McDonnell," Tom informs him gravely. They reach his room and he removes his trousers with impressive speed before diving into the bed in question. "Come on then, strange bedfellows," he says cheerily, patting the mattress.

Alex hesitates, then shrugs, pulling his t-shirt over his head. He decides to keep his jeans on—they're his tightest pair and he's not sure it's actually possible to get an erection in them, so it seems safest. He tries to focus on Tom's grinning face peeking out from the top of the duvet, his bright blue hair spread out across his purple pillows. He's shared a bed with Tom a bunch of times and it's never been an issue, but then, his friendship with Tom is different to his friendship with Charlie in one very important way. He loves them both to death, but with Charlie, he doesn't really show it most of the time. Tom, however, is probably the most touchy-feely being in the universe, which results in lots of cuddling and hair-stroking and nuzzling and I love yous, and pet names that Charlie would balk at, and occasionally kissing. And, all right, admittedly it has progressed to a bit more than that in the past, but really it's all in the name of friendship and openness and physical contact, and all things lovely and innocent and good.

But that's because that's just the kind of person Tom is. Charlie is not that kind of person.

"Wait, lemme be in the middle," Tom says, shuffling aside to let Alex clamber over him, and there's a relief. Charlie—still fully-clothed—awkwardly gets into bed on the other side of Tom, who immediately pulls him close and smushes their cheeks together. "Hi, Charlie."

"Hi, Tom," Charlie replies, somewhat wearily. "You're bruising my cheekbone."

"My sincerest apologies," Tom says through a yawn, and does not move.

"Your breath smells like fermented lemons," Charlie tells him.

"I love you," Tom says happily, putting his arm around Alex and drawing him in close as well. It's so easy, Alex thinks, snuggling in alongside Tom's skinny frame. It's easy and it's nice and he doesn't even usually give it a second thought, while if he and Charlie ever did this it would just be weird, in some undefined way they've never questioned.

He settles into Tom's armpit quite contentedly, and drifts off to sleep with his hand flat on Tom's stomach, feeling the rise and fall of his breath as it steadily slows.

Alex is the first to wake up the following day—the only one to register Ed's greeting of "Morning, threesome," when he pokes his head in the door at 11:17am. He grins and stretches and looks around, happily noting all the strange musical instruments and vintage oddities Tom seems to collect, the hand-drawn posters on the wall and the little trinkets on every shelf. Then he notes Tom himself, who looks to be in the exact same position he was in when he fell asleep last night—his limbs in a sort of in starfish formation with his fringe plastered across his face, his mouth open, and Charlie and Alex lying on each of his arms (which are surely numb by now). And finally, Alex notes Charlie, still nestled in beside Tom, curled against him, apparently comfortable that way in sleep. He looks very sweet, actually, his brow slightly furrowed and his hand clutching Tom's t-shirt.

Alex was about to get up, but he finds that he can't stop looking at Charlie now. It's so strange to see him like this, unselfconsciously touching somebody in a way that seems so intimate. The smile that had stretched across Alex's face when he first saw him has faded, now, and he finds himself imitating Charlie's expression unconsciously, forehead wrinkling as he frowns. Something tugs at his heart and then Charlie makes a little sleepy sound, and Alex immediately shuts his eyes and pretends to be asleep. The bed shudders and creaks slightly and Alex waits a moment before opening his eyes again—and he sees that Charlie has rolled over. He stares at Charlie's back, at the way his t-shirt has ridden up a little to expose a couple of freckles.

Then he realises that Tom is awake, too, and is watching him.

"Morning, lovebirds," Tom says, and yawns, extracting his arm from under Alex's neck and scraping his hair back from his face.

"I'm not your lovebird, Tom," Charlie mumbles sleepily, but Alex just frowns to himself. He's not sure that's the way Tom meant it.


three.

"You do realise neither of us actually drink, right?" is how Charlie greets Alex, when he wanders into the kitchen to see his new flatmate unpacking his Tesco haul and producing a huge bottle of rosé Cava.

Alex does, of course, realise this, but the Cava was on some offer that made it ridiculously cheap, and seeing as Charlie's finally moved into the new flat with him and they have lots to celebrate, it sort of seemed like fate. It seems like the kind of thing that people do, anyway—move in together and have a bottle of bubbly—and he tries to explain this to Charlie, but Charlie has never really been the kind of person who does things 'because they seem like the kind of thing that people do'. In the end, Charlie just expresses concern about Alex's apparent penchant for impulse buys, and for the future state of their kitchen if he continues to be allowed to do the shopping.

He does accept a mug full of the Cava when Alex offers it, though. They have dinner, which consists of some slightly burnt pizza, and then decide to set up the DVD player and have a Doctor Who marathon. Setting up the DVD player turns out to be a job best done without the aid of alcohol, but after half an hour of wrestling with wires they've managed it, and they're on their second mug (or, in Alex's case, cup from the Disney Store that has glittery bits embedded in the plastic) by the time they put the DVD in.

A couple of hours and quite a bit of Cava later, they are sitting cross-legged and facing each other on Charlie's bed, and concentrating very, very hard on keeping lampshades balanced on their heads. In the distance Alex can still hear David Tennant's voice coming from the TV in the living room.

"Okay," says Alex, when he's pretty sure his lampshade isn't going to fall unless he makes a very sudden movement, "right. I now declare us...Kings of the Flat."

"Kings of the Flat," Charlie echoes solemnly.

They sit in contemplation for a further moment, and Alex wonders if Charlie is swaying slightly, or if that's him. He can't actually remember why they came in here. He thinks it probably had something to do with an ambitious attempt to start unpacking boxes, but then Alex followed Charlie into his room for some reason and they got distracted by the lampshades. Maybe. He stretches, carefully so as not to lose his Lampshade Crown, and slides his hands out across the mattress. Then he realises that the mattress is bare.

Suddenly, he sits up straight, remembering, and the lampshade topples to the floor. That's why they came in here. Charlie wanted to locate the box that had his bedding in it so he could make his bed, and Alex offered to help.

"Bedding!" Alex exclaims, and leaps off the bed in the general direction of a stack of boxes.

Another half an hour (and the rest of the Cava) later, said stack of boxes is completely dismantled, and various belongings of Charlie's are strewn across the floor. Alex has done most of the bed-making himself, because Charlie found some strange electronic object to play with that Alex refused to be distracted by. There are now three pillows on the bed, two with mismatched cases, and the duvet is half inside a clashing cover. The fitted sheet is tucked into three corners, and for some reason a towel and a large jumper have been added to the mix.

Alex and Charlie survey the bed proudly.

"Not bad," Charlie says, and flops down onto it. He sort of groans happily, burying his face in a pillow, and says something that sounds like, "This is comfy."

Alex takes that as an invitation to join him, and the two of them are asleep within seconds.

Alex is awoken the following morning by the most ungodly noise he has ever heard. It sounds like the loudest klaxon ever invented. The bed seems to be shaking gently and the room is filled with flashing red lights, and Alex is fairly certain he's faced with some sort of impending doom. He sits bolt upright, scanning the room wildly for the source of the noise. Beside him, on the floor, is a black thing with glowing red numbers on the front. For a moment Alex thinks it is a demon, and then he gathers his senses and realises it is Charlie's alarm clock.

So basically, a demon.

He resists the urge to stamp on it, and instead turns to Charlie, because the events of last night are now coming quickly back to him and he's realised the two of them are in bed together. God dammit, this is why he usually never drinks—there are things he knows are Bad Ideas and then he has a little bit of alcohol and suddenly he can't remember what was so bad about them.

Charlie, through superhuman powers or something equally inexplicable, has managed to remain asleep, despite the fact that the bed is vibrating quite violently now and the siren is getting louder and the flashing brighter. Alex gingerly reaches out and pokes Charlie's shoulder. Then he shoves it. Then he shakes it rather aggressively.

"Bwuh?" mumbles Charlie.

Alex means to say morning Charlieburg, how do you switch off your alarm clock? but what comes out of his mouth is a vicious growl of, "Why the fuck would you do this to me?"

"It's the tiny little button on the back," Charlie replies, and then buries his face back into his pillow.

Alex narrows his eyes at him, wishing he'd paid attention when Charlie found the evil object in one of the bedding boxes last night. He'd been too busy flailing around with his arms inside a duvet cover, probably. He reaches down the side of the bed and manages to locate the little button, being blinded and deafened all the while, and finally the assault on his senses is over. He breathes a sigh of relief and settles down in the bed.

Charlie's bed.

Charlie seems to have just caught up with him, because the moment Alex's head hits the pillows, Charlie's leaves them, and he almost leaps out of bed. Alex wonders distantly how Charlie can sleep through fucking demonic alarm clocks, but the realisation that his best friend is in his bed wakes him in an instant. Maybe he should take to sneaking under the covers whenever Charlie has an important early morning appointment.

"We're fully-clothed," Alex says sleepily, because he's too grumpy from his rude awakening to care about the fact that their current situation definitely relates to Something They Do Not Discuss, Ever. "We drank a bit of bubbly and apparently I forgot the way to my own bedroom or something."

"I remember," says Charlie. He almost snaps it, actually, and Alex frowns, but it's probably fair enough—it's not like they got completely smashed last night or anything. Just a bit tipsy. And okay, the room sort of looks like a bomb hit it, and his attempt at making the bed looks much more horrific than it did last night, and there is a broken lampshade on the floor that looks like it got trodden on—but if that's all that happened, they're in the clear.

Alex becomes aware of the Doctor Who DVD menu music drifting in from the living room, and realises it must have been playing on a loop all night. That explains that one dream about the Daleks, at least.

"So," says Alex. "Breakfast?" Charlie says nothing, folding his arms and frowning, apparently deep in thought. "I'll go make us some toast," Alex decides, and gets up to head towards the door, navigating around the mess on tiptoes.

Charlie has a shower, which means his toast is cold when he gets to it, but at least by then he seems to be in a better mood. Alex has been sitting on the sofa all this time, watching the Doctor Who DVD menu continue to loop itself, dazed to the point of being almost hypnotised.

Charlie joins him, and through a mouthful of toast says "Where were we, then? Episode four?"

Alex breathes a sigh of relief and grabs the remote.


four.

It's circumstances beyond their control that lead to them sharing a bed on their trip to Amsterdam. Alex is pretty sure they were supposed to get twin beds, but apparently in Amsterdam they fix them together, making what Charlie points out is essentially a double bed with two duvets. Alex is filming when they enter the room, which actually turns out to be useful—with the camera on they can talk to their subscribers rather than each other, joking around about the bed situation and the bathroom that has a wall inexplicably made of glass. Alex is sure that without the camera, these discoveries would've been a hell of a lot more awkward.

This could also apply to their trip to the Sex Museum, although Alex is surprised by how easygoing Charlie seems to be about it—perhaps it's because it's so difficult to take it seriously, and how could anyone not laugh at all these giant penis sculptures. And actually, Charlie's always been fine with dirty jokes and the like—it's any serious discussion of sexuality that seems to make him clam up, especially if it's to do with him, or Alex. Anyway, the Sex Museum is mostly comprised of nude mannequins and some stuff that is closer to art than pornography, so they manage to get around with limited awkwardness. Alex succeeds in not relating anything to personal experience and Charlie readily agrees to pose beside several phallic works of art, and all in all the day is a triumph.

Apart from their miserable failure to get to the Science Museum, but that's still a sore spot for the two of them. Over dinner, they decide to try again tomorrow. They stay out for a while at the restaurant, sharing food and chatting, and then make their way back to the hotel pretty late. It's really comfortable, and Alex can't help but feel immensely happy, walking side-by-side with his best friend in a foreign country, giggling over memories from the Sex Museum. Even their hotel room situation doesn't seem so bad when they get back, though they do both sort of put off actually going to bed, staying up and messing around with Charlie's iPad til the early hours.

Eventually, Alex is yawning too much to ignore it and they change into their pajamas, each heading into the little glass box of a bathroom to piss, awkwardly, and brush their teeth. And then eventually they're in bed together, and Alex actually starts to wonder why they always make such a fuss about it. It's not so bad. That first time was awkward, sure, but it was a single bed and they were younger then, didn't know each other so well. It's strange, but lying with Charlie like this, sober, with no Tom Milsom between them—it feels kind of right.

He hasn't been asleep for long when he feels an odd creeping sensation down his spine and gets the feeling that something is watching him. He opens his eyes instantly, and finds that the something is a Charlie, whose eyes are fixed on him in a way that would be at least vaguely alarming if Alex weren't so sleepy.

"Mnuh," Alex grumbles. "Don't watch me sleep. Edward Cullen."

He frowns and shuts his eyes again, but the feeling doesn't go away. He waits a moment and then opens one eye, experimentally. Charlie is still staring at him. It's starting to concern Alex, even in his current state. He opens both eyes, and lifts his head up (with what feels like Herculean effort) to look at the digital clock over Charlie's shoulder.

"All right," he says, "3am staring contest, you're on."

He widens his eyes as much as he can, and fixes them on Charlie's, which does at least make Charlie's lips quirk into an almost-smile. He thinks maybe he should ask what's up, but decides that can come later—he's just entered into a competition, and he'd quite like to win. But then he realises that the amusement on Charlie's lips is fading, and an altogether new expression is crossing his face. It's not really something Alex knows how to classify, because it's completely unfamiliar. It's almost unsettling, in fact, but it's also oddly exciting. Alex's eyes are watering, so he blinks to clear them, wanting to focus more on the way that Charlie is looking at him.

And just as he loses the staring contest, he figures out what that expression is.

There's about a second of shock and confusion, but Alex really isn't the type of person to plan things, so that's as long as it lasts before he's diving forwards and pressing his lips to Charlie's, kissing him softly and a little sleepily. Charlie's body goes rigid, frozen, and Alex draws back uncertainly. He was sure he read that expression right. Shit, what if he fucked this up?

Time to resort to jokes.

"Edward Cullen would've been pleased with that reaction," he teases, but he can't quite get rid of the nervous tone in his voice.

"No," says Charlie, and his voice is nervous too, all shaky, but he's smiling, "no, he would've been all concerned about his precious virtue."

Alex grins, relieved that Charlie is joking around too. "Oh, so you're not so bothered about that?" he retorts, and reaches out to grab Charlie by the hip and pull him closer again—but what he finds under the covers is not Charlie's hip. Reflexively, his hand darts away, but almost as reflexively, it returns, and he presses his palm to the hardness beneath Charlie's pajama trousers and tries to turn his shocked expression into something nonchalant. "Hmm. Not very virtuous at all, then."

It's hard to tell in the dim, silvery moonlight coming in through a crack in the curtains, but it looks like Charlie is blushing, and his smile has definitely vanished. He squirms away out of Alex's reach, drawing his hips back, until Alex is sure his arse must be hanging off the edge of the bed because they really don't have all that much space to themselves.

"Hey," Alex says, "I just kissed you, Charlieburg. I'm not gonna freak out about the fact that you've got a stiffy."

Alex is pretty sure the blush deepens at this, but Charlie also lets out a laugh and shuffles a bit, coming closer again.

"Alex," he whispers somewhat urgently.

"Hmm?" asks Alex, hand lazily reaching out under the covers in search of Charlie's erection again. It just felt really nice, which is an odd word to use, but true.

"What're we doing?" Charlie hisses.

"I don't know," Alex whispers back, "but can we carry on?"

Charlie laughs again and shifts across that last bit of distance, now even closer than he was before. Alex leans in to kiss him again and this time he really concentrates on it, even though every part of his suddenly wide-awake brain is shrieking You're kissing Charlie! You're kissing Charlie! What the fuck are you doing, you're kissing Charlie! He calmly tells his brain to relax, and carries on, opening his lips a little to encourage Charlie to do the same and then slipping his tongue inside Charlie's warm mouth. Charlie makes a little noise and reaches out to touch Alex's shoulder, his hand sort of poised there in a grab like he's holding on for dear life. Alex wonders how many people Charlie has kissed and how many times and he thinks about how Charlie is really quite good, if hesitant, and how he really wants to get him to make that noise again.

Alex's hand is resting in the small space on the bed between them, and he moves it, and it almost immediately comes into contact with Charlie's crotch again. He sighs a little bit and starts to stroke him through the soft cotton of his pajama trousers, and really, it is nice. Alex has always liked touching Charlie, always gets a little thrill whenever there's an excuse for them to hug or something. In fact, 'touching Charlie' is definitely on his Top Ten List of Favourite Things, possibly even ahead of 'Doctor Who' (but behind 'sex'). Maybe it's just because it's so rare, because Charlie's not terribly good with physical contact and so it makes Alex feel special. He doesn't know, and he'll analyse it later, because for now he wants to focus on this, smoothing his hand back and forth over the hardness beneath Charlie's trousers, feeling the heat of him.

Quickly, though, that's not enough, and he slides his hand up further, rumpling Charlie's t-shirt out of the way and fumbling with the elastic waistband of the trousers. He's got his hand halfway inside—his palm resting against hot, downy skin and his fingers touching rough and slightly damp pubic hair—when he realises he should probably check that this is all right. He can feel Charlie's pulse here, against his hand, and the speed of it is fast enough to be worrying.

"You okay?" Alex asks, and is surprised by how husky his voice comes out. He flicks his eyes back up to Charlie's face, and Charlie nods. "Can I...?" Alex continues, and Charlie nods again, chewing at his bottom lip.

Alex tries to ignore the fact that his heart has decided to relocate to his throat, and clumsily takes Charlie's erection in his hand. He doesn't expect for this to be such an overwhelming action that he's momentarily unable to do anything else, but that's what happens. For a long moment, he does nothing but listen to his own heart pounding in his ears as he feels Charlie's cock in his fist, the hot and slightly sticky skin of it, and he's so fucking hard but the skin is impossibly soft, it's like steel wrapped in velvet. The combination of how Charlie feels in his hand and the look on Charlie's face is almost too much, and Alex wonders if it'll be okay if they just stay like this forever, until they fall asleep or until the world ends or whatever, just—

But then Charlie shifts slightly and makes that noise again. Alex falls apart, quickly pulls himself together, and starts to move his hand, clumsy with the awkward angle and alarmed to realise that his fingers feel all shaky. He strokes his palm over the head of Charlie's cock to get some moisture on his hand—and is amazed by how wet Charlie is, pre-come gathering quickly at the tip. He almost says something about it, because he never gets all wet like that—but a quick look back at Charlie's face tells him the combination of doing this and talking about it would probably cause Charlie to expire on the spot. Which is a shame, really, because right now Alex is wondering how Charlie might respond, and what it would be like if he got Charlie to talk dirty, because he's ashamed to admit he always gets a bit of a kick out of it just when Charlie swears and the thought of him begging Alex to stroke his cock—well, Alex is hard in about five seconds flat, and has to take another moment to steady himself.

Alex shifts closer and twists his wrist, bringing his hand sliding more smoothly down Charlie's shaft and then back up again. Suddenly he thinks oh, and relaxes a little, remembering that he knows what he's doing. He doesn't like to admit it but there's always a moment like this at the start of anything sexual, where his brain almost shuts down and he's convinced he doesn't have a clue, that he's incompetent and terrible—and then it passes, and (usually) things get awesome. So he tightens his grip and speeds up, and it's still slightly tricky with Charlie's pajamas in the way and the heavy duvets shrouding the two of them, but Charlie's face has gone all screwed-up and his breathing is heavy, and those seem like good signs.

Actually, Alex sort of can't take his eyes off him—he's always liked a slightly-flustered Charlie, for reasons not entirely clear to him, and this is better than anything he's seen in the past. Charlie bites his lip and opens his eyes.

"Stop staring at me," he murmurs, huffing out an embarrassed little laugh.

"You started it," Alex retorts.

Charlie rolls his eyes and then rolls his whole body, over onto his back, and Alex shuffles closer, and the angle is a lot easier now. He curls up alongside Charlie and the two of them shift around a bit while Alex tries to get Charlie's pajama trousers out of the way. Alex has to fight the urge to throw back the duvets, because he's struck by a sudden need to see what Charlie's dick actually looks like, whether it's glistening and flushed, curving up against his pale belly. It feels surprisingly thick in his hand, actually, thicker than his own, and he bets the contrast of it against Charlie's skinny body is—well, something to see. He wonders if anyone has seen it.

Fucking Charlie and his mysterious sexuality.

The way he's acting now, Alex could easily believe this is his very first handjob, but he has to be realistic and remember that there are several other factors that could be making this particularly overwhelming, not least the fact that the two of them are best friends. Charlie has thrown his arm over the upper part of his face, obscuring his eyes, but Alex quite likes what he can still see—Charlie in profile, his lips parted, his chin tilting up towards the ceiling, his throat exposed and his Adam's apple quivering—all bathed in silvery light.

Alex makes a happy little noise and moves closer, his own erection pressing against the side of Charlie's thigh now. He fists Charlie's cock eagerly, hand clasped around the slick, hot shape of it, watching closely for Charlie's reactions. Charlie squirms under Alex's gaze, a sheepish smile tugging at the corners of his mouth, and Alex begins to move in a clumsy rhythm, sort of rutting against Charlie's thigh, crumpling Charlie's pajama trousers and his own boxers as he finds friction. He moans at the relief of it—it feels almost disproportionate, that rubbing off against somebody's leg could feel this fucking good—and Charlie lets out another sort of whimper, and god, it's so much fucking hotter than anything like this has the right to be. Alex is, by now, absolutely fixated on making Charlie come, and his hand works frantically as he grinds his own hips into Charlie's thigh, cock bumping hip as he strokes and rubs feverishly, his eyes fixed on Charlie's face—

He feels it a split-second before it happens, there's a sudden tension and Charlie makes a fist—Alex sees his fingernails digging into his own palm, his forearm pressed over his eyes—and gasps sharply, hips snapping up as he spills over Alex's fingers. He looks really, really beautiful, and Alex thinks oh no, oh no because he suddenly realises that he wants to make Charlie come over and over and over again, and then his own orgasm hits him and he awkwardly splatters the inside of his boxers.

A dizzy moment passes. Everything is sticky and too hot and the room suddenly smells overwhelmingly of sex, and it is so incongruous with the sight of Charlie beside him that it's sort of thrilling. Alex exhales something that sounds like "Whew," and lets go, wiping his hand not terribly discreetly on Charlie's already-damp pajama bottoms.

"Ummmm," says Charlie. It sounds incredibly croaky, and he clears his throat and tries again. "Ummmm."

Alex can't help but laugh, and to his relief and joy Charlie joins in, and then suddenly they are trapped in a fit of hysterics, stopping only to breathe and then cracking up all over again. Any tension has dissipated and Alex is so glad, it feels like his heart is going to burst.

"Okay," says Alex when they've finally managed to recover, "I, uh—I think we might wake up with the sheets stuck to us in the morning if we don't, uh—"

Charlie reaches down under the duvet and sort of grimaces. "Oh, god. There's so much...semen." He laughs in a sort of weary cackling sort of way and blushes again, and he is far too fucking adorable for his own good and Alex really wants to kiss him.

So he does.

And then Charlie gets this sleepy, satisfied look on his face and settles into his pillow.

"You just gonna fall asleep on me now?" Alex teases. "We're disgusting."

"Don't care," mumbles Charlie. "Too tired."

Alex smiles. "Slaap lekker," he murmurs. Charlie stares at him blankly. "That means sleep well in Dutch. I did lend you my phrasebook on the plane, I would've thought you'd—"

"Don't nag me," Charlie groans, and then adds, with a quivering smile, "let me slaap."


five.

Somewhat surprisingly, the next day goes well. Throughout the rest of their time in Amsterdam, they don't actually mention last night, but it doesn't feel like they're pretending it didn't happen. It just feels like they're not quite ready to talk about it yet. After all, Charlie has his conference that day, and Alex doesn't want to stress him out further by saying things like so I made you come, HOW WAS THAT? even if he is sort of dying to know the answer.

Charlie falls asleep on his shoulder on the plane on the way home and Alex can't stop grinning in an utterly stupid way, to the extent that the flight attendants actually start trying to avoid their row.

Back home, they separate off into their bedrooms to unpack. Alex only brought a small bag, but he really, really hates unpacking, so after about two minutes he decides to take a break and go get a drink. He returns to his room to find Charlie sitting on his bed.

"Oh," he says, startled. "Hello."

"I packed your toothbrush by mistake," says Charlie, by way of explanation, and holds it out. Alex pretends not to notice that Charlie's hand is shaking slightly, and takes it.

"Thanks," he says, and then stands there holding it for a moment like an idiot before whirling around to look for the nearest place to put it. He places it on his chest of drawers, and turns back to Charlie. "Um."

He really wishes he could think of something casual to say, just come up with some random topic of conversation to fill the silence—but they've been in each other's company for almost forty-eight hours now and it seems they've run out of subjects.

Charlie flops back on the bed, and then lies there staring at the ceiling and saying nothing. Alex watches him for a moment but nothing further happens, so he decides to carry on unpacking. He pulls out another handful of items from his backpack and places them carefully beside the toothbrush. He can't really focus on where things should actually go, not with a Charlie on his bed. It's just not something they do—part of their unspoken rule, he supposes, as though simply sitting on each other's beds to chat might end up with them being unexpectedly knocked unconscious and sleeping there together. Plus there's the fact that Charlie's presence seems suddenly more important than it ever has, distracting and obvious, as though he's singing at the top of his lungs and waving his arms around, instead of just lying there motionless like he is.

After a while, Alex has created a precarious pile of objects on top of his chest of drawers, and Charlie says, in a small voice, "It's cold."

"Get under the covers then," Alex suggests, genuinely without thinking, and then almost claps his hand over his mouth. He is currently holding his phone and he has to fight the urge to force it down his own throat. "I mean—" he stammers, turning around, but to his surprise Charlie is actually getting under the covers. "Er."

Charlie is looking at him sort of sheepishly, and Alex seems to have come over all twitchy for some reason. He's heading towards the bed before he's a hundred per cent aware of what he's doing, and he realises at some point he must have dropped his phone on the floor. Charlie sits up slightly and for a second Alex thinks he's going to just get up and leave, but then he realises that Charlie is pulling his t-shirt over his head, which is—well, something different entirely. Alex looks at him for a moment and then takes off his own shirt. He hesitates, and then reaches for the button on his jeans as well. He can't seem to form words with his mouth so he just gives Charlie what he hopes is a questioning look, and Charlie responds with the slightest of nods, so Alex unzips his jeans and begins to take them off.

It's always a long process, that, with jeans this tight, and by the time they're off Charlie is laughing openly, lying there in Alex's bed with the duvet pulled up to his waist. Then Alex spots the pile of fabric on the other side of the bed that is clearly Charlie's own trousers. His heart gives a funny little jump when he realises that, tangled up with them, is a pair of boxers.

"When did you do that?!" he asks before he can stop himself.

"While you were leaping around like a maimed gazelle."

Alex hoots with laughter. "Gazelles have four legs."

"I did say 'maimed'," Charlie points out.

"You have a sick sense of humour," Alex informs him, and swiftly drops his boxers before climbing into bed.

Their skin brushes, and it's just the slightest touch, but it sends a shiver all the way through Alex's body. His brain seems to be repeating Charlie is naked, Charlie is naked, Charlie is naked at him which, while true, is not particularly helpful. He shifts a little closer at the exact same time that Charlie does, and this time they are truly skin-to-skin, and it is hot and soft and instantly addictive. Alex feels something like a wave inside of him, cresting, overflowing. He looks Charlie in the eye.

"Um," says Charlie, and then says it again, and then, "sorry—um—can we just—this is going to sound stupid, but can we just sleep? Not—not always, I mean, just...now."

Alex almost laughs, but catches himself just in time. Of course, he wants to touch Charlie, he wants to touch the places he didn't get a chance to last night, he wants to watch him and savour it and explore, and he wants to make Charlie make proper noises and maybe groan his name, and come over and over again—but all of that can wait. They live together and they have all the time in the world. And actually, he does want to sleep, and a little ripple of excitement runs through him at the thought of sleeping naked beside Charlie, the two of them curling up together the way they never used to let themselves. He pulls Charlie close, and he can feel the heat of Charlie's blush against his shoulder. He holds him, running his fingers up Charlie's back to the nape of his neck and then through his hair.

"Yeah," he says, and it sounds sort of faint even to his own ears.

Their legs entwine.

"If I say that I love you right now, will it sound completely mental?" Alex enquires after a pause.

"Probably," says Charlie, yawning into Alex's shoulder, and Alex can feel him smile.

He says it anyway.




End.

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