[A/N] This is not exactly a continuation of Relationship Therapy, but the first part might make more sense if you've read that. It's by no means necessary as it's an altogether different story in every way but with the appearance of two familiar faces.
It was a lovely day out so they had chosen to meet up at one of the less popular cafés which still had a lovely terrace. That way they could still enjoy the weather but avoid the tourists, a winning arrangement. Gawain had arrived a few minutes early and was facing the sun with his eyes closed and a book forgotten on his lap when Morgan arrived. He almost fell out of his chair with a startled jerk when Morgan announced himself by tapping his nose with a finger.
"Well, that was entertaining. If the new chapter is half so interesting we may be facing record sales," Morgan said amusedly.
"You are a right arse my friend," Gawain remarked.
"Who, moi?" Morgan said with wide eyes and a hand on his heart. "I almost have to be with all you slackers under my command."
Gawain snorted. "I'm productive enough, thank you. At least we slackers actually create something whereas you simply tear apart the work of others."
Morgan winced and took off his sunglasses. "Burned, again. Well, hand it over," he said, sitting down gracefully. He took his regular glasses out of his briefcase and put them on, gesturing for Gawain to get on with it.
"Of course," Gawain said absently, turning to rummage in his bag. His phone began chirping and he grabbed it instinctively. "One moment," he told Morgan. "Yes, what?"
"MILKSHAAAAAAAAAKE!" came the screech and Gawain held the phone away from his ear with a grimace.
"Ris, I am working," he said with a note of warning.
"And I, miraculously, am not! This means you're taking me out for a milkshake," Ris said confidently.
Gawain sighed. "Gaheris."
"Gawain," Ris whined. "Don't make me pout."
Gawain couldn't help smiling. Well, Ris was never boring, that was for sure. "Wait until I am finished you brat," he said fondly.
"He's too pretty," Ris protested. "It could take all day!"
"It will not, bratling. I will call you when I finish so be good, or no milkshake," he said and hung up.
Morgan was politely covering his smile with one hand, the other still outstretched and waiting for the pages. Gawain resumed his rummaging and produced a pile of crumpled papers. He futilely tried to smooth them out but ended up handing them over looking even worse than when he began.
Morgan rolled his eyes and signalled a waiter. "Please bring us both something fruity with alcohol in it. I have a feeling I at least will need it."
"It's not that bad," Gawain protested.
"I'll be the judge of that, dearest. You just sit there and look pretty. You know, we should put you on the cover. It's a very sound marketing tactic," Morgan said thoughtfully. "Shirtless, in the sunlight," he added.
Gawain raised an eyebrow. "The protagonist is female."
"Details, details," Morgan said dismissively. "Besides, your protagonists are about as interesting as a turnip. It's the minor characters who are the key to your success."
"I hope he hurries with those drinks, I have a feeling I'll be needing it before long," Gawain said morosely.
"No, no," Morgan said, leafing through the pages. "This is good. I like it quite a bit. Much better than the first three chapters. I feel you need to rework those or this will stand out too much."
"Slave-driver," Gawain grumbled. "But as it so happens, I already did," he said handing over another pile. He didn't mention it was all because of Gaheris who had picked apart his work until Gawain wanted to crawl in to a corner and let the monster snake devour him whole before ever writing again. He also didn't mention that they had set up a reward system that worked better than anything ever before.
"Oh splendid, if only my other writers were as proactive, I would be a millionaire."
Morgan neatly put the papers away in his briefcase, making room for their drinks. They were quite festive, colourful with little paper umbrellas and curly straws. Gawain immediately set out to pluck everything from his drink and add it to Morgan's.
"You already are," Gawain grumbled. "Which is why you can afford to mess about with us slackers of no renown."
"Oh do stop it, you're making me blush. Quick, tell me more about my boundless altruism," Morgan prompted, staring at Gawain with the most ridiculous wide-eyed look and insane grin.
"There's something different about you," Gawain suddenly said, deciding it would be in his best interest to move away from the subject as soon as possible.
"Really," Morgan purred, batting his eyelashes.
Gawain looked closer. Designer spectacles, check. Perfectly styled dark hair, check. Grey eyes, tanned skin, fashionable shirt, earring, check, check and check again. Wait a minute. "You pierced your ear. Why on earth did you pierce your ear?"
Morgan gave his dangling earring a little swing. "You like it?"
"It's a sword, isn't it?" Gawain wondered out loud. "Can I?" he asked, reaching out.
Morgan nodded and moved closer so Gawain could investigate it. It turned out there were two earrings, a diamond stud and the sword with a thin chain connecting the two. There was something familiar about it but it was so unlikely Gawain dismissed it as a coincidence. Or he did, until Morgan grinned.
"Doesn't it remind you of something?" he teased. "Please say it does. I went through great effort to make sure it would." He sighed dramatically and gave the earring another swing. "Of course your prose is much too evoking to be pinned down by mere earthly trinkets, but I did follow the description to the letter."
Dropping his head in his hands, Gawain groaned. "You had jewellery made of an item which brings misfortune to those stupid enough to wield it. Out of every possible sword, you chose the cursed blade?" He took a sip of his drink, watching Morgan practically bounce in his chair. "But of course, I forgot – you are completely demented."
Morgan raised his glass in a toast. "That I am, my friend. That I am."
They conducted the rest of the meeting without banter or interruption and by the time their glasses were empty, there was nothing further to discuss. Morgan stood, offering his hand to Gawain. "It was nice to see you again Gawain. I beg of you, keep up the good work – you are one of the few who do. I don't think I could go on should you choose to fall to the pattern the rest of my slackers are following."
The blond rolled his eyes but he was smiling. They shook hands and gathered their possessions. Gawain turned to leave, paused for a beat and looked over his shoulder at Morgan. "You need a vacation," he commented.
Laughing wryly, Morgan nodded. "I need several. Now off with you, you have an appointment to keep."
Gawain snorted. "The idiot has been waiting around the corner all this time. Another second or ten will hardly matter." His look turned serious. "Morgan, if you need to talk about anything, you know I am perfectly willing."
"Yes, yes, you are a saint and a half. Now go," Morgan said, making shooing motions.
Gawain walked off, laughing madly. A saint, hah.
Morgan watched him turn a corner and stumble back in to sight with a blond man clinging to him tightly and laughing. Now there was a sight, Gawain trying and failing to look angry while the other prodded his sides and talked a mile a minute. They disappeared around the corner, walking very closely together. Morgan did not miss their linked hands.
He was glad for them, he just wished it hurt a little less to see it.
He strolled down the street humming under his breath, a song about a heart and a fear and a beginning that never was. A quick stop for some groceries and he was off again, his regular glasses switched for the kind of designer shades that allowed no one to see your eyes. He continued humming until he stopped to look at a door. He took a deep breath and pulled a set of keys out of his pocket, feeling the shape with his fingers. Finding the one he needed, he unlocked the door and pushed it open.
The hallway was dark and smelled musty. He stepped over the pile of mail, flipping the light switch on the way and began climbing the stairs. On the third floor he paused to fondle the keys again and let himself in to the flat.
The smell of stale cigarettes and whiskey made him wrinkle his nose in disgust. He didn't even want to think about the state of the kitchen. The occupant was at home, he could tell by the soft music playing and the yellowish light coming from the living room.
Morgan set his briefcase against the wall on the hallway floor and took his sunglasses off, hooking them on the left pocket of his pants. He'd lost more than one pair of sunglasses that way but as bad habits go it could have been a lot worse. He fixed his face in to an expression of something like amusement before actually walking in to the living room.
"Tristram?" he called out, looking around. "This is not the time for hide and seek my darling burden, I've brought your shopping."
There was no answer other than the haunting tunes of whatever esoteric lady songwriter was the flavour of that week. Morgan set the shopping down and carefully stepped around the scattered mess on the floor, making his way to the sofa on a whim. He had a hunch he wouldn't like what he found.
The wide coffee table was piled with full ashtrays, empty and half-empty glasses, various liquor bottles and assorted odds and ends. Mindful of the stains and puddles, Morgan leaned his palms on it and peered down on the crumpled body laying between the sofa and the table.
He made a noise of disapproval and reached out to touch an exposed shoulder. It was still warm. He spotted the dirty spoon he'd missed before, as well as the bloody syringe. Tristram was getting clumsier. Grey eyes narrowed and he straightened up.
"You idiot," Morgan said softly.
Rolling up his sleeves he again evaded the mess on his way to the kitchen, grabbing the bag of supplies on the way. It was as big a disaster as he had feared. It was no use glaring at it, he could only get started and hope he didn't faint from the smell before he finished.
Morgan hadn't done a bit of manual labour in his life before he met Tristram, but he was quickly becoming something of an expert housekeeper. It was the only way to preserve his sanity. He took out his frustrations on the dishes and counter tops, the thundering of water drowning out at least a few of his thoughts. He shoved rubbish in bags and hurled them in to the hallway, put the groceries away and tried not to look at the floor. When he finished he leaned against the wall, his eyes shut tightly.
He would need a manicure again. His beautician cursed him every time he stopped by after seeing Tristram, inevitably his hands would be a mess. He wished that was the only thing which became a mess.
He poked his head in to the living room to asses the damage there but instead saw Tristram sitting with his head on the coffee table, holding a rolled cigarette.
"The dragon awakens," he muttered.
"Awakens and swallows the maiden whole," Tristram muttered right back.
With a theatrical gesture Morgan stepped in to the room. "Her cries echo for miles around, miles and miles with no knight in sight."
"Only the bones of heroes come and gone and one mad poet with neither parchment nor quill," Tristram continued, finally lifting his head to look at Morgan. His eyes were half-lidded as he lifted his hand in a lazy salute. "Salve, Morgan. Did you bring me tea?"
"Hello to you too, and of course I did." Morgan's nostrils flared at the all too familiar smell. He couldn't help the frown. How long had Tristram been awake if he had started again already? And how long did he have before he lost his attention again?
Tristram waved his hand in the direction of the sofa, scattering ashes around. "My castle is your dungeon. Make yourself at home." He slowly turned his head, his unwashed dark hair falling in to his eyes.
He wasn't wearing a shirt, again. Morgan was sure he couldn't weigh more than 125 pounds despite being 5'11''. When they'd met for the first time Tristram had already been thin but sinewy with prominent clavicles and a penchant for casual nudity. The young man wrote the most heart-wrenching poetry some of which was immortalised on his dusky skin along with images of demons and skulls. There had been some kind of open mic night at the coffee shop where Tristram worked and he'd stumbled inside by accident. Ever curious, he stayed for the recitations which ranged from horrible to worse until Tristram took the mic and shattered him with a few lines. Morgan knew talent when he saw it, not to mention beauty.
Of course, if he knew then what he knows now he would have left the man alone instead of giving him a contract for a book and a permanent place as a columnist for his literary magazine. It was harder to support a habit on a barista's salary than the income of a published poet and writer.
He gingerly sat down on the beat-up sofa, looking in to Tristram's gold-flecked green eyes. Those eyes had been his undoing from day one. "Did you finish your article?" he asked, trying hard not to gag at the smell of the burning drug.
"It's on the table," Tristram said after a while. "Somewhere." He made a noise like a great beast waking from its slumber as he uncoiled his body and pulled himself on to the sofa. It was almost tragic, those thin arms with their beautiful artwork that no one would admire ever again, hair which had once been thick and shiny and is now limp and dull and glazed-over eyes with nothing in them but need and pain. Morgan couldn't have moved even if he'd wanted to.
"You keep coming back," Tristram sighed. "My beautiful constant."
He cringed when the stained hand touched the skin of his arm, breathing deeply and fighting the instinct to run. Tristram crawled towards him, his pants falling off his hips and the tip of his erection showing. He must have been touching himself from the moment he woke up, then. It usually took him longer to start in on Morgan, but then, how was any of this usual?
Hands encircled his neck and it was anything but gentle, too-long fingernails digging in to his skin. He followed the movement, letting Tristram drag him down on top of him as he lay down on his back. He wanted to look everywhere but in his eyes, be anywhere but there.
He was still beautiful. Despite the damage he'd done to himself, he was still beautiful. Morgan wished he couldn't see it. Green eyes flickered with something desperate for a moment, then died again.
"Will you save me, Morgan? Will you? Say you will save me."
Morgan closed his eyes tightly, he could feel the wetness of his eyelashes. His breath hitched. "Yes," he told him, "yes, and yes."
"Credo," Tristram breathed in his ear, "credo quia absurdum. Touch me, my morning star. Touch me."
Keeping his eyes closed, Morgan kissed the stubbly jaw, kissed a path to that clavicle that had caught his eye almost immediately, and licked it, sucked on the flesh just above it and prayed desperately. He remembered the glow of skin the colour of caramel fudge as he bit down on a nipple, remembered the beating of his heart upon seeing a wide smile of prefect white teeth as his hands kneaded bony hips, remembered how a mischievous sparkle in vibrantly coloured eyes went straight to his cock and prayed.
He ground his leg against Tristram's erection and didn't dare look up to see the absence of a reaction. Bony fingers tangled his hair and he choked back a sob, moving lower, kissing a path down that smooth stomach, licking and nipping at his pelvic bone, hoping, wishing.
"Morgannnnnn," Tristram moaned, bucking his hips impatiently. "Come on, Morgan, suck it, please, please I want to feel so bad," he begged. He pulled himself up so he could lean on his elbows, his pants sliding down further.
He could almost believe, if he only listened to the words, that he was wanted. Desired. But he knew better. He looked at the hard cock, reached out for it and pulled back when it twitched. He could almost believe.
"Oh Morgan, please."
Slowly, he licked up the length, suckled on the head and licked down again. Slow, he had to remember that, slow. Very, very slow. The longer the spent playing, teasing, the less it would hurt in the end, so he teased, gently dragging his fingernails over the length, licked at the head, doing everything he could think of to extend the simple act of oral sex.
Tristram was making noises, needy noised, angry noises, alternated deep breaths with quick gasps, and Morgan could almost believe. When he finally took the cock in his mouth and slowly took it deeper, Tristram gave a shout which almost sounded like 'victoria'. Morgan ignored him, closing his eyes and focusing on the cock in his mouth because at least it felt hot and alive. He held Tristram down by his hips, choosing his own pace and enforcing it.
He listened to the breathing, the cries of 'Morgan' and 'please', wishing he could believe.
"Oh god I want to fuck you," Tristram exhaled in a rush, "Please Morgan. I want it, I need it."
Morgan slowly released the cock from his mouth, rising up to straddle Tristram's legs. He heard a crunch under his knee – another pair of glasses lost.
"Take off your shirt," he was ordered. Slowly he unbuttoned it, looking down all the time. He let the shirt fall off his shoulders, waited a beat for Tristram's hiss of appreciation and pulled his arms free.
"Now lick your fingers – slowly. Oh god, yes," Tristram dictated, closing his eyes and throwing his head back. "You become more beautiful every time," he whispered.
Liar, Morgan almost said, but held back. He trailed his wet fingers down his chest, dropping his hand to rest on his thigh. He unbuttoned his trousers and stood slowly, feet planted on either side of Tristram's legs. He'd done it so often he doesn't even need to fight for balance any more. Dropping the trousers and his boxers in one go, he first freed his right foot, then his left. Easily, comfortably, practised. Tristram rose to a sitting position, equally smooth. Morgan sank to his knees, bent his head for Tristram to embrace him and pull him in to a kiss.
"I want to prepare you."
Morgan said nothing, he stepped off the sofa to snatch the lube out of his pocket and hand it to Tristram. He climbed back on with his arse in the air and his cock only half-hard. Tristram touched him softly, scratching at his opening with his nails before a slick finger entered him. He moaned quietly, closing his eyes and leaning his head on the armrest while Tristram stroked his thighs, reaching to fondle his balls.
"My Morgan, my morning star."
"I wish you wouldn't call me that," Morgan pleaded, rocking back on to the fingers probing his arse, breath catching in his throat again.
Tristram chuckled. "But it's so fitting."
The fingers disappeared save for one, and than one was soon joined by something bigger. Morgan let out a soft gasp and squeezed his eyes shut again. It was always from behind. Like that he could pretend and remember and wish all he liked. The last finger was removed and Tristram set a languid pace, burying himself balls-deep in Morgan's arse and almost pulling out with every thrust.
He lost track of time, focusing on the feeling of their mockery of lovemaking. He was now almost unbearably hard, but there was nothing he could do, Tristram was hardly done so all he could do was hold on, flashes of that beautiful healthy barista dancing behind his closed eyelids. Only when Tristram's pace became more urgent and the grunts more real did he reach for his own cock, squeezing and massaging, not yet daring to wank it properly.
"Holy motherfucking fuck," Tristram cried, and Morgan cried with him, losing himself in the desperate thrusts, jerking on his cock and yes, praying. With one last cry Tristram fell on top of him, arms circling around his waist and holding him tightly. He could feel the beating of Tristram's heart, could feel it racing much like his own and begged every god, every power, every saint, begged with every fibre of his being and a second later he grunted, coming all over his own hand.
Tristram finally let him go and pulled out, falling back with a sigh. Morgan stepped off the sofa, straightening up and walked to the kitchen. He rinsed his hand and then washed it with dish soap. He splashed water on his face, wiping it away with his hands and then wiped them on his legs. He stood there, gathering courage.
"This is insane," he told himself. He shook his head, a chuckle escaping him. "I am insane."
He returned to the living room where Tristram was still sitting sideways on the sofa, one leg bent at the knee, the other dangling to the floor. He turned to look at Morgan and smiled. There was a spark, a glimmer, something in his eyes, and Morgan hoped.
"Shall I make us some tea?" he asked, smiling back.
"No, no. I want to sleep," Tristram answered, and Morgan's heart sank.
"I'll help you to bed, then," he tried again.
"Just leave me here. I'm comfortable."
"Right. That's fine too."
He sat down to watch him while he stared at the ceiling, watched the glow in his eyes dim to nothing until they were as flat as they'd been when he arrived. He shouldn't have been surprised – hadn't really been surprised – but it hurt none the less. This time, it hadn't even taken one line to shatter him. A look was all that was needed.
Morgan gathered his clothes and dressed quickly. He spotted a flash drive on the table and pocketed it, hoping it was the correct one. If not, he'd think of something.
"You're leaving then?" Tristram mumbled, watching him with the same lazy half-lidded look as always.
"A meeting I can't put off," Morgan lied. He had to go. Quickly.
Tristram laughed weakly. "My morning star is taking over the world."
"Stop calling me that. It's not funny," Morgan snapped.
"Oh but it is," Tristram argued, stopping to look at Morgan. "My damnation and salvation, all in a beautiful package."
"If anything is your morning star it's that shit you use," Morgan growled, running his hands through his hair, trying to put it in order. "I rather dislike being named the devil in this relationship."
"Ah, no, you see, there you are wrong." Tristram raised himself up to sit properly. "The heroin is my Isolde – my tragedy. You, my morning star, lift me up and cut me down with the same beautiful smile."
Morgan said nothing. He left the room, picked up his briefcase and left the flat, locking the door behind him. "If only I were enough for you," he said to himself. He jogged down the stairs, pulled the front door open and stepped outside. He squinted against the sunlight and cursed his own negligence.
He strolled towards the nearest shopping street at a brisk pace and walked in to the most ostentatious looking accessories store. He zeroed in on his target, easily picking out the most expensive pair of sunglasses in the display and marched to the register. He smiled at the young girl, charming her in to a fit of giggles instantly. He paid for his newest pair of sunglasses and put them on, marching back outside.
People looked at him. They always did, but this time it bothered him. He hadn't left quickly enough, had even argued. This feeling of helplessness was going to be the death of him. He was Morgan Kingston, wealthy playboy with a side order of bibliophilia, his smile was charming, his body toned and tanned and his mind quick. And he wasn't enough – he likely never would be.
And yet, he would go back. He would keep going back, time after time, hoping, wishing, begging that one day he would make Tristram feel that he might just be enough.
His phone vibrated in his pocket and his took it out, flipping it open and saying a cheerful greeting that was so ingrained he didn't even have to think the words. Life moved on.
[A/N] And just as with RT, I think I shouldn't say anything.