Marluxia was renting, currently, so his apartment was a bit of a mess from crap left behind from the previous tenants, as well as his own crap, which was either in boxes or strewn around the place without much care for aesthetics. He had grown used to living alone.
Picking through stacks of books and vinyl records, and heaps of clothing, Vexen had no comment: he simply raised one slender eyebrow at Marluxia.
“I don’t have visitors very often.”
They reached the kitchen, which was in a similar state of disrepair with the obligatory unwashed crockery in the sink and pizza box on the work surface. Marluxia, feeling that he was living up just a little too much to his bachelor stereotype, wanted to point out that he didn’t make a habit of eating pizza - but Vexen was chucking at the shameful display, so instead he ushered the taller man over to the fridge.
“If you will.”
“What do you want?” Marluxia asked, showing Vexen the contents of his fridge. “There’s fruit juice, or milk, or water, or I’ve got some, uh, beer. Or there’s wine in the cupboard.”
“Beer will be perfect,” Vexen said, so Marluxia unceremoniously gave him a can. Vexen laughed at him, cracking it open. “Thank you.”
Marluxia, hoping that maybe ingesting alcohol would take the edge off his nerves, took a pint too, and led Vexen into the third room in his house. He was never sure what to call it, because although it served the purpose of a front room, it was at the back of the flat - and it also doubled up as a home office, storage room and guest bedroom: basically everything that the tiny apartment otherwise lacked.
“So,” He said, ushering Vexen to the decrepit sofa.
“What’s with this, then?” Marluxia asked. “I’m obviously going to be awful in bed and it’s not like you’re running short of people to fuck.”
Vexen glanced at him momentarily with those incredible burning x-ray eyes.
“You’re different,” He said finally, after a mouthful of beer.
“Yes, I came on your face,” Marluxia retorted sardonically.
“You are so preoccupied with performance,” Vexen chided, his voice behind the gorgeous Germanic accent a little playful. When Marluxia huffed a little but did not reply, he continued. “You want the truth? I’m not what you’d call conventionally attractive. I’m only in the industry because of the size of my penis.”
“I think you’re attractive,” Marluxia said reproachfully. And he was, if unusual: in those long, slim limbs and pale skin and, yes, impressively large cock.
“Precisely,” Vexen said. “There aren’t many people who honestly think that.” He chuckled a little. “All I had to do was touch you, and you fell apart.” -and he pinched Marluxia’s cheek. “It’s cute.”
“Cute-” Marluxia began to protest - but it was at that moment that Vexen tired of idle conversation and decided that it was time to take forceful action against Marluxia’s mouth with his tongue. How he managed to be so forward Marluxia could barely comprehend, even allowing for the oddities of his job; Vexen seemed to have no qualms in tugging impertinently at Marluxia’s clothes without so much as a word of warning beforehand.
“You certainly don’t hang about,” He managed eventually once Vexen moved down to deepen the bruises on his neck. Vexen shrugged.
“Starring in pornography changes your perspective on life.”
Marluxia fought desperately for the recesses of his brain for some modicum of sense to snap back at Vexen with, but the taller man had blunted all of his synapses, as though instead of firing in logical order they screamed needily at him, so brutally that he could barely speak.
And Vexen wasn’t even naked yet.
“Oh, you are adorable.”
Vexen had flicked open Marluxia’s shirt buttons with practised ease, was leaving the faintest of marks in Marluxia’s skin with his fingernails. He worked with something so close to disinterest, critically inspecting Marluxia’s skin with his burning eyes, an action that would usually have Marluxia showing him straight to the door; but there was just something about his penetrating gaze that made such notions seem nothing less than preposterous. Marluxia was so caught up in those cold palms and devastatingly clear green irises that he barely noticed how his own fingers were pulling at Vexen’s shirt to reveal that snow white skin, the gymnast’s physique.
Vexen was right: he wasn’t conventionally attractive. Society said that men had to have six packs or die alone, tanned and rugged and masculine, not this slender and ethereal creature with impossibly long blonde hair and colourless skin. But Marluxia didn’t care if nobody wanted a man like Vexen: it meant that he could have him all to himself.
Well. Could have had.
“I… I think the bedroom would be a better place for this…”
Vexen was simultaneously flicking open his and Marluxia’s belt buckles, undoubtedly with the intention of taking his siege on Marluxia’s body further. But at this suggestion, he glanced up - smirking a little, as though Marluxia had been joking.
“Oh, very well,” He said when Marluxia didn’t stop glaring at him, receding for Marluxia to climb unsteadily off the sofa (which creaked irritably at him, like it was his fault that Vexen had just decided to snog him on the fly). He ignored the damn thing, and led Vexen into the bedroom.
“Just, uh, ignore the posters,” He said, kicking a few magazines (not all sexual) under the bed. Vexen raised one eyebrow, glancing around at the walls.
“I see you have quite the collection.”
Marluxia didn’t want to talk about it. He never wanted to talk about anything to do with sex - which tended to be awkward, because the majority of the few friends he had came from work and were either perverts or massive perverts. None of them understood that sex was just this grossly overestimated, messy, painful thing hardly even worth bothering with. It infused their every sentence until Marluxia was sick of the very thought of conversation. He’d even, sometimes when things were bad, gone weeks without speaking to anyone else. He’d almost quit his job.
“Actually,” He said retrospectively, “I don’t think that-“
But Vexen did that thing again where he decided that he couldn’t be bothered to listen to Marluxia speak any more when there were so many much more interesting things he could do with his mouth. And Marluxia found himself pushed down into his (single) bed, Vexen all above him, gazing at him almost as though he wasn’t, for once, trying to penetrate Marluxia’s mind.
“You look worried.”
“Yes,” Marluxia spat, “You’ve hardly even given me a second to consent to any of this.”
“Do I need to?”
Marluxia wanted to snap that yes, he did, because sex wasn’t just a thing that happened, it required communication and thought and decisions and conversations - but apparently, with Vexen, sex did just happen - and nobody was any the worse for it.
He searched Vexen’s eyes, but they were like mirrors. All seeing, but nothing to show. Not even a glimmer of doubt or second-guessing in those jade irises. Either Vexen was a very good actor, or he had no soul (Marluxia, not a spiritual man by any means, was beginning to suspect the latter).
“Alright,” He finally conceded, glancing uncomfortably away. “But don’t take it for granted that everyone wants to have sex with you.”
“I don’t,” was Vexen’s cool reply; “Only you.”
Marluxia, feeling suddenly somewhat used, hissed a little in the back of his throat - but Vexen had a remedy for this anger, which was worming his fingers into Marluxia’s pants and stroking his skin with a softness that belied his bony fingers and sharp, manicured nails.
“Relax,” was all Vexen had to say, stroking Marluxia’s cheek in a way that was almost affectionate and made Marluxia’s guts curl. And then there was that strange sensation of being naked in front of another man, and Vexen’s perfect elfin body bared for the taking (read: fumbling fingers trying to cross every inch of skin before it was too late).
“Um, I wasn’t expecting-” Marluxia began, but Vexen was gone, already at the door.
“I suspected as much.”
Momentarily, he returned with a small bottle and a pair of condoms. Marluxia wondered if he just carried a kit for sexual intercourse wherever he went, and found himself surprised that Vexen hadn’t just happened to have it all in his pocket.
“Alright,” He said, sounding amused as he climbed back onto the bed, spreading Marluxia’s legs as he advanced, “Do you want to have sex with me?”
The part of Marluxia’s brain that was still thinking logically was impossibly aggravated by how Goddamn cocky Vexen was - but the majority of it was in a perpetual state of squealing yesyesyesyesyesyes.
“I’ll take that as a yes,” Vexen continued after a moment, because Marluxia couldn’t get his head into order, and kissed his nose.
He hardly knew this man, this (admittedly unusual) porn star, they were about to have meaningless, emotionless sex, and Vexen had just kissed him on the nose.
It still tingled a little even when Vexen’s fingers wandered elsewhere and cool lubrication came into contact with his skin. The formalities of sex didn’t naturally return to Marluxia; he squirmed unhelpfully at Vexen’s contact and accidentally kneed him in he chest: but they were all misdemeanours deemed forgiveable, apparently, because Vexen did not pause in his quest to reduce Marluxia to a puddle of (protected) homosexual lust until their crotches were just an inch apart as Vexen was breathing heavily by his ear, long hair tickling his face.
He was just saying that; he wouldn’t wait even if Marluxia’s answer was a definite no.
And oh, God, how had he managed to go so long without this glorious, aching completion; how could he have forgotten how perfect this pain was, and how he needed each new thrust to simply feel alive. He had not lived, not for a long time, until he saw Vexen’s eyes and saw that they were breaking just a little bit too, felt the man above him and around him and inside him, clenched his blunt fingertips tight against Vexen’s shoulderblades just to feel his muscles strain. His windpipe felt raw from moaning when, finally, he toppled, hardly even able to bring himself to care if he’d lasted barely a minute if that one minute had just felt so, so perfect.
Vexen, who kept on going for conspicuously long after Marluxia came, was laughing when finally he pulled away, dragging Marluxia into a loose limbed hug while they caught their breath.
“See?” He said finally, “You can kiss and fuck.”
Marluxia just groaned nondescriptly and buried his head in Vexen’s neck. The man, beneath the soap and shampoo, smelled a little musky, like sexual desire just hung around him in a cloud.
He realised, after a moment, that Vexen was ever so gently stroking his hair.
“What are you doing?”
“Stroking your hair.”
Marluxia pursed his lips.
“Yes, but why?”
“It’s soft,” Vexen said reflectively, with the air of somebody who had hardly even registered why he was doing something until asked to explain himself. “You take good care of it, I see.”
“Of course,” Marluxia retorted, feeling his usual sarcastic self swim back from its shock of orgasm. Vexen had no reply to this, merely continuing his methodical - and soothing - movement.
“I’m hungry,” He finally announced, as though Marluxia had anything in the house capable of remedying this without additionally causing his stomach severe and potentially lasting damage.
“I think anything in the fridge is probably sentient by now,” Marluxia replied, firstly because it was probably true, and secondly because with the exception of his feet, Vexen was warm, and having a living, breathing body beside him was comforting and something that Marluxia, whether or not he’d admit it, didn’t want to forget.
“I’ll order in a pizza?” Vexen suggested. And then: “Or too soon?”
Marluxia didn’t want to admit that the pizza box in the kitchen was actually four days old, so he shrugged and managed a not-too-strained: “I can always eat pizza.”
Vexen smiled a little, pulled himself (with a little difficulty) out of Marluxia’s grasp, and rummaged around in his trouser pocket for his phone.
“Um. Yeah, sure.”
Vexen nodded, spoke quickly and professionally into his Blackberry. He paced a little as he ordered, unashamed of his nudity. Marluxia, feeling self conscious, reached down and pulled the duvet up and over himself, hung awkwardly around on the bed. He could feel the familiar slow tide of shame and discomfort that always came of sexual encounters, the inevitable embarrassment that he always managed to just forget about when Vexen was sampling his face.
“Look, Vexen-” He began, feeling the urge to get the man to dress and send him on his way. But Vexen glanced coolly at him which sent his (lethargic as they were) nerves into some kind of collapse, and he quickly decided that it would be unreasonable to throw the man out now, particularly with food on the way. “Uh, did you want a shower?”
This seemed to be the result that Vexen was alluding to, because the corner of his mouth jerked into a sudden smile.
“Well, it’s in the bathroom, right across the hall. The tap’s a bit temperamental, so you might need to wait a few minutes for it to settle down.”
“Aren’t you going to join me?” Vexen asked, somewhat pointedly. Marluxia wondered if he might have been able to walk without limping, considering Vexen’s enthusiasm, and receded further into his bundle of bedding.
Vexen fired off another penetrating glare, but Marluxia stood his ground.
He slipped away. Moments later Marluxia could make out the sound of running water. Considering it safe to crawl from under the duvet, he climbed unsteadily onto the floor to test out his remaining limbs and check that he didn’t have any stray trails of saliva or other bodily fluids on his skin.
It wasn’t that Marluxia was preoccupied with physical appearance. Well, that preoccupied. He just didn’t like to be taken unaware in matters concerning his own body, which was why he always checked his hair for flyaway strands, and his clothes for any sticking out labels or awkward stains. It was, partly, his occupation: when you worked in a porn studio, everyone judged you, whether you were competition or a potential candidate (which Marluxia, incidentally, was neither).
He cleaned himself off, eventually, with a face wipe or three, then dressed in a clean set of clothes and made his way out into the kitchen to clear away the worst of the junk before Vexen tired of battling with his antiquated shower. The letters and leaflets that had been congregating on the table were dumped into the waste paper bin, the pizza box stuffed under the table. Marluxia made an effort to collect all the washing up by the sink, and even hid his empty beer cans in the cupboard for throwing out later, before Vexen - still naked - wandered idly in, inspecting the walls, of all things.
“This house hasn’t been lived in,” He said finally, as though the kitchen wasn’t full of homeless bits and pieces left stranded by Marluxia’s careless lifestyle.
“I don’t understand.”
Vexen pointed to the walls.
“No photographs,” He said. “No pictures. No decorations. Just mess.”
“It’s not normally like this,” Marluxia lied irritably. “I’ve… I’ve just moved in.”
Vexen didn’t bat an eyelid.
Marluxia hissed a little, glaring at his feet like maybe they could suddenly gain the power to melt through floorboards, so he could just fall down into the next apartment below them, and avoid Vexen’s penetrating stare.
“I’m not much of a people person,” He snapped finally. “You might have noticed.”
Vexen sat down, but whether there was any change to his expression or not Marluxia couldn’t tell.
They sat in silence for a moment or two. Marluxia shifted uncomfortably on one foot. Vexen, apparently, tired of the pointed looks they kept giving each other like they were telepathic, and sighed.
“You are much more attractive when you’re naked, you know.”
“I don’t want to be naked.”
“You should always be naked.”
“Are you trying to flirt with me?”
“Is that such a bad thing?”
To this, Marluxia couldn’t think of a suitably snappy reply: so he just evaded Vexen’s eyes, looking instead at the other blocks of flats out of the window.
“You should get dressed before the pizza delivery man arrives.”
Vexen hummed a little, but did not make any move to return to the bedroom and collect his clothes.
“By that,” Marluxia added, “I mean go and put some clothes on. Please.”
Vexen watched him for a moment, but then - after a few harrowing seconds where Marluxia was almost sure he’d be stuck with a wholly naked man in his home - he sighed a little to himself, and left. Marluxia, with nothing left to do but consider how awkward life was when sex was involved, put the kettle on. Its gentle click and hiss was reassuring, as was the mindless routine of collecting cups and milk and sugar for the assembly of tea. Vexen would not be around for long, he reasoned: the pizza man would arrive, and they would eat in front of the television, perhaps, and then Marluxia would usher him out into the evening drizzle, and he would be left blissfully alone to laze about his house feeling sorry for himself.
“Something on your mind?”
Marluxia glanced up suddenly to see Vexen, fully clothed once more (if “fully clothed” could entail skin tight jeans and a translucent shirt with only two of the buttons done up), leaning against the door frame.
Vexen raised one slender eyebrow, but did not call Marluxia up on his blatant lie. He simply accepted his tea with grace, and sipped at it in silence until the pizza man arrived. Marluxia, glancing over Vexen’s choice of dress (which somehow he’d hardly noticed on the way back from work), was quick to head to the door before him. He hardly spoke to the deliverer, just paying in cash and sending him on his way.
“There you go.”
Vexen opened the box and took a slice.
“Thank you. I’ll pay next time.”
Marluxia bristled a little, in spite of himself.
“What makes you think that there’ll be a next time?”
Vexen simply smirked.
“What makes you think there won’t be?”
Marluxia hissed in exasperation. Vexen just didn’t understand, that was the problem: he was just sure that because he was sexy and Marluxia wasn’t otherwise occupied then sex was just going to happen. This, Marluxia wanted to make clear, was not the case (even though half an hour ago, it had been).
“Look, Vexen. I don’t do hook ups, okay? I made an exception this time because you’re cute and I was bored. That’s it. Tomorrow you’re going to go back to fucking silicon beauties and I’m going to go back to filming it, and all of this, all of the sex in my bedroom and ordering pizza and walking around my house in improper states of dress, you’re going to forget it. Alright?”
Vexen did not immediately reply. He was looking at Marluxia curiously again, with that face that said he didn’t believe a word that Marluxia said.
“And don’t give me some cryptic answer, either. No unrelated observations. You either understand, or you don’t.”
Vexen glanced momentarily away, defeated.
“Very well,” He said at length. “I understand.” And he murmured something suspiciously like “a pity” under his breath.
“Don’t,” Marluxia snapped. “You’re lucky I agreed to this in the first place.”
“Nothing short of a miracle,” Was Vexen’s snide verdict, and although he admittedly spoke with little malice, Marluxia riled against it on principle.
“Look, I am not some kind of tight, prudish maiden!”
Vexen didn’t even blink.
“Yes, you are.”
Vexen, before Marluxia had a chance to furiously retort that he’d rather be a maiden than a whorish slut, raised his hands in an offer of peace.
“I’m not here for a battle of tongues.”
Marluxia leaned back a little on the work surface, wondering why he was feeling as though he had lost the argument even though Vexen had openly surrendered.
“Your sexual habits are your choice,” Vexen continued once he’d taken another segment of the pizza. “I won’t judge you on that.”
Did Vexen realise the uncomfortable hidden meanings of that statement? Marluxia judged every actor at work: they were all shallow, sex-obsessed whores. They thought nothing of giving their own bodies up for the pleasure of the anonymous masturbator, of turning private, personal intercourse into nothing more than a worthless commodity. They were, Marluxia’s eyes, little more than prostitutes.
The way Vexen was looking at him with those impenetrable x-ray eyes, probably.
Marluxia was just floundering in the implications of Vexen’s comment when the man pointed gently at the pizza.
“Are you going to have any of this?”
Marluxia, somewhere along the line, had forgotten to eat.
“Right,” He said, prising a slice from the diminishing circle. “Right. Yeah.”
“It doesn’t bother me any more,” Vexen said at length, after an awkward silence. “I have my reasons. As, I’m sure, do you.”
“I don’t want to talk about it,” Marluxia said instantly. “Especially not to you.”
“Fair enough.” Vexen replied, glancing only briefly at Marluxia. And then: “Perhaps it is time I took my leave?”
Marluxia was tired of trying to deal with Vexen, who in addition to being very attractive was very difficult. He wanted to, as soon as he’d cleared up his bed, curl underneath his duvet and sleep off the ache in his bones. Perhaps he’d take tomorrow off: they could easily find a replacement to operate the camera, and he did most of his film editing at home anyway.
“Yes,” He said. “Definitely.”
Vexen nodded, and took one more slice of pizza.
“For the journey.”
It briefly occurred to Marluxia to check that it wasn’t far to Vexen’s accommodation, or offer to call for a taxi if it was. But none of his idle thoughts seemed to make it out of his mouth, so he shoved the pizza on top of the microwave for safekeeping, and led Vexen to the door.
“You don’t have a coat?”
Vexen, who was wearing a light jacket but nothing else to stave off the evening air, shrugged.
“I don’t feel the cold.”
And he smiled a little to himself as though remembering a personal joke only he understood, and turned to leave. Marluxia began to shrink back into the comfort of his home; what he wasn’t expecting was to feel Vexen’s lips against his cheek in the most chaste of kisses before the man swept away for the last time and disappeared into the darkness.