Each year since 2004 I've had a story to share for Halloween, because it's a significant date for me. This year's is another Tawnholme story, wherein things do not go According to Plan by Alex Draven
He'd been noticing him for months now, ever since he'd recognised "that guy from the coffee shop" on the dance floor at Quins. Seeing as one of the reasons he'd chosen that particular coffee shop for his study sessions was the eye candy, it maybe wasn't so surprising that the batista also caught his eye on the dance floor, And once he realised why he looked so familiar, it became harder and harder not to notice the guy.
He was regular enough at the coffee shop now that they exchanged small talk when Liam was a manning the till, and nodded to each other when they were at the same clubs or gigs, or had brief "how's it going?" "pretty good" and move on type exchanges if they ran into each other in the queue for the bar, but that was the whole of it.
Morgan tried to keep his appreciation discrete and respectful. He didn't want to be a creeper, and, in any case, he was pretty sure Liam had a boyfriend. At least he'd seen him making out at clubs occasionally, and leaving arm in arm with the same guy a few times. Not that there seemed to be anyone with him tonight.
It had been several weeks since he'd seen Liam outside the coffee shop, mostly due to a crunch of essay deadline and work deadlines cutting into Morgan's dance time, and now, there he was, dancing up a storm, and looking delicious.
It was the weekend before Halloween, and a lot of people had taken the excuse to get dressed up, whereas Liam seemed to have gone the other way, unless he was dressed as "Generic Rivithead Dude", which with his smeared eyeliner, cut-off t-shirt, black jeans and combat boots, he might have been. On the other hand, the cut-off shirt showed off his arms, all muscles and tattoo, and gave revealing glimpses of his torso, and the rough and ready eyeliner and messy ponytail was a good look on him. A really good look. Morgan swallowed hard, and made himself look away. Getting caught staring with naked appreciation written all over his face would only be awkward, and getting punched out, either by Liam or by his probably boyfriend would be a shitty end to an over-due evening out. He was pretty sure he had been staring, so Morgan physically turned himself around,and went for a wander.
Morgan's plan for the night had been to hit the dancefloor himself, burn off some stress, see who else was out and about, and generally chill, but he hadn't made it much past saying hi to a couple of the guys, and watching Liam. He'd danced a couple of songs right when he got to Quinn's, but Liam was really distracting close up, and Morgan hadn't been able to get into the flow, couldn't shake his awareness of Liam, no mater how much he tried to ignore him, so he'd retreated back to the balcony. For the second time in less than an hour, he made his way around the club to the loos, and then back via the bar, just to remove himself from the temptation of staring. Except that when he got back, glass of water in hand, Liam was still out there, and the way he was moving was no less compelling than it had been three songs ago.
There was something driven about the way he was dancing, completely focused on the music, eyes mostly closed, going from song to song without a pause. He hadn't stopped, as far a Morgan could tell, not to get a drink,not to chat with friends,and, so far as you could on a dancefloor the size of Quinn's, wasn't really interacting with the rest of the crowd. It was noticeably different from his usual mode of operation, and the longer Morgan watched, the more that started to tug at him. Liam was hot like fire like this, yes, but there was something not-right about it.
Morgan knocked back his water, and slid the plastic glass on to the edge of the bar on his way past, timing his trip back down the stairs so as to hit the dancefloor just as the DJ transitioned into a new song. It wasn't a track Morgan particularly loved, but it was good enough to act as cover. This time, Morgan didn't try and ignore Liam, so much as he kept half an eye on him wherever they were in relation to each other. Cass and Bella were out there, and Morgan worked his way into their orbit for a while, and then, when Cass peeled away when the song switched again, Morgan angled himself so as to invite Liam into the space she'd left. No dice, although there were fewer people between them now. A couple of songs later, as the beat intensified, Bella was joined by her girlfriend, and Morgan let them drift away, worked his way closer to Liam.
Close up, his intensity was no less unsettling. He was sweating hard, eyes mostly closed, arms and hair flying, and a space had opened up around him. Morgan positioned himself on the edge of that space, and threw himself into dancing, let the music drive him on, bringing him into alignment with Liam, boots hitting the ground in sync, shoulders mirroring each other, even as Morgan made sure to look away at least half the time. After another few tracks, Liam started catching his eye. Quick glances, at first, and then, as he turned his movements, so they were dancing sort of side, kitty-corner to each other, more sustained looks.
Liam's brow furrowed, and the next time the DJ faded between tracks, Liam stepped close enough to shout "Hey!" in Morgan's ear.
"Haven't seen you out in a while," he added
Morgan shrugged. "Deadlines ate me."
Liam nodded, and went back to dancing, only this time the angle between them was closer - not face to face, but closer to it, and there was less space between them. Morgan tried to keep from staring, but more and more, when he did look up, Liam was already watching him.
The music carried them for a while - Morgan lost track, but his thighs were starting to burn, his throat dry, his skin damp - and Liam kept up with him all the way. Not as turned inward as he'd seemed earlier, but still intense.
The trade off between DJs brought with it a switch from mostly-EBM to more guitar heavy stuff, and as the beat slowed, so did their dancing. Morgan wasn't going to be the one to step away first, even though the music was no longer so much to his tastes. There was something going on here, and he wasn't going to risk breaking the threads of connection.
In the end, it was Liam who made a move, shaking his head and dropping back to the edge of the dancefloor, as the song changed again. Morgan followed.
Liam put his hand on Morgan's shoulder, hot and heavy through Morgan's damp shirt.
"I need a drink - you?" Liam leaned in to say.
Morgan nodded, and followed Liam to the back bar.
While Liam was waiting to order - Morgan didn't hear what - Morgan was pouring himself another pint of water from the jugs that stood at the end of the bar for that very reason. He drunk deep, topped it back up, and then poured a second for Liam.
When Liam looked back at him, Morgan raised the second glass, and gave Liam a head-tilt. Liam rolled his eyes, but with a wry smile. Bottle in hand, he stepped back from the bar, and rejoined Morgan.
"Tell me you're not one of those straight-edge kids?" he asked.
Morgan raised his own water in a mock toast."I am not,but I am old enough to know how much having a hangover at work tomorrow is going to suck. You want one?" Morgan offered the water, and Liam took it from him, downing most of it in a single long drink.
"Thanks," Liam said, when he came up for air. "I needed that."
"I can tell," Morgan replied, and then winced,. He sounded like an idiot.
"You want to ..." Liam trailed off, nodding his head towards the back door of the club, where the loading bay served as a defacto smoking pen. "I could use some air." He left his mostly-empty water glass on the bar, and started threading his way between the folks hanging out between the bar and the door.
Morgan nodded, and fell into step. He didn't smoke, but if Liam was inviting him to walk with him, he wasn't going to say no.
The air outside was chilly, and damp. It wasn't raining now but it had been. Morgan took a deep breath - despite the smokers the fresh air felt good after the dry ice and closeness inside. It was quieter, too, despite the small speakers hung over the door. With them, you could tell what was playing, and if you wanted to head back inside to dance, but it was definitely background music, rather than the defining feature of the space.
"C'mon, Liam said, and led the way over to the far corner of the courtyard, where the fairy-lights and lanterns faded out, and a street-light the other side of the fence provided most of the lighting.
Morgan was half a pace behind him, so when he stopped suddenly, still a few steps away from the fence, Liam was abruptly all up in his personal space, and Morgan barely had time to register what was going on before Liam was running his free hand along Morgan's upper arm, and his eyes were fixed on Morgan's lips as Liam said "Tell me I'm reading this right?"
Morgan nodded, and dropped his water, and lifted his chin, and then they were kissing with all the focused desperation Morgan had witnessed on the dance floor. Liam's mouth was hot and firm and demanding, his tongue pressing against Morgan's, his hand sliding up to grasp the back of Morgan's neck, and Morgan's blood was singing. Hot. Hot like fire. And yet ... His stomach twisted with something that wasn't just lust.
He pulled back slightly, keeping his hands where they'd come to rest on Liam's sides, but breaking the rhythm of the demanding kiss. They were both breathing hard.
"I can't believe I'm asking this," Morgan found himself saying, "but, are you ok?"
Liam screwed his eyes shut, and stepped back a pace. "Fuck. I'm sorry."
"No - no, you're not reading me wrong," Morgan rushed to get out there, before things could go any more sideways. "Completely the right end of the stick, it's just, you seem kind of - I don't know? Like maybe you're not ok?"
"That fucking obvious, huh?"
"I may have been paying more attention than other people?" Morgan offered, like maybe he was just talking about this evening and not, like, several weeks of slow-burn crush-developing person-watching.
Liam scrubbed the back of his drinks-carrying hand across his face, smearing eyeliner on one side. "Fuck!" He swore, but he didn't take his other hand off Morgan's shoulder, and Morgan wasn't going anywhere until he had more clues to work with. "I should have figured you would be too smart for this to just work
"So, what was the plan I'm screwing up," Morgan asked, not at all sure he wanted to hear the answer.
"Dance until I can barely stand, get off-my-tits blasted, and then get off with someone who would make me feel good, and not ask too many questions, and I'd never have to see again? Which now I say it sounds pretty fucking pathetic, and here you are, with your water and your perceptiveness, and .... Fuck!"
Morgan was guessing that his face was maybe not doing a great job of hiding how hearing how disposable he apparently was was making him feel. And the fact that he was a disappointment even at being a disposable pick-up.
"I am screwing this up." Liam stated, pinching the bridge of his nose. "That didn't come out the way I meant it to."
Morgan took a deep breath. "OK," he said. "So how about we sit down over there, and you try again?"
He needed to get them untangled, because the heat of Liam''s skin through the thin shirt under his hand was clashing badly with the emotional whiplash of the conversation thus far.
Liam nodded, and they separated awkwardly. The fixed-bench picnic tables around the edge of the courtyard effectively took the option of sexual contact off the menu - nothing about the rough wood and uncomfortable seating invited romance. Still, Morgan sat straddling the bench on one end, and Liam took his place at the other end of the same bench rather than across the table, so their knees brushed.
"So, Liam," Morgan began, the same time Liam said, "God, this is awkward.", and they both smiled at each other, because, yes, yes it was.
"So, Morgan," Liam picked up the thread, and one of knots in Morgan's stomach relaxed, because at least Liam did recognise him. "The end of October is a pretty shit time of year for me - bad memories and anniversaries - and, yeah - I may not be all that ok right now. But that doesn't make it aright for me to be shitty to people."
"Okay..." Morgan didn't really know what to do with that sentence.
"Telling someone that I kinda know and like something that sounds like I wish they were an anonymous pick-up is, well, shitty." Liam shrugged. "I mean you can argue that going out looking for an anonymous pick-up at all is also shitty, in a using people kind of way, but ... you know?"
"I'm not actually sure that I do, but I don't think that you're usually,for want of a better word, shitty, so..." Morgan shrugged. "And I think not treating
me like a disposable sex thing probably counts, too." Morgan could feel his cheeks heating as he spoke, but kept bumbling on. "At least, I assume you don't usually sit your one-night stands down to talk things through? It's not something I have a whole lot of experience with."
"One night stands, or talking things through?" Liam tilted his head, and his voice sounded lighter.
"Either?" Morgan offered. "I'm more of a serial-boyfriend guy, and regular recipient of the "it's not me it's you" thing?" That actually summed up his relationship history rather more accurately than he was used to admitting, but in for a penny, in for a pound.
"But you hook up with people, right?"
Morgan almost said "Not as often as you seem to," but managed not to.
"Yeah, but..." He shrugged. "The scenario doesn't come up all that often?" Morgan couldn't work out what Liam was thinking from the way he was looking at him.
"That actually surprises me."
Liam's reply certainly surprised Morgan. He didn't have to walk around with a bag over his head or anything, but he wasn't exactly beating off guys with a stick, either. He was just - ok-looking, nothing special, and he was anything but smooth. Apparently his surprise was visible, because Liam's hand came to rest on Morgan's knee, and Liam continued talking.
"So, what I should have said was, I may have come out tonight looking to just, like, get out of my own head, the whole escape thing, but - running in to you kind of changes the game plan."
"You have a game plan?" Morgan blurted out.
Liam chuckled. "Nothing that coherent. I'm just not out of it enough that I could miss you." The way he said 'you' made Morgan's skin tingle. He was suddenly thinking that maybe there was no way Liam didn't know who he was, which was kind of electrifying.
"I wasn't sure you would notice me," Morgan said. "You were pretty intense out there."
Liam screwed his face up, and moved to pull his hand back. Morgan rested his own over the top of it, not wanting Liam to pull away. "I mean that in a good way?" he added.
Liam left his hand where it was, but took a swig of his drink, breaking eye contact. "Thanks, I think."
"So, how does running into me change things?" Morgan made himself ask the question. Liam's hand tightened on his knee for a moment.
"So, if I hadn't, I'd either still be dancing, be knocking back depth charges, or starting to look around for someone I don't know who might be up for getting me off before kicking me out? And as thing are, none of those ideas seem all that good any more."
"You'd rather be sitting out here having this conversation, than be in there dancing?"
The way Liam said that made it sound like it was obvious. Morgan's mouth was dry.
"Even if I don't think I'm up for getting to off and kicking you out/"
"I think so, yes. I mean, definitely, I don't want you to kick me out..."
"But you want me to get you off?"
"See, this is where I think I'm a shitty person, because, kinda? I mean-" Liam hurried to clarify, "definitely in a mutual satisfaction and exploration kind of way, and the part where I actively don't want to never see you again kind of changes the potential time-line, but if you're asking, does making out with you make me want to do more than just kiss you? Well, yeah."
Liam sat up straighter, and drew his hand back as he did. Morgan went with him, and ended up holding his hand.
"The mutual is, um, mutual..." Morgan said, sliding his free hand on to Liam's knee. Dorky, yes, but hopefully at least clear
Liam was biting his lower lip.
"Yeah?" he said.
"Uh huh. I was worried I'd made that, like, way too obvious."
"I was hoping. Always good to hear it in words, though."
"You want to make out with me for a while, and I won't kick you out till the club does?" Morgan offered, butterflies in his stomach. He wasn't sure if that was the invitation Liam was looking for, but it was the one he could make.
"You going to regret it in the morning?" Liam asked, even as he was leaning forwards.
"Not expecting to, no."
Morgan closed the distance, between them, leaning on Liam's knee to keep his balance as he leaned into the kiss, which was gentler this time. Still hot like fire, but less desperate, more give-and-take, more exploring and enjoying, and ... Morgan's head was spinning, and his pulse was racing, and there was way too much space in between them, so he moved closer, hooking his leg over Liam's, and was rewarded by both Liam's hands pulling him closer.
~ fin ~
No beta readers to thank for this one, as life conspired to have me writing to the wire, but - here we are. Another year, another story, and a promise kept. My apologies for any mistakes.
If you're interested in reading the previous stories I've posted as Halloween gifts they are:
1) Dream Come True
2) Thirteen Kisses
3) All Souls
($0.99) & two free snippets Soar and Raining Cats
6) Everything changes
7) It’s not the dead that haunt graveyards
8) Here Comes The Rain
9) Mellow Mists
10) Sunset Starts
11) Unexpected Callers
You'll find these and other seasonally appropriate snippets under 'seasonal : autumn'
in the tags list
(If I was doing this as a promotional thing, I would have picked a less popular date, because there's an awful lot of fabulous fiction being released for Halloween - more of it every year - but I'm doing this because it's a significant date for me, so, thank you, everyone who reads this, and twice thanks to those of you who let me know that you did.)