Anything But

Author's Note: My latest OTP. I can't express in words how much I've fallen in love with Stuart and Vince – and how much I was rooting for them all the way through the show. This was sparked by the smug look on their faces when they come down the stairs the morning after the wedding.

Everyone thought that the night after Jenny's wedding had been yet another mishappen try of Stuart's to break down Vince's defenses and finally shag him. After all, they walked out of that room together, still friends, the way they had always been, nothing changed.

Yet, despite all that, they had shagged.

They both knew that they wouldn't talk about it. Not now, not ever – except maybe in lingering smiles and casual touches. Not that it had ever been casual when Stuart and Vince touched, not deep down, where it mattered. There, the touches, the hugs, the kisses (especially the kisses) had always been anything but. So nothing had changed, really, when one looked at it this way, Vince thought.

Except that Vince was no longer the one guy in Babylon that hadn't been shagged by Stuart Alan Jones. When Alexander pulled out this tired old joke again, Vince now closed his eyes and saw Stuart over him, sweat glistening on his skin as he moved, pushing his way inside, into Vince. Vince's laughter at the joke had always been hollow, but now it was a lie. Lucky that lying had always come easy to him – and the laughter covered the memory of the sounds Stuart had made, the pants, the moans, the whispers that Vince hadn't quite understood, being too busy holding on, pulling Stuart ever closer.

Vince wasn't sure he even wanted to know what Stuart had been saying there. It was safer this way, not knowing. And so he laughed along, avoiding Stuart's eyes, not wanting to see what was in them. Everything was as it had always been – they were still playing the same old game, the one that had allowed them to stay friends, no matter what happened (or didn't happen) between them.

The agreement (silent as it was) had always been to forget about any and all sexual situations they might find themselves in together. There'd been many of those situations, in addition to that one famous almost-wank so many years ago – mostly because Stuart never stopped hitting on Vince, who had long ago accepted that it didn't mean anything, was just part of Stuart's game.

Without speaking about it they'd both found that selective memory (or the pretension of it) was essential for their special, slightly fucked up brand of friendship, of love, seeped so deeply with longing and suppressed desire that it had become second nature. Vince wasn't sure why Stuart kept playing along, except maybe for entertainment value (he had always enjoyed making Vince blush) – but for Vince, it was anything but a game.

Up in that fancy hotel room it had been all wrong. It should have been passionate, unavoidable, like a car crash, like two stars, sixteen years of tension dissolving in a giant explosion. Instead it had been a game again, artificial, contrived, like a test in school, one that Vince couldn't possibly pass.

It had been wrong then, and Vince was glad Stuart had given in without much of a fight -- but a few hours later, having spent them wide awake, staring at the ceiling, something had suddenly shifted. Whether it was something in Vince, in Stuart (lying too motionlessly next to him) or in the cosmic balance, Vince had rolled over, almost without a thought, and fitted his body against Stuart's.

He'd felt Stuart tense, heard his breath hitch as Vince pressed his lips softly against Stuart's bare shoulders, tasting his skin for the first time. His hardening cock had been pressed against Stuart's bare ass, and a quick grope had proven that Stuart was reacting as well. This had been the moment when Vince had almost panicked. But then Stuart had turned over, his smile sparkling even in the darkness of the room, and Vince had stopped thinking and concentrated on feeling instead.

There'd been many times during the night when Vince had felt fearless, ready for everything and anything, but in the grey light of the morning all the old reasons still held. So their policy of selective memory was still valid as well, and the night just another part of the eternal game of "Stuart and Vince". But forgetfulness kept getting harder and harder to achieve, especially because sometimes Vince feared that one day, when Stuart finally got tired of the game, tired of Vince, Vince would wake up and those memories (memories of the one night when Stuart had been Vince's, in the way Vince had always longed for) would be the only thing he had left of Stuart.

So he clung on, half afraid that things would change and half hoping that they would, but always holding on, often against his own better judgment. Vince didn't think he could stop playing the game even if he wanted to -- loving Stuart had become second nature long ago. So he kept on playing, kept on pretending that everything was the way it had always been. Even when it was anything but.