"Fuck! That's the eighth time I've sneezed in the past five minutes."
"Oooh." Orli waggled his eyebrows suggestively at Elijah, who still had his face screwed up as if he might go for nine and ten. "You know what they say about sneezing eight times."
"Yeah," Dom noted, pushing past the two. "It means there's too much fucking dust around. Billy, have you ever cleaned this attic out?"
"Attics attract dust," Billy noted idly, attention absorbed in a photo album he'd found. "It's the natural order of things."
Elijah declined to sneeze again, and Orli, bored, wandered over to peer over Billy's shoulder. "What's that, then?"
Billy closed the album with a snap and a billow of dust. "Nothing. Just old photos."
Dom looked over idly, and away again. Fiddled with a broken windchime hanging from a beam. He recognised the album. Knew the photos that were inside. Photos from New Zealand. Laughing, happy photos, of all five of them, hugging and mugging, and then increasingly just him and Billy. Just them, and the hugs had changed.
"Aw, c'mon!" Orli was trying to pry the photo album from Billy's fingers, and Billy was laughing and hissing: "Mine! My precious!" but Dom knew that for all the laughter he'd actually bite Orli, Gollum-like, before he allowed that album out of his hands.
Dom wasn't really sure how he felt about that.
"Hey, cool!" Elijah exclaimed, and Orli's attention was drawn away from the wrestle for the album, over to where Elijah had unearthed a silver violin, glittering and sleek. "Does it work?" He plucked at a string, got nothing but a dull thunk and a shower of rust.
"Prop," Billy explained, coming to stand next to Dom, the album still in his hand, fingers sticky-sticking against the plastic cover when he shifted them slightly, not looking at Dom. "It was for a performance of Orpheus in the Underworld. Ages ago."
Orli had moved on, finding something else shiny. Billy's attic was a treasure trove. He disappeared behind a pile of boxes labelled '96-'98. "Hey, there's a closet back here. Got any skeletons in there?"
"It's the Bluebeard room," Billy commented, sliding the album onto a shelf, and following Elijah around behind the boxes. "It contains the bodies of all my former wives. Sure you want to open it?"
Dom took a seat on a rickety chest of drawers, picked up the album. He flicked through the pages, keeping half an ear on the conversation. ("You don't scare me!" "He fucking scares me; protect me, Orlando!") The photos were almost eerie, like bright moments of memories captured in fingerprinted gloss. ("Sod off the lot of you. Look, there's nothing in the closet.") There was one, all of them at the pub, laughter at jokes long forgotten, but Dom still remembered meeting Billy's eyes over the rim of his glass. ("Hey, I think there's a lost magical kingdom back here.") And a few pages further on, there was one of Dom, flash-bright and out of focus, almost out of frame, just half his face and his hand coming up to cover the lens. It was all a blur and it would be completely incomprehensible unless you had been there, unless you could pick out from memory the muddled bedclothes from the mess of the background, could remember that the shadow on Dom's neck was more than a trick of the light, but the evidence of Billy's teeth.
"Hey." Too close, and Dom jumped, closed the album fast. Elijah sneezed, swore, and Orlando laughed. "We're going downstairs, going to make some popcorn before the movie."
"Billy's still back there," Elijah jerked a thumb over his shoulder, eyes red. "Fuck. I've gotta get out of here."
"We'll be down in five minutes," Dom promised, slid the album behind him and stood up.
Orlando pushed Elijah out the door, even as he sneezed again. "You do know what they say about sneezing eight times, right?"
"Yeah, and it's bullshit," Elijah declared, and their voices faded down the stairs.
Dom wandered back behind the boxes. Sure enough, there was an old wardrobe back there, old enough to be beautiful handiwork, some sort of lovingly varnished wood, mahogany or some shit. It was very large, tall and deep, enough so that Billy was standing in it, towards the back, craning his neck to look at something in the wood. Dom leaned against the door, crossed his arms over his chest. "Billy, come out of the closet."
Billy grinned at him. "Come into the closet." Reached out a hand and drew Dom, unresisting, into the close space beside him, pressed chest against the other's shoulder. "I've had this since I was in school. Look -" He pointed to a list of rough carving, ill-formed letters, some crossed out. "It's a catalogue of my schoolboy crushes. I can't even remember who some of these intials are. SJ here, that's Sarah Johnson. She had red hair and freckles. But IG under it... no idea."
Dom reached over Billy's shoulder, arm around him, to run his fingers over the scores in the wood. "You're missing one." With his other hand, he reached into his jeans pocket, pulled out his keys, with small Swiss army knife attached.
Billy took it from him, pulled out one of the small blades with a blunt thumb nail. He scratched out the last pair of initials - PF - as Dom laid both hands against the wall of the closet, palms flat against the wood, pressed his body entirely against Billy's back. Buried his nose in Billy's hair, smelling dust. Clamped down on the tickle in his sinuses. Shifted down, in behind Billy's ear. Bared his teeth to nip gently at the lobe.
"Fuck," Billy swore, as the knife skittered off the curve of the D. "Dom..."
"What?" His best innocent voice as he bent further, ran his tongue along Billy's jaw, rasping against the grain of stubble. Was rewarded with a intake of breath, watched knuckles whiten on the handle of the knife as it finished the D.
"Do you want your name on here or not?"
"Hmm..." Dom hummed against Billy's neck. He watched the knife move, two firm strokes of the M, and made sure it wouldn't accidently cut anything when he took one hand off the wall, cupped it over the bulge already growing in Billy's jeans to match his own. "Frankly," he murmured, "I can think of more interesting ways to leave my mark."
Billy pressed back against him. "Fuck, Dom," he breathed, as Dom flexed his fingers.
"Always amazes me how our brains work the same," Dom commented, flicked open the button of Billy's jeans, and chuckled. "After all, we are in the closet."
Billy's hand tightened around the handle of the knife, and then he drove it into the wall, high up, almost in the corner, embedded it with Dom's keys jingling from it. He twisted in Dom's arms, pushed him back against the wall of the closet so hard that the whole thing rocked slightly. "Caref--" was all Dom managed before Billy's mouth was on his, tongue searching his molars, hands yanking at his T-shirt, all demand.
Well then. Fine with him.
Dom tilted his head, slanted his lips, tangled his tongue with Billy's as he fumbled between them for the buttons of Billy's shirt. No, fuck that, too much time; straight for the jeans, lowering the zip with a jagged sound in the small space. Billy pulled away from Dom, wrenched the neck of his T-shirt away from his collar to fasten his mouth over the revealed skin. Billy had a thing for bites - and it never failed to make Dom gasp, like now, his head smacking back against the wood of the closet as his breath rasped in his throat - but they'd learned early on not to leave marks where they'd show.
"How long did you say we'd be?" Billy muttered in his ear, hands busy with his jeans.
"Five minutes," Dom replied, voice rough.
"Better make this quick, then."
"You wanna - ah!" Dom lost his voice, his power of speech, his train of thought at Billy's hand in his jeans, going straight for the kill, straight for gold, skin sliding velveteen over engorged flesh.
"God, that's fucking sexy, that sound," Billy said, accent thick.
"What's fucking sexy," Dom growled, regaining enough mental capacity to wrap his own hand around Billy's cock, "is you." A moment of syncopation, and then their rhythms converged. Dom threaded the fingers of his other hand through Billy's hair, pulled his head in close for another kiss, open-mouthed, tongues sliding and messy, gasping breath and saliva.
Billy did that thing with his hand - wrist angled, fingers trailing over the head of Dom's cock - and Dom's head smacked back against the wood again, echoing dully. He was worried for a minute that his knees might give way, and bent a little, wedged his feet against the wall, his back against this side. Billy stepped up closer against him, straddling one of his legs. A slight readjustment of grips, and their rhythm was unbroken, almost in unison, smooth and sure. Dom found he was breathing in time, little hitches of breath with each stroke as he licked at Billy's mouth, pulled back, made him give chase, making him push Dom back against the wood - mahogany? - of the wardrobe. Other hand pushing at his shoulder as Billy dropped his head, bit at his collarbone through his shirt. Hard and unrelenting, their hands on each other in this musty old closet where, Dom thought, Billy might have jerked himself off, just a teenage schoolboy carving names into wood. Curled sweating over his hand and an unrequited pair of initials, long before he ever met Dom, long before they ever discovered the magic in the hands of each other.
Hands, Billy's hand, and God...
Dom came, a low hoarse cry in the back of his throat, with his head tipped back against the wall of the wardrobe, eyes unfocused on the dark, varnished ceiling. Billy was a second behind him, half a shout buried in his shoulder, soaked up by saliva-damp cloth. Evidence spattered across their stomachs, over their fingers, warm and cooling in spots on the shirts they'd been too impatient to remove.
Dom relaxed against the wall of the closet and let his breathing slide back towards normal. Billy sagged against him, laughed against Dom's damp neck. "Doesn't feel much like sneezing eight times."
Dom smoothed his hand up Billy's back, pushing up under his shirt. Kept one hand gripping his hip, not sure if he was holding up himself or Billy. "That wasn't quite what I had in mind," he admitted. He meant...
Billy knew what he meant. "But the others are waiting for us." His mouth was pressed against his collarbone again, his voice buzzing through Dom's bones.
"Going to have to wait while we clean up anyway," Dom noted.
Billy laughed again, full of his usual overflowing post-orgasm good humour. "Impatient bugger." He stepped away, out of the closet, trailing fingers across Dom's stomach.
Dom paused long enough to recover his keys, pulling the knife out of the wood. He finished the graffiti with two quick cuts - DM - and followed his lover out of the attic.
Elijah had only sneezed once since they came downstairs, and his eyes were almost back to normal. He took a fistfull of popcorn, dribbled butter down his chin, watching the screen.
"Think we should have waited for them?" Orli asked idly.
"Nah," Elijah declared, licking salt off his lips. "Taking too long."
They ate and watched in silence for a moment, and then Elijah asked, curiously: "Do you suppose they're ever going to actually tell us?"
"What, that they're shagging?" Orlando shrugged, reached for more popcorn. "Who knows. Maybe they like it in the closet."