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kerosene to a flame

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“Chug! Chug! Chug!” Alex and Wilbur shout enthusiastically, clapping in encouragement. George swallows down as much vodka as he can before it starts dribbling out of his mouth, scrunching up his face at the fiery taste. He glares petulantly at the label proclaiming that the flavour was ‘Raspberry’. ‘Raspberry’ his ass – it tastes like gasoline and nail polish remover – but hey, it got the job done. The job in question? To get absolutely shitfaced as a means of celebrating their final end-of-year exams finishing that afternoon.

“Nice job,” Wilbur says, clapping him on the back. George grimaces, throat still scalding.

“Okay, my turn,” Alex says, grabbing the bottle and taking a huge swig. He spits it out all over himself less than a second later, much to George’s amusement, and shoves the bottle back at him.

“Oh, great job, you idiot!” Wilbur scolds him. “What a waste of perfectly good vodka.”

Alex shudders. “That was the most disgusting fucking thing I’ve ever tasted. I’m gonna go get a beer.”

“Wait, I want one too,” Wilbur says. “George, will you be okay on your own?” 

George nods. The vodka hasn’t hit him properly yet, and it was his first drink of the night. Sure, he’ll look a little lonely standing in the middle of a crowded room full of drunk college students, but that didn’t phase him too much. He doubts many people, including himself, will remember any of this tomorrow.

He sips the vodka, slower this time, and examines his surroundings. All around him are neon strobe lights, glowsticks, and wild dance moves. George starts to sway a little on his own, feeling the bass of the music thump in sync with his heartbeat.

George scans the room for Alex and Wilbur. Surely it can’t take them that long to grab two beers, he thinks distantly. His brain is settling into that sort of tipsy euphoria, and he’s about to go over to the kitchen to find them when a hand grabs his shoulder.

George spins around to bump into the most beautiful man he’s ever seen. He’s nearly an entire head taller than George, with artfully messy hair, a jawline that looks honest-to-God photoshopped and striking amber eyes. He’s also eerily familiar, and George wracks his brain trying to remember where exactly he’s seen him.

“Hi, I’m Clay,” the guy says, lips curving into a smile. Clay. Yes. That was the name. Unbidden, a memory pops into George’s head of seeing Clay a few months before at another party, and immediately falling in love in that way you do when you’re drunk and want to marry the first good looking person you see. He’d whined to Nick the entire night about how unfair it was that Clay was making out with his girlfriend all night when George was right there . Nick had given him some inebriated words of wisdom along the lines of “Yeah, dude. I’m definitely straight, but for that guy? Even I could be persuaded to swing for the other team.”

George realises he hasn’t responded to Clay’s introduction. “George. I’m George,” he says confidently, and sticks out a hand to shake. He wants to show off that he’s a guy who’s well-mannered, who Clay could certainly take home to the parents after the first date. So it’s a bit of a snub to the ego when Clay immediately pushes his hand down and looks around wildly.

“Sorry, sorry. Just, uh,” Clay slides his hand down George’s arm and interlocks their fingers. 

Huh. Well, George does prefer this to a handshake, but it does strike him as a little...odd. Then again, he’s not complaining when Clay’s arm is lean and toned, pressed up against George’s own. His grip is strong, but not uncomfortably so, and his hand is bigger, encircling George’s perfectly. George could get used to this, he decides.

“Look, I’m really sorry about this,” Clay says, leaning in close to mutter in George’s ear. His breath is warm, tickling the hair on George’s neck, and he smells faintly of...peppermints? George gazes openly at the smooth angles of Clay’s face - the straight line of his nose, the cut of his cheekbones.

“Sorry about what?” he says, realising that Clay’s stopped talking to look at him with an amused smile. He steps back, and George immediately misses the familiar warmth of his presence. Which is weird, he acknowledges, because he did only meet Clay about twenty seconds ago.

“Okay, hear me out. This is gonna sound a little crazy, but, uh, I need you to be my boyfriend,” Clay says sheepishly, running a hand through his hair.

George’s heart stops. How the hell does he respond to that ? It’s more than a bit out of the blue, considering that this is his and Clay’s first-ever conversation.

Clay laughs, self-consciously in a way George finds obnoxiously endearing. “Yeah, uh, I know how that sounds. Basically, I just bumped into my ex-girlfriend, and she made some comment about me being sad and lonely, or whatever – stupid, I know – but I wanted to prove her wrong. So I uh, I said I was with someone.” 

George nods slowly, starting to understand. The phrase ‘ex-girlfriend’ bounces around his mind.

“Yeah, so I thought that was all, you know,” Clay continues, annoyance creeping into his tone. “But then she asked me who I was with, and I had to find someone she didn’t know, and since you’re in the year below us, and you weren’t standing with anyone, I pointed at you and said you were my boyfriend.” 

George raises an eyebrow. He doesn’t quite know what to think. He was kind of hoping Clay’s reasoning for picking him was more, he doesn’t know, complimentary, than ‘You were alone.’

“You’re also the cutest guy here,” Clay adds wryly. “And I’m not just saying that.” George instantly goes weak in the knees - he should be more careful about what he wishes for. Clay, who looks like a literal Greek god, thinks that George is cute

“And I’m sorry, I know that it’s super shitty to just dump all this on you, and also really fucking weird,” Clay admits, worrying his lower lip with his teeth. “I swear, I wouldn’t be here at all if Mia hadn’t called my bluff. She - she’s really fucking weird, okay, she accused me of lying!”

“I mean, you are lying,” George says slowly.

“I know that,” Clay says exasperatedly. “But then said she would be, and I quote, ‘keeping an eye on me all night to see just how close you and I were.’” George furrows his brow. This is all a bit much.

“I know, she’s nuts,” Clay admits, raising his hands. Massive understatement, George thinks privately. “We just have a lot of bad blood between us. She cheated on me with – you know what?” Clay cuts himself off. “You really don’t need to know all that. The thing is, I just can’t let her know that she’s right and I’m wrong. If she finds out, she’ll…honestly, I don’t know what she’ll do. But it’ll be ugly, that’s for sure. And I hate getting proved wrong.”

George blinks, still trying to fully process what’s being asked of him. Clay leans in a little closer, and their height difference is suddenly made a whole lot more obvious. George looks up at him, and Clay murmurs, “Look, if you don’t mind hanging out with me for the rest of the party, I promise I’m a lot of fun. Plus, I’ll owe you one. Big-time.” George appraises him slowly, weighing out the pros and cons in his mind.

 

Pros: Clay is single-handedly the hottest person he’s ever seen in his life. Also, his friends still hadn’t returned (and knowing them, they’d passed out in each other’s arms somewhere). Third, Nick would be so proud of him once he surfaced from whichever dark corner he’d disappeared to with his girlfriend. And finally, as petty as it may be, George would love to make Clay’s ex-girlfriend jealous. 

Cons: None.

 

“So...are you in?” Clay asks, a hopeful grin spreading across his face. George steps closer, tilting his head back to look at Clay.

“I’m in,” he shrugs, smiling. He’s captivated by the way Clay’s pupils dilate ever so slightly, black expanding over molten gold. Clay’s lips are reddened, George doesn’t know what from, but he wants to kiss them desperately. And if he plays his cards right, maybe he could.

“Yes!” Clay exclaims, and presses a quick kiss to George’s mouth. Well, that was a whole lot easier than George had anticipated. “Fuck, fuck, I’m sorry,” Clay stammers quickly. “We didn’t discuss physical boundaries or anything and it was not okay for me to kiss you without asking -”

George rolls his eyes. “That could barely be considered a kiss, Clay. It’s fine.” He’s proud of how nonchalant he comes across when in reality, his heart is beating a thousand times per minute and his lips are tingling like he’s just kissed an electric fence.

Clay sighs with relief, then cocks his head. “Barely considered a kiss, huh? That blush on your face seems to suggest you liked it.” He’s almost dripping with arrogance, and George usually hates people who are full of themselves but right now he couldn’t care less.

“I have no idea what you’re talking about,” he says with a (mostly) straight face.

“Sure, George,” Clay teases, and his lips curve around George’s name like it’s melting in his mouth. “So, what are your boundaries, then?” he continues, raising an eyebrow with a grin.

George doesn’t take Clay’s words as a challenge, he doesn’t , but he’s also not going to shy away from kissing the man who looks like he could win America’s Next Top Model by doing nothing more than standing there with that stupid crooked smile.

He lowers his voice, forcing Clay to lean down close enough that George’s lips brush his ear. “Let’s just say, whatever we need to do to make your ex jealous, I’m open to doing.” A small part of him is shocked by how forwards he’s behaving; George doesn’t think he’s had this much confidence in his life, but with the raspberry vodka buzzing in his veins and the loud music thumping in tandem with his heart, pressing a slow kiss to Clay’s cheek just feels inevitable.

Clay’s eyes widen at the contact, and he chuckles lowly, nodding as he straightens up. “Alright then, George. But if you feel uncomfortable, or tired, or anything , at any point, just tell me, okay?” His features are set aglow in the dimly lit room, and George can’t stop staring. Clay tilts his head, looking slightly amused. “George?”

“Yeah, yeah, I’ll tell you,” George promises him, barely embarrassed at how Clay clearly caught him ogling. “Now come on, let’s dance.” He grabs Clay by the hand and leads him to the more spacious floor. The music playing is some generic pop beat, but it’s catchy enough that George can bounce around without having to think too hard. He’s definitely not much of a dancer. Clay, on the other hand, sways rhythmically in front of George, grinning at him from ear to ear as he moves. They dance till the song finishes, and a slower, more sultry one begins. The bass is heavy and infectious, and George can feel it thrumming like a live wire in his bloodstream.

He beckons Clay closer, and shouts, “Hey, where is Maya, anyways!” into his ear. The pulsating music makes it hard to have a conversation. At least, that’s George’s very plausible excuse to get as close as possible to Clay again.

“Mia,” Clay corrects him, then cuts his eyes across the room. “She’s on that sofa on the other side of the dance floor, glaring her eyes out at us.”

George immediately spins around, trying to spot where Mia is. It isn’t hard. Amidst a gaggle of girls laughing and chatting on a green sofa, a pretty brunette is staring daggers in their direction. 

“Oh, wow, yeah. She’s pissed off, that’s for sure,” George observes intelligently. “So...I guess that means your plan is working, then?” He purposefully turns his head, and not his body, when talking to Clay, revelling in the way Mia’s eyes track the movement of George’s face so close to her ex-boyfriend’s.

Clay lets out a huff of air, which tickles the back of George’s neck and makes his hairs stand up straight. “Yeah, I guess it is. I feel kinda shitty that she’s mad at you for no reason, though.” George looks up at him through his eyelashes. 

“Clay, she cheated on you,” he stresses insistently. “Tonight it’s your chance to show her exactly what she missed out on.” He takes a purposeful step back, so his back brushes up against Clay’s chest. The space between them now is practically nonexistent, and George feels Clay’s breath hitch.

George sees Mia, and he knows Clay sees her too when she raises her hand in a middle-fingered salute to them. The girls she’s sitting with gasp and shriek in delight, and now all seven or eight of them are shooting furtive glances their way. Mia smiles at them condescendingly, and George feels Clay tense behind him.

“Go on,” George murmurs. “Make her jealous.” He doesn’t recognise the way he’s speaking – it’s simultaneously terrifying and giddy, knowing how much power he has right now. Clay’s hands position themselves sinfully low on George’s hips, and he pulls him back tight, removing the inch of air that had previously separated them. 

“You,” Clay exhales onto George’s collarbone, sending shivers down his spine, “have to tell me if you want me to stop.”

George sighs internally. Half of him is touched by Clay being so persistent that George gives him his full consent, because it’s clear that he doesn’t want George to feel like he’s being taken advantage of or anything of the sort. The other half of him is annoyed that Clay can’t see just how keen George is to kiss him.

“I can’t tell you to stop when you haven’t even started yet,” he teases, and immediately regrets having such a smart mouth because holy shit Clay takes that and runs with it, chuckling softly into George’s ear before pressing open-mouthed kisses up George’s neck, his mouth searing fire into George’s skin.

All George can hear is Clay’s ragged breathing as he moves his lips up George’s jaw, behind George’s ear, back down to George’s clavicle, and Clay’s grasp on his waist is tight, and his mouth is hot, and George feels like he’s died and gone to heaven.

He lifts his arm and puts it around the back of Clay’s head, fingernails scraping lightly at his scalp, and Clay lets out a choked-off noise into George’s neck that he knows he’ll replay in his head for the rest of his life. Clay’s fingers dig, unyielding, into George’s hips, and he thinks he may collapse if Clay wasn’t such a solid presence at his back.

George’s eyes are practically closed, too busy focusing on how Clay’s teeth feel grazing his skin rather than being bothered to check on how Mia is reacting to this new development. Honestly, he couldn’t care less about Mia when Clay runs a hand rapidly up George’s chest, setting goosebumps prickling all over George’s skin. He arches his back on reflex, and Clay takes the opportunity of the space between them to spin George around so they face each other. Clay is looking down at him with a heated, half-lidded gaze.

George stares back. Want is written all over Clay’s body, from the way his hands are almost trembling in their grip on George’s waist, to the way he’s biting down on his lip so hard George is afraid he might draw blood. Clay’s gaze flickers from George’s eyes down to his mouth, and back again, asking the silent question.

George swallows. “Just to make Mia jealous, right?” he whispers, practically into Clay’s mouth. A smile tugs at Clay’s lips. 

“I don’t know if it’s just that anymore,” he murmurs back, and at that, the last of George’s resolve crumbles away. He wraps his arms around Clay’s neck and kisses him, and the first thing he thinks is that Clay’s lips are even softer and warmer on George’s own than they were on his neck.

George doesn’t think much after that, because Clay parts his mouth slightly and he immediately responds. Their noses brush together as George angles his head to kiss him deeper, savouring the taste of peppermint and cheap raspberry flavoured alcohol – which should really be a gross combination, but somehow isn’t – but George can’t find it in himself to focus on that when Clay is kissing him so deeply it’s like he’s a man parched for water and George is a swirling thunderstorm.

Of course, George is never one to back down from a challenge, so he threads his hands in Clay’s hair (which is so fucking soft, his brain notes dazedly, is this guy even human), and pulls , earning him a satisfied low noise from somewhere deep in Clay’s chest. The thrumming heat in the base of George’s stomach is intensifying. He gasps brokenly into Clay’s mouth, and Clay responds in like, a desperate sound that makes George inhale sharply.

Abruptly, a hand on George’s shoulder pulls him both literally and figuratively out of the kiss. There’s too much blood roaring in his ears for him to completely process what’s going on until he sees Clay scowling and puts two and two together.

“Mia, I’m a little, ah, occupied at the moment,” Clay snaps, and it stirs something in George to see how affected Clay’s composure is from their kiss. It’s not like he’s much better, George reflects, awkwardly smoothing down his shirt collar.

Mia folds her arms over her chest, glowering. “Look, you made your point, okay, Clay? I get it. You didn’t lie about being with someone. Even if he is a little...” she eyes George up and down, “...scrawny.” George doesn’t deign her with a response, just stares at her until the silence becomes uncomfortably heavy.

“Okay, well, great talk, Mia, lovely as always,” Clay interjects. “But I really have something better to be doing right now.” His hand finds George’s and squeezes, making it very clear exactly what that something is.

Mia huffs angrily. “Fine, then. Bye.” She stalks away, right out of the party, and George has never been happier to see someone leave. He turns to Clay and is shocked to see how stormy his expression is.

“She had no right to say that about you,” Clay mutters. “I’m sorry George – you really don’t deserve to be caught up in all my dumb relationship shit.” 

George shakes his head. “Hey, it’s fine. Seriously.” He puts a hand to the side of Clay’s face and strokes his cheek. “I really couldn’t care less about some random girl calling me scrawny.”

Clay chuckles. “Oh yeah?” He says, his voice pitched so low that George feels it in his toes.

“Mm-hmm,” George agrees readily. He can’t stop staring at Clay’s eyes, pools of amber reflecting back George’s desire at him.

“And me?” Clay asks, deceivingly innocent. “What if I called you scrawny?” He tugs at George’s hips and George immediately obliges, stepping closer.

“Well then, I guess I’d just have to prove you wrong,” George says, and slides one of Clay’s hands up his shirt so he can feel just how much of the opposite of scrawny George is. Clay inhales sharply, and George gives him a very smug, very self-satisfied smile.

Clay leans down to whisper in George’s ear. “I don’t suppose you’d like to continue, ah, making Mia jealous back at my place?”

A flutter goes through George’s body. “I’d love that,” he murmurs.

Clay grins. “Perfect. It’s a two-minute walk from here.”

George doesn’t need any more prompting than that. They start making their way out of the party, almost stumbling over each other in their haste to get to the exit. They’re at the door, pulling on their jackets, when George hears multiple voices yelling his name with various levels of excitement.

He whirls around to see Nick, Alex, and Wilbur all staring wide-eyed at him. George realises belatedly that he must look absolutely ravished, his shirt still halfway rucked up on one side where Clay had removed his hand, his lips swollen-red from being bitten down on – and he doesn’t even want to think about the state of his hair.

There’s a moment of silence where all five of them don’t say a thing. George can feel Clay’s curious gaze burning a hole in the side of his head.

He lifts a hand in an awkward wave to his friends, and they exchange drunk grins with comically wide eyes. Nick comes up, claps him on the shoulder and says far too loudly, “George! You did it! It took you a few months, but you did it! I’m so proud!” George doesn’t know how to respond, especially when Nick looks genuinely close to tears of joy. He offers Nick a pained smile, silently begging him to not say another word.

“That’s our boy! Go get him, Georgie,” Wilbur adds enthusiastically, pumping his fist in the air like an embarrassing dad at a Little League soccer game.

“Have fun, and remember to use protection ,” Alex giggles, and George thinks he’ll faint of embarrassment if he stays there a second longer.

“Clay, let’s go ,” he hisses. Clay lets out a bright peal of laughter, his eyes half-moons. 

“Bye, Clay ,” his three idiotic friends say in unison, then collapse in simultaneous giggles.

George closes his eyes for a second, then grabs Clay’s hand and hauls him out of the party. Clay’s still wheezing, and George has to admit that it’s the cutest sound he’s ever heard, despite his mild concerns that Clay sounds like he might lose a lung.

“I’m so sorry about them,” he says as they set off down the pavement.

“No, they seem nice,” Clay says, still clearly stifling his laughter.

George snorts. “They’re usually a lot more normal than that, I swear.”

“I don’t doubt that.”

They walk the rest of the way in silence. It isn’t uncomfortable, but there’s a simmering tension that only builds the longer they walk, electricity shooting through George’s nerves every time their knuckles brush up against one another. His entire body is itching – for what, exactly, he doesn’t know.

“Well, this is it,” Clay says, unlocking the door to an apartment on the first floor of an old-fashioned building. They walk into a small living area, which is surprisingly more cozy than George expected it to be. 

“It’s, uh, really nice,” George says. He cringes internally at how awkward his words sound and looks around to let the moment pass. Seeing an en-suite kitchen to the right, he turns back to make a benign comment about it.

Clay is looking at him like he wants to devour him alive. 

“Nice, um, kitchen,” he croaks out before Clay pulls him into a scorching kiss.

George staggers from the force of it, and Clay pulls away immediately. “Sorry, sorry,” he says, “I’m sorry, I just –”

“Don’t be, just - don’t be ,” George interrupts, and kisses him back. 

Clay’s hands fly to George’s face, holding him tight while George wriggles out of his jacket, letting it fall to the floor without a care. 

“You- mmph , yours too,” George gets out between kisses. Clay makes a sound of annoyance and breaks away from George to shrug his jacket off. It probably takes less than three seconds, but to George, it feels like an eternity until Clay’s lips are on his again. 

Clay angles his wrist around George’s neck to get him even closer, and his other hand is playing with the hem of George’s shirt, fingertips brushing hotly against George’s bare skin. George can’t take it anymore. The heat that’s been building in the pit of his stomach since Clay first held his hand feels like it’s about to overspill, to consume him entirely.

Thankfully, Clay seems to be on the same page. “Geor-ge,” he grits out the last syllable as George tugs on his hair a little harder. “My - fuck, my bedroom.” 

A bedroom sounds like a great idea to George, but he can’t bear to detach himself from Clay. He manoeuvres them carefully so that he’s facing forwards, (at least, he thinks he is), and starts moving. Clay catches on pretty quick, and they stumble their way through Clay’s apartment. 

George barely registers his hip smashing into the corner of a tabletop, the pain dulled by the adrenaline coursing through his veins.

Clay kicks the door open with the back of his heel, and they get their way through the door frame without too much trouble. George suddenly feels like there’s far too many layers between them, and steps back to pull off his shirt. Clay follows suit, and without their shirts, everything is a whole lot more intense. George scrapes his fingernails desperately down Clay’s muscular back, and Clay runs his hands up and down George’s sides, mapping out the endless planes of bare skin there.

Suddenly, Clay’s grip around George’s thighs tightens and he lifts him up like he weighs nothing, George’s legs automatically wrapping themselves around Clay’s waist. Clay walks forwards till George is pressed up against the wall, and George gasps brokenly at the feel of the solid wall behind him and Clay pressed up against his front, not giving him an ounce of space.

Fuck, that’s hot, George thinks.

“You think so?” Clay murmurs, his tone laced with amusement. Oh. He’d said that out loud.

Clay shifts, still carrying George, and walks to the bed. He all but throws George onto the mattress, following him so quickly that there isn’t even a chance for George to sit up because Clay is right there , burning kisses into George’s neck, down his chest, past the flat planes of his lower torso and then, and then,

Clay lifts himself up so he’s hovering over George, his hands on each side of the duvet next to George’s head. Their chests rise and fall in sync, and George gazes through half-lidded eyes at Clay, who seems to be psyching himself up to say something. 

“Clay,” he gets in first. “I want this – I want you . Okay?”

Clay shakes his head bemusedly at his words and mutters, “How do you know me so fucking well,” causing George to chuckle. Clay’s features are tinged with silver from the moonlight streaming through the window, and George’s heart clenches at the sight. 

Slowly, Clay lowers his head, pressing a quick kiss to George’s neck before sucking a mark into the spot next to it, making George flush with pleasure. Clay continues marking up George’s skin, and all George can do is let his mouth drop open against Clay’s neck, almost overwhelmed by how good it feels.

This time, when Clay trails kisses down George’s clavicle, past his chest, past his abs, he doesn’t stop. George groans at the feel of Clay’s hands making quick work of his belt buckle and pants, and when the last barrier of clothing between Clay and him is removed, George feels like he won’t last a second longer. Clay pauses, looking up at George. His eyes have deepened to a slice of midnight, and George can only watch, not trusting himself to speak or move, as Clay leans forward and takes him down the back of his throat.

George lets out a breathy whimper, arching his back and fisting his hands tightly in the sheets. Clay knows exactly what he’s doing, and it takes George all of his willpower to last as long as he does. It only takes a few minutes till George sees white and black and blue explosions, pleasure cascading through his body in shuddering waves.

Clay makes his way back up George’s body, taking his time to press kisses to every inch of George’s torso. Finally, he breaks away to look smugly down at George, eyes glimmering. 

“What did you think?” Clay asks, grinning, his pupils so dilated that black threatens to overpower gold. Cocky bastard, George thinks fondly.

“It was alright,” he deadpans, biting his lip in amusement at Clay’s immediately outraged expression. 

“You’re the worst,” Clay replies finally, not moving an inch, just staring at George.

George holds his gaze, sees the pink of Clay’s tongue as it darts out between his lips. He can’t wait any longer, he decides, and surges upwards to capture Clay’s mouth in his own, tasting peppermints and salt on Clay’s lips. With a dexterity that impresses him, George flips them over so that he’s the one leaning over Clay, who clutches at George’s back, mouth moving hungrily against George’s own. George shifts, biting the question into Clay’s jaw, and is rewarded with a low utterance of ‘ Yes .’

He grabs Clay’s hands, pushing him into the mattress, and lowers his body to kiss a trail from Clay’s collarbone to his stomach, tracing the muscles of his abdomen with his tongue. George doesn’t hesitate to settle himself between Clay’s legs, pressing one quick kiss to the inside of his thigh as his only warning. 

George very quickly realises that Clay is vocal , showering endless praises and pleas upon George through gritted teeth. He’s silent toward the end, though, George glancing up to see his eyes fluttering closed, his mouth falling open in a wordless shout.

After, George clambers back up to lie under the duvet next to Clay, both of them still slightly out of breath. George shifts, gazing at Clay’s sharp profile painted in black and white. Clay turns too, so close that their breaths intermingle, and George can make out the tiny freckles dotting Clay’s face. He hadn’t noticed them before. On instinct, he brushes a soft kiss to one, then another. Clay stays entirely still until George leans back, suddenly self-conscious.

Nobody speaks, so George breaks the silence. “I think we managed to make Mia pretty jealous, if you ask me,” he offers with a grin.

Clay still says nothing, but the corner of his lips quirk up into a smile. He burrows deeper into his pillow and lets out an adorable little yawn.

“G’night, George,” he mumbles.

George stops himself from tracing the curve of Clay’s jaw with his finger, stops himself from cuddling up to him and resting his head in the perfectly-sized space between Clay’s chin and his shoulder because he has to accept this for what it is: a one-night stand borne from unusual circumstances – nothing more. Clay was clearly already trying to move on.

He exhales, feeling a bittersweet ache in his chest. 

“Goodnight, Clay.”

 

* * *

 

In the morning, George wakes up to an empty bed. No, not empty - there’s a folded yellow post-it note stuck to Clay’s vacated pillow. George rubs at his eyes and opens it. In messy handwriting, it says,

 

‘you were the best fake boyfriend ever. thank you, george.’

 

Flushing slightly, George turns the note over. On the back is a phone number, next to a small doodled heart. ‘call me?’ is scrawled across the bottom.

George presses the note to his chest and smiles.

 

* * *

 

fin.