Huck hung from his shoulder, drunk like the flask. It was Friday night and all the passages around Afterlife were incredibly crowded. Vertin reexamined his plan to go to his place for the third time in the space of the last fifteen minutes, but now they had made enough headway that it would make even less sense to turn back. Still, he could have let Huck sleep it off in the booth. It wasn’t like they had anything important to do, what with the money that crazy human gave them.
“Come on,” he muttered. “Don’t fall asleep on me.”
“No sleep,” Huck replied. “I’m not that drunk. See?” He extended his right hand, all with a flimsy fist attached to the end, presumably to demonstrate that it wasn’t shaking. But all that did was punch a batarian going the other way almost straight in the nose. The batarian was obviously drunk as well, or was otherwise graced with the reflexes of a dead elcor, and didn’t make even the token attempt to move back. He took the punch, reacted by lifting a somewhat limp hand to his face, and then striking with it in the general direction of Huck’s head. Vertin, as the most sober, managed to duck, and Huck, being a limp sack of shit that he currently was, lost balance and fell under the punch.
After that, it all went to hell in about one and a half seconds. There was no telling who was hitting whom in the dark hallway, with knees and elbows and knuckles and foreheads striking in all directions. Vertin took a fist in the gut, and a badly executed uppercut in the chin, and witnessed someone punching Huck in the side real good, but it did nothing but make the drunken fool laugh even harder.
Later he’d have no memory of how exactly they extracted their sorry asses out of that mess. By the time they reached his neighborhood, his chin was starting to swell, and Huck wasn’t laughing anymore, pressing a hand to his ribs instead.
“Don’t think so,” Huck groaned. “But damn, I was hoping we’d have one evening – one evening – without ending up in a fight. Shit.”
“Don’t you dare complain. You started it.”
“Did too. You’re so drunk you don’t remember.”
“I remember everything,” Huck said, in a voice suddenly rippling in deep, husky subharmonics.
Vertin swallowed. He remembered it too. They had slipped the human’s chit through a scanner, and Spirits – there had been over three thousand credits on it, more than twice the sum they owed for the night. The next thing – they were at the bar, tasting exotic shit that they had only glimpsed from afar before. One of the cocktails, “Supernova”, had trace amounts of some famous krogan aphrodisiac in it, or so the bartender said. Vertin and Huck shared a glass, staring at one another over the straws, and that was when the ‘which way do you sway’ talk took place. Huck’s knee was bouncing up and down between Vertin’s legs in a rhythm much faster than the music, his foot planted on the bar of the weirdly designed barstool. Vertin put a hand on it, and Huck put his hand on Vertin’s hand, then slid it along his thigh. The last drops of the drink had been sucked in, and their foreheads met, as if by accident, over the empty glass. Vertin had to admit it: he lost his nerve then, and announced that it was time to leave. Stupid and cowardly. Because his answer had been, and remained: I’ve never been with another man.
“Yeah, I heard you the first time,” Huck muttered, making him jump. Vertin had no idea that he had spoken aloud and now a rush of hot blood made his neck sweat.
“That’s not what—“
“Hey. Whatever. You’re my friend, no matter what. Right?”
They finally reached the door to his small apartment, and he was fumbling with the key-card.
“Fuck you,” Huck chuckled. “You’re drunk too. Look at you.”
“Yes you are. Be a man and admit it.” And again with those low, rolling subharmonics that went straight down to Vertin’s crotch.
“Admit what?” he mumbled. The card was unusually uncooperative. He pulled it over the scanner for the third time.
“That you want me.”
The door opened, and Huck’s seductive tones swiftly lost their dark charm as he fell through and inside, landing unceremoniously on his ass. They both started howling with laughter. Vertin stumbled in, blinking bewildered tears out of his eyes, and had to lean on the wall to keep his balance. Yeah, he concluded. He was drunk too.
And that other thing.
Waves of chuckles still shaking him, he observed his friend, sprawled on the floor, rolling on his back and pressing hands to his stomach, which was probably hurting, to contain the laughter. How long had they known each other? A year? A bit more? Long enough. Vertin had seen Huck disappear to dark corners with men and women of all races, shapes and sizes, but somehow, prior to this evening, he had never thought about the possibility… that Huck had a design on him. Why would he? Vertin was a boring old sod. Everything interesting he had to say was safely tucked away in his past.
“Eh,” he sighed, and sealed the door behind him. “Come on. Get up.”
Huck took his outstretched hand without hesitation. But instead of pulling himself up, he pulled Vertin down.
Vertin yelped and landed on his hands and knees. Hands just above Huck’s shoulders, caging him in, knees around Huck’s left leg. Huck lifted his knee. There was no mistaking the surge of warmth and moisture.
“Should put some ice on this,” Huck whispered, fingers trailing over Vertin’s bruised mandible.
“Prolly,” Vertin breathed, crucified between the gentle touch, the insistent pressure on his pubic plates, and the sudden chaos in his head. Why had he never been with a man before?
There was a momentary halt in all movement, breathing included, and then Huck propped himself up on his elbows, barely stopping short of touching Vertin’s nose with his own. He licked a wet path from the stem to the pointed end of Vertin’s mandible, his warm breath caressing Vertin’s cheek, and all Vertin could do was shut his eyes and let out a shuddery sigh. He had never been with a man before, he remembered, because no man had ever tried to seduce him.
“Huck,” he heard himself mutter.
Huck sunk back on the floor again. His amber eyes were burning in the half-light like cinders. “Say the word, and I’ll leave you alone.”
Yeah, it was a simple as that. Vertin stared at him for another heartbeat, then made a show of shutting his mouth tight and saying nothing. Nothing at all. Instead, he grinded his crotch against Huck’s knee.
Spirits, that felt good.