RPS, Strictly Come Dancing (UK)Pairing:
Bruno Tonioli/Craig Revel HorwoodRating:
This is not a real story about real people. This is a fictional
story about fictional representations
of real people. Note the difference. None of the events described herein are true. No disrespect is meant and no profit made.Summary:
Bruno helps Craig out of a sticky situation, which then leads to a different
sticky situation entirely – much to everyone’s surprise. And pleasure. A shameless romp around the ‘pretend boyfriends’ cliché.Author notes:
We set out to write a short fic for our amusement. Unfortunately, this is what nowadays qualifies as ‘short’ for co-authored stuff. Many thanks to margaret_r
for another first rate beta and making sure the pov changes happened smoothly. The title is a name of a tango move/embellishment, meaning ‘caresses’ and referring to the stroking of the leg or shoe against your partner’s body. Why yes, we are lame.
Another day, another tedious industry party. If Craig had... Well, not a penny because seriously there are more valuable things than money. But if he had a vacation day for every one of these things he'd attended, he'd be spending the rest of his life on a tropical beach somewhere, drink in hand and a pretty cabana boy rubbing sun lotion on his back...
The day dream is rudely interrupted by a decidedly over-friendly hand on his arm.
"You're that judge from the TV, aren't you?" a slightly slurry voice asks.
Craig allows himself a quick roll of eyes before he turns around. And. Well. Speaking of pretty cabana boys...
"That depends which judge you're talking about," he says.
The guy standing next to him is probably twenty years his junior, buffed and tanned and plucked in a way that makes Craig's skin crawl in sympathy. He's also more than a little drunk, judging from the unfocused look in his eyes and the way he still hasn't moved his hand from Craig's arm.
"The... the rude one," the drunken cabana boy clarifies, which really, doesn't narrow it down much. "I'm Matt," he says then, leaning closer, wafting vodka fumes all over Craig's face. "Matt Tyler. Which yes, it makes this," he sweeps his arms in a grandiose arch, "my house."
Figures, Craig thinks. "Well, your daddy's house to be precise," he says, trying to put some distance between them but failing.
Bruno snags a second glass of champagne from one of the many waiters as he steps back inside the house, the warmth hitting him like a wave. He's pleased yet again that this isn't a black tie party, that he was able to leave his jacket in the cloakroom when he arrived. Sliding his fingers down his chest he undoes a further button on his shirt.
," he mutters softly, taking a swig of the champagne and enjoying the coolness. It's to be expected after all; the change in temperature from the marquee outside to coming back into the main house. Even though the marquee had heaters it's still a lot cooler than it is inside.
Necking the champagne, Bruno puts the empty glass back on the waiter's tray and heads into one of the side rooms where he knows there's a bar installed. Something long, flavoursome and chilled is what's required right now and he’d also noticed earlier that the bar men were extremely pretty. Bruno snorts. Not that there's anybody here who could be called unattractive.
To be honest, he's not even sure what the hell he is doing here. The party is being thrown by some industrial tycoon trying to suck up to his favourite political party by hosting a charity party and auction for Children in Need.
Which, of course, means that both Craig and he have had to attend.
Bruno doesn't mind that much – god knows he likes a good party – but it's been a long week and he only got back from the States a few days ago. Len and Darcy have managed to get out of it and Bruno isn't sure whether or not they had the right idea. He collects a raspberry mojito from the bar and heads back into the main room to see if he can find Craig.
"...water-skiing in the private bay, that's the life!"
Matt Tyler is giving a bad name to rich spoilt brats everywhere by not even trying to be subtle about it. In the twenty minutes Craig has been stuck in this conversation – if it can be called that since he's barely gotten a word in edgewise – Matt has managed to mention the family lodge in Switzerland, the (undoubtedly wasted) years at St Andrews and his Jag before getting into a long and boring listing of all his water sport toys kept in the Bahamas. He actually called them 'the Colonies' which made Craig want to punch himself in the ear just so he doesn't have to hear anything else falling out of the man's mouth ever again.
It is almost hilariously awful right up until the point Matt's rambling seems to cross the line to something far too personal. Craig's attention snaps back into focus in time to register: "...water bed in my room, you know. In case you wanted to rate my... performance. If you know what I mean," Matt adds.
"Erm," Craig says, honestly surprised. He does know what Matt means, but he doesn't want anything to do with it. Him. Either. God, why is this his life? "Couldn't possibly leave the party, I haven't even thanked your father yet for throwing it," he tries to prevaricate.
"Daddy doesn't care who I fuck," Matt says, far too loudly. Craig cringes.
"Yes, well, I do," Craig mutters, which is clearly the wrong thing because somehow Matt takes that as an invitation to step closer and start stroking a hand over his chest. Craig tries to step back and push him off in a way that doesn't look like he's doing either. He's scanning the crowd over Matt's shoulder, looking for some excuse or escape route.
Both, it turns out, look like a short Italian man in an expensive shirt.
Craig catches Bruno's eye across the room, frantically mouthing 'Help me' at him whilst trying to stop Matt's fingers from playing with his shirt buttons.
If it weren't for the panicked look on Craig's face, Bruno would find the scenario in front of him highly amusing. Actually, he's not that good a person, and the sight of Craig backed against a wall by a blonde twink is something Bruno will treasure for a while.
Normally, Craig isn’t the sort of person to put up with that kind of crap from anybody and Bruno remembers with pleasure the way Craig had taken out the couple of twinks who'd been trying to slime all over him after one of the tour shows. Craig had cut them off at the knees and he's sure they never tried that again.
Unlike Craig, Bruno does his homework before he goes to these events – or his agent does – and Bruno has a good idea of just who it is that's at present trying to crawl all over Craig: the son of their host. There's something about the way he's touching Craig that Bruno really doesn't like and he heads over to them, skirting around some of the other guests.
"Craig, darling, there you are." Bruno reaches around the twink and places his hand on Craig's arm. "Scuse
," he says to the twink, nudging him out of the way with his hip.
"Here I am," Craig agrees, immediately breathing easier when Matt steps away, drunken confusion written all over his pretty face. It's not that he isn't capable or willing to tell him to get lost in no uncertain terms, it's just that this is supposed to be a charity dinner and he doesn't want to cause a scene by bitch-slapping the host's son.
Thanks to Bruno, he might not have to. "...missing you terribly, darling," he adds belatedly, a sudden brainwave crashing over him as he figures a way to turn down Matt without making him lose face. Craig wraps an arm around Bruno's waist, surreptitiously squeezing his side, praying for him to play along for a few minutes.
Bruno isn't that surprised at the response as Craig is stupidly easy to read at times. Placing his hand on Craig's chest, Bruno leans up a little and kisses him on the side of his mouth. "I missed you too," he tells him. "Where did you disappear to, bella mia?
I went outside for a little while and I come back to find you..." he looks at Matt. "...teasing some boy young enough to be your son. Really, Craig?"
Craig suppresses an eye roll. He'd usually make some remark about age and experience but now really isn't the time. "No, no, you've got it all wrong," he says, adding a little concern into his voice. "Matt here was just telling me about the donation his family was making to Children in Need, weren't you?"
Slowly, Tyler Junior nods, his gaze travelling between Bruno and Craig. "Yes... That's right," he says. "Hey, aren't you..."
"Very generous of you," Craig talks right over him. "You must pass my thanks to your father."
." Bruno shakes his head and gives Craig a little smile before slinging his arm around Craig's shoulder and pressing closer to him. "Have I not told you before now that I do not like to share? Hmm? You should know this by now, Craig. I don't mind you flirting but really, you should not be giving this young
man the wrong impression now should you? It's... most unfair of you."
He throws a slightly patronising smile at said young man. "Besides, we all know how much you like experience don't we? And that's so much more important than a quick unsatisfying fuck." Bruno knows he's being slightly over the top but he doesn't really care right now, will leave it to Craig to smooth things over.
Craig chokes a little, unprepared for the level of detail Bruno is bringing to the role he's acting. His arm around Craig's shoulders is tight and there's something almost... genuinely angry in his eyes as he looks at Matt.
Right. Matt. Who is slowly but surely working toward a realisation that he's being insulted, which was precisely what Craig had wanted to avoid. "Matt," Craig says, reaching to shake the man's hand in both of his, ignoring the way Bruno's fingers dig into his arm momentarily. "You've been most kind to take so long from your busy hosting duties to talk to us. We really can't keep you any longer. It would be very selfish of us."
"I... yes, alright," Matt says, his eyes still narrowed as he looks between Bruno and Craig. "I didn't know..."
"Of course you didn't" Craig assures him. "Not many people do. And that's the way we like it." He winks, threading his arm back around Bruno's waist and trying to steer him away from Matt.
Bruno takes a breath, trying to relax himself and stop making any more bitchy comments. The last thing that either of them wants is a scene, and he knows full well Craig was trying to avoid exactly that when he caught Bruno's eye. But... there's just something about having seen the other man's hand on Craig's chest, the way he'd been in Craig's space, that has made something dark and possessive raise its ugly head, and Bruno knows exactly how he can be when that happens.
"My apologies," he says to Matt. "I, well I am a little... possessive when it comes to Craig. I overreacted." He puts his hand out and waits until it's reluctantly taken and shaken. "Thank you for a most enjoyable evening so far, I hope you will be bidding at the auction later. We will see you later I'm sure."
He allows Craig to steer him away, not wanting to continue the conversation. Apologising to the little twat has set his teeth on edge and he wants nothing more than to get drunk, dance, or have fast angry sex. Anything to take the edge off.
Craig steers Bruno to the bar and orders them two large glasses of mineral water. It's hot in here, sure, and the water will be needed, but there's a certain haze in Bruno's eyes which tells him that maybe getting something non-alcoholic into him for a while might be a good idea.
"Thank you," Craig says. "He was about two minutes from molesting me right there and it was either that or deck him on the nose, the man was not taking the hint. And as satisfying as that would have been, I don't particularly want my face in the papers for that."
Bruno takes a mouthful of the mineral water, enjoying the coolness and the tang of lime as he swirls it around his mouth before swallowing. He sucks on an ice cube as he stares at Craig, still feeling slightly on edge. "So you weren't tempted one little bit?" he asks. "I mean, the guy is the epitome of a twink. I'm sure he would have been good at going down on his knees."
Craig blinks, taken back by the sharpness of Bruno's tone and his words. If he didn't know better, he'd almost think Bruno was... But no, that couldn't be it.
"He's young enough to be my son, as you so delicately pointed out," Craig says. "And drunk off his arse. I very much doubt he had co-ordination left for a decent blow job." He's keeping his voice low, conscious of other people milling by. "And he is a bigoted, spoilt brat."
Bruno is still glaring at him in a way that makes Craig feel like he should be apologising even though he's done nothing wrong and in fact, by most moral standards, has just done the right
thing for everyone concerned.
"I... I really wasn't," he says, slouching a little against the bar, letting his shoulder press against Bruno's. His instincts are to reassure and Craig goes with them, even though he doesn't really know why.
Bruno feels himself begin to relax; both at Craig's words and also the press of Craig’s shoulder against his. He shakes his head, not particularly wanting the image of the twink on his knees in front of Craig, touching Craig and sliding his mouth on him.
"Well my friend you haven't always been particularly discerning over the years I have known you." He holds up his hand as he sees Craig about to say something. "I do not mean to be insulting but you have not always cared about their age or indeed their experience. Let's be honest, you have been at times somewhat of a slut."
The word is like a slap to the face. Craig straightens up, a feeling like ice settling in his chest. Bruno may not have meant to be insulting but he'd managed it anyway.
"That's rich coming from you," he says. It's no effort at all to control his voice, not when he gets like this. Being angry has never meant shouting or heated temper for Craig, quite the opposite. "I don't know what your problem is but I sure as fuck don't care for you taking it out on me."
It has been a while since Bruno has seen Craig really angry and even longer still since Craig was angry at him. Their spats on the show are just that – spats and nothing more – but the way Craig is staring at him right now makes Bruno pull away slightly.
"I have no problem," he answers, his voice as quiet as Craig's. "You were the one that seemed to have the problem until I rescued you. Or have you forgotten that already?"
"No, I haven't forgotten
," Craig hisses. "Your memory, however, has turned awfully selective what with—"
"Craig! Bruno! My favourite love-birds!"
Craig almost loses his grip on the glass as Matt drapes his arms over both of their shoulders, slotting between them like a drunken Lego and effectively interrupting their argument.
"I have come to fetch you to the auction. You must, must
sit with me and my friends. I told them all about having met this adorable older couple," he says, failing to see the way Bruno's mouth tightens at the adjective, "who were sort of famous too and they thought it would be a riot to meet you!"
"I can't wait," Bruno comments drily, wanting nothing more than to shrug Matt's arm off his shoulder and continue his conversation
with Craig. He throws a quick glance at Craig, who looks about as pleased as he is to be carted off to sit with Matt and his friends.
Unfortunately, it's impossible to get out of it without causing a scene and Bruno allows himself to be pulled along toward the auction, which is being held in the marquee in the back garden. There are round tables set up throughout the room, and they're led to a table near the stage at the front.
There's a cheer as they approach the table and a drunken "way hay
" as chairs are kicked out for them and Bruno finds himself pushed down next to Craig. A moment later, glasses of champagne are put down in front of them. Bruno picks his up and takes a large mouthful, which to be honest he needs right now, and then slides a hand onto Craig's upper thigh. They are after all meant to be a 'adorable older couple.'
Craig tenses up in surprise as Bruno's hand settles onto his leg, warm and heavy, fingertips almost brushing his inseam. Bruno's always been a touchy-feely guy and Craig has gotten used to it, particularly during Strictly
season, but this... It's been a while since anyone has touched him with such casual, possessive intimacy. Suddenly, Craig is glad for the distraction their drunken table mates offer.
"...been together?" someone is asking him.
Craig blinks, wondering if he's drunker than he thought, and shakes his head a little in an effort to clear it. "I'm sorry, what?"
"So how long have you been together?" a girl opposite him asks. She looks barely old enough to be drinking the cocktail in front of her. Why the hell are they surrounded by drunken children?
"Erm, well, that depends..." Craig prevaricates. At least no one will believe their audience tomorrow, if any of them remember the ever-growing web of lies he and Bruno seem to getting tangled in.
Craig is looking a little flummoxed and Bruno picks up the question for him. "Well, we have obviously known each other for many years," he tells the girl who is looking at Craig and him as though they are a pair of puppies that she wants to cuddle. It's a little disturbing.
"But as to when we have been together... That’s a bit of a personal question don’t you think? Next you will be asking which of us tops." He blinks for a moment, realising that his mouth is running away with him as Craig chokes at the words. "Well, we have been together for a few months," Bruno continues. "Nearly six now. Isn't that right, cara mia?
" He turns to Craig who is looking an interesting colour of pink right now. Bruno grins at him and starts to trail his fingers up and down Craig's thigh.
Bruno tosses his champagne back and refills it from one of the chilled bottles in the middle of the table, ignoring the cooing sound coming from some of his table mates. "But it has been worth every moment, even the arguments."
"Awww you two are so cute!
" the girl says, turning to the guy next to her and batting her eyelashes in a way that's probably meant to be seductive but only looks demented. "Don't you think so, Trevor?"
Trevor murmurs something that makes her giggle. Thankfully, Tyler senior takes the stage and mic at that point, drawing everyone's attention away from the conversation. Which is good because Craig is having a hard enough – pun... alarmingly apt – time of not squirming under Bruno's increasingly restless fingers. He’s still angry from earlier too and there's a big part of him that wants nothing more than to walk away right now, to get some distance, but Bruno is right there, insistent and aggravating and impossible to ignore. Craig doesn't know if this is some game he's playing to piss him off even further for reasons unknown, if he's just too drunk on the champagne and taking a joke too far or...
Craig drapes his arm over the back of Bruno's chair, his fingertips dragging over the short hairs at the base of Bruno's skull as he tips his own head close to his. "Your mouth
," he whispers right into Bruno's ear, "is going to get both of us into trouble."
Bruno shivers at the touch of Craig's fingers and the breath on his ear. "Is that right?" he whispers back, digging the tips of his fingers into Craig's thigh. "You have no idea just what trouble my mouth can get anybody into. But then..." he continues a little meanly, "I am somewhat sluttish aren't I?" He keeps his words quiet so nobody else can hear them.
And maybe he should leave it there but... Bruno turns his head slightly and brushes his lips over Craig's cheek. "You smell amazing," he tells him.
There is no way to suppress the shudder that racks Craig’s entire body at Bruno's words, the way his breath ghosts over Craig's skin. Every single hair in his body rises to attention and Craig knows, he knows
that there is no way Bruno could not have noticed. Thank god the rest of their table is following the auction. As far as Craig’s concerned though, they could be selling the Tower Bridge up there and he wouldn't notice. "Bruno..." he says, on a shuddering exhale, his grip on the champagne glass almost white-knuckled by now, "What are you doing?"
And that's the rub; just what is he doing? Bruno isn't too sure himself. What turned out to be a rescue attempt now seems to be moving down paths he wasn't expecting. "I thought that I was sitting here with my boyfriend, having a rather enjoyable evening." He spreads his fingers wide on Craig's thigh, liking the way that makes Craig shiver again. He stills his hand and moves his chair sideways until he's pressed up next to Craig; bodies warm together. "Aren't you enjoying yourself, Craig?"
"Hey, you guys should bid on that, I think it's antique." Matt's voice interrupts Craig, which is just as well as he didn't really have a clue what he was going to say.
Truth is, he's not so sure if he is enjoying himself or not.
"Barely," Bruno says, turning to the stage and launching into a disparaging commentary about the painting on sale at the moment. His hand though doesn't move an inch from Craig's thigh and his whole upper body is still nestled in the curve of Craig's arm. There's no way to change any of that either, without it looking incredibly awkward.
Craig breathes deeply a couple of times, trying to focus on the discussion around the table. After a while he feels together enough to contribute to the debate about cars two of the guys are having, whilst keeping a half an ear on the auction just in case some interesting does crop up.
He's almost starting to relax, still annoyed at Bruno but increasingly willing to write it off as too much champagne, when things start to spiral out of control again. It starts with Louise, the girl who'd cooed at them earlier like they were a pair of koalas.
"So..." She leans over Trevor who gets an eyeful of her cleavage and doesn't seem to mind. "He's a jealous type, eh?" Louise asks, not loudly but not particularly quietly either.
Bruno narrows his eyes slightly at the question, wondering what Craig's response will be. When nothing is forthcoming he sits up although he doesn't stop touching Craig.
He wonders exactly what Matt has said about the earlier scene between them; clearly something for the question to be asked. "Let me answer that for you" he tells her. "Yes, I can be very jealous of what is mine. I do not like to share," he throws a shark like grin at Matt, “with anybody, no matter who they might be. I do not like people to touch what is mine." He lifts his hand from Craig's thigh and strokes it along his arm. "As Craig knows full well, don't you amato?
"It has certainly been a revelation," Craig comments drily. He snags Bruno's hand in his, mainly to stop those maddening fingers venturing any further toward his neck, and laces their fingers together before lifting Bruno's hand to his mouth and dropping a soft kiss over his knuckles, resisting the urge to bite them in irritation. He's not lying though. If asked, he wouldn't have pegged Bruno as quite as possessive as he is... acting. And that’s all it is, Craig reminds himself. Bruno is acting
– has to be.
Louise looks almost troubled. "Don't you mind it?" she asks Craig. He can feel Bruno going still next to him and for all his annoyance and confusion Craig can't bear to hurt him about this.
"I thought I would," Craig says. "But... He's not... nasty about it. And believe me; I've seen the destructive type jealousy enough to know the difference." He's deliberately not looking at Bruno, but neither is he letting go of his hand. "It's... kind of nice, to be wanted like that." His stupid voice has gone a little rough there without his permission, the two years of... not having anything like that catching up with him, and fuck, how pathetic is it that on some level he's lapping up attention like this, even fake attention.
Bruno looks down to where Craig is holding their hands together, still feeling the echo of Craig's lips against his skin. He wants to feel it again, doesn't want Craig to let go of his hand and it's an unexpected feeling. Almost like they were actually a couple. It's how he feels when he's in a relationship and it's strange to feel it now.
Hearing Craig's words though and the tone of his voice, makes something in Bruno's heart clench up. He knows that Craig hasn't been in a relationship since the breakup with Jonathan just over two years ago. Bruno knows how much that had hurt Craig; it took months before Craig even went out again. Oh, he's had fun during that time, Bruno is well aware of that – Craig is no monk after all – but there hasn't been anyone long term.
He puts his glass of champagne down and rests his right hand over their laced ones. "I cannot help it," he tells Louise. "It's just how I have always been when I am in a relationship that is important to me."
Bruno's words sound so... genuine. Craig slants a look at him, at the serious expression on his face, so strange to see when Bruno is almost always smiling or laughing and just like that their gazes catch. And hold.
The moment stretches; his hand engulfed in both of Bruno's, confusion and electricity and lingering anger sparking between them, all mixed up with over a decade of friendship and Craig doesn't understand
or maybe he's scared to understand because this... It's...
"Oh my god," Matt's voice breaks the moment. "It's no wonder you weren't interested in me," he tells Craig. "You can barely keep your hands off each other can you? I'm not sure if I think it's sweet or nauseating."
Bruno pulls his gaze away from Craig and looks at Matt. There's nothing more he wants right now than to put him down with a biting comment, but it's kind of pointless and the way Matt has continued to drink since they got to the table makes Bruno unsure of just how the man might react. Instead he shrugs. "Well you wanted him. And who can blame you? But," he turns and smiles at Craig even though he can still see anger playing in Craig's eyes, "I got there first."
Matt raises up his hands in the universal gesture of surrender, saying: "Hey man, he's all yours," before muttering something about there being plenty of fish in the sea. Any other time Craig would have taken some serious objection to being talked about like he was one of the items in the auction sale, but right now smiling sweetly seems the best course of action. It certainly gets Matt to drop his interest finally.
They all turn their attention back to the stage where the auction is winding down. Craig feigns fervent interest in the bidding for some old grandfather clock, trying to ignore Bruno's gaze that is still resting on his profile. After a while he too turns to the stage though. Craig almost smiles in relief, except then the hand returns to his thigh, decidedly higher than earlier, thumb stroking a small circle against the fabric of his trousers.
Bruno is staring at the stage but he's really not seeing what's happening there. Certainly isn't paying any attention to what's being sold. What he's thinking about is Craig and what's happening between them right now; this couple act they're putting on. It's been remarkably easy to fall into. Of course, it helps that he and Craig have known each other for such a very long time but... Bruno realises it's not just that.
There's something else there too and Bruno knows what it is on his side. There's an attraction there, always has been, but it's something that he's never felt the need to act on. Craig is his friend after all.
Lost in thought, Bruno doesn't notice at first that the auction has finished and their table is beginning to empty until Matt claps him heavily on the back bringing him back to himself. "Hey, we're off dancing. Catch you guys later. Don't do anything I wouldn't
," he sing-songs at them as he leaves the table.
Bruno picks up his glass of champagne which has been filled again – seriously, the staff here are amazing – and he sips at it, watching Craig as the table and then the room empties, and they're alone.
The staff are clearing the tables and the stage, chatting to each other tiredly and disinclined to pay any attention to two B-list celebrities lingering over their champagne. It's probably as much privacy as they are going to get without actually leaving the party, unless they venture into the garden proper. Craig refuses to follow that train of thought any further.
He is both glad and apprehensive about being alone with Bruno. With a start he realises they're still holding hands and carefully, with some regret, he untangles their fingers.
"Christ," he sighs, leaning both elbows on the table and rubbing hands over his face. "What a night." He slants a look at Bruno, unsure where to start. Or whether he should just leave well enough alone. "What... I don't even know any more. Are we still fighting?"
Bruno sighs, not just at Craig's comment but at the untangling of their fingers. Craig looks a little tired and Bruno wonders what his reaction might be if Bruno dug his fingers into the back of his neck and shoulders, giving him a massage. He doesn't though. Now that there is nobody else here to perform to Craig has quickly let go of his hand.
It has been an eventful night and Bruno is tired and beginning to wonder whether he can leave early and just go home. But despite the weariness, he's still buzzing a little too.
"I do not know," he answers. "I'm not even sure why we were having an argument in the first place." He angles his body toward Craig. "I do not even like arguments. Oh don't get me wrong, they are good for clearing the air, and the making up can be extremely passionate. but they are not one of my favourite things." He grins at Craig. "It is up to you though Craig. Are we still fighting?"
Craig narrows his eyes a little at Bruno's prevarication. "That depends. Do you still think I would like to have young Matt on his knees, like the undiscerning slut I am?" he asks, some of the heat from earlier returning.
" Bruno's answer is quick. "Much as I think the only way to possibly quieten young Matt is to put something in his mouth, I do not think you would like to have him there. And I am sorry for using that expression. I was... irritated and let it colour my words. You are many things my friend but an undiscerning slut is not one of them."
Craig feels the anger leech out of him as quick as it had come. Bruno's apology is almost frantic and Craig reaches out on instinct, squeezing his shoulders and then, because it feels right, he lets his hand trail down and come to rest on Bruno's arm. "It's alright," he says. "We were... are," he amends ruefully, "both slightly on edge. And this
," he deliberately rubs a thumb against Bruno's arm, in imitation of his earlier move, "hasn't exactly helped." Craig drops his gaze, tension coiling in his stomach. He's... almost scared, probably too drunk for this, whatever this is, and still unnerved and... Undeniably turned on by Bruno's display of possessiveness.
"I..." Bruno stares at Craig’s bowed head, his fingers itching to reach out and stroke over the back of his neck. It's hard to stop himself from shivering at the touch of Craig's thumb on his arm. "No, I suppose it would not really help but we were meant to be a couple, and couples touch."
What Bruno isn't saying is that it's felt right to touch Craig like this, that he'd like nothing more right now than to slide onto Craig's lap and kiss him. But it's not something that's going to happen, he knows that. "I think we did a good job of convincing them don't you?"
They had, Craig can't deny that. And the ruse had certainly done its job; he is unlikely to receive any further unwanted attention from young Matt – provided of course the man didn't get so drunk as to forget the whole thing the following day.
That isn't the point though. Craig raises his head and regards Bruno silently for a few seconds, taking in every familiar line and angle, the way his hair is getting just a bit too long and brushing against his collar, the way his arm shifts ever so slightly under Craig's hand but not away, never away.
"A little too good of a job," Craig says quietly. Bruno raises a questioning eyebrow and Craig thinks about all the years of friendship, shared work and laughter and catty comments on TV, thinks about the way Bruno gets excited over the things he loves, the way he can be an open book in so many ways but with hidden pages all the same, the way he touches Craig with affection and warmth, how he'd come to Craig's rescue without hesitation, slotted into the role of a boyfriend like... like it was his, all along.
"So good," Craig continues, slowly, hesitantly, trailing his fingers down Bruno's arm, "that it almost convinced me too." A ghost of a touch over Bruno's hand, fingertip to fingertip, questioning.
Bruno isn't sure at first that he's hearing what Craig is saying. What he thinks Craig is actually asking. This evening has been somewhat of a revelation; for himself certainly. And now it seems for Craig too. Bruno did not like seeing Matt touch Craig and the feeling of possessiveness it has caused is still there.
But they are friends, very good friends in fact, and Bruno has forgotten what his life was like without Craig being part of it. Even when Strictly isn't filming they still keep in touch and try and see each other at least two or three times a month if not more, unless one of them is out of the country.
And yes, Bruno has looked at Craig on more than one occasion over the years; he is after all a man with a healthy libido and Craig ticks a number of his boxes.
Bruno turns his hand around so their fingers are interlaced.
"I am very possessive. It is not something I can turn on or off," he says.
Craig thinks about that, really thinks, because it's a characteristic he's found a problem in some of his previous relationships. But what he'd told Louise earlier was the truth. "But not nasty about it," Craig says, squeezing Bruno's hand. "I cannot imagine you would ever..." He shrugs. "Let that possessiveness turn hurtful."
"No!" Bruno shakes his head and tightens the grip on Craig's hand. "I have seen how that can go wrong. Badly wrong. I used to be..." He throws a little guilty glance at Craig. "When I was much younger I could be very jealous and it was not... pleasant. I learnt though." Bruno tries not to think about how the relationship between Roberto and himself had combusted. Primarily because of his own jealousy and the way he had acted.
"There are more important things now but I confess that if I have a partner I do not like to see people all over them. It is how I am," Bruno shrugs. "Anybody who might want to be in a relationship with me needs to understand that. I will do everything for my partner. Were I to have one, which I do not right now." He loosens his grip a little on Craig's fingers.
Craig tilts his head, trying to hear between the lines, under what Bruno is actually saying out loud. "Well, I'm not keen on seeing a partner being accosted by someone else, I don't think most people are. And..." He let's go off Bruno's hand but raises his own to brush quick fingers over Bruno's face. "Seemed to me like you found someone to be possessive over." He lets his hand drop to his lap, his gut twisting with nerves and anticipation and hope and fuck, fuck is he really doing this? "I... I liked it. Bruno... how much of that was an act?" Yes, apparently he is. Craig wills himself to be still, though he can’t quite bring himself to maintain eye contact.
And that, Bruno thinks, is about as close as a declaration as you can get. He takes a deep breath and then he takes Craig's hand in his own. "Craig," he says softly. "Look at me."
Craig glances up at him meeting his eyes, and when he does Bruno raises Craig's hand to his mouth and brushes his lips over the knuckles in a copy of Craig's actions from earlier.
"At first," he answers, "it was an act but then... it was not. Craig, we have been friends for many years and I do not want to lose that but..." Fuck it
, he thinks. In for a penny, in for a pound.
"I do not get possessive over my friends and when I saw Matt touching you I did not like it." Bruno grits his teeth for a minute; he really
hadn't. "So what I am trying to say my friend, in my longwinded Italian way, is that I was, am, feeling possessive over you and I... would like to have the right to feel that way."
There's a smile, starting somewhere deep in Craig’s heart, but the moment is too intense, too... big, and contained at the same time, for it to make its way to his face. "You have it," he says, bringing his free hand to cup Bruno's face, thumb dipping into the corner of his mouth that opens in response to the touch. "It's yours
," Craig says, whispers, right against Bruno's mouth before he kisses him.
Bruno has kissed Craig before – hell, he kisses lots of people, it's in his nature – but this is different. He gasps at the feel of Craig's lips against his own and opens his mouth, granting Craig entrance as he kisses him back, his hand sliding up Craig's chest to grip at the collar of his shirt.
Craig wants to keep going, wants this so much, so suddenly (though not really, it's always been there, just... buried) that he's almost shaking with it, fingers unsteady as they stroke the back of Bruno's neck. That Bruno is a good kisser is no surprise, but he is... gentler than Craig had expected, letting him set the pace. There's a part of him that wants to push for more, to make Bruno lose his calm again, just like he'd almost lost it earlier with Matt.
A loud rattling sound pulls them apart though and from the corner of his eye Craig can see the catering staff wheeling in a large trolley, presumably for the dishes. Bruno is watching him, too still and careful for Craig's liking. "That..." Craig clears his throat, keeps hold of Bruno's hand, "I want to do that again."
Bruno sits back in his seat, feeling a little ruffled by the kiss which was even better than he'd imagined. He narrows his eyes at Craig's words, feeling a surge of possessiveness go through him. "Well if that is how you feel then perhaps we should do something about it," he responds. Quickly making a decision he stands and pulls Craig up and out of his seat. Apart from a startled gasp Craig says nothing, simply following closely behind.
There's a feeling running through Bruno right now, one that wants nothing more than to push Craig against a wall and kiss him thoroughly, to properly taste him without other people watching. He has an idea where they might get some privacy and he pulls Craig out of one of the side doors into the garden, to a quieter area that he'd found earlier whilst wandering around.
Craig follows Bruno outside and then off the carefully paved garden path, ducking under the low hanging branches. Suddenly, he's feeling overwhelmingly grateful Tyler Senior is so obnoxiously wealthy as to have what amounts to a small orchard at the back of his London residence. It's getting dark but there's still enough light to see by, and every now and then a solar powered lamp reflecting their way and they're not that far from the house and all the lights spilling out. There's something looming ahead of them and it takes Craig a couple of steps to realise that it's a garden shed.
"You're a genius
," he breathes, trying the door which is unfortunately locked. "Oh well..." Craig turns around and suddenly Bruno is right there and he's trapped, though not upset about that in the least.
"Yes I am," Bruno answers, stepping closer, his hands coming to rest on the shed door, bracketing Craig between them. He smiles when Craig automatically slouches down so that he's at the same height as Bruno. He pushes his knee between Craig's legs, murmuring: "Good, that's fucking good," as Craig spreads his legs for him. Pressing closer, Bruno lifts slightly up on his toes and brushes his lips against Craig's, smiling as Craig opens for him again.
Craig's hands drop to Bruno's hips automatically, keeping him close. Not that Bruno seems to be in any hurry to move. If the first kiss has been slow, romantic even, this one is anything but. Oh there's care in it too, in the way Bruno's hand cushions the back of Craig's head as it hits the shed door, but it turns heated fast, now that they are away from prying eyes. Craig groans, Bruno's body hard and tight and perfect against his, their tongues curling around each other again, and again.
It gets hot and heady fast; Bruno still riding the wave of jealousy and possessiveness. Now Craig has said 'yours' and 'you can' and that's a permission; his fingers clumsy on Bruno's hips, pulling at his shirt and trying to get to skin.
Craig can't remember feeling this wanted in a long time. Bruno kisses like he still expects Craig to push him away; deep and desperate, and Craig just groans, opens his mouth wider, slouches lower and spreads his legs more, and lets him, wants it, more than anything else right now.
And when Bruno bites at the underside of his jaw and sucks hard kisses onto his neck Craig lets him do that too, even though it's going to mark. Maybe because
it's going to mark.
Bruno doesn’t stop touching, fingers mapping out Craig's body, his hand sliding up from Craig's hips, splaying over his stomach before moving up. He’s muttering in Italian; words that Craig doesn't understand but the sound of them makes him melt anyway.
He manages to get his hands under Bruno's shirt and he shudders at the feel of all that warm skin, wanting it against him but can't even think of stopping right now, doesn't care about the danger of being seen.
Bruno moans at the feel of Craig's hand against his bare flesh and he bites down a little harder at Craig's neck, enjoying the gasp it elicits, the way Craig bucks up against him.
Even through the haze of desire, it eventually dawns on Bruno that they have to stop this. They cannot risk being seen or indeed photographed like this. And it's all moving so fast. He wants to see Craig come, wants to wrap his hand around Craig's cock and jerk him off, hear the sound he makes... But not here.
It's when Craig brokenly groans out Bruno's name that Bruno knows they’re approaching the point of no return. He kisses Craig deeply, biting at his lips before reluctantly pulling away. Craig looks as wrecked as Bruno feels and Bruno drops his head on Craig's chest.
It's a few minutes before he lets go completely and takes a regretful step back. But he just doesn't want anyone else to see Craig like this. He might not have cared when he was a 20-year-old unknown but he does now. And this is Craig. This is something private, something theirs.
," Bruno breathes, running a hand through his hair like it's going to help.
Craig still has his hands under Bruno's jacket and shirt and he curls two fingers into Bruno's waistband, keeping him close. "Yeah," Craig says, his eyes darkening. "Lets
And that's just... Well it's everything that Bruno wants. He steps back into Craig's space. "Si
," he breathes. "I think we should do that. Want to strip you back Craig. See what there is underneath." And he doesn't mean clothes, although the thought of a naked Craig is doing little to help his self control. "Want to fuck you into the bed until you cannot think of anything else but me. Would you like that?"
Craig hasn't been too particular about the logistics but now Bruno has put the image into his head and his chest goes tight at the idea of Bruno over him, inside of him. It's been a while since he's let anyone do that but with Bruno it's something he really wants. Without a word he grabs Bruno's hand, starts dragging him back toward the house...
Only to pause to shrug out of his jacket and drape it over his arm to hide the state Bruno's kisses and bites have left him in. "Might want to do the same," he says, glancing down at Bruno and then slowly, deliberately licking his lips.
Bruno follows Craig's gaze, not that he really needs to. He's well aware of how hard he is right now and that's just from touching and kissing Craig. He deliberately trails his fingers down the fastening of his trousers whilst watching the way Craig's eyes track the movement and his mouth...
"Fuck I want your mouth on me," he tells Craig. "Want to see how it feels on my cock." He doesn't give Craig any time to answer, simply shrugging off his own jacket and copying Craig's position before putting his hand on Craig's back and steering him toward the exit.
They say their goodbyes and pretty soon they're outside the house and flagging down a taxi. Bruno gives the driver his address before settling down next to Craig.
***Continue to Part 2