Author: drawingblinds. I originally posted this fic from my personal journal, but have made the decision to open a separate writing journal. It is mine, honest!
Date: April 2007
Scripps had always assumed that they would all fall apart when they got to University. University with a capital letter, University as a whole new stage in their lives. Dakin, especially, he expected to lose. Scripps had always thought of him as the kind of boy who didn't do 'the past', didn't do reunion and keeping in touch, who would get a hundred new friends in the first week and subsequently fall off the face of the earth. Scripps knew his own problem was that he was too acquiescent, too inclined to accept whatever he thought would come to pass without railing or protestation - Dakin called him Wittgenstein whenever he did what the latter called his 'stiff upper lip routine' - and the truth was that Scripps had been letting Dakin go ever since Hector's funeral. It was crazy really, deliberately detaching from his closest friend, but if he slowly disentangled himself now, he wouldn't have to feel the wrench when Dakin would inevitably pull away.
But he'd been surprised when Dakin had suggested that they go for a drink once a week, and even more so when Dakin turned up. Most of the time, anyway. He'd plonk himself down at the corner table, help himself to Scripps' pint and begin to recount the tales of his week at breakneck speed, while Scripps made sarcastic comments and pretended he wasn't interested in the parties and the strange alcoholic rituals and the bodily idiosyncracies of Dakin's latest fuck. And Scripps allowed himself those rushes of happiness, because they could meet and it was not five minutes since they parted, and they would just fall back into the same routine; all his life now was new and challenge and exploration, and though he relished it, sometimes he yearned for the familiar. And in that smoky, dingy pub that they frequented weekly, he found it.
It was a late Sunday evening at the start of Hilary Term, and Scripps was feeling positive. Even though the January air outside was below zero and as dark as a bottle of ink, he felt refreshed by the holidays and ready to crack on with his first essay. The Church on the eve of the Reformation, of all things. Could he bring himself to throw in the foreskins of Christ -
"You never come to my parties, you bastard."
Scripps nearly jumped out of his skin. Dakin was standing in his open doorway - if standing was the right word, he was more collapsed against the frame. "Jesus Christ! You scared the shit out of me."
"Don't take the Lord's name in vain, Scrippsy." Dakin lazily waggled a finger at him, obviously a little inebriated.
"Fuck off. Besides, you never invite me to your parties."
"Invitations are so passé nowadays. You just turn up."
"Getting alcohol poisoning and terrorising small animals aren't my thing." Scripps finished his sentence and clicked the cap onto his pen, realising that he wouldn't get any more work done that night. "Can't make it till Friday without seeing me then?"
"There aren't any clubs open on Sundays." Dakin staggered over to Scripps' bed and fell on it with a resounding thwack.
"What an exciting life you do lead." Scripps scraped his chair round to face his friend.
"At least I'm not working. Unlike some people." Scripps smiled at the contempt that was positively dripping from Dakin's lips at the mere mention of actual work. "There's been some trouble on staircase four."
Staircase four was where Dakin lived, he remembered. "What happened?"
"My latest conquest hasn't realised that yours truly is a one-time-only deal. I'm here now 'cause he's camping outside my door."
Scripps blinked, a moment of shock as word 'he' registered, and he realised that Dakin was in fact talking about a man. Then he remembered Irwin, and comments that his friend had made over the years, and wondered why he'd even been surprised. "'He', eh? So you are a little bit gay after all."
"Well, not really. I'm just indiscriminate. Posner's gay. I'm just trying to get my rocks off over here." Scripps raised his eyebrows. "Anyway, this guy apparently is a career homosexual and refuses to accept that I'm not interested in a repeat performance. I thought that with men I'd at least be rid of that clingy shit that girls do."
"So what are you gonna do?"
"Stay here, and if he's still there next morning I'll climb in the window."
Scripps rolled his eyes. "You do realise that I live here and you don't, right? And I've got a tutorial in the morning."
"Listen, you'll be contributing an integral part of the plan. He knows my group of friends, so if I don't go back tonight he'll know I'm not with them and think that I'm getting lucky somewhere else. Thus he sees that I am well and truly not interested." Dakin folded his arms, looking very pleased with himself.
"Oh, so I'm your cover story. Charming."
"Well, I'd do the same for you. If you ever get round to fucking, that is."
Scripps flipped him the finger. "Got to get the man upstairs out of the way first. University isn't helping really, the stress is upping my prayer count." He affected a desperate tone that was also slightly camp. "'God, please get me through this essay with at least a Second.'"
"Well, you can't just take God out of your life like that, you're left with a hole then." Dakin leant forward, bringing his hands together in front of him as he did when he was taking the softly-softly approach to persuasion. "You've got to replace Him with another coping strategy. Like alcohol."
"I'll stick with God, thanks very much."
"On that note, I'm not nearly drunk enough for this time in the evening. I don't suppose you've got any booze?" Scripps shook his head. "In that case, I'm heading to the offie. See you in five!"
As the door closed behind his friend with an unnecessarily loud thunk, Scripps shook his head and smiled to himself, knowing that drinking with Dakin on a Sunday night was a really stupid idea, but not caring in the least.
"Why me?" Scripps asked him the next time Dakin turned up drunk at his room. He returned from a Christian Union meeting - which he was attending in an attempt to put himself off religion permanently - to find his friend lying curled up on his doorstep. "Must be plenty of people at your own college you can collapse on top of."
"If I stopped annoying you I would lose an integral part of my identity," Dakin slurred, somehow managing to stand up in a whirl of unsteady limbs. "Last I saw them, they were throwing up outside Wadham."
"Oh, lovely." Scripps opened the door and Dakin headed in, sprawling himself over the full length of the bed and leaving his friend to take the slightly rickety chair. Scripps noted that this was fast becoming a pattern. "So what were tonight's revelries then?"
"To tell you the truth, I don't entirely remember. Something about a duck."
"I'm not sure I want to know."
"I think there was women's underwear at one point too."
"Then I definitely don't want to know."
It was two-thirds' way through Hilary Term, and the regular letters Scripps had always received from Posner had stopped. He felt - not worried exactly, but he had noticed. He reached for the notebook that was always on the top corner of his desk. Haven't heard from Posner in a while. Wonder what's changed. Maybe I should -
A knock at the door interrupted him. Then the door clicked, and Dakin sauntered in. "What's up, Scrippsy?" he asked, in an exaggerated upper-class accent that was an almost perfect, if somewhat sloppy, imitation of Scripps' father.
Scripps hid a smile. Plastered, as usual. "Most people knock and wait, you know. They don't just come in like they own the place."
"You're lucky I knocked. Anyone else, I'd think they could be wanking." Dakin winked at him obscenely. Scripps rolled his eyes on cue.
"You know, I've always wondered, why the obsession with other people's masturbation habits. Is it your recreational homosexuality by any chance?"
"Takes one to know one." Scripps opened his mouth to protest, then decided it wasn't worth the energy. "I bought beer."
"Like you're not drunk enough already."
"Too right I'm not, it's only eight. Besides, I feel it is my duty as an upstanding young man of the University of Oxford to make sure that you, another upstanding young man of the University of Oxford, have a life. All work and no play makes Donny a dull boy."
"Don't call me Donny. Chuck us a beer then." Dakin opened two beers and passed him one. It tasted a bit cheap, but this was a Dakin purchase after all."
"So what hellish hell have I saved you from on this fine evening?" Dakin craned his neck, as if to look at the contents of Scripps' desk.
"I'm writing to Posner."
Dakin looked baffled by the idea. "Why the hell are you writing to Posner?"
"Because Posner writes to me."
"Why the hell does Posner write to you? He lives down the road."
"Maybe he likes writing letters, I don't know." Dakin's questioning was getting annoying. "But I haven't heard in a while. He's normally a good correspondent. I wonder what's changed."
"Maybe he's found himself a nice boy," Dakin replied lazily.
"You don't care at all, do you?" Scripps had always known this, but for some reason it now angered him. He stood and went to the window, biting his lip.
Unfazed, Dakin continued, "I feel it would be unfair to Pos for me to fake an interest in his well-being. You're just like Irwin when you do that, you know." Scripps turned at his friend's sudden change of subject. "Before the chair, anyway. He probably doesn't do it so much any more."
"Going to look out the window. I don't know. Just an observation."
That was a bit weird too. Maybe it was just an observation, but Dakin didn't just make observations. He found the thread that he wanted and followed it mercilessly until - what? Scripps shook his head. "You haven't talked about Irwin since the accident."
"Yes, well maybe I'm drunk." Dakin laughed, humourlessly. "I felt guilty."
"Because you never had the drink?"
"Because I liked the power. He stopped being my teacher and it would have just been a wank. The wheelchair too, though. I wouldn't have turned down a wank otherwise. Talking of which, are you doing it yet?" Scripps just looked at him. He had long stopped being embarrassed by Dakin's enquiries into his sex life. "I don't understand how you can do that."
"Once you've stopped it's not that hard most of the time. I think wanking is a habit more than anything - " He trailed off as he heard a gentle snore and realised that Dakin had fallen asleep. Charming. And taking up the whole bloody bed too. He grabbed a blanket out of the cupboard and lay down on it, and though the floor was hard, the sound of his friend's regular breathing soon lulled him to sleep.
"How's God?" Dakin asked him one Friday evening, when their afternoon in the pub had turned into an evening in Scripps' room, eating popcorn and drinking Special Brew from matching Oxford mugs. Scripps had just become drunk enough to stop caring about the impending hangover.
"No idea. I don't have a direct line, you know." He stuffed another handful of popcorn into his mouth. "Still hanging around like a spaniel that hasn't been fed. The Christian Union thing's not working either. They're all too earnest, and even the Mary Whitehouse types play it down. When I pray, it's for the day I meet a girl with a face that'll snap me out of it."
Dakin raised an eyebrow. "Perhaps it's not a girl you're waiting for."
"I do like girls, you know." Scripps didn't look at him as he said this, feeling slightly dishonest. He wasn't sure why he felt guilty - he did like girls. Maybe he'd had his thoughts about some of the boys he'd known, but he'd always been of the fairly old-fashioned opinion that homosexuality was something you did at school and then got over. And he wasn't at school any more.
"Straight is a relative term." Dakin had the smug smile he wore when he had one over on someone, and knowing that he was possibly a little bit right just made Scripps want to up and out of there. Unfortunately you really couldn't do a dramatic exit from your own bedroom.
"Well, women are a different species. It doesn't come naturally to all of us, you know."
"I'll have to teach you some of my magic then." Dakin's eyes sparkled at him. "It'll be tough, but I think we can get you up to the level of basic conversation with a couple of years' hard slog." Scripps opened his mouth, seemed to think better of it, and closed it again. "What?"
"Nothing." What Scripps had been about to say was that he didn't think he'd have much problem talking to girls if he actually knew how to meet them - living in halls and going to lectures didn't seem to be doing the trick - but he knew that Dakin didn't need any more 'evidence' for his theory that he was a closet homosexual. "Pass the cider, I'm out."
The next week (he had started turning up regularly on Sunday nights as if he knew that he could be the most disruptive to Scripps' studies that way), Dakin turned up sober, but with the largest joint Scripps had ever seen and the promise that they were going to smoke it all. Scripps protested, of course, but he knew that he had never been any match for Dakin when his mind was made up. Besides, as his friend said with dancing in his eyes, "I'll go to confession tomorrow and apologise to God for corrupting you to my wicked ways."
Scripps rolled his eyes, but took the joint when Dakin passed it to him.
"I like dope," Dakin proclaimed an hour later, as if he were a benevolent king addressing a crowd of subjects, "because it helps me look at the little things. I don't have to think about life or history or any of the fucking big questions, but the pattern of your carpet is very, very interesting."
Scripps laughed at the fact that Dakin had theories about marijuana, and then laughed because he was still laughing. No, he was giggling like a fucking schoolgirl, and he could really do with a packet of crisps. Then he had the awful mental image of himself in a dress and bunches, eating crisps from a silver platter, and rocked with laughter.
"Oh God, you're a giggler." Dakin put his hand on Scripps' knee to steady him. The latter vaguely realised that Dakin had never done that before, but he was still laughing and he didn't really care. "You laugh differently when you're stoned," his friend continued, "it's more unnecessary. I don't feel like you're using it to make a point."
"What?" Scripps realised that he really couldn't concentrate on what Dakin was saying. Perhaps it was the dope. Or because the hand was still on his knee, and Dakin was leaning on it just a little.
Or maybe it was because Dakin was staring at him. Well, it wasn't the most focused of stares, but the point was there. "You have a very interesting face." Scripps gulped. He had no idea why he suddenly felt uncomfortable, because it wasn't like Dakin had never looked at him before. Still, his friend was intense, and now all that intensity was trained on him and he didn't have a clue what to do.
"Your nose is interesting too." The pressure on Scripps' knee increased as Dakin brought his other hand up and used it to trace a line down Scripps' nose. Oh God, what is he doing? Suddenly his fingers were moving all over his friend's face, his touch feather-light, tracing the lines in his forehead, the planes and grooves. Scripps felt his trousers grow tight, and cursed silently. This is all I need. Dakin's fingers slipped down his chin and ran along his neck - and Scripps couldn't help but let out a strangled whimper.
Shit. Dakin stopped and regarded him quizzically, before looking down and taking in the state of Scripps' nether regions. That's it, he'll never speak to me again. "Knew you wanted me," he grinned. "Though considering you haven't wanked off in three years, Felix could probably get you going."
"Bastard," Scripps grumbled, pushing him off. Though he was partly right - Scripps knew he was hideously undersexed, and playing right into Dakin's hands, so to speak. Why his friend was convinced he was gay was anybody's guess, but knowing Dakin he was probably just doing it to keep himself entertained. Still, he really needed to get laid so things like this stopped happening. Perhaps he'd be able to get over God if he replaced Him with fucking. "Now fuck off, I need to go to bed."
"Can't." Dakin pointed to his watch in an exaggerated manner. "It's past midnight, the gates'll be closed."
"So climb them. You normally do." Scripps mumbled, curling up into his duvet.
"This stoned? I'd break something. If I'm going to get into trouble with the warden I want to do it in style, not from falling off a wall while under the influence. Budge over." And with that, Dakin lay down beside him, grabbing all Scripps' duvet and wrapping himself up in it.
When Scripps awoke that morning, Dakin had gone. It was also half past eleven, he felt like death warmed up and had missed his tutorial.
"Recovered from the dope yet?"
"Can't you just say hello for once?" Scripps didn't need to look up to know that Dakin was standing in his doorway.
"Hello. Recovered from the dope yet?"
"You just can't keep away, can you?" He closed the book he was reading and turned to face his friend. "I felt like absolute shit for about three days, thanks to that. Never again."
"Fair enough. At least you tried it. Marijuana is part of the university experience, after all."
"I really hate you sometimes, you know that?"
"It's my unique charm."
"It's unique alright." Scripps expected Dakin to have a witty retort ready for that one, but his friend said nothing, just smiled at him. Strangely. It was a 'yeah, so here we are' sort of smile, and Dakin would never normally let a silence go on for this long. Obviously he had to think of something to say. Quickly. "Posner still hasn't written." Oh, for fuck's sake Don. Not that. He was never good under pressure.
"So drop in on him some time. He's probably just busy with work. Dear old Poz, so conscientious. I miss him sometimes."
Scripps had realised that it pissed him off whenever Dakin was flippant about Posner. His own fault for bringing him up, really. "You don't miss Posner, you miss being adored."
Dakin just looked at him. Scripps gulped. He didn't like confrontation, and he'd just snapped at Dakin - once again - and couldn't deal with the tension it created between them.
Suddenly Dakin's eyes widened, as if he'd had a revelation. "Do you want to fuck him?"
Whatever he'd expected Dakin to say, it certainly wasn't that.
"No! God, I -" Scripps felt like he was trying to juggle too many phrases, like he's too young and I never thought of him like that and I do actually like girls, and in the process of trying to say all of them he'd dropped the metaphorical balls and had no words left. He floundered. "No. I... I care about him. I don't want to fuck him. God!" And here he was, getting angry again. Way to go Don.
"Good." Dakin's expression was inscrutable.
"Why would you even care?" Scripps got up and started to walk towards the window, then realised he was doing it again and that Dakin could read him like a book, so stopped and turned back. He felt stronger standing, facing him. More confrontational. He took a few steps forward. There, right in Dakin's face. He didn't understand what conversation they were having, but they were damn well going to have it now.
"Because... fuck this, I'm just going to do it."
"Do wha-" Scripps was shocked into silence as Dakin grabbed his shoulders and pushed him back into the door. For a second he thought his friend was going to hit him, but no. He opened his mouth to ask what the fuck was happening, but seeing the uncertainty in Dakin's eyes, he closed it again.
"Truth is, I'm all at sea." Dakin paused, and then, "I don't want to fuck this up."
"What are you -" Scripps started, and then suddenly he understood (well, Dakin's thigh nudging between his legs might have helped the thought process). No way. He can't be... It was on the tip of his tongue to tell Dakin that he'd got it wrong, that no way in hell could this ever have been a good idea... but standing there, backed up against his bedroom door with Dakin's hands gripping his biceps and that smell which was so uniquely Dakin filling his nostrils and clouding his head, with those dark eyes so close, Scripps realised that the love he had for Dakin as a friend, almost a brother, and the times he'd admired his physique in the Cutlers changing rooms might just be connected. "Oh God," he murmured as the realities of the situation hit.
He wanted Dakin. Really fucking wanted him, and how had he never realised this? He could think of a thousand and one reasons that this really shouldn't be happening, that putting their friendship in jeopardy could never be worth whatever the hell this was, but of far more immediate importance was the fact that Dakin was biting his neck and he vaguely resolved somewhere in the warmth of his mind that he was never going to confession again. "Aren't you going to kiss me?"
Dakin just stopped and looked at him. Scripps felt strangely calm about the fact that he'd obviously messed up. "Have I just committed the cardinal sin of homosexual relations? 'Cause you're going to have to make allowances for God boy, you realise."
"Well, you kiss girls because girls like kissing. Men tend to be more concerned with this." Dakin grabbed his friend's crotch, and Scripps gasped at the sudden rush of fire through his loins. "But I'm known for my ability to multitask," he murmured seductively, and pressed his lips to Scripps'.