Gay Hollywood Life Partner, Whatever

Robert Downey Jr./Jude Law, Robert Downey Jr./Susan Downey. NC-17. ~8500 words. Polyamory.
Of course being fucked by Robert is exactly like being his friend.

As the elevator climbs higher and the queer sensation in Jude’s gut goes from tingling to all-out tremors, he tries telling himself exactly how ridiculous he’s being over this. Not only does he have a good few critically-acclaimed (for all the good that sort of recommendation does compared to the bottom line) performances under his belt, he has one or two he’s actually really proud of tucked right there alongside them.

Unfortunately he doesn’t have the good sense to listen to himself. His stomach is in knots and he can’t seem to quit fussing with his cuffs no matter how many times he adjusts them. He’d been flattered when Robert had called him, thrilled and really bloody intimidated. Robert Downey Jr, Comeback Kid, defies the laws of man, the universe and Hollywood. What’s he got to compete with that?

Christ, he’s going to hate himself for months if he balls this up.

Taking a deep breath as the doors chime, he smiles in greeting to Robert’s assistant–a conventionally pretty woman round about his age who seems to be doing a much better job of keeping her composure than he is–and follows her down the nondescript hallway to suite 221. He grins at the number as she swipes the keycard.

“Help yourself to the trays,” she says, motioning him inside, and as he turns to thank her finds she’s already vanished into the woodwork.

“Is that my Watson I hear?” comes Robert’s voice, flawless accent and all floating out from the bedroom. A moment later the toilet flushes and the taps run, and then Robert appears, his smile as wide as the Thames. “Sorry dude,” he says, stepping forward to pull Jude into a tight hug, “had to take a leak or risk pissing myself when I met you. I am so fucking glad you’re here.”

“It’s nice to meet you too,” Jude says, about the only thing he can manage as Robert steps back to look him over, eyes crinkled at the corners and sparkling bright. “Thank you for calling me.”

“For browbeating you, you mean,” Robert says, still holding on to one of Jude’s arms. “Is that a hint of a ‘stache I see there already? Are you seriously that much of a boy scout?” He lifts a hand to rub the very tips of his fingers over Jude’s upper lip while Jude just stands there like an idiot wondering how terrible it would be to admit he’d stopped shaving the day after Robert had called. “Jesus Christ, you are. Awesome. Fuckin’ A.”

Tilting his chin up and the corners of his mouth slightly down, Jude says, “Best to simply dive straight in, old boy.”

And that’s when Robert starts laughing and doesn’t stop for the next six and a half months. Oh, he pauses to talk, to eat and work and occasionally sleep, even to bitch and then to immediately apologise for it, but he doesn’t really stop laughing, not entirely.

Jude takes some sort of morbid comfort in the belief that when Robert dies, it’ll be laughing.

In the middle of a production meeting, Robert halts all proceedings to turn to Jude and say, “You have freckles.”No one is perturbed. Susan smiles, Guy looks attentive, the camera coordinator cocks his head to one side and squints as if he’s trying to see them for himself from across the room while trying to look like he’s not, and Joel isn’t really paying attention to anything except his Blackberry.

“Yes,” Jude says once it becomes apparent some input from him is required for the topic to close. “I do.”

Robert leans closer and plunks his chin in his hand. “They’re adorable. Joel, for fuck’s sake, stop diddling your crackberry and look at how adorable Jude’s freckles are.”

Joel looks up long enough to say, “Oh yeah,” in a horrible approximation of Barry White. “By the way, do we have that thing on page forty seven figured out?”

“We did that yesterday, you plebeian mongrel,” Robert says, still gazing intently at Jude’s face. “Is it lunch time? I’d like freckles on rye.”

With nowhere else to turn, Jude looks to Susan. “What is he going on about?”

“I have no idea,” she says, “I didn’t think he liked rye this month,” and promptly goes back to discussing the scene change with Guy.

“We’ve all gone mad,” Jude says, mostly to himself but to Robert as well, since Robert has inched so far into his personal space it seems as if he should be counted by default. “We’ve been at this for so long we’ve gone mad.”

“Speak for yourself, Mr. Law,” Robert says, and abruptly straightens back up. “My point–and in case you have forgotten,” he adds, slipping into his Holmes accent simply because he can, “my point is that if I am to be shirtless for the titillation of the rabid frothing masses, then so must you, and that point has yet to be validated by inclusion into the script.” He drops back against the couch, drops the accent, and pokes Jude firmly in the shoulder. “‘Kay?”

“I don’t see why.”

“Me naked, you naked, that’s how it works.”

“Yes, I suppose. Especially when you’re Tarzan.”

“The sex is better that way, too,” Robert adds. “Though there is something to be said for half-clothed.”

Tossing his script onto the table, Jude reaches for his coffee only to find what’s left has congealed into an unattractive gritty lump.

“I’ll pay you twenty dollars to drink that,” Robert says. “Right now. Chug it, Jane.”

“And that’s a break for lunch,” Susan says, swinging back into the conversation with all the grace and skill of an actual producer instead of a name with a wallet.

Robert’s entire face lights up. He waggles his finger back and forth between himself and Jude. “We can go? Me and him?”

The corners of Susan’s mouth hitch up. “Only if you promise to not make him put things in his mouth that he doesn’t want to put there. Or that could halt production.”

“Tyrant,” Robert mutters, but goes to kiss her on the cheek. “I’d only give him good things. Very good and very nutritious things.”

“I am standing right here,” Jude reminds him.

“Look at that, so you are.” With a quick peck to Susan’s other cheek, Robert sidles his way around the mess of chairs and boxes and sweeps Jude’s arm up in his. “Officially we’ve got one hour but it’s actually an hour and a half before she’s going to send someone to come get us and two before she’s going to fucking well hunt me down herself. Where are we going?”

They’re out the door and halfway down the nondescript hall before Jude has a chance to blink. He opens his mouth to suggest Guy’s pub, since they have the time and he’s really fond of the place, but Robert takes an abrupt turn to the left.

“Gotta piss,” Robert says, shoving him through the door first.

Inside is a utilitarian unisex setup but at least the lights are those warm daylight simulations instead of bright strips of flickering florescent. Robert heads for the urinal with his flies already opened. Leaning back against the door, Jude flicks the lock, not really relishing the idea of some admin from down the hall wandering in to find Robert Downey Jr with his trousers down around his ass and Jude hanging around for the show.

“I heard that,” Robert says. “Was that a come on, Jude?”

“That was a token nod to propriety.”

“Sounded like a come on to me.” Shaking off and tucking in, Robert turns around without zipping up. He’s wearing soft grey boxer-briefs under those beat up jeans, the brand name on the band hidden by the fall of his tee shirt. “Maybe you’ve got to be more obvious about it. Like really fucking obvious,” he says, bypassing the sink entirely to get in close, palms of his hands slapping to the door on either side of Jude’s head. “You’ve got three fucking seconds to tell me not to kiss you.”

Jude’s got a question for each second–what the hell are you doing, what about the film, what about your wife–and all three of them tick by without him uttering a word. Robert even gives him a few more on the house to get his act together and all he ends up doing is staring at Robert’s mouth wondering what it’d be like to kiss.

“I’m serious,” Robert says, and they’re practically kissing already, their lips brushing and the warmth of Robert’s breath tingling across his. “Speak now or forever hold your fucking peace.”

Jude’s the one to close that last little bit of distance. He’s always the one to cross the line everyone else only flirts with. Robert tastes like some sort of spicy chai tea, hot and thrilling, and when he goes to cup the side of Robert’s face his hand’s batted out of the way so Robert can take his face in hand instead, palms pressed to his jawline and a thumb rubbing over his mouth between flicks of Robert’s tongue.

The flutter of Jude’s insides gets steadily worse the longer the kissing goes on, the expectation for Robert to come back to his senses fighting a losing battle with the one for Robert to take it farther, get a hand on him and blow his mind completely. He grabs at Robert’s hips, hauls him in for a slow, dirty grind, and Robert breaks away from his mouth with a tortured laugh.

“Shit, Jude, are you going to at least buy me a beer before you make me cream my shorts?” He gives Jude’s mouth one last quick peck like he’d given Susan before they’d left–Jesus Christ, Susan–and reaches down to adjust his dick and zip up without putting so much as a sliver of extra space between them. “Ask me out, make it official.”

When Jude just stares down at him, dazed and right bloody confused, he grins. “Dude, I am so very fucking serious here. Say, ‘Hey, Rob, you want to go out sometime, me and you?’ or how about, ‘C’mon, sweetheart, let me buy you a drink.’”

“I think you should be the one buying me a drink.”

Robert makes a low considering noise that sounds too much like sex for Jude’s comfort. “Not stellar, but it’ll do.” Reaching past him, Robert flicks the lock. “All right, handsome man, I’ll buy you a drink.”

Slinging an arm around his waist, Robert steers him out through the building and into the parking lot. He lets go to slide into the driver’s side of the rental he and Susan have been sharing, but once they’re out into the flow of traffic his arm moves to casually settle onto the back of Jude’s seat, fingers curled at his nape.

Jude has no idea where they end up for lunch. The meal is a complete and utter blur punctuated by Robert’s laugh and Robert’s smile and Robert’s god damn hands on him, a touch here, a brush there. He leaves wherever they are marvelling at the fact that Robert somehow resisted holding hands across the table, but he supposes since Robert was actually sitting right beside him the entire time instead of on the opposite side of the booth like a sensible human being, it shouldn’t be so surprising.

The others have already settled in by the time they make it back, Guy and Joel with their heads together in front of a laptop and Susan in the middle of the couch where Jude and Robert had been sprawled before their furlough. Perfectly willing to take that for the obvious smack upside the head it is, Jude makes a beeline for one of the chairs.

“Hey,” Robert says, snagging the hem of his shirt. “Not so fast there, cowboy. Round ‘em up thisaway.” He drops down on Susan’s left already leafing through the script to find something else to complain about and Susan looks up, smiles and pats the seat beside her.

When Jude sits, she leans in a fraction and asks, “Did you enjoy lunch? He didn’t make you eat fried crickets or anything, did he?”

“No, no,” he says, though he can’t at all remember what he might’ve had, “of course not. It was lovely.”

She smiles, Robert smiles, Guy fucking smiles, and Jude wants to crawl into a dark hole somewhere and never come out.

It’s less than a week later that Jude’s brain clicks back on, right between Robert’s mouth leaving his and the push of two thick fingers up his ass. His vision hazes over for a split-second then snaps back into clear razor-sharp focus.Robert’s leaning over him, mouth wet and red and spread in a smile so blissful it’s like he’s high on something except that isn’t part of his life anymore. There’s a bruise already forming on his collarbone, angry red round the edges and purpling at the centre. Jude put it there more than a half hour ago when they’d both suddenly lost their bloody minds.

“You’re thinking,” Robert says, and fucking bites his nipple, really and truly bites it. “It’s been a while since I did this but I’m not that fucking rusty. That’s the spot right there, isn’t it? One moan for yes, two for oh fuck yes.”

What Robert gets is a garbled noise that isn’t much of a moan but seems to satisfy him all the same since his smile turns absolutely lecherous. He says something that sounds too much like a coaxing endearment for Jude’s pride to take, so Jude wisely pretends he’s far too busy to have heard it at all.

Except the crinkle of foil and the snap of latex shoots through him as if it’s electrically wired to his nerves, and he shoves up on his elbows to see Robert rolling on a condom one-handed. It’s an impressive feat, full points for technique, and Jude might’ve considered complimenting him if only it weren’t for the fact that it’s painfully clear what happens next.

Something Jude has a fuzzy recollection of agreeing to whole-heartedly about ten minutes ago. Before he ended up flat on his back on his own bloody fucking bed, his knees up and spread wide and a fucking pillow jammed under his hips.

Robert’s hand settles on his chest to give him a little nudge to go along with the, “Back down, sweetheart. Let me have a look,” that makes his stomach flip-flop around like a beached trout.

“Wait,” shudders off the tip of his tongue when the mattress dips. Robert lifts an eyebrow and stops, but his fingers stay right where they are pressed up snug against Jude’s prostate. The tiniest shift of Robert’s arm makes his leg jerk. “Jesus, wait a second.”

Robert’s other eyebrow wings up. “What are we waiting for? Trust me, you’re good to go.”

Another twitch and Jude’s fingers close on the corner of a pillow. He barely resists the urge to hit Robert in the face with it, which is probably a very good thing because if he missed–like he thinks he would be sure to–he’d never hear the end of it.

“You’re okay with this,” Robert says, and crooks his fingers to head off the smart remark Jude’s ready to toss at him, “so what’s the deal?” He shuffles closer, the tops of his thighs brushing the bottoms of Jude’s, sweat-slick skin and the crinkle of hair that’s as strange as the first time he felt it instead of a woman’s softness. “Can’t be my cock you’re not okay with, you already had it in your mouth. Didn’t fucking want to spit it out again either.”

Jude’s mouth goes weirdly wet all over again at just the mention of it, the phantom taste of Robert’s skin still hot on his tongue though it’s been kissed away three times over. But there’s an entire world of difference between having Robert’s dick in his mouth and having it shoved up his ass, a distinction between fooling around and fucking around that’s not really dependant on logic so much as it is the flush Jude can feel taking over his face and creeping down his chest.

“Look, it’s not a whole lot wider,” Robert says, bunching his fingers together on Jude’s chest as if the visual aid is actually going to help. “And as fucking flattering as it might be, it’s not like it’s going to turn you off the ladies. I would’ve fucked you months ago for your own fucking good if that had a snowflake’s chance in hell of working.”

Jude feels incredibly foolish glowering up at Robert from his current position but wiping the expression off his face would take more effort than he’s got to spare. His heart’s pounding so hard he’s wondering if it’s going to crack straight through his ribs. Anything’s possible with Robert around.

The curve of Robert’s mouth melts into something not entirely reassuring. It’s sly and knowing, still stupidly gorgeous, and it plucks at Jude’s nerves like the playful and too-familiar twang of a deliberately out of tune violin. “Maybe you forgot what it’s like to have a dick up your ass,” he says, his hand thumping into the pillow beside Jude’s head as he drops down close. “Should’ve said, I so would’ve been on board with letting you have first shot, but now I’m all dressed up and there’s only one place I want to go.”

What starts out as a sarcastic roll of Jude’s eyes becomes the involuntary flutter of his eyelashes as Robert’s fingers slip free, still crooked a little to give him a jolt from the extra pressure pushing at the very edge of his hole.

“Yeah, that’s just what it’s like,” Robert says, words and lips brushed across Jude’s open mouth. “Better if you just say yes now so we can get to the good part. Otherwise I’m gonna have to keep on doing this,” and he shows Jude exactly what this is, a slick rub against his insides and sweet pleasure clashing with the unsteady jangle of his nerves, “until you can’t talk anymore, and then you’re really going to be fucked. Except not really, just metaphorically really. Christ, imagine how much it’s going to suck when you want me to finally get my cock in you but you can’t get the breath to ask.”

The head of Robert’s cock presses snug against his asshole and the entire bed shakes when his elbows slide out from underneath him. It doesn’t stop Robert even for a second. Jude’s holding his breath, biting at the inside of his lip waiting for that pressure to turn to a thick slippery push.

Mouth to mouth, Robert says, “You said yes but then you said no, so I need to hear another yes before I do this. And I really fucking want to do this, Jude, I want to see you go right out of your fucking mind for me. I want to do that to you. Let me do that to you.”

“God,” Jude breathes, tense and shaking on the inside and not feeling like himself at all.

“You want me to do that to you,” Robert says between the touches that Jude tries to turn into a kiss. “You want me to fuck you slow and slick and so fucking sweet you can’t even stand it.”

And he starts to do it before Jude can get the words straightened out from the jumble in his head to ask for it. Barely starts before easing off, pulling away, rubbing the pad of his thumb over Jude’s hole and pressing in so gently it drives him absolutely crazy. Not entirely in a good way either, but frustratingly, annoyingly, infuriatingly crazy. Of course being fucked by Robert is exactly like being his friend.

Jude snaps, spits, “All right,” like a curse. For a second Robert looks startled, not uncertain but a few notches shy of his usual level of self-assurance. Jude’s sure his face is a mirror image of it and then he forces Robert’s name out from between the clench of his teeth, stupidly the only thing he can think to say.

“Not the most gracious proposition I’ve ever had,” Robert says, a smile flickering to life on his face. Jude misses the moment it could turn to something more, his eyes squeezing shut as Robert fucks up into him not slow and easy and not fast and hard; something in the middle that’s good, pressure and heat spreading out along his nerves to push achingly at the base of his cock.

Robert curls as close as he can for a kiss that’s little more than the quick flick of his tongue into Jude’s open mouth. “C’mon, put your legs around me,” he says, one hand skidding down Jude’s side to cup the curve of his ass. “Hold on tight.”

Slinging an arm over his shoulder is the best Jude can manage, too much of his attention on the way Robert fits against him, all sharp angles and spaces between. He expects the smooth roll of Robert’s hips to turn hard but that hadn’t been a warning, it’d been a request, and nothing about the tension in Robert’s muscles or the drag of his mouth against Jude’s jaw suggests otherwise.

“About time you relaxed,” Robert says, going in deep and grinding against him, and Jude’s thinking about objecting on principle to that right before one of Robert’s hands worms between them to roll his cock against his belly. The wet smears left behind on his skin tingle warm then cool, turn sticky when Robert rubs his palm over them.

Robert nips at the tip of his chin, sweet and kind of playful. “You thought I was planning on pounding you through the mattress, huh? It’s over too fast that way, not enough time to enjoy the ride. Know what I mean? Yeah, you know what I mean.” The tips of two fingers drag down the side of Jude’s cock, spread out to cup his balls and push them up against it. “I bet it’s not going to take much to get you to blow it, either. Thought you were gonna lose it in your fashionable little Armani shorts when you were blowing me.”

“Might’ve,” Jude says, not entirely a lie even though he says it just to see if it’s something Robert’s only saying or something he’d like to see. The hitching noise Robert lets loose with says if it was just him running his mouth it’s more than that now, and Jude pushes up under his chin to bite at his throat. The rasp of stubble is weirdly perfect on his lips and tongue and his kisses turn to nuzzling against it.

“You’ll get stubble burn,” Robert says, and ducks down to rub cheek to cheek. “Have more.”

Jude twists away with a laugh cut short by the slow drag of Robert’s cock slipping out of him. He sucks in a breath as Robert shoves back in, then another when Robert says, “Laugh more. Sex is fun. Sex with me is fucking better than front row at a Gallagher show, and sometimes just as messy.”

Digging his fingertips hard into the meat of Robert’s ass, Jude says, “I’m more inclined to laugh after I’ve gotten off.”

“We’ll see about that,” Robert mutters, and wraps his hand snug around Jude’s cock. “You’re going first.”

“Fine with me,” Jude says, or tries to; he isn’t sure if it comes out as words so much as a grateful moan. Robert seems to think it means the same thing anyway and gives a wide grin, the tip of his tongue ridiculously caught between his teeth, along with the firm tug on Jude’s cock.

Arching up as best he can with Robert pinning him down, the light graze of fingers up along his side and into his armpit is the very last thing he expects. He lurches away but there’s really nowhere to go, and Robert’s quit fucking him entirely in favour of staying buried deep while one hand works his cock and the other moves in a ticklish sweep over the underside of his arm.

“Oh god, don’t do that,” Jude moans, clamping his elbows to his sides. “You sadistic bastard.”

“Which, this?” Robert asks, stopping right in the middle of a long stroke of Jude’s dick. “I seriously don’t think you meant that. But I could be wrong. Shit happens, right?”

The thick pressure of Robert still in him but no rush of pleasure to distract from it makes Jude twist harder away from skittering fingers. The whole thing’s so insane, Robert’s so bloody mad, that between one breath and the next he breaks down entirely, gasping out an order for Robert to get back to it between hiccupping bursts of mangled laughter.

And Robert does, but he doesn’t stop grazing his fingers over the most sensitive and vulnerable places he can find, all along Jude’s sides and under his arms, the hollow of his hip, just like somebody’s drawn him a fucking map.

The slow burn build of pleasure twines through it all. About two seconds after Jude realises Robert’s cock has slipped all the way out of him it peaks in brilliant relief and Robert finally stops torturing him to get both hands back where it counts. He’s still caught up in the blissful backlash when a hand grips his ass, spreads him wide for the push of Robert back inside him.

It’s harder the second time around, more about enjoying it right now. He’s lax and lazy where Robert’s become almost desperate, seeming more focused than even when he’s working though Jude knows that’s not true. There’s no time for the kiss Jude’s desperate to take before Robert’s gone back to the slow grind as he comes, so Jude grabs him round the back of the neck and yanks him down for it, ends up crushing their mouths together so hard it’s not a kiss at all. A burst of laughter from Robert ruins the last chance it had at being one, and then Robert drops Jude’s knee from where he’d hiked it up to catch Jude in a tight hug instead.

“I told you sex was fun.” Robert backs off just enough to get a hand between them, his knuckles grazing Jude’s ass as he takes hold of the condom to pull out. It’s snapped off and tossed in the vague direction of the bin half a second later. As Robert settles back down Jude decides he doesn’t care if it made it in or not. Either way, he’s not dealing with it.

“There it is,” Robert says. “I love that incredible shy little smile of yours.” A bit of wrangling on his part fixes it so that Jude’s lying with his head on Robert’s shoulder. It’s a bit uncomfortable, truth be told, and awkward. It’s not the sort of position he’s used to. Then again, there’s a lot about this he’s not used to, least of all the warm ache between his legs and the harder one in his chest where it feels like he still hasn’t caught his breath.

“How do you figure that?” he asks, shuffling around until he can use the arm not draped over Robert’s middle for extra support.

“You never show your teeth. And I just lied. You do sometimes, but fuck if it doesn’t take a shitload of effort. You do this coy I’ve-got-a-secret thing all the fucking time.”

“I do not.”

“You do, and Christ, could you quit wriggling? Here.” Keeping an arm around him, Robert twists to grab one of the pillows up off the floor. He tucks it under his own shoulders and settles back down, links their hands together on his stomach as if it’s nothing at all. “Flop on me.”

“I’ve seen you kick the ass of a bloke almost twice your size so please don’t feel the need to kick mine for saying no, I’ll crush you.”

“You can try,” Robert says, which isn’t much of an answer but he won’t let it drop until Jude gives in and settles down halfway on top of him.

While it’s a lot more comfortable that way, Jude can’t help thinking it’s not going to last.

“Tell me again why I’m in Berlin and you aren’t,” Robert says, the crackle in his voice more than just bad reception.For a minute all Jude does is stare down at his nails, picking at the cuticle of his thumb with his forefinger. He’s almost gotten used to the abrupt way Robert starts every conversation but it feels different this time. “Because I’ve taken Paris,” he says, trying to not make it sound like the question it is.

“Why did you do that?”

Jude’s nail digs in too hard and he hisses as it gouges out a tiny chunk of skin. It’d been all right when he’d first told Robert he had to take at least one day or risk Sienna’s formidable ire. She wasn’t exactly happy with his request to be a friend as well as a bit of emergency cover but she didn’t deny him either. He’d thankfully agreed to being her plus one for whatever it was she needed him for before remembering how much he liked her company, so he had less guilt to deal with there. “I don’t understand,” he says, sucking quickly on his finger. “Are you angry with me for something?”

A rush of noise drowns out whatever Robert’s saying. By the time it clears, all Jude catches is, “I just want to know why I’m in fucking Berlin when you’re not.”

“I’m sorry,” Jude says through a disbelieving puff of laughter, “I didn’t realise you weren’t serious about splitting the workload. We can both attend Paris, if you like.”

“No, I would not like,” Robert says, and there’s another loud crackling noise for a moment as if something’s covering the phone. A car door slams. “But dress nice because I’ll be watching.”

“Are you saying I don’t usually?”

“Yes, that’s exactly what I’m saying. Time to step it up. I’m blowing you out of the water here.”

Getting up to wander from the living room to the bedroom where his suitcase sits on the floor half-packed, he starts poking half-heartedly through the contents. “I’ll be in Madrid in a few hours. You haven’t decided to leave me to fend for myself there, have you?”

“Serve you fucking right if I did,” Robert says, the timbre of his voice changing mid-sentence. There’s more background noise all of a sudden, the rustling of cloth and the jangle of keys, and then the unmistakeable sound of an engine turning over.

“Did you put me on the speaker?”


“Susan?” Jude says to the unknown void across the line.

“It’s just me, Jude.”

“Really, is something wrong?”

“Are you in your bedroom?” Robert counters.

For no reason at all, Jude’s pulse picks up. “In the closet looking for something Downey approved.”

“Damn good place to start. It’s quiet over there, where’re the rugrats?”

“Out with their mum. Listen, Robert-”

“Bring something with a collar. I’d ask for a tie, too, but I don’t want to go around demanding the impossible.”

Jude stops with his hand on a crisp white dress shirt still in its designer garment bag. “Is this call really about my clothes?”

“What else would it be about?”

“I don’t have the slightest,” Jude confesses, amazed that he can without feeling as dumb as a post for it. “But I don’t think it’s about my looking shabby next to you.”

There’s a long moment of silence where Jude wonders if they’ve lost the connection. “That’s pretty much fucking exactly what it’s about. What’re you doing, Jude? No, seriously, tell me. I wanna know.”

It’s usually not very easy to get angry with Robert, but either the stars have aligned just right for it or Jude’s a lot more run down by the endless stream of professional and personal bullshit than he’d thought. “Maybe I’m trying to save your fucking marriage, Robert, did you ever think of that?”

“Oh hell no, cupcake,” Robert says, so calm and cool but he’s not laughing now. “I’m not the one who needs saving here.”

Jude says, “Tell Susan I said hello,” and he means to disconnect, he well and truly does, but he stops with his thumb on the button, staring down at the blank display as if he could see Robert’s face through the connection if he only tried hard enough.

It’s not until it flickers to Call Ended that he snaps his phone shut.

He’d like to claim he isn’t surprised to find Robert waiting for him in Paris, but he is. How Robert managed to talk his way into the room he’ll never know, but it’s probably got a lot to do with the cheeky smile on his face and the same way he’d talked Jude into doing all sorts of things neither one of them should have even considered.”So you’re coming to the premiere?” Jude asks, setting his suitcase onto the bed.

Robert makes a face at him for not using the stand by the dresser, just like Jude knew he would. “Can’t,” Robert says. “I’m still in Spain with the missus.”

“Yes,” Jude says, “that’ll hold up until some sneaky bugger snaps a photo of you prowling outside my hotel.”

“I’m not outside your hotel, I’m in it. In your room. Smack right by the fucking bed. Open the curtains and let them take pictures of that.”

Jude drops the cover to his suitcase. He’s just too tired for this shit now. “Just tell me what you want, all right?”

“Beef flavoured tofu that actually tastes like it came from a god damn cow. A cow named Burger.”

It’s not even really funny but Jude’s still fighting a smile. He drops down on the foot of the bed, elbows on his knees and a hand scrubbed over his jaw. “I’m shallow,” he says.

Robert snorts. “I noticed.”

“And vain-”

“Not telling me anything I don’t already know here.”

“And I can’t think of a single thing I’d really rather not be more than the balding prettyboy actor popping out of the closet with baby number five in one hand and a midlife crisis in the other.”

Robert makes another face, his mouth twisted to the side and one eye squinched shut. It’s ridiculous and charming. “Dude, I kinda hate to be the one to break it to you, but you’re a little late for that. Except baby number five, Jesus Christ, who did you knock up this time?”

“I haven’t knocked anyone up, for Christ’s sake, listen to what I’m saying.”

“I’m listening,” Robert says, nodding, and then starts shaking his head on, “but you’re not making any sense.”

“How,” Jude starts, tripping awkwardly over a lump in his throat and having to try again, “you aren’t listening.”

“You aren’t thinking. You think you are, but you’re not.” Robert says, smoothly leaning forward to mirror Jude’s pose. “Try this one on for size: I fly back to America in one week. The day after that some idiot t-bones my car and that’s it, I’m gone. What’s worse now, your receding hairline or the fact that you never got to kiss me again?”

“You’re an overdramatic prick,” Jude says, and as true as that is it still doesn’t stop the cold lurch of his stomach.

“So are you, and Mrs. Downey advises you to pull your head out of your trim little ass before I have to do something drastic like hand it to you on a silver platter. Or are you still gonna be a fucking blockhead about it and try telling her she doesn’t know what she can and can’t do? Because I’m here to tell you, bucky, that is one thing you so don’t try with that woman.”

That spiel’s still rattling around inside Jude’s skull as Robert abruptly gets up and flings his hat down onto his vacated seat. He shrugs out of his coat, a simple black frock cut that suits him far more than it should, and drops it over the chair’s arm before coming to stand between Jude’s spread knees. He pokes Jude in the shoulder. “Scoot back.”

“What for?” Jude says, forget the fact that he already knows damn well what.

The corner of Robert’s mouth quirks evilly. “I want your dick in my mouth.”

A blaze of heat up the back of Jude’s neck makes his scalp prickle. “You can’t just-”

“Of course I can fucking just,” Robert says, hooking a finger in the low collar of Jude’s shirt. “And until you give me an actual reason why I can’t, like for example, ‘Sorry Robert, forgot to mention I don’t really like blowjobs’ or ‘Let me tell you about this new VD I got for Christmas’ instead of these shitty little excuses, I am gonna haul your dick out and cram it so far down my throat I can’t breathe. So what have you got for me besides that hard-on?”

After a long string of seconds where Jude can’t think of a thing to say, Robert plants both hands on his shoulders and gives a hard shove. “Nothing,” bursts out of him as he drops to his elbows with Robert following him down. “I don’t have anything.”

“Yes, you do,” Robert says, crawling over him. “Somewhere down there in those ridiculously pretty eyes or that sexy mouth of yours you’ve got a ‘Yes please, Rob, yes yes, oh please’.”

“There is not,” Jude says. He has a little pride left, after all.

Swooping down to lick at his mouth, Robert says, “Shut the fuck up, Jude, and let me get in your fucking pants.”

But there’s no ‘let’ about it; Robert’s already yanking at his flies, pinning him down with one hand while the other worms into his shorts. Robert’s tongue is in his mouth just as quickly, sweeping along the edges of his teeth and sliding against his own, a little sweet like he’d been chewing bubble gum again.

While Jude’s still in the middle of deciding how monumentally bad an idea this is–he actually has a sliding scale for this sort of thing, thanks to his incredibly poor life choices to date–one of their mobiles starts up with a merry chirruping. It takes him until Robert starts groping around in his own trousers to figure out it’s not his.

Robert lays two fingers over his mouth before flicking the phone open and putting it to his ear. “Hey babe.”

Of course it would be Susan. His enthusiasm wilting, Jude tries to wriggle his way out from underneath Robert’s surprisingly solid weight. Robert just never looks like he should weigh so much.

“Hang on,” Robert says into the phone, and punches his shoulder. “Stay still.”

Jude mouths a vehement ow. If he’d wanted abuse there were a dozen other places to find it. Like the supermarket tabloids.

“I was thinking the other one,” Robert says, ignoring him. “Quieter there.” In a short moment of silence Robert starts stroking his throat, fingertips rasping lightly over stubble, and Jude swallows reflexively. “Call you when the plane lands. Kisses and hugs and related synonyms.” A laugh rings out across the connection, brightening his smile, and he tosses the phone somewhere on the bed near the pillows to plant both hands back on Jude’s chest. “And where are you trying to sneak off to?”

Jude wants to wrap his hand around Robert’s, lace their fingers together like he’s so often seen Susan do. The back of his throat starts to hurt. “I’ve a premiere to attend, so if you’d please get up.”

Robert’s hand clamps on his jaw and forces his head to the side. There’s nothing worrying about it, even if it’s more than a little rude, but Jude’s heart twists up anyway. “Wear a scarf,” Robert tells him, lips brushing his neck.

And Jude means to ask what scarf, and why a scarf, but he doesn’t get a chance before Robert’s mouth is fastened to his neck, sweet sucking pressure and a hint of teeth that combined with the hand Robert puts back on his cock is more than enough to bring him straight back to where he was prior to that phone call.

It’s Robert who pulls away again, grinning like the cat that had gotten the cream and a canary too. Jude can only guess which one he is.

But he wears the goddamn scarf.

Half a block from the market Jude’s mobile rings. He tugs it out to glance at the display–one of his New Year’s resolutions is to at least look at who might be calling instead of ignoring it entirely–and he smiles when he sees Robert’s name. His stomach does something that’s not quite as happy, a swooping dip like on a rollercoaster ride that’s as frightening as it is thrilling.”Hi,” he says, before he’s finished stuffing the earpiece under his cap. “Bit late where you are, isn’t it?”

It’s Susan who says, “A little after one, so it’s getting there. Hi, Jude.”

The delighted quiver of Jude’s insides turns to a sharp stinging burn. “Hi,” he repeats, slowing down so whatever this conversation is going to be doesn’t happen in the middle of the cereal aisle. “Sorry, I’m a bit slow in the morning. Just on my way for breakfast now, really. How are you?”

“I know,” she says, and honestly, if he didn’t know better it sounds a lot like the voice she uses when Robert is off doing something inadvisable yet infinitely endearing. “I was hoping to catch you while your pants were down.”

A thick lump made up of three parts shredded human heart and one part bile sticks in Jude’s throat. He’s been expecting this for a while now. He’s a fucking shit, that’s what he is. “Susan-”

“I hear you have some free time next week,” she says right over him.

He does and he really can’t imagine where she managed to dig that up without his knowing. “I’m not sure, but I can check with Louise. Is there something in the works already?”

“He said you’d say that.” There’s a chime on the other end of the line, a timer or an incoming email, and there’s a blessed moment of silence that Jude utterly fails to use to pick up his scattered wits. “And Louise says that you do have the time. I feel kind of rude to do this to you, but the ticket’s already bought so please don’t try to say no. You’ll make me feel even worse for walking all over you even though you deserve it.”

Wincing, Jude steps off the main walk into a tiny alcove just outside a bakery. “I’m not really sure what you mean.”

Susan blows out a breath. “It’s not really my idea. Well, yes, it is,” she quickly corrects, sounding more and more like Robert yet still so very much herself, “the idea is mine, the execution is all his. I still think subtle would’ve been a lot more effective.”

Jude can’t think of a thing to say, standing on the side of the road which his mouth hanging open.

“But maybe not. Anyway,” she says, and he can so very clearly picture the sweeping motion of her hand brushing everything else away, “your flight’s in about five hours. It was the soonest we could get and don’t even think of cancelling it. Not that you can’t if you really want to, it is in your name. But he’d be on his way to the airport already to wait for you if it wouldn’t mean sleeping there, and I’m not even sure that’s what’s holding him back. He’ll be disappointed if that flight lands without you.”

The large crack in the brickwork right in front of Jude’s face could hold all the secrets of the universe for as intently as he’s staring at it. He isn’t a complete idiot, so even with the halting explanation he can piece together what she’s talking about. That doesn’t mean it makes much sense.

“Are you, is he kidnapping me by proxy?”

The strange hesitancy vanishes from Susan’s voice when she laughs. “I guess we are. I know you’ll only have a few days together but if it isn’t too much to ask, I wouldn’t mind joining you for one or two. You’re great company.”

“No, I’m sorry, I thought I’d caught up with you but you’ve lost me again. It seems as if you’re saying something I’m certain you can’t possibly be saying.” Tossing a quick glance at the bakery’s windows, Jude hops the neat little wrought iron fence and sits at one of the tables before he ends up on the paving. “Have you honestly called to tell me you’re loaning me your husband?”

Susan says, “Almost,” so warmly he can hear the smile in her voice. “Loan sort of implies you owe me something, and you don’t. Do you really think this would be going any differently if he’d met you first instead of me? Aside from your name not being Jude Downey.”

Jude stops tugging at a loose button on his coat. “I hadn’t actually thought about it.” Liar, he thinks, and gnaws on the edge of his thumbnail instead.

“I like you, Jude. He likes you. Loves you. And if you’re looking for a reason not to be with him, I’m not it.” She pauses, giving him a chance to say something, anything, but he still doesn’t have his head wrapped around what she said five minutes ago. “You’re good when you’re with him. Be on the plane?”

“I don’t really know what you’re asking me,” Jude says, and he isn’t talking about the plane at all.

“You don’t have to love me, Jude, not like you love him.” Between one breath and the next, her voice turns a little wistful. “It’d be nice if you did a little, but you don’t need to for this to work.”

A long minute later, Jude says, “All right,” still not sure if he’s talking about the plane or what. All he really knows for certain is that it’d be the worst mistake of his life if he said no now.

Seventeen hours later finds Jude saying, “I really can’t,” to Robert, who definitely stopped listening to him twenty minutes ago on the topic. It honestly is a very pointlessly stupid thing to say when he’s already standing in the foyer, anyway. “I mean that I shouldn’t.”Robert grabs at his suitcase. “Too late now. Don’t just stand there, come on, here’s your three-second tour: a room, another room, stairs, master bedroom. You’re up there with me.”

Without waiting even a second, Robert trots on up the stairs. Jude stares at the living room for a while longer, sure smoke is going to start pouring out of his ears from his trying to reconcile the bright English country home decor with the pictures of the ultra-modern flat Robert had showed him months ago. This is so far from what had been in those photos it feels like he’s still on the other side of the Atlantic.

“Hurry up!” Robert calls down. “Or I’ll start pawing through your luggage.”

“You haven’t already?”

“I started putting it away,” Robert replies, his voice clearing as he appears at the banister. “That’s not pawing, it’s practically a fucking maid service. Tomorrow I’ll starch your drawers. Dude, why did you bring drawers?”

“Why wouldn’t I?”

“I expect nothing short of total shameless nudity throughout the duration of your visit.”

Jude’s forehead scrunches up so hard he actually expects the muscles to spasm. “Susan is coming down later, isn’t she?”

Looking surprised and pleased, Robert says, “Is she? Awesome.”

“For fuck’s sake, Robert, she’s your wife.”

Robert stares at him a moment longer, and then, a frown marring his face, he starts heading back down the stairs. He stops a few up from the bottom, hip cocked against the railing and arms crossed. “I thought you guys already hashed all this out.”

“This isn’t something you just hash out over the phone, Robert. It’s your life, not a sitcom.”

“Dude, a full forty-five percent of my life exists on the telephone. Probably more since you came along, could be up to fifty-five or sixty now. You got on the plane. What’s the issue?”

Stupidly, all Jude can think to say is, “She’s your wife.”

“Yeah, and she’s good at it.” Robert comes down the last few stairs, catching Jude by the forearm on the way and tugging him close. His hand goes to Robert’s hip without waiting for his brain to actually get around to telling it to move. “So here’s the real question for you: do you want to be my boyfriend?”

Jude can’t help a snort. “That’s a ridiculous word for it.”

“Hey, I’m on board with having a second wife. I’ll even buy you a frilly little apron to go with the ring.” As quick as it appeared, Robert’s cocky smile fades to a softer curve. “Listen. Wife, husband, boyfriend, gay Hollywood life partner, whatever the fuck you want to call it. It won’t be as easy as me and Susan have it, since we won’t be working together so much–but Jesus Christ if I can pull strings you’d better believe I’m pulling ‘em–but it won’t be as hard as you’re afraid it will, either.”

It’s impossible for Jude to keep doubt from his voice so he doesn’t try to hide it with words. Robert would see right through him in a blink. “I don’t think it’ll be as easy as you seem to. My track record isn’t exactly stellar.”

“And mine’s better?” Robert’s smile shifts again, this time settling into one that’s fond but impatient. “So I’m an optimistic shit. I’m not saying I’ve got to be your one and only. Christ, how fucking hypocritical is that. But I’ve got this little piece of you, carved it out right here,” he says, his hand sliding up over Jude’s belly to end with a light tap to the centre of his chest, “and I’m planning on keeping it. Waste of time to start sweating the details now.”

Since it’s the only thing he can think of, Jude says, mouth quirked, “Final sale, no returns?”

“No returns, refunds or exchanges,” Robert agrees, tilting his face up to press a kiss made up of his smile to Jude’s mouth. “And just to make sure you’re fully aware of what you’re getting into here, I didn’t pack drawers.”


2 Responses to “Gay Hollywood Life Partner, Whatever”

  1. bottledminx Says:

    Reading this for what’s got to be the fourth or fifth time and am somehow even more in love with it now

  2. Kayla Says:

    So, I’d just like to let you know that that was fucking fantastic. Why are they such a good pair? Fuck knows.

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