This has forever happened, always

by Speranza

Author's Note: Thank you Lim and Terri for beta; dear recipient, I hope you like this! Written for Kimberleigh for Yuletide.

Oxford, 1923

Vince Tyler reached absently for the bottle of mulled claret and blindly slopped some into his glass. The Latin swam in front of his eyes: ego cum sperarem aliquando ad vestrum consilium... He pinched the bridge of his nose and tried to concentrate; it was his turn to read tomorrow, and an eloquent translation still eluded him. He looked up suddenly, momentarily distracted by a burst of boisterous laughter from the quad. First years, he supposed, with no business being out at this hour. The motion made his head spin a little; he ought by rights to be drinking coffee, but Stuart, blast him, had--

Impossibly, he saw the window move, its elaborate wrought iron frame tilting the panes of thick glass to one side. Vince got up instantly, rushed to the sill, and threw the casement open--and there was the man himself, Stuart Alan Jones, hanging from the drainpipe outside his window in the darkness. "Are you mad?" Vince hissed, leaning out with his arms outstretched, frantically trying to take hold of him. He would not, would not look down at the cobblestones. Stuart gripped his arm and braced his boot against a bit of stone jutting out, and Vince caught hold of him and hauled him over the sash.

They collapsed against each other, limbs tangling together. Vince felt, more than heard, Stuart's breathless laughter, and pushed at him, though he meant only to take another glass of wine to stop his heart from pounding so. But with distance between them, and sufficient light, Vince saw Stuart's bloody lip and swollen, grinning mouth.

Vince stared. "Stuart," he said, and did not know what else to say.

But Stuart bounded forward, gripped Vince's shoulders tightly and said, with a giant, bloody smile, "I'm being sent down--or, rather, I'm going to be. Collins, that cunt, caught me out in the deer grove with Kirby and Wilson--" Stuart must have seen the look on Vince's face, because he blew out an impatient breath and rolled his eyes and said, "Sex, it was only sex, you idiot; absolutely nothing to do with you."

Vince looked away, his face hot. "Yes," he murmured politely, trying to keep resentment out of his voice. "I can see that."

"Idiot," Stuart said again, and then he was leaning in to cup Vince's face and kiss his mouth. Vince tasted blood and trembled, fearing, as he always did, for his immortal soul. Yet it was impossible to stop wanting. Desire gnawed at him, body and soul.

"There was a fight," Stuart murmured against his mouth. "Wilson ran, but Kirby and I made fair work of Collins and his mates. Still, it's not as if we could kill him, and so I expect he'll be on his way to the Dean when he recovers." Vince squeezed his eyes shut, and pressed his own forehead against Stuart's warm, sweat-glazed one. It had come to violence, as he had always known it would, but what he had not anticipated, even in his worst imaginings, was how far the needle of his own moral compass would have swung, for he was conscious of caring only about the fate of this one blood-stained Irishman. Stuart seemed to know his mind, for he fondly stroked Vince's hair and said, softly, "It will be all right. The Dean will not wish to involve the police," and oh hell, the police; Vince hadn't even thought of that. "And they cannot send me down if I am already gone, so I am going." Vince could not help but clutch at Stuart's arms, and Stuart pulled back and looked frankly into his face. "I am not made for this: to be put into harness beside a load of bloody Englishmen. Fuck them," Stuart said with quiet savagery. "Trinity was bad enough, the Church was bad enough, but this is unbearable."

Vince opened his mouth, almost by instinct, to defend the Church, but was stopped by the sudden press of Stuart's mouth against his. Stuart pushed him back against the sideboard. pulled open his jacket, and tugged his shirt from his trousers, and then Stuart's hands were worming their way under his shirttails and sliding hot against his skin. The table edge cut hard against the backs of his thighs, but Vince did not protest, instead hooking his arm around Stuart's high-collared neck and kissing back fervently, opening his mouth.

Vince thought he was beyond being shocked by anything Stuart Alan Jones said or did, but this was not so. "Come with me," Stuart said roughly, almost angrily, as he broke off their kiss. "That's why I've come, not for goodbyes. You're no more suited to this place than I am--" and, seeing Vince again about to protest, "--you are not, Vince, damn you. You'll never make a vicar, whatever you think," and Vince flinched, wounded by the assertion. "You're not pious enough," Stuart declared. "You're not bloodless enough," and it was only then, as Stuart's strong hand cupped his manhood, that Vince understood that Stuart meant this all to be a compliment.

"I--can't," Vince stuttered, though he was suffused with warmth of feeling; Stuart had never declared himself so openly before. Still, it was madness; what would his mother say? He had been the hope of his family: not a brilliant student, but a diligent, well-behaved one, and there was a living promised to him in Cheeseden if he could keep to his task and not be distracted by the dissolute second son of an Irish lord. "It isn't sensible," but his traitorous brain was already imagining it. He had been cursed with a bent for the fantastical, and the same part of his mind that allowed him to believe in saints and angels and the blessings of the Trinity now let him imagine life with Stuart Alan Jones outside of society and all of its material comforts. "How would we live?"

Stuart cupped his neck affectionately with both hands, and Vince saw his bleeding and skinned knuckles, the muddy slashes on his cuffs. "We shall make our own way, and damn those who would stop us. Come with me," he said, kissing him again, and then, more wickedly: "Think of all that Latin you needn't do." Stuart smirked and slowly drew a cross over Vince's lips with his thumb. "Gratiam agimus tibi propter magnam--"

"I can't," Vince said again, jerking away from his hand. "Please. Don't ask me to..."

Stuart let his hand drop and stepped away. "Fine, then," he said, and swiped at his own bloody lip with the heel of his hand. It came away smeared. "As you wish. Enjoy your drab life of choir practice and high teas." Stuart's smile had gone mean. "Do try and keep your hands off the altar boys, my dear. They'll get you in the end. Or vice versa."

Stuart turned then to leave, his chin tilted with an arrogance that Vince found stomach-turningly familiar. It was Stuart's characteristic posture among the sons of England he most loathed, and Vince had, up til now, been exempt from this company. Not anymore. And not that it mattered, Vince reminded himself as Stuart strode across the room and seized the heavy gilt handle of the door. He would never see Stuart Alan Jones again, he thought as the great door slammed shut, for in what other circumstances would a dull country vicar encounter a renegade Irishman?

"Wait!" Vince heard himself shout, already moving toward the hall. A quick glance back proved there was nothing more here; not a thing he couldn't stand to leave behind. "Wait! Wait! Stuart!" and Vince found him again in the stairwell, and caught him up in his arms and kissed his surprised-looking face, and then they were running together, hand in hand, through the quad and past the startled porter, and out, and out and out.

New York City, 1969

Vince Tyler bent low over the sink, rinsing and rinsing his face in cold water. His hands were now clean, no traces of blood, though the skin over his knuckles was shredded and bruised; harder than it seemed, this business of hitting people. Outside, the pink and blue neon sign reading B - A - R flashed regularly, each letter in turn, casting colored light upon the threadbare carpet, tinting the rumpled white sheets of the bed behind him.

He didn't want to turn on the lights. He didn't want anyone to know he was there.

He dried his face and arms on a bit of ragged toweling and began to pace the room before the window. He could still hear sirens, off in the distance, and the metallic sound of the megaphones. Glass breaking, and God, all that yelling, and Miss Calculated beating in a policeman's face with the heel of her size 12, electric blue pump--

Vince came back to himself with a start as he heard the metallic rattle of the fire escape ladder, and then he was shoving at the window and trying to open it fully. The swollen wood had been painted over so many times that he could barely raise the sash. Vince saw Stuart's black-Irish curls down through the wrought iron floor outside; Stuart was climbing the metal rungs nimbly, like a monkey, hand over hand, up and up. Vince quickly looked from side to side down the back alley between the tenements; most of the windows were dark, and nobody was looking out. No torches, no cops.

Stuart climbed up through the open square and stepped onto the fire escape, and Vince jerked away from the window, shocked at the smears of blood across Stuart's wildly grinning face. "Oh my God," Vince said, turning to the sink and soaking the towel in cold water. "You're hurt. Worse than me, though why I'm surprised I don't--"

"I'm all right," Stuart said, ducking in and gracefully sliding a leg over the sill. "In fact, I'm more than all right: I'm bloody brilliant! God, what a night!"

"Bloody is right; you're stinking with it," Vince said, reaching to daub at his face.

Stuart laughed and batted the towel away. "Don't mother me, Vince," he said and rubbed his cheek. "It's lipstick," and then: "God, Vince, wasn't it fantastic?"

Vince's chest tightened with fear, but still: he had to tell the truth. "Yeah," he said, it coming out in a hoarse whisper. "Yeah, it was," and then, it was like something was uncoiling in him, something like joy: "Oh my God, Stuart, it was fucking--"

"--fucking fantastic, yeah," Stuart said, eyes shining with excitement, and then he cupped Vince's face and kissed him hotly. "They won't try that again any time soon," Stuart said, breaking off with breathless elation. "Christ, those pigs were given a right fucking: leave it to drag queens to fuck you up properly! And the lesbians--God, lesbians with bats!" Stuart marveled. "It was like Judgment Day. Like if there really were a God."

Vince lowered his voice. "It was Judy's spirit, I know it," he confided in hushed tones. "Helping us. Giving us all the strength to--"

"--hurl fucking bricks through their fucking windscreens?" and then Stuart was laughing and gripping Vince by the arms, swinging him round and round their tiny rat hole of a flat: New York, where the streets were paved with gold. Such bollocks. "Clang clang clang went the trolley," Stuart sang, loud and boisterous and terrible, and Vince had a moment of panic, because people would hear, because people would know: who they were, what they were. "Ding ding ding went the--" That they shared a room together; a life; a bed; their bodies, even, sometimes; Stuart's cock in him, sometimes. "--bell! Zing zing zing --" and suddenly it didn't matter, it didn't fucking matter, and Vince grinned madly and clutched at Stuart's shoulders. He sang along, "--went my heartstrings, as we started for Huntington Dell!"

They grinned into each other's faces for a moment, and then Vince wormed a hand into his jeans pocket and pulled out the lipstick. Stuart laughed. "Go on," he said and closed his eyes. "Do it," and Vince twisted the tube of red wax and tried to stop his hands from shaking as he carefully painted Stuart's mouth, the bow at the top, the full lower lip.

Stuart opened his eyes, and Vince's breath caught, he was so beautiful. "Oh, Christ," Vince said. "Christ, yes," and then there were smears of lipstick on his mouth; on his cheek; on the sheets; on his cock; everywhere.

Somewhere in America, right now

"In the bag, please, ta very much," Vince said, wagging the gun at the cashier. Behind him, Stuart was circling warily, the barrel of his gun shifting from one frightened-looking person to another. "Come on, come on," he wheedled, as the man hurriedly moved thick bricks of cash from the safe into the small black canvas bag.

"What's taking so long?" Stuart yelled, sounding really quite dangerous.

"My boyfriend," Vince said, smiling apologetically. "He's the impatient sort. Always hurry, hurry, hurry..." and then he pointed his gun at the ceiling and fired. There was a tremendous bang, and everyone screamed and ducked. A crackle of white plaster dust snowed down over him, getting in his eyes and making his arms itch. Stuart said, "What the fuck are you doing?" but the cashier was now almost throwing money into the satchel, moving like one of those wind-up dolls you saw in shop windows at Christmas.

He heard the low, faraway sound of sirens, and grabbed the bag by its handles. "Right, thanks," he said, turning to run for it, and then Stuart was behind him, gun waving wildly, giving him cover as he dashed for the car. It was a convertible, a pale green 1966 Thunderbird that they'd got on the cheap after some sort of accident. Vince threw the bag into the back seat, and ran around to the passenger-side door; Stuart just jumped on the boot, leaped across the back seat and dropped behind the steering wheel. They pulled out fast, tires spinning up a cloud of dust. Vince flicked on his sunglasses, checked his clip, and turned to brace himself on the seat divider: he was ready to fire when need be.

He didn't need to; Stuart coaxed the Thunderbird into churning out unbelievable speeds: 90 mph, 100, 110, 115. For a moment, squinting into the hot desert sun, Vince thought he might have seen the white and red flash of a police car. But there was nothing; no one following them, nothing out here at all.

Still, it was a while before they could let themselves relax. They had an unspoken rule: 200 miles or bust. No stopping to take a piss, no stopping for petrol, no stopping for sandwiches; no stopping, full stop. The timing was crucial: late afternoon, when the day shift was tired and the night shift hadn't yet arrived. When the early birds had done all their business, and only lazy birds were about. The sun would go down.

200 miles later, the Thunderbird's headlights picked out a road sign: Hurricane, Utah. Vince and Stuart grinned at each other across the car, and then Stuart was turning the wheel and heading into town. No way could Stuart Alan Jones resist anywhere called "Hurricane": they'd already gone to Gayville, South Dakota and Bowlegs, Oklahoma and Climax, Michigan and Protection, Kansas and Last Chance, Colorado, and Texas, whatever else you wanted to say about the fucking place, was full of hilarious-sounding towns: Needmore and Dripping Springs and Gun Barrel City.

Stuart slowed down as they drove into town proper, and turned into the driveway of the fantastically-named Rough Rider Inn. "Oh yes," Vince agreed, as Stuart pulled around and parked in the back, away from the road. "It's like it was made for us, innit?"

"Made for me, more like," Stuart said, and switched the car off. "Any rough riders here, I call dibs."

"Oh, do as you like," Vince replied, and rolled his eyes. "We wouldn't want that cock of yours developing agoraphobia."

They went inside, where there was a nearly empty cafe: all linoleum-topped tables, a whiskered old geezer drinking coffee, and not a rough rider in sight. "Perhaps if you give him vitamins," Vince murmured tactfully, but Stuart laughed and shoved him away.

"Howdy, ma'am," Stuart said to the aging waitress, and Vince rolled his eyes; he could suck Clint Eastwood's cock till doomsday, it wouldn't make him sound any less like Ronald Coleman. "We're looking for a room, and some--"

"If you say 'grub'," Vince murmured tactfully, "I'm going to pretend I'm not with you."

"--food," Stuart finished gravely, and then added: "Provisions, victuals, comestibles. Cuisine, if you have it."

"What?" the waitress asked, tiredly, and Vince suddenly felt bad. He shifted the bag on his shoulder.

"Sorry, if we could just get a couple of burgers, some chips--fries," Vince corrected; it was almost instinctual, "and two cups of tea which," he'd learnt how to ask for this, now, "you can just put in a take-away coffee cup: hot water, one tea bag, a little milk, hm?"

They collected their meal and hired a room for the night. It was at the end of the hall, and clean enough, though dull, dull, dull; not even pictures of cowboys to jerk off to. They ate their tea while idly watching American football and flipping through the tourist literature Vince had picked up from the desk: Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon, and local spots which promised boating, water skiing, fishing. Vince ate the last chip, rolled onto his back, and stared up at the ceiling, full and contented. "What say we go fishing? I've never been fishing, have you?"

He started up as something thwapped onto his stomach; a thick packet of twenties, it turned out. Stuart was sitting on the other bed, the black canvas bag unzipped in his lap. "I'm fishing now," Stuart said, grinning. "What does that get me?"

Vince stretched a little, artfully, his shirt rising up. "Half that dosh is mine, you know."

"Yeah, yeah," Stuart said, and another packet of twenties landed on Vince's chest. "What about that, how about that?" Vince grinned, wriggled, and unzipped his jeans. A moment later, another thick packet landed low on his belly, just above his cock.

Vince tsked softly. "Sorry, dear, but close only counts in--" but now Stuart was on the bed with him, shoving his jeans and pants down and curling a fist round his cock.

Stuart jerked him a few times, roughly, expertly, thumbing the head until Vince was diamond-hard and panting and desperate. "Oh, come on. Tease. You fucking tease, Stuart--" and this was the biggest joke of all, because it was true: Stuart had cockteased him for years, for twenty fucking years almost. The way Vince saw it, he had a lot of payoff coming, cash money and otherwise. Stuart seemed to agree, because he bent his head and began a slow, lascivious licking, tipping him up and tasting him all around; the kind of thing he was famous for, up and down Canal Street, Old Compton Street, Christopher Street, the Castro. Stuart's lips slid down around his cock, caressing and squeezing, and God, they'd done this in Le Marais, in the Nollendorfplatz and the back streets of Shinjuku, in South Beach, Torre del Lago, Dupont Circle. Vince slid his hands into Stuart's curls, cupped his head, and coaxed him to suck, and God, yeah, that was the rhythm, familiar the world over, in all times and places, and Vince closed his eyes to savor this moment--this man and this life.

The End

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