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Running the moon aground

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Teddy hates New York. It is loud, and dirty, and loud, and fucking loud. He can’t open his windows at night, because the honking of the cabbies and the shouting of the so-and-so’s on the street keep him awake. He can’t open his windows during the day, because the honking of the cabbies and the shouting of the so-and-so’s on the street keep him from getting any work done. It’s impossible to write a song when all you hear is hey baby nice legs and watch where you’re going asshole and no I don’t have any change and, and, and.

He only came to New York because he thought it would be a better opportunity, because London wasn’t enough for him anymore, and because Los Angeles was shit, and because even though old country music lives in him so deep that it’s in his bones, no one would have understood a single word to come out of his mouth in Nashville, and fuck Nashville, anyway.

He only moved to New York because Rufus suggested it.

*

There’s a party.

There’s always a party.

Teddy shows up early, exhausted. He hasn’t been sleeping, and not even for good reasons (parties, drugs, women, songs). It’s only that his apartment (not flat, they don’t call them flats here) is freezing, the heat controlled by his super, and his many complaints have been shrugged off. The few times the steam radiators have come on, they’ve rattled and hissed in terrifying ways, and Teddy’s not prone to paranoia or hallucinations but this ordeal might just change his mind. Fuck you, building super, Teddy thinks as he unwinds layer after layer of winter gear to deposit in the party’s designated coat room.

Teddy doesn’t even like parties, not ones like this. The music is throbbing and the liquor is flowing and there are people crowded around the dining room table and someone is passing out pills. Someone hands him a beer and he ducks his head, says, “thanks, mate”, and sidesteps the table.

He only came to the party because Rufus suggested it, and he’s not even here.

*

There’s a party.

There’s always a party.

Teddy shows up late, kind of drunk already, and in a shit mood. His apartment’s full of someone else’s clothes and things and life, only now she doesn't want anything to do with his life and, yes, right now, he wants to be more than kind of drunk.

New York, he thinks as he takes his spot in a corner, staying away from all of the party’s action, can go fuck itself.

That girl, he thinks as he nurses his Jack and Coke, can go fuck herself.

He works on his drink and gets more and more sullen. He should just go home, but his apartment doesn't feel like his own anymore, so he’d rather just stay here.

There’s a commotion at the front of the flat (fuck you, New York, he thinks, it’s a fucking flat) and he hears very loud talking and the very loud na-ha-ha-ha-ha braying laughter of one Rufus Wainwright. Fuck you, Rufus Wainwright, he thinks, as fondly as he can, as he pounds back the rest of his drink and heads back to the kitchen to pour himself a new one.

Rufus finds him eventually; it takes about an hour, because Rufus knows everyone at this party, and everyone wants a piece of him, everyone has a story to tell him, because the universe revolves around Rufus fucking Wainwright and Teddy thinks, as his mood becomes increasingly surly, that he’s possibly had too much to drink. (That doesn't stop him from pouring himself another Jack and Coke, heavy on the Jack.)

There’s an arm around his waist, then, suddenly, and a liberal amout of Teddy’s drink sloshes out over the rim, down his arm, seeping into his shirt. “Ah, shit,” Teddy complains, but he’s not very forceful about it. He can’t even muster the energy to be angry. He transfers the mostly-empty glass to his other hand and watches the liquid drip down his wrist.

“Sorry!” says a voice in his ear, followed by another burst of rapid-fire machine gun laughter. Rufus, of course. Who else? No one else at this party gives a fuck, anyway.

Rufus takes the glass away, sets it aside, and produces a napkin from somewhere to begin blotting at Teddy’s sleeve. “I’ve got it,” Teddy tries to say, but the words don’t come out, and Rufus is just talking over him anyway. Teddy’s only half listening, focusing instead on the way the tip of Rufus’ tongue pokes out between his teeth as he dabs carefully at the liquid on Teddy’s cuff.

Yes, he thinks, letting Rufus’ banter settle over him, he’s definitely had too much to drink.

“And so, I said to him, Elton, listen, I think that’s a fantastic idea, but I’ve got to go, you know,” Rufus is saying. “And so I hung up, would you believe it, I fucking hung up on Elton fucking John.” Rufus steps aside for a moment to reach for the kitchen sink, one hand still locked around Teddy’s wrist. He wets a napkin, then turns back to Teddy, swiping it over his palm, cleaning up before the drink can dry into a sticky, awkward mess.

Teddy thinks about sticky, awkward messes, thinks about that one time, in Los Angeles (which is a shit town anyway), and is startled that this is the story his mind has chosen to force on him. Sometimes, that memory is covered in a light fog; he was stoned as fuck, after all, and besides, it was that thing we do not talk about, where they worked out Teddy Thompson’s Great Sexual Identity Crisis of Two-Thousand-Something-or-Other (stoned as fuck, and it turns out he’s mostly straight with a side of Rufus and he’s never known what that makes him and doesn’t really care, because, god, fuck, yes).

“Rufus,” Teddy says tentatively, trying to get him away from his single minded determination. It is a tactic which, unsurprisingly, does not work. Rufus is a whirlwind of activity and chatter and it gives Teddy a headache. This is Rufus sober. Rufus on meth made Teddy feel like he was going to have an aneurysm.

“But, I mean, it’s not like I’m not going to call him back,” Rufus is saying while he blots the napkin against Teddy’s shirt, and Teddy’s not sure if he’s still yammering on about Elton John, or someone else. The list of men Rufus Wainwright might call back sometime is very long, even if they’re only listed in his phone book as guy with the nice dick and guy from the locker room - meh and other things that would make Teddy blush to even think about. He is very English, after all, and very Proper, and see also: that thing which we do not talk about.

“Shh,” Teddy tries to protest over Rufus’ talking, but the other man barrels right over the shushing and keeps talking, about Martha being on tour, about late night phone calls from Martha, drunk and stoned and lonely Martha, and Teddy doesn’t want to hear any of this, he likes Martha and he owes her a call, thanks for the reminder, but his head is pounding and all he’d wanted was another drink, not Rufus-Wainwright-the-close-talker, and then Rufus’ hands are flat against his chest, spreading the fabric of his shirt out to blot at the spilled drink.

Teddy watches the other man’s hands, helplessly, and tries to count back to see how many drinks he’s had today, to see if these thoughts he’s thinking are the result of too much liquor (maybe) or because of his fucking shambles of a personal life (possibly) or because Rufus is in his personal space with his hands working neatly against the flat planes of his chest and because Rufus is oblivious and distracted and, and, and so goddamn loud and Teddy can’t take the prattle anymore.

“Rufus!” Teddy exclaims, and it gets Rufus to stop, because Teddy never raises his voice like that, unless it’s important (see: English, proper).

The other man looks up, quirks an eyebrow. “Yes, love?”

Teddy snorts, then presses one hand to his face, pinches the bridge of his nose. “Too much energy. Take it down a notch.” He looks down at his shirt, still splotchy with liquid. “And forget about it, don’t worry about the shirt, I don’t care, just --”

A devious gleam sparkles in Rufus’ eyes as he interrupts. “I remember last time you said that.” He smiles, a Cheshire cat grin, and Teddy thinks that he is so, so fucked.

L.A., buttons ripped off, lost under furniture, that thing which we do not talk about.

“I think the next words out of your mouth were, ah, obscene.” Rufus glances around the room. “And mummy always tells me to try to scandalize people less.”

Teddy flushes, pink creeping high across his cheekbones. Rufus opens his mouth to say something else, probably something filthy, and Teddy reaches out, presses his fingers over Rufus’ lips. “Shh!”

Rufus rolls his eyes, takes Teddy’s wrist in his. He pulls Teddy’s hand away from his mouth, but not before pressing a kiss to his open palm. “I’m irresistable, I know.”

“That was a long time ago.” Teddy’s voice is hoarse. He draws his hand back, fingers curling into a loose fist, and clutches it at his chest, like his palm is scorched and burnt. “And we were--”

“Stoned as fuck,” Rufus finishes the sentence, then breaks out in peals of laughter.

Teddy hopes Rufus isn’t laughing at him, and shoots a scowl at the other man. “Stop it.” He rocks back on his heels. “Why are we even discussing this?”

Rufus shrugs, gets back in Teddy’s personal space. He leans in, his lips brush against Teddy’s ear. “We were having a moment,” he says, and he reaches up to cover Teddy’s hand on his chest with his own. Teddy’s too confused to move. “I like moments.” Rufus presses a kiss to Teddy’s cheek, another brief one to his friend’s lips, then steps away.

“Anyway,” Rufus says with an exaggerated sigh, “I’m flying out to London next week for the next leg of this tour, so we should get together some time before I go.” It’s like nothing ever happened at all. Rufus likes having moments, but he changes gears so fast that Teddy’s head spins. “Dinner, drinks, dancing, something like that.”

“I don’t dance,” Teddy says dumbly. It’s the only thing he can think to say.

“Oh, please,” Rufus scoffs. “You do so, even if I have to stuff you full of Jack Daniels to make you do it, you grumpy bastard.”

Teddy feels the tension seep out of him, every so slowly. “Fuck off, that happened once.” His lips quirk up into a smile nonetheless. Stupid, stupid Rufus Wawinwright, throwing his perfectly decent shit mood into chaos.

And there’s that devious grin again. “I know some other things that only happened once that you can’t stop thinking about.” Rufus reaches out one hand, runs his fingertips down Teddy’s chest, tugs at his belt buckle. “Just saying.”

Teddy scowls, but there’s no passion behind it. His hands shoot a rude gesture at Rufus. “Fuck off!” he says again, but he laughs, just a little bit. “Now pour me another drink,” he says, jerking his head at the bottles of liquor stacked up on the counter. “Some wanker knocked into me and spilled it everywhere.”

“Gladly,” Rufus says, giving Teddy a little pat on the chest, and then turns to pour.

It's still a shit party, but his mood is a little better, now. There's a tightness in his chest that seems to have lifted.

And, after all. He only came to the party because Rufus suggested it in the first place.