03 January 2009 @ 09:26 pm
In This Home On Ice (Chapter One)  
Title: In This Home On Ice – Chapter One: Face-Off
Authors: [info]aldiara and [info]lilithilien
Fandom/Characters: Alles Was Zählt, Deniz/Roman
Word Count: 10K words
Rating: NC-17
Summary: “I'm curious: is a professional blow job really that much better than what I used to get for free?”
Disclaimer: Sadly we don't own these characters; we just like watching them fight.
A/N: While this story picks up Deniz’s rentboy plot somewhere after episode 565, it goes AU from there (a.k.a. as far as we are concerned, Stella does not and will never exist). Lilith pirouettes; Aldi swings hockey sticks.

Face-Off: The dropping of the puck to start the game, or to resume the game after a stoppage in play."

“By the way,” Mike says, after a dressing-down over a rough check that Roman really doesn’t need or appreciate, “your ex has a new job.”

Roman rolls his eyes. “Honestly, I couldn’t care less what clothing line Deniz is pimping.”

“Oh, it’s not clothing he’s pimping, it’s himself.” Mike’s sneer is laced with delight. “An escort, I think is what they’re calling it. I heard Marian pulled him out of some john’s bed just the other day.”

And Roman knows how rumours fly through the Centre, faster than a hockey puck spins across the ice, so he swallows down the bile in the back of his throat and gets back to his training. But endless laps and that welcome burn inching its way up his calves don’t chase it completely away; neither does practising spins until his centre of gravity rebels and he’s so dazed he can hardly tell which end is up. It’d taken weeks for the sting of their last encounter to fade, weeks of telling himself that the spite in Deniz’s words hadn’t felt like raw alcohol dousing that still open gash from the championships. Now it’s back, despite some calmer voice in his head telling him that there’s no reason he should care what Deniz does these days.

The applause at that night’s performance dulls his bitterness, just like it always does. Roman has always craved being watched, an urge born of being the only child of too-busy parents. On the ice he gives in to that urge, assured for once that he’s worthy of such attention. His choreographed leaps might not be as daring as he’d attempt in competition, his jumps not nearly as bold, but the audience doesn’t seem to mind. They’re swayed by the spectacle of these glittering figures flitting across the ice. Sparkling and brilliant, Roman can almost bring himself to believe in this perfect world where the only sharp edges are on his skate’s blade.

But the bitter spectre of Deniz rises again that night, after he’s left Jenny to the latest scheme that he has no interest in, after he tries to drown it in some bar in whatever town they’re in now, after he’s stumbled back to his hotel and stared at his mobile like it’s going to shout out the truth. It stays mute, though; there’s nobody who’d ring him these days, nobody who’d think this was anything more than he’d deserved.

They’re going back to Essen in just a few days. The truth will come out soon enough.

Roman feels his nerves ratchet up to high alert as soon as he steps through the front door of the Centre. It’s his Deniz-sense tingling, like Spidey-sense but so much less useful. All it seems to do is set him on edge, when he’s already there just from being back in Essen. He tries to remember when this was a place where he could relax, where he felt at home. It seems like an awfully long time ago.

His senses go into overdrive when he enters the changing room. There’s someone in the shower, and since the Fates hate him, Roman knows it must be Deniz. A cough from behind the curtain confirms it; Deniz hates the feeling of hot water streaming into his mouth, and Roman hates that this petty detail about his former lover is forever lodged in his head. He quickly changes into his sweats, hoping he can escape to the weight room before Deniz finishes, but things never do go the way he hopes. The water shuts off and a hand reaches out to grasp blindly for the red towel on the hook. In seconds Deniz is standing before him, dripping onto the tile, looking about as young and innocent as he did the very first time Roman laid eyes on him. There’s not even a glimmer of the loathing he’d spit that day at the fry stand. Now there are parting lips that could almost be a smile and shining dark eyes, puppy dog eager, that could promise all the things that Roman’s given up wanting. There are broad shoulders that invite him to climb up them, and a towel tied loosely enough to pull apart with just a finger, and in between is skin flushed all rosy from steam, covered in clinging drops of water that shimmer like sequins. Roman swallows, his mouth watering at the thought of licking them off, one by one, even if they would slice his tongue. Want. The feeling rises in him, that unshakable tidal wave of emotion that for a moment keeps him from looking away. Then his bile bubbles up again, bitterness slicing through his need like a hot knife.

“Don’t worry. This Ice Queen isn’t going to touch you. I hear that comes at a price these days.”


Absurdly, the first thing Deniz feels when he steps out of the shower and sees Roman sitting there, pulling on his training shoes, is pleasure, surprised and genuine and rather unexpected. It’s been weeks, and the memory of their angry words at the fry stand, which at first boiled hotly in his mind, soon dropped down to a simmer and eventually evaporated, pushed aside by more immediate concerns.

Trust Roman to stoke it back into roaring resentment at a second’s notice.

Deniz feels heat rising to his cheeks and wishes, not for the first time, that he had inherited some Turkish forebear’s swarthy complexion, not his mother’s pale skin that shows every blush much too clearly, broadcasting his embarrassment to the world.

He tries to cover it up with a sneer as he pulls the towel more securely around his hips. “Nice to see you too. I see you’ve been keeping tabs on me. Stereotype much, gossip girl?”

Roman’s eyes narrow. He looks good, despite a hint of tired shadows under his eyes. Clean-shaven, new haircut, new tank top too, from the looks of it – green, not his best colour, but it does show off the smooth curve of his shoulders, the definition of his upper arms, and… what the fuck, Öztürk? Angrily, Deniz jerks his eyes back to Roman’s face, wondering when the hell he’s going to stop noticing these things. Not that circumstances exactly help with that, what with the shared locker room and the memories they hold. Imprinted in these tiles lies their entire history of anger and want, tenderness and despair, and now it seems they’ve come full circle, spitting jabs at each other again between these all too familiar walls. Deniz is not usually one to appreciate the subtleties of black humour, but the irony is hard to miss.

“Don’t flatter yourself,” Roman says, with an infuriating expression of mild distaste. “Someone assumed – wrongly, I might add – that what or who you do is of any interest to me.”

Even now, this back and forth is startlingly familiar, like a game they play, or maybe a dance; like one of Roman’s stupid, meticulously choreographed free-skates, and Deniz is sick of remembering all the moves, and sick of Roman being the one who leads.

“Well, it’s none of your fucking business, anyway,” he says shortly, crossing his arms before his chest and wishing he was wearing more than a towel.

Roman actually laughs, although there’s not a bit of humour in it; it’s all sharp edges and something ugly underneath, something that sends a tingle of unease down Deniz’s unprotected spine. There was a time when he knew all the shades of Roman’s laughter, but he’s never heard this one. “No, Deniz, I’m well aware of that.” He pauses, tilting his head; Deniz notices how the motion makes the fluorescent light shift on the long line of his neck, and hates that he remembers how Roman’s skin tastes, right there below his ear, in that spot that makes him shiver.

“Not that I give a toss about how you finance your doubtlessly glamorous lifestyle,” Roman adds, “but… don’t you think prostitution is a little pathetic, even for you?”

Embarrassment and fury fight a brief, heated struggle inside him, but before he has wrestled either emotion into a coherent response, the familiar beep-beep comes from his bag, announcing the arrival of a new text message. He grabs for the bag, grateful for the distraction. His fingers are shaking with anger as he digs his cell phone out of the side pocket. Julia’s message is short; hers usually are. She hates the tiny keys.

“done yet? waiting outside.”

Damn it. She hates having to wait, and he isn’t changed yet. And the last thing he wants right now is to dress in front of Roman, not after this little exchange. He’s got to get him out of here.

“What do you think is more pathetic?” he says, his back turned to Roman, striving to make his voice as contemptuous as he can. It isn’t hard. “To screw someone for money, or to constantly hang around your ex, pitching hissy fits and hoping for another pity fuck?” He clicks the mobile shut, and reaches for his locker. “Well, you can forget about it, Roman,” he tosses over his shoulder. “Like you said, that doesn’t come free anymore. Now if you’ll excuse me – I gotta get ready for work.”


Sticks and stones. Roman’s had a lifetime to build a thick skin, but somehow this scorn, unsophisticated as it is – maybe because it is – batters his well-worn defences. Where he resorts to razor-sharp sarcasm and trip wire, Deniz’s hatred has always been blunt. Now it bludgeons him, hurting more than Roman wishes it did, coming as it does from someone that he can only explain as his most severe lapse in judgment.

He’s glad Deniz has turned his back so he can steel his features. Unfortunately it also affords a too revealing look of his body, of angles that should be too sharp and limbs that should be unwieldy, but that on Deniz fit together in an ideal package. He lifts his arm to spray on deodorant and that simple movement sends his trapezius muscles rippling like wind rolling over sand, sculpting objects of fleeting perfection. Memory itches in Roman’s fingers that know too well how each flex would feel. He wonders if the sensations have seeped into his marrow, there to torment him until his dying day.

Nonsense, Roman chides himself, clenched fists drawing back some of his anger at Deniz, and at himself. These sensations should have faded by now, would have faded, if he hadn’t let himself backtrack so many times. If he hadn’t let Deniz have the upper hand. That’s what he won’t surrender today. “Deniz, Deniz,” he tsks, his voice rife with condescension, “what’s pathetic is that, after all this time, you’re still so delusional. You still think that everybody wants you, because that’s so much easier than figuring out what it is that you want.”

Deniz slams his deodorant into the back of his locker; its metallic crash buoys Roman’s confidence that he’s hit his mark. Deliberately he turns around, his hands pinned to towel-clad hips, but the attempt at aggression has lost its impact through overuse. Or maybe Roman’s aggression is just greater, finally. Deniz’s lips part for his comeback, but Roman gets there first. “Maybe whoring really is the perfect career for you.”

“Fuck you.”

He really shouldn’t be so satisfied by the raw hatred in Deniz’s eyes, but as Roman moves closer he’s grateful for it. Better than when they soften and feed Roman’s want, clawing and hungry and caring nothing for his pride. This glare fuels his bitterness instead, ragged and burning and aching to share. “Yes, well, that is what you always come back to, isn’t it? Seems it’s your default response. Oh, but what am I thinking? You’re a professional now.” Roman whips out his wallet and thumbs through the notes there. He yanks out a twenty and waves it just under Deniz’s nose, near enough to catch on snarling lips. “What, not enough?” Roman pulls out another. What the hell are you doing? that voice in his head demands to know, but he ignores it. He’s got a point to prove, and even if he’s not entirely sure what it is, he isn’t about to give up now. “Isn’t this how it works?” he taunts, surprising even himself by the venom leeching his words. “Money exchanged for services rendered? You’re the expert here, maybe you should explain it to me.”


There is a thing about Roman Wild that many people don’t know, and Deniz sometimes wishes he didn’t: Just because he’s easily hurt, just because he’s short and has made a career out of moving gracefully, just because he smiles a lot and is nicknamed for the fluffiest, most harmless of creatures, doesn’t mean that he’s defenceless, or fragile. Quite the contrary.

Roman is like those crazy Axels and Lutzes he jumps – they look pretty and effortless and light as a feather, but if you’ve got your fingers in the wrong place at the wrong time, those honed blades will slice them clean off. Deniz knows this, because no matter his intentions, he seems to have made a habit out of having his fingers in the wrong place.

He feels that cut now, precise and surprisingly hurtful, as keen as the hair-thin edge of the twenty that grazes his lip. He jerks back his head and lashes out instinctively, resentment and shame mingling into a white-hot flash of attack that comes as natural to him as breathing. No matter the backlash, he’s never quite got the knack of prudent withdrawal.

“Have you totally lost it now? Get the hell off me!” He only feels Roman’s bare shoulders under his hands for a second before he’s shoved him away, not intending anything more than to get him out of his face, really, put some much-needed distance between them; but he’s forgotten about his open locker. Taken by surprise by his shove, Roman stumbles back, and there’s a tinny noise as the edge of the metal locker door connects with his head, hard. He makes a muffled noise of pain, and despite everything, Deniz can feel his heart miss a beat in sudden fear at the momentary daze in Roman’s eye, the uncoordinated backwards stumble as his hand flies to his temple, face contorting briefly into a grimace of pain.

Before he knows what he’s doing, Deniz has taken a step forward, one hand unconsciously reaching out to steady Roman before he falls; and just as quickly, Roman has regained his balance, his gaze clearing and then sharpening into something merciless and chilling. Deniz’s hand is slapped aside in a motion as swift as a striking adder.

“My mistake,” Roman grits out, and before Deniz can ask what he means or make some trite peace offering that will allow them both to get out of this with a minimum of damage, there’s another note before his face, this time the crisp, accusatory green of a hundred. “Shouldn’t have assumed that you’d come cheap just because you act it, should I? There. Is that more like the going rate?”

Fury, again. There’s a part of him that observes, quite calmly, that he’s yet to meet another person who can whip his emotions into a frenzy at a heartbeat’s notice quite like Roman does, draw responses from him with surgical precision, for good or ill. He stomps deliberately on the observation and sneers into Roman’s cold, controlled face. “I’m sorry, but I’m on an exclusive contract at the moment.” Spite makes him add, “I can give you the number of my agency, though, if you’re that desperate.”

He makes to side-step Roman, aiming for his bag and the safety of his clothes; but just as swiftly, Roman has mimicked his step, staying in front of him, blocking his exit. His eyes have subtly shifted colour, darkened from blue to frozen slate-grey, and there’s an ugly cast about his mouth that Deniz, even after months of learning all the nuances of Roman’s anger and despair, doesn’t recall ever seeing. Unease unfurls in the pit of his stomach like a night-blooming flower, secretive and pungent. He moves to the other side and frowns when once again, Roman moves with him, blocking him. “Get out of my way,” he growls from between clenched teeth.


Roman chokes back his perverse urge to laugh. This back-and-forth shuffle they’re doing feels terribly familiar, although of late their positions have been reversed, and their responses so vastly different. Whenever Deniz blocked his way, Roman kept moving through, every fall back onto Deniz’s damned couch feeling afterwards like a fall in competition – disastrous and disheartening, and nothing for it but to pick himself up and carry on as if nothing’s happened. Now, when their positions have changed, Deniz throws down his gloves and comes out fighting, words barbed and lip curled like an angry dog. It would be threatening, but Roman’s seen this anger too many times and recognises it for the bluff it is. Oh, there’s hatred there to be sure, but there’s also uncertainty sneaking through Deniz’s rising flush, nervousness in eyes that dart hummingbird-quick over first Roman’s shoulder, down to the coloured notes in his hand, then almost reluctantly to his lips. He’s touched a nerve, and Roman is obscenely proud to know he still can.

“What, you think you get to choose who you fuck?” Roman scoffs, his voice sounding unnaturally light for all the dark imaginings he’s had running through his head these last few days: Deniz on his knees, on all fours, in all kinds of positions, with all kinds of faceless people. “Sorry, that’s not how it works. You’re nothing but a cock now, Deniz. You’re just a hole for anybody to use. Do you really think anyone gives a damn what you want?”

Deniz’s upper lip droops, for just a flicker of an instant, and Roman knows he’s hit his mark. It strikes him, in an oddly distant way, as if he’s watching it unfold on the television screen, that he should feel some kind of compassion for this boy who’s gotten in way over his head. He used to; it wasn’t that long ago when he wanted to keep him from getting hurt – when he would have stood up to anybody, said anything to anyone, just to ease Deniz’s way. And look where that’s gotten you, reminds the bitter voice rising straight out of the painful lump throbbing above his ear. The memory of Deniz reaching out for him fuels his contempt. Attack without thought, regret the consequences, offer comfort, rinse and repeat. Deniz’s behaviour never changes, no lessons are ever retained. And he proves it with his next words.

“I told you already, I’m on an exclusive contract.”

And isn’t that rich, this timely discovery of fidelity? It’s enough to bring Roman’s simmering anger to a boil. Deniz is his, and always will be, if only because he was the first to see Deniz for who he really was. It’s something that his friends – and he scoffs at the idea of that label applied to those he shares his life with these days – never understood about his obsession. And yes, it was – is – an obsession, there’s no denying that, but a proprietary one, not just shallow physical attraction like they thought. Now these words stoke some feral impulse in Roman to stake his claim, and when Deniz attempts another side-step, he shoves him hard against the lockers. Sounds of clanging metal echo off tiled walls, still not loud enough to swallow Deniz’s gasp of surprise as Roman’s forearm cuts across his throat. “Deniz, love, you wouldn’t know what exclusive meant if it bit you in the ass,” Roman snarls.

The hatred pouring from those jet-black eyes could rival his most warlike Turkic ancestors, but it’s only a second before Roman realises how ineffectually Deniz struggles against his hold. Roman is strong enough, but in a pinch Deniz has the definite advantage of size. Levered against him, Roman feels the reason for this unexpected passivity press against his thigh. He laughs, so coldly he’s sure it’ll freeze his tongue. “Guess not everyone’s up on the terms of your exclusive contract.”


The urge to shove Roman away and send him toppling to the hard tiles is almost as strong as the urge to yank him closer and push his tongue between his lips to make him stop saying things. It’s a perverse duality that goes back almost as far as he’s known Roman, Deniz thinks: wanting him closer, wanting him gone. Even now, it’s an infuriatingly familiar and contradictory thrill in his blood, this need to make a space between them, pull his boundaries into place and deny Roman access, even while he can’t help but notice the soft shadow of Roman’s lashes on his cheekbones and the curve of his lips, the solid pressure of his body, compact and tightly muscled and moving with that damnable, unconscious grace, even in fury. And as ever, he wants that, a want that doesn’t give a whit for whether it’s appropriate or convenient. There’s no hiding it, either, not with Roman in his face like this, pressed up close against him. He can sense the exact moment Roman notices, a slight narrowing of his eyes and an experimental nudge with his hip; and he feels heat flushing his cheeks at the derisive laughter and the taunt that follows it.

Something is different this time, though, something off about Roman’s reactions. There’s a shade of meanness to his expression that looks threatening and unlovely, distorting what Deniz was sure he knew him to be: Roman doesn’t do this. Roman has no trouble flaunting his hurts or demanding attention; he can wield cutting words with spiteful precision, and he’s a sarcastic bastard, but even at their worst times, he’s never been cruel.

The cold sneer standing testimony to that unaccustomed cruelty is like a personal affront to Deniz, and he reacts on instinct, propelled by proximity and a need he doesn’t care to examine. He dips his head quickly and leans in for a kiss, driven by the urge to reshape that offensive, foreign expression on Roman’s face, to mould it forcibly into something different with his lips and tongue and teeth; but just as quickly, Roman’s head jerks back and his forearm across Deniz’s throat slams forward, hard enough that he makes a choking sound at the impact.

When he manages to focus, Roman’s face is close before his again, set in tight lines of contempt. “Sorry, Deniz,” he says coldly, “I don’t kiss whores. Who knows where your mouth’s been lately.”

He’d recoil if he could, but there’s no room, not even to breathe. “You fucking jerk,” he spits, struggling. “I’m not a whore.”

As if to contradict him, his mobile beeps again, accusingly, and Deniz bites off a curse. He’s forgotten about Julia. He wraps a hand around Roman’s wrist and pulls, trying to get his arm off his throat; but Roman doesn’t budge, and fury or not, Deniz is reluctant to stoke up the violence after that little incident earlier. Also, his damned towel isn’t sitting too securely anymore, and the last thing he wants is to make it slip by moving too quickly. “My client’s waiting.”

Roman makes a noise that can’t exactly be called a laugh, although his lips pull back from his teeth. “He has ’clients’ but he’s not a whore. What would you call it, then? Rentboy? Hustler? Gigolo?” A pause, precisely measured for maximum impact. “Escort?”

Deniz schools his face to forced impassivity, despite the anger roiling inside him – anger at Roman, yes, but also at himself, for letting himself be lured in so damnably easily by Roman’s taunts and the all too familiar feel of his hands on his body, which betrays him so ruthlessly with its obvious reaction, making it difficult to concentrate on what he’s supposed to say. He clenches his teeth, increasing the pressure on Roman’s wrist. “I thought you weren’t going to touch me.”


This close, Deniz is dangerous. Always has been, actually. He’s like a whirlpool that Roman could never help but circle, sometimes closer, sometimes gaining distance, never fully escaping. But it’s been a long time since Roman’s felt the eddies tug at him with so much strength. A tilt of Deniz’s belligerent chin sends a trickle of water spilling down his neck, following contours long imprinted in Roman’s memory. A snort of exasperation puffs against Roman’s cheek, feeling uncomfortably like a whispered caress. And worst of all is the erection hardly hidden under red terrycloth, jutting hard steel into Roman’s hip. It’d be terribly easy, just one move … it could even almost be accidental ...

Yes, dangerous thoughts to be having when they’re at each other’s throats, when Deniz’s fingers are circling his wrist, holding him in place every bit as much as pushing him away. With a sharp growl Roman twists his arm free, but doesn’t step back, and Deniz doesn’t push forward. They stay locked in place, a grenade with a missing pin, neither of them eager to find out which one has his finger on the safety.

But words are weapons too, and Roman has always felt well-armed where they’re concerned. “Oh, I’m not going to touch you, Deniz,” he snipes. “Obviously you prefer to let strangers do that these days. No commitments, you can pretend to be in love for half an hour – sounds perfect for you.”

“Go to hell,” scowls Deniz, practically spitting. “You don’t know the first thing about it.”

“No, I don’t,” Roman concedes. And that’s the thing that bothers him the most, really: the fact that he doesn’t. That his attempts to rationalise this have failed so completely, that this man glaring at him, cold as ice, used to not be such a mystery. But ice has never intimidated Roman, and there’s still one thing he knows about Deniz, something as unchanging as the tides. Steadily he presses his hips solidly against Deniz’s, his cock swelling in his sweats as it slips into a too-familiar groove, and hopes his own voice won’t catch as he says, “But I do know that you’re dying to touch me.”

The euros still in his fist fan across Deniz’s skin, colouring his flushed skin with green and blue. Roman watches as the edges drag slowly back and forth across his nipple, as Deniz’s lungs fill with a deliberately controlled breath. “And I’m curious: is a professional blow job really that much better than what I used to get for free?”


He couldn’t say, later, how he got there. Couldn’t say exactly when he crossed the line or why, other than that it was there to be crossed; that there was a challenge that he couldn’t let go unanswered. All he knows is that he’s tired of this lunge and retreat, the quick dart of Roman’s tongue and his own clumsy parry, so when Roman spells it out loud, couples it bluntly with the insult of crisp notes pressing into his chest, it’s almost a relief.

“Is that what you want?” he hears himself say, but his sneer is only default, and his voice sounds foreign and oddly toneless to his own ears. Roman tilts his head a little, blue eyes unblinking, and they measure each other for a seemingly interminable moment before Roman gives a small, controlled nod that holds an oddly formal balance between contempt and curiosity. “Yes. That’s all I want from you, Deniz,” he replies, and although his voice doesn’t hitch, although it’s cool and silky as expensive champagne, Deniz knows a small moment of triumph to discover he can still recognise when Roman lies.

He isn’t good at words, and he has always known himself to be hopelessly inadequate to Roman’s eloquence, his incessant need to communicate and wrestle every issue into a manageable format, measured by how many words he can throw at it until it crumbles. Likewise, Deniz has never mastered the complexities of spoken truths and lies, the many shades of betrayal lurking in a half-truth, or the deep pitfalls of silence where there should be words; words that he never seems to know.

But there are other, simpler truths to read here, and ironically enough, he’s a natural at those: Roman’s body calling to him with a pull as strong as it’s ever been; the secret thrill of attention in every graceful line of muscle and tendon; the heightened rush of blood with its all too familiar undercurrent of obsession. And yet none of it visible. Roman doesn’t blink, just keeps standing there and staring his challenge at him; there’s a small, superior smirk in the corner of his mouth that’s utterly infuriating, and Deniz wants him so much it contorts his fingers into claws, like arthritis, like a fever deep in his own bones. Physical truth Deniz understands, and there’s a cold, cynical little voice in the back of his head following in the wake of that thought: If bodies are the only thing he truly understands, then maybe Roman is right. Maybe whoring is just the thing for him.

It’s with defiant deliberation, then, that he tugs at his already precarious towel, holding onto it for a second before letting it drop to the ground; eyes still locked to Roman’s, he sinks to his knees, hooking his fingers into the low-riding edge of Roman’s sweats as he goes down. He doesn’t pull them down just yet, although his fingers curl with subtle pleasure at the promise of bare skin underneath. Dropping his eyes from Roman’s face, he takes a moment to appreciate the bulge of his erection underneath the thin cotton, then leans forward on a whim, lips half-parted, to exhale hot breath along the hidden length. Even through the material of the sweats, he can feel the heat of it, can feel it lengthening and hardening further in response to the warm, damp gust of air, straining against its confinement, while above him, Roman releases a shuddering breath of his own.

Looking back up, he finds Roman’s face still set in grim contempt, but his eyes betray him, blazing blue like the heart of a flame. Holding his gaze, Deniz starts tugging at his sweats, deliberately slowly, and grins when he sees Roman’s eyes narrow. A surge of need thickens his own cock to almost painful hardness at the sight of his flushed face, the unconscious quick dart of his tongue between his lips.

Then those same lips draw back in a scowl, albeit a strained one. “Well, get on with it, then. Show me what you’ve learned.”

Only minutes ago, the jab might have propelled him into fuming retaliation, but now a mild stab of irritation is all it elicits. The mockery doesn’t hold any real power compared to the nearly imperceptible tilting of Roman’s hips towards him, seeking contact; against the sudden thrill of bare skin under his palms as he slides the sweats down, Roman’s taunts become insignificant.

Roman’s erection finally bobs free as he tugs the pants down and lets them drop to pool around Roman’s ankles, and Deniz swallows, mouth watering unbidden at the sight. Already swollen to the point of tenderness, Roman’s cock juts demandingly from its nest of dark blond curls, flushed dusky pink along the shaft and darkening to a richer, pomegranate hue around the head that makes Deniz want to pounce like a kid offered candy. A drop of pre-come has formed there, glistening enticingly. Deniz wets his lips, lifting a hand to touch, but an impatient noise comes from above him and hands slide into his hair, tugging him none too gently into the cradle of Roman’s hips, until his lips are half an inch away from their prize. “Suck me,” Roman’s voice drips down on his head, a dark-chocolate swirl of desire and derision that makes his cock throb in response. There’s an unfamiliar rustling against his hair that it takes Deniz a moment to identify, until he realises that Roman is still clutching the money, rubbing it against his skull as he digs his hands deeper into Deniz’s hair. He flushes in a quick surge of indignation, but can’t muster the resources for actual outrage, not when he can smell Roman’s need, spicy and familiar and so tantalisingly close; not when he can almost see the turgid flesh throbbing, yearning for contact.

He curls his hands around Roman’s hips, thumbs resting against the familiar grooves near the base of the bone, and gives in to the tug of Roman’s hands. Darting out his tongue, he swirls it round the head of Roman’s cock, once, twice, as if in welcome, unconsciously reacquainting himself with the texture and flavour of him, velvet-soft skin stretched tight across the stiffened shaft. There’s a moment where he has an odd flash of almost shyness, as if he hasn’t done this a hundred times; perhaps it’s just because he hasn’t recently. Blowjobs didn’t feature in either of their recent confusion-fuelled encounters, and the last time he’s tasted Roman on his tongue, they were in a very different place. Don’t think about that. Digging his hands deeper into Roman’s hips, he tilts his head to dip his tongue into the slit at the swollen tip of his cock, tasting the drops of fluid that have gathered there – earthy flavour with a hint of spices. It’s all he needs. He dives forward, wrapping his lips full around the width of the shaft and sliding along, tongue fluttering on the underside the way he knows Roman likes it. He would have pulled back halfway, enjoying the tease, but Roman’s hands in his hair are suddenly steely, holding him in place, and Roman’s hips jut forward, shoving his cock deeper into Deniz’s mouth. Unprepared for it, he struggles for a moment, gag reflex kicking in; but then, just as Roman’s grip eases up, it’s like something in him shifts: his jaw muscles relax and his mouth goes soft, and suddenly he doesn’t have to think to remember how this works.

There’s a breathy sort of sigh above him as he slides back and then forward again, taking as much of Roman’s cock as he can, saliva and pre-come mingling in his mouth, creating a rich slide of luxurious friction against the heated flesh as he curls his tongue around it. The sigh repeats as he gives it a long, slow suck, then lengthens into a moan when he increases the pressure. His fingers, loosely curled around Roman’s hips, can feel the contraction of muscles as his buttocks clench, and he slides his hands around, following the smooth curves and teasing briefly along the cleft before digging into full flesh, pulling Roman closer, deeper into his mouth. His own cock, so full it almost hurts, brushes up against Roman’s shin and he pushes against it shamelessly, eager for whatever contact is available; he makes a muffled noise in the back of his throat as he keeps sucking.

There’s a mad sort of elation bubbling inside him as Roman’s noises increase, soft hisses and moans and the occasional louder groan he can’t suppress. He releases Roman’s cock for a second, only to start lapping at it like an ice cream cone, wet and sloppy and hot, pulling all the stops to get him to keep making noises, keep tensing and clenching under his hands like he’s doing now, because he’s addictive, he always has been; the only thing better than seeing him lose control is to feel it in every tremble of muscle under his fingertips, taste his desire, sharp and dangerous as ozone, and swallow him whole.

It strikes him as funny, in light of Roman’s taunts about professionalism, that he’s still never done this for anyone but him. Oh, he tried with Vanessa a few times, but judging from her lacklustre responses, he doesn’t think he ever really figured out how to do it right, and anyway, it’s not the same as this; the vague memory of slick folds of girl-flesh hidden under dark curls is a world’s difference from the smooth length of Roman’s cock sliding against the roof of his mouth like he belongs there, the thrilling sensation of aliveness in holding another man’s desire at the tip of his fluttering tongue. All his training in how to pleasure a man still comes from Roman, who once whispered encouragements to him in the semi-dark when he tried this for the first time, things like, don’t choke, take it slow and that’s it, sweetheart, that feels so good and, anxiously, about half a dozen times, you don’t have to, you know.

He doesn’t want to remember, not when that same man is now fucking his mouth with deliberate, near-brutal abandon, but he does anyway: his apprehensive eagerness and the way Roman tried to temper need with consideration, telling him over and over that there was time, no need to rush, when all he wanted was to learn more, to get better, to make Roman moan and tremble and climax like he’d done to him, and suck up his come to learn every nuance of his flavour.

Deniz pushes back against the memory angrily, trying to drown it in the sharp-edged abandonment he tastes at the back of his throat, mingling with the taste of Roman. He doesn’t want these echoes of bygone tenderness, of desire held in check by sweetness and laughter, an innocence of passion he’s since lost. He balances it defiantly against their frantic need of this moment, clashing against the backdrop of these tired old tiles. Blindly, he seeks more response from Roman, humping against his leg as he deliberately pulls his mouth away to let just a teasing tongue swirl against the head, a butterfly caress too light to be satisfying. Roman doesn’t disappoint, uttering a frustrated growl and grabbing his head tightly, holding him in place as he shoves himself back in between Deniz’s lips, fucking his mouth hard enough that he knows he’ll come away with bruised lips and a sore jaw, and he’s much too far gone to care. He lets his mouth go relaxed, keeps it soft for Roman to use as he pleases, and darts one hand down to his unbearably hard cock, gratefully thrusting into the loose circle of his fist. It’s getting hard to keep his erratic breathing under control, and he makes gasping noises around his mouthful, pumping himself hard.

So much for professional, he thinks as he slides his tongue around and underneath Roman’s shaft, pressing it flat against the pulsing vein on the underside and relishing the shudder of response that travels through Roman’s body into his own; try customised.


Somewhere..., thinks Roman, somewhere there’s another version of himself and another version of Deniz, living out their parallel lives in another dingy locker room in another version of Essen. That version of himself gazes down at that other version of Deniz with unabashed fondness, runs fingers through that thatch of coarse hair in search of the surprising lushness where it grows thick, murmurs quiet, doting words of encouragement. Roman knows exactly what that other version of himself whispers to his lover, kneeling naked with a rare openness before him, and he knows that the querying look that other Deniz returns translates as am I doing this right? I want to do this right for you. That version of Deniz doesn’t reek of surety in repeating this thing that he’s surely done for so many johns; that version of himself is free to touch Deniz without acidic jabs of “Ice Queen” digging into his gut. That version of himself doesn’t look down to see a wad of money fisted in black, wiry hair, despising each step that’s brought them here.

And the worst part of it, the part that slams up an impenetrable wall between him and that alternative version of himself, is that his Deniz, the Deniz who is painfully not his, is getting into this – is obviously getting off on this. That thought scrapes a razor-sharp fingernail across his rising pleasure, leaving a tender abrasion that not only forestalls his climax but threatens to return tomorrow, and the next day, and for many days after that. Roman had imagined that he’d have to taunt Deniz to pretend he enjoyed this rough fuck, harder than anything they’ve done before. Together, at least. But the enthusiasm with which Deniz swallows every inch of him hints at a skill that stretches far beyond the long-ago experiences they’ve shared. The ones that Deniz has surely forgotten, diluted by the taste of more recent men’s flesh despoiling his tongue, but that remain impressed as deeply on Roman’s memory as his first perfect figure eight.

Jealousy flares, not green as rumoured, but a fiery red-orange that curls the edges of his vision like paper set alight. It has no logic – it’s not like Roman’s been a monk for these past few months. There’s been no shortage of pick-ups during his tour, and he can’t visit any club in Essen these days without running into a handful of men that he’s had his hands all over. But none of that matters now. All these facts are like words on a page, words that might have once held the power to sway opinions, to prove indisputable facts, but now are nothing more than flecks of ash whorling up into the air. That feeling of possessiveness lingers long after the cinders have burned away: Deniz should be his, is his in that parallel universe, where these breathless gasps he’s making begin and end with Roman.

It’s a possessive hand that stretches around to the back of Deniz’s head, that drags his face closer until he has no choice but to swallow Roman’s entire length – that holds him there, nose to groin, until the very air Deniz breathes comes through Roman’s skin. Roman closes his eyes and exhales a deep groan, a thoughtless one that begins at the tip of his cock buried in Deniz’s throat and surges through him. Pure physical pleasure short-circuits his introspection for a rare moment of uncomplicated bliss. Roman clutches it for as long as he can, letting the seconds stretch and warp and circle back around until it feels like forever that he’s been like this, his orgasm spooling tighter and tighter and ready to spring. Deniz reacts, pursed lips sucking perfectly ... professionally, Roman will later recall, but in this moment he’s conscious of nothing but lips sliding, perfect suction, the first hot rush that slams through him...

Vision fractures as Roman pours into Deniz’s mouth, blinding prismic angles that split him into countless pieces. In one of these sparkling shards is that other version of himself, and he watches as that Roman pulls that Deniz to his feet and presses him back across the lockers. His hands ache as that other Roman stretches out greedily for that other Deniz’s grateful cock. The heat it radiates seems to cross into this version of reality; Roman feels skin slip across his palm like silk drawn over steel. He hefts its delicious weight that seems to grow even as it bobs atop his fingers. It doesn’t take long for that other Roman to bring off that other Deniz, not with their mouths melting together in one of those heart-stopping kisses, the ones that demand the rest of the world pause until they’re ready to resume their place in it.

The ones that Roman reminds himself – sternly, with a constriction in his chest that for once he’s not about to examine – that he said he doesn’t want anymore.

On this side of reality, Deniz is still on his knees, still tossing off into the empty air by Roman’s leg. His lips hang open and slack; swollen and slick, they invite kisses and loving words, and entice Roman to suck his own bitter come off Deniz’s honeyed tongue. But dark eyes with the glazed look of an untamed animal destroy any such thoughts. His wavering gaze starts its erratic slide up to Roman’s face, but before it lands, Roman steps back, as brusquely as the hobble of his sweats will allow. Just in time; Deniz swallows a groan and splatters jism across the tiles, right where Roman was standing just seconds before. Roman cocks his eyebrow at the narrow escape. That’s all he needs, a mess for the laundry, another reminder of this stupidity.

He pulls up his sweats without ceremony, tucking himself in without sparing a second glance towards Deniz. But he’s surprised when Deniz’s phone beeps again. Not at the persistence of the caller – with his protective cynicism firmly back in place, Roman understands why they’d pay for this treatment – but that Deniz hasn’t lurched up to grab it. He wonders if it’s the arrogance of youth or Deniz’s certainty that whoever it is will wait forever – or if there’s something else behind his stillness. He almost asks, and knows that once he would have. Or if not asked, would still have worried the question in his head like a terrier with a bone until it’d worn smooth and given up all its secrets. But now he holds himself back. That belongs to the other Roman in that other world, and he wishes that he could leave it to him, once and for all.

The money is still in his hand, an almost startling reminder of how this whole thing began. “Here,” he says, flapping the once-crisp notes, now crumpled like dried leaves, in the space between them. “Take it, you’ve earned it.”

Deniz doesn’t move, though, other than to tilt his head up towards Roman. If he didn’t know better, he’d have read Deniz’s expression as betrayal, but that couldn’t be right, could it? Suddenly the anger that subsided in orgasm threatens to reignite; Roman can almost smell the phosphorus as oxygen is sucked into the flame. It’s an anger he doesn’t want to stoke, but his indignation won’t let it lie. Roman’s not the one to be accused of betrayal; he’s not the one who’s shown his true colours here. Balling the euros in his fist, he spits out, “Fine,” and tosses them to the ground. Whirling around without another look at Deniz, he hefts his bag to his shoulder, training all but forgotten, and slams through the door.

On the other side, though, he has to stop for a moment. He braces himself against the cold concrete wall, his legs feeling as unsturdy as his first crutchless steps after surgery. The truth will come out soon enough, he’d said, even then tempting fate to disprove Mike’s gossip. Now, despite there being no denying it, truth still doesn’t seem to play any major part in their dealings. Roman rubs his brow as Deniz’s last look rewinds itself again and again. He used to be able to read every expression, even the most subtle, the ones that meant yes, I can’t say the word, but I’ll follow you anywhere. Now he can better read an imaginary Deniz in an imaginary world. Here in this world it’s become impossible to know what anything really means, ever since lies have become the only language they speak. When I’m not a whore echoes in Deniz’s indignant voice, and that’s all I want from you slides off his own tongue as smoothly as idle flattery for Frau Steinkamp.

Lies don’t sit easily on Roman’s tongue, though, no matter what Annette might think. They expand like that horrible communion wafer he’d taken decades ago at his grandparents’ church. He’d not swallowed it right away, and by the time he’d returned to his seat it had expanded until it’d grown too big for his throat. Given the choice between gagging or eternal damnation, he’d palmed the holy Host and pressed the soggy bread to the underside of the pew. He wonders if this hell he’s suffering now is the direct result of that incident.

And he wonders if at last he can stop lying, at least to himself.


Slumped back on his heels and half sideways onto the tangled mess of his abandoned towel, legs sprawling underneath him, Deniz stares at the closed door without blinking. He feels dazed, blind-sided, curiously emptied: as if by stepping away when he was at his most vulnerable, Roman pulled something with him, some small but vital thing he hadn’t known was attached until it ripped.

His mind can’t help but replay that last backwards step over and over, in perversely enhanced detail. It was so deliberate, putting himself out of the reach of Deniz’s impending orgasm as if it was something distasteful, like stepping away from a dog trying to pee on your leg. Dropping away from the door at last, his gaze catches on the crumpled-up banknotes near his knee, and he feels the blood rushing to his head so fast that it dizzies him, a hot flood of shame and humiliation.

So far, the opinions of others about his new job haven’t particularly fazed him, because it was easy to pretend that they just didn’t get it. His father’s wrath he’s used to; isn’t he always disappointing him in some way or another? Vanessa’s jabs stung a bit, but he could shake them off as the default reaction of a disgruntled ex; and he couldn’t care less about the scornful smirks of the likes of Mike Hartwig.

Julia has made it easy for him, too, in the three weeks since he’s agreed to her terms: She’s good-looking, entertaining and wryly indulgent, and when there is money involved, she always manages to hand it over with matter-of-fact grace, as if it had nothing to do with what they do together. Most of the time it’s like being taken out by the mother of a friend or something, just a lovely woman who likes to be seen with someone more presentable than her balding executive husband; who likes to flirt and tease and needle her sour-faced colleagues by showing up with a hot young model on her arm at company functions. Yes, there’s the sex, but it’s almost like with Kaja and her flock of giggling model friends – it’s a status quo thing, just part of the package, fun and friendly and quickly forgotten, never quite to be taken seriously.

And why’s that, then? a voice in his head inquires callously; it’s the same voice he heard earlier, a cynical, cold presence in the back of his head that he decides he doesn’t like very much. Because they’re women?

Deniz shakes his head unwillingly, dislodging the voice. The point is, despite his negotiations with the faceless girl on the other end of the escort phone line, despite that first, unpleasant encounter at the hotel room that he fled from, despite his bold-faced arrangement with Julia, he’s never felt like a whore, until now.

This, though? This was different. This was real, and ugly, and more painful than he knows what to do with. The funny thing being, of course, that until that last, sudden jerk away from his face, leaving him dazed and defenceless, with come still dripping from his lips, it’d felt good – reckless and dangerous and yes, still angry; but liberating and truthful as well, in a way the two of them never seem to manage with words these days.

He can still taste Roman on his tongue, but it’s a bitter taste now, rank with shame and a betrayal he knows he has no business feeling. It’s not like he acted like he wasn’t what Roman accused him of being, the way he went down on him that eagerly despite the jeers, despite the obvious contempt. Despite the money.

The money that lies still on the floor, two twenties and a hundred. As if to add a final touch of perverseness to it all, the hundred has landed in the sticky puddle of his own come, glued to the floor by the evidence of his abandoned pleasure.

Deniz drags his gaze away and uses his arms to pull himself to his knees and then, somewhat shakily, to his feet. He shuffles over to the sink to rinse out his mouth and curses when he gets a good look at his face. “Fuck.” His lips are tender and noticeably swollen already, unused to the rough treatment; and little though he minded while caught up in the middle of it, he curses again now, touching his fingers to them gingerly. Lips aren’t exactly an easy part of your body to hide.

He doesn’t hear the firm clacking of high heels on tiles until they’re almost at the door, only seconds before a woman’s voice rings out, crisp and annoyed: “Deniz? Are you in there?”

Panicked, he stares wildly about himself for something to cover up with but only just manages to grab up his towel and sling it around his hips before the door opens and Julia steps in, glossy-haired and flushed from the cold, chic in her leather coat, and looking royally pissed off.

“What on earth is taking you so long? I thought practice ended over half an hour ago! We have reservations for dinner and I texted you about seven…”

She trails off, and her eyes narrow as she takes him in, flushed and naked, clutching his towel. “What’s going on here, then?” Before Deniz can form a coherent response – something he’s not sure he’s capable of, anyway, under the circumstances – Julia’s stepped up close, reaching up to grasp his chin. “What the hell happened to your mouth?”

He jerks his head away from her touch instinctively, then tries to soften his reaction with a smile. “Uh… hockey. Someone, ah, punched it.”

“Uh huh. Through your helmet?” She’s told him once that for a woman in her profession to make it as far as she did, she’s had to be twice as quick-witted as anyone else. She wasn’t kidding. He’s up against the sink already, so there’s nowhere to escape to when she stands up on tip-toes, tilting her head, and brushes her lips across his in a brief kiss, still chilly from the cold winter air.

When she pulls back, her brown eyes, normally the warm hue of sherry, have hardened. “You sucked someone off just now.” Her mouth twists sideways in a sneer. “I do know the taste, you know.”

“I…” he starts, groping wildly for something to say, but Julia is already turning away, coat flaring around her as she does a swift survey of the locker room. She takes a few steps, nudges one of the crumpled twenty-euro notes with the tip of a polished leather boot, and turns back towards him with anger tightening her face into square lines that make her look older. “Haven’t even had time to collect the fee yet, have you?”

“Julia, it’s not…”

Her raised hand, palm towards him, cuts him off. “We had an arrangement here, Deniz. A three-month trial period, exclusive. You do know what that means, exclusive?”

“Deniz, love, you wouldn’t know what exclusive meant if it bit you in the ass.”

He draws breath angrily to defend himself, but she’s talking right over him. “It means I don’t like sharing, Deniz. It means I don’t want to wonder where your dick has been before you stick it in me. It means I don’t want to taste other men’s come on your breath.” She pauses, an angry flush high on her cheeks, and glares at him. “If I’d thought there could be room for misunderstanding there, I’d have phrased the terms a little more bluntly, but funnily enough, I thought ‘exclusive’ kind of covered the lot.”

“It’s my ex,” he blurts, trying to defuse a situation he feels rapidly slipping out of his control. “He’s… we have this history of… look, it’s not what it looks like, okay? It wasn’t a job. He was angry, and… but he’s not – I mean, I’m not…”

“Deniz,” Julia says, shaking her head; she sounds a bit calmer, but there’s a wry formality to her tone that he’s never heard. “I don’t care. I’m sorry if this sounds harsh, but I’m not interested in your little personal problems, okay? The purpose of our arrangement was not to have fuzzy heart-to-hearts about our respective relationships. I have my own baggage, and I’m not paying good money to be saddled with someone else’s.”

He stares at her, dumb-founded: an attractive businesswoman in her late thirties, her anger now firmly under control, who looks at him with nothing more than professional annoyance, and he doesn’t have a clue who she is, or what he’s doing here with her.

Julia cocks her head, the shiny curtain of her hair falling forward over the lapel of her coat. “Don’t you have anything to say?”

It would probably be alright, if he did. If he apologised properly, put on a smiling, solicitous face and let her take him out to dinner, if he lavished her with attention to make up for his distasteful slip and later followed her to a hotel room and let her do to him whatever she likes. It might be okay.

But he says nothing, and after a moment, Julia nods curtly and digs in her purse for her car keys. “Consider the contract void,” she says coolly. “Just so you know, I’ll be advising the agency not to solicit your services anymore. No one appreciates unprofessional conduct.” She pauses at the door, looking back over her shoulder. “It takes more than just a pretty face to work in this line of business, Deniz,” she says, not entirely unkindly. “And you’ve clearly got some conflict of interest going on here. I suggest you figure out what it is and don’t waste other people’s time with commitments you can’t stick to.”

With that, she’s gone, her heels clacking away down the length of the hall, and once again, Deniz is left staring at a closed door. He shuts his eyes and rubs his hands across his face as if to erase the trace of her touch, or Roman’s, or both; when he reopens them, they’re drawn yet again to the offensive three notes of money on the floor. With a muttered curse, he kicks at them – ineffectively, since he’s barefoot and they don’t exactly offer a lot of resistance. One of the balled-up twenties bounces off the tiles to disappear in the crack between the lockers and the wall; the other two stay more or less in place, the hundred still stuck to the floor with dried come.

He stumbles past them into the shower and turns it up as hot as he can bear. Standing under the hard pressure of the water, he pushes his palms flat against the wall and lets his head drop, trying to find breath in the damp space near his own chest. Despair and shamed rage uncoil slowly inside him, fanning outwards and up as if released by the punishing rush of hot water that pummels his bowed shoulders, sluicing the taste and touch and smell of Roman off him, at least on the outside. Unconsciously, his hands clench into fists, and a sound tears itself out of him, an enraged, inarticulate cry that sends his right fist flying, slamming into the slick tile once, twice, three times. He’s sobbing furiously and uncontrollably, shoulders heaving and lungs constricting in near-panic, trying to draw air from the hot, uncompromising wetness that surrounds him. On the fourth punch, the tile actually gives, a crack opening and a shard of ceramic breaking off to clatter to the wet floor. Blinking rapidly against the water running down from his hair, Deniz watches it bounce between his feet and then lie still near the drain, streaks of red rapidly diluting around it as water rinses blood off his split knuckles.

Suddenly there’s not an ounce of strength left in his legs. He slumps down, forehead dropping onto his knees and his arms wrapped over his head, still gasping for breath as, like the tile, he cracks open.

~~~ Next ~~~