Harry's Day Out

Perry probably should have known when he saw Harry Lockhart sprawled out on the sofa reading a newspaper that something was up. Harry didn't read. Well, he didn't read much. And he didn't read anything that required any brain power. He read shitty detective novels. He read the ingredients on food packages and enjoyed struggling to pronounce some of the more complex ones. Especially in weird and kind of offensive accents while drunk.

Perry had seriously considered putting child locks on his cupboards so Harry wouldn't be able to get at their food while he was pissed, but he wasn't sure Harry would be smart enough to figure out how to open them while sober, and he didn't want him to starve. And he definitely didn't want to have to worry about feeding him, when he already had about ten thousand things to worry about to ensure that Harry would not die.

Since Harry came into his life, he's also picked up the man's brutal habit of going off annoying and inefficient tangents far too often. It seems rambling is contagious. The point here is, is that Harry may have always enjoyed reading stupid shit, but in the considerable amount of time that he'd lived with Perry, he had never read a newspaper for anything other than the comics, so Perry's suspicions should have been raised. But they weren't and here's what happens because of that.

Perry walks into the room.

"Hey, look," Harry says casually from where he lies half upright on the couch, flipping through the paper. "The gay pride parade's on this weekend. You gonna go?"

"Yeah, I guess," Perry shrugs, feeling slightly uncomfortable and not knowing why. There's something way too purposefully casual in the way Harry just asked.

"Cool," he says, but with the awkward air of someone who has more to say. He opens and closes his mouth a couple of times and just when Perry's about to yell at him to fucking spit it out, he spits it out.

"So, uh, should I, like, come or something?"

"What? Why?" Perry asks sharply, hoping the aggressive tone will cover up the fact that he's a little floored by the question.

"I dunno," Harry shrugs, looking a little shy. "'Cause we're friends. I've been living here for eight months and working with you for what, eleven? The closest I've gotten to gay culture is running into whoever it is you're fucking in the hallways in the middle of the night. Oh, and listening to your painfully homosexual music. But I assume there's more to it than one night stands and bad music and getting you to talk about that kind of thing is about as easy as drawing blood from a stone.

"I just think maybe I should…I dunno, try to expand my knowledge of your people," Harry says, ignoring the way Perry snorts at 'your people.' "You know, to clear up misunderstandings like thinking you can shoot things with your cock or that you all listen to Barbara Streisand. Because I'm pretty sure that's just you, pansy man."

"I do not listen to Barbara fucking Streisand," Perry hisses indignantly, unable to process any of the preceding statements because he's so appalled at that last one.

"Ha. Not when you think I'm home. But I've seen hidden things in hidden places. Celine Dion really tugs at the heartstrings, doesn't she?" Harry says, almost giggling with glee.

"Go through my shit again and I will end you. No joke," Perry says totally stone faced.

"Relax. I was just looking for a CD. A manly CD, though I guess I was looking in the completely wrong place for that. I wasn't snooping. It's okay though. Isn't that what this whole gay pride thing is about? Being proud to be who you are?" Harry asks, with a way too forced air of innocence. "You shouldn't be embarrassed to shout it from the mountaintops if you like power ballads. I'm sure lots of men take bubble baths and weep over the tragic love of Rose and Leo described in musical form. And even if they don't, you should still be proud of your unique wimpiness. You should-"

"Silence. Now. Do not push me, Lockhart."

"Oooooh, bringing out the last name. Scary," Harry says sarcastically, wiggling his fingers cheekily. Perry holds up a finger in warning as Harry mocks him, but what used to work at shutting Harry up now just gets him an insolent roll of the eyes. The bastard is obviously learning that Perry's bark is worse than his bite. Took him long enough, really. Idiot.

While Perry internally grumbles about Harry's lack of respect, Harry prepares to take the conversation back to where Perry wished it wouldn't go.

"So, can I come?"

Hell fucking no. He wants to say. But even though it's annoying and awkward, Perry has to admit that the sentiment is sweet. So instead of saying an outright no, which in retrospect he realizes he should have, he wrinkles his brow and says,

"I really don't think it's your thing, Harry."

"What? Why not?"

"You'd be out of your element. You'd be freaked out. You're way too straight."

"So? I'm pretty sure you're allowed to watch even if you don't suck dick, Perry," Harry says, folding his arms in a look-how-smart-I-am way that makes Perry seethe. He raises an eyebrow and continues, "That's what the parade's supposed to be about, isn't it? Tolerance. Like PFLAG. They're Parents and Friends of Gays and Lesbians. Or Lesbians and Gays, I guess it is. Whatever. I'm a friend of gay. I can go. I'm a PFLAG," Harry grins proudly.

Perry sputters a little before he gets out a strangled, "Harry, if you join PFLAG you'll be living in a cardboard box this time tomorrow. And you have no idea how seriously I mean that."

"Relax, slick. I'm trying to be cool here," Harry says, giving Perry a withering look when he loudly 'pfffts' at the word 'cool.' "I'm trying to be involved in your life or whatever. I can handle whatever you guys throw at me." He stares down Perry, who still looks incredibly doubtful, and decides to keep going, even though he hasn't thought out his argument much further.

"And I'll get to see some hot lesbians and stuff, right? So I get to be a cool, tolerant friend and see chicks kissing. It's win/win. Though I don't really know what you'll be winning, exactly. It's really me who'll be winning both things, and I guess that's really not helping me to convince you to let me come, except I bet if I keep going like this, you'll realize that what you'll win is the glorious gift of Harry shutting the fuck up and you'll give in just like you al-"

"You know what? Fine. Come if you want. I don't care. Just don't whine to me if you see more than you'd like to of 'my people.' We're done talking about this," Perry says, shoving Harry's legs off the couch and sitting on it himself, fingertips on his temples, knowing he is going to regret this severely.

Harry gives him a grin so smug he wants to punch out a tooth because there's no way he could look as infuriatingly self-satisfied while simultaneously looking like a hillbilly. He decides against it, because that would make Harry a lot less fun to look at. He tries to reprimand himself for thinking that, but such thoughts have been popping into his head for too long now, as unwanted and unstoppable as the boners of a twelve year old with the hots for his fresh-out-of-college science teacher.

Harry is pretty excited the night before the parade. He looks forward to meeting some crazy gay people and seeing some rainbow flags and maybe finally getting to meet the friends Perry claims to have. Which would be nice, because Perry's always keeping him at an arm's length and it drives him insane. It's not like he wants to giggle into the night about crushes and confide in each other their hopes and dreams, but it would be nice to be let in a little more. They live together, they laugh together, they know a good bit more about each other than most bosses and employees do about each other and he thinks they're best friends, but if Perry won't even let him meet his other friends, maybe they're not.

Whatever. He's cracked now anyway, and thinking about it, it kind of does suck a little because now he'll no longer be able to make 'Perry has imaginary friends' jokes, which are lots of fun. But then, there are infinite numbers of fun ways to get Perry to throw hissy fits and he finds new ones every day, so he isn't worried.

He is pretty excited the morning of the parade too, and even though Perry is glaring daggers at him, he doesn't let it get him down. He is even excited, though a little frightened, when they get out of the car and a guy in a magenta feather boa runs up to Perry, squeezes his ass, kisses his cheek, and squeals an effeminate greeting. Then he turns to Harry, beaming.

"Hey gorgeous, I'm Shirley. You must be the famous Harry. I'm glad to finally meet you," Shirley coos, offering a hand out for Harry to kiss, which he does, for the simple fact that he has no idea what else to do. Perry pffts loudly.

"Infamous is more like it," Perry grumbles, as he has been all morning. "Go easy on him, Shirl. I think he's about to get the shock of his life."

Shirley looks elated and sings, "Oh baby, you're gonna have fuuuun today."

Suddenly Harry feels his excitement waver a little as apprehension settles in. He hears music coming from a block away and figures that's where they were heading. He feels like he's about to march into battle.

"Come on, ladies," Shirley winks, taking Perry by the hand. "The rest of the gang is up here. Everyone's super excited to finally meet you, Harry. I can see now why our Perry kept you hidden all this time," he said, eyes swooping over Harry's body suggestively.

Harry sees Perry shake his head in disbelief as Shirley pulls him along, and he follows, taking in the crowd, which gets denser and gayer as they head towards the parade avenue. Guys in tutus, guys in Speedos, guys in evening gowns, guys in cowboy boots and short shorts. Everywhere he turns.

Yeah, maybe he did bite off more than he could chew here. And then the metaphor puts bad images in his head and he feels even worse

Perry turns around to check on him as Shirley drags him down the street. Harry catches his eye and widens his in a way that says 'what the fuck am I doing here?'

"You look like you're about to shit a brick. This is why I never introduced you to my friends," Perry says through gritted teeth. "Well that and the fact that you're an embarrassment to the human race, obviously."

"See, and I always thought it was 'cause you didn't have any," Harry snarks, looking pleased with himself until Perry stops short, holds out a foot and sends Harry flying into the arms of shirtless, Schwarzenegger-esque man who catches him deftly and holds on for far too long, saying something about having caught a fallen angel in a thick European accent.

He hears Perry laughing uproariously and glares at the back of his head as if it'll help. "I'm glad you're tickled," he mutters.

"Aw, look," Perry coos, grinning evilly as they walk, pointing out a costume vendor. "They're selling wings at that stall there. Wanna buy a pair to play up your grizzly bear's fantasies?"

"Wanna buy a pair to see if they'll help you to fly your head out of your own ass?" Harry sneers, knowing it sounds pretty lame but too distracted by the overwhelming amount of gayness surrounding him to think of a better response. He tries to focus on the cute girls making out on a bench nearby, but finds it difficult when there are young guys in ridiculously bright thong underwear dancing on a car to blaring techno music right in front of him.

They come to a halt and Perry is greeted with a peck on the cheek by three men, two who look relatively normal, and a third who sports a leather miniskirt, hot pink fishnets and hooker boots on a pair of very, very unshaven legs. Harry wills himself not to cringe. He's supposed to be cool. They're all shooting him grins a mile wide and he tries to do the same back without looking totally vacant. No doubt they've all already heard about what an idiot he is from Perry.

The guy in fishnets introduces himself as Rick, puts a hand on his arm and asks, while batting heavily made-up eyelashes, if Harry's ready to run off screaming yet. Harry laughs nervously, because the man has no idea how true it is.

The taller of the other two men holds out a hand and shakes his firmly. His name's Eddie and he too says he's glad to finally meet Harry. Harry actually grins at Perry triumphantly when he hears this, because the guy sounds pretty genuine and it obviously means Perry likes him enough to talk about him with his friends, and enough to make them really want to meet him.

He sees Eddie and Rick exchange a look upon observing his victoriouslook, so he quickly stops and turns towards the last guy.

He's Harry's height, with dark eyes and wavy, longish brown hair. He sports a necklace of rainbow beads against a tight black shirt that accentuates pecs Harry can't help but be impressed by. Of course, he freaks out a little at that random thought and wonders if gayness is a little contagious. Perry would have definitely smacked him if he'd said that aloud and he's glad it's so noisy and he's focusing on meeting Perry's friends because otherwise he probably would have.

Suddenly, for no justified reason, he finds himself wondering if Perry's ever fucked this dude and then wonders why he's wondering that at all. Then he freaks out a little more, because he really shouldn't be concerned with who Perry fucks anyway. He doubts they have, anyway, because Perry seems incapable of fucking someone more than once and he thinks Perry's probably been friends with these guys for a while. It might be awkward if they'd slept together. But then, maybe it's different for homos. Maybe he'll learn that today. He's here for educational purposes. Not to notice Perry's gay friend's muscles or feel an unexplainable irritation at the idea of them banging each other.

Shaking away those thoughts, he holds out a hand to the guy, who introduces himself as Paul and bats Harry's hand away.

"Any guy Perry deems worthy of living under his precious roof must be cool enough to hug," he says, smiling warmly and pulling Harry in for a hug which he accepts awkwardly. "Seriously. Poor Eddie here lived with Perry for a week before he snapped and through him out. What was it for, Ed? Putting the mugs in the wrong cabinet?"

"It was plates," Eddie says solemnly, shaking his head.

"See?" Paul says, gleefully, and everyone nods in agreement, as if they're getting some big point Harry is missing. "We heard you flooded the dishwasher. You must have something big going for you if you can get him to put aside his anal retentiveness for you. Hehheh. Anal," he winks, turning to the rest of them who chuckle appreciatively. Well, everyone except Perry, who seems to chuckle with a certain amount of…nervousness. Harry looks at Paul uncomfortably and sees the man flinch, almost as if he'd just had his toe stepped on really hard. Weird.

With introductions done, they all turn their attention to the parade, which it appears they missed the beginning of. Because Perry couldn't decide what to wear, which Harry mocked him for intensely, especially because he eventually settled on a white button down shirt that didn't look remotely different from the first three he'd tried on, but was apparently a whole different brand and style. Whatever.

After about ten minutes Harry is in agony. Perry's never exactly been shy about mentioning the reasons why he wants to fuck a certain guy, and Harry's always been totally cool with it, as long as he didn't go into detail as to what exactly would happen during said fucking session. He'd always thought of himself as an extremely tolerant guy.

But being surrounded on all sides by men who are wolf-whistling at really built guys who are dancing by in tiny shorts, making comments like "I just want to handcuff him to my bed and suck til it falls off" or "Would it be okay if I just pulled him into that alley and took him against the dumpster?" is starting to get to him a little. He doesn't think that makes him a bad person. Or a homophobe. It's just a lot of glistening man chests and sex talk to hear in one go.

Perry seems to be watching him closely and defensively, like he is ready to snap the moment Harry makes a move to complain. Paul keeps smiling and patting him sympathetically, saying things like "Hang in there, buddy" and "How are you holding up?" Perry finds this irritating and keeps telling Paul to shut up because Harry dug his own grave and now he needs to deal with it.

Paul winks at Harry when this happens and tells him Perry's meanest to the people he loves most. This seems to irritate Perry even more.

Harry perks up a bit when he sees a very scantily clad woman coming down towards them on a float. She's wearing a gold sequined bikini and feathers in her hair and just exudes confidence. He thumps Perry on the small of his back and grins triumphantly.

"Now, see? I knew there was a reason I came. Geez, she is smokin.' See, why can't they all look like that, instead of chopping off all their hair and dressing like lumberjacks?" Harry wonders loudly, ignoring the glares he receives from a group of women in front of him. "Seriously, I know you can't really appreciate this, but that rack is phenomenal. Fake as fake can be, but who cares, really? They look good."

"Harry, can I tell you something?" Perry asks, beckoning him closer. Harry's wary, as he's been duped by Perry before, but leans in.

"What?"

"You're talking about that chick, are you?"

"Yeah," Harry says, suspiciously. "The one on the float. Come on Perry, I know you like guys, but what other hot chick with an amazing rack could I be talking about?"

"Harry," Perry says, shaking his head and placing a hand on his shoulder. "That's a man."

Flabbergasted doesn't even begin to cover his reaction.

"What?"

"Yes, idiot. At least she used to be. I know her," Perry says, torn between sympathy and amusement as he watches the look of horror on Harry's face. Perry's friends have definitely overheard and are falling over themselves laughing.

"Oh," Harry says, paling a little. "Well. Good, good job there. Very convincing. He, uh she, should like, give tips to women or something, 'cause uh…yeah."

He looks around helplessly and spots a bar on the corner of the block.

"Look, Perry," he says, trying to ignore the laughing friends. "I, I need a drink. I'll. I'll be just over there. I'll be back. I'm going over-"

"Okay, Harry," Perry cuts him off, shaking his head and smiling a little at Harry's obvious suffering and his desperate struggle not to show how badly he is. "Relax. Go ahead. We'll be here."

Perry makes sure to stare steadfastly ahead at the parade once Harry leaves, avoiding the eyes of his friends who are sure to have an obscene number of comments about Harry and their insane ideas about their relationship now that he's out of earshot. They come anyway and Perry does what he can to deflect them like a press secretary until Harry gets back.

When he does get back, he's smiling. A float goes by playing a disco beat and he feels Harry on his right, bobbing along to the music. He stares at him. Harry shrugs.

"What? I'm just getting into the spirit."

Perry puts his face in his palms. When he looks up, Rick has moved over a few steps and is dancing with Harry, who looks incredibly pleased with himself for fitting in. Perry groans. He's trying so hard not to pay attention to happy Harry that he doesn't notice when he slips away to the bar for another drink. He wants to chastise the guys for not saying anything to him, but he knows they'll read too deeply into it, like they always do where Harry's concerned.

He watches the parade, unable to believe how much he is not enjoying it or how stupid he was for letting Harry come along when he could have made him do filing at the office or catch up on Perry's messages or something to keep him out of trouble. He turns often towards the bar to see if Harry's coming out its doors. And then, he's there.

He's coming down the street towards them, caught up in animated conversation with a scorching blond in a white wife-beater. When he reaches them, Perry sees him fist bump the guy, who does it back but looks distinctly disappointed that the conversation's over. Perry bristles with annoyance.

"Hey guys," Harry says, smiling and definitely a lot closer to drunk than he was when he left. "Did you see that guy? He invited us all to a party after this. I dunno what the plan is after this, but he's clearly not my type, given the whole penis thing, so if anyone wants to snatch him up, here."

He waggles a flyer advertising a club Perry's familiar with at Eddie. "He seemed very nice." He winks at Eddie as he takes the flyer.

Harry seems to be enjoying the parade a lot more now, and is chatting to Eddie and Paul about things like good brands of cigarettes and favorite bars. Perry can't explain why he feels so pissed that Harry's having fun and hitting it off with his friends. It's like he can't decide which is worse :'sober and painfully uncomfortable' Harry or tipsy 'embracing the spirit' Harry.

He tries to drown out their conversation, and before he knows it, Harry's slipped off to the bar again.

"Oh my fucking God," Perry moans, throwing his face into his palm when he spots a returning Harry. "What did I do to deserve this? Seriously. Did I not donate enough to orphans at Christmas or something? Is this some kind of sick karma?"

Harry is bouncing down the street towards them, looking more pleased with himself than ever, a rainbow flag bandana tied around his head, a necklace of rainbow beads around his neck and three buttons saying God knows what pinned to his chest.

"What the fuck is this, Harry?" he asks when the ridiculous excuse for a human being he calls his employee and roommate reaches him, looking so goofy and satisfied with himself Perry could kill something.

"It's a gay pride parade. Where've you been?" Harry grins. Paul snickers to his right and Perry gives him a withering stare before turning back to Harry.

"I'm aware of that, you fucking moron. What's with the…the…"

He can't even bring himself to say it. As if speaking the words aloud would somehow make the fact that Harry is decked out in gay pride gear and giggling like a schoolboy less real and less horrific.

"What? These?" Harry asks, shaking his beads proudly. "I'm sitting at the bar, waiting to order my next shot, and this guy comes up to me wearing like thirty of them. Well, more like five. Whatever. He starts talking to me and finds out I'm at the parade with absolutely nothing decorative or festive on my person. Says it's a crime.

"I blamed it on you, of course. Told him my grumpy-ass roommate is the gay one, but he's obviously a boring sack so he didn't dress up, and didn't bother to tell me I should if I didn't wanna be a total square. So he fixed it for me. Nice guy. Put this on for me and everything," Harry says, gesturing to his bandana. "And he bought me a couple of shots. Nice guy," he says approvingly, a small smile on his face.

"You look fucking ridiculous," Perry says, snatching the bandana off his head. He grabs some of Harry's hair along with it, not necessarily by accident. Harry yelps and hits him in the stomach, seizing it back. He inspects it carefully, smoothing out the wrinkles and looking for injuries. Perry is appalled at the concerned look on his face. This has to be a nightmare. Harry looks satisfied that his bandana is unharmed and starts arranging it so it can be put back on his head.

"Harry, don't do it."

"Yeah, because I seriously will be the strangest dressed person at this parade if I put a colorful bandana back on my head," Harry says, rolling his eyes in the direction of a few guys in drag.

"This is so stupid," Perry says. "You're straight. And drunk"

Harry starts to look irritated now. "And you're a heterophobe! What, just because I don't listen to Barbra Streisand and fuck a different guy every night, I can't wear a rainbow on my head?"

Perry starts to say something, but Harry's not done.

"You know what? I was having a nice conversation back there. I decided to come out and see what you were up to, since I came here to like, be a supportive friend and stuff. But since you wanna be a prick about it, I'm going back to my much nicer gay friend now, who thinks it's pretty fucking cool that I'm embracing gay culture even though I'm straight!"

He quickly ties his bandana and storms off towards the bar again. Perry stares after him with clenched teeth. Paul cackles beside him. Perry rounds on him.

"This isn't funny. Did you see that? Didn't I tell you he was a fucking idiot? Sometimes I don't know why I put up with him."

Paul shakes his head, still laughing a little. "I know why you put up with him."

Perry glares. "No. This is so not the time to bring up that moronic theory."

"Yeah. It's a theory like gravity's a theory," Paul scoffs.

"Paul," Perry warns.

Paul looks like he'd quite enjoy pressing the issue a little further, but Perry stares him out for long enough that he gives up. Shrugging, he glances at Harry's retreating back, and grins, "I think I'm gonna go for a drink."

"Good. Keep an eye on him. I am not dealing with his emotional trauma when he realizes he got seduced and used by a man. It was bad e-fucking-nough when Harmony did it to him. He's such a…ugh." He trails off, sighing.

Paul claps him on the back and follows after Harry. Perry tries to focus on the parade, which should thank the fucking Lord be over soon, but finds he can't think about anything but Harry's goofy grin. There's no getting around the fact that he's going to be thinking about Harry for the rest of the parade. So he settles on forcing himself to think angrily about Harry rather than about how fucking adorable he may or may not have looked, all rainbow-ed out and eager to please. Because those thoughts won't get him anywhere.

One Hour Later

The parade ends, finally. Eddie and Rick have started talking to the guys next to them and Perry listens impatiently. He wants to just get Harry and go and forget this stupid thing ever happened. He tries to will the guys to end their conversation with his mind, and some overtly pissed off body language, but he can tell Rick is into one of them and figures it could be a while. They usually go out for drinks or to a party or something after the parade, but Perry doesn't plan on doing that this time anyway. He doesn't know why he's waiting.

He leans in to Eddie and says, "I'm going to get Harry."

Then he stalks off towards the bar. He glances in the door, hoping he'll see Harry right away, catch his eye, snap his fingers and be on his (not-so) merry way. He groans when he surveys the room. It's ridiculously crowded now that the parade's over. Seething, he enters it and fights his way towards the bar. Because where the fuck else would Harry be?

He gets close enough that he has a view of all the people sitting at the counter. He doesn't see Harry. Not at first anyway. His view of Harry's face is somewhat obstructed. By another face. Paul's face. Because they're making out. Full-on, making out, with groping and tongues and grabbing clothes.

His head spins for a moment and something in his stomach feels like it's gone horribly wrong. He finds himself unable to move as he watches Harry's hands tightly grasping at his oldest friend's hips, pulling him closer. He doesn't want to see this. He doesn't want to think about the feelings fighting to be felt by his very forcefully repressed mind as he sees this.

Finally, he's able to break out of his trance and move up to them. When he reaches them, he puts an open palm on Paul's shoulder and shoves them apart hard.

He stares Paul's widened eyes down, his back to Harry. Paul makes some odd gasping noises, which sound like an odd mixture of laughter and fear.

"Perry!" He says finally, grinning too wide, breath reeking of booze. "I was just…we were just-"

"Take a cab. If you even attempt to drive him anywhere in this condition, I will ki…just take a cab, Paul, wherever you go," he says, voice sharp and a little wounded. He wishes he had been able to fight off the wounded part, but considering how hurt he really is, he thinks he's doing a pretty good job at containing it.

Perry thrusts some money into Paul's fist and walks out fast, trying to convince himself that it's very important to think about the details of their next stakeout instead of the fact that Harry, who he's only managed to keep away from for so long because he was straight, was just doing some very not straight things with someone who wasn't Perry. His silly crush on a total idiot is really, really not that important compared to a company's vice president possibly stealing bonds under the nose of…fuck it. Fuck Paul. Fuck Harry. Fuck fucking gay pride parades.

When Perry's out of earshot, Harry bursts out laughing, slightly nervously, like a teenager who's just been busted hooking up in the locker room by a teacher, but he stops when Paul doesn't join him, because he's too busy 'fuck' over and over and over again, his head resting on the bar. Harry puts a hand on his back.

"Hey man, relax. It's just Perry. He gets mad all the time. At everything. He never does anything about it. Half the time he doesn't even know what he's mad about. He'll be over it next we see him."

"No, he won't," Paul says into the wood of the bar, voice muffled.

"He will. Seriously. This is nothing. I have done so much worse than get drunk and all sexually confused by his hot, charming friend before," Harry chuckles, putting a hand on Paul's rock hard chest. "This one time, we were supposed to be following this middle school teacher who was accused of…doing not nice things to the kids. I was supposed to be handling most of it on my own. It was the first time he decided to give me any kind of responsibility and I messed up so-"

"Harry," Paul pleads, still not lifting his head from the bar. "Please shut up."

Harry does. He's very confused. He's learned to take Perry's far too frequent anger in stride. He would think Paul would have done the same, since it turns out he's known Perry for almost ten years.

Paul finally gets up and starts tapping himself on the face, hard and repeatedly, apparently trying to sober up.

"Okay. Okay. I can fix this," he says to himself, while Harry watches, bemused. "I can fix this. I can. How can I fix this?"

"Fix what?" Harry asks, perplexed.

"Christ," Paul glares. "You really are as big of an idiot as he says you are!"

Harry blinks a few times, and then his jaw drops.

"Oh."

Paul relaxes a little, relieved and thankful that Harry finally gets it, so they can go about fixing this horrible situation. Harry puts a hand on his shoulder, wincing.

"I had no idea you guys were together."

Paul nods a few times and then does a double take.

"Wait, what?"

"No idea. I mean, he's Perry. He never tells me shit about his personal life. At least not the gay parts of it. He's so closed off. But, dude, if you guys are together, you should know that he bangs other guys all the time, so he can hardly get pissy about you just kissing one," then he laughs. "What am I saying? He's Perry. He always gets pissy. But that's why we love him, right?"

He winks at Paul and pats his back a couple of times. Paul moans in agony and throws his head onto the bar once again. Harry blinks again. That was not the reaction he was expecting.

"Man, am I missing something here?"

Paul mumbles something unintelligible.

"Clearly I am. So, uh, I'll just wait for you explain things then, shall I? Perry always complains that I ask too many questions without waiting for an answer. So uh, can you tell me before I start asking the rest? Because I have…quite a few and I don't want them to pile up. Do you want another drink?" Harry asks, raising a hand for the barman and reaching for his wallet with the other. Paul quickly snaps his head up and swats Harry's hand down.

"No. No more drinking. Not alcohol, anyways. We need coffee. Lots of coffee. We need to sober up and fix this."

Harry has no idea what's going in, but when he's drunk, he's very compliant, which he guesses is how he ended up in that really enjoyable make-out session with Perry's friend in the first place, without even stopping to consider for a second that he is not gay.

He follows Paul out of the bar and into the deli next door, waits silently as he orders four cups of coffee and follows him out again without a word. He doesn't ask questions as Paul leads him through the streets, even though he's itching to. Finally they reach a small park, and Paul orders him to sit.

"Drink this. Fast," he says, chugging his own as Harry wonders why he always seems attracted to bossy guys. Not that he's, uh, ever been attracted to any guys before today, when he caught the gayness, which he's now certain is contagious. He has no idea what bossy guy other than Paul he could have been referring to. No idea.

He sips his coffee, looking impressed as Paul reaches for his second cup already. That had to be a record. He finds himself wondering what else Paul would be able to chug so fast, and then thinks, whoa, am I really ready to go there so soon?

But then he thinks about the hardness of Paul's abs and the hardness of his cock and how bad he wishes Paul would just get over this whole Perry thing so he can grab those rainbow beads around his neck and pull him towards him and kiss him again, all manly and forcefully in a way he could never kiss a chick because that would be really ungentlemanly.

He decides that he definitely is ready to go there. This parade has clearly kicked his tolerance to a whole new level.

But Paul isn't ready. Definitely not. He still looks kinda like Harry looked the time he shot that guy he only had an eight percent chance of killing. Really guilty and reallyhorrified. Why?

"Okay, Paul. I'm trying be patient here, but I'm gonna explode any minute now," he says. Then looks down at his crotch. "I didn't mean like that. Though that's not entirely wrong. What I mean is, you have to tell me what you think is going on that has Perry so mad and has you so fucking freaked. Like I said, Perry gets mad all the time, but it's always pretty short lived. I really think you're making way too big a-"

"Harry."

Harry shuts up.

"Me and Perry, being a couple? So not the problem here."

"Oh, you're not? Good." Harry says, perking up a little, until he sees Paul flinch at his happiness. "Well. what is the problem, then?"

"Harry, you're a detective, right?"

"Right. Well. Kind of. I mean, I go on cases and stuff, but I'm pretty much useless except for the rare stroke of genius. I'm pretty sure he just gave me the job to keep me from stealing shit. Which I used to do, I dunno if he told you. I don't anymore though-"

"So, did you notice," Paul interrupts. "That Perry didn't look at you at all back in the bar?"

"Yeah," Harry says. "I guess he was pretty mad at you. That's why I assumed you guys were, you know." He holds up his hands and makes a very elementary school gesture to indicate sex.

"Harry, I'm pretty sure he's mad at both of us. It's just me, he could actually bring himself to look at."

Harry nods, but clearly has no idea what Paul is getting at. Paul sighs in frustration.

"You're really not gonna make this easy on me, are you?"

"Make what easy?"

"Ugh. Okay," Paul says grabbing his hair in his fists and pulling. "Look, this isn't easy for me to tell you. Me and the guys, we like to tease him. It's hard to resist. I mean, you know Perry. You know it's funny when he's mad. Well, not the kinda mad he is now, obviously. This is not funny at all. But even though I liked to joke about it, seriously, I never planned on ever saying it so, uh, explicitly to your face. It's really not my place to tell. It's kind of the ultimate betrayal. But since I've already been a piece of shit today, I might be able to even out the damage of the first betrayal with a second. I-"

"What the hell are you talking about, man?"

Paul stares at him. Swallows. "Perry's in love with you."

Silence. "Look, Harry. You've gotta do something other than blink rapidly at me. I need to know what you think about this."

"ME? Perry's in love with me? You're kidding, right? Did he…did he tell you?"

Paul laughs. "Of course not. He's Perry. He'd sooner cut off his own dick than admit something like that. And he is very, very fond of his dick. He would never tell us. But we know. I mean, it's obvious. You and your alleged idiot ways did something to him. And now I've gone and made out with you," Paul moans miserably.

"Obvious? Obvious how? Because, it's not obvious to me. Not at all. He spends most of the day bitching at me. The only time he touches me is with the intention of injuring me. Are- are you sure?"

Paul nods.

"Yes, Harry. I'm sure. Look, I guess it makes sense that you wouldn't see it. He probably puts every ounce of effort he has into making sure you don't see it. But us? We knew Perry before you showed up, and we knew him after. He went from fucking random guys left and right to…well, to fucking even more random guys left and right. But it was obvious to us that the dramatic increase in random guy fucking fervor was clearly an attempt to get his mind off something."

Somewhere in the middle of his words, Paul seemed to decide it was a good idea not to look at Harry as he talked, because seeing his reactions would make honesty far more difficult. He feels honesty is important right now, so as he continues, it's with his eyes staring pointedly at a pigeon feather on the ground.

"I really was only joking when I asked him if that something he was trying to keep his mind off was the mysterious straight guy from New York who he took a bullet for after only knowing for a few days, and who he then gave a job and place to stay to.

"But his reaction. Goddamn, his reaction gave the whole thing away. Now, Perry's a tense guy, as I'm sure you know, but I had never seen him as tense in my life. It was a dead giveaway that I'd struck a nerve, and the other guys saw it too. We assumed at first that it was just a little attraction and he was just frustrated that he couldn't fuck you like he could practically every other guy he wanted. But I think we caught on pretty fast that it was more than that. Much more."

"He just has this way of talking about you, Harry. I never would have thought Perry was capable of feeling like that for anyone. On the surface, it was all 'God, you won't believe what shit Harry pulled this time. I swear, if he keeps this up, I'm gonna have to throw him out. I don't want to, because I don't know how he made it this far without someone watching his ass, but this is his fifth fuck-up this week. It's Tuesday, for fucks sake!" Harry is impressed by the imitation.

"I think that was the time you accidentally dyed his laundry pink," Paul says, smiling, but still looking hard at the ground.

"But underneath that, we could see that as pissed as he was about his Calvin Kleins getting ruined, he was trying too hard to be mad. He was trying too hard not to think about anything but how mad he was. Because he knew if he didn't, he'd be thinking about how sweet it was that you tried to do laundry for him and that he was, among other things, in love with the fact that you couldn't even do laundry right but that you were trying to help out anyway.

"Stuff like that happened a lot. He bitched about you all the time, but it was always with this air of affection that just radiated through his attempts at being mad. And when you occasionally got stuff right? Cutest thing ever. He tried to be cool about it, just casually dropping in what you'd done to save the day when he was telling us about the latest case. But he was so clearly bursting with pride. He couldn't hide it.

"You have no idea how badly we were dying to meet you, after seeing how you'd turned our hard-ass Perry into mush. We even stopped teasing him about his undying love for you over the past few months so that he'd trust us to meet you without bringing it up in front of you. Which I guess he probably shouldn't have," Paul said sheepishly.

"Look, Harry. I don't know what you want to do with this information. But you've got to do something. And please know that, I really, really did not mean for that to happen back there. I didn't want to fuck up your friendship and make things horribly awkward between you and force a confrontation. I came into the bar to try and get to know you to see if maybe there was a possibility that you were less straight than Perry claimed you were. Because he's cynical and scared and would never entertain the idea that maybe he could be happy with the guy that he loves. I just wanted to see if there was a chance you could be gay for Perry."

"I did not mean to learn it in such a, um, hands on way. But what can I say? Perry has good taste in men, and you have good taste in liquor and it was a bad combination. But, anyway. You didn't do anything wrong here, man, but he's definitely hurt and confused. I saw it in his eyes. I'm gonna do what I can to make it right, but I don't know. I think you're the one who needs to talk to him first."

He looks at Harry, pained, for a second, but then glances down once again and continues, because he doesn't want to give him the chance to talk yet. He needs to get out what he has to say.

"So look, I don't know if it was an experiment, or a total lapse in judgment due to the drinking, or if you really think there's a possibility that you could be gay. But if there is, you do not wanna be making out with random guys."

He looks up again, because he needs to stare Harry in the eye for this part, needs him to know how serious he is.

"You wanna be making out with Perry, just Perry, for the rest of your life. Because I know he can be way too uptight, and kind of a jerk, but he thinks the world of you, even if it kills him to admit it. You and I both know there's nothing he wouldn't do for you and from all the stories he tells us about your shenanigans it sounds like you couldn't possibly have more fun with anyone else. So just, if you are gay, be gay for Perry, okay?"

Harry is quiet for some time, allowing the gravity of everything Paul's just said to sink in. He's still not sober and he wishes he'd taken fewer shots and drank more cups of coffee. Yeah well. If wishes were horses Harry would get on one and ride far away so he didn't have to deal with this unbelievably confusing excess of information. But they're not and he has to deal.

Okay. Time to assess the situation. Perry's in love with him. And Perry's hot friend, who he was planning to do… stuff with because he was feeling drunk and reckless and into the spirit of gay pride, is now telling him he needs to do somethingwith the knowledge he's just gained. Except he can't. Because with Paul, it could have just been a fun experiment and if he had regrets the next day he could have just filed it as a failed experiment, been weirded out for a while and then gone on with his life.

But with Perry? If he were, and he's not saying he wants to, to go for it with Perry, that would be a much different, much scarier and much messier affair. One that he's not sure he can handle, and he's not sure if he's willing to find out. Because if Perry's really in love with him (and he kinda has to be, because no human being could put up with Harry's shit if they weren't) then he can't just test out his newfound curiosity on him and back out if it's not his thing. If he goes for it with Perry, it has to be real.

Could it ever be real? Him and Perry, together? Yesterday, the question would have been completely laughable, but today as soon as he asks the question inside his head, a rush of electricity, of excitement and of fear courses through the rest of his body with a fierceness that far exceeds any that Paul, or any other person ever gave him. It thrills him and terrifies him but he quickly realizes it doesn't surprise him.

Even though it sounds really girly, or really gay, Harry's a hopeless romantic and always has been. Even though he's always more than happy to get laid under any circumstances, it's only mind-numbingly amazing, only shakes him to his core and stands out in his memory and makes him never wanna leave, when there's an emotional connection.

And who is he more emotionally connected to than Perry, who he's attached to at the hip? If truth be told, he and Perry are practically together already. They spend all their time together, know more about each other than anyone else, and probably can't live with out each other. He gets a sudden image of life without Perry, and it's dark and lonely and he realizes, a lot more horrifying than the thought of falling asleep in his arms every night. Geez. They are a fucking couple. The only thing that's missing is the sex.

And if Harry can get it up for Perry's gay friend that he only met a few hours ago, he can surely get it up for the one person he can count on more than anyone on the planet.

The one person who'll sit on the bathroom floor of some seedy bar with him as he pukes into a toilet, even though he's a total germ-o-phobe. The one person who'll keep his mouth shut until the next day, after Harry's had his morning coffee, about him missing said toilet and getting it all over his designer shoes instead.

The one person who'll yell at him for an hour when he gets all the filing wrong in the office, but teach him how it's done again the next day and give him a chance to make things right.

The one person who'll leave a hot date or an important meeting in a heartbeat if Harry calls to say he's lost his keys or get stranded somewhere. Sure, Perry claims it's because he doesn't have enough faith that Harry can survive longer than five minutes by himself in that kind of situation, but the fact remains that he shows up and that Perry is the one person he's got enough memories of to make this kind of list in his head about and Perry's one person who could make him feel all mushy and warm while making such a cheesy list.

So it's settled.

He can be gay for Gay Perry. He is gay for gay Perry and probably has been for a really, really long time without realizing it.

"Okay," Harry breathes, looking exhilarated. It's probably been about five minutes since he's done anything other than contemplate his feelings expressionlessly, so naturally, Paul is confused and expecting more of an explanation than that.

"'Okay'? What do you mean 'okay?" He sputters.

"I mean, I'm ready to do it. You know, the whole, end-of-the-romantic-comedy bit, where the guy rushes to find the love of his life and say he's sorry before it's too late, to beg for forgiveness and live happily ever after," he nods enthusiastically, but Paul's still not quite getting it.

"What?"

"I'm gonna go get Perry! I mean, you're hot and everything. Probably even hotter than Perry- and shit, I really am fucking gay. Are you hearing this? I'm actually comparing the hotness of two men here. Wow. That's gay. The point is though, even though you're very good looking and very nice, I chose the completely wrong guy to kiss here. Well no, that's not true," Harry decides.

"If you hadn't been all charming and attractive, I would not have thrown myself at you like a drunken groupie and discovered that I like kissing men. Perry probably would have punched me or something if I tried to kiss him to discover whether or not I like kissing men. And I wouldn't have done it to him anyway, because he always kept me at too much of a distance for us to have any kind of moment that would inspire kissing, so really, Paul, you've been extremely helpful in the helping-Harry-figure-out-who-he-should-be-kissing department. But though I might like kissing men, I think I'll like kissing Perry even more. Not that he's not a man. I mean I'd like it more than any man or woman. Because he's Perry. So, uh, thanks," Harry grins, placing a hand on Paul's shoulder.

"Well, I guess I'd better get going. I need to figure out what I'm gonna say, and I need to sober up a little more if I want him to take me seriously. And if all goes well, I'll put in a good word for you, man. You're a good guy, Paul."

Paul smiles briefly, but his expression abruptly turns serious.

"Harry, are you sure about this? I mean, really, really sure?"

"Yeah. Yeah, I am," Harry says, and he means it, and that feels good.

"You'd better be. Because if you break his heart, I know a whole lot of queers who'll be more than happy to slap the shit out of you."

Harry laughs. "Come on. Like I'm gonna break Perry's heart."

"Lockhart, I'm serious," Paul says, grabbing his chin harshly and staring him down. "I think you've been breaking it all year with the fact that he couldn't have you. But if you give him a shred of hope and then pussy out and get all awkward and run back to New York, you will break it for sure.

"If you think that's gonna happen, you're better off not going for it all. Just make up some story about it being a joke, or a dare, or something to explain what happened with us and just be a friend to him, because he'd rather that than not having you at all.

"Just do whatever you can to hurt him the least. He's not nearly as hard as he seems. You know all he's done for you and all he would do for you. I think you know what you're capable of doing to him if you fuck this up. He's just…he's not as hard as he seems. Especially not where his idiot is concerned."

The goofy grin that lights up Harry's face at the phrase 'his idiot' tells Paul what he needs to know. Harry confirms it anyway.

"I'm not gonna fuck this up. It's not an experiment. It's not confusion. It's me and Perry. I'll…I'll wait til I'm sober to make sure, but I am pretty confident to say it now. I'm sure. It's funny, it didn't even occur to me until today that it was possible and suddenly it's the only thing that makes sense, and I know. I know that doesn't make any sense, but my life never does, so it makes sense that more things that don't make any sense should happen to me. And it's okay if you have no idea what I'm talking about because I don't either. What I'm trying to say is, I'm sure."

"Okay, okay. You've proven your point. Stop talking," Paul grins. "Go get him."

Six Hours Later

It's far from the first time Harry's stood outside their apartment for a really long time. Usually, that was because he lost his keys, and even though he could have used his burglary skills to break in, that would a) really piss Perry off and b) remind him of his sordid past, which is basically just another clause of a). Of the many times that he's waited outside, however, it's never been due to sheer terror. He's never been so afraid to face Perry that he couldn't go inside. Not even the time he got caught videotaping a guy who was cheating on his wife before he could get the footage.

He needs to suck it up and just go in. He doesn't know why he's feeling so nervous. He's the kind of guy who runs headlong into situations, digs himself into a hole and then panics. He finds that so much easier than panicking first. Christ, what the fuck is wrong with him? When he fucked things up with Harmony and the homely friend, he had no problem rushing over to her and making a fool out of himself. Why the hesitation now?

If only he could muster up some courage in liquid form. No. He can't. He has to do this right, and that means doing it with all his wits about him. That makes him smile a little, thinking of all the insults to his intelligence Perry could come up with if he heard him think that. He bounces on his heels a couple of times, slaps his thighs and resolves to do it. He marches his way to the front door and throws it open.

"Hey, Perry," he says sliding onto the couch next to him, smooth and casual. He can feel the tension in Perry's body language as he waits for a response.

"You're home earlier than I expected," Perry says, staring resolutely at the television screen, which Harry notes is playing a show he knows Perry hates.

"Oh really?" Harry asks, in what he hopes is a coy and flirty manner. "And what time were you expecting me home?"

Perry scoffs. "I don't know. Not before dark, anyway," he mutters.

"Okay. Well, here I am. Harry Lockhart. Challenging your expectations."

Perry doesn't respond for a while, but Harry can feel him thinking a thousand things. He just wishes he had some kind of idea as to what even one of them might be.

"So, you seem pretty sober."

"That would be because I am."

"That's a first," Perry mutters, with a twinge of bitterness. Perry glances at him quickly and then turns his gaze back to the screen and gruffly asks, "So, you're not emotionally traumatized?"

Harry grins. He knows he really should be getting into his whole 'I'm sorry if I hurt you, let's be lovers' speech right about now, because Perry is clearly struggling so hard to function normally here that he can't resist fucking with him a little bit more.

"No. I'm fine. Finer than fine, actually," he says, putting his arms behind his head, his feet on the coffee table, the picture of relaxation.

"Good, because I really didn't wanna have to pay for your therapy," Perry says stiffly. Harry counts in his head. He knows he'll crack soon.

"So, what are you now? Gay?"

Harry's still smiling like an idiot, but Perry's not looking at him.

"Yeah. I think I might be. Half gay, anyway. I can't just erase a lifetime of worshipping breasts, but um, yeah I guess I'm a little gay."

"Okay," Perry says as impassively as he can. "You're gay."

He resists the childish and humiliating urge to add, 'just not for me,' to that sentence, but feels heat rising to his face just for thinking it. Ugh. Since when does he blush like a schoolgirl? He remains silent for another while, but his foot is tapping spastically.

Harry feels guilty for being so fucking amused. But not guilty enough to rescue him. At least not yet. He stays quiet, waiting for Perry to comment further.

"Well, you better be fucking smart about it if you're serious. I'm not paying your medical bills if you do something stupid. You know the risks, and if you don't, you better learn them." Perry says it all without meeting his eyes, completely monotonously.

"Yeah, I know, Perry. Thanks."

"Pssh, don't thank me. It's my wallet I'm protecting. Because obviously, if it came down to it, I wouldn't not pay, even if you are a total moron," he mumbles. More foot tapping. Then, "So, were you smart this time?"

He doesn't really need to ask. He already knows that Paul is extremely careful, gets tested frequently, and would be doubly careful just because it was Harry and he knew Perry would kill him if he wasn't. He doesn't need to know the answer. But an answer will let him know exactly what happened between them without him having to lose his pride by outright asking.

Harry's almost disappointed that he does ask, because it means his toying with Perry will end soon. Oh, what's he saying? The sooner he finishes toying with him, the sooner they can get down to it. He's pretty sure that will be even more fun than watching Perry squirm.

"Well, I would have been. If anything actually happened."

He's managed to inch his way closer to Perry as they talked, and now their shoulders are touching. He physically feels Perry's relief. It's adorable, how hard he tries to be nonchalant.

"Oh. So, nothing did?"

"Nope," Harry says. He can't help but make himself sound a little dreamy when he says, "We just talked."

That does it. Perry's stiff as a board again. And white as a sheet. He feels a little sick. He's been surviving, just barely surviving over the last few months by reminding himself constantly that Harry's straight. Completely and utterly unattainable, and therefore not worth worrying about. He might as well have been on the other side of the ocean.

The idea of him being with Paul, he could barely handle. The way his stomach seemed to drop when he saw them together was definitely the most unpleasant feeling he'd ever felt. He could deal with Harry being straight. He could not deal with him being gay and getting into something with another man. He'd rather him be on the other side of the ocean than dangling from a tree, just out of his reach. He'd rather Harry be incapable of liking men than unwilling to like him.

And now, now he has to go and mention him and Paul talking. Just when he thought it couldn't get any worse, any more painful and embarrassing, he's hit with something worse than Harry having sex with another guy. Harry bonding with another guy. What were they, courting? The idea of Harry and Paul, talking, laughing, teasing each other, watching things together, cooking together (or rather, Harry trying to find ways to help cook while really just getting in the way), eating together, doing all the things Perry and Harry were supposed to do together, and then some. That was enough to push him over the edge.

But he was Perry. He wasn't about to let Harry know that he'd just pushed him off a cliff.

"Alright. Well, good for you. Paul's a great guy. I've known him a long time," he says, forcing himself to look at Harry, forcing himself to smile approvingly, and knowing that the held back feelings were probably causing him to look more like a psycho killer than an encouraging friend.

"Wanna know what we talked about?" Harry asks innocently.

No. No he fucking does not. If Harry's gonna be fucking his friend or dating his friend, there's nothing he can do about it. But he cannot, will not allow this to be Harmony part II. He can't sit around and listen to Harry gripe and moan about all his little relationship problems and even worse, gleefully share details when things are going well. His head falls into his hand as he considers things 'going well' between two of his best friends, one of whom he's been fighting feelings for all year.

"No, Harry," he says, through gritted teeth, trying to hold onto his last shred of control. "I don't want to hear about it. I don't want to make a big deal out of this. I don't want to be involved. I just want to watch my show and hope that maybe you'll be less the sack of patheticness that you've been ever since Harmony dumped you and I can have a life instead of having to constantly worry about your sorry ass."

"Ouch," Harry hisses, though he doesn't seem all that stung. "So, I'm just gonna attribute that catty little comment to a defense mechanism." He delights in the puzzled look on Perry's face. "And I'm gonna tell you what we talked about whether you like it or not."

"Are you deaf, fuckhead? I do not-"

"It was you."

Perry shuts up. His interest has clearly been grabbed, though naturally, being Perry he cannot admit this outright. So Harry asks,

"Wooould you like to know what was said?"

Perry pffts. "No."

"Hey liar, you might wanna check your pants."

"What?"

"They seem to be on fire."

Perry rolls his eyes, forgetting for a second that Harry has pretty much broken his heart today by going gay for his oldest friend. "Hilarious, Harry. Really, your wit never ceases to amaze me."

"I try."

"Too hard," Perry mutters.

"Fine. You don't want to know. I'll drop it," Harry says. Perry bristles at the cocky way he raises his eyebrow. He knows Perry has to know. Smug asshole. Perry breaks.

"Fine. What did you say?"

Harry chuckles.

"Don't get mad."

Perry looks at him swiftly.

"Well, are you planning on saying something that will get me mad?"

"Yes. No. I don't know. Not if you're a rational person who can see that the end will justify the means," Harry says, waggling his eyebrows impishly.

"Okay, you need to stop being vague, right now, shithead, because my patience is wearing thin."

"Fine. Just, know that he told me this in order to help you. Because he's a very good friend who cares about you dearly and wants you to be happy."

"Harry. Cut the bullshit."

"Fine. Paul told me that you threw a hissy fit because you're, like, in love with me or something."

"He what?"

"Yeah. But it's okay! It's okay, because I think love you too and I'm really, really sorry that I kis-"

Perry looks horrified for a second before he cuts Harry off.

"Harry. I don't love you," he says, with as much disgust as he can muster.

Harry blinks a few times. Then he's grinning. Why is he grinning?

"Oh? You don't? Really?" Harry asks, but he's still grinning that stupid grin, like he knows something, or has some kind of power, which he doesn't. He should stop grinning. He doesn't know anything.

"Well, this is just, extremely humiliating," Harry says, not remotely sincerely. "I'm embarrassed. Are you sure?"

"Yes, I'm sure," Perry scoffs. "How could I love you, when half the time I don't even like you?"

"You know, that's what I said, but Paul was pretty adamant about it. He told me all this stuff about you finding my patheticness endearing and being proud of me when I get stuff right. And then he went and convinced me that I should be in love with you. But you clearly, clearly, don't love me. Wow. This is soooo awkward," Harry grins, though he really doesn't sound like he finds it awkward at all. More like hilariously amusing. Which makes Perry want to punch him.

"What? Do you not believe me or something?" Perry asks, trying to look offended rather than panicky and failing.

"Perry, did you miss the part where I said I feel the same way about you? Because I do. I know it's completely sudden and everything, but it makes sense. I think we should try this," Harry says reaching for Perry who recoils. He can't be serious. There's no way. He's confused. And Perry's not gonna allow Harry to experiment with the feelings he wishes he didn't have in the first place.

"Yeah, well, I don't. I don't want a relationship. I've never wanted a relationship. And if I did, it certainly wouldn't be with you. Can we please just, end this conversation now before things get too weird between us?" And I lose you.

Harry's still fucking grinning. Perry fumes, not knowing what the hell is so damn amusing.

"Okay. Fine. This is just so embarrassing," Harry says dramatically. "I think I'm gonna go find Paul and drown my humiliation and heart ache in him," he says, trying to sound forlorn but failing because there's still that air of amusement in his voice. He reaches for his jacket and stands up. As he turns around, he says, "He's not who I wanted to lose my gay virginity too, but I guess he'll do as a consolation prize, since you're so firm about not lov-"

Harry was kind of expecting Perry's moment of intervention to come right about then, but he was not expecting it to be quite so forceful. He's not complaining.

It's pretty hot, really, the way Perry grabs his hand as he turns away and pulls back hard. Before he can react, he's thrown onto the couch on his back and Perry's on top of him, hands roaming through his hair and lips crashing against his own. His kiss is fast and desperate and wild, like water bursting from a dam, and it's followed in rapid succession by many more, and Harry groans into them all, readily accepting all that Perry has to give.

But he gets the sense that Perry's holding back a little. He's on top, he's the one who flung Harry onto his back, and yet, his kisses are full of so much want that he seems unwilling to properly take.

Then, Harry gets it. He doesn't want to push things. He doesn't want to force him into anything. He doesn't want to take. He wants Harry to give. Perry's in a world of bliss as he explores his lips and hair and chest, but it's up to Harry to cement that bliss in reality.

Harry has no problem making it real. He slips his tongue slowly past Perry's full lips and then what he thought couldn't get more intense gets more intense. Having been granted permission by Harry's hungry tongue to do whatever he wants to do, Perry starts to do all the things he's wanted to do for so long. It's unlike anything he's ever felt. He thinks of all women he's kissed and how most of the time it's been a bit one sided, with him wanting them a lot more than they've wanted him. Occasionally, like when he was in relationships, it was a little more mutually passionate.

But this. It's never been like this. He's never been kissed and felt like the other person was in agony over the fact that they couldn't get enough of him even if they kissed him like this 'til the end of time.

That's what it's like when Perry kisses him. He wants to pull away for a moment, to tell him it's okay, that he's not going anywhere, that he doesn't need to treat the moment like it's the last they'll ever have, but that would mean tearing himself away from the most ecstasy he's ever experienced from just a fucking kiss. So he does what he can to kiss back as hard as he can, as good as he can, and as lovingly as he can, to let Perry know that he's not the only one who's feeling like something's finally clicked into place and the world is finally right.

After quite some time, Perry manages to pull himself away, because it's getting hard to breathe and he really doesn't want either of them to suffocate and not be able to kiss like this ever again. He breathes hard as Harry looks up at him, smiling softly. He thinks about how Harry tasted, and realizes that was the only thing wrong this whole thing (because everything else was very, very right. He's not complaining.)

Harry tasted like mint. Like he'd swallowed a box of them or something before coming home. Which was fine, really. Mint was a nice flavor. But it wasn't Harry. Right before he pounced on him, a part of him figured Harry would have tasted like cigarettes, and coffee, and maybe the remnants of alcohol that couldn't be washed away, and something else that was specifically Harry that he wouldn't know until he tasted it. But all he tasted like was mint. He's not complaining. He can hardly get over the fact that he got to kiss Harry at all. But still. He can't help wanting to jump him when he's not expecting it so he can find out what Harry really tastes like.

"You taste minty," he says softly, leaning right into Harry's ear. He pulls back and Harry grins up at him, waggling his eyebrows again. Perry's glad he doesn't need to berate himself for finding it terribly cute, that it's okay to think Harry's terribly cute.

"Yeah, well, from what I heard, you've been wanting a piece of this for some time. I didn't want to be a disappointment," he winks. Perry grins. That's Harry. Trying to do something good and fucking it up, but making Perry fall in love with him all over again, because the phrase it's 'the thought that counts' never meant a thing to him until Harry came into his life.

Perry shakes his head and pokes Harry in the chest sharply with his index finger.

"Two things. First, if you start acting like a cocky little bitch because of this, I might cause you bodily harm. And second, there are many, ways you have, can, and will be a disappointment, but this is definitely not one of them," Perry says into his ear, voice low and sultry.

Then Harry's squirming out from underneath him and repositioning himself so that he's on top. He places two hands on Perry's chest to hold himself up and looks down on him with a raised eyebrow.

"Oh really? Not even if I'd slobbered all over you like a horny teenager?" He asks, and then brings his lips down on Perry's neck and starts flapping his tongue spastically all over it, making bizarre, wolfish noises. Perry snorts with laughter and wriggles away, pushing Harry off him.

"Okay. Maybe that might have been a little disappointing," he smiles.

"Well then," Harry says smoothly, grabbing hold of Perry's collar firmly and pulling him up a little. "Aren't you lucky that's not how I do things?"

Then his lips are on Perry's neck again, but this time he's not joking and his tongue is moving across it tantalizingly slowly, and Perry's throwing his head back and groaning and grabbing fistfuls of Harry's hair and he's unable to think a lucid thought until he feels Harry's crotch grinding against his own and he can't help but quip,

"You might not be a teenager, but you've sure got the horny thing down."

"Damn right," Harry says in an exhale, removing Perry's right hand from his hair and pulling it towards his hardening cock. "Ready to teach me how us gay men go about fixing that?"

"Look up 'ready' in the dictionary," he grins. "Know what you'll find?"

Harry looks at him warily and sighs. "A picture of you?"

"Yes, Harry," he says. "That is exactly what you'll find."

The End.

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