#29 – Locks

The second time Harry woke his stomach had stopped trying to crawl out through his throat. He blinked at the ceiling a few times, trying to remember what the hell had happened the night before.

The bed. Waking up naked. Ash.

Harry groaned and shoved a pillow over his face. If anyone asked his face was red from lack of oxygen and not complete mortification.

He was pretty sure he'd slept with Ash.

And a little part of him regretted not being able to remember a thing about it.

He pressed the pillow down harder. Maybe if he suffocated himself then he wouldn't have to get up and face anyone.

Ash had run. Ash had taken one look at him and ran, and if Harry knew anything it was that only people with regrets ran.

Had he taken advantage last night? He couldn't remember, but he should probably apologise anyway. He should talk to Ash about this to try and clear the air. He might not have the best track record with talking about personal things but he wasn't going to let this fester. Ash was a friend. Hopefully he'd still want to be friends.

The decision didn't help calm him though. In fact his nausea came back ten-fold at the thought of all the 'what ifs'. What if Ash didn't forgive him? What if he had to leave? What if he lost his friends? Again.

The uncertainty was killing him but there wasn't much he could do about it apart from face it head on.

As soon as he'd had a shower.


The water was scalding, but it did what it was supposed to do – namely wash away his shame and whatever had dried on his stomach that he refused to look at. The heat also quickly fogged up the mirror which was a minor relief because Harry didn't particularly want to look himself in the eye right now.

He stayed under the spray for as long as he could, but when his fingers started to prune he forced himself to turn off the water before he grew gills. Things were awkward enough as it was.

Grabbing a towel he stepped out of the bathroom, scrubbing at his hair as his skin prickled in the cold air.

Okay. Plan of action. Dry self, put on clothes, find Ash and explain with a side order of begging for forgiveness if needed.

It was a good plan. Simple. But simple worked more often than not.

At least it would have worked if Ash hadn't popped into being three feet in front of him.

Harry froze; hand on head and towel half flopped in front of his face. It wasn't enough to stop him from seeing the blood drain from Ash's face at the sight of him. Again.

His stomach lurched as Ash disappeared and then reappeared three seconds later with a look of panicked horror plastered across his face.

Merlin's balls, he really had screwed things up. If Ash couldn't even look at him without—

"Why are you naked?"

Oh shit.

Harry squeaked and dropped his hands, using the towel to cover himself as best he could. "I was in the shower!"

"We're not in the bathroom," Ash's voice was getting steadily high-pitched, "why are you naked?"

"Well I wasn't expecting you to pop in here like you own the place!" Harry defended as he edged sideways, his voice tinged with hysteria. Maybe he could duck behind the bed or something.

"But I do own the place!"

Harry opened his mouth to retort and then snapped it shut with a clack of teeth. Touché.

They both fell silent. Ash looked exactly how Harry felt.

At least we're talking, Harry thought. The only downside being that he refused to have this conversation with only a hand towel to cover himself with.

"Look," Harry said eventually, "I don't mean to be rude or anything but could you turn around?"

Ash's eyes widened and then he span to face the opposite wall so fast that Harry half expected to see burns on the floor. Harry waited for a beat or two before finally deeming it safe enough to drop the towel and make a grab for his clothes. It didn't stop him from sneaking a peek at the strong line of Ash's shoulders stretching out his shirt, even if he did feel guilty afterwards. Was it wrong that when he saw Ash like this he felt safe?

"You shouldn't have just barged in like that," Harry mumbled as he slipped one leg into his jeans.

"You didn't lock the door."

"You didn't use the door!"

Ash spun around, looking ready to defend himself, but the retort was lost when the sudden movement caught Harry off guard. Harry yelped, his other leg caught halfway in his pants so he tumbled forwards onto the floor.

"I'm sorry." Ash's voice was pitched low but Harry could still hear the regret coating every word.

Guess he wasn't going to get much better than this. Half naked, sprawled across the floor and hidden by the bed. He let out a sigh at the familiar position and wiggled into his clothes properly.

"For what it's worth, I'm sorry too." He took a deep breath and levered himself up. His courage failed him at the last moment though so Harry was left staring at the ground instead of looking Ash in the eye.

"You're sorry? For what?"

"For…" Oh gods he was going to have to say it out loud. Harry's throat closed, threatening to choke the words, "for taking advantage of you."

Ash made a noise of surprise, "But you didn't! I was the one who—"

Harry's head shot up in surprise, only to see Ash looking ill.

"I was the one who…" Ash repeated.

Harry was speechless. "Ash," he managed eventually, "you didn't take advantage of me."

Ash still looked ill. Ill and stubborn. "But I did. I'm the one who—"

"No." Harry cut that train of thought right off. "Ash, no. You didn't."


It didn't look like Ash believed him, but Harry was absolutely certain. Before Ash could blink, Harry was around the side of the bed and standing in front of him, hands cradling Ash's face and pulling it up so that he could look the other man in the eyes.

"Ash. No."

Ash slumped, tension suddenly draining from him. He reached up and wrapped his fingers around Harry's wrists, keeping Harry's hands pressed against his skin as his eyes fluttered shut.

"If anything," Harry said, "you should blame me for—"

Ash's eyes snapped open. "Don't."

Harry faltered and then squared his shoulders. "Fine then. So if I don't blame you and you don't blame me…?" Ash shook his head. "Then…" Harry continued, "then that's it over with." Ash continued to stare. "We'll just…agree to not mention it ever again, shall we? Move on and stuff? Okay?"

Ash's fingers tightened briefly on his wrists. Not enough to hurt, but just enough to remind Harry of how close they were standing. He could feel the heat of Ash's body across the whole of his chest.

Maybe he should have put on a shirt.