Okay guys, here we are at the last part. Am I sad? A little. Happy? A little. Feeling bittersweet? Hell yes. So, read on and enjoy, my friends!
Oh yeah, and thanks for the amazing feedback last chapter!
Now, to say that their relationship was perfect would be a fanciful exaggeration. They had their share of fights, from petty little hissy fits to full-blown shouting matches, but it was never enough to break them up. They learned to love each other's flaws—well, they learned to tolerate them. Matthew ignored the socks on the bedroom floor, and Alfred ignored the puddles around the bathroom sink.
Tolerating each other's families, however, was more difficult. Matthew's parents were too nosy about their relationship and overprotective of Matthew, and Alfred's parents didn't approve of Matthew at first. But they conquered that with ice cream sundaes on the couch and drawn-out complaining sessions, where they both bitched about their parents.
Matthew's new job made him much happier and caused him less stress, even though it was more work, and he felt it rubbed off on Alfred, even after a couple years had passed. They weren't in the apartment anymore, since they had just bought and moved into a house a few months ago. It wasn't all that far away from where they had lived before, but the extra space was nice, Matthew had to admit. Besides, two bathrooms always made for less trouble. And now when Eliza came to visit, they could go work in Alfred's new study while Matthew taught guitar in the afternoons.
One evening, they were snuggling on the couch after dinner, putting off doing the dishes and looking at their nicely fenced-in backyard, when Matthew had an idea. "Let's get a dog."
"A dog. You know, man's best friend. A fluffy companion to play fetch with, who'll sit by our feet, make us get outside more often…"
"A dog." Alfred shrugged. "Yeah, that does sound like a good idea. I had dogs as a kid, but I haven't trained any for years."
"Well, that's something we'll be doing together."
"True, true. Oh, by the way, no poodles. I want a manly dog, like a lab or something."
"Sure thing." Matthew nodded. "I'd be too worried about tripping over a small dog anyways."
The puppy they adopted was a lab-shepherd mix, black with white paws and big brown eyes. "Aw, he's just a cutie!"
"Yes Al, he is." I heard you the first twenty times.
"D'aww… look at him! Hey, what're we gonna call him?"
Matthew was driving back from the animal shelter, and Alfred had the pup in his lap (on a towel, just in case).
"Whatever you want to."
"Okay, let me think on it."
Matthew smiled, shaking his head. "I hope you won't start paying more attention to him than to me."
"No worries, dude. Your kisses are way nicer than dog kisses."
"Glad to hear it. At least you won't be lonely while I'm at work."
"You got that right. But I'm gonna be spending a lot of time housetraining this guy. Man, I'm glad the eighth book is almost done. No way I'd be able to work a lot and deal with a puppy at the same time. They're downright destructive if you turn your back on 'em."
They got home, unloading the puppy from the car, who was set on the grass by Alfred. "Okay Benny, go pee!"
"Short for Benjamin. I think it suits him."
Matthew looked at the puppy and smiled. "You know what? I think it does too."
"You're twenty- nine, and you still use those expressions?"
"You betcha." Alfred winked at Matthew. "It helps me keep my youthful energy."
"Whatever you say."
The puppy finally peed, so they cheered and called him over, letting him into the house. "Aw, look at that, he's sniffing everything! How cute!"
"Well yeah, he's curious." Alfred sat on the floor at patted his lap, welcoming the puppy onto it. "You know, the next book I'm gonna write is the end of the Will Stone series. I'm kinda wondering what to write next… maybe a detective mystery novel? Murder mysteries, duh."
"What kind of murders?" Matthew sat down next to Alfred, and smiled when Benny wriggled over so he was in both of their laps.
"Oh, serial killings and stuff like that. Meaning I'm actually gonna have to research that. Ugh." Alfred shuddered. "That's some creepy shit, lemme tell you."
"Well, whatever you're going to do, I'll do whatever I can to help, even if that includes watching horror movies."
"Thanks, man. You know I can't watch those on my own."
"Now who's a manly-man?"
Alfred shoved him playfully. "Dick. At least I'm not afraid of snakes!"
"You're never going to let me live that down, are you?"
A couple months later, with the publishing of his book, Alfred went to New York City. He was scheduled to appear on various television and radio programs, mostly in interviews to help promote his book and/or answer questions.
Matthew was a bit lonely, but he had work and the dog to keep him busy, so he was all right. He and Alfred talked on the phone each night, staying up much later than they probably should have.
"I miss you."
"I miss you too. Hey, where are you right now?"
"How convenient, me too! Well, not like there's much else in the ways of hotel room furniture. Hey, Matt?"
"I love you."
"I love you too."
"Yeah. So… what're you up to?"
"Sitting in bed and talking to you, what else?"
"I dunno. I was just curious."
"If you're horny, then just admit it."
"Seriously? How can you tell over the phone?"
"I know your 'I'm secretly turned on and embarrassed about it' voice, Al."
"Fuck. So much for being sneaky."
"You're bad at being sneaky."
Matthew rolled his eyes, smiling. "What, aren't you going to lead?"
"You know what I mean."
"Fine, fine…" He heard the sound of fabric rustling on the other end. "So… I'm naked under the bedsheets."
"Oh, really? I'm not, but I can be if you want."
Matthew laughed and unbuttoned his pajama shirt. "Okay, shirt is off. And… pants are off."
"What, no underwear?"
"Not tonight. I was thinking about letting everything breathe a little. You do it all the time, eh?"
"Yeah. What're you doing now?"
"Not much. Just getting myself all the way hard." And he was, just slowly rubbing up and down his shaft.
"I don't think I've ever told you this, but you definitely have one of the biggest dicks out of any my boyfriends. Like, ever."
"Thanks, I think. What are you doing?"
"Oh, you know… just teasing myself a bit."
"And you yell at me whenever I try to spend a nice long time on foreplay."
"Hey, not my fault you know how to drive me nuts."
"Oh really? What do you like that I do to you?" Matthew shifted his hand, rubbing himself a little harder.
"I love it when you play with my nipples when we make out. And when you're fingering me, how you're always super gentle and your hands are so warm. Or when you suck me off, you use your tongue really well, or you massage my legs when you do it or—mmph. God, just thinking about it…"
"Go on, imagine I'm doing it to you right now."
"I know. You know what you do that really turns me on?" He was breathing harder now, they both were, panting into the phone on either end.
"No, I don't know… how about you tell me?"
"Well," Matthew gasped for breath, "I love it when you start giving me your bedroom eyes. It doesn't matter if we're out in public or at home, it's practically enough to give me a boner just like that." He paused, breathing heavily for a moment as he fisted himself. "You know what else I love?"
"I love it when you call my name."
"What like this?" He heard Alfred take a deep breath on the other line before exhaling in a low, breathy sigh, "Mattie…"
Matthew moaned out loud at that, resisting the urge to put a hand over his mouth to muffle it. "Yes, just like that."
"I can see why, it's pretty hot to hear you say my name too, babe."
"Al… what're you doing now?"
"Well, I'm not being teasing anymore, that's for sure. I'm jerking off, pretending it's your mouth, but it's not the same."
"Did you pack any lube?"
"No, of course not. It's not like I'm getting laid up here or anything. I mean, I have lotion, but that's it."
Matthew chuckled, but it ended up sounding a bit more like a mixture between a moan and a gasp. "Well, I'm not sure if I should be happy or disappointed right now."
"You know what, to hell with the mess. Not my problem."
"What do you mean?"
A couple seconds later, he heard Alfred's breath catch in his throat. "You… you know what I mean."
"Are you fingering yourself?"
Damn, that's hot.
Matthew reached into the bedside table, grabbing a tube of lube and slicking up a couple of his own fingers before slipping them inside himself. He must've made some kind of noise, because Alfred laughed quietly. "You too?"
"Put it on speaker, it's easier that way."
Matthew lay the phone on the bed beside him after putting it on speaker. "Can you hear me?"
"Yes Matt, I can. Are you close?"
"Pretty close, yeah." Matthew found his sweet spot just then and groaned, biting his lip. "Al…"
"I wish you were here."
"Nnh… me too. A couple more days and I'll be home, then we'll have each other again. Oh, oh, Mattie…"
"Al…" Matthew wrapped his free hand around himself, pumping again, moaning at the added stimulation. "I-I'm not going to last—ngh, much longer… god, Al!"
"Don't – ah! – worry. I'm almost there too."
Alfred's breathing was coming in fast pants, and his voice was picking up that tone of desperation it always did right before he came. Knowing what he looked like then, imagining him, Matthew was on the very edge.
"T-together?" He managed to gasp.
They cried out at the same time, each of them calling the other's name. Matthew recovered for a moment, then picked up the phone and took it off speaker once he caught his breath. "Hey, you there?"
"Yeah. Man, that was good."
"I know." Matthew glanced at the clock and sighed. "I'd better get to bed. It's late."
"Well, that's the problem with having stamina, right?"
Matthew laughed. "Yes, I guess so. Good night, Al."
"Good night. Talk to you tomorrow?"
"Definitely. I love you."
"I love you too."
They hung up and Matthew put the phone on the bedside table, then rolled over onto the clean, non-cum-and-lube spattered side of the bed. Alfred's side. He could smell his boyfriend on his pillow, and it was comforting even though he had just gotten off the phone with him. Matthew fell asleep quickly, a happy smile on his face.
"I'm home!" Alfred called from the doorway, dropping his suitcase on the floor, and Matthew hopped up from the couch, completely forgetting his book as he walked over to Alfred.
"Hiya, Mattie. Benny, sweetie-pie, no jumping on Daddy, no matter how much he knows you love him."
Alfred shrugged. "It works." He patted the dog and then stepped forward, pulling him into a rib-cracking hug and planting kisses all over his face. "I missed you so much! How was work?"
How Alfred expected him to answer while squeezing the air out of his lungs was beyond Matthew, so he just laughed breathlessly. He had almost forgotten how much he loved Al's strength. He didn't think he'd forget again.
When Alfred stopped crushing him so much and he could actually breathe, Matthew spoke. "Oh, it was fine. How was your flight?"
"Meh. Flying Economy sucks. but hey, I'm just happy to be home."
Matthew kissed him, squeezing his shoulders. "I'm happy you're home too. Who else will take the dog out to pee while I'm at work?"
"Is that the only thing I'm good for around here?"
"No, not the only thing. You do laundry sometimes."
"Very funny. So, any plans for tonight?"
"Not really." Matthew shrugged. "I thought we'd stay in. They're airing one of your interviews tonight, an I'm kind of curious what questions they asked you."
"Fine, we'll watch it and I can lament how bad I am at interviews. Seriously though, I'm terrible. I swear, I said 'like' about fifty times in ten minutes in one interview."
He wasn't that awful, at least Matthew didn't think so. They snuggled on the couch with mugs of tea and the dog at their feet, watching the program. It was already about halfway through the interview, past most of the important questions.
"So, Mr. Jones, is it true that the next book in the series will be the last?"
"Probably. Everyone's gotta grow up, even teenage super-spy heroes."
"True, very true. And has Hollywood really bought the movie rights to the first book?"
Alfred nodded, pushing his glasses up his nose.
Alfred pointed at the television. "Ah! Look, I did it again!"
"Relax, it's not that obvious."
"Well, yeah. We're still negotiating on a few terms, but it looks like soon enough there'll be a Will Stone movie."
"How lucky for your fans."
"You bet. I'm just hoping the producers and I have the same sort of vision, you know?" Alfred crossed his legs, smiling at the pretty young interviewer.
She smiled back, flipping through a couple papers. "Our viewers had a couple questions of their own for you. They were wondering why you live in such a small house when you could obviously afford something much fancier. Is there a reason?"
"Yeah, I don't want to live in a big empty house. It's a waste of space and money. Besides, this way I can actually interact with my neighbors. You don't see Hollywood stars having backyard barbecues like I do!"
"So you live well within the means of an average American family?"
"Yep. That's how I grew up, and I don't feel like pretending to be something I'm not, by living the high life. Plus I'm bad at being pretentious."
The interviewer chuckled. "Well, that's certainly a good reason. Tell me, do you see yourself settling down anytime soon?"
Alfred shrugged. "Well, I share a house with my boyfriend and our dog, so I'm pretty much settled down as it is, but… who knows? Anything could happen."
"I see. Thank you very much for your time, Mr. Jones."
"Thanks for having me."
"One last thing: if you could say something to your fans, what would it be?"
Alfred smiled at the camera. "Don't be afraid to do what you love. Happiness is more important than money, so if it comes down to that, do what'll make you happiest. I did, and look at me now. Also, stay in school."
The camera cut away to a newscaster. "That was Alfred F. Jones, author of the critically acclaimed Will Stone series. His latest book, the penultimate novel in the series, The Great White North, will go on sale everywhere next week. Now for the weather."
Matthew switched off the T.V. and raised an eyebrow at Alfred. "Money versus happiness?"
"Yep. You made the decision too, Mr. Success story."
Matthew kissed Alfred on the forehead. "You're sweet, you know that?"
"Yeah, I know I'm pretty amazing."
He rolled his eyes and poked Alfred's cheek. "Don't get too full of yourself, now."
"No worries. So," he sat up, "Should we go for a walk?"
"I already took Benny out this afternoon."
"No, I mean just the two of us. C'mon, I've been cooped up all week!"
They walked to the nearest park, where a few people were sitting on benches, walking their dogs, or watching their kids climb around on the jungle gym. Alfred shoved one hand into his jeans pocket and took Matthew's hand with the other. They walked and talked for a while, just about what was going on. Matthew's trouble in dealing with a couple drama queens in the trumpet section, Alfred's encounter with a nasty photographer, how Benny's training was coming along, all that.
When they were beside the small pond in the park, Alfred stopped, looking over the water. "Sun's setting."
He squeezed Matthew's hand. "You know, that interviewer lady got me thinking."
"Settling down." Alfred turned so he was facing Matthew. "Man… it's hard to believe that I was only on the sixth book when we first got together…"
"And now you're starting on the last one."
"Yeah. Time flies, huh?" He smiled at Matthew. "You know what?"
"At the end of these past three books, it's said in the 'about the author' section that 'Alfred lives with his partner, Matthew, in Boston', right?"
"Yes, it has."
"Well…" Alfred blushed. "I was kind of hoping that at the end of this one it could say 'with his husband' instead."
Matthew's eyes widened. "You mean…"
"Yeah." Alfred pulled his hand out of his pocket, revealing the small box he had been carrying. "I'd get down on one knee and all that, but this is sappy enough as it is. So… do you want that written in the back of the book too?"
Matthew laughed, grabbing Alfred by the shoulders and kissing him. "Of course I do. I'd love it."
Alfred grinned. "Awesome." He had two rings, one for each of them, and once they put them on, he laughed quietly to himself.
"What's so funny?" Matthew tilted his head.
"I never thought I'd say this, but…" he took Matthew's hand, kissing each of his fingers. "I'm glad that boyfriend of mine was a cheating skank. Without that, this might not have happened."
Matthew just sighed happily and kissed Alfred again. "For two guys who really suck at relationships, we've turned out pretty well, eh?"
"Probably because we have each other." Alfred blushed. "Was that too clichéd?"
Matthew shook his head. "Not at all. It was just clichéd enough."
And now we're at the real end. *Sniff*… the sappiness! It's too much! Thank you to everyone who had reviewed, followed, favourited, everything. You all rock. Now, this is the end of "Stacked Crooked", but it definitely won't be the last story I write, believe you me. Probably not the last in this particular pairing, either. Watch out world, lumaluma is on the loose!
Now, since all chapter titles were songs, here they are:
Ch. 1: Don't Believe a Word – Third Eye Blind
Ch. 2: Sissyneck – Beck
Ch. 3: What's My Age Again? – Blink 182
Ch. 4: Sweet Talk, Sweet Talk – The New Pornographers
Ch. 5: You Drove Me Home – Revolver
Ch. 6: Bad Romance – Lady Gaga
Ch. 7: No Surprises – Radiohead
Ch. 8: What I'm Trying to Say – Stars
Epilogue/Story Title: Stacked Crooked – The New Pornographers.
Thanks for reading, everyone! I hope you liked (read: loved) it! lumaluma, signing off.