"What did you think of the performance?" Henry asked, breaking the silence that overcame them since they got into the carriage and began their journey home.
"It was… captivating." Basil lied through his teeth.
Henry bellowed out in laughter. "It's just us, Basil. No need to be so amiable."
"Very well. It was appalling."
"It wasn't appalling. She was appalling."
"Does it really make a difference? She was Rosalind, a lead."
"Quite true. I found Duke Frederick was portrayed beautifully, however."
"Yes, well…" Basil sighed, staring out the carriage opening.
"Pretty though, was she not?"
Basil glowered. "I will support him whether she is beautiful or not."
"But she is."
"It would never work out, you know."
Basil tensed. "What do you mean? You shouldn't say such things about two people to be wed—"
"I wasn't speaking of Miss Vane and Dorian. I was speaking of Dorian and yourself."
He felt his cheeks burn up. He wasn't sure if it was out of embarrassment, shame, or anger. "I don't—"
"Please, Basil. You don't hide it well. You… admire the boy."
"Admiration is hardly love."
"Love? Such an absurd belief. Admiration, my friend, develops from appeal or attraction, in which leads to what I am speaking about: Lust."
"We are friends, Henry." Basil said slowly.
"I've seen the way you look at him. It's not how one looks at their friends."
"I do not… that is, I—"
"We're friends, are we not, Basil?"
Basil frowned. "Of course we are, Henry."
"Friends do not lie to one another."
The trip went quiet, Basil keeping his eyes on the passing street while Henry after he got tired of boring his eyes into the back of Basil's head, turned his gaze to a cuff. Finally the carriage came to a stop and Henry stood up and stepped out, staring at Basil and giving him a smug smile. "Driver, take Basil home. I don't want him walking alone this late. Basil, have a good night." He said, tilting his head before closing the door and allowing the carriage to move once more. Basil let out a sigh and rested his head against the side of the carriage, closing his eyes.
"We're here, sir." The driver said as the carriage came to a halt.
"Ah. Thank you, my good man." Basil said as he slipped out, giving a smile to the elder driver.
As the carriage began moving once more, Basil's house came into view, and with it came Dorian, too, standing on the footstep to Basil's house. "Dorian! What are you doing here?"
"Waiting for you, isn't that obvious, Basil?" Dorian asked with a chuckle.
"Well, yes…" Basil frowned as he closed in on his friend, pulling out the key to his house. "Care for a cup of tea?"
"That would be lovely."
"Alright, I'll get to making that." Basil said as he pushed the door open and stepped into the cold house. "Would you mind starting a fire?"
"So, what happened with Miss Vane?" Basil asked curiously as he made his way into the kitchen and began to prepare the pot. "The way you described her acting… was she unwell?"
"She says… that she cannot act feelings in which she is not feeling. Upon our engagement she felt so happy she finds it hard to feel sad, even in acting manners."
"That's a shame. You were so excited about—"
Basil paused in his movements, turning on his heel to stare at Dorian who was now leaning against the doorframe. "Yes?"
"Is it possible that I was in love with her acting, and not her herself?"
"Well… I suppose it is."
"Her acting was… beautiful to me. It made her flawless, and when she spoke of not acting again… it was like I saw her in a new light." He explained as he began to trace his finger along the wall, coming closer to Basil.
"What did you do, Dorian?"
"I broke the engagement off. I cannot marry someone I do not love… or maybe I cannot marry her without her acting. I'm unsure."
"Don't be foolish, Basil. No need to be sorry, I know you weren't fond of her."
"Dorian! I was happy for you." Basil retorted.
"I never said you weren't happy for me; just not fond of her. Your pot is whistling."
Basil tuned back in noise other than Dorian speaking, turning to find that the pot was indeed whistling. He lifted the pot and began to set up two cups of Earl Grey tea. "I love your painting, Basil."
"Yes, you've told me. Henry says it's my best work by far—"
"I mean all your paintings. I'm sorry if I wasn't allowed to look, the room was open and you had to go speak to Henry. Curiosity overcame me."
Basil turned to stare at Dorian who was now right behind him. He lifted his head slowly to stare up at the man. "That… That's fine, Dorian. It's not like they were secret."
"Wonder what, Dorian?"
Dorian gave a smile and stepped back to create some space between the two, making his way to a small window in the kitchen. "Henry brought something to my attention the other day when I was visiting him." He began. Basil opened his mouth to ask but snapped it shut when Dorian turned and began to speak once more: "He says… you do not look at me as a friend. At first I was hurt, I thought we were very good friends. But then he explained it to me; that you look at me as more than a friend. I began to ponder this. I'm very fond of you, Basil, and your paintings… they're so beautiful and moving. I could get lost in one. This whole ordeal with Sibyl has me questioning some things, I fell in love with her acting and I fell in love with your painting."
"Dorian…" Basil began.
"Please," Dorian interrupted, holding a finger up against Basil's lips to hush him. "Let me finish." At Basil's nod, Dorian continued: "We've been friends for years, since I was eighteen. I've always felt… a pull towards you. Now, I hadn't seen your first painting until just a month or two before you drew me. So, I began to wonder: What was that pull? I felt it towards Sibyl, but it was gone when she stopped acting. I wonder… if you stopped painting would it be gone from you." He asked. "Am I making sense here, Basil?"
"Not really, Dorian. We're—"
"Friends. Yes, Henry said if I approached you with this subject you would insist that what you feel to me is simply friendship. But I wonder if that is a lie… You know, Basil, even if you were… well, we do not speak of such things. But just know I would accept you."
"Thank you, Dorian, but I assure you I'm—" Basil began but was cut off by Dorian's lips crashing against his own.
Basil tilted his head to the side curiously as the kiss went on, though he did not return it. As Dorian pulled away, he gave a small smile at the shorter man. "Feels different," Dorian commented before walking out of the kitchen nonchalantly.
Basil's expression fell to a glower as he raised his hand and let his fingertips run over his bottom lip. While he may not have responded to Dorian, it was possibly the best kiss he had ever had. He pondered that it had to be just because it was with Dorian. He grabbed the two cups of tea and headed out of the kitchen, too, walking in on Dorian who had removed his coat and was now admiring a painting hanging above the fireplace.
"Is this yours?"
"…Yes." Basil responded, hating how Dorian could act as if nothing had just happened.
"It's beautifully done."
"You're thinking too much."
"Excuse me?" Basil asked as Dorian took his cup of tea.
"You; you're thinking too much. When you're thinking - you stare into space."
"Hm." Dorian hummed as he sipped at the tea, sighing in satisfaction. "My tea never comes out like yours."
"That's another reason."
"To be with you. You can make tea, and I'm quite positive I'm in love with you."
Basil blinked thrice. "What?"
"Tea. You make good tea."
"You said you were in love with me."
"I thought we already discussed that?"
"W-we most certainly did not!" Basil retorted.
"Of course we did, in the kitchen."
"You kissed me, we had no discussion."
"I told you I was in love with your painting, and that I had feelings for you before your painting."
"That is hardly admission of love!"
"Basil, do calm down." Dorian frowned.
"I-I am calm."
"You're not. You're all flushed, but that might be because you're embarrassed. Do you love me, too, Basil?"
"Dorian, you're confused." Basil said rationally. "You just broke it off with Sibyl, and…"
He stopped speaking when he spotted the smile on Dorian's face. Dorian's arm came to rest on one of Basil's shoulders and wasn't shrugged off by Basil. The man actually leaned into it to rest his head on the forearm. This was the most confusing thing that had ever happened to Basil. He wasn't good with feelings, unless he was pushing them into a painting, of course. Dorian sat his tea aside, as well as taking Basil's to sit aside before once more pushing his lips to Basil's.
Basil took this opportunity to pay attention to Dorian's kissing. It was very gentle, which was a surprise. Dorian, while he had just sipped at Earl Grey, tasted like the lovely white wine Henry spoiled him with. Basil found his eyes slowly drooping as he returned the kiss. He hadn't had much experience in this, but Dorian didn't seem to mind as the man's hands came up to Basil's neck, pulling him closer to deepen the kiss.
A moan emitted from one of them, and Basil was almost positive it was him. The kiss lasted seconds, but to Basil, everything had stopped and they were lip locked for hours. His arms came to wrap around Dorian's neck, which caused him to have to lean up due to the man being rather tall for someone so young, or maybe Basil was short. Yeah, he was probably short.
He brought himself out of his thoughts as he felt the probing tongue asking for entrance against his bottom lip. Brown eyes widened but his lips seemed to have a mind of their own as they opened slightly, allowing the younger man to map his mouth out. Another moan escaped as Basil pushed himself on Dorian, the kiss turning from slow and passionate to something much more heated. Before he knew it, Basil found himself pushed against the wall comfortably, a leg between his own to spread them.
They finally pulled apart for a moment, both catching up on the loss breath; Dorian's eyes were filled with something Basil couldn't place, and he knew his lips had to be swollen from the first kiss in such a manner and his cheeks were flushed like a tomato. Dorian found it adorable and couldn't help but go in for a second much more chaste kiss this time, barely brushing his lips to Basil's and his nose against the other before releasing the shorter man from being pinned on the wall.
"I believe we've both had far too much to drink," Dorian remarked.
Basil felt his heart sink. "Y-yes."
"Do not fret, Basil," Dorian chuckled, cupping Basil's cheek with his pallid palm, his thumb running over the man's cheek. "Tomorrow; accompany me to dinner?" He asked.
"And no drinking, I want you clear minded when I bring you home," he said in a hoarse voice. Or maybe Basil imagined that.
He didn't care. As he felt another brush of Dorian's lips, he sighed in contentment, watching the man walk to the door and slip out. "Good night, Basil." He whispered before the door was closed. Basil ran his tongue over his bottom lip, enjoying the faint taste of Dorian against his lips. He took a few deep breathes to calm himself and the odd feeling he had in his chest before giving a smile.
"Good night, Dorian."