Cesare's Cabinet

Almost Never Disclaimers & Chapter Index

I hope this is needless to say, but the views of characters in the stories don't reflect my own personal opinions. I point that out specifically here because in this story, the guys make some jokes that might be considered racist. Sorry. I just don't think they'd be all that culturally sensitive in their private remarks.


Camptown Races.

"So I go into his flat, right, and he's got all these dolls. Collects dolls. I'm thinking-- fair enough. I have a lot of Doctor Who stuff, everybody goes overboard on something, right. And then we go into the bedroom. More dolls. Shelves and shelves of them. Their beady little glass eyes sort of gleaming in the dark. Now that, that's a little strange. I mean it's like they're all sort of looking at us. Creepy. But, you know, he starts snogging me, he's nice, I'm not bothered that much. Then we hit the bed, everything's going well. Only then he stops. And asks if I'd mind lying really still..."

"Eugh!" Alex squealed. "Where do you find these blokes, Vince?"

"He looked all right," Vince shrugged. "How was I to know he was mad as a hatter?"

"Well, did you?" Dane asked. "Lie really still?"

"Gave it a go," Vince confessed, "but I felt such a twat, I couldn't go through with it. I just kept thinking, you know-- what happens if I move? Could be one of those barmy types, like that Dennis Nilsen. I could wind up in bits, flushed down this bloke's toilet. So I told him I had to go for a piss and just took off."

"If he is one of those Dennis Nilsen types," Stuart said, "seems like it might not be the brightest move to bail out on him without a word like that. He's liable to come out looking for you."

"Don't worry, Vince, we'll protect you," Alexander said.

"You? What're you gonna do, mince at him?" Stuart asked.

"Alex'll distract him, he'll make a pass at him, while Vince sneaks out the back way," Dane suggested.

"Good plan," Stuart said, "he'll be terrified. He'll run for his life."

"Oh look," Alex grinned, robbing Stuart's drink and tossing it back in an impressively large gulp, "you seem to've finished your whisky. Guess you'll have to go for another."

Stuart looked at Vince expectantly.

"I was just up there," Vince protested halfheartedly.

"Oh, fine, I'll go myself," said Stuart, "but chances are good I'll cop off, and then where will you be? Dane'll start moping, Alex will get distracted, your serial killer comes in, next thing you know you're stuffed under someone's floorboards, all because you couldn't be bothered to get me a drink--"

"All right, I'll go, I'll go," Vince started to get up.

Stuart rose faster and shoved him back down again. "You made your crawlspace, you lie in it," he smirked, and headed for the bar.

He'd already tossed back half his screwdriver and collected a couple of phone numbers before he reached the table again. The three of them were ogling a slim Asian youth who was crouching over his drink at the bar, darting nervous looks around at the other men nearby.

"I think he's Chinese," Alexander said. "Somebody go over there and ask him if his name is Wei Hung."

They all groaned; Vince complained, "There's better lines than that at the dole."

"You'd know," Alex shot back.

"I'll have you know I just got promoted," Vince said, adopting a tony accent, the corners of his mouth twitching into a benighted smile. "Shop floor supervisor. Got a kick in pay and everything."

"Fabulous!" Alex cried. "You can buy the next round!"

"You let yourself in for that one," Stuart chuckled as Vince, muttering, yanked a few notes out of his wallet and tossed the money on the table. "I didn't even know you were up for a bump up the ladder," Stuart went on, nudging Vince's shoulder with his own.

"I didn't either," Vince said. "I didn't try for it or anything, they just offered it. Stick around long enough, I s'pose, they reckon it's the least they can do. I've got a desk now. That's as far as you can go, though, at Harlo's: a desk. Nowhere to go but down."

"We should do something to celebrate," Stuart said. "Never mind this lot. We can go to some posh dinner place or something, we haven't done that in a while. I've been to loads of new restaurants for work."

Vince smiled absently, then looked back at the Asian bloke at the bar and rapped his fist on the table. "That's where I've seen him before! He's the cashier at that Vietnamese takeaway place by the dry cleaner's. Usually his hair's combed down into his eyes, I didn't recognise him at first."

"Vietnamese?" Dane squinched up his face. "God, don't know a word of it. Chinese, I at least know Nihao, and Indian, I can talk about food."

"He's nice. I've talked to him a couple of times, waiting for takeaway," Vince said, eyes still fixed on the Vietnamese bloke. He cocked his head toward Stuart. "I dunno. What do you think?"

"Well, there's a chance he doesn't speak much English, so he might not understand your terrible chat-up lines," Stuart said, "and the light in here is pretty dim..."

"Fuck off," Vince laughed.

Stuart watched as another drinker angled in to get a beer from the barman; the Vietnamese bloke leaned to the side a bit to keep from brushing the other man's arm. "He's shy," Stuart observed. "Your type, Vince."

"I dunno how old he is..."

"Old enough to come out to the Union on a Thursday night," Stuart pointed out. "Old enough."

Dane began telling some story about going out to the London clubs for the first time when he was thirteen, but Stuart ignored him in favor of watching a tanned, well-built man coming down the stairs from the balcony. In tight jeans and a t-shirt like a second skin, he had a fantastic body, and arms as intricately defined as wrought iron.

The man surveyed the room, obviously putting an eye out for takers. Stuart shifted out of his barstool, leaned against the high table, and put on an inviting grin to let the bloke know he was taking.

He got a once-over from the muscleman, whose gaze moved on and then returned to look him over again almost lazily. Stuart sucked down the last of his screwdriver, got an icecube, and cracked it with his teeth while the bloke stood there like he was having trouble deciding. Bollocks. Stuart knew perfectly well the bloke was his to pull.

After about ten seconds he was already bored with waiting; he elbowed his friend and said, "Right, Vince, here we go. There's your finish line--" he pointed at the Vietnamese takeaway clerk-- "and there's mine," he nodded toward the bloke with the arms of steel, then grinned at Vince. "Race you."

"Oh, come on, no contest," Vince said.

"Give it a shot, you sad bastard," Stuart urged, prodding his arm. "Alexander, you say when."

Getting into the spirit of things, Alexander said, "Ready? On your marks; get set; GO!"

Stuart launched himself toward the bloke with the arms, his mouth hitching up at one corner in a crooked smirk. "Hiya," he said as he approached. "Having a good night?"

The bloke eyed him again. "Not bad," he said, paused a beat, and then added, "Getting better."

Stuart smiled.

"You won, of course," Alexander sniffed the next morning, "Vince went off with that Chinese bloke ages after you left. And don't call so bloody early next time! D'you mind?" He hung up with a bang.

"Drama queen," Stuart muttered, and rang Vince. As soon as he got a pickup he said, "So I turned on the news, they say the rivers have gone to blood. There are wars and rumours of wars. Leads me to the unlikely conclusion that maybe, just maybe, you copped off last night."

"Yeah, believe it or not," Vince answered. "I know you did, I saw you leaving. How was it?"

"Not bad," Stuart said. "A bit short on stamina. It was all over and done with in an hour. Pitched him out before midnight and watched the late show."

"Took you about thirty seconds to pull him, y'bastard. I had to work on Young half the night."

"And what went wrong?"

"It doesn't always go wrong."

"Vince, the last time you had a shag that didn't become a harrowing pub story, bell bottom trousers were still in style."

"I hear they're coming back," Vince said.

"Thanks for the warning. So what was it? Acupuncture?"


"Chinese water torture? Punji stakes? Kung fu grip?"

"Well, that last, maybe." He could hear the smile in Vince's voice.

"Vince! Are you telling me you had a decent shag?"

"Oh yes," Vince said. "Quite."

"Details," Stuart demanded. "It's not that I'm curious, mind you; it's for posterity. You'll be thanking me when you're eighty and they ask you if you ever had a shag where you didn't have your fingers crossed and one eye on the clock, and you'll be able to consult the historical record and say, 'Well... there was the one...'"

"He's eighteen. He's fantastic. Completely fantastic. It's his first time out."

"That's brilliant," Stuart grinned. "First time out, think about that. His whole life, he's never gonna forget you."

"I dunno, it's kind of a scary thought," Vince admitted. "I'm glad I was too busy snogging him to get bunched up about it last night. Wound up being marvelous though. He's still here, actually. I should go."

"That's the great thing about takeaway," Stuart said. "You can always heat it up and have it again in the morning."

Vince laughed. "Want to meet for lunch?"

"Yeah. I'll pick you up at one. So go work up an appetite," Stuart said, and hung up the phone.


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