07 – Pretend Lovers


Genre: romance, fantasy
Language: English
Length: 1368 words
Published: 2021

“So how do you want to do this? Pretend we’re lovers and see where that takes us?” Zsiga asked.

Béla shifted at the word ‘lovers’. They sat face to face on Zsiga’s bed in the attic, Béla with his back against the wall. If he still looked skeptical, at least it was a step in the right direction, Zsiga decided. He hadn’t called the plan quits; he had been the one to propose it to begin with.

I’ll give it a shot for you, was what he’d said. You know, seeing you as a guy. Like any other guy. Like we’d only just met.

Like they hadn’t known each other their whole lives.

“’Lovers’ might be going a bit too far,” Béla said. He scratched the back of his head awkwardly.

“Just close your eyes,” Zsiga told him and actually placed a hand over Béla’s eyes when he didn’t comply. “Forget what I look like. Pretend I’m someone else, just some guy you met at the bar or something. A stranger.”

“Easier said that done.”


“All right, all right.”

It was even harder than he thought. Zsiga was sitting in front of him, so close that Béla could feel it every time he shifted or breathed slightly deeper. Breathing, that was an easy enough thing, Béla thought, and decided to focus on the sound of Zsiga’s breathing. Without knowing him it would have been impossible to tell who was making the sounds, he thought. Someone impatient. Someone who was already slightly irritated, judging by the huffs he made now and then.

A hand touched Béla’s chest, finger splaying out. A cool, long-fingered hand.

“How does that feel?” the other murmured.

“Can’t say.”


“No, not bad.” Béla felt the other edge closer. His weight soon pressed against Béla’s chest, his breath almost against Béla’s mouth.

“How about now?”


“Am I still a stranger?”

“I’m trying to keep you that way.”

Zsiga saw Béla’s lip curl. A positive sign. His fingertips brushed against Béla’s lips, ghosting over the curve of his lower lip and leaving a bit of heat against the curve of his cheekbone. Just a bit. Enough to leave a longing, he hoped. Not that it would ever come even close to the longing Zsiga felt and had felt for all these years, always having him close at hand yet never having him the way he wanted. In the wrong way. He had a track record of wanting the wrong people, and Béla was the grand prize.

Béla frowned, eyes still closed. He found Zsiga’s thigh with a hand, ran it up and towards his hip. Kept it there for good ten seconds, then let his other hand snake around his waist. Zsiga wasn’t skinny but something about him felt sharp and bony even through his clothes, like he’d gone through a growth spurt and never properly filled in ever since.

“Put your arms around my neck,” Béla whispered. Zsiga did, much more gently than was his custom, resting his weight against him little by little so that Béla could still withdraw if he wanted to. He didn’t.

Zsiga felt his nose nuzzle against his neck, felt the scrape of a stubble on his skin, and his breath hitched as Béla left a kiss there. A second arm tangled around him, a second kiss found his neck. Zsiga closed his eyes and bit his lip to keep from talking as Béla kept kissing his skin, finding sensitive spots above his jugular and right on his jaw that made him want to squirm.

“You’re more sensitive than I thought.” Béla’s voice had taken a more guttural edge to it, one he’d never heard before. Almost a growl. Zsiga felt how it effectively turned his legs to water.

He tipped back his head, an invitation. Béla’s mouth took it after a moment’s hesitation, lips wandering lower. His kisses were small, tentative, yes, but still kisses.

“Zsigmond,” he breathed against Zsiga’s neck. Zsiga jolted and almost pulled away from him.

Never use that name,” he said acidly before he could stop himself. He hated his full name. People only ever used it when he’d done something wrong or when they were being sentimental, and neither scenario pleased him.

“Right. We’re not on first name basis here.”

“Look, if you’re not gonna take this seriously—”

“On the contrary, I take you very seriously. I wouldn’t keep spurning you if I didn’t.”

“I wish you didn’t.”

“I can’t help it, I just… What would people say?”

“Who the fuck cares what people say? We’re adults. Two consenting bloody adults, and you aren’t pushing me to do anything.”

But he knew Béla cared. He had always, always been so damn sensitive about what everyone thought about him. About them.

“I wish we could just leave. Go somewhere far away, where no one knows us,” Zsiga mumbled. “Maybe then you would relax enough to… Maybe then we could…”

The words he’d been formulating died on his tongue and came out as a sigh instead. Béla’s fingers carded through his hair, gently, but not like he normally did – more like someone feeling the texture of a lover’s hair for the first time. Digging his fingers in, almost pulling, only it felt titillating rather than unpleasant. He made it so very hard to stay angry at him, Zsiga thought ruefully. He made him want to dream.

Béla’s eyes were still closed. In this light his features looked softer and some of the tension was gone from his shoulders. Strands of his wavy, brown hair had come loose from the messy bun he wore at the nape of his neck. Zsiga could never resist brushing them back behind his ears, so he didn’t. It was a good look on him. Everything was, really. He was one of those people who would’ve looked stunning in rags. Every feature on his face could have been a more refined, improved version of Zsiga’s – apart from the dark hair they didn’t have much anything in common.

He both loved and hated it. It meant he could at times lose himself in Béla entirely and forget about himself, until he remembered how separate they were, that they were nothing alike.

He wanted more. This wasn’t real enough.

Zsiga leaned in and kissed him full on the mouth. He could’ve been kissing a statue for all the difference it made; Béla’s mouth didn’t open or move against his.

“Come on,” he said in a low voice, and hated how childish it sounded. “Work with me here.”

He felt Béla shift, but the hand resting against the small of Zsiga’s back didn’t move or withdraw. Zsiga saw his mouth open, saw his lips move as he silently looked for the words to say, and his voice was less hesitant than he’d been expecting when he said, “okay. Do it again.”

Zsiga forced himself to kiss him slowly, to pause long enough to feel just how well their lips fit against each other’s and how warm, soft the other’s mouth was. It didn’t make the anticipation any more tolerable. Béla put a hand behind his head as they kissed once, twice, three times, but he pulled away before Zsiga could hope for more.

Béla’s eyes were open. He gave Zsiga’s shoulders a gentle push. “That’s enough. Let’s stop.”

“You hated it.”

“I didn’t,” Béla said with a shake of his head. “It doesn’t feel bad, just different. I need to think about this. Need some time to adjust.”

“To what?”

“You. Us.” He paused for a moment. “No, not you, really. I think I’ve already come to terms with how you feel about me.”

The way he said ‘us’ made Zsiga want to dream again. He felt helpless watching Béla get up from the bed and make for the doorway. He paused for long enough to flash Zsiga a small smile before heading downstairs.

Zsiga flopped down on the bed, staring at the roof, and every kissed spot of his skin tingled all over. He knew he wasn’t being fair. He’d spent a lifetime in love with Béla already.

Now it was Béla’s turn to decide if he wanted to catch up.

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