It was another case of Stuart being Stuart, he thought, and there was no point in playing a game with him and then getting upset when he played along. Stuart chose the most beautiful boy in the room and was now doing -- whatever -- with him. It wasn't new. It was Stuart, doing what the boys expected him to do, doing what Leo had all but told him to do.
And he made it look so easy. Eyes meet, bodies respond, and he made that young man cross the room for him.
Leo tried to remember the last time someone had crossed a room for him. He couldn't.
Someone stopped by Leo's side and knelt so they would be eye-level. Leo didn't open his eyes but put out his hand, expecting to touch Dune's slim shoulder or even Micah's, but the arm he found was far too thick for either of the boys. He opened his eyes to see Stuart looking at him, amusement in the corners of his mouth.
"What happened to your cowboy?"
"He wasn't what I was looking for."
"I thought he was exactly what you're looking for."
"I told you, beauty's not enough anymore. Shove over." Leo moved over as much as he could on the narrow chair and Stuart lounged beside him, his legs stretched out. "May I have some of your water?"
Leo handed over the bottle. "I have no idea what I'm looking for at all. I do know it's not here."
"You can't know that. You won't give it a chance."
Leo shook his head. "It was never my scene, not even when I was their age." He swept out his hand toward the thumping dance floor. "I liked being in my apartment, listening to music and talking to my friends." Stuart looked at him. "I know. That's not how you meet people. I've never been good at meeting people, either."
"What am I to do with you?" said Stuart, more affectionate than frustrated. "It was supposed to make you happy, coming here."
"Nobody here is happy," Leo said. "Not if they're searching, anyway."
"Now you're being bitter."
"I know for a fact this is where Adam met the new guy," Leo said. "He never would have come here if he was happy. He would have stayed home."
"Definitely bitter." Stuart took Leo's water bottle for another drink.
"I'm not bitter."
Stuart said, contemplative, "When Joelle and I split up I was so angry I could barely function. I suppose this is something similar."
"I function just fine," Leo said. "I go to work. I go out. I have friends over."
Stuart gave him a skeptical look. "Most people move on eventually. You're fighting it at every step."
Leo said wearily, "You're such a good friend, Stuart. I'm so glad you're here to help me feel better."
"I hate to see you moping."
"I'm not moping. I'm grieving. Adam was the best thing to happen to me, aside from Frances and Dune, and suddenly he's gone. I have to cope with it in my own way."
"Your way is not coping," Stuart said and took Leo's water bottle again.
"Sex with some stranger is not going to make everything better."
"You won't know until you try."
"Stop it," Leo said, laying his hand over his eyes.
"Why? It's a way of moving on and satisfying your ego. I prescribe something young and pretty for practically everything."
"No," Leo said. "Really, no. I don't want a random hookup. I don't want a replacement. I'm going to sit back, watch Dune and Micah be together, and get ready to be a grandfather in a few years."
Stuart looked at him, the water bottle paused in mid-drink. "They're not seriously talking children, are they?"
"They are. I don't think either of them is ready, but it's not my decision. I'd feel better about it if Dune's depression was under control, but Micah says he's doing all right, so maybe it's more under control than it appears."
"That Micah-child," Stuart said softly. "He's far too young to be a father."
"I was younger than he is when Dune was born."
"They're both older than I was, too, when Jean-Claude was born. I think we grew up sooner, though."
Leo took the water bottle back. "You should have seen Adam when he was young, Stuart. Curly red hair, porcelain skin, the most beautiful smile..."
Stuart sighed. "If I found you a beautiful boy with big blue eyes and perfect skin, would that help?"
"No. Adam's probably coming to the funeral. He was friends with Malcolm and Jack -- though mostly with Jack. I don't know how to behave if he does."
"You'll be polite, say thank you for coming and direct him to the buffet, and take comfort in the fact that most of the people there like you more than they do him."
Leo chuckled. "That is some comfort, but I don't know if it's true."
"I like you better."
Leo picked at the label on the water bottle. "Nice of you to say so."
"It needs saying."
He looked up to meet Stuart's gaze, and took in it all -- the steely blue eyes, the patrician profile, the fine blond hair starting to turn grey at the temples, the mouth he knew could be as tender as it could be stern.
Without even deciding to -- without thinking about it at all -- Leo kissed Stuart, his hand cupping the back of Stuart's head. Stuart made a pleased sound and turned closer to Leo, his hand curving around Leo's hip.
"What happened to me not being your rebound?" Stuart whispered when they parted, and Leo licked his lips, tasting the water they'd been sharing and the warm flavor of pure Stuart.
"You're not my rebound," Leo said.
"So we're snogging like friends?" Stuart raised an eyebrow.