It's a WIP until it's got a title, right? I'm tearing my hair out trying to think of something. Love at Hogmanay is accurate, but sounds a little ridiculous. I was told under no uncertain terms was I invited to pull from a song. Everything else I come up with sounds like a great title for a totally different story: First Footer, or The Ruins of Dunnottar, or Stranger's Luck. Crap. What kinds of things do you look for in titling a story, or picking a story to read?
For giggles, have an excerpt:
"Did you eat?" Hugh asked, and then waved a hand. "Doesn't matter, airport food doesn't count anyway. There's a bit of leftover curry, and I could heat up the rice for you."
"My mom says to tell you she's going to buy you a week of groceries," Charlie said, following him to the kitchen doorway. There wasn't room for three in there.
Hugh laughed. "That's kind of her," he said. He rummaged in the fridge for a moment and came out with a tupperware. "Did you tell her we only shop at M&S and never at the Tesco?"
Charlie grinned at him. "No, but I'll bring it up next time I talk to her. She won't need to know all you consume is expensive organic cheese and overpriced wine."
"Oi." Hugh pointed a finger at him. "It's not overpriced, it's high quality."
"You couldn't tell the difference if it were served on a silver platter," Yuki said, nudging Hugh out of the way to get to the microwave.
When the curry was heated and Charlie had been passed a fork to eat it with, he and Hugh went back to the sitting room to join the others in front of the telly. Yuki sat in her papasan chair with her legs tucked underneath her and her popcorn in her lap, and Hugh took the middle of the couch. Charlie sat down on the end, where his pillows from the last few nights were stacked. They still had their pillow covers on them.
Hugh caught him looking at them. "We guessed you might be back," he said, stretching his arm out along the back of the couch to give Charlie a pat on the shoulder. "No sense in cleaning up until we heard you had left the country."
"Thanks," Charlie said softly. The warmth of the food in his belly, and of Hugh's body along the outside of his arm and leg, were chasing away the chill of the snowy night and the funk of the day spent fruitlessly waiting at the airport. Hugh rubbed his shoulder fondly, and Charlie found himself leaning into the touch. As Yuki started the movie again, Hugh's hand lingered, his fingers just brushing the shoulder seam of Charlie's jumper. The jumper was a cashmere blend, a gift from Charlie's mother just before he'd left for the UK back in August, and Hugh was always making excuses to touch it.
Charlie had met Hugh his first night on campus, at a student pub with his Canadian roommate, Stephen. They had stuck out like flares, with their accents and their wide-eyed expressions, and Hugh and Yuki had taken pity on them. Charlie and Stephen had been invited— well, abducted— into their large circle of rowdy friends that night and plied with "welcome to London" drinks until they could barely stand. Then they'd been escorted to another pub, and then another, and Charlie had decided there and then to stick as close to Hugh as he could manage for the semester.
Part of that decision was based on Hugh's curly red hair, his sky-blue eyes, his milk-pale skin, his freckles. And on his lean, muscular body— swimmer, Hugh bragged; the hundred meter freestyle was his speciality— and his big, warm hands, and his infectious grin. Charlie had taken one look at him, as he'd interrupted his and Stephen's stilted small-talk, and thought, I think I want to fuck that boy.
It didn't happen that first night. Hugh and Yuki were drinking buddies and couldn't be separated, although Hugh had started to react favorably to Charlie's subtle flirting. Charlie wasn't any good at overt flirting, so he settled for light touches, eye contact, and bad jokes. Hugh had leaned into him, sought him out among the circle of his own friends, and laughed like an idiot. But it could have been Charlie's novelty and all the alcohol.
Charlie had spent that Sunday lying very still, wishing he'd gotten lucky but infinitely glad he hadn't, since this dehydrated, nauseous aftermath was not attractive in the least. He was going to have to up his game to keep pace with the drinking habits of the English and the Scots.
On Monday morning, recovered and feeling optimistic, Charlie had found his way to his first lecture: a class on Shakespeare's Histories. That luscious mass of red hair caught his eye straight away, down in the front of the hall. Charlie quelled his first-day-new-country jitters and strode down the stairs.
"Mind if I sit?" Charlie asked, and Hugh's face lit up in recognition and delight.
"Do!" Hugh said, sliding over to give Charlie room on the bench. "Charlie, was it? How are you feeling?"
"Great, today," Charlie said. "Yesterday, wrecked."
Hugh had laughed, bright and genuine. "Aye," he said, "you were a bit out of your head."
"Who's fault was that?" Charlie teased. "I've never been force fed so many shots."
"Ah, you'll learn, lad," Hugh said, thumping Charlie reassuringly on the back. "I'll teach you."
Hugh was shaking Charlie's shoulder, and Charlie picked his head up off the back of the sofa. "What'sat?"
"We're going to bed," Hugh said, smiling at him. The movie was over and the room was dark; Brian and Yuki were already gone. Hugh was half-sitting, half-kneeling on the couch, like he'd been up and come back.
"I missed it?" Charlie asked. He couldn't even remember what the movie had been.
"The whole thing," Hugh agreed, sinking down beside him. "Started snoring straight away."
"I don't snore."
"Course not. Listen. Are you awake enough to listen?"
Charlie sat up straighter, adjusted his jumper, and nodded. "Yeah, I'm— I'm fine. What's up? Do you need to be up early in the morning? Did you ask them what they thought about me staying--"
Hugh interrupted him, saying, "Yeah, hang on a second. I actually just got off the phone with my mum; she called to check what time I'd be getting in, and I told her about your plane not taking off, and she—" He fiddled with the curl of hair that hung over his forehead and grinned sheepishly. "Well, we had a bit of a talk, and I was wondering if you'd like to come have Christmas with us."