Jeff told the tailor it was for a period wedding, which explained it well enough even if it also happened to be a lie. That stamp of heterosexual privilege and sanity obscures all deviancy, even that which requires a frock coat and sinfully tight pants. And when it's done, the effect is not so different from what he would normally wear in the courtroom. Not at first glance.

But the pants caress his calves and cling to his thighs adoringly in lines that no ironed slacks ever permit. The smooth lines of his waistcoat -- with what he called the "aging queen" silhouette at first -- give him a restrained dignity that is somehow lacking in more relaxed vests. It was hell to find a pattern that laced properly, but the corset effect is worth it: subtle, lithe, period. Even the collar of his shirt, starched high, speaks of repression, and when it's bound around with a cravat, it takes calm and patience to get it off. The severe lines and layers are forbidding, archaic, but he's three buttons away from indecency, even in full regalia.

It's far better than traditional leather restraints; everyone knows what those look like. With the hat, everyone on the way to the party assumes it's some sort of Dickensian costume and writes it off to eccentricity. It marks him as someone not entirely of this time and place, distant from society, and vulnerable. He makes everyone else background, even the guy next to him.

Among friends with sharp eyes, the purpose becomes clear. Everyone wants to run their hands down the foreign contours, admire the tailoring that shows him off, tease him until the tight trousers are too much to bear. He has to find his escort, his lover, before he can get permission to ease the pressure, and walking through an attentive crowd with his frock coat swaying from his hips invites more teasing. By the time he finds the person he's looking for, he's got an audience and a bad case of shakes. "Let me out of this damn thing. Please," he whispers.

"Aren't you having fun?"

"Yeah, but -- please."

Three buttons, three seconds, and a wall, the audience closes in, and he's gasping for breath in his prim waistcoat, his face going red above the stiff collar, his hands knotting in the skirts of his coat in shivery desperation. Someone catcalls and says, "It's a wonder you didn't pop those buttons," and he would laugh if he could get enough breath, if the waistcoat weren't so restrictive, if there weren't so many appreciative hands stroking him.

"Careful," his lover cautions them, "it's a fortune in drycleaning."

They laugh and back off, leaving Jeff clinging to the wall for balance with a few lingering kisses as farewell. His eyes are closed until his lover puts an arm around him, and he looks up and smiles. "Hi."

"Hey, gorgeous." He kisses Jeff lightly before settling to his knees. "Had enough of this?"

"Just about, yeah."

The audience calls further taunts, encouragement, commentary, and closes in again to kiss Jeff and find his nipples through the fabric of waistcoat and shirt until he moans against someone's lips and thrusts into his lover's mouth. Then they help him stay on his feet until his pants are buttoned and someone brings his hat back, and he looks nearly dapper again.

He shifts from leaning on the wall to leaning on his lover, the earlier rigid posture melted into languor. "That was --" he shakes his head.

"Pretty impressive. Maybe next time I can talk you into growing a mustache."

Jeff laughs. "Maybe next time you'll get yourself some of this stuff. And a walking stick. Or a cane."

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