No Special Occasion

Mark and Rob have an evening together with nothing to enjoy other than each other…

This is NOT safe for work, just to warn you. For those of you who follow/have followed me elsewhere, you might recognise this story in another guise 😉

This was no special occasion. Not an anniversary, or an oops, I’ve pissed you off, let me make it up to you. Or even an I’ve had a bad day, I need to feel you close to me. Just an intimate kind of evening with nothing to concentrate on but themselves.

Mark returned from his shower to find Rob asleep on their bed, one hand curled underneath the corner of Mark’s pillow and the other creeping forward across the sheets. Mark smiled; sleeping Rob wasn’t peaceful, or younger looking, or any of the things people normally said about their favourite people when they were resting. He was just resting, and Mark loved nothing more than seeing Rob taking any kind of rest, because it was such a rare thing for him to do. No one worked harder than Rob did, Mark was sure of it, or even biased about it, but either way he didn’t care. Rob was resting, and that was good enough for him.

Rob stood for a moment longer, then silently padded up to his side of the bed barefoot, slowly lifting off the oversized long sleeved shirt he was wearing and reaching to loop it over the back of a chair.

Gently lowering himself onto the bed, he did his best not to jostle Rob too much, keeping himself a little towards the edge as he swung his feet up and stretched his legs out. He turned, very slightly, picking up his book from the bedside table and wincing as the rustle of pages seemed too loud to his ears, in the silence of their room. Satisfied that Rob hadn’t stirred, he turned his attention back to the words before him, quickly familiarising himself with where he was in the story plot and losing himself in it.

A soft sigh a little while later announced Rob’s waking up, his fingers pausing as they stroked across the sheet and came into contact with Mark’s thigh. He raised his head, eyes drowsy and unfocused before coming to rest on Mark’s face.

“Hey,” he mumbled, yawning and giving the smallest of stretches, before rolling forward and pressing his nose against Mark’s hip, a hand slung over and resting just above his opposite knee.

Mark smiled down at him, slotting his bookmark between the pages and pushing the book back onto the cabinet before lightly running both his hands through the back of Rob’s hair. Rob arched against his fingers, humming in approval. “How long’ve I been out?” he asked with another yawn before nuzzling against him.

“Maybe an hour,”

“Come here,” Rob beckoned, slotting a finger through Mark’s belt loop and tugging, insinuating Mark lay beside him. Mark slid until his own head was on his pillow resting just over Rob’s hand, and turned briefly to press a kiss to the back of it.

Rob gave out a small hum of approval as his fingers brushed over Mark’s naked skin, stroking down his back and rolling closer towards him. Drawing his hand back from Mark’s pillow, Rob wrenched up his own shirt a little so that he could press his now-naked stomach against Mark’s, and sighed, content, wrapping his arm back around him.

Mark smiled a kiss against Rob’s forehead and slipped his fingers up the back of Rob’s shirt, resting them there.

“Better,” Rob mumbled against Mark’s lips, closing his eyes again, and they lay there without knowing the time, trading soft, occasional kisses as they breathed each other in.

Rob pressed a short series of tiny kisses against Mark’s lips then, and at the same time spread his hand wide to touch as much of Mark’s bare skin at once as he could. He slid his hand down Mark’s side slowly, then moved back just enough so that his thumb could drop down between them to run over Mark’s stomach.

Mark smiled against his mouth, lightly massaging his own fingers into Rob’s back. He opened up the kiss a little, though keeping it lazy, with Rob sliding his hand slowly up the length of Mark’s back again to come to rest between his shoulder blades, holding him close.

And as their slow kisses continued unhurried, Rob continued stroking over as much of Mark’s skin as he could get to, first dipping down low to the small of Mark’s back, then up over his shoulders, trailing his fingers along the edge of his ribs and rolling back a little so that he had room to brush the lightest of touches up and over a nipple, earning him a breathier yet still gentle kiss.

Rob kissed the corner of Mark’s mouth, the edge of his jaw, a patch on his neck, his collarbone, working his head lower until he could flick his tongue over Mark’s nipples and gently catch them in his teeth in turn. Mark hummed, trailing his own fingers in absent patterns over his back.

When Rob raised his head again, he claimed another kiss, this one the tiniest bit harder than before, though still unhurried. Mark stroked his fingers up under Rob’s shirt again, hooking his thumb on the outside to show Rob what he wanted. Together they pulled Rob’s shirt up and over his head, and Mark’s eyes lit up to see him, rolling forward to press Rob down on his back.

Mark kissed his way up from the dip of Rob’s shoulder, all the way up his neck and under his jaw, before reaching Rob’s mouth. Rob sighed against him, his hands around Mark’s hips and moving him so that Mark was straddling his lap and resting on his forearms either side of his head, settling directly over him.

Mark flicked his tongue against Rob’s lips, forcing a pleased gasp out of him in response, shuffling closer still until they were pressed together at every point. Mark smiled at that, moving his hand a fraction so he could trace his thumb along the stubble of Rob’s jaw.

Mark stared at Rob with a wide, blissful smile, his fingers drumming lightly along Rob’s cheek. He nosed Rob’s jaw to one side to mouth along his neck, and just under his chin where he knew would make Rob smile. He nuzzled his way back up through Rob’s stubble before kissing him again, open, and long.

“Are you still tired?” Mark asked, kisses now to Rob’s cheeks, his nose, his closed eyes.

Rob’s hands slid up Mark’s sides, tracing the outline of his shoulder blades. “Nope. Not tired at all. Didn’t even mean to fall asleep,”

“So you’ve no objection to me keeping kissing you?” Mark prompted, though not actually making any effort to pause at all.

Rob rolled his hips up the smallest of rolls and angled his mouth towards him in invitation. “Please do…”

“Good,” Mark breathed, before licking his way into Rob’s mouth, smiling as he sighed out lengthy and content. And then Mark really did kiss Rob, his lips barely leaving his skin for a second. He started at his mouth, working his way down the dip under his lip, his chin, all along the length of his neck down to his collarbone before he had to shift lower, which he did in a deliberate, slow slide so that they brushed against one another. He bit down on Rob’s left pec, swirling his tongue over the mark he left there before sucking on a nipple, and repeating the entire thing with his right.

Mark kissed his sternum, each rib, down to the slightly softer flesh of his belly, all while slowly unbuttoning and unzipping his jeans so that he could nose his way into them. He pressed the tip of his nose into Rob’s belly button and raised his head, knowing he’d see Rob laughing at that, before lightly hooking his fingers along the line of Rob’s boxers and slowly pulling both them and his jeans down.

Rob helped, raising his hips to free him of his clothes, sighing and pliant as Mark slowly pulled them down. Mark’s kisses continued with the slow exposing of skin; front of hip, top of thigh, dip at top of kneecap, a light lick to the back of the knee that made Rob jump for the tickle of it, a tiny bite against his calf, and a final kiss into his inner ankle until he could pull the jean legs completely free. Then Mark worked in reverse back up Rob’s other leg, moving to lay between them, eventually stopping to press a series of kisses into Rob’s stomach. He raised himself to rest his chin there, smiling up at Rob for a moment and receiving a wink and fingers slotted back through his hair.

Mark started kissing his way back down again, nuzzling into the hair around Rob’s base, kissing his way up Rob’s length so slowly that Rob started out barely stirring, but on his way to almost completely hard by the time Mark’s lips pressed against his tip.

Mark raised his head again to smile up at Rob, catching the slightly open-mouthed smile there, then licked firmly once over Rob’s head, keeping eye contact. Rob sucked in a breath in anticipation, his fingers still running through Mark’s hair, then coming to rest on his shoulders and drumming there once to get his attention.

Mark stopped, looking up in question.

“Come up here,”

Rob patted his own thighs, silently asking Mark to sit on him. Mark did, looping one leg over and then the other, running his hands up Rob’s chest as he sat up. Rob reached his hands up to grip Mark’s face, leaning up to kiss him, smiling against his lips.

Rob reached out and slowly undid Mark’s jeans, sliding his hands in the back at first to cup his ass. He ran his hands there a while, moulding them in time with the flicking of his tongue into Mark’s mouth, then brushed his fingertips around to the front of Mark’s jeans, lightly enough to make Mark shudder.

Rob slid a hand inside Mark’s boxers where he was already half-hard, and Mark groaned, arching up his neck, which Rob took full advantage of by biting lightly down on his pulse point there, laving his tongue over the marks he left behind.

Rob circled a thumb over Mark’s head and grinned at the small stutter he answered with, then dipped his hand back in, stroking him, teasingly slow from base to tip, with another circle over his head on every up stroke.

“Let’s get these off,” Rob whispered against Mark’s lips, fingers inside the waistband of Mark’s boxers and pulling. He pulled them down as far as he could, before Mark shifted backwards and knelt his way off the bed, pulling down his boxers and jeans in one go, then crawling back and leaning over Rob for a kiss.

Rob patted to his side, and Mark laid down there beside him, running a hand over his hip. Rob cupped his face to kiss him and pressed himself forward, before dipping his hand back down and lightly gripping them both in his palm.

Mark moaned, thrusting up into his hand, feeling Rob smile against his lips. And Rob stroked them both, going back to his slow and lengthy attention that he’d given just to Mark moments before. Their kisses remained slow, stuttering, missing and half-missing when a gasp of pleasure caught.

Mark gave a small hum against Rob’s lips, pressing another kiss against him before dipping his head a little with a smile.

“What?” Rob asked in a whisper, his rhythm not changing and still pressing his lips lightly against Mark’s when he could.

“Nothing,” Mark shrugged a little, lifting his eyes to Rob’s before they dropped again, “I like watching when you do this.”

“Oh yeah?” Rob asked, smiling, deliberately running a slow thumb over each of their heads and slicking them both back down, continuing his long, slow strokes.

“Mm,” is all Mark managed, all his concentration elsewhere.

“Anything you like seeing in particular?” Rob asked, feeling himself harden a little more under Mark’s gaze. Mark lifted his head to look at him then with a knowing smile.

“All of it,” Mark replied quietly, “I like it when we’re leaking and you slick it down over us, and when you grip just here,” he moved his hand to show Rob, just at the dip beneath his head, humming as he pressed his own thumb there, “and stroke your thumb up over here,” he added, running his own fingers over Rob’s slit and making him shudder, “I enjoy seeing – and feeling – it all,”

Rob continued his long, slow stroking with both of them focusing their gaze on his hand, the occasional jolt of their hips surging them forward and interrupting their kisses with increasingly filthier moans.

“You wanna just keep doing this?” Rob whispered against his lips, which made Mark smile, then shake his head, looking down and thrusting into Rob’s hand a couple of times more and groaning, then pulling Rob’s hand away from them and resting it on his hip. They laid side by side, rolling forward so their cocks were still gliding over each other, letting out moans of encouragement, between stuttered kisses.

“No,” Mark finally replied, chasing Rob’s tongue around his mouth a little, “I need you,”

“Oh yeah?” Rob repeated, a little thickly as he thrust against him a little harder, “I’m all yours,” which pleased Mark no end, and Rob was rewarded with a deeper kiss as well as a quick, light stroke along his length before Mark pressed on Rob’s hip and rolled him on to his back, moving with him to kneel between his legs.

Mark positioned Rob just how he wanted him; feet flat on the bed and knees up either side of him, splayed open. Mark shifted down, kissing his knee, and all along his inner thigh, all while pushing Rob’s knees further apart. He bent further, taking just Rob’s head into his mouth and sucking hard and moaning as his mouth filled with precum, then lapped along his slit, humming then as Rob jolted beneath him. He opened his mouth around him and took him in, hollowing his cheeks a couple of times in a hard suck then pulled off him and bent for a final lick over his head, then knelt up, bracing himself on Rob’s parted knees.

Mark tapped Rob’s thigh and Rob watched as Mark slid off the bed, hands resting on Rob’s hips. Rob moved with him willingly, until he was closer to the edge of the bed, and Mark was on his knees on the floor.

Mark leaned over, running his hands up the back of Rob’s thighs so that he raised his legs for him. “Hold yourself open,” he said, and Rob slid his hands behind his knees, pulling them wide.

Mark pressed his hands either side of Rob’s hole, and pushed them slowly apart to expose him. He dipped his head, licking his way in, smiling at the way Rob’s thighs clenched and a gasp escaped his lips.

Mark swirled his tongue into him, circling for a beat, pressing in, circling again, pressing further, until he could dart it in and out freely, lapping at him. Rob writhed and rocked against him, giving all sorts of sounds of encouragement, so obviously enjoying everything that Mark was doing to him.

Mark pulled back a little, flicking his tongue out just to brush the tip against Rob, who gave a startled sigh at the loss and pushed himself forward. Mark pushed him back, repeating his teasing little flicks unevenly over and over so Rob never knew when they were coming, until Rob was whimpering and grinding himself forward. Mark rewarded him with one long, deep lick before placing a kiss over his hole and moving away entirely.

Mark didn’t move far though, pressing a kiss into the crease of Rob’s leg, and slowly stroking his thumb over Rob’s leaking head. He used the precum there to slick his fingers up, and pressed two in to Rob at once, steady and slow. Rob gasped, writhing as Mark pressed and scissored his fingers inside him until he hit Rob’s prostate, making him judder forward.

Mark pressed his face against Rob’s inner thigh just below his knee, watching his fingers sliding in and out of Rob as he added a third. He kept up a steady stream of kisses where his head rested, closing his eyes with a smile at the noises Rob continued making above him.

“Need you, Mark,” Rob choked out eventually, no longer unable to control the way he rocked down on Mark’s fingers.

“Mm,” Mark agreed, placing a final kiss to Rob’s thigh and moving to stand. He waited as Rob pressed his hands into the bed and levered himself back up it until his head was back on the pillow. His legs stayed wide, and Mark crawled between them, hands running up Rob’s chest and cradling his face for a moment in a kiss. He leaned over and snatched up a bottle of lube from the side of the bed, slicking up his fingers to slide into him, then coating his own cock, his head falling back with a groan.

Mark settled back between Rob’s legs, his hands pressing him open again and lining himself up. He felt Rob shift and looked up; Rob’s eyes were fixed on Mark’s cock as its tip pressed firm against his hole.

“I like watching you sliding in to me,” he said, raising his eyes to Mark’s for only a moment before dropping them again. Mark smiled, dropping his own gaze to watch as his cock head disappeared inside Rob, pausing to flick his eyes up to see Rob’s face before pressing all the way in, in one slow, drawn out thrust.

They both let out a soft grunt when Mark was all the way inside him. He paused again, just for a second, before sliding almost all the way back out, their eyes ever watchful as he continued rocking in and out of him, breathing soft, choking out gasps as he did.

Mark shifted, this time stroking his hands up the back of Rob’s thighs so that they were high and angled up against Rob’s chest. Mark leaned over him, rocking into him with only the minimum of movement as he kissed him.

They kept their pace slow, gently rocking together with Rob’s hands flat against the bed, and Mark’s lips never far from Rob’s. They only paused to give each other silly grins, eyes shining, smiling in delight when one of them gave out a particularly appreciative moan.

Mark shifted a little, pulling Rob’s hips up and angling himself in a way that hit Rob’s prostate repeatedly and made his head writhe back against his pillow. Mark kept hold of one of Rob’s legs, while his other dropped so that he could take Rob in his hand and stroke him in time with his thrusts.

Rob held himself open again, gripping the back of his knee and holding it wide like Mark did with his other. His eyes continued flitting between Mark’s hand around his cock, and where his hips rolled, with Mark disappearing into him.

“Rob,” Mark breathed out, and Rob knew from the tone that Mark was straining hard to keep his movements slow and steady. In answer, Rob shifted Mark’s hand and held himself wide open for him with both hands, Mark falling forward a little as he stumbled to support his weight on the bed.

Mark began pounding into him, still stroking Rob in time with his hips but now accompanied with a series of gasps, and slaps of skin on skin as he thrust harder, and as deep as he could go.

Rob rolled his hips up in time to meet him where he could, as Mark’s thrusts became more frantic into him, his hips stuttering as he chased the angle in Rob that made his eyes roll.

Harder, and harder, the air filled with nothing but their grunts and moans that sounded more and more desperate the close they got. With a last gasp out of Mark’s name, Rob came, shooting several thick, hot stripes to splatter over his own stomach. Mark smiled down at that for a second, but was unable to stop, thrusting relentlessly and uncontrollably before grinding against Rob with a long, guttural groan, coming hard.

Mark fell forward, landing square on Rob’s chest with a soft oof, and Rob’s chest rising and falling heavily under his weight. His hands dropped to Rob’s waist, and Rob’s hands lifted to stroke circles into Mark’s lower back.

As Mark softened, he slipped out of Rob, and Mark moved his hands up back to either side of Rob’s shoulders, pressing kisses into his neck, jaw, and back up to his face. They rested their foreheads together as their breathing evened, eyes on each other the entire time.

When they’d calmed enough to move, Mark slid from the bed, with Rob whimpering a complaint at the loss. Mark bent to pick up his boxers and smiled at Rob, wiping come from them both before discarding the boxers back on the floor and climbing up beside him again.

Rob turned instantly to him, one arm around his waist and pulling him close. His mouth claimed Mark’s again, and Mark went willingly, curling a hand possessively around Rob’s hip with a deep, sated sigh.

They fell asleep with their lips idly pressing against each others’, curved into satisfied smiles.

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A New Experience

Meet college roommates Derek and Jordan. Jordan is frustrated and inexperienced; Derek quite literally gives him a hand.

This is NOT safe for work, just to warn you. For those of you who follow/have followed me elsewhere, you might recognise this story in another guise 😉

Derek had never been good at getting the cold shoulder. He’d go out of his way to try to turn the mood round of whoever was annoyed at him, whether he felt they were justified for it or not. He’d spent all his childhood trying and failing to meet his father’s approval, and attempting to judge other people’s moods had become ingrained in him as a result.

He went out of his way to double check and overthink the reactions of others’, fearing their disappointment in him more than anything else. It wasn’t that he was shy, or even uncertain of himself in any way; Derek had an incessant need for people not to be mad at him, ever, no matter the circumstances. Even his little sister’s squealing squad of friends who’d been fluttering their far-too-young eyelashes at him for years before he escaped to college; even them he went out of his way not to offend.

With Jordan, Derek was lost.

When Derek had signed up for the roommate pairing service he’d seen on the noticeboard at college towards the end of the summer term, he’d been both hesitant and excited. It was a chance to live in a space infinitely bigger than the tiniest of dorm rooms he’d been in throughout his first year, and maybe even to make some new friends in the process. When he and Jordan had been assigned each other, the two of them hit it off immediately, trading emails back and forth all summer long.

They moved into their small apartment in walking distance of the college on an awful, grey kind of day, celebrating their new freedom and friendship over pizza and beer and solidifying that friendship with warm smiles and easy conversation. And though neither of them was perfect, and occasionally they found things to disagree on, their lives together were mostly problem free, with barely a single bad word between them. Barely.

Derek hated it when he’d pissed Jordan off, intentionally or otherwise. The slightest glib comment or not thought out teasing and Jordan would stiffen, turn away, refuse eye contact altogether. Derek would then spend hours sometimes, coaxing Jordan back into talking to him. He’d chew on his lip, worrying at it until it was near bleeding, watching Jordan as though staring alone would force him to forgive him.

Their friends often watched Derek watch Jordan in silence, in utter bewilderment at how oblivious the two of them were, whilst nudging into each other’s sides and taking bets on just how long it would be for them to actually get together.

A few nights ago, a crotchety Derek had snapped at Jordan on more than one occasion after he’d come home late from a weekend visiting his parents and not answered his string of messages. It had come out of fear and concern, because Derek knew just how unreliable Jordan’s car was, but his words had come out sounding angry and condescending.

There had been much slamming of doors, noisy unpacking of bags and Tupperware boxes full of food from Jordan’s parents, and aggressive filling of glasses of water, those glasses then banged down on kitchen surfaces with a cold, clinking sound that echoed throughout their kitchen making it seem far larger than it was. And it was at the sink that Derek had finally turned on Jordan, gripping him firmly by the forearms, forcing him to look at him.

“Look,” he began, ducking his head just a fraction so that he was at eye level with him, “I know I’m a cranky bastard sometimes, alright? I know. But you’re not much better when you’re like this. And I was worried, okay? So just… stop being mad at me. I hate it when you’re mad at me,”

Jordan purposely avoided his gaze again, turning his face to stare emptily over Derek’s shoulder.

“Jordan…” Pleading had been in Derek’s voice then; he was exhausted after a late Saturday night and a long Sunday of trying to get ahead on his studies, but he knew he’d never be able to fall sleep if he went to bed with Jordan still angry at him.

“There’s no reason for you to talk to me like a kid,” Jordan huffed, finally deeming to speak to him, albeit in an accusatory tone.

“I know,” Derek nodded, wiping a rough hand over his face as though to re-energise himself a little, before returning his grip to Jordan’s arm, “I know, and I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to lash out like that,”

Jordan looked at him properly then, because although Derek seemed perpetually sorry for something, his actual sorrys were few and far between, and at least in Jordan’s case, never said without being meant. Jordan relaxed a little under Derek’s grip, and Derek’s shoulders answered in a slump of relief.

In their tiredness, the usual way they had come to carefully keep a little distance between them slipped, and they relaxed into each other without their usual overthinking. And Derek would swear he never knew how, but that he’d never regret, the way he found himself kissing Jordan then.

He felt Jordan’s lips under his own, dry, and soft, and willing, and then he’d felt himself sigh out in a way that said, finally. A hesitant movement and Jordan’s hands pressed into Derek’s chest, before slowly sliding upwards to rest in a curve around his shoulders. Derek wove his arms around Jordan’s back, leaning him against the counter though gently enough to not trap him there.

Their kiss was long, chaste and sleepy, and to Derek, it was perfect. Perhaps not like the thousand different ways he’d imagined kissing Jordan for the first time, having been harbouring a not-so-secret crush on him since probably day one of meeting him, but perfect nonetheless.

It hadn’t happened since.

The following morning, Jordan had smiled at him with a faint blush on his cheeks, which Derek had returned in kind. But somehow, they’d succeeded in avoiding being alone together, and Derek couldn’t help but notice Jordan’s tone with him becoming clipped, annoyed, and guarded.

He’d been completely sincere when he’d told Jordan he hated him being mad at him, and the thought that Jordan was unhappy about Derek kissing him filled Derek with actual despair. Which is how he’d found himself stood outside Jordan’s room, hand raised to knock but not quite managing to do it. He stood there for a while, rehearsing the things he’d say, and how he thought Jordan might respond, and then what he’d say in response. Planning conversations was always exhausting, and Derek found that the ones he planned with Jordan in particular never went the way he expected them to.

In a moment of bravery, he knocked, his heart jumping at the sound and impending result. He listened as Jordan approached the door, swallowing hard when the door was swung open and Jordan scowled at him across the doorway.

“Hey,” Derek managed, thickly as though his tongue was swollen from the weight of all the words fighting to be let out.

“Hi,”

Derek peered over his shoulder and shuffled on the spot. “You busy?”

“Not really,”

“Then,” Derek’s voice cracked, and after he cleared his throat he tried again, “can I come in?”

Jordan’s sigh was heavy and put upon, as though Derek was intentionally causing him the most amount of difficulty possible. But he backed away from the door anyway, waving him inside and closing it firmly behind him. Derek stood awkwardly beside the bed, looking between it and the chair draped with clothes, and not wanting to presume he should sit in either place. Jordan slumped down on to the end of the bed hard, saying nothing.

Derek’s heart sank. He’d hoped, for so long, that when he and Jordan finally got around to something in the category of more than friendship – because he had been so very, very sure that Jordan felt the same way – that Jordan would be a willing participant. He felt stupid now, and hurt, that clearly the kiss that had plastered a stupid grin on his own face for the past few days had not been received as it had been given.

“I didn’t mean to…” he tried, then started over, “I shouldn’t have…” but Derek’s stumbled words failed him and left him wringing his hands together and fiddling with the ends of his shirt, adjusting the cuffs, anything to keep himself busy.

“I liked kissing you, Derek,”

Derek’s eyes widened when Jordan finally spoke and looked over at him, taking in the resigned, weighted look there and hearing but despite it not being said out loud.

“I thought maybe you-”

“I really enjoyed our kiss, Derek. Very much,”

A new kind of beating took up in Derek’s heart, and he cursed at himself for getting over-excited. “Then why are you avoiding me, huh? Why so angry suddenly?” he demanded, impatiently waiting for an explanation and watching for so long that he thought Jordan was never going to answer him.

“It’s so uncomfortable,” Jordan finally blurted, and the frustration in his voice Derek would have found funny were it not being aimed in his direction.

“Uncomfortable,” Derek repeated, waiting for confirmation that that was what he’d really heard, having no idea at all what it meant.

Jordan answered by waving a hand vaguely over his lap, a heavy sigh blasting out of him as he curled back in on himself and avoided Derek’s gaze, but not before Derek’s eyes automatically flew to what looked like a prominent bulge in Jordan’s jeans.

Derek’s mouth dried out and he stared at it, gawping and telling himself not to.

“I am… almost constantly aroused, Derek. It’s… frustrating. And painful. And so much worse when you’re anywhere near me. Even more so since we kissed; it was like it before, but… but it was never like this,” he said, forcing out the last word so very incredulously then scowling at Derek as though he expected him to laugh.

White noise assaulted Derek’s ears then, making him feel a little light-headed. The confirmation that Jordan too had been feeling something for him was warring with his stunned realisation that perhaps Jordan wasn’t particularly experienced with these things. It left Derek both cautious and excited, and probably a lot more turned on by it than he should really be feeling, he thought, shifting awkwardly where he sat.

“I…” Derek managed eventually with his voice cracking all over again, “I… you. You never said,”

“Neither did you,” Jordan pointed out with a raised eyebrow that had Derek shrinking back in his chair and swallowing hard.

“You ever thought about doing something about… That?” he managed after a pause, in a rush of words the flew out of him unchecked, cursing himself for the blush he felt forming on his face as his eyes dropped again to Jordan’s fly.

Jordan’s hands slapped heavily against his thighs in obvious irritation. “But I don’t know how!” he half-yelled, “don’t you get it, Derek? The reason I never… the reason I don’t… is ‘cos I never have. I’ve never… I mean I’ve never…”

Derek’s mind raced through a thousand thoughts at once, though got stuck on just how very cute Jordan was when he was flustered; it was something he’d never seen happen to him before but would have absolutely no objection to seeing over and over again. And of course, if Jordan was a virgin, there were so many things he could teach him, and he’d be his first, and he’d-

Derek cut himself off, attempting to silence all the thoughts bouncing around inside his head, all while his own jeans tightened painfully in response.

“You could… you’d know what to do, if you tried. Instinct. Or you know… YouTube…” he finished with weakly as Jordan rolled his eyes at him, and for a moment, they sat in awkward silence.

Then Derek found himself standing. He walked the short distance towards Jordan, raising one knee to press on to the bed and then swung himself forward, his other knee resting at Jordan’s hip.

He steadied himself with a hand on Jordan’s shoulder and Derek lowered himself a fraction, his eyes never leaving Jordan’s, his breath catching in his throat as Jordan’s eyes grew wider the closer that he got.

“You like me, Jordan?” Derek asked, so very shy, desperately needing to hear him say it before he did anything about it.

“Yes,” Jordan whispered, his eyes lingering over Derek’s lips as though silently asking that he kiss him again, “yes. Very much,”

Derek settled himself properly on Jordan’s lap, smiling as his mouth fell open at the feel of Derek’s own arousal against his, and which only had Derek hardening more. He cupped Jordan’s face to pull him closer, and this kiss was anything but chaste, nipping at Jordan’s mouth, encouraging it open and darting his tongue inside, closing his eyes with a satisfied moan as Jordan slid his tongue under his in exploration. Jordan’s hands rested on Derek’s thighs before sliding up to his hips, his fingers digging in. He kissed back just as hungrily, uncontrolled gasps escaping in the few seconds their lips weren’t pressed together.

“See how easy you find kissing, Jordan? Instinct. You feel… so good,” Derek breathed into his mouth, eyes half closed.

“This… this isn’t helping,” Jordan panted out, his eyes too fluttering closed at the feel of Derek’s fingers dug in his hair, “I still don’t know what I’m doing here. I mean… I don’t know how to deal with this,” he blasted at him, a brief look down at himself before dragging his eyes away again, embarrassed.

Derek pressed himself into Jordan but pulled back to stare at him intently. “I… I could help you, you know. If- if you wanted me to…” and as Derek had expected him to, Jordan froze, with an expression that was part fear, part want, and part uncertainty.

“Help me?” he asked, his voice trembling, digging his fingers harder into Derek’s sides.

Derek nodded, swallowing thickly, the only sound managing to escape his mouth being, “Mmhmm,” and his eyes flitted back down to Jordan’s lap for another second.

Jordan’s mouth opened and closed again. “I… don’t know if I’d even like it,” he finally settled on saying after what looked to Derek several false attempts at starting.

Derek snorted. “C’mon, Jordan. Everyone likes it.”

“Not necessarily,” Jordan denied with a quick shake of his head. His eyes rested on Derek’s lips again, and Derek took that as an invite to kiss him again, pressing himself ever closer and feeling Jordan’s throat stutter beneath his fingertips.

“How come you’ve never tried?” Derek asked, lingering kisses over his face and closing his eyes as Jordan’s fingers bunched tight in his shirt.

“I just… I just never… I never really felt like this before,” Jordan whispered, bravely claiming his own kiss then leaning back to check Derek’s expression to know it was okay.

“Before?” Derek repeated, his heart thudding a little faster.

“Before you. Before I met you, I never wanted… I never- I don’t know how,” Jordan settled on, sounding just as frustrated as the first time he’d said it.

Images came to Derek then of being the first to get his hands on Jordan, of talking him through it, of watching him come for the very first time, and he found himself grinding against him, the unconscious movement forcing another tortured gasp from Jordan’s mouth.

“Let me…” he whispered against Jordan’s lips, pressing a kiss onto his nose, his forehead, and at a spot just beneath his jaw that seemed to make him whimper.

“I don’t know…” Jordan answered, though tentatively rocking up against Derek as he did, his fingers curled tightly into Derek’s shirt as he avoided his eye contact.

Derek lifted his chin, breathing a soft, “Please…” into his mouth before licking his way back in.

After a long, long pause, and an equally lengthy exploration of each other’s mouths, he felt Jordan nod slowly and let out a shuddering breath in response, resting their foreheads together.

“Thank you,” Derek smiled then, sitting back and moving himself so that he now knelt beside Jordan instead of over him. Jordan let out a long breath as though to calm himself, and when his eyes met Derek’s, they were full of trust, but also nervousness that Derek had every intention of taking away.

Derek nodded towards the pillows at the head of the bed, and rested a hand on Jordan’s arm. “Think you can shift up here a little for me?”

Jordan did as asked, awkwardly laying his hands over each other on a thin stretch of skin above his jeans. Derek looked at that skin in fascination, idly wondering what response he’d get if he bent down to lick it. The look on Jordan’s face stopped him though, reminding himself to slow down, take things one at a time.

Instead, Derek reached out, a thumb and finger resting on the button of Jordan’s jeans but not moving any further. “Can I?” he asked, keeping perfectly still, watching as Jordan gave a hesitant nod and dropped his hands to the sides to clench tight into the duvet.

Derek flicked open the button and slowly slid down Jordan’s fly, his eyes never leaving Jordan’s even as he gave a little gasp at the sudden freedom he felt from his jeans. Derek raised his hands, fingers skimming over his hips and hooking lightly under the edge of his boxers. He leaned down to kiss Jordan then, again asking for permission.

Jordan nodded a little faster this time, breathing hard as Derek slid his thumbs down under the fabric. His fingers spread out and did the same; when Jordan felt Derek pulling his boxers and jeans he raised his hips, allowing Derek to pull them down and off slowly in one go.

Derek couldn’t stop himself from looking down; Jordan was swollen hard and straining, and possibly the most glorious thing Derek had ever seen in his life. His mouth watered, and again he had to stop himself from allowing his thoughts to wander to things Jordan definitely didn’t seem ready for just yet. Derek made a mental list of all the things he wanted to try with him and had to resist the urge to start palming at himself.

Instead, he dragged his eyes upward to meet Jordan’s, mumbling, “Fuck, Jordan. You any idea how hot you are?”

This seemed to be the very thing to say, because the tension Derek had seen Jordan holding on to slipped away as he offered up a shy smile. Derek rewarded him with a kiss, his hand gently resting on his stomach and pushing his shirt up a little, exposing more skin that he couldn’t resist swirling his thumb over.

“This is where I need to ask if you trust me,” Derek said quietly, one hand now resting around Jordan’s hip. He waited until Jordan nodded, then nodded back in turn, taking his own levelling breath before allowing himself to continue.

Derek brushed his fingers gently from the base of Jordan’s cock and upwards, feeling it jump in response and hearing his breath hitch in surprise. He swirled his thumb in a circle over Jordan’s cock head, smearing down the precum already pooling there and smiling at the startled noise that blasted out of his lips.

Gently, Derek wrapped his fingers around Jordan’s length, feeling himself straining against his own zipper at the weight of him in his hand. And slowly, his eyes never leaving Jordan’s, not even for a second, he began stroking him, slow and steady.

Derek could never have fantasised adequately about just how good Jordan sounded, or felt there beneath him. He watched his face, and the way his lips parted, listening to the litany of surprised moans that escaped with each stroke. Every time Derek circled his thumb over Jordan’s head, he gave a choking whine, and Derek smiled in encouragement.

When Jordan involuntarily began thrusting into Derek’s hand, his eyes widened, and he shook his head from side to side against his pillow as though he thought he was doing something wrong.

“It’s okay, Jordan. It’s good. Real good,” Derek licked his lips, cataloguing every one of Jordan’s moves and moans.

“I feel…” Jordan blurted out in a hurry then came to an immediate stop, worry laced through his voice and across his face.

“What do you feel?” Derek leaned down to kiss him, nuzzling against and reassuring him without altering his grip even for a moment.

“I feel… there’s heat. In my abdomen. And it feels stretched. Too stretched,” Jordan’s words came out hurried, and panicked, and he looked down at Derek’s hand wrapped around him then back up to his face, his expression caught between fear and pleasure as though he couldn’t decide which thing he should be feeling more.

“It’s okay. I promise. It’s supposed to feel like that. I promise,” Derek told him, claiming himself a sweet kiss and smiling in reassurance all over again.

“And my…” Jordan’s voice came out shy, and his gaze fell back down at himself. Derek stopped his stroking to see if he would find the words he needed, and Jordan whimpered in protest, which had Derek smiling triumphantly at. Pressing another kiss to his lips, Derek thought he knew what Jordan was meaning, dropping his hand down slowly to cup and begin to play with his balls. Jordan answered that with another startled gasp and a wanton sound blasting out of his mouth, his knees falling open and Derek’s own cock straining hard against his fly for the sight of it.

“S’good, Jordan,” Derek mumbled thickly, fingers massaging and pressing in all the ways he liked on himself, “do that. Open your legs a little more for me,”

Jordan did just that, letting out yet another surprised moan. “Are they… should they feel like that?” he asked in a whisper, watching Derek’s hand as it moved.

“Like what?”

“Tight. Like they’re… tensing up,”

Derek nodded, biting down on his lip to try to maintain some kind of control over himself, taking in the nervous though clearly lust-blown expression on Jordan’s face and not knowing how long he was going to last himself just for looking at him.

“It’s so hot. So hot. In my stomach. I don’t know if-”

“Shh…” Derek kissed away his doubt, his hand shifting back to start stroking his cock again, loving how Jordan arched immediately in his touch, “it’s okay. It’s supposed to feel like that,”

Jordan’s eyes fluttered and his mouth opened and closed, choked gasps punctuating the thrust of his hips.

“I’m going to speed up a little, okay?” Derek asked, waiting again for permission before doing just that.

“Derek,” Jordan gasped out urgently, the worry back in his voice and a tight grasp against his shirt, “Derek… I don’t know if I can-”

“Does it hurt?” Derek asked softly, releasing him for a second to lick over his hand a few times then gripping him again in a slicker hold, keeping up the same rhythm as before but ready to stop if Jordan asked him to, relieved when he shook his head repeatedly.

“Is it bad?”

“Nno. No, Derek. Not bad. Feels really good. Really good. But I don’t know if-”

“Hey,” Derek whispered, pressing another kiss into his lips, “I promise. It’s gonna be okay. I promise,” then licked his way into his mouth, thrusting his tongue in time with the pumping of his hand, his breath catching as Jordan groaned heavily in response, jerking up his hips and shuddering all over.

“Can I make you come, Jordan?” he asked quietly, in between more kisses, “Please?”

Jordan’s eyes were wide but he was nodding rapidly in agreement, his mouth gaping open as Derek changed the pressure and pace of his stroking again.

“Derek,” he choked out, and suddenly that was the only word he seemed able to remember. Over and over he chanted Derek’s name, the tone of it heading straight to Derek’s own cock in a way that told him he would come hard and fast himself later. He kept his focus on Jordan though, revelling in the way Jordan writhed at his touch and his hands gripped knuckle-white to the bed.

“Derek,” he stammered out, a tremble in his voice, and a terrified look on his face as he looked down to watch Derek’s now furious pounding of his cock.

“It’s good, I promise, you’re doing so good,”

“Derek…” Jordan’s tone was urgent, reverent, terrified and in awe. Derek held his breath as Jordan gave one final, jerky thrust up into his hand, moaning out the dirtiest of sounds Derek thought he’d ever heard, and coming hard and hot over Derek’s hand and his own stomach.

Jordan seemed to melt against the bed, his breath coming out in short, sharp bursts. There was a sheen of sweat on his forehead and Derek pressed a kiss into his temple, tasting the salt there and nuzzling against him.

Derek gently milked him until his hips began to stutter, then removed his hand, resting it lightly against his hip. Jordan closed his eyes as he forced deep breaths into himself, and for a moment Derek wondered if he’d fallen asleep. But then his eyes cracked open and his hand reached out, shakily grabbing the back of Derek’s neck and forcing him down into a messy, grateful kiss, which Derek was more than happy to oblige him with.

When Jordan pulled away, Derek rested his head on his chest for a second, then placed a kiss there, before sitting up to look around the room for something to wipe him down with. He picked up Jordan’s discarded boxers from the floor and cleaned him up as best he could before roughly wiping his own hand, then lay back down beside him, waiting.

Jordan reached out a hesitant arm, looping around Derek’s shoulders and pulling him into his side.

“You good?” Derek asked, relieved to feel Jordan kiss his hair and mumble into it, then turned to smile into the crook of his neck with his own smile. They lay in silence for a while, Derek enjoying the simplicity of just watching Jordan’s chest rise and fall as his hand rested gently against it. He almost complained when Jordan turned so that they were facing one another, his eyes intently focused on Derek’s own once again and immediately biting back a gasp as without warning Jordan reached out to stroke along Derek’s still swollen length though his jeans.

“Do you want me to…?” Jordan’s voice drifted off uncertainly, and there was a frown on his face that Derek couldn’t help kiss away, “I… don’t know if I could… as good… but…”

Derek would not say out loud how adorable an embarrassed-sounding Jordan was, but he would think it over and over and smile internally.

“It’s okay,” he said, smiling against his lips, “this was about you,” though part of him was aching to get back to his own room and get his hands on himself, no matter how good it felt being snuggled up to Jordan as he was.

“But doesn’t it… isn’t it uncomfortable?”

“Sure. But it’s fine. I’ll… deal with it later,” he added, knowing his cheeks flushed at his own words. Jordan sucked his lower lip into his mouth and kept palming at him despite Derek’s words, leaving Derek helpless but to groan against him.

“Derek. Don’t you want me to see?”

Derek’s hand reached up instantly to cup Jordan’s face, forcing him to look at him. “If you want me, I’m yours, Jordan. And you can see all of me. Anything you want. Anything at all,” which had Jordan smiling again, then raising his eyebrows as if to prompt him on.

Derek kept Jordan’s gaze as he reached down, fumbling open his own button and fly, shifting just enough to free himself and his cock springing out thickly against Jordan’s thigh. Jordan’s eyes fell to look at Derek pressed up against him and smiled, looking pleased with himself, then leaned over Derek and pressed him onto his back, encouraging him to stay there. Jordan shifted to make himself comfortable, propping himself up on one arm, his eyes fixed on Derek’s hand expectantly.

Derek’s cock jumped in response at that look, and he knew from here on out, Jordan would be able to get him to do literally anything he wanted him to. He wrapped his hand around himself, groaning deeply at the contact and bucking his hips up a little without any control over the movement. Jordan bit down on his own lip at that, his eyes riveted as Derek began stroking himself.

“Derek,” he breathed, wonder in his voice that only added to the feeling building in Derek as he quickened his pace, his other hand reaching down to cup his balls. Jordan’s eyes widened and his tongue darted out to flick against his lips as he kept watching.

Derek let his knees fall open, and to his surprise, Jordan wriggled down the bed, transfixed by Derek’s hands. Derek may have felt a little self conscious for a few seconds, but the looks Jordan kept sneaking up at him, and the way he stared open mouthed at him touching himself did nothing but make Derek groan low and loud, completely forgetting even the thought of feeling nervous.

“Jordan,” he stuttered out, and Jordan looked startled at first, but then pleased at the use of his name. Derek gave up any lingering sense of holding back then, throwing his head back against the pillow and working himself furiously. Jordan’s name was on his lips with the final thrust that tipped him over the edge, coming in thick stripes over his own chest. Jordan’s smile was a mile wide as he looked up at Derek with an expression that read nothing but awe.

Derek closed his eyes as he took a moment to get his breath back, but they shot open again at the feel of Jordan swiping his finger through the come on his chest and sucking it into his mouth with a soft hum. The way he darted his tongue out over his fingertip for more of the taste Derek was sure was going to have him hard again in seconds, but then Jordan’s expression became tender as he mirrored Derek’s earlier actions and wiped him down, and Derek felt himself grinning like an idiot. Happiness settled in Derek’s chest at the thought of many more times like this for them together, if Jordan allowed it, if Jordan wanted it, and god, how Derek hoped that he wanted it.

They turned back to face each other, far too spent to begin the conversation that they needed to have, yet unable to keep their hands and eyes away from each other. Instead, Jordan whispered, sounding so hopeful himself, a single request for him to stay.

Derek answered by gesturing for Jordan to move so that they could wriggle beneath the duvet, but not before removing his shirt and waiting for him to do the same. He pressed one more lingering kiss to Jordan’s lips and took a moment to trace his fingers through the stubble at his jaw. Then he pulled him close, sighing with contentment at the feel of Jordan curled naked against him.

 

Point of No Return

“You remember when we-”

He says, a reminiscent smile on his face as he leans on the terrace railing and stares out over the water. His voice fades away, but you don’t need him to finish the words, because you do; you do remember. A small boat, white with a navy blue trim around its flank. Sea spray striking your skin as wind whipped up your hair. Your hands on the steering wheel, though he was the one steering; pressed up tight against your back with his hands around your middle, gentle fingers slipped between your own.

A lifetime ago, you think, but it isn’t really. Can it only be three years since? Three years, for the love of your life to morph into barely an acquaintance? You don’t even know this man stood there in front of you, not really, not anymore. Not the lines of his back, nor the warmth of his skin beneath yours; nothing. You barely know yourself anymore, you defend, but it’s empty, as empty as you feel.

“I do,” you say, anyway, wincing at the words, because not so long ago, you thought you’d be saying them in front of witnesses. The ring still sits in its velvet prison, buried deep at the bottom of your sock drawer. You should have taken it back months ago, when you first accepted it was never going to happen, but you’ve talked yourself into and out of it so many times, clinging on for hope, which is what this weekend is all about.

You watch him in profile, and it brings the slightest amount of comfort seeing that reminiscent smile turn wistful before finally settling on just plain sad. You both did this, you tell yourself, though it’s nothing but fiction. Because some days it’s easier to pretend it just happened. Easier to act like you didn’t bring it all on yourself.

That small boat, with that deck so small, that you barely had room to step around one another. But that hadn’t stopped the wandering hands, the smiling faces, the teasing kisses under the fading summer sun. A lake house, a long stretch of decking to which that boat had eventually been tethered, and love made on a mess of blankets on that decking underneath the light of the stars.

You took that from him, you think, your stomach churning, as it always seems to be churning of late; you did that to both of you. Took something sacred, sweet, and centring, and turned it stale, and sour. And this weekend away, you hoped would claw it back. But how can you claw back what you took for granted? How can you regain the trust that you so viciously shred apart?

“I wouldn’t go back, you know,” he says then, quiet though firm, soft enough to make your heart both ache and pound, “I mean, I wouldn’t change it. Wouldn’t… guess I’m saying is, I don’t regret it; not a minute of it. Not even if this is where we’ve ended up,”

This, you think, tears choking your throat, then pricking in your eyes, as his hand reaches out to press over yours, slotting his fingers between your own as he once did, as he has done, so many times. This is over; there’s no point denying it, no point sprinkling it in sparkle and pretending the end isn’t happening when so obviously, it is. It has been happening, for months now. You’ve just finally run out of time.

Waiting For the Right Time

When Evan’s brother is in an accident, he’s terrified, and doesn’t know where to turn, or who to ask for support. Which is stupid, really, since Peter’s been in his life for longer than he hasn’t, and has always been a rock.


 

It isn’t fair, Evan thinks, staring down at Tom laid pristine white in a hospital bed, willing himself to concentrate on the slightest evidence of his chest rising up and down. Tom’s the baby of the family, eight years younger than Evan is himself, and all Evan can think staring down at him then, is that he’s failed him for letting this happen.

It’s beyond not fair, he adds, eyes closing in anguish at the sight of the apparatus set around the head of that bed, proof that Tom’s only there because there’s machinery keeping him alive. The bandage wound around his head speaks of swelling that hasn’t shown any sign of lessening, and there are enough smaller ones dotted to his neck and arms to make him look tiny, fragile there in that bed.

Tom’s a good guy, the best of them, never done anything but try to live a good, honest life, and do the right thing, every chance that he gets. And okay, so maybe Evan’s a little biased because Tom’s his little brother and he’ll never see him as anything but a hero. But he’s also never willingly hurt anyone, and that’s a heroic quality Evan feels a lot of people in the world are lacking, turning a blind eye where Tom is always sticking up for people. Always jumping to the defence of others without any regard for himself, without ever being asked.

Which is apparently how he got himself into this mess in the first place.

Just a day ago, Evan had been putting the finishing touches to a customer’s garden, enjoying the many perks of outdoor work in the late summer sun, when he’d received the phone call. A quick glance around, his careful eye checking for any small details that needed fixing, was interrupted by the scream of his phone, and Tom’s near-hysterical friend Steven announcing he’d been hurt in a fight.

Evan had driven directly to the hospital, the mantra that Tom was against mindless violence doing nothing but terrify him even more, for all the images and possibilities it stabbed into his mind. Steven’s broken words when he’d collapsed into Evan’s arms, once he’d found him wide-eyed and startled on a hospital corridor outside the operating theatre, spoke of Tom standing like a fortress, when a guy at the table next to theirs in a beer garden had been attacked. Of course he did, Evan thinks to himself for the hundredth time as he reaches out to pointlessly straighten Tom’s blanket, of course he’d done that. Without even hesitating. Without even giving it a thought.

There’s only the two of them, Evan thinks then, his stomach knotting over and over, half-glad that their parents are already long gone and not having to share this burden with him, yet also desperately missing their support. What happens next? Who does he need to call? What can he do to fix this? There’s a thousand things he needs answers to, but no one there to tell him anything.

Thank god, or whatever is out there, he thinks, that Peter is there with him.

Peter is a calming, steady presence beside him as Evan stands watch over Tom, twitching, trying to anticipate whatever Tom might need, or want, even though he hasn’t yet opened his eyes.

“I’m here,” Peter says, seeming to sense how badly he needs him, not offering any platitudes about Tom being okay, knowing it will do nothing to soothe Evan’s nerves. Instead he drapes his arm around Evan’s shoulder and allows him to shuffle closer, the only acknowledgement paid to Evan’s frustrated tears being the circling of his thumb repeatedly against his upper arm.

***

When Evan gets Tom back to his apartment to watch over him as he recovers, Peter is still there beside him offering quiet support. He brings Evan coffee, swiftly grabbing the rapidly emptying whiskey bottle from Evan’s hands with a terse look that speaks volumes Evan doesn’t want to hear about, and replacing it with a large, warm mug he can wrap his fingers around as he quietly nods in thanks.

Peter empties the bowl Tom retches into sometimes, walks with him to the bathroom when he needs help getting there – when he’s sent Evan out on errands to force him into getting some fresh air, and continues his silent vigil over both of the brothers when Evan finally succumbs to much-needed sleep.

Peter is also there, when Tom is screaming, crying out in the middle of a nightmare, and Evan is leaking silent tears of his own for all the things he can’t do for him. Peter rests a hand on Evan’s shoulder, and Evan breaks, grabbing Peter to him and sobbing wrecked into his neck, clinging on with a vice-like grip. Peter soothes with words spoken softly into his ear, and gentle hands rubbing reassurances into his back.

At some point about a week into Tom’s recovery, Evan thinks that in a fear-fuelled moment late one night, he’s kissed Peter, seeking comfort, reassurance, and escape. But his mind is so twisted in confusion with all that’s happening, and so bone-tired, that he can’t even remember if the moment was real, or just an unrealised fantasy that’s taunting him. That has taunted him, for as long as he can remember. Either way, Peter resolutely stays by his side.

***

Tom is strong, and begins to show good progress, with strength returning to his limbs, and wit making a reappearance in his words. Evan looks on, smiling proudly, reminded of a thousand times he’d watched over Tom protectively in sleep when they were growing up, repeating his mantra of thank you over and over for having him there to still do that.

As Tom gets better still, Evan begins to leave him alone for longer periods as a solution to his argument that he should go home, get out of his hair. He’s never far enough away to be out of shouting distance if Tom needs him, or wants to yell at him some more for being an overprotective mother hen; but enough to give Tom what is surely much needed space.

Peter is still there with him, and Evan finds it aches thinking about him eventually leaving when things go back to normal. His overnight bag’s become a feature of Evan’s living room, his favourite shower gel leaves a teasing scent of him in the bathroom, and his attempts to force nutritious food on Evan have filled his cupboards with strange new worlds of ingredients for all the recipes he’s got him trying.

Evan pauses outside Tom’s room, one time, hearing Tom’s soft laughter and a bemused, gentle mirth in Peter’s low, gravelly tone, leaving Evan stuck between listening and leaving, both curious and afraid of what he might overhear.

“Don’t tell him, Pete, ‘cos I can’t handle justifying all his fussing. But I don’t know how I’d have got through this without him,” he hears, and Evan feels a lump form in his throat, that he quickly forces down.

“You too,” Tom adds, and from the rustling sound that follows, Evan’s sure Tom’s reached out to pat Peter on the shoulder, or something.

“Evan wouldn’t leave your side, Tom, not for a second. When we were in the hospital waiting for you to wake up, I had to drag him out of your room to make him take even a five second break. He was terrified for you. Kept telling me, he wished he could take your place there, wished he could be going through it all for you. And though I would do anything for you, help you in any way I can, it’s been… difficult. To have to hear him talking like that. It’s probably selfish, but… I’ve felt so helpless,” Peter finishes with a sigh, and Evan wants to walk in and wrap his arms around his shoulders, tell him how vital he’s been to him throughout all of this.

“You’ve been here for Evan.” Tom answers, stealing his words. “That is far from being helpless,” Evan hears Tom reply, imagines his smile, and closes his eyes, grateful that Tom is finally smiling again.

“He’d be lost without you too, you know?” Tom adds, and Evan freezes at his words, desperate to know Peter’s response.

There is a pause, but finally Peter gives a soft, breathy sigh that sounds like acknowledgement, and answers quietly with, “As would I without him.”

“You guys need to talk stuff out, you know,” Tom tells him, and Evan thinks he can picture Peter shuffling in discomfort.

“It’s not really the time, Tom. We need you to concentrate on getting better, more than anything else.” Peter’s tone is decided, and firm, adamant he’s right in his thinking. He is right, Evan agrees, but it doesn’t stop his heart sinking a little, even if he’s not worked up the courage to do anything about this – them, himself.

“Pete,” Tom’s talking in that gentle, patient, explaining-to-an-idiot tone of his, and Evan kind of loves him for it. “I’ve known you for… it feels like all my life. You two have been friends since forever now, and it’s obvious to anyone with eyes that there’s something between you even if you pretend that there isn’t. If you keep thinking about it like that, that now’s not really the time, there’s never gonna be a right time. So why not make it the right time now? What is it the two of you are waiting for?”

Evan doesn’t want to hear Peter’s answer, too scared it will be the confirmation of rejection, so chooses that moment to go in with the tray of food he’s prepared. But it’s not like Tom’s words don’t play over and over for Evan, or stop him sneaking continual glances in Peter’s direction for the rest of the day. Or give him any chance of sleep later that night.

When he’s admitted sleep is just not going to be happening for him, Evan gets up, sighing heavily at the early hour glaring back at him on his phone, and pads through to the living room, expecting to find Peter stoically asleep on the sofa where he’s taking up what feels like just as much permanent residence as Tom. But Peter is sat at the dining table, his face illuminated by the screen of his laptop, and his eyes raise at the sound of Evan entering the room.

“Can’t sleep,” Evan offers in answer to Peter’s silent question, “What are you doing?”

Peter pauses, then reaches over to flick on a lamp on the table, and silently closes the laptop lid.

“Nothing much,” he says, coming around to lean back against the table, his hands wrapping around the edge, as he watches Evan. “Couldn’t sleep either,”

Evan watches back.

The silence remains heavy, loaded with unspoken questions. And Evan decides he can’t stand just watching anymore, so takes a courageous step forward. He bends slightly to cup Peter’s face and tilt it up, slow to give him time to resist if that’s what he wants to do. And then Evan leans down, claiming Peter’s mouth in a kiss that feels very, very long overdue. Peter’s hands are immediately around his waist, gripping Evan as he adjusts the way he stands between his legs, and pulling him as close as he can get.

The silence between them might not be filled with words, but there’s soft gasps and gentle exploration in their place, and that adds more to the sense Evan has of them finally getting somewhere. Evan feels hopeful, and humble, and more than anything, home. And when they pull apart to catch their breath, Peter’s smile for him repeats the same thing back.

***

When Tom walks through in the morning, rubbing a tired hand down his face, he comes to a stop at the foot of the sofa, his head tilting to one side as he considers the view in front of him.

On the sofa lays Peter on his back, with Evan tangled between his legs and wrapped up in his arms, fast asleep in the crook of Peter’s neck.

Peter looks at Tom, and Tom looks on back at Peter, and where Peter’s smile is small and a little timid, Tom’s is wide, and beaming happiness.

They nod at each other in unspoken acceptance of the change in circumstances between them all, before Tom turns and heads into the kitchen, a spring in his step and a hum in this mouth. He rinses the cafetiere, measuring out a generous amount of coffee, then settles it down on the side, fingers drumming as he considers adding another spoon.

Tom pulls down two mugs from a shelf, leans over to fill the kettle, then leans back against the counter, a gentle smile lingering around his lips for how ecstatic he feels for his brother. And with that smile, and a barrage of teasing already forming in his head, he turns around, and reaches for a third.

The Next Step

In the whirlwind that is after their first kiss, he knows that he’s got to keep making the decisions that count. There’s too much at stake here if he flounders; it’s like now he’s allowed himself to feel even a fragment of what he thinks he truly does for him, that all the blurred images that were once his rigid world, have been wiped clear, and everything is a sharper, brighter contrast than he’s ever dared imagine.

But what’s more important, what’s become bigger than all of that, in all that time after, is the responsibility he now holds in his hands; maybe, he corrects, more accurately in his heart. Because after all that pausing, all that lashing out when things are overwhelming, now he’s dared allow himself to have a taste, there is no way to resist the need to lean in for it just once more, time and time again. And he couldn’t live with himself if he pulled away from him now, even for a second, even in a moment of doubt; because he is too important, too luminescent to ever have to be smudged with the undignified shade of his awkward hesitation, of not knowing how to start.

They’ve been dancing; oh, how long have they been dancing. One of them will step forward to claim a kiss, a touch, a smile meant only for the other, and the other will then follow, only to pull back again, then lead with his own routine. It’s dizzying, this need that swells in him, more absorbing than anything else he’s ever felt, and coupled with the knowledge, the unyielding certainty of knowing that he is wanted back, well, that’s a little intoxicating.

But he can’t misstep, he can’t hesitate for too long, can’t bear to be the one that taints even a fraction of his smile, because he is too bright, too vibrant, to be anything but happy. It shouldn’t be allowed; he will not allow it, and more important than perhaps anything else, he will not be the one to ever tarnish that smile again. He’s done it too often, both meaning and not meaning to, too wrapped up in his own confusion to ever be good enough for what he might be wanting with him.

But he does want him, that much is clear; he’s never been shy with his affection or intention, so it’s a little surprising, when he reaches out, only to see his eyes widen in a fraction of alarm, before he takes a stumbling step back.

He never stumbles. And he never wants to be the one that makes him stumble; he’s too steady, too sure of himself to let such an unwieldy creature as himself be the one that knocks the backs of his knees, the air from his lungs. The spark from his eyes.

Is he wrong? Is this step he’s proposing too much too soon, or a move that was never destined to happen?

Worry, he hears, and vulnerable, and it’s laced with self-doubt, self-preservation, and so much contradiction; it’s like the want is there, lurking right behind his irises, but beneath his skin he’s twitching, churning. Fearful to reach out, fearful to take, in case he’s pushed away, permanently this time.

He wants this; does he not already know how much he wants this? Can he not tell by the tremble in his lip, the quake of his shoulders, that he wants this, him, so very badly, yet is half-terrified to reach for it as well?

He is an anchor, a port in a storm, a safe haven when the world is too much and the rain of that world comes crashing down to drown him. But he’s also the spark that ignites him, the curve in his lip, the beating of his heart in ways he didn’t ever dare to imagine he’d get to feel, to experience in his life.

This calls for bravery, a courage that he’s not sure he’s really wielding. But he wants this, in fact, he thinks he needs it, that they both need it; maybe if he can surrender his fear of falling, and he can lose his doubt of ever being caught, then they will meet somewhere in the middle. And that loneliness that swells in his gut, that he’s sure he’s seen peering out the corners of his eyes; maybe they can lose that. Maybe they can bolster each other.

What better way to find out? What better time than now?

He has to keep going, he has to keep pushing, because if he pauses for even a second, that strength and certainty he’s pretending to feel will crash and crumble, and if he steps back, for even a moment, maybe he’ll see in his eyes that this, he, is not really what he wanted after all. Not for more than a frivolity, a passing moment, a shiny new thing to brighten one of his endless days before discarding him again.

He can’t be that. He is not that. But what he is, is terrified; how can it be possible to feel so many emotions all at once? Is this what they always warned him against? Not that they could make you weak, but that they would overwhelm you; blur into and over one another, until you have no sense of time or meaning, when you are trying to feel, and be everything, all the versions of yourself, all at the same time?

He smiles then, delighted as he steps back just enough to really look at him, gripping tight enough to reassure that this is what he wants as well. It is freeing, to be on the receiving end of such beauty, to stare it down as though it is a sun he knows is going to burn him, but he won’t ever mind being forever scorched by. Not by him, and not like this; not when he’s leaning in to kiss him all over again, and the door slams closed behind them, and his heart sings at the knowledge that it is coming home.

A Wasted Evening

It’s time to give up.

This wasn’t meant for you, anyway, not really, wasn’t something you ever dreamed you’d get to experience. And look how right you were about that; nothing has happened between you at all. Not for all those looks, those lingering fingers that have pressed into your skin in passing, nor the whisper of a thousand unspoken words, that all of the holy sonnets would have paled in comparison to, if only you could hear them said out loud.

He doesn’t want you. Or in truth, he does, you know he does, but he won’t let himself. And if you’re honest, that’s the thing that’s hurting most about this – the denial of it all. These feelings might be frightening for their intensity, and his fears things that you can’t ever know. But you hear him without him speaking, and you know him, more than he allows anyone else to know. Yet still, he won’t. And it’s not frustrating, or excruciating anymore, it’s just numbing. Numbness that spreads its way through you, for every snatched back hand, every clenched jaw biting back words, every almost action. Because not acting says just as much as acting ever does; more even. And by not acting, he has left you this; stranded, in ways you never thought be stranded. In places you were never meant to tread.

You could have, you tell yourself, said, or done something yourself, been the one to make that all-important first move, or first confession. But since you lack the experience, and have, foolishly, romanticised things between you, you have always secretly hoped that he’d be the one to show you the lead in this. And maybe that’s selfish, naive, or just too hopeful. But how can you be anything else, when hoping is the way he’s taught you how to live?

Maybe you’re just not enough for him, and this is his way of telling you. He whispers it in sentences that never pass his lips, seals them in the flicker of an eye, or a tilt of a chin that says, you aren’t anything to me; sure as hell aren’t enough. So maybe it’s not numbness you’ve been feeling, but just acceptance. Acknowledgement of all the ways in which you lack.

It’s over now.

In all the time you’ve known each other, there’s been enough time to realise, to notice, that this isn’t where you belong. He is not who you belong to. You belong nowhere, tethered only by the torment of the thoughts you allow yourself to have, when none of this was ever yours.

The waitress is pretty, you think to yourself, a mass of curls and a warm smile that widens every time she catches your eye. He taught you this game, you remind yourself, shifting in discomfort, wondering if that’s the answer to this low, gnawing pain that’s eating away at you, core deep; losing yourself in the pleasure of something you’ve never been attracted to, never even really seen much point to, when it wasn’t with someone that you loved.

Love, you scoff to yourself, returning that smile just a little too brightly as you signal for another drink, love wasn’t something meant for you. Nor was home, peace, or quiet, but you fooled yourself into thinking that they might have been once – more than once, actually. And each time it was snatched away from you, crumbled before your very eyes, or just denied. And it hurts, it hurts to feel like this. Why would anyone choose to feel this way, you ask yourself in astonishment. Surely there are more, better things to feel, than the sensation that your heart is being shred apart.

The evening drags on, the drink burns your throat, but it’s the way you’ve been taught to grieve, so there’s really nothing else you can do. Or would know how to do, you amend, then laugh, adding the reminder that there is nowhere for you to go, besides home. And home is just a reminder that you are alone; that he doesn’t want you. Because you were meant to be with him tonight, and you mistook that invite for something as more than friendship. The look on his face when you’d blurted your rehearsed words out telling him that You could isn’t a sobering thought, but is enough to signal for another refill.

It’s so late now; perhaps you can stumble your way on a walk somewhere, down a rain-soaked street on a storm-filled night. You can even convince yourself that your feet won’t carry you back to his, to look up at his window willingly, and wish that you were inside, in his warmth.

You stand, hands wide around the bar stool as you right yourself, fight for your wallet, throw bills down on the counter that you don’t even count. Turning is an interesting feeling, as is the knowledge that you’re not sure if you can even make it to the door. The door where he is now standing, you think, jolting a little, blinking repeatedly and telling yourself he’s just a figment of your imagination, or a conjuring of all the spirits you’ve been drinking.

If you weren’t so numb you’d pinch yourself.

Drawing strength from depths flooded by oceans of alcohol, you square your shoulders, suck in a breath that pricks sickness into your throat for all you’ve been drinking, yet you fight it back. Stand as tall, proud as you can, though proud is not how you feel. You stagger towards him, words muted of their meaning that you still fight to try to form into value, heart pulsing, every pound pulling you closer to him.

No amount of whiskey will ever dull his features to you. You can make out his eyes, his cautious smile, the twitch of his hands that are an invitation, even through all that fog in your mind. And as you get closer, those features morph and shift with every pace. Sadness, shame, guilt. Longing. Love. Hope?

“I’m sorry. I overreacted. I panicked,” he tells you, his fingertips grazing just above your elbows, seeping heat through your jacket into you skin as he rights you, the breath of space between you as he draws you near making you realise just unsteady you are. “Can we start over? Can we talk?”

It’s everything that you want to hear; everything.

“Let’s get you home,” he tells you, and how do four simple words have such power over you? How do they succeed in wiping out all the melancholy you’ve been feeling all evening? How can they restore all that hope that you dissolved in glass upon emptied glass?

The blast of cool night air against your face is alarming, and as you stumble at the force of it, his grip tightens for just a second before dropping altogether. You curl after it, missing his touch already, but there’s no need; a warm, steadying arm is thrown around your shoulder, pulling you too him, and even more alarming is the kiss pressed to your temple as he guides you towards his car.

The tenderness with which he gets you seated and secured is overwhelming, and you tell yourself it’s the whiskey speaking when the look in his eyes is so soft, you could sink into them. As is the way that when he’s seated, he grabs your hand, drags it across to his lap and presses, secures it there, like it belongs there, for the entire drive.

Daring To Be

There is a feeling, a draw, a pull that he can’t quite put a name to, an urge he doesn’t think he has the experience to understand.

It’s when he looks at him, when he sees him, when he knows him, like nobody else in his world ever has.

It’s when he touches him, soft, in passing, that discreet brush of fingers against his arm that roots him deep, grounds him like he’ll never need to fear again, yet sends him spinning off balance as though he has replaced his gravity with something different, timeless, reverent.

It’s when he’s with him. He can be across the room yet still standing right there next to him, his skin whispering against his in an innocent brush. Wherever he is, wherever he turns, wherever he looks, he is there.

He is… enchanted by him, mesmerised, just as much as he is terrified. Though that terror isn’t borne of fear of him, but of what he represents, what he’s stirred within him that leaves him laying awake at night, and walking haunted by thoughts of him throughout the day.

He distracts him. From duty, from responsibility, from the simplicity that was his existence until he came along. And though he wouldn’t have it any other way, can’t imagine waking to a world in which he doesn’t exist, he doesn’t know what to do with this. Barely knows himself enough to be sure of who he is, who he could be.

He does know, that he wants him. But that’s not something that frightens him; it’s that he can have him. Any time he chooses. The moment that he asks. He is his for the taking, and that openness, that offering, that acceptance of him, just as he is, perhaps that is the thing that is most intimidating about this of all.

But since he doesn’t know, has never been educated on how to just exist, how is he to understand how to do this? How will he know when to finally give in, when to let go of the idea that he is risking all that he is, just by being who, and what, he wants to be?

He wants to be his.

But what if his infinite patience for his uncertainty, his caution, is not the bottomless well that he’s desperate for it to be?

What if he gives up on him, becomes tired of waiting, just at the point when he finds the courage to extend his hand?

How will he ever live with himself, if he doesn’t allow himself to truly live?

Goaded

For those of you who follow/have followed me elsewhere, you might recognise this story in another guise. And this is just as ridiculous and silly here as it was there 😉


“Jay. I am 34 years old. It is not a question of not knowing how to. Do you honestly believe that… just because I haven’t tried something before, that I couldn’t?”

Dean studies Jay’s face in that way he does when Jay knows he’s being an idiot but just keeps on talking anyway, and waits.

“Uh…” Jay stumbles, feeling lost for any kind of meaningful words.

He’s known Dean coming up to four years now, and on some days Jay still can’t work out how the two of them have become such good friends. Where Jay is practical, act-now-think-later, and very much a learn-by-doing, Dean is meticulous, researches and cross-references things he wants to know about to a point of obsession, and is the first to admit that spontaneity is a dirty word.

He’s also serious, thoughtful, loyal and compassionate to the people he cares about. Dean makes Jay feel he might be worth something, and that’s not something he’s used to being. And above all else, he’s patient with him, stays calm when Jay is close to panic, talks reasonably when Jay’s lost all sense of his. So it’s sort of funny seeing the slightest evidence on his face of being flustered that suggests for all of his blustering bravado, he’s actually a little nervous. It’s kind of cute, Jay thinks, then catches himself thinking it and pretends he isn’t.

“Yeah, Jay,” Matt pipes up next to him, grinning at Jay’s discomfort. Matt’s smirk drops instantly when Dean’s assessing gaze turns to him, as though Matt is being equally stupid.

This is what you get, Jay berates himself, trying to keep a lid on the whine that’s threatening to climb up out of his throat. This is what you get for arranging for your closest friend stroke not-so-secret forbidden crush to come over for dinner, and not forcing your kid brother out of the house you share. It’s inviting trouble, really, and he can’t blame anyone but himself for whatever’s about to unfold.

Dean continues to stare at him as this internal berating goes on for Jay, silently demanding an answer.

“Knowing the theory isn’t actually the same as… you know. Doing it,” Jay finally offers a little helplessly, flinching as Dean’s eyebrow raises a notch.

Jay looks longingly towards the doorway of the kitchen, to safety and escape.

He’s not going to get away from this that easily though, he knows that, acknowledges that the only way out of this is down. But he is going to have this out with Matt later, that much is for sure. How dare he bring up something like this, when he knows… Jay knows Matt knows… about… well. Things. About stuff.

“Well,” Matt relents after a minute, and Jay’s trying to concentrate on that, rather than the way his heart is attempting to leap out of his chest, “we’ve evidence, Dean. For example, from the last time you, uh… tried to help us cook. That… just ‘cos in theory you know how to do something? In practice, it doesn’t always work out all that well,”

“Omelette,” Jay blurts out, and for a moment, all three of them frown in sync, avoid looking at the black scorch mark on the frame of the patio door, and each other. Then Dean’s eyebrow cranks up a fraction more, in blatant disdain for their stupidity.

“I choose not to cook. It is not a question of not being able to,” he retorts, his scowl turning into a full on glare when Matt snorts, and Jay’s mind takes him back to the day of The Omelette pinpointing that as the start of so many of his current problems.

Dean had been insistent. Obnoxiously so. And most indignant, when Matt and Jay hadn’t believed he’d be able to do something as ‘simple’ as make an omelette. He’d raised an unamused eyebrow at both of them – very much as he is doing now – then shrugged out of both his coat and suit jacket in one fluid movement, and slowly rolled up his sleeves, all whilst Jay watched him open-mouthed like a man gaping at a beer after a taxing Dry January. Discreetly, of course. Discreetly.

Jay had continued watching Dean’s back as he’d walked over to the sink to wash his hands, dried them on kitchen towel like a pro, and then stalked over to the carton of eggs on the counter, bringing them back across the kitchen to leave next to the stove. Jay had swallowed roughly to see the pull of the shirt over Dean’s muscle and had stood, transfixed, willing himself to look elsewhere, but failing dismally.

Next, Dean had walked over to the fridge, bending down to peer inside in interest, and giving Jay a very distracting view of the way his pants tightened over his ass. Jay couldn’t help staring at things like that on any given day when he was around Dean, honestly he couldn’t, and at the time, Matt had given a delighted snort, grinning victoriously in his direction. Jay grimaces uncomfortably for remembering the look of comprehension on Matt’s face, still shrinking back from the wickedness emitting from his brother after all this time, wanting to turn quickly on his heel, and leave. Matt had that effect on him a lot when it came to Dean, Jay reflects then, fighting back yet another whine.

But Matt and Jay’s attention had then turned immediately to the bowl Dean clunked down noisily on the counter, and the way he threw in everything at once, before stirring the mixture vigorously and slopping it all over the sides.

Sure, in principle, the idea had been good; eggs, cheese, and bacon were acceptable – essential, ingredients perhaps, for making an omelette.

But, as Jay had sidled up to him, taking in the bits of shell floating on top of the mixture and the bacon fat sticking out like little white islands in a sea of yellow, he couldn’t help but laugh.

Even if Dean did spin on his heel and glare at him in contempt.

The second attempt, when the first had been thrown with some force into the trash, fared slightly better to start with. But Dean couldn’t seem to get to grips with the pan, and even Matt, who had been strictly forbidden from doing anything more complicated than reheating or nuking things in the microwave, howled in laughter, as Dean pushed stubbornly at the black mess that in a former life had once been eggs.

The third attempt, using up the very last of the eggs, had resulted in that black mark on the door frame that all three of them are currently glaring at, and Jay tactfully takes a slight step to the side, blocking everyone’s view.

“This is different,” Dean assures them with the most serious of expressions on his face.

“How is this different?” Matt laughs, boldy. This doesn’t really impact him one way or another, after all. Aside from watching his brother die from mortification. Unless it’s a really underhand way to get his share of the house, Jay thinks, considering just how evil Matt is, and what his limits may or may not be.

Dean stares at Matt curiously, and somehow that makes Matt laugh more. “Because, Matt. The omelette… incident…” Dean glares at them both for a second, daring them to comment. They do not. “I had never considered making an omelette before. It was not something I had ever spent a lot of time thinking about. You are both aware that I prefer to eat meals that are prepared for me,”

Jay straightens up from where he’s been slumped back against the counter, and his eyes narrow. “Wait,” he says, half-extending a hand towards Dean but curling his fingers back before they actually reach him. “You’ve been thinking about this? A lot?”

“Yes, Jay.” Dean tells him with utmost certainty, calm and assured as he is almost always calm and assured.

There is a look on Jay’s face that Matt instantly recognises as jealousy. He knows it, and has known it all his life; usually when Jay thinks Matt’s got more toppings on his pizza than he does, or has unknowingly poured himself an inch more wine from a shared bottle, it’s true. But still. He knows jealousy on Jay when he sees it, and finds himself smirking a little harder.

“With who?” Jay demands, stepping that touch closer, his voice tinged with bristling anger.

Dean’s face contorts, showing he’s really not sure what Jay’s problem is.

“I would have thought that would be obvious by now,” is all he can offer in answer. Which Jay growls, actually growls at, and Matt barks out a peal of laughter at, earning himself another glare from Jay.

“So,” Matt eventually manages when he’s finished his gleeful laughter from the safe step back he’s taken away from Jay’s mood. “What you’re saying, Dean. Is that. Is that. Unlike the omelette thing. You’ve been thinking about doing this. A lot. So you know exactly what to do here.”

“Yes,” Dean gives him simply.

Matt shrugs. “Prove it.”

“Matt,” Jay blasts out, eyes full of rage for Matt and spinning around, fully turning his back to Dean.

His eyes drop the second he feels Dean’s hand on his shoulder, and raise back up again in shock as Dean is pushing him back against the counter with no gentleness at all.

“Uh…” is all he manages, before Dean is against him bodily and kissing him firmly on the mouth.

There is a moment, a tiny moment, when Jay registers Matt laughing hysterically beside them. But it is only a moment, because right now, his brain has shorted out for the absolutely most impossible thing to be happening to him. Dean is kissing him. He’s actually kissing him, willingly, very ably, he’d very much like to add, and from the feel of… yep, that feels a lot like, well, interest, he seems to be enjoying it just as much as he is.

Unconsciously, Jay’s arms curl around Dean’s lower back, pulling him that little bit more firmly against him, making Dean moan into his mouth in appreciation.

I’ll die happy, is the only thought Jay manages, sagging under Dean’s weight.

Matt is doing all but cheering them on, resisting the urge to clap and forcing back the slight tears he’s feeling pricking in his eyes to see what he’s seeing before him.

Never in his wildest dreams would Matt have believed that what was a glib challenge to Dean about his never having kissed another man before, would have led to this. To seeing Jay, so utterly and thoroughly caught up in, well. Kissing Dean, like Matt damn well knew he’d been thinking about for an eternity. It made his little shipper heart sing, it really did.

Although.

Perhaps that level of enthusiasm was a little too much for his eyes, and oh hell he knows he just saw tongue.

Choking back the laughter that’s threatening to erupt yet again, Matt clears his throat, which neither Dean nor Jay acknowledge him doing.

“So, uh…” he tries pathetically, knowing there’s no way he’s getting their attention any time soon.

“Uh… you can thank me later, Jay,” he manages to half-call out eventually, backing up slowly towards the kitchen door.

Jay must be somewhat aware that Matt’s still standing there, because he slowly raises the hand he’s got wrapped hard around Dean up, flips him off, then slowly gives him the thumbs up Terminator two-style, before putting his hand back firmly on Dean, a little lower this time.

Matt’s eyes widen to see that, and he thumbs a gesture over at the door, making a quick exit with an absent wave, averting his eyes as he does.

Oblivious

When is a date not a date? When one of the people on it has no idea that it even is one…

For those of you who follow/have followed me elsewhere, you might recognise this story in another guise 😊


“Have dinner with me tonight, Seth?” Ryan’s voice was hesitant even to his own ear, betraying the nervousness in the simplicity of his question. The clink of the mug of coffee against the table seemed unfairly loud when he put it down, leaving him wondering how he could even hear it over the blood rushing in his own ears.

Seth nodded without looking up, continuing to turn the pages of the heavy book laid out on the table at the same steady pace he had been doing for the past hour, curling his free hand around the offered coffee. “Of course.”

“Just you and me. Okay?” Ryan’s words came out in a rush, and he flinched when Seth raised a curious eye to him, falling briefly to the mug in Ryan’s own hands then back up to his face.

“What about Louise?”

Louise. Ryan’s long-suffering housemate and self-adopted little sister would probably shriek with laughter at his pathetic efforts later when he told her, and then curl up next to him on the couch for all the gruesome details of his embarrassment. But she wasn’t home, so couldn’t see him suffering first hand, and Ryan felt it was only normal to be thankful for the small mercy that was.

“Louise’s busy. Doing Louise stuff. Besides,” he added, still rushing through his words as he crosses his arms tightly across his chest. “Thought it’d be n- good… for us. Catch up. You know?” although catching up from what, and since when, he didn’t know, since there had been exactly two days in the past three weeks when he had not spent at least a few hours in Seth’s company.

Seth gave a curious smile, nodding again. “Of course, Ryan. That would be good.”

“Good! Good. Okay then. I’ll… I’ll let you get back to your…” and Ryan stopped mid-sentence to glance along the length of the book spin and smile. “To Louise’s compendium on Middle Earth,”

Seth smiled in answer, his eyes fixed on Ryan as he turned away quickly on his heel and returned to the couch, picking up the magazine he’d not been reading and looking up when he was sure Seth had returned to his book.

***

Seth looked out of the passenger window of Ryan’s, fingers idly tapping along to the music against the frame of the glass. They passed an all-you-can-eat buffet, and something that looked like a giant steakhouse, before turning into a parking space outside a beautifully-lit restaurant with a warm glow spilling out of its windows onto the pavement outside.

Noticing this was not the typical kind of place they went for food, Seth looked over the restaurant in interest then and turned back to Ryan, a question clear in his expression.

Ryan cleared his throat. “Thought we’d try something new seeing it’s just us. Saw this place yesterday when we were passing. Figured we’d give it a go.”

Seth smiled, “Of course. It looks Italian?”

Ryan nodded in agreement. “Yeah, Italian. Are we heading in?” He cracked the door open and stepped out into the cold night air, watching his breath cloud in front of him as he waited for Seth to climb out of his side of the car.

At the door of the restaurant, Ryan cleared his throat again and stopped Seth with a hand lightly on his forearm. Reaching forward, he tugged on the cold metal handle and gestured for Seth to go in first. Once inside, they were greeted by a waitress, who studied them for a moment at the ‘wait here’ sign, then smiled knowingly, giving Ryan a wink, and led them to the furthest side of the restaurant into one of the boothed tables offering a little privacy.

They slid in either side of the booth, Ryan studying Seth’s every reaction as he took in their surroundings in interest, then turned back to him with a pleased smile.

After a brief discussion over the menus they ordered, bruschetta to start, and two unpronounceable pasta dishes for main. Ryan played nervously with the edge of his napkin as they waited for their drinks, uncomfortable with their comfortable silence, and scratching around in his brain for an opening to conversation.

Finally he settled with, “So Seth. This okay?”

Again, Seth looked confused. “I don’t know-”

“This. You, me, dinner. It’s okay?”

“We have eaten together numerous times before, Ryan.” Seth replied, reasonably. “The restaurant is a little… different, but that is all. We’ve never had a problem eating together before.”

“Right. Right. Same as always…” Ryan’s voice trailed away with a forlorn edge to it, the napkin between his fingers shredding in one violent twist.

Their drinks arrived then, and Seth’s eyes stayed intently on Ryan, aware something was on his mind. Ryan shrugged the look away in dismissal.

The beer in Ryan’s hand calmed him a little, giving him something else to focus on besides his nerves. He took a long pull of it, then launched into their usual small talk, speaking about Louise, their friends, Seth’s excitement over a new delivery of books that he was looking forward to cataloging and adding to their local library, and Ryan’s own day attempting to make the periodic table interesting to a bunch of 11 year olds.

The bruschetta was announced a messy success, with both of them dropping pieces of it onto their pristine plates with embarrassed laughs. Ryan’s tension lessened every time one of them laughed, his eyes crinkling up at the look of concentration on Seth’s face as he fought to keep everything in one place.

Their pasta dishes met with approval too; Ryan nudged his plate towards Seth so he could try some of his, and Seth offered the same in kind. In fact, by all standards, the evening was enjoyable, and comfortable, and any awkwardness he’d initially been feeling had gone without any trace.

Ryan insisted Seth try tiramisu, even when Seth protested that he was too full to even suck in a breath. After a little debate they agreed on one piece to share, and before Ryan could stop himself, he’d slid a fork through the layers, then leaned across the table, pausing it just in front of Seth’s mouth.

Ryan’s eyes fixed firmly on those lips, licking his own as he waited for Seth to move. Seth opened his mouth slowly, leaning forward to taste, dragging the full piece of tiramisu off the end of the fork and into his mouth, unaware of how still Ryan had become as he did. He chewed, savouring it for a moment then swallowed it down with a wide smile of approval.

“This is very good, Ryan. I think I like tiramisu. I am surprised I have never tried it before,”

Ryan smiled, gathering another piece onto his fork and reaching out again. Seth accepted it with no complaint, huffing out a little sigh of contentment.

“Are you not having any?” Seth asked, when Ryan didn’t take any himself.

Ryan dragged his eyes away from Seth, taking a bite, and when he raised his head again he found Seth watching him in thought.

“Something is different about this meal.”

Seth’s statement set Ryan’s heart off thudding in protest, and he broke eye contact, fingers nervously strumming against his beer. The truth was, he always thought Seth was a little oblivious to things unless they were set out clearly to him, but if it had taken him the entire meal to notice something was up, it didn’t bode well for what Ryan was hoping him to understand.

“Ryan,” Seth prompted softly when he had quite found what he wanted to say back.

Ryan’s hand flew to the back of his neck, his unconscious thinking spot for when he got nervous. “It doesn’t have to be different. Not if you don’t want it to be.” was all he could offer, the words he actually wanted to say stuck in his throat, and Ryan closed his eyes in disappointment at himself, letting out a small sigh.

“How can I want it to be anything when I don’t know what’s different?” was Seth’s bewildered answer, Ryan felt his face flush.

“Seth. Come on. I know you’re not… fluent in people sometimes, but come on, man. I’ve been pretty obvious,”

Seth continued to stare at him blankly and Ryan let out a small whine of exasperation.

“Alright. Pretend you’re doing your observing thing like you do when you’re people watching in the library, making up lives for them, and watching us instead,”

“Okay,” Seth agreed cautiously, suspicion tinging the tone of his answer.

“From the outside. I’ve asked you out to dinner – alone. Taken you to a place we’d never normally come to. We’ve sat here, just us, and… I’ve even fed you dessert off of my own fork.” Ryan hated the feeling of blushing raging across his cheeks, though forced his eyes to stay on Seth’s even when they tried to drop to his own lap. “Don’t make me say it, Seth. What’s it look like to you?”

Seth took in the flush to Ryan’s face, the uncomfortable way he was sitting, and narrowed his eyes in thought. And what seemed to Ryan like several decades later, answered uncertainly, with, “It would look to me as though we were on a date, Ryan.”

“It would.” Ryan’s own response was part confirmation, part embarrassment.

Seth’s face remained a mask, but the thoughts rushing through his mind then made his response curt, and sure. “But this can’t be a date, Ryan.”

And in that moment, Ryan wanted to slide from the seat and run. The plummeting of his heart into his stomach made him feel sick and sweaty all over, fearing the few scoops of that dessert he’d so willingly shared might be about to make a reappearance.

Seth noticed the immediate change in Ryan’s stature and frowned even harder, trying again. “It can’t be a date, Ryan, because in order for it to be a date, you would have had to have asked me.”

Ryan startled at that, his eyes blowing wide. Had he not been obvious enough? “I did ask you, Seth,”

“You asked me to have dinner with you,”

When Ryan said nothing, Seth felt a solitary clutch at his chest and tried for a third time. “But you did not say it was a date.” Seth maintained to himself that he was right. Even if his heart was beating its own excited little rhythm. Even if perhaps his naivety had meant he’d found himself in the middle of something very, very good.

“Well. I know you haven’t dated much, but. Strictly speaking, you don’t have to say the word ‘date’ for the event to ‘be’ a date. You just… you know. Assume.” and Ryan kicked himself again for overestimating Seth’s understanding of, well. So many things. He liked order, and form, arguments to be presented with clear cut statements, and absolutely nothing that even resembled ambiguity would ever stand a chance of being understood.

“Oh.” was all Seth could manage say, because it looked suspiciously like that was a confirmation of what he was thinking.

“Out of interest. If I’d have used the word date. What would you have said?” Ryan’s fingers started up their nervous worrying of everything within his reach, and he avoided eye contact, bracing for the worst.

“I would have said yes, obviously.”

Ryan’s fingers paused and the fork he’d been spinning clattered loudly to his plate. “You… would?”

“Obviously,”

Ryan stared back at Seth, temporarily lost for words.

Impatience crept in on Seth, and he leaned forward, resting his elbows on the edge of the table. “Ryan,”

“It’s a date, Seth.” Ryan blurted out, fists bumping against the table. “It’s a date. I’ve been wanting to do something about… this thing between us for… so long. But I keep coming up with excuses.”

“Why?” and there was genuine bafflement in Seth’s question.

Which was exactly why Ryan didn’t do this kind of stuff. He didn’t know how. Didn’t have the words for it. “This is me we’re talking about. I’m not good at… this. Besides,” he added, shifting in his seat, “I’ve never really figured out if you knew what you were doing.”

“What I was doing?”

Ryan laughed, but there was no humour in it at all. “The way you are with me. The way I am with you. How we’re… different. With each other. To the way we are with other people.”

Seth looked away, and swallowed nervously. “I am aware.”

Ryan pressed his fingers into the table then, watching them as they splayed splayed. “If you’re aware, does that mean you feel something? For me?”

“Of course, Ryan, I-”

“I meant beside the friendship thing and the… marathoning shows together thing. Book recommendations. Clothes shopping together ‘cos we both suck at it. Something else. Something more than all that,” and Ryan couldn’t keep the hope from his voice no matter how hard he tried to.

Seth bunched his fingers into the legs of his jeans and let the squeeze of it settle him a little. Took a deep breath. Looked Ryan directly in the eyes. “Yes, Ryan. I’ve always felt something ‘more’ for you. Always. Ever since we met,”

Ryan thought back to the time he’d been finding some book titles for his students to do real, honest-to-god research with in the library, when he’d walked straight into Seth’s book trolley and ended up sprawled out on the scratchy library carpet. It hadn’t been love at first sight, but it had sort of been head over heels, with him instantly fascinated by Seth, and steadily falling for him afterwards and ever since.

Ryan raised his hands in a gesture that screamed about his helplessness. “Then how come you never said anything either?”

Seth shrugged. “I assumed you did not reciprocate.”

Ryan glared then, and without warning leaned across to grab the collar of Seth’s shirt, dragging him forward. “Reciprocate this.” he grumbled, pressing his lips hard against Seth’s and showing in no uncertain terms what he’d not been able to verbalise for years.

Finding The Words

James knows Darren loves him. He just needs to find the words to convince him of it.

For those of you who follow/have followed me elsewhere, you might recognise this story in another guise 😉

“You don’t get it, James,” Darren’s voice is low, and tired, and he stands as though he has never lived without permanent ache.

James watches him wordlessly, arms folded roughly across his chest, letting Darren speak.

“You just don’t. You don’t understand that I don’t get good things. I don’t get the happy ending, I can’t just have what I want. I just can’t,” Darren sighs then, looking over at James with pleading in his eyes. James can’t tell if he’s pleading for understanding or to be proved wrong.

“It isn’t because I don’t want this,” Darren adds, and he doesn’t need to say the words. This is them. It’s that thing that has brewed and bubbled between them for what is possibly forever. Or feels like forever. Ever since that first – and last time Darren had lapsed, and reached for a bottle instead of help on a bad day, when he’d been doing so well, not drank a single drop in god knows how long; that’s how long Darren’s felt like this about him.

Even then, in that darkest of moments, especially then; James had looked at him as though he believed in him, and that what had happened was nothing but a temporary blip. Darren has never had anyone show that much faith in him, and seeing it open and honest and there on James’ face had solidified for Darren what he’d been kidding himself for the longest time was just fleeting attraction for him.

“It isn’t because I have a problem with this,” he adds, and now he’s being as clear as he can be, when clear feels impossible, “it’s because I want this. You. More than I’ve wanted anything my whole life. And I can’t have it, I just can’t; you’ve got to hear what I’m trying to tell you,”

Silence fills the space between them for an age, and then James quietly replies with, “May I ask why?”

Darren’s resolve is slipping. The tone of James’ voice that is hurt and looking for understanding crumbles it, because that’s what James does to Darren. He makes him weak. “Because I just can’t, okay? I’ll ruin it. I’ll mess things up, and I’ll hurt you, and I’ll lose the best friend I’ve ever had,”

Which, in a nutshell, is the full truth of it. James has been one of Darren’s closest friends since college, with Darren remembering as though it were yesterday looking up across a lecture hall at the sound of a well-spoken English man, articulately arguing for his right for admittance. Or whatever the words he’d used at the time were. The point was, Darren had smiled at him in welcome when he’d come to sit a few feet from him, and James had returned it, and they had been friends ever since.

But it wasn’t yesterday, it was more than ten years ago, and James has been by Darren’s side ever since. His friend, his confidante, his rock. There through his many failures, there for his few successes, there for everything. How can he risk losing all of that by giving into all these feelings, when he knows without doubt that James could do so very much better than himself?

“And you could get hurt.” James adds, noting the omission.

Darren huffs as though that’s not a distinct possibility. That the thought of losing James, especially if he allows them to just… be… doesn’t kill him already.

“You could get hurt.” James repeats firmly, holding Darren’s gaze, in the way only James ever does.

“Yeah, well.” Darren shrugs, breaking the eye contact, “happens…”

James turns slightly, still keeping his distance from Darren. “I would never make promises not to hurt you, Darren. That would be unfair and a lie. I could only promise to never intend to hurt you.” James’ words are gentle, and Darren can’t help but let the tenderness of them seep through him for a moment.

“Don’t know why you’d be interested anyway,” is Darren’s response, scuffing the toe of his boot along the floor with his usual kneejerk change-the-subject reaction.

“I could list all of the things I love about you, Darren. Yes, love,” James repeats the end of his statement when Darren snorts in dismissal, “because I do love you. I have loved you. For a very long time now. But I doubt very much that you’d like to hear what I have to say about that,”

“How could you?” Darren mumbles, eyes still on the floor, and it’s a fair question. How could anyone as incredible as James; intelligent, attractive, kind beyond anything – how could anyone that amazing love him of all people? It wasn’t possible, not now, not ever.

James takes comfort from the fact that Darren hasn’t run from his words. There was a time when he feared complete rejection purely because they were both men, and throughout college and beyond, Darren had only ever shown interest in women. He feared that Darren’s outlook on life was already carved in stone by the views of his father, and although it was unfair, James felt nothing but dislike for the man, and the way he had shaped his son to hate himself as much as he knew Darren did. In situations such as now, with the full embodiment of Darren’s self-loathing making him truly believe he wasn’t worthy of him, that dislike flared ugly.

“I already said,” James continues, “I could list all the things I love about you. The reasons why. But you wouldn’t want to hear them. It would be pointless to force you to hear things that you are adamant you don’t want to hear. And will reject,” he adds, unable to keep a tinge of sadness and bitterness from his tone. He really has loved Darren for an age; in silence, in secret, at a safe distance. Never pushing, never taking more than Darren was willing to offer because until recently, until an evening where they’d fallen asleep together on his couch and James had woken to Darren staring at him with nothing but want on his face, James had never dared think Darren might care about him, want him back.

Darren’s eyes fly up, pain reflected there because of the pain he knows he’s causing James now. “I’m no good, James,” he protests, “no good at all. I’ve got… nothing to offer you. You could be with anyone, anyone you wanted… anyone at all-“

“You are who I want,” James interrupts, trying to keep his voice gentle when he wants to yell in frustration to make him see sense.

“How?” there’s bewilderment there in Darren’s voice, and he’s tightly gripping on to the edge of the counter where he’s leaning like his life depends on it. “What could I possibly give you? You could have… anything. Everything. But I can’t give you anything, James. I’m nothing,” he finishes with, his voice trailing away as he lets his head hang with a single shake.

“You could give me you,” James counters, “that is all I want,”

“You don’t mean that,” Darren shakes his head again, refusing to hear the words.

“Darren. I never knew want like this before I knew you. I never knew longing, or friendship, or what it is to be cared about. You are going to have to trust me when I say it is you that I want, because you were the first person that I ever wanted this much in my entire life. The only thing I’ve ever wanted in life that I still want,”

“Aside from brownies and pizza and cof-”

“Darren,” James cuts him off, frustration creeping in at Darren’s constant need to make a joke. He knows it’s a diversionary tactic and exactly why he does it, but now is not the time.

“I can’t, James,” Darren pleads, his words quiet, and full of emotion.

“What you mean is, you won’t try,”

“Not if it means losing you altogether. No,” Darren tries for firmness in his voice but it’s marred by the way he just wants to give in, to have James and to let James have him. Because as much as he fights it, it is the only thing that makes sense to him. It – James, is the only thing that has made sense to Darren in a long, long time.

“But if you keep pushing me away. If you continue this… charade, with me, Darren. Do you

honestly believe I can stand it? Do you honestly think I can stay?”

Darren’s eyes widen, and there’s real fear there making his heart thrum away in his chest in panic. “Are you saying… that if I don’t… if we don’t… you won’t stick around?”

James pinches the bridge of his nose, cursing his choice of words. “I am not trying to force you into anything you don’t want. I’m not trying to give you an ultimatum, Darren. I’m just saying, I can’t keep-”

“I didn’t say I don’t want-”

“I’m saying, it will hurt too much to be near you and watch you. With others. With another…”

James’ words dwindle away and he drops his hand heavily to his side. “When I want you to be with me. It will be too painful to pretend that all I feel for you is friendship, and to have to keep wondering if I’m too close, or if I should comfort you, or reach out to you. I am not so strong as to continue to act as though we are nothing but friends, Darren. We are that, we have always been that, and I cherish your friendship beyond… anything. But we are also more. So much more,”

Darren chews on his lip for a moment and then, says quiet enough for James to have to lean forward to hear it, “You do know that I love you back, right?”

For a second, James’ heart soars at the words he never thought he’d hear out loud. Sure, he’s thought he’s seen them in all of Darren’s gestures, the way he cares about him like no one else does. The way he remembers all the smallest details about him, and goes out of his way to make him happy, looking so proud and rewarded every time he makes him smile. That is how he knows Darren loves him, but to actually hear the words spoken is better than any sound he could ever imagine. All he can do is nod his response.

“So, you do know that me saying this can’t happen is because I love you. Right?”

Darren’s logic is annoying, because James can completely understand where he’s coming from. He knows how broken Darren’s opinion of himself is, of how he fears he’ll turn everything good to dust. He knows how frightened he is of that. And he also knows that Darren is rejecting him from a place of love. It doesn’t mean it isn’t rejection though. James can’t see past that, not when he sees, he knows, how good things could be between them. It would just be like coming home, to a home he’s never had, really, but now doesn’t want to be without.

Darren is watching this internal debate play across his face, and James swears he can feel Darren’s heart pounding from across the room. He knows how torn Darren is, knows all the reasons for it. He knows Darren. He just needs to find the right words.

“You say that,” James says, full of caution, “but you are still sending me away,”

“I’m not, James. God, I’m not. I’m trying to explain… I need you. You don’t know how I need you.”

“If you need me-”

“But I can’t need you. Don’t you get it? I can’t rely on anyone. I can’t have anyone rely on me. I’ll just… I’ll fail you, James.”

“You are a most confusing man.” James sighs, rocking on his heels. “What you’re saying is that these… intimacies… that we both want, we cannot have, and that you need me, but can’t have me, so I’m supposed to just be here but not be here with you?”

Darren rubs a hand over his face and a dry laugh escapes his lips. “When you say it like that…”

“It sounds as stupid as it is,” James finishes for him, knowing his tone is curt. He doesn’t mean it to be, but he’s hurting here too.

“I’m sorry,” Darren says, and his voice breaks, his body arches towards James even from this distance, confused by the pull to comfort him and the idea that he must, for James’ sake, stay clear.

James knows that Darren rates his own intelligence very low, and he hates that Darren does that. But right now, James can’t help think how ridiculous Darren is being. How can Darren be saying all these empty words, the things he feels he must say, when James can see written all over his face what he is truly saying? He can practically hear the longing, the wanting, the love that’s there. It just doesn’t mean as much, or anything at all, if Darren can’t manage to say these things out loud. It would be like using his not-so-secret thoughts against him, and there is no way James would ever want to violate him like that.

James decides to take matters into his own hands, or at least, to give them a nudge.

He stretches back languidly, knowing full well the way Darren’s eyes are on him as he arches his neck. He’s not blind; he’s seen the way Darren’s gaze lingers over him, knows when he’s wearing a favourite shirt, or a pair of jeans Darren really likes on him. He knows lust when he sees it in someone’s eyes. Knows ache, and god, does he know want. And he’s seen each of these things in Darren’s eyes, so many times when he’s looked at him.

James lowers his head, eyes pinning Darren’s in place, sure he’s hearing a solitary loud thud of his heart. He stands to full height, and very slowly walks across the room, never breaking eye contact.

“Tell me you don’t want me, Darren. Tell me. And I’ll go,” His pace is deliberate, giving Darren time to consider his words.

“I don’t want you to go, James, I never said I wanted you to go,”

“No,” James agrees, “you want me to stay, but not stay with you. You push me so far and then just… pull back. You keep… toying with me, Darren. I do not enjoy that feeling,”

Darren’s hands fall, crushed by the truth of James’ words, curling defensively into his sides. “I don’t want to hurt you, James. I never mean to do that,”

“So, tell me you don’t want me,” James prompts again, sterner this time.

Darren’s voice is barely audible when he says, “But you know I want you. You know,”

“I do,” James agrees, a slight nod as he stops directly in front of Darren, eyes flicking down to his chest where now he really can hear Darren’s heart pounding out a staccato, “but you can’t keep doing this to me.”

James tries to keep the hurt from his voice, because he knows that it just makes things painful for Darren, but he can’t help that. He can’t help it if Darren has made him so aware of everything about him.

“So. Here is what I am going to do, Darren. I am going to kiss you. I am going to lean in and kiss you, any moment now, and if you honestly don’t want me to. If you honestly, truly believe that this,” and he waves a finger between them, “is a bad idea, well, then. I guess you’re just going to have to stop me.”

Darren’s eyes widen and his tongue dips out to wet his lips; the action is involuntary, as is the tightening of his jeans in response to James’ words.

Again, James knows exactly what he is doing. He leans a little closer, and closer, practically hearing Darren’s internal monologue that goes something like please, kiss me now, no stop, stop, I can’t stop you if you do.

James pauses, inches from Darren’s face, watching Darren’s eyes fall to his lips, his own slightly parted. And then, he does it. Presses his soft, dry lips against Darren’s in one slow, chaste kiss.

He may as well have lit a stick dynamite, because that one touch is not enough.

James’ hands cradle Darren’s face as he reaches in to kiss him again, never for more than a few seconds, always giving Darren the chance to pull away. James can feel Darren’s hands twitching uncontrollably at his sides, until suddenly they’re not. They’re finger deep in James’ hair, holding him exactly where he wants him as Darren kisses back, hot and hard. James’ own hands wind around Darren’s neck and he presses himself flush against Darren, earning him a low growl and Darren rolling his hips back against him.

Darren’s kisses are not gentle; they are ferocious, exactly the kind James expected of him after holding back for so long. He’s been so sure that Darren wanted to kiss him, to claim him for his, to never let him out of his grip again. Now he’s getting confirmation of that, and James is overwhelmed by it, realising that all his fantasies about Darren like this have always been barely adequate. This Darren, the real one, is a furnace, ready to consume him.

James doesn’t mind that imagery one bit.

He kisses back with as much of his own force as he can, his tongue darting fiercely into Darren’s mouth forcing a moan out that flares fire through James’ core. Darren sucks on his tongue, chases it, moves his hands shakily down James’ back to press into James’ ass so that he can grind against him.

Gradually, the kisses lose their intensity, and they lean into each other more in comfort than

anything else. Their breathing is heavy, and lips find skin along jaws and necks before James’ head finally falls onto Darren’s shoulder, and Darren’s arms circle him protectively. Darren kisses him once, long and hard on the side of his head then sighs into his ear, sounding defeated. Finally, he whispers, “I could never have said no to you, James. I don’t have the willpower,”

James nods against him but says nothing, because he doesn’t want to break the spell that is them.

Darren’s hand strokes gently down James’ back, feeling his face flush as he buries it further into his neck. He’s been kidding himself for all this time that James had no idea, when obviously, how could he not? “Then why now?”

“Because, Darren,” James noses against him, “I wanted you to be the one initiating things. I never wanted you to feel I had forced you. That I was using your own thoughts and feelings against you, when you… when you have never acknowledged them,”

“Hey,” Darren raises his head to look James in the eye, “I’ve never felt forced, okay? This isn’t about being forced. It’s about me being terrified of screwing things up. It’s about me still thinking you’re making a mistake wanting me like- like I think… I’m fairly sure you do,”

James narrows his eyes. “Do I have to kiss you again to prove to you how wrong I think you are about that? About me making a mistake in loving you? Wanting you, Darren?”

“Well,” Darren replied, eyes again falling to James’ lips like he’s found a new addiction, “I’d kind of prefer it if you just kissed me for the sake of it,”

And James does just that, slow and leisurely, melting into him.

They break away, a long time later, looking at each other with a mix of awe and uncertainty.

“I’m still not sure about this, James. I mean,” he grips James a little tighter in case there’s any misunderstanding, “I want this. I never didn’t want this. I just… I don’t know how any of this is going to work,”

James shrugs then, leaning in to kiss him once more, wrapping his arms around his shoulders and leaning hard. “We will work that out together, Darren. We will… we will take things as they come,”

“Don’t leave me,” Darren pleads then, squeezing him a little tighter and gathering to him.

James sighs, slotting his fingers through Darren’s hair to cradle him, one warm hand splayed wide around his back. “I never could,”