A/N: May seem a little rushed, because it was supposed to be longer, but decent over all I think. The story takes place over about a year or a year and a half. Its also more than a little crackish and some things seem like they aren't supposed to be in there (namely the bad pickup lines) but it was originally going to be a crackfic... it just... evolved. It was supposed to be something of a character development project.
WARNINGS: The story is slash but nothing extremely explicit. Just perverted.
--The Silent War
It was something of a joke at first, something to pass the time before more interesting things happened. It became a war of sorts, to see who could come up with the cheesiest or – and was optional, comebacks – most original pick up lines. They barely knew each other when it happened, in essence the whole thing was a happy accident. Nobody expected them to actually fall in love. The Incident (as it came to be called) began on an exceptionally hot summer day, which may account for their strangeness.
They were the type of people that, should a criminal match their general description, might even wind up in the same line-up. That is to say, they vaguely resembled each other, not particularly tan skin, dark hair, dark eyes and glasses, both having a socially acceptable physique. As to their intellect, they were both educated (as to be expected as they met in college), well spoken and cultured. But there the similarities came up with a very large blank.
Fate had decided to play a somewhat complex, convoluted and conniving (and whatever other adverbs you can come up with that start with "co") plan. Both males were fairly popular amongst their peers, they participated in school events, and both were in a fraternity. And again, there the similarities stopped.
James was cool headed, straight laced, and had a simplistic sort of fashion. What he wore varied in style from day to day, but was never anything but spiffy. Being the practical and no-nonsense person he was, his manners were no less than impeccable, his eating habits the same. The only visible sense of frivolity anyone ever saw of him was that his hair was exceptionally long, thigh length. He was part of the Gamma Alpha Pi (affectionately referred to as GAP, not so affectionately referred to as "the gap teeth") fraternity (their motto out was something along the lines of "PIE PIE PIE!," but that was probably due to the fact that they had a peculiar love for Vodka.) The fact that he was enrolled in several art, music and writing classes lent to his reputation as being a very cultured individual. He came from a prestigious school, he had been the valedictorian. Very little was known about him (other than his reputation). Aloof, they called him, mysterious. He was (despite the way he dressed) the unanimously agreed upon leader of the Liberal Arts.
Stephen was passionate, rebellious, and had an edgy style. With his devil may care attitude he was a distinctive character. His garb was edgy, original but not over done. For him, the reason was obvious; how is one to fight if there are piercings and such that got in the way? So he stuck to the one stud in his ear, hair cut shorter than currently popular, but it was flyaway (natural, but nobody ever believed him when he told them) and looked effortless (mostly because it was) and ripped clothes because, quite frankly, he couldn't be bothered to patch them up. In short, his style could only be described as cool. The fact that he was enrolled in strictly cerebral classes but still was kooky but not insane added to his overall plain awesomeness. (His eating habits left much to be asked for though.) He part of the Mu Delta Kappa (The "pie"s however liked to call them either "mudkipz" or "cows".) And he was the chosen leader for the Sciences.
As they were, James and Stephen seemed the perfect candidates for players of the highest caliber, or else the type of guy that all girls wanted to fall for. But of course they were no less than completely oblivious to the entire situation. Even to their supposed leadership of the two biggest groups of students.
Everyone was surprised that day when the two were seen together. Generally they didn't ever see each other, oh sure, they knew one another by reputation, but who didn't? Everyone assumed it was because they were battling it out, but truth be told, they didn't even know about this hypothetical war that was waging between them. The war that was purportedly so heated that even the professors were active participants.
They didn't even know what each other looked like.
Unwanted attention is an ugly thing. It is a simple truth that everybody knows. The only thing is that those who give or receive don't really ever realize that what they are experiencing is unwanted attention. Which makes it all the more pitiful.
So when Stephen walked by a large group of people it didn't surprise him to see that the boy – a man really – at the center of the group was definitely the receiver of unwanted attention, but didn't know it. Indeed he had all of the distinctive symptoms of having been given unwanted attention; a stoic but politely bored look, adjusting and readjusting clothes, shuffling of the feet... Stephen grinned; he'd been bored so this was a very opportune moment. He shifted his books to his other side, freeing one arm. He sauntered over, around the women, and right up to the other male. He was just near enough to see the minute shift in the other man's posture as one of the girls grabbed his arm.
Grinning like a loon, Stephen slung an arm casually over the shorter male's shoulder, feeling the muscles beneath ripple with tension. The man was shorter than he'd appeared from afar, more than three inches shorter than Stephen. The girls bristled and glared at Stephen. He leaned down to whisper in the man's ear.
"Here's your opportunity to escape. Coming or not?" The other male stared up at him, dark eyes wide behind thick rimmed glasses. The slight shift of his head. He glanced at the girls and back at Stephen uncertainly. Stephen sighed and the other male shivered at the feeling of hot air. "Come on, let's blow this joint." Stephen said aloud he resisted the urge to call the short male a pet name, but settled on squeezing his shoulder before releasing his grip. It earned him a hard look from the dark eyes but the man followed where Stephen led. But it didn't restrain the other male from making a disapproving noise. The ring of girls glared with varying looks of resentment, shock and a weird sort of animosity that he hadn't expected. Interesting.
Once they were comfortably far enough away from the glowering girls – read; several yards – the other male stopped walking. "Not that I'm not grateful, but why did you do that?" His eyes flicked up to meet Stephen's own dark eyes. He pushed his glasses up the bridge of his nose, a nervous tic apparently. Stephen's lips curved into an impish smile.
"Aren't you going to ask first who I am?" The other boy blinked. "My name is Stephen." His eyes flicked downward. He mumbled something. "Hmm? What was that?"
"I said, my name is James." He had gotten over his momentary bashfulness and glared defiantly into Stephen's eyes. Stephen gave a lopsided grin. "Thanks." James said brusquely. Stephen just sometimes had that effect on people.
"Any time." And he meant it. James smiled, a real smile, looking nothing like the heckled man that Stephen had just rescued from evil fangirls (or the equivalent thereof.) Stephen blinked then gave a lopsided grin. James' eyes narrowed, suspicious of the mischievous expression. "Oh man." James blinked in surprise, confusion clear in his eyes. "I was blinded by your beauty, I think I need your number and address for insurance purposes." James blinked once. Twice. And then his eye twitched. And then his face became perfectly blank.
"You're so hot that when I look at you I get a tan." James responded in a deadpan voice. Stephen gaped and looked carefully up and down James as though he couldn't believe that a person such as this said something like... that. His mouth opened and shut over and over as he tried to think of something to say, his words coming out as mangled strangled noises in the back of his throat. James, in the meanwhile, was trying to keep a straight face and doing remarkably well until...
"WHAT!?" James nearly busted a kidney.
--The Story of a Girl
It was the first time Stephen had ever tried to, or had to, seek James out. Usually they talked when they met, which was quite often, as they had taken to getting coffee at the same store at the same time. It was all a coincidence of course. The RA had stared at him like he was crazy at first, when he asked, then with concern. And after he left had immediately called several people in preparation for The Fight that was "destined" to occur. But of course it never happened and neither male knew the expectation.
Stephen's footsteps echoed hollowly through the empty – save for James – room. It was quite large, and had to have been more than a thousand square feet, the floor made of a varnished light colored wood. James was in the center, sparring by himself.
He twirled, sending controlled kicks off to the side, switching legs. He jumped, his hair swinging wildly behind him. It was almost like a ballet, but with a harder edge.
Heavy breathing and strained grunts reached Stephen's ears. He snorted, bemusedly. "You know," James started and he stopped his elegant not-dance, but he smiled at Stephen as he walked toward him. James pushed his bangs out of his eyes. "With all those sexy noises you're making I might have no choice but to jump your bones. Of course you could probably kill me with your karate skills." That earned him an exasperated eye roll. "How does it feel, being the sexiest man in the room?"
"With you being the only competition? Plus, if I believe your more than considerable reputation into account then I'm sure you could more than hold your own in a fight."
Stephen pressed his hand over his heart, his voice taking on a cloying, sardonic tone. "You wound me." But James grinned.
It had been more than three months since they met, every time they did they would exchange a quick bout of cheesy pickup lines then get on with business. The fact was, that even though they were in different classes, different circles, they had been meeting more than they realized and were fast becoming near permanent fixtures in each other's lives.
"You're so sweet looking you're giving me a tooth ache." James winked, turned and started to stretch his muscles, sweat plastering the thin t-shirt to his back. James' muscles rippled as he leaned down to work out the kinks in his legs. Stephen sniffed appreciatively. He never really thought about whether he was gay or not (he could actually care less) but what kind of person would waste a view like that? James had thin limbs, but that was mostly because his muscles were corded and lean, the muscles were well defined. Stephen was wider in comparison, his muscles giving him a thicker frame. When James was done stretching he sighed and pulled the elastic hair band off of the end of his hair, the braid unraveling slowly.
"Why do you tie up your hair? It looks great." The braid was more than halfway undone, dark brown hair shining in the light.
James stared at him, gape mouthed, dumbfounded. "Do you even have to ask?" Disbelief tinged his voice, straining it to the point that it nearly cracked. "It's horrendous! Can you imagine the amount of time it would take me to maintain it? Its bad enough when I have it tied up all day but I still have to re-braid it after I wake up. It takes hours to clean and brush." He snorted. "Hours. Hours if you can even comprehend it, every day."
Stephen shrugged, bemused. "Then why do you wear it so ridiculously long?" James' smile dropped off his face, sobering immediately and he looked away, eyes dark with some unnamed emotion, lips pressed together tightly. "Eh. Its fine if you don't tell me. I was jus–"
"My best friend has cancer. It was about seven years ago... when she found out, she told me not to cut my hair, said to grow it in her stead because she knew the loss of her hair from the chemo would affect her deeply. Her mother thought that all young ladies should wear their hair long. Her mother died when she was young." James said tersely, tension running through his body. Stephen kept his expression carefully blank. "A few years later she supposedly got cured but..."
"Relapsed?" Stephen's voice was gentle. James nodded stiffly. "Did she..." He shook his head.
"After she relapsed she requested that she be put in the new method testing group. They had plans to put a group of patients who agreed to go through with the procedure into a inactive state, hoping to slow the cancer. She figured that if she was going to die then she would rather go in her sleep." He shrugged. "Or the doctors figured out how to cure her." He laughed, a bitter sound. "Either way, she doesn't have to live with it." He sighed. "She told me not to cut my hair after she went, said it would remind me of her. Like I could ever forget." Memories made him stop talking. "She'll be in a coma until either happens, and I won't cut my hair until..."
"You care a lot for her." Stephen's voice was soft, emotionless.
James closed his eyes. "We grew up together, we were born on the same day, in the same hospital. Our mothers were best friends." He drew in a rattling breath. "Its been four years. There's little to hope for. Even if the doctors cure her, there is no guarantee that she'll come out of the coma." His eyes opened. "But she knew the risks when she accepted them."
Stephen was silent and breathing was the only thing that broke the silence in the hall. Both then seemed to shake off the feeling. Stephen grinned, though it was only half as bright as usual. "You're a man of many secrets my friend." It was said lightly but held a ring of conviction to it.
James returned his smile in earnest, though sadness tinged his eyes. "It is a good thing then, that I have the most outspoken and blunt person I know at my side."
--The Final Distance
"Are you tired? Because you've been running through my mind all day." A toothy grin. Stephen looked up from his book to see James grinning, standing uncomfortably close even if he didn't realize. Reclined in the chair, it seemed like there was a good three feet between them, belying the fact that James stood so close their knees were nearly touching. Stephen snorted and raised an eyebrow.
"I'm trying to read here." Stephen said, glancing over the rim of his book. James' expression became blank.
"Ah, procrastination. I bet that book was supposed to be read a good four weeks before you started this fine morning, laying forlornly on your shelf collecting dust." It was said in a joking manner but there was something darker behind it, strange. But it wasn't likely that James would explain. Stephen would just have to figure it out. He shrugged and shoved it aside.
"Yes actually, so I need to finish it." Stephen replied shortly. He was slightly irritated that he'd had to read such a girlish, childish book. Who had college students read Pride and Prejudice anyways? And the next book they were expected to read was The Princess Bride! James didn't respond immediately as Stephen had thought he would.
"You alright kid?" After six months of hanging out together Stephen thought he could read James fairly well. As it was, nobody else could get any emotion out of him; Stephen saw it a lot at the parties they attended. James would simply sit in the middle of the action, nursing a bottle of vodka slowly, the same bottle through the entire night. Sometimes the others would coerce him into playing a drinking game. James could hold his liquor, none of it making him act as a drunken person normally would, the facade never dropping.
James had three emotions; stoic, tired and "not that serious." Oh sure, he was congenial enough that his popularity held, Stephen didn't think anything would get rid of that, but he wasn't very open either. You had to be acutely attuned to the minute shifts, the small lifting of the chin, the slight pulling of his fists in order to see what he was feeling. And even then it was hard to read him. The only times Stephen ever saw James laugh or joke was when Stephen was with him. But now Stephen was starting to get nervous. Nothing indicated James' current feelings, nothing.
"Eh. Nothing happened." The way he said it was slightly strange, as though it had a double meaning. A meaning that Stephen couldn't interpret. It was times like these that Stephen felt the most like he didn't know James, the distance was always there.
Stephen honestly didn't know what to do in these situations. Everyone always thought he knew what to do in any situation, but that was mostly because he was confident. But really, what the hell are you supposed to do when life throws you a screw ball? His inner self was screaming as the girl blushed and shuffled before him.
"I'm uh... I've er... I've been completely in love with you since the first time I saw you!" She blurted out, then she squeaked and slapped her hands over her mouth embarrassedly. Stephen gulped, but not once did his face betray his inner turmoil. The girl looked up through her bangs to see an impassive face. She bit her lip as it started to tremble. "I...I see," she gulped, taking small, shallow breaths, fighting tears. "If you don't like me its... its alright." She gave a pained smile. "I'll make do with watching you from afar." She turned quickly and ran away, leaving Stephen to stand stunned. He blinked, blinked again.
"What?!" He stared bewildered at the corner of the street that she'd disappeared from. He heard a chuckle from behind him.
"Poof!" Stephen stared at James.
"What?" Stephen knew he sounded surly, but this was honestly not a good time for James' strangeness.
"I'm here, what are your two other wishes?" James said, grinning. Stephen blinked.
"What?" Stephen asked. He often had a hard time understanding James' humor. James held his sides, the aching unbearable as he laughed. "This is not funny! I'm in a time of crisis here!" Stephen growled. James took large gulps of air in gasps.
"Yeah..." Stephen said sullenly. He ran his hand through his hair frustratedly. "And stop laughing!"
"I'm not..." Words came out of James' mouth, strangled by laughter.
"Why are you laughing?!"
"I'm sorry, it's just too funny. You look like the kind of guy..." Stephen cocked his head in confusion. A burst of laughter. "You look like a player!" Stephen flushed.
"WHAT!?" He exclaimed. "You're a fine one to talk." He growled.
James' eyebrows furrowed. "What do you mean?" Stephen smiled impishly.
"You have chicks throwing themselves at your feet, worshiping your ever move!" James blinked in confusion.
Stephen sat on the bench, drained. He'd let James go because he had something to do and was waiting for him. Stephen ran the conversation through his mind once again. James had been there since the beginning of the confession. But he hadn't even said anything about Stephen turning the girl down... Why did he care if James hadn't said anything!?
Stephen watched James as he walked through the park, practically every other person stopping him and talking to him. Since the first time he met James Stephen had thought that James was more than a little cold to people. For some reason, he really never gave it much thought, Stephen hadn't experienced the coldness. But now as he watched James, he was smiling more. He was laughing and joking with other people. Stephen felt his heart squeeze with some strange emotion.
The Liberal Arts major had slowly become more open to other people in the months that Stephen had gotten to know him. Or perhaps his perception had changed and James had simply always been like that. He didn't know. James laughed and smiled at the girl he was talking to. Stephen growled. Then stopped himself. Why was he feeling like he was feeling? Why did he...
Why was he feeling jealous!? He gasped and froze. Jealous? But why would he feel jealous? James searched around for Stephen and saw him on the bench and smiled at him. Stephen smiled back and knew it was likely more than a little foolish looking.
Oh. That's why.
Stephen was in love with James.
"Jesus, Mary and Joseph! Stephen, what are you doing!?" Stephen just stared back at him with a vague glazed over look. "I know how much you hate alcohol... What could make you do this?" He didn't answer James, instead ignoring him in favor of his bottle. James growled and snatched it away, pulling Stephen onto his feet. They walked.
"Hey James?" Stephen's words were slurred with the alcohol, James hooked his arm around his staggering friend's weight. James grunted in answer. "What has..." Stephen's face scrunched up with concentration. "A hundred teeth," he continued, waving his arm around energetically to demonstrate the large amount. Unfortunately it set them off balance and James hissed as he steadied both bodies. "And is holding back the incredible Hulk?" He finished trying to tell the joke after they managed to find equilibrium. James stood still, astounded that at a moment such as this his friend would choose to do something like... this.
He stared at Stephen, who's face broke out into the most childish smile ever. He leaned in close to James' ear and whispered (or as close to a whisper he could get, being so drunk) "My zipper." And to prove his point he ground into James, erection indeed pressing direly against his zipper. James' eyes grew wide and he blushed. Its just the alcohol. He gritted his teeth and they continued their slow staggering procession back to James' dorm room.
James managed to stave off the other's advances long enough to open the door, but getting inside was a completely different story. Especially because at one point Stephen started to look a little green. James hurried him over to the bathroom, half picking up the taller male. The foul smell nearly made him gag, but at least Stephen had managed to get all of it into the bowl. He flushed the toilet and grabbed the cup that sat on his sink counter, filling it with water before pressing it to Stephen's chapped lips.
"Don't swallow." He said quickly, and pushed his fingers against the other's neck, preventing him from such actions. The other simply nodded amiably, swished and sent a mouth full of water, saliva and puke into the toilet. James nodded in approval. Stephen's color was returning and he seemed to be sweating a little less.
He pulled him up and they stumbled to James' room. James stared at his little problem that was now curled up on his comforter. He didn't want to put Stephen inside the sheets because first of all he was dirty and sweaty and second of all... where was he going to sleep? He sighed, deciding to take it a step at a time and went to grab a towel and bucket. He wet it, squeezed off the excess water and began wiping down Stephen's body. Stephen stirred when he got to his chest and made a peculiar moaning sound. James flushed and slapped Stephen lightly, to rouse him. If the other was conscious then he could damn well wipe himself off!
"Heggmmrrk?" Stephen felt like crap. There was no other possible words for his current condition. It did however remind him of why he didn't drink. And James' blurry face above him was obviously a byproduct of his current state of drunkenness.
"Jeez, you'd think that you could clean yourself off..." some of the words were garbled in Stephen's ears. "...After sex. You're a big boy now." James finished sarcastically. Of course Stephen was still stuck on the word sex and didn't realize that the words in the middle actually were supposed to be there and would change the meaning of the sentence. His eyes bugged out. James looked with concern at his friend as he lay beneath him and decided to pat his cheek to check if he was still conscious.
"You still alive buddy?" He hadn't think that him complaining that he should only have to clean up after somebody after they'd had sex would shock his friend as much. James always thought he was a considerate lover, why should the other partner have to clean themselves up after he pounded them into the mattress? Or did he really have that much of a pristine image in his friend's mind? He frowned. Stephen couldn't possibly think he was still pure after all of the dirty jokes they'd shared.
He shrugged it off only to find that Stephen had dozed off again, after wiping himself off. Gathering up the bucket and towel he put them away and dug through his drawers to find a suitably baggy t-shirt for the taller male to wear. The boxers could stay, there hadn't been any wet spots to leak through Stephen's pants, so the outer layer was his only concern. He rolled his eyes and pulled off the dirty garments, tugging harshly. James picked up Stephen and placed him between his sheets, then pressed his lips together in thought. He could either sleep on the ground, which would leave him cranky in the morning or he could get into the bed and have to explain to Stephen exactly why they were in the same bed.
He smirked. He was going to take full advantage of the hangover Stephen was sure to have in the morning. Mercilessly. Ah, the consequences of being a dumbass. Revenge is always sweetest in the morning.
--The Morning After
Stephen awoke to an unfamiliar ceiling, a piercing light and – even stranger – an unfamiliar body next to him. He screwed his eyes shut, trying to block out the high pitched trills of the birds outside and the glare of the sun and groaned. What had happened yesterday? He slowly willed his mind into awareness, but all he got of last night were blurred images of James above him and the smell of alcohol.
The bed shifted and suddenly he had arms around his waist, someone's face nuzzling into his neck and another body pressed intimately against his. He flushed. The few times he'd ever had sex he had left the night of. He had obviously been too drunk this time to do so. Had this person taken advantage of him? He grew a little angry, but suppressed it, reasoning that if they did that it was his own fault and he should actually thank the person, whoever they were, for getting his mind off of James. He flushed again, recalling the blurred images his mind had provided for him. Okay, maybe not.
Stephen craned his neck, trying to see the person currently attached to his waist, but only got a good view of long, dark hair. A woman? Very muscular, he mused, the arms around him didn't budge when he pressed against them feebly. He frowned. He wasn't wearing the same clothes he wore yesterday. He stared at the unfamiliar article, the shirt baggy and white with the Greek symbols Gamma Alpha Pi on it. He blinked. But Gamma Alpha Pi was a fra--
The bed shifted and a leg slung over his own, covered by soft flannel. But that wasn't what had drawn his attention. No, his problem lay in between the appendages that were now firmly wrapped around his bottom half. He flushed. Male, definitely male. He struggled to get free only to have hands grip him tighter and slide beneath the borrowed t-shirt. He couldn't think, his head pounded with last night's activities.
A soft moan cut through the silence in the room. Stephen blinked. What the... that had been him! He squeaked and began to struggle more but the product worked against him, the stranger's large hand pressing against several sensitive spots, made all the more sensitive in his state of confusion. Strangled groans and strained grunts filled the air as he fought to free himself. The arms tightened around him several times. Finally the hands relinquished their hold and the body turned over with a sigh. Stephen's heart was still pounding.
James woke, feeling warm. If only that incessant groaning noise would stop! It was irritating him and... Making him hard? He squeezed the pillow his arms were wrapped around, only to discover that it was making the groaning noise. He squeezed harder, hoping it would shut up but that only made it struggle against him. He frowned. Struggle? He took a steadying breath only to breathe in the unmistakable smell of... Stephen? He bit back a groan. Why was – oh. He released Stephen from his death grip and turned, hiding his grin.
James sat up and stretched, then glanced over to his right. He feigned surprise.
"Stephen?" Stephen gaped. It- James- what-. He couldn't form a coherent thought, mind reeling. He squeaked then cleared his throat.
"So ah... about last night..." He had to ask. James smiled knowingly and nodded sagely.
"You can thank me later." A maddening smile, innocent and open. Stephen flushed. What happened!?
"We didn't... Did we?" James cocked his head innocently.
"Did we what?" The blush deepened. It was not doing well for his mental state to wake up in the bed of his... friend with no recollection of what happened the previous night. He took a steadying breath with his eyes closed to regain his composure. The bed shifted and James was standing. And starting to take off his top.
"What are you doing?!" James blinked. He hadn't expected Stephen to be this surprised. This was actually turning out to be quite entertaining. And a new evil plot hatched in his head.
"Well I figured that since you had already seen my body..." He trailed off and dared a glance at Stephen. He looked absolutely stricken, his face pale as a ghost. Then all of the color came back in a rush.
"You have hickeys."
"What?" James hissed. He swiveled, wincing when his hair struck him, to look at himself in the mirror. Lo and behold, several pinkish purple coin-sized marks marred the pale skin at his collarbone and neck. "You bastard! You took advantage of me sleeping and marked me?"
"You're the one that took advantage of me being drunk!" Stephen yelled in response. His friend accusing him of... whatever it was was doing no good for his frayed nerves.
"ME?!" James screeched, "I didn't do anything! You were the one that got drunk and started coming on to me!"
"So that makes it alright to have sex with someone who isn't aware?" It hurt his pride, to think that he would lose control to that degree, and to have James, who he had trusted implicitly, who currently held his heart in the palm of his hand though he didn't know it... To think that his friend had used him for his body, and denied it with flimsy excuses... "Well now with women throwing themselves at your feet I guess it's your right." Stephen spat acidly. "I guess you just do anyone that shows interest, now don't you?"
James was silent at the accusation, a cold rage, anger, bitterness, disappointment, and sorrow pooling in his stomach. "I see, so this is how you think of me." Stephen opened his mouth to say– "Don't try to justify it." James turned and pulled on clothes viciously. He paused before he left the room. "I did nothing of the sort." His voice was deadly calm, in control and had a flinty edge. It was cutting. Stephen stared at him, breathing hard and uneven, bewilderment, confusion and hurt on his face. He left.
Stephen sat there for minutes, staring through the doorway. "Didn't do..." He slid off the bed to where his now-clean clothes were folded neatly on the top of the chair in the corner. It hit him then, a brief memory. Comfort, safety. Large brown eyes filled with concern, panic, sorrow. More fragmented memories. An attempt to banter, to pull the real him out. A smile, exasperation, cool sheets and a warm embrace.
What had he just done?
James' tormented look stuck fresh in his mind. The anguished expression. The forlorn and dejected back turned toward him. Desperation washed over him. What had he done?
He pulled on his clothes and stumbled through the house almost blindly, memories assaulting him. Dizzy feet staggered through the house, supported, protected by arms that lead the way. The house reminded him of James, every inch of it. Cool water down his throat, soothing, washing away the burn of the bile. The carefully careless blanket tossed over the side of the couch, the pillows arranged neatly in contrast. Tender care as a soft towel cleaned him off. The kitchen was well used but neat, sensible. Blushes for his dignity. He stumbled through the door. Hurt eyes, betrayal. The least he could do was to be out of James' home when he got back.
He was cold the next time they met. Utterly polite and impersonal. It took Stephen three meetings over as many weeks to work up the courage. I'm sorry, he said. That was all it took. Immediately James' expression softened, no longer remote. By no means were the accusations forgotten though. Every time they started to banter, half way through one of them would stop. But they were talking again. That was all that mattered.
Tentative and soft as butterfly wings. Careful, careful. Don't break it.
"A camera?" James asked, staring dubiously at the device. It was a standard digital, but he'd only ever worked with professional ones, quality overwhelming.
"Right, so I found out that the entire school thinks we're fighting." Stephen said. James frowned. That was a strange transition. What did their fighting have to do with the school?
"Fighting like... a friend fight?" He paused and continued on. "Or like a fist fight?" Stephen shook his head.
"Neither. You know the people that always follow you around? And the other ones that always seem to be near me and watching us?" Nod. "Well they think that we're only hanging out around each other to find ways to bring each other down." Frown. "They think we're enemies. You know, more than just rivals?" Stephen said, making air quotes around "rivals." James bit back a response. "So we're going to prove them wrong."
"With a camera? Ho–" James asked Stephen. Then he "got it."James' eyes grew wide before his face became blank. Stephen started to ask what he was thinking, but thought better of it. Stephen shrugged and set up the camera on the tripod that was set on the table next to the chair James now sat in. Stephen looked at James for confirmation but the he just shrugged.
Stephen leaned in over James and hugged him. Click. He smiled and nodded.
"Well now, that should be eno–" Suddenly he was tugged. He fell forward and he broke his fall with his hands. Click. Another picture? "What ha–" A warm hand at the base of his neck, warm breath at the front. Click. What was goi– A smooth tongue traced over his Adams apple. His breath caught. "What are you doing?" The last word came out as a moan because James began sucking on his neck. Click. Soft lips pressed over his. Click. Hands grabbed his ass, pulling him forward to straddle James. Click. Fingers lifted his shirt. Click. And pulled it up. Click. James began– Click. James pulled back.
"I know you're excited and all..." Stephen willed his eyes open. When had they closed?! His eyes were blurry with lust, but he could see that James was scowling. "But stop clicking that damn remote every time you feel excited!" Remote? The small rectangular object was in his left hand. Oh. That. He dropped it and James smirked. "Much better. Now lets hear some of those pretty little moans."
And moan he did.
"You're such a pervert James."
"Hah, you know it."
"Whatever. Now lets make like fabric softener and snuggle."
"Hey! Not like that! Where are you putting your ha–" Moan.