Author's Note: This story is set in the world of Broken Wings, with one notable difference. This story incorporates five elements instead of four, as per the guidelines of the contest it was written for.

Holding his bags close himself, Kessex made his way through the crowded corridors of the dormitory, a wrinkled slip of paper clutched in his sweaty hand as he searched for his dorm room. Someone brushed past him and he shrank away, nearly walking into a couple of faeries loitering around outside their room. Hitching the strap of his duffle bag higher onto his shoulder, he ducked as a large, white hawk flew over his head, the downdraft from its powerful wings blowing his shaggy black hair into his eyes. Blowing it out of his face with a upward puff of air, he hurried down the hall, a great sigh of relief rising in his chest as he found room 12 and ducked inside.

Shutting the door behind him, he leaned against it for a moment, closing his eyes as he waited for his heart rate to return to normal. He wasn't too fond of strangers, and he hated crowds, so a crowd of strangers was almost more than he could handle. He didn't know what the hell he was thinking, coming to Alyrrawood University, the most prestigious and desirable school in the galaxy. Community college would have been fine, and he wouldn't have had to take three world gates to get there. He drew a deep breath and sighed as he stepped away from the door. Too late now.

The room was small, maybe fifteen feet square, with two windows looking out over a rolling field, the overcast sky and drifting tendrils of fog making the long grass appear bleak and gray. Beneath each window was a desk, beside each desk was a bed, and at the foot of each bed was a dresser. That was all. Kessex supposed that since he was the first there, the choice of beds was his. Dropping his duffle bag on the floor and setting his suitcase beside it, he walked over and sat upon each mattress, bouncing a little to test out the springs. They seemed to be the same, so he just picked one, lifting his bags onto the bed on the left-hand side of the room and beginning to put his clothes into the dresser.

He was nearly finished unpacking when the door flew open, making him jump as it banged against the doorstop on the inside wall. Kessex's mouth went dry as a young man strode in, carrying two matching suitcases in deep, red leather, a knotted dragon design coiling around the edge of each one, probably embossed in real gold. He wore knee-high black suede boots over tight white jeans, a bright blue button-down shirt tucked into his pants, and a long, tailored black suede coat, but it wasn't his obvious wealth that made Kessex's heart beat a little faster. Indeed, Kessex cared little for material things. It was the strong line of the young man's jaw, the flawless bronze of his skin, the sparkle in his dark brown eyes, the slight wave in his shoulder-length brown hair, streaked with thin bands of gold and silver--He was beautiful. And from the look of him, a fire mage.

Like most mages, Kessex got along best with his own kind, but fire mages were rare when compared to earth and water mages, who made up more than eighty percent of the mage population. The other twenty percent was divided among fire, metal, and wind mages. Not that Kessex planned on making friends during his stay at the university. He just thought another fire mage would be more likely to respect his privacy.

The stranger stopped in the middle of the room and glanced around, wrinkling his nose at the sparse furnishings, but smiling as his gaze settled upon Kessex. He set his suitcases upon the floor and pulled a handkerchief out of his pocket, wiping his sweaty hands before extending one of them to Kessex.

"Hello there," he said, his voice deep and rich, with a trace of an accent that Kessex couldn't place, but it gave his words a sultry quality. "I'm Dorrance Shaevelle, your new roommate. You can just call me Dor, if you like--Dorrance is quite a mouthful."

Kessex swallowed hard.

"Kessex Imberrin, pleased to meet you," he mumbled, his gaze fixed on Dorrance's shirt as he shook the young man's hand and quickly let go. He turned away, his head spinning as he fumbled about in his suitcase, pulling out a handful of balled-up socks and stepping over to his dresser--anything to put some distance between them. This was so inconvenient.

"Nice to meet you, too," Dorrance said, and Kessex could hear the confusion in his voice. He didn't know if he was supposed to respond to that, or what he should say if he did, so he just stared into his dresser, moving his socks from one side of the drawer to the other and back again. "I don't think I've seen you around here before," Dorrance said after a moment, and Kessex could hear him moving around the room, the groan of bedsprings, the click of suitcase latches being released. "Is this your first year at Alyrrawood?"

"Yes," Kessex said. Should he ask Dorrance the same? No, clearly this wasn't his first year. Ask him what year he was in, maybe? Silence stretched after his initial response. Had it been too long since he had spoken? Would a question now seem weird? Would it invite more questions, ones Kessex didn't want to answer? He decided not to say anything.

"Well, if you need any help finding your way around the campus, just ask," Dorrance said a little while later. "I remember how big it seemed last year. It took me a week to stop getting lost on my way to class." He chuckled, a warm, rumbling sound that faded away into the silence. Kessex bit the inside of his lip, worrying it between his teeth. Should he have laughed with him? Kessex moved back to his suitcase, zipping it shut and sliding it underneath his bed. With his unpacking done, he suddenly had nothing to do, and found himself staring at his bed, his heart thudding in his ears.

"So you're a metal mage, right?" Dorrance asked, making him jump.

"No," Kessex said, giving his head a small shake as he turned and sat down upon the edge of the bed, folding his hands in his lap as he stared at a dark burn upon the worn wood floor. "Fire."

"Oh, darn," Dorrance said, and Kessex glanced at him before looking away again. "Not that I have anything against fire mages," Dorrance said, "I just thought you were a metal mage like me."

Like me? Kessex's eyes darted to the young man again. But...but his hair was gold, silver, and brown, and his eyes were flecked with gold and copper--Kessex suddenly felt very stupid. It was just wishful thinking, seeing what he wanted to see. Most mages changed their appearance to fit their areas of expertise. Kessex would have liked to--just some simple gold highlights in his black hair, or an orange flicker in his brown eyes--just to fit in better with the other mages, but cosmetic alterations were expensive.

Kessex suddenly realized that he hadn't responded, and that he was still staring at Dorrance. He felt his face color, heat rising up his neck into his cheeks as he rose to his feet and headed for the door.

"'Scuse me, I have to go," he muttered, jerking the door open and escaping into the hall. He stood a moment as a tall guy with dark chocolate skin and a sandy-coated wolf walked past, and then he dashed down the hall, emerging into a courtyard, the air chill and clammy on his bare arms. He should have grabbed a jacket, but he hadn't exactly been thinking clearly. He began walking, glancing into the first building he passed, but it was the cafeteria, and it appeared to be dinnertime, the long trestle tables crowded with students of every size, color, and shape. He kept walking.

The next door he passed led into a quiet, deserted hallway, and he ducked inside, not caring where it went, as long as it was warm and without people. Hands tucked in his jeans pockets, he followed the corridor as it wound through the building, past dark rooms with locked doors--classrooms, he supposed. He passed a stairwell, one side leading up, the other heading down, underground. Must be where the vampires had their classes. He didn't have any vampire studies this term, but he would in the winter. He wasn't looking forward to it.

Reaching the end of the hall, he exited into a short breezeway, the courtyard to the left, a misty, twilit field to the right, and another set of double doors in front of him. Pulling open the doors, he found himself in an official-looking corridor, with administrative offices on either side. He passed a short hallway that led to the professors' living quarters, and the offices of the four advisors--one for mages, one for vampires, one for werefolk, and one for faeries. In a school with such a diverse population, it was only his bad luck to get stuck in a room with a metal mage. And a chatty one at that.

It wasn't like there were feuds between the different factions, or anything. Some types of magic just weren't compatible with others. Fire worked well with both earth and wind, but not with water or metal. It wasn't a big deal, as long as they didn't try to do magic together.

But it wasn't just their powers that were opposites. Kessex had known guys like Dorrance in high school--rich kids with charm and grace, who could have anything they wanted, who looked down upon those who had to work to get where they were, those who hadn't had life handed to them on a silver tray. Kessex hated guys like that.

Turning a corner, Kessex found himself on a wide, marble hallway, with gilded doors on either side. A few people were about, talking quietly, most of them carrying books. Could this be?

Kessex walked closer, pulling open one of the golden doors and breathing deep, the scent of leather and parchment and old dust filling the air. It was. With a smile, he slipped into the library. He was home.


Ignoring the chatter and bustle all around him, Kessex hunched over his herbalism text book, getting a head start on the chapter they'd be assigned later that week while he ate his lunch. He had discovered that most people would leave him alone if he looked busy enough. Most people.

"Hi, Kessex," Dorrance said, setting his tray down on the opposite side of the table and taking a seat.

"Hello," Kessex said, not looking up from his book, even though he was suddenly unable to concentrate on his reading. What did Dorrance want? Help with his homework? What else was Kessex good at? Nothing. He glanced across the table as Dorrance dug into a bowl of thick beef stew, for the moment not seeming to want anything. Dorrance looked up from his tray and caught Kessex staring. Kessex turned back to his book, but not before Dorrance shot him a quick smile.

"Whatcha reading?" Dorrance asked. Kessex's mouth was so dry, he didn't think he could answer, so he just lifted the book off the table, giving Dorrance a look at the cover. "Ah, herbalism. I got pretty good grades in that class, if you ever need some help."

"Thanks," Kessex said to his book. He didn't need help--he was smart and he studied hard--but even if he did, Dorrance would be the last guy he'd ask. It wasn't like Dorrance was an asshole or anything. Just the opposite, actually. He was always nice and polite and friendly, and that just made everything a hundred times worse. Kessex hadn't been able to make conversation worth a shit before, and now that he had this stupid crush? Forget it. He might as well have been mute.

"Hey, Kessex," Dorrance said suddenly and Kessex cringed inwardly. What the hell did he want now? "I was wondering--"

"Dor! There you are!"

"Man, we've been looking everywhere for you."

"Who's your friend?"

Kessex tensed as three of Dorrance's friends walked up and took seats beside them, two of them eyeing Kessex while the third stole crackers off Dorrance's tray.

"Hi, guys," Dorrance said. "This is Kessex, my roommate."

"Nice to meet ya," one of the guys said, and they all three turned their attention to Dorrance, as though Kessex had ceased to exist, for which he was very grateful. He hated people staring at him. The three guys started talking to Dorrance about some sport, telling him about the game he had missed and inviting him to play with them next time. Kessex quietly closed his herbalism book and picked up his tray, slipping away from the table without even being noticed. He dumped what was left of his lunch into the trash and hurried out of the crowded cafeteria. As he reached the exit, he glanced back, where Dorrance was still sitting with his friends, and he was surprised to find Dorrance watching him leave, an unreadable expression on the metal mage's face. Turning away, Kessex tucked his book under his arm and slipped outside.


Dorrance was seated in the middle of his bed, books and papers spread all around him, when Kessex walked in after his last class of the day. Kessex kept his eyes on the floor, making his way to his desk and setting his battered leather satchel upon the seat of his chair as he dug out his Language textbook and the notebook with the homework assignment in it.

"Hi, Kessex," Dorrance said, and Kessex could feel the older mage's eyes upon him.

"Hello," Kessex said, hanging the satchel over the back of the chair and taking a seat at his desk. He opened his book to chapter seven and tried to read, but he could hear Dorrance rustling papers, could hear the creak of the bedsprings as Dorrance stood up, could hear the young man groan as he stretched. And Kessex could feel him step closer, resting his hands on the back of Kessex's chair.

"Whatcha got there?" Dorrance asked, leaning over Kessex's shoulder. Kessex couldn't move, could barely breathe, the faint, musky scent of Dorrance's body wash making his head spin. "Languages, eh? I got pretty good grades in that class, too, if you want some help, and I'm taking Astaniko this year. Si baroA Ki aA ko dh'lamar kh'isi. Si kexafA eh'nir Kur."

Kessex had no idea what Dorrance just said, but his voice, his accent, his proximity, his smell--Kessex grabbed his books off the desk and pushed his chair back, holding the books in front of his crotch to hide the sudden bulge in his jeans as he hurried past his roommate, muttering something about studying in the library. Dorrance caught up with him at the door and grabbed his arm, holding him back.

"Kessex, please, don't leave," he said and Kessex stopped, staring at the closed door, his heart pounding. "What did I do? Please, I want to know. We've been roommates for a month and a half, and it's like you can't stand to be around me. You won't speak to me, you won't even look at me. I want to be your friend, but...What did I do?"

What did he do? Aside from being completely charming and gorgeous and wonderful, nothing, but Kessex could hardly tell him that. He stood, mouth dry and mind racing, trying to think of something, anything, any lie at all that didn't make him sound stupid, but every thought that flitted through his head was dumber than the last. Finally, Dorrance sighed and let him go.

"Didn't mean to bother you," Dorrance said, turning and walking away, back to his bed. Kessex opened his mouth, wanting to say something, but nothing came out. After a moment, he opened the door and stepped into the hall, pulling it shut behind him. He was shaking inside, a chill racing over his clammy skin as he headed out of the dormitory building and across the courtyard to the library.

That was just about his worst nightmare--being confronted and being unable to speak. The only thing that was missing was he wasn't naked. How was he ever going to face Dorrance again?


Kessex woke with a stiff neck, the overstuffed armchairs in the back half of the library not nearly as comfortable as they had looked from across the room. Still, he supposed it was better than being grilled by Dorrance again. Or worse, Dorrance not speaking at all. Would that really be worse? Kessex chewed his bottom lip as he gathered up his satchel and glanced at the clock on the wall. Seven-thirty. Dorrance would be at breakfast. If Kessex hurried, he could slip into their room for a change of clothes. He needed a shower before class.

Yes, he decided as he entered the dormitory, it would be worse if Dorrance wouldn't talk to him. That would mean he was angry. Kessex wouldn't have cared a bit if Dorrance had simply ignored him from day one, but the thought of having anyone angry at him made his stomach churn. Holding his breath, Kessex opened the door to their room and slipped inside, letting it all out in a rush when he found the room empty, his bed neatly made and Dorrance's comforter hanging half on the floor, as usual.

Dropping his satchel onto his bed, he quickly shoved the books he would need for that day's classes inside, hesitating as he picked up his language textbook. What was it that Dorrance had said to him? He remembered the words dilaman kh'isi and eh'nir, or something that sounded close. He flipped through the small Alau to Astaniko dictionary in the back of the book. He didn't find dilaman but he scanned the list, finding dh'lamar instead, only that couldn't have been what Dorrance said. Dh'lamar meant handsome. k'hisi meant mage, which was reasonable, but he must have misheard eh'nir, too. It meant to kiss. Shaking his head, Kessex shoved the book into his satchel and gathered up a clean pair of jeans, briefs, and a T-shirt. There were only a couple of guys in the bathroom, one that Kessex recognized from his Languages class, but neither paid him any attention as he undressed, placing his clothes on a shelf beside the long row of sinks. Hanging his towel on a hook outside a shower stall, Kessex closed the curtain behind him and turned on the water, groaning softly as the hot water cascaded over his body. He stood for a moment, one hand on the tile wall, his eyes closed as he let the spray beat against his shoulder and the back of his neck, easing the tightness from his muscles.

What the hell was he going to do? He couldn't spend the next year hiding in the library, avoiding his roommate. Request a room change? Not without a damn good reason. Drop out and go home? It was where he belonged, but his mother would be so disappointed. They had all worked so hard, sacrificed so much, so that he could go to the best university--It would kill her if he threw it all away over something so stupid. He was just going to have to figure something out, come up with something to get Dorrance off his back.

Grabbing a squirt of cheap shampoo out of the dispenser on the wall, he began to wash his hair, his eyes squeezed shut to keep the soap out of them. Something to get Dorrance off his back...He could feel the young mage leaning over him again, hands on the back of Kessex's chair, so close--Kessex pressed his lips together as the shower spray danced over his stiffening cock. He couldn't stop himself from imagining how good it would feel to have Dorrance standing behind him, strong arms wrapped around Kessex's waist, hands working up and down the length of Kessex's shaft. Kessex quickly rinsed the soap from his hair and wrapped his own hand around himself. Jerking off in a public bathroom made his face burn, even though no one could see him and no one would ever know, but he couldn't exactly leave the shower with a raging hard-on, could he?

His breath quickened as he stroked himself, touching all the places he liked, and it didn't take long for him to erupt onto the tile wall and dribble all down the back of his hand, a single low moan escaping him. He watched the shower spray wash the mess down the drain, and then shut off the water, rubbing his hands together as he listened for a snicker or some other sign that he'd been heard. Nothing except the everyday sound of someone brushing their teeth. He breathed a quiet sigh of relief and grabbed his towel from outside the stall, tousling his shaggy hair before rubbing himself dry and wrapping the towel around his waist. Shoving the curtain back, he stepped out into the room and froze, Dorrance standing before the sink, his toothbrush in his hand as his reflection stared at Kessex.

Dorrance leaned down and spat toothpaste foam into the sink.

"Hi, Kessex," he said, an unusual edge to his voice. Kessex couldn't breathe. Had he heard--"Have fun in there?" the metal mage asked and Kessex felt his face burn. He glanced at his reflection, his normally tan skin beet red from his brow to halfway down his chest. "Were you thinking about your girlfriend?" Dorrance asked, turning around. Girlfriend? "I bet you must miss her terribly. It must be awful to be stuck here at an all-male school. That's it, isn't it? You don't like guys, do you? C'mon, Kessex, you can tell me. I can handle it."

Kessex didn't know what the hell was happening, why Dorrance suddenly thought he liked girls, and he didn't want to find out. Leaving his clothes on their shelf, he ran out of the bathroom, clutching at the towel wrapped around his waist.

"Kessex, wait!" Dorrance called after him, but he couldn't have stopped himself if he had wanted to. He almost barreled into several people as he dashed down the hall, their angry shouts and jeering laughter following him into his room. He slammed the door and dove at his dresser, grabbing another pair of jeans and jerking them on, careful not to catch his dick in the zipper. He pulled on a T-shirt, grabbing his shoes in one hand and his satchel in the other as he turned toward the door.

It opened before he reached it and he drew back as Dorrance walked in, Kessex's pile of clothes tucked under his arm.

"You forgot these," Dorrance said, tossing them onto Kessex's bed. "Look, I'm sorry about that, and I'm sorry if I make you uncomfortable, but I don't know what to do. I like you and I want to be friends. I don't care if you only like girls--that's your choice and I'm okay with that. Just tell me what I can do so that you'll sleep in your own room again and I can stop feeling like an ogre for chasing you away."

Kessex swallowed hard.

"I- I- I don't...just like girls," Kessex muttered, looking down at Dorrance's shoes.

"Well, that's a relief," Dorrance said. Kessex didn't know how to respond to that, so he said nothing. After a moment, Dorrance cleared his throat. "So, I was thinking...Some of the graduate students are having a party up on the top floor tonight, and I know a few guys. Maybe you'd like to go hang out for a while?"

"I don't like parties," Kessex said, still speaking to Dorrance's sneakers. A long silence filled the room and Kessex shifted his weight from one foot to the other, worrying the strap of his satchel between his fingers as he tried to think of something else to say.

"Nobody doesn't like parties," Dorrance said at last, his voice quiet. "They just don't like going to parties with certain people. If you want me to leave you alone, Kessex, just say so." Kessex's eyes darted to the door. He wanted out of there. He wanted this to be over. He just didn't know how to make it end. When he didn't speak, Dorrance said, "I don't know if that means you don't want me to leave you alone, or if you just can't stand to talk to me. I'm trying really hard here to understand. It would be nice if you could try a little, too." He started toward the door.

"Fine," Kessex said, his own voice startling him. "I'll try. I mean, I'll the party...with you." His heart was racing. Did he really just say that? Dorrance turned toward him and Kessex glanced up, his gaze lingering on the metal mage's bright eyes before dropping to his full lips. What would it be like to kiss him? Kessex blushed at the thought and looked away.

"Holy shit," Dorrance whispered and Kessex froze. Had he said something wrong? Had Dorrance correctly interpreted the look on his face? He forced his gaze back up to Dorrance's handsome face and found the young mage smiling. "You're shy, aren't you?" Kessex looked back at the floor as he felt his face heat up again. It only got worse when Dorrance laughed. "Great Maele, that's it; you're shy."

It was happening again. His fists clenched, Kessex stepped toward the door. Dorrance grabbed his arm and pulled him back, and it was all he could do not to take a swing at his roommate.

"Hang on, Kessex," Dorrance said. "I'm not laughing at you. I'm just relieved. I thought you hated me and I couldn't figure out why." He seemed to realize that he was holding on to Kessex's arm and let go. "You'll still come to the party, right? You can meet a few of my friends and we can get to know each other. I'll do all the talking, I promise." Kessex took a slow breath, trying to get his pounding heart under control, and licked his dry lips.

"Yeah, okay," he said with a slight nod. He could deal with a few guys, he could listen to Dorrance talk. Maybe it wouldn't be so bad if he wasn't expected to say anything. That was a horrible feeling--knowing the other person expected a response and not being able to think of anything to say. Maybe this would be okay.

"Great," Dorrance said. "I'll meet you here after your last class. There's going to be a ton of food so we can skip dinner...if that's okay with you."

"Yeah, okay," Kessex said, glancing at the clock on the wall. "I gotta go."

"Sure," Dorrance said. "Me too. But you might want to take a minute to put your shoes on before you go." Kessex looked down at his sneakers clutched in his hand, and then tossed his satchel onto his bed as he fetched a pair of socks out of his drawer. Maybe this would be okay.


Kessex arrived at their room first, and was busy emptying his satchel onto his desk, sorting through text books and making a pile of the homework he had due next week, when Dorrance swept in, tossed his book bag onto his bed, and ran a comb back though his long hair.

"You ready?" Dorrance asked. Kessex looked from Dorrance to himself. He had contemplated changing his clothes, but he didn't know what sort of attire would be expected. Dorrance was just wearing his everyday jeans and the blue shirt Kessex had first seen him in under that elegant black coat that hung to his knees and hugged his frame like a glove. Kessex was wearing a gray T-shirt and faded jeans, and his only jacket had belonged to his father--it was too broad through the shoulders. He didn't know why he'd need a coat anyway, they were just going upstairs.

"Yeah," Kessex said, nodding. He tucked his hands in his pockets to dry the sweat from his palms and to stop them from shaking as he followed Dorrance out into the hall. Neither of them spoke as they walked to the elevator and waited for the doors to open. It wasn't until they stepped off on the sixth floor that Dorrance spoke again.

"Thank for coming with me," the metal mage said. "My friends always tease me when I show up at a party alone, and I know we're know...or anything, but it's nice to have a date for once." Kessex had to fight to keep the pink from rising to his cheeks at the word date. Was this a date? Would he be expected to hold hands and make out? He ran his tongue across the front of his teeth. He should have brushed. Maybe he had a mint or some gum. He searched his pockets as he followed Dorrance down the hall, but found nothing.

As they neared the end of the hall, Kessex could hear laughter coming from behind the farthest door, and a deep, bass beat thumped inside his chest. Music? Would Dorrance want to dance? Kessex was starting to think this was a really bad idea after all. He opened his mouth to tell Dorrance that he'd changed his mind, but the door ahead of them opened and three guys stumbled out, laughing as they caught themselves on the wall and each other. Kessex recognized them as the three guys who came to sit by Dorrance that day at lunch. One of them caught sight of Dorrance and pulled away from the other to.

"Dor, glad you came, man," he said, walking over and throwing his arm across Dorrance's shoulders, pulling him away from Kessex. "C'mon, Medrion brought beer and the earth mages are going to battle the sunflowers they've been growing." Kessex watched Dorrance walk away, following his friends through the door. He stood for a moment, unsure what to do, and then started to turn away.

"Hey, where are you going?" Dorrance asked, standing in the doorway when Kessex glanced back. "The party's in here. C'mon, I want you to meet somebody."

Kessex sighed and allowed himself to be coaxed into the room. It was hot and noisy and more crowded than he'd thought it would be. A couple dozen guys were milling around, talking, laughing, dancing, drinking, eating pizza and chips and hunks of a three foot long sandwich. His mouth suddenly dry, Kessex followed close to Dorrance as his roommate wove through the bodies, leading him deep into the large suite. In the bedroom, five or six guys were sprawled on a huge bed, two of them playing video games on a television screen that took up most of the wall while the rest watched.

"Hey, Zaiden," Dorrance said. "I want you to meet somebody." One of the spectators climbed off the bed, running a hand back through his short, scarlet hair, his eyes flickering like live coals. "Zaiden, this is Kessex, a fire mage like you."

"Like me, huh?" Zaiden said with a smile that didn't quite reach his eyes. He looked Kessex over from head to foot before extending his hand. "Nice to meet you."

"You, too," Kessex muttered, reaching out to shake his hand. He jerked back as a ball of blue-white flame erupted from Zaiden's palm. The red-headed mage laughed.

"Just messing with you," Zaiden said, but he let his hand fall back to his side. "What sort of tricks do you have up your sleeve?" Kessex didn't have any tricks, as he thought magic to precious and costly to waste showing off, but there was one thing he could do that had always impressed his teachers.

Holding his hand out flat, palm up, Kessex concentrated on the power within him, relaxing that tight knot he always carried in the middle of his chest, allowing the magic to run though his veins. Magic fed on emotion, the stronger the better, and as Kessex replayed that morning though his mind, remembering how it felt to step out of the shower and find Dorrance there, listening, he felt his face burn and the energy pulse through his body, like the beat of a second heart beside his own. His hand began to glow, a violet shimmer dancing over his skin, and then a single, solitary flame appeared, a four inch tall tongue of purple fire hovering just above his palm.

Zaiden made a snorting noise, apparently not impressed. Kessex ignored him, looking instead at Dorrance, letting his gaze move slowly over the metal mage's body, letting the rest of the world fade away. He heard a quiet murmur from somewhere and he glanced at the flame out of the corner of his eye. It had taken on the shape of a human figure, the face devoid of features, but the long hair and long coat leaving little question as to who the inspiration was.

"That's amazing," Dorrance said, leaning down to take a closer look. The figure on Kessex's palm bent over, too, mimicking his actions, and Dorrance gasped in surprise. "Look at that," he said, grinning as he raised his arm and waved. Kessex smiled, watching Dorrance make strange gestures just to see the flame do the same. Someone chuckled, and Kessex suddenly became aware that the video game had been forgotten, everyone in the room standing around watching him. The room got very hot and he found it hard to breathe.

A cold prickle, like having his hand dunked in a bucket of ice water, rushed up his arm, and the flickering figure on his hand exploded, showering the nearest people with sparks and throwing a ball of fire into the middle of Kessex's chest. The flames licked at his T-shirt, the heat stinging his eyes as he stared down at himself, unable to move. Dorrance leaped forward, swatting at the fire, his hand pounding on Kessex's chest as he beat the flames out. Smoke hung above them in a cloud and someone hurried over to open the windows before it set off the alarms.

"Cute trick," Zaiden said, a small, smug smile on his face. "What do you do for an encore?" Kessex wanted to die. He turned, his heart pounding, and pushed through the crowd that had gathered around them. He had to get out of there. He couldn't breathe. He was almost to the door when a strong hand grabbed his wrist.

"Kessex, wait," Dorrance said, trying to pull him back. This time, Kessex refused.

"I have to get out of here," he said. "I- I don't belong here." Dorrance let go, but followed him out into the hall.

"Are you okay?" Dorrance asked, stepping in front of him as Kessex leaned against the wall near the stairwell, trying to catch his breath. "Did you get burned?" Kessex shook his head. "What happened? Did you get distracted?" Kessex shook his head again.

"Someone did that," he said. "I felt their magic." He flexed his fingers, trying to shake off the chill of another mage's power. He had a pretty good idea who it was, too, but he didn't want to say anything bad about one of Dorrance's friends.

"Zaiden, that son-of-a-bitch," Dorrance said, looking back at the closed door, where it sounded like the party was continuing without pause. He turned back to Kessex. "I'm sorry, I should have known better than to introduce you to him. He can be a real asshole, but I thought, since you were both fire mages, that he might behave himself. I guess I was wrong. Are you sure you're okay?" Kessex nodded, but couldn't speak as Dorrance reached out, trailing his fingertips over the black scorch-mark on his shirt. Dorrance's gaze shifted upward, to Kessex's face, and he drew his hand back. For a moment, they just stared at each other, Kessex's heart pounding. What was Dorrance thinking? What was he going to do? Should Kessex say something?

"Are you hungry?" Dorrance asked suddenly, taking a step backward. "I'm starving. Stay here, I'll be right back." Kessex opened his mouth, but nothing came out as Dorrance rushed off, back into the party. Standing alone in the hall, he looked down at his shirt, and then rand his hands back through his shaggy hair. What the hell had happened? Or almost happened. He wasn't sure if it was just him, or if that had been unusually awkward. It was almost like...but no, that was absurd. Why would Dorrance want to kiss him?

After several minutes, Dorrance returned carrying a paper plate piled with slices of pizza in one hand and two plastic cups in the other.

"Here," he said, holding the plate out to Kessex.

"I'm not hungry," Kessex said.

Dorrance grinned.

"Okay, but could you take it anyway? I don't want to spill the punch." Kessex flushed and quickly took the plate from Dorrance. He started to head down the hall toward the elevator. "Hang on, there's something I want to show you," Dorrance said, motioning for Kessex to follow as he began climbing the stairs. Kessex just wanted to go back to his room and forget this night ever happened, but he was still holding Dorrance's pizza. After a brief hesitation, he hurried after the metal mage.

The stairs ended at a door, and as Kessex caught up, Dorrance pushed the door open with his elbow, letting a cool, damp gust of air race past them. They emerged from the stairwell onto the roof, the stars glittering in the rich, velvet black night sky above them. Kessex stopped for a moment and just stared. He couldn't remember ever having seen the stars from the university--Alyrrawood was constantly draped in a thick blanket of fog--and the familiar constellations of his home world were nowhere to be found.

"Kessex, over here," Dorrance called. Kessex joined him at the edge of the roof, setting the plate of pizza down on the ledge and accepting one of the plastic cups. He stood, staring down into the pink, carbonated beverage as Dorrance took one of the slices of pizza and began to eat. Dorrance had said he would do all the talking, but the silence still screamed at Kessex, demanding that he fill it, and he licked his dry lips nervously.

"So...where are you from?" he asked finally, trying to ignore the pounding in his chest. Dorrance finished chewing, swallowed, and took a drink of his punch.

"That sounds like a bad pick-up line," he said with a chuckle. Kessex glanced away, raising his cup to his lips and sipping the sweet, fruity drink to hide his embarrassment. He should have kept his stupid mouth shut. Dorrance didn't seem to notice his discomfort. "I'm from Ashael, just outside Greater Kormunae," the metal mage said. "How about you?"

"Oh, I- I--" Kessex wanted to shoot himself. Of course Dorrance would ask a reciprocal question--that's how conversations were supposed to go. "I'm from Siva Delta, on Nethmalon."

"Ooh, a city boy," Dorrance said with a grin. "I passed through Siva Delta on my way here, but I never left the gating complex. I looked out the windows, though. That place is huge." Kessex nodded. He had done the same when he gated in from Minori. He hated lying, but there was no way he was going to tell Dorrance that he'd grown up on a ranch colony at the ass-end of the galaxy. "Yeah, my father owns a few hundred thousand acres, has a vineyard on part of it and rents the rest to farmers and ranchers. What's your father do?"

"He's dead," Kessex said, relieved that he didn't have to make something up.

"Oh," Dorrance said, his voice barely louder than a whisper. "I'm sorry."

"It was a long time ago," Kessex said, taking another drink of his punch. His father had been shot by rustlers trying to steal the rancher's cattle when Kessex was only seven. He barely remembered him.

"Still...I'm sorry." Kessex nodded and another long, heavy silence settled between them, but this time, Kessex kept his mouth shut, sipping his drink whenever he felt the need to do something. The wind blowing in off the ocean was chilly and Kessex shivered, shoving one hand deep into his pocket as he pulled his arms close to his body. "Are you cold?" Dorrance asked after a while.

"No," Kessex said, shaking his head even as he shivered. He didn't want to go back downstairs. He didn't want to return to the party, and...he was enjoying this quiet time with Dorrance, even with the awkward moments. Tilting his head back, he looked up at the stars, a few thin, wispy clouds drifting high overhead. In the silence, he could just hear--possibly--the very faint whisper of the waves crashing against the rocky shore a few hundred yards from campus.

"You look cold," Dorrance said and Kessex glanced at him as the metal mage sidled closer, standing shoulder to should with Kessex for a moment before raising his arm and draping it around Kessex's shoulders. Kessex tensed at the touch, his heart beginning to pound again, and his skin grew hot. He was thankful it was too dark for Dorrance to see what color he had turned. "Is this okay?" Dorrance asked. "I mean, you said you don't just like girls...Does that mean you also like guys?"

Kessex swallowed hard.

"Yeah," he whispered and took another quick drink of his punch. Was Dorrance getting at something, or was he just being friendly? Common sense said he was just being nice, just making conversation--Why would a wealthy, handsome guy like Dorrance be interested in a freak like Kessex? And yet, he found himself wishing it could something more.

"Are you seeing anybody now?" Kessex couldn't answer, except to shake his head. Strange, that simple motion made his head spin and he had to set his cup down on the ledge to brace his hands on the cold bricks. "Are you okay?" Dorrance asked, the arm about Kessex's shoulders tightening.

"I...feel strange..." Kessex said. He was suddenly hot, his clothes too tight, making his skin ache. "What...what's going on?"

"Someone must have spiked the punch," Dorrance said, picking up Kessex's cup and pouring the remaining liquid into his own cup before stacking the two cups together. He took hold of Kessex's arm and turned him away from the edge of the roof. "C'mon, let's go back to our room."

Kessex staggered beside Dorrance, leaning on the strong, metal mage as they made their way down the stairs and into the elevator. It was so hot and stuffy in the little car, Kessex began pulling at his shirt, trying to take it off over his head. He couldn't breathe.

"Easy, Kessex," Dorrance said, pushing his arms back down. "Not here, not yet. We're almost there. You'll feel better once you lay down."

"It's so hot," Kessex said, panting. "I- I hurt..." His hands slid down his chest, the pressure of his own touch chasing the ache from his skin, and he whimpered as his palms rubbed over the bulge in his jeans. When had he gotten so hard?

"It'll be okay," Dorrance said. "I'll take care of you." The elevator doors opened and Dorrance pulled him out into the hall, his arms around Kessex's waist as they made their way to their room. Kessex looked up at him, the harsh overhead lights making the silver and gold in his hair sparkle like sunbeams and moonglow.

"You're so nice," Kessex said and Dorrance glanced at him, his warm eyes glittering. "I'm sorry I never told you before, I just...I like you so much. You're funny and handsome and nice and...handsome, and you have so many friends. I knew I didn't have a chance of being good enough for you and- and I didn't want to look like an idiot. Like any more of an idiot than I usually do."

"You don't look like an idiot," Dorrance said, his voice quiet as he opened the door to their room and helped Kessex inside. They stumbled over to Kessex's bed where Kessex fell upon the mattress like a sack of potatoes. Dorrance lifted his legs onto the bed and pulled off Kessex's shoes, his hands working swiftly to peel Kessex's shirt up and off over his head. Leaning over him, Dorrance placed one soft hand against Kessex's cheek. "Just relax. Try to get some sleep. It'll wear off in a few hours." Dorrance turned away, setting the two cups on his desk before stepping over to his bed and flipping the covers back.

Kessex watched him undress, low moans sticking in his throat as he ran his hands over his hot, aching skin, his gaze sliding down Dorrance's bare back, lingering on his silky black boxers, the material doing little to hide the firm, sculpted muscle beneath. Kessex unbuttoned his pants, his fingers fumbling with the zipper.

"Dor..." Kessex whispered. "Dorrance, please." The metal mage seemed to hesitate, his movements slow when he looked over his shoulder.

"Do you need a hand there, Kessex?" he asked, staring for a long minute before crossing the room. Kessex reached up toward him, his fingers brushing Dorrance's chest as Dorrance leaned over him. Dorrance gently pushed his hand away and unzipped his pants, the fleeting touch making Kessex raise his hips off the bed, a soft cry escaping him as Dorrance worked his jeans down. "Whoa, you're not wearing underwear," Dorrance said, turning his face away, but not before the dark silk of his boxers great taut across the front. "There you go," Dorrance said, dropping the jeans on the floor. He started back toward his bed.

"Don't--Dor, don't go," Kessex said, struggling to sit up, to get up, to stop him. "I- I need--I need..."

Dorrance made an exasperated sound.

"What, Kessex? What do you need now?"

"I...need you." Kessex reached out, grabbed Dorrance's wrist, and drew the reluctant metal mage toward him. "I need you. My body aches for you. I want you so much; I've wanted you since I first met you."

Dorrance stopped at the side of the bed, resisting when Kessex tried to pull him down onto the mattress.

"Kessex, you don't know what you're saying," Dorrance said, brushing Kessex's shaggy hair out of his eyes. "This is just the drugs talking--You just have to ignore it."

"No, it isn't," Kessex said, using Dorrance to pull himself to his feet. The metal mage didn't move as Kessex stepped into him, Kessex's hard cock pressing against the cool silk covering Dorrance's thigh, their chests touching as Dorrance's ragged breath fell upon the side of Kessex's neck. "I want you...I want you inside of me." He felt Dorrance shudder against him, and the elder mage made no move to stop him as Kessex's hands found the waistband of his boxers, pushing the black silk down off Dorrance's hips. A soft whisper filled the silent room as they slid down Dorrance's legs, pooling around his ankles. "Dor, please..."

"You're going to hate me in the morning," Dorrance murmured, but he closed the distance between them, his strong arms wrapping around Kessex's lean body. Kessex gasped, his mouth opening as Dorrance's lips pressed against his own, Dorrance's tongue sliding across his, exploring his mouth. Dorrance tasted like pizza.

Kessex pulled away, out of breath as he turned and bent over his bed, pushing his ass toward Dorrance.

"Please...please..." Kessex said, his legs shaking. He wanted it so much he hurt, and when Dorrance ran his hand down Kessex's hip, the young fire mage moaned, his eyes sliding shut as Dorrance's hands moved across his skin, caressing the back of his thigh, the small of his back, the curve of his butt.

"Lie down," Dorrance said, pushing gently on his back, urging him onto his stomach on the mattress. Kessex raised his head, a sinking feeling sucking the bottom out of his stomach as he watched Dorrance walk away, but the metal mage only went as far as his dresser, returning in a moment with a small glass jar filled with a pale green gel. Kessex drew his knees up under him, raising his ass into the air and spreading his legs as Dorrance opened the jar. The cool, fresh scent of mint and aloe filled the room as Dorrance dipped his fingers into the jar. Kessex wrapped his arms around his pillow, trembling inside as Dorrance rubbed his cold, slick fingertips across Kessex's entrance, pushing slowly inside him.

"Oh...yes...yes..." Kessex whispered as Dorrance eased two, and then three fingers inside, stretching him, filling him. It felt so good, but he needed more.

"Man, that shit really works," Dorrance said, working his three fingers in and out of Kessex. "You're already so loose." He pulled out and climbed onto the bed, one hand rubbing along Kessex's backbone as he guided himself to Kessex's opening with the other. Kessex arched his back, a throaty sound of desperation and need escaping him as Dorrance slid inside, hot and hard, filling him completely.

"Fuck...fuck me," Kessex said, rocking back, trying to force Dorrance deeper. The metal mage grabbed his hips, withdrawing slowly before thrusting back in. Unimagined pleasure exploded within Kessex and he cried out, his fingers digging into his mattress as his hips bucked. Dorrance leaned over him, hands creeping up his sides, lips playing along his spine, Dorrance finding a steady rhythm that made Kessex see stars. "Never...knew," Kessex gasped, his words muffled by his pillow. "Never knew it felt this good."

A heaviness formed inside him, low in his gut, throbbing and shuddering, sending sharp splinters of pleasure shooting straight to his nuts, his cock aching, the head rubbing against his bed, leaving a wet smear of pre-come on the comforter. That weight grew tighter, the pleasure electric, and each breath was just one helpless noise after another. Dorrance's breath fell fast and hard between his shoulder blades, the metal mage's thrusts growing short and urgent.

Suddenly, Dorrance cried out, pressing his forehead to Kessex's back as his hips jerked erratically, his hands clutching at Kessex's chest as he filled Kessex with a slippery warmth. Dorrance grew still and quiet, and Kessex lay there, Dorrance on top of him, arms wrapped around him, his body still aching, blood screaming through his veins.

"Dor?" he asked, a slight whimper in his voice.

"Shhh; it's okay," Dorrance said. "I didn't forget about you." He kissed Kessex's shoulder and slid his hands down Kessex's body, one cupping his balls as the other wrapped around his shaft. He began to rock his hips, his softening cock still buried deep inside Kessex, and Kessex arched against him in careless abandon, his jaw hanging slack as he trembled and bucked into Dorrance's hands.

"Oh! Oh, Dorrance!" he cried as the metal mage lifted him to the heights of ecstasy and flung him into the depths of oblivion.


His mouth dry and gummy, Kessex licked his lips as he opened his eyes, blinking away the film that blurred his vision. He lay there for a moment, staring across the room at Dorrance's empty, unmade bed. It was early, the light filtering in through his window pearly gray, and it was a weekend--So where was Dorrance? He remembered something about a party...

Kessex shivered, the chill air moving across his bare skin, and he looked down at himself, lying naked on top of his covers. What the hell? He glanced at Dorrance's bed again, suddenly glad his roommate was absent. He might not be gone long, though, and the thought being caught in such a compromising position made his cheeks burn.

He tried to sit up, but barely got his head off the pillow before he had to stop, wincing as a sharp spike of pain shot through his head, like a nail being driven right between his eyes. He groaned and pressed his fingertips between his knitted brows, but the headache faded almost as swiftly as it had appeared. Was it a hangover? He couldn't remember drinking, but...he couldn't remember much of anything about the previous night. A little unnerved, he finished sitting up.

"Where you going?"

Kessex leaped out of bed, his heart nearly stopping as he whirled around and found Dorrance lying in his bed, stark naked, a confused look on his face as he rubbed the sleep from his eyes with the back of one hand.

"Wh- what--Where are your clothes?" Kessex asked, averting his eyes. He realized that he was still nude as well, and quickly grabbed something off the floor to wear. For a moment, he didn't recognize the black boxers in his hands, and then he threw them at Dorrance and picked up his jeans, nearly falling over as he struggled into them.

"Oh, shit," Dorrance said, scrambling off Kessex's bed. "Kessex, I'm sorry. I didn't mean for this to happen."

"For this...What happened?" Kessex asked, running his hands back through his disheveled hair. "What did we do?"

"You don't remember?" Dorrance said slowly and a funny look flitted across his features. Kessex shook his head, his gaze dropping to Dorrance's cock before he jerked his eyes away again. He swallowed hard.

"Could you put something on, please?" he said, his voice strained. His heart was racing, his hands shaking as he turned away. "I- I remember the party..."

"We didn't stay long," Dorrance said, and Kessex could hear the rustle of cloth as he got dressed. "We went up onto the roof and talked for a while. We brought along some pizza and punch from the party. Someone must have spiked the punch; you started feeling strange." Kessex nodded as Dorrance spoke, the events coming back to him as Dorrance described them, but it was like a distant memory, disconnected somehow, almost like it had happened to someone else. "I brought you back here," Dorrance continued. "I tried to get you to go to sleep, begged me..."

"Maele have mercy," Kessex whispered, closing his eyes as a wave of shame washed over him, his face and neck burning, his stomach twisting up into a cold knot. He couldn't breathe. Grabbing his T-shirt off the floor, Kessex headed for the door, but Dorrance's strong hands pulled him back.

"Kessex, please, don't go," Dorrance said, grabbing his arm when he tried to pull away. "I'm sorry, I shouldn't have, but you wanted me to--" Kessex squeezed his eyes shut, pressing his hands over his ears as he jerked away from Dorrance.

"Stop, please," he said. Like he wanted to hear what a whore he'd turned into. "I- I just need some air," he mumbled, yanking the door open and fleeing into the hall. He pulled his T-shirt on as he walked, his bare feet pounding on the thin, worn carpet. This couldn't be happening. He had to be dreaming. It was some kind of nightmare, he just had to wake up now. Kessex turned the corner, heading for the outside doors, and nearly crashed into someone heading the opposite direction.

"Watch it," the other guy snapped and Kessex didn't bother to mutter an apology as he stepped around the guy. "Hey, wait a minute." The guy caught him by the arm and spun him around. Kessex opened his mouth to apologize, but stopped as the guy's fire-red hair caught the light. "Don't I know you?" Kessex didn't answer--The young man looked familiar, with his scarlet hair and flickering orange eyes, but Kessex's mind was still moving in slow, fuzzy circles.

"Yeah, you were at the party last night," the guy said, nodding. "Dor's date. Are you all right? He didn't hurt you, did he?"

"Hurt me?" Kessex repeated. "I- I...don't know..."

"I saw him put something in a cup of punch," the young man said, frowning, his eyes glowing like coals in the shadow. "I asked him what he thought he was doing and he told me to get lost, that it wasn't any of my business. I tried to find you, to warn you, but you had left the party. Are you okay?" Kessex opened and closed his mouth several times before any words came out.

"I don't think so," Kessex whispered, feeling like he was going to be sick. Dorrance had drugged him. He broke into a stumbling run, hitting the double doors at the end of the hall and flinging them open, his feet stinging as he ran across the commons and past the library, the fog swallowing him as he ran into the tall grass, dew soaking the legs of his jeans from the knee down, the cold, wet denim clinging to his calves as he gasped for breath and nearly choked on a sob. Dorrance had drugged him. Dorrance had raped him.

Kessex pulled up short as the ground suddenly dropped away in front of him, and he stood, staring down at sharp, black rocks a hundred feet below, white, frothy waves pounding against the sheer cliff as his heart pounded in his ears. His chest burned as he gasped, choked, sobbed, and couldn't catch his breath. His legs shaking, he sank to his knees in the cold, wet grass, tears rolling down his face as he stared out over the ocean, a thin mist hanging over the rough, gray water.

He was shivering, his teeth chattering, when he heard the footsteps behind him. He heard, but he didn't look back. He didn't care who it was. Until Dorrance spoke.

"It's lucky someone saw you run out this way or I might never have found you," the metal mage said, his tone measured, deliberately calm.

"Go away," Kessex said, his voice empty and hollow, though his was not a calculated act of deception, another lie.

"Kessex, please--"

"Get the fuck away from me!" Kessex shouted, lunging to his feet, his hands clenched into fists. He didn't use them, though. He just screamed at Dorrance. "How could you do that to me? You used me, you raped me! I could have you expelled--I could have you arrested for that. Was it worth it? Did you get a thrill out of seeing me all fucked up and helpless?"

"No, I didn't! I'm sorry that it happened, you have to believe me," Dorrance said.

"Believe you? Why should I believe you? You lied to me, you drugged me, and for what? Why? You're so fucking gorgeous and charming and you could have anyone you want, you just have to ask, so why didn't you just ask? I liked you so much; why didn't you just ask?" He was crying again and he couldn't stop, but he'd be damned if he'd let Dorrance have that satisfaction, too. He shoved past him, heading for the university, but Dorrance grabbed his arm. He was getting a little sick of that.

"I just wanted to talk to you," Dorrance said. "The drug was to help you relax, to take away some of your inhibitions so you'd talk to me. If I had known it would make you horny, I wouldn't have given it to you. I tried to get you to sleep it off, but you begged me--"

"Stop saying that!" Kessex shouted, pulling away from him. "This was not my fault!"

"I wasn't saying that," Dorrance said. "It's my fault, and I'm sorry, but I liked you, too. I just wanted you to talk to me. You're the only guy here who didn't try to kiss my ass because my family is rich, the only one who wasn't pretending to be my friend to get ahead of the game. You didn't seem to care about any of that shit, and I thought you could actually like me for me, and not because you wanted something."

"Why should I care about that? I'm not part of your world. I don't really belong here. My family is poor. We're not from Siva Delta; I grew up on a ranch colony. My father was a hired hand until he got shot by rustlers. My mother works in the laundry. I'm here on a fucking scholarship. I have no money, no power, and no friends. I'm nothing."

Dorrance stared at him, a slight frown of his face.

"Is that why you kept your distance?" he asked. "So I wouldn't find out where you came from?"

"That's one reason," Kessex said. "I don't make friends. I don't know how to talk to people, I never have. I always sound like an idiot."

"You're talking to me now."

"Yeah," Kessex said with a bitter laugh, "and I sound like a colossal fucking idiot." He started to walk away, but the sound of Dorrance's footsteps followed him. "Stay away from me, Dorrance, or I will report you. I think one life is enough to ruin today, don't you?" This time, the only footsteps in the fog were his own.


Kessex stormed down the hall, into his room, and slammed the door behind him. His whole body was shaking, chills dancing over his skin, and he stood in front of the door for a minute, shivering as he tried to decide what to do. Slowly, he realized that there was only one thing to do. He walked to his bed and pulled his suitcase out from underneath it. Pulling his drawers out of the dresser, he dumped the contents into his suitcase before sliding them back into their wooden framework.

I liked you, too. He closed his eyes, clenching his fists as he sobbed. How could Dorrance do that too him? Drugging him wasn't bad enough, he had to lie, too, had to try and make Kessex think it was his fault. You begged me...Kessex tossed the drawer in his hands aside, the dry wood cracking as it his the floor, and he zipped his suitcase shut. They could keep the rest; he didn't need it. He pulled the suitcase off his bed as the door opened and Dorrance peeked into the room. The metal mage frowned at him.

"You're leaving?" he asked, stepping inside and closing the door behind him. "Kessex, you can't."

"Why not? I don't belong here. I don't know what made me think I could ever fit in with people like you." He stepped toward the door. "And you can relax--I won't report you. It was my own fault for liking you."

"Oh, stop it," Dorrance said, catching him by the arm. Kessex had had enough. He dropped his suitcase and took a swing at his former roommate. Dorrance ducked, easily avoiding the wild punch, and grabbed Kessex by the front of his shirt. Kessex tensed, expecting to be hit, but Dorrance leaned into him, pressing his lips to Kessex's, kissing him. For an instant, Kessex couldn't move, and then he shoved Dorrance away.

"What the hell--" Dorrance grabbed him again, shoving him back against the door, stepping into him, holding him still with his body, their faces only inches apart.

"Now you are being an idiot," Dorrance said. "Don't throw your life away because of my mistake. I'm sorry--you can't imagine how sorry I am--that it happened the way it did, but I'm not sorry it happened. I like you, Kessex, so much, and I didn't know what else to do. I fucked up, but I didn't do it to hurt you." Kessex didn't respond. He wanted to believe him, but...

"I don't care that you're poor," Dorrance said. "You're also brilliant, and I don't care that you're shy--It's kinda cute." Kessex felt his cheeks heat up and Dorrance smiled. "It's very cute. I like you, and because of last night, I know you like me, too. But if that's changed, if you can look me in the eye and tell me you don't like me anymore, then I'll go report myself."

Kessex forced his chin up, made himself look into Dorrance's warm, brown eyes, glittering with flecks of gold and copper. He opened his mouth, taking a sharp breath, but the words stuck in his throat. He couldn't say it. He believed him, and he still liked him. Without stopping to think, Kessex closed the distance between them, squeezing his eyes shut as he pressed his lips to the metal mage's. Dorrance jumped, his lips stiff, and then his mouth softened, his lips parting and the tip of his tongue tracing the edge of Kessex's lower lip. Kessex jerked back, turning his face away as he felt the blood rush up his neck. He couldn't believe he'd just done that.

"I'm glad you still like me," Dorrance said softly, raising his hand and brushing Kessex's shaggy black hair out of his eyes, "but if you don't want to do this, just say so. It's okay."

Kessex shook his head.

"I- I want to," he mumbled, speaking to Dorrance's chest. "I just...Do you have any more of that drug?"

"Why?" Dorrance asked, taking a step back and putting several inches of cold space between them, making Kessex shiver again. He wrapped his arms around himself and stared down at the floor.

"Because I don't know how to do this," he said, a slight tremor in his voice. "I remember last night, sort of, but I- I can't be that person. I'll just mess everything up. Unless..."

"I don't want that person," Dorrance said, cupping his cheek and coaxing his head up. "I want you. When you relax and lose your inhibitions, I want it to be because you're comfortable with me, not because you're high as a kite." He let his hand slide down Kessex's neck, fingertips trailing down his chest, and he gathered up a handful of the material, a soft smile on his lips as he tugged Kessex away from the door. "C'mon," he said, backing toward his unmade bed. "We can take it slow."

Kessex wasn't sure he wanted to go slow. He desired Dorrance more than anything, thought about him in the shower and while he was falling asleep, jerked off more than a few times imagining Dorrance's hands on him, but he'd never had a relationship with a guy before, never had sex--and last night didn't count when it came to that. He had no idea what was expected of him, or what he should do next. Dorrance let go of his shirt and he just stood there while Dorrance stripped off his own T-shirt and dropped it on the floor. Dorrance started to reach toward him, but hesitated.

"It's okay if you've changed your mind," he said. Kessex quickly shook his head and reached up over his shoulders, grabbing the neck of his shirt and drawing it off over his head. Bare-chested, he twisted his T-shirt in his hands, almost tying it in a knot before Dorrance placed a hand on his and freed the shirt from his grip. "There's no need to be nervous," Dorrance said, pulling him close and wrapping him in a strong, warm embrace. "Great Maele, you're freezing." He stepped back and rubbed his hands up and down Kessex's arms.

"I know how to fix this," Dorrance said after a moment. His hands slid down Kessex's arms to his waist, and then to the front of his jeans. Kessex's heart sped up as Dorrance unbuttoned and unzipped his pants, and he had to stop himself from grabbing at them as they began to slide down his legs. Dorrance's gaze followed the jeans down as they piled up around Kessex's ankles, and then rose slowly back up his legs to linger on his cock. Kessex flushed scarlet.

"All right, into bed," Dorrance said, his hands fumbling with his own zipper. Dry-mouthed, Kessex climbed onto the bed, his arms shaking as he waited on his hands and knees. Would it hurt this time? He had heard that it sometimes did, especially the first time, and even in this case, last night didn't count. His body had been relaxed by drugs. A small part of him wished Dorrance had more of whatever that was. He flinched when Dorrance placed a hand in the middle of his back. "Not like that," Dorrance said, his touch, light, soft. "Just lie down, relax." Dorrance slid into bed beside him, pulling the covers up over both of them, and he lay on his side, his head on the pillow, grinning at Kessex as the young fire mage tried to figure out what was going on.

"What are we doing?" Kessex asked finally, his head resting on one bent arm as he lay on his stomach.

"Getting warm," Dorrance said. "We were both outside for quite a while, and I know I was shivering when I came in. Weren't you?" Kessex nodded, tensing a little as something touched his arm beneath the covers, but it was only Dorrance's hand. "Is this okay?" Kessex nodded again as Dorrance's hand crept up to his shoulder and began to slide down his back, the feather-light caress making his cock twitch beneath him. Dorrance's gaze never left Kessex's face as he traced a thin line along the place where hip became butt, his smile widening as Kessex rolled onto his side to accommodate his growing erection. Fingertips playing on Kessex's thigh beneath the blankets, Dorrance inched closer, and Kessex gasped as something touched the head of his cock. Both of Dorrance's hands were accounted for--one on his thigh and the other peeking out from under the edge of Dorrance's pillow--and it took a moment for Kessex to realize what part of the metal mage's anatomy was resting against the tip of his arousal.

He turned scarlet, and suddenly the heavy comforter covering them was too hot. It was smothering him. He pushed if off his upper body, letting the cool air rush over his fevered skin, and he glanced down, into the shadowed space between their bodies, the silver light shining in through the window playing over their stiff cocks, a pearly bead of fluid glistening on the tip of Dorrance's erection like a drop of dew on a rose. He tore his eyes away and looked up to find Dorrance still watching him.

"What?" Kessex asked. Now it was Dorrance's turn to blush.

"Nothing," he said with a small shake of his head. "I just...I've wanted to get you into my bed for so long, and I can hardly believe it's actually happened. And...maybe I'm waiting for you to change your mind, because nothing this good has ever happened to me before and I'm not sure I deserve it." Kessex had never imagined that friendly, talkative, charming Dorrance might have even the slightest bit if insecurity in him, and for a moment, all he could do was stare. He'd just assumed that the confident metal mage always knew what to say and what to do and how to act, and that he never worried about anything. But Dorrance wasn't perfect and Kessex found that realization to be...freeing.

He wasn't nearly as afraid of looking stupid as he leaned over and kissed Dorrance, a light, lingering brush of his lips. As he drew back, he raised his eyes, for a moment meeting Dorrance's warm gaze, then his nerve wavered and he looked away.

"I'm not going to change my mind," Kessex said, and about that he had no doubts. He squeaked in surprise as Dorrance leaped at him, wrapping him in an almost crushing embrace and capturing his lips in a hard, desperate kiss that left him breathless, his lips tingling. Dorrance's lean body pressed against his own and he blushed as he felt a hard cock press against his thigh. Closing his eyes, Kessex clutched at the elder mage, his breaths sharp and ragged as Dorrance began to grind against him, hands sliding down Kessex's back to pull their bodies closer together. The dark scent of sweat and sex surrounded them, and Kessex moaned softly as the heat and friction between them sent a shudder of pleasure echoing through him. It was good, so good, but it wasn't enough. He wanted more.

"Dorrance, please," he whispered, placing his hands on the other mage's shoulders and gently pushing him away. Dorrance drew back, a look of pain, betrayal, and despair in his eyes and Kessex frowned, biting the inside of his lips as he tried to figure out what he'd done. He gasped and shook his head as he realized how his actions must have seemed. "No, no--I didn't change my mind," he said in a rush. "I- I want you fuck me." He blushed as he said it.

Dorrance let out a relieved bark of laughter.

"Is that so?" he said with a wicked smile. "Well, I want you on your back with your legs wrapped around my waist, moaning out my name as I make you come."

"Yeah; okay," Kessex said, nodding. Dorrance kissed him again and then scrambled out of bed, dashing across the room and tearing Kessex's bed apart, jerking the comforter off and giving it a violent shake.

"Damn it, where is that--Aha, got it." He grabbed something out from under the edge of Kessex's pillow. Returning to Kessex, Dorrance opened the jar of lubricant and tossed the lid onto his desk before grabbing the corner of the blanket that covered Kessex from the waist down and flipping it off the end of the bed. Completely exposed, Kessex couldn't stop himself from cupping his hands over his stiff cock. His face burned and he waited for Dorrance to laugh at him, but the metal mage just climbed onto the bed, running one hand lightly up and down Kessex's thigh.

"It's okay," Dorrance said, setting the jar on the mattress and leaning over Kessex, kissing his lips, his jaw, his throat, his collarbone, pausing to nip and suck at each of his nipples, teasing them into tight, tingling nubs before kissing his way down Kessex's stomach. "Move your hands," Dorrance said between kisses, "and I'll suck your cock."

Kessex drew a shuddering breath as Dorrance's words sent a jolt of electricity straight to his nuts, his cock twitching beneath his hands. Grinning up at him, Dorrance leaned down and bit the back of Kessex's hand. Kessex jerked away in surprise, faint red indentations in his skin, and he lifted his other hand as Dorrance nipped at it. Not sure what to do with his hands, Kessex let them fall beside him on the bed, his fingers twisting up the sheet as Dorrance hovered over his arousal, his warm breath tickling as he moved to the base of the shaft. Lips soft and wet, Dorrance began to nibble along the underneath side, sending a breathless moan scrambling up into Kessex's throat. Kessex's lips parted, the sound escaping as Dorrance lapped as the sensitive spot just beneath the head before sliding his tongue along the slit. Wrapping his lips around the head of Kessex's cock, Dorrance moaned low in his throat as he slid down Kessex's shaft, the vibrations making Kessex's toes curl as he was engulfed by the wet heat of Dorrance's mouth.

Dorrance bobbed his head half a dozen times before drawing back, his gaze dark with lust as he picked up the jar of aloe gel and dipped two fingers inside. A flicker of unease settled like a cold lump in the pit of Kessex's stomach. He'd never done this before--not while in complete control of himself, anyway, and his memory from last night was still a little fuzzy in some areas--and he didn't quite know what to do or expect. He didn't like that.

"Just relax," Dorrance said, smiling softly. "I'm not going to hurt you." Kessex didn't know how to respond. He wasn't worried so much about being hurt as saying something stupid, or pulling Dorrance's hair, or farting. He would absolutely die. "Are you okay?" Dorrance asked after a moment and Kessex realized he'd been frowning, lost in his own thoughts.

"Fine," he said, his voice quiet. "Just...worrying."

"But not about being hurt," Dorrance surmised. He stared at Kessex, his brow furrowed in thought. "About looking foolish?" Kessex nodded. "Well, don't," Dorrance said. "I won't judge you. And besides, did you see me trying to swallow your dick? Not a real elegant position. And how about when I stick these fingers in your ass?" He wiggled his glistening fingers at Kessex. "How foolish will I look then?" He grinned suddenly. "First rule of fucking: Check your pride at the door. Now, spread your legs--I need to find a place to put this lube."

It still wasn't easy for Kessex to let Dorrance part his legs and climb between them, but he kept picturing Dorrance sucking his cock. He wasn't sure if it really eased his shyness or just made him so horny he didn't care, but either way, he groaned and lifted his ass off the bed as Dorrance rubbed two slick, cool fingertips across his entrance. He gasped as the first long finger eased inside him, his sphincter clenching reflexively.

"Deep, slow breaths," Dorrance advised. "It's easier if you can stay relaxed." Kessex nodded, concentrating on his breathing as Dorrance spread the gel inside him, and then worked on adding a second finger. One felt strange, but two were uncomfortable, a dull, burning ache throbbing in time with his pounding heart. "Almost there," Dorrance murmured and Kessex winced as he added a third finger. It hurt. Not unbearable agony, but enough that he wasn't sure if he wanted to do this anymore. He kept his mouth shut, though, swallowing hard and grabbing larger handfuls of the sheet as Dorrance withdrew his fingers and quickly slicked his cock with lube. The eagerness on his face, the desire and anticipation--Kessex had never imagined that anyone would ever want him that much.

He drew his knees up toward his chest, biting the edge of his lip as he waited, but for all the excitement written on his face, Dorrance was in no hurry. He crawled up Kessex's body, biting lightly at the insides of Kessex's thighs, licking his cock from root to tip, and sucking a nipple, rolling it between his teeth until Kessex was panting and writhing beneath him, his hands releasing the sheet in favor of Dorrance's shoulders.

"Please, Dorrance, quit teasing me," he said, wrapping his legs around Dorrance's waist, his heels digging in to Dorrance's butt as he tried to pull the metal mage into him. Dorrance chuckled, moving up to kiss and suck and bite at Kessex's neck, one hand sliding between their bodies and guiding his cock to Kessex's opening. Kessex tensed as the hot, hard flesh nudged his entrance, trying to control the sharp, rapid breaths that hissed between his teeth as Dorrance began to slide into him.

"It's okay," Dorrance whispered, stopping, waiting. "Just relax, Kess; it'll be okay."

Kess. As a kid, Kessex had hated being called Kess by his family, mostly because his little sister had trouble pronouncing it and called him Kiss instead, but hearing Dorrance say it, his deep, rich voice, his slight accent softened, tender--Kessex wanted to be called nothing else by him.

Kessex ran his hands up into Dorrance's thick hair, closing his eyes as he tipped his head back, exposing the length of his throat to Dorrance's attention, a shudder running through him as he forced himself to relax. Raising his hips, he moaned as Dorrance's cock slid deeper, stretching him, filling him. It was a strange, not altogether welcome sensation, but when Dorrance began to rock his hips, short, easy thrusts that rubbed against something marvelous inside him, Kessex felt his cares and restraint slip away.

Dorrance left a trail of kisses up Kessex's throat before seeking out and capturing his lips, stealing his breath, heart, and soul as their tongues tangled. Groaning low in his throat, Dorrance drew back, his skin flushed as he smiled down at Kessex, his body growing still. Kessex stared up at him, confused and aching as the growing pleasure gathering within him stalled.

"What?" Kessex asked.

"Just enjoying the moment," Dorrance said. "You look and smell and taste and feel so good, and I don't ever want to forget this." He rocked his hips and a surprised shout escaped Kessex as Dorrance sank the last inch or so into him. He had never imagined that it would feel so good, so intense, so much. It was almost more than he could bear.

"You won't forget," Kessex said, starting to squirm. "I want to do this again. Often."

"Great Maele, I've turned you into a slut," Dorrance said with a chuckle, and even though Kessex was pretty sure he was only joking, he still felt his skin flush. "Only teasing, Kess. You're not a slut."

"I know," Kessex said, distracted. "Now do something, please. You're making me crazy." Dorrance didn't need to be told twice. He began to rock his hips, withdrawing a little more each time, his thrusts growing longer, faster, harder, and Kessex arched up against him as Dorrance pounded him down into the mattress. "Oh! Oh, Dorrance...That's it...Harder..." He could feel himself growing close, a cold fire burning deep inside him, flames dancing beneath his skin as he threw his head back and cried out, one wordless shout after another escaping him as he came hard, his seed slick and warm between their bodies.

"Damn, you got tight," Dorrance panted, his thrusts growing short and hurried. Kessex shuddered and moaned as the orgasm echoed through him, his feet twitching as Dorrance hit that place inside him that made him see stars. In another moment, Dorrance cried out and Kessex felt him come, his movements growing slow as he rode out his orgasm and collapsed, out of breath and shaking, on top of Kessex.

Kessex stared up at the ceiling, his arms and legs still wrapped around the metal mage, Dorrance's cock still deep inside him, and wondered what he was supposed to do now. Both of their chests were sticky with semen and their bodies were damp with sweat. Kessex wanted a shower. Part of him, though, just wanted to lie quietly in bed and hold Dorrance in his arms. Would that be okay? Would Dorrance want to cuddle, or was he only interested in fucking?

Before Kessex could decide what he wanted to do, Dorrance drew a deep breath and pushed himself up on his hands and knees, slipping out of Kessex with a slick sound that made Kessex blush. He groaned as he climbed off the bed, glancing down at himself before picking up Kessex's scorched T-shirt off the floor.

"I don't think this can be saved," Dorrance said, folding the burn inside and using the shirt to wipe the come off his stomach and cock. "I'll get you a new shirt," Dorrance offered, "since I was the one who introduced you to Zaiden."

"You don't have to," Kessex muttered, shaking his head as he regarded the milky mess growing tacky on his skin. Zaiden. That was the mage with the red hair that morning in the hall. Kessex sat up and glanced at Dorrance. "Did he try to stop you from drugging me?" Dorrance arched an eyebrow, giving him a funny look. "He- he said he did..."

"He's a fucking liar," Dorrance said, handing the shirt to Kessex. "He's the one who gave the shit to me in the first place. Said it was a 'mild relaxant'. A gods-damned date-rape drug, is what it was. Kessex, I am still so sorry about that. I never should have--"

"Call me Kess...please," Kessex said, wiping himself off and tossing the shirt into the wastebasket beside Dorrance's bed. "And it's okay. I- I forgive you." He started to climb out of bed, but strong hands on his shoulders shoved him back down. Grinning, Dorrance slid back in beside him, pulling the blanket up over them.

"Thank you, Kess," Dorrance whispered, brushing Kessex's hair back out of his face before placing a soft kiss on his lips. "I won't let you regret it." As he settled into the warmth of Dorrance's embrace, Kessex drew a deep breath, letting it out slowly as he relaxed against Dorrance's lean, strong body, and he smiled to himself in the comfortable silence that followed.

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