Author's note: This is a story entirely about sex, but without any sex actually taking place where you can see it. I tried to create an ehm, incongruity? between tone and subject matter. Really curious to know if it worked.

WARNINGS, SQUICKS AND/OR KINKS (that will make this sound like a much more porny story than it actually is) : There's a non-explicit BDSM-y bit at the end that could be read as dub-connish because the moment of consent isn't described (though in my mind it was given). STDs and watersports are discussed. Not in detail, but if you're squeamish about them, this is your heads up. And lastly, a character describes the lack of consent in old romance novels in a kink bashing way. Character's opinions are not necessarily my own.

Thank you so much for reading and I hope you enjoy!

Talking Through the Differences (or: Romance Novels Lie)

#*#

Secretly 'borrowing' his mother's romance novels when he was young, Cory had learned a lot of things about sex that he now suspected to be false. Or maybe he and Simon were doing it wrong.

#*#

When you're in love, he had always assumed, sexual compatibility shouldn't be an issue. This notion had been blown out of the water when Simon announced, very casually, "I don't do anal, by the way."

None of it, it turned out in the ensuing conversation. Which was a bit of a problem, because Cory did do anal and he liked it. Very much so. Pretty much all of it.

"Why?" he asked, completely flabbergasted. Simon just shrugged.

"The idea is just incredibly unappealing to me," he said. Well, Cory could work with that.

"You ever try it? Because otherwise, how can you be sure that..."

"You ever fuck a woman?" Simon interrupted, eyes narrowed, "Because otherwise, how can you be sure you're not straight?"

Cory, who would realise years later that he used to be a jerk who just didn't know how to take 'no' for an answer back then, persisted.

"But it's nice! I mean, there's all these nerve endings and..."

"It's non-negotiable," Simon said and that was the end of it.

Except, of course, a relationship can't last for over seven years if you're not willing to negotiate with each other, so over the years they had reached a compromise. Cory was allowed to put his fingers on Simon's ass, but strictly on the outside and with the understanding that 'stop' meant 'stop this very second'. Simon would sometimes finger Cory, but always with latex gloves on. It was a little more clinical than Cory preferred, but it was good and he appreciated the effort.

Cory wasn't the only one of them who had to go without something he liked. In the first year of their relationship, they had tried some threesomes, because Simon was really into those and Cory figured they were an okay way to get his ass action on. They hadn't been bad or anything, but the only thing Cory had really gotten out of them was the knowledge that he preferred a monogamous relationship.

They were usually pretty good at talking through their sexual differences and finding a middle ground, with one notable exception. About three years ago, one of their talks had ended rather abruptly with Simon stalking out of the house red-faced after Cory exclaimed, "Wait, so you think anal's gross but you like pissing on people? How the fuck does that work?"

They were still working on a compromise for that one. Cory wasn't in any hurry, though.

#*#

He was surprised to learn that being in love doesn't mean you're always hot for each other. There were so many things that could cool your passion for a while. There was stress at work, there were migraines, there was tiredness, there was the flu, there was a day spent squabbling about dirty dishes and trash cans and the wrong brand of soda, at the end which you still had to share a bed. Turned out make-up sex wasn't all he'd thought it would be, either.

#*#

Apparently in real life, sometimes factors other than your love and lust for each other influenced your sex life. And it wasn't romantic things like arranged marriages, overprotective parents, kidnappings and dramatic misunderstandings, either. Sometimes really boring, mundane shit would keep people from boning, even if they wanted to and loved each other very much.

Like that time Simon's parents had visited for an entire week.

Or that time the heater in their crappy first apartment broke down in the middle of winter and they had to wear seventeen layers of clothing for almost two full days before the repair man had time for them. Getting naked under the covers and sharing body heat hadn't been an option, because with three layers of clothes still to go, Cory's teeth had started to chatter so hard he actually chipped one of them.

Or that time Simon had watched some fucked-up Swedish film that left him completely traumatised.

Or those times Cory's herpes flared up and the pain combined with the nausea from his medication made him want to puke at the thought of sex even if he was frustrated as hell.

Or that one horrible, heartwrenching time Cory had infected Simon even though they had always been so careful. Having to watch his partner go through that terrible first outbreak was without a doubt Cory's single worst memory. Simon didn't look back on it very fondly either. Luckily, Simon's flare-ups seemed to be even less frequent than Cory's own, for which Cory was doubly grateful. One, because he didn't want the man he loved to suffer, and two, because the guilt nearly killed him every single time, no matter how many times Simon said it wasn't his fault. At least after that, they could ditch the condoms and Cory had been able to watch Simon swallow for the first time. It was small comfort, though.

People never had herpes in romance novels.

#*#

Cory didn't need any hands-on experience to find out that the whole 'they're only saying no until you sweep them off their feet' concept was a bad idea. He'd thought of that all by himself, thank you very much. Until he and Simon agreed on safewords and saying 'no' could sometimes still lead to sweeping. But that was different: nice and consensual instead of icky and wrong. He would never understand why his mother read that shit.

#*#

Good sex was always spontaneous and heat-of-the-moment, right? Only it wasn't.

Just last week, Simon had announced at breakfast, "Just so you know, I want your mouth on my cock tonight." The anticipation that surged through Cory left him unable to say anything but "yeah," before his mind kicked in and he remembered that "Oh, wait. Fuck, no, I have that team building thing tonight, remember? Don't know how late I'll be back. But I don't have to be at work until eleven tomorrow, so how about tomorrow morning?" Simon -reluctantly- agreed, only to text him a few hours later.

Kim's ill. Taking over her first period class tomorrow. Raincheck?

Or I could set the alarm a little earlier, sleep some more after you leave, he texted back after a moment's deliberation.

Works for me.

In the morning, Cory cursed his stupid idea when the alarm sounded only four hours after he'd gone to bed. But they had made those plans and he couldn't very well back out of them now, could he? So, still half asleep, he set to work. It was good. Just not very spontaneous.

#*#

All-night sex sessions, multiple orgasms, sex that lasted hours upon hours? Bullshit. According to Cory, anyway. After sex, he just wanted to get cleaned up and go to sleep. Simon, on the other hand, was a cuddler (mess and all) who wasn't averse to trying for round two. It had led to a lot of frustration and hurt feelings until they found an option they could both live with. Now, Cory would clean himself up and then curl around Simon for a nap. After a while, if Simon was still in the mood, he would wake Cory up as pleasantly as he could. It was not exactly what either of them preferred, but they both found they didn't really care.

#*#

Once, Cory had tried for months to time their orgasms just right, only to be sorely disappointed when they'd finally managed simultaneous orgasms. What he'd expected to be the ultimate achievement in passion and togetherness turned out to be distracting and frankly rather lonely. Which Cory thought was a bit strange, actually, because he never minded when only one of them came because the other one wasn't all that horny and would rather just go to sleep. Maybe it had something to do with expectations.

"It sucks," he complained, afterwards, "I like watching you get off and now I missed it. I can't believe I missed it. Fuck!" Simon stared at him incredulously and pointed out that Cory would see him come plenty of times in the near future. That just wasn't the same, though. He'd missed this one and he would never get it back.

From then on, he tried his hardest to time their orgasms just right, so he would get to see and hear Simon. They actually fought over it, with Simon rolling his eyes and stating that he should just let it go already and let things happen. Simon just didn't get it. Cory tried to be a little more subtle about it after that, but they only had a bigger fight when Simon found out. "You get off on watching me get off?" Simon yelled. "Well, I get off on watching you let go. That means I don't want to watch you planning every little move, but it sure as fuck doesn't mean I want you planning every little move and actively working on hiding it from me!"

Their fight had ended with Cory tied to the bed because according to Simon he had to learn not to be such a control freak. Simon had pushed a little further every time he felt Cory was holding back. Just before he came he came, Cory realised two things: maybe he was the one who just didn't get it, and maybe make-up sex could be fun after all.

#*#

Cory was pretty sure they were doing it right. Romance novels were just full of shit.