The thing with toolbelts (Rodney refuses to call it a fetish, prefers "predilection" if it must be labeled at all) starts the summer he turns 16. Jeannie is off at physics camp, and Rodney's parents are remodeling the kitchen to give themselves something to complain about besides each other. Rodney spends most of his time in his stiflingly hot room, lying wilted on his bed, surrounded by pages of calculations he's too miserable to work on.
This all changes the day he goes downstairs to get a can of cold soda, only to find that the refrigerator is out in the yard, and in its place is a carpenter tearing up the floor, a young guy in his twenties, with dark hair and an unknowable expression, wearing a black Metallica T-shirt that strains at the seams across his broad shoulders.
Rodney likes to pretend that watching the guy is not the point of all his newfound reasons to go downstairs. He just suddenly has things—many, important things—to do in the vicinity of the kitchen. If he happens to overhear that the young carpenter's name is Lyle, if he notices Lyle's hands, square-fingered and sure as he hammers cabinets into place, sands hardwoods for the floor, lovingly stroking along the grain...well, Rodney is a scientist, and science is all a matter of observation. The way Rodney's mouth falls open when Lyle takes off his shirt—Lyle's back bright with sweat, muscles shifting beneath his skin as he lifts moldings into place—is just some manifestation of the heat.
The day Lyle knocks on his bedroom door, Rodney is sprawled across untidy sheets, fantasizing about just such a scenario. He nearly goes tumbling into the floor when he realizes that this is not some figment of his horny teenaged imagination.
"Your mother said you wanted bookshelves in your closet." Lyle slouches in the doorway.
"Uh," Rodney tries to compose himself, "yeah. Let me show you."
They both crowd into the small space, and Rodney points, and feels utterly ridiculous.
"I think we can manage that." Lyle pulls his measuring tape from his toolbelt. "Let me just get some numbers."
He reaches over Rodney to measure, their bodies suddenly plastered together, and Rodney's lungs are burning, burning, can't breathe.
"Yep." Lyle's breath puffs warmly against the back of Rodney's neck. "That looks perfectly doable." Rodney's certain he's going to combust, but then Lyle takes a step back, and Rodney shivers at the draft his absence leaves on his skin. "I'll go cut the boards."
Rodney sulks among his pages of theories on quantum mechanics, and when Lyle comes back, he's all business, hammering up a storm, shelf after shelf going up in a whirlwind of efficiency. Lyle throws off his shirt and squats down to install the last shelf. Rodney stares at the ripple of his shoulders, and slides off the bed, goes in for a closer look, ready with a feeble "do you need any help?" if Lyle wants to know what he's doing. But Lyle just lays down his hammer and smiles up at him. "All done. What do you think?"
"Beautiful," Rodney says, voice a thin rasp in his throat.
Lyle stands up, more like unfolds, that's how tall he is, and he's still smiling "You can't appreciate the workmanship from out there."
He waves his hand, ushering Rodney inside, and there's no room, not for two anyway, so Lyle is by necessity pressed against him. "Some guys need to come out of the closet, but I'm guessing you really need to come into it." The words are an amused rumble against Rodney's ear, and Lyle's hand settles on Rodney's waist, searing even through the cotton of his T-shirt.
"Yes. Please." Rodney's voice breaks.
Lyle guides him around and mutters "such a pretty little mouth" right before he devours it. Rodney hangs on, dizzied and shaking, his hands sliding on Lyle's sweat-slick skin. Lyle shoves his hand down the front of Rodney's jeans, coaxing and squeezing his cock, and Rodney's eyes fly shut and he bites his lip. He's been desperate since Lyle knocked on his door, since before that, maybe since forever, and there's the scent of linseed oil in the close swelter of the closet and sweat and the sharp, almost burnt smell of newly cut wood. Lyle has a callous on his thumb from wielding the hammer, and he drabs it along the head of Rodney's cock, just right, and Rodney eagerly grapples at the fly of Lyle's jeans, because he wants to come with Lyle's cock in his hand.
He just manages it, his back hitching, breath stuttering in his lungs as he goes off all over them both.
"Don't stop, don't stop," Lyle pants, and Rodney finds enough presence of mind to keep his hand moving, and then Lyle is adding his spunk to the mess that's already covering their clothes.
It gets a little awkward after that. Rodney goes to the bathroom and brings back a washcloth, and Lyle cleans up as best he can.
"So—" Rodney's half tempted to say, You're not going to tell my parents, right?
Lyle smiles and rubs his thumb over Rodney's mouth. "That was real nice. I like being the first. I'd really like to be the first to fuck you, but, hey, a guy can't get everything he wants."
A reckless hope lurches in Rodney. "Maybe—"
Lyle smiles again and lets him go. "Enjoy your bookshelves."
Rodney doesn't see him again, and when he does get fucked for the first time, it's by a physics grad student with soft hands and no clue about power tools. Rodney closes his eyes while the guy is straining above him and imagines the smell of sawdust.