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"What time is it?" Tavros asks, trying to turn to look at the clock next to the bed but pinned down by Dave's head pillowed on his shoulder.

"Eight," Dave says, carefully slurring it in imitation of the Octonut Tavros occasionally plays D&D with, and Tavros snickers, reaching to take his wrist, pulling it close to his face to read his watch. Dave lets him. Sometimes he forgets that Alternians have better night vision than humans.

Dave has a set tonight at Matt's, ten to two, so he'll have to start setting up around nine-thirty, but he carted all his stuff over there and had it locked up before he went to dinner with Tavros. It's a perk of your matefriendsprit being one of the managers. Tavros isn't working tonight, which is a shame, because Dave downloaded – and mostly paid for, ironically – some new Alternian stuff last weekend while taking breaks from doing his math problem set.

On the other hand, Tavros is one of the lucky residents of Central dorm who, when the DJ at Matt's turns the sound up, can hear everything that's playing there. Dave figures he can use rap to lull Tavros to sleep tonight.

Dave's a little sleepy himself, here in the dark with Tavros's warmth against him in bed. He can't say he's used to the way Tavros's legs are dead weight beside him, but it's not uncanny-valley or anything.

Tavros's hand slides from his wrist up his arm, under his long-sleeved shirt, until the sleeve bunches up at his elbow and Tavros's hand gets caught. A puff of November air slips through the leaky dorm-room windows, raising goosebumps on Dave's arm, so he reaches to grab the quilt and pull it up higher over them, his fingertips falling to rest on the studs of the piercing at Tavros's throat.

"Are you, um, staying? For Thanksgiving break?" Tavros asks.

"Yeah." There isn't money to fly home, and there sure isn't time to drive there and back. He'll probably stay over Christmas and Spring breaks, too.

"Where is that?"


He can pretty much hear Tavros trying to remember where that is.

"The South," he adds, and Tavros makes a clicking noise low in his throat that means he understands. "So where's your hive at?"

"About, um, an hour, from the new capital," Tavros says. "But after I graduate, I have to decide. Between Earth and Alternia, I mean. If I choose Alternia, then I have to enlist, and, they will destroy my hive to, um, symbolize my adulthood and to make room for the new, uh, generation. If Earth, then I'm a, a traitor. Sort of. Not Alternian. And they'll destroy my hive. Because I chose Earth."

" either way, your hive turns into a hole in the ground to make way for futher generations of grubs to add to the glory of the Empire."

"Yeah," Tavros says, like he hadn't realized that. "I never thought of staying on Earth, um, before."

"Glad to know that your mind has always been on your inevitable future as the head of Nitram's Xenocultural Academy for Gifted Grublings."


"X-men. Professor X. Mutant telepath in a wheelchair. Comic?" Some things in Alternian history are parallel; some are not. This one appears to have shot off into the cultural void of endless incomprehension and exposition-necessity.


"Reads minds. Stuff like that."

Tavros's hand slides back down his arm. "Psychic powers are common, sort of, for Alternians."

"No shit? No wonder. Don't tell me, your guys's Stan Lee was a propadoppelgandist known for creating posters like With Blue Blood Comes Great Responsibility and The Unbrotherhood of Cullworthy Citizens."

Tavros laughs.

"No, seriously, you should see the movies. My ironic love for the X-Men trilogy can only be expressed through interpretive dances involving hundreds of ex-gays gallivanting in the throes of heteronormative bliss to St.-Theresa's-Ecstasy-inspired renditions of 'Jesus is the Telephone Repairman on the Switchboard of My Life.' Besides, Professor X has this miserable quadrant morass going with his opposite number, it's so romantic you'll be bawling your nerdy orange eyes out."

"I don't think you're supposed to apply Alternian, um, interpretations of social interaction to pre-Warp human sources, but that sounds, um, nice?"

"Fuck postwhateverism; it'll be great, you don't even know." He runs his fingers over the bumps of Tavros's throat piercing, up the tendons of his neck, to cradle the corner of his jaw. The loop of Tavros's earring brushes against the knuckle of his index finger, cool and smooth, and Dave shoulders himself up over Tavros, slinging one knee over his hips, and bends down to kiss him, Tavros's arms rising to wrap around him.

Afer a bit Tavros turns his head, just enough that Dave's mouth smears onto his cheek, and they both breathe, or at least Tavros does, because he gasps when Dave closes his mouth over Tavros's earring, licking at the metal and the skin it passes through. It tastes mostly like nothing, maybe a little of salt, but the ring is smooth and wet now with saliva, and he licks a trail along the shell of Tavros's ear, breathes on it, listens to Tavros gasp and whimper with want, and draws his tongue over the ring again. He was half-hard most of the time they were talking, but now the Littlest Strider is busy panting from all that metal in Tavros's skin.

"I want," Dave says, low and slow and letting the Texas drawl he normally suppresses leech onto his tongue, to ask you to get your tongue pierced, so I can feel metal when I kiss you, when you blow me; to drink PBR from your lips and wonder, later, when I try it again, why it suddenly tastes worse than I remembered; to hear you speak Alternian, and kiss the words out of your mouth; to secret you away in the DJ booth at Matt's and try to DJ while you get me off however you want; to taste your skin in all the places you'll never sense again; to wake up in the morning to a bed big enough for two and no reason to get out of it at all that day, "to hear a symphony of oh-god-yeses and please-daves in the key of F for fuck yeah."

"Dave," Tavros says, desperately, which is close enough, and then Tavros's shirt is coming off, warm solid skin and muscle underneath, and Dave slides his hands down Tavros's sides as Tavros pushes himself up on one arm, sliding a hand under the hem of Dave's shirt and trying to pull it up, just getting it stuck under his armpits.

Dave sits back, keeping his weight from falling too heavy on Tavros's hips, strips off his shirt, and throws it vaguely in the direction of his desk before leaning back down, not touching, just close enough to feel each other's warmth, and then Tavros grins, visible in the smudge of light from the lamp in front of Jegitt dorm, slips his hands down Dave's back and then around, and starts unfastening his jeans.

They've been here before, it's not like it's new, but Dave feels unsettled about it, not because he doesn't like handjobs or anything but because he can't reciprocate. Well. Tavros says he could, but there's no reason to play there besides his own amusement, since Tavros won't feel it.

"Can you, um, jeans," Tavros starts, and Dave rolls off him and strips out of everything, but keeps his socks on because, why not, it amuses him, and then he's back and, God, yes, Tavros's hand on him is warm and slightly calloused and a little on the rough side, and he curls his back and bends down to lick at the other earring, trying to keep things anti-coordinated as he works himself into Tavros's hand. Tavros shivers and moans softly, his other hand reaching to press Dave's head back to his mouth, but Tavros doesn't have the coordination to kiss and give a hand job at the same time, so it's not so much kissing as breathing each other's air, lips almost-touching.

Tavros's hand tightens around him, and, yes, God, he thinks he manages to choke out Close, rocks with it, his mouth blundering into the ring of Tavros's septum piercing, warm metal against his lips, back to Tavros's mouth, and there's a moment of wet heat of Tavros licking at the inside of his mouth before he comes, into Tavros's hand and over his stomach.

He flails with one hand for a few tissues, gives a couple to Tavros and they wipe the mess up together, tossing them away in the direction of the garbage can to deal with later, before Dave lies back on his side next to Tavros, dragging his fingers along Tavros's chest, feeling him breathe desperately, hungry and turned-on, and from the sound of it, close to finishing. He presses his mouth to the side of Tavros's neck, bites his way down it – good thing it's winter and scarves are a requirement, because these days Tavros's neck is always dark orange, livid with bruises, and Tavros doesn't mind it when Dave renews the ones that are already there, pressing into his mouth with a throaty gasp of pleasure. Dave works his way down Tavros's neck, over his shoulders, which are muscled from pushing his wheelchair around, back again to his throat, where he scrapes his teeth against Tavros's piercing, and Tavros lets out a high-pitched, soft keen, going stiff and still against him.

Dave slings an arm over Tavros's chest, enjoying being mostly-naked in bed with him, and slides until he's on his stomach on the bed, face mashed into Tavros's shoulder. "Naptime now," he says.

"Good thing you, um, set the alarm on your phone," Tavros mumbles.

"Yeah." Dave is going to smell like sex all night, which doesn't bother him as much as he used to think it would; on nights DJing at Matt's he actually finds it comforting to turn his head and breathe in and catch the scent of Tavros's skin rising from his own. And now he's going to come back to his dorm room and lie in bed and smell Tavros everywhere, the best kind of territory marking.

He's looking forward to his set tonight.