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Even if my heart would break

Chapter Text

Ethan isn’t particularly fond of libraries. He’s never been one of those who fixated on the smell of a new book, or an old book, or whatever book it is that bibliophiles sniff as if they’re wearing fine perfume. He does, however, know the general location of any book he may need, if only to get in and out as quickly as possible. And, judging by the very flexible couple currently occupying the corner he needs, another student had the same idea, but in a very different context.

He slips away, unnoticed, and pulls up the campus map on his phone, refreshing his memory on the smaller library he remembers noticing on his alternate jogging route. It isn’t that far, and he does need a book.

The second library is quiet, almost cozy, and the few students scattered at the tables are focused on books and notebooks and laptops, working diligently. This is the serious library, apparently, and Ethan half-expects to be kicked out the moment he crosses the security gate. No alarms, no guards hauling him away, so he figures he’s safe, for now. He has to check the map, realizing quickly that this library is not set up in a way he expects, and it’s on his way to the proper shelves that a student catches his eye.

Ethan can’t explain why, this guy isn’t exceptional, he’s not some cliche like ruggedly handsome or male model gorgeous or beautiful or anything like that. He just... is. In some understated indescribable incredibly hot way, this guy is just someone that can’t be ignored. At the very least, Ethan can’t ignore him. Especially not when he nudges his glasses higher on the bridge of his nose and then turns the page in a book that is entirely too thick for Ethan’s brain to even contemplate ever having to read. Ethan looks away just in time to not break his nose on one of the support pillars, does a quick graceful (he hopes) sidestep, and hurries off to the correct shelves. He finds his book, and three others he thinks might be helpful.

Usually he would check out and flee, but not today. Today he goes to the guy’s table, sits across from him, and sets his books down as quietly as possible. He starts flipping through the first one, but it could be written in Russian, or pictograph, for all that he notices. He can’t stop sneaking glances at the guy across from him.

Will notices somebody sitting down across from him, the same way he notices the sun rising and setting down again, or that Benji bought a new sweater (green, this time). It’s not something he really acknowledges. It just happens, and life goes on. He turns another page of his economics book, and scribbles some notes down in his notepad before he risks a quick glance at his watch. He has another forty minutes before he has to head over to the diner to start his shift, and he still has to call Ellie to ask if he needs to buy groceries on his way home and to figure out when to do his German translation due tomorrow. Looks like he’ll have to pull another all-nighter. He tries not to sigh.

Ethan stops pretending to read the text and looks across the table. “Brain melting?” He asks.

It takes Will a second or two to remember that there’s actually another student sitting at the table. “Huh?” is what he comes up with in response, and feels embarrassed the next moment. He’s not used to strangers just starting to talk to him. Granted, Benji started talking to him out of nowhere. Well, mostly out of nowhere, they did reach for the same science book at the same time. Then they spent the next five minutes going back and forth between “You take it” and “No, you take it”, and somehow ever since, they meet twice a week to form a study group.

Ethan chuckles. “That’s a yes, then,” he says. “You looked pretty into whatever it is you’ve got there.”

Will is tempted to look behind himself to see if there’s someone else behind him this stranger could talk to, but he doesn’t. “It’s Basic Economics by Sowell. Were you looking for it? I’m leaving in half an hour, you can have it then. Or now, if it’s urgent,” he says.

“No, that’s okay,” Ethan answers, “I’m not in economics yet, thankfully. I think I’d be comatose during the first sentence.” He offers his hand across the table. “I’m Ethan.”

“I’m Will,” he answers and shakes Ethan’s hand before his consciousness can catch up with his motor functions. He’s not exactly sure what’s going on here, or how to proceed. He’s never been good at small talk.

Ethan grins, mentally congratulating himself at getting a name. It would have been ridiculous to keep trying to make up clever nicknames for him. Will. He likes that name. Short, simple. “Nice to meet you, Will. Freshman?”

“Yes,” Will answers and decides that enough is enough. He has to finish this chapter today, and Ethan is distracting him. He gives him a quick nod, and then bends down to read again.

Ethan blinks, surprised at the somewhat blatant dismissal. It’s odd, usually people are more than happy to sit and talk, especially to avoid studying. Still, he won’t give up, not yet. He reluctantly turns his attention back to the stack of books in front of him. Half an hour, Will had said. He can sit and pretend to study for another thirty minutes.

Will tries to concentrate on what he’s reading, but he basically can feel the other guy staring at him, and it’s unnerving. He doesn’t like to be the center of attention, likes it even less if it’s for no apparent reason. “Something else you want?” He finally asks.

Ethan looks up from the incredibly boring text. “Hm? Me? Kind of, yeah. Coffee, or adrenaline, or something to keep me awake through this.”

“But you keep staring at me.”

“You’re more interesting than a text book.”

“Excuse me?” Will frowns. Is this some kind of joke?

Ethan shrugs. “Person, text book,” he says, gesturing at Will and then at the book. “People win over books pretty much all the time, right? Unless you’re like that teacher from Ferris Bueller, and then I think I’d rather read Latin than listen to him teach.”

Will doesn’t voice his suspicion that Ethan has no clue how to read Latin or how to translate it. “I’m pretty sure you didn’t come into this library to discuss Ferris Bueller with a stranger,” he says instead. “Because -- you know -- a library usually means books. Loads of books. That’s why people come here -- to read, not to talk.”

“You’re not a stranger,” Ethan answers, smiling again. He had wanted to talk more to Will, and if arguing over library usage and old movies is what it takes, that’s okay with him. “You’re Will, we did the whole introduction thing, remember? And Ferris Bueller is an awesome movie, don’t even pretend it’s not. As for books,” he makes a show of looking around, “I don’t think they’re going anywhere.”

Will really doesn’t know how to answer this. It’s obvious he’s not going to get any more work done with this guy around, and he’s sure as hell not going to admit he never saw Ferris Bueller . Not to someone who looks as cocky and sure of himself as Ethan. “Well,” he finally says, “but I am.” And with these words he starts to pack his books. With any luck he can cram in a few more minutes of studying on a quiet table in the diner before he has to start his shift.

Ethan checks his watch, a heavy expensive looking piece that’s at odds with the t-shirt and jeans he’s wearing. “Right, it’s been thirty minutes,” he comments. He grabs his books, tucks them under his arm as he stands. “I should go too, before this place gives me hives, or I learn something by accident.” He smiles again and claps Will on the shoulder. “Later.” He leaves then, because he can’t let someone walk away from him, and very carefully does not look back as he walks to the check-out desk.

Will’s whole skin itches, and not in the good kind of way. Who is this guy? And why did he talk to him? And what the fuck was up with the touching? You don’t go around and touch people at random. It’s just … no, you don’t do that. “Stop it,” Will mutters under his breath. He has to focus, check if he has all of his stuff, catch the bus, call Ellie about the groceries. Right, no space left to think about random strangers trying to talk to him for no apparent reason. He shakes his head and leaves the library.

Ethan turns his head once Will’s walked past, no longer in danger of the other teen catching him staring. He has to admit, he’s not too upset about Will leaving, because it is one hell of a view, watching him go. He leans around the corner, watching as long as he can, and it’s only when the girl behind the desk clears her throat does he finally look away. He grins, unrepentant, and she grins in return, both of them in perfect understanding. Will has an incredible ass.

Chapter Text

Ethan is late, which is really not a surprise. Ethan is late half the time, even with that big watch he insists on wearing because it was his father’s. And because Ethan is late, Julia didn’t buy herself coffee. That will be Ethan’s task, to make up for coming too late again. Although she does wonder what distracted him this time. Surely not the library. Ethan regards libraries as little more than drive-throughs where he wants to spend as little time as possible. The notion that college means studying and therefore reading books hasn’t really caught up with him yet.

Ethan walks into the little shop like he owns the place, the same way he enters every room. He sees Julia immediately, having long ago developed an uncanny ability to locate his friends in any situation. He grins, notices she’s without a drink, and knows exactly what that means. He orders two coffees, pays too much and waves off his change, and carries them to the table. He kisses the top of her head as he delivers her coffee and then slides into the seat across from her.

“Had to go to the other library. There was an incident in the main one,” he explains.

She raises her left eyebrow. “What kind of incident? Did you accidentally set some books on fire because you thought they were attacking you with knowledge?”

“I would never accidentally set books on fire,” Ethan protests, “if they burn, it’ll be on purpose, I promise. Notebooks are a different story. And no, there was sex happening. Where I needed to be. I decided they could keep it, I’d get another copy.”

“Awwww. Were you very sad there was sex happening without you?” She teases him and takes a sip of her coffee. It’s delicious.

“Not the way they were doing it,” Ethan answers, and doesn’t even bother to stick out his tongue, or flip her off, she’s already immune to anything he could do. Hazard of having a best friend, he supposes. “Besides, I didn’t mind going to the other library. Might just keep going there instead.”

It takes a few seconds for that to sink in, but when it does, Julia slowly sets her coffee down, straightens her back, and prepares to stare Ethan down. “Spill,” she orders.

Ethan looks innocently at her, knowing it won’t work, but he has to practice the look anyway, for when he needs it for his professors. “The other library’s very interesting. Very educational.”

“Bullshit,” Julia says and frowns at him. “And cut the crap with the innocent look. That worked only one time, when I didn’t know you. So, what happened? Did you find a secret section full of vintage comic books? Oh God, no, don’t tell me you found someone to have sex with in that library!”

“One, shh!” Ethan hisses, and glares at the woman behind Julia who is shooting them dirty looks. “Two, do they have comic books there?” He holds up a hand before she can get ready to yell at him some more. “Three, and yes I know I’m going out of order, I don’t care, my innocent look works on everyone else, but you. It’s like Kryptonite to a world full of Supermen, except for you. You have some super power that makes you immune. It’s really not fair, by the way. And four, no.  I did not, and do not plan, to have sex in that library. That much skin exposed, what if books fall? I could get paper cuts in very unpleasant locations.”

“One, that your super power doesn’t work on me is actually the universe restoring some kind of balance. Can you imagine a world in which you get away with everything ?” She shudders. “You’d be insufferable. And two, don’t think you can distract me from my original question: Why would you consider going to that library again? What’s in there that makes it worth for you to up with books?”

“That world,” Ethan informs her seriously, “would be awesome.” He sips at his coffee, whatever special mix the barista decided to make him today, and just smiles at Julia, pointedly not answering.

“Honey,” Julia rolls her eyes. Is he really trying to play the stupid card now? “You know that my friend Laura is the student helping out in this library right around now? I could always call her and ask if she’s seen you doing whatever it is you don’t want to tell me.”

“Oh she’s seen,” Ethan promises, “and she’s, uh, very happy with her view. There’s been no doing, either. I’ve been perfectly well-behaved.”

“Wait … you … oooh, who is it?” She asks and leans closer to Ethan. “Do I know him?”

“If you do, and you never introduced us, I will end you,” Ethan threatens, both knowing it’s an empty threat. He loves her, and fears her, too much to ever try to follow through on any sort of retribution for anything she may do to him. “His name’s Will. He wears glasses. It’s very fun watching him walk away.”

“Oh, you’re a horrible human being,” she says with a grin and slaps his arm. “Did you get his phone number?”

“Didn’t ask.” He rubs lightly at the spot she slapped. “Violent woman.” It’s an old and insincere complaint. They’re tactile people, they touch, she has fifteen different types of slaps and he does his best to avoid three of them. That one is his favorite, but not in this moment, because there’s nothing he’s done that deserves it. Yet. “We just talked. Barely.”

“You mean he didn’t fall for your charm on the spot?” She asks, her voice colored with disbelief. It’s rare that people aren't immediately enchanted by Ethan’s easy going smile and that ridiculously soft hair of his. “What did you do? Insult his favorite author? Grab the book he desperately needed right from under his nose?”

Ethan frowns and rakes his hand through his hair. “No. I just sat at his table. I don’t know. Maybe he’s just really into studying. Or disgustingly hetero. I don’t know. I said hi, we talked a minute. That was it.”

“I really shouldn’t tell you this in case it inflates your ego even more, hon, but even disgustingly hetero people usually stop to talk to you. It’s one of the great mysteries of the universe -- wait, did you say his name is Will?” He nods. “Don’t get your hopes up yet, but I think Benji is in a study group with him.”

Ethan’s phone is in his hand the moment she says their friend’s name, and he’s sending a text before her sentence is complete. “My ego is perfectly sized for my incredible awesomeness,” he informs her haughtily, keeping a snooty look on his face for all of three seconds before he’s grinning. “Besides, you love the mysteries of the universe when it means you get to take advantage of them.”

“The one time I ask you to check out if the guy I’m interested in is actually hetero and you won’t ever let me live it down, will you?” She complains, but moves her chair over so she can stare at Ethan’s phone while they wait for an answer from Benji.

“Never,” Ethan answers, “but you loved it when I stole that one girl’s boyfriend our senior year. Don’t even try to deny.” His phone finally chimes as Benji answers, but his answer isn’t nearly as helpful as Ethan had hoped. All he learns from the answer is Will’s last name is Brandt, and he and Benji are taking the same science course, but not in the same class period. He texts Benji that he needs more than that, and to not ask questions, because he knows that would be Benji’s next text, and sets the phone on the table, feeling a little dejected. Benji is their favorite nerd, their resident genius, he’s supposed to know more than that.

“Don’t be too harsh on him,” Julia admonish Ethan, because she knows that look and she knows how much Benji hero-worships Ethan. “Just go and see if you can find Will in the same spot tomorrow, if you’re really that interested.”

“Already planning on it,” Ethan answers, and to appease Julia, he sends another text to Benji, thanking him for the little he was able to give him. A last name is more than he had before, and it is helpful, just not as much as he would like. “But... library,” he adds, making a face. “Why can’t he study somewhere more fun? Like the park? Or a frat house?”

“Really, Ethan? A frat house?” She shoots him a disapproving look. She loves Ethan, but sometimes he can be a total smartass caught up in his own little world. “If you’re already criticizing him, I’d say stay away. Some of us really do need and want to study, and he probably doesn’t need you to meddle with that.”

“It’s a joke, Jules, lighten up.” Ethan scowls at the table and shoves his phone in his pocket. “It’s not like I purposely interrupted his studying. I sat down, I spoke only when there seemed to be an opening for it, and then I left, okay?” He knows he’s getting defensive, hates it, and has to force himself to relax, to not get up and walk away. “Didn’t realize I had to censor my jokes for you now too.”

“You -- ” she stares at him, wondering when this conversation took a left turn instead of right. “You’re serious? About Will, I mean. And I’m sorry, hon, I didn’t mean to make you feel bad. It’s just … I haven’t really seen you that serious in ages.”

Ethan scrubs his hands over his face and then just sits for a moment, elbows on the table and head cradled in his hands. “I don’t know what I am. Serious, not serious, confused, curious, I don’t know. He’s interesting. He’s...” He sighs, shrugs. “Maybe I just need to get laid.”

For a moment or two Julia is just stumped by the display in front of her. She puts an arm around Ethan. “Can I be honest?”

He leans into her, just slightly, but it’s a silent display of trust and affection. “Aren’t you always? Sometimes brutally?”

“Not when you look like this, hon,” she says quietly and squeezes his shoulder.

“Like what? Don’t answer that,” He adds quickly, ”Just be honest on the other thing. Whatever it is.”

“Okay. So, I don’t think you need to get laid. I mean, you can get laid with just batting your eye at someone, and since you’re not doing it right this moment means that this isn’t the issue here. Which leads me to the assumption you’re looking for something more … let’s call it stable and long-term? And because Will isn’t your typical ‘let me drool all over Ethan Hunt’ type kinda guy, you’re actually interested in him, because he might be the stable and long-term kinda guy,” she explains. “How far off am I?”

“I couldn’t get laid because I had to come meet you,” Ethan points out. “I could just be fixating on him because I haven’t gotten laid, but I don’t have any excuse for why I haven’t lately. So maybe, maybe you’re right. I still like the ‘drool-all-over-me’ guys, though. Plus, what if he’s just not interested and I am? How do people handle that?” He knows it happens, people finding others who aren’t interested, but Ethan has never been on the wanting end, he’s always the one who’s been wanted. This, being interested in someone who isn't immediately responding to him, is an odd feeling. He doesn’t think he likes it.

Julia can’t help it, but she has to laugh about Ethan. “Welcome to the world of ordinary people, Ethan,” she says with a giggle. “Well, usually people eat a lot of ice cream and watch crappy telly when they’ve been shot down, but you don’t even know yet if Will isn’t interested. And anyway, that’s not the attitude I know from the guy who’s incredible awesome.” She bumps his shoulder. “I say we try to find Will tomorrow, check out if he’s interested. I can be your wing woman and wear that white, low-cut top. If he doesn’t drool over me in five seconds flat we know you have a shot.”

Ethan drops one arm to the table and turns his head to look at her, giving a half-hearted glare for the laughter, even if he knows he deserved it. “Or he thinks you’re my girlfriend. And you know even I can’t help looking when you wear that top.”

“True, but you’ve known me for ages and admire beauty from all over the place, that doesn’t count,” she says. “And we won’t stroll in there holding hands, you moron. You’ll sit back and wait for my report.”

“Is this some sort of spy operation now? Are you and Benji going to be my operatives? Field agents? Do we get code names?” He teases. The idea is appealing, but his inner geek is just as interested in the idea of sneaking around, gathering information, as he is at finding out whether or not Will might ever be receptive to any of his advances.

“Well, if we have code names then I’m obviously Venus,” she teases him, happy that his mood has brightened. “And this operation isn’t only for your sake alone anymore, I’m intrigued as well.”

“Jupiter was the king, right? Then I’m Jupiter.” He leans over, kissing her cheek. “Thanks, Jules.”

“You’re very welcome, but if you make me bow to you I’ll do unspeakable things to you,” she warns him.

“Yes ma’am.” He grins. “Hey, do you think Benji will kill us if we name him Uranus?”

“Not if you tell him, you know that. He will complain all the time, though,” she says with a smile and stands up. “So, tomorrow at two in front of the library to spy on Saturn?”

“Saturn?” Ethan thinks about it. “Okay, sure, Saturn. Why not. Two o’clock, Operation... whatever the hell it is, part one.”

“And part two will hopefully include a kiss,” Julia ads. “Bye, then.”

“Bye.” Ethan squeezes her hand and gets to his feet, taking his coffee with him.

Chapter Text

Everything’s fine till the moment Will enters the library and remembers the weird guy talking to him again. He had managed to forget all about that incident until now. It got buried under hours of serving tables, of translating a text about the German social security system way after midnight, and the meager hours of sleep he had gotten before he had to show up to class today. But now that he sits down at his familiar table, books and paper spread around him, he can’t help but look for Ethan, and he doesn’t really understand why. He nudges his glasses higher on the bridge of his nose, shakes his head, and goes to work.

Julia walks into the library, well aware of how she looks. This is actually kind of fun, thrilling, really. She doesn’t want to do it too often, her nerves couldn’t take it, but she could do this. For Ethan, because she really does think he needs someone, and if he’s already acting different after one meeting, this could be something.

A few questions to Benji had given her a better description of Will, so it isn't hard for her to pick him out. She wanders the rows of shelves for a moment and then finally approaches his table.

"Excuse me," she says, leaning over just a little, just enough that he'll have a perfect view of her chest when he looks up.

“Hmm?” He mumbles, finishes that one note and tries not to grumble that he got interrupted two days in a row when he looks up. And whoa … what is it with this library that it suddenly attracts all kinds of weird people? This girl looks nice enough, if she wasn’t trying to show the whole world what nature’s gifted her with.

“Hi, sorry,” she smiles, the same smile that helps her get away with a fair amount of trouble all by herself, no help from Ethan required. “Just a quick question. You don’t have any biology texts on you, do you?”

“Um … no,” Will answers with a frown and points at all the clearly labeled economics books on the table. Seriously, do they let everyone go to college these days?

“Last time I needed a book, someone was using it to balance his chair,” she explains. “So I always have to ask, just in case there’s one sitting somewhere I don’t expect.” She smiles again and nods to his books. “I’ll let you get back to work, sorry for bothering you.”

“Okay, no problem,” he says, already distracted by an equation in the book he doesn’t yet understand completely.

She watches him only a moment more and then turns and leaves the library, going back to meet up with Ethan and give her report. She finds him kicking gravel and winks him over. “I have good news and I have bad news. Which do you want to hear first?”

“Bad,” Ethan says immediately. “No, good. No... bad. No... dammit, I don’t know, you can’t say them both together, can you? Bad,” he decides. “Bad first.”

“He’s really into books,” she says. “And I mean, really, really into them. Or he’s pretty stupid so he has to study all the time, but he doesn’t really strike me as the dumb type, more the really, really smart and really, really handsome type. The good news, though, is that I’m pretty sure he’s not into girls.”

“I could still not be his type,” Ethan says, pacing a small controlled path out of sight of the doors. “He’s not dumb. So he’s a bookworm. He’s in Econ. Is it too late to get into Econ? What the hell do you study in Econ anyway?”

“The economy, I suppose? What do I know? I’m going to be a nurse. And hon, you don’t want to get into Econ. You’d wither and die there. Just,” she waves in the general direction of the library entry, “go in there and talk to him.”

Ethan frowns at the doors and shoves his hands in his pockets. “He doesn’t want to talk to me.”

“Oh my … when did you become this big, sulking baby? He’s just distracted by studying. Try asking him … I don’t know, when he goes to the cafeteria, or if he likes coffee. He has to leave the library at some point.”

“So I wait until he gets up and ambush him to get coffee?”

“It’s a bit more work than you usually have to do, but yes, sounds like a plan, Jupiter.”

“Plan sucks,” Ethan mutters. He gives Julia a faint smile. “Thanks for the help, Venus.”

“You’re welcome. And now go and get your man,” she says and shoves him a bit towards the library.

Ethan stumbles a step before he straightens up and walks inside. He chooses another set of books today, is glad he thought to keep his bag with him, so that he can pretend to be a serious student, and settles at Will’s table. He sits across the table again, but two seats down, to not crowd him. He sets his books to his left and a notebook to his right and gets to work, or a reasonable facsimile of it. He has to at least look busy, do something that doesn’t involve staring at Will.

Will’s skin starts to itch the moment the other guy, Ethan, sits down on the same table. He tries not to think about the reason he’s here when he clearly isn’t very fond of libraries, or why that even matters to him. Thankfully, this time around Ethan doesn’t try to talk to him, just sits quietly in his chair and studies. It should be okay, really. It’s the same silence Will enjoys when he studies with Benji, but somehow this seems wrong. “If you don’t go soon, I’m pretty sure you’ll get these hives you’re afraid of,” he finally speaks up.

Ethan looks up when Will speaks and grins, insanely pleased. Not only is Will speaking to him, he’s remembered enough about their previous conversation to bring it up again. “Maybe I’m hoping if I sit with a good student, some of your immunity might rub off on me,” He answers.

“You don’t know if I’m a good student,” Will replies.

“Bad and mediocre students always know the good ones. We have to know who to hate, or suck up to, or beg for help,” Ethan says. “You’re the type who would have been showered with gifts and offers of favors and promises of first born children for five minutes of help. I can tell.”

Will doesn’t really know how to reply to this. It’s just … no one but his family has ever really said something like this to him, and he has no clue why this guy is praising him. He doesn’t even know him, and Will is really not the only student studying hard to keep up his GPA. “I’m … thanks? I think, but I have to go now.”

Ethan tries, and fails, to hide his disappointment. “Oh. Well I’ve got no one to protect me from my hives now.”

“I’m sure you’ll manage,” he says, and then, because he’s stupid or taken over by an alien, he gets his books and claps Ethan’s shoulder on his way out.

“Hey,” Ethan says, a bit too loudly, and winces, then continues, softer, “Will, wait a second.”

“Yes?” Will doesn’t want to turn around, he wants to hit his head against the nearest wall, but his mom raised him to be polite, so he turns around.

“So there’s a coffee place, a little off campus,” Ethan begins, and his smile is just a little softer, a little shy, not like the grins he’s given before, “it’s quiet. Think I could talk you into a change of scenery while you ignore me in favor of your books?”

Will blinks at him because he isn’t sure he heard that right. What kind of proposal is that even?

“Come on,” Ethan urges when it looks as if Will’s hesitating, possibly even ready to decline. “Coffee’s my treat, and I won’t try to make small talk unless you say something first... or at least I promise I’ll do my best. I’ll even bring my own work to keep me sort of occupied.”

“But … but why would you do that?” Will asks.

“Why not? I buy coffee for my friends all the time.”

“We’re not friends. You don’t even know me.”

“All friendships have to begin somewhere, right? I know you’re a good student, you study hard, you’re in Economics... and other classes, I’m sure, and you can’t say you couldn’t find something to drink at a coffee shop, or that you wouldn’t appreciate a drink or a snack sometimes. It’s something, right? It’s a start.”

No, it’s not a start, Will wants to say. It sounds like Ethan made some stupid bet with his frat brothers to punk the poor geek or something. People don’t just come up to him to be friends, and this is becoming an increasingly elaborate scheme to mock him. He should never have talked to Ethan, never should have touched him. God, what’s wrong with him? He doesn’t need this. Like his life isn’t already complicated enough without some pretentious jock making him look like a fool behind his back. “Thanks, but no thanks,” he finally manages to get out and it’s not his bravest moment when he turns around and flees the scene.

Ethan stares at Will’s back, not even thinking about checking him out, too shocked at what just happened. Coffee. It was just an invite for coffee, who doesn’t like coffee? He doesn’t understand. He gathers his things slowly, drops his books on the shelving cart, and leaves the library, walking back to his building. He throws his bag on the floor and changes into his running clothes, picking out his loudest, angriest play list on his phone. Ear buds firmly in place, he leaves the dorm again and sets off on his run. The physical activity will help, and the music will drown out the thoughts he’s not ready to have.

Will’s hands are shaking once he’s a safe distance from the library. He groans and closes his eyes for a minute because he’s sure the world is shooting many disapproving looks right now. Eventually, he fumbles for his phone and hits speed dial. “Jane?” He asks and can’t help that his voice cracks a bit.

“Will?” Jane’s voice comes back soft, concerned, “Honey, what’s wrong?”

“Can you … um,” he swallows, because he hates to ask, to show that he’s out of his depth, but this is Jane, one of the few people he trusts enough to be honest with, “can you come to the diner? My shift starts in half an hour, but I … I mean, if you don’t have time that’s okay, it’s just -- no, wait, forget it, it’s stupid. You probably need to study.”

“Hey, shut up,” Jane says, gently, “I’m free today, my last class was canceled, I’m all caught up on my work right now. I’ll meet you there, okay?”

“Thanks,” he says quietly, already feeling a bit better.

Jane is sitting in a back booth when he arrives, flipping through an old Cosmo and sipping on a glass of lemonade. She looks up when the bells over the door chime and sets the magazine aside, waiting for him to reach her.

Will smiles faintly when he sees her and slides into the booth. “Thanks for coming.”

“Always,” She answers, reaching across the table to touch his hand. “What’s wrong? That call wasn’t like you.”

He runs a hand through his hair and bites his lip. “It’s really stupid, actually, and I have no clue why I’m flipping out over this.”

“I can’t tell you if it’s stupid or not, and I can’t tell you why you’re flipping out if you don’t tell me what it is,” Jane says sensibly. “Talk to me.”

“It’s … it’s this guy,” he mumbles and hides his face behind his head.

Jane blinks, taking a moment to process, to know if Will had really just said what she thinks he said. Then decides he can’t mean it the way she thinks she does, the way she hopes he does. “Is some asshole giving you a hard time? Do I need to kick him in the balls?” She offers playfully. “Or... is he cute?”

“No. Yes. I don’t know.” He looks helplessly at her. “He came to the library yesterday and just started … talking. Talking and touching. And then he came back today and said something about coffee, but that has to be bullshit, right? I don’t even know him, and he looks like one of these rich frat brothers who party all the time and probably have sex with everyone who has a pulse.”

“Pranking people like that kind of goes out with high school, so I don’t think it would be bullshit. Maybe.” She thinks about it. “I don’t know, really. Maybe he just wants to have coffee with you. Maybe he just wants you to do his homework. I don’t know. What’s his name?”

“Ethan, don’t know about his last name. Do you know him?”

“I’ve heard a few girls mention him, but no, I don’t know him.”

“Girls … ” he repeats and ignores the way something in his chest tightens for a second. It’s not like he’s looking or searching or anything. He’s fine the way it is, and anyway, he doesn’t have time for anything but college and work and helping in the house.

Jane studies him for a moment. “Well guys don’t usually gossip about other cute guys in class,” she says. “He asked you for coffee, and I haven’t heard any of the girls talk about coffee with him, or dates, or sex, except in the ‘I wish he’d ask me’ way.”

“You think he wants me to do his homework for him?” He asks, totally ignoring her last comment. He won’t allow him to entertain the idea that this could mean anything else. Better not get his hopes up for something that won’t happen anyway.

She shrugs. “You won’t know unless you go for coffee.”

“Do you think I’m acting stupidly? I feel stupid,” he admits.

“Not stupid,” she answers carefully. “You’re cautious, uncertain. It’s new. It’s okay.”

“It’s not,” he argues halfheartedly. “I basically ran out on him. He probably thinks I’m a socially incompetent idiot now and wonders why he ever bothered to try.”

“Or he thinks you’re playing hard to get and still wants to try.”

“Sure,” he huffs. “As if anyone would go to so much trouble for me.”

“I’d go through hell for you,” She informs him, voice soft but deadly serious, “and anyone who wants you had better be willing to do the same.”

He swallows around the lump in his throat and wonders how he ever deserved someone like her as a friend. “Thanks,” he whispers and squeezes her hand. He wants to apologize to her for making her listen to all of his self-doubts, but she’d only roll her eyes at him, so he doesn’t. “Can I bring you anything? It’s Louis’ shift, and you love his pancakes.”

“Just a short stack, and an orange juice.”

“You got it,” he says and heads for the kitchen to start his shift.

Chapter Text

If she didn’t have the keys to Ethan’s room, and if his bed weren’t so comfy, and if he didn’t have cable, Julia would be somewhat pissed that he didn’t answer her text. Now she’s just worried that something went horribly wrong, and Ethan doesn’t know how to handle a rejection.

Ethan shoves his door open, kicking off his shoes and peeling off his socks, leaving them by his door. His phone is next, tossed on the bed next to Julia, though he doesn’t even look at her. He strips off his shirt, sweat-soaked from the hard run, and drops it with his socks and shoes. He sits on the floor, within reach of his kitchenette, and takes a bottle of room temperature water from the case beside him, draining half of the bottle in one long desperate drink. “Hi,” he finally mutters, glancing towards the bed, towards her, without having to actually meet her eyes.

This is not good. This is very not good, rather shit. Julia shuts off the tv and slides down the bed to sit on the floor, opposite Ethan. She gentle nudges his bare foot with her toes. “You want to talk about it?” She asks gently.

He shifts his foot, lightly nudging her foot in return. “I want a shower and to call someone to buy me liquor. As soon as I’m hydrated, I could use a drink.”

“You don’t need to call someone. Go hit the shower, I’ll ransack my secret stash back in my room. I’ll be back in fifteen, okay?”

“I would kiss you, if I didn’t know you’d slap me for doing it when I smell like this,” Ethan says, and there’s only the ghost of his usual smile, but at least it’s a smile. “Give me twenty, I reek. I’ll pay you back on the stash too,” he promises, but that’s a given thing. He pays for it most of the time anyway, even if she does guard her stash far more protectively than he does his own. “He said no, and he ran out. So ... make it the strong stuff, all right?”

She refrains from giving a tight hug, and not because he reeks, but because she knows he doesn’t want to admit how much it hurt just yet. “Vodka, it is, then,” she says with a nod and gets up.

Fifteen minutes later she’s back with three bottles and has already ordered two pizzas, because they can’t get stupidly drunk on an empty stomach.

Ethan steps out of his attached bathroom five minutes later, wearing a pair of track pants and slipping into a t-shirt as he walks. His hair is messy, haphazardly towel dried, and immediately begins to dampen the shoulders of his shirt. He smiles when he sees her, and it’s a little stronger this time, but he still goes straight for a bottle and takes it to his desk, pulling two tumblers out of the bottom drawer.

“Slainté,” Julia says after she’s filled their tumblers and nods at Ethan. “Pizza will be here in twenty.”

Ethan nods and echoes her toast. He takes a healthy swallow, letting the alcohol burn its way down his throat. “I didn’t bother him ... I tried not to, I mean. I studied a little. We talked a minute, he got ready to leave, I asked him about coffee. He looked like he thought about it, then told me thanks but no thanks and ran out like the hounds of hell were going to come tearing after him.” He takes another drink and sighs. “Except, really, he started it to tell me I should leave before the books give me hives. Which means he listened to the joke I made, but then maybe he was trying to just make me leave? How the fuck do you normal people do this?”

“Trial and error, honey. And don’t think that the rest of us didn’t wish for a fucking guide book to help us through all of this shit,” she tells him. “So, he remembered you. That is a good thing at least.”

“Yeah, remembered me as some kind of freak he doesn’t even want to be friends with,” Ethan mutters, frowning when he realizes he’s already emptied his first glass.

“But he was thinking about coffee with you, right?”

“Yeah, thinking about how to tell me no.” He pours himself another drink. “We didn’t go to school with him, did we? I didn’t somehow slight him and now he’s turning me down because he hates me for something I don’t know I did, right?”

“No, hon. I think I’d remember that fine piece of ass, and me weeping over how another handsome guy would bat for the other team,” she says and nudges Ethan to give her a second fill. “Did it ever cross your magnificent mind that you intimidate him? And that maybe he just needs a little time to process the idea that you of all people are interested in him?”

“Don’t,” Ethan says, and looks slightly uncomfortable. “Not me ‘of all people’. I’m not special.” He honestly believes it too. He knows he’s lucky in his life, that he has it good, great, far better than a lot of people. As much as they joke about what he gets away with, how easy things are for him, he doesn't flaunt it. He's been told since his freshman year of high school that he had the talent to play professionally, but he still plans to finish college, to work just as hard as his father did, as his mother and his uncle do.

Maybe part of why he's drawn to Will is because the other teen doesn't seem to know anything about him at all. It's certainly a change. Or Will knows enough about him that he's made up his own mind, that Ethan's exactly the kind of person that people in his situation often were. If that's the case, if Will's turning him down because of who he thinks Ethan might be, then that hurts, a lot.

He has to voice that last thought, looking hesitantly at Julia. "You think he's heard enough about me that he believes all that stupid stuff? That I'm just a spoiled rich dumbass jock?"

“Honestly? I don’t believe he’s heard anything about you. He doesn’t strike me as the type who’s linked to campus gossip. Maybe he’s really just not used to people wanting to talk to him? At least he looked at me like for the life of him he couldn’t figure out why I’d speak with him.”

“You were wearing your ‘you don’t really need to see my ID top’,” Ethan reminds her, “and about ready to pop out of it. Anyone’s tongue-tied when they first see those things that clearly.” He sips his vodka, rather than gulps, and sighs. “What if he just doesn’t like me?”

“The way I see it, the real question here is if you like him enough to find out if he likes you,” Julia replies and then gets up because the pizza boy had knocked at the door. She pays him because for once Ethan is too preoccupied with his own thoughts to argue with her about money, and settles down on the floor again with the two pizza boxes.

Ethan stares at the open boxes as if the answer to his problem is hidden somewhere beneath layers of toppings and cheese and finally picks up a slice, chewing without really tasting. “I don’t know. It’s like ... he’s my version of what everyone says I am to them. There’s just something there, something about him, and I can’t even figure out what it is.”

She’s known Ethan for ages, has seen him drunk off his ass, has seen him crying over his dad, happy at graduation, absolutely ecstatic when his varsity team won the state championship in their senior year in school, but she doesn’t think she’s ever seen him so … intrigued, for the lack of a better word. “Then, honey, you don’t have a choice but to go to that library again and risk hives.”

“Are you going to visit me in the hospital and do my homework when I break out in them?” He asks. “Because maybe it’d be worth it. Or maybe he’ll shoot me down, again, and we’ll still end up having to get more alcohol.”

“Well, it’s not like we couldn’t buy out Russia,” she replies with a smirk, knowing she’s greatly exaggerating Ethan’s wealth. “But my money's on him just needing a little time to realize you’re totally awesome, and if he doesn’t see that then it’s his loss.”

“You have to say I’m awesome, I know where the bodies are buried.” And normally it would just be a figure of speech, if not for his uncle explaining the saying to them when they were young, which had resulted in them actually burying a pile of Barbie dolls and G.I Joe figurines, in a childish but sincere pact of eternal friendship. “And we could buy Poland, not Russia. You’d have to get used to potato vodka.”

She takes another sip, this time straight from the bottle, and grimaces. “M’afraid I’m too spoiled for that. Your fault.” She points at him with the already two thirds empty bottle. “And I don’t have to say anything. I know three kinds of slaps that make you cry like a baby.”

“Two, the third just makes me whimper pathetically,” Ethan corrects. He shifts closer, taking the bottle away, and wraps his arm around her shoulders. "I'll go back tomorrow."

"Good boy," she says to him and means it. She feels in her gut that this could be something worth pursuing.

His only response is to pass her the remote, and therefore control of the television, and that's answer enough. The conversation is over, his freak out is over, but they have pizza and vodka and no sense in letting it go to waste. He reaches for another slice of pizza, and this time, he actually tastes what he's eating. He doesn't have a plan yet, but he's certain he can think of one while ignoring whatever mindless show or movie she chooses.

Chapter Text

Will's felt better after his talk with Jane, but now that he's back in the library he feels unease settling in his stomach, which in turn makes him angry with himself. He growls a bit under his breath and tries to concentrate on his Business Ethics notes. He's not thinking about Ethan and if he'll show up today. He's not.

Ethan is fifteen minutes later than he had been the previous two days, knowing he only has maybe fifteen minutes before Will gets up to leave. Assuming Will has a schedule and it's not that he can only stand Ethan's presence for thirty minutes before he has to flee.  

Ethan isn't giving him that option today. He returns the books he took the day of their first meeting, and heads for Will's table. He tries to draw as little attention to himself as possible, doesn't sit, doesn't crowd, doesn't even try to say hello. He just silently tucks a greeting card envelope under the corner of a book Will isn't using and starts to leave. He has no reason to stay today.

Will's following Ethan's movements from the corner of his eye, utterly confused by his actions and the envelope. He should be relieved, really, that Ethan doesn't try to talk with him, but somehow that sits just wrong with Will as well. "Wait," he says when Ethan turns to leave.

Ethan stops and turns half way, making it easier to look over his shoulder at Will. He bites his tongue as he runs through six different things he could say that he knows would sound bitter or snide, and finally settles on something neutral, he hopes. "I don't want to interrupt."

"Um yes, thank you. It's appreciated, but I ... " he nervously runs a hand through his hair, "I wanted to apologize for yesterday. I'm afraid I was very impolite, so ... sorry about that."

Ethan dismisses Will's apology with a small shake of his head. "No need. It's my fault anyway. Don't worry about it."

"Still -- " but Will doesn't know what to say now, why he even spoke up at all. He should be glad that Ethan leaves him alone, that he's not angry, but there's also something tugging at his chest that leaves him unsettled. "Do you, um, need help tutoring or something?"

"No," Ethan answers, "not yet, at least. I'm really not as dumb as I look. Or act. Not all the time. But I appreciate the offer."

"I didn't mean to... You don't -- I don't think you look dumb," Will stammers.

"I didn't say you said it," Ethan says, "just making a statement. Repeating the general opinion, whatever."

"Why would anyone think you're stupid?" Will asks honestly surprised before he can stop himself

Ethan shrugs. “I’m a jock,” he says, as if just that one sentence should explain everything.

And Will should leave it at this, because not 24 hours earlier he'd thought the same about Ethan, but now, with the other man standing in front of him, he just can't. He's fought with prejudices all his life and he can relate to whatever Ethan's not saying here. "Doesn't mean it's true," he says gently.

Ethan smiles faintly. "Doesn't mean it's not at least a little true," he counters. "Besides, people who tutor me usually ask for hazard pay."

Will frowns. "Why? Do you set their notes on fire?"

"Only once, it was an accident."

"Must have been some kind of fire if it's still remembered," Will says with a laugh.

Ethan grins and finally turns fully around to face Will, hands tucked into his jeans pockets. Watching Will laugh, even just this little bit, he realizes how very screwed he is. Because Will looks even better when he laughs, and it hits Ethan hard, how much he wants to make him laugh again, see him smile, see him relax, and know he's the reason for it. "Well, it was back home, in high school. I haven't done anything here yet, but I know the minute I do get a tutor, someone will warn them that I'm some sort of pyromaniac with a grudge against notes."

Will's still smiling, trying to imagine a younger, pyromaniac Ethan and only realizes a few seconds later that the warm feeling curled in his stomach is probably due to Ethan's grin so freely given. It suits him. Which is a thought that hits Will like a jackhammer and makes him gulp. He doesn't have time for this, he tells himself. Whatever this is, and no matter how much he likes the warmth it generates in his belly. "Seems like I can warn them now," he says.

"I guess you can," Ethan agrees, and rocks slightly on his heels. "Y'know, you talking to me totally ruins half the stuff in that card now, but I'm glad you did. Are. Whatever."

"The card?" Will asks, blinking, before he remembers it again. "Oh, yes, sorry. I wasn't -- is it really for me?" He wonders why Ethan would write him a card. Maybe complaining that Will's been a rude asshole?

"It has your name on it, so I'd say yeah, it's for you."

"But why would you write me a card?" Will asks with a frown, before he glances at his watch and starts to curse. It's late, and even if he sprints now he's probably going to miss his bus. And all of that because he had gotten distracted by a silly grin. "Sorry, 'm late. Shit, how am I gonna get there now ..." He grabs his books and shoves them in his bag.

"Dammit, I'm sorry," Ethan says, and he really means it. He had only wanted to leave the card, for Will to read or throw away. He hadn't meant to stay and talk, hadn't thought Will would want to talk. He would have come earlier if he'd known, and wasted the entire half hour. Now, he's making Will panic, has made him late to somewhere obviously important. "Where are you going? I'll take you."

"You -- what?" Will stops dead in his tracks and eyes Ethan warily. It's a genuine offer, he recognizes by Ethan's voice, and he'd rather not think about why he thinks he can say that with any kind of authority. He's not sure he wants Ethan to see that he has to work after school, though, which is a silly notion in itself. He's never been ashamed of his work before. He does it to help out his mom, to provide a little bit extra cash so Ellie can get that CD she wants, or he can take Jason and Aaron to a fair. Whoever feels he can mock Will for that can get lost, as far as he's concerned. This, however, feels differently, even if Ethan's wearing a watch that probably cost more than Will makes in a year. "Do you know Fred's Diner?" he asks reluctantly, because he really is late and he needs the money for Aaron's upcoming birthday.

Ethan thinks for a moment, running through his mental map, trying to recall if he's seen that particular diner during his half-assed exploration of the town. "On... Fifth, right? There's a little video rental two doors down? Or am I thinking of the wrong diner?" He doesn't wait for an answer, just snatches Will's bag from his hands and starts for the library door. "Doesn't matter, if I'm wrong, you just direct me where we're going. C'mon."

Will just stares after him, somehow doubting this is a good idea, but it's not like he has much choice here. "It's the one on Fifth, yes," he says when he catches up with Ethan.

"Great." Ethan sets a brisk pace, leading Will off campus and to the next block, to a parking garage. They're in a hurry, they don't have to make small talk, just get to Will's work. He nods at the attendant in the booth and takes Will to a silver Camaro parked on the first level, near the exit. Fishing his key from his pocket, he hits the button to unlock the door and grabs the passenger door, opening it for Will on his way around to the driver's side. "Are you actually late, or just cutting it close?" He asks as he gets into the car, putting Will's bag in the back.

"Cutting it close," Will says once he's wrapped his mind around the fact that Ethan's a freshman with a car, with a nice car nonetheless.

"Then I won't break all the traffic laws." Ethan winks at Will as he starts the car and then looks to his mirrors. He backs out, one hand on the wheel and the other buckling his seat belt. He eases out of the garage, makes sure the street is clear, that Will's own seat belt is buckled, and then pulls out with a squeal of tires and a roar of the engine, taking off for the diner.

Will feels oddly content and nervous at the same time, sitting in Ethan's car. "What did you write in the card?" He asks. "Why did you write a card?"

"It seemed like a good idea at the time," Ethan answers, attention only half on the road as he weaves through traffic. "I wasn't sure you'd talk to me again, so I got that. If you want to know what I wrote, well you can still read it. I saw it go in your bag when you packed up. And any time you want or need a ride anywhere, let me know, okay?"

"But ... why? And can't you just tell me now? It's not like I have much choice but listen to you here."

Ethan shrugs and takes a sharp right to avoid the traffic he sees ahead. "S'an apology," he says, "for making you uncomfortable when I asked you to coffee. And then, well, I asked you out for coffee again. That's pretty much it."

Will doesn't know how react. Which apparently is his standard setting when it comes to Ethan, and it's so far off from his usual behavior that it scares him half to death. "I don't get it," he says quietly half to himself.

"I get that a lot." Ethan pulls up in front of the diner, puts the car into park, and reaches into the back to retrieve Will's bag. It was thrown to the far side, thanks to his driving, and he has to lean more, which puts his face very close to Will's, and he has to bite the inside of his cheek to not grab Will and try to kiss him. His fingers finally brush the bag's strap and he grabs it, then has to figure out the best way to push himself back into his seat without looking like a total idiot.  

Will's pretty sure Ethan evades his question intentionally, but he's also sure Ethan will pull his back if he keeps trying to get his bag this way. "Here, let me," he twists around in his seat to get the bag himself and then his hand touches Ethan's, and he's pretty sure his breath catches in his throat.

"My fault I'm a crazy driver," Ethan says, voice quiet and right in Will's ear. The car's not that big, and they're both trying to fit in the tiny space between the front bucket seats. Will's so close now, Ethan's breath is ruffling his hair on every exhale and he needs to move. He needs to move now.

He doesn't, not immediately, but Will is right, he's already feeling the pull in his back because of how he's positioned. First though, he has to let his fingers run over Will's hand, a not-so-subtle caress, and then drift a little higher, sliding up his wrist, tracing one of the slightly pronounced veins on his forearm, and then he finally leans back, his free hand pushing just slightly on Will's shoulder, needing that bit of leverage to get himself back into his seat.

Something short-circuits in Will's brain right then. Probably the part that normally makes sure he doesn't think about these things, about how people smile or smell, about how good a guy's ass looks in a particularly well cut pair of jeans, about how much he'd like someone just to lean on. He follows Ethan's body when he leans away from him, already missing the warmth of his touch, and then he's pressing his lips against Ethan's.

Ethan freezes. His brain, he's pretty sure, has just packed up and left town. That or it's melting out his ears, he's not sure which. All he knows is there's static in his head. Will, the guy who ran away when Ethan asked to buy him coffee, the guy he got stupidly drunk over with Julia, just made the first move. A move that might not ever be made again if Ethan doesn't make one of his own.

His lips move against Will's, returning the kiss, and his hand finds its way back to Will's shoulder, gripping gently.

Will's eyes slide shut and he's not sure he doesn't embarrassingly groan into this kiss. Right now he doesn't care. This feels too good and he kind of wants to melt into Ethan's touch.

Ethan's hand travels up Will's shoulder to his neck, just to touch him, while they kiss. He wants nothing more than to push Will back into the other seat, crawl on top of him and see if they can make the windows fog, even in the middle of a warm day like this one. He also wants to just drive back to the dorm, drag Will into his room, and find every last sensitive spot on Will's body. But there's something he's forgetting, lost here in the heady taste of Will's mouth. They... fuck.

With a lot of effort, too much, he turns his head away, breaking the kiss. "Work," he manages, and he doesn't even recognize his own voice. "You... when are you off?"

"What?" is Will's dazed reply, before he remembers why he even ended up in Ethan's car in the first place. "Oh, yes, work ... um, will be done by eleven, but ... " he trails off, thinking about the amount of homework he still has to do because he spent his library time forgetting common sense. He just doesn't want to do homework when he can run his hands through Ethan's hair instead. He should probably let someone check if his brain didn't leave unnoticed. "Never mind."

"Eleven," Ethan repeats. "That's a long shift." He cups Will's face in his hand, thumb brushing over his cheekbone. "I'll drive you home?" He offers.

Will gets lost in Ethan's touch and his eyes for a moment. "You don't have to if it's inconvenient... It's a school night and I can take the bus."

"But if you do that, I don't get another kiss," Ethan points out, "and that's even more inconvenient. I'll be here at quarter 'til." He can't help but lean in, press his lips once more to Will's. "Go, before I make you come home with me."

Will's running his tongue over his lip, still not really believing what he just did, what just happened. "Okay ... okay," he whispers and fumbles unseeingly for the door handle. His legs feel unsteady once he's out of the car and walks the last few meters to the diner.

Ethan flops back in his seat, lips still tingling from the kiss, his body humming in the rush he associates more with really good sex, or making that one perfect play, or finally winning a really tough game. He's never reacted like this to just a kiss, even one like that, before. He doesn't understand. How does Will affect him like this, and so quickly? He wants to call Julia, to brag, gloat, something. But a glance at his clock makes him realize she's in class. He'll just head back to campus soon and sit outside the room until she's out.

He starts the car and looks over his shoulder, ready to back out, but sees Will's bag in the back and laughs. All that had happened because of the bag, and Will had walked off without it.

He shuts off the car, grabs the bag, and heads into the diner. He'll hand it over and go. Otherwise he knows he would sit there and just watch Will work.

Will starts when he sees Ethan coming in and is confused until he sees his own backpack in Ethan's hand. He ducks his head and tries not to blush, because normally he's better organized than this. "Thanks," he says, voice barely controlled. Anyone but Jane or Ellie visiting him in the diner will raise questions enough, he doesn't need people to draw conclusions he doesn't want to admit just because he's acting like a schoolgirl with a crush.

Ethan smiles and hands it over. "You're welcome." He can tell Will's a little uncomfortable, that they're being watched, so he's careful that their hands don't touch. "Thanks again for the help," he adds. "Think we can finish going over my paper tonight? Or is tomorrow better?" He's offering Will a way out of him coming back tonight, but still offering an excuse for him to show up, whichever Will chooses.

Will blinks surprised when he realizes what Ethan's doing here, and there's this stupid warm flutter in his stomach again. "Tonight's fine," he says before the rational part of his brain can catch up and argue with him.

"You're just afraid I'll forget everything you explained if we don't finish this today," Ethan accuses playfully, acting the part of a frustrating fellow student perfectly. "Fine, tonight."

"So you'll come back?" Will asks and can't help the way his voice cracks a bit at the end. As much as Ethan's perfect playing this as some kind of tutor job, Will is utter rubbish doing the same. He's suddenly afraid he dreamt all of this and once Ethan leaves he'll be gone for good.

"Yeah, sure. Easier, right? Quicker we start, quicker we finish." Ethan has to leave before he does something stupid, like drag Will back to the car and just pay off his boss to let him skip and pay him whatever he would have made while working. "I gotta go. I'll see ya." He nods to the girl behind the counter, flashing her a smile and a wink, and forces himself to walk out of the diner and back to his car.

Peggy giggles behind Will, and he can't even fault her for it. Ethan has this effect on people it seems, since Will feels weirdly light-headed at the moment. He still has to work, though, and only catches a break two hours later. He uses it to text Jane, only writing "I kissed him" because he can't even begin to fathom how to explain it.

Jane texts back immediately, a series of messages like she's too excited to take her time. He gets a 'WHAT?', followed by 'Who?', then 'Ethan?', 'Really?', and finally she sends complete sentences. "Tell me EVERYTHING. Tonight after work."

"Can't" he texts back. "Ethan's gonna pick me up. Omg. What did I do??"

"It's called living," She texts back, adding a smiley emoticon. "You'll be fine or I'll kick his ass. Text me when you get home. Love you."

Will stares at her latest text and forces himself to take a deep breath. Home. Shit, he hadn't thought about that. Ethan will expect to drive him back to the campus, and if Will directs him somewhere else he'd have to explain why and he doesn't think he's ready for that particular talk yet.

Chapter Text

Ethan had finally gone back to the school, as planned, and he's sitting on the bench outside of Julia's classroom when the students start filing out. He catches her eye and grins, practically bouncing up to his feet and waiting for her to get close. "Hey."

"Hey," she replies, not exactly sure what to expect. Either Ethan got shot down and is overcompensating now or it went especially well. "Sooo?" She asks and links arms with him.

"So I was just gonna drop off that card and leave, y'know? But he stopped me before I left. We talked. Until he was almost late to work. So I drove him." He takes her bag as they walk, slinging it over his own shoulder. It's a habit he can't break with Julia, and Benji, always wanting to carry whatever books they have. And now, thanks to this afternoon, Will is joining the privileged few who have Ethan Hunt playing pack mule for them. "That's progress. Big progress. Right?"

"Definitely!" she says, happy for him. "But why do I have the feeling that's not all?"

"Because you know me." Ethan knocks his shoulder against hers. "He kissed me. Really kissed me."

She stops dead in her tracks and stares at him. "What? But ... How? When? I need details, mister!"

Ethan laughs. "I don't know how it happened, or why. We were both reaching to get his bag out of the back seat. He got the better angle, so I finally moved. I sat back, he leaned over and kissed me."

She squeals. "And you spent yesterday night moping! Oh my ... wait, did Will flee the scene then? Or are you going to kiss him again?"

"I stopped it," Ethan admits, making a face at her squeal. "Easy on my ears, Jules, huh?" He tugs at her arm, making her walk again. "I didn't want him in trouble. But I'm going to pick him up tonight. He'll let me drive him home."

"Oooh, this is so romantic," she says with a big smile. "Any plans for," she wiggles with her eyebrows, "you know."

Ethan glares ineffectually at her. "He ran away because I asked him for coffee. I got lucky with the kiss, and then he was all fidgety and nervous when I'd gone into work to give him the bag he forgot. I don't know what I'm doing. I don't know what he's doing. Hopefully I'll figure him out before it blows up."

"He kissed you. You must be doing something right," she reminds him.

"Everyone kisses me," Ethan reminds her. It's barely an exaggeration. He's been kissed a lot, especially in high school, and mostly by fans with no respect for personal space. But he's never had someone who initially hadn't wanted to speak to him suddenly try to lick his tonsils. "We'll see tonight. I even gave him an out, and he still said I could come pick him up."

"Have a little faith, hon," she says and hugs him closer. "Maybe that's all new for him and he's stumbling his way through."

"Maybe. But that's kinda sad," Ethan says, thinking about her words. "This can't really be all new for him, can it? Maybe it's just that I'm his first guy. No way I'm really his first."

"Ethan," Julia says with a stern voice. She has some pretty strong opinions about what the general society makes kids and teens believe is normal and how much it can screw things up. "So what if you are?"

Ethan shrugs. "It's sad, that's all," He says. "Say the average age for starting to date is fourteen. That's five years of him not knowing he's incredible. It's a lot of time I have to make up to him."

At that Julia kind of wants to melt. Ethan doesn't look like it, but he can be an incredible sap. "Right, sorry. But then Will's one lucky guy he's got you to make up for five years."

"If he lets me," Ethan adds. "He's... a normal guy. You know sometimes they get weird about guys like me."

"Then you just have to show him how normal you can be," Julia says. "Don't sell yourself short, Ethan, you're nothing like these snobs who think everyone drinks champagne for breakfast."

"Maybe." Ethan smiles faintly. "At least I didn't bring the BMW down, right?"

"Wait until the second date," she replies with a laugh.

"Second anniversary, maybe. Think I can hide the family secret that long?"

"There's no need to hide it. It's not your fault your family is loaded," she says with a frown. "And if he despises you for having money, then he doesn't deserve you."

"You know it's easier to say that stuff than to believe it. At least we're starting out as normal people. So maybe it won't matter."

"Worry about that later. Now just concentrate on this evening. Do you know where he lives on campus?"

Ethan shakes his head. "I'll find out tonight. We can drive back here and I'll walk him or I'll just drive him to his building. Whatever he says."

"I hope you know I'll have your balls if you don't text me how it went."

"Yes, dear," Ethan says. "I just have to kill time until 10:30."

"His shift goes so long? Ouch."

"Eleven," Ethan corrects. "I can leave at 10:30, be there a little early."

"I hope he can sleep in tomorrow," Julia says absentmindedly. "And that he doesn't have any homework left to do."

Ethan frowns, feeling as if he's missing something. "What? Why?"

"Well," Julia counts the things on her hand, "going to classes, studying in the library, doing homework, and then working a shift in a diner? I'd drop like a stone at the end of each day, praying to every deity that the next day will be a snow day and I don't have to go anywhere."

"Oh." Ethan hadn't thought of any of that. "So... I really was a pain in the ass, wasn't I? Interrupting him." That temptation from earlier, to have just paid off the diner's owner and dragged Will away is back, but now it's because he wants to let him relax, if that really is what his days are like. "He can't work like that all the time, right? He'd better not. Maybe today's just a rare thing."

"Maybe he doesn't have a choice. I don't know. Let's hope not."

"Hope so." He stops at her dorm and kisses her cheek. "I've got practice."

"You'll be okay till 10:30? Or do you want me to come over later?"

"I'll text you, let you know."

"Good. I still haven't watched that new Star Trek movie that Benji swears is brilliant if you need distraction," she says and hugs him.

"He just likes the supposed science of it." Ethan squeezes her and lets go. "Love you," He calls over his shoulder as he sprints away. He's cutting it close to get to practice, but he'll make it. He needed the talk with Julia more than he needs to listen to his coach, not that he'd ever say that out loud.

Chapter Text

Time moves too slow and too fast at the same moment, and Will has a hard time concentrating on his work. It's like he's two people at once. The Will he knows, the one that plans and works and cares for his family and doesn't think about if he wants to kiss someone silly. And then there's this other part that apparently belongs to him now, the one that wants to taste Ethan's lips again and again. Scratch that, kissing Ethan won't be enough, not by a long shot, and his knuckles turn white when he thinks about all the things he does want to do with and to Ethan.

Ethan's able to put Will mostly out of his mind during practice, too busy running drills and trying to tactfully tell his coach he thinks he's an idiot and there are six better defensive formations than the ones he's trying to teach them. The argument, the demonstration, and the resulting victory in getting his coach to try his way distracts him wonderfully. Giving a couple of teammates good-natured hell over spectacularly bad plays helps him keep focused in the locker room, and it's later than he expected when he finally heads to his room.

He texts Julia that he's just going to work on an assignment, not watch a movie, but he wishes that he had invited her over anyway, because after an hour of turning his math homework into a playbook, he gives up and watches TV for as long as he can stand it. That doesn't last long either, and he finally just grabs his keys, a notepad, a pen, and a book he's supposed to read for English and heads for the diner early. He hasn't eaten since before he met Will in the library and he's starving. Hopefully Will won't yell at him for going there to eat.

Will's surprised when Ethan turns up shortly after ten, and then tries to suppress a silly grin. He waves Peggy away and goes over to where Ethan's settled down. "You're early."

"I forgot to eat," Ethan explains. "I'm starving. Was kind of hoping you could recommend something good."

"Oh, sure," Will says, suddenly feeling very nervous. " about pancakes? Louis makes the best ones in town."

"Perfect. Can I get a milk, and an orange juice, and whatever kind of fruit you've got too?" Ethan requests. "And take your time, do whatever you've gotta do before me. I'm not going anywhere."

"I'm a waiter, Ethan," Will says. "It's my job to take your orders and get you what you want." And now that he's phrased it like this he's blushing and bites his lips.

Ethan grins, and it's just a little wicked, because he can't help but take Will's words in a way that they were most definitely not intended. "Yeah, but I don't think they serve that here," he teases. "I'm just saying I can wait for you for as long as it takes," and they're talking about work, but he means it in another way too, a way that has nothing to do with Will's current part-time occupation. His grin has softened to a smile, warm and fond, and he has to play with the paper-wrapped silverware on his table to not reach out to touch Will.

Will knows he's staring, and he has to shake himself a bit to flee whatever spell Ethan apparently can cast on him with his sheer presence alone. "Drinks and pancakes with fruit, then," he repeats because he doesn't trust himself with anything else and manages not to trip over his feet on his way to the kitchen.

Peggy has taken to staring at Ethan, but Ethan's clueless, playing with the condiments on the table, still desperate to keep his hands busy. He starts blocking out the very plays he had been designing during practice, forcing his mind into sports mode. It's that or do something that might cost Will his job, like shoving him against the nearest wall and jerking him off.

Will starts to think that encouraging Ethan to come back was a mistake. One with a capital M. Not only has he still not figured out how to tell Ethan where he lives, but somehow it started to really matter what Ethan thinks of him, and he’s afraid Ethan will turn around and leave if he finds out why he lives at home. It’s not a rational thought, he knows, and Jane would kick him for it, but he can’t help it. Ethan strips away all the security and confidence Will usually feels, and leaves only messed up feelings behind Will doesn’t know how to handle.

Ethan finally realizes that Peggy is staring and he looks up, nodding to her. But it's just a friendly acknowledgement. Usually it would be another grin, a wink, a harmless bit of flirting because even if he's not really interested in sleeping with girls, he can't help the flirting. It's just expected. It's fun. But it feels weird, wrong, to do it when Will is so close, when all he can think of is kissing him again, touching him. He has never felt this much this quickly, not for anyone he's ever tried to date, not with anyone he's dragged to bed. He doesn't understand it. It's like what he imagines jumping off a cliff or out of a plane must feel like. Terrifying and exhilarating and amazing all at once.

Will watches Ethan nodding towards Peggy, a perfectly nice gesture, and still it shoots hot spikes of jealousy through him. He wants to hit his head against the nearest hard surface to pound some sense into it, but then Louis calls him because the pancakes are ready. He takes them and the rest of the order and heads to the booth Ethan’s sitting in. “I hope you enjoy them,” he says to him.

"Thanks," Ethan says, smiling up at Will. "They look great." But at this point, Ethan would happily eat cardboard. He's that hungry. Of course, the food could be awful and he'd say he loves it, if just because this is where Will works and he can't, won't, insult anything associated with him.

“Actually, I mean,” Will fiddles with the cords of his apron, “um, I’m off now … it’s a slow night, so Louis said I can go earlier to help with your paper. Do you mind if I keep you company while you eat?”

"Please," Ethan says, and he's way too happy at this, Will wanting to sit and keep him company. "I wanna talk to you about a couple of things too. Sit."

Suddenly filled with dread, Will takes off his apron and slides in the seat opposite to Ethan. Not that not every fiber of his being screams at him to sit as close as possible to Ethan, but he has to at least appear like he’s in control. He works here. “Yes?” He asks unsure. “About what?”

"Well, I need to know where to take you after this," Ethan says as he cuts into the pancake stack. "And I was wondering, you don't work like this all the time, right? I mean, the long day. Because I don't know that I like that idea, you having to work all the time, plus school and everything. I'd never see you, unless I just camp in the corner and wave at you as you walk past or something."

“You’d like to see me?” Will asks, dumbfounded. He still doesn’t get why, exactly.

"Kinda thought that was obvious."

“Yeah, sure, I mean … god,” Will sighs, “I’m usually not that stupid, sorry. This … ” he takes a deep breath, “this is new for me.”

"Me too, really," Ethan says honestly, looking up from his plate. "I mean, it's not, but it is, but it's not." he sighs. "It's hard to explain."

“Oookay,” Will says. He can’t imagine Ethan’s new to the whole liking other men business, but he’s afraid to ask in case it’s more in the line of new to liking totally clueless men business.

“There’s not a way to say it that doesn’t sound like I’m a conceited asshole,” Ethan tries to explain, but he’s not sure he’s really helping himself here. “I’ve never had to, well, try this hard,” he finally says. “You’re different. It’s different. I like it, but it’s weird too, I’m nervous as hell.”

“You’re right, that does sound like you’re a conceited asshole.” Will tilts his head. “But you get points for being honest. So I’m going to be honest as well.” He takes a deep breath. “I don’t live on campus because I can’t afford it.” There, it’s out. Take it or leave it, he thinks, but fervently prays that Ethan stays.

Ethan frowns at Will’s agreement, and even after he keeps talking, he feels like this, whatever this is, will turn out very badly, very quickly. He needs to talk more, explain more, but he’s suddenly worried about something else more than what Will thinks of his earlier statement. “You’re a local though, right? I mean you’ve got family, a house, something, not some tiny little shit apartment you’re trying to afford by yourself because you’re here alone or whatever?”

“I have family, don’t worry. You don’t have to drive to some bad neighborhood you’d need a gun for.”

“I don’t give a damn about me,” Ethan mutters, and he’s starting to feel on edge, like this is all about to blow up. He’s not going to censor himself now, and if it goes wrong, it goes wrong. If it works out, it works out. “I just meant I’d worry about you. Working yourself too damn hard. I’d move to a double room and let you share until I move out of the dorms if I had to. But if you’ve got family and stuff, then it’s okay. Just tell me where you live, I’ll drive you there. Hell, tell me your schedule and I’ll drive you to school any time you need it. It’d give us more time together, let me actually use the car more than I do.”

All spark, all warmth leaves Will in an instant. “Excuse me?” He asks with a growl. “What is this? Are you trying to turn me into some kind of kept boy or something? I don’t need you driving me around. I don’t need you to provide a place to live.”

Ethan has no idea how Will made that jump and there’s the familiar slow burning rage creeping up on him. He pushes his plate to the side, lays down his knife and fork so he doesn’t do something stupid, like throw them. “If I wanted a kept boy, I’d have one already,” he says, voice deceptively calm and low. “I was only worried about you, but you said you have family, and that was fine. It’s not like I said I was going to go rent an apartment and move you in. I would have just gotten a different dorm room if you’d needed somewhere. I said I’d drive you so we could see each other at a time where I wouldn’t be interrupting your studying and to give me an excuse to drive. I don’t give a fuck if you can’t afford to live on campus as long as you weren’t trying to kill yourself working too hard to afford a place when it would have been easy to share a room. And offered my car so you weren’t forced to adhere to a bus route and its schedule and not your own. I thought I was offering something nice.”

He stands slowly, grabs his wallet, and tosses a folded bill on the table to cover the food he no longer has an appetite for, despite how hungry he had been just minutes before. “I guess I really am just an asshole. Thanks for letting me know.” He meets Will’s eyes, briefly, and there’s anger there, but pain too, like he’s hurt more than anything else. He walks away without another word, and it takes everything in him to not slam the diner door open on his way out. He could pay for another door, if it broke, but Will would probably have something hateful to say about that too.

Will’s pretty sure he’s the worst human being on earth right now. It takes him only a split second to run after Ethan, and when he leaves the diner the cold night air makes him instantly shiver. “Ethan, wait!” He yells after the retreating figure.

Ethan takes a few more steps towards his car before he finally turns around. He’s only wearing a plain long sleeved shirt and jeans, but the cold doesn’t seem to bother him. “What?” He asks flatly.

“I’m sorry. You just tried to be nice and I blew up in your face, but that’s not … that’s not me. I’m not mean. I don’t judge people I barely know. I don’t assume stuff like … like you having to pay for sex, because, let’s be honest, with your looks people should line up to do whatever you want them to do -- which, oh my god, I really said that out loud, didn’t I?” Will pinches the bridge of his nose. “You scare me. This,” he points at the space between them, “scares me. It’s new and confusing, and I really don’t do well with confusion. I like plans, strategies, hell, I have a planner filled with paper deadlines and doctor’s appointments and play dates for the next three months. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I’d need room for someone like you, that I’d want room for someone like you, but I do. And that … I don’t know what to do with that feeling.”

Ethan hadn’t been able to help his smile, however faint, at Will’s disbelief at what he’d said, but the rest, it still hurts him. Will is so many things that Ethan is not. “This afternoon you were willing to believe I was more than a dumb jock without any idea about me, even knowing, by my own admission, I hated libraries and studying. Then you jump down my throat when I’m genuinely worried. I can’t help what I am, who I am, how I think. I’m a crazy bastard, I know that. I’ve been told that my whole life. I barely make plans, change them in the middle of whatever I’m doing, and just convince myself they’ll work. I have to have other people remind me of deadlines or I’ll forget, and not really care if I miss them. I was in that library for the first time ever and it was just by chance, an accident, that I saw you. And there was something about you that made me want to know you. And you didn’t know me, didn’t have a clue, and it was weird and it was good and I liked that. I liked that you were completely clueless about me and I wasn’t having to go against some preconceived notion, whatever gossip or rumors you might have heard. You were the first person I thought might see me for me and not for whatever someone else had told you I was.” He sighs and scrubs a hand over his face, watching Will standing there, shivering. He pops his trunk, rummages around, and walks back to Will, handing him a heavy jacket. “Put that on. I’m not done talking, but I don’t want you cold and I don’t want to go back in there after our lovely little discussion they just witnessed.”

Will hadn’t thought about the patrons or his colleagues in the diner. He knows he should be worried about how much they’ve heard, what kind of conclusions they’ve drawn, but he’s tired and miserable and can only bear so many freak-outs per night. He’ll face that crisis in the morning. He puts on Ethan’s jacket and lets himself slump down on the curb, hugging his arms around him. “It’s not you,” he whispers, eyes downcast. “I still think you’re the most intriguing and awesome guy I’ve ever met. I just don’t do well with other people worrying about me, guess I’m just not used to it.” He shrugs. “Tends to freak me out.” And he knows it’s probably not a good enough explanation, that Ethan deserves something better, but it’s all he can offer for now.

Ethan sits next to Will, but leaves a small space between them. “I worry about my friends. Obsessively. I take care of them because I want to. Because I only have two friends I know have always liked me for me and not what I had or what I could do for them. And I want you in that group. It’s not because I think I can buy you, or that I’m trying to. It’s because if I can do something to help my friends, if it’s good for them, then it makes me feel good. That’s all I wanted to do. I wanted to be sure there wasn’t anything I could do to make things easier on you, I wanted a way to spend a few minutes with you where I wasn’t bothering you like I do at the library.”

“You’re not bothering me in the library, I mean, yes, you do … but mostly you just confused the hell out of me. Still do, to be honest. I never … ” He turns his head away. “I’ve never wanted to kiss anyone before. Never even thought about it, but with you … it’s like all I can think about.”

“In the interest of trying to clarify my conceited asshole words, and what you said earlier... people do. Line up, I mean. Figuratively speaking. But it is just for how I look. Just making out, just sex. And it’s nice to have, I mean, I like it enough, but...” Ethan shrugs, “it’s still not because of who I am. I don’t want that, I don’t need that. I want to know what the whole relationship mess is like, even if there are epic fights and stupid sappy romantic shit. I think I am a stupid romantic sap, really, I just never found someone to bring that out in me. Until now. You. And you’re scaring the hell out of me too, but I like it. I want whatever we can be, whatever we do. I want to know what it is between us.” He reaches out slowly, laying his hand on top of Will’s. “I had to force myself not to touch you in there, to not kiss you just because you were there and I was glad to see you. It’s ridiculous, but I can’t help it. You make me feel all these things I’ve never felt.”

Will turns his hand upside down and tangles it with Ethan’s, hidden in the shadows between them. “I can’t here … but if we could drive a few blocks away, I’d very much like to kiss you again,” he admits, hopes that this is enough for Ethan, that he understands what Will isn’t saying.

Ethan squeezes Will’s hand. “I want that too,” he says softly. “But there’s still a lot to talk about now.” Will has said a lot in the short time since they walked out of the diner, and Ethan’s still processing it all, trying to commit the pertinent parts to memory, trying to hear what he isn’t saying. He has things he needs to ask, understand, and they need that. He thinks they need that before they can repeat what happened in the car that afternoon.

There’s already too much passion in this and he doesn’t know if it’s going to burn out fast or if it could last, but now he feels unsettled. That sensation he’d had of jumping, of almost flying, is gone, turned into something sour, sitting heavy like a rock in his stomach. One kiss, their first kiss, had become an impromptu make out session that could have been even more if he hadn’t remembered they were in front of Will’s work. One misunderstood comment had become a fight.

He’s already pretty sure he’s growing addicted to Will and he’s almost afraid to be his usual carefree self now, afraid to just jump in and trust it’ll work out somehow. That’s what had gotten him this far, but it’s also what almost ruined it. He can’t start this, can’t have Will and then just lose him, he’s not sure he can take that.

He gets to his feet, still holding onto Will, and tugs gently to get him to stand. “Come on. We can park by your house, go to the dorm, whatever you want. Wherever you’re comfortable.”

Will’s not sure he wants to follow Ethan, not when he’s already fucked everything up because he … he doesn’t even know what he did. Just that it went horribly wrong, which really shouldn’t have come as such a surprise, if he’s honest. He doesn’t do this whole crushing on people thing, he doesn’t want to kiss them senseless. And now Ethan doesn’t want to kiss him anymore, but to talk, and Will can already imagine how badly he’ll screw that up as well. “You don’t have to,” he says quietly, still not meeting Ethan’s eyes.

Ethan closes his eyes briefly, trying to stay calm, and takes a slow breath. “Will, I -” he stops, sighs, and scrubs his free hand over his face. “I don’t have to do any of this. I didn’t have to drive you to work, I didn’t have to come back tonight. I didn’t even have to stop when you called me after I walked out. I chose to. I want to. I just want to talk, to see if we’re going to be okay. Because we can’t kiss like we did this afternoon and then fight again. I want to make sure the fight’s finished before we make out. We’re not at the point to fight to make up yet. We haven’t even had a date. I think we have to go on a date before we can have a real fight.”

Will doesn’t know what to say to this, but there’s a voice in his head that sounds remarkably like Jane and that tells him to take a leap of faith. And he really, really wants to go out on a date with Ethan someday, so he grips Ethan’s hand a bit tighter and nods. “Okay.”

Ethan smiles, and it’s just a shadow of his usual ones, it’s cautious, but this is progress. He hopes it’s progress. “Good. Where do you want to go?”

“Your dorm?” Will asks, because that’s the only option that comes to his mind. Just sitting around in a car somewhere would look suspicious, and they sure as hell can’t just park in Will’s driveway.

“I - yeah,” Ethan says. “Don’t make fun of me for my stuff, okay?” He finally drops Will’s hand and goes to get the car door open for Will.

“Why would I make fun of your -- my backpack.” He rolls his eyes. “Why is it that every time I’m around you, I forget all my stuff? Gimme a sec, will you?” He says and darts back inside to grab his stuff, ignoring Peggy’s questioning glance, and heads back to Ethan. “Ready now.”

Ethan inclines his head towards the open car door, silent instruction for Will to get in, and goes to his side, starting the car immediately and turning on the heat, just in case Will’s still cold. He’s used to winters well below freezing, this weather’s nothing to him, but he’ll run the heat if it’s what Will needs. Already he’s realizing he’ll do a lot of things for Will, and this is dangerous, especially since they’re on such shaky ground right now.

Chapter Text

The car ride back to campus is filled with silence and Will’s playing with the straps of his backpack. He has no clue what to expect, what possible questions Ethan has for him, and if Will will have sufficient answers.

Ethan parks in the garage and takes Will back onto campus, hating the distance right now. He doesn’t mind it, he considers it part of his daily exercise, but it’s late and colder than he expected. At least he knows his jacket’s warm, and hopefully keeping Will warm enough. He’s thinking a lot as they walk, bypassing most of the dorm halls. He knows Will’s already figured out he has some money, but the dorm they finally enter is the nicest on campus. He hadn’t exactly meant he didn’t want Will to make fun of his things, but more that he didn’t want Will to turn and run when he saw the sheer amount of possessions he had there. He normally hates that he hadn’t been able to get a double room, for either Benji or Julia to stay with him, but right now, he’s thankful.

He takes Will to his floor and then to his room, unlocking the door. He flips on the light and kicks off his shoes, waving Will in behind him. “Want anything to drink?” He asks, heading to the small kitchenette and looking into the fridge. It gives him something to do, and keeps him from staring at Will as the other man takes in the room. He’s afraid to see Will’s face when he sees his TV, the cluttered entertainment system filled with movies and games, and the sleek laptop sitting next to a monitor, with an extra computer tower tucked under the desk. He suddenly feels like just having some of his things here is like he’s trying to rub it in Will’s face, like he should have it all hidden away.

“That’s … wow,” Will says and unlaces his shoes. “It’s really nice,” he adds and is suddenly very well aware of how much money Ethan really has, but he tries not to let it intimidate him. He’s already screwed up more times than he cares to count tonight, he’s not going to hurt Ethan further by treating him differently because of money. He thinks that would be the nail in the coffin to make Ethan give up trying with him, and he doesn’t want that.

“It’s a lot, you mean,” Ethan says, and he finally leaves the fridge, two bottles of water in hand, and goes to perch on the edge of his bed. “You don’t have to take off your shoes,” he offers. “I just hate wearing them. Take them off as soon as I can. It’s not like it’s a room rule or something.” He doesn’t know what to say, or do, to not upset Will again, feels like he’s walking on eggshells, and just because he and Julia leave their shoes piled at the door doesn’t mean Will has to do that too. It might be how they grew up, lectured about tracking dirt everywhere, that makes them do it out of habit, but Ethan really does hate shoes, so it’s not a lie.

“Relax,” Will says with a small smile and kicks off his shoes, “my mom would scold me for leaving prints on a carpet regardless of whose carpet it is.”

Ethan does as Will says, letting out a slow breath, and holds out the extra water bottle. “Drink?”

“Thanks,” Will says and takes the bottle. He hesitates a moment before sitting down next to Ethan, not quite touching, although that’s all he wants to do right now. But no, Ethan had wanted to talk, so talk they would, and pray it didn’t end up in a fight again.

Ethan reaches over, laying his hand on Will’s, just as he had done outside the diner. Will draws a shuddering breath before moves his hand out from under Ethan’s. “No. Not that I don’t like you touching me, but you said you wanted to talk. And I can’t talk when you touch me, because then I only think about how much I want to kiss you and you said no kissing.”

Ethan nods, appreciating the explanation, and lays his hand on his own thigh instead, reminding himself not to touch. His idea, he needs to follow it. “Obviously, I’m rich,” he says, and there’s a faint twist to his lips, a tone in his voice, that says it’s not something he actually likes to admit. With Julia, it’s different. With others, it’s usually more trouble than it’s worth. “Really. And people are friendly because of that. I don’t trust that easily anymore. But you’re not like that. I know, painfully now, how much you don’t want me for my money. It doesn’t mean I won’t use it, if I get an idea. I have bad impulse control. I spoil people I care about. I can try to respect your views on things, try to watch myself, but I needed to make sure you understand that, so we don’t have an issue again like tonight.”

Will mulls over it for a moment, and finally speaks. “I can’t promise I won’t freak out on you again when you do that, but I’ll try to remember you do it because you … care.”

“I’ll try to think of a good excuse when I give things to you. I’ll get familiar with all of the unofficial holidays or something,” Ethan jokes. “I do care. Even if we don’t date... I think we can try to be friends. I could use someone with an overly organized schedule and I think you need someone to remind you there is an outside world beyond school and work.”

Will has barely heard the last part, because his brain is stuck on “don’t date”, and there’s an icy feeling in the pit of his stomach. “Wait, do you … don’t you wanna date anymore?” He asks, chest tight. Not that he wouldn’t understand if Ethan came to the conclusion that somebody like Will is a poor choice, because he’s surely realized by now that Will isn’t out and proud and that’s probably nothing Ethan can live with.

“What?” Ethan stares at Will. “No! I mean yes! I do!” He says quickly. “I do. But... you’re... I’m... I’m not totally out. And you’re not at all, right?”

“You’re not out? But you’re -- you’re Ethan,” he says and realizes too a late that it sounds ridiculous.

“Hunt,” he offers. “Ethan Matthew Hunt, if we want full disclosure there. And I don’t deny it, but I don’t flaunt it. I’m not going to hide how I feel, who I am, but I don’t see why I have to parade around and make it obvious either. If it needs to be quiet for you, then that’s what we do. I’ll watch myself. But it’s not like I’ll make out in front of people or anything. I am still a jock, and I get really sick of kicking my teammates’ asses when they have the emotional maturity of a six year old.”

“I’m sorry,” Will says quietly. Sorry has Ethan has to put up with such idiots, sorry that Ethan can’t be who he is because people are idiots. “And you’re right, I’m not out, not really. It’s … ” he trails off, thinking about that one awkward conversation he had with Jane, when her questions suddenly shifted from “Do you think my friend Diana is hot?” to “Do you think Dean is hot?”, and he thinks about what his mom would say, if Aaron and Jason would understand, how he’d even begin to explain it to everyone. He closes his eyes for a moment. “It’s complicated.”

“Then you tell me what we need to do, or not do, and where,” Ethan says softly. “I won’t make things harder on you, that’s not what I want. You’re worth whatever it takes, I think. And if I have to make us reservations a town or two over if we want a real dinner date, then that’s fine too. Not like we don’t have a car to take.”

“Thanks,” Will says quietly, his voice quivering. His chest still feels tight, but this time it’s not because of dread and worry, but because this is something good, something he’s not sure how or if he deserves it and it’s still happening. “So … um, what else do you want to talk about?”

“What doctor appointments and why do you have play dates?” Ethan asks. There’s a better way to bring that up, but it’s the first thing he recalls when he goes back over Will’s words, and he’s curious. If it’s something important, the doctor appointments, he wants to know. He needs to know if it’s just being insanely cautious or something more serious.

“Wha -- oh, that. The play dates are for my brother Aaron, he’s seven. His best friend lives across town, and they’re both too young to take the bus, so I’ll drive them if Ellie -- that’s my younger sister -- doesn’t have the time. And the doctor appointments are just for check-up and to get some prescriptions filled. Nothing serious,” he explain, not wanting to worry Ethan.

Ethan frowns at Will, studying him. “Would you tell me what it is that you consider nothing serious if I asked?”

“I have allergic asthma,” Will admits with a sigh, “but I manage, honestly. Just need to get my inhaler refilled from time to time, and take some meds to help with inflammation. That’s all. Don’t worry, okay?”

“If I’m your boyfriend, I’ll worry,” Ethan points out, “but I’m glad you told me. If you ever come to my ball games, you’ll probably need to make sure you have all that with you. Spring’s the worst time for allergies, isn’t it? If you have outdoor allergies. Do you have outdoor allergies or food allergies or do you just keep figuring it out as you go?”

“Outdoor allergies, yes. Mostly grass, as far as I know. We couldn’t … um, afford an exhaustive check-up exactly.”

Ethan nods. “You wouldn’t let me pay for a full test, would you? Even if I said you could pay me back in tutoring or something?”

“Let me think about it, okay?” Will answers, finally grasping a little bit of what Ethan had said earlier about spoiling people and appreciating his effort to make it sound like a trade although they both know it’s not, not really. “And what sports are you playing anyway?”

“You can even pay me a little back, if that makes it easier,” Ethan adds. “I’d just feel better knowing that we know all of your allergies and how to handle them. And it’s football now, baseball in the spring. I’m one of the crazy freaks who signed up for two.”
“Isn’t that like overdoing it? You don’t have any downtime that way,” Will says with a frown.

Ethan shrugs. “I’m not good at sitting still. I like football, I grew up in Wisconsin, I have to like football. And I like baseball, but I didn’t get to play much there. So I get to do both. I get time off in the summer, and it’s not like I have games and practices every day. You’re not one to talk either,” he says. “You go to school, you work, you study all the time, you take care of your brother, where’s your downtime?”

“I -- it’s different,” Will says with a shrug. “I have to study to keep my GPA so I don’t lose my scholarship and work … well, it means money to help out at home,” he forces out, painfully aware of the differences between Ethan and him.

Ethan nods. “I respect that,” he says. “I really do. My mom works forty hours weeks, plus everything else she gets into, same with my uncle. I’ll work too after this. Mom would kill me if I didn’t work. I’d never think less of anyone who works hard, for any reason. You helping your family, that’s really good. Especially with everything else you do. Just don’t burn yourself out. You work too much, your school work suffers and that’s more important. Isn’t it?” He bites his lip, aware his next sentence is going to be invasive. “Or is it really important that you work? Or do you just work to supplement what you have?”

“I want Mom to be able to take off a day or two so she can relax and Aaron can still have cool presents for his birthday. Or so we can save some for emergencies, like when our rooftop needs repair work. Stuff like that. Me working makes it easier on my family.”

“So, you don’t have your dad around?” Ethan asks carefully. “Just curious. I don’t have mine either.”

“Walked out on us when I was twelve,” Will says and can’t help the resentment creeping into his voice. “Yours?”

”I’m sorry,” Ethan says softly, “some guys don’t deserve to have families.” He looks at the hand he’s still got on his thigh, still trying to not reach over and touch Will, and focuses on the heavy watch around his wrist. “Mine died.”

“I’m sorry, too,” Will says and can’t help it anymore, he reaches over and tangles his hand with Ethan’s, squeezing it.

Ethan squeezes back, and some of the tension eases out of him, just at that simple touch. “This was his watch.”

“Then I have to apologize,” Will says, “because when I first saw it, I thought you’re wearing it to show off.”

“I’m sure a lot of people do.” Ethan looks at it again, smiling weakly. “But this was his favorite. Said it was his lucky watch. So...” he shrugs, “it’s mine now too.”

“I like that,” Will says honestly. “Think we’ve talked enough for tonight?”

“Almost,” Ethan answers, “I have one more very important question.”

“Yes?” Will asks, equal parts filled with excitement and dread.

“Are we, and god, this sounds like we’re twelve, but are we boyfriends?”

“Yes … yes,” Will says with a nervous grin. “Does that mean I can kiss you again?”

”Fuck yes,” Ethan breathes, turning to Will and sliding his free hand up to the back of Will’s neck as he leans in to kiss him.

This is somehow even better than their first kiss, and that already was stellar in Will’s estimation. But this kiss means something more, it means they’ll try and maybe it will work out, and that makes all the difference. He inches closer to Ethan and lets his hands wander up and down Ethan’s back.

Ethan knows they need to go slow, he needs to go slow, and he has to curl his hand into the bedspread to not shove Will back and lay over him, touch as much of him as he can. He’s never felt this light-headed during a kiss, but Will tastes incredible and he knows he’s completely impossible, but he feels like he could get drunk on this, on Will’s scent, his taste, the slick slide of Will’s tongue against his own.

Will’s eyes have slid shut at some point and it takes some time before he understands his brain telling him that breathing isn’t optional. Very reluctantly does he break the kiss, only to finally realize he’s hard inside his pants. He rest his forehead against the hollow between Ethan’s shoulder and neck, and can’t help the embarrassed chuckle that escapes his throat. As if it wasn’t evident enough that he hadn’t gotten anything lately, or, well, ever.

“Fuck,” Ethan whispers, fighting to catch his breath. He plays lightly with Will’s hair, touching just because it’s okay, it’s allowed, and it’s a little more appropriate than adjusting himself in his jeans. He’s pretty sure you don’t fondle yourself when you’re thinking of a relationship and not a quick fuck.

“Um … ” Will breathes against Ethan’s warm skin, “either we stop now or this will get very embarrassing for me very fast -- but I,” he kisses Ethan’s throat, “don’t really want to stop to be honest.”

Ethan makes a soft sound at the kiss and runs his hand down Will’s back. “I’ve got a shower,” he says, “but not sure any pants I’ve got would fit you, so we’d probably have to at least get you out of those jeans, if we keep going. What do you want?”

Will only hesitates for a moment, need and lust and the sheer want he feels pulsing through him overriding what doubts would normally hold him back. His fingers are shaking when he works on the zipper of his jeans. “I … “ he squeezes his eyes shut, “for the sake of full disclosure, I’ve never … I mean, you’re the first.”

“Then we go slow,” Ethan promises. One hand covers Will’s hands, the other rests on his cheek. “Look at me.”

Will’s eyes blink open, his chest heavy with something he’s never felt before, and it only intensifies when he looks at Ethan. “You don’t think,” he swallows, suddenly unsure of himself again, “you don’t think I’m pathetic because -- you know?”

“Some people would say I am, because I’m not,” Ethan says gently, following Will’s lead and not voicing the word he was trying to avoid. “It’s not a bad thing, or anything to be ashamed of. Just means I’m not having to live up to someone else. Just promise you won’t push yourself because you think it’s what I want, okay?” He presses a soft kiss to Will’s lips. “You mean something, so whatever we do is better than anything I’ve had before. I promise.”

Will shivers at the words and wonders if Ethan can read his mind, because he was starting to worry about what he’s ready to give and what Ethan might expect. “Thanks,” he breathes against Ethan’s lips. “But if I don’t get out of these jeans soon I might start to scream.”

Ethan laughs and moves his hands, letting Will continue. He has the same problem, and he strips off his own jeans, hissing softly at even the slightest pressure, and kicks them to the floor.

Will follows Ethan’s every move, mesmerized, and licks his tongue across his lips without even realizing. He’s also forgetting that he wanted to undress as well. “Your shirt,” he croaks, “I … can you get rid of the shirt?”

Ethan’s response is to do just that, grabbing the back of his shirt and tugging it over his head. He drops it on the floor with his jeans and looks pointedly at Will, waiting for him to do the same. He’s only in his boxer shorts now, and going slow is one thing, but it’s not fair that Will’s not letting him see him yet.

“You’re hot,” Will says, like it’s new information and he’s floored by it. “I mean I knew that before, but … fuck, you’re hot.”

Ethan grins. “Thanks, but I can’t return the sentiment if you don’t lose a couple of layers right there. Thought you wanted those jeans off.”

“What? Oh.” He looks down at himself, still clad in in jeans and shirt. “Sorry, I was distracted,” he says, blushing, and starts to feel stupid, because now he’s basically about to strip under Ethan’s scrutinizing look, and he’s self aware enough to know he won’t measure up. It’s not that he’s a slob or averse to working out, but between school, work, family and the few hours of sleep he’s allowing himself he just doesn’t have time to hit the gym.

“Next time, you go first and I’ll be distracted,” Ethan decides, reaching to finish unzipping Will’s jeans and help him out of them. Will’s shirt is next, joining the pile on the floor, and Ethan leans back so he can look at Will. He bites his lip and swallows hard, just staring. “Yeah, next time, you first. Damn. You’re just...” he trails off and raises a hand, letting it hover between them.

Will has no idea what Ethan means by it, but he hopes it’s good. He really, really does. “Yeah, you too,” he whispers, closing the distance between them so Ethan’s hand touches his chest and sends something like an electric jolt through him. If he didn’t see the obvious evidence of Ethan’s arousal, he’d be embarrassed about the state of his boxers.

Ethan makes a strangled sound and pushes at Will’s chest, making him lay down, and he lays over him, groaning as their erections rub together through their boxers.

“Oh fuck,” Will mutters and squeezes his eyes shut. This feels amazing, and they haven’t even done much yet. He reaches one of his hands up to run it aimlessly through Ethan’s soft hair and presses kisses to every part of Ethan he can reach.

Ethan can't help himself, rocking against Will, trying to get more friction, more pressure, and it's almost like he's fifteen again, lost to everything but the sensation, the desperate need to feel more. Will deserves more than this, he deserves all of the tricks and techniques Ethan's learned and developed, but he can’t even make himself slow down and think of anything beyond the moment. He bites lightly at Will's shoulder, barely more than a brush of his teeth, and then sucks briefly, leaving behind a pink mark. It's far enough from Will's neck that it won't be visible, probably even fade before morning, but at least Ethan will know it had been there.

Will’s pretty sure he’s lost all coherent speech by now. He can feel Ethan’s cock rubbing against his own through the fabric, and it makes him see stars and all that other shit he’d sworn was only bullshit fabricated by sappy romance writers. “Ethan, Ethan,” he murmurs, and he wants to get closer, wants to press himself into every curve of Ethan’s body so there’s not even space for air anymore between them. He’s never felt like this before, like there’s fire igniting in every cell of his body and he didn’t knew, didn’t knew it could feel like this.

Ethan kisses the mark he’s made and raises his head, kissing right below Will’s ear. “I’ve got you,” he whispers, “c’mere.” He has to gather enough coordination to move, but he rolls them over, pulling Will on top of him, and slides his hand to Will’s ass. “Don’t think, feel. Do what feels good. Move.”

Ethan’s voice is rough and darker than usual, and Will has a hard time concentrating on the actual words because his voice alone turns him more on than should be humanly possible. Then he vaguely realizes he’s on top now, and the wave of accompanying panic clears the haze in his head a bit.

Ethan feels him tense, and it’s not in the good way and he has to blink a few times to focus. He slides his hand to the small of Will’s back, gently pressing down as he lets his legs fall open, lets Will settle more securely between his thighs. His other hand slips into Will’s hair, fingers tangling in the short strands, and he leans up, kissing a slow line of kisses over Will’s jaw. “Relax,” he murmurs, breath hot on Will’s face. “It’s okay.”

“Am I that obvious?” Will asks, but slowly he relaxes again. He likes the warmth of Ethan’s skin, the way it seems to seep into him, engulf him.

Ethan knows the answer to that is not that he’s dealt with a few nervous virgins, he knows the signs, but that is how he could tell. Instead he just slips his fingers under the waistband of Will’s boxers, rubbing comfortingly at the dip of his spine, right above the swell of his ass. “Maybe a little. You’re supposed to feel, not think.” He kisses Will softly, reassuringly, and smiles. “It’s more fun that way, when you’re not analyzing everything.”

“I’m afraid I’m really not known for ever stop thinking -- or analyzing,” Will replies with a soft chuckle, “but I’ll try.” He kisses Ethan, nips at his bottom lip, and rolls his hips against him. “Can I ask something of you?” He asks and tries not to blush.

“Anything,” Ethan says immediately, doesn’t even consider hesitating. “Name it.”

“Can you, can I … your hands? I want to feel your hands on … ” he trails off, suddenly feeling very silly for his request.

Ethan does very well at not laughing, but Will made it so much more difficult than it had to be. “You really think I’d turn down a request to touch you?”

“Now that you phrase it like that, it really does sound idiotic,” Will admits. “I’m just not … I mean, we’re still both in our boxers, so I wasn’t sure if it’s okay to ask or if I’m crossing some line or -- ”

Ethan kisses Will quickly, just a brush of their lips, just enough to shut him up. “It’s not idiotic. I was teasing you. I’ll teach you my sense of humor, I promise. Yes, I’ll touch you. I just didn’t want to push you, or we’d be naked. You want them off now?”

Will moves a bit away to get rid of his shorts. “Answer enough?” He asks teasingly and tries to squelch the rising panic of Ethan seeing him completely naked.

Ethan laughs and squirms out of his, kicking impatiently when they get hung up on his heel and he thinks he sees them land on his desk, but he doesn’t care. “Yeah, not bad,” he answers. He moves them again, this time so they’re on their sides, face to face, and he reaches between them, his fingers grazing Will’s cock.

Will loses touch with reality for a moment or two, then slowly blinks the world back into focus. “Holy shit,” he breathes. “I didn’t know it could feel that good.” He hasn’t come yet, but it’s a close thing, and he doesn’t want to be the only one to fall over the cliff so soon, so he reaches out for Ethan again, letting his hand trail down from his chest.

Ethan covers Will’s hand with his own, guiding it down to wrap around both of their cocks, and he has to bite back a loud and very embarrassing groan, but Will’s hand is different than just using his own to get off, even if he is the one mostly in charge here. It’s still Will touching him, and that’s more than enough. Will’s hand is slick with precome. He still can’t wrap his mind around what he’s doing here, that he’s actually bringing them both off. It doesn’t matter, though, when he swipes his thumb over the heads of their cocks, because afterward everything becomes a blur, and he really hopes Ethan’s come as well, because he’s sure as hell not capable of moving anytime soon to help with that.

Ethan’s heart is pounding like he’s just finished a mad dash around the bases, and he’s not entirely sure that when they finally get to actual sex that he’ll survive it, but he can’t wait to find out. Now, though, he’s content to flop back on his back, ignoring the sticky mess that they both are, and just try to catch his breath. “S’only gonna get better,” he mumbles.

“So, you mean when you actually fuck me, I’m not gonna survive?” Will mumbles, not really awake to censor his thoughts anymore.

“You’re like some kind of hot psychic.” Ethan chuckles and turns his head, pressing a kiss to Will’s sweat-dampened hair. “Was just thinkin’ when we go further, I won’t survive. It’ll be like a murder-suicide by sex. Really fucking awesome sex.”

“Then we should try to survive blowjobs first,” Will says sleepily, snuggling closer to Ethan. “Although you’d have to teach me.”

“I will,” Ethan promises, wrapping his arm around Will’s shoulders. “I’ll teach you whatever you want to learn.”

“Thanks,” Will whispers. There’s something nagging in the back of his head, something he should probably do, but it’s warm in Ethan’s embrace and he doesn’t want to move, so he falls asleep.

Ethan stays for a moment, waiting to be certain Will’s asleep, and then he carefully pulls away. He cleans up in the bathroom and brings back a warm damp cloth, doing his best to clean Will off without waking him. He’s successful, thankfully, and he tugs his spare blanket up over Will’s body. He’ll join him again in a moment. The water bottles, forgotten on the floor, go back into the fridge and he’s just turning off the light when he hears a quiet ringing. He moves quickly, digging the phone out of Will’s jeans, and answers. “Hello?”

“Who’s that?”

“This is Ethan, Will’s friend, he fell asleep.”

“Ethan? That Ethan?”

“Uh, yeah? Who’s this?” Ethan doesn’t understand why the girl on the other end of the line worded it that way, but it’s either because she knows who he is by name and reputation, or because Will’s talked about him. He hopes it’s the latter.

“This .. this is Jane, I’m a friend of Will’s. Holy mother of -- Did you go out for coffee, then?”

“Coffee? No.” Ethan perches on the edge of the bed. “I went by the diner.”

“Even better, and he talked to you. Good boy -- wait, where are you now? Did Will call Ellie or his mom? They’ll worry.”

“We’re at my dorm. I don’t know if he called. He was helping me on a paper, we took a break, he fell asleep. I was going to let him just stay, he worked all day, he looks exhausted. Can you call them, say he’s fine?”

“Helped you on -- sure, I’ll tell Ellie he helped you study. But Ethan, if you, um, don’t appreciate the effort he put into helping you, I’m going to make sure you won’t write another paper for your whole college life.”

Ethan has no idea who this Jane is, but he is happy, relieved really, to hear her threat. It means Will has a friend who cares for him, looks out for him, means he’s not the only one who worries, and they’re going to have to meet, join forces to take care of Will. He appreciates the threat, it’s one he’s given often to anyone Julia dates. And by her words, it also means that Will’s out to her, but he hadn’t known, and he had wanted to play it safe. For Will’s sake.

“Oh we talked about that,” Ethan says, “and we’ve already established that he’s my only study partner.”

“That’s good, glad to hear it. Well, then, don’t study too hard, and tell Will I’ll see him tomorrow.”

“I’ll tell him,” Ethan promises. “And you’ll make sure his family knows he’s okay?”

“Yup. I mean, I’m going out on a leg here and assume you didn’t just kidnap him but he came willingly, right?”

Ethan bites his tongue to not make the joke he wants to make, and answers when he feels it’s safe to speak again. “I didn’t kidnap him, no. We just needed a place to talk and he picked dorm instead of his house. I just hate to wake him up to drive him home.”

“Yeah, let him sleep. God knows he needs it. Speaking of sleep, I should probably get some, too. Was nice talking to you, Ethan.”

“You too, Jane. Goodnight.” He ends the call and lays Will’s phone on the nightstand, then finds his own and sets it with Will’s. He crawls back into bed, settles down next to Will, and is asleep in moments, lulled to sleep by the warmth of Will’s body at his side and the steady sound of Will’s breathing.

Chapter Text

For as much as Ethan likes to slack off in most aspects of academia, and is so relaxed in life in general, he’s an early riser, a surprisingly cheerful morning person, and he often wakes up before his alarm, no matter how late he had been up the night before. This is no different. When he wakes, there is a moment of confusion, because the side of his body is hot, his arm is asleep, and he has to blink a few times to make his eyes focus on the body beside him. He can’t help the stupid grin that spreads across his face and he kisses the top of Will’s head. He wants to stay in bed, but he can’t. Not today, at least. He moves, just as much as necessary to grab his phone and turn off the alarm before it can chime. The red number at the bottom of the screen indicates he’s missed a dozen messages and he’s sure they’re from Julia, and he’ll owe her details and coffee, but he’s just thrilled he has good details to share, given how the night had almost gone. He sets the phone down and stays in bed another minute, just to watch Will sleep.

He does have to move, though, and finally does, trying to get up without making Will wake just yet. It’s too early for classes, even the disgustingly early ones, so he hopes Will actually can enjoy the sleep, and not wake up panicking because of something he forgot he needed to do before whatever time his first class is. Ethan needs to find out Will’s schedule before he leaves, so he can work his own schedule around Will’s as much as possible.

Will’s not really aware of it, but he feels warmth leaving him, and he’s very much against that. He reaches out and wraps his hands around something. “Don’t,” he mutters, eyes still closed.

“I have to,” Ethan says softly, touching one of the hands that’s clutching at his other arm. “I’m gonna get coffee, you want something? Breakfast?”

“Want you to stay,” Will says, his eyes finally open, and tugs at Ethan’s wrist. “Screw coffee.”

Ethan looks at Will, relaxed and barely awake, expression still softened by sleep, and he’s helpless. He can delay his morning routine a while longer. He lays back down. “What time do you usually get up?” He asks.

“6:30 … gotta get Aaron and Jason ready for school,” Will says and yawns before he snuggles up to Ethan again. He likes this, Ethan warm and soft next to him, and the idea that he can have this at all.

“Jason?” Ethan repeats. “You have two brothers?” He runs his hand lightly up and down Will’s back, tracing his spine.

“Mmhmm, he’s thirteen. And Ellie is seventeen, in case I didn’t mention that,” Will says and practically melts into his pillow. Ethan’s hand feels wonderful and ignites that now familiar slow burning in his belly.

“Big family,” Ethan remarks. “I always wanted a sibling. I met Julia when I was four, so she’s like a sister, and then there’s Benji, so he’s like a brother. But I don’t have any real siblings.”

“Wait.” Will frowns, more awake now, and props himself up on his elbows. “You know Benji?”

“Since we were twelve,” Ethan answers. “You’re the Will in his study group?”

“Yes,” Will says, slowly relaxing back into the bed. “Small world, huh?”

“When I mentioned you to Jules, she said she thought you might be in his group. I was curious about you. And, uh,” Ethan’s hand stills on Will’s back as he tries to figure out how to say the next part, “you’ve met Jules. I sorta... well... she wanted to see who I was talking about. She’s the girl who talked to you in the library a couple days ago, before I asked you for coffee.”

“You mean you’re friends with that girl who … how to say this politely ... tried to crush me to death with her boobs?” Will asks after he’s turned around to look directly at Ethan. “Is … uh, is she always dressed like that?”

Ethan smiles sheepishly. “She was helping me figure out if you would even be interested in me. And no, not always. She’s pre-med, she’s not... you know.”

“Good to know, although that top did look fabulous. Just not my type. And you honestly sent someone to check out if I’m gay or straight?” He asks with a small grin. Somehow, that idea is still ridiculous, that Ethan Hunt would go to such great lengths for him.

Ethan shrugs one shoulder. “You weren’t really talking to me and that doesn’t happen. So I was wondering if you were really into studying, really straight, or just hated me.”

“I could never hate you. I was just really confused why you’d talk to me. People usually don’t come up to me to talk,” Will admits.

“I thought you were cute. And I kinda have a weakness for glasses on cute guys.”

“Well, then thank God for my bad eyesight,” Will says and his hands move up to the back of Ethan’s neck to pull him down so he can kiss him.

Ethan thinks, briefly, about morning breath, but if Will’s not concerned, neither is he, and he just kisses him back, pressing closer. One day without a run won’t kill him.

Will groans into the kiss, his hands splaying over Ethan’s back, pressing him closer to him. He’s painfully aware of his morning wood and wonders if Ethan would be willing to help with that.

Ethan is in the same situation, and it’s only gotten more urgent since Will kissed him. He pushes the blanket down, kicking it away so he’s not doing even more laundry, and then wraps his hand around Will’s cock.

“I think you're the hot psychic here,” Will groans once he’s caught his breath again, and thrusts up into Ethan’s hand.

Ethan chuckles. “Well you cost me my run, but you’re making up for it with sex. I think I like this exchange.” He slides his hand up the length, slicking his palm with precome, and then starts to stroke Will slowly, taking his time to just touch him, learn what he likes. “I like this waking up together thing.”

“Me too,” Will says. There’s something he’s sure he’s forgetting, something important that should sent him running to do … something, but it all gets lost in the bliss that’s Ethan’s hand around him. “I know I should,” he trails off, sucking in a deep breath, and waves in the general direction of what he hopes is Ethan’s lower body, “but my coordination is … off. Your fault.”

“Want to do what we did last night?” Ethan asks. “You just put your hand over mine, but I’ll still handle everything,” he grins, squeezing Will lightly, the horrible pun he just made entirely intentional.

“I’m not sure I’ll ever be fond of your sense of humor,” Will replies with a throaty laugh, but he moves a bit so they’re face to face again. And it’s a bit stunning, to have Ethan’s face the first thing in the morning to see, and for a moment Will is simply lost. Then he surges forward to kiss Ethan hard and possessive, because he can’t really imagine ever sharing or losing him, and that’s a complete new thought and he really doesn’t know what to do with it.

Ethan’s just as shocked by this kiss as he was by the one in the car, but he loves it. His hand falters for a moment as he focuses instead on trying to keep up with the way Will’s devouring him, but he finally gets his hand to move again, gripping them both and stroking faster. He’s not far off, and wants Will with him when he goes.

Will’s busy licking every corner of Ethan’s mouth he can reach, but he does remember to put his hand around Ethan’s as well. Not that he’s doing much, that’s all Ethan’s work, but it still makes him shiver to share this with him. “A bit tighter,” he whispers.

Ethan gives the tiniest nod in acknowledgment and tightens his grip, thumb brushing the head of Will’s cock on every upward stroke.

It doesn’t take long, then, for Will to come with a groan muffled by Ethan’s lips.

Ethan’s right behind him and he drops his head forward, forehead against Will’s shoulder, as he focuses just on breathing.

“Damn,” Will mutters. “We’re really not going to survive until the actual sex part, are we?”

Ethan laughs. “Maybe we’re building up resistance, so we won’t die when that happens.” He wipes his hand on the blanket, but still uses his other hand to dig for his phone, somewhere under the pillow, and check the time. “When’s your first class?”

“Ten,” Will replies before his eyes go wide and he scrambles out of bed, feet getting tangled in the blanket. “Shit, wait, I -- I slept here. Mom will have flipped out by now. I didn’t do my homework for today, and where are my pants?”

“Will, stop!” Ethan says quickly. “Jane called last night, she called your sister, it’s fine,” he insists. “She promised she’d handle that. It’s only a little after seven. You’ve got time to work on your homework, you can still make class. Breathe, okay? Not the end of the world.” He points to his desk chair, where he’d tossed Will’s clothes before he’d crawled back into bed. “And there are your pants. You can borrow one of my shirts.”

Will slumps back onto the bed, head in his hands. “Sorry,” he says. “Guess I’m not used to this whole detour from the plan thing, huh?”

“I’ll teach you that too,” Ethan promises, scooting over and pressing a kiss to Will’s shoulder. “I need to meet Jane. She didn’t quite believe the studying line, but I tried.”

“Thanks, but you don’t need to pretend with Jane,” Will says and leans into Ethan. “She … she knows. She’s the only one.”

“I’m glad you have her,” Ethan says, and he puts everything he can into his voice, so Will knows how much he means that. He slides his arm around Will’s shoulders and rests his head against Will’s. “I’ll go get us breakfast, if you want to shower and work on your homework.”

“I better not suggest we shower together, since I actually need to get some work done before class,” Will says with a smile and presses a kiss against Ethan’s cheek.

“It’s a full sized bath, if we wanna try that later,” Ethan suggests. “What do you want me to pick up?”

“Wait a sec, let me get that imagine of you and me in your bath out of my head first,” he says with a groan and shivers. “And … um, is a fruit salad, a bagel and cappuccino too much to ask? Let me get my wallet.”

“No, you’re not getting your wallet,” Ethan says. “I have a huge bowl of fruit salad in the fridge, plenty for us if you want to share. Bagel and cappuccino, no problem. Want anything special on it, any flavor?”

“No, god no.” Will cringes. “Just pure cappuccino. None of that fancy stuff they only invented to rip the caffeine addicts further off.”

Ethan laughs. “Don’t make fun of Julia, she lives on whatever she can get that has caramel in it. But I meant bagel. Plain or what?”

“Can you … I mean, if it’s not too much of a trouble, can you see if they have honey? But plain is fine, too.”

“You’re going to kill me,” Ethan complains, getting off the bed and starting to dig through his dresser for clean running clothes. “It’s not trouble, Will. It means I tell the kid at the counter I want one honey bagel and one whatever I decide to get. It’s not like I’m going to four different stores to get you breakfast, and I’d do that too, and be happy about it. So relax, please?” He dresses quickly as he’s talking and turns to face Will as he puts on his shirt. “I don’t want you to ever feel like you can’t ask me for anything. I don’t care if it’s to give you an hour alone to study, to drive you to work, to buy you something specific or not buy you something you don’t want. Just don’t tell me not to do it because you think you’re being difficult or demanding or whatever you get into your head that you think you’re being. Okay?”

Will blinks at him, a bit taken aback by Ethan’s small outburst. “Okay, sorry, … I’m going to work on it?” He says with a frown, suddenly feeling uneasy at being the only one naked in the room.

Ethan sighs and goes to Will, kissing him quickly. “It just makes me feel like you don’t think you’re worth me spoiling you, or something. I kept you here late, you’re not at home where you could get your own breakfast, and I want to treat you. And if I don’t walk out the door right now, I’m dragging you back to bed and I don’t think we’d make any classes at all today.”

“Then you better go now, because I’m not as much against that idea as I should be,” Will says and shoves him away.

Ethan laughs and grabs his wallet out of his jeans, shoving a few bills into his pocket, along with his room key. “Clean towels on the shelf in the bathroom. Shirts are in the second drawer or my closet. Pick anything you want.” He leaves then, because he really cannot stand there, staring at Will’s naked body for another minute. Running with an erection is not pleasant.

Will grabs his clothes, a fresh, simple black shirt out of the drawer and heads into the shower. It’s pure bliss and he can’t help the happy grin on his face when he washes away the evidence of his morning activity. He’ll have to send a text to Jane filled with exclamation marks and stupid smileys to convey how he feels right now. Not that some part of his brain isn’t still doubting that he’s dreaming all of, but he really, really hopes not.

Chapter Text

Julia’s both worried and annoyed, and she’s not sure which emotion is strongest right now. Ethan hasn’t answered any of her texts, and he’s never gone this long without answering her, not since they were fifteen and had a fight that lasted two days and made both of their families, Benji, and themselves completely miserable. This thing with Will has Ethan shaken, and that has her shaken too. She hopes it works out, but she’s terrified of what he’ll do, how he’ll feel, if it doesn’t.

This is why she’s letting herself into his room, to see why he hasn’t answered. The room smells faintly of sweat and sex, and she’s cautiously optimistic. She hears the shower, but doesn’t see coffee, and that’s not Ethan’s routine. That points more to the idea that he had a good night, and if that’s the case, then she’ll forgive him for not answering, but still yell at him for it too.

She strips the blanket from the bed, spreads the spare out, and then lights a candle she takes out of the nightstand. He’ll be out soon, and she can grill him then. Right now, she’s sure there’s something on TV to watch.

Kicking off her shoes, she stretches out on the bed, frowning when she lands on his phone. “Idiot,” she mutters fondly, and sets it to the side, turning her attention to the TV instead.

Will’s heard the door opening and closing after he’s left the shower, and he’s smiling because apparently Ethan took a shortcut for his run this morning to get back sooner. He puts on his jeans and towels his hair when he gets out of the bath. “I don’t smell coff -- you’re not Ethan,” he says to whom he now recognizes as Julia.

Julia grins. “Oh thank God you’re still here,” she says. “Hi there.”

“Um, hi,” Will says awkwardly and shoves the shirt over his still damp head as fast as he can. “Ethan’s out on a run.”

“Yeah, behind schedule, and I know why.” She sits up from her sprawl and turns down the TV. “You are really hot, he’s told you that already, right?”

Will blushes and has no idea how to react to this. Their first meeting didn’t exactly establish a flattering opinion of her, and although he now knows that it was all a ruse, he’s still uncomfortable with the way she checks him out. “Might have mentioned it,” he mumbles.

“Did he come clean about my reason to bug you in the library?” She asks.

“Yes, he did. I feel like I should thank you for that, but that would sound odd.” He bites his lip. “You think he wants me gone so you two can talk?”

“I think he’ll kick me out so he can see you,” She answers. “Don’t mind me, I’m just here for my coffee and then I’ll get out of the way.”

“Are you … is this some kind of ritual that you stop by in the morning?” He asks, wanting to know if he should get used to it soon.

“Not really,” she lies, smiling reassuringly. “I bet he even forgets to get mine. Tell him to call me later?” She shuts off the TV and leaves the bed, grabbing her shoes. “I’m glad you’re giving him a chance,” she adds, “he’s never been like this before.”

“Really?” he asks, a hint of disbelief in his voice. “And you don’t have to go because of me. You’re Ethan’s friend.”

“Ethan didn’t sleep with me,” she counters. “You’re... what are you saying you are?”

“I -- what?” He sputters. “I didn’t … I mean, I hadn’t assumed you and him -- I thought he’s gay?”

Julia laughs softly. “Didn’t mean it like that. I’m the best friend, you’re the guy he’s sleeping with. That’s all. You stay. Just tell me, before I go, what are you two doing? Is it just physical, or is it something else?”

Will wants to laugh at that, because if Ethan’s in for the physical part, then Will was an extraordinary poor choice. “I hope it’s … more?” is finally the phrasing he goes for and hopes it conveys what he can’t really put in words.

“Oh I’m sure it’ll be as much as you’ll let it be,” Julia says. She’s walking to the door when Ethan comes in, carrying a tray with three coffee cups and a paper bag.

“Ok, so I gotta call Jules, think I left my phone on the-” he stops when he actually looks up and notices her standing in front of him.

“Bed,” she finishes for him. “And didn’t answer me.”

Ethan grins. “I was busy,” he says. He sets the bag down and gives her one of the cups, then offers Will another. “They didn’t have blueberry, so I got the chocolate chip.” Setting the tray, with his coffee in it, on the small counter, he digs for the chocolate chip muffin in the bag and offers it to Julia. “I’ll bring you a pick-me-up at two, right?”

Julia shakes her head. “I’ll handle it today. Call me at four.”

“Four,” he agrees. He kisses her cheek.

“Bye, Will,” she says, smiling at him as she walks out of the room.

“Bye,” Will calls after her and then turns to Ethan. “I think she lied to me a bit. You do bring her coffee every morning, don’t you?”

“Most mornings, yeah. She probably thought it sounded weird to say that though.” Ethan shrugs. “She either comes here or I meet her at her dorm. Tell me your schedule, I’ll do it for you too.”

Will is about to open his mouth to decline the offer, but then thinks better of it. His boyfriend -- he’s trying not to grin too much when he thinks it -- getting him cappuccino every morning sounds like a nice idea. “Classes at ten most of the days, only Thursday I have to start at eight,” he tells Ethan.

“What time do you get to campus on those days?” Ethan gets two plates and sets their bagels out, then brings Will his, honey as requested. He sees the candle Julia lit and leans down, blowing it out. The sentiment’s appreciated, but he thinks they’re good without it now.

“Around nine when it’s not the early class. Have to make sure the boys are up for school and take them there if Ellie is busy before that,” he says and starts to cut his bagel in half. “Think that works for you?”

”You could stay over Wednesday nights if you ever needed to,” Ethan offers, sitting on the corner of his desk with his plate perched on his knee. “I could come get you Wednesday mornings or Friday mornings. Maybe Mondays, but I’ve got early classes Tuesday and Thursday.” He’s frowning as he thinks over his schedule. “We’ll have to compare, you can let me know what you’ve got, we’ll work things out however it’s easiest for you.”

“You don’t -- ” Will puts down the plate on the bed, walks over to Ethan and takes his plate to set it on the desk. “Listen, and don’t take this the wrong way, okay? I don’t want you to throw over your schedule just because it makes it easier on me. You don’t have to change everything yet. We’ve known each other for three days, Ethan. Three. I’m not saying that I’m planning on walking out or anything, just that … maybe you don’t just jump without looking where you might land?”

“That’s how I live,” Ethan says, and he’s feeling a little uncomfortable now, like he’s doing something wrong. “I always land on my feet, so why not jump on in? I just thought... it’d be nice. You do more than I do, when I’m not playing, so why can’t I work my free time around you? There are going to be plenty of nights where I’m playing and can’t see you, or we’re in class, or you’re with your family.” He sighs and rakes a hand through his hair, giving Will an uncertain barely-there smile. “I’m being kind of crazy stalker, aren’t I?”

“No, you’re not. It is nice, and it’s nothing bad, it’s just … overwhelming, okay?” He tangles his left hand with Ethan’s. “And I’m not used to people … doing these things for me. Not that my family and Jane aren’t trying their best, but the first one is blood and Jane -- I’ve known her a long time. Just give me a bit time to get used to it, can you do that?”

Ethan nods slowly, squeezing Will’s hand. “Yeah. Sorry. I’m ...” he sighs again. “I’m sorry.”

“Don’t be. That’s an admirable character trait of yours. It’s just like I said, not everyone can live up to your speed,” he explains and bends down to kiss Ethan.

Ethan’s smiling a little stronger when he breaks the kiss. ”I guess not. I’ll try to be better.”

“Just a little bit, that’s all I’m asking,” Will says and doesn’t really want to move away from where he’s standing between Ethan’s thighs. “How much time do we have until class?” he asks in a husky voice, inching closer towards Ethan.

Ethan’s almost positive this is some odd dream. Maybe he got a concussion last practice, or he’s in a coma, and this is all some fantasy world. Because as many ups and downs they’re having, it’s just odd, incredible, that it keeps turning physical. Or trying to. He doesn’t know if Will’s trying to make up for years of celibacy all at once or if he’s burst open some sort of sexual dam, but maybe they really will kill each other with sex. He looks at his clock. “Your class is at ten?”

“Yes, please don’t tell me I have to show up for my Law Intro with a hardon,” he groans. “That was not the kind of teaching I had in mind right now.”

Ethan laughs. “You think you have it bad? I’m going to have to spend all day knowing you’re wearing my shirt.” He runs his hand up Will’s chest. “We have time.”

“Okay, then …” he stops for a while, fingers gliding over Ethan’s back. “Does that teaching offer still stand?”

“Hell yes,” Ethan answers, and he grins. “But it’s very hands-on. And I think you need to learn by experiencing, so it just means I’ll have to do you first, and you try when you’re ready.”

“I might need the desk to keep me upright then,” Will says, knees already going weak from the thought of what Ethan is going to do to him alone.

Ethan laughs softly. “If you’re fine I’m kinda sweaty, we’ll do it now. Or I can shower first. And I think you should be sitting for it.”

“No shower,” Will decides. “Bed then?”

“Bed,” Ethan agrees. “Breakfast can wait, I’m guessing?”

“Yes, I mean -- if that’s alright?”

“It’s fine, really really fine,” Ethan assures him. “Clothes off, sit on the edge of the bed.”

Will kisses him again, feeling a bit overwhelmed and nervous, before he takes a step back to undress and sit down.

Ethan tugs off his shirt, tossing it with the pile of dirty clothes and the blanket and then settles on his knees between Will’s legs.

Will’s pretty sure something important short-circuited in his brain because he can’t stop staring. He reaches out and runs his hand through Ethan’s hair, painfully aware of how much his fingers are shaking.

Ethan rests his hands on Will’s thighs and looks up at him, smiling. “When someone’s in your position, they normally don’t look so nervous.”

“Well, I’m certain they’re not normally about to get a blowjob from Ethan Hunt … I mean, I’m sure there have been some who -- ” he groans and falls so he’s lying on his back. “I’m gonna stop talking now.”

Ethan chuckles and turns his head to kiss right above Will’s knee, just because. “A few,” he says, because he’s going to be honest about his previous sex life, if it comes up, “but not anymore. And you’re getting a blowjob from your boyfriend, and still isn’t a reason to be nervous. Okay?”

“Okay,” Will whispers, and then, “Boyfriend,” like it’s still something he can’t bring himself to truly believe.

“Boyfriend,” Ethan repeats. “Right?”

“Yes, of course,” Will hastily replies and props himself up on his elbows. “I didn’t mean it as a question, well, maybe questioning your sanity to pick me, but … well.” He shrugs and tries not to blush. This is a silly thing to keep thinking about when he’s this close to receive the very first blowjob of his life.

“I’ve never been sane,” Ethan says, “so that explains that. Now, if you don’t mind, I’d rather do something else with my mouth.” He winks at Will and curls one hand around the base of Will’s cock, his other hand on Will’s hip. He’s not expecting an answer, won’t give Will a chance to second-guess this, and leans in, taking the head into his mouth.

Will tries not to move, tries to be perfectly still so he won’t gag Ethan or anything, but that turns out to be increasingly difficult with the picture presented to him. It’s not like he doesn’t already think Ethan is hotter than the sun, but Ethan bent over him, taking Will’s cock in his mouth, is something else entirely.

Ethan’s grip on Will’s hip tightens any time he seems ready to move, helping him to keep still. He has his eyes closed, to better focus on his task, on how Will feels and tastes and smells, and the fact that Will still holds the scent of Ethan’s soap, and that Ethan knows it’s his soap, that Will was in his shower, using his things while he was gone, just makes it even better. He’s taking this slow, same as he did with the hand job both last night and earlier this morning, experimenting with various techniques to see what Will likes most.

Will’s pretty sure he’s losing important brain cells at the moment, but for once in his life he doesn’t even care about that. Ethan does things with his tongue that are probably outlawed in several states, and Will has to curl his hands in the blanket to distract him from the urgent need to thrust up into Ethan’s mouth. “Ethan,” he whispers with a shaky breath, “I’m not sure how long I’m … ”

Ethan’s only response to that is to take Will further into his mouth and suck harder, his hand slipping to cup Will’s balls. He isn’t about to pause to actually say it’s fine, so he has to let his actions speak for him, encourage Will to not even try to hold back.

Ethan’s touch coupled with the realization what it means is the last push Will needs. He doesn’t even think about how embarrassingly little time it took before his balls draw up and he comes in Ethan’s mouth.

If this were anyone else, Ethan wouldn’t be swallowing, would have grabbed one of the condoms he keeps in his nightstand. But this is Will, and Ethan trusts that he’s clean, and he really hadn’t wanted anything between them when he did this. He pulls away slowly, gives one last lick to the head of Will’s cock, and sits back, working the stiffness out of his jaw.

Will’s chest is heaving like he’s run a marathon, or climbed Mount Everest, or … he has trouble coming up with an adequate comparison. And Ethan swallowed, which does things to Will he’s not exactly ready to admit to himself or anybody else. He’s also probably never going to get up again, because he can’t feel his legs. “Wow,” he mutters.

Ethan laughs and gingerly gets to his feet, acutely aware of his own neglected arousal. “I’ve gotta shower. You... recover.”

“But what about you?” Will remembers to ask, voice hoarse.

“Don’t worry about it.” Ethan smiles and heads into the bathroom, shutting the door behind him. He strips out of his boxers and running shorts and steps into the shower, pulling the curtain closed. He doesn’t need the water on just yet, not wanting to waste the hot, not when he desperately needs a full shower and doesn’t want it cold. He braces one hand on the wall and slides his hand down his cock, already slick with precome. He’d felt almost as if he would have been able to get off just by sucking Will, and he’s tempted to test that later, when Will’s gotten more accustomed to it, when it might not be over quite as quickly. He knows he’s not going to last long here, and he’s glad, not wanting to be away from Will too long. Fuck, he has it bad for Will, much worse than he thought he did.

Will, in the meantime, starts to get his thought process back online, and realizes he’s left Ethan to care for himself and that’s probably not the reason you get a boyfriend in the first place. He gets up on shaky legs and makes enough noise with opening and closing the bathroom door so he won’t startle Ethan too badly. “Can I come in?” He asks when he moves the shower curtain a bit to the side.

Ethan stills his hand and looks up at Will, taking a moment to catch his breath so he can answer. “You don’t have to,” he says. “But yeah, you can.”

“I’m not, I mean, I don’t think I’m ready to … ” he trails off, but gets in the shower nevertheless. He slides behind Ethan and leans against him, arms wrapping loosely around him. “But if that’s okay?”

“You don’t ever have to,” Ethan says, resting his hand over Will’s. “A lot of people don’t like to do it, and you can try for ten seconds and decide no, and that’s fine. But this, this is totally okay.” He guides Will’s hand down to his cock. “And very much appreciated the quicker you get to it too.”

Will gives a quick laugh and nibbles at Ethan’s neck as he wraps his hands around Ethan’s cock. “You gotta tell me what you like,” he says, trying not to let his voice waver and show how nervous he’s about all of this. He doesn’t want to be nervous, not with Ethan, because even though he’s still not sure about how all of this ever happened, he’s sure Ethan wouldn’t try to hurt him intentionally, or mock him.

“You,” Ethan says immediately, and he’s groaning at both the light press of teeth on his skin and the hand around him. He can’t help the short sharp jerk of his hips, the jolt that goes through him at this. Will hadn’t had to follow him, or take the initiative like this, to wrap around him and he’s trying, Ethan can tell, and there’s this odd, tight, incredible feeling in his chest. “Just... whatever you like, whatever you want. Do it.” He licks his lips, swallows hard, and lets himself request something he swore he’d wait to say until they were far more comfortable in this. “Bite me.”

Will grins, licks over Ethan’s heated skin once and then bites down on his shoulder. Not that hard to break skin, but hard enough to definitely leave a mark. And then he tightens his grip around Ethan’s cock the way he himself likes it and lets his fingers graze the tip.

“Fuck!” Ethan exclaims, jerking in Will’s embrace. The bite is perfect, he’ll feel it for the rest of the day, at least, and he’d be fine with more, so much more. He’s close, too close, and it’s only another moment before he’s clawing at the tile as his release rushes over him.

Will holds Ethan close, mesmerized that he’s the reason for seeing him like this. He covers Ethan’s shoulder with kisses and small bites, feeling happy and light like he hasn’t done in a long time. “You’re beautiful,” he murmurs.

“You’re incredible,” Ethan answers, and turns his head enough to manage a brief kiss, despite the awkward angle. “You showering with me too?”

“No.” Will shakes his head. “Better not, if I hurry I can still do some homework, and if I stay here … ” He blushes. “Well, I don’t think I could resist you.”

Ethan laughs and turns around, leaning back against the shower wall to put a little bit of distance between them. “But you’re not leaving yet, right? Just not showering with me.”

“Not leaving,” Will confirms. “We never got to that breakfast you brought. Don’t want it to go to waste, although we probably can throw the coffee away.”

“Mine’s black, I can heat it, it’s good enough. Alright, you go. I shower. We’ll eat when I’m out.” Ethan wants to kiss him again, but there is something going on here, between them, and it’s electric and absolutely crazy how much they can’t seem to keep their hands to themselves. “Fruit’s in the fridge, get whatever you want. Dishes are above the microwave.” He can stop himself from touching Will, but he can’t keep from looking, and he does, staring for a minute. He finally jerks his eyes away, turning around. “Go. Seriously.”

“Right,” Will replies dazedly, because this is getting ridiculous and he really doesn’t have the stamina for another round, or if he has then he doesn’t have the time. He leaves the bathroom, dresses once again, gets his glasses, and settles with a bowl of fruit salad on Ethan’s bed, immersed into his homework.

Chapter Text

Ethan showers quickly, knowing if he lingers, his mind will wander. If his mind wanders, he’ll end up thinking about what they just did, and he’s not so sure he can survive getting turned on again. Will is going to be an incredible test of both self-control and stamina, and he’s looking forward to it.

He wraps a towel around his waist, scrubs another through his hair, and steps out into the room, wishing he’d thought to bring clothes in with him. He was lucky he was able to walk, so he can’t blame himself for not thinking about something as unimportant as clothing. Will’s reading, he’s wearing his glasses, and Ethan has to avert his gaze, focusing solely on the dresser as he finds clean boxers, jeans, and a t-shirt.

Will isn’t so controlled, he can’t help staring at the dark love bite he left on Ethan’s shoulder, and he has to clear his throat and look down at his study notes again, otherwise they’d really get no breakfast or anything else done today.

Ethan thinks about changing out in the room, but then thinks better of it, and retreats back to the bathroom to dress there instead. When he’s done, and no, he didn’t stand in front of the mirror staring at the bruise on his shoulder, really, he didn’t, he walks back out and collects his own cold breakfast, settling down in his desk chair.

Will’s absentmindedly picking at the fruit salad, mulling over German verb conjugation, and trying to concentrate on it. It’s difficult, though, when he knows Ethan is so close by, and he wants to touch him, wants him closer. Finally, he sighs and looks up. “Okay, this may sound weird, but can you sit down next to me? Having you this close and not touching is distracting me.”

Ethan’s licking a bit of sugar off the pad of his thumb when Will speaks and he looks up, grinning. “I can’t touch you before we have sex because I’m too distracting, and now we’ve had sex and me not touching you is too distracting. You just like keeping me on my toes, don’t you?” He wipes his hands on a napkin and tosses it into the trash on his way to sit next to Will. He settles on Will’s right, having noticed their very first meeting that he’s left handed. He takes Will’s hand, lacing their fingers together. “This good?”

“Yes, thank you,” Will replies with a soft smile. “And I can’t help it, you bring out my irrational side. At least you can be pretty sure that I want you to touch me all the time when we have sex. That’s something, right?”

“Definitely,” Ethan agrees. He lays his head on Will’s shoulder, glancing at his books. “So what are you going to major in?”

“Econ,” Will answers. “I know, sounds lame.”

“No, not lame,” Ethan says. “If we stay together, you can have the econ degree and I’ll do something else.”

“You can still do econ. It’s not like they give only one econ degree to each couple,” Will says with a smirk. “But I take it you haven’t decided yet?”

“No, but then you can be my CEO, eventually, and I don’t have to try to learn stuff that just confuses the hell out of me. See, Benji’s my IT guy, and Julia’s gonna be a nurse, so I can just whine at her when I’m sick and she can tell me to suck it up, or if I really have to see a doctor. I’m all set.”

“You’re really insane.” Will laughs. “But I gotta do my homework now. You don’t want people later claiming you only hired me because you sleep with me, and not because I graduated summa cum laude.”

“I would fall for a guy who wants to be the best.” Ethan rubs his thumb idly along the side of Will’s hand. “You know it won’t be the end of the world if you don’t, right? There are hundreds of companies who would be thrilled to have a 3.5. A lot of them will focus more on your degree and experience than just the grade point, or they’ll look at what sort of classes you took, where you focused. GPA mattered more in high school than it does after college.”

“I know, that’s why I’m taking language classes as well, and I’m already looking into internships for the summer. It’s just … “ he shrugs, “if I’m really good, I can get a good job so I can earn money and maybe help putting Ellie and co through college as well.”

“If I promise not to influence them, would you at least consider applying for a summer internship with our company?” Ethan asks. “You can just apply with the rest of the people and if you make it, you make it, if you don’t, you don’t. I won’t say anything if you don’t want me to.”

“And where would you be if I get the job? In the cubicle next to me? And how much work would we get done, what do you think? Considering the fact that I’m still not done with my homework…“

“No, I’d be in my office, and... yeah, that’d be... well, we’d figure it out.” Ethan chuckles, but he can’t stop himself from thinking about that, having Will working on the same floor. It would be dangerous, especially since his office has a locking door, and blinds, and a very comfortable couch. “I’ll shut up. Sorry.” He doesn’t want to distract Will, he really doesn’t, but when he gets ideas, he shares them. Julia says he doesn’t really have a filter between brain and mouth, and Will’s starting to learn that too.

Will wants to ask more questions, wants to know since when Ethan has his own office, but he doesn’t. If he wants to have a shot at that internship, then he has to do his homework and get good grades. He focuses back on on his notes and starts to scribble down answers.

Ethan sits quietly as Will works, trying his best to not distract him, or fidget too much. He’s really not accustomed to just sitting, with nothing to do, but he’s willing to learn how, for Will’s sake.

Will’s halfway done when he realizes that Ethan has in fact been still for all this time and his head snaps up. “Ethan! Why didn’t you say something!”

Ethan shakes himself out of his daze and blinks at Will. “What? What’d I do?”

“Nothing, that’s the problem. You’re holding my hand and sitting still. I don’t think that’s like you,” Will says guiltily, letting Ethan’s hand go. “Sorry for that. You can … I don’t know what you do when I’m not around to force you to sit still.”

“It’s probably something I need to do anyway, and it’s fine,” Ethan says, “but if you’re that worried, I can get me something to do while I sit with you. Maybe sometimes I’ll just sleep on your shoulder. Whatever.” He shrugs, unconcerned. He’s already willing to work his free time around Will’s, to let him study and work and see his family and do whatever else he needs to do, sitting still while he works isn’t that much more to ask. Maybe the hardest thing to do, yes, but not much to ask of him.

“It’s just -- ” Will smiles suddenly. “I think I’d like to see you sleeping,” he says and leans to the side to kiss Ethan.

Ethan grins and kisses Will once more. “I got to see you sleeping, and that was a great way to wake up. But you’d probably have to catch me during a nap, because I don’t think you’d ever wake up earlier than I do.”

“Probably not. I wouldn’t get up so early every day if I didn’t have to, to be honest. I like to sleep in, but it’s not like I have much of a choice,” he says with a shrug.

“What about weekends?”

“Well, yes, I don’t have to get up before seven on the weekends, but Mom deserves her rest, so I try to be around for Aaron and Jason. Help with homework, take them to friends, stuff like that.”

“So you almost rest on the weekends. That’s something.” Ethan smiles and nudges Will lightly. “It’s good you’re around for them like that, helping out your mom. I know I’ve said it before, but I mean it. Doesn’t mean I don’t wanna try to see if you’d be free one night to go out, but it means I’ll understand if you say no.”

“I’d love to.” Will blushes. “I mean, go out with you, soon.”

“Dinner one night?” Ethan suggests. “I mean, we’ve had sex, usually dinner should come first. And I think I technically owe you three dinners.”

“You don’t own me anything, really. It’s not like I didn’t enjoy what we did,” Will says. “But yeah, dinner would be nice. I think I can make it this Saturday, if that’s alright? Are you free?”

“Saturdays, yes,” Ethan answers. “You’ll have to tell me where we need to go for it, if you want to go a town over or if you want to go somewhere here.”

Will sighs, because he already hates that he has to ask this of Ethan. It doesn’t feel honest, like whatever they’re doing is something forbidden, and he doesn’t want Ethan to feel like he’s some well-kept secret, easily disposed of once he’s tired of him. It’s not like that. “Could we head a town over?”

“Yeah, no problem,” Ethan says, and it isn’t one. He thinks they’ll have it easier there too, not worrying about running into too many people they might know from school. That hopefully they can treat it like something closer to a date and not just a couple of friends casually hanging out. He’s sure he could find some excellent fine dining, but he only does that a few times a year, usually so Julia can play dress-up, as he calls it, and he’d love to get Will to a nice place like that, but he knows that will come much later, and most likely as a group event at first. He’d like something a little nice, if Will agrees to it, but if Will wants something cheap and super casual, he’ll do that too. He’ll still give him all of the options though, just in case Will surprises him. “So, like, burgers or pizza, or something kinda nice, or really nice?”

Will sees the barely suppressed hope in Ethan’s eyes, and he thinks he can give him that since Ethan’s ready to drive them to another town just because Will’s asked for it. “Kinda nice.”

“Nice jeans and polo shirts or slacks and button down shirts?”

“Um … you decide?” Will says. “I’m fine either way.”

“Might as well do it right, slacks?”

“Sure,” Will agrees, biting his lip, “but then … can you pick me up at Jane’s? She lives down the block from me, and I can’t really leave my house in slacks without -- well, you know -- raising questions. Ellie is awfully noisy.”

“So our dates are like super secret spy missions,” Ethan jokes, and it’s hilarious, in a way. He and Julia ran their own spy mission to get him to this moment with Will, now he and Will would have their own. It is sad, really, that they have to be so covert, but it could at least give them good stories. “Sure. Just give me Jane’s address.”

“Will do. Is it … is that really okay? I don’t want you to feel like I’m hiding you or anything.”

Ethan sighs, wondering what it will take to get Will to stop second-guessing himself, them, everything else about the situation. “Yes, it’s fine. Really. I understand.”

“Thanks, that means a lot,” Will says quietly. “And … can I ask you another favor?”

“Shut up and let you study?” Ethan asks. “Since I distracted you this time by not being distracting?”

Will laughs, but shakes his head. “No. Yes, but I guess that’s been my fault for asking you to sit next to me. I meant to ask if you’re free around lunch? I’ve to to get home to get my meds, and the bus would take a while, but don’t worry if you don’t have the time. I’ll figure it out, then.”

“I’ll grab the tablet next time, I’ll be fine,” Ethan assures him. “I won’t stare off into space.” He thinks about his schedule. “Class at ten, out by eleven. When do you want to go?”

“I’m out by twelve for an hour, that works for you?”

“Meet you at the car around twelve, I’ll grab us lunch while I wait on you? Sandwiches?”

“Sounds good,” Will says and hesitates a bit before adding, “just no ham, okay? Don’t like it.”

“Turkey? Chicken? Sub, club, melt, wrap, what?” Ethan lists off. “I’m thinking of a club, but the place I want to go has it all, so just tell me what you like.”

“Chicken sub would be lovely,” Will answers, shoving his nearly done homework aside and turning around to face Ethan. He leans in, then, cups Ethan’s cheeks with his hands and kisses him like he’s wanted to the moment Ethan stepped out of the bathroom with only a towel around his waist.

Ethan doubts he’s ever going to get used to this, Will just suddenly kissing him, but he’s also pretty sure the day he does get used to it will be the day he doesn’t deserve it. He’s perfectly willing to push Will back on the bed, see if they could actually survive yet another round of fooling around, but he knows they’re getting too close to class time, so he’s careful with his hands, with the way he answers Will’s kiss.

Finally, Will breaks off their kiss with a sigh, letting his head rest against Ethan's shoulder. "Sorry," he mumbles. "You must sweat pheromones or something. I just can't keep my hands of you."

”I think it’s only for you,” Ethan answers, resting his hand on the back of Will’s neck and rubbing gently. “I’m not complaining, trust me, I’m never going to complain. But we should watch it or we’re not going to class at all.”

"Can't have that. Gotta earn my internship in your company. Although I'm not yet sure how to survive my classes without you. How do couples normally cope with this whole separation thing?"

Ethan is stupidly happy at Will’s question, at the fact he said they were a couple so casually. He knows this is a dangerous situation, already this invested, this fixated on Will, but he can’t help himself. “I don’t know,” He says, “I’ve never really been part of a couple.”

"No?" Will asks surprised. "But what about -- I thought you ..." he trails off, unsure how to phrase it.

Ethan shakes his head. “Not really. No one I would have really trusted to actually date date. We might do like, an almost date, like pizza, or sit around my house watching movies or game marathons or something like that, but anything romantic, no way. It’s like, to them, doing anything a normal couple would do was too gay or something. I don’t know, I don’t get it. Never have.”

"Then the others were all morons," Will says, suddenly angry with people he doesn't know and at the same time strangely comforted by the thought that, in a way, he is also Ethan's first.

“Maybe I had to deal with the idiots so I’d know a good one when I found him,” Ethan suggests. He sees the clock and wants to ignore it, but knows they can’t. “And it’s almost time to go, isn’t it?”

"I feel like I should say it's the nightingale, not the lark," Will says with a smirk, but gets up and tugs Ethan along. He wraps his arms around him, resting his hands on Ethan's ass. "We should look into inventing a time machine."

Ethan leans into Will. “Time machine so we can spend all day in bed and then go back and go to our classes? I still don’t think that’d work.”

"It doesn't, sadly," Will informed it. "Ellie tried that once with a cheat in Sims, but it only ends in overtired people with a mess of a social life. Not worth it."

“Benji just builds his own version of Sims. He’d probably make it work, but I’d have to listen to him explain it and it’s way too over my head.” Ethan moves reluctantly away from Will and goes to his desk, finding the book he’ll need for his class. “Probably not a good idea for me to walk you, is it?”

Will shakes his head. "I'm not sure I could stop myself from devouring you in front of the classroom." He rubs a hand over his face. "This is really silly. It's not like I won't see you in two hours again."

“Maybe you’re just making up for this being your first sexual relationship and you’ll get over it in a week or something.” Ethan sets his book and a bottle of water by the door and goes back to his dresser for socks. “Want a pair?” He asks, in case Will would rather not wear dirty socks.

"Sure. And have you looked at you recently? Anyone not wanting to be all over you has to be blind." He takes the offered socks and puts them on, a thought suddenly occurring to him. "Or is it ... too much?"

“It’s fine,” Ethan says quickly, leaning back against the dresser as he slips on his socks. “More than fine. Didn’t I just say that? I’m not going to complain."

"Right, you said that already. Sorry." Will takes a deep breath, collects his notes and shoves them all in his backpack.

“It’s okay.” Ethan opens his door, checking the hall as he steps into his shoes, and then looks back to Will. “Coast is clear. Ready?”

"Not really," Will says with a small smile, "but it's only two hours, right?" He hesitates for a short moment, but then squeezes Ethan's hand before he walks through the door to head for his class. Two hours, he can totally do that.

Ethan lets Will get a moment’s head start before he follows, locking the door behind him. One class, waste some time, get lunch, meet Will. He can do that. He may not pay attention to a single word his professor says, but he can at least show up and pretend.

Chapter Text

Will enters the classroom later than he usually does, having been distracted by thoughts of Ethan on his way here. He sees Jane in her usual place and slides into the seat next to her. "Hi," he says with a soft smile.

“Hi,” she answers, grinning at him. “So... I called you last night.”

"Um, yeah ... can I copy the last section of our homework from you?" He asks, knowing it won't distract her for a minute.

If anything, it makes it worse, because she can’t stop grinning even as she digs out the sheet and offers it to Will. “That’s definitely not like you. Must have been a long study session.”

He knows he's turning beet-red when he takes her sheet to copy it. "I managed to do most of my homework," he mumbles.

“I’m just going to enjoy this moment. Finally get to pay you back for the million times I’ve needed yours.” She keeps an eye on the door, watching for their teacher, but keeps glancing towards him as well. “So your study partner, I should meet him.”

"Are you actually going to make me confess he's not my study partner?" Will asks under his breath, barely suppressing a stupid grin.

Jane giggles quietly. “Not here, no,” she says, “but later, hell yes. You know I have to meet him to be sure he’s good enough.”

Will's thankful and touched that she's looking out for him, and he nods. "I know, but he's really ... he's good enough. Question should rather be if I am good enough for him."

“Of course you are,” Jane says immediately, and looks as if he’s personally insulted her by questioning his worth. “You’re incredible and he’d better see that and never forget it. But I still have to meet him. All I know is the normal college gossip.”

"Maybe," Will frowns, "he said he's playing football. I can ask if he has a game this week we could go to."

“Football’s every Friday night,” Jane says. “He’s a quarterback, he’ll be playing. You’re actually going to a game? You don’t care about sports.”

"But ... but I care about him," he says quietly. "And sports are important to him."

“You’re going to make an awesome boyfriend.”

"You think?" Will asks, blushing, because he really wants to be a good boyfriend. Ethan deserves it.

“You’re considering going to watch a football game, solely because of him. Yes, I think so. He’d just better be willing to do something similar for you, besides just lie about why you were asleep in his dorm.” She looks at her watch, then the door again. “Almost done with that?”

"Yeah, here," he says and shoves the sheet back to her. "And he already offered to pay for a full allergy test."

Jane takes the sheet, slipping it back into the folder she keeps for the class. “He... he did what? How did that even come up? Are you going to let him?”

"No! Yes!" Will sighs. "I don't know? And I was just telling him about how I keep a calendar to keep track of all I have to do, and then he somehow got all worried."

“And that led to him wanting to do a full allergy test. That’s... really impressive.” From the gossip, Jane hadn’t been sure what to expect, exactly, of Ethan, but their brief conversation and now this one with Will has her thinking Ethan may just be the best thing for Will. She hopes that he is, at least. “If he’s offering it without asking anything in return, might as well, right? It is something you need.”

"But isn't that -- like, too much too soon?" He asks unsure.

“Maybe. I don’t know. Talk to him about it.”

"We already did," Will admits. "He said that I can pay him back if I don't let him pay otherwise. It's really generous, I know," he adds. "It's just so overwhelming."

“It is. But maybe he’s just that kind of guy.”

"You think I should just let him pay?" Will asks, because this is Jane and her opinion is important to him.

“I think maybe you should,” Jane says, after thinking it over for a minute. “It’s something that you need, and if you really feel like you should pay him back, then you can do that later. Or just let him do it and see how that works.”

"I have the feeling you two will like each other," Will says, because now Jane will have someone else to share her protective tendencies with. He's not sure that this is something he can look forward to, but before he can add more their teacher finally arrives.


Ethan surprised himself in class, actually focusing on the professor, but he thinks part of that was just needing something to focus on that wasn’t the night before, or the early morning. It’s scary, all of these feelings for Will, and he doesn’t know what he’s doing, but he’s not even sure he can ask Julia either. He had been too tired to think about it when they had fallen asleep, and too distracted when he had woken up, but he had liked that, a lot. He wants that, falling asleep next to Will, waking up next to him, all tangled up together. He’s never wanted that before, always hated when someone fell asleep against him or on him, where he had to extricate himself from their embrace. With Will, it’s different. Everything’s different, and he has that pulse-racing feeling again, the one before he goes off on one of his crazy adventures that usually involves activities that most people, sane people, would never do. He’s amazed a relationship can feel that way.

He gets their food at 11:40, makes it to his car by 11:55, and reclines in his seat, windows down and radio on, while he waits for Will to join him.

"This Is War? I hope that has no meaning for our relationship," Will says playfully. He opens the car door and sits down, masking a cough.

Ethan sits up, raising his seat, and smiles over at Will. “No, I think it’d take me awhile to find one song that fits us.” He looks concerned at the muffled cough he swears he heard. “Are you okay?”

"Yes, well ... " He shrugs. "The cold weather isn't exactly beneficial when I've forgotten to take my meds. But that's why we’re driving over to my house, right?"

“Right,” Ethan agrees. He leaves the garage, pulling out on the main street. “Tell me where I’m going. And were you gonna try to stay over again tonight, since you’ve got the early class, or do I have to let you go home?"

Will can't help smiling that Ethan seems to want to have him around as much as Will wants to stay with him. "Knight's Street is the address. And I think I can stay. They're used to me sometimes sleeping over at Jane's, and I'm pretty sure she's willing to cover for us."

“Well she covered for us once already. Think we might owe her something for it.” He knows the general area of Will’s address, and heads that direction. “So, cold’s not good if you don’t have meds, right? Should we get you some extra to keep in my room, just in case? Or do you need anything special I should get, for when you stay?”

"I should get another prescription filled so I can store some meds in your room, if that's okay?" Will asks and can't stop another cough from escaping. "And ... um ... do you have a winter blanket or do you always sleep under the one we used last night?"

“Oh sure, remind me I have to do laundry today, thanks,” Ethan says sarcastically, but he’s obviously teasing. “That and my spare, but the spare’s there more for when we’re sprawled out all over the place. I’ll pick up another, no problem.” He reaches across the console that separates their chairs and takes Will’s hand, because he’s tired of being this close and not touching. “And of course you can keep your meds there, it’s why I asked. So we don’t always have to drive back to your house when we’re not in class. Like we could go grab lunch somewhere together or do other things you need. If we carry a textbook or something to a casual place, no one would even think it was a date.”

"I like that idea. Okay, I'll try to get an appointment with my doc next week," Will says. "And I can help with your laundry. It's not like I don't have experience with it."

“I throw it all in the machine and sit there playing games until it’s done. I did learn how to do that much. But you could keep me company during it.” Ethan finds Will’s house, with Will pointing it out, and parks in front. “Make that appointment for your allergy test soon too?”

"Okay," Will says without further argument, remembering Jane's advice. "And I hope you learned about sorting the colors and different temperatures as well."

“I sort in my own special system. Julia does all my bleaching, because I can’t. And I haven’t turned anything pink yet, so I think I’m doing good.”

"Yup, you are." Will opens the car door. "Are you coming?"

“You sure?” Ethan asks. He wants to go in, yes, but he would sit outside if Will preferred. “I don’t mind waiting, if you want me to stay out here.”

Will rolls his eyes. "Don't be silly. No one's home yet and you can't tell me you're not at least a bit curious."

“I am,” Ethan admits. “We have time to eat in there too?”

"Yes, good idea. Jason should be the first one home, but only around three. so we're fine."

“Okay, cool.” Ethan grabs their lunches and follows Will into the house.

Will is suddenly painfully aware that Ethan's the first person since Jane he's bringing here whose opinion matters to him. The house isn't big or new, but it's his home, the place where he saw all of his siblings take their first steps, and where he still helps them with their homework. "I know it's not much, but I love it."

“Don’t,” Ethan says quietly, all of his attention on the house, everything he can take in, trying to get as many clues about Will, and his family, as he can. “Don’t act like you have to defend it. It’s your home, it’s perfect.” He can see the kitchen table through a doorway and walks that direction, going to lay down their food and drinks. “Looks really comfortable. I like it.”

Will feels warmth spreading in his chest. "Thanks. I'm going to head up to my room to get my meds. Back in a sec. The plates are in the cupboard next to the fridge."

“I’ll manage. Hurry back.” Ethan grins at Will and turns to the cabinet, busying himself with getting their lunch plated and ready for them to eat.

Will doesn't need long and when he walks into the kitchen ,the table is set. He grabs a glass and downs his pills with water. "So, how was your day so far?"

“Well, let’s see... I woke up next to my boyfriend, who decided for me that I could delay my run so we could have sex, which was awesome. Then we did it again. Then I sat through a class where I pretty much paid attention. Got out, grabbed lunch, and now I’m having lunch with him and he’s agreed to let me do something for him that I really wanted to do. So I’d say my day is pretty damn great so far. Yours?” Ethan’s finding that he really just can’t stop smiling. He does it a lot, has had plenty of people say he does it too much, that it’s like some sort of lethal weapon, and he does know how to use it to get what he wants, but these are different. He is genuinely happy, and he really cannot help himself.

"I can't say I paid much attention to class, and I had to copy homework from Jane -- which was a first, I'll let you know. But it was because I had sex with my awesome boyfriend in the morning, so I really can't complain," he says with a chuckle.

Ethan laughs. “Well your boyfriend’s a very lucky man.”

"He'll hopefully feel even luckier in a second," Will whispers and leans over to kiss Ethan.

Ethan raises a hand to cup Will’s face as they kiss. This could be dangerous, could mean they don’t get to finish their lunches, but there’s no way he’s ever going to turn down a kiss. He might have to end it before he’s really ready, but he’s not going to refuse.

Will has the distinct impression that kissing Ethan will never get old, because it still feels so good. His growling stomach, though, forces him to break away from Ethan. That and he won't have sex in his childhood home and their kiss was about to turn into that direction. "Lunch now?" He asks breathlessly.

“Lunch,” Ethan agrees, voice strained. He leans back and then even pulls his chair away from Will, needing to put a little more space between them. “But yes, definitely lucky.”

"God," Will groans and puts his head into his hands. "How bad is it that I'm thinking about skipping the rest of my classes so we can go back to your dorm and see if more blankets need laundry?"

Ethan chuckles. “Pretty bad, but I’m not exactly against that idea. Except I do have practice today that I can’t skip if I want to play this week. I think I’ll just buy a lot of extra blankets, so we won’t be without, no matter what we end up doing.”

"Good plan," Will says and takes a bite from his sandwich. "And I need to work anyway."

"Would it be okay if I came by after practice, or will you be too busy? What are your hours today?"

"Only till 8 today because of my early class tomorrow. And I'd like you to come by," Will says, smiling.

Ethan nods. “I’ll come by after practice. You want to pack a bag now too, just leave it in the car?”

Will nods. "Good idea. I also should write a note, telling them where I'll be." He hesitates. "Well, the polished truth, anyway," he adds, already wondering how and when to break the truth to his mom.

“Right.” Ethan eats a few bites of his lunch as he considers his next words. “Maybe in a week or two, I could meet them, as a friend,” he adds quickly. “Just so, you know, it won’t be totally out of the blue if you ever did say you stay over, especially after I move. You camping out at my place before an early class or after a late night studying wouldn’t be that odd... would it?”

"No, I suppose not, but what about that move?" Will asks with a frown.

Ethan shrugs. “I don’t want to be in the dorms. I’ve been planning to move out as soon as possible, since before I even had a room. I’m getting an apartment eventually. Maybe getting Benji one too. Jules hasn’t decided if she’s getting an apartment or staying at her dorm, she likes it.”

"Your own apartment," Will replies, daydreaming a bit. It sounds wonderful in the way traveling sounds, something he'll one day hopefully be able to afford.

“Yeah.” Ethan watches Will. “Could be ours, if you ever wanted to move out. Tell your mom I’m a roommate.”

"No," Will says, and then, because he realizes it came across too harsh, "When I move in with you, it’s as your boyfriend, not as a pretend roommate."

Will saying that moving in isn’t an if, but a when, makes Ethan hopeful, happy. Saying boyfriend is even better, but he doesn’t want it to be so Will can prove a point, or because he thinks he has to do it. “Even if we’re dating, we would still be roommates, it wouldn’t be a lie.”

"Details," Will waves his remark away. "And I need to tell them anyway. This is as good a reason as any other now."

“Just don’t do it because of me, or anything like that,” Ethan requests. “I told you I’m fine with doing whatever you need.”

"Would you please stop giving me excuses?" Will asks with a groan. "You're not the reason, more the spark, you know? And it's my family. They're supposed to love me no matter what, right?"

“Family’s supposed to do or be a lot of things,” Ethan answers quietly. “Doesn’t mean it happens. Not that yours would take it badly... not that I know either way, really. Just that it can be a touchy subject. I want you to be sure you’re ready before you say anything. I mean... I don’t even know how long you’ve known you were gay or anything like that."

"It was fifteen days before I turned thirteen. My dad had been gone about half a year, and he'd spent the last few months he'd graced us with his presence telling me I'd never find a girl stupid enough to marry me. And I suddenly realized that I didn't care because I'd never even kiss a girl," Will explains. It's something he's never told anyone before, not even Jane.

“I think, if I ever meet your dad, I’m going to kick his ass,” Ethan says, “unless you give me some epic reason why I shouldn’t. Or can’t.” He reaches out and squeezes Will’s hand. “I have. Kissed a girl, I mean. Had sex with them, actually.” Will had opened up to him, so Ethan knows it’s only fair he does the same. “And it was fine, I guess, nothing special. I just wasn’t that into it, into them. I’d always watch TV or movies with Jules and agree with her taste, usually, in whatever guys we were watching. Never thought much of it, and I’d notice guys at school. Fooled around with some. I was kind of a slut, really.” He shrugs. He had never cared about his reputation, his former flings, until now, and he wonders, every time something like this comes up, how Will might react to his past. “Finally gave up even trying with girls when I was seventeen.”

"Okay," Will says, because it's quite a lot to take in, and he needs time to sort it out. "Does your family know?"

“Yeah. Told Jules first, because she kinda figured me out before I did. Told my mom when she was telling me not to make her a grandmother yet.” Ethan smiles faintly in remembrance of that conversation. “That was kinda funny, actually. I regret how my uncle found out, but in my defense, I didn’t think he was home that weekend and I hadn’t wanted to go upstairs.”

Will laughs, trying to imagine that. "And they all took it ... well?"

“I think my mom still holds out hope I’ll find a way to give her grandkids eventually, no matter what she said a couple years ago. My uncle told me he doesn’t care who I’m dating, as long as he never has to see that much of me or my partner of choice again.”

"I think I already like your uncle," Will informs Ethan while he eats the rest of his lunch. "And do you think about it sometimes? Kids, I mean."

Ethan shrugs, eating a few chips before he answers. He likes this peaceful talking, learning more about each other, but he really should eat more than he is, and will probably end up getting something else later on. “I’m nineteen. I’ve got plenty of time to think about it. But yeah, some. There’s always getting a surrogate, or adoption. I always figured I’d worry about finding a relationship before I went for the whole white picket fence and kids deal. What about you?”

"I've always wanted kids," Will admits and hopes he doesn't scare Ethan away. "Just never let myself think it could be a possibility."

“Well let’s graduate before we make any plans, how’s that?” Ethan suggests. “I think if we add a kid of our own to all the crap you’re trying to do right now, you’ll give yourself a mental breakdown.”

"Right. Sorry for bringing it up," Will says and grabs pen and paper to write the note for his family.

Ethan sighs. “Will... I didn’t mean it like that. Just, it’s like what you said this morning, when I wanted to match our schedules. We’ve been dating for, like, barely twelve hours, right? And as much as I might want to say okay, screw it, let’s go get us a place and just call us a forever deal, we’ve got a long way to go with school and everything else. Early twenties is still plenty young enough to figure out families. Right?”

"Yes,of course ... and I didn't mean it like that. just that I can already see it happen with you by my side. It's crazy, I know."

“Maybe I like crazy.” Ethan kisses Will’s cheek and gets to his feet to take care of their trash while Will writes the note. “You can really see it? The whole domestic family life thing with me?”

"Yes," Will answers truthfully. "Does that bother you?"

“No, should it?”

"Maybe? I don't know. Do people usually talk about the plans for the rest of their life not even 24 hours after they've somehow managed to end up with an amazing boyfriend?"

“I think, in those situations, it’s usually just one person in the relationship envisioning their happily ever after, and I think those are the people that usually get committed to a nice cell with padded walls,” Ethan jokes. “But since we’re both doing it, maybe it’s okay.”

"Good, because I'm quite fond of the little sanity I've left since I've met you," Will replies and gets up to hug Ethan. "Coming with upstairs so I can pack?"

Ethan holds Will a moment, just because he can, and then releases him. “If you want me to, sure.”

"Thought you'd probably be curious to see my room."

“I am.” Ethan smiles. “Lead the way.”

Will takes Ethan's hand and together they go upstairs. "Excuse the chaos, will you? Wasn't exactly expecting visitors."

“If this is chaos,” Ethan begins, looking around the small but orderly room, “then we’re going to have a problem. My room’s only neat because Jules makes me clean. This... this is nice.” He squeezes Will’s hand and releases it so he can look around and Will can pack.

Will grabs a bag from under his bed and puts his selected clothes into it. Then he throws his meds in as well and turns around to Ethan. "Done," he says.

Ethan takes the bag from Will. “Then I guess we should go back to school, huh?”

"Yes, we should," Will agrees, but still steps forward to kiss Ethan longingly, knowing he won't be able to for the next few hours.

Ethan sighs softly when they pull apart. “You’re really good at that,” he murmurs.

"You, too," Will says. "Could do it all day."

“Me too.” Ethan nods towards the door. “We need to leave, or we’re not going anywhere.”

“Yeah, you’re probably right,” Will says reluctantly. He doesn’t want to move, he wants to wrap himself around Ethan and never let go, which is a completely crazy thought, he knows that, thank you very much. It doesn’t make it any less true, though.

“Think of it this way,” Ethan suggests, grabbing Will’s hand and tugging him from the room, “at least we get to sleep together again tonight.”

Will blushes at the thought, and then tells himself to get a grip, that this was a completely innocent remark. “Yes, right, exactly -- I’ll stop talking now.”

“Talking’s fine, it’s the kissing that’s dangerous.” Ethan stops at the front door. “Got everything?”

“Yes,” Will says and locks the door behind him. Once they’re in the car he can’t help but pout. “But I like kissing you,” he complains. “You’re very … kissable.”

Ethan’s laughing as he starts the car and begins the drive back to campus. “So are you. And you’re really damn adorable right now, so stop that or I’m pulling over and we’re not going back to class.”

“Can’t have that,” Will sighs. “Classes are important. Can you please remind me of it when I try to skip them in the future?”

“Hey, I’m really just here to play football and fake my way through some degree, I’m the wrong person to ask to keep you from skipping class,” Ethan says, “especially when you’d be skipping class for me.”

“You’re not stupid, no need to pretend,” Will says. “You wouldn’t have gotten into college if you were such a poor student.”

“I’m decent. I just get bored. I’m here because they want me to play.”

“Which is a good reason to get into college, and I’m sure you’re brilliant at it. Well, not that I’d know, but I’m gonna learn.”

Ethan glances over at Will. “You’re gonna learn what?”

“The rules of football, and baseball, of course. Not much sense in going to your games when I don’t have the first clue about what’s happening, right?”

“You’re...” Ethan’s floored. “You want to come to my games?”

“Of course. I mean, if that’s alright?”

“Yeah, of course,” Ethan says quickly. “I’d like that a lot. But, I mean, you don’t have to. It’s just a few hours of you sitting there for a sport you don’t know, might not even like.”

“So let me try it out. Your friends are going to be there, right? And I can bring Jane, if you don’t mind. She’s dying to get to know you, actually. And I’d like to get to know your friends -- well, Julia, I already know Benji, although we never really talk that much, to be honest. But I like to study with him. He’s quiet and knows his stuff, but you probably already know that as well, what with being his friends for years. And now I’m rambling. Sorry,” he says, blushing again.

“It’s okay.” Ethan takes Will’s hand. “Yeah, Julia’s always there, Benji usually. He brings a tablet half the time, but he’s there. But if you think he’s quiet, then you know a different Benji than I do.”

“Oh, okay? Huh … maybe he thinks he has to be quiet around me?” Will asks, unsure. “I hope I didn’t come across as rude to him, I do like him. He has a weird sense of humor, though.”

“Well, he’s British,” Ethan jokes, “and part of that’s from being around me so long. And Jules, Jules is pretty wicked. I don’t know, maybe you’re his study friend so he’s got like a serious studying game face or something. Or you hang out with a Benji impersonator who has a really great Benji mask.”

“I’ll find out on Friday,” Will replies with a grin. “Are there, I don’t know, team colors? Or colors I shouldn’t wear because they symbolize your arch enemy? Do you have fan jerseys?”

“Yeah, we’ve got jerseys. Colors are red and black, and it’s safer if you don’t wear green on Friday. I’m number 82, but Julia will make sure you see where I am. And I could tell you all this on Friday too.”

“But I want to be prepared,” Will argues. “And tonight you have to explain me the basic rules of football. Or I can just google it or something.”

“How about we get pizza after work and camp out on the floor and we’ll watch a couple of football movies, I’ll explain as we watch?” Ethan suggests. “It’s like a lesson and a date, all together. We can do it tomorrow too, if you want, depending on when you want to sleep tonight.”

“Let’s start with one movie and see if I’m still awake by the end, that works?” Will says, already loving the idea of spending his time with Ethan that way.

“Deal,” Ethan agrees. He parks in the garage and leans over the console to give Will a brief kiss. “I’ll see you tonight,” he promises.

“Bye,” Will says, already hating the time they’ve to spend apart.

“Bye,” Ethan answers softly. “It’s like... seven hours. We’ll make it.”

“If you don’t find me at the diner, then it’s because I died of longing or something else you find in a Jane Austen novel,” Will says with a grin and then leaves the car, sighing.


Ethan suffers through his next class, and even though he wants to check the library, see if Will’s schedule is still the same it’s been the last two days, see if he’s there, he forces himself to stay away. They’ll have all night, after all, and he’s half afraid if he distracts Will much more, Will might pull away in favor of studies and Ethan doesn’t want that. So instead he ambushes Julia outside of her class, even though she said she would handle her own mid-afternoon coffee break, this lets them talk, since they didn’t that morning, and keeps him from tracking Will down.

“Hey,” he says with a grin, taking her bag and wrapping his other arm around her shoulders. “C’mon, coffee.”

“You’re too happy to have had a fight with Will already,” she remarks with a frown, “but then I don’t understand why you’re here with me instead of with him. Do I have to be worried now?”

“I have plans tonight, it’s fine,” Ethan promises. “I just want to let him study. I kind of ruined that yesterday.”

“Uh oh, tell me about it,” Julia says, grinning. “In fact, tell me everything and buy me caramel latté.”

Ethan laughs, walking her to the coffee shop. “We fooled around last night. And this morning. That’s it. He’s going to stay the night because he’s got an early class, same as me, but we’re going to watch some football movie so I can explain the game. You’re taking him on Friday, by the way, you and Benji. Be gentle.”

“I’m always gentle,” she huffs. “And do you even believe yourself when you say that he’s staying over because of an early class?”

“It’s why I offered,” Ethan defends himself, and he means it. “I won’t keep him up, but that way he’s not waking up earlier than he has to, trying to make it to campus on time. He can relax a little.”

Julia stares at him for a long time while they wait in line to place their orders. “You’ve really fallen for him, haven’t you?” She asks quietly.

“I’ve never felt anything remotely like this in my entire life, so... yeah?” Ethan sighs. “He just does things to me. It’s weird.”

“It’s good,” Julia says decisively and leans against him. “Do you know if he feels the same?”

“Maybe. I hope.” Ethan rests his cheek against the top of her head. “It’s really fast. Is it supposed to be this fast when it’s not a fling?”

“According to half of Hollywood’s chick flicks, yes,” she reassures him. She likes this Ethan, who seems so happy and more content than she’s seen him in a long time. She hopes Will won’t go and break his heart because Ethan doesn’t deserve that. “But tell me more. I know nothing about Will but that he looks hot without his shirt. There has to be more to him.”

“I should know that, you’ve made me watch most of them.” They reach the front of the line and he has to pause their conversation to place their orders. He considers staying, finding a table, but changes his mind. Once they have their drinks, he walks her outside and across the quad to a quiet area. More privacy this way. It’s purely coincidence that they’re not too far from the library, where if he squints, he can watch the doors. They settle on the bench and he sips at his coffee as he thinks of what to say first.

“He has two brothers and a sister, all younger. His dad left, his mom works a lot, he works to help them out. And he’s got a best friend that’s basically his own version of you. Talked to her last night when she called him. He’s also not out, so we’re keeping it pretty quiet.”

“You okay with that?” She asks, just to make sure Ethan thinks about what he’s getting into. Not that he’s very vocal about who he likes to kiss, but he never had to hide it either.

“I’m willing to wait until he’s ready, whenever that is.”

“You really have it bad,” she says and cups his cheek with her hand. “I’m happy for you.”

Ethan smiles weakly. “I just hope it lasts.”

“Have a little faith. He went from not speaking to you to fooling around with you. That has to mean something,” she says with a wide smile, and then moves her hand in one fast motion to the neck of his shirt and drags it a bit to the side, so the bite mark Will left earlier that morning is clearly visible. “Ha, I knew it!” She exclaims. “His idea or yours?”

Ethan feels his cheeks warm, and it’s funny that Julia’s the only one who can get reactions out of him like this, even if they do tell eachother everything. “Mine. I don’t really know what he likes, beyond him really enjoying the blow job, but there’s not a man alive who wouldn’t enjoy that, right?”

“I wouldn’t know,” she says with a shrug. “But you rarely give blow jobs as far as you’ve told me, so Will has to be someone special.”

“I’m just being a good boyfriend.”

“Boyfriend? So it’s official?”

“According to what we decided last night, yeah.” Ethan frowns. “Should it not be?”

“Don’t be silly,” she says and punches him lightly in the shoulder. “It’s totally fine if you decided that. It’s just that you never ever called anyone your boyfriend before. I feel like I’m watching you take your first steps,” she squeals.

Ethan winces. “It’s not that shocking, don’t freak out on me. I don’t need you drawing hearts on my notebook or anything like that. And if you do, I will bury you with the barbies, I swear.”

“You wouldn’t dare, darling,” she informs him with a smile. “And I can draw as many hearts on your notebook as I want, it’s a fact. Check with the universe if you don’t believe me. And not to forget that this is a big deal. It’s your first boyfriend! You can spoil him rotten! You can kiss him silly! You can have all the sex you want and then some -- oh, I can’t wait to meet him for real, like when I don’t look like my usual working place is a strip club in Vegas, and he’s not coming out of a shower because he had sex with you. This is gonna be fun.”

“We need to get you a boyfriend,” Ethan says, and he’s only half-joking. “And I could have all the sex I wanted without a boyfriend,” he reminds her. “Kissing only happens in private, and I can’t spoil him that much.”

“Why not?” She asks, confused.

Ethan shrugs. “He doesn’t want to let me. He wanted to get his wallet when I went for coffee and bagels this morning.” The allergy test is none of Julia’s business, something completely different, and Ethan doesn’t consider that spoiling him at all, he considers it just taking care of Will and his health.

“Oh boys and their egos,” Julia sighs. She understands, in a way, and Will’s reaction is better than him having Ethan pay for everything. God knows enough boys and girls have been stupid enough to try that already. “But you’ll find a balance, I’m sure.”

“I hope so.” He stares across the grass and pathways, towards the library, and reminds himself he can’t go in there. “You don’t mind him sitting with you during the game, right? You won’t pump him for information or anything?”

“But I am allowed to befriend him, right? I swear I won’t embarrass you with stories about how when you were ten you -- ”

“No!” Ethan says quickly, before she can finish her sentence. “He doesn’t need to know anything like that yet, thank you very much.”

“Okay, but you know, I can be nice and friendly. Benji and I will be on our best behavior on Friday, I promise. I’ll even bring another team-colored blanket so he can have his own. All right?”

“I know. But he’s not like us. He’s quiet, serious. And apparently thinks Benji’s quiet too.” Ethan shakes his head. “I still don’t know where he got that idea.”

“Benji quiet? Are we talking about the same Benji here?” Julia laughs. “Oh my … he’s in for a surprise on Friday. You should warn him. And I feel like I’m invisible the way you keep staring at the library. When will you see him again?”

“Less than six hours,” Ethan answers. “Maybe I’m just staring at the library to make sure it doesn’t try to attack me with knowledge.” He kisses her cheek. “You know I love you, Jules. And I already warned him that I don’t know what Benji he knows.”

“And I love you, too, but I’m already resigned to my fate to play the second fiddle from now on,” she says dramatically, one hand covering her eyes.

“You’re insane,” Ethan says, laughing, but she’s gotten his attention away from the doors, and he changes the subject for the rest of their break between classes.

Chapter Text

Will has a hard time concentrating on anything. Classes are dull, library time feels very lonely without Ethan’s presence, and once his shift starts he actually has to write down the orders he’d normally memorize in five seconds flat. It’s unnerving, and it scares him. To think that just yesterday he’s wanted Ethan to slow down, and now he himself had brought up kids of all things in their conversation today … he doesn’t understand himself. But he didn’t lie. He does see the white picket fence, golden retriever, 2.5 kids in some suburb with Ethan. And he’s never even entertained any thoughts about sharing his life with someone before. He has half a mind to just run away from all these new feelings, but he’s pretty sure Ethan would chase him and demand an explanation. And Will sure as hell couldn’t give him any that didn’t make him sound like a moron. Not to mention that Jane would be everything but pleased with him. When he’d asked if she’d cover for them, her reply text contained way too many excited emoticons for his taste.

Ethan manages to make it through class, barely, but that’s also just because Julia is there and keeps digging her fingers into his ribs when he looks like he’s daydreaming. He handles practice because he doesn’t have to sit and think. He’s moving, he’s active, he’s letting himself ignore Will, for just a couple of hours. The moment practice ends, he’s gone. He goes back to his room to shower, so he can take his time, not have to keep up with all of the talk going on around him. He debates for five minutes on what shirt to wear before he finally just gives up, picks the first one he touches, and leaves, grabbing a jacket on his way out the door.

He’s at the diner at a quarter to eight and sits for another five minutes, wondering if he should go in or not. Last time he was there, Will’s co-workers were subjected to one hell of a show. He wonders if Will had to deal with any comments, or if he would, if he goes inside. He finally decides he’ll find out when he enters, and they’ll deal, if there are any comments. He walks inside, looking around for Will the moment he’s through the door.

Will can barely suppress a stupid grin spreading on his face when he sees Ethan, but he manages to just acknowledge him with a nod before slowly walking over to where’s Ethan settled down. “Can I get you anything?” He asks, trying to sound casual and probably failing miserably.

“Is it safe to order the pancakes again, or should I get something else?” Ethan asks, obviously teasing. “You want to eat here, or get something and take it back?”

“Take away,” Will says, and his too fast answer probably gave away how very much he doesn’t want to have to sit here and watch Ethan eat when he can’t touch him. God, he’s screwed.

Ethan chuckles. “Then a coke for now, and you pick something good to take with us.”

“Okay.” Will nods. “What do you like?”

“Whatever you’ve got that’s chicken and some sort of vegetables,” Ethan decides.

Will nods again, hides his hands behind his back because he’s not sure he wouldn’t touch Ethan right now, damn the consequences, and leaves to get Ethan the coke. He then tells Louis to make two chicken wraps to go, and makes his last round to give people their bills. Ten minutes later he gets the take out boxes from Louis, waves goodbye to Peggy, and is back at Ethan’s table. “We can go,” he says.

Ethan stands, lays money on the table, and smiles at Will. “Good. I’ve already got a stack of movies, so we can go straight back.”

Will waits till they’re safely inside the car before he allows himself to relax and to touch Ethan’s hand. “I missed you,” he admits. “And I didn’t even have your phone number to tell you that.”

“I need yours too,” Ethan says, “but I’ll probably text you so much you’ll be sick of me in an hour.” He turns his hand over so he can hold Will’s. “I missed you too.”

“I don’t think so. Not like I could concentrate today anyway,” Will says and closes his eyes for a moment. “I had to write down orders during my shift. Normally I can remember everything, even if someone wants the pepperoni pizza without pepperoni, but anchovies and ham and double cheese, but no oregano.”

“I couldn’t even hang out with the guys after practice because it was all I could do to actually focus on plays. No way I could have held a conversation with them. Talked to Julia today, though, she’ll get you a spare blanket and keep you company on Friday.”

“That’s nice of her, thanks. And I’m glad I’m not the only one who had trouble focusing today, even if that makes me sound mean,” Will says with a grin. “And now we really need to get somewhere where we’re not disturbed, because I’m dying to kiss you,” he adds, quietly.

“Ditto,” Ethan says. He keeps rubbing his thumb over Will’s hand, like he can’t keep his own hand still, and only releases him when he has to put the car into park inside the garage. He refrains from kissing Will then, busying himself with getting Will’s overnight bag out of the trunk instead.

Will keeps his hands occupied with the take out boxes and his mind by reciting the US GDP of the last ten years. It works, but only as long as they need to walk to Ethan’s dorm and to close the door, and Will feels like congratulating himself for making it that long. He still has the boxes in his hands when he turns to the side to kiss Ethan with all the desperation that’s built up inside him over the day.

Ethan drops the bag on the bed and grabs at Will’s shirt, which is actually his shirt, and he should seriously not like that as much as he does. This really is not why he asked Will over tonight, asked him to spend the night, but the minute Will touched him, Ethan couldn’t think about anything else. He still can’t. This cannot be normal, this overwhelming need he feels whenever he touches Will, sees Will, even just thinks about him. He groans into Will’s mouth and pulls him closer, as if even an inch of space between them is just too much.

Will hopes it’s the desk the boxes land on, but he couldn’t care less at the moment. He licks into Ethan’s mouth, tastes a hint of coke, and then their bodies are pressed flush together, and he echoes Ethan’s groan. “What … about the movie,” he says teasingly.

“What about dinner?” Ethan counters. He doesn’t wait for an answer, doesn’t really care for one, and trails his lips down Will’s neck. He wishes, desperately, he could bite down, suck until there’s a bruise, a dark unmistakable sign that Will’s claimed, but he can’t. He settles for licking the hollow of Will’s throat, scrapes his teeth lightly across his collarbone, and then just rests his head on Will’s shoulder, breath hot on his skin.

“We had dinner?” Will asks back, struggling for breath. “And you know, you can always leave a bite mark somewhere that’s usually covered by my clothes … ”

“God, don’t tempt me,” Ethan murmurs, and kisses Will’s neck again just because it’s right there next to his face and how can he not press his lips to Will’s skin. “You can do it anywhere you want on me. As hard, as dark, as you want.”

“God,” Will groans, and grinds his hips against Ethan. The image alone makes him half-hard, and that Ethan is his, his alone, and Will’s allowed to lay claim to him is mind-blowing.

Ethan slides a hand down Will’s back, curves it over his hip, and grins into Will’s neck. “Like that, huh?” He asks, voice low, husky. “Wanna know that I’ve probably touched my shoulder a dozen times today, thinking about the mark you left? That you could do more? Leave bruises all over my skin, things I’ll feel, think about, every minute we’re apart?”

Will makes some sound that’s a mix between a strangled moan and an entirely undignified squeal. “Shirt. Off. Now,” he growls, having entirely forgotten why he’s in Ethan’s dorm in the first place. His only goal now is to see Ethan naked as fast as he can.

Ethan forces himself to take a step back, kicking his shoes off and towards the door. He fumbles twice before he can get enough coordination to pull off his shirt, and reaches immediately for Will’s. “You too,” he says, grabbing the hem and tugging until Will does as he wants.

“Still too many clothes,” Will decides and slides to his knees to unzip Ethan’s jeans and tug them down.

Ethan’s mouth went dry the second Will knelt and his brain has gone completely blank. He can’t blink, can’t look away, as if he could burn this image onto his retinas and keep it with him for the rest of his life. Will’s half-dressed, on his knees, and Ethan has to curl his hands into loose fists at his sides to not grab Will and haul him down to the floor.

It takes a moment for Will to realize where he is and how that might look to Ethan, and then he decides that it’s really nothing bad, and he’d very much like to try. After all, Ethan had said it’s okay if he won’t like it, and Will believes him, and it strengthens his resolve. He places his hands on Ethan’s hips, tugs at the waistband of his boxer shorts, ready to drag them down, and looks up at Ethan. “Can I?” He asks, licking his lips.

“Yes,” Ethan breathes, heart racing at just the thought, but he has a moment of clarity and blinks rapidly, trying to force back the haze of lust. “Only if you’re sure,” he adds, cupping Will’s cheek in his hand. “I want you comfortable, doing what you want, okay? Stop any time you want.”

Will nods that he’s understood, and there’s something blossoming in his chest he can’t, won’t identify yet. It’s new and a bit frightening, but most of all it just feels very, very good. He leans up a bit so he can kiss Ethan’s toned stomach and then tugs his shorts down. He caresses Ethan’s thighs while he kisses his way down until he takes the head of Ethan’s cock into his mouth, taking his time to get used to the unfamiliar feeling.

Ethan is positive that if he were any less in shape, hadn’t had a lot of practice forcing his legs to work when they feel like rubber, when he’s exhausted to the point of collapse, he would already be on the ground just from this. He holds very still, gripping his wrists behind his back to not grab at Will. He can’t manage anything even remotely resembling words, but he’s pretty sure his moan is telling Will exactly how he feels.

Will starts to hum low in his throat, and judging from the shiver running through Ethan he’s doing something right. He tries to take him deeper, but that turns out to be a bad idea, because he gags and has to catch his breath. He sits back on his heels and wipes across his mouth. “Sorry,” he says.

“It takes practice,” Ethan says, giving Will a smile as reassuring as he can make it. He moves to the bed and sits on the edge, breathing slowly. “You can use your hand too, don’t try to take it all at once.”

Will nods, trying not to blush. He follows Ethan and settles down between his thighs again. This time he starts with pressing soft kisses to the inside of Ethan's left knee before he licks around the head of Ethan's cock.

Ethan curls his fingers into the blanket beneath him and has to close his eyes a moment to not come completely undone just from the sight alone. "Fuck, Will," he groans.

Hearing Ethan curse tells Will he’s doing something right, so he keeps licking up and down Ethan’s shaft. He also wraps his hands around the base of his cock, moving them slowly.

“That’s it,” Ethan murmurs, giving both praise and encouragement, but he still can’t bring himself to watch. It’s torture, it’s not enough, the warm steady pressure of Will’s hand in direct contrast to the more tentative and teasing motion of his tongue, and Ethan would swear Will was doing it on purpose, if he didn’t know Will had absolutely no idea what he was doing here.

Will’s jaw starts to ache, but he doesn’t want to stop. The noises Ethan’s making are delicious, so he takes Ethan a bit deeper, going slowly so he won’t gag again, and begins to suck. Ethan will deny to his dying day that the sound he just heard came from him. He risks a glance down and is almost undone by the sight. He curls his toes in the carpet, grips the blanket tighter, and does all he can to not thrust up into the wet heat of Will’s mouth.

When Will comes up for breath, he realizes that Ethan’s close to coming, and although Will remembers losing all coherency when Ethan actually swallowed, he doesn’t think he’s ready to do the same. So he uses his hands only, doing everything he likes to see if it works for Ethan as well. Ethan’s at the edge in no time, and he groans Will’s name, forcing himself to keep his eyes open as long as he can, but he finally just closes them and rides it out, slumping back on his elbows at the end. “Fuck.”

Will gets up and leans over Ethan, arms at both sides of Ethan’s head, and kisses him. “Liked it?” He asks, half-teasing and half-nervous.

“Yes,” Ethan says immediately, grinning at Will to put him at ease. “Loved it.” He slides his fingers through Will’s hair and rests it on the back of his neck, bringing him in for another kiss.

Will hums softly against Ethan’s lips and finally collapses down on the bed next to him. It felt good, doing that for Ethan, seeing him unravel and knowing he’s the reason for it. “I think you might need a shower,” he suggest with a grin.

Ethan laughs. “Probably. Think I owe you something too, don’t I?”

“Yes, but not now,” Will says, and when he sees Ethan’s surprised face, adds, “I enjoyed that you enjoyed it, really, but I don’t think I could appreciate your effort right now. I’m hungry and a bit tired, and it just wouldn’t … ” he trails off and shrugs, hopes that Ethan doesn’t take it as a slight against him.

Ethan searches Will’s face, studies him, but he finally nods, accepting Will’s refusal as complete honesty. “Sure,” he agrees, “if you don’t want, you don’t want. I’m glad you said something.” He kisses Will again, soft and gentle, and slides off the bed. “Five minutes, I’ll be back,” he promises. “Look through the movies, I’ll be back, we’ll curl up and watch one, deal?”

“Deal, you want me to reheat the wraps?” Will asks, trying not to grin too much because Ethan understands and because curl up sounds like cuddling, and that’s something Will is very much in favor of if it involves Ethan.

"Sure," Ethan answers. "Grab a drink too. I'll hurry." He grabs clean clothes and disappears into the bathroom to rush through a shower.

Will tugs his discarded shirt over his head again, puts the wraps into the microwave,grabs two bottles of water from the fridge and settles in front of Ethan’s tv to look through his collection. He’s a bit surprised to find The Blind Side in it, but eventually chooses it because he never got around to watch it in the cinema, and he likes Sandra Bullock.

Ethan is back as soon as possible. It doesn't take long to get the movie ready and settle on the floor with the spare blanket and floor pillows he keeps around for movie nights. And as much as he loves Julia, he's already sure this is the best movie night he has ever had in this room.

Will gets them the wraps and sits down next to Ethan again, tries not to crowd him because he has no idea if Ethan wouldn’t mind. They eat the wraps in silence while Will tries to decide if he likes Sandra with the blond hair or not.

As soon as they’ve eaten, Ethan tosses the trash in the can next to the bed and shifts closer to Will, wrapping his arm around his shoulders. “You mind?”

“No, not at all,” Will says softly, leaning his head against Ethan’s shoulder, inhaling the smell of soap and fresh clothes. He feels warm and content, tucked against Ethan, and he already dreads the nights he can’t spend with him.

“I like this,” Ethan murmurs, fingers idly brushing over Will’s arm, “holding you. Just... being here. Together.”

“Me too,” Will whispers, and it’s true. He likes to be in Ethan’s arms, to just relax and trust that everything will be alright without him having to check if Aaron did his homework or if the laundry needs to be done. A part of him still worries about these things, doubts that it’s fair to his family to just be gone two nights in a row, but that part doesn’t shout that loudly when he’s around Ethan.

“I don’t like the idea of you going home tomorrow,” Ethan admits. “But I have to let you, don’t I?”

“I’m afraid so,” Will says. “I’d like to stay, but I haven’t seen them in two days and I miss them, too.”

“Yeah, family first,” Ethan sighs, “I want it that way, I do, I want them ahead of me, but doesn’t mean I don’t wish you could stay.”

“We have tonight, and the game on Friday, and then the date on Saturday,” Will reminds him. “It’s not like you’ll forget my face that fast, right?”

“No, because I’ll see you at least a minute all of those days, but it’s not the same as this.” Ethan lays his free hand on Will’s leg, just because he wants to touch him more. “I need your number before you leave too.”

“Right,” Will says, “but I don’t want to move now … later?”

“Later,” Ethan agrees. “And we’re really not paying much attention to this, are we? Should I start it over?”

“What? Oh, you mean the movie? Yeah … probably good idea, I got stuck on deciding if I like Sandra’s hair color or not. And that the little boy reminds me of Aaron.”

“I’d like to meet him someday, you know,” Ethan reminds Will, “Jason and Ellie too. You’re allowed to have friends they can meet. Could go to a movie or a carnival or something.” He grabs the remote and starts the movie over, but he’s not sure they’ll really catch much of it this time either. It’s not as if they need the pretense of the movie to spend time together.

“If you want to make them love you, you can take Aaron and Jason to the comic book store next Wednesday. As far as I’m told, a new Avengers comic comes out that day, but Ellie needs the car to drive to a cheerleader competition, so I can’t take them. How about that?”

“Perfect. We’ll take them? You can go too, right?”

“As much as I know you’re trustworthy, mom doesn’t know it yet, so she would be worried if I let them go with you without me. And Aaron can be quite a handful. Not to mention that somebody has to make sure he doesn’t spend all of his pocket money on buying the store.”

“You’ve never seen Benji when he’s at an electronics store,” Ethan says. “It’s like a candy store to him. He wants everything, and two or three of some things. And it’s all “Ethan, Ethan, look at this! I need this!”, he mimics Benji the best he can, “and he knows I’ll give in too. I’ll try to be better about your brothers though, I promise.”

“So … you just buy him stuff because he asks you to?” Will asks, trying not to sound judgemental. It’s just something he cannot wrap his mind around quite yet, and he tries to understand.

“It’s not as if he tells me to buy him the store,” Ethan defends Benji, because the way Will said it does sound bad. “But yeah, sometimes I buy him things even when he doesn’t. Like I’d do with you if you’d let me.”

“I’m letting you pay for the allergy test,” Will reminds him.

“That’s different,” Ethan argues, “that’s a health thing, and it makes me feel better if we know all your possible allergies. So I count that more as something for my peace of mind that you’re humoring me over more than me getting you something just to get you something.”

Will turns his head and presses a soft kiss to the side of Ethan’s throat. “I guess saying that you can pay for dinner on Saturday isn’t the same as well?” He asks.

“Not even close,” Ethan says, and hums softly at the kiss. “I asked you on the date and I have the money to spare. I don’t want you wasting yours on me when you can use it for your family or yourself. You pay me back by spending time with me, and humoring me when I want to pay, or do something irresponsible like ignore homework in favor of curling up in bed or down here on the floor to watch TV.”

“It’s not such hardship,” Will says with a lazy grin, running a hand up and down Ethan’s stomach. “And I like curling up with you. It’s … relaxing, nice … very nice, in fact.”

Ethan chuckles softly. “We could move to the bed, for when you need to sleep. It’ll be nice there too, probably nicer. I’ll just tell you the football basics and Julia can point it all out on Friday.”

“Okay,” Will agrees. “Sorry ‘bout the movie.”

“Doesn’t matter to me.” Ethan shuts off the DVD player. “I’ve seen it. We can watch it another time. And stupidly sappy or not, I’m more interested in you than a TV.”

“Good to know, remember that when I fall asleep on you,” Will says with a smirk and yawns. It’s already been a long, tiring week full of confusing emotions and thrilling excitements, and it’s catching up with him.

“I’ll remember.” Ethan slides his hand to Will’s back and pushes gently. “Up. Change clothes, do whatever you need to get ready for bed.”

Reluctantly, Will moves. It had been comfortable in Ethan’s embrace, he hadn’t wanted to move, but then he reminds himself that they’re only moving on to the bed, where hopefully more cuddling will follow. He gets some of his clothes from his bag and vanishes into the bathroom to shower and brushes his teeth.

Ethan tidies up while Will’s preparing for bed and turns down the bed. He considers setting out his running clothes, but thinks better of it. He’s going to have Will in his bed, again, which means he doesn’t give a damn about an early morning jog. He’ll survive without it. He does make sure he has the proper books in his bag, since he’ll have to leave around the same time Will does. “Hey, Will?” He calls through the bathroom door.

Will opens the door, only in his boxer shorts and with water drops running down his chest. “Yes?”

Ethan stares, and it takes a minute to remember Will had opened the door for a reason. “You really think I can think when you look like that?” He asks. “If we’re out of here by seven, maybe quarter after, you have time for coffee before class?”

Will grins and takes extra long to dry himself with the towel. He’s not above a little teasing. “Sure. It’s not like I have a long commute this time.”

“You’re evil,” Ethan grumbles, but he’s grinning. “You, me, Jules? That okay?”

“Of course,” Will says, hanging the towel to dry and leaving the bathroom. “I don’t want to interrupt your morning routine.”

“Oh she’d understand,” Ethan assures Will. “She thinks we’re adorable. But you’re two of the most important people in my life, so I want to be sure you two get to know each other.”

“You -- ” Will stops walking towards Ethan, momentarily overwhelmed to hear those words, to already have this place in Ethan’s life. It makes him happy and scared at the same time, because suddenly he’s aware how much it will hurt them both if he somehow screws this up.

Ethan shrugs, smiles, and doesn’t add anything about his mom, because he’s starting to recognize the signs of him pushing Will to the edge of comprehension, and they don’t need to push through extra talk, or anything else, when Will needs to sleep. “Pick which side of the bed you want, I’ll be right there.” He walks past Will, brushing his hand over his arm as he does, but doesn’t get further, because Will’s hand around his wrist stops him.

“Thanks, for everything,” Will whispers, curls his free hand in the hair in Ethan’s neck, and kisses him, hoping to show him all he feels without having to find the words.

Ethan returns the kiss, tasting the mint of Will’s toothpaste, and he understands this kiss for what it is. He idly wonders how much longer it will take before they have an entire language of touches and kisses and looks, things said without ever having to voice a word, and he wants that, wants everything he can get. He’s smiling when they pull apart and rests his forehead briefly against Will’s. “The thanks is mutual,” he says softly. “I’ll be right there. Lay down.”

“Hurry,” Will replies, already itching to touch Ethan again. And it’s weird and new and nothing like he usually behaves, but when he climbs into the bed, choosing the right side, he thinks he really doesn’t mind the change.

Ethan hurries, pausing in his return just long enough to set his alarm and text Julia that he’ll see her in the morning. He leaves the phone on the nightstand and crawls into bed with Will. He stays on his side only long enough to straighten the blankets, and then rolls over and wraps his arm around Will’s waist. “Okay?”

In response Will scoots closer and presses his nose against the hollow of Ethan’s throat. “Perfect,” he mumbles.

“Yeah.” Ethan holds Will tighter and closes his eyes. “Perfect.”

And Will knows they should sleep. Hell, it was more or less his idea, and he had been tired when they’d tried watching the movie, but he isn’t tired now, not with Ethan so close and perfect. So he licks Ethan’s throat with a long stroke.

Ethan had been close to drifting off, until that. "You're not really encouraging sleep, you know," he says, sounding amused.

“Sorry?” Will says, but he doesn’t really feel sorry. “It’s your fault, you’re just … ” He bites down on Ethan’s shoulder, marking him.

Ethan groans and slides his hand to rest on Will's ass. "Are you trying to kill me by teasing or are you not tired and calling in your favor?"

“I think I’m calling in the favor,” Will says, heart beating faster. “I want … I mean -- fuck,” he curses and lets his head fall against the hollow of Ethan’s throat.

"It's okay," Ethan soothes. "Just say it. Anything you want. I promise I won't laugh or make fun or tease or think you're a freak or anything like that. I want you to know you can tell me anything, sexual or not. Okay?"

“O -- okay,” Will stutters and swallows. He’s nervous as hell, but he trusts Ethan, he reminds himself. He trusts him to tell him the truth and to keep his promise. He takes a deep breath to calm his nerves. “I -- can you finger me? And,” he licks across his lips, “talk to me? Like when you talked about leaving marks. That was hot.”

Ethan freezes, questioning his consciousness and his hearing. Because no way he's awake. No way Will said that. "I... You. I can," he stammers. He stops, takes a breath. "Yes. Yes, I can definitely do that."

Will feels the tension leaving his body, and gives a small laugh. “Good, good. Because I don’t think I’d have survived the embarrassment if you’d said no.”

Ethan chuckles. "How am I supposed to turn that down?" He asks. "I'm getting hard just thinking about it."

Will smiles when he hears that, relieved that he’s not the only one to be turned on. He sucks on the bite mark he just left on Ethan’s skin while he lets his left hand travel south, to cup Ethan’s growing erection through the fabric of his shorts.

Ethan's hips jerk before he can stop himself, and he pushes up into Will's touch, tilts his head to the side to offer his neck up for even more marks. "God, Will, you are going to ruin me for anyone else for the rest of my life."

“Good,” Will says, his voice low, adding another bite mark lower at the neck. “I wasn’t planning on sharing anyway.”

“Good. That’s, it’s good,” Ethan manages. “I don’t care if it’s visible, just do it again. Harder.”

Will does as he’s told, just barely stopping before he’s drawing blood and Ethan’s bucking against his hand. “The favor you’re owing me,” he reminds Ethan teasingly.

“Tease,” Ethan accuses, voice thick with need. “Then let go of me before I make you finish what you’re starting.”

“Later,” Will promises, licking over the bite mark before he withdraws his hand and lies back down.

Ethan needs a moment to calm himself, and then he moves, crawling out of bed. “Lay on top of the blankets,” he says, and goes into the bathroom to grab a towel.

Will struggles free of the blankets, hesitates for a moment, but then thinks he won’t need them anyway, so he shrugs out of his shorts and lays down again, his cock already half-hard. He can’t help but tease himself a bit, circling his forefinger around the shiny top of his cock.

When Ethan walks out of the bathroom, towel in hand, he almost trips at the sight before him. “Dream,” he mumbles to himself, staring, “definitely a dream.”

“Nope,” Will corrects him. “Or would you prefer if this were a dream?”

“Only if I never had to wake up,” Ethan answers. He walks slowly to the bed. “You have no idea how hot you look, do you? Lying there, touching yourself... you make me want to keep you there forever.”

“That might prove a bit impractical,” Will says, but he’s blushing and getting nervous again. He has no idea what to expect, just the vague hope that it will feel really, really amazing.

“Fuck practical. You’re gorgeous.” Ethan grabs one of the pillows they’d used during the aborted movie watching and sets it on the bed, then covers it with the towel. “It’ll be easier if you lay on this... angle and stuff,” he explains. “Should be more comfortable.”

“Okay. On my back or stomach?” Will asks, biting his lips.

“Back. I want to see you.”

“Oh thank god,” Will lets slip before he moves into position. He needs to see Ethan, to draw strength and calm from his reassuring smile, because try as he might hide it, Will’s horribly nervous.

Ethan digs the lube out of his nightstand and sits down on the bed, between Will’s legs. “If I’d said the other way, you could have told me no,” He reminds Will. “And you’ve gotta talk to me during this too, let me know how you’re doing. You still sure about this?”

“Yes,” Will says with a shaky laugh. “Oh god, yes.” He reaches out to tangle his hand with Ethan’s. “I trust you.”

Ethan grins and brings their hands up to his mouth so he can kiss Will’s knuckles. “That means a lot to me.” He squeezes Will’s hand and releases it so he can rest his hands on Will’s legs, rubbing reassuring circles up his inner thighs. “If I can get through this without dying from just seeing how hot you look, I think we’ll survive the rest.”

“I hope so, because I bet there’s a lot of other stuff we can try out after this,” Will replies. “And you have to have more kinks than just biting.”

“Maybe I do,” Ethan says, “and maybe I’m curious what else is going on in that mind of yours. What else I can do that’ll have you writhing and moaning and screaming my name.”

Will’s hips move involuntarily and he groans. “Start with one thing, alright? See if I survive that.”

“Mm, but you’ve got me doing two, really,” Ethan points out.

“Really? You’re talking about technicalities now?” Will asks with a frown, clearly getting frustrated.

“Maybe you’re cute when you get agitated,” Ethan teases. “Or maybe I’m just trying to get you worked up.” He leans down, pressing a kiss high on Will’s inner thigh. The kiss turns to a soft bite, just the faintest touch of his teeth to the skin.

“Well, it’s working,” Will rasps, twitching underneath Ethan. Lust is clouding his mind again, thankfully covering the bout of nervousness he’d felt earlier.

Ethan bites again, a little harder, and then sucks, knowing that no one will see this mark, but they’ll know it’s there, and that will be more than enough.

Will’s breath stutters and he reaches out to touch Ethan, to rake his fingers across his back. The bite is a soft burn, and he’s surprised by how much he likes it, knowing it’s theirs, that no one outside this room will know about it. “Ethan, please,” he begs.

Ethan turns his head, resting his cheek against Will’s thigh, and looks up at Will’s face. “Please what?” He asks. “More of that, or do you want me to stop delaying and get my fingers in you?”

Will needs a moment or two to find the ability to speak again. “Fingers … god, please. Your fingers.”

Ethan worries the sensitive skin between his teeth for another moment, just to be sure the mark will last at least a little while, and finally releases it, smiling proudly at the raw-looking patch in the otherwise flawless skin. He licks his bottom lip, bites down on it absentmindedly as he reaches for the lube. The snap of the cap is barely heard over the sound of their heavy breathing, and he squirts the gel over the fingers of his right hand, slicking them well, letting Will watch him as he does it.

A shivers runs through Will’s whole body as he watches Ethan’s every move. He rubs his feet against Ethan’s calves, trying to work out some of the nervous energy he feels.

“Just breathe,” Ethan murmurs. He chews on his lip and has to take his own advice, slowing his own breathing as he slips his hand between Will’s legs, teasingly skims the back of his hand against Will’s balls, and then touches one slick finger to Will’s opening, rubbing lightly around the tight ring of muscle.

Will draws a shuddering breath, his toes curling when he feels the cold lube against his sensitive skin. It feels odd, but not bad, and he gradually relaxes again. “I liked that,” he says with a shaky voice, “you touching my balls.”

“Want me to go back to that for now? Or keep going here?” Ethan asks, keeping his hand completely still.

“You have two hands, don’t you?” Will says impatiently. He starts to wonder if Ethan is doing that on purpose, dragging it out.

Ethan laughs, unable to help himself. Two days ago, Will was a virgin. Now he’s lying naked in Ethan’s bed and practically bitching at him for not using both hands to touch him. “I do,” he agrees, and then, because he’s feeling a little evil, he has to add, “you’re the one who said start with one thing, remember?”

“You’ve got to be kidding me,” Will complains, glaring at Ethan. “Didn’t you say something about not teasing me? Do I have to finger myself?” And then he realizes what he’s just said, and his eyes go wide before he lets his head fall back onto the bed with a groan.

“Oh God,” Ethan’s groaning now, just at the thought. “Would you sometime?” His hand is moving again, finger circling the opening, lightly pressing in before pulling back, getting Will used to it. “And this is a totally different kind of teasing. It’s allowed. Trust me.”

Will doesn’t have the mind capacity to argue with Ethan about that because his breath hitches the first time he feels Ethan’s finger inside him. It’s unfamiliar, but good, and he wants more. “Maybe?” He finally answers Ethan’s question. “Would you like that?”

“Watching you finger yourself? Yes. Definitely.” Ethan’s finger slips in further, down to his knuckle. “You’d melt my brain for sure.”

“Well then … I want to see that,” Will replies with a smirk, circling his hips to see how that feels, and it feels good, very good in fact, and he releases a shaky breath.

Ethan grins. “Me too. I don’t need my brain anyway, right?” He withdraws his finger to where only the tip is still inside, and then pushes back in, a slow rhythm starting to loosen Will up.

Will’s pretty sure he’s mewling now, but he doesn’t really care at the moment. He blindly feels for Ethan’s other hand and tugs it in the direction of his crotch. He needs Ethan to touch him.

Ethan avoids Will’s cock in favor of cupping his balls instead, giving Will what he had wanted before, but most likely doesn’t exactly want at the moment. He rolls them between his fingers, his other hand still moving, a second finger now joining the first inside Will’s ass, stretching him carefully.

That’s the moment Will starts to curse quietly, too many feelings tugging at him at once. He feels stretched, a bit unpleasant, but at the same time it feels amazing and when he thinks about it being Ethan’s cock stretching him one day -- hopefully soon -- it brings his whole mind to a screeching halt. He won’t last long, that he knows for sure, but he doesn’t mind, because otherwise he’d just be scared to really die of a heart attack from the sheer pleasure Ethan’s giving him at the moment.

Ethan releases Will’s balls to wrap his hand around his cock, stroking a slow counterpoint to the fingers in his ass. He leans over, swipes his tongue over the head, licking away the precome that’s leaking from the tip.

Will’s hips arch off the bed, then, and he has no time to warn Ethan, because his orgasm hits him like a freight train, muscles clenching around Ethan’s fingers still in him and that’s a totally new experience, and all Will can do to hold onto reality is trying to keep breathing. “Oh, fuck,” he gasps and his body feels like molten lava.

Ethan had barely jerked back when Will arched up, and he’s wide-eyed, completely taken by the sight of Will, spread out and shaking, and all just from his touch. He’s even more certain now that actual sex, burying himself inside Will, could kill them both. In the best possible way. He takes advantage of Will’s blissed out state to ease his fingers free and tug at the towel, using it to clean up the mess left behind. He’s so hard he hurts, which means another shower, or at least a minute alone, but he’ll take care of that in a minute. He kisses Will’s hip bone and straightens up, smiling down at him. “So I guess it was okay,” he jokes.

“You could say that,” Will huffs. “C’mon here, you idiot.” He pulls Ethan down to kiss him.

Ethan’s smiling again when he pulls away from the kiss and runs his hand lightly down Will’s side. “I gotta take care of this before I sleep. I’ll be back in a minute, okay?”

“Take care of … oh.” Will blinks and blushes, already thinking about how to get his limbs to cooperate. “You want help?”

“You think you can? Because I’m not exactly new to handling myself, I’ll be okay if you’re too blissed out. I have that effect on you,” Ethan jokes.

“You really don’t mind if I just bask in the afterglow?” Will asks, fingers idly trailing Ethan’s forearm.

“No, it’s fine.” Ethan presses a kiss to Will’s shoulder. He forces himself out of bed and into the bathroom to jerk off so they can try, again, to get some sleep.

Will needs a few minutes before he manages to put on his boxer shorts again and to crawl under the blanket. He blinks into the direction of the bathroom and somehow can’t believe that this just happened. That he’d asked and Ethan had been more than happy to oblige, and that it had felt so incredibly good. Will’s never believed in the phrasing of butterflies in the stomach before, but he isn’t so sure anymore. Ethan isn’t anyone Will ever saw in his life, but now he can picture how he fits into it, like a puzzle piece he hadn’t known he’d missed.

It takes Ethan hardly any time at all to come, replaying the last few minutes over in his head. He’s washing his hands in the sink when he looks in the mirror, sees the bruises on his neck and shoulder, and raises a hand to brush over them, shuddering just at the touch. He grins at his reflection, steps back into his shorts, and goes back to the room.

He has to remind himself not to get used to seeing Will in his bed, but he knows he could get very used to it, that he wants it, and he hates thinking it could take them years before it’s a constant, or at least a near-constant thing. He settles in bed with Will and wraps his arm around him, just as he had before Will had decided to change their plans. “We are going to sleep this time, right?”

“Yes, yes, definitely … was my,” Will swallows, “was my change of plan okay?”

“Any time you want to change the plan like that, you’re totally welcome to,” Ethan answers. “I like those plan changes.”

“Of course you would,” Will says with a grin and presses a kiss to Ethan’s shoulder. “Sleep well.”

“You too,” Ethan says softly. “Good night, Will.”

Chapter Text

Ethan wakes first, again, and leans over Will to shut off his first alarm. They can’t delay too much this morning, but his second alarm will get them up in enough time, and now he can be awake to hold Will, watch him sleep. He can store this in his memory for when Will’s gone, but it won’t be enough.

Will wakes up slowly, gradually becoming more and more aware of his surroundings, of the arm around his waist, of the way he feels safe and loved. He blinks and Ethan’s face comes into focus. “Morning,” Will whispers, lazily running a hand through Ethan’s hair.

Ethan smiles and presses his lips to Will’s forehead. “Morning,” he answers. “We’ve got a few minutes before we gotta get up.”

“Enough time to cuddle, then,” Will replies and snuggles closer to Ethan. He already hates the thought of getting up, of having to separate, no matter how much he misses his family. He’s going to miss Ethan as well.

“As long as that’s all we do.” Ethan tangles his legs with Will’s. “If we miss coffee, Jules won’t let me hear the end of it. And we can’t miss class.”

“Right,” Will says. “And I don’t want you to get in trouble with Julia. She doesn’t look like a woman to mess with.”

“She’s not. Definitely not. She’s kind of the only person I’m scared of.”

“Wow, you’re actually scared of anything? Somehow, I can’t believe that.”

“I’m scared of plenty,” Ethan says. “Julia’s just a special brand of scary.”

“I hope she likes me,” Will whispers, his toes nudging at Ethan’s feet. He knows how important Julia is to Ethan, and they didn’t exactly start out as best friends.

“She thinks you’re the best thing to happen to me, she’ll love you,” Ethan assures him. “Don’t worry.”

“She does?” Will asks with wonder in his voice. “But why?”

“You’ll have to ask her. But it probably has to do with you being the first guy I’ve called my boyfriend.”

Will doesn’t reply anything, but he knows he’s grinning like a fool. Ethan’s his boyfriend, and that probably won’t cease to amaze him for a long time.

Ethan’s second alarm goes off, the one he knows they can’t ignore, and he snoozes it, because the next time will mean he needs to get his ass out of the room. He has to release Will, and he hates that, but he does it anyway, getting up to get ready for the day.

“I guess taking a shower together is a bad idea,” Will teases, wrapping the blanket tighter around himself now that the warmth from Ethan’s gone.

“Today, yes.” Ethan looks at Will and shakes his head. “You staying right there is even worse. Just looking at you makes me want to say fuck school and crawl back in bed with you.”

“Don’t tempt me,” Will says with a sigh. “But you know that my GPA isn’t only for my graduation, I need it for my scholarship as well.”

“I know.” Ethan gets clean clothes and heads into the bathroom, knowing it will be much safer if he doesn’t leave the bathroom unless he’s fully dressed.

Will mourns not being able to see Ethan’s naked skin anymore, but he reasons they do have to get ready sometime today. When Ethan comes out of the bathroom, Will gets up, grabs his clothes and passes Ethan with a kiss to the shoulder. He wants to do more, so much more, but Julia is waiting for them.

Ethan’s shirt doesn’t really cover the bruise on his neck, and he considers changing until he finds one that does, but he decides against it. They make it out of the room in time, just barely, and cross campus to the coffee shop to meet Julia.

They don’t have a lot of time, but there’s enough for Julia to grin at Ethan when she sees the mark. A pointed look makes her bite her tongue, not bring it up, but she’s still grinning even as she collects her coffee, kisses his cheek, and rushes off to class. Ethan buys Will his coffee and a bagel, and then has to say goodbye, but not before he makes sure that their phones both have a new contact saved. He might not see Will again today, but he’ll be damned if he doesn’t get to talk to him too.


Being apart from Ethan already feels weird, unnatural, and Will’s only in his first class that day. He debates sending off a text, but he doesn’t want to appear too needy. Instead he sends off a text to Jane, asking her to come to the game with him on Friday. He also cancels their lunch date and ignores the next text from her, poking fun at him for spending all his free time with his boyfriend. It’s not that, because Ethan doesn’t even have time for lunch on Thursday, but that Will wants to go to the clinic on campus during his break. It’s not that he actually thinks he has something transmittable, but he wants to be on the safe side, for Ethan’s sake. And last night has shown him that he doesn’t want to wait much longer to take the next step. He feels safe with Ethan, trusts him already more than he’d thought possible in such a short time. So he sits still when the nurse takes his blood and tells him to come back the next day to get the results.

He receives a text, just after the nurse has finished with him, and it’s from Ethan. “Bored. Miss you. Remind me why I have to do this school crap.”

Will smiles when he sees the text. “Because you want to make your mom and uncle proud, I’m sure,” he replies.

The reply is immediate, “Nope. They’ll survive if I ditch out. Try again.”

“You’ve to keep busy while I study. You don’t want me to fail, do you?”

“Of course not. You have big plans. Fine, I won’t ditch class, but only because of you.”

“Thanks,” Will types, and then because he feels daring, “I’m sure I can make it up to you.”

Ethan sends back a grinning emoticon. “I’m sure we can work something out. Gotta go. Call me later, if you have time.”

“Will do,” Will sends back, but then he’s busy with classes, catching up on homework he neglected because of Ethan and for some odd reason the diner is really busy that evening as well. Will only manages to call Ethan when he’s waiting for his bus on the station.

Ethan can’t talk long when Will calls, and Will doesn’t have much time either, but it helps them both, being able to hear the other’s voice. Ethan has already made plans for Will for Friday, telling him to just meet Julia and Benji outside the library at six, and they’ll make sure he makes the game on time, and understands, since Ethan’s attempt at teaching failed. Not that he’s complaining, of course, but he does regret not being able to give Will a better idea of what he’ll be seeing. He makes Will promise to text him when he’s home, so Ethan knows he made it safely, and then they have to hang up, both saying “I miss you” in place of an emotion they’re both starting to feel, but not ready to say.

Will nearly misses his stop because he’s thinking about Ethan, about what he feels when he thinks about him, and tries not to let it scare him too much. And then he’s home, and Ellie throws him questioning looks he pretends not to notice, Mom’s just happy to see him again, Jason needs help with his math homework, and Aaron wants to play with him. He just barely manages to send off a text to Ethan. In the end they all end up in the living room. Mom on the couch watching some game show, Ellie curled under a blanket next to her, texting with some friends, while Will sits on the floor next to Jason, pointing out what he should do again while chasing Aaron’s cowboys with an alien fleet. And Will’s missed this, no matter how exhilarating and wonderful the last few days had been. This is his family, and he knows it will cost him effort and thought to strike a balance between them and Ethan.

Chapter Text

Ethan sends Will a short series of texts the next morning, around seven, wishing him a good morning and that he’ll just see him after the game. He doesn’t want Will to get the wrong idea, so he has to add that he wants to let Will have time to study, since he’ll monopolize his time tonight, and on Saturday night when they have their date.

He misses Will, a lot, missed him when he went to bed and didn’t have Will beside him, but he knows it’s not exactly sane, how fast things are moving. Will has an entire life away from Ethan, and this time apart is probably healthier. It doesn’t mean he likes it. He is, however, honestly busy today, catching up on work he’s neglected, work he was neglecting even before he met Will, and then getting ready for his game.

Julia has promised to behave, and he extracts yet another promise from her about it before he starts to feel better about them sitting with Will. He wonders how Will is going to handle the difference between the Benji that he knows and the Benji that Will studies with, wishes he could see it, but he’s sure Julia will give him all the details. He isn’t sure if Will is bringing Jane, but tells Julia it’s a possibility, just so she knows they’ll need space for four, not three.

Ethan’s nervous about his game in a way he’s never been before. Tell him he has scouts watching, no problem. Tell him the other team is gunning for him, that’s fine. Tell him his boyfriend is going to be in the stands, there’s a problem. It’s stupid, worrying about what Will might think about his play, not that he’ll understand a lot of the nuances of the game or the plays they make, not yet, but he worries anyway. Will’s self-professed ignorance on sports makes Ethan worry. What if the game’s a blow-out, what if it’s slow? What if Will sits there for hours, bored out of his mind, and hating every minute? He was going to wait weeks before he asked Will to come to a game, if he asked him at all. It helps that Will offered, before Ethan could ask, but he still wonders if Will thinks it’s a requirement, if he’s doing it out of some strange obligation he feels. He’ll let Will go to this one, but they’ll talk about it, really talk, before the next one.


At breakfast, Will makes the mistake to let it slip that he’ll see a football game that night, after which Ellie doesn’t stop laughing about him for five minutes. He glares at her, but all she does is wish him fun and kiss his cheek. At least she also lets him borrow her red scarf. He gets the unsettling feeling she knows something’s up, but he also knows she won’t gossip about anything. He spends his lunch break pouring over a book on the basics of football, but apart from the fact that it’s a game with two sides and a football, he doesn’t get much out of it, which frustrates him. He likes to know things, to understand them, but then he reminds himself that he has Julia to explain everything to him, and if that doesn’t help Ethan will probably be more than willing to explain it again and again. It makes him grin stupidly, the way Ethan’s there for him, doesn’t judge when Will feels awkward or embarrassed, and he hopes that Ethan will keep being so patient with him, that he doesn’t get bored or fed up with Will’s insecurities. He doesn’t even know if he’s supposed to eat before the game or if they get something there or afterwards, and after he’s spent a good ten minutes debating the issue he just sends off a text asking Ethan. Ethan texts back that Julia and Benji usually eat before, but they always go out for something after, so that would probably be the best for Will as well. Thankfully, Will’s shift is short, and Jane picks him up from the diner so they can make it in time to the library.

“So?” Jane asks as she drives them back to the campus. “How’s it going? Still good? Happy?” He looks happy, more relaxed than she’s seen him in years, but she wants to hear it, have actual confirmation from him.

“Yes, happy, very happy,” he says, smiling. He remembers last night and has to turn away because he knows he’s blushing a bit, but these kinds of things he doesn’t share. Not even with Jane. That’s between him and Ethan.

“You look it. I still can’t believe you’re going to a football game for him, but I bet he’ll appreciate it. He’d better appreciate it.” She watches him for a minute, sees him fidget, and won’t press with questions about how happy Ethan makes him. She knows it’s not studying, she’s already said as much to both of them, but that’s as far as her teasing goes. “You have plans after? Need me to run interference on your family again?”

“I don’t know yet. You mind?” He asks.

“Of course not,” She answers, “anytime you need me to be your cover, you know I’m there for you. But I still want to get to know him. Dad’s gone, you know you guys could come over tonight, after the game,” she suggests. “We could hang out.”

“Yeah, I mean -- we can ask, but I’d like that,” Will says and he smiles at her. It’s a good idea. Jane’s home is as close as being at his home with Ethan out in the open as he can get at the moment, and he does want Ethan to meet Jane, for the two of them to like each other.

“Great. We’ll ask.” She finds a parking place near the library and parks. Julia and Benji are sitting on a bench, but move when Jane parks, walking over the car. Benji smiles when he sees Will.

“So we can walk over, it’s not that far from here, or drive and end up walking even further through the lots there,” Julia says.

“Then just walk from here,” Will decides.

“Great.” Julia waits for them to lock the car and offers Will one of the blankets she’s holding. She’s dressed all in red and black, with a red 82 drawn on one cheek, and Benji’s wearing the same colors, but instead of a painted cheek, he’s sporting a ski cap with the team’s logo.

“I’m afraid you have to explain all the rules to me,” Will says with a small smile when he takes the other blanket. “I tried reading up on football, but the book could have been written in Mandarin for all I understood.”

“No problem,” Julia answers. “We’ve been watching him for years, we know it all.”

“And I’ve got this,” Benji adds, holding up a slender black rectangular case. “Brought the tablet, so I can show you rules and all that.”

“When he’s not playing on it himself,” Julia says, hiding her smile at Benji’s indignant noise of protest. “You’ll just need to watch for 82,” she tells Will as they start the walk to the stadium. “All the padding they wear for protection makes it hard to tell who’s who if you don’t know the numbers. Baseball’s much better. Though I think his ass looks better in football pants, myself,” she jokes.

Will can already see why Ethan’s best friends with someone like Julia, and he just nods, not trusting himself to not stammer a reply. He’s not used to these kinds of remarks. Next to him Jane is trying her hardest not to giggle, and he’s tempted to glare at her.

“I don’t know, I think I like baseball more,” Benji comments, typing on his phone as they walk.

“Only because you have more ball jokes for baseball,” Julia retorts, “and you two are both five year olds who think they’re hilarious.”

“Well.... yeah,” Benji doesn’t even try to defend himself, “but I like the game better too. Easier on the nerves.”

Will has a hard time reconciling the Benji in front of him with the one he knows from the library. That Benji is quiet, and this one is outgoing and joking. And then he remembers that these two people are the first ones outside of Jane and Ethan who know he’s gay. He knows they’re not out to hurt him, that they’re Ethan’s friends, but he still wants him at his side right now. It would make it all easier, because he doesn’t know how to handle Julia’s remarks, and Benji’s playfulness makes him wonder if he met a whole different person in the library.

Jane looks to her side and doesn’t like the face Will’s making. That pinched look means he’s thinking himself in a corner again, and she bumps his shoulder to snap him out of it. “I was thinking,” she says to Benji and Jane, “how about we hang out in my place after the game? My dad’s not home and we can order pizza.”

“That’s better than cramming into Ethan’s room,” Julia says. “Sure, if you’re sure it’s okay; we’ll tell Ethan that’s the plan. Pizza’s on us though.”

“I’m sure and thanks” Jane replies with a wide smile, boxing Will in the side because she knows he was about to say he will pay for his own pizza. He can be stupid like that.

Julia takes charge when they reach the stadium, getting them through the crowd and to a section of seats that are empty. She takes the far seat, directing Benji to sit next to her, Will next to Benji, and Jane to take the other end. This way she can still lean over Benji to talk to Will, but he’ll be next to Benji, and the tablet, for anything he needs better illustrated. “All okay?” She asks as they settle, giving Benji half of her blanket for him to wrap around his legs.

Will nods at her, after making sure that Jane’s warm under their blanket. A group of cheerleaders is on the field and that’s the part Will knows, because he’s seen enough of Ellie’s competition to judge if they’re any good. He wonders if one day she’ll be on such a field as well, cheering on a team. He hopes it, because she’s smart enough to do well in college. And then the teams come onto the field, and Ethan’s name gets called. Will claps and cheers like the rest of their little group, hoping that Ethan can see them from where he stands.

Ethan stands with his team, eyes scanning the crowd, and when he sees them, he grins, one of the biggest, brightest grins that Will’s seen yet, and tosses off a playful little salute at the group before he turns away when a teammate grabs his arm, trying to get his attention.

Football, Will decides eventually, is confusing, no matter how many videos and animation Benji shows him on his tablet. He doesn’t get why they stop every few minutes, and when a point counts or not, and he especially doesn’t like the way Ethan keeps getting tackled, shoved over, and grabbed. He’s very glad everyone has to wear protective gear, but it doesn’t stop him from grabbing the blanket very hard when Ethan gets buried in a pile of people once again. It’s over two hours until the game is over and they’ve won and like everyone else, Will stands up to applaud his team.

It’s almost another hour before Ethan finally joins them, and his movements are slower, more carefully controlled, not what Will’s used to, but he’s still grinning as he says hello.

“We’re going to Jane’s for pizza,” Julia says as she folds their blankets. “And we’re getting you some ice.”

Ethan rolls his eyes. “It’s not that bad. I’m fine.” He turns his attention to Will. “Well? Longest two and a half hours of your life, wasn’t it?”

“No.” Will frowns, his worry skyrocketing. “Are you hurt? Where are you hurt? I thought all this stuff is supposed to protect you?”

“It does,” Ethan answers, and glares at Julia for saying anything, for making Will worry. “But it’s common I’m sore after games. It’s a lot of action.”

Will bites his lips to refrain from telling Ethan how much he doesn’t like this. Sports aren’t supposed to make you walk around cautiously, and he wants to touch Ethan, to make sure he isn’t really hurt, but he can’t do it here. Instead he takes Ethan’s bag to carry it and glares at him should he argue about it.

Ethan stares at him for a minute, almost does open his mouth to argue, but he lets it go this time. He falls into step with the group as they leave the stadium, letting Benji babble at him about the game. He interrupts him once, looking over at Jane and Will. “How did you two get here?”

“I drove,” Jane answers. “Why?”

“Can you drive Julia and Benji?” Ethan doesn’t answer her question, just asks another.

“Sure... I guess.”

“Great.” Ethan pats Benji’s shoulder, kisses Julia’s cheek, and smiles. “We’ll grab the pizza and meet you there.”


“I’ll behave,” Ethan promises, cutting Julia off. “We’ll be there in thirty, forty-five tops. If that’s okay with Will and Jane?”

“Of course,” Jane says, grinning happily, and takes the blanket from Will. “See you in a few.”

Will just shakes his head when the three of them climb into Jane’s car and drive away. “You’re so subtle,” he teases Ethan.

“It’s just our friends,” Ethan says, smiling at Will and leading him towards the garage, “I don’t have to be subtle. You said Jane knows and I trust those two with my life, so why worry about subtle? I want to spend time with you without them and they’ll just deal. You can show me where Jane’s house is, and you should know what she eats on pizza, and I know what they do, so let them get to know each other while we get pizza, right?”

“Yes,” Will agrees. Once they’re inside the garage, away from prying eyes, he steps closer to Ethan and tangles their hands. “You really just sore? Not hurt?”

“I may have a bruise or two,” Ethan says honestly, because he hopes that he’ll be in a position where Will would see them before they fade, and he doesn’t want to have to stop whatever they might be doing to discuss them. “But I’m really just feeling the usual post-game pain. Not injury pain. Okay?”

“Okay,” Will nods and raises their tangled hands so he can kiss Ethan’s knuckles. “Still doesn’t mean I like you getting hurt.”

Ethan smiles softly. “I know. But it’s part of the game, and I love the game. I’m at this school because of it. Kinda not fair for me to quit.”

“I wasn’t saying you should quit,” Will says. “I understand it, really, I do. Guess learning isn’t as hazardous as getting buried by a bunch of other guys.”

“Not unless you’re in the library and a shelf of books falls on you.” Ethan unlocks the car and pops the trunk open. “You can just toss the bag in the trunk, won’t hurt anything. And you really didn’t have to carry it.”

“Well, I’m your boyfriend now, that entitles me to do nice things for you, doesn’t it?” Will says and puts the bag in the trunk before he joins Ethan in the car.

“It does,” Ethan agrees. “So what did you honestly think of your first football game?” He asks as he pulls out of the garage.

“I think I need tutoring in the rules still, despite Benji’s best efforts. Although he has a suspiciously large amount of cat videos in his bookmarks,” Will says with a grin.

Ethan laughs and reaches to take Will’s hand again while he’s driving. “Yeah, he’s got problems,” he jokes. “He’s a lot different when he’s not studying, huh?”

“That’s an understatement,” Will huffs. “It’s like he tried to make up for all the time he had to sit still and quiet next to me. I can’t believe he managed to pretend to be such an introvert all the time.”

“He can get pretty focused when he’s working, and he has threatened to kill me with a memory stick when I interrupted him in the middle of some kind of coding, but yeah, usually he’s so hyper he makes me tired listening to him. He’s great, though, I’m glad you two are at least study friends.”

“He’s a nice guy, I like him. And I like Julia, although her humor is … well, I’ll get used to it,” he says with a shrug.

“Julia’s humor’s my fault. You’ll either get used to it, or learn to ignore it.”

“Well, she was right about one thing.” He grins. “Your ass does look fabulous in football gear.”

“Wait till the spring, you can tell me if you like it better in my other uniform or not.” Ethan’s surprised Will managed to say that without blushing, or hesitating, but he’s also strangely happy Will was staring at his ass. “So, tonight, at Jane’s,” he begins, changing the subject, “I don’t have to keep my hands to myself, do I?”

“What? Oh … no. I mean, we’re among friends …” he frowns. “You’re not planning on undressing me, are you?”

“It’s bad enough Julia got to see you shirtless, no. No undressing. But I haven’t seen you for too long. I just wanted to make sure you wouldn’t push me away if I wanted to put my arm around you, or something.”

“No,” Will says, heat rising in his cheeks at the thought. “I wouldn’t do that. I missed you, too, you know.”

“Is this where one of us should say absence makes the heart grow fonder?” Ethan jokes, pulling into a parking spot by the pizza parlor. He takes his phone out of his pocket to place an online order, once Will tells him what to order, so they can sit and wait without having to go in. This way, they have just a few more minutes alone together, even if they can’t do much more than sit and talk. “Do you like Italian?” Ethan asks “Real Italian, not pizza Italian.”

“I dunno. I guess?” Will says. “Didn’t have a chance to try it till now.”

“Do you want to? There are a few nice ones nearby; I was thinking that would be good tomorrow?”

“Oh, yes, good idea,” Will says, already feeling the flutter of excitement that he’s actually going on a date with Ethan tomorrow. This leads him to the other thing he’d wanted to talk about with Ethan. “And I … um, I want to show you something,” he adds hesitantly and rummages in his backpack, hands slightly shaking. Maybe he’s overstepping some lines here, maybe Ethan doesn’t even want to -- he shakes his head to stop his train wreck of thoughts, takes a deep breath and hands the sheet of paper to Ethan.

Ethan accepts the page, reads it twice before it registers exactly what this means, what Will means by showing it to him. “I... wow. You didn’t tell me you were doing this. Do you- should I too? Do you want me to? I mean I know I am, but... do you want proof?”

“I …” Will bites his lips. “I want to say no, because I trust you, but … I’d feel better with it black on white. That okay?”

“I had my whole set of tests run when I had my physical before I started, I haven’t had sex with anyone, really, since I started here, but I’ll do another soon... I guess Monday?”

“Oh no, I mean-- I didn’t know you already had a test. I thought you were going on the assumption that because you always use condoms … but if you’re tested and you haven’t since ... you don’t need another one.”

“I don’t mind,” Ethan says softly. “I mean, if it’s important to you, it’s important to me. I’ll do another; you just have to say the word.”

“No,” Will says firmly. “I don’t want to wait.” He looks at Ethan from under his eyelashes, hoping he understands what Will’s saying here.

Ethan thinks he understands, hopes he understands. “Then we don’t wait,” he says. “You say when, and we will.” He wants to kiss Will now, badly, but they’re sitting in a parking spot, right in front of a busy building, and he can’t. He settles for taking Will’s hand and squeezing tightly. “I should, um, get the pizzas.” He needs a minute to clear his head of the images he’s starting to get, the full implication of their conversation.

Will waits in the car while Ethan gets their orders, and he tries not to fidget, not to think too much about it, but he can’t help, he has to know when Ethan comes back. “You don’t think I’m rushing into this, do you? Or that I do this because I think you want it, because I’m not, well, I do think you want it, but that’s not -- I mean, I want it, too.” He stops a second to catch his breath. “I guess what I’m saying is that last night was amazing and I want more.”

“It’s soon,” Ethan says honestly, “but it’s not like I’m leaving once we do. It just means we’re ready. If you’re ready, I’m ready. I just want to be sure you’re doing it because it’s what you want, not just because you think you need to. Like you said. You know?”

“Yes,” Will says and runs his thumb over the back of Ethan’s hand, “and I’m thankful, but I think I’m ready. I didn’t do the test for nothing, you know?”

“I know.” Ethan smiles. “We need anything else before we get to Jane’s?”

“No, we’re good,” Will says, meaning it in more than one way. And he can’t wait to get inside Jane’s house to finally be able to kiss Ethan and properly congratulate him on his win.

Ethan nods and begins the drive back to Will’s neighborhood, letting Will direct him to Jane’s. He parks and gets the pizzas, following Will up the walk.

Will has the key to Jane’s, something he’s incredibly thankful for because it means he doesn’t have to alarm anybody to their presence and he can kiss Ethan the moment they’ve closed the door behind them. “Congrats to your win,” he whispers against Ethan’s lips.

Ethan sets the pizza on some kind of table or chest or something; he doesn’t take the time to look, only notice that it’s there and will hold the boxes, and wraps his arms around Will. “I need a hello kiss too,” he murmurs. “And maybe another congratulations kiss.”

“You’re greedy,” Will mock-complains, but he returns Ethan’s embrace, pressing closer to him. He cups Ethan’s neck with his left hand and presses another kiss to his lips. “Hello,” he whispers.

“Hello,” Ethan whispers back, smiling. “I don’t care if it’s just two minutes, I don’t want to go this long without seeing you again during the week. You know it’s been over thirty-six hours? It’s not fair. If I have to deal with it on the weekends, I’ll figure out how to cope, but you being on campus and me not seeing you at least for a couple minutes is cruel.”

Will wants to answer, he really does, but suddenly the bruise he himself put on Ethan’s neck catches his eyes and sends a shiver running through him. He bends his head and licks a stripe across it.

Ethan bites his lip to muffle a groan, raising one hand to slide through Will's hair. "Looks good, doesn't it?" he asks, voice pitched low.

“Oh yes,” Will murmurs, “and I put it there. It shouldn’t be that hot, but it is.”

Ethan smirks. "How's your thigh?"

Will gives a throaty laugh. “Good,” he leans forward to whisper into Ethan’s ear, “but you should probably check it tomorrow night.”

"We can't do this here," Ethan says almost desperately. "they're ... wherever they are. Close.”

“Right, sorry,” Will replies, voice shaking, and takes a step back. “I can wait till tomorrow … well, I’ll have to wait.”

"Yeah, we can wait," Ethan agrees, but it sounds like he's trying to convince them both.

“And the pizza is getting cold, they won’t like that,” Will adds, grabbing the boxes, but stealing another kiss from Ethan before he walks ahead into the living room. Ethan takes a moment to catch his breath, calm himself, before he follows.

Jane doesn’t say anything when they enter the living room, having heard Will using his key ten minutes earlier, but she smiles at him and points at the second, smaller couch they’d reserved for them. “Get comfortable, boys,” she says.

Ethan heads for the couch, sits down and holds out his hand for Will. "You heard the woman."

Will grins at him and nods. He distributes the pizza and then settles down next to Ethan. He leans against him, happy to be finally near to him again.

Ethan wraps his arm around Will's shoulders, holding him close, and presses a kiss to his temple. "Much better," he murmurs, and flips Julia off when she coos about how sweet they are.

Jane watches in amazement when Will ducks his head, cheeks flushing red, but he doesn’t move away. Quite the contrary, he seems to melt into Ethan’s side, being perfectly at ease, and it makes her incredibly happy to see him like this. And it also strengthens her resolve for the talk she plans to have with Ethan. “Hey, Ethan, can you help me getting the drinks?” She asks, ignoring the questioning look Will shots her direction.

Ethan gives her a disbelieving look. "First you tell us sit, now I have to move?" He sighs and releases Will, getting to his feet with a quiet groan of pain. He squeezes Will's hand once and follows Jane to the kitchen.

In the kitchen, Jane hands him a bag of ice. “I needed to talk to you,” she explains her reason for making him move again while she gets glasses out of the cupboard. “Away from Will.”

"Figured," Ethan says, pressing the ice to his side. "but I could have given you my number, let you interrogate me later. I haven't seen him for almost two days."

“I know, but this is important because I’ve never seen Will like this, and I don’t mean the hearts in his eyes or how happy he looks. I’ve seen him happy before, but I’ve never seen him touch somebody so much like he does with you,” she says. “Will doesn’t really like body contact.”

Ethan frowns, staring at her. "He doesn't? But we're always touching, when we're not out in public. He starts it most of the time too."

“That’s why I needed to tell you this.” She looks at him, hoping that he can see in her eyes how important this is. “This is huge. No matter what else you two have been up to, that he wants to touch you, that he lets you close is a big thing for him. Like the biggest one you can imagine.”

Ethan starts to raise his hand to touch the mark on his throat but stops himself before he can. "I didn't know. I know he's shy about things, because it's new, but not that he doesn't touch." He frowns. "I don't think I could go a day without touching someone."

“Me neither, but it took two years before he’d even touch my hand or anything. Most of his family isn’t big on cuddles either,” she says with a shrug, she’s gotten used to it. “Which is why it surprised me so much to see you two on the couch. It’s not like Will to want to touch people, so you better realize how special that makes you.”

"I know I am." Ethan doesn't mean it as anything more than exactly what Jane means. He understands that he's lucky to be with will, that Will is giving him a chance, trusting him, letting him in. "And I swear, you can threaten me all you want, call me randomly to remind me not to fuck up, whatever you want. But right now, I would really love to go back and sit with my boyfriend, okay?" he gives her his most charming smile. He really does like her, for looking after Will so well, but he's sore, tired, and Will is so close. All Ethan wants to do is eat his dinner and sit with Will.

“Take the bottles of coke and your ice bag,” she says with a smile and takes the glasses. “And I wouldn’t threaten you. I don’t think you need the added motivation to not fuck this up.”

Ethan takes the bottles and the ice and returns to Will, leaving the bottles on the table. He settles on the couch, puts the ice back on his side, and leans back, getting comfortable with Will again.

“You okay? She didn’t … I don’t know, threaten you?” Will asks, worried. It’s not like Jane, but her asking Ethan to help was suspicious.

Ethan chuckles. "No. Just telling me how lucky I am to have you," he answers, rubbing Will's arm gently. "so really, not telling me anything I don't already know."

Will knows he’s grinning like a love-stricken fool, but he can’t help it. He leans his head against Ethan’s shoulder, trying to be as close as possible to him. “Well, you didn’t miss anything. Julia and Benji have been arguing about what to watch for the past few minutes, and the pizza is still hot.”

"Great," Ethan says. "But Benji and Julia arguing is one of my favorite comedy shows."

"I'd be insulted if it weren't true," Benji says, grinning. "Fine, great one, you decide."

"Don't care," Ethan says, "let Will or Jane pick."

“I don’t care,” Will says and means it. He has Ethan next to him, he couldn’t concentrate on a program anyway. He hands Ethan a slice of his pizza, and when he sees how gingerly Ethan moves he frowns. “You sure you want to go on a date tomorrow? Don’t you want to rest?” He asks quietly over Benji’s confused question at Jane why all the girls on America’s Next Top Model look the same.

"We're going on a date," Ethan says firmly. "I'll be fine." he lowers his head to speak into Will's ear to not be overheard. "you can kiss it better tomorrow."

“I can,” Will agrees and presses a quick kiss to Ethan’s neck. “I will.”

“Can’t wait.” Ethan balances his plate on his leg so he can eat, managing to do it one handed, if just to not have to relinquish his hold on Will.

“Any idea when you’re going to pick me up?” Will asks, stealing a piece of pizza from Ethan.

“As early as you’ll let me,” Ethan answers, moving his plate closer to Will. “Whenever you want. I don’t know what your plans are.”

“I don’t have any apart from pretending not wanting to spend the whole day with you tomorrow,” Will says with a sigh. “But I have to help in the house a bit, show my face so they know I still exist. Come pick me up here at five?”

“Are you sure that’s late enough? Are you staying with me tomorrow night?”

“I want to, if that’s okay? Jane will cover for me,” Will says, suddenly a bit unsure if Ethan wants this as much as he does.

Ethan sighs, watching their friends for a moment, but they’re all way too invested in the reality show, arguing with the screen and each other, so he doubts they’re paying attention to them at all. “I wish you’d stop doubting us,” he says softly. “I want to, but I want you to see your family too, I know they’re important to you. If I have you all night, and part of Sunday morning at least, then I can try to wait another hour or two to see you.”

“Five is fine, honestly. And I try to stop doubting, I really do, but this … you, I can’t help but wonder if I just keep dreaming this and tomorrow you’ll wake up and realize that this has been a horrible mistake,” Will admits quietly.

Ethan’s silent a moment, tense beside Will. “Up,” he says. “Get up, I want to say something to you I don’t want anyone else hearing. Take me somewhere we can talk.”

“Um, the kitchen?” Will proposes, dread coiling in his stomach when he gets up and walks down the hallway.

Ethan moves to follow, and Benji sees the movement and opens his mouth to tease him. Ethan gives him a look and Benji snaps his mouth shut with an audible click, swallowing hard at the expression on Ethan’s face. He shares a look with Julia, but she doesn’t know either, and just hopes that they hadn’t missed something horrible while they had been arguing over whether or not one of the near-anorexic blondes on the show should have been wearing a particular outfit.

In the kitchen, Ethan puts his melted ice bag in the sink and turns around to face Will. “You have any idea how much it hurts me when you say things like that?” He asks. “Like you’re less? Like someone like me can’t be with someone like you? Is it so hard to believe I’m surprised you’re the one dating me?”

“Yes,” Will says before he has time to think about it and cringes. “But it’s not you, I think I’d doubt anyone because I’m me,” he adds, not meeting Ethan’s eyes.

“Handsome, smart, hard-working... I’m not seeing a problem with you, except for the self-esteem issues that I’m still blaming on your dad and I will still probably knock him out if I ever meet him.” Ethan steps closer, cupping Will’s cheek in his hand. “You know I’m not new to things. If I didn’t want you, then why would I have kept trying? Why would I be so willing to wait, so patient, when I could go out and find probably a dozen guys who would bend over for me? I don’t want that. I want you. I want the guy who had no idea who I was and blew me off when I first said hello. I want the one who makes my stomach twist in knots and can make me breathless with a kiss, the one who leaves bruises in my skin that I can’t stop wanting to touch. That’s you. Okay? Everyone else can fuck off, I’m not interested. And I’ll keep pushing, keep fighting, until you realize that everyone else who never noticed you is a complete and total moron and missed out on something incredible.”

Will stares at Ethan, completely overwhelmed, and finally he nods. “I want you too, like I’ve never wanted anything else in my life,” he whispers, leaning into Ethan’s hand.

“So trust me,” Ethan urges, rubbing his thumb over Will’s cheekbone. “It’s not a mistake. I’m not changing my mind. Not tomorrow, not next week, or next month, or next year. We have plans for after graduation, remember?”

“Yes,” Will replies with a small smile, “but let me first apply for that internship -- and I should probably Google what your firm actually does. Somehow I don’t think ‘I’m dating the CEO’s son’ is going to cut it in the job interview. Wait, is your mom even the CEO?”

“No. You’d have to say you’re dating the CEO’s nephew. President’s son,” Ethan answers. “Though I mean, they both have a few job titles and I have no idea what mine is anymore because I’m not working, much, but that’s all just semantics, right?” He smiles. “Important thing is even if you work somewhere else, we’ll still make this work. Just try to work in a city where we have an office, or I can put an office, at least.”

“I’ll probably stay around here, at least until everyone else’s off to college, or whatever they want to do. You have an office in the city? And what’s your job in the company anyway?” Will asks, curious now. He hasn’t thought about googling Ethan’s family, and he doesn’t think he’d appreciate it anyway.

“That’s over a decade here,” Ethan comments, thinking about Aaron’s age in relation to the time he would go to college. “I’ll figure something out. Could always just work from home, so to speak. Not like I have to decide yet.” He shrugs in response to Will’s question. “I do... whatever. I mean, we’re not really in one thing, y’know? It’s a...” he searches for the right word and then just gives up, “we’re in a few different things. Branched out and you know, someone in the family would find something they thought would be a good investment, or there was a market for something, and they’d go into that, but it would stay under the umbrella of the main company. Mom and Uncle Donald oversee most of it, my family bought out some of the other families over the generations, but there are other people involved, not just us. Jules’ family is part of it, but she wants to be a nurse, so her sister works with their parents.”

“Makes you sound a bit like the mafia,” Will teases. “I’m not dating the next godfather, am I?”

“Depends on if I get to make you an offer you can’t refuse,” Ethan jokes.

“I think you already did, and I have no plans to refuse anything,” Will says. “And I really, really want to stay with you tomorrow night.”

Ethan thinks about plenty of things Will can, and probably will, refuse, but he understands the sentiment for what it is and just smiles and wraps his arms around Will’s waist. “I want that too. I was thinking we don’t go back to the dorm. That we just stay in the other town, get a room, and see how the night goes.”

Will’s feeling equal parts excited and nervous, but he nods nevertheless. “Yeah, good idea.”

Ethan’s smile widens. He hadn’t been sure Will would agree, but he’s glad he does. “Great. So are we okay now? No more arguing about who deserves who? At least for the rest of the weekend.”

“Yes, sorry ‘bout that. And we really should go back. I don’t want Jane to think we somehow made her kitchen unsanitary.”

“Right.” Ethan reluctantly releases Will, but takes his hand, walking back to the living room.

Jane had been getting worried, but with Ethan and Will walking back into the room hand in hand and Will looking at Ethan like Ethan hung him the moon, she relaxes back into the banter she’d going on with Julia and Benji. These two are fun, and she thinks they’ll merge well together and it will does Will good to have more friends.

Ethan runs his hand over Benji’s shoulders as they walk past, a silent apology for earlier, and he smiles at Benji’s questioning look, chuckles when Benji looks at their hands and gives him a dorky thumbs-up. He gets comfortable on the couch again, Will beside him, and hopes that they’ve settled Will’s insecurities for at least a little while.

Will curls against Ethan, legs drawn up to the couch, and doesn’t pay attention to who gets a picture and who doesn’t during the model search. He tugs at Ethan’s arm so he can slide under it, and the soft chatter of their friends and Ethan’s breathing makes him sleepy.

Ethan slumps down, legs stretched out in front of him, giving Will a more comfortable position to rest. It takes a minute to get comfortable himself, his body still giving him hell over the game, but it’s nothing he can’t ignore, especially with Will warm and drowsy beside him. He lets his eyes drift close, even though he’s fairly certain one of the other three won’t be able to resist taking pictures. He doesn’t care. He trusts them, at the very least he can sit on Benji until he gives up the photographs, and he’s just too damn comfortable and content to let anything bother him.

The search for the next not so super supermodel ends in tears for some of the girls, and then Benji claims the remote control and forces them to watch an Avengers cartoon, but Jane lets him. She’s in way too good a mood because Will and Ethan have fallen asleep on the couch and they look adorable. “Do you want to stay the night?” She whispers, turned to Julia and Benji. “We have enough room for everyone and I’d hate to wake these two.”

“Sure, thanks,” Julia answers, accepting for her and Benji both. She goes to the couch, murmuring to Ethan and nudges at him until he listens to her. He mutters something she can’t translate, but does as she’s urging and shifts to lay on the couch instead of only halfway on it. He curls into the warm body beside him, holds Will closer, and is back asleep in just seconds.

Jane covers them with a blanket and can’t stop smiling. “I’ll text Will’s sister that he’s staying here. You two mind sharing a room? It’s upstairs the first door on the right”

“Thanks,” Benji whispers, and does just as Ethan expected. He takes one picture, sends it to Ethan’s e-mail, and heads upstairs with Julia.

Chapter Text

Will wakes up with a crick in his neck and hair in his face, and he has no idea how either happened. He moves a bit around, but realizes there’s an arm slung over his waist and another body pressed against his hip and this could get really awkward really fast. Then he hears Ethan mumbling something under his breath and his mind catches up with what’s going on. Couch. Jane’s. Ethan. “Oh,” he whispers and turns his head to look at Ethan’s sleeping face, a warm flutter in his belly.

Ethan’s brow furrows as he starts to wake and his arm tightens briefly around Will. He cracks one eye open, staring for a moment before it focuses, and though he’s still more asleep than awake, he gives Will a warm pleased smile. “Mornin’,” he says, voice low and rough.

“Morning, guess we slept at Jane’s,” Will replies before he kisses Ethan.

Ethan kisses Will again, because he just can’t help it. “Guess we did. You beat me awake too.”

“True. Won’t happen that often. You feeling better?” Will asks, fingers idly playing with Ethan’s hair.

“Mm... feel pretty damn great right now,” Ethan answers, tilting his head into Will’s touch. “When I move, that might be another story.”

“Right, we forgot to put another ice bag on your side,” Will says guiltily. He gently untangles himself from Ethan’s grip and gets up, not wanting to put more strain on Ethan’s sore body.

Ethan frowns, but it’s closer to being a pout than anything else. “If I’d wanted it, I would have got it, what are you doing? I was comfortable.”

“I didn’t want -- I thought … you’re sore, and I probably slept half the night basically on you,” Will explains.

“And this is me not complaining,” Ethan answers. “See? I’m always a little sore, doesn’t matter if I sleep in my own bed, on a couch, on the floor, or, on some occasions, the bathtub. Doesn’t matter if I’m alone or if you’re sleeping on top of me, which I actually really like. But now you’re up, so it means I should get up, and that means I have to go back to my room and you have to go home.”

“The others are not awake yet, we can make breakfast for everyone,” Will proposes and stretches his hands out to Ethan to make him get up.

Ethan accepts Will’s hand, grimacing as he forces himself to his feet, but he knows it’s best to move around. He’d much rather curl up with Will again, but that seems to be out of the question. He’ll just have to demand his lazy morning tomorrow.

Will sees Ethan’s grimace and is very close to ask if he still thinks tonight’s date is a good idea, but he’s not out for another fight, so he doesn’t. “Bath is on the other side of the hallway,” he explains. “Meet me in the kitchen, okay?”

Ethan nods and follows Will’s directions to the bathroom, and emerges several minutes later, feeling a bit more human. He’s yawning as he finds his way back to the kitchen, but he’s resigned to being awake and attempting to cook.

“Sit down,” Will says and points at the cup of coffee he’s placed on the kitchen table. “The first pancakes should be ready in a few minutes.” He’s slept over at Jane’s and spent enough time here to know where everything is and that Jane doesn’t mind him making breakfast, loves it even. It’s his way of saying thanks for covering for him to her, and he likes cooking, likes it when he can put a smile on other people’s face because they enjoy their meal.

“I can help,” Ethan protests, taking the coffee but not yet sitting. “Or at least distract you with my attempts.”

“You’re distracting enough just sitting here with your hair still sleep-tousled, believe me,” Will replies, getting plates out of the cupboard. He puts the first pancakes on them and hands them to Ethan. “Enjoy.”

Ethan grins and catches Will’s wrist before he can walk away. “Then at least let me kiss the cook before I eat, hmm?”

“Sure, I take that as a thank you.” Will grins amused and leans in to pluck at Ethan’s lip with his teeth before he kisses him.

Ethan doesn’t want to let Will go and deepens the kiss, far more interested in Will than the food.

“I smell break- ack!” Benji cuts himself off with a yelp as he enters the kitchen and catches sight of the two. “You eat food for breakfast,” Benji says, standing in the doorway with a hand slapped over his eyes. “Not each other. Not where other people, hungry people, could walk in and lose their appetites.”

Ethan reluctantly breaks the kiss, winks at Will, and nods his head towards Benji, getting Will to look at their friend. He lets out an exaggerated moan and Benji’s face and ears turn dark red as he blushes. “Ethan, please!” Benji begs desperately, and Ethan can’t hold in the laughter. Benji opens his eyes, sees Ethan laughing, and sticks his tongue out. “You’re a bastard, y’know that?” He complains. He scrubs a hand over his face, shakes his head, and gives Will a somewhat shy smile. “Mornin’, Will. M’I allowed to smack your boyfriend for that, or you wanna do it for me?”

“Be my guest,” Will says, slightly flustered by Ethan’s moan and trying not to show it. He turns back to the frying pan. “You okay with pancakes?” He asks Benji over his shoulder.

“So very okay,” Benji answers. “Want a hand? I do know my way around a kitchen that doesn’t involve flames or flour explosions.”

“One time!” Ethan exclaims. “It was one time!”

“Twice,” Benji corrects. “Jules told me about that time you were eight.”

“Fine, twice,” Ethan grumbles, and ducks Benji’s hand when he tries to deliver the promised swat. “He can cook, actually,” he tells Will. “Sit or let him help, something. I don’t wanna be the only one eating.”

“You can eat with Benji,” Will says and puts another plate full of pancakes on the table. “And remind me later to never ever let you help in the kitchen. I’m actually fond of my mixer.”

“I’d replace it,” Ethan points out. “And I swear I wouldn’t set your kitchen on fire.”

“Just eat, okay?” Will says with a smile and squeezes Ethan’s shoulder.

“Only because you asked me to,” Ethan answers. Benji’s already cutting into his, not worried about eating alone, and Ethan kicks him lightly when he snorts at Ethan’s words.

“You made breakfast! Perfect,” Jane exclaims when she enters the kitchen just as Will has another plate ready.

“It’s a thank you, for letting us stay here,” Will says and hands her a glass of orange juice as well.

“Anytime, you know that,” Jane replies with a wide grin and settles down next to Benji.

“Oh good, at least one of you can cook,” Julia says as she enters just a few minutes later. “Morning everyone.” She steals a drink of Ethan’s coffee, makes a face at the lack of sugar, and then goes to peer over Will’s shoulder. “I’ll finish those if you want. You shouldn’t have to cook for all of us.”

“It’s okay, really. I like to cook,” Will explains and shares a long-suffering look with Jane. She knows that he finds cooking relaxing, and with a bunch of people he doesn’t know that well yet surrounding him so early in the morning him cooking is actually the best way to deal with it.

“Well it smells great,” She says, and leaves him to his cooking. She takes a seat at the far end of the table, away from Ethan, just so that when Will does sit, he can sit next to Ethan.

Eventually, the last pancakes are ready and Will puts a plate in front of Jane and then sits with his own plate down next to Ethan. Everyone who’s still hungry can get toast, although he’d make more pancakes for Ethan. “You want some more?” He asks him.

Ethan shakes his head. “No, I’m good. Thanks.”

The rest of the breakfast passes in amicable chatter and then Will and Ethan more or less get bullied out the kitchen so the others can clean up. “It’s not like I made a huge mess,” Will mutters to Ethan when they walk into the living room, but it’s more a token of protest than meant in earnest.

“Who cares.” Ethan drops down on the couch and holds out his hand. “We have a few minutes alone, don’t complain.”

“I’m not complaining,” Will says and takes Ethan’s hand when he sits down next to him. “So, looks like I need to pack another overnight bag, huh? Maybe I should always have one ready,” he adds with a grin.

“At least, yeah,” Ethan agrees. “Maybe just start keeping extra things in the dorm, until I get the apartment. And then keep things there. And we’re going to get your prescriptions,” he remembers, “so you can keep some with me, just in case.”

“I love you,” Will whispers and then blinks and stares when he realizes what he’d just said. His mind having come to a complete standstill.

Ethan stares back, his own mind finally processing Will’s words. “You...”

“Oh my god,” Will stammers, letting go of Ethan’s hand. “You don’t have to say it back. This … I don’t know where that came from, I mean -- it’s true, but -- fuck -- I’m sorry -- ”

Ethan touches a finger to Will’s lips, trying to silence him. “Hey, stop,” he says gently. “Don’t be sorry. You really mean it? You’re sure?” It’s never that easy to tell what Ethan’s really thinking, but it’s practically impossible now. His expression is serious as he stares at Will, searching his face.

“Yes,” Will says, and he is. He’s never been so sure of anything else before. He can’t explain it, and it’s ridiculous, but the feeling he has every time he’s around Ethan, the pure happiness he’d felt listening to Ethan speaking about their life, about keeping Will’s stuff in Ethan’s dorm, about making sure Will has his meds, about their lives already tangled in a way that Will doesn’t want to try to separate them ever again, that’s proof enough. “Yes, I’m sure.”

“You realize how crazy this is? We haven’t even known each other for a week.” Ethan doesn’t want Will to answer that and brushes a barely there kiss over Will’s lips. “I almost said it last night, but I thought you’d freak out. I love you too.”

Will rests his head against Ethan’s neck, inhaling a shaky breath. He feels lightheaded and giddy. “I don’t want you to go,” he says quietly. “I … how about we take the boys to the mall today? Aaron’s birthday’s next week and he wants some stuff from the comic book store.”

“And we’re still taking them when the new comic’s out too, right?” Ethan asks, his hand trailing up and down Will’s back. “You said there’s some Avengers thing. I might have to get one for Benji, now that I think about it. Still want to do that too?”

“What?” Will frowns and tries to remember. “Oh yes, that one.” He shakes his head. “I can’t seem to remember anything around you. Yes, I still want you to take them when that comic comes out. Not that they’d need more than one meeting to really, really like you.”

“Never know, they might both hate me,” Ethan says. “Just the boys? Should we drag anyone else along?”

“Today? Or on Wednesday? What was the question again?” Will sighs. “I think my mind just walked out the door. Did I tell you that I love you?”

Ethan laughs softly. “Yeah, but you’re welcome to say it again. Today. Do we need some sort of chaperone so we don’t get stupid and walk into walls because we have no idea what’s going on?”

“Probably a good idea. And Jane and the others can keep the boys busy while I try not to act like a fool in love.”

“I’m not any better. Okay, four of us can fit in my car comfortably. If Jane drives too, then we’re all set.”

“All right. Should get up then, shouldn’t we? And ask the others,” Will says, but doesn’t move an inch.

“Probably,” Ethan agrees. He digs his phone out of his pocket and sends a text, but that’s all he does, not wanting to move any more than he has to, not when he’s comfortable like this. He doesn’t care that he just texted two people who are in the next room, it was the better option. “You need to ask your brothers. Sister too, if she wants.”

“My phone is in my bag … which is,” Will turns his head and points towards the hall. “Somewhere there. Think the others would smack me if I ask them to get it for me?”

“I could ask Benji to do it,” Ethan offers, “or you can borrow mine.”

“I don’t want them to think I’m lazy,” Will says and reluctantly gets up to get his phone. He calls home and explains their plan to Ellie, who says she’ll have the boys ready in half an hour and come over. “Ready to meet my family?” Will asks nervously once he’s hung up and curled up against Ethan again.

“Ready if you are,” Ethan answers. “Relax. I’m just a friend, in a group of friends, who are going to the mall.”

“I know, still … I haven’t been this social in ages. And I don’t know how I’m supposed to keep my hands off you.”

“Keep Julia and Jane between us as a buffer,” Ethan says. “And you focus on your family, pretend I’m not there.”

“Next thing you suggest I stop breathing,” Will says and shakes his head.

Ethan chuckles. “Okay, I get it, not happening. Well... you almost managed. Once. Didn’t you?”


“The library.”

“That was only pretending,” Will admits. “I mean pretending not to notice you, because … well, you unsettled me, and I didn’t know what to make of you.”

“I get that a lot.”

“You do? How do you mean that? Do people usually pretend to ignore and then fall in love with you?”

“You’re pretty much the first one to ignore me,” Ethan answers, “and the first one I ever fell for. But it’s not like I chose you because you ignored me. I just mean I usually get people telling me they don’t know what to make of me.”

“Really?” Will frowns. “Huh -- I somehow assumed everyone instantly likes you. You’re just a very likeable person.”

“You’ve gotten to see me when I’m a little manic. You know I’m kind of crazy. If people meet me during one of my crazy ideas, then yeah, they have no idea what’s going on. Doesn’t mean I don’t get them to come along for the ride, just means maybe they don’t know if they’ll survive.”

“Yes,” Benji interrupts them walking in. “I’m actually a ghost because I died during one of Ethan’s crazy stunts.”

“You were only hurt once around me, and it was your own fault for wearing that stupid mask,” Ethan protests, “I told you no. But you wore it, and you couldn’t see, and you walked yourself into that sign post.”

“I beg to differ, but that’s a matter for another time,” Benji says and points at his cell. “I don’t know if I should frown upon you sending me a text when I’m down the hall or applaud your use of technology.” He looks from Ethan to Will and grins. “I love technology.”

“Um … ” Will stares at him, not exactly sure how to react. “So I’ve heard.”

“Obsessed with it, you mean,” Ethan answers. “And come on, we have to pretend we’re not together today, so you can’t blame me for wanting to sit with him longer.”

Benji thinks about it and nods. “Yeah, okay. So this is all hush hush today?”

“His family doesn’t know, he’s not ready to tell, so yeah,” Ethan says. “Deal?”

“Mum’s the word,” Benji promises, pantomiming zipping his lips.

Will tries not to frown at Ethan being so straightforward, because he knows it’s just stating the facts and wasn’t meant judgmental or anything, but it still irks him that it was Ethan who told Benji like Will wasn’t even there to open his own mouth. “Thanks for understanding,” he eventually says to Benji and untangles himself from Ethan.

Ethan’s brow furrows as Will moves away. “Are we leaving now?”

“Just need to go to the bathroom, won’t be long before my family arrives,” Will says to Ethan and tells himself to get a grip. He’s not ruining a day having Ethan at his side with a bout of irrational annoyance. He breathes and turns around to Ethan, a small smile on his lips. “Be right back,” he says and gives Ethan a quick kiss.

Ethan nods. “Okay.”

Jane is just about to enter the living room when the doorbell rings and she opens it to find herself with a arm full of Aaron squealing in delight about going to the mall. “Hi, pumpkin,” she greets him, nodding at Jason who’s much more reserved but still can’t hide his excitement entirely. She gives Ellie a half hug with the arm who isn’t supporting Aaron. “Ready to meet our fellowship?”

Ellie smiles. “Ready, and if someone here owns that Camaro outside, Jason’s very ready.”

“Ellie!” Jason hisses. “It’s a nice car, that’s all.”

“Well, it’s your lucky day, Jason,” Jane says. “It’s Ethan’s car and if you ask nicely, I bet he’ll let you ride with him to the mall.”

“Who’s Ethan?” Aaron asks, craning his neck back to look up at Jane. “Can I ride too?”

“Ethan’s a new friend of ours, and you need to ask him that yourself,” Jane explains and walks with Aaron in her arms to the living room to give the small group a chance to get to know each other while they wait for Will.

Aaron squirms free of Jane when they reach the room and looks between Benji and Ethan. “Are you Ethan?” He asks.

Ethan chuckles. “I am. You’re Aaron?”

Aaron grins and goes to sit next to Ethan. “Yup. Can me and Jason ride in your car to the mall?”

“I bet you can, as long as Will says it’s okay,” Ethan answers. He looks to Jason and offers a hand. “Hey, Jason right? I’m Ethan, nice to meet you.”

“Yes, and nice to meet you too,” Jason says and shakes his hand, warily eying the other two new people he doesn’t know in the room.

“That’s Benji,” Ethan introduces, pointing at him, “He’s one of Will’s study partners, and that’s my best friend, Julia,” he adds, pointing to her. “She’s like my Jane.”

“Like we’re a model you could copy,” Julia complains, but she’s only teasing, and before Jane can agree with her, Will enters the room and is promptly jumped by Aaron, who’s begging to ride in the Camaro.

“If it’s okay with Ethan?” Will asks, looking over at him and trying not to smile too much.

“You two sound like you and Ellie,” Jason complains, “when we want to do something and neither of you want to make the decision.”

“Hey, it’s fine with me,” Ethan says, “but Will’s in charge, so I had to tell you to clear it with him. If he says yes, then you guys are welcome to the back seat.”

“The back seat?” Aaron pouts.

“You know the rule,” Will reminds him. “You’re too young to sit in the front.” Then he shoots a pointed look at Jason not to argue with him about sitting in the front as well, because that would surely end up in a fight with Aaron.

“Sorry, buddy,” Ethan says. “Car safety. If we had a wreck, that airbag would seriously hurt you, and that’d seriously hurt all of us. When you’re older, I promise you get a ride in the front. Deal?”

Aaron seems to give it serious thought and then nods and holds out a hand so Ethan will shake on it. “Deal,” he agrees.

Ethan shakes Aaron’s hand, sealing the deal. “Awesome. Besides, gotta let Will or Ellie take the front seat, you know. Older kids first and all that.”

“Thanks, but no thanks,” Ellie says. “I’ll take the car with the other girls and … Benji, right?”

“Well, seems like I’ll have to ride with you then,” Will replies. “C’mon.”

“Jason, you can sit behind me, gives you a little more leg room, Aaron can sit behind Will,” Ethan decides as they head out of the house. He unlocks the doors as soon as they’re in the yard, letting Aaron run ahead, Jason following at only a slightly slower pace. Back seat or not, he’s still allowed to ride in a Camaro.

Jason helps Aaron into the back passenger seat, then goes to the other side, crawling into the back.

“Well, they’re ready,” Ethan comments, looking far too amused at how the boys had claimed his car without even waiting for them. Next to him, Will groans in embarrassment.

“Sorry, they’re usually better behaved. Just not used to shiny cars.”

“They’re kids, Will,” Ethan answers, “and I really don’t care if they crawl all over the thing. Relax, hmm? It’s fine. It’s cute.”

“Let’s see if you still say that when they start spreading ice cream all over the upholstery,” Will replies, grinning, before they get into the car. Jane’s already pulled out of the driveway and is driving away.

Ethan starts the car, revving the engine a moment, just to watch the boys grin, and then pulls out to follow Jane, keeping the car at an appropriate speed.

They make it to the mall without any damage to anything, and Will has to hide a grin when he sees how reluctant the boys are to leave the car. “I’m afraid you must take them for a ride at least once a week from now on,” he informs Ethan.

Ethan laughs. “As long as no one argues about the back seat, and I’m told about any spills or messes when they happen and get some help cleaning them, it’s a deal.”

“I won’t spill anything. I promise!” Aaron says defiantly, and Will rolls his eyes.

“I remember the exact same words coming out of your mouth before we went to Aunt Martha’s birthday,” he reminds Aaron, who promptly looks to the ground.

“Accidents happen. I just wanna know when they do, so there’s not a bigger mess later, got it?” Ethan asks. “I once left chocolate milk in the car, in the summer, and it exploded on the seats,” He makes a face. “It smelled awful! Had to take it to get professionally cleaned and Benji laughed at me for a month.”

“Because it was hilarious! You should have seen your face,” Benji pipes in, because his group has caught up with the passengers of Ethan’s car. “Oh, the laws of physics in action. Nothing’s better.”

“See why I hate science?” Ethan asks Will in a very loud stage whisper, pointing at Benji.

“You just refuse to get it, it’s not like you don’t have the brain capacity for it,” Julia chips in. “So, where to first?”

Ethan shrugs. “I’m only here as chauffeur and bank,” he says, “so that’s up to you guys.”

“Well, I think splitting up would be a good idea, and then to meet again for lunch,” Ellie proposes. “Can I leave the boys with you, Will?”

“Sure,” he replies, well aware that he’s left the older siblings duties to Ellie this week and wanting to make up for it a bit. They end up with the girls going their separate ways, and Aaron and Jason dragging the rest of the group along for the comic book store.

Once they cross the doorway into the store, Benji looks to be just as thrilled to be there as the younger boys are, and he quickly finds a friend in Jason and Aaron as they get into animated conversations over the latest issues and what character did what and to whom. It lets Ethan and Will stand back, out of the chaos the three are creating, and just observe.

“Looks like I really missed out,” Ethan says quietly.

“I’ll happily let you borrow them from time to time,” Will says and nudges him.

Ethan looks at Will and smiles. “Thanks. I like them. Even if Jason looks like he’s a little too serious. Like he’s trying to grow up faster, or something. He keeps catching himself when he thinks he’s being too childish.”

“Yeah, I know,” Will says thoughtfully and his shoulders slump a bit. “Jane says he reminds her of me after Dad left. I’m trying to show him it’s okay to be kid a bit longer, but I’m afraid I’m not very successful.”

“Well he can’t base himself on you, you had to be the man of the house young, take care of Aaron and Jason. We’ll work on him,” Ethan promises. “Between me and Benji and our horrible influence, you’ll be lucky if you can talk him into being responsible.”

“I wouldn’t mind that right now,” Will laughs. “He doesn’t really remember the … bad times with Dad, so there’s no reason for him to be so serious.”

“Well he’s also thirteen. It’s a weird age. He wants to be mature, but he isn’t yet. He’s stuck between, really. Let him hang out with us when we’re all together as a group, show him we’re still a bunch of kids sometimes, I think that might help.”

Will looks at Ethan and hates that he can’t kiss him, can’t hold his hand to show him how much it means to hear him say that. “You need to stop saying all these wonderful things, really, otherwise I can’t guarantee for anything.”

“I can’t promise anything there either,” Ethan says, and squeezes Will’s shoulder gently. “You can just express yourself later.” Benji calls for him then and he rolls his eyes. “I’ll trade you your brothers for Benji,” he jokes, and walks off to see what has Benji so excited now.

They spend all morning in the store, and Will ends up buying more comics and merchandise for Aaron’s birthday and for Jason than he’d planned, but he simply can’t resist their pleading. They meet the girls at noon in the food corner, where Aaron complains that his feet hurt. Will rolls his eyes at him, but still takes him up in his arms to take him to Wendy’s.

Ethan watches Will carry Aaron and it’s obvious in that, in all of their interactions really, how very close the two are. It’s clear how much Aaron adores his big brother, and he’s already seen how well Aaron’s puppy dog eyes work on Will. Though, honestly, Ethan was ready to buy him everything in the store to make him stop batting those eyelashes at them. He blames not having siblings to build up immunity, but that’s a lie, because he gets them from Julia and Benji and he rarely refuses them anyway.

Still, this is something else, and it makes something in Ethan’s chest clench as he watches them, especially with Jane’s words still in his mind. He knows it’s completely insane, that they are beyond insane for the conversations they’ve already had about a future together, about claiming a slice of domestic bliss for themselves, but he can’t help where his mind drifts. That when, if, they get that far, and they adopt kids to give grandchildren his mother’s mentioned, he knows Will’s going to make a great dad.

“So,” Ellie settles down next to Ethan on the bench, “I never got how you know my brother.”

“Hmm?” Ethan blinks as he looks to Ellie, focusing on her. “Sorry, spacing out. How’d I meet Will? In the library.”

“I don’t want to be rude, but you don’t look like a library kind of guy. Did you grab the same book?”

“You know, everyone tells me that. Like I have village idiot tattooed on my head,” Ethan jokes. “Do I? Some neon sign for you smart people to know I don’t belong?”

“Sorry, I didn’t mean it that way. You just don’t have that serious book face. You smile too easily for that.” She shrugs. “Look at me, nobody believes I have good grades or that I like to read long books just because I’m also a cheerleader and know how to move, so I didn’t mean it in a judgmental way.”

“Not offended, I don’t. I hate studying actually. I’m at this school because they wanted me to play, not learn. You’re Will’s sister, so I’d believe you were smart before I’d believe you were a cheerleader, but Jules used to cheer and she’s pre-med. You get stuck with stereotypes, knee-jerk assumptions. Happens in high school, happens in college, happens your whole life. You learn to work around it.” Ethan shrugs. “I was in the library because I needed a book. Will was studying, and I wanted to ask a question. He’s gonna help me in English because I hate it, but it’s required. And he’s sort of friends with Benji, and Benji and I have been friends since we were a little younger than Jason.”

“So fate brought you together,” Ellie says quietly. “It’s good, Will can use some more friends.”

“So can I,” Ethan admits. “I’ve got Jules and I’ve got Benji. Now I’ve got Will, and I think I’m getting Jane, and your little brothers are in love with my car.”

“Believe me, they’d love you even without a car, although the car does help,” she says with a big grin. “But you’re cool in their eyes, and when you have Jane’s seal of approval you really must be a nice guy.”

“What about you?” Ethan asks. “Jane’s one thing, and I’m glad I’m accepted there, but you’re Will’s sister, and I know you’re really important to him too, so I think any of his friends need your seal of approval too, right?”

Ellie takes some moments to think about her words. “I barely know you,” she finally says, “but Will’s a big boy and you’re the first new friends he’s brought around in ages. That means he likes you, and that’s enough for me for now. He doesn’t make friends lightly.”

“Maybe you’ll get to know me, and still approve then too. I don’t make friends, real friends, easily. Not ones I really trust. I trust Will.”

“That,” she tilts her head and smiles, “is a good thing. And I’d like to get to know you. You buying me lunch would be a good start for that, by the way.”

Ethan chuckles. “Fair enough. Want me to just hand over the money or you want me to walk you to wherever it is I’m going to buy food?”

"Walk me," Ellie decides. "Your money alone isn't going to tell me anything new about you."

"Yeah, true,” Ethan agrees. The sheer amount of money he has usually tells people plenty about him, most of it wrong, but Ellie doesn’t know this either, and it’s nice, being around an entire group of people who don’t know, and probably really don’t care. He follows Ellie to the fast food line and slips a credit card out of his wallet while they wait.

“Tell me,” Ellie begins, “are you the reason Will went to a football game yesterday?”

“I think he figured it was his duty as a friend, since the others were going.”

“Didn’t look like duty to me. He was genuinely excited,” she says. “I even had to lend him my red scarf.”

Ethan wasn’t going to say he thought Will had looked really good in the scarf. But he feels like he should be thanking her for that. “Well, it was something new for him. I guess. And I don’t think he was too bored. At least, I hope he wasn’t. I think Benji was trying to teach him during the whole thing.”

“He must have liked it enough to stay with all of you for the night. That’s not his typical behavior,” Ellie tells him.

“We were all at Jane’s, he fell asleep on the couch. Jane let all of us stay over.”

“That’s nice of her, and Will probably needed that sleep.” Ellie’s brow furrows. “He works too much.”

Ethan nods. “He does. I don’t know how he does it.”

“Pure determination and a good portion of stubbornness and idiocy, if you ask me. He won’t let me take a job either, says I need the time for my graduation,” Ellie growls.

“He’s your big brother. I think he wants to be the one working so he feels like he’s taking care of all of you, and if you don’t have to work, he doesn’t want you to, so you can do your school work and focus on your senior year and graduation and getting into college.”

She raises an eyebrow in his direction. “It’s like he’s already instructed you on this topic.” She shakes her head. “But we’re standing in this awfully long line so I can get to know you better and all we’ve done so far is talking about me and Will. What about you, Ethan?”

“Me? What, exactly, about me?” Ethan asks. “What do you want to know?”

“Everything,” she replies with a wide smile. “Have you picked a major yet? How good are you at football? Am I taking out some poor college student up to his throat in debts by making him pay my meal?”

Ethan laughs. “No, incredible, and not at all,” he answers in order. “I play baseball too.”

“Incredible, huh?” She chuckles. “At least you’re not lacking in self-esteem.And baseball … that explains the book about baseball rules I found in our living room.”

“He has a book of baseball rules?” Ethan shakes his head. “He doesn’t need it.”

Ellie shrugs. “He likes to know stuff, it has nothing to do if he needs it or not.”

“I’d think he has enough to do without trying to learn sports rules.”

“Tell me about it. Won’t stop him, though. If he’s gonna watch you play he wants to understand it, and since he’s already reading up on baseball it means he’s planning on staying your friend for quite some time.”

“Well no one plans an ending for a friendship,” Ethan says, “so I guess he’s just getting an early start, even though it’s not like I require my friends to come support me at my games.”

“But it’s nice to know they’re there for you, isn’t it?”

“Yeah, it’s nice,” Ethan agrees, “knowing someone’s up in the stands cheering for me more than the team.”

“You can bet that Will’s cheering for you, not necessarily for the team,” Ellie says with a big grin and then they’re finally the next in line to place their orders. They get pizza and salad and Ethan pays as promised. “Thanks,” Ellie says.

“No problem,” Ethan answers. He takes the trays, lets Ellie take the drinks, and they finally join the others at a table where Ethan’s careful to not sit next to, or directly across from, Will.

“I was starting to wonder if you never come back,” Will greets them, trying not to smile in Ethan’s direction.

“We had to pick the longest line in the food court, make it interesting,” Ethan answers. “Mostly just to annoy you guys. Did it work?”

“Nope,” Benji informs him. “We had plenty of food keeping us busy. Barely noticed your absence.”

“You missed me and you know it,” Ethan answers, pointing a fork in Benji’s direction. “There’s no way you love mall food more than me.”

“I don’t know … these chicken wraps are really, really good,” Benji teases him.

“Fine, fine. But at least Jules still loves me,” Ethan says, and looks hopefully in Julia’s direction. “Right?”

“Sure,” she says, and Will tries not blurt out how he feels about Ethan or complain about their seating arrangement. It aches not to be able to sit next to him, to sit so close their bodies touch.

Ethan shoots a smug look at Benji and carefully does not look at Will. “So there.”

“I missed you,” Aaron pipes up from his spot, looking at Ethan. “You’re better than my chicken nuggets.”

Ethan looks his way and grins. “Thanks, buddy. You can be my new best friend, and Benji can walk home.”

“I don’t want to walk home,” Benji exclaims in horror. “Wait, I’m not even in your carpool! I’m riding with Jane, unless you plan on depriving the kids of their ride in your car.”

“Of course not, I like them more than you,” Ethan answers. “They don’t think their lunches are better than I am.”

Will shakes his head at the display in front of him and mumbles something that sounds remarkably like they’re all six-year-olds who can’t behave, but he’s smiling while doing so. Ethan laughs, but refrains from commenting at that, because then he would get Julia started, and Benji, and he’s pretty sure the mall isn’t the best place to introduce Will’s siblings to their brand of humor and sarcasm. He needs to set a good example, or at least try.

After lunch comes more shopping and then they drive back to Will’s. They can’t say goodbye the way they would like, not with Will’s brothers right there, and they’ll see each other in a few hours anyway. Julia and Benji climb into the Camaro, so Ethan can drive them back to campus, and Jane continues on to her own home, leaving Will a few more hours with his family before he has to go to Jane’s to get ready for their date.

Chapter Text

Ethan parks in front of Jane’s house, a few minutes late, but he blames Will for that. He couldn’t stop staring at the texts Will had sent, staring at the words ‘lube’ and ‘condoms’ printed on his phone screen. He has the lube, tucked down in his overnight bag, and even though Will had said they weren’t needed, he has condoms too, just in case he changes his mind. He’s willing, of course, to not do anything at all, if Will gets cold feet, but Ethan prays that Will won’t. They aren’t even doing dinner tonight, thanks to all the snacking done at the mall, but they can order room service when they are hungry. Ethan doesn’t care what his final bill is for the night, he’s just looking forward to an entire night alone with Will, far away from family and school and studying, where they can be together and do whatever they want.

Jane looks over Will one final time and gives him the thumbs up. He looks fabulous, and although they haven’t talked about what this night is probably going to mean, she can read him and his nervousness like an open book. “Don’t worry, have fun,” she tells him, squeezing his hand gently. He gives her a small smile back, takes his bag and walks over to Ethan’s car.

Ethan wants to get out, meet Will at the door, but they’re still too close to Will’s home, in too small of a neighborhood, and thinks it’s better he stays in the car, lets Will settle in his seat, and just reach over to lightly squeeze his knee instead. “Hey. You look incredible.”

“You too,” Will replies. And it’s true. Ethan’s wearing tan slacks and a dark blue dress shirt, and Will suddenly feels a bit under dressed. “I … um, the only slacks I have don’t really fit me,” he explains why he’s wearing jeans instead.

“Those jeans look amazing,” Ethan assures him. “But especially after sleeping in mine, I didn’t want to wear another pair. We could get you some slacks, if we ever wanted to go somewhere nicer.”

“You mean if we ever manage not to cancel dinner because we have other plans?” Will asks teasingly.

Ethan grins. “It’s not my fault you’re so hot I don’t think I can sit through a meal without jumping you.”

“As if your looks make it easy for me not to do the same,” Will says, but he’s blushing nonetheless. “Did you … um … get my texts?”

“I nearly walked into a wall getting your texts,” Ethan answers. “My bag’s stocked.”

“Good, good.” Will exhales a shaky breath. “Where are we staying?”

“It’s a surprise. Somewhere nice, don’t hit me for it.”

“I won’t. I’d rather hoped you picked something nice for this night to be honest.”

“Of course I did. This is really important to me.”

“Then we’re on the same page,” Will says with a soft smile, putting his hand on Ethan’s thigh so he won’t interfere with the driving.

“We are,” Ethan agrees. He lays his hand over Will’s. “But as much as I want this tonight, badly, you know we can stop any time, right?”

“Yes, and it means a lot, but can we just assume for now that I want you to pound me in the mattress?”

Ethan groans quietly. “I think you could almost get me off just by telling me things like that, but please not while I’m driving.”

“Sorry,” Will says, but he’s grinning mischievously. “Then I better keep quiet, I don’t want to die as a virgin in a car accident.”

“I don’t want to die before I get a chance to pound you into the mattress,” Ethan answers, grinning over at Will when he has to stop at a red light.

Will shakes his head. “Let’s make a deal, we both stop talking about this until we’re not endangering the traffic anymore.”

“Deal.” Ethan turns his attention back to the road for the rest of the drive. He parks in the lot of a very nice hotel and looks at Will. “Okay?”

“I feel underdressed,” Will says, but he’s grinning. “Shouldn’t matter, though, right? Not like we plan on staying dressed.”

“Exactly,” Ethan says. He gets out of the car and grabs their bags, but allows Will to carry one as they walk in. Ethan goes to the check-in for their key and then takes Will to the elevator to go to their room.

That’s when Will is hit by the reality of what they’re about to do and he steps closer to Ethan to grab his hand. He’s not doubting his decision, he wants it, he wants Ethan, every part of him that Ethan’s willing to give. And he’s trying not to doubt Ethan’s sanity to choose him, because been there, done that, and he wants to believe Ethan. He squeezes Ethan’s hand tighter.

Ethan smiles reassuringly at Will and tugs him out of the elevator and down the hall. He sets down his bag, rather than have to let go of Will’s hand, and unlocks their room, kicking his bag ahead of them as they enter.

Will has to laugh when he sees the big bed because he remembers something. “We never got around to doing your laundry,” he says.

“I finally did it yesterday,” Ethan says, “so that might be another reason we’re in the hotel. I’m not doing it again this soon.”

“Good choice, then. I like it here,” Will replies and lets his bag fall down to the floor. They’re finally alone, no one to interrupt them, and he really, really wants to kiss Ethan now. He presses against him and tugs at Ethan’s lip. “Hi,” he breathes.

“Hi yourself,” Ethan murmurs, and slips one hand into the back pocket of Will’s jeans. “Today was fun and all, but I am so glad we’re alone now.”

“Yes, although I’m really glad that Aaron and Jason like you,” Will says and rolls his hips against Ethan.

“And no more talk about them,” Ethan decides, biting his lip. His fingers flex in Will’s pocket and he pulls him closer. “Just us tonight.”

“Okay,” Will readily agrees. “But hopefully us in less clothes,” he adds with a smirk and starts unbuttoning Ethan’s shirt. Ethan has to step back, just a little, to let Will work at the buttons, and then returns the favor, making quick work of the buttons on Will’s shirt. Will slides Ethan’s shirt down his shoulders and takes a moment to appreciate the view before he cups his face and kisses him.

Ethan lets the shirt fall to the floor, doesn’t care how wrinkled it might get, and slides his hands under Will’s open shirt, touching his bare skin as he lets himself get caught up in the kiss. Will’s breath hitches when Ethan touches him and his pants start to get uncomfortably tight. He slides his hands down Ethan’s back, lightly scraping it with his fingernails, and moans into the kiss. Ethan echoes Will’s moan, and he’s torn between leaning back into Will’s hands, making him do that again, or pressing closer into Will’s body. He settles for pulling Will against him, feeling the growing bulge in Will’s jeans pressing against his own.

“Definitely too many clothes still,” Will complains when they have to break the kiss to catch their breath. He hooks his fingers under the waistband of Ethan’s slacks and moves them in little circles over the exposed skin.

“Yeah,” Ethan says, forcing himself to take deep breaths. He lays his hands on Will’s, stilling the motion. “Okay, both of us strip, get to the bed. We’re not ready for fucking against the walls.”

The thought alone sends a shiver through Will’s body. “But we gotta try it one day,” he says, voice low, as he steps away from Ethan to quickly strip.

“Shower too,” Ethan adds, carrying his bag to the bed. He digs the lube out of the bag, sets it on the bed, and hesitates when his hand closes around the condoms. “You still sure about not needing condoms?” He asks.

Will stops in folding his shirt so it won’t wrinkle too much and looks over to Ethan. “Yes,” he says, blushing slightly. “We’re both clean, and I … um, I like the idea, okay? If it turns out that I don’t like it after all then we have a bathroom.” He shrugs. “Unless you want to use them?”

Ethan shakes his head and drops the bag to the floor. “No. I just wanted to be sure.” He steps out of his pants and tosses them over the back of a chair and leaves his boxers on the floor, then sits naked on the bed, watching Will.

Will puts the rest of his clothes on a chair and then walks over to Ethan and places his arms on both sides of him, bending down to kiss him again. He’s getting more nervous now with both of them naked, but touching Ethan helps, calms him down again. “I love you,” he whispers, just in case Ethan’s already forgotten.

“I love you,” Ethan answers immediately, grinning. “And I’d really love for you to join me in this bed here.”

Will laughs and does as he’s told, tugging at Ethan’s hand to get closer. He uses his free hand to roam over Ethan’s chest, adding light scratches to it.

Ethan hisses softly in pleasure. “Gonna bite me again too, right?”

As an answer, Will moves a bit down, licks over Ethan’s right nipple and then bites into the skin right above it. Ethan jerks, curses, and squeezes Will’s hand, but it’s good, so good.

“Like that?”

“Yes, fuck yes.”

Will smiles, pleased with himself to be able to unravel Ethan in such a way. He licks across Ethan’s chest to his other nipple and bites down on it very carefully, to see how Ethan reacts to that.

“Fuck, you’re a tease,” Ethan moans, squirming beneath Will. He wants to know where this Will came from, and how he can keep him, because this is already proving itself to be an incredible night.

“You’re the one talking,” Will huffs and rests his chin on Ethan’s chest to look at him. “But I don’t feel your hands anywhere near my ass.”

“Maybe I lose all my coordination when you’re biting me. So sue me.” Ethan skims his hands over Will’s shoulders and as far down his back as he can reach, but Will decides that this really isn’t enough and rolls them over so that he’s on his back.

“See, at least we’re in the right position now.”

Ethan chuckles. “We are,” he agrees, and bows his head to trace Will’s collar bone with his tongue, biting down gently when he reaches his shoulder.

Will arches into the bite and groans. “As much as I like these appetizers, can we please, please come to the main event soon?” He begs.

“Yeah,” Ethan says. licking the bite. He sits up and grabs the bottle of lube, coating his fingers with the cool gel. “Think we’ll survive this?” he jokes.

“Nope,” Will says, following Ethan’s every move and trying to stay relaxed. “But hey, there are worse ways to die … like of teasing.”

Ethan kisses Will’s hip and moves his hand between Will’s legs, slowly easing one finger inside him. Will tenses up for a moment before he remembers to breathe again and nods at Ethan that he’s okay. Ethan nods back, smiles, and starts moving his finger, watching Will for the signal to go further.

Will searches for Ethan’s free hand and tangles their fingers, drawing a shaky breath because he can’t stop imagining how much more stretched he’s gonna feel soon. “Go on,” he eventually says, spreading his legs a bit more.

“Love you,” Ethan says softly, and adds a second finger with the first, moving them in a slow steady rhythm. He needs to take more time tonight, because they’re going further than they went before, but he doesn’t know how he’s going to keep from going insane just from the thought of what’s to come.

Will can barely refrain from touching his own hard leaking cock, but he thinks if he does that now he’ll come on the spot and he’d really rather do that with Ethan inside him. It doesn’t stop him from moaning though, and he also can’t stop himself from thrusting back into Ethan’s fingers, wanting more.

Ethan moves up to three fingers now, and his mouth is dry, pulse pounding, just from watching Will, listening to him. He doesn’t know how he’s going to actually fuck him, when he’s already feeling like he could come the second he finally gets inside Will.

“Either you stop so I can cool down or you start fucking me,” Will says with his chest heaving.

“You’re incredibly demanding, you know that?” Ethan asks, but he holds his hand still, and looks up at Will. “So do I stop or do I start fucking?”

Will glares and growls at the same time. Then he moves his hand to let one finger lightly trail down Ethan’s cock. “What do you think?”

Ethan lets out a shuddering breath. “I think if you touch me again, there’s no way I’m fucking you for at least however long it takes me to recover.”

Will laughs, but lets his hands fall to his side again. “Then c’mon. Fuck me.”

Ethan eases his fingers out of Will and gets more lube on his hand. He squeezes the base of his cock, trying to calm down as he slicks himself up. “You are going to kill me,” he complains, and his voice sounds strained, raw. “Fuck.”

“Not before you haven’t done the deed,” Will says. He swallows dryly, trying to keep breathing evenly because his nervousness has just been dialed up a notch and then he tries not to laugh, because this is all kinds of crazy and he’s never been particularly famous for being crazy. Maybe Ethan is contagious.

“I’ll do my best,” Ethan promises. He settles back over Will, and he’s breathing too hard, too fast, but he can’t even think about that, can’t think about anything else but what they’re doing. He braces himself on one hand next to Will’s hip and starts to ease inside him, going at a pace that’s torturously slow, but all he dares to do. And Will, Will hasn’t felt anything like this before in his life. The initial stretch burns because three fingers really aren’t the same as Ethan’s cock, and Will hisses, eyes clenched shut, but Ethan stops then, gives him time to adjust while Will focuses on relaxing again.

“Okay,” he whispers finally.

“Okay,” Ethan whispers back, and he withdraws halfway, then pushes back in, and does it again, a little more, and a little more, building up a rhythm. Will manages to cross his ankles behind Ethan’s back to draw him in further, to be closer, but otherwise his body and mind are swamped with too many feelings and sensation, and then Ethan tilts his hips in a certain way and hits that spot, and Will knows biology, thank you very much, but no textbook ever told him how absolutely good it would feel. Ethan’s muttering a string of curses mixed with whatever words he can actually manage to speak, mostly just single words, adjectives, about how it feels. It’s not his first time, far from it, but it feels like it could be, because it has never, never felt like this before.

“Oh fuck, oh fuck,” Will mutters and curls his left hand around Ethan’s wrist. He’s not gonna last, not with Ethan hitting the spot over and over again and looking incredible hot doing so. It’s too much, and Will squeezes Ethan’s wrist. “I’m gonna come soon,” he whispers.

“Got all night,” Ethan whispers in return. “Nothing says we’re only having sex once, right? Don’t hold back.”

Will laughs and cups Ethan’s neck to tug him down. “Good to know,” he says with a grin before he kisses Ethan hungrily. Ethan kisses Will like he needs it more than he needs to breathe, because right now it feels like he does. He’s close, too close, but he’s desperate to wait, to go with Will. Luckily for him, all Will needs is another thrust and then he’s falling over the edge, spurting come on his stomach. He’s not aware he’s scratching Ethan’s side, or that he squeezes his wrist, only knows that this feels amazing. Ethan isn’t sure if it’s the short nails clawing at his side, the way Will’s body is clenching around his cock, or both together, but he’s gone. He comes with a strangled wordless noise, and then his arms are shaking too much to hold himself up and he slumps down on top of Will, panting for air.

“You’re heavy,” Will chuckles once he’s pretty sure he can actually form words again. “Not that I mind,” he adds, because he doesn’t.

“Sorry.” Ethan groans as he sits up, untangles themselves, and then flops over on his back next to Will. Will winces a bit when Ethan slides out of him, but he doesn’t mind being sore either. He turns on his side to face Ethan, grinning widely.

Ethan looks at Will and grins back. “We survived.”

“Let me get back at you about that, I’m not so sure yet,” Will says, stealing another kiss.

Ethan laughs and reaches for Will’s hand, tangling their fingers together. “We’re a mess.”

“I don’t mind,” Will admits, still trying to catalog how he feels.

Ethan nods, and brings their hands up to kiss Will’s hand, because that’s about all the moving he wants to do at the moment. “Tub’s supposed to be practically big enough to swim in, whenever we feel like cleaning up.”

“Give my brain a few minutes to catch up with the fact that I just had amazing sex, okay?”

“Sure. I’ll just lay here and be very smug that I got that brain of yours to short circuit.”

“You’re insufferable.” Will grins, but is too lazy to smack him.

Ethan laughs. “Yeah, but you love me.”

“True,” Will replies and leans against Ethan, pressing a soft kiss to his shoulder.

“I still wanna take you on a real date, you know,” Ethan says after a moment. “But this is nice. Really nice. Thanks.”

“I feel like I should be the one thanking you,” Will whispers. “And I mean it, this …this could have been bad or hurt, but with you … ” he trails off, smiling again and lays his head down on Ethan’s chest.

“My thanks was more just for you actually giving me a chance,” Ethan says, curling his arm around Will’s shoulders. “Still kind of surprised we’re here at all, considering the mess we made of things, or that it hasn’t even been a week.”

“Doesn’t feel like it,” Will says and caresses Ethan’s chest. “And I’m not making any innuendos about mess right now.”

“Me neither.” Ethan sighs softly, one of contentment, and stares up at the ceiling. “Last night, Jane said you don’t really touch people. But that’s all we do. So that was odd to hear. Makes me feel good that you’re this comfortable with me.”

“She did?” Will asks, suddenly very self-aware.

“Yeah. She just said your family wasn’t big on it, and it was good that we were close.” Ethan looks down at Will. “Don’t start freaking out, okay? She loves you, she just wanted to make sure I knew I was lucky, just like I said last night. I respect her for that. Wasn’t a threat, so don’t worry about that either.”

“I’m not,” Will draws a breath. “She’s right, though, I don’t usually like touching people, but you … I can’t explain it. It’s all I want to do, like you’re some kind of freaking magnet or something.”

“Well I’m glad I’m the end that attracts you, not repels you,” Ethan says. “It’s addicting touching you too, if that helps any.”

“It does, actually,” Will replies softly. “We’ve already established that I can have weird thoughts, so knowing that you … yeah, it helps.”

“Just share when you have weird thoughts, so I can tell you that you’re being weird and wrong, okay?” Ethan requests. “Or I can fix whatever I did to cause them.”

“It probably won’t be you,” Will says quietly, “but I’ll try.”

“That’s all I can ask.”

Will smiles at him. “Don’t take this the wrong way, okay, but I really do wonder how I got you.”

“Well I wonder how I got you, so we’re even.”

Will can’t stop grinning. “So, what was that about the tub?”

“Well we can use it to get clean, or we can get dirty in it before we get clean.” Ethan grins. “Food has to wait, I’m guessing?”

All Will can do is nod because he’s busy not choking to death on his own spit. It takes a while before he can catch his breath again. “Oh God … you’re unbelievable.”

Ethan’s laughing softly and rubs Will’s back. “Sorry. Sorry. You made it too easy. And, you know, we could.”

“Could what? Get clean or have sex?”

“Well, have sex, then get clean.”

“You already up for a second round?” Will asks and lets his hand glide down Ethan’s chest, circling around his navel.

Ethan’s stomach flexes under Will’s touch. “I’m sure I will be soon. You?”

Will wiggles a bit to test if he can still feel all of his extremities, and then nods. “But you’re bringing me breakfast in bed tomorrow, right?”

“Promise,” Ethan answers. “Even if I have to make them unlock our door and bring it in themselves because I can’t move either.”

“You started with the ideas for a second round,” Will reminds him with a smile. “Now you have to follow up with it, no matter the consequences.”

“I never said I wouldn’t follow up,” Ethan protests. “I’ll definitely follow up.”

“Good, very good,” Will says and sucks on a bruise on Ethan’s shoulder he left earlier.

“Fuck,” Ethan groaned. “I’m returning the favor before we leave here, you know. I’m not going to be the only one with bruises.”

“As if walking funnily won’t be enough,” Will teases.

“We can stop after one time,” Ethan mock-threatens.

“Don’t you dare,” Will growls and gracelessly rolls out of the bed, trying not to wince when his body forcefully reminds him what he’s been up to. “You coming or what?”

“Not for a few minutes,” Ethan quips. He crawls out of bed and follows Will, letting himself admire the view before he has to look away to pay attention where he’s walking.

“Are you going to turn everything I say into sex-related innuendo?” Will asks, shaking his head.

“Half of it, at least,” Ethan answers honestly, “and only tonight. Maybe in the morning. Sometimes later as long as we’re alone...” He grins at Will and goes to the tub, which is definitely large enough to accommodate them both very easily, and leans over to close the stopper before he starts to fill it.

Will can’t resist the view in front of him, so he steps closer and wraps his arms around Ethan. “I can feel your come running down my thigh,” he whispers.

Ethan sucks in a breath and promptly chokes on air, coughing and struggling to take a full breath. “You- Fuck-” He manages, barely able to speak at all, with that image in his head, and can’t believe Will said it. Will blushed and stammered just asking for Ethan to touch him, now he’s perfectly fine with saying something as filthy and hot as that? Ethan’s really not sure he isn’t dreaming this.

“Oh wow.” Will blinks, because he hadn’t really planned on saying that. “I really just told you that, didn’t I?”

“Yes. Just like you mentioned fingering yourself one day.” Ethan answers. “And they’re the hottest things I’ve ever heard.”

Now Will’s blushing and he’s thankful that he’s standing behind Ethan, so he can’t see him. “How … how about if I do that now?”

“Are, would, are,” Ethan struggles to make sense and is failing miserably. “Would you really?”

“I offered, didn’t I?” Will says with a laugh. He’s enjoying reducing Ethan to an incoherent mess. “Although I’m not exactly clear on the logistics … ”

Ethan twists until he’s facing Will, reaching back behind him to shut off the taps. “I think I can help with that.” He skims his hands down Will’s sides to rest on his hips. “You can sit on the ledge right here, and I’ll watch and maybe I’ll just have to help. Get both of our fingers in there.”

“You- ” Will gulps, knees going weak, and he thinks he’s forgotten how to breathe. “Yeah,” he finally manages to get out. “Yeah, I’d like that.”

Ethan grins and kisses Will’s neck. “Better get the lube then.”

Will grabs his wrist before Ethan can leave, shaking his head. “Don’t really think that will be necessary.”

Ethan swallows hard. “You, uh, sure?”

“Yes,” Will says, guiding Ethan’s hand down so he can test for himself.

Ethan’s breath is ragged as he touches Will, slips one finger easily into him, and Will’s right, they can do without the lube, but he’s not so sure he can stay on his feet much longer. He draws his hand away and nods slowly. “Yeah, okay.”

Will has to stop himself from moaning at the loss of Ethan’s finger, so he bites his lips instead. “Sit down,” he says hoarsely.

Ethan shakes his head. “No way you’re standing during this, right?” He steps into the tub and sets a towel out on the cold tile ledge, then nods to it. “You sit there.”

Will nods and sits down, his cold feet being warmed by the water already in the tub. He’s spreading his legs so Ethan has a good view and leans a bit back, a nervous flutter in his stomach, but he tries to shove it back down. “You like what you see?” He teases Ethan and strokes his own stomach, slowly sliding further down with his hands.

Ethan’s kneeling in the tub, and it gives him a perfect view. He runs warm wet hands up Will’s inner thighs, water cooling and drying on his skin. “Fuck yes,” he answers, and turns his head to kiss Will’s leg. “You’re... there are absolutely no words for how hot you look right now.”

“You’re not too bad either,” Will replies. Ethan looks like he wants to devour him, and it’s making Will shiver in a good way. He runs a hand through the trail of come on his left thigh before he moves up again and circles his hole.

Ethan makes a sound he will deny to the day he dies, something high and needy, desperate, and it’s just from watching, and he can’t believe it. He chews on his bottom lip, eyes riveted on Will. His fingers flex against Will’s legs and he has to force himself to not rush him or do something drastic, like just drag him back to the bed and fuck him until they both can’t move and don’t have to worry about unforgiving bathroom fixtures.

Will’s never done something like this before, has never thought he’d feel comfortable enough to do this in front of someone else, but judging from the glassy stare Ethan’s giving him, he must be doing something right. And then he slips the first finger inside, the way eased by lube and come, and he groans, eyes squeezing shut.

“Will,” Ethan breathes, and it’s almost reverent, the way he’s saying his name. He lets his fingers brush over Will’s balls, and then lower, easing one finger in alongside Will’s.

“Fuck,” Will groans, throwing his head back and shoving himself forward. He feels like his brain is leaking out of his ears.

“Yeah,” Ethan agrees, moving his finger in the opposite rhythm of Will’s. He licks his lips and shifts closer, bowing his head to lick the tip of Will’s cock.

Will jerks at the touch, too many sensations battling for his attention at once, and he can’t keep his hands steady to form any resemblance of a rhythm anymore. “Ethan,” he groans, “fuck … I want you.”

“Here, or back to bed?” Ethan asks, free hand moving to rest on Will’s thigh.

“Here,” Will decides. “Have to try something new, right?”

“Think we already did that this week, a lot,” Ethan answers. He slips his finger free, pulling Will’s hand with him, and leans back. “Need you down here with me.”

Will looks down at him, suddenly a bit unsure about how this is going to work. The tub is big, but not that big and the easiest way to do this is the one that made Will already uncomfortable once. This is different, though, he tells himself, and it’s not like he didn’t already do some things that normally would make him blush and probably will make him facepalm tomorrow. So he slides down from the ledge and settles on Ethan’s hips, moving a bit so that their erections rub against each other.

Ethan hisses softly and rests his hands on Will’s sides. The water’s still low enough they can pull this off, and he leans back a little, trying to give them a better position. “Are you really gonna... gonna ride me?” He asks. “Because I think that might be the one that kills me. Just... please say you are.”

“I guess so? Although I’d rather not kill you … I have ideas for that desk in our room for later,” Will says with a shaky laugh and bends down to kiss Ethan again.

“Well, let’s try it, see what happens,” Ethan says after that kiss, and runs his hands over Will’s back and down to his ass, touching him everywhere he can as he kisses him again. Will slips his tongue between Ethan’s lips, deepens the kiss for a moment, before he releases him again. He raises himself a bit and grabs behind him, taking hold of Ethan’s cock, and slowly settles down on it. Ethan rests his hands on Will’s hips and bites his lip, trying so hard to be still, patient, let Will go at his own pace. Will’s breathing hard by the time he has all of Ethan’s cock inside him. This is different from the first time, and not only because they do it in a tub filled with water, but because he’s more in control now and he’s not yet sure if he likes that.

“Easy,” Ethan murmurs, and leans up to kiss Will gently. “Slow. You okay?”

“Yeah, just … ” Will grins shyly, “very full.”

Ethan groans. “You can’t say stuff like that to me, it fries my brain.”

“Maybe that’s what I want?” Will replies and slowly starts to move. “And it’s not like it’s untrue, you’re not exactly small.”

“Kind of a backhanded compliment, but I’ll take it,” Ethan says, running a hand over Will’s chest and stomach.

“Good, because me saying you have the biggest cock I’ve ever taken doesn’t really mean that much,” Will replies, leaning into Ethan’s touch.

Ethan’s hips jerk and he curses, one hand tight on Will’s waist. “Fuck. Do that to me too much, I’m going to be done before we get much further. You are hell on my stamina.”

“Fuck,” Will says and squeezes his eyes shut because Ethan moving kind of stole his breath. “Do … do that again.”

“This?” Ethan asks, and rolls his hips, thrusting gently up into Will.

“Yes,” Will says, voice hoarse, “just harder.”

“You gotta meet me halfway here. Too much, I’m gonna slip.” Ethan does thrust again though, a little harder. “Better?”

“Yes,” Will groans. He’s moving up and down, meeting Ethan’s thrusts and his thighs are quivering. Ethan finally figures out a way to move without fearing he’ll lose traction and hit his head, or maybe he’s just beyond caring. He braces his foot against the edge of the tub to help with the leverage and can settle into some semblance of rhythm. Will’s lost track of time and they could have flooded the whole bathroom and he wouldn’t care, he’s so close. He leans forward again and nips at Ethan’s earlobe. “Come,” he breathes, “come in me.”

“Fuck,” Ethan chokes out. He closes his eyes, manages just a few more thrusts, and then he’s coming, shuddering beneath Will. Will blindly grabs his own cock and one stroke is enough to reach his climax. He slumps down on Ethan, trying to catch his breath.

“You really are fucking incredible,” Ethan murmurs against Will’s hair, wrapping his arms tightly around him. “So I’m never letting you go, okay?”

“Okay,” Will replies quietly, taking a deep breath. He didn’t have any plans on leaving anyway. He feels happy and content where he is.

“When I can move, we probably should actually get clean, you think?” Ethan asks. “At least until we want to get dirty again?”

“As tempting as that sounds … I’m starting to feel muscles I didn’t know I have,” Will explains and gingerly gets into a sitting position.

“And I don’t think I can do anything until tomorrow, at least,” Ethan says, helping Will where he can. “Just wanted to make sure we were ready for a break.” He reaches for the stopper, pulling it to let the water drain. “Think you want a shower, or a bath?”

“Bath,” Will decides. “I don’t think I could stand long enough for a shower.”

“Me neither.” Ethan puts the stopper back in and moves until he can start the water again, this time for a real bath. They’re sitting opposite now, and Will’s already missing the closeness of Ethan’s skin when he suddenly remembers something.

“How are your bruises?” He asks. “I didn’t make it worse by slumping on you, did I?”

Ethan blinks, and it takes a minute to even remember what Will’s talking about. “After sex like that, I don’t feel anything. And they weren’t that bad anyway. I’m fine.”

“Good,” Will says, smiling, and then he turns around and moves so he’s leaning against Ethan’s chest. “That okay?”

“Perfect,” Ethan answers, reclining against the tub and pulling Will with him so they stay close, don’t have to lose contact. “Better?”

“Perfect,” Will echoes Ethan’s word and lets a few moments of silence lapse. “Can I ask you something?”

“Always, anything,” Ethan says immediately. “What?”

“Have you ever… um… been the one to bottom?”

“No.” Ethan takes Will’s hand, laces their fingers together, and sighs quietly. “Never, I don’t know, trusted someone enough, I guess. Liked anyone enough. A finger or two while I’m getting a blow job, but that’s it. You asking because you want to try?”

“No, yes … I mean, maybe?” Will shrugs. “But later, much later, and only if it doesn’t make you uncomfortable. I don’t really… I don’t have the urgent need to try it, you know? Just thought that maybe one day… just to see how it feels.”

“Yeah,” Ethan says, after a brief moment to process all of Will’s rambling. “You know what that’d mean?”


“You’d get to be my first.”

“I… oh.” Will blinks. “Oh. Yes, guess you’re right. But only if you want it.”

“With you, I’d be willing to try it,” Ethan says, and he does mean it, it’s not just to agree to something that Will’s talking about. “Never had a relationship, so never thought about it, because... a lot of things. But you’re different.”

It humbles Will, to hear these words, to hear that he’s not the only one affected by all of this. “Love you,” he says quietly and hopes that Ethan knows all what he means by it.

Ethan kisses Will’s shoulder. “Love you,” he answers.

Will closes the tap with his toes when the tub is full and just enjoys the warmth and Ethan’s closeness. “I’m getting hungry now,” he finally says.

“Well yeah, we worked up an appetite,” Ethan says, “and that’s what room service is for.”

“Don’t take this the wrong way, okay? Bud I’d never thought I’d order room service someday … seems so decadent.”

“Well, kind of is, yeah, but, it’s kind of the point of tonight too, isn’t it?” Ethan asks. “Just letting me spoil you?”

“Yes… just takes a bit time to get used to that idea,” Will replies. “Which reminds me, I made an appointment with my doctor for Tuesday.”

“Perfect, my day’s pretty open then, if you want company.”

“I… I don’t know?” Will bites his lips. “I’m nervous, to be honest.”

“Why?” Ethan asks softly. “You’ve had one before, right?”

“Yes, when I was little. But allergies tend to accumulate the older you get, and I wasn’t one of the lucky kids who outgrew asthma.” He shrugs, sending small waves through the tub. “Guess I’m just scared the doc will tell me I’m allergic to even more stuff.”

“Or he might not,” Ethan argues. “You did that STD test, and yeah, you were more confident there, I bet, but this isn’t like it could be embarrassing or anything. Just allergies, and you know how to handle them, and we’ll keep extra pills and inhalers and whatever you need wherever we need them. It might not even be that bad.”

“You’re probably right,” Will says, a small smile spreading on his face. “Did I mention how much it means that you keep saying we?”

“No, but I’m right, aren’t I?” Ethan asks. “It’s not really an I thing anymore, is it? We’re together, so the big things, like your allergies, aren’t things you have to deal with alone.”

“Yes,” Will says quietly. It’s a new experience, because as long as he can remember he’s tried to do things himself as not to burden his mom, and although Jane probably knows more about him than anyone else, he still doesn’t tell her everything. “But… you tell me when it gets annoying, right?”

“Sure. The day after never, you can expect me to tell you it’s too much.” Ethan huffs a sigh. “You’re not having much faith in me, or my patience, you know that? You’re reminding me of my dad and not in a good way.” His voice softens, quiets. “When he got sick, he kept apologizing all the time. To Mom, to me, to my uncle... said he didn’t wanna be a burden.”

Will swears silently under his breath and tries to find leverage so he can turn around and face Ethan. “I didn’t … I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to drag bad memories back,” he says quietly, feeling guilty as hell.

“It’s not your fault.” Ethan manages a weak smile. “I shouldn’t have said anything. Just... let me be there, okay? Relationships aren’t just for when things are good, means we’re there when things go to shit too.”

“Okay.” Will nods. “But me worrying really has nothing to do with me having little faith in you, you have to believe that, please.”

“I know. Just means I have to work on your faith in yourself.”

Instead of saying anything, Will takes Ethan’s hand and squeezes it. Ethan squeezes back and gives Will a better smile than a minute before. “How about dinner now? Find something on TV, just curl up in bed?”

“Sounds perfect,” Will replies and gets up, reaching out to Ethan to help him stand up as well.

Ethan accepts the help and hands Will a towel, then dries off and walks back to the bedroom to get dressed. Will follows him and then hesitates for a minute before picking his pajama pants and a longsleeve to wear.

Ethan watches, amused. “Is that like a no touching warning?” He asks, nodding at the clothes Will’s chosen.

“What?” Will looks down at himself and frowns before he realizes what Ethan’s talking about. “No, of course not. Just an I was cold and don’t want to get sick decision.”

“Teasing,” Ethan says, pulling on a t-shirt to go with the pajama pants he’s already wearing. “Probably better we stay dressed. Less temptation.” He grabs the room service menu and folds back the blankets before climbing into bed.

“I’m not sure I could do another round anyway,” Will says and can’t stop the blush spreading up his neck when he gingerly gets into the bed to lean against Ethan. “I’m a bit … um … sore.”

“We did plenty without any actual fucking, you know,” Ethan reminds him, wrapping his arm around Will’s shoulders. He positions the menu between them, so Will can see it too. “I say we’re done for the night, so let’s just eat.”

“Good idea, I’m starving,” Will agrees and snuggles closer into Ethan’s embrace.

“Me too. So order anything, okay? No worrying about price or anything like that. Just let me do these things, when it comes up, because I can, and I want to, and it’s totally not an issue for me. I don’t want it to be an issue. You know?”

“Can you read minds and just didn’t tell me till now?” Will asks, because his thoughts had already strayed in that direction.

Ethan chuckles. “If I could, I would not be making a C in one of my classes.”

“Which one? Maybe I can help.”

“We’ll talk about it when we’re not on a date, okay? Food and stupid movies and bed, not classwork.”

“Okay, okay,” Will gives in, “but you started it.”

“Barely. Now pick something for dinner.”

Will rolls his eyes in mock-annoyance , but then looks at the menu again. “Steak and salad,” he finally decides.

“There, that wasn’t so hard.” Ethan picks up the phone and orders their meals, drinks, and dessert. “Now we just need a movie to watch and we’re set,” he says as he puts the phone down.

“You can pick something,” Will says. “I’m perfectly comfortable just snuggling with you.”

Ethan smiles and leaves the remote where it is. “No movie.”

“I didn’t mean that you can’t watch -- wait, you’re going to say you don’t care about the movie either, right?”

“Now you’re getting psychic,” Ethan teases.

“No, just learning and stopping myself from being apologetic,” Will corrects him.

“That works too.”

“But then your plan about stupid movies is obsolete. We might have to talk after all,” Will says with a grin.

“Oh the horror,” Ethan says sarcastically. “We probably should talk anyway, but nothing says we have to talk about anything serious.”

“Right, but then you pick the topics. I’m horrible at small talk.”

“I’m not much better.”

“Seriously? I find that hard to believe,” Will replies, frowning. He knows Ethan’s popular, that he’s charming and he’d thought that small talk comes easily to him.

Ethan shrugs one shoulder, so not to dislodge Will from his position against the other. “Not really. I don’t know. You didn’t like my small talk in the library.”

“Because I very wrongly assumed that you were either a brainless jock out to mock me because of some bet with your frat brothers or that you were after some quick sex,” Will admits. “That doesn’t count.”

“Frats are mostly just a giant waste of time, and I wasn’t even thinking of sex when I ... okay, yeah, maybe I was,” Ethan admits, grinning, “but I told you, I have a weakness for really cute guys who wear glasses.”

“Well, good that I packed them, then,” Will replies with a big grin. “Maybe I’ll need them tomorrow morning.”

“Don’t tease.” There’s a knock at the door and Ethan has to pull away, going to answer. He lets the cart inside, signs the receipt, and sends the man away. “Eat in bed?” Ethan asks as he wheels the cart further into the room, trying to decide where to put it.

Will thinks about it a moment, but then decides that he really doesn’t want to leave the bed again because it’s warm and comfortable in it and that there other people who can handle the gravy stain on the blanket if they spill anything. “Bed,” he tells Ethan. Ethan sets the cart by the bed, his side, and settles back down in bed. He gets their plates and drinks, makes sure they have everything they need before they can start to eat.

“I’ve never had dinner in bed before,” Will says, staring at his delicious looking food. “But then I’ve never had room service before.”

“Never spent a night in a hotel room having sex with your boyfriend either,” Ethan adds. “Of course, I haven’t done that before either.”

“Good to know,” Will teases him before he starts eating. It tastes as good as it looks, and he closes his eyes in pure delight and moans.

“If you eat room service like that every time, we should probably always wait to eat or I’ll jump you and we’ll never finish eating,” Ethan says, watching Will for a moment in near-fascination. He finally remembers his own plate and takes a bite.

“Not my fault their food is amazing,” Will says. “But I wouldn’t mind some jumping when I’m not already exhausted.”

Ethan chuckles. "Well it’s entirely your call when I jump you again in the next few days. I don't want you hurting either."

“Not a good idea to let me decide,” Will admits once he’s done with his dinner. “I don’t think I can wait even if I should.”

"We can always start and if it doesn't work out, we stop, go to handjobs," Ethan answers with a shrug. "not a big deal."

“You have no idea what you’re talking about,” Will groans and flops down on the bed. “And it’s your fault. Now I like being fucked. And I can’t believe I said that as well.”

Ethan laughs. "That is both a great thing and a bad one, I guess." he pats Will's shoulder. "should I apologize? Or say thank you?"

“Shouldn’t I be the one to thank you?”

“Let's just thank each other, call us even."

Will laughs and tugs at Ethan’s shoulder to make him lean down. “Well, thank you then,” he whispers against Ethan’s lips.

Ethan smiles and kisses Will briefly. "Thank you." He moves their dishes and the cart away, then climbs into bed with Will, wrapping around him. He’s tired too, honestly, and just laying here sounds like an excellent idea. They have the rest of the night, and the morning, to do whatever they want. Right now, though, this is good.