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Seven Minutes

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Your name is John Egbert, and you have no idea how you were even talked into coming here. Jade Harley (who actually happens to be your first cousin, as well as one of your closest friends) approached you recently, saying that you don't live enough. That you don't act your age.

Apparently, "acting your age" at 19 is going to parties hosted by your college classmates, and drinking yourself into a stupor--despite it being illegal and something you didn't find very entertaining.

Okay, so you haven't technically had alcohol before, but the smell of it, combined with the way it made people act, were enough to deter you thus far.

You look down at the red Solo cup in your hand, frowning slightly. It was full of god-only-knows-what, sloshing around in a murky greenish-blue color. You haven't touched it. Hell, the only reason you even had it in the first place was because somebody cornered you in the kitchen, asking what you wanted to drink. They had looked so proud as they'd motioned over to the counter, accentuating the bottles upon bottles of various liquors, all at different stages of emptiness.

When you answered truthfully with something along the lines of, "I don't drink, no thanks," you were met with laughter, and were then reassured that the best bartender on campus was here to change that.

It had been about 20 minutes since the cup was thrust into your hand, and it definitely hadn't been enough to change that.

You are in your freshman year of college studying a major in science, but your true passion is for movies--not necessarily making them, but watching. Since there isn't really a market for film critics these days, especially with the internet being a thing, you opted for something practical and not completely boring as a career path. While you're almost through your second semester, you have yet to get used to life at a big university in a town roughly 2500 miles away from home. Thankfully, Jade being around has helped a lot.

Before college, you only had talked to Jade through the internet due to distance. You both got along easily, and have been fairly good friends for the past 7 years or so. She was a little spacey and (saying this with as much love as you could) odd, but you didn't mind, especially because she put up with your lame jokes and rambling on and on about stupid shit. Your senior year of high school, you'd sent in applications to a variety of universities, and thankfully gotten accepted at your first pick. Three days later, Jade was gloating about her own acceptance letter to the very same school. While it wasn't her first choice, it was good enough to warrant her attention and before you knew it, you were enrolled in the same college.

You'd been nervous meeting her. Sure, you were pretty close friends (that happened to be related), but you'd never actually hung out with her in person before. Thankfully, your worry was all over nothing, and you'd picked right up where you'd left off. Admittedly though, it had been surreal seeing her for the first time, because she was basically you. Just with a different eye color and personality. Also, y'know... female.

Tonight was definitely one of those times when the personality difference was so obvious it almost hurt. Jade happens to be far more social than you are, and you figure a lot of it has to do with her having a bit of a sheltered childhood. With college, she finally had the chance to be the social butterfly she wanted to be.

You, on the other hand, are completely content with sitting alone in your dorm on a Saturday night, watching Armageddon for the umpteenth time, finding yourself being moved to tears at the final scene, even after all these years. You wouldn't exactly call yourself anti-social, just... more comfortable in solitude.

You set the cup down on a random bookshelf, and observe your surroundings. This get together was pretty large. You weren't sure if this was standard for these types of parties, but for a building that could comfortably house a family of 4, there were about 15 times as many people currently crammed into it--possibly even more, but you weren't really counting.

Despite the number of people here, you didn't know anyone. Well, not enough to count, anyway. Sure, you knew Jade, but she got the fuck out of dodge almost as soon as you both set foot into the house. Another friend and classmate of yours, Rose Lalonde, was here briefly. You two had quite a pleasant conversation going before she got a call asking her to attend to her very drunk roommate, forcing her to leave early. Everyone else you either hadn't seen before in your life, or recognized them, but only vaguely.

Since parting ways with Rose, you've been wandering around, mostly soaking up the party scene, occasionally smiling at people that happen to look at you as you walk past. This quickly loses its appeal, thanks to how awkward it is, and you end up pulling out your cell phone. You start texting Jade.

ectoBiologist [EB] started pestering gardenGnostic [GG] at 22:53

EB: hey can we go or something?

EB: this place sucks.

GG: whaaaaat???

GG: whyyyyy???

GG: john this party is awesome!!

EB: it really isn't though. i've been bored since i got here.

GG: oh no!! what happened to rose?? D:

EB: she had to take care of a drunken comrade fallen in the great booze war.

GG: oh okay

GG: wellllll

GG: im not ready to leave quiiiite yet :(

GG: just let go and have fun! go and dance or something!! :o

GG: youre in luck because the dj thats here is legendary on campus! him being here practically means that this is THE place to be tonight!

EB: the music is okay i guess. but i don't really dance.

EB: it's not my thing.

GG: its not your thing because you never do it! >:(

GG: just like you never go to parties!!!

GG: stop being such a baby and live a little!!!!!!!

gardenGnostic [GG] ceased pestering ectoBiologist [EB] at 23:17

You put your phone away, rolling your eyes. The music tonight is the only somewhat-redeeming factor to the shit sandwich that is this party. You make your way over to the den--the only room you haven't been in yet on the lower level. While the tangle of cords wrapped in tape would have been easy to miss at first glance, the sudden increase in volume was not. Bass rumbling through your very core was the tip-off you needed to assume that this was DJ HQ.

Your eyes follow the wires to the right hand corner of the room, and are met with a crowd of four girls looming around the setup, mouths moving excitedly, no sound heard over the music from where you stand. Centered inside the jumbled mess of turntables, mix boards, a laptop, and a bunch of other equipment you recognize, but have no idea what the names of are, is the DJ himself.

You're mental image of 'disc jockey' is some awkward, middle-aged guy that has a ponytail, decorated with all kinds of terrible tattoos and excessive piercings. He has unkempt facial hair, and is dressed in baggy, unflattering clothes, with obnoxious accessories, like gaudy chains or a knit cap that has no real reason to be there. His personality is pretentious, with very little substance or purpose, aside from announcing the names of songs everyone already knows the names of in the most obnoxious manner one person could muster. Your experience with DJs in the past have always been with your movies (and the occasional wedding). While you are completely aware that movies perpetuate stereotypes and unrealistic expectations, you can't help but feel that there is a vein of truth in it all.

You were very wrong, though. Well, about this one, at least. This guy was around your age, and wasn't awkward at all. In fact, the way he moved was quite flawless and in-tune with the beats he was mixing up. He had no visible tattoos or piercings, and his sandy blond hair wasn't even long enough to put into a standard ponytail. In true DJ fashion, he had a pair of headphones looped around his neck, resting on his shoulders, but there weren't any obnoxious accessories--save for a pair of shades on his face. Big, gold-rimmed aviators that looked to be from the 70's. They would have looked absolutely ridiculous on any other person, but on him, they seemed to work.

You watched as his hands danced around on his equipment, lightly moving various dials and switches. His expression was completely stoic, but you were almost certain you saw fleeting glimpses of a smile or two while he worked. He would occasionally say something to the crowd of girls around him, which produced animated reactions from his adoring fans, but for the most part, he was completely involved with the music, like it was an extension of himself. It was mesmerizing, to say the least.

The music flowing from the speakers was a mixture of dance and trance. There was an oddly soothing quality to it, and as you looked around the room, you noticed a few partygoers actually dancing, but almost everyone was lazily swaying--whether it was to the music or due to intoxication was hard to tell--too busy socializing to seriously move.

The style of his performance was vastly different than what you were familiar with when it came to music, and your general taste in it didn't extend to this genre, but you think stuff like this you could totally get used to. As a musician yourself, you could appreciate the devotion he committed to his craft, and it made you miss playing.

You quickly found yourself absorbed, watching him perform, not really sure how much time was passing with each song fading into the next. Just as you really started to get into it, the volume softened and you saw the DJ pick up a microphone.

"Hey guys, this is your music master, DJ Strider." His voice was smooth and you can hear a faint, charming drawl. It was quickly becoming apparent how this guy was so popular with girls. "As much as it pains me to leave my insatiable mistress and to leave you all hanging, I regret to inform you that I must take a quick break from my duty station."

There are a few groans of protest from some partygoers, the loudest coming from the girls circling the setup in the corner. A smirk creeps in from the corner of his mouth.

"I know, I know. How rude of me to want to take a piss and get some air. I'll be back in 30. Until then," he slowly pulls down one of the sliders on a board in front of him, causing the current music to fade away to nothing. "I have prepared for such a catastrophe, taking it upon myself to prepare an automatic playlist for those of you who just can't live without a bit of me for that long." He pushes a different slider upwards, and then presses a button, allowing new music to come out from the speakers, silencing the crowd. For now.

You watch as he pulls the headphones off of his neck, setting them gingerly on the table, all the while saying something to the girls surrounding him. They look upset as he stuffs his hands into the pockets of his jeans.

And then without any provocation, he's looking right at you, his face expressionless.

You feel nervous, and you're not sure why. You can't seem to do anything but stand there like an idiot, staring back. In that awkward stand-off, you actually almost forget where you are. At least until a girl from behind your back collides with you, drunk and laughing at something more-than-likely-insignificant.

You turn to her quickly, caught off-guard and apologizing profusely out of a knee jerk reaction, despite you being the one standing still. She ignores you, making her way over to a group of her friends, and you turn back to the equipment in the corner just in time to see DJ Strider still watching you, now with 100% more smirk on his face.

When he starts making his way toward you, your heartbeat starts to pick up the pace, and you panic slightly. Suddenly, you aren't quite sure what to do with yourself. The feeling of being out of place washes over you once again, actually feeling worse now than it did when Jade first left your side after getting here. If your drink was still in your hand, now would have been a perfect time to take a large swig and look nonchalant. You silently scold yourself for abandoning it earlier.

It feels like an eternity once he finally gets in front of you... and deliberately passes by, hands still in his pockets, giving you a cocky nod to acknowledge your existence. Your face flushes a bit from embarrassment, and you turn on your heel, watching him walk away.

"H-hey!" you protest out loud, but it falls on deaf ears and he just keeps walking at the same pace he set since he left the corner.

All that build-up for nothing, but you're fairly relieved that it worked out the way it did. You had no idea what you would have even said to the guy if he had wanted to actually chat.

In retrospect, the whole situation was ridiculous. Why would he want to talk to you anyway? You're just a random spectator amongst a sea of drunk college kids.


You jump at the sound of your name being called, derailing your train of thought. Immediately after, you can feel a pair of arms hook around your waist, and you look down at the person clinging to you.

"Hi Jade. Fancy meeting you here."

"What? I told you to dance, remember?" She pulls back, pouting a bit. Her green eyes are glassy, and it's obvious that she's tipsy. Looks like you get to be the designated driver whenever you both decide to leave.

"Yes, I remember. I actually was before you got here." You make it a point to speak with a smile, which helps take the edge off of your anxiety from your embarrassment. Jade doesn't notice, but probably because she's smashed--you are a terrible liar.

"Oh, so you got to see Strider at work? I told you he was amazing!" She puts her hands on her hips, looking over to the now abandoned turntables. "Where'd he even go, anyway? He's got work to do!"

You quirk an eyebrow at her. "Uh... He's on break. I mean, he just announced it like two minutes ago, Jade, where the hell have you been?"

"Oh!" She laughs, playfully hitting her forehead with the palm of her hand. "I thought I heard him say something, but I wasn't sure! It's kinda loud in here."

You roll your eyes. "Tell me about it, my ears are going to be ringing all night."

The two of you proceed to have a rather uneventful and shallow conversation for the next few minutes, until Jade looks up at you, a mischievous glint in her eyes.

"So, John," she says sweetly, "you don't have a girlfriend or anything, right?"

The question was so sudden and out of left field that you stare at her for a few moments before you answer. "Um... no. I don't." You turn your head away slightly so you can give her a sideways glance. "Why?"

"Great! You should come with me!"

Before you even have a chance to protest anything, she grabs your arm excitedly, dragging you through the house and up the stairs, pulling you into one of the open bedrooms. You stumble a bit once your allowed control over your movements again, but quickly regain your balance. Looking around the room, you notice there are eight other people aside from yourself--five being girls and three guys, none of which you recognize, save for Jade.

"I got one more!" she announces excitedly, obviously proud of herself.

You swallow, the nervousness flooding back and pooling into your gut. "One more for what, exactly?"

A red-headed girl sitting on the floor frowns at Jade. "Isn't that your cousin?"

Jade beams, nodding. "Uh-huh!"

"Well, what would you do if you ended up with him?"

"Obviously nothing would happen! Duh!" She sticks her tongue out at the girl, giggling a bit. "We'd just chill out until our turn is over, I guess."

The girl stands, clearly irritated. "That defeats the whole purpose, though."

"Defeats the purpose of what?" you interject sharply. You don't like where this is going one bit, and the fact that nobody is answering is clearly a red flag.

"We're trying to play Seven Minutes in Heaven," one of the boys standing around answers. He motions over to the redhead Jade was talking to. "It was her idea."

You look over at Jade, completely deadpan. "Are you fucking kidding me?" You turn to walk out. "I'm not doing this."

"John, wait!" Jade grabs your wrist, her tone going from upbeat and silly to a bit desperate and pleading at the drop of a hat. "C'mon, it'll be fun!"

"Seven Minutes in Heaven is a game that pre-teens play," you groan, frowning a bit as you turn back to your cousin. "It's an excuse for them to explore their budding sexualities and mess around without remorse. It's immature and anyone over the age of fifteen doesn't play it." You sigh heavily, adding, "For good reason."

"You sound like Rose!" She drops your hand and folds her arms over her chest. "See, this is your problem. You never want to just let go and have fun!"

"I came to this party, despite not wanting to in the first place, because you said the exact same thing. How is that not enough for you?"

She narrows her eyes at you. "You're making it sound like I'm asking sooooooo much of you, John."

You roll your eyes, your patience wearing thin. "No, you're asking me to do something stupid with a bunch of people I don't even know."

"You don't know them because you never do anything!"

"Jade, he doesn't have to play if he doesn't want to," the redhead points out, looking over at you. "Besides, with him here, it's uneven with nine people anyway."

"Yeah, but if we can get one more guy, then it'll be even! Five guys, Five girls. It's way more fair that way!" Jadee looks up at you with large green eyes, genuinely pleading with you. "C'mon, John..."

You sigh heavily, bringing your hand up to pinch the bridge of your nose. You can never resist her when she gets like this, and she's obviously determined to include you in this train wreck.

"Fine," you said shortly. "I'll stay. Just..." You adjust your glasses a bit before dropping your hand to your side, defeated. "If we get each other, promise that you're not drunk enough to have sloppy make outs with me."

Her expression brightens instantly. "Thank you!" She hugs you, squeezing hard enough for it to be uncomfortable. You're confused as to why she's so adamant about you playing some pre-teen sex game, but you shrug it off for now.

You hear the boy who explained the situation to you before speak up. "We still need one more guy, then." He peeks his head out into the hallway, looking at random people passing by. Upon spotting somebody, he whistles through his teeth. "Hey, Strider, you busy?"

"Maybe. What do you want?" come the bored reply, and you tense up. You may have heard it briefly, and it was pretty loud at this party, but it was distinctly the DJ's from earlier. Sure enough, Strider walks into view mere seconds later, leaning against the door frame, his hands still in his pockets.

"We need another person, and you're the prime candidate for it," the random guy explains. "We're doing a sort of retro-throwback to our childhoods and playing Seven Minutes in Heaven. You in?"

"I dunno man. I'm on a pretty tight schedule right now. I gotta get back to my post in about..." DJ Strider lifts his wrist, looking at an imaginary watch briefly, "Twelve minutes." He put his hand down, putting it back into his pocket. "Though, I can appreciate what you kids are trying to accomplish here tonight."

"C'mon, man. You can go first. Just look at all these lovely ladies just chomping at the bit to have a chance with you."

Strider turns his head to sweep the room quickly. Despite not seeing his eyes behind those shades, you swear you could feel his eyes on you for a long moment. A chill runs down your spine, and you do your best to avoid his gaze, choosing to look somewhere else.

There's a brief pause, and then. "Sure." He pushes off the doorway, walking completely into the room.

Apparently, that was all it took to convince him. The corner of your mouth twitches, and you start bracing to embarrass yourself in front of all these people--because you have a good feeling you're going to now--preferably as gracefully as possible.

The door gets closed by a girl near it, effectively drowning out most of the sounds of the party, while the redhead pulls out a small Crown Royale bag. She shakes it a few times, causing a faint metallic clicking from inside.

You were uncomfortable again as the reality of the situation slowly began to dawn on you. Immediate regret and tension began to pool in your stomach, mixing together flawlessly, but you did your best to shake it off and listen to her as she began to explain what was about to go down.

"There are ten bottle caps in here, each one having exactly one match. One by one, we'll all pull one out, but keep it hidden until I say so." She began walking around the room, offering the bag to each person. "You find your match, and then we take turns in the closet. No trading bottle caps. Seven minutes each. No ifs, ands, or buts about it. Understood?" It felt like she was talking to you specifically, especially because as if to emphasize, the bag was extended to you upon her blunt question.

You nod dumbly, reaching your hand into the bag to grab a cap, easily concealing it in your palm. It was nice to have clarification, because you've actually never played Seven Minutes in Heaven before. Or Truth or Dare. Or Never Have I Ever. Or any other typically embarrassing party game that young people always played, given the chance. When you said you never partied, you literally meant never. As in, this was your first one--unless childhood birthday parties somehow counted--so you had zero experience with this type of thing as a general whole.

The red-headed girl (that you still didn't know the name of) was the last to pull out a bottle cap, and once in hand, tossed the bag aside onto a nearby dresser. "Okay, on my mark. Three..." There was a long pause for dramatic effect.

You didn't like how this was going one bit. Maybe if you said you weren't okay with this after all, it wouldn't be a big deal if you backed out. Nobody has seen who they got yet, and they could just re-draw.


Jade would understand. Yeah, she'd be mad for a bit, but if you calmly explained to her later that you were uncomfortable, she'd let it slide.


You weren't all seriously going to go into a closet to mess around with each other. This had to be a joke. College kids don't do stuff like this, not even in the movies.


You hold your breath as everyone around you looks at their caps. There were a few excited noises and one faint, "Seriously?" come from a girl to your left. You glance over at Jade, who's beaming at you mischievously.

"Well...?" she asks, clearly impatient, but in the most lighthearted of ways. "What did you get, John?"

You slowly bring up your hand, unfolding your fingers and releasing the stale air from your lungs. Staring at you from your palm was a Mike's Hard Lemonade bottle cap in all of its black, slightly bent glory. You stare at it for a moment, but your eyes snap to Jade as you hear her gasp softly. You're about a half second away from asking what was up when it registers that she's not looking in your direction, so you follow her gaze.

You quickly notice that everyone else is staring at you, expressions shocked... except for Strider's. He's smirking again.

"Well, it looks like we're up first," he says, obviously amused, and tosses you the cap that was in his hand.

You fumble with it a moment, almost managing to drop it, before it's in your opposite palm. What you're seeing is another Mike's Hard Lemonade logo, and you swallow hard, looking over at Jade for help.

"Oh no you don't!" you hear the redhead girl start. "You agreed to the rules. In you go!"

Immediately, you can feel her hands on your back, pushing you forcefully into the closet. You open your mouth to protest, but the last thing you see is Jade shrug before the door is quickly shut in your face. There's a faint click, and your heart sinks as you try the knob. It's locked.

All you can register is darkness and quiet. The noise of the party is almost non-existent from inside the closet, but it's also a possibility that it's because you can't hear much of anything else over the sound of your own pulse resonating in your eardrums. You're feeling a bit claustrophobic to say the least, and all you want to do is get out.

A soft crack from somewhere behind your back makes you jump, and then you see a faint red glow fill the closet. You turn, and can see DJ Strider hanging a glow stick up on one of the coat hangers. You're relieved now that there's actually light in here, but not much.

"Forget about me, did ya?" he asks, finishing with the setup, and looking over at you. He shoves his hands back into his pockets, and you start to wonder if that's all this guy ever does when his hands aren't doing anything important. The glow stick reflects ominously in his shades, and you can't help but stare stupidly at him for a few seconds.

"Where did you get that?"

He shrugs. "Does it matter?"

"Not really, but it's still kinda dark in here, and I doubt you had it on you. Or maybe you did, but who even does that? I mean--"

He holds up a hand to silence you, and it works. "We're wasting precious time talking about dumb shit. We gonna mack or what?"

Oh. He was actually planning on doing this? You'd figured he was just making a show of this for attention earlier. You can feel the uneasiness inside of you building, and you divert your eyes to one of the coats next to you.

"I don't really--" you stop yourself mid-sentence, not liking how you sound. You clear your throat and start again. "I mean, I-I don't kiss guys, Strider."


You snap your eyes back to him. "Uh... What?"

"My name is Dave." He says plainly, dropping the playful tone that you've heard clinging to almost every sentence you've heard him speak. "Strider, as kickass a name as it is, happens to be my last name. It's my handle of choice when I'm performing."

"Oh." You hesitate for a moment. "My name is John... er, John Egbert."

"It's a pleasure to meet you, Johnny boy." The sarcasm is back at full force; you should have figured it wouldn't be dropped for long. "Now that we're on a first-name basis, it won't be so bad when we defile each other in some shitty closet."

To waste some time, you decide to just start speaking out of your ass. There's no way you're going to actually do this. "But that guy that asked you to play this dumb game called you Strider. Why didn't he call you Dave?"

He doesn't even miss a beat. "Obviously because him and I aren't about to do the tongue tango."

"I told you, I don't kiss dudes," you say, getting a bit irritated.

He raises an eyebrow, barely visible over the frames on his face. "You sure?"

"Yeah," you stress. "I'm sure."

"Oh, my mistake. I must have gotten you confused with somebody else tonight. I mean, I have so many fans, and this is a pretty big gig." He shrugs dramatically, laughing quietly. "It must have been another guy with glasses just like yours dressed in an identical outfit that has big dorky teeth and stupid hair that stared at me for the better part of an hour. My bad."

You feel your cheeks flush. You're thankful that the glow stick is red and that he's wearing shades, because the last thing you need is for him to ridicule you for blushing. "I was just watching you, uh, do your... thing." You shake your head, feeling more flustered with how every word out of your mouth makes you sound like such a jackass. "Tons of people besides me were watching you."

"Yeah, all of which were drunk, horny college girls looking to suck my dick, given the chance," he says matter-of-factly. "You're neither drunk, nor a girl. The whole looking to suck my dick thing, though--not completely 100% sure about that, but if I had to guess with how you were looking at me? I'd say yeah. Definitely."

He moves a bit closer, and you try to back up a step but found your back against a wall. You suddenly became very aware of how little space there was in this closet with two college-age guys in it. Your heartbeat gets louder in your ears, and suddenly it's harder to breath.

"I don't want to s-suck your dick, asshole," you spit, finding it difficult to retort to anything he says. He's so calm compared to you--not to mention much quicker on the uptake, which doesn't help your case. "Suck mine, Str-Dave."

You inwardly cringe. Nice one, Egbert. You couldn't decide what to call him, and ended up changing your mind far too late.

"As much as I appreciate the cute nickname, call me Dave. I insist." The amusement in his voice makes you want to punch him. "My point is, you've been checking me out all night, and when you finally have the chance to get me one-on-one, you get pissy with me. What's up with that?"

Your expression softens, and you shove your hands in your own pockets. "I don't want to be here. I got dragged to this stupid party against my will. One of the girls out there is my cousin--Jade, I don't know if you know her--and she told me that I need to start acting my age and living my life and to go dance or something."

As you talk, you distinctly notice your speech speeding up, but you can't seem to stop yourself. You swallow hard before you continue. "A-and then I saw you, and you just looked really into it, and I kinda got side-tracked and stuff, but it wasn't like--" your eyes wander up to look directly into his shades, unable to divert your gaze anywhere else while you find the right words. "It wasn't like that. You just looked cool, okay?"

You sigh, feeling the knot in your gut loosen a bit now that it was out in the open.

Dave is quiet for a second, and then nods. "I can dig it. I mean, I'm pretty awesome."

His answer catches you off-guard, and a weak smile creeps onto your face before you can stop it. "It's nice to know that your ego is under control."

"Hey, ego has nothing to do with it. I can't help that the big man upstairs had too much amazing one day, and so graciously bestowed it upon yours truly."

You raise your eyebrows. "So it's just your life's purpose to be awesome every single day?"

"Pretty much." He's smiling faintly, which only makes yours get bigger. "I can't deny who I am, dude."

You laugh, tension loosening its grip on you. "It's nice to see that you're so humble, despite being so popular. I had heard of the great DJ Strider before I even saw you tonight, but this is new."

"Oh?" He raises his eyebrows. "So my reputation proceeds me."

"Yeah, uh, Jade said you were kind of a legend on campus." You pull a hand out of one of your pockets to rub the back of your head briefly before returning it to its denim prison. "I'm guessing you do this disc jockey thing a lot, then?"

"Yeah, I guess." He shrugs. "Just about every Friday and Saturday, my phone gets blown up about so-and-so's party, and how I need to be there to make it perfect." There is a brief hint of irritation that you note in his tone. He sighs quietly, continuing. "Whoever pays me the most is graced with my presence for a few hours."

You're a bit taken back. "Oh. So you don't like being a DJ...?" Your eyebrows knit together a bout of confusion. "But while I saw you performing, you looked so..." the word you're searching for escapes you for a moment, "...natural."

He pulls a hand out of one of his pockets, waving at you dismissively. "I enjoy it, of course. Working with music, as cliché as it sounds, is my life." He starts gesturing with his hand as he speaks. "And I love performing, but only when people can appreciate it. Shit like this?" He gestures to the closet door. "Not really one of those times. Everyone's usually too drunk to care. I'm background noise to them."

He lets his arm fall to his side, and you can help but feel a small pang of sadness for him. "The only people who pay attention to me are just some random skanks that want a piece of me."

He leans forward. Both his hands are now out of his pockets, and resting just above your shoulders, supporting his horrible posture. He is dangerously close to you right now, his face eye-level with yours, with maybe about 3 inches of space between the both of you. Thanks to the faint red glow from behind him, you can just barely make out Dave's eyes from behind his shades, and from what you can see, his gaze is intense, completely locked onto yours.

Everything seems to stop. Your heart, your breathing, your thoughts.

"Except for you. Yknow, it's not very often that somebody looks at me like you did out there." His voice is quiet now, but still completely collected. " He tilts his head to the left just a bit. "It's kind of hard to ignore."

Your face is really burning right now. You open your mouth to speak, but your throat is so dr--not that you can't find the right words to say in the first place anyway. You aren't sure what you should do in this kind of situation, so you just stand there, mouth agape, making a pathetic whimper. What few thoughts you can process consist mainly of how he's looking at you right now, how he smells like cinnamon and a bit of sweat, or how you can feel his breath right over your lips.

He leans a bit closer, his lips about a quarter of an inch away from yours, and breathes out. "I gave you the chance to stop me."

He closes the pathetic distance left, your whole body feeling tight and unsure the moment he connects with you. You go to pull your hands out of your pockets, but it takes far longer than it should have thanks to how flustered you are. By the time they're out, you don't know what to do with them anymore.

After around ten seconds however, once the initial shock began to recede, you actually start to feel kind of nice, and can't help but reciprocate. You feel Dave grin against you before he starts kissing you harder, which you surprisingly accept.

Normally, you would be feeling odd. This isn't your first kiss by any means, but it's definitely your first with a guy, and also the first that you've shared with somebody that you'd technically only met mere minutes ago. You don't seem to care, though. What you do care about is how good this is making you feel.

You feel one of his hands on the back of your neck, and then in your hair, raking his fingers through the already messy locks you're sporting. You let out a small gasp when he clenches his fingers, pulling just a bit on your scalp. His other hand is still supporting himself, thanks to the wall you're pressed up against. You're also thankful for its existence, because you think you're feeling your knees give out.

Your own hands reach up and snake themselves around the back of Dave's neck, which only seems to make his advances more eager. His tongue is runs along your teeth, and you gladly oblige, parting your mouth enough for him to explore at his leisure. You let out a noise that's more of a whimper than anything, getting embarrassed at your lacking ability to keep yourself under control, but something has taken a hold of you, and you need more.

Unfortunately for you, Dave pulls back a bit, but not before he runs his tongue over your front teeth one last time. You're disappointed as your eyes flutter open slowly, immediately met with sudden light flooding into the closet, made even worse by a bit of giggling and a low whistle.

Not from Dave, but from the eight or so people who happen to be crowding around the now-open closet door. Your heart sinks in shame as you drop the hold you have around Dave's neck.

He releases the grip he has of your hair, and turns towards the small audience you have attracted, clearly also a little irritated with the sudden interuption. "Can't a lady get some privacy around here?"

You hear another chorus of giggles (all of them female) before the voice of the red-haired girl from before pipes up. "Well, we'd love to, but if you want to continue this little escapade, you're going to have to take it somewhere else."

He pushes off the wall you're still leaning on and turns to the crowd. You take this opportunity to adjust yourself just a little bit, because his sudden absence made you realize you happen to be sporting a half-erect dick, and you don't need any further ridicule from anybody outside. It's bad enough that there are witnesses to the first time you kissed a guy. They were aware you were into it--you just refuse to give them the satisfaction of exactly how much. Small victories.

He lets out a long breath. "Okay, okay. We're going. Just let me collect my blushing bride." He turns to you, grabbing your hips and straightening you out a little. He steps aside, motioning to the closet's exit. "Ladies first."

You scowl at him for a moment before stepping out. It takes a second for your eyes to adjust to regular light, but once it does, you notice that everyone is still staring at you.

"W-what?" you ask, sensitive to all of the attention on you. "That was the point, wasn't it?"

"Well, yes..." Jade says, rubbing her arm awkwardly for a second as she grins sheepishly. "We just... didn't really expect you guys to actually... y'know..."

"Go through with it," the redhead says, finishing your cousin's thought.

"What can I say? He couldn't keep his hands off of me." Dave shrugs. "It's hard for some people to control themselves in my presence. It's my curse."

"Me?!" you choke out, getting more flustered. "You were the one who started it!"

"Nah, don't think so. I happen to recall something completely different."

You stare at him, feeling a mixture of frustration and embarrassment with how he's acting. You really wished the flush would leave your face and for everyone to just stop staring at you. "But I didn't--!"

He cuts you off, looking at his bare wrist once more. "Oh my! Just look at the time!" he says sarcastically, bringing his free hand up to cradle the side of his face. "I have to get back to my station. This party isn't going to supply its own music."

He drops both hands to his sides, and then looks directly at you. You notice that he pats his right hand against his hip twice before turning on his heel, and promptly leaving with a dramatic wave.

You huff quietly in a bout of annoyance, but are thankful for Dave's exit because it seemed to get everyone back on track of who the next pair of victims would be for the closet. You hang back away from the rest of the crowd, not sure if you should stick around or go back to wandering aimlessly, but Jade makes up your mind for you as she beckons you over to her.

"...So...?" she asks in a sing-song voice. "How was it?"

You shrug. Your face was probably still a bit flushed, but just about everything else was back to normal. "It was... different." Not the most elegant choice of words, but that about summed up how you felt.

"Good different, or bad different?"

"I dunno?" You shift you weight and chew on your bottom lip for a moment. "I mean, it wasn't bad or anything. He was actually a really good kisser."

"...I just didn't know you were into guys."

"That's okay, I didn't either," you say, jokingly. "But seriously, though, I wouldn't consider myself converted or anything. I still prefer women, thank you very much."

Jade giggles. "But did you have fun?"

You can't help but grin. "Nope."


You hold up your hands defensively. "Okay, okay! Yes, Jade. I had fun."

"So it's safe to say that listening to me was a good idea and I was right?"

You roll your eyes at her yet again, sighing heavily. "Maybe."




You sigh again. "Yes."

"Good." You couldn't ignore the satisfaction in her voice, even if you tried. "I'm glad we're on the same page, then." She turns her attention toward the rest of the group, smiling smugly, obviously proud of herself.

You're actually still smiling yourself. You're a bit giddy from the closet, and feel a lot more relaxed than you had been before. In retrospect, it wasn't so bad to let loose for a bit after all, but you can't say you'd be willing to do it again anytime soon. You chuckle inwardly, and motion to place your hands back into your pocket... but quickly pull out the right one, confused.

You're holding a business card. Nothing fancy, but not obviously homemade, cheap computer papery ones, either. Your eyes widen a bit in surprise as you read it, quickly realizing that this isn't just any random one you may have picked up and forgotten about--it's one of Dave's. You read it over a few times, and on a whim, flip it over. On the blank space, scrawled in red ball-point pen, is a number. You raise an eyebrow, flipping the card back to the front, then to the back once more.

The phone number on the front didn't match the handwritten one--it was close, but a few digits off. You wondered if maybe it was a mistake, until you realized that it wasn't uncommon for some people to have a two separate numbers; one for business, while the other was for their personal life.

You'd just scored Dave Strider's phone number.

Chapter Text

Your name is John Egbert, and you never would have guessed in a million years that what happened over the course of seven minutes in a closet would be interesting enough for other people to pay attention to. Apparently, it was.

When you graduated high school, you were ecstatic to leave behind petty gossip and daily drama. You figured that a respectable college campus had too many students with too little time to concern themselves with what’s-his-name sleeping with so-and-so, let alone to even bat an eyelash at person A kissing person B.

Boy howdy, you were wrong with that assumption. Stupidly wrong.

The rest of the party had gone off without a hitch. About an hour after what you had dubbed “the closet incident” in your mind, you were finally able to coax a still very tipsy Jade to sober up a smidge and make the trek out to your car. Along the way, there were a few people who seemed to be watching you, as well as one guy who prompted you for a high-five (which you totally returned, because it’s rude to leave a guy hanging like that) but you thought absolutely nothing of it.

You had dropped Jade off to her place, safe and sound, and by the time you crossed the threshold of your own dorm, you held a short exchange with your roommate and promptly collapsed on your bed to pass the fuck out. No big deal.

The following day was a Sunday, so no classes. You lazed around your small living space, texting Jade bright and early (GG: fuck you john its 9 am im going back to sleep!!!) and spent the day finishing up some homework. Still no big deal.

Then Monday rolled around, and there was suddenly a lot of attention on you from your peers. You weren’t sure, but it seemed like somebody was always watching you, whispering as you walked by. You had a few people walking up to you throughout the day, asking if you were actually John Egbert, and once you confirmed, they’d thank you and walk away with a grin. One guy did a double-take once you sat down next to him in one of your lectures, and immediately got up to move to another seat on the other side of the room. Okay, this was suddenly becoming a thing you were beginning to worry about, but still not that big of a deal.

By the end of the day on Thursday, it had officially ascended to a full-blown thing, as well as a big fucking deal, because you almost had some guy try to beat your ass for no reason. Well, other than the fact that he apparently thought he had your sexual orientation pegged and very much didn’t agree with your life choices, judging by the amount of colorful slurs he was throwing your way. Thankfully, one of his friends held the guy back, and you took a lesson from Jade and got the fuck out of dodge.

On your way back to your living quarters, it all started to make sense. Word must have gotten out about you kissing another guy. You thought it was a bit weird that people were still getting their panties in a bunch over two dudes locking lips in this day and age, but then you remembered that you weren't in Washington anymore. The South was notorious for being bigoted over this type of thing, wasn't it? Still, you felt some immediate regret over ever listening to your cousin about anything last Saturday night. You made it a point to have a very serious conversation with her when you got the chance.

You were, understandably, pretty irritable as you trudged back to your dorm. After practically slamming the door in your wake, you unceremoniously dropped your messenger bag down to your feet and whipped your keys in the general direction of your half of the room. You heard them scrape across the ground, but you couldn't bring yourself to give a shit. You'd find them later.

Your roommate, Ennis Zahhak, who had been doing sit-ups on the floor, paused his activity and sat up at your noisy entrance. “Is there something upsetting you?” He's breathing a bit hard and sweating profusely. You wish you could say it was because he had been working out, but after living with the guy for the better part of a year, you know better. “As much as I can appreciate the flaunting of physical capabilities, it must be quite the issue to warrant this display from somebody like you, John.”

You exhale loudly. “Bad day.” You say shortly.

He quirks a brow. “Care to elaborate?”

“Not really. It’s not worth talking about.” In your mind, you added a 'with you' to the end of that statement. “Anyway, it’s over now. No harm, no foul, I guess.”

He looks you over in silence for a moment. “If you say so.” He resumes his work out.

You walk over to your bed and flop down on your back, folding your hands behind your head. The only sounds are Ennis’ heavy breathing and the occasional grunt. You kick off your shoes and stare at the ceiling for the next few minutes, trying to unwind a bit, but to no avail. You're too frustrated to think right now, and even if you could, you'd probably get distracted by his weird breathing anyway. You eventually turn your head to watch your roommate, bored of the stark white nothingness above you.

“Dude. Can you please put down, like… a towel or blanket or something when you do that? It makes the floor kinda gross with your intense sweating.”

“I would, but we only have one clean towel, and I’ll require it for my post-workout ablutions.”

“Seriously? Again?” You groan. “We just did laundry barely a week ago.”

“I apologize. If I could punish my body in such a manner that would result in less perspiration, I believe I would have done so by now.” You cringe a bit at the mental image you just got, but say nothing about it.

Ennis was… odd, to say the least. He was big in almost every sense of the word; 6’2” and 215 lbs of pure muscle. He had black, wiry hair long enough to almost reach his shoulders, the worst teeth you've ever seen--and that was saying something, considering your own orthodontic disaster of a mouth--and small, squinty, sunken-in blue eyes. He was usually wearing wife-beaters and a pair of shorts because the guy couldn't stop sweating, even in the winter months... not that Texan winters were particularly cold, especially compared to the ones back home, but still. Despite the consistent exposure of his skin, it always had some pasty, grayish-blue tint to it, and you wondered how it was even possible that the guy couldn't tan. The first word that came to mind when generally anyone first saw him? Creepy.

You had silently laughed at your luck of getting a jock as a roommate on moving day, but the label was mostly limited to his appearance. You found that Ennis was incredibly intelligent and deliberate, and he actually wasn't partaking in any sports during his college career, choosing instead to completely focus on studying. You did learn he had quite the past in archery, though. His major was in mechanical engineering, and it was very apparent after speaking to him for longer than 20 minutes that his interests were mainly rooted in the field of robotics. It was a surprise that you had been so wrong about him, but you empathized because people frequently did the same thing to you on a regular basis.

Unfortunately, you quickly learned that he did happen to have some serious roid rage, and you were convinced he could (and would) very well snap you in half in a blind fit of passionate aggression someday. It didn’t even take two weeks into your first semester for you to seriously contemplate filing a complaint and to put in for a different roommate, but after he came down from one particularly terrifying temper tantrum, he broke down and you learned that he was incredibly lonely and generally misunderstood. People considered him intimidating (for good reason) and he found it to be the most frustrating aspect of his life. He then told you he literally had one individual that he considered a friend. Everyone else merely tolerated his presence for the bare minimum of time before getting as far away from him as possible.

You made it a point not to give up on Ennis after that--not out of pity, because your Dad raised you better than that. Everyone deserved a chance to be accepted for who they were, and you figured you'd do your damndest to do just that for him.

As it turned out, Ennis was actually quite a suitable roommate for you, and you both found ways to work with each other to live peacefully, despite your vast differences and obscenely small living space. There hadn't been any conflicts for months, and you were more than okay with that.

You sigh. "Let's see... we both did laundry last time, and before that..." You searched your memory, trailing off. "I think I did it?"

"I was responsible for the laundry previous to our collaboration. You had your Chemistry test and needed to study."

"Oh... that's right. Dang." You roll over on your side, ignoring your glasses going slightly askew and digging into your face. You dangle one arm over the edge of the bed. "Guess it's my turn, isn't it?"

"You would guess correct." He pulled himself up one last time, bringing his legs up as he did. He folded his arms atop his knees, allowing himself to rest on them. "I would suggest you do it tonight, actually. With the lack of clean towels, it's a bit of a pressing matter, and I would assume you'd have no desire to take care of this tomorrow after a full load of classes, and it being the start of the weekend."

"Yeah, yeah, yeah..." You also hoist yourself up, fixing your glasses. You're still sitting on the bed, and make no real motion to move. "I'm going. Hold your horses."

"My horses are very secure, I can assure you. I was merely pointing out a fact to you. Unless you wouldn't like either of us to shower for the next few days--" You hop up like your comforter is on fire, immediately heading over to the hampers containing both of your dirty clothes. You begin sorting them into your separate laundry bags, and Ennis laughs at you. "That's what I figured."

As you sort out clothes and collect the rest of the supplies you'll need to tackle the laundry, you feel yourself finally starting to calm down from the day's events. Ennis eventually gets up and grabs a fresh set of clothes, as well as the last clean towel. His shampoo and body wash were already wrapped inside of it, and you figured he must have done so before starting his work out. He goes to head out for the showers, but hesitates for a moment before he opens the door. Instead of leaving, he turns back to you.

"I know you requested to speak nothing of it, but, as your roommate, and possibly a friend--assuming you'll allow me to use that term when addressing you--I feel like I should say something regardless."

You stop and look at him. "It's nothing, really." You lie, smiling for emphasis. "Don't worry about it."

He shakes his head, not buying it. "Forgive me for being out of line saying this so bluntly, but that's bull and you know it." He fidgets at his pseudo-swear, which is typical for him. He's the only guy you'll ever know who gets uncomfortable at words that everyone else wouldn't give a second thought about using. He takes a deep breath. "I... think I know what the problem is, and I just want to say that it doesn't bother me."

You're taken back a bit. You feel your face falter as you cock your head to the right slightly. Suddenly, you're feeling uneasy. "What are you talking about?"

"I heard some things. About you." He takes another deep breath. "Specifically about what happened last weekend. I never knew that you fancied men, or were that promiscuous, but I can assure you that--"

You cut him off, fake smile now completely forgotten. "Ennis." He stops speaking and you drop the shirt that had been in your hand back into the hamper. "What... did you hear?"

He shifts his weight, obviously uncomfortable, and you can see him sweating more than he already was. "Natalia approached me a few days ago and had informed me that you had become intimate with another man."

"What?" You both cringe at how loud you were. You lower your voice significantly for the follow up. "Where did she even hear that from?"

"I'm not entirely sure, but according to her, it's quite a prominent subject across campus at the moment." He swallowed hard, fidgeting with the stuff in his hand. "I had a bit of difficulty believing it myself, but after giving it a bit of thought, and realizing that you haven't had any suitors for as long as I've known you, I saw it as a definite possibility. Not to mention that alcohol does things to people. Even if it was a one-time thing, I don't think anyone could really blame you for it, I suppose."

You feel like you're going to puke. Natalia was Ennis' best friend. She was a small, spunky brunette that seemed like a completely wrong match for Ennis in every way. One of the things that didn't make sense to you was how involved she was with relationship gossip. It was a guilty pleasure of hers, sure, but she kept her "findings" private. The fact that she wasn't even there, and had heard such an exaggerated account of the incident worried you.

You drop down to the bed, your blue eyes wide in horror, raking a shaky hand through your messy hair. This was worse than you thought, and a whole lot of stuff just started making sense. "How did that even...? I didn't mess around with the guy or anything." You look at him, eyes still wide. "We just kissed in some shitty closet, and that's it. I swear."

"I don't know. That was just what she told me." He rubs the back of his neck with a free hand. "I can give you her IM handle to discuss the situation with her in further detail." He offers.

You shake your head. "No. There's only one person I'm planning to talk with right now about this whole..." You gesture with your hands vaguely. "...whatever this is."

Ennis nods. "I hope that this blows over soon. As I stated previously, I am not uncomfortable with the new revelation of your character, though it is a relief to hear that it was blown out of proportion." He shakes his head, and you can see the immediate regret grace his features. "I didn't intend to make it sound like that, John, I apologize."

Now it's your turn to softly shake your head. "No, it's fine. I knew what you meant. Don't worry about it."

You see him relax and turn to reach for the door handle once again. "Anyway, I fear I have been putting off this shower long enough. I'll take my leave now."

"Ennis." He stops, turning his head slightly in your general direction, but not looking directly at you. "Thanks."

He nods, choosing to say nothing as he quietly exits your dorm.

The weight of the situation comes crashing onto you the second he's out of sight, and you promptly sprint to your bathroom to vomit. Once you finish, you wipe your mouth, and with a trembling hand, pull out your phone. You scroll through your contacts until you find exactly who you're looking for, and press the call button.

It rings one and a half times before the other line picks up, and you don't even give her a chance to say anything before the words are out of your mouth. "I think tonight is a great night to air out some laundry."

You hear a soft chuckle in your ear. "I'll meet you there in about a half hour."


You've already loaded up a large washing machine when you see Rose Lalonde slinking towards you, a pathetically small pile of laundry in a basket under one arm, and a tiny bottle of liquid detergent swinging in her opposite hand.

She's wearing a simple, powder pink button-up blouse, a black skirt that ends just above her knees, black stockings that have a nice flower pattern woven into them, and a shallow pair of black heels. Her short sandy blonde hair is left unstyled, save for two black clips holding her bangs out of her lavender eyes, and the only makeup she's donning is bold red lipstick. She doesn't need anything else.

Her expression is neutral to the untrained eye, but you're willing to bet money that she's chomping at the bit to talk to you, if her lack of dirty clothes is any indication. Still, you smile at her as best you can when she stops next to you and begins to load up her own machine.

"John." Her voice is proper and quaint.

"Rose." You return promptly.

"To what occasion do I owe this spontaneous invitation to?"

You finish pouring a bit of detergent on the clothes inside of the machine and close the door. "No real reason. I just missed your face, is all." She smiles softly, and you feel a bit better already.

Rose is the prettiest girl you've ever seen, but her attractiveness isn't typical. The only way you're able to describe it is classically pretty, because she has an elegance that was only held by movie stars from an era that was long over when your grandparents were still young.

Not only was she the prettiest girl you knew, she was also the sharpest. Her wit was unmatched by anyone else your age, and you could always count on her to give you an excellent new perspective without any bullshit attached. As it stood, she was the first person you'd go to for advice, and she was more than happy to give it to you. Most people would see Rose as a nosy or bossy, but you saw it as part of her charm.

You used to have the biggest crush on her when you first met, but it has since faded as you two have become better friends. You figured she probably knew, but never said anything out of respect.

"I see." She said, already finished with loading her clothes into the washing machine, and was now pouring in the soap. "As sweet of a sentiment as that may be, I have a hard time believing that there is literally nothing you wish to discuss with me, especially with your choice of words to summon me here."

Doing laundry has become sort of an inside joke between the both of you. In your first semester of college, you and Rose had attended the same English class, but the two of you never spoke. It was when you both noticed that you kept running into each other at the Laundromat on the same nights that the two of you really began to talk on a frequent basis. You quickly hit it off, and the rest, as they say, is history. While your schedules had completely changed since then, and you currently had no classes together, you still called each other to meet up and wash your clothes from time to time.

"Only you would think that." You drop a few quarters into the coin slot of the machine and push the mechanism in. "I just find it kind of funny that you showed up with a day's worth of dirty clothes for this."

"It's two." She corrects, not missing a beat and loading her own quarters in. "We both know that there is something to talk about tonight, John. We can do this the easy way, or the hard one. It's your choice."

You raise your eyebrows. "Is that a threat, or a promise?"

She merely glances at you, and says nothing. She doesn't have to. You sigh.

"So... you remember that party I went to on Saturday?"

"I do. If you recall, I was there for a brief period, as well." She starts her machine, and sits down on one of the cheap plastic chairs.

You follow suit, but are slouched like a slob in comparison to her poised stance. "Have you heard anything about that night, gossip-wise?"

She folds her arms in her lap gingerly. "I have. I'm assuming that this has to do with the rumors circulating campus of your illicit activities that have allegedly taken place with one David Strider inside of a closet."

You groan and brace yourself. "What did you hear, exactly?"

She takes a moment to answer you. "A number of things." Your face falls, but she continues. "I have no penchant for gossip, John. Heresy aside, all of the information I have ever needed to know about the situation has already been provided by a trusted source." She smiles again. "In this case, I'm lucky enough to have a firsthand account of what really happened that night."

You blink, confused. "I... haven't told you anything about it."

"You have not."

"Did you talk to Jade?" You knit your brows in thought. Jade and Rose were mostly acquaintances, and while they had the tendency to run into each other on a somewhat frequent basis, they rarely spoke without you being a common denominator in any situation. You look to her, hoping you're on the right track.

Rose shakes her head. "I have not."

You open your mouth, but then close it. There's a few moments of silence before you actually speak. "Can you read my mind, then?"

"I cannot. I have merely spoken to my brother, is all."

"You have a brother? Why haven't you ever told me?"

She shrugs. "It's never really come up in conversation. It's generally not in my interest to discuss such trivial subjects when not relevant to current events."

"Oh... You should introduced me to him sometime." She laughs, and you just stare at her. "...What?"

She looks you dead in the face, her lavender eyes bright and playful. "Can't you see the family resemblance?"

You study her features for a few moments until it dawns on you.

"Oh my god." You breathe out quietly. "But..." You shake your head in disbelief. "Your last name isn't even the same! Unless Strider isn't his real last name." You just stare at her for a while longer before choking out a quiet "...Seriously?"

"David and I are twins." She explains. "Our parents were never married, but not long after we were born, they decided to separate. They agreed to take custody of one child to keep things fair. As a result, David stayed with our father here in Texas, taking the Strider name. I moved with our mother back to New York, where she had initially been raised, and assumed her family surname, which is Lalonde." She laughs softly. " We had the occasional coordinated visitation over the summer. It was a strange situation for everyone involved, but it was also rather amicable in retrospect."

You're completely floored by this new information. "Weren't you lonely with just your mom, though? Did you ever miss your dad or brother?"

"I suppose a part of me did--and still does--but for the most part no." Rose sighs. "You haven't spent much time with David, and if you ever meet Bro, you'll understand that the two of them at the same time are best handled in small doses."

You quirk a brow. "Bro?" You repeat the name suspiciously.

"Once again, if you ever meet him, it'll make sense." She clears her throat. "Regardless, I've said far too much about myself this evening, and I believe we should steer this conversation back to the initial course of what was bothering you."

"Oh!" You straighten up in your seat slightly. "I actually kinda forgot about that." You grin sheepishly.

"I assumed so. Please continue." She gestures lightly with her hand.

You backtrack mentally and pick up from where you left off. "So, it's been going around that Dave and I did... stuff. Like, more stuff than what actually happened. We just, uh..." You chew on your bottom lip a bit, and are suddenly feeling a bit bashful about the whole situation, especially now that you know that you're confessing this stuff to the sister of guy you made out with. "Well, it was pretty PG-13, but everyone else doesn't seem to think so, and that's the problem."

"Are you surprised?"

You blink at her a few times. "Er... yes? I mean, I never really thought that this would be such a big deal, y'know?"

Rose studies you for a moment. "John, are you aware of the sort of reputation David has?"

You feel your stomach drop. "No... should I be...?" You frown, not liking where this is going.

"Let's just say that he gets around, and has been doing so for quite some time."


"Yes. Oh." She places a dainty hand over yours, and you can see the sympathy in her eyes. "You made a mistake, but at least you didn't let it get too far. If you just pick yourself up and move on, this will all blow over soon."

You sigh heavily. "I guess. I mean, I have. I haven't called him or anything. I should just get rid of his number and forget about it."

Her eyes widen a bit, and she seems a bit taken aback. "Excuse me?" She leans towards you slightly. "Did you just say he gave you his number?"

"Yeah. Unless it was a fake one or something." You give her a sideways glance. "Why?"

"Would it possible for you to show me? I'd like to see the number he provided to you." She pulls her hand away, and folds it back in her lap.

You lean forward in your seat, grabbing your wallet out of the back pocket of your jeans. It takes you a few moments to fish the business card out of the compartment you were keeping it in, and you hand it to her. "It's on the back."

She studies it quietly before handing it back to you. You return the card to its section in your wallet, and slide the whole thing back into your pocket. There's a small stretch of uncomfortable silence before Rose muses her thoughts out loud.

"Interesting." Is all she says.

"What is?" You're still really confused. "Should I be worried, or forget about all of this, or what?"

She smirks. "It's just... really interesting." She props her elbow on the arm of the chair, and rests her chin in her palm. She's giving you an amused look, and it's really irritating.

"Rose, can you please cut the shit and just tell me? Seriously, this isn't cool."

"He doesn't give out his number. He may be the town bicycle, but he's actually quite a private person. It was almost like pulling teeth for me to get his number initially, and we're blood relatives."

"Whoa. Seriously? He pretty much gave it to me without a second thought." You lean back in your seat.

"It seems you're the exception to the rule for one reason or another."

"I wonder why he's got such a problem giving out his personal number? The guy has his own business cards for his gigs. He even said that he's got no problems booking out his plans every weekend, you'd think he'd be used to being Mr. Popularity."

"He gets it from our father. Bro has always been very secretive about every little thing. It's only natural that David was raised in a similar fashion." She rolls her head to the side a bit. "It's also very possible that he just wants a breather from his adoring fanbase during his personal time."

You nod, suddenly remembering part of the conversation you shared with Dave in the closet. "Makes sense."

Rose hums. "So tell me, John. Have you called him yet?"

You shake your head. "I haven't really had time to. I had a pretty busy week, especially with finals coming up soon. I've barely even had time to think about this whole thing, up until tonight, that is."


"Yeah, uh... I got confronted by some guy after my last lecture. He was pretty adamant about wanting to take me on. It sorta sparked this whole laundry thing tonight, actually."

Her face falls. "Are you alright? Do you need to call campus security?"

You give her a small reassuring smile and wave one of your hands dismissively. "Nah, I'm good. Really. I think I could've taken the guy, I just don't like to fight if I can help it."

"Are you sure?" She's searching your eyes now for any discrepancies. "If you feel like your safety is in jeopardy, you really should alert the proper authorities. I'm not the only one who would hate for something to happen to you."

You nod. "I promise if something happens again, I will. For now, though, I'll stick it out."

She sighs, obviously not happy with your answer, but she knows that's the best she'll get out of you. For now, at least. "Are you planning on calling him?"

You stare up at the ceiling and sink down in your chair. "Honestly? I don't know."

"Well, why wouldn't you?"

You shrug. "I don't know the guy. At all. We didn't really get talk too much before we kissed. It just sorta... happened." You stop for a bit, chewing on your bottom lip a bit more as you think. Rose makes no motion to interrupt, so you continue. "Besides, after you told me that he 's a gigantic man-slut, I guess I'm just worried that he'll only be interested in getting in my pants or whatever? I mean, yeah, I know he doesn't give out his number and shit, but still. It's hard to overlook that."

"The fact that you're both male has no sway over your hesitation to pursue a relationship with him." It's not a question, and you look over at her.

"Well, there's that, too. I don't like guys like that. I never thought I'd ever get involved with another dude romantically before Saturday."

"So you didn't enjoy the kiss, then." Again, it's not a question.

You avert your eyes and can feel a slight flush in your cheeks. "Well... Okay, I wouldn't say that. " You fidget a bit in your seat and itch your arm. " It was kinda weird at first, but he was a pretty good kisser." There's a beat of silence. "For a guy." You add quietly.

"I see." You notice her shift back into a more proper sitting position out of the corner of your eye. "I think you should give him a call. Probably soon."

You're looking everywhere around the Laundromat except where Rose is sitting. "Yeah?"

"Knowing him, the fact that you haven't yet is probably driving him up the wall. I think you've tortured the poor boy long enough."

You grin. "I can't really picture him being anything but calm and composed, but you know him better than I do."

"Oh, believe me, John. If everyone knew the famous David Strider the way I did, you can bet your bottom dollar that he wouldn't have a quarter of his reputation. He's the poster child for trying too hard."

You finally meet Rose's gaze with your own. "No way."

"Oh, John. I have some stories I think you'd love to hear..."

Chapter Text

Your name is John Egbert and you honestly have no idea why you're still introducing yourself, because it's not like you'll ever be anyone else. You should probably stop doing that.

It's currently 7:43 p.m. on Friday, April 24th 2015. You know this because you've been staring at the screen on your phone for the past 27 minutes, trying to build up the courage to dial a phone number.

Actually, that's wrong. Dialing the number itself hasn't been a problem. You've already done so 3 or 4 times by now. Each time, your thumb hovers over the little send button for a while, but then you end up deleting everything. It makes you hate yourself just a little bit for being such a coward. When did this calling people thing get so hard to do?

You're currently flopped over on your stomach, laying on your bed alone in your dorm room. Natalia had been wanting to go out to some popular night club with some of her friends for the past few weekends. She finally made the choice that tonight was the night to do so, and Ennis, refusing to let her be seen such a place without him, decided to tag along as well.

You figured that Karson Vantas was probably involved in this somehow, judging by how badly Natalia wanted to go, and by how adamant Ennis was that she didn't.

You had made the decision to contact Dave after your chat with Rose yesterday, but you couldn't find the time to do so after finishing up the laundry. Originally, you had planned on waiting until tomorrow to actually call him, but you felt inspired by Natalia to throw caution to the wind and do what you wanted, regardless of circumstance. So here you were, despite being exhausted and your nerves being a complete wreck, trying to call a guy you barely knew anything regarding... stuff. And possibly also things.

Fridays were usually your hardest days out of the week, and today had been no different--you got out of bed at 6:30 this morning to finish the homework you had neglected to wrap up earlier, which you finished just in time to make the first of the three, 3-hour lectures you had today. Lucky you! Needless to say, listening to your professors talk while retaining as much information as possible from roughly 9 in the morning until 6 in the evening was tough... but with finals right around the corner, you couldn't afford to miss anything. Besides, it had yet to make your brain shut down so far, and you've been doing this for the past few months. What didn't kill you only made you stronger.

You stare at your phone for another 3 minutes before sitting up. "Okay..." You say to yourself sternly. "We're done playing around. Time to just bite the bullet and do this thing." You carefully dial the number.

"This is a thing that I am doing." You check the screen to make sure that it matches the business card (it does, which you knew before you even looked, but it doesn't hurt to make sure).

"Yup. Doing this. Right now." You hesitate pressing the call button yet again. You chew on your very chapped bottom lip. Instead of doing this right now, you drop the electronic device on the bed and get up to find your chap stick. It tastes like Dr Pepper, and it really doesn't help your nervous habit in the long run, but you use it anyway.

"Okay. Seriously, John. You have to call him. You've waited just shy of a week. That's long enough! Just do it." You perch yourself back on your bed, once again picking up your phone. You frown at the screen. "....But what do I even say?"

There's a few more minutes of silence before you shrug and answer yourself. "A wise man once said, 'I ain't 'fraid of no ghost.' I also happen to not be afraid of any ghosts. And by 'ghosts' I actually mean 'calling Dave' in this case. So... here goes nothing." With that, after approximately 38 minutes of chickening out, you finally manage to press send.

You bring the phone up to your ear and wait.


Your eyes roam around the room, breathing as evenly as you can. Now comes the hard part: Actually having a conversation with somebody that isn't yourself.


It dawns on you that it's very possible that Dave's busy and can't answer right now. Or maybe he's ignoring a number he doesn't know, and will call you back after hearing the voicemail.


If he even wants to call you back, that is.


"Oh my god please just pick up. This is already really awkward."


"Yeah?" That's definitely Dave's voice. Your heart feels like it's in your throat after that one syllable (which is kind of weird) but there are no words for how thankful you are that he actually answered.

"Um. Hi. This is--this is John. Um. From Saturday?" How eloquently put. It's like you're a modern goddamn poet.

"Yeah?" He repeats in exactly the same inflection, tone, and volume that he initially answered with.

"Yup." You laugh nervously. "I'm not really sure what to say to you, actually, so uh..." You trail off. Wow, this is going over so well. "I mean, it's not very often that I get phone numbers from people I don't really know or anything. You're kind of the first person to do that."

"Didn't think you were actually gonna hit me up. You done playing hard to get?" You hear his tone shift, and you're not sure, but... you think he might actually be smiling.

"Yes. I mean no!" You feel your face getting warm. "Er... I mean that 'no' in a sense of 'no I'm not playing hard to get' instead of any other way. Um. Anyway, I'm sorry for not calling earlier. I'm kinda busy with school and stuff. Exams are coming up, and... uh, yeah."

"Nah, it's cool. I understand." Yeah, he's definitely smiling because you can hear it in his voice. Oh wow. Your heart totally just skipped a beat. "Sounds to me like you need to chill out and relax. Y'know, to get your mind off that shit for a while."

"Y-yeah, I wish." You roll your eyes even if he can't see it. "If only it were that easy."

Dave hums into the receiver. "It is. And I could totally help you with that... if you'll let me."

The implications of that statement send a shiver down your spine, and you swallow. "I... uh... I don't really think that's a thing we should be doing."

"I don't know what you mean by that, John. I just said you need to relax." There's a brief pause. "Oh, wait. Did your mind really go straight to the gutter?"

"It seems like it." You let out another mildly awkward chuckle.

"Damn, I never pegged you for a pervert."

You're full-on blushing at this point. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to imply that--"

He cuts you off. "Really? I totally did."

You open your mouth to say something, but honestly have no clue how to actually respond to that. The only thing that you can manage?

"...Oh. Oh."

Dave laughs quietly, but his is far more confident than yours have been in this conversation so far. "Yeah, that's what I thought you'd say to that."

"You really cut to the chase, don't you?"

"Hey, I'm a busy man and I know what I want. I ain't ashamed."

"I kinda figured. As much as I can appreciate how, er, straightforward you are, I... would really rather not do that."

"What do you mean by that, exactly?" You can no longer hear the smile in his voice.

You take a deep breath. "I don't really feel comfortable messing around without knowing my partner. And, um... no offense but you're also a guy. Sorry."

He hums again. "The whole not being promiscuous thing I'll take, but I'm not buying you not being into me just because we're both dudes. Sorry." He mocks.

"Listen, I know we made out, but I don't do stuff like that. Ever."

"So what happened Saturday night? Or does that not count for some reason?"

"That was under unusual circumstances. There was an x-factor that changed everything--"

"Yeah, I generally have that effect on people. My bad."

"Dave! Will you just shut up for a minute and let me talk?" You're flustered, but you do your best to keep it together. "I don't think that 7 minutes and a single kiss are enough to shift the foundation of my own sexuality." You fidget, playing with a loose string on your comforter. "It's kind of a big deal for me to all of a sudden have this guy be all up in my business and wanting to..." You trail off again, getting embarrassed. You play it off by clearing your throat quietly. "I don't know, do stuff."

"You're making it sound so terrible. How dare I wanna fuck you and be straightforward about it."

A chill runs down your spine. "I'm still not comfortable with the fact that we aren't technically a thing before that happens--er, if.If it happens."

You hear him scoff. "I'm going to utilize context clues that 'a thing' is Egbertian for 'in a committed relationship'. Correct me if I'm wrong."

"Um. Yeah. Something like that."

"Hate to break it to you dollface, but I don't do committed relationships. It's a steaming load of bullshit that I'd rather not touch."

You frown. "Did your last one end badly or something?"

"That's implying I've ever had one, which, spoiler: I haven't. I've got a pretty good idea of what it's like, though. Vivid images of shattered ambition, watered down settlements under some façade called compromise, and stale routines flood my brain whenever the subject comes up. In fact, it's happening right now, and it's taking all of my composure to not shed tears. I'm floored by all of the people who subject themselves to such torture time and time again."

"Wow, that's not even close to what it's actually like, but okay. I'll totally take your word for it. You must be super lonely, though. Even with all of that intact ambition and spontaneity you have going on." You jab playfully.

"Hell no. I'm Dave fuckin' Strider. I couldn't be lonely if I tried."

"Have you?"

"What? Tried being lonely?"

"Yeah." You lay back on your bed, staring up at the ceiling.

"What kind of a question is that?"

You shrug out of habit. "I dunno, but I think a bit of loneliness is good from time to time. It helps you appreciate companionship. Y'know, like one of those finding-good-in-the-bad situations. Silver lining."

There's a beat of silence on the other end of the line. "You're one of those hopeless romantic types, aren't you? You have to be. Christ."

You grin. "Yup! Love it or leave it."

"Well, I'm working on it I guess, but you're making this difficult."

"How am I being difficult?"

"For starters, not immediately succumbing to my patented Strider Charm. Didn't think it was even possible for anyone to resist."

You roll your eyes. Rose was totally right about Dave; he really did try too hard. At the same time, though, you couldn't help but find it endearing. Maybe you haven't been able to resist the "Strider Charm" as well as he thought.

...But not like that. Nope, definitely not in the way Dave was implying.

"I'm immune to it, obviously." You quip.

"Doubt it. I just need more time. You were pretty into me in that closet. There's potential."

"Yeah, I've tried to not really think about that."

"So you're telling me you regret what happened. Cool." His words are calm, but sharp.

Shit. Nice going, John. "No, but--"

"It was a mistake." You make a mental note of how much Dave is reminding you of Rose right now. If you had any doubt that they were siblings before, it'd be gone now.

"I wouldn't call it a mistake necessarily, but I'd rather not do it again?" You close your eyes, rubbing the bridge of your nose. You can't help but sigh. Immediately you regret what you just said. "It's nothing against you, Dave, I just don't think it's a good idea. I'd rather just be friends or... something."

There's a bit of uncomfortable silence before he speaks up. "Let's drop the bullshit for a bit. Do me a solid and answer me straight." His tone is now exasperated, not that you blame him. "What was the point of you calling me tonight?"

"I wanted to talk to you." You answer meekly.

"That all?"

"Well... yeah. I guess."

"You guess."

"I don't know, Dave. I just figured we could get to know each other a bit first."

"Before what?" He presses.

"Um. I'm not sure, exactly. Establishing a relationship...?"

"A relationship." He repeats deadpan. "Thought you just said you weren't into that."

"Hey! A relationship can mean platonic broship, too! I was using Rose's phrasing, not mine."

"....You best not be talking about the same Rose I think you are." It's hard to ignore the pang of dread in his voice.

"I am, actually." You smile a bit, feeling your prankster self stirring inside of you. "And she told me some stuff about Dave Strider that was a bit surprising to say the least."

There's another sigh on Dave's end, and it forces the upturn of your lips downward. "Great."

This... is not going well. At all. "...Dave?"

"Listen, John, I'm gonna break this down for you." A pause. "I give you my number. My personal number. Which, by the way, I literally keep 6 contacts in that cell, just to give you an indication of how big of a deal this shit is in the first place. You don't call me for a whole week, and when you finally do, you say one thing, but give vibes of wanting the complete opposite, which is frustrating as hell." Another pause. "For some fucking reason I haven't hung up on you yet--and I don't know why, because if you were anyone else, I wouldn't have even answered the goddamn phone."

You now feel like a major asshole. "You can totally hang up on me if you want?"

"That's the thing. I don't want to. Even after all of the stupid shit that has come out of your buck-toothed yapper so far tonight."

"Oh... um, why?"

"I should be asking you that. More importantly, what the fuck did you do to me?"


"Christ. Even right now I just want to--" You hear a soft frustrated sound. Your heart skips another beat. "Fuck it. Fine, I'll bite. Do I have a shot with you or not?"

"Uh. Like... romantically?"

"I guess. I don't do the traditional relationship thing, but I'm assuming that's the only way you'd ever agree to be even somewhat intimate with anyone, Mr. I'm-not-promiscuous."

"Excuse me for being somebody who has standards."

"Excuse you, I totally have standards. High ones."

"Says the guy who's had how many sexual encounters?"

"That's not fucking fair. You honestly can't even expect me to know that shit on the spot."

"Exactly. You're lucky you even got to lock lips with me--and that's not even saying because you're a dude."

"Yeah, yeah, yeah. I get it. We're both guys and this is weird for you. We've established this a few times and it's old news. That shit aside John, yay or nay?"

You chew on your bottom lip, and can taste a bit of blood from doing it too much recently. You really need to stop doing that. "I... maybe? I mean there's a lot to consider and I just--"

"John." It's like your whole body suddenly became submerged in ice water. "Just listen to your gut and tell me. No extra bullshit."

You're not even really thinking about it before the word slips out of your mouth, barely above a whisper. "Yeah." It feels like something is in your throat, and speaking is a lot more difficult. "I'm just really kinda freaked out, y'know?"

"Not used to the whimsical world of gay?" His voice is back to playful, but it's also a lot softer. You assume it's because Dave is trying to match your tone.

"It's not just that." You laugh. "I guess I'm going to have to deal with it for a while no matter what, especially with those rumors floating around about us."

"People think we fucked, huh?"

"Yeah. Basically."

"Well, I don't blame 'em. I'm a bit pissed that anyone could honestly think that I could get it on and be done in only 7 minutes. Even for a quickie, that's a stretch. I like to take my time."

You start to picture Dave in compromising positions, and you notice a surprising amount of blood rushing to places you'd rather it didn't at the time being. "Regardless, more than enough people see it as the truth. Enough to complicate things somewhat."

"Sorry 'bout that. I can't really do too much about it at this point. The damage has been done."

You sigh. "There's really nothing?"

"Fuck no. What do you want me to do? Call off my non-existent source of the rumor mill? I'll get right on that shit."

"Wow, I sure do hate it when you're right about stuff."

Dave laughs, and you can't help but smile. "Get used to it. Anyway, my other phone won't stop ringing, so I should probably wrap this up soon."

"Oh geez. Um, okay." You're shocked by how disappointed you feel that your conversation is coming to an end. "So before we hang up... uh... what are we... exactly?"

"I would assume, in your own words, a thing." You can hear the smile creep back into his voice. "Most people use real terms, like "romantic interest" or "significant other" or "fuck buddies" when it comes to this type of thing."

"...So we're dating?" Wow, you really wish you would stop blushing.

"I don't know. Are we?"

"I don't know. We haven't really... gone out or anything?"

"Do you want to?"

You catch yourself smiling like a dork. "Well, yeah. If we're going to be a thing, you have to go on real dates Dave. Geez."

"Okay, so we'll go on a real date. Where do you wanna go?"

"Dinner and a movie?"

"Nah, that's fucking lame. Too standard. I might be actually succumbing to this relationship thing, but we're going to do this Strider-style, or not at all."

"Okay. What constitutes a Strider-style date?"

There's a brief pause, which you assume is because he doesn't have any idea either. "Lunch and a jam session."

"Wait. What?"

"A little birdie told me recently that you play piano. I've got a keyboard and a guitar. I say we rock the fuck out and stuff our faces."

You laugh. "At the same time?"

"If you can mange that? Sure. Why not. I'm not one to impede anyone's creative process."

"How considerate of you."

"I try."

"I'm sure."

"So we're on?"

You can't believe how excited you're getting over this. "Sure. Lunch and a jam session it is."

"You free tomorrow?"

"Wow, Dave. Eager much?"

He hums. "It's not my fault you called me on a Friday night. The weekend is generally the prime window of time where people have the opportunity to go out and shit."

"You have a point. And to answer your question, yes, I suppose I could find the time to get together with you tomorrow."

"Awesome. I'll text you with my IM handle so we can work out the rest of the details later, because I'm about 4 seconds away from smashing my other phone."

"Oh!" You totally forgot about Dave attending to potential clients for gigs. "Shit. Sorry! I'll let you go. For real this time."

"That's probably for the best. I'll talk to you later, John."

"Bye Dave."

You hear the line go dead, and as you pull the phone away from your ear, you notice that it's now almost 9 pm.

You... really don't know how to describe how you feel right now. Giddy? And nervous. And excited. And surprised with yourself. But all of those things combined don't even feel like the tip of the iceberg. You honestly don't remember ever feeling like this before any of your dates in the past.

You're actually going to go out with Dave. A legitimate romantic date. With a guy. And you're looking forward to it.

Whelp. There's a first time for everything you suppose.

Your phone is set gingerly on your bedside table before pulling the pillow up from underneath the covers of your bed. You use it to strategically cover your face with as you scream and kick your legs in the air.

Chapter Text

gardenGnostic [GG] began pestering ectoBiologist [EB] at 10:11

GG: are you done with my flash drive yet?

GG: i kind of need it back with finals and all

GG: helloooooo earth to john

GG: stop ignoring me!!!

GG: cmon i need it back

GG: i dont want to fail my botany course or anything because i cant access my notes

GG: :(

EB: geez, calm down. yeah i'm done with it.

EB: i can give it back to you tomorrow or monday or something.

GG: can i swing by your dorm in about an hour to an hour and a half and grab it?

GG: ive got errands to run and i really need it!!

GG: im so behind in my studies right now its not even funny

GG: ...

GG: john seriously

GG: what are you even doing right now??? D:

EB: i'm sorry! i'm kind of preoccupied at the moment.

GG: oh really i didnt even notice!!!

EB: jade are you being sarcastic right now? i can't tell.

GG: can i get my memory stick from you or not?

EB: um...

EB: well, you can, but i actually won't be around here by then.

EB: but i can ask ennis to stick around and hand it off to you when you show up.

GG: wait

GG: youre actually leaving your apartment today?

EB: hey i totally went out last weekend. it's not THAT weird.

GG: yeah because i practically dragged you by the scruff of your neck

GG: kicking and screaming

EB: i just figured i could stand to get out of my apartment for a bit today.

GG: who are you? and what did you do with my cousin?

EB: ha ha.

EB: what an original and clever joke you just told!

EB: i'm laughing so hard that i fell over and am literally rolling on the floor, clutching my sides.

EB: i might even die laughing. literally die. while laughing.

EB: if that happens, please tell my dad i loved him at my funeral.

GG: so is that why you were ignoring me before?

GG: because youre getting ready to go out?

EB: that's totally none of your business.

GG: is it a date? :O

EB: that's definitely none of your business.

GG: omg

GG: it totally is isnt it? :D

EB: ugh! jade shut up i have to get going. i'll talk to you later.

GG: is she hot?

ectoBiologist [EB] ceased pestering gardenGnostic [GG] at 11:32

GG: shed better be hot

GG: aw! no fair! D:

You shove your phone in your pocket before you squat down to the floor to tie your shoes. It takes far longer than it actually should, because wow, you sure are anxious and you can't seem to get these stupid laces to--oh, there we go. Just kidding. As you stand to your full height, Ennis looks up from reading on his NOOK.

"On your way out?"

"Yup! I don't really know when I'll be back, exactly."

He shifts to sit up on his bed. You hear an uncomfortable twinge in his voice as he speaks. "...I see."

You narrow your eyes at him slightly and scoff. "It's not like that. I should be back late afternoon at the very latest." You check yourself in the mirror for the third time in 10 minutes, preening your hair despite the fact that you know it'll just go back to looking like hell as the day goes on. "We're just grabbing a bite to eat and then we're gonna hang out and play music or whatever."

Ennis doesn't answer right away, giving you a look like you're either lying or in denial before going back to his reading. "You mentioned something about Jade earlier?" You're thankful for the subject change.

"Yeah, she needs her USB drive back. It's on my desk. Little green stick, can't miss it."

He nods. "I can do that for you. I hope you enjoy your Saturday outing."

You grin sheepishly. "So do I."

It's been pretty much impossible for you to stop fidgeting somehow since you woke up this morning. You've tried. Seriously. If you weren't absent-mindedly tapping your foot, then you were itching somewhere that didn't even need to be scratched, or were pacing around your dorm which was driving your roommate nuts. Even right now, you're playing with the keys in your pocket as you make your way over to wait for the bus.

Dave texted you his IM handle not too long after you hung up with him last night, and you two decided to grab lunch at a small café that's fairly popular with quite a number of students in the art department, according to him. He assured you that he's a regular, and was apparently popular enough with the wait staff that his service was not only fast, but usually got desserts on the house as an added bonus. You decided to take his word for it; today was a day to try new things, after all.

You check your cell phone for the time, and groan because you're running late thanks to Jade. Normally, you'd be driving, but after realizing that Dave's apartment is only about four blocks from the dorms, you decided to take public transit to and from lunch, then just hoof it home after your jam session. A little walking never hurt anyone. It'd give you the chance to burn off some extra calories from your meal, especially if dessert is going to be involved. Besides, driving is ridiculously expensive when you have to pay for your own car's needs. 4 bucks for a gallon of gas? No thanks.

The bus decides to finally pull up and you board without a hitch. It takes almost 15 minutes to get to your stop, and you power walk the block and a half or so to the café. You enter, hearing the little bell chime to announce your presence and immediately notice a huge clock hanging on the wall in the dining area. You're about half an hour late. Shit. You frantically start searching for a familiar face when a curvaceous and very pretty waitress with ridiculously long black hair approaches you.

"Are you John?" Her voice is incredibly sweet, and her smile is bright, but almost too-perfect. She had to have had braces or something, because nobody's teeth are naturally that straight.

You nod. "Um, how did you...?"

"Dave said to be on the lookout for, and I quote, 'a cute boy with a severe case of bed head and the bluest eyes I've ever seen' so I figure it has to be you!" She begins walking away (actually, you note, it's a bit closer to a skip), beckoning with her hand to follow. "He's in his usual booth."

You trail behind her a few steps, self-consciously flattening down your hair. "Is it really that bad right now? I tried to fix it..." you mumble, mostly to yourself. She just laughs as a response, and you're not sure if it's because you or your hair is being ridiculous.

You quickly reach a corner in the back of the restaurant, and sure enough, there's Dave sitting alone at a table. You almost trip over somebody's bag because the second he's in sight, you suddenly have a hard time paying attention to your surroundings. Whoops.

"I should be around in a few minutes to take your orders. If not me, then Erin will for sure, even if he doesn't quite know it yet!" She giggles softly, and while you find her to be somewhat obnoxious, you like that her bubbly personality is infectious. She reminds you of Jade.

Dave groans, but his face is stoic. "C'mon Felicia. You can't seriously be sticking me with that tool today. I'm trying to impress my date here." He gestures vaguely to you with one of his hands.

She doesn't reply, choosing instead to give you one last smile and a quick playful wave to Dave before she leaves the two of you alone.

Dave is slouched casually in the booth, elbows propped up on the back of the seat, with his right leg crossed over his left. He's clad in a rusty red zip-up hoodie atop an orange graphic t-shirt (you figure it's for a band of some sort), and black jeans. You notice red and white hi-tops that look either brand new or are very well taken care of, and the same shades from the last time you saw him perched on his face.

You feel a bit over-dressed compared to his casual attire. You changed 3 times before deciding on a pale green and blue plaid button up shirt and the designer jeans your Dad got you for this past Christmas. Your shoes were probably the most casual thing about you right now, which happen to be a pair of navy blue Skechers.

Dave nods to greet you, and you can't help but smile as you slide into the booth across from him. You sit up straight with your hands on your knees.

"Sorry I'm late. Jade decided to start pestering me on my way out the door."

"It's cool. I was actually late myself. Sat down about 5 minutes before you got here." The corner of his mouth goes a tick upwards. "I'm just glad you showed up."

You blink a few times in confusion. "What? Why would you say that?"

He shrugs, picking up the mug half-full of coffee to take a sip. "I'm pretty stoked you're here, because now I can finally order food. I'm starving."

"Me too." You sweep the table with your eyes quickly. "No menus?"

"Nah. I never need one. What are you in the mood for? Soup, sandwich, salad, all of 'em?"

You chuckle, and proceed to discuss food options with Dave for the next few minutes. Both of you are fairly hungry, so it's a bit tough to decide what you want exactly when everything sounds really fucking good right about now. You barely make up your minds when you're approached by a waiter with slicked back, dark brown hair.

He looks down at you over his glasses expectantly, pulling out a small pad of paper and a pen. It's a bit hard to notice with how thick and dark the rims on his glasses are, but his eyes are a deep shade of something that almost looks like royal purple, and you're briefly enamored with them.

"Well?" he asks, tapping the pen impatiently. You frown at his demeanor. Compared to the waitress you were greeted by, anyone's attitude would more than likely seem lackluster, but this guy just seems annoyed to be at work today.

Dave cuts in before you have a chance to say anything. "Just a ray of sunshine, as always."

The waiter sighs, giving you both a tired look. "I'm very busy and this isn't even my section today." The way he speaks is particularly flamboyant, especially with how he pronounces his v's and w's. "Fel asked me to take care of you both while she takes her break, so that's what I'm doin'."

"Oh, so you're still trying to escape the friendzone. How's that working out for you, exactly?"

Obviously, a nerve was struck, judging by the look he gives Dave. His voice goes softer but his words come out much more threatening. "I'm not in the mood to deal with this shit right now. The next thing to come out of your mouth better be what you want to eat, otherwise I'm just going to walk away and pick for you."

"He wants a BLT." You blurt out, hoping to break some of the tension. Both Dave and the waiter are looking at you dumbly, like they both forgot you were there. "And, um... I want a cup of broccoli and cheddar soup with half a chicken salad sandwich."

The waiter nods curtly, scribbling something down with a bit of flare. "And to drink?"

"Water?" You look across the table expectantly, and are met with another curt nod from your date. "Yeah, just water for the both of us, please."

"Got it. Fel should be back before this is ready." He flips the notepad closed and is already stalking off before either of you have a chance to say anything else.

You look to Dave, confused. "What was that about?"

"That," he says exhaling audibly, "was Erin Ampora, shoe-in to win Doucheprince of the Year 2k15. He has the hots for Felicia--the waitress from earlier. Has for quite some time, from what I've gathered from talking to her and shit."

"Okay...?" You trail off, beckoning him to continue.

"Anyway, he gets butthurt whenever she makes goo-goo eyes at anyone else, which in turn makes it difficult for me because I'm one hot piece of ass." He smirks and you roll your eyes. "Her and I sorta have this playful flirty-thing going on, but mostly as a formality. Neither of us mean anything by it, and that's fine. Naturally, the fucker has quite the issue with me because of it. I'm not too fond of him either, but Felicia thinks it's hilarious when we have to put up with each other, so she does her best to do it as much as she can."

"Geez, that seemed pretty spiteful..." You rub your arm. "Yeah, I'm all for jokes and pranks and stuff, but isn't what you said a tad cruel?"

"He started it." He takes another small sip of coffee. "The second he stops being a jackass over nothing is the second I drop it."

Out of the corner of your eye, you see Erin walking briskly towards you both, tray balanced on one hand. Nobody says anything as he gingerly places a glass of ice water in front of each of you, and leaves just as quickly as he appeared.

Awkwardness aside, the two of you segue the conversation into something that isn't how your (temporary) server isn't very fond of Dave for superficial reasons, and instead focus on all kinds of other things. You talk about school, playing the piano, and about your peanut allergy. Dave doesn't really say much, choosing instead to listen and ask an occasional question which usually sends you on a bit of a tangent. You hope he doesn't mind.

When Felicia brings out your food, both of you are silent because your mouths are far too busy eating to talk, but Dave is fairly quick to prod you about your Dad's baking once he's finished with his lunch, which picks the conversation right back up where you left off.

"...Dad said Nanna was a really good cook, but she especially liked to bake. He used to make all kinds of stuff with her while he was growing up, so when he found out I had an allergy to peanuts, it was just more incentive for him to do it from scratch like she used to." You take the last bite of your sandwich, pausing to chew and then swallow completely before you keep speaking. "He has a huge sweet tooth, and since we couldn't really keep candy around the house or anything, he'd make cookies or a cake or something like that about twice a week."

"Must've been hog heaven for you growing up. Lucky you."

You shrug. "It gets kind of old, though. There were times where he'd make a LOT--usually around Christmas or birthdays--and we'd have so much because it was just the two of us..." You trail off, failing to suppress a groan of disgust at the memories. "It was overkill."

Dave's mouth quirks into a smile and he hums. "I stand corrected, then."

You nod, bringing your elbow to rest on the table top so you can support your chin in your palm. You softly hear your Dad scold you in the back of your mind, but push the thought aside for another. You're sick of talking about you; it's time to hear about Dave.

"Tell me about how it was growing up for you. Rose said that you lived with your dad?"

He leans back to assume the same laid back position he was in when you fist sat down. "Yeah. I didn't die, so I guess it could've been worse."

You sit there, patiently waiting for him to continue, but he doesn't. You're interrupted by Felicia, who sets a plate with two large scones in between the two of you.

"Alright boys, who gets the bill?" She waves the check, glancing between the two of you.

You look over at Dave, and are about to suggest that you should go Dutch, but he raises his hand and promptly snatches it from her before you have the chance.


He smirks at you, pulling out his wallet from his back pocket. "It's my treat. I picked the place." He looks at the slip of paper for a moment, extracts a few bills, and hands them over to Felicia. "That should do it. Keep the change."

She smiles fondly at you both. "Perfect! Can I do anything else for you boys?"

Dave sits up a bit straighter after placing his wallet back into his jeans. "Oh shit, I wasn't even thinking about it." He gestures to the scones on the table. "Hey, are these things prepared around nuts? He's got an allergy."

She brings a hand up to her mouth, thinking it over. "Oh... they are, actually. I'm really sorry, sweetie."

You bring up your free hand to wave dismissively. "It's okay. You didn't know." You let out a small laugh for emphasis. "It's the thought that really counts."

"Still, I feel super bad about it..." She pouts for a moment before her expression brightens right back up. "If you come back, I'll make it up to you next time. Promise." She crosses her heart.

You straighten up in your seat, rubbing the back of your neck nervously. "If you insist."

"I'll skip out on these, even though it pains me." Dave pushes the plate towards Felicia. "Let Stacey have 'em, I guess."

She picks the plate up. "Oh, she'll love you even more now." A giggle bubbles its way out of her. "Sorry again for that, boys. Enjoy the rest of your day." She winks at you and you can't help but feel like she's implying the same thing that Ennis was before you left. Oh geez...

Dave stands up to stretch, and also takes a second to dust off the front of his attire from any lingering crumbs. You dust yourself off as well, watching him out of the corner of your eye. You didn't have a chance to notice earlier, but he's actually a few inches taller than you are. You also note that he's got a very distinguished profile, and you're not going to lie... Dave's really attractive now that you're taking the time to actually look at him.

He glances over to you, shoving his hands in his pockets. "Alright, then. My place?"

You do your best to steer your mind from any illicit ponderings, but now that you've boarded on that train of thought, you can't seem to stop them. You follow him out of the café, and are both lucky enough to catch the right bus you need without having to wait.

It's practically empty, save for the driver and an older woman sitting in the second seat. You both choose to sit down in the very last row.

You're feeling nervous again. You figured that today was going to be a quaint little outing for lunch, followed by the both of you bonding over your musical abilities and talent. The more you think about it, though, the more you suppose that "jam session" could be some sort of euphemism. You shift uncomfortably in your seat, and look over at Dave, who's lazily watching the city move outside of the window.

"...So you live off-campus?" you ask, still hoping to learn more about your date.


There's a moment of silence before you prod him with another question. "Do you, um, live by yourself...?"

"Yeah." He tears his attention away from the window to turn to you. His expression is completely deadpan. "Why?"

You chew your bottom lip, and now it's your turn to look out the window. "No reason. I was just asking." You take a couple of deep breaths. "You just haven't really told me too much."

"About my apartment?"

"About anything." You tentatively turn back to him. "I mean, I know it's our first date--well, your first actual date, period--but we've only really talked about me." You fret with your hands in your lap, glancing down at your feet because looking him in the face is really embarrassing. "I'd like to hear about you for a change. I don't really care if it's just trivial bullshit. I just wanna hear something, y'know?"

You hear a soft laugh, and you look back up to him. He's actually smiling. Not even a smirk or a half-smile. An actual, honest-to-goodness legitimate smile. He rakes a hand through his sandy blond hair, and you note with an air of bitterness that his actually looks better right now. If you tried anything similar, yours would just stick up even more than it already does on its own.

"You're really fucking cute, you know that?"

You feel your face burn. "I am not."

He shifts, extracting a pack of gum from his pocket. He pulls a stick out, unwrapping the foil and popping it in his mouth. He offers the pack to you, and you take one as well. You can smell the distinctive scent of cinnamon, which brings back the memory of your last encounter with him.

"Fine, what do you wanna know?"

The rest of your bus ride, as well as the walk to Dave's apartment, consists of you finding out that he chews gum on a pretty frequent basis, because he's an ex-smoker; whenever he craves a cigarette, he uses it as a substitute. He started smoking when he was 14, but quit cold turkey shortly after he turned old enough to legally buy cigarettes because the thrill was mostly gone. His dad--or rather, Bro--knew about his smoking habit the day he picked it up, and while Bro never really gave him any flak for it, Dave knew that he was happy to see that habit get dropped. He doesn't like mint (except in Thin Mints; "Those fuckers are delicious. How can they taste how they do with how fucking vile mint is, John? Mystery of the fucking universe.") so he uses cinnamon flavored gum and toothpaste instead.

Your heart swells as you listen to him ramble, happy that he's finally opening up to you. It's not much, but hey, you'll take it. You hope that he'll keep this up--whether it's today or during future get-togethers. If he even wants future get-togethers with you. You hope he does, because you'd like to hear more about him. The way he describes things and the mannerisms he assumes while he speaks about himself are really endearing. Not to mention you're finding that you just really like the sound of his voice...

You mentally scream at how corny you're being right now, even for you. You also remind yourself that this is only one date, and how it's very possible that the only reason why you're even thinking these things is because it's so new to you. The novelty could very well wear off over time.

The two of you have already spit out your gum, the flavor of it long gone before the time when you finally reach his apartment complex. You trek up a few floors until you're standing infront of his door. He extracts his keys from his hoodie pocket, undoes the lock in one swift motion, then turns to you, gently opening the entryway and stepping aside, gesturing for you to go first. You're once again reminded of the closet incident.

"Such a gentleman! Buying me food and opening up doors? Mr. Strider, you are just too much." You mock a swoon as you slip past him and into his living space.

"You know it, babe." He follows you in, closing the door behind you. "Welcome to casa de Strider."

You sweep the apartment with your eyes quickly. It mostly consists of one large room that can't decide if it wants to be a living room, kitchen, or a studio, but there are also two doors in the far corner right next to each other. You assume that one of them is the bathroom, and the other is probably Dave's bedroom.

You nod approvingly. "So this is where the hotshot disc jockey resides." You look up at him, a playful smirk splayed on your face. "It suits you."

He hangs his keys up on a hook mounted next to the door. "Think what you want, but it's affordable and does what it needs to do." He kicks off his shoes and makes his way over to a corner of the room filled with various electronic equipment. You slide your shoes off, and tred over to his couch, but hesitate to sit. He notices you looking out of place. "You okay?"

You shrug. "I guess I'm just a little... um." You scratch your arm, trying to word this in a way that won't make you sound like a jackass.

He walks over to you, an acoustic guitar in hand. He gingerly sets on the floor to lean against the coffee table. "Just a little what?" he asks, folding his arms over his chest.

You shake your head, slinking down to perch yourself on the couch. You smile nervously, ignoring the anxious knot forming in your gut. "Sorry. It's nothing. I just haven't played in a long time." You're relieved that he was actually looking to play music with you.

Dave goes back into the jumble of equipment, eventually pulling out a keyboard and bringing it over to the couch. You set it up for yourself as he sits down to tune his guitar. You play around with some of the settings and switches until you find the classic piano.

"You know, I used to get so mad at Dad when I was learning how to play an instrument." You strike a few keys, mindlessly. "It was boring and I figured it was impractical. Now that I'm older, I wish I would have learned more than just the most inconvenient one of them to own and move, save for a pipe organ."

He raises his eyebrows, plucking away at a few strings in a similar fashion that you're hitting notes. "No keyboard? They're pretty cheap and portable."

You shake your head. "It's not the same. I have one in my dorm, but I'd rather play the real thing."

"As much as I'd love to have a baby grand chillin' in my flat, I wouldn't have much use for it."

"Makes sense. So can you play anything else?"

He leans back, propping his feet up on the table. "Nah. Not really, anyway. Bro just managed to keep around the keyboard. He mostly had his acoustic for ironic purposes." He pauses his strumming. "Unless you count beatboxing and turntables. I do those too."

"How is the guitar ironic?"

"It's a ruined instrument. Any douche that knows 3 chords can sit there, strumming like a tool, trying to impress some chick enough to get laid."

You shrug. "I like it. I think they've got a nice sound, and they look pretty cool while you play them."

The two of you spend the next few minutes warming up. You eventually feel up to it enough to rifle through Dave's sheet music to pick out songs you like. The first song you play makes you realize you're very rusty, but it doesn't take long for you to get into the groove and start playing decently. He assures you that you aren't doing a terrible job by any means, but you disagree. You know you can do better.

You keep on playing, feeling more relaxed with each new song. Dave gets really into music, and despite the fact that you're the only person to actually see him, you can tell he loves performing. It's difficult for you to concentrate on the music in front of you when he looks the way he does, strumming the guitar and softly providing vocals to the ones that have them. He even manages to make the more ridiculous songs you two choose have this amazing flair to them. You can feel yourself getting flustered again.

You finish a particularly lovely acoustic duet of "Bitches" (made popular by Mindless Self Indulgence), when he gently places his instrument on the floor. You stop playing as well, turning to face him, slightly confused.

"Oh... Are we done?" You ask meekly, disappointed because you wanted to keep watching him play.

He doesn't answer you verbally, instead choosing to shove the keyboard away from you ever so slightly, and press his lips to yours.

You start, feeling a bit insecure with how suddenly this was sprung on you once again, but just like last time your hesitation quickly evaporates when you realize how good Dave is at this kissing thing.

You barely register your bodies shifting position to compromise one another. He gently pushes you back, and Dave climbs on top of you to straddle your hips, all the while never breaking the contact of your lips. You feel one of his hands snake itself behind your head and clench a handful of your hair firmly, but not hard enough to hurt. You gasp into his mouth and you can feel him smirk.

It's a mildly awkward position and your glasses are clanking together, which is annoying, but this whole situation is really sexy, and you can feel a stir of activity in your nether regions. He obviously feels it, too, because he makes it a point to grind his hips into yours and you make another undignified sound.

You push him off you gently, panting and face flushed. He frowns, sitting back on his haunches.

"W-wait." you stammer out, completely out of breath. "...I can't."

"Too fast?" Your heart sinks a bit at how hurt he sounds.

You nod solemnly. "Sorry. I just..." You swallow thickly, and cover your face with one of your hands. Your face is flushed in both arousal and embarrassment. "I don't know if I'm ready for this right now."

You feel Dave slide off of you, and your heart sinks a little lower until you feel his presence next to you. You spread a small gap in your fingers to peek through, and sure enough, he's sitting on the floor, leaning his back against the couch.

"My bad." he says quietly.

You sit upright, bringing your knees up with you to help support your body, which feels like it's made of Jell-O. "No, it's me. You were..." You laugh, feeling your nervousness subsiding just a bit. "You were great. Really great. I'm actually kinda sad to stop." You chew on your bottom lip.

He turns his head back towards you, and your heart skips a beat when you catch a quick glimpse at the space between his shades and his eyes. You're not quite sure, because it was pretty sudden (and your mind is probably playing tricks on you) but you think you saw a flash of red.

"So why stop?" He shifts his whole body to face you now. "I want it. You want it. We're both consenting adults. What's the problem?"

You sigh quietly, but otherwise say nothing.

"John." He speaks slowly, as if he's not sure he should be treading these waters. "Are you a virgin?"

Your eyes widen in shock. "What? No!" You hold up your hands, waving them in front of you defensively.

He studies you briefly, looking relived. "Alright, so you have gotten your dick wet before. Once again, I must reiterate: What's the problem?"

"Well..." You hug your knees to your chest. "I just don't feel comfortable with... um..." You shrink into yourself a little bit, and manage to finally mumble out your answer. "...butt stuff."

The look that Dave gives you makes you feel incredibly self-conscious, despite the fact that you can't even see his eyes. The silence that stretches between the both of you is rather thick, and you're pretty much convinced that he's going to tell you to leave his apartment. You brace yourself when he opens his mouth to speak.

"I legitimately can't tell if you're being serious right now. You want to stop because you don't want to do butt stuff." He uses air quotes to emphasize the last two words.

You nod slowly. "It's gross."

He bring a hand up to rub the bridge of his nose. "There are a shitload of things two guys can do with each other that doesn't involve your own, or your partner's, ass."

You perk up a bit. "Really...?" You contemplate it for a bit. "...But I'm also not really sure about touching a wiener. That isn't mine."

Dave laughs, obviously not expecting the eloquent way that you just described your own thoughts. "One, never call a dick a wiener unironically ever again. And two, that's understandable. I wasn't too keen on the idea the first time I did it, but it turned out to be no big deal."

"You've... messed around with other guys before?"

He nods. "A few. Generally it's women that try to get in my pants, but there have been a couple of guys that have managed to succeed in that endeavor, as well."

You feel a pang of jealousy, and a glaring question rears its ugly head to pop out of your mouth before you can stop it. "You're clean, right?"

Dave clicks his tongue. "Wow."

You wince. "I'm sorry, I just... I would like to know what I'm even getting myself into before we pass the point of no return, y'know?" You bury your face in your elbow. "I'm sorry. I lack tact. I'm aware."

"If you must know, I happen to get tested every couple of weeks." You uncover enough of your face to see his expression. He continues. "I may be a tramp, but I'm not stupid. I do use protection, and I generally don't kiss on the mouth."

You slowly sit up straight, blinking at him a few times in awe. "Really? Why not?"

"Couple of reasons. Mostly because it's boring, dirty, and juvenile."

"I didn't know you didn't like it." You trace the hem on your pant leg with the fingers on your right hand. "If you want we ca--"

He cuts you off, taking your face in both of his hands. He holds you in place as he gently brings his forehead to yours. You can barely make out the outline of his eyes from behind his shades, because he's too close, and it makes it really difficult for your eyes to focus properly.

"Shut up." He places a quick chaste kiss on your lips. "I know where you were probably going with that, and I don't want to hear it."

"Okay." you murmur quietly.

He kisses you again softly, but he lingers for a few moments too long, and there's a light nip to your bottom lip, so you can't exactly classify that one as chaste. "How do you feel about me touching you, then?" he asks, your lips still touching. Okay, yeah. That one was definitely not chaste.

"Um." Another quick kiss. "That's not very fair to you."

"Not what I asked." Kiss.

"I guess," kiss, "I'm more," kiss, "okay with that...?"

"Good." He places one last kiss on your lips before he stands up. He extends a hand down to you, jerking his head in the direction of the bedroom. "C'mon."

You hesitate. "Are you sure? I don't want to do this if it's not fair to you."

"I'll be fine." You take his hand and he leads you into his room. There are clothes strewn all over the floor and the bed is unmade. "Sorry for the mess. I wasn't really planning on having anyone in here today." He turns to face you, pulling your body flush to his.

"I don't care." You really don't. Your room back home has seen worse.

He kisses your forehead, his hands running from your shoulders, down your sides, and then come to rest on your waist. He starts massaging soft, lazy circles with his thumbs on your hips. "Do you want me to take off your pants, or did you wanna do it?"

You swallow thickly. "I can."

You take a deep breath, tentatively bringing a hand to the front of your jeans. Dave backs off enough for you to have enough room to unfasten the button and pull down your zipper. You're nervous, and your hands are actually trembling a bit. The hands on your hips weave themselves under the waistband of your jeans, and he helps you shimmy out of them. He keeps your shirt and your boxers intact; you're thankful for that.

He breaks away from you, climbing on to the bed. He situates himself into a sitting position, his back supported on the wall his bed is up against, legs spread. He beckons you with one of his hands, patting the space between his thighs. "Sit here, but keep your back to me."

You do as he instructs. He pulls you back until you're leaning against him, bringing his legs up to suit him more comfortably. You can feel the rise and fall of his chest, as well as the dull thud of his heartbeat. You feel your face burning again, embarrassed with the intimacy of the situation.

He rests his chin on your right shoulder, nuzzling your neck with his nose, then trails soft kisses up to your ear. His breath is hot and it tickles, sending a shiver down your spine. "Relax." He coos to you, quietly. His hands come up, fingers trailing lightly across your chest, stomach, and thighs.

He isn't even connecting to any bare skin right now, but you swear you can feel almost everything as if he is. You're starting to get hard again. One of Dave's hands lingers around your crotch more and more as the tent in your underwear gradually gets more and more prominent, but he doesn't actually touch you there. You can only take so much before you whimper quietly in frustration.

"What's the matter?" He nips at your earlobe, which provokes another soft noise from your throat.

"You know what's the matter." you mutter quietly. "Stop teasing me."

"I thought you wanted me to go slow?" You can feel him smirking into your ear.

"I do. Just not this slow."

"Maybe if you ask me nicely, I can pick up the pace." He runs his hand over the obvious bulge in your pale blue boxers, but applies no pressure whatsoever.

"Dave, please..."

"Dave please what?"

You let out an exasperated groan. "Dave please just touch me--oh god." You grip the sheets in your hands, because the words were barely out of your mouth before Dave had slipped his hand through the hole in your boxers, and now had quite a firm grip on your erection.

He hums in approval, running his hand slowly up and down your length, feeling you. "Damn, John. You're a thick son of a bitch, huh?" He carefully pulls you out, keeping his grip firm without being painful for you. "And look. It's pretty too."

Your breath hitches, and you roll your head back to rest on his left shoulder. "...Is not." you protest weakly.

He runs his thumb over the slit, smearing a bit precum over the head of your cock. It makes you throb in his hand. He kisses the side of your face. "Nah, I can definitely vouch that you've got a great-lookin' dick." His voice is fairly heavy with lust by this point, and you can feel Dave's own erection pressed up against your ass.

He starts stroking you slowly, rolling his fingers as he goes, and he continues to murmur softly to you. "It probably feels fucking amazing. The bitches lucky enough to have a piece of you probably couldn't get enough, could they?"

Your whole body is trembling at this point, and you couldn't form coherent words even if you tried. All you can register is Dave's hand gripping you, and his voice in your ear. You're close. Really close. There's nothing more that you want right now than to release the tension coiled up inside of you.

"C'mon, John. Stop holding back." He presses his lips right up to your ear and breathes out, "We both want it."

And that's it. You're done. You arch your back, letting out a quiet guttural moan as your orgasm spills out all over you and Dave's hand. You bask in the afterglow for the next few moments, sweating and panting. Dave spends the whole time kissing you wherever he can reach, eventually releasing your mostly-flaccid cock from his palm.

He pushes you off of him temporarily, leaning over to grab a box of tissues off his nightstand. He pulls you back to lean against him and he cleans you both off.

"Such a gentleman." You roll your head back, snuggling into his neck and closing your eyes. You choose to ignore your glasses digging into your face.

He chuckles softly, tossing the soiled tissues aside. "I know right? I buy you food, invite you over to my place, jack you off without any strings attached, and even clean you up afterwards. I'm a fucking keeper."

The two of you snuggle like that for a while. A long while. You actually drift off for quite some time, waking up with a start to bright orange light in your eyes, signifying that the sun was beginning to set.

You groan and stretch, which wakes up Dave. "Shit, what time is it?" You blink the sleep out of your eyes and fix your glasses.

He also fixes his skewed shades before he leans over to his bedside table, pulling off a shirt covering up his alarm clock. It reads 6:47.

"Shit." you repeat, standing up. You grab your pants, pulling them up over your hips.

Dave rolls his shoulders, audibly cracking his neck and back. "Leaving so soon?"

"I was here all day."

"We were asleep for a chunk of it."

"We still spent it together." you point out, fastening the button and pulling up the zipper.

He stands up, stretching his entire body. No doubt he was sore from sleeping in an uncomfortable position. "True. Still a damn shame to see you go, though."

"Sorry." You rub the back of your neck sheepishly. "For earlier. And also for making you fall asleep stupid."

Dave Shrugs. "It's no big. I kinda figured that you wouldn't be down to fuck, so I got off twice before we even got together for lunch."

You gawk at him. "Dave!"

"What? I have a really active libido." He shoves his hands in his pockets. "Besides, I'm 19, it's not like it's unheard of for young whippersnappers like me to get off a few times a day, grandpa."

You roll your eyes at him. "I'm the same age as you."

"No shit? When's your birthday?"

"April 13th. You?"

" Just missed it, eh? December 3rd."

You tilt your head, a bit confused. "'96?"


"Oh, I'm '96." you say, but quickly realize something. "Wait, you're older than me. If anything, I should be calling you grandpa."

He shrugs, walking out with you into the living room. "Age is just a number." He kisses you on the forehead.

You can't stop yourself from grinning. "So can we do this again sometime?"

"I suppose we could." Your heart swells. "I'll text you later and we can work something out."

"Sounds good to me." You pull on your shoes, not even bothering to untie them from before. "I really gotta get going, though. I'm out a bit later than I originally thought..."

"It's cool." He unlocks the door and pulls it open for you. You two share one last kiss before you head out to make the lonely trek back home.

Thankfully, you make it back just as it starts getting really dark outside. When you unlock the door to your dorm, you're met with a sense of déjà vu; Ennis is sitting in the same position he was in on his bed when you left earlier. He was even still reading his NOOK.

"Welcome home." He looks up at you, eyebrows raised. "I wasn't aware you meant so late in the afternoon that it was actually going to be evening upon your return."

You laugh, smiling apologetically. "Yeah, I... got side-tracked."

His pale blue eyes fall onto your stomach. "...I see." The uncomfortable twinge is also back in his voice.

You knit your eyebrows together in confusion, and glance down. There's a very large, very obvious stain on the front of you shirt. "Oh..." You cover it up with your arm, despite the fact that he's seen it and already knows damn well what it is. "Whoops?"

He goes back to his reading. "I won't tell anyone if you do the laundry again."


Chapter Text

"So what are your plans for the summer?"

The question hits you like a brick to the face, but you do your best to play it off, like you haven't been avoiding the subject with every fiber of your being for the past week and some change.

"Oh! I haven't really thought about it." You're a terrible liar. You had just gotten off the phone with Dad this morning to confirm plans regarding your time off. "Finals have sort of taken over my life right now, and I haven't had much time for anything else."

You're currently in the Laundromat with Rose once again, though this time, she had been the one to call you. You figured that she wanted to follow up with the conversation you had the last time you met with her, so you gladly agreed to come along, despite the fact that it wasn't even your turn to do the laundry (for once) and that you really needed to keep studying. You didn't even bother to bring anything with you, choosing instead to simply keep her company while she made her way through her pile of dirty clothes.

The both of you are dressed casually, clad in t-shirts, jeans, and sneakers; perfect for a lazy Sunday morning. For you, it's typical, but you almost didn't recognize her dressed this way. You hadn't even been aware that Rose owned a pair of jeans, but you learn something new every day. She somehow managed to look elegant as ever in a pastel purple tee with a very large kitten on the front (complete with the caption of "Meow's it goin'?" underneath), acid washed jeans with ratty holes in the knees, and an old stark white pair of sneakers.

Tomorrow would mark the official beginning of the much-dreaded finals week for everyone. It was obvious that this was the point in the semester that would either make or break your grades, considering how on-edge the student body was. (The staff generally seemed impartial, but a few of the professors did seem to be enjoying it as though Christmas had come early.) Much like the rest of your peers, you were stressed out as well, but it wasn't really chocked up to finals. Okay, actually, yeah it was, but not completely. You've had a lot on your mind as of late, and one of the more prominent subjects happened to be concerning the summer months and how you were going to be spending them.

Rose hums. "Obviously, you can't stay in the dorms all summer. Surely you haven't waited this long to figure something out." She's prying.

You shrug, leaning back in your chair to stretch out your legs. "Yeah, uh... I'm going to be packing up the stuff from my dorm after finals are done. Gonna put it in my car, and then... hand everything off to Jade for... a while."

"You did mention earlier that her car is out of commission for the time being. That's quite generous of you to give up your personal vehicle during your time off." She smiles, but you can tell there's something behind it. You don't really like it. "I am a bit confused as to why you'd leave your possessions with her as well. I somehow doubt you're going to be staying with her, but please, correct me if I'm wrong."

"Well... I won't really be needing anything for a while? It's not that big of a deal." Which is nothing short of the truth. Your father made a point of buying you nothing but expendable possessions (with a few exceptions, such as your clothes) to tide you over while living in the dorms. He had a valid point when the two of you had been shopping last summer, saying that there wasn't a real need to have anything fancy when you wouldn't have the space for it. He then promised that when you got your first place, it'd be a completely different story.

"I take it you are going back home to Washington, then."

You nod solemnly. "My Dad booked a flight for me to come home. I'll be gone up until the semester starts right back up again."

"If that's not thinking about it, then I'd like to see how things you've thoroughly planned go."

You grin at her sheepishly. "Okay, maybe I have. A lot."

She moves a strand from her bangs to rest behind her ear. "So, is there any particular reason why you have yet to discuss this with David? You seem to have everything in order. With the exception of that major, glaring issue, of course."

And there it is. Now that you're on the topic, you're sure that this was a major factor in her calling you to meet up. You honestly should have known better.

Your eyes wander around the Laundromat a bit. "It just hasn't come up in conversation. We've both been pretty busy lately. Haven't really had the chance to talk about it."

"John." She sounds testy.

"Rose." You return sweetly, your eyes fall back on her sitting by your side.

She gives you a tired look. "You need to talk to him about this. You can't just wait until the last minute."

"I wasn't going to wait until the last minute."

"John, it's finals week. Judging by your apprehension on the subject, I'd say it was a definite possibility."

You scoff. "No. That totally isn't the case. Not at all."

"Then what's your excuse?"

"I haven't had a chance to talk to him about it yet." you whine. "I just told you."

"I know for a fact that you've had plenty of chances so far. You talk to him constantly."

She's totally right. The two of you basically text each other from the time you get up to the time you manage to pass out. Most of it is stupid bullshit, but you have had a few conversations with substance, too.

You actually can feel your phone vibrating in your pocket right now, but you choose to ignore it for the sake of argument. There's a 90% chance that it's Dave answering you from earlier this morning; if it's not actually him, then it's probably Jade. You don't feel like being proven wrong, just in case.

You shrug again. "Not constantly, but yeah, I guess we do talk a lot." Rose raises her eyebrows and just stares at you silently. "...Okay, okay. Yes, we talk all the fucking time."

"Just do me a favor and tell him. Preferably soon. His anxiety over this whole situation would have forced a lesser being into cardiac arrest, I'm sure." You mentally note how much déjà vu seems to be going on lately. Weird.

"I noticed that he's kinda antsy, yeah, but are you sure it's not just about exams?" You mull it over in your head momentarily. "Then again, he's your brother."

"Twin brother." She puts emphasis on the first word. "He hasn't said anything outright, but I know he's fretting about it in his own way. Not to mention the fact that he offered me a place to stay for the summer, which is a neon sign that reads 'I don't want to be left alone' in flashing letters. Obviously, on some level he knows you're leaving, but the anticipation is getting to him."

You frown. "Oh... shit. Sorry."

"You had better be. It's really not fair of you to do that to him."

You almost start to tell her about a lot of things you've said and done that haven't been exactly fair to Dave, but decide against it. There is a time and a place for everything, and now isn't ideal for this type of discussion.

"I just figured that with how new of a relationship this is, it might be kind of a drag to just be like, 'Oh by the way, I'm going to be gone for like 3 months so see you in the fall!' or something. I mean, we've been... involved with each other for only like... two weeks. I guess I'm just expecting all of this to fall through or something?"

Rose folds her hands in her lap. Her expression is a mixture of disappointment and understanding. "And I suppose you assume that because David typically doesn't indulge in prolonged romantic endeavors."

"Basically. Long distance in general is hard. We still barely know each other, and neither of us are used to dating one another yet, so..." You trail off with a sigh, not finishing your thought out loud, but you know she got where you had been going with that.

"It's bound to fail if you blatantly sabotage what you have." she says quietly. "You need to communicate if you're expecting this relationship to function."

"Yeah, but what if this whole thing is just a bad idea?" You can't stop yourself from frowning. "What if it's just too much work, or he just doesn't want to put up with this kind of bullshit?"

"Then you'll both go your separate ways and keep living your lives."

"Yeah, but why does that bother me so much to think about?" You rake a hand through your hair, not giving a damn about messing it up. "It's stupid because I'm so awkward with actually acting like something that's more than friends with the guy, but the thought of him as anything less makes me feel sort of... emotional? The bad kind."


"Yeah," you continue, "and it's even more stupid because I have no real basis to say this shit right now. I can't tell if this is just me being delusional because this relationship is all shiny and new and different and shit, or if I legitimately really like the guy, or what. It's frustrating."

"I think," she says slowly, "you're expressing these kinds of thoughts to the wrong sibling." Her soft lavender eyes meet yours, and there's a beat of silence between the two of you.

You eventually manage to speak, but your throat feels taut. "Why is this shit so hard, Rose?"

"Relationships typically are. Especially the worthwhile ones."

There's another stretch of silence, except this one lasts much longer. It was still too soon for you to really say whether or not you considered this relationship to be worthwhile at this point. It was still very surreal to imagine yourself romantically interested in somebody like Dave, and there was a lot to figure out about how all of this really suited you. Not that you were unhappy by any means right now--in fact, you kind of hated how easy it was for him to get you to genuinely smile--you were just very, very unsure of yourself, and that was something you were not okay with.

After your initial date, you have gotten together with him a handful of times over the past couple of weeks. With your current schedules, and given that it's now crunch time for college students everywhere, it makes it a bit difficult to really do much that doesn't just involve meeting in the library to cram (and occasionally, he persuades you to sneak back into some secluded corner to kiss, which isn't fair because what if somebody sees you, but you'd be lying if you said you didn't enjoy it at all because goddamn, Dave is still an excellent kisser for somebody that hates doing it holy shit) but that's not really something that would really be considered a date-like outing.

The offer to go back to his apartment has come up once or twice, but you've declined. Your first sexual experience with your... well... you feel a bit pretentious using the term "significant other" for Dave. You're not really sure what to call him exactly, because "boyfriend" sounds so foreign, even in your own head, but for all intents and purposes, you suppose it'll have to do...

Anyway, your first sexual experience with your boyfriend was... different. Very different, and a lot better than you had expected, actually. In the past, you typically liked to wait a few months before even going down that particular road, but you should have expected that, given Dave's reputation, that wasn't going to happen. You're surprised you were even able to have an orgasm, because when you lost your v card, you were literally too nervous to enjoy it, and you would definitely rank your anxiety over screwing around on your first date higher than you had been for that.

Still, despite the experience being a success on technicality, you were actually more apprehensive about doing it again anytime soon than you had been before he touched your junk. If anything, it had taught you that you definitely weren't ready to take that kind of step in this relationship right now...

...But enough of that. Time to break the silence and go with a subject change.

You clear your throat softly to garner Rose's attention from people watching, and she turns her head slightly to signify that she's listening. "So... Dave offered to have you stay with him for a couple of months?"

"Yes. I took him up on it, and I'm hoping that I don't come to regret it later." She sighs softly. "Given my options, though, I felt that it would be for the best. Not just for me, but for him as well."

"What about your mom? You're going to leave her all alone in New York?"

"Mother has been planning on visiting all of us down here for a while, anyway. I really don't see the point in wasting the time and resources to go back home. It'll be good for her to get away from that house for a little while and get a change of scenery." She smiles. "Besides, it's been a while since our boys have been graced with the presence of Momma Lalonde. I'm looking forward to her fawning over how handsome of a young man David has grown up to be."

You laugh. "I'm sad I'm going to be missing the chance to potentially meet your mom." You actually are a bit upset that you're missing that, to be perfectly honest, though you'd rather not admit it out loud.

"It is a bit unfortunate, but I'm sure there will be more chances in the future for that type of thing. I'd recommend meeting Mother before Bro."

"So I've heard, but I don't think he could be that bad." You shoot a worried glance over at Rose. "...Could he?"

The only response you get is a light chuckle, which basically answers your question in the most unfortunate way.

The rest of your time with her is pretty uneventful. You help fold her laundry; partially because you're a gentleman, partially because it's the least you can do to get out of here faster. After you two hug and say what is probably going to be your last goodbye of the semester, you actually get around to checking your phone.

Turns out it wasn't Dave texting you after all.

gardenGnostic [GG] began pestering ectoBiologist [EB] at 09:52

GG: john

GG: omg

GG: youre

GG: omg!

GG: i know youre probably busy right now

GG: because i am too

GG: but call me later! i wanna hear about your boyfriend! hehehe :D

gardenGnostic [GG] ceased pestering ectoBiologist [EB] at 10:06

You roll your eyes as you slip your phone back in your pocket and extract your keys. The cat was out of the bag somehow. Great.

It's not that you didn't want to tell Jade about your love life at all, you had just preferred that it was on your own terms. The fact that the rumors had just begun to die down about the closet incident was a relief in these stressful times, and she basically had no filter between her brain and her mouth. The subject of you fumbling around with your sexuality was still pretty tender, and the last thing you needed was her making quips about how college really was the time for experimenting. You make a mental note to call her as soon as you can.

First and foremost, you have something to take care of.


You take a deep breath and rap your knuckles on the door for the third time in a few minutes. You know Dave's home, because you had parked right next to his car in the garage. Normally you wouldn't be dropping by uninvited, but Rose had a point about waiting until the last minute, and you felt that this was important enough to discuss in person, rather than via text.

By the way, this totally wasn't even remotely anything like you procrastinating to study, nor was it a thinly-veiled excuse just to see Dave. Pfft... Nope.

Faint mumbling and the sound of locks being unhinged just confirm what you already knew, and you're quickly greeted by the sight of Dave wearing nothing but those signature aviators and a black pair of boxer briefs. You turn away in embarrassment as soon as it registers that he's actually answering the door like this.

"Oh. Hey, babe." He yawns. "'Sup?" His voice still has traces of sleep in it.

"What are you doing?! Put some clothes on!"

"I did."

"No you didn't. You're naked."

"No," he corrects, completely deadpan. "I was naked until you woke me up and I threw these on." You hear him snap the elastic band on his underwear. "I'm decent enough to answer the door."

You groan, tentatively turning toward him, doing your best to keep your eyes above his shoulders. "Dave, it's almost noon."

"Yeah, and if you had any idea what time I went to bed this morning, you wouldn't sound so surprised."

You suppose he had a point. It was the weekend, plus he had been still out playing a gig when you went to sleep around midnight. You smile weakly. "So it's a bad time for you, then? I can go." You point over your shoulder with your thumb.

He opens his door wider and steps aside. "Shut up and get your fine ass in here."

You swallow and stride past him to comply with his request, immediately slipping off your shoes while he closes the door. You feel a hand ghost across the small of your back as he makes his way to the kitchen. It's extremely difficult to keep your eyes from wandering all over his form as he moves away from you, especially as he opens the fridge and bends down slightly to grab a plastic container of juice. He doesn't even bother with a glass, choosing to just drink it straight from the container.

You feel like an idiot when you realize that you've been standing in the doorway this entire time, so you make your way over to sit down on the couch, making a point to not gawk at Dave for the time being. Unfortunately, you know it's probably not going to last very long.

"Want anything while I'm in here?" he calls to you, completely nonchalant.

"No thanks." The same cannot be said for you.

You hear the fridge close, and sure enough, it's a matter of moments before he sits down on the couch next to you. You shift uncomfortably in your seat. "Can you please just go put something on?"

"I have so many reasons why I shouldn't." He lounges back and your eyes begin to travel down his body once again. You immediately stop yourself once you realize what you're doing. "I've got like five off the top of my head."

You clear your throat. "Yeah?"

He brings up a hand and begins listing them off his fingers. "One, it's already hot as fuck outside. Two, this isn't any different than seeing me at the beach. Three, it's my apartment and I can't be tamed. Four, you're already seeing me in my undies, might as well get over it." He smirks. "And five, I just really dig the attention."

You scoff, feeling a bit of an embarrassed flush gracing your cheeks. You also hated how easy it was for him to make you start blushing like a schoolgirl. "You would."

He shrugs. "If you've got it, flaunt it. And I'm enough of a vain motherfucker to admit that I do happen to have it."

"...I just love your modesty."

"Am I wrong?"


"You heard me." He sits up on his haunches. "Unlike you, John, I didn't stutter."

You can no longer concentrate on anything that's not Dave, because he's leaning to crawl towards you on all fours. You manage to stammer out a quiet "Um... I..." before your brain pretty much decides to stop working.

He gets right up in your face, that cocky-as-shit smirk still quirking the corner of his stupid sexy mouth. That would have been enough to get you flustered on its own: An obviously attractive and very fit young man with a charming Southern drawl, wearing nothing but a pair of shades and underwear that leaves very little to the imagination, that has also expressed (on multiple occasions) that he wants nothing more than to fuck your brains out, practically sitting in your lap. But no. Dave deliberately pushes it further than that, because you're quickly learning that he always does with you.

He actually reaches up to pull his shades down the bridge of his nose ever-so-slightly, and that's when you get your first real glimpse at what's behind them. His eyes are red. Rich, vibrant, piercing red. You'd probably be freaked the fuck out about all of this if they didn't suit him so well and if they weren't so stupidly enticing, just like the rest of him.

"I'll take that as a 'yes, Dave, you have every right to flaunt how gorgeous you are in front of me, it's cool' unless you can manage to tell me otherwise in the next 10 seconds."

You snap out of the spell he has cast over you long enough to actually get coherent again. "No, I--Dave, why do you wear those stupid things all the time, anyway?"

He gives you a look that just oozes the essence of his sister. It's remarkable how expressive he suddenly becomes when you can actually see his eyes. That must be why those guys who play professional poker are always wearing sunglasses. "You are the patron saint of the most ridiculous and ill-timed subject changes, I swear."

"N-no, I'm serious, though. I mean, wow. You have really pretty eyes, Dave. Dang. Just... dang."

He studies your face for a moment before he answers, like he isn't sure if you're being sincere or not. "It's not obvious to you?" He backs off a bit and pushes the frames back into place, which makes you disappointed.

"Well, I've never seen a color like that before, but other than that, no. Not really."

"Aside from the accusations of being the spawn of some demonic entity, my eyes are sensitive as hell to light. Pun intended, by the way."

You roll your eyes at him. "Well, yeah. If you wear sunglasses all the time, of course they are. I mean, you even wear them in the dark. No wonder your eyes are jacked up."

"Coming from the guy with the prescription lenses." He rolls his shoulders and you hear an audible couple of pops as a result. "Can you even see without 'em?"

"I can totally see without them. Just not very well." you say sweetly.

"And how does 'not very well' translate on a scale from pretty much the same to can't see shit?"

"I'd probably be able to just make out with your face." You mentally wince and immediately correct yourself. "I meant make out your face. Not with."

"Well, I know where your mind is right now, not that I blame you."

"Oh my god, shut up. It was an honest mistake, okay?"

"Hey, there's no shame in being a perv, John. I encourage it, even."

You sigh. "Well, if you would be wearing actual clothes--"

"I totally am."

"--then it wouldn't be such a problem, and no, those don't count because they aren't clothes, they're underwear."

"So... Would you rather I took them off?"

"What?" You feel something small jump in your gut. "N-no! Why would you even suggest that?"

He raises an eyebrow. "Because you seem to be flipping your shit over nothing? I'd be more than happy to lose my manties for the just cause of giving your shit something to flip over." He teasingly hooks his thumbs underneath the waistband of his briefs. "Besides, you keep on insisting that I'm not wearing anything, anyway."

You cover your face with both hands. "Oh my god--Dave!" You take a deep breath and blurt out the one thing that will get him off this subject, because you can't handle the thought of a stark naked Dave Strider right now. "I'm going back home for the summer."

There's silence for a little while, save for the sound of Dave shifting his weight beside you. You tentatively uncover your face, thankful to see him with his hands no longer threatening to shed the only article covering the small amount of his skin that you have yet to see at this point. He's lounging back to rest on the arm of the couch, one hand is draped over his stomach, while the other drums a pattern that doesn't really make any sense to you on his thigh.

"I'm going back." You repeat, even though you're both aware that he heard you the first time. "Um..." You trail off, not really sure where else to go from there. You hadn't really thought about this conversation further than actually telling him, so the confidence of your tone quickly deteriorates. "Sorry I didn't tell you."

He exhales audibly. "Yeah, I kinda figured as much."

"Sorry." you murmur again.

"So is this your way of breaking it off, or what?"

You frown, shaking your head. "No." You worry your bottom lip. "...Unless you want to...?"

He goes quiet, which is worrisome, and you awkwardly stare at each other for a few moments. You attempt to swallow the lump in your throat, but it doesn't go away.

"Not really." he says eventually, tone completely even.

A fraction of your smile returns. "Well, I don't want to either."

"You sure about that?"

You laugh nervously. "Well, yeah... I mean, it's gonna suck, but we could make it work?" A small voice in the back of your mind adds a soft 'I think' to the end of that statement.

Dave goes quiet for a little while again, still drumming on his thighs.


He hums, but gives no other verbal acknowledgement that he heard you. He's still looking in your general direction, but with his shades, and how he's acting at the moment, you're not sure he's really looking at you.

"You're making me nervous."

He stops drumming his fingers, but rolls his head sharply to crack his neck and shoulders again. "My bad. I'm just thinking." He sits up, propping his elbows on his knees to help support himself. "If you're sure that's what you want, then yeah. Okay."

You're still pretty anxious, but otherwise, it feels like a weight has been lifted off your shoulders. "Great!" You slowly stand up. "Um, anyway, I should probably get going. I still have a lot of studying to do."

Dave nods, also moving to stand. "Yeah, I do, too." He scratches the back of his neck lazily.

You both make your way to the door, and he watches you put on your shoes back on. "So... um, I guess I'll text you la--"

He doesn't even bother to let you finish the rest of your sentence before he's pressing you against the door and kissing you. Your breath hitches, partially from the force of you hitting a solid surface without warning, partially from how enthusiastic Dave was attacking you.

He pulls away after what had to be at least 10 solid minutes of his tongue in every possible crevice of your mouth to start kissing a trail down your chin and neck, then right back up again to your ear. The both of you are panting--which is unusual for him, but typical for you. You also note that he's actually harder than you are right now, if the solid lump pressing into your thigh is any indication.

"Dave," you whimper weakly. "I-I can't..."

"I know, I know." he murmurs right into your ear. His voice is low and thick. "I just couldn't resist, is all. I needed something to think about when I take care of this." He grinds into you a bit for emphasis, and it goes straight to your own groin.

"...Oh. U-um... But you weren't, um... worked up before you pounced on me."

He scoffs and nips at your ear. "That's what you think, babe." He kisses your cheek and pulls himself completely off you.

You lean against the door for a few moments, slightly discombobulated and distracted by the obvious bulge in Dave's underwear.

He just smirks. "You know, you can watch if you'd like. I promise you don't even have to touch me."

You stop checking out his package and look up at his face. "I, uh, really shouldn't... do that. Probably..."

"Kinda figured you'd turn me down." He shrugs. "Oh well."

"...Sorry." You turn around and grip the doorknob in a trembling hand.

"Hey, John?"

You open the door, but look over your shoulder tentatively. "Y-yeah?"

"Before you leave, I'd appreciate it if you'd meet me halfway and throw me a bone. Not necessarily you actually boning me or vice versa--unless you wanted to, then obviously I wouldn't stop you. Even if we're sitting in the same room and just watching each other jack off, I don't give a shit. Just... something." You watch the slight bob of his Adam's apple as he swallows. "Please."

You chew on your bottom lip. "I..." You sigh, not really wanting to discuss this right now. "...We'll talk about it, okay?"

"Yeah." He sighs softly as well. "Okay."

You exit his apartment quietly, closing the door behind you, but leaning against it in the hallway. It takes you a minute or two to collect your composure and readjust so that your erection isn't nearly as prominent, before you trek down to your car.

You suddenly have a lot on your mind again.

Chapter Text

You did it. You had officially survived your first year of college, and your second round of finals. You'd be proud if you weren't so damn burnt out at the moment.

It's moving day in the dorms, and you can't remember the last time you've seen so many people everywhere (but if you had to make an educated guess, it was probably the day that you moved in). Thankfully, there's not much for you to pack up in boxes and load into your car, so you can take your sweet ass time to give yourself somewhat of a break after this very hectic week.

The door flies open, and Natalia Leijon bounds into the room, startling you.

"Hi John," she practically sings in her high-pitched voice. "Long time, no see!"

Ennis slinks in shortly after she finishes speaking, an apologetic glance is cast in your direction. "You really should have knocked, Natalia. It's rude not to give fair warning of your presence."

She giggles softly. "Sorry, I was just excited." She sticks out her tongue slightly at Ennis.

Natalia, or just Nat, as she typically goes by from everyone besides Ennis ("Natalia is the name that her parents wished for her to have. It would be rude of me to address her as anything less."), was a very tiny girl with short, dark brown hair, lightly-tanned olive skin, and dark green eyes. She was a little more than a whole head shorter than you, and you were about a whole head shorter than Ennis, so the fact that she was typically seen together with him was quite a spectacle for most people. What she lacked in stature, she more than made up for in spunkiness and personality--or rather, purrsonality, because you were thoroughly convinced that Nat was actually a cat trapped in a human body.

She was dressed in a manner typical for her: A white tank top with bright yellow, orange, and pink stripes; a pair of faded denim cut-off shorts; black knee-high socks with watermelons sewn into them; bright orange VANS with white laces; and to top it all off, a white and light green knit cap, complete with a pompom on top and undone chin tie.

Compared to Nat's... extravagant fashion sense, you and Ennis seem so lack luster in such close proximity. He was in one of his usual plain black muscle tank tops, a pair of grey cargo shorts, white ankle socks, and black sneakers. His hair was tied back into a loose pony tail, with a square pair of shades perched on top of his head.

This morning, you had just grabbed the first clean shirt you could find (which was a forest green graphic tee that had a black grenade seemingly spray-painted on with a stencil, complete with paint splatters and drips), an old pair of jeans with a hole in the right knee, and your favorite pair of shoes (the navy blue Skechers). You almost never bothered with accessories that weren't your glasses, and the main reason you even wore those was so you could actually see.

You fold the cardboard box in front of you closed and set it on the floor. You smile at them both. "Hi Nat. Ennis, welcome back." You take the liberty to sit down on your bed. "Done packing up her place, I take it?"

"Yes. It didn't take long between the two of us. I would assume that it would go about the same pace in here as well."

"Plus I told him that it's only fair if I help him move his stuff out, too."

He fidgets with his fingers a bit. "She wouldn't take no for an answer."

Natalia skips over and sits down on the bed next to you, bringing up a hand to shield her mouth so she can whisper. "He got embarrassed because we were arguing about it in front of Arianna. He dragged me away before I could invite her along, too." The two of you start grinning and a light flush creeps onto Ennis' face.

Arianna Megido was a girl that had lived on the same floor of Nat's dorm. Ennis had been smitten with her practically the moment he first saw her, but did absolutely nothing about it for fear of rejection. When he had gone with Nat to the dance club a few weeks back, Arianna immediately recognized him and began to chat him up (according to Nat, there wasn't much talking on his end, because he had been too flustered to say much). Turns out, she had been curious about Ennis, and then proceeded to join their small group for the remainder of the night.

After that, Arianna began to greet Ennis and speak to him whenever she got the chance, which was great... for everything except for the fact that he was still absolutely terrified to speak more than three words at a time to her.

"Geez, Ennis, why didn't you let Nat invite her?" you tease. "Don't you know the quickest way to impress a girl is to ask her to help you move? That's a basic dating tip, dude."

Nat just giggles as Ennis frowns in your general direction. He takes a moment to collect his composure, and you can already see a faint glisten on his skin from the nervous sweating.

"Mock all you want, but I'd just like to point out that the both of you aren't really masters in the field of romantic endeavors yourselves."

There's a stretch of stunned silence between the three of you, as if everyone in the room couldn't believe what they had just heard (even the speaker himself), before all of you are losing your respective shit, barely able to take in a proper amount of air because you can't stop laughing.

It takes roughly about ten minutes before any of you are coherent enough to actually say anything that isn't interrupted by a snort or wheezing, and it takes roughly half an hour before you resume packing (and they even start).

As funny as it was to hear what was basically the equivalent of your polite roommate telling you to shut up and fuck off, you couldn't exactly brush off what he said. You busy yourself with the rest of your packing and try not to let its kernel of truth bother you too much.

It takes you five round trips out to the car to get everything you had brought to college packed away. You make one last trip back to your dorm, feeling just a bit emotional over how empty it looks right now.

You rub the back of your neck. "Well, that's everything, I guess."

Ennis looks over to you, finishing up with the duffle bag he'd been putting some of his clothes into. He nods, smiling somberly. "So you're flying back home tomorrow morning?"

"Yeah. I'm going over to Jade's for a bit to have dinner and then she's dropping me off to Dave's to spend the night."

You're interrupted by a call from the floor. "Ooooooh, John, you boys better behave~"

"Shut up, Nat. His sister is staying with him. It's a tiny apartment, so I doubt there'd be much happening." You clear your throat. "Anyway, Dave's going to take me to the airport for my flight in the morning."

He nods again, wiping off his hands on his shorts before he extends a hand to you, which you take and give him a solid shake before you pull him into a hug. It's gross because he's so sweaty, but you can tell he appreciates it when you pull away from each other.

"I would just like to say that I hope that you enjoy your summer vacation, and do hope that you'll stay in touch." A small smile spreads itself across his face. "This semester has been quite enjoyable. I couldn't have asked for a better roommate."

You can't help but grin yourself. "Likewise. It's been great, and I'm gonna miss you."

You're almost bowled over by a 5'2" force slamming into you, clinging to you for dear life. "D'awww~ I'm going to miss you too, John."

You roll your eyes, your smile spreading wider. "I would have never guessed that."

"I'll try not to get too bent out of shape about it. Just keep me posted on things with Dave." She pats your stomach and releases you.

"I didn't keep you posted while I was here."

"Or keep Ennis posted. Whichever."

You quirk an eyebrow. "And if I don't?"

"I have my methods of finding out no matter what. Might as well."

You sigh. Unfortunately, you know she's right. "You two take care." You give them both one last hug and a wave as you leave your dorm for the last time this semester.

Dropping off the key and signing off the last of the proper paperwork down in the housing office is short work, despite all the hustle and bustle in every direction. You're apparently really early in terms of moving out completely by 2 p.m. according to the woman behind the desk.

The commute to Jade's place is spent singing along to the radio, trying to cheer yourself up. Fortunately, after reminding yourself that your absence is temporary and that you have delicious food that you didn't buy or make to look forward to in an hour or so, it's easy to look at the brighter side of things. For now, anyway.

You pull your silver '02 Honda Accord in the driveway of a fairly large, somewhat worn-down two story white house just outside of town, double checking the address on your phone before you turn off the engine. You're not even out of the car before you hear the familiar voice of your cousin calling to you from the porch.

"It's about time you showed up! Food's almost ready." Jade is wearing a minty green sundress and a pair of white sandals. Her hair tied in plaits with bows.

"Hello to you, too." You lock your car and jog up the steps, giving her a hug. "So you survived your exams?"

She squeezes you back. "Yup. Barely, but only because I studied some of the wrong material for one of them and didn't realize it until about two days before the test."

"Did you pass?"

"Oh, yeah. Most of everything was cake, but I won't know my official grades for a while yet. I heard that Dr. Scratch is especially awful when it comes to submitting scores." She huffs, folding her arms. "He has seniority, so the school board doesn't give him too hard of a time about, but it's still annoying."

"Isn't that the ancient guy that always wears the bowties?"

"Yeah, and he's not ancient. He looks really good for his age."

You mock gag. "Gross."

Jade playfully punches your arm. "You're just jealous that you're not a distinguished, successful, and intelligent man with a bunch of pretty young girls fawning over you left and right." She smirks. "Or maybe you'd prefer it if they weren't."

You just give her a look. "I still like girls. I know I have a... um, boyfriend... but--"

She starts giggling, waving a hand to dismiss you. "John, relax. I tease because I love. I'm sorry, I just couldn't resist." She sticks her tongue out at you. "Geez, for somebody who likes to prank, you sure can't take a joke, can you? You'd have hated growing up with Nanna and Grandpa."

"I grew up with Dad, thank you very much. I'd say it was probably worse than Nanna. Anything up her sleeve is mostly outdated."

"Yeah, but she has a lot more time on her hands, and a partner in crime. I think it evens out."

You nod in agreement. "I'll give you that."

Jade's parents, your aunt and uncle, had passed away in a car accident when you both were toddlers. Your father had almost adopted her, reasoning that it would be good for the both of you to have a sibling, and that you were so close in age that it would be perfect for you to grow up together, but your grandparents had stepped in and wouldn't allow it. Your mother had passed away from complications during childbirth, and they argued that raising two young children while working a full-time job was far too much on a man in his late 20's.

You knew that it still kind of bothered Dad that he wasn't able to take in Jade, but you figure that it mostly boiled down to the fact that your grandparents had moved to a remote island after retiring, and he felt guilty that she wouldn't be around kids her own age. Still, you had to admit that for a girl that practically grew up in the jungle with only two old people and a dog for company, Jade was really well-adjusted in most social situations.

She turns around to head inside, and you follow suit. "How is Uncle James doing, anyway?"

"Antsy. I don't think Dad really adjusted to the whole empty nester lifestyle yet. He's chomping at the bit for me to get back." You sigh. "He also told me to tell you that if you change your mind about not coming to visit for the summer, he'll gladly set up the guest bedroom in a heartbeat, and he'll have you for as long as you'd like."

She giggles. "Well, that's a step up from him nagging me to go back to stay with Nanna and Grandpa, I suppose."

"He stopped saying that once I informed him of how much of a hassle it was, not to mention expensive, for you to get here the first time. He finally gets that doing it again at the beginning and end of the summer just wouldn't be worth it, but he still thinks you should be spending your time off with family."

"And I would, but..." she trails off with a shrug, but you understand. Jade was relishing in the freedom of college life. Besides, she'd probably feel awkward staying with her uncle that she hasn't technically met in person and her only male cousin, even if you were the same age.

You follow her into the kitchen and stop, seeing a couple of familiar faces that you weren't expecting. Felicia and Erin were sitting at the kitchen table across from one another and sipping idly from mugs.

Felicia was clad in a simple white, three-quarter sleeve blouse, dark denim Capris, and a black pair of ballerina flats. Her long black hair was tied back into a bun, and she had on significantly less makeup than the last time you saw her, but that didn't make her any less gorgeous by any means.

Erin looked more like he was dressed to go to some high-class event of some sort; steel grey dress shirt, a royal purple tie tucked into a black vest with thin white pinstripes, slacks matching the vest, and black dress shoes. He had on the same thick rimmed glasses, and his dark brown hair was slicked back in the same manner as well.

"Oh. Um. Hi." you mumble stupidly, feeling underdressed for this dinner, even though it wasn't anything special. Well, not technically.

Erin clearly looks unamused by your presence, but Felicia perks up at the sight of you. "Hi John!" she greets brightly. "We're just waiting for the lasagna to finish up. Should be about another 20 minutes or so. Would you like some coffee?"

"No thanks." Jade takes a seat next to Felicia, which leaves you to sit next to Erin. "I didn't know you guys were Jade's roommates." This would explain exactly how she found out about your relationship with Dave.

"Oh!" Felicia lets out a bubbly giggle. "I'm one of her roomies, but Erin doesn't live here. He's only visiting for dinner, just like you are."

You glance over to him sitting next to you. He makes eyes contact, giving you a tired look as he takes another sip from his drink. "Oh. Sorry. Where's your other resident, then?"

"She's working today. Double shift." Jade replies for her.

Felicia frowns slightly. "Erin, please stop making John feel unwelcome. You were fine two minutes ago, and you knew he was going to be here."

He scoffs softly, setting down his mug. "I'm not doin' shit. Just because I'm not a total social butterfly like you, "he gestures across the table at the girls, "doesn't mean that I'm not being hospitable. I'm a fuckin' waiter, for Christ's sake. "

"Exactly. Put on some of that good ol' fashioned workplace charm." Jade props up her elbows on the table, and leans forward to support herself.

"The kind that gets you phone numbers and great tips from your female customers." Felicia adds.

He rolls his eyes. "Wouldn't you both just love to see that."

You jump back into the conversation, looking across the table. "Is that sarcasm, or...?"

"Excuse you." Erin says as he shifts in his seat slightly, straightening up to sit taller, obviously offended.

"Oh, stop. He doesn't come in often, so he doesn't know what he's saying." Felicia reaches across the table to touch your forearm. "Sweetie, he's the best out of our entire wait staff. I can't remember the last time I beat him in tips. I can come close, but he usually gets a table or two that just seals the deal."

The girls laugh at the obvious shock on your face. You'd have figured that Felicia got excellent tips because she was so peppy and diligent. You figured that her being pretty probably didn't hurt, either. In comparison, Erin just seemed...

"Look, I know exactly what you're thinkin', and before that thought goes any further, you should probably cut it out." He folds his arms over his chest. "I know you caught me when I had to deal with Strider, but it's not like that most of the time."

"Yeah, he actually smiles sometimes." Felicia quips. "You should do it more. It makes you look handsome."

Erin's expression softens just a bit. "Oh, please, Fel. I'm always handsome. Smilin' just accentuates it."

"Oh will you two stop, already? I can already see that this is going to go down the weird flirty road, and I don't want to sit through that before I'm about to eat." Jade gets up, grabbing a rag on the counter and opening the oven to check dinner. "Look at that, lasagna's done. Perfect timing."

Felicia gets up and starts collecting silverware to set out. You make the motion to get up to help, but Erin stops you, placing his hand against your chest, shaking his head. You start to open your mouth to ask what his problem is, but he just gives you a look, and you clamp your mouth shut.

"Don't you dare, John." Felicia says sternly, eying you like she doesn't trust you as far as she could throw you.

"Both you boys stay put." Jade points a spatula at you both threateningly, and you sink down into your chair a little bit. Erin just sighs softly, and you can practically hear him think, 'I tried to warn you, didn't I?' to himself.

The girls finish tying the loose ends to complete dinner, and things are fairly quiet as all of you eat. The lasagna makes you a bit anxious to get back to Washington. You'd forgotten what it had been like to have a homemade meal after so long. You didn't really have a kitchen at your disposal to use in your dorm, and the cafeteria food was... decent, but not even remotely the same. Eating out was something you rarely did growing up, and you just felt a bit awkward in restaurants if it wasn't some sort of special occasion.

Dinner conversation mostly consisted of what everyone was going to be doing first now that school was over for a few months. Jade was going to start planting a garden; Felicia was going to start teaching swimming classes at the local pool; Erin was going to audition for some shows at a fancy theatre a few towns over; and you were going to give your Dad a break by helping him out around the house again.

After everyone finished stuffing their faces with their fill, both of the girls got up once again, and to your surprise, so did Erin. He began rolling up his sleeves. "You're fine this time, don't worry."

You stand, still not sure why you hadn't been allowed to earlier.

As if Jade was reading your mind, she pipes up. "It's basically a policy around here. Whoever doesn't cook cleans up. Since you weren't here earlier when we were deciding who would do what, we came to the decision that girls would cook this time, and boys would clean."

Felicia nods. "Erin knows where everything is supposed to go, so if you're not sure, just ask him." She smiles at Jade, patting at her stomach. "Wanna walk some of this off?"

"Riiiiight? I ate way too much, and I need some fresh air." Jade hooks her arm around Felicia's. "Have fun with your male bonding." They both wave at you as they leave the kitchen. You're not sure if they're actually serious until you hear the front door open and then close.

You're left standing there, dumbfounded as you look around the kitchen. While it's not a complete hellhole, it's still pretty messy and is going to take quite a while to clean. Erin has already started filling the sink with water and suds, so you begin collecting plates to bring over to it.

There's a long stretch of uncomfortable silence as you awkwardly fumble your way around each other to put away the food that didn't get eaten and get everything moved over to the kitchen counter. When there's no more busywork and you're left standing next to him to rinse and dry off the dishes he washes, he finally says something to you.

"So are you goin' to say somethin' about it, or are you just goin' to stand there and make this weirder than it already is? 'Cause I can just wash these by myself. It'd probably go faster, even."

Your brain has to backtrack for a while, but you have absolutely no idea what he's even talking about. "...Um. what?"

He shoots you a sideways glance for a moment before he looks back down at the sink. "You honestly got nothin'?" He hands you a plate.

"N-no...?" You rinse it off and set it in the drying rack. "I'm not sure what you're getting at. Sorry?"

He scoffs, his expression softening once again. "Nah. I am. I keep expectin' you to be exactly like that smart ass."

Oh. Right. Dave.

You laugh nervously. "Yeah, uh... Dave and I are kinda... really different in the personality department."

"You're tellin' me. If you were him, he'd have had a field day. Wouldn't stop runnin' his fuckin' mouth, I'm sure."

You worry your lip a bit, not liking how he's talking about Dave. "I don't really know much about the situation, but..." you take a deep breath, not really sure how to approach this subject, because frankly, it's none of your business and you don't want to get involved in any feuds. "Dave said that you, um, started it and that when you drop it, he will...?"

Erin stops completely and gives you a baffled look. "Are you fuckin' serious?"

You shrink back a bit, nodding tentatively. "Basically?"

He scoffs, turning his attention back to the dishes. "Of course." he spits bitterly. "Of course he'd think that this is all just me being a royal fuckin' douche with no basis whatsoever."

You know you shouldn't keep talking.

But you do.

Because you're an idiot.

"He said it's because you're mad at him."


"For--well, for flirting with Felicia. Or something."

Erin sighs. "While I don't appreciate him sniffin' around her like the dog he is," he holds up a soapy hand to gesture apologetically, "no offense or anythin'," he puts it back in the water, "Fel's her own person and I have no business tellin' her who she can and can't do anythin' with. Gettin' mad about it isn't goin' to change squat. So, basically, tell him that it's a load of shit and that he needs to come up with a new one." He hands you another plate.

You rinse it off, once again setting it in the rack. "So you're not mad at him for that?"

"Well, I'm not happy about it. I'm mad 'cause the asshole won't shut up about how I'm stuck in the friend zone whenever I see him, as if that's the only reason why I do anythin' for her. Then he turns around and lays it on so fuckin' thick when he talks to her. Like he's trying to prove a point or somethin'. It got old real fuckin' fast." He picks up a glass and begins scrubbing it. "He doesn't have our relationship pegged."

"Well... what is it like?" you blurt out without really thinking about what you're saying. When he looks over at you, you give him a sheepish smile. "I mean, you don't have to tell me, but... Well, you really seem to like her a lot."

He turns his attention back downwards as he hands you the glass he had just finished scrubbing. "I love her. More than anyone or anythin' else. Always have, always will." You can literally hear the fondness woven into his words.

"But she doesn't love you back?" you press, tentatively.

He snorts. "Oh no. She loves me just fine in her own way. We aren't datin' or anythin' but we aren't exactly platonic, either. What we have doesn't generally fit your typical romantic archetypes."

"Have you guys talked about it? Actually doing the typical dating thing and stuff like that?" You subconsciously begin chewing at your lower lip again.

"In a manner of speakin', but it hasn't happened yet, so it's probably not goin' to. At least not for a long time. If it happens, it happens. If it doesn't, it doesn't." He hands you a wad of silverware.

"And that doesn't bother you?" You rinse the entire mass together and dump it all in the rack.

He shrugs. "I'd be lyin' if I said a large part of me doesn't want to keep her to myself, whether that means datin' or makin' her my wife or somethin', but realistically..." he sighs softly. "Look, lovin' somebody--and I mean really lovin' them--means that you have to step back and really think, 'Am I doin' everything I can to make them happy?' and if that answer is no, then you gotta do everything in your power to change that. Otherwise, you're just bein' delusional."

You cock your head slightly to the left. "I'm still not sure how that factors into your situation. I mean, you obviously care about her a lot, and she seems to really like you, too. Why not just..." For lack of a better word, you hold up your hands and bring them together.

"Because everyone's different, and what makes one person happy can make another downright miserable."


"Yeah. Doesn't matter how much they might want to make it work if there are major issues like that at the core of what you got."

"Which one of you would be miserable?"

"Not gonna get into why, because that's not fair to air out dirty laundry like that, but she would." He smiles somberly. "She's tried to tell me otherwise a couple of times, but I know she's just sayin' that for me, not her."

"Erin, I'm... Wow, I'm so sorry."

He shrugs. "You can't help how you feel. Like I said, gettin' upset about that kind of stuff isn't goin' to change it. Besides, as long as she's happy, I'm happy."

The two of you continue to clean the dishes, but otherwise fall silent for the next few minutes. The topic really makes you reflect on your own relationship.

"So... what do you do," you're barely registering that you're actually speaking out loud, as opposed to just thinking, "when somebody makes sacrifices like that for you... but you're not sure if you can do the same for them?"

"If you're aware of something like that, and you're willingly letting it go on?" He gives you a stern sideways glance. "I don't care who you are. Nobody deserves that, 'cause it's cruel, and whoever's not reciprocatin' either needs to step up their game, or let it go."

You swallow hard, and you open your mouth to say something, but you're interrupted by the front door opening and the excited twittering of the girls back from their walk.

Jade pops her head into the kitchen. "You boys still aren't finished with these? Geez, and here I was ready to take you over to Dave's, John."

"Go ahead. I don't need him to finish up." Erin offers nonchalantly.

"Oh, I couldn't--" you interrupt yourself with a startled sound as he nudges you away from the sink with his elbow. You rub your arm weakly and shoot him a worried look.

He looks over his glasses at you. "I insist."

"That's awfully sweet of you, Erin." You turn, somewhat startled to hear Felicia now, too. Sure enough, she's right next to Jade in the doorway. "I know how fond of Dave you are. I'd think that you'd keep his boyfriend away from him for as long as you could."

He turns his attention back to the sink completely. "I'm not tryin' to do him any favors, believe me, but I'm sure that he and John have a lot to get out of the way, and only so much time to do so before his flight."

"As long as you're sure, then. C'mon John. Give me your keys." Jade sticks her hand out expectantly.

You reach into your pocket, pulling out your car keys to hand over. You thank the girls for dinner, then look over to Erin, who's still washing dishes.

You're not really sure what to say to the guy, and after a moment of hesitation, what you finally manage is, "You're right."

He pulls his hands out of the water to grab a rag and dry them off. He offers you a hand to shake, which you take. "Good luck."

You offer him a weak smile. "You too."

It's small and a hell of a lot more confident, but he returns your expression before he gets back to the rest of the dishes.

"What was that about?" Jade finally asks you when she's adjusting the mirrors and seat of your car.

"What was what about?"

"You saying 'you were right' to Erin. What was he right about?"

You shrug, not really looking to give her a real answer as you slip into the passenger seat. "I was talking to Felicia. She was right about him being really attractive when he smiles."

She rolls her eyes in mild frustration, but starts the car anyway. "Oh my god, John."

"What? That's legitimately what it was."

She pouts, pulling out of the driveway. "You never want to tell me anything."

"I totally tell you everything."

"No you don't."

"Do too. I mean, who else knows about the time that I fell asleep in math class my freshman year of high school and woke up surrounded by different students?"


"Or the time that I had to get stitches because I dropped Dad's letter opener and it got lodged in my foot?"


"Or when I turned 10 and was about to have a birthday party, but I puked all over the kitchen floor and it got cancelled at the last minute?"

"John oh my god shut up!"

"Well, you can't tell me that I don't tell you everything." you say smugly. The punch in the arm you get is totally worth it.


"Why do even you have this much booze in your fridge?"

Dave shrugs, grabbing some bottles out of his freezer to set on the counter next to the mixers he'd just placed there moments earlier. He's dressed just as casually as you are today, with some black and white band tee, an equally ratty old pair of jeans as yours are, and his typical shades. He wasn't even wearing socks.

"Usually whoever's hosting a party will try and use it to sway my opinion on where I'm gonna play when I can't decide. I'm not a huge drinker, but some of this shit I can't turn down."

"I see."

He looks at you skeptically. "You sure you're okay with this? Nobody's forcing you to drink."

You nod. "I just figure I might as well try it at least once. Now's just as good of a time as any."

"One last hurrah of teenage rebellion before you go back to being the model son your father thinks you are for a couple months?"

"Something like that, yeah."

You watch him pour liquids into a glass, and then stir it with a spoon once he's satisfied with the ratios. He pops the silverware into his mouth and extends the glass out to you. "Whnn reah essy on theh booths."

You take the glass, swirling it just a bit. It's a bright reddish-orange color. "You sound stupid with the spoon in your mouth." You take a small sip, and almost immediately recoil at the bitterness.

"Oh my god, John. It's not that bad." Dave groans, dropping the spoon on the counter. He picks the glass out of your hand, taking his own sip. "It's not even strong."

"I've never had alcohol. Ever." You smack your lips. "It tastes like burning."

"At first, yeah, but what about the aftertaste?" He hands the drink back to you.

You take another small sip. You recoil again, but not as bad as the first time. "Like... fruity burning."

He starts mixing his own drink. "That's good. We can work with fruity burning."

You take your drink into Dave's room. Rose's belongings were currently scattered around various parts of the living room, and you didn't really feel comfortable intruding in her living space, despite her not even being around at the moment. You both agreed to hang out in his room instead.

"So where did she go?" you call out to him, sitting down on his (significantly cleaner than the last time you were in here) bedroom floor.

He enters the room shortly after, grabbing the remote to the television and flipping it on. While it's much smaller than the one in the other room, it's still a pretty decent size for a college kid. "Probably at her boyfriend's place."

You practically choke on the sip you were taking. Dave crouches down next to you, rubbing your back with one hand as he nonchalantly take a long swig out of his own glass.

"Rose has a boyfriend?"

"Yeah, dude. She has for a while." He raises his eyebrows a bit. "Did she not tell you, or something?"

"No. No she did not." You cough quietly a few more times. "How long has this been going on?"

"Probably like 6 months or some shit."

"Are you serious?" You groan, setting your drink down on the floor so you could snake your fingers behind your lenses to rub your eyes. "How much does this girl not tell me? We're supposed to be friends."

"Oh, it gets better." Dave smirks. "Just guess who she's seeing."


"Nah, babe, that's no fun. You gotta at least make an attempt."

"I don't even know." You breathe out noisily. "Her dorm roommate's brother, or ex, or something?"

"One of the professors."

You stare at him in disbelief. "Isn't that, like... really not good?" Okay, the fact that you didn't know until now was significantly more okay and even understandable.

He nods, taking another drink. "Yeah. It's basically a great way for students to get expelled and for the staff to get fired. It's not even anyone in the department she's majoring in, but still. Shit's taken pretty seriously by the school board."

You pick your glass back up and take another drink yourself. It was still awful, but the taste was actually starting to growing on you. "So who is it?"



He laughs. "Yeah, that's what I said, too."

"So when is she coming back?"

"Probably not until after you're gone. She knows that you're going to be in Washington for the entire summer. I highly doubt she wants to be anywhere near the apartment for a while."

You take a particularly large gulp of your drink. "Yeah, um... about that."

"Are we actually gonna 'talk about it' now?"

You sigh, holding up one finger in a 'hold on' gesture, and down the rest of your drink. You shudder, the burn of the alcohol tingling in your mouth, throat, and stomach, making them all feel warm.

"Yeah," you murmur in an exhale, setting your empty glass up and out of the way on Dave's computer desk. "We are."

Dave quirks an eyebrow at you. "I wouldn't recommend doing that again, unless you want to puke."

You burp quietly, frowning. "Yeah, I'm noticing that it was a very poor decision in hindsight."

He finishes his own drink, but unlike you, had far less to swallow than you did in yours. Not to mention that he was actually used to booze. He leans over to set his empty glass up next to yours. "You okay?"

"I'm kind of queasy, actually."

"Think you're gonna be sick?"

You mull it over for a moment before you shake your head. "No, probably not. It's just that I'm really uncomfortable."

He scoots back a bit so he's leaning up against his bed, grabbing the remote once more to turn the TV back off (not that either of you had been watching it anyway). He sighs softly, placing his hands gently on your shoulders. "C'mere then." He pulls you down slowly to lay your head in his lap.

You adjust yourself to get more comfortable. "Sorry. I was trying to be dramatic. Usually people down their drinks in the movies before having important conversations and stuff."

Dave starts idly raking a hand through your hair repeatedly. "I kinda figured that's what you were going for. For future reference, that really only works with straight up hard liquor. Not sugary, fruity, mixed shit like what we were drinking."


"Anyway, about us talking about 'talking about it' and the lack thereof up until this point?"

Your whole body is feeling warm, and sort of strange. It feels really good to have Dave's short nails scratching gently at your scalp. "Yeah. Sorry about that. I'm kind of an idiot."

"You are," he agrees. "but you're an adorable idiot."

You close your eyes. "Is that why you keep putting up with me?"

"Something like that. I also happen to really like you, so that helps a lot."

"I like you a lot, too. Like... a lot."

He scoffs. "I think you have the start of a nice solid buzz going on."

You shrug and turn your head to nuzzle your cheek against Dave's legs. "I dunno. Probably. But I'm not just saying that because I've been drinking or whatever. I like you a lot but I'm also really stupid a lot. Really stupid. Like, it hasn't even been... a month or something, and I've already been the worst boyfriend ever."

"You aren't the worst boyfriend ever." he says calmly, still scratching at your head. "Trust me, you're not even close."

"I'm not very good at it, though. Especially when it comes to like..." you trail off, opening your eyes back up. You wince slightly at the light, even though it's not particularly bright in his room at the moment. "I dunno. Messing around and stuff."

"It makes you uncomfortable. I get it. It's cool." Dave stops stroking you head and drops his hand to rest at his side.

"No, like. Dave." You tilt your head to look up at him. "Dave, you are really fucking attractive, okay?"

He smirks. "You think so?"

"Oh my gosh yes." You snort, which sends you into a bit of a gigglefit for a moment. "I didn't think that guys could be hot like girls could be hot, but then I met you." You gesture vaguely with your hands. "I didn't think you were hot at first, though. Like, I didn't think you were ugly or anything, but you weren't somebody I wanted to do stuff with. But then you kissed me and then I was like, 'okay wow' and was into you. Dave you're a really good kisser, by the way. I don't know how you don't like doing it--actually, wait, you can't really kiss yourself, so of course you have no idea how awesome you are at it."

"John. Holy shit." Dave's mouth is covered by his hand, but you can hear him grinning. "If you're like this with one drink, I'd love to see you actually drunk off your ass."

"I'm not really that different right now. I'm just saying this stuff out loud, as opposed to thinking it. That's all."

"So it's basically like I'm really in the mind of John Egbert right now?"

You nod sagely. "Yes. That is exactly what this is right now."

"Okay, then. Want to actually tell me what your intentions were for tonight? I'm up for whatever."

"You wanna fuck me."

Dave clicks his tongue and nods once, slowly. Clearly he had not expected that to come out of your mouth. "Yes, but I highly doubt that you'd be okay with that happening tonight."

"You wanna fuck me bad."

"I do. I also want to fuck you hard, but I'd rather we didn't talk about that right now."

"Why not?" You shift your body so you're on your side, facing Dave so you can look up at him easier. "It's kinda hot."

He sighs. "I never said it wasn't. It's just that this is the longest dry spell I've had in quite some time, and it's basically torture to think about."




"It's okay." He rakes a hand through his own hair. "Like I said, I'm up for whatever, but if you tell me all of a sudden that you're completely okay with the idea of me ravaging you, I'm not touching you until you sober up."

"I might be if butt stuff wasn't super gross." You make a face. "I mean, there are a lot of guys that aren't okay with having stuff done to their butt, but want to put their dick in a girl's butt really bad, and that was always super weird to me. I just don't like the idea of anything in or around butts in general."

"I told you that there are ways for us to have sex that don't involve putting anything in each other's asses."

"Yeah, I know," you whine, "but you can't tell me, Mr. Casanova Sex God, that you'd be satisfied with that for very long. I mean, hand jobs and stuff are awesome, but it's not as satisfying as..." you lower your voice to a whisper, "the full sex."

"Are you saying that you weren't satisfied last time?"

"Fuck no. That shit was great."

"So what would make it any different for me?"

You open your mouth to retort, but quickly decide against what you were initially going to say. Instead, you push yourself to sit up, and remain quiet until the small amount of fuzziness in your brain settles itself.

"I think that..." you trail off, trying to choose your words carefully. "I think that part of the problem is that I'm not nearly as experienced as you are." You laugh at yourself, a bit surprised that you actually managed to say it out loud. "I mean, you've gotten it on a lot. You've probably had more sex in one month than I have in my entire life. Not counting the times with myself." You look down at your legs and begin playing with some of the loose strands around the hole in your knee. "I just feel like that when we actually do manage to get around to it that you'll be disappointed that you waited so long just to have a mediocre-at-best romp."

"Is that what this aversion to sex thing is all about, or is it on top of the whole 'we're both dudes' aspect, too?"

"Both." You shift your position so that your leaning on Dave. "I mean I like kissing and I'm okay with the idea that stuff is going to happen eventually. I just... don't really want to do that stuff with you right now."

He wraps an arm around your shoulders. "I came on too strong again last time, didn't I?"

You pull away from him, gently removing his embrace. "Oh my gosh Dave. It's not you, it's me. I'm just a big whiny selfish baby that freaks out about stupid shit."

He holds up his hands defensively. "I just feel like a jackass for pressuring you because I can't wait to--" he cuts himself of abruptly, taking a deep breath. "You're not ready. That's fine. I'll deal with it."

An idea forms in your head. "Dave."

He drops his hands to his sides. "Yeah?"

"Do you remember what you said? The last time I saw you."

"If it's what I think you're talking about, you just said that you don't--"

You wave your hands at him, dismissing what he's saying. "I know, I know, but you saying you'll deal with it got me thinking about what you said. You said that you'd be totally okay with, like... taking care of stuff and I could watch."


"Well, what if... I said now I wanna watch?"

He studies you for a little while in silence, then with a defeated groan stands up and grabs the hem of his shirt. "You're going to be the death of me, I swear." He pulls it up over his head, expertly keeping his shades intact and undisturbed, and tosses the shirt into a hamper in the corner.

You stare at his bare torso, entranced by how lean his physique is. You wet your lips subconsciously with your tongue. "Are you really gonna leave those on?" You tap the frames of your own glasses.

"Yup." He undoes the button of his jeans and pulls down the zipper. "The shades stay on for everything except showering and sleeping. Usually."

"You don't seriously wear them when you're..." you trail off, kind of losing your train of thought as Dave shamelessly hooks his thumbs under the waistband of his boxers and shucks off both underwear and jeans in one go. Your eyes wander up and down his entire body, not having the capability of being embarrassed or ashamed at the moment, because you're too busy taking an account of every single detail you had previously overlooked the last time you were presented with the opportunity of seeing this much of him.

He smirks, stepping out of the pants pooled around his ankles, and leaving them forgotten on the floor next to you as he makes his way to sit on top of his bed. "Want a better angle of this, or are you good where you are now?"

You start. "Oh! Um." You slowly rise up with a bit of difficulty; partially from the alcohol, partially from the fact that you're sort of trembling from the beginnings of an adrenaline rush. You pull out the chair he has placed at his computer desk, turning it around to face the bed and take a seat. "Is this okay, or...?"

"Was kinda hoping you'd join me over here, but it's no big deal. You have a better view from there, anyway." He leans over to his nightstand, opening up the drawer and pulling out a small, half empty bottle of lubricant. He opens the cap to squirt a bit on his hand before resealing the bottle and dropping it back into the drawer.

You feel your gut tighten a little bit. "Dave, are you going to, um, penetrate yourself? Because I don't really--"

He holds his free hand to silence you. "Don't worry. I just need something slick to prevent chafing." He's already half hard as you watch him gingerly apply the lubricant to himself and slowly begin to stroke.

Silence settles in the room as you watch Dave lean back to rest on his bed, propping himself up with an elbow. It's not long before he's fully aroused, and you mentally note that while the both of you are about the same size length-wise, you are noticeably thicker in girth. Your breath hitches when you see him throb in his hand.

"Do you need me to do anything?" you breathe out softly, completely captivated by his movements.

He hums. "Nah, I'm good." He takes a particularly deep breath, and you notice a slight flush beginning to show itself on his pale skin. "But if you're so inclined, it'd be pretty awesome if you'd tell me what you think. It's only fair."

"About what?"

"About anything that comes to mind."

You swallow. "Well..." you shift in your seat a bit, trying your best to ignore how constricting your jeans have become. "You look really good right now."


You nod. "I wasn't really expecting to be... um..."

"You weren't expecting what?" he smirks. "What's the matter, John? Are you too embarrassed to tell me?"

You bite your lower lip, feeling your face getting warm. "I'm sorry that I have trouble saying this shit out loud."

"I'm not. You're cute as fuck when you get all flustered." He falls back on the bed completely, and arches his back a bit.

"Is that why you're always whispering and stuff to me?"

You hear him let out a quiet laugh. "Mmm-hmm."

Your face burns. "Jerk."

"You fucking love it, don't pretend like you don't." He groans and you notice him throb again. It goes straight to your crotch. "You fucking love it when I talk dirty to you. You even said it earlier."

"I..." you can't find any words to retort with, so you just let out a quiet whine instead.

You see him buck his hips upwards and lulls his head back to stare up at the ceiling. "I love it when you make that noise." You can hear his breath starting to get labored. "Goddamn it, I want you so bad right now."

You're painfully hard at this point, and you're barely even thinking about it when you make the decision to undo your own jeans, awkwardly wriggling out of them just enough to free yourself from its confines. You let out another whimper when you grip your cock and begin to frantically stroke, chafing be damned.

Dave had repositioned himself to watch you the moment he heard you fumbling with your zipper. The only noises heard from there on out are the quiet reactions you both have to the sight of each other, completely caught up in the moment.

It doesn't take long for you reach your limit, and a particularly deep groan on top of the sultry manner in which Dave had started bucking into his own hand pushes you over the edge. You ride out your orgasm, and he follows you shortly after.

You go completely slack in the computer chair, doing your best to calm down and become coherent again. After a few moments, you watch Dave get up, completely ignoring the mess on his stomach and thighs, to close the gap between you. He grabs both sides of your face as he crushes your lips to his in a fit of passion, breathing hard through his nose.

He pulls back enough for you both to catch your breath after a little while. "I'm gonna miss the fuck out of you, John."

You reach up and cover his hands with yours, your throat feeling tight. "It'll be okay." You run your hands down his arms and begin rubbing them reassuringly.

For the first time since you had decided to go home for the summer, a small part of you actually wished you had chosen to stick around instead.

Chapter Text

You're not even completely out of the security gate when you see him, standing alone in what seems to be an endless sea of people rushing through the airport. You couldn't hold back your grin, even if you tried.


He's smiling now that he's aware you're finally here, and begins to make his way over to meet outside of the gate. Once he's within 15 feet, however, your excitement quickly dissipates to skepticism. You become less reckless and more cautious in your approach, because you honestly wouldn't put it past the guy to prank you here and now. It'd be the perfect opportunity; this is the time where you'd least suspect it.

As if he was reading your mind, you hear him scoff. "John, this is an airport." He frowns a little bit. "Do you honestly think I'm going to pull anything? I haven't seen you for nine whole months!"

You narrow your eyes. "After growing up in your household, I wouldn't expect anything less."

He chuckles warmly, pulling you into a hug, which you gladly drop your luggage on the floor to return. He pats you gently on the back. "I've missed you, son."

"I missed you, too."

You are the spitting image of your father in just about every single aspect, but especially with how you look. You're both 5'10" with a solid build and broad shoulders. Your facial shapes and features are quite round, and Grandpa likes to joke that the both of you have "baby" faces because of it. After you'd turned 16, you both wore the same sizes in hats, shirts, and shoes (which had saved you a lot of trouble when shopping for formal events and school dances, thanks to your father's sense of style). The only real physical difference , aside from the obvious ones caused by the age gap, are the eyes; your father's are more of a pale blue-grey, while yours are a richer shade of blue.

He squeezes, then pulls back to look you over. "You feel thin. Were you eating properly at school?"

"You haven't seen me for almost a year. You're imagining things."

He frowns. "No, I'm quite certain you've lost weight. Though, I suppose it's understandable with your exams and all. Stress does things to people."

You sigh. "Dad, it's fine. I'm fine," you emphasize while bending down to pick up your suitcase. "Can we get going? I've spent the past ten hours or so in and around airports." You give him a sheepish smile. "And speaking of eating, I could really go for a burger or something."

"Oh!" He nods, beckoning you to follow him. "Well, then! Let's go get you something."

You both trek out to your father's vehicle in comfortable silence. He manages to pluck the luggage out of your hands before you're even out of the front door, and you have no complaints. You're tired. Travelling is exhausting, especially when you're doing it alone for a couple thousand (and a half) miles on approximately 2 hours of sleep.

After your... experience with Dave, the both of you spent the rest of your conscious time together watching shitty movies and cuddling in his bed. Dave passed out sometime after 3:30 in the morning. You, on the other hand, spent your solitude thinking too much. Specifically, the conversation you had with Erin the other day.

You're not sure when you finally managed to fall asleep, but you last remember looking at the clock on the night stand at 5:33. Your ass was ready and out the door by 8:15, and by 10:30, you were on your first plane (of 3) to fly back to Washington.

You didn't nap on any of your flights at all. You didn't even try. You'd never been one of those kids to fall asleep while travelling on long car rides or anything. You could never get comfortable in those seats, anyway.

Above all else, it was strange being back in Washington after all this time. For the past few months, you had been looking forward to coming back, finding it harder and harder to stay patient until you could finally see your father, sleep in your own bed, eat home cooked meals, and just be able to take a major breather from college life.

Then you had met Dave, and now all of a sudden, it feels like you've made the wrong decision. You've never had a long distance relationship before, so you weren't sure how well this whole thing was going to go. You were nervous, though. Probably because the relationship was so new... but it wasn't like you could have done much about it. You've had this summer planned for months, and had even skipped out on seeing Dad for Christmas and your birthday--something that you'd never done before, and had a hell of a time convincing him to let you do--just so you could postpone and condense your visitation for this timeframe. Dave understood, and was totally okay with you going back home.


You haven't really talked to Dave about it. Not exactly. In fact, there was a lot you haven't talked to him about that you probably should have before you left.

"You can just get in. I'll load these in the trunk," Dad says suddenly, snapping you out of your thoughts. You're already at his car and didn't even notice. Way to space out, Egbert.

He fishes into his pocket, grabbing the car keys to unlock the doors, and you slip in to the passenger seat. He's not far behind; you only had two suitcases.

"So what would you like to eat, son?" He starts the car, checking his wristwatch for the time, despite the radio having a digital one. "We should have just enough time to stop at a sit down restaurant, or if you'd prefer we could hit a drive through? If all else fails, there's always the option to wait until we get home and I can heat something up for you."

You clutch your face. "Oh my god everything sounds good right now. I don't know what to even eat."

"Well, just let me know what you want. The world is your oyster."

"If it actually was, I'd probably eat it, potential food poisoning be damned."

Dad laughs. "Would you like seafood? There's a nice place about ten minutes from here, if I remember correctly."

You shrug. "Sure. Sounds fine to me."

"Excellent. Would you please grab the GPS out of the glove compartment? I had to put it away so it wouldn't get stolen while waiting for you."

You reach for the handle without a second thought. You've barely opened the latch when a tsunami of shaving cream assaults you right in the face. Your prankster's gambit goes down by at least four notches.

A strong hand claps you on the shoulder, and while you can't see it thanks to the massive amount of white foam clouding your vision, you can hear the playful grin in your dad's voice. "Welcome home, son. There's a towel under the seat."


You're pretty sure that you've still got dried Barbasol in your hair as you flop facedown onto your bed. Actually, you're positive you do, especially considering the funny looks your waitress gave you at the restaurant. Rephrasing: You're aware, you just couldn't give two shits less for the time being. Now that you had a full stomach, sleep sounded absolutely amazing, but you weren't going to. Not yet.

Turning over to lay on your back, you slip a hand into your pocket, extracting your phone to open up the pesterchum application. You haven't spoken to your boyfriend since you said goodbye to him back in Texas, and you figured you've been an elusive dickwad long enough.

ectoBiologist [EB] began pestering turntechGodhead [TG] at 22:16

EB: hello from beautiful my room, washington.

TG: about fucking time

TG: i was starting to get worried that your plane crashed or some shit you were supposed to land like an hour and a half ago

EB: sorry about that. i couldn't text you on the plane, and when i landed my dad took me out to eat.

EB: he has an issue with having a phone out during meals.

TG: so did he pull a fast one on you like you thought or did he behave himself

EB: it wasn't so much of a fast one as it was me naively having my guard down when i should have known better.

TG: whatd he do

EB: shaving cream bomb in the glove compartment.

EB: the last time i fell for that, i was 9. it's one of the oldest tricks in the book for him.

TG: nice

TG: im so proud of you babe

EB: thanks, i guess.

TG: how were your flights

EB: they were alright. uneventful for the most part, but everything was on time, and my layovers weren't that bad.

TG: thats good

EB: yeah.

EB: when i was flying out to texas, i almost missed one of my planes because they moved my gate to the other side of the building, and i didn't find out until about 10 minutes before it was scheduled to leave. i had to book it about half a mile through a crowded airport.

EB: it fucking sucked.

TG: i can only imagine

TG: ive never flown but it seems like a huge pain in the ass

EB: really? never?

TG: nope

TG: whenever wed go and visit mom and rose we usually drove ourselves or took a bus

TG: bro isnt too big on air travel

EB: flying isn't so bad. usually. it's just tedious and boring, especially when you're alone.

EB: it's worth it because you get there so much faster, though. plus it's really safe.

TG: id hope so

TG: especially after they beefed up airport security and shit to a point where its basically ridiculous now

TG: sir im going to have to pull you aside for questioning

TG: what why

TG: we have reason to believe that youre a threat to homeland security

TG: on what grounds

TG: we found a pair of tweezers in your bag

TG: shit i knew i shouldnt have packed those everyone knows that only terrorists tweeze their eyebrows foiled again

EB: do you tweeze your eyebrows?

TG: are you calling me a terrorist john??

EB: yes. that is exactly what is going on here.

TG: wow rude

TG: so

TG: other than the surprise shaving cream bukkake courtesy of your dad how was your reunion

EB: ew, dave! gross.

EB: it was great to finally see him again after so long! it felt like forever.

EB: i think he missed me more than he let on. he basically wouldn't stop talking the whole time we were at the restaurant.

TG: he was probably just excited

TG: i mean shit youre acting like it was such a bother dear old dad wanted to chat you up over a burger

EB: no, it's not like that at all! i missed him a lot, too... i just barely had a chance to actually eat my food while it was still warm because he just kept asking me questions.

EB: he didn't talk about himself at all. he just kept turning the conversation back over to me every time i'd ask him anything.

EB: how were your flights? how does it feel to have your freshamn year out of the way? were your exams difficult? how do you think you did? how's jade? are you sure she doesn't want to come back for the summer?

EB: stuff like that.

TG: would it be terribly faux pas to ask if i came up at all

You hesitate.

EB: honestly, i was basically expecting you to ask about that. i mean, i am talking to you, after all.

EB: but no, you didn't. i didn't really have the chance to bring it up with all of the other stuff we talked about.

You card a hand through your hair, sighing quietly. In truth, you actually did have a chance to bring it up. One of the first subjects your father had began asking you about was the people you'd met, and the friends you'd made during your first year of college. You made it a point to talk about virtually everyone--except for Dave.

It had been one of those situations where you weren't sure how to approach it, exactly. The subject of homosexuality wasn't really one that popped up often while you had been growing up. Sure, you had become aware of its existence thanks to popular media and your peers, but Dad's stance on it was a complete and utter mystery. You also weren't looking to drop something like that on him the first night you were home. You didn't want to ruin his good mood in the event he took it wrong.

It takes a little longer than it normally does for Dave to reply.

TG: gotcha its understandable

TG: i mean im kind of a broad subject

TG: dont want me dominating your conversation or anything like that

TG: besides you have plenty of time in the near future to bring me up

EB: haha, yeah. sorry to disappoint you, dave. i know how much you like having your ego stroked.

TG: you know me

TG: though i can think of a couple other places i liked getting stroked more than my ego

EB: is your penis one of those places?

TG: congratulations you win the prize

EB: oh boy! is the prize your penis?

TG: you bet your sweet ass it is

TG: damn

TG: cute and smart?? how did i ever get so lucky in the boyfriend department bless all of the romantic deities

EB: you are such a dork!

TG: maybe sometimes but only for a little while

EB: okay. if you say so.

You yawn loudly, stifling it with the bend of your elbow. As it is, your eyes are having a hard time focusing on the tiny screen of your phone. You really need to sleep.

EB: well, if you'll excuse me, i'm going to take my sweet ass off to dreamland. i'm almost falling asleep. long day.

TG: alright i dont blame you even though im pretty disappointed that we cant talk for a bit longer

TG: text me when aforementioned sweet ass gets up tomorrow morning

TG: or afternoon

TG: whichever

EB: just because you typically sleep in past noon, doesn't mean other people make a habit out of it.

TG: its summer john its practically a cardinal sin to wake up early

EB: pretty sure it's the opposite, actually.

EB: sloth is one of the seven deadly sins.

TG: yeah but goddamn

TG: what kind of unemployed 19 year old college student doesnt sleep in during their summer vacation???

TG: its wrong

TG: youre wrong

EB: you're just trying to stall me from going to sleep, aren't you?

TG: possibly

EB: it hasn't even been a full day since i've been gone. do you miss talking to me that much already?

TG: if i say yes will you text me all the time

EB: maybe.

TG: then yes

TG: i totally miss the fuck out of you

TG: its like somebody ripped out half of my soul and now im cold empty and hollow on the inside and the only remedy is a constant influx of john egbert

TG: via text messages of course

EB: oh my god.

TG: help me obi wan kenobi youre my only hope

EB: i promise i'll text you as often as i can.

TG: excellent

EB: i'm going to bed now, dave.

EB: goodnight.

TG: fine geez

TG: night

ectoBiologist [EB] ceased pestering turntechGodhead [TG] at 23:52


When you eventually managed to wake up the next day, a quick glance at the clock on the bedside table let you know that you had, indeed, managed to become coherent during the morning hours (squinting at the digital clock told you it was 11:53--seven whole minutes left, which totally still counts). You roll out of your bed, stretching and yawning loudly.

You had essentially passed out the moment your head hit the pillow, not that you were surprised--you weren't lying when you had said you were exhausted. You actually had fallen asleep wearing your clothes from the previous day, jeans and all. Except for your glasses, which you pick up off the nightstand and slip on. Thankfully, after almost 12 years of wearing corrective lenses, your bedtime routine always included taking them off and putting them in a safe place, even if you had neglected other important pre-sleeping activities. Muscle memory sure was awesome.

The first thing you do is pick up your phone, true to your word, and text Dave, who you figure is probably still sleeping. Next, you pad over to your wardrobe, and spend about ten minutes rifling through some of your clothes, and pick out something presentable to wear (just a t-shirt and a pair of cargo shorts because you have nobody to impress). You head down the hall for a quick shower, and once clean, finally go down the stairs to grab some breakfast. Lunch? Brunch? Brunch.

Your father is sitting at the table, reading the paper and having a cup of coffee. If you didn't know any better, he looks properly dressed to head off to work; white long-sleeved dress shirt, black tie, pressed black slacks, and polished dress shoes. Fortunately, you know he took off your first week back just so he could spend some time with you, and that Dad just always dressed like that for as long as you can remember.

He's wearing his glasses for once. Unlike you, Dad doesn't need them all the time, only when he's trying to read small print, but he's still really bad about actually wearing them for some reason.

"I'm hoping you slept well," he pauses to flip the page. "I saw how tired you were and decided to let you sleep in. First real day of summer vacation and all."

You walk over to the cupboards, opening one up to extract a glass. "Like a rock. I haven't slept that well since high school." You then make your way over to the fridge, grabbing the container of orange juice, filling your glass, then putting it back.

"Understandable. It's always nice to finally be able to come back home after being away for extended periods of time."

You shrug, taking a swig of juice, but quickly recoil, making a face. Too soon after brushing your teeth. You wordlessly pull out a chair to sit down and join your father.

"It's been too quiet around here without you," he continues. "Not that it was ever really loud to begin with while you were here, but..." he trails off, setting the paper down on the table with one hand, and removing his glasses with the other. He folds up the frames, tucking them in the breast pocket of his shirt, smiling, but there's a distinctive sadness to it. "This is a big house, and it just feels so empty now."

Looking at Dad, you suddenly notice how much older he looks. Like he's tired, even. You had been aware that he was going to have some issues adjusting to living alone when you left for college, but you never thought he'd take it this hard. Sure, while at school, you had gotten homesick, but it never lasted for any longer than a couple of days. Then again, it might have just been because you had been so busy with school that you never really had time to dwell on it.

Unlike Dad, who had all kinds of time to reflect on how lonely he had been for a majority of the past year.

There's a small, thick stretch of silence between the both of you while Dad sips on his coffee, and you stomach another gulp of your orange juice.

You take a deep breath, "Dad, I'm sorry for leaving--"

He firmly shakes his head, cutting you off. "No, John. Don't apologize." In a slightly softer tone, he adds, "Please."

"Yeah, but I could have gone to school around here, or at the very least somewhere closer than Texas."

"And no matter what, eventually you're going to move out and be on your own. It's unrealistic to think that you'll be in this house with me forever."

You frown. "You're obviously taking this empty nester thing really hard, though." You fidget with your fingers, tracing patterns in the condensation forming on the outside of your glass. "2500 miles is way too far for your closest living relatives."

"I'm used to it by now. Look at your grandparents. They left to live on that island when I wasn't much older than you are now." His smile gets even more sad. "Though, I still had your mom with me back then, so it was probably a little easier to handle than if I was completely alone." He sighs, "And after she left, I still had you."

Your heart feels heavy. Dad barely spoke about your mother, and you know that even after almost 20 years, it still hurt him like it had just happened yesterday. You'd only seen a few pictures and heard stories from your grandparents about her, because due to the nature of her death, you didn't exactly have the chance to get to know her. You'd never been especially bitter or broken up about not having a mom, because Dad had done an excellent job raising you. He was a better single parent than most kids have for both.

While her absence wasn't especially a sore subject for you to recall, there was a lot of pain and guilt over how it affected your father. It wasn't a pleasant feeling to realize that she had literally given up her own life just so you could start yours. Dad never dated anyone new, claiming that there was no sense in trying to replace the irreplaceable. He also said that he wouldn't have traded you for the world, and that he's very happy to have you, but you wouldn't blame him one bit for wondering about things if they had happened differently.

"Dad, I'm sorry," you repeat quietly. Your throat feels a little tight.

"No, I am. It's too early for me to be bringing any of this up, and not even after a full day of you being back yet." He shakes his head, taking another sip of coffee. "I suppose I'm just getting emotional."

"That's okay. I'd rather you want to talk about Mom than Jade," you joke in an attempt lighten the mood a little bit. "Just for a change of pace."

He chuckles quietly. "Yes, I suppose I have been pretty adamant about her visiting, haven't I? I just haven't seen her since she could barely walk. I would just like to know more about the young lady she's grown up into, is all. Your grandparents are the exact same way when it comes to you."

You take a sip of your juice (by now the disgusting aftertaste of your toothpaste is long gone). "Do they still ask about my magic act, even though I haven't done anything like that since I was, what? 13?"

"You'll understand when you're older and have your own kids, son. They grow up far too fast. Anyway, I suppose you're probably hungry. How does an omelette sound?"

You understand that he's not trying to mean that in the way that you're taking it, and that he's changing the subject because he's not trying to dwell on such negative subjects, but you just feel even more guilty. Over just about everything.

"Yeah, that sounds great."

Your phone buzzes in your pocket. Three times in succession, in fact. Dave must finally be up. You watch your father get up to work on your breakfast, and consider taking the plunge to just... tell him. It could be like ripping of a band-aid; quick, easy, painless. Besides, getting it out in the open was probably a good idea. You didn't typically hide stuff from him, and this kind of was a huge deal.

"Hey, Dad?"

He hums, indicating that he heard you, but doesn't cease beating the eggs as he turns to glance at you from over his shoulder. "Yes?"

There's a moment of hesitation on your end, and you're sure he can feel your trepidation because his movements slow down as the silence stretches on. He's obviously bracing himself for something, and it's making you nervous.

You smile sheepishly, bringing a hand up to rub at the back of your neck. "Would, uh, you mind throwing in some hash browns, too?"

A smile of his own brightens up his face just a little, and he seems relieved. "Of course not. As long as you don't mind frozen ones."

You shake your head. "That's fine. Thanks."

He turns to face forward, full attention back to the eggs, and your expression falls back into something more neutral as you reach into your shorts to check your phone. Sure enough, you'd been completely right, and text Dave a quick "can't talk, at the table" before shoving it right back into your pocket.

You had the whole summer ahead of you. You're sure there will be a perfect opportunity to bring it up.


Chapter Text

TG: cmon

EB: no.

TG: its not like i havent seen it before

EB: it's weird and tacky. no.

TG: its actually neither of those things

TG: would it help if i sent you one first

-- turntechGodhead [TG] sent file photo_0013516.jpg to ectoBiologist [EB] --

EB: two things: one, i'm not opening that.

TG: dude

EB: second, that was sent way too quick for you to have not had on hand already.

TG: the iphone has this cute little button where you can take pictures and send them to people while texting babe

TG: its not like it takes that long

TG: snap and go

TG: its easy as shit and teenagers across the globe have the ability to become amateur photographers

TG: just as god intended

EB: yes, but this is you we're talking about here. i've seen you take photos, and even when it's something insignificant with your phone, you always take like 70 and keep 2.

EB: maybe 3, but that's being pretty generous.

TG: okay okay so its one i happened to have on hand from a little while ago big deal

TG: at least its the most recent one

EB: ...are you telling me that you have multiple pictures of your own dick on your phone?

TG: i have multiple pictures of a lot of things

TG: shit you just got done belittling me about how i take an assload of pics a literal minute ago how is this surprising to you

EB: but it's your own dick.

EB: on your own phone.

TG: well id have pictures of yours on here too but somebody is refusing to send me some

EB: because i dont take pictures of my junk! i see it all the time! why would i even do that?

TG: i dunno

TG: probably to give your boyfriend a little deposit for the spank bank

EB: oh my god.

TG: i mean dont get me wrong ive been having an absolute field day with the archives

TG: lots of fond memories

TG: but after a couple of weeks its a little hard to keep it fresh yknow

TG: emphasis on hard

TG: but its more like a lot

You roll your eyes at your screen. It's been a little over 3 weeks since coming back home to Washington for the summer. Dave seemed to take the distance reasonably well so far. Or, at least as well as Dave could handle distance, that is.

To say that he messaged you often was an understatement. Pesterchum's mobile app (which is all Dave ever used because he was almost never on his computer) essentially made it possible for you two to be in contact 24/7. The only times he would let up his onslaught of red text was typically limited to while he was sleeping or performing. Every other time was fair game--including times when normal people would think to drop communication for a while, like for showering, eating, or when they were getting off.

As annoying as it was, saying that you hated it completely was inaccurate. You missed him a lot, too, and having a constant tie to him helped ease some of the discomfort of your separation. Hell, if it really bothered you, you wouldn't reply to him as often as you do (which was basically always).

However, if there was one topic that you wish you could prevent Dave from bringing up, it was the same shit you were always adamant to avoid. Such was not the case, but for the past few days, he seems more determined than ever to engage in some sort of sexual activity.

Needless to say, you didn't exactly see eye-to-eye with him on this issue, but what else was new, right?

EB: can't you just like... look at porn or something?

TG: once again

TG: somebody keeps telling me no

EB: you know what i mean! you have the internet!

TG: and you have a phone with a camera whats your point

EB: i really don't mind if you look at random internet porn, dave. seriously. it's not that big of a deal.

TG: youre seriously encouraging me to think of somebody else while jerking it

EB: well it's not like you'd be cheating on me or something! it's just porn.

TG: john seriously holy shit

EB: i just really don't feel comfortable sending you dirty pictures of myself!

TG: and youre probably still not up for camming either are you

EB: that's worse!!!

TG: okay geez

TG: well what if i actually used my phone like a phone and called you

TG: we can party like its 1999

TG: have some good old fashioned long distance loving

EB: right now?

TG: thats kind of the plan yeah

EB: that's probably not a good idea, either.

TG: okay so youre telling me that i cant see you or hear you while getting off

TG: and you also want me to think about somebody else

EB: no, dave, that isn't what i'm saying at all!

TG: then what are you trying to say???

TG: i mean yeah i get that youre uncomfortable but obviously you have some semblance of desire hidden under all of that denial weve established that

TG: are you still freaking out about shit that doesnt actually matter because ive already told you that you can drop the defensive thing already

You're in the midst of typing up a reply that's along the lines of "i don't know, can we talk about this later?" when you hear your name being called from the bottom of the stairs. You jump in your computer chair, and glance quickly at the clock to verify that you aren't crazy. It's roughly about three hours before your dad typically gets home, but sure enough, he's here and repeating himself to get your attention.

You stand up and walk over to your door to peek your head out into the hallway. "Dad? You're home early. What's up?"

You can't see your father, but you can hear him better now from downstairs. "There was an issue with the wiring at the office. We lost power and were sent home a little early, so I picked up some groceries." You can hear him walking into what you assume is the kitchen. "Care to help me out down here really quick?"

You glance back to your computer monitor. "Yeah, just give me a second."

You return to your chair, noting that there were more messages from dave while you had been away from your keyboard.

TG: you told me you were gonna work on it but we havent exactly done that yet

TG: its not like im really even asking you to do much

TG: just talk to me or show me some skin or something

TG: its not like you gotta jack off too

TG: though that would be great the last time was pretty hot

TG: john

TG: are you ignoring me now

EB: no, i'm not ignoring you. sorry.

TG: oh okay

TG: still though what the hell

EB: my dad came home and he wants to help me with groceries, so be right back.

TG: your dad isnt going to be home for another couple of hours thats kind of a weak excuse babe

EB: i guess he got sent home early, but seriously i need to get down there he's calling for me!

EB: i promise i'll be right back and we'll... figure something out.

EB: okay?

You can practically hear the exasperation in Dave's replay as you read it.

TG: alright

TG: just

TG: get back soon

You spring from your computer desk and practically fly down the stairs, gut in a knot from guilt, but put on a nonchalant smile for your father, who's already started to unpack some of the dozen or so bags on the kitchen table.

He greets you with a playfully irritated tone. "That took much longer than a second, John."

You shrug sheepishly, bending down to grab some frozen vegetables. "Yeah, well, they didn't exactly think I was telling the truth about needing to help you out."

Dad hums quietly. "I see. Talking to a friend of yours from school?"

"Yup. Just catching up on stuff I've missed."

"I don't suppose that's the same person you're always texting on your phone, is it?"

You feel your stomach drop a little before opening the freezer, but quickly brush it off. "Uh, yeah. Sorta? I mean, I text a lot of people. Like Jade. She texts me a lot."

"I see," he repeats, and then falls quiet. So do you.

The next few minutes are awkward, and you make a point to speed up the process of putting food away. You feel like you set a world record for folding up reusable grocery bags (most of which look almost brand new, despite being used on a regular basis) and shift uncomfortably as you tap your fingers on the back of the chair you're bracing yourself against.

"Okay, so... Looks like that's it." You gesture over your shoulder to the doorway. "Just gonna head back to my room."

Your father sighs quietly, falling back a little to rest up against the counter. "Son."

You drop your hand back down to your side, and know that you're probably going to regret not getting the fuck out of dodge, if the look on Dad's face was any indication. "Yeah?"

"Why haven't you told me about her?"

It takes a moment to register his question, and even then, you're a little bit lost on what he's talking about. "Uh... what? Told you about who?"

He frowns. "I know that you're seeing somebody, John."




Your eyebrows raise in surprise, and just about everything on your mind is completely erased. "How did you..?"

"Your Nanna mentioned it to me over the phone a few days before you came back."

You let out a long breath, reaching a hand up to rub the bridge of your nose. Of course. Of course Jade had said something about it to your grandparents. How did you not consider that sooner?

"I figured that you didn't want to talk about it with finals still fresh on your mind," your dad continues. "I also didn't really want to ruin the surprise, but now I'm starting to get a little worried."

"Worried?" you echo.

He nods. "Well, yes. You've never hidden this kind of thing from me before. When you got together with Veronica, it was all you could talk about for months."

You can feel yourself starting to get defensive. "Well, yeah, I mean she was my first real girlfriend! That was a really big deal, but this is..." you trail off, not sure how to finish that sentence.

"It's what? You can tell me, John, I'm your dad." He pauses for a moment, seemingly weighing the options of what to say in his mind. "Did you--John, did you have a fling and get her pregnant?"

You inhale some of your own spit, and cough violently, trying to collect your composure. "Wha--NO! Nobody's pregnant!!"

You see him relax a little, but not much. "Then? Is she a sex worker? Does she take drugs?"

Your face twists into an expression that's something between shock and disgust. From an outside perspective, this was probably hilarious--hell, if this were a scene in a movie, you'd be crying from laughter--but being in this kind of situation was just horrifying on about three different levels. Not only that, but your mind has gone from a total blank to panic mode trying to figure out how to talk your way out of it.

"No, Dad, oh my god! It's not like that at all! I just." You swallow hard, and sigh audibly. "It's just a weird situation and I'm really not comfortable talking about it right now."

"It's not Rose, is it? You've talked about her quite a bit, but you haven't mentioned her in a while--"


"--She sounded like such a nice young lady--"

"Dad, seriously."

"--I just don't understand why you wouldn't tell me about dating her--"

"DAD," your voice comes out a lot louder than you'd intended, but it's enough to do the job. Your father is almost as shocked as you are, but he slowly closes his mouth, clearly holding his tongue for now.

You card a hand through your hair and turn away from him.

"Now's just--it's not a good time, okay?" You pause but he doesn't answer. You sigh. "I'm gonna go for a walk. Y'know, get some fresh air."

He still doesn't answer you by the time your shoes are on and you're walking out the front door. Your heart's pounding in your chest, and you barely make it down your front steps by the time your phone is out and dialing Jade.

It rings three times before she picks up.

"Oh hey John," she says. You can tell by her voice that she's smiling. "What's up?"

"What's up?" you echo, unable to keep the irritability out of your voice. "I'll tell you what the fuck's up. My dad just got done asking me twenty questions about my love life."


You round a corner on your block. "Apparently, Nanna told him that I was in a relationship."


"So what the hell, Jade?! When did you decide it was a good idea to open your big fat mouth to anyone about this?!"

"Excuse me?" Any and all cheerfulness prior to your questions was now gone and she was starting to get defensive. "All I said in my letter was that you were seeing someone. That's it. I figured he already knew. You tell him everything else."

"Not this!!"

"Any how is that my fault?!"

"Because I trusted you, Jade. I trusted you, but then you went and blabbed and now I have to deal with this, so thanks."

She sighs loudly, exasperated. "I don't understand why this is such a big deal!! Just talk to him."

You laugh bitterly. "It's a big deal because I'm with a guy. And not just any guy--oh no--a guy like Dave. Yeah, I'm sure that'll go over really well."

"Well who's problem is that, dumbass? If you don't want him to know about you being with 'a guy like Dave', then don't be with a guy like Dave. Otherwise, it's not my fucking problem." You hear a click followed by two beeps, and upon pulling your phone away from your ear, you see that the call had ended. Jade hung up on you.

If you'd been angry before, you were now completely livid--at your dad, at Jade, but mostly at yourself. A small part of you knew that you were being completely unreasonable, but that was the thing about strong emotions: very rarely were they fueled by rationality and reason. You stop in your tracks, clenching your phone so tightly that your knuckles turn white, and raise it above your head. You're about a nanosecond away from smashing it on the sidewalk when it vibrates once. You let a long, loud breath out through your nose, and lower the device, glancing at the screen.

TG: so its been like 40 minutes and youre on idle

TG: do i have reason to believe that youre not coming back or what

You huff again, typing a response.

EB: I was yelling at my idiot cousin.

TG: what

TG: why

EB: she let it slip to nanna that i was dating somebody, and then nanna told my dad.

TG: so

EB: what do you mean "so?" this is a big fucking deal, and i wasn't really planning on telling him.

TG: like what kind of wasnt planning on telling him are we talking here

TG: not quite yet

TG: or

TG: are we talking never

EB: i don't know? i just wasn't planning on this right now.

EB: i mean, i probably would have told him eventually, but how do you even tell your dad that his only son has a boyfriend?

TG: like this

TG: dad i have a confession to make

TG: i legitimately enjoy macking on a dude he touched my no-no square and it was basically amazing

TG: oh and also hes my boyfriend jsyk

TG: then hell be like okay son thats cool what would you like for dinner

EB: dave, this is serious.

TG: well obviously you wouldnt say that first part to your pops im sure

TG: but i dont understand whats so hard about the second bit

EB: well, i'm sorry that my dad isn't like yours. i can't just nonchalantly say "dad i have a boyfriend" and expect everything to be no big deal.

EB: does YOUR dad even know that you're in an exclusive relationship yet?

TG: first of all its weird that you call him that

EB: no, it's weird that you call him bro.

TG: getting back on subject

TG: yeah ive mentioned that im tied down

EB: but did you tell him that you're dating a guy?

TG: yeah i did

TG: i legitimately cant believe thats still such a big thing for you

EB: because it is! it's a huge deal.

TG: yeah but goddamn john

TG: is it really that different from being with a girl??

TG: obviously youve got hang ups about me having the same plumbing as you do but i thought youd at least be somewhat over that by now

TG: i mean you dont seem to mind when i have my tongue halfway down your throat or when i was playing your skin flute with my erection gringing into your asscrack

TG: do you just not give a shit in the heat of the moment but every other time its some big thing??

TG: seems pretty backwards to me but okay

Your anger flares up again.

EB: why does it always have to be about sex with you?

TG: is that a serious question or are you being rhetorical

EB: it's like that's all that matters to you sometimes, or that our entire relationship is based completely on sex.

There's a long pause before Dave's response comes in.

TG: what

EB: dave, the first time i met you, we had barely said anything worthwhile to each other before we kissed.

EB: the first time i called you, you made it apparent that you wanted to fuck my brains out.

EB: on our first date, you got in my pants.

TG: so im a little forward

TG: but you cant tell me that you didnt enjoy any of that

EB: i'm not comfortable with the thought of just being another notch on your bedpost.

TG: are you fucking serious

TG: do you seriously think thats all this is

EB: it's crossed my mind enough.

TG: john if you were just a fuck and chuck youd have known by now

TG: i thought that was obvious

TG: apparently not

EB: can you really blame me? you're so adamant about being physical. all the time.

TG: and do you understand how much it fucking sucks that youre so opposed to it??

TG: for fucks sake john even with the shit thats not that big of a deal is like pulling teeth for you

TG: ive instigated every single kiss weve had

TG: ive offered to get you off

TG: and have

TG: without asking for any reciprocation

EB: no reciprocation?

EB: that's bullshit and you know it.

EB: you do your damnedest to get me worked up every single time we get together. you have an ulterior motive.

TG: i backed off every single time you told me you wanted to stop

TG: everything weve done has been on your terms

TG: not mine

EB: and you've pushed me into it! i would have liked to wait.

TG: yeah

TG: until quote eventually unquote rolls around

TG: but honestly at this rate im beginning to wonder if youre just leading me on

EB: excuse me?!

EB: i can't just pull a date out of my ass for you that will magically make me ready to HAVE SEX WITH YOU.

EB: that isn't how it works.

EB: if you could concentrate on something that wasn't trying to get off for five minutes and actually listen to me, that'd be really fucking great!

TG: you make it sound like im so fucking wrong for wanting this

TG: isnt that supposed to be some indication to you that i really like you

EB: normally, yes. but you essentially sleep with anyone you meet.

EB: i'm sure you can see where i'm going with this.

TG: okay

TG: know what??

TG: i dont need this

TG: ive got a gig in a bit

TG: and youre being an asshole

Your hands are shaking too hard to even respond to him, not that you wanted to. So what? You were being an asshole. It took one to know one.

You circle the block a few times before your anger completely subsides and you can start to think rationally again. The conversation you had with Dave was reeling through your mind, and the more you thought about it, the guiltier you felt. First things first, however, because you were quickly approaching the front steps of your house, and you honestly didn't know how you were going to face your father right now.

You slink in through the front door, and are met with a thick silence. Slipping off your shoes, you wet your dry lips with your tongue and hesitate.



"Dad?" You check the backdoor quickly, and then the garage. Sure enough, the car is gone, and you breathe a shallow sigh of guilty relief. You had a little while to regain your composure further, and then you'd apologize for snapping at him. You still weren't ready to talk about the Dave situation with him, though, but you hoped he'd understand that now.

You head up to your room, slowly taking the steps one at a time, emotionally exhausted. You honestly want nothing more than to crawl in a hole and just stay there, ignoring the outside world for when you were damn good and ready to come back out. You do the next best thing and crawl in bed instead, and it's not long before you're asleep


Post-nap, you were feeling a lot better than you had before your little temper tantrum. By the time you went back down the stairs to grab a glass of water, your dad was back home and cooking dinner. You lent him a hand, quickly apologizing, and he took it well, seeming to brush of your exchange. He didn't bring up your relationship again, and it felt like a huge weight was lifted off your shoulders.

Unfortunately, there was still quite the knot in your gut to deal with.

After you were full and the dishes were cleared, you crawl back up to your room, phone in hand, swallowing your pride to text your boyfriend.

EB: dave, im sorry for earlier.

EB: i was upset and let it get the best of me. i had no right to say some of the things i said.

EB: i hope you can forgive me.

You set your phone down on your desk, and you settle into your computer chair to piss around on the internet for a little while, wasting time until you got a response.

Three hours later, you're checking your phone for the twentieth time, and still no messages from Dave. It was a Friday night, and you knew that he had a gig to go to, but you know for a fact that he'd had at least one break by now, and if you knew your boyfriend at all, that phone was out as soon as he had the chance.

'Maybe he didn't get the messages,' you ponder, scrolling back to the text menu in your phone. It wasn't completely unheard of. You'd gotten a few delayed messages from people from time to time, along with the occasional repeat here and there. Technology was advanced, but far from flawless. Knowing your luck, these were the few messages to slip through the cracks.

Just to be safe, you text him again.

By the next morning, you still haven't gotten anything and start to panic. It had never been this long between responses, and it was safe to assume that he had gotten your texts--he was just not responding for one reason or another.

He was either really mad, or something happened. Either way, you didn't like the options, but was hoping for the former.

EB: dave, please respond to me.

EB: i know you're angry, and you have every right to be, but i need to hear back from you.

EB: something.

EB: anything.

EB: i'm really starting to worry.

Another seven hours goes by with still no word, before you pick up your phone to call Rose. Just to be safe.

She picks up on the fifth ring.


"Rose. Yeah, hi. It's John."

"I know. I saw your number before I picked up."

"Oh. Yeah." You clear your throat quietly. "Say, uh, you haven't happened to see Dave lately, have you?"

"What do you mean lately?" You could tell she was confused about your question. "I saw him yesterday afternoon."

You feel your gut bottom out. "...So he didn't come home last night?"

"Possibly. I didn't either."

It takes you a few moments before you finally get it. "You're at Scratch's?"

She hums. "I typically spend a few days over here a week. It makes things easier." You hear a muffled voice on her end, and she pulls the phone away from her ear a little bit to answer him before getting back to you. "John, care to tell me what this about?"

"We had a fight yesterday, and he's not answering my texts." You pace around your room. "I know it's really stupid, but can you please check on him for me? I just want to know he's okay."

"I see." She pauses. "I'll let you know as soon as I can."

You smile ever-so-slightly. "Thanks Rose."

You try to occupy yourself with something that doesn't have to do with your phone, finally settling on solitaire, but it's hard to concentrate on your cards with your mind racing like it was. You were sure--hoping--that you were overacting, but this situation was so different from the norm that it was hard for you not to worry.

'Calm down,' you tell yourself, breathing slowly and flipping over cards. 'Rose will get back to you.'

You're getting your ass handed to you, thanks to the lack of the seven of hearts in play, when your phone rings. Your heart skips a beat as soon as you see Rose's name pop up on the screen.

You can't answer fast enough. "Is he okay?"

"He's... alive," she says, a little sadly, "But I'd hardly say that he's okay."

You frown. "What did he say to you?"

"That's not my place to discuss with you." Your heart sinks as she continues. "He still needs some time yet, but I can assure you that he'll contact you once he's good and ready."


"Just be patient. I know it's easier said than done."

"Yeah," you agree quietly. "It is."

Chapter Text

Shit for my own personal reminder, just in case it’s been too long since I’ve thought about it and forget my own plot.

Blah blah blah stuff I already wrote, including next paragraph.

A few hours later, Rose calls John to tell him that Dave is alive and breathing, but far from okay and dealing with something at the moment. John asks what happened, Rose tells him that it’s not her place to talk about it, and that Dave will contact John when he’s ready.

John does his best to calm down and try not worry about it. Dad is worried, because John’s a nervous wreck.

John hears from Dave a few days after their fight. Calls him on the phone. John’s just happy to hear from Dave.

"John, I fucked up."

"It’s okay, I did, too. I had no right to say all those things, and I’m so sorry."

"No, you don’t understand. I fucked up."

"What do you mean…?"

Dave explains that he went to his gig and actually ran into an old fuckbuddy of his (Terezi. Probably Teresa? IDK troll names) and one thing led to another. John can’t handle it and he ends up hanging up the phone. Feels betrayed that Dave cheated on him with a woman and also apparently somebody who was also more than a one-night stand. Starts crying. Dad hears, comes to check on him, John can’t form coherent sentences, so Dad just offers a shoulder to cry on.

John is just exhausted emotionally from crying for the past couple hours or so. Doesn’t want to eat. His Dad is talking to him, trying to be reassuring and supportive. John doesn’t really respond.

Gets an angry text from Rose.

TT: What the fuck did you do to my brother?

EB: what?

TT: He was essentially doing fine up until he called you, and now we’re back to square one.

TT: Actually, less than that, because I just witnessed him smoking his first three cigarettes in what has to be a year and a half. In a row.

TT: So, I reiterate: What did you do?

EB: rose, he told me he cheated on me.

TT: I’m completely aware. He confided in me before he came to you, remember?

EB: how was I supposed to react?

TT: You were supposed to listen to him and hear out his end of the story, John. He’s aware that he has made a mistake, and chose to come to you and be honest about it. He was doing his best to patch your trust as soon as it was breached and you didn’t even give him that much.

TT: Not trying to excuse his behavior by any means, but David has been sexually frustrated for the past few weeks. He was in an incredibly vulnerable state with the wrong mindset, probably intoxicated, and the right person at the wrong time happened to cross his path.

TT: In all honestly, John, I think you’re being unreasonable.

EB: my boyfriend tells me that he slept with somebody else because he was mad at me, and you think I’m being unreasonable for being upset?

TT: I’m not just talking about this situation. I’m talking about your entire relationship.

TT: You two aren’t suited for each other. It’s gotten to a point where your differences are affecting each other in ways that aren’t healthy, and clearly, after approximately two months, this is not good.

TT: I believe this is a giant red flag waving in front of both of your faces, and that you should quit while you’re behind.

TT: But it’s not my place to tell either of you what to do. You’re my friend, and he’s my brother. I just don’t particularly enjoy seeing either of you being miserable.

EB: …i just don’t know what to do.

TT: If nothing else, at least talk to him. And I mean actually talk to him about everything.

TT: For once.

TT: Please.

John lays in his bed, looking up at the ceiling. Sighs to himself, and gets up. Walks down the stairs and into the den. Plays the piano for what feels like hours. Keeps playing until he can barely feel his fingers, and Dad touches him lightly on the shoulder, startling him.

"Son, dinner’s ready." He sounds sad, but also relieved that John is actually out of his room.

John nods, goes to eat in silence. His Dad starts cleaning up dinner, then John speaks.

"I had a fight with Dave."

"A friend of yours from school?"

John shakes his head. “Dad, Dave’s my boyfriend.”

"Oh," he stops in his tracks, studying John. "I see."

They talk about it for a little while. Dad takes it well—he wasn’t expecting that, but he isn’t disappointed or anything, which just makes John feel like an even bigger jackass.

John goes up to his room. Calls Dave, and is actually surprised that he picks up.

"Hey," Dave’s voice is rough, but also relieved to hear from John.

John’s anxious, but actually stops being a shit for like 5 minutes to actually talks about his feelings fore realsies and shit. Dave spills how frustrated he’s been and that he likes John a lot, but he doesn’t think he can still do this with how things have been going. John levels with him, telling Dave about what Rose said. He thinks she has a major point, but John also doesn’t really wanna break things off with Dave completely, despite what’s happened.

"So… how do we fix this?"

John shrugs, even though Dave can’t see. “I have no idea. I’ve never really dealt with anything like this before. But I think we’re supposed to just keep working at it until we get it right.”

"Are relationships always this hard?"

John smiles somberly. “From what I’ve gathered, only the worthwhile ones.”

End chapter.

Time skip. Still not sure how to handle this, exactly. Part of me wants to pick it back up when John and Dave get to see each other for the first time since he left, part of me wants to pick it back up when he flies back into Texas and Jade picks him up from the airport.

I also would really like John to get together with Equius, Nepeta, Fereri, and Eridan one last time somehow. Probably over food. Everybody likes food. I don’t even know. It’d be that café that Feferi and Eridan work at after Eridan gets off his shift (Fef had the day off lmao).

Basically everyone talks about shit they did over the summer. Not much changes between Eridan and Fef (surprising absolutely no one) but they both play it off as they usually do. Now that John actually knows more to their story, he can actually pick up on the stuff that isn’t really said. It kinda makes him sad, but he also gives them major props for being able to be around each other without causing a big scene. Maybe Fef starts dating Sollux, but I don’t think I can actually be that mean to Eridan. For once. Not that he doesn’t deserve it in canon BUT HAHA I’M GETTING OFF TRACK.

Equius has hung out with Aradia a couple times—but only with Nepeta around, because he’s too much of a pansy (Nepeta’s words) to be around her alone. Their relationship hasn’t really progressed much more than that, but John also gives him props for trying. GJ Equius, you may not have climbed the whole mountain, but you sure as hell aren’t on the ground anymore.

Nepeta probably also didn’t progress much with Karkat because I really like it one-sided because I’m still a jerk and also canon. This is not the doomed timeline where they die and actually get together or something. IDK maybe they kissed once while they were hanging out and drinking, but Karkat’s all “nah I’m not feeling it” and she’s like “oh okay” and copes with it by living vicariously through Equius. Shrugs really hard.

I don’t know what to do with Jade. Would she be there or go do something elsewhere?? John apologized and they dropped the issue pretty quickly, so that’s fine. I just don’t actually know if she’d stick around or not. I guess that’s up to you guys because either works.

Anyway, John leaves and goes over to Dave’s. They’ve spoken since they had their feelings jam way back when, but they haven’t really gone back to how things were normally. Like Dave doesn’t text him 25/7 and John isn’t as much of a dick. They basically have an unspoken agreement that they’re still a couple, but it doesn’t really hit home until they’re both together in the same room.

It’s a little awkward at first, but they decide to do the music thing again and it helps ease the tension. They can at least talk about stuff semi-normally again. They probably just hang out for a while, and in the middle of a completely unrelated conversation, John kisses Dave. Dave kinda pulls away because he doesn’t want John to feel like he’s obligated to do anything, but John tells Dave that he basically thought a lot about their relationship, and what he wanted out of it.

John kinda laughs, “Besides, I AM still attracted to you. We established that a long time ago.”

But the point is that John and Dave totally fuck. Frotting, specifically. John’s gonna take charge and just… go for it. Dave doesn’t complain. He’s enthusiastic and tells John exactly how into it he is because hell yeah dirty talk. Dave also offers advice to make it go as smoothly as possible.**

IDEK. The last chapter of this is really fuzzy and I don’t even know where I’m going with it at this point. It’s gonna end somewhat ambiguously as to whether or not their relationship will last—like obviously this is a work of fiction, but they have a lot of work to do to make the relationship work. I just don’t want this to be a fucking Nicholas Sparks kind of story with a weak ass resolution that magically negates the conflict, no matter how severe. Maybe skip a bit of time and have John meet Bro—or elude to it. That’d be p great.

Anyway, yup. This sure was my outline.