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Dave's birthday is in two weeks and you don't know what to get him.

Since he became more than just a brother/parent figure to you, you've been thinking on and off about giving him something. He won't be expecting it, which is half the reason you want to do it, although you've mentally backed out a few times since getting the idea. It's not exactly a one-month anniversary, but it's close. Things are still a little weird between the two of you. Not in a bad way, necessarily, but neither of you are quite past that awkward stage of 'oh hey this is incestuous and illegal and could get us both in serious trouble, not to mention permanently ruin Dave's career and both our reputations.'

Regardless, getting him something for his birthday is a nice idea, but it's ignoring the single biggest problem with your plan, assuming that you don't abandon it completely for the third time this week. It's not that he's hard to buy for. Your Bro is the exact opposite of a person whose interests are a mystery, and theoretically the act of gift-giving should be especially easy on your part because you're more or less his kid. However, he's arguably one of the most famous people on earth, and as a consequence, one of the wealthiest. Whatever he wants, he can easily buy for himself, and he doesn't need you or anyone else to do it for him. So that leaves you with a nice sentiment and nothing to back it up with. This is in addition to the fact that you haven't gotten each other anything for a holiday or special occasion since you were a child. He stopped giving you shit for your birthday when you stopped bringing home macaroni art with "DAEV" written in smeared glue and glitter, and now that you're sleeping with him (figuratively, since he's been so busy this week that you haven't actually 'slept' with him in a while), the once-straightforward act of giving him a gift will now be colored by your new relationship. You know objectively that you have nothing to be worried about, but that knowledge can't seem to banish the nervous butterflies in your stomach at the idea of going through with it.

You eventually get fed up with yourself and dedicate an entire day to brainstorming, browsing the internet for inspiration, digging around in some of your old projects for clues, and lying awake in bed that night after failing to come up with anything (insomnia is a fact of life for you, and you stopped fighting it years ago, although Dave's psychologist friend Rose taught you a few tricks on your last visit). Your Bro isn't home tonight, and he's been uncommonly busy lately. It's the height of summer, and the blockbuster premieres and promotional appearances that he's scheduled are almost back-to-back. He's been getting up early and getting home late, he's got dark circles under his eyes, only visible when he takes his shades off, and he's been more distracted than usual, often forgetting things in strange places (leaving his keys in the refrigerator, for instance. He almost missed an important press conference and had to call a taxi). You've been helping in whatever small ways you can; it's easy to throw bread in the toaster before he finishes his morning routine, and even though he doesn't stay awake for long before he gets too tired to sit up straight, you hang around the living room until then, making yourself available in case he wants to interact. Whenever he does take you up on the unspoken offer, it soothes some of the loneliness that's been creeping back into your life, even if the only 'interaction' he has energy for is being on the receiving end of a long backrub. It's not unusual for Dave to be obsessed with his work, and it's no secret that you think he overdoes it. You’ve given up on trying to talk him into a less demanding lifestyle, though. He would be no less publicly adored if he put in a fraction of the work, but you also understand (after long years of friction and volatile fights that came close to breaking your family apart) that he can no more give up his popular artistic vision than you could give up your love for robotics or puppetry. You both resolved some time ago to stop fighting about things relating to his career, so all you can do now is try your best to make his life less stressful.

It's on the morning of the next day that you have a small breakthrough. The sun is just starting to filter through the closed window blinds, and Dave is still in the process of getting ready for work. He's elsewhere in the apartment, going through his usual routine while you sit patiently at the tiny kitchen table after putting some bread in the toaster, (neither you nor Dave use that spot much for eating, preferring to take meals in your rooms or in front of the TV), when you're suddenly aware of what sounds like the song "In Da Club" played in terrible quality coming from somewhere down the hallway. You hear Dave curse from that general direction, before he comes around the corner with damp hair and a towel over his shoulder, wearing nothing but a pair of faded designer jeans. He stands directly across from you, absentmindedly picks up the glass of apple juice you poured for him ten minutes ago (he refuses to drink coffee), and takes a sip while listening to the cell phone pressed against his ear. You sit with an elbow on the table, hand propping up your chin, letting your mind wander while you wait for the toast. You're at the perfect height to make steady eye contact with what is probably the most sexually attractive set of abdominal muscles to ever grace the Earth. Dave continues to be distracted with whoever is talking at him on the phone, while you consider the aesthetics of his midsection. He's still a little wet from the shower, apparently, and the fact that he's got little droplets of water clinging to the contours of his muscles is not so much hot as it is ridiculously funny, like he couldn't have looked more like he just stepped out of a cheap porno if he actually tried.

"No, I'm not running late. It's not my fault they moved the time- shit." He pulls his cell phone away from his ear and frowns at it, tapping in a number before lifting it up again and waiting for it to pick up. His eyes drift when he sets the glass down, and he notices you staring, but you hear a click from his phone and he starts speaking again. "Sorry, yeah, I got cut off. Anyway, I don't give a fuck if they get their collective panties in a bunch, twelve hours is bullshit. If they were going to move it, they should have done it sooner. Not my problem." He gives you a wink, and you can't help but smile in response. His hair is still wet and ruffled. He must have been in the middle of toweling it dry when the call came. "I said it's not my problem. I'm showing up at the original time, everybody else can just deal."

The toaster ejects two slices of lightly browned toast with a 'clunk,' and you stand to walk the several steps to the kitchen counter, depositing both onto a plate and spreading orange marmalade jam onto yours. You sense him come up behind you, and he gives the back of your neck a quick, affectionate rub before taking his toast. The simple gesture makes your face feel warm, and you duck your head to keep him from noticing.

"Look, just ... give Rob a call. No, Rob, with an 'R.' Yes. Have him deal with their bullshit, then tell him to call me, it's way too fucking early, I'm not even fucking dressed yet, I'm hanging up. God damn it." Dave mutters, glaring down at the cell phone in his hand. He takes a large bite of the toast before setting it back down on the plate, and rolls his eyes when you turn to look at him. "Can'f fuffkin giv'me a breffk."

"That's what you get for being popular, Bro. Didn't grade school teach you anything?"

He waves you off and leaves the kitchen to walk back down the hall, hurrying more than usual despite the conversation you just overheard. You sigh and take a bite of your own toast before leaving it on the counter to make your way to the coat rack by the door. His favorite leather jacket is hanging up, and you check the pockets for any stray objects. Things tend to accumulate in his clothes, and not the normal stuff like coins or paper. You once found a tiny bird skull in the left chest pocket, and he got inordinately upset when you threw it away.

You hear his ringtone go off again, and he swears loudly before answering it. He's already stressing out, and he hasn't even left the apartment yet. You're past the point where his anxiety rubs off on you (there was a time when it used to get to you, and it made your fights with him exponentially worse), instead doing your best to smooth the process of getting him out the door in the morning. It's more an art than anything else.

While you distantly listen to him argue with someone else on the phone (or the same person, who knows), you locate his wallet and retrieve his keys from between the cushions of the futon. The wallet gets tucked into its rightful place in the jacket's inside pocket, and the keys are left on the table, next to the plate with his toast on it. It takes you a little longer to find his calendar notebook, and by the time you rescue it from beneath a stack of unfinished scripts, he's kneeling at the front door, fully dressed in record time and attempting to tie his shoes with his phone wedged against his shoulder. You edge past to slide the notebook into the front pocket of the jacket, and by the time you turn around he's already in the kitchen, emerging a moment later with keys and toast in the same hand.

"I'll be there in twenty minutes, that's the absolute god damn best I can do, just stall them or something. Pretend I'm in the bathroom. Tell them I've got an enlarged prostate, the tabloids would have a fucking field day with that."

He makes his way towards you and you hold out his jacket so he can slide into it one arm at a time. After shrugging his shoulders until he's comfortable with how it hangs, he starts towards the front door, then pauses and turns to face you you, moving his phone away from his ear to press it against his chest. "Hey. Are you busy tonight?"

You blink at the question. "No. Why?"

He grins at you, leaning forward until your lips are maybe a centimeter apart, and he whispers "Thanks for the toast," before giving you a quick peck on the mouth and turning to leave out the front door. You watch him go, a little baffled as to what that was about, but it doesn't throw you off as much as it probably should, given that you've lived with him your entire life. It was a strange question, since you virtually never leave the apartment. If he has something planned for tonight, you suppose you'll find out what it is when he gets home, which could be any time between sunset and 2 AM given his schedule as of late.

You retrieve your own toast from the kitchen, and sit down at the futon to finish it while your mind wanders. You hate seeing Dave rush through his morning routine. Whoever he was on the phone with deserves to have the next few weeks of their lives ruined by the nonstop demands of your brother's self-inflicted workload. Taking calls in the morning makes it so much harder for him to get ready, especially since he has to hold the damn phone in one hand or awkwardly cradle it with his shoulder. You could maybe get him one of those hands free earpieces, you're not really sure why he doesn't own one already. Although it wouldn't help with how his calls keep getting dropped, the apartment must be in some kind of frequent blackout zone, since it's been a problem with every phone he's owned.

Hold on.

Whenever you need inspiration, you've found that the best thing to do is pay attention to your surroundings. What do people need that they don't have? It's the obvious answer to your problem of what to get someone who has access to everything. You simply get them something they don't have access to, something that doesn't exist yet. And Dave, even with all his well-earned fame and fortune, owns a cell phone that is complete and utter shit compared to what you could craft for him. There are very few ways in life that you surpass your older brother, and your talent for engineering superior technology is probably the most significant of them.

Purchasing and modifying a cell phone would be easy, but building it from scratch will ensure that you won't have to cut corners to accommodate the limits of commercial hardware. However, after quickly finishing your breakfast and sitting down at your computer to begin the research phase, you find out that the parts you'd need would take about a week and a half to arrive once you ordered them, leaving only several days to assemble the entire phone, and it usually takes you that long just to map out circuitry.

The disappointment that settles in your gut leaves you wandering defeatedly around the apartment, quietly distracting yourself with menial tasks like moving the used cups and dishes from the futon/television area to the kitchen, washing them by hand in the sink despite the fact that you have a perfectly good dishwasher, wiping down the stove and countertops, and walking the trash bag from the garbage can to the chute out the front door and down the hall, even though the bag is barely a quarter full. You end up standing in front of the kitchen sink an hour later, on the brink of determination. You could probably pull it off, if you really had to. The design will have to be finalized before you order the pieces for the outer shell anyway, which you can do by tomorrow if you start now and don't sleep, and programs can be written while you wait for the parts to arrive. The assembly will be the hardest part. Anything that goes wrong will set you back, and if by chance one of the parts arrives damaged or you accidentally break it, you can forget about giving it to Dave in time for his birthday. Plus there's no guarantee that it will work properly without time to test and debug it. However, assuming that everything goes right (and that's a very optimistic assumption) you could actually make this happen. It'll mean a few more all-nighters once the parts arrive, but you've got over a week to get everything else ready before then. After that it should just be a matter of twisting the wires and soldering the connections, stuff that you can pretty much do in your sleep.

With new resolve, you fill a glass with orange soda from the fridge and sit on the futon, then immediately get up to retrieve the graph-lined sketchbook from your desk and return to your seat, restlessly flipping through pages of mechanical drawings and equations, some referencing projects you've already finished, others left as scrapped ideas. You find the first clean page and set the book down on your lap with a sigh, staring through the charcoal blue and green sheet with an introspective frown. The outer design will set the constraints for what will be included inside, since you want Dave to really use it, not just accept it as a gift and tuck it away. For that to happen, it'll have to match his public image. In this you have two options; it could either be something elegant and sleek, suitable for his level of mainstream popularity, or it could be something ironic and gaudy like his movies, which would also work, but be more challenging to design. You can't decide on which to go with, so you start making rough sketches to visualize your ideas.


The rest of the day is spent repeatedly coming up with designs and scrapping them. You never manage to decide on which idea to pursue, so you end up with about two dozen workable sketches, none of which seem good enough, and your confidence has waned significantly as the day went on until the light from outside is starting to dim and your hand is sore from holding the pencil and you feel like throwing your sketchbook under the table and saying fuck it. So far you've wasted an entire day with nothing to show for it, and you just want to crawl into bed and give up. It was a nice idea, but if you can't even get past the fucking theme of the phone, something that should have taken maybe an hour at most, then there's no way you can even hope to meet your own deadline.

You're still mentally beating yourself up when you hear the click of the door as Dave steps into the apartment, for once not pressing his phone to his ear. He's home much earlier than usual, and he's carrying something in a plastic bag, which he sets down on the kitchen counter before shrugging off his jacket and pulling his shoes off. You actually wish that he had been on his phone, because a moving visual reference might be just what you need to break past this idea block. He lifts his head and spots you sitting on the futon with your sketchpad in your lap and the television off, a pencil still cradled between two fingers, and you can tell that he's blinking at you, even though you can't see his eyes.

"What's up." He asks, partially a greeting and also a genuine question on his part, probably referring to why you're brainstorming at the futon rather than your traditional spot at your desk.

"Not much." You reply, doing your best to sound casual despite your mood. You refuse to let your own personal problems make his day any shittier. "What's in the bag?"

He straightens up with a smile, kicking his shoes against the wall as he does. "Takeout. You wanna watch the game?"

Ah. You had completely forgotten about the Texas State Wrestling Championship tonight, or rather, 'the game,' as Dave so eloquently put it. It's an opportunity for the two of you to bond over shitty takeout and ridiculously homoerotic pseudo-sports, a sort of tradition that you've been participating in for as long as you can remember having a television to watch it on. Dave always takes more enjoyment in it than you do, but it would be nice to have an evening dedicated to spending some quality time with him, even if that quality time involves staring at the screen while muscular young men overpower each other into slightly erotic positions. You're fed up and getting absolutely nowhere with your project, so you nod your agreement, and he goes into the kitchen to get plates and silverware, while you set your sketchbook aside and get the TV ready, flipping to the right channel where it seems that the fight has already started, and clearing the table of some of the clutter so he can set a pair of plates down, followed shortly by a large pile of lo-mein on his. He hands the box to you and scoops out pieces of sweet and sour chicken while you pick out a few forkfuls of noodles, not really in the mood for chinese but willing to humor him for the occasion.

Once you've both got your plates, he settles in next to you, placing his shades on the table and picking up the remote. He turns the volume up until you can barely hear the excited commentary from the sports narrators, and the 'thump' when one of the wrestlers in thrown face first into the floor and the other quickly straddles him. Dave, despite the ever-present dark rings under his eyes, chuckles at the television with a mouthful of noodles, and you smile, more at him than the television, but he catches you looking at him with that completely stupid expression on your face, and you quickly turn back to face the TV. He smiles and wraps an arm around you, and you lean against him, a little embarrassed at being caught looking so lovesick. You can't help it if you've been a little deprived of his company, but the warmth of him next to you makes the slip-up worth it. He continues to eat with his free hand, occasionally directing amusing remarks at the TV, and you reply in kind, noting that the lady in the front row next to the obese guy in the striped shirt looks like she's going into labor. He laughs at most of your observations, abandoning the plate of food after the first round to gesture in the direction of the screen as he talks. He's rambling more than usual, and you have long suspected that he might harbor a secret, unironic enjoyment of the sport. You also realise that with how busy this week has been, he must have specifically taken time off just to spend an evening watching sports and eating takeout with you.

"It's tempting, but pretending they're naked isn't as much fun, those uniforms don't leave much to the imagination anyway. I mean just look at the outlines of those perfectly defined glutes. Would you rather stare at his hairy ass or enjoy the delicate curves of polyester? Although I think the only way this could possibly be improved would be if uniforms were in two pieces like those bathing suits or bikinis or whatever, then you could watch the sensual rippling of abs as they force each other to the ground, sweat glistening or some shit, I forgot what I was getting at, that was Rose talking."

His last comment makes you laugh, and you pull your knees up to curl into his side, your own plate forgotten on the table. "The commentary alone is often suggestive enough. I imagine that similar commentary applied to pornography would have few differences."

"Oh man you have no idea, it would be in the same voice and everything, crowds cheering in the background, fuck if that's not the best thing I've thought about all day. 'He's arching his back, he's reaching, trying to get a grip on that choice cock dangling in front of him, but he's rolled over! He's in trouble now! I think we're about to see some rough action here, folks, I hope he's not going in dry.'" He imitates the voice of the commentators perfectly, and you swat at his chest, laughing into his shirt. On the screen the wrestlers flop around on the floor to the sound of whistles and cheering. "Although I'm pretty sure there're plenty of wrestling-style pornos out there. But try running some of this commentary over hardcore bondage or watersports or something, man, shit would be choice. I'd buy the rights to that in a second."

The fight goes on until it ends briefly with a foul. Your head is still resting against Dave's chest, and the screen is a little hard to see from this angle, but you're becoming increasingly distracted by his heartbeat and the sound of his breathing. He smells like the leather from his favorite jacket, something you've been associating with him since you were little. His voice rumbles in your ear when he speaks again, more subdued this time.

"We should get tickets to the game next year, sit in the back row, get the full experience. Cardboard popcorn and mystery meat hot dogs, can't get them that good anywhere else. Except at gas stations. Then you've got stale breakfast burritos to choose from. Don't tell me you don't miss those just a little bit." He starts to rub the back of your neck, and your eyes slide shut. You had no idea how tired you were until just now. Your entire day has been something of an emotional rollercoaster.

"Sure. The same way I miss those knockoff soda brands." You're briefly interrupted by a yawn. "HEB Citrus Rush was a dear friend to me before I discovered Orange Crush."

"You and your freakish orange soda addiction, I swear your teeth are going to rot and fall out before you hit the ripe age of twenty. Do you know how fucking weird tongue kissing someone with no teeth is? It's all gums, man. You do get used to it, though. I wouldn't hold it against you."

"Wh- ... dude, you haven't actually done that. Have you? Fuck, nevermind." He laughs and kisses the top of your head. "I'm serious, don't answer that."

"Relax, I was joking." He says softly, his nose buried in your hair while he rubs little circles into the spot where your neck meets your shoulder, and you're starting to get just a little bit turned on, but also trying not to get your hopes up. "Except for the part about not holding it against you. You can lose all your teeth if you want to. I mean that would be kind of shitty for you, but I'd still kiss you with tongue, is all I'm saying."

He kisses you on the forehead, and you're torn between feeling nauseated and basking in the way he makes your insides go all warm and stupid when he says shit like that. You're starting to suspect that Dave might be flirting with you, so you decide 'to hell with it,' give in to the faint hope that this might actually go somewhere tonight, and turn to press your head into the crook of his neck. "I'm not planning on losing my teeth, but thanks anyway. It's good to know that you'd still think I'm attractive."

He doesn't say anything, running his fingers through your hair, and the state championship match on TV has pretty much been relegated to background noise as he gently nudges your head away from his neck to press a lingering kiss to the bridge of your nose. His lips are warm and soft against your skin, and you're not going to pretend that this isn't affecting you, making you breathe faster when he moves in close. You lean your head back hopefully, your nose bumping against his chin, before he tilts to the side and his lips finally meet yours. The contact is soft and brief, and his fingers ghost along the side of your jaw before tilting your head up so he can mouth at your lower lip. Everything about this is careful, lately all of his advances have been hesitant and slow, asking permission in every touch and kiss, like he wants to make absolutely sure that this is okay, that you really do want this, and he's not pushing you into anything, which is all well and good, but having to reassure him every single time is frustrating. After a few minutes he pulls away to lean over you and slowly pushes you down, giving you ample time to stop him if you want to. You fist your hands in the front of his shirt as he tips you back, until you're lying beneath him on the futon, looking up into his eyes when he rests his forehead against yours. He smiles hesitantly as he whispers to you, "You're quiet tonight. Is everything okay?"

'Do you want me to stop' is what he really means, and yeah you're a little tired, mostly from worrying yourself to death over this whole gift thing, but you're onto something with the cell phone idea, and despite the shameful lack of progress today, you can't bring yourself to worry about it when he's here, so close that you can see the flecks of amber in his eyes, and instead of answering out loud, you raise your head to kiss along his rough jaw. You hear his breath hitch, and it's the best sound in the world because it's tangible proof of how much he wants you. He always needs encouragement like this before he goes any further, letting him know that it's okay, that you want him too. His hands grip your sides, and you feel his weight settle as he relaxes against you. Your tongue runs over the skin just beneath his ear, the taste a little salty from his sweat with a slightly bitter flavor that might be aftershave from this morning, and you arch your back to press your hips against his. He sucks in a breath before pushing back, pressing you into the futon, making you breathe harder with how good it feels to have his weight on you, to have him finally responding. He starts to grind against you, slowly, and you let out a few relieved, breathy moans to encourage him, because holy shit that feels amazing. He's been gone most nights this week, and you've been more stressed out than usual, and it's quickly becoming clear that you really need this tonight, despite how exhausted you both are.

The wrestling match continues to go unnoticed while he thrusts his hips against yours, panting into your ear, and you suspect that he might be a little more worked up than you are. His other hand threads into your hair, holding your head against his as you watch his back moving while he rocks against you. You're moving your hips with him, or trying to, but he's so much bigger and heavier than you that it isn't doing much, so you abandon the effort and wriggle a little until he eases up enough to let you wrap your legs around his waist. He kisses and nips at the base of your neck as you move, like he's restless and needs something to do with his mouth. Having him directly between your legs instead of on top is definitely an improvement, and you arch against him with a whimper when he resumes grinding into you with a particularly drawn-out roll of his hips. He slides his arm around your lower back and holds you tightly against him, and your whole body is rocking with him as he picks up the pace. You're panting with him, fisting your hands into the back of his shirt. You're not going to last much longer, and you whisper his name, feel the way he thrusts harder against you in response, his movements getting jerkier while the hand in your hair tightens, and he must be getting close too. He gasps out a few curses, then pulls your head back and crushes his mouth against yours, forcing your lips apart with his tongue and throughly claiming the inside of your mouth. The sudden roughness makes you moan into his mouth and buck your hips against his, and you're so close it's impossible to keep yourself still. Suddenly he pulls back from the kiss to pant against your mouth, eyes squeezed shut, and his thrusts become erratic as he hits his release. You try not to let the disappointment at how quickly this is ending dampen your arousal. It's pathetic and selfish of you that you can't seem to get enough of him, even when he's still engaged in the very act of getting you off.

After catching his breath, he leans back, bracing himself against the futon with one hand near your head, looking down at you, his eyes meeting yours. You're still painfully close, despite your silent self-admonishment, and he sees it. He leans down after a moment, both hands returning to thread through your hair, holding your head down, as his lips return to yours in a slow, open-mouthed kiss. His tongue finds yours as his hips start to rock again, and you let yourself moan for him, wanting nothing more in the world right now than for him to take you over the edge. His tongue strokes the inside of your mouth, your fingernails dig into his back through his shirt. He doesn't let up this time, grinding down into you with far more control than before, deliberately thrusting slow and deep and hard, pushing you down into the futon with every roll of his hips. He swallows all of your moans, forcing you to pant through your nose while keeping your head still with his fingers tangled in your hair. The feeling of being trapped by him is overwhelming- his tongue down your throat, his weight between your legs, you can't even turn your head because of his grip- and it makes you keen high and loud as you quickly hit your orgasm, shuddering against him helplessly. He lets you cling to him while you ride it out, holds you close, strokes your hair while he keeps kissing you, never breaking the contact between your mouths until you're spent, and when he finally lets you breathe again, he kisses along the side of your head, stopping to bury his nose in your hair with a sigh. It takes you several long minutes to catch your breath, legs tangled with his, arms draped loosely around his shoulders. You hope that you didn't bruise him with how tight you were holding on, but if you did, and anyone sees, he can probably play it off as the result of a sexy fling with a supermodel or something. You can't bring yourself to care too much at the moment.

He lies against you, unmoving, for so long that you think he may have fallen asleep. The wrestling match is over, and there's a commercial on for some kind of vegetable/fruit dicer. You're starting to overheat with him covering you like a blanket, and coming in your pants has left you feeling a little bit gross, so you start kneading into his shoulders with your fingers, figuring that if you're going to wake him up after what you just did together, you might as well be nice about it. He mutters a little but doesn't move, so you massage up and down his back with your knuckles, digging into the firm muscles along his spine, and that finally seems to rouse him. He shifts and pushes himself up to lean over you, blinking groggily.

"...Shit. Sorry dude, I completely conked out."

"It's okay. I'd just rather not sleep with you on top of me, it's the middle of summer."

He untangles his legs from yours and sits up on the edge of the futon to stretch his arms above his head."Hell, I won't argue with you there. It's hot as unwashed balls." He leans sideways to crack his back. "Which is to say, pretty god damn hot. Like, shit, I don't think it could get any hotter. Unwashed balls are just the sexiest fucking things in the whole world."

Over the past few weeks you've gotten good at recognizing when Dave starts to guilt himself over the sexual nature of your relationship. There is no amount of consent, spoken or otherwise, that prevents his occasional bouts of guilt, and that includes literally telling him that you want him to take you to bed and fuck you until you can't walk without a god damn limp in your step (his reaction to that was comical, to say the least. That was the reddest you've ever seen him get). You can't really blame him, and you're not going to pretend that there aren't a few things wrong with what you're doing, but at the same time it kind of hurts to know that he still sometimes regrets being with you.

"Dave." You can never think of anything to say, though. Even with how much you pride yourself on your linguistic skills, you still can't come up with the right words to tell him that it's okay. It never seems to make a difference when he gets like this, but you'll be damned if you're ever going to stop trying. "Thank you. For staying in tonight. I've ... kind of been missing you."

Your face feels like it's on fire, and having him on top of you didn't get you this flustered. But his happiness is one of the few things you'll always be willing to sacrifice your dignity for. He gives you a small smile, not his usual cocky half-grin, but a real, genuine smile with just a touch of sadness that reaches all the way to his eyes.

"Sorry. I meant to be home sooner, but ..." He sighs, and now you're mentally kicking and punching yourself because you were trying to make him feel less guilty, and you might as well just accept that you're terrible at this and incapable of comforting the only person in the world that you would truly and honestly do anything for. He notices your distress and stands up, taking your face in his hands and pressing his forehead against yours. "Hey. Things are going to get better soon, okay? All of the big premiers are almost over, I've just got some stupid press and media shit I've gotta do for a while, but next month is gonna be a fuckin cakewalk, and I wont be so god damn busy anymore. I promise." God Dave shut up you're making me feel even worse, that's not what I'm upset about, can't you see I'm just a shitty boyfriend or lover or whatever it is we are, I don't care anymore, I just don't want to see you hurting over being with me, because it hurts me too, why can't you see that.

"I love you." You say instead, and when it comes down to it, it's what you really meant anyway. He gives you that smile that you're hopelessly addicted to, and kisses you one last time before straightening up and placing a hand on your head to give your hair a soft, affectionate ruffle.

"Love you too, little bro." He stifles another yawn, and you're tired too, in many senses of the word. "I've got one of those super fucking early conferences tomorrow morning, so don't worry about getting up, I'll probably be out the door by the time you're awake."

"Yeah, alright." You actually are okay with that, it'll mean more time to work on your hopelessly stalled concept design. He gives you an apologetic smile and bids you goodnight before carrying the dishes into the kitchen and retiring to his room down the hall, leaving you sitting on the futon with the TV running through some kind of infomercial. You almost want to follow him, ask if he'll let you sleep in his bed tonight, but it really is too hot for what you actually want to do, which is cuddle up with him and bury your face into his chest while he holds you close. Nothing helps your insomnia like having Dave wrapped around you. But it's getting late and you've got work to do.

You find the remote and turn off the TV, then pull your sketchbook out from where it fell under the futon and carry back to your room, where you close the door and turn on the lamp over your desk. You need to make a decision about the theme now, no more of this sketching blindly until something 'looks right,' that was probably the least efficient way to approach the concept design, although it did leave you with multiple pages of material to use.

After a quick detour to your closet for a change of clothes, you sit down and mull it over. Suddenly the answer seems stupidly obvious. There's a reason Dave is the famous ironic movie director and you're the reclusive little brother who builds robots and never leaves the apartment. His movies are unique, coming from his own personal artistic vision, and as much as you are more or less his other half, he's the one with the real talent for irony. When it comes to machines and puppets, you're the undisputed expert, but when it comes to subtle layers of sarcasm and films so horrendously bad they're blockbuster good, that's where Dave really shines, and quite frankly you would be doing him a disservice trying to imitate him. So you rip out the pages with the ironic designs and start tracing parts from the outlines of the sketches that remain, keeping the extendable USB ports to make plugging it into his car easier, transferring the shape of the keypad from one of the earlier sketches so that it matches the larger display, and drawing in a small joystick, then replacing it with a stylus that attaches to to the back when you remember how much he likes touchscreens. The earpiece adaptor goes on the bottom since he always puts it in his pocket upside down, and the wireless module should be interchangeable since he travels so much and you want him to have a versatile internet connection. As the finalized design starts to emerge from the paper, you realize that all you had to do was think about Dave, and spending the evening with him was exactly what you needed to get this project off the ground.

Chapter Text

The package with the parts arrives exactly one week and two days after you place the order online. You had spent that entire first night finalizing the design, and as the sun came up the next morning, the finished outline sat in both your sketchbook and on the computer screen after transferring the blueprint to a drafting program. All the necessary components were labeled and accounted for, and the successful all-nighter blurred your vision around the edges a little as you opened up your browser to place the order for the parts from a reliable supplier.

The final design is really a thing of beauty; a sleek, black outer shell with a carbon-based scratchproof coating, surface acoustic wave touchscreen, and red backlit qwerty keyboard that slides out and clicks into place for typing if he doesn’t feel like using the stylus. The inside is just as impressive, with a dynamic SIM card and lithium polymer battery. Technical components aside, you’ve really stretched your limits with this design. You included every gadget that would be practical given the size of the phone, making sure it won’t be too small to comfortably hold (or in Dave’s case, wedge against his ear and shoulder), but not too big either, since your Bro also has an image to maintain.

Now, over a week later and without an hour to spare, the necessary parts arrive, packaged into a single shipment delivered to the mailroom downstairs. You’ve been preparing in the meantime, writing the programs for the operating system at leisure and making sure not to outpace yourself before the difficult part begins. Dave, true to his word, has been almost as busy this week as he was last week. You’ve had a few more evenings with him, relatively uneventful since he’s still getting home so late, but having this project to distract you has definitely helped, and you’re not feeling as resentful about his absence. He’s gone so often that he doesn’t have the chance to notice that you’re working on something new, which is good because he would probably get curious and ask about it if he did, and you don’t like lying to him if you can help it.

The box with the parts is larger than you expected, since some of the pieces had to be packaged separately, but you made sure the supplier sent it in a single shipment to minimize the risk of losing anything in the process. When you get upstairs and shut yourself in your room, you carefully unpack the parts, meticulously taking stock of every single manufactured chip and coil of wire. You’ve got some of the things you’ll need already, but this is unlike any project you’ve taken on before, so the number of parts you had to order made it impractical to start the assembly before they arrived.

It’s early in the afternoon when you finally settle in at your workbench, spreading the components around the surface in a semicircle. You neglect the digital clock on the shelf as you begin to slip into that familiar mindset of obsessive focus that lets you work on a project for countless hours at a time. Dave has a similar place, and it leaves him sitting at his desk in his room for days on end, typing away at screenplays or jotting down ideas in notebooks, but it’s one of the few ways he neglects you that you’ve never really fought him on. You understand what it’s like, and you’ve never resented him for it.

The tools in your hands feel like extensions of your fingers, fitting perfectly against the calluses they’ve caused over the years. You don’t need music, the sound of scraping metal is enough, and some of the electrical work is so delicate that you need to be able to hear in case a wire crosses and the circuit starts to short. You’re so absorbed in your work that you barely register the sound of Dave returning home from his meeting later that night. He knows what it means when the door to your room stays shut for long periods of time, and he won’t bother you, although sometimes he’ll slide little notes under the door if you stay in too long.

Later you absentmindedly glance at the clock to see it blinking 2:14 AM, roughly forty-six hours before your deadline (assuming Dave’s home by then). You put down your tools and stand, stretching stiff muscles that complain bitterly at the movement. The outer shell sits in two halves on your table, seamlessly assembled from dozens of little parts that slid and clicked into place with the aid of a needle tool, along with a bundle of connected wires and components in between. The chips came premade, but you’ve made countless modifications, and the acrid smell from the melted solder is starting to make you dizzy, so you open the window next to your bed. While you wait for the air to clear, you decide to make a trip to the bathroom, and that’s when you notice the pesterchum icon blinking in the bottom right corner of your computer screen.

The program is set to run automatically when the computer turns on, a feature that came with the download that you’ve been too lazy to dig through the system processes to turn off. It’s indicating that someone on your contacts list just logged on, and it takes a moment before you remember that you added Roxy’s chumhandle after you and Dave got back from visiting her mom earlier this summer.

You stare silently at the icon for a minute, weighing your options, before sitting down and opening a chat window.


-- timaeusTestified [TT] began pestering tipsyGnostalgic [TG] --

TT: Hey.
TT: You on?
TT: It's Dirk. Let me know when you get this.


You minimize the program and bring up one of the coding files saved to the desktop, typing away at the keyboard while you wait for Roxy to respond, tinkering around with the less important parts out of boredom. A few minutes go by before the icon starts to blink, and you take a moment to finish up a line of code before clicking on it and bringing up several lines of hot bubblegum pink text that make you squint as you read to catch up.


TG: you asshole you were suppeods to message me like fucking days ago
TG: weeks ago actually you jekr
TG: *jerk
TG: moms been askign about you and i kept telling her i DONT KNOW HE HASNT MESSAGEC ME YET
TG: why did you wait so long to contack me i have all kidns of shit to tell you!
TG: helloooooooooooooo???

TT: Hi Roxy.
TG: jesus dufkcign FINALLY i thought you left agaitn
TT: You've got my chumhandle now, so if you ever want to message me, I'll get it when I log on.
TG: why dont you jsut get a cell phone like ther est of us
TG: would your broter say no or something??

TT: No.
TG: well alright then but it still sucks
TG: even jane has a cell ohoen
TG: *phoine
TG: jake obiously has an excuse but you mister have none

TT: Understood.
TG: sooooo.
TG: anwyays.
TG: how are things over there
TG: mom says you guys worked thnigs out

TT: Yeah.
TG: ok
TG: ……………
TG: dude having converstations kind of takes two peoopel i cant do this by myself

TT: Sorry, I'm a little busy with something.
TG: goddamint strider why did you message me if you cant even talk
TG: just let me know whaen youre not so fukign busy just hrow me a godaman BONE jesus cgfrist

TT: Will do.

-- timaeusTestified [TT] ceased pestering tipsyGnostalgic [TG] --


You resume your interrupted trip to the bathroom, surprised to find your mood somewhat lifted. It brings back recent memories of sitting at the kitchen table or on the rooftop patio outside, listening to her rant at you about this and that, completely heedless of your level of interest in the topic and never seeming to run out of things to say. She’d been overjoyed at having someone her own age to hang around with during the summer, since they lived in a fairly remote location, and you had been her unwilling captive for the better part of a month. You’d never met either of the Lalondes before taking that trip, even though Dave had known her mother for as long as you could remember. Although you hadn’t appreciated her company for the better part of it, by the time you were getting ready to leave, you didn’t want to go. You find yourself missing her relentless confidence and cynicism, tempered only by her empathy, and even then only extended to those who’d earned it. You kind of hope you can go back to visit again sometime, but the Lalondes live on the other side of the country, and your last trip had been taken at the expense of a month’s worth of publicity during the start of the movie industry’s busy season. Your Bro might not be up to another family vacation, due to his ceaseless workload (all that talk the other night about slowing down next month was bullshit), but he might let you go on your own if you asked. You’ll bring it up with him later, if you remember.

Almost forty hours and several trips to the kitchen for food later, your fingers are covered in little cuts and burns, your sense of smell is temporarily gone from leaning over while you soldered the tiny connections on the chips, and you feel like someone punched you in the eyes, but the completed cell phone sits on your table amidst little fragments of wire and metal shavings. You’ve gone beyond tired into a kind of manic wakefulness that’ll be hard to break out of when you’re ready to crash, but the project is finally done, and it was worth it.

Holding your breath, you flick the tiny power switch on the side of the phone.

You turn it over in your hand to be met with a black screen.

You frown and flip the phone back over, then open up the battery and hold down the tiny round button with a thin needle to perform a hard reset. Still, the screen refuses to light up, and you feel the first pang of anxiety in your gut.

Well, it’s a disappointing development, but it’s probably just a loose connection. You got done a little early, so there’s still some time left before you have to actually worry about missing your deadline. It should be an easy fix, some stupid mistake that you should have caught sooner, that’s what happens when you work for two days straight. So you pry the outer shell open and start to carefully unwind the wires inside.

One increasingly frantic hour later, the phone sits in two halves, connections uncoiled and components spread around the table, and you still can’t find the problem. You went through every troubleshooting routine you could think of, then looked up everything you could find on the internet, then dug up your dusty old pilfered textbooks on circuits and skimmed over them in desperation, but there’s no sign of what could be causing the problem. It could be the program, or the power supply, or the screen itself, but whatever’s wrong evidently isn’t something obvious, and you are getting dangerously close to anxiously pacing around the apartment. But you bite down on the urge and sit on the edge of your bed instead.

Okay. You’ve encountered a setback. That’s not unusual with new and complicated projects. Normally this wouldn’t be such an issue, but you’ve got a deadline to meet. You worked through every obvious solution, consulted all of the resources at your disposal, but still the problem stubbornly remains a mystery. And now, after running yourself ragged for an hour trying to fix this, you’re out of ideas. You’ve tried everything short of disassembling it completely and starting over, and you don’t have the time to resort to that.

The realization sinks in slowly, while you run a hand through your hair, staring at the mess of parts and wires covering your workbench, that you don’t have the time you need to fix this.

Texas summers were the least favorite part of your childhood.

There’s nothing fond about the memories of lying awake, coated in a thin sheen of sweat, enduring the short but miserable walk to the public school down the block, or listening to Dave curse out the failing AC unit in the afternoon, back when you still had to rely mainly on rickety table fans and packages of frozen diced vegetables as cheap imitation ice packs (you two never actually bought them for their intended purposes, and you think there might still be a few tucked into the back of the freezer). Still, the way the heat bakes your skin when you open the door and climb the steps to the roof brings with it a kind of grudging nostalgia. You’ve been neglecting your swordplay lately, and even though grasping the hilt is a little uncomfortable with the cuts on your fingers, you relish the familiar weight of a blade in your hand.

You start off easy, mechanically working your way through your warm up routine. It’s not very strenuous, just meant to stretch your muscles. The blade whistles through the air while you do your best to focus on keeping your mind from where it wants to go, but the activity isn’t strenuous enough. So you switch over to feint-and-cut maneuvers instead, then lapse into a series of rapid blows meant to disarm an opponent, along with some rolling dodges that leave you covered in grit when you can’t stop seeing tangles of wires every time you blink.

It was a stupid idea. You tried, you did your best, and you failed. It’s not surprising in retrospect, since wireless engineering is after all a vastly different field from robotics, and completely out of your realm of experience. You wasted two weeks of your life, blithely tinkering away with something that was probably going to fail from the start. It’s not the first time you’ve overestimated yourself, but it is the first time you did so without so much as a single foreshadowing doubt at the beginning, and really, you should have known better.

You push your body to its limit, channeling your frustration into difficult maneuvers and techniques that become increasingly sloppy as your muscles start to burn, until time passes and you end up lying on your back, aching all over. The sun is nothing but a hazy purple glow behind the skyscrapers at the other end of the city, and the lingering heat from the concrete roof is burning your back where it’s pressed against the pavement, not to mention you’re seriously overheating since you didn’t bring any water up with you, and now that you’re lying still and not dashing around the roof, you’re starting to feel a little sick.

Dave might be home by now (doubtful, but still possible). If he noticed your absence, the roof is the first place he’d look. He might have already checked to see if you were up here, in which case you could pass this off as routine practice, but he knows you better than that. He hasn’t seen you in two days, and he’s going to take one look at you and know that you’re punishing yourself for something.

You’re not really sure what he’s going to do when he finds out.

The last time you did this to yourself was the last time you and Dave had a fight, and it was by far one of the worst. He’ll remember that too, and fuck, that’s going to be awkward.

You slowly make your way down the steps. After throwing off your shirt and sprawling out on the futon with a glass of ice water so cold it gives you a splitting headache, you start feeling better. Once the sweat on your skin dries, you make a trip to the bathroom medicine cabinet for some generic painkillers, then head for your bedroom after swallowing them dry. You lie down on your bed and stare up at the ceiling while you wait for the pills to kick in. You and this ceiling are old friends. It’s got this white stucco texture, all random bumps and imperfections in the plaster from when it was painted on, and over the years you’ve memorized some of the shapes. You used to spend a lot of time in this position when you couldn’t sleep (which was regularly), but were too exhausted to do anything else. So you’d lie down and stare straight up, sometimes with the lights on, sometimes listening to the muffled sounds of your Bro moving around in the apartment.

You start to drift off a little, daydreaming. Every now and then you turn your head and stare at the still-disassembled cell phone spread out on your worktable, and it repeatedly renews your feelings of failure, so you get up and pull a small tarp from one of the drawers, carefully covering the exposed parts. You might have failed at meeting your deadline, but the project itself wasn’t a failure, and you’re still proud of the result even if you can’t give it to Dave for his birthday like you wanted.

It’s probably better that things turned out this way, you decide. Giving it to him the way you planned would have been pretty awkward. Besides, there’s always the chance that he might not have wanted it. Oh, he would have been nice about it, and you’re sure he would have genuinely appreciated the effort you put into it, but who’s to say he isn’t happy with the one he’s got. That’s the problem with giving gifts, and why the two of you don’t do it anymore. Things would have been simpler if you had just been upfront about this, approaching him with the idea, maybe letting him work through the design process with you, it was really a missed opportunity. He could have worked -with- you on this project, which is a lot more appealing in retrospect than worrying yourself to death over whether or not you were doing this right and how he was going to react. It was unnecessary, and now you’re feeling pretty stupid about all the shit you’ve been putting yourself through the last few days just so that you could spring something on him.

You decide to talk to Dave about the phone idea when he gets home. You won’t tell him that you’ve finished building it, and that you’re way past the design stage, but you’ll bring it up and see what he thinks. Maybe you can rework it with a little input from him. You should have done it this way from the beginning. It’ll probably mean reordering some of the pieces, but at this point you’re willing to do anything to forget about it and move on.

Once the painkillers kick in, you leave your bedroom and head into the living room. The window is dark, save for the glow from the streetlights outside, and you take a short detour to close the blinds before taking the spot on the futon in front of the TV. You turn it on for the noise, and it looks like there’s some sort of news channel show on right now, but you tune it out, stretching out on your back with a sigh. You’re worn out, and the double all-nighter, coupled with your thorough disregard for pacing yourself during practice has you slipping immediately into an exhausted sleep.

Chapter Text

The sound of the front door closing wakes you from a vague, anxious dream, and you lift your head to see Dave disappear into the kitchen, hearing the clatter of his keys on the table before he walks to the coat rack and shrugs off his jacket. When he comes into the living room and spots you lying on the futon, having obviously just woken up, he raises an eyebrow at you.

“Morning, sleeping beauty.”

You glance at the window in surprise, and it’s still pitch black outside, so you roll your eyes at him, because really, that was lame and he should know it. “Maybe if we lived in China.”

He doesn’t reply, instead you think you can see his eyes narrow behind his shades as you sit up, wincing at the way your abused muscles protest, and shit, he couldn’t have possibly missed that.

“Been busy practicing?” He asks humorlessly.

“Yeah, figured I’ve been falling a little behind lately.”

He replies with an obnoxiously skeptical ‘Ahuh,’ and you feel a flare of anger followed immediately by guilt, because this isn’t his fault, and he has every right to be condescending that you ignored your physical limits when he taught you to know better than that.

“I know, I overdid it.” You state plainly.

“Yeah, no shit.” He says with raised eyebrows. “I’m going to get charged with abuse one of these days if you don’t tone it down, little dude.” You glare at him, and he gives you a shrug before turning down the hallway towards his bedroom.

When a few minutes go by and he doesn’t come back, you get bored and pick up the remote from where it’s wedged against your leg, switching the TV off without bothering to see what was on. Your dark reflection stares back at you from the curved glass of the screen. Your hair is a mess, all matted down and sticking up in places, that’s what happens when you sweat heavily and then sleep on it. Your skin still feels gritty from lying down on the roof like a dumbass, and your clothes are smeared in a few places with dirt. Basically, you look about as shitty as you feel, so you heave a tired sigh and slowly pick yourself up off of the futon, making your way slowly in the direction Dave went. You’re still a little sore, but it’s not as bad as you thought it was going to be, which is about the first good thing to have happened today. You turn the corner, see that the door to Dave’s room is closed, then hang a left and enter the bathroom, pulling off your shirt as you shut the door with your foot. He usually heads straight for the shower when he gets home, but tonight might be an exception, so you’re going to take advantage of the opportunity while it lasts. Once you’ve stripped down, you glance in the mirror and frown at your reflection, taking note of the dark bruises on your skin that were hidden under your clothes. There’s a particularly large one on your hip from where you got careless and lost your balance. The deeper scrapes here and there are looking a little red, and you probably should have put some kind of disinfectant on them when you came back inside, but you didn’t think to. There’s also a spot on your shoulder where your own sword sliced you, now crusted over with dried blood. That’s the thing that really makes you feel ashamed, injuring yourself with your own weapon was the first thing you were taught not to do, right after how to hold it straight.

You leave your shades next to the sink and your clothes in a pile on the floor, then step into the shower, pushing the showerhead away from you so the icy water hits the tiled wall when you turn it on. While you’re waiting for the temperature to adjust (it always takes for-fucking-ever), you hear the sound of Dave’s bedroom door close, and then footfalls passing by towards the living room. Then, a moment later, the footsteps come back, stopping just outside the door, and you hold your breath, because you didn’t lock the door, and you don’t want him to see you covered in the evidence of your own personal brand of self-abuse. You actually wince when you hear the doorknob turn, and the frosted glass of the shower door lets you see Dave’s colorfully fractured outline as he enters the bathroom. He leans against the sink before speaking, without bothering to close the door behind him. “What the fuck are you doing?”

You scoff at him, loud enough that you hope he heard it. “What the fuck does it look like I’m doing.”

“Dude I literally just got home from work, can you not wait ten minutes to take one of your legendary infinite showers? I’m tired, I want to hit the sack, and this is my shower time, you can’t just go and disrupt the natural order like that, the effects on the environment could be catastrophic. Melting ice caps and tsunamis and shit, Greenpeace would be all over my ass. I can’t handle another lawsuit right now.”

“Well I’m already in here so you’ll just have to deal with it, Bro.” You’re really not in the mood to put up with his rambling metaphors, and even though you feel a little bad because he has a point, there is no way you’re going another minute with the amount of grime you have on your skin.

Dave falls silent, then approaches the shower door, and you barely have enough time to inwardly curse before he opens it and gets a good look at you. His expression doesn’t change, but you watch his eyes silently travel over your body from the neck down, taking note of every mark on your skin while you do your best impression of a deer in headlights. He’s pushed his shades up to rest on top of his head, and his exposed eyes are dark and bruised, a testament to how late he’s been staying at work, and it occurs to you that you have no clue what time it is right now, other than sometime before sunrise. When he’s done examining you, his eyes meet yours, and you can’t hold his gaze, because you fucked yourself up and there’s no way you’re going to pretend that you didn’t.

He sighs, then completely surprises you by stepping into the shower, still completely clothed and everything. It’s enough of a tight fit for one person, and when he steps in, your back bumps against the cold wall, making you flinch.

“Dude, what the fuck?”

He just smirks at you as he starts to unbutton his shirt. “Chill out, bro. I’ve decided out of the goodness of my heart not to kick you out, are you seriously going to complain?”

“This shower barely fits me. I don’t know what gave you the idea that this is going to work, because it won’t, so how about you let me take my fucking shower in peace and wait your damn turn.”

“Holy shit, dude, you are such a little bitch tonight.”

“Yeah well I’ve got maybe three inches of elbow room right now, and you’re pushing me against the wall, so I think I’m allowed to be a bit of a bitch.”

He just rolls his eyes at you and finishes taking off his shirt, dropping it on the floor, on top of your own discarded clothing, and for some reason that’s the thing that makes your face heat up. Nevermind the fact that he’s currently stripping down a foot away from you, and you’re moments away from being naked in a very small, very wet place with him. You spend the rest of the time it takes him to disrobe willing the blush away from your face, and when he finishes by placing his folded shades at the top of your collective pile of clothing, he pulls the shower door closed and faces you. “Turn around.”

You narrow your eyes at his command, but comply wordlessly. His hands touch your back, and you hiss in pain when his fingertips trace over the blade wound on your shoulder.

Fuck, Dave, that hurts!”

“This is going to get infected. What the hell were you doing up there, you look like someone ran you over with a goddamn lawnmower.”

“I told you, I was practicing.”

“Yeah, bullshit, you practice up there all the time and you don’t usually come down looking like this.”

His arm nudges against you when he takes the soap from the tiny shower rack on the wall and wets it under the spray from the shower. You listen to him lather up his hands, really not looking forward to what you’re pretty sure he’s about to do with that soap, and sure enough, he slowly runs a finger along the wound, careful not to apply too much pressure, but the stinging from the soap still makes you grunt and grit your teeth. He repeats the motion a few times, going back and forth to thoroughly clean the wound while he talks.

“When we’re done in here, I’m going to stitch this up. And while I’m at it, are there any more I should know about? Level with me, bro.”

“No.” You mutter through gritted teeth as he reaches up to turn the showerhead, and you’re both quickly soaked with lukewarm water. He takes the soap again and starts to wash himself this time, and while he’s doing that you lean back a little, trying to get the spray from the shower to hit the cut on your shoulder because holy shit that still burns like a motherfucker. Your back bumps into his hands, and he leans over a little to give you room. Your hair gets soaked along with everything else, forcing you to close your eyes, and Dave gives you about a minute before turning the showerhead away again so he can start washing his hair. He’s a very efficient shower-taker, and he doesn’t seem to share your appreciation of hot water, something you will never understand. You’ve done this with him before, but the last time was years ago, and only because you got a wad of gum stuck in your hair when you tried to keep it behind your ear like some of the kids at school. You spent an hour trying to get it out before Dave came home to you applying peanut butter to your hair because you looked up how to get gum out online. It actually did the trick, but then you just ended up covered in peanut butter, which wasn’t as bad as the gum, but it still took Dave several rounds of shampoo to get it out, and your hair smelled faintly like peanuts for the rest of the week.

You wipe the water out of your eyes, remembering the way he was so careful to keep the shampoo out of them back then, back when he still did things like wash your hair and trim your nails, and how he would set the tall kitchen stool in front of the bathroom mirror and lift you up onto it when you needed a haircut, because you’d throw a fit if he tried to take you to a barber shop, you hated having to sit still while a stranger put their hands on you. He’d use the scissors from the drawer in his desk, since they were the sharpest in the apartment, and you think they might have been fabric scissors, but you’d have to see them again to be sure, it’s been so long.

Turning around to lean back against the cool tile, you fold your arms and watch Dave as he quickly washes his hair, his eyes closed tight against the dripping shampoo. You remember when you were a lot younger, probably around seven or eight, there was this one time you were upstairs on the roof practicing in the morning when it was still cool, in nothing but your shorts, just playing around. Dave was already at work, and you were trying to do a maneuver that you’d seen in one of your movies, but your hand slipped on the asphalt and you hit your head so hard you blacked out for a few hours. When you woke up your skin was so red from the sun that you cried when you tried to put your shirt back on because it hurt too badly. You went inside and laid down on the tile of the bathroom floor because that felt a little better, but then your head hurt worse when you did that, so you did something you’ve done only a handful of times, and called Dave at work. He came home early, and he was mad because he’d had to leave something important, but then you started crying, and he stopped being angry at you. He took you into the bathroom and sat you down on the edge of the tub, and helped you strip down to your underwear, and then he got some of the green aloe gel from the bathroom cabinet. It was so cold it made you flinch when he spread it over your burning skin, but it felt so good a few minutes later, and you just wanted to curl up, but everything hurt so bad that all you could manage was to lay down flat on your back on the futon with your head propped up uncomfortably on a big pillow. Dave spread one of the bathroom towels over the cushions so you wouldn’t get the gel all over them, then went and got his laptop so he could sit and type while you watched your movie.

You remember how he told you to be more careful, how he took you upstairs after your sunburn started to peel and it didn’t hurt anymore, and he made you show him what you had been trying to do. You were a little scared because you didn’t want to hurt yourself again, but he was watching, so you did it anyway. You almost slipped, but he stopped you and demonstrated how to shift your weight and your momentum so that it wouldn’t happen again, and you practiced for almost an hour before you did it well enough to make him nod his approval. You were a lot more cautious after that, and Dave was a little more generous with following you up to the roof when you asked.

Then there were the times when you went up to the roof to vent whenever you couldn’t take being in the apartment anymore. Those were the days when you were felt like you were in danger of snapping and take your frustrations out on him, which never ended well because he can beat your ass six ways to Sunday without breaking a sweat, and while sparring used to be a sort of stress relief for the both of you when you were little, there was nothing positive about the way you fought with him when you got older. But even though you might have genuinely tried to hurt him sometimes (you were a stupid teenager, it happens to everyone), on some level you also knew that he was skilled enough to keep the both of you safe, despite your careless aggression. That was why you got in the habit of practicing without him, spending long hours in solitude on the roof until you couldn’t lift your sword anymore, and the pain got so bad you couldn’t stand up straight without shaking.

You patiently wait for him to finish, subdued from revisiting those memories, and when he’s done, he wordlessly hands you the soap and exits the shower, grabbing a white towel before closing the door behind him, and you’re suddenly, strangely disappointed.

“See, what did I tell you, man. Ten minutes.” His voice echoes over the hiss of the shower, and you morosely lather your hands and start cleaning the grime off of your skin. “I still don’t get how you manage to spend several hours in there at a time, you’re lucky the water’s included in the rent, otherwise I’d have to sell my body on the street to afford your recreational ablutions.”

You aren’t sure what you were expecting. He’s obviously tired, and you’re tired, and that’s just the story of your lives right now, but today is his birthday (assuming it’s still before midnight), and even though he never seems to give a shit about holidays, you kind of wanted today to be special for once. So far you’ve just managed to injure yourself and then act like an insufferable bitch to Dave, even though he barely said anything about it, which still strikes you as suspicious. He’s probably biding his time with that, still trying to figure out how best to deal with you. You’re really not looking forward to that conversation.

When you rinse off the soap and start in on your hair, you take note that he still hasn’t left the bathroom, even though he must be done drying himself off by now. He’s probably brushing his teeth or something, although he could also be waiting for you to finish, it’s hard to tell with how blurry everything is through the glass. You take a little longer than usual to wash your hair, applying conditioner even though you usually skip it, but he’s still standing there when you’re done. So you cave and shut the water off, staying in any longer would be childish when you know he’s waiting for you. When you open the door and step out, he’s leaning against the sink, frowning slightly, with his towel wrapped around his waist, and you pretend not to notice the way he eyes you while you’re grabbing your own from the stack on the counter.

“You look like a goddamn dalmatian with all those spots. We should sign you up for next year’s Westminster.” There’s a condescending tone in his voice that sets you on edge, and you bite back an insult, but he sees you hesitate, and continues. “No, really, I’m serious. You could take best in show if we clean you up a little. Gotta work on your gait, though. Give me about a week, I can put together a nice mock runway up on the roof. We can work out a little routine for you, teach you to run in circles like those fancy toy poodles.”


“You gonna tell me why the hell you went and beat the shit out of yourself today?”

His question hits you like a splash of cold water, and you can’t find the words to explain yourself. So you stand there, clutching your towel around your waist in a poor imitation of his, any semblance of control you had over your expression gone. He gives you a while to respond, and when you’re silent for too long, he turns around and pulls open one of the bathroom drawers, taking out the first-aid kit. He beckons you to follow him, down the hall and into his bedroom. You comply after a moment’s hesitation, and when you enter behind him, he shuts the door and gestures at the bed. “Sit down.”

You do as he says without complaining (he’s using his serious voice), and he sets the kit down next to you, taking out the packaged supplies and spreading them around on the bed while you dry yourself off. He sets aside a long, curved needle, a length of suture thread, a handful of cotton balls, and a little bottle of alcohol, then climbs onto the bed behind you. Your hair is still wet, and he takes the towel from your hands and finishes drying it for you, then picks up the bottle of alcohol, and you hear it swish as he wets a cotton ball.

The alcohol stings, but not as much as the soap, since he’s only dabbing it and not dragging his finger across the wound like he did in the shower. He presses down and holds it, and the pain makes you tense a little, but your mind is elsewhere.

“You’ve got to stop doing this to yourself.” He doesn’t sound angry, just tired. In some ways, that’s worse. You still haven’t found the right words to have this conversation yet, so you stay quiet, trying to decide how to explain today’s failure to him without letting on what you’ve been doing, although confessing at this point wouldn’t be all that bad, and you’re still planning on discussing the project with him, but now clearly isn’t the time. He tosses the cotton ball aside and you hear him peel open the sterile packaged needle. “I thought I taught you better than that. Your body is your most valuable asset, and there are few ways you can fuck yourself up worse than to ignore your own physical limits.”

“I know.” You’ve heard this lecture so many times you can practically recite it from memory. He knows you’ve heard it before, but it doesn’t stop him from reciting it again.

“Yeah, I bet you do. Otherwise I wouldn’t have to practice my mad needlepoint skills on your back all the time. Hold still.” You suck in a breath, and the first prick is followed quickly by another, then the scrape of thread as he pulls the skin together. He repeats the motion, traveling slowly up the length of the cut. Despite his sarcasm, he’s actually very good at it thanks to years of fixing his own sword-related injuries, and he works quickly and cleanly.

When he’s done, he clips the end of the thread and starts tossing the supplies back into the first-aid box. You help him by rolling up a length of gauze that fell out, and when everything is packed up, except for the alcohol and cotton balls, he slides the kit under the bed, then walks over to his dresser and digs through the top drawer. “Some of those cuts are looking a little red, so I’m going to follow that to its logical conclusion and assume you didn’t put anything on them.” He turns around and throws a large, balled-up wad of fabric at you, and you catch it against your chest. It’s a pair of his flannel pants, dark green with little white and red christmas lights. “So I’d recommend making good use of that alcohol.”

“I have my own clothes, Bro.”

“Yeah, but we’ve still got some shit to discuss, so just put those on. Roll up the legs or something if they’re too long, I can’t remember how old those are, but I think they’re about your size.” He pulls out a plain black pair for himself and throws his towel over the back of the leather desk chair. You’re too distracted to appreciate the sight of him naked, you just spent ten minutes with him in the shower, and some of the novelty has worn off.

Instead of worrying about the approaching conversation, you dejectedly pick up one of the cotton balls and wet it with the alcohol, rubbing gently at the worst of the scratches on your thighs. Dave flicks the light switch, leaving only the lamp on, and takes the other side of the bed, rearranging the pillows so he can sit against the wall. He silently waits the several minutes it takes for you to finish with your legs, followed by your arms with a brief pause in between to pull the pj bottoms on (they’re a little long, but you don’t bother rolling them up), before beckoning you over. “C’mere, I’ll do the ones on your back.”

He takes the cotton ball when you move closer and pats his lap, and you raise an eyebrow at him, but comply anyway. You’re tired, you just want this day to be over, and you really don’t have it left in you to argue with him, which he seems to have picked up on, so it’s probably the ideal time for him to lecture you on whatever it is he wants to discuss. Straddling his lap, you sit with your back to him, and he places a hand on your hip, only to hold you still, but the gesture is still a little distracting. He dabs at different spots on your back while he talks.

“So. You got something on your mind, kid?”

You sigh, picking at the fabric of your pants while you think of something to say. “It’s not …” It’s not you, Dave. I know that’s what you’re thinking, but I promise, it wasn’t you this time. “It was, just … something stupid.”

“‘Something stupid?’ Stupid enough to wind up looking like the donor of a high-class sashimi entree, apparently.”

The light tone of his voice catches you off guard and tells you that he’s joking, rather than just being colorfully sarcastic, so you echo his quiet laugh with something a little like relief. He’s not mad, and he’s not chewing you out, he’s just concerned. You’ve been so on edge today, that you were expecting him to verbally dig at you until you cracked, a technique he’s perfected over the years, but hasn’t seemed to employ recently. Instead it looks like he’s content to just sit back and actually converse about this, so you take him up on the offer.

“I was working on something that … didn’t really work out.”

“Man, I figured, what with you shutting yourself in your room for like two days, I thought someone had broken into the apartment when I came home and saw you lying on the futon.” He dabs at a spot on the back of your neck that stings, and when you wince, he stops and blows on it gently until it dries. “Although if that ever did happen, I’d be more worried about the intruder, to be honest. You’re a fucking demon with that katana. Next time you’re feeling out of sorts, though, let me practice with you, okay?”


“I mean it, I don’t want to see this happen again.” He sets the cotton ball down on the bedside table, followed by the alcohol, then rubs your uninjured shoulder fondly. “Even if I’ve just gotten home from work and I feel like shit, I promise I’ll come up to the roof with you. I mean, if you ask nicely enough. A little bribery wouldn’t hurt.”

He suddenly ruffles your hair, and you slap at his hands, because your hair’s still damp, and now it’s sticking up at odd angles. He just laughs while you smooth it down, and you glare halfheartedly at him over your shoulder, about to say something sarcastic regarding his level of maturity, but the way his eyes crinkle at the edges when he grins like that distracts you, and you find that your frustration at him is abruptly overshadowed by how much you missed him. You’ve been putting yourself through hell lately, it’s been days since you last saw each other, and he’s being so nice tonight, almost like he understands what you’ve been going through, so you turn around in his lap (ow, dude watch it) and wrap your arms around his neck, leaning in and pressing your body against his from the waist up. The rough curls of hair on his chest scrape against your bare skin, and you’re immediately turned on, you can’t help the attraction you have to hairy older men, your brother is just lucky that it happens to be one of your kinks.

You breathe deep with your face pressed into his neck, the faint smell of soap and shampoo a welcome change to the cologne. Your legs are bent at the knees on either side, straddling him with your hips pressed together, and he’s started to gently rub your back, maybe still under the impression that you’re upset. His fingers trace around the dark bruises on your skin, then run down the sides of your waist, you can’t help the little twitch of your hips when he does that, and he pauses, so you softly kiss the side of his neck, just under his ear, and you hear his breath hitch. You do it again, and again, kissing up the line of his jaw as best you can from this angle. He’s got a lot of stubble on his chin, and you love how rough it feels against your lips. He gives a breathy chuckle when you pull away. God, he looks so exhausted, it’s almost tragic.

“Your mood swings are gonna give me whiplash, bro.”

You smile, because he’s right. You don’t try to do it, but that’s what happens when your brain runs a mile a minute. He opens his mouth like he’s about to say something else, but you stop him, leaning in to press your lips hard against his, earning you an ‘mmf.’ You thread your fingers into the damp hair on either side of his head, knowing that he’s probably too tired for this, but you suddenly have an urgent need to be closer, to feel him needing you back. His hands have stalled on your waist, and you desperately want him to keep touching you. There’s a big part of you that doesn’t like feeling this way, like you’re out of control, even if he’d never honestly tease you about it (you’d probably end this relationship if he did, if he ever made fun of how vulnerable he makes you, it’s something you’re extremely insecure about). He’s not kissing back like you’d hoped. You can’t really blame him, it’s only thanks to nerves that you have enough energy for this right now. But you persevere, and after a while, his mouth finally softens against yours, and you reward him with a breathy whine that makes the grip on your waist tighten, and just like that, you’re done for.

“Dave?” You whisper against his mouth, in between sliding your lips over his.

“Mmm, what’s up?”

“Will you, um …” Your voice shakes, but you swallow hard and try again. “I want … I want you to … to fuck me. Please.”

“Oh.” He pulls back from the kiss and stares at you in surprise, a deep flush to his face. You kind of expected him to react that way, you’ve only had real intercourse once. He licks his lips nervously. “Um. I don’t … I dunno, it’s … kind of late, or … I mean, early. Fuck.”

You always get a little thrill you get when you reduce Dave to struggling for words. He looks like he wants to turn you down, but he hasn’t moved his hands away from where they’re anchored on your hips, so you lean in, slowly, and pause with your lips a centimeter from his, just to feel his breath against your mouth when he exhales, before you close the distance. You don’t want to talk anymore, you’ve done enough talking for tonight. You need him, and you try to put that into your kiss, begging for it with your mouth, letting your tongue run over his lips (asking nicely), and then nipping gently with your teeth when he doesn’t respond in kind, his fingers digging into the flannel of your pants when you hold his lower lip between your teeth. It takes a few more minutes of coaxing, but soon he’s worked up to kissing you back in earnest, and his own tongue meets yours briefly before slipping past your lips, one of his hands tangling into the hair at the back of your head, and you whine softly when it tightens, preventing you from pulling away, so you pant through your nose when you run out of air, and he pulls you hard against him, grinds his hips into yours, which hurts a little, but you ignore it. You try to say his name, but all you manage is a strangled sound that he swallows with a pleased hum before pulling back just enough to let you catch your breath.

“Okay.” He says, just as out of breath as you are. “Only if you’re sure.” He lets go of your hair to caress the curve of your neck while he watches you nod, before leaning in to plant a light kiss on the top of your collarbone, then scraping his teeth against the spot, which earns him a shudder. His hands grip at the curve of your lower back, and you tangle your fingers in his hair while he bites and licks at your skin, working his way up. When he gets to your ear, his breath is hot and loud as he runs his hot tongue over the shell, and it doesn’t make sense how much that turns you on. You’re practically shaking in his lap by the time he leans back enough so you can slip your fingers under the elastic band of his pants, but before you can pull them down, he’s pushing your hands out of the way, and you have to sit up on your knees so he can maneuver out of them. He tosses them over the side of the bed, and then his hands are at your waist, pulling the flannel down to your knees, before they join his on the floor.

Once you’re both naked again, you reposition yourself in his lap, and his warm cock presses against the inside of your thigh, fitting in neatly alongside yours. Dave is significantly bigger than you in every regard, which makes sense because he’s also older than you, but even for a man his age and build, he’s unusually thick. Unfortunately, it can make things a little difficult in the intimacy department, but it does provide an interesting contrast when you put yourselves together the way you are now. He’s definitely got a lot to boast about under the belt, but you’re still young, and you hope that your genetics are similar enough that you’ll catch up to him someday. When his hands return, he slides them down to cup your ass, pulling you against him. He’s looking down at your cock when it rubs against his abdomen, and you arch into him just to watch the way he bites his lip. When he looks up and notices you staring at him, he gives you a smile and a little wink. “Enjoying the show?” He asks breathlessly.

“Maybe. You sure are.” You reply, just as out of breath. He grins at you, and you gasp when he’s suddenly rubbing his fingers against the head of your cock, running the tip of one in a circle around the slit, then tracing them lightly down the side of your shaft. When he takes you in his hand and starts to pump, you huff and try not to buck your hips. “Bro, fuck. I thought you were gonna … do me, not … jack me off, shit.”

He laughs, and mutters, “Yeah, yeah, hold your fuckin horses, jeez.” It occurs to you that he might have been stalling for time, but then he leans over to get the tube of lubricant out of the dresser drawer, making you shift to avoid toppling over. The tube is more than half empty, it’s usually kept in there for his personal use. He spreads some of it on his fingers, then looks pointedly at you, and you lean forwards, wrapping your arms around his shoulders and burying your face in his neck while his finger pries around between the curves of your ass. You’ve only done this once with him, but you’ve also done a lot of experimenting on your own, and the feeling isn’t completely alien. He’s doing his best to stretch you so you can accommodate him, but even though he’s being careful and taking his time, you still grit your teeth when he adds a second finger and scissors them apart. When he notices you tense, he starts to kiss your neck again, just light contact of lips on skin meant to distract, while your forehead rests against his shoulder. He asks if you’re okay, and you nod, then he adds a third finger from his other hand, followed later by a fourth, his palms cupping your bottom, and your erection is suffering a little, but you’d rather wait until he’s inside of you before you turn your attention back to getting off. You want tonight to last as long as possible.

You’re almost completely limp by the time he’s done. The feeling of being so stretched out when he removes his fingers is a definite turn-off, and the lubricant is messy and wet, some of it dripping down the inside of your thigh. He lets go of you briefly to slick himself up with copious amounts of the stuff, having gotten harder just from fingering you, and you think you should probably be flattered, but you’re too impatient right now to appreciate it. He finishes quickly and takes your hips to pull you over his lap, and okay, you guess you’re going to be on top this time, that’s a little unexpected. But once you’re in position, he makes no further move to guide you, resting his hands on your hips and waiting for you to move. So you take a breath (can’t let yourself look nervous, he’ll stop this if you do) and reach behind with one hand to guide him in, the other keeping you propped up against his broad thigh. He was good about stretching you, and all you have to do is relax and slide down onto him. It still hurts once the head breaches that tight ring of muscle, but you breathe steadily and do your best to relax. You’re too occupied with what you’re doing to pay attention to his reactions, but you vaguely register the way he breathes harder, and how the muscles in his thigh tighten under your hand as you sink down onto him an inch at a time. He’s holding himself completely still while you take him in, and you admire his self-control. You can’t imagine what it must feel like to be buried inside of someone else. Maybe someday he’ll let you find out, but for now, you think you prefer it this way.

It takes longer than you’d like, but soon you’re sitting on him, his thick cock fully sheathed inside of you down to the base. You focus on breathing deep while you wait for some of the discomfort to recede, and Dave is breathing hard too, but for a very different reason, and he’s clearly getting more out of this at the moment than you are, but you don’t care, because there’s more to sex than getting off. You’d still be doing this even if it did nothing more than hurt the entire way through, just so you could be close to him. The orgasms are only a bonus.

“Tell me if … if it hurts too much, okay?” He instructs, and you nod. When you finally feel comfortable enough to move, you’re rewarded with a fresh wave of pain, but you power through it, rising up on your knees about an inch before slowly lowering yourself back down. Dave’s eyebrows knit together, and his hands grip your sides harder, but he’s still refraining from moving, letting you set the pace on your own. He’s patient, especially when it comes to sex, which is weird, because you never would have expected that about having him as a lover. You move slowly, not in any hurry to do this faster than you’re comfortable with (because nothing about this is comfortable right now), rising up and easing back down, a little bit at a time. One of his hands brushes against your half hard cock, questioningly, but you push it away, you’re not quite at that stage yet. You’re still trying to adjust to him, and there’ll be plenty of time for that later.

After a few minutes of willing yourself to maintain a somewhat consistent pace, you pull up a little further than before, and you get that first spike of ohshityes that indicates a near miss of your prostate. You do your best to repeat the motion, but it’s hard to push yourself up when your muscles are starting to complain. Usually you’ve got a lot more stamina than this, but you kind of wrecked your body today, and now you’re cursing your lack of foresight. So it’s kind of hit or miss for the most part while you try to ignore the fatigue in your legs, unable to increase the pace beyond a careful rhythm, and after a while your movements get increasingly shaky. The fact that you’re having difficulties hasn’t escaped Dave’s notice since his eyes haven’t left you once, and even though you’re getting hard again, when you finally manage to really nail that sweet spot, you can’t stop your hips from jerking forwards, and the backlash of pain leaves you shivering in place, while Dave brushes the sweaty hair out of your eyes.

“Are you okay?” He whispers, and you nod, gritting your teeth. He considers you for a moment, skeptical of your silent reassurance, then puts his hands on either side of your waist and slowly pulls you up until he slips out of you, making you groan unhappily at the sensation. But before you can protest or ask what he’s doing, he leans forward, pushing you with a hand on your chest until you’re lying flat on your back, and he kneels between your legs to pull your hips into his lap.

When he slowly pushes back in, you bite back a pained groan, thinking wistfully that you’d be just as happy in this relationship if he were about half the size he is, although being on your back is a lot easier than riding him. You don’t have to do nearly as much work, but you also lose most of the control. So you’re a little nervous when he starts to set his own rhythm, but he doesn’t speed up much beyond what you had going before. The sensation is about equal parts uncomfortable and enjoyable (the latter of which is mostly psychological), until he manages to brush against your prostate, making you shiver and gasp in response. He abruptly stops moving, and you glare at him, but then he slides out an inch and pushes back in, repeating the motion over and over, and your eyes go wide as you realize what he’s trying to do just before the sensation hits you, and you’re left scrabbling at the sheets with your fingers while his grip on your waist keeps you from bucking your hips out of position.

“Aaagh! F-fuck …” He just grins at your stuttered outburst while he rocks his hips in little circles, grinding against your prostate with every tiny thrust, and it’s almost unreal how good it feels. It resonates everywhere and leaves you gasping his name, punctuated by obscene expletives, and you can’t get any leverage with your feet, no matter how hard you try to dig your heels into the soft mattress. It isn’t long before your harsh panting turns into long, drawn out moans on almost every exhale, high pitched and shameless with how completely overwhelming the sensation is. There’s no way you’re going to last more than another minute with the way he keeps nailing that spot, but you don’t have the coherency or presence of mind to tell him to slow down.

It rapidly becomes unbearable, and when you finally break and move to touch your aching cock, he beats you to it, but instead of helping you get off, he simply wraps a hand around you and keeps it there, preventing you from touching yourself. You put a shaking hand over his, pleading with your eyes for him to let go or move, but you recognize the way he’s watching you, drinking in every gasp and shudder, there’s nothing he gets off to more than watching you when you’re like this. So you give up and fist your hands in the sheets while he keeps you hostage, gritting your teeth against the sounds he’s forcing out of you. He refuses to speed up, but he’s precise with every thrust, and you try to buck into his hand, because you’re so close, but he won’t even let you do that, holding you still with a tight grip. His eyes never leave you as your head digs into the pillow when you arch your back, and you practically sob when you hit your orgasm abruptly hard and fast.

Before you can finish riding it out, he leans over you, and his hand sinks into the mattress next to your head. He’s careful not to pull out of you this time, and his weight pushes you down into the bed while he angles your hips up before starting to thrust again, and you might have underestimated how much he’s been holding back this entire time, because now he’s pounding into you so hard that you can hear the bed creaking. It hurts a little, but you’re still bathed in that afterglow, so your wrap your arms around his straining back and listen to him breathing hard next to your ear. He doesn’t last long, and you relish the sensation of being pressed against him while he rocks against you, losing his rhythm when he gets close, and shuddering with a strangled curse when he comes inside of you.

You let him relax against you for a minute while he catches his breath, before you nudge at him with your elbow and make him get off of you before you’re smothered. He grins when you make a face at the mess after he pulls out, and leans over the side of the bed to retrieve one of the discarded pj bottoms, tossing it to you so you can clean up while he haphazardly rearranges the pillows and stretches out on his back. He was practically asleep on his feet when he got home, and now you can almost see him slipping into unconsciousness while he waits for you to finish wiping yourself off, coming to terms with the fact that you’re going to be sore everywhere tomorrow, but it’s not like you had any important plans (besides, this was your idea, and you’re sure as hell not going to complain). Dave’s almost asleep when you settle in next to him, but he cracks an eye open long enough to turn onto his side and wrap his arms possessively around your shoulders, and you immediately curl into him, figuring you can talk about the failed project and the trip to Roxy’s and your relationship issues later when you’re not both struggling to keep your eyes open, and it’s only a matter of minutes before you follow him into a deep, dreamless sleep.