"Chuck." Dutch drew the blond programmer off to the side for a moment. "We need you to bring Mike down a notch, man."
"What? I mean... how? What?" Chuck twitched, glancing around Jacob's diner. "Sure he's a little high strung at the moment-" A few weeks of no threats from Kane had wound Mike up tighter than a coiled spring, making him nervous, almost twitchy. The cars were tuned to perfection, the place was clean and repaired, and Mike was looking ready to bounce off the walls.
Mike was making an effort not to, having learned his lesson with the Duke and his 'Reality TV' stint. Mike was trying to play it cool, but it was past the stage where pretending wasn't helping. Neither were trips to the lake or any other excursions.
"I know you can do it, man." Dutch added with a nod. "You're his best friend. All you have to is put a hand on his shoulder or something, and he relaxes. I think he needs something like that right now. Like when he tells me to take off for a few days to do my art. Just ground him for a bit, bring him back to the here and now."
"Yeah, but..." He flailed silently, his face heating up in embarrassment. That was private, it was just a Mike thing. And Chuck didn't need people thinking all he did was hang off their leader. He got enough hassle as it was from the other groups for not driving, like he wasn't a real Burner because of it. Not that any of the Burners thought that, but still, it rankled.
"Texas is currently attempting to talk him into a hand-to-hand contest." Julie said, her sudden appearance making Chuck squeak and jump. "And I think Texas is going to actually talk Mike into it."
They all grimaced. The last thing they needed was to be two Burners down when Kane made his next move because Mike and Texas had taken each other out.
"Please, Chuck." Julie gave him an imploring look. "He's not going to listen to the rest of us right now."
But Mike would listen to Chuck was the silent implication. Mike always did, even if it was while Chuck was screaming his lungs out from terror. And the thing was, Chuck knew it too.
"I... Alright. Fine." He ran a hand through his hair and sighed, his mind running through possibilities, as if he was cracking a complex algorithm. A simple pat on the back wasn't going to work, Mike was currently too keyed up, it had to be something more than that. "Let me try some thing. No guarantees. If it doesn't work, he and Texas fight it out is Plan B."
"Agreed, reluctantly." Julie nodded, exchanging a look with Dutch, who bobbed his head in agreement.
"Okay." Chuck said, taking a deep breath and gathering his courage. Julie gave him an encouraging smile, giving his arm a squeeze as Dutch flashed him a thumbs up. He gave them back a weak smile, then walked back to towards Jacob's place.
Texas was in Mike's face, Mike starting to get that feral aura around him that said pain was in the horizon. He didn't get that way very often, usually Mike was cool and calm under stress, but occasionally it would slip, Mike's addiction to adrenaline rushing forth, like a wolf on the hunt.
"Hey, Mike?" Chuck said, rubbing his arm. "Can I talk to you for a minute?"
"In a second." Mike grinned, showing teeth. It was closer to a baring of fangs than a real smile. Texas didn't notice as he grinned back, all toothy in anticipation.
"Um, this really can't wait." Chuck pressed, stepping forward. Not too close, in case Texas did one of his insane 'Texas Twister' moves, but enough that Mike could actually see him without taking his eyes off of Texas. Chuck held a hand out, silently imploring.
"Yeah, okay." Mike turned away from Texas, stepping towards Chuck. "Maybe next time, Tex."
"Hah!" Texas raised his eyes in jubilation. "Next time, Mike Chilton, you will be SPANKED BY THE MIGHT OF DADDY TEXAS!!!"
Mike got an odd look on his face, like he was trying not to sneeze. Or torn between responses. Finally Mike just shook his head and kept walking, throwing an arm over Chuck's shoulders. "What's up, Chuckles?"
"Not here." Chuck glanced around, eyes flickering to where everyone was. Too many eyes, too many distractions. "Come on." He led Mike down to the storage area, breathing a sigh of relief once the door was shut behind them.
"Okay." Mike said gamely, not knowing what was going on but willing to go along with it because Chuck had asked. "What's up?"
"Nothing much." Chuck said quietly, ducking his head and tucking his arms under Mike's jacket, wrapping himself around Mike's solid chest, pressing Mike back against the strangely dust-free shelves of the storage room. He was taller than Mike, but he was good at slouching, bending enough so that Mike could rest his head on top of Chuck's, wrapping his arms around Chuck in return , chuckling quietly.
Chuck had never been that big of a physically affectionate person before meeting Mike, who was free with the casual contact, especially with Chuck. It had taken some getting used to. Chuck had never been the best of fighters, and was more accustomed to blows for being weak than friendly pats.
But Mike had changed that. Mike had changed all that, because he was Chuck's Best Friend and the person he trusted the most in the world, even while Mike was doing his best to get them killed or blown up.
"Okay." Mike said, sounding quietly amused as his large hand rubbed Chuck's back. Chuck usually didn't instigate hugs, unless it was to cling in mortal terror. It was a Mike thing. "What brought this on?"
"You seemed to need it." Chuck admitted, straightening and lifting his head to look Mike in the eye. "And you were starting to worry the others."
Mike flinched, then tried to cover it with a laugh. "Guess I'm getting a little punchy, huh?"
"Dude." One of Chuck's eyebrow rose, mostly obscured by his hair. "You were getting ready to fight 'Daddy Texas'."
This time Mike did grimace, and didn't bother trying to cover it up.
"So shut up and take your hugs like a man." Chuck informed him, hooking his chin over Mike's shoulder. Mike chuckled, tightening his grip on Chuck, pressing him close. It was working, somewhat. Mike was a little looser than he had been when they first walked in, but he was still coiled tight and ready to fight.
Mike rubbed Chuck's back, hands idly massaging various knots out of Chuck's shoulders and Chuck gave a small hum of appreciation. Julie occasionally went on about 'Girl's Nights' with Claire, maybe they should see about 'Burner's Massage Nights'. He bet Dutch could probably really use it, always bent at awkward angles to work on the cars.
He turned his head to rest his jaw on Mike's shoulder, nose pressed against Mike's neck. Mike always smelled nice, like leather, motor oil and something that was just Mike. Well, his socks were still stinky like the rest of theirs, but the rest of Mike smelled good. Chuck liked it, it smelled kind of like the Mutt, of home and safety.
Mike hit a good spot, pressing hard enough to undo a knot on Chuck's spine, and he let out a soft groan at the flare of pleasure-pain, going limp against Mike, trusting his buddy would keep him upright. He wasn't quite expecting the sharp inhale that Mike gave in return, or the subtle tremble that went through Mike's body.
He did it again, a soft exhalation of air against Mike's neck and felt the goosebumps rise enough to brush against his lips, the slight scrape of shaved stubble. Mike squirmed a little bit against him, as if he couldn't decide to tense or relax against Chuck. Interesting.
Chuck shifted his head slightly, the barest nuzzle, his lips brushing against the soft skin of Mike's neck. Mike made a soft noise, his head tilting the other way, giving Chuck more access to his neck. Chuck placed a soft kiss there, feeling a spark of pleasure at Mike's soft gasp.
Mike swallowed, Adam's apple bobbling against Chuck's mouth. "Chuck?" Mike wasn't scared, Mike was never scared, but he was a little confused.
Chuck was a little daunted as well. He'd never done this with anyone before, never allowed anyone to get close enough. It was a bit terrifying, but it felt exciting and good, and Mike needed a distraction, something new, something other than fighting.
It didn't seem like that big of a deal to lift his head and look at Mike, who was staring at him with wide eyes, but didn't look afraid or disgusted, just kind of... waiting. Seeing what Chuck was going to do next.
It gave Chuck the confidence to unwrap one of his arms and reach up, brushing the fringe of hair that was always in Mike's face away for a moment, run his fingers down the side of Mike's face, just cause he could. Mike closed his eyes, moving into the contact, like when Roth leaned against Dutch's pats. It's oddly defenseless, like Chuck could do anything he wanted and Mike would let him.
It made him feel powerful and weak all the same time. His knees trembled a bit, but he didn't run.
Chuck bit his lower lip for a moment, then ducked down, carefully brushing his lips against Mike's for a brief second, the softest of touches, but it was enough to make Mike's breath hitch.
It wasn't rejection or a punch to face, and Chuck licked his lower lip in nervousness, wondering if he should do it again. Mike solved that problem by leaning forward and repeating the gesture, just as quick, but somehow tender.
His face heated up and Chuck knew he was blushing, Mike could always make him blush, but it was alright. Mike could make Chuck do things he normally wouldn't contemplate all the time, and it always turned out alright. "Okay?" Chuck asked, his voice wavering only a little bit.
The crooked grin Mike gave in return was fond, just a bit of the excitement he'd had earlier, but without the fangs. Chuck smiled back, bringing their foreheads together as Mike gave a small nervous chuckle, hands sliding down to Chuck's belt, thumbs rubbing against the curve of his hipbones.
They kissed again, this time lasting longer, the press of lips changing to a slow glide, lips moving against each other. It was careful, like communicating without words. 'Is this okay?', 'How about this?', 'Faster' and 'Slower'. Mike bit Chuck's bottom lip and that was good, surprisingly good and Chuck made a soft groan, shivers going down his spine to pool in his gut.
Mike's tongue came into play, licking the bitten area, and that was nice too. Chuck couldn't quite convince himself to bite Mike's lip, but licking was okay. It was a little strange, the texture wasn't like anything he'd ever tried before, but it didn't really taste like anything either. He still had one arm wrapped around Mike, and the hand of other in curled in the hair at the back of Mike's head, Mike making little growling sounds every time Chuck tugged on it.
It's nice, and he's kind of hard, but not really hard, just one of those pleasant buzz things going, like when they're going fast in Mutt for no other reason than the sheer joy over the fact that they can.
Then Mike growled, low in his chest like a bio-hound and pulling Chuck's hips tight against his own, his dick hot and hard under his jeans rubbing against Chuck's hip. Mike opened his mouth like he was trying to devour Chuck whole, tongue sliding inside and moving around. It's too much too fast and Chuck freaked, just a bit, grabbing the hair on the back of Mike's head and yanking backward, even as he pushed himself away. "Whoa! Whoa whoa whoa! WHOA, Dude!"
Mike froze, eyes wide and breathing hard, looking a little panicked himself. Chuck could see the apology forming on Mike's lips and he leaned forward, pinning Mike against the shelves before Mike could push Chuck away and run.
"Relax, chill bro." He kissed the hair at Mike's temple, tasting the salty tang of sweat. "I didn't say 'stop'. I'm not being a tease, I swear. Just slow, okay? We got time. We got lots of time."
"Right." Mike nodded, swallowing as he lost some of the wildness in his eyes. "Slow. Okay. I can do slow." He said, his voice rough and kind of gravelly.
Chuck smiled, a nervous giggle escaping. Mike turned his head, nuzzling Chuck's neck for a moment before nipping at it. He seemed to like using teeth, Chuck noted with a bit of a hysterical edge. He'd probably end up with hickies going all the way up his neck if they weren't taking their time right now.
Part of him shied away from that idea, but another part of him kind of liked it, wearing a visible mark that Mike had put there, like he belonged with Mike. He wondered if Mike would let Chuck make a mark of his own on him, returning the favour.
Mike nuzzled, nipped, and licked his way back to Chuck's his mouth, kissing with a languid, leashed energy that he didn't have before, like he could keep this up for hours. He probably could, and Chuck wouldn't have any problems with that what so ever. It was warm and comfortable, and he lost himself in it, the feel of Mike's lips, and his solid muscular body against his.
One of Mike's hands slipped under Chuck's shirt, hot against Chuck's skin, making him nervous for a moment. But Mike doesn't move it far, just idly petting the curve at the small of Chuck's back, the feel of skin on skin, and Chuck eventually forgets about it. They're not going anywhere, and it was fine where it was.
A knock on the door startled both of them and Chuck jumped, muffling a shout of surprise. They both stared at each other for a moment before looking at the door. A quick wave of Chuck's hand summoned a screen with the time on it. They've been in the storage room making out for well over an hour and a half.
"Just checking on you guys." Julie's muffled voice was slightly concerned. "Everything okay?"
"We're-" Mike paused and cleared his throat, pulling his hand out of Chuck's shirt. "We're good. Thanks, Jules." They both looked like they'd been doing exactly what they'd been doing, lips slightly red and puffy from kissing for so long, hair mussed. Yeah, they were past the definition of 'good' there.
"No problem." Julie assured them. "Dinner'll be ready in another 15 minutes. Come on up when you're ready."
"Okay." Chuck called, leaning against Mike again, because it felt good to do so. Mike was all warm and relaxed now, almost pliant against him. "Better?" He questioned, then felt like kicking himself a second after.
"Less likely to drive us over the edge of a cliff, you mean?" Mike gave him a crooked smile, brushing the tip of his nose against Chuck's in a playful move.
"Yeah." Chuck nodded, threading Mike's hair through his hands, just because he could right now. And because it felt nice. Mike tilted his head back, his expression almost blissful as Chuck scratched his scalp, rough hair catching on his fingers.
Mike's fingers caught on Chuck's belt-loops, not doing anything, just holding on, keeping Chuck right where he was. "This is nice." Mike said quietly, eyes closed.
"I... uh... Wouldn't mind doing it again." Chuck admitted quickly. While he liked driving crazy fast in the Mutt, he like just spending quiet time with his best friend too. "And... not just cause..." The words tangled up in his throat, making a mangled burble.
Mike opened his eyes and smiled. "I'd like that." He said sincerely. Chuck smiled back, his stomach rolling in a way that wasn't entirely unpleasant. They just stood there, grinning stupidly at each other for a minute before Mike straightened. "Come on, I don't know about you, but I'm kind of hungry."
"I could eat." Chuck agreed, releasing Mike and stepping back to give him some room. They both paused, then straightened their clothing from where it had been pulled out of place, both of their hands reaching up to smooth Mike's hair back down into his usual style.
"Ready?" Mike asked with a grin and a tilt of his head.
"As I'm going to be." Chuck agreed. At least they didn't look quite as much like they'd been making out anymore. Dutch and Julie might guess, but at least it wouldn't be obvious to Texas, who would never let them live it down. Dutch and Julie were nothing but circumcent when they needed to be.
Mike's grin just grew wider. "Alright." He agreed, walking forward and opening the door. "Come on, Chuckles."
"Coming!" He said, his voice cracking slightly. He realised the endentre a second too late, blushing in embarrassment. This made Mike laugh, a happy rolling sound.
Julie and Dutch looked expectantly at them as they approached, first at Mike's loose, casual posture, then over at Chuck with small relieved smiles. Dutch flashed him a thumbs up, slouching comfortably down in his seat. Mike slid into his usual seat, Chuck following, Julie moving so she was sitting next to Chuck.
"He looks a lot more like himself." She whispered as Texas shouted a challenge to Mike, who waved it off. "Thanks. What'd you do?"
"Bro-hugs." Chuck shrugged, downplaying it. So it had been more than that, but Julie didn't need to know that. Yet. Maybe if it turned into something more, but not until then.
"Sweet." She smiled back.
"Hey, Cuddles-" Mike began, slinging an arm over Chuck's shoulders. Julie gave a small gasp, then slapped a hand over her mouth to hide a giggle as Chuck's face turned red.
"DON'T CALL ME THAT!"