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They’re black lace, a classic. They’re also Cathy’s, Marcus’ ex-roommate as of an hour ago. Just picking them up off the floor of her closet feels kind of pervy. It has to be done, though. She did a mostly good job of cleaning out her room, but not perfect, and the new guy is due at the apartment in about an hour.

Marcus means to throw them away, right in the kitchen garbage and then down the chute. But as he carries them down the hall from Cathy’s old room, his fingers get caught up in the lace. He stands there in the quiet hallway, looking down at his blunt hand, covered in black floral wisps. With a flex of his palm, the lace stretches.

He throws them in his laundry bag instead.

It’s a few days before he gets to his laundry and a few days after that before he feels comfortable enough with Liathan’s habits around the apartment. Then he risks it.

He starts with the lights out, naked beneath the covers and the freshly laundered panties in his hand. Marcus lays the underwear on his chest and runs his palm over it. Despite the fact that he rolls his eyes at himself, he moves the panties down his chest, down his stomach and down beneath the covers to his cock.

The fabric is interesting, a combination of soft and textured across his dick, and the sensation of jerking off is blurred in a way that feels better, not worse. Marcus closes his eyes and tries, experimentally, to picture Cathy. Unsurprisingly, that doesn’t do any more for him than picturing most women. Then he pictures Lou’s hot friend who came along to touch football last week, the one who paid no attention to Marcus at all.

Marcus exhales audibly, arousal fading. Guys who pay no attention to him at all tend to be his type.

It’s the flex of his fingers in the panties that remind him of how it looked the first time, just what it was that made him curious in the first place. He turns on his bedside lamp and raises the covers up enough that he can see himself, half-hard beneath the lace.

One spectacular orgasm later, laughing silently at himself into his pillow, Marcus realizes – he’s hooked.

He doesn’t even try to wear the panties – Cathy is a size six, which seems to translate to her hips being about the size of Marcus’ thigh. One lunch hour trip to Lord and Taylor quickly kills his formerly brilliant idea of taking a quick tour through the plus sized ladies department. It’s an absolute explosion of underpants – thongs, bikinis, something called a fucking tanga, briefs, and so much polyester Marcus thinks for one hysterical moment that he unwittingly stumbled into 1978. He doesn’t even know where to start. The saleswoman with heading toward him with her sensible cardigan and eyeglasses on a chain doesn’t help either.

So, once he’s out of there and breathing and has convinced himself this is still not a bad idea, Marcus does what he usually does. He regroup,s and forms a new strategy.

His new strategy involves the privacy of his own home, websites with size charts, dropping about $150 on the Internet (men’s panties! who knew?), and repeated promises from a customer service representative named Don that yes, Mr. Aquila, UnderCover can ship your order in plain packaging with no evident branding, if that’s what you would prefer.

“I would,” Marcus says. He steals a glance at the door of his bedroom. Liathan is out at his kempo class. He’s generally an okay dude – neat, quiet to the point of being eerie, has his own life. But where he stands on his new roommate wearing lace panties, well, Marcus would rather just not find out.

The first time he jerks off wearing them is nothing short of epic.

It’s the third pair he tries on in front of the full-length mirror that hangs inside his closet door. The box is somewhere behind him and he has no idea what he looks like. All he sees is the panties, stretched perfectly across his near-full erection.

They’re white lace this time, and the leg holes are definitely big enough. His dick is thick and dark and it bobs up beneath the brush of his hand, back and forth across it the lace. Marcus looks at his own face – distracted, wanton—and pinches his right nipple quickly in little pulses that send cascading shivers through his body.

He teases himself, works his left hand down to the elastic of the waistband, snaps it a couple of times, then holds it open to get his right hand around his cock. They fit really well, like a light grip on his ass and a fluttering pressure on his balls.

And it's not like Marcus is particularly turned on by the sight of his own body, but the contrasts are fantastic -- his dark cock and the pale lace, the feminine garment and his strong legs. It looks a little wrong and a little weird. But it looks really fucking good.

Marcus lets the fantasies rip as he gets close -- jerking off like this for someone, as they watch from across the room fully clothed, or kneel in front of him and stare open-mouthed. Or someone touching him like this, or maybe pulling the panties aside harshly and--

His dick jerks up inside the panties. He circles his fingers tight around the head and squeezes there again and again until the last convulsion resonates through him. The first couple of spurts of come seem to fly from his dick. The rest slide into the panties, which start to soak wetly with his semen.

When Marcus comes back down, he removes his left hand from his mouth and examines the teeth marks. He rubs his hand inside the underwear, over the stain and the wet streaks on his pubic hair. His reflection stares back at him, grinning.

And he still has four more pairs to try on.

It becomes normal. Marcus admires them on his body in the morning before getting dressed, then jerks off in them at night (or, on one memorable occasion, in the men’s room at work). But in between, just having them on during the day, that part becomes important, too. It’s a rush to have a serious conversation with his boss or go to the supermarket and he’s got red satin on under his grey wool trousers. It’s a secret, a dirty secret, and at the same time it makes him feel safe. They feel good on his ass and his soft dick, holding him tight.

He gets so used to it that the night of the housewarming party for Liathan, he changes into jeans, but completely forgets to switch to boxers.

Lou comes over to him with two shots of whatever, breathless and smiling. “Man, Marcus. Those boys from Cork are crazy.”

“That sounds like a Billy Joel song,” Marcus says, taking the shot from Lou’s hand. He muses on it for another minute. “Or an Elton John song.” He knocks it back – it tastes like a Boilermaker, kind of, and he can practically feel new hair sprout on his chest along with the burn.

“It sounds like your kitchen,” Lou replies.

And it’s true. Liathan’s friends swept into the house around 7 p.m., just an hour before the party was to start, and transformed the place, laughing and drinking beer all the while. Four guys and two girls. They cleaned the shit out of all the common rooms, made beer runs, moved the furniture to create a decent dance floor. It’s pretty amazing. Now it’s 10 and the apartment is packed with people laughing, flirting, dancing.

Cottia comes over to say hi and Marcus excuses himself to return the glasses to the kitchen. Liathan – quiet, keeps his head down, sometimes-stares-too-long Liathan – has been transformed to Lord of the Shots. He stands on the kitchen island, head ducked down so it doesn’t hit the ceiling, as the crowd around him cheers and grabs glasses off the tray he holds out to them.

“Marcus,” he says in a booming vice, upon sighting Marcus.

“Roomie!” Marcus exclaims in return. Under any other circumstances this would earn him at least a scowl, but Liathan is clearly at ease amongst his people so he merely smiles. Marcus sets the empty glasses beside the sink.

“It’s a fine party, eh?” Liathan says with obvious pride.

“Word,” Marcus replies and nabs one of the last shots on the tray. He tips it up toward Liathan in toast and then downs it quickly. It’s sweeter and stronger than the last one -- some food might be in order to stay upright.

In addition to the veggies and chips out in the living room, there are trays of honest-to-God hors douevres lined up on the kitchen table. Marcus can’t tell what anything is, exactly – maybe artichoke dip? Maybe dates wrapped in bacon? But surely none of it is haggis, despite Liathan’s earlier insistence that Marcus would be eating some tonight. He grabs a paper plate and stares down.

“Don’t know where to start, eh?” Marcus looks up and there’s a guy standing at the corner of next to him, amid the small group of people getting food. Marcus is pretty sure he’s seen this one before, maybe shouldering Liathan’s mattress the day he moved in and cursing like a sailor.

He’s adorable – a careless scruff of auburn curls and sharp angular features, bright blue eyes. He’s more slender than Marcus thought from the one glimpse he’d gotten of him in sweatpants and a tank top. He’s wearing tight jeans, a black button down shirt, and a tweedy looking suit vest. He looks like he just dresses this way, whether he’s at a house party or a – wherever else he goes.

Marcus realizes he’s totally staring.

But the guy just grins at him. “Here, I’ll help you choose,” he says. He takes the paper plate from Marcus and starts selecting things off the table.

“Thanks. I’m Marcus,” he says, for lack of anything intelligent to contribute.

“Yeah, I know,” the guy says. “You’re the brave sod living with Liathan. I’ve been there, mate. You have my respect and my apologies.”

Marcus laughs. “I’ve had six roommates in six years. Liathan goes above and beyond my base requirements of sane and employed.”

The guy gives him a wry look and Marcus takes that as his cue to amend it to: “Well, sane-ish. I’ll take it.”

The guy smirks and hands him the plate, now nicely arranged with all sorts of mouth-watering things.

“Thanks,” Marcus murmurs. “Um. . . “

“Esca.”

“Esca.” Marcus probably ought to get back to Lou and Cottia but he has no desire to move. He glances back behind him and sees the shots crowd, Liathan included, has gone somewhere else. A couple Marcus doesn’t know is over by the sink, making eyes at each other over expensive beer. When he turns back, Esca is just looking up at him, like he’s interested in what Marcus has to say.

“So, you and Liathan, you were roommates?”

“No. We grew up together. Then his folks were my legal guardians from when I was thirteen.”

“Oh!” Marcus says. He’s gesturing with some kind of cheese pastry and doesn’t care that he looks stupid. Esca’s still talking to him. “You’re the brother-not-a-brother.”

“Is that what he says? He's such a twat,” Esca remarks fondly. He picks a fig off a tray and takes a bite of it.

“It differentiates you from the three real brothers. And he sounds like he could give a fuck about them. You’re the one he loves,” Marcus says and he watches Esca chew. It gives him thoughts about kissing that mouth, followed rather unfortunately by thoughts of what a clusterfuck that would be and whether Liathan would practice some kata on Marcus’ head.

Esca looks down at his feet but he grins. If the light weren’t dim in here Marcus would be sure he was blushing. “He’s still a twat. Speaks highly of you, too. To the extent that he speaks.”

Marcus pulls a chair out from the head of the table and gestures for Esca to sit. He swings another chair around and sits across from Esca. Three things happen:

1) He pops the cheese pastry in his mouth and has what amounts to an orgasm on his tongue.

2) In the middle of said tongue-orgasm, he looks at Esca with what must be a completely idiotic look on his face and Esca just looks happily back at him with warmth. And heat. Even Marcus, who has the denial of others' attraction to him down to an art form, can’t deny this. And he doesn’t want to.

3) When Marcus settles back into the chair and lets the groan spill out of his mouth, his ass rubs against the panties. The ones he has on under his jeans, and completely forgot about.

He decides right there he can’t take Esca to bed. Not tonight. Besides, who knows if Esca would even want to?

Three beers later, Marcus has learned that Esca made most of the mind-blowing hors d’oeuvres but he’s not a professional chef. They’ve talked about their jobs, travel, crazy stories from growing up.

At some point, Liathan came in for a drink, took one look at them both, and exited as quickly as he entered, turning about on his heel.

And now their feet are touching beneath the table. Marcus makes a space among the now almost empty plates and trays for his bottle and glances at Esca’s sharp-eyed smile.

He wants to.

Marcus clears his throat. Music throbs from the living room, obvious in the sudden silence. Esca props his chin up on his hand and leans in a little.

“Do you want to go dance?” The words are sightly slurred together, not drunken so much as sleepy. Intimate.

Marcus swallows hard. “That depends,” he says, trying to make the rasp of his voice sound cool. “Would you rather make out with me in front of everybody or alone? I can work with either one.”

Esca moves his foot so now their legs are touching from the knee down. Marcus feels his pulse kick up. “Honestly?” Esca replies. He sets down his beer bottle. “Alone.”

Marcus rises from his chair, ignores the dragging squeak of the legs. He holds out his hand and lets his smile spill over. “Yeah, that was my first choice.”

The walk from the kitchen to Marcus’ bedroom might as well be a five mile march in the blazing hot sun. It takes fucking forever. They squeeze past a few other people hanging out in the hallway, and turn past the open archway of the living room, darkened and pulsing with dancing, laughing friends.

Marcus makes a point of not dropping Esca’s hand. If Liathan has a problem with this, better to be upfront and not sneak around about it. Probably. Hopefully.

When his bedroom door clicks shut Marcus automatically goes to turn on the light, but Esca stops him with a firm hand on the wrist. Esca turns Marcus back around with that hand on his wrist and the other on his hip – he is surprisingly strong, but then, Marcus goes more than willingly.

Enough light spills in through the window that Marcus can watch as he brings his free hand up to Esca’s hair, and drags his fingers through the thick of it. He can watch as Esca groans in pleasure and closes his eyes, and tips his head up, to be kissed.

Esca's kisses are firm with plenty of tongue, but he likes to pull back and make Marcus come after him, then dart back even more until he lets his lips be captured. He likes to nip and suck at Marcus' lips when Marcus teases and pulls away in return.

Kissing Esca is really fucking fun. So fun that Marcus keeps kissing him like that as they stumble to the center of the room. Keeps kissing Esca when it becomes obvious it's taking too damn long to get to the bed, so he just hoists Esca up astride his hips and carries him. They kiss through their laughter and getting each other half naked -- and Christ, that chest, and wow, those tattoos.

It's all so good that Marcus kind of forgets his vague, half-formed plan to stop above the waist, or at least keep control of the situation. He forgets that, until Esca, lying next to him with sweat-rumpled hair and breathing so hard it sounds like they're already fucking -- Esca moves his hands down the zipper of Marcus' jeans.

"Wait," Marcus whispers, voice ragged with want and more than a little fear.

"Shite," Esca mumbles. He moves his hands back to Marcus' waist and strokes him there, reassuringly. "Sorry. We don't have to. I'm sorry."

Marcus is pretty sure that's wrong. They do have to, they have to. It's all there, the want and the fun and this hot, hot boy who wants him in return.

Any explanation is going to make this more confusing so Marcus swallows hard and watches Esca's face as he encircles Esca's hand in his own. He pushes down and keeps a loose grip there as Esca slowly unzips Marcus' jeans and reaches in, his hand touching something unexpected.

"What--" he says and Marcus holds on with all he's got to Esca's gaze, still horny and delighted even though now there's a curiosity there as well. Marcus holds that gaze, and pushes his pants all the way down.

Esca stays absolutely still for a second and then rises from the bed, murmuring something Marcus doesn't catch. Marcus rolls onto his back and stares at the ceiling, naked but for a pair of black panties. The center is satin and the sides are stretch lace. The back is all lace, but Esca hasn't seen that yet.

Marcus closes his eyes and swallows, then sits up, ready for whatever disgust and confusion Esca is about to throw at him.

But Esca is standing on one foot at the side of the bed, struggling to get his jeans off with an absolutely wicked grin on his face. He tosses the jeans on top of his shirt and vest and slides gracefully to his knees between Marcus' open legs. He is even more stunning naked -- he looks proud and strong, like someone who would walk around naked all the time if he had a choice. Marcus approves of that, and the complete lack of underwear, and the lovely, hard cock, which seems to approve of Marcus in turn.

"That's better," Esca says softly, moving his hands up Marcus' thighs. He is definitely neither disgusted nor confused. When Marcus puts his hands on Esca's shoulders and strokes him there, he shudders.

"I didn't think you could get any hotter," Esca says. His thumbs disappear beneath the elastic of the leg holes, gentle touches where Marcus' pubic hair begins, and Marcus moans.

"These are beautiful," Esca says, leaning forward. "So pretty in your panties," and then he presses his open mouth to the front of the satin, mouthing at Marcus' cock like he wants to lick his way to naked skin somehow.

Marcus can hear the faraway clink of glasses and the buzz of the party and then he hears nothing but his own broken moans, his hands full of Esca's thick hair and muscled back.

Esca licks the tip of Marcus’ cock through the underwear enough that it’s hard to tell whether the wet spot is spit or precum or both. His hand cups Marcus’ balls firmly, making Marcus let out a shaky breath and glance down to look at the scene spread out beneath him. Esca’s other arm is moving back and forth briskly, and Marcus realizing he’s pleasuring himself. And that’s really cool, but Marcus wants more.

Marcus pushes Esca gently back and tugs at his shoulders so he’ll stand. Esca follows, but tilts his head in question. The best answer is action. Marcus lies back on the bed and pulls Esca astride him, then wraps his hand around Esca’s warm cock. Esca gives a sharp sound, like a laugh, and settles down enough that Marcus can feel his balls brushing the tops of his thighs.

“Didn’t want to miss this,” Marcus says, and moves his hand on Esca, drinking in his angelic expression, his dirty curses, the way his hips cant up into Marcus’ hand. He brushes his fingers over the panties again, watching Marcus.

“Can we take these off?” he asks, and chuckles because Marcus is still jerking him off and he’s still thrusting into it. “Or do you prefer them left on?”

“Off,” Marcus decides out loud. He lets go of Esca and reaches to pull them down.

“Just a minute, now,” he says wryly and moves between Marcus’ legs again. They watch together as he peels the panties down so slowly, revealing the dark head of Marcus’ cock, the leaking slit, the length of him, inch by inch. Esca pulls the panties back carefully so as not to snag Marcus’ balls, heavy beneath his dick, and then he backs down the bed to pull them off completely. Esca looks at the fabric in his hand for a moment, then looks fiercely at Marcus and rubs them against his cheek with a sigh. It’s a bit of an act, for Marcus, who does not mind at all.

“Come here,” Marcus says and Esca drops the panties on the foot of the bed. He crawls up Marcus’ body, absolutely prowling, and Marcus wraps his legs around Esca and pulls him in.

“I like those,” Esca says. He drops to the side, coaxing Marcus to roll with him, and wiggles around a bit until his cock fits comfortably alongside Marcus’.

“I think I like you,” Marcus replies. He kisses Esca’s forehead as he can’t quite reach his lips. He likes the feel of Esca wrapped up in his arms, moving them both toward coming, just as much as he’s liked everything else.

Esca rests one hand on Marcus’ ass with a small moan, then slides his hand down between them to touch both their cocks. He bucks up a little in the bed so his lips are closer to Marcus’, and they kiss and kiss, wetter and sloppier as they move closer to coming.

“Oh God,” Marcus whispers into Esca’s lips. He moves his own hand down and moves Esca’s hand faster, tighter, then grits his teeth and screws his eyes shut, growling into Esca’s shoulder as he comes into their hands. Esca says another surprised “Ha!” into Marcus’ neck and then comes with several wonderful, stuttered convulsions that wrack his whole body against Marcus.

“Okay,” Marcus says, as Esca cracks up in his arms. “That was fucking fantastic.”

Esca nods and kisses his arm lightly. “Yeah. Gods.” He pinches Marcus’ nipple lightly, kisses it. “Do you need the underwear to get off or is it a sometimes thing? Don’t get me wrong,” he amends, sounding almost shy. “I like it.”

“It’s recent,” Marcus says. Somehow telling Esca this is more personal than everything they just did. “You’re the first to. . . see me like that.”

Esca leans against him. His hair is soaked with sweat and he smells wonderfully of parties and fucking. Marcus is positive he wants this to happen again when Esca says. “I’m honored. And I should ask Liathan first, so he doesn’t freak out on either of us, but I’d like to take you on a proper date. Soon, I think.”

Marcus kisses him, and wonders which pair of panties he’ll wear.