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"Jesus Christ," M. says.

"No," Dick says. He's walking backward into the apartment with one half of a fish tank while his friend Roy takes the other. Dick's not even slightly watching where he's going. "It's Dick," he says. "You know, like decades of dick jokes."

"Yeah," M. says. "I got that." Actually, he thought it was a joke when Dick contacted him through Craigslist. "I meant the gigantic fucking fishtank you think you're going to fit in this tiny apartment."

Behind them, Roy laughs. "Don't knock the fish," Roy says. "He's super sensitive about it."

M's kind of having regrets about this whole thing. Dick seemed normal when M interviewed him - a little over-caffeinated, but not on drugs or anything. But every time M thinks Dick's done bringing in stuff, there's - more.

"Just a few more boxes," Dick says when he and Roy set the fishtank down in the living room, half blocking the TV.

"And the fish," Roy adds, snapping his gum.

"Do you think Goldie's okay still?" Dick asks.

M snorts. "You named your goldfish Goldie?"

"He's not a goldfish," Dick says, affronted.

"He's a lionfish," Roy says, bored.

"King of the watery jungle," Dick says. He starts singing the Lion Sleeps Tonight as he and Roy head back down to his car. M goes to make a pot of coffee. He's got to catch up with this guy somehow.

 

*

 

So far, Dick isn't anywhere near the worst roommate M's ever had. He sleeps half the day and does gymnastics moves in the living room, and he's broken half of M's collectible shot glasses from that time he got drunk and did cartwheels in the kitchen - but he pays rent on time, and he's never stingy about sharing food. Of course, "food" in Dick's case is six different boxes of children's cereal, but at least it's good in case M ever decides to get really stoned.

The thing is, though, Dick has absolutely no concept of personal space.

They're watching the game one afternoon - what they can see of the TV through the fishtank -, and Dick's on the couch next to him. Right next to him, all but cuddled up next to him as if there isn't a whole couch to be shared. Dick keeps babbling between plays about his dumb job at the sandwich shop down the street, and how he's never been to New Orleans, and does it really count as a date if he accidentally sets the table on fire midway through?

M actually looks at him for that one. "You set the table on fire?"

"Yeah," Dick says. He has orange crumbs on his mouth from the Cheetos he's been munching for the better part of an hour, and his hair's all messed up because he only woke up a little while ago. "I mean, it was an accident. The table had candles, and I went for the bread, and…"

"Wow," M says. "You're kind of a disaster."

"Yeah," Dick sighs. "It wouldn't have been that bad if her dress hadn't caught on fire, too."

"Ouch," M says. "Guessing she walked out?"

"Ran," Dick confirms. He pokes M in the side, and now M's t-shirt is orange, too. "What about you? I haven't seen any sign of a boyfriend since I moved in and it's been almost a month."

M grunts. He told Dick right away that he was gay and if he had a problem with that, he knew where the door was. Dick's response was to pull him into a truly terrifyingly tight hug and prattle on about how someone with his name would be insane to give a shit about something like that.

"Come on," Dick says. "It's share time."

"I was under the impression it was game time," M says. "Do you even know what we're watching?"

"Teams playing sports," Dick surmises. "I think someone's supposed to catch a ball. And speaking of balls..." Dick says, poking M again.

"Jesus christ," M says. He grabs Dick's finger in a tight grip. "Okay," he says.

"Okay?" Dick asks. His eyes light up, and it's annoyingly pretty.

"I don't really date," M says. He turns back to the TV, even though he doesn't know what's happening anymore. "I used to. There was a guy."

"Ah, heartbreak," Dick says. "Happens to us all. Except me. I light people on fire first."

"He didn't break my heart," M says. "I broke his. It was messy. And my fault. And I don't want to do that anymore."

"Hm," Dick says.

"What?" M asks. He's expecting Dick to say something about how he shouldn't give up, or whatever frilly shit Dick knows about from watching When Harry Met Sally six goddamn times in the last month.

"It's just," Dick says. "Aren't you kind of backed up?"

M stares him down. "I said I don't date," he says. "I didn't say I don't have sex."

"Oh," Dick says. He fishes the last Cheeto out of the bag, crunches, then says, "I can't really do the casual sex thing."

"Really?" M asks, raising an eyebrow. "I wouldn't think you'd have any problem picking girls up."

"Oh, sure, I'd do okay." Dick shrugs, and his shoulder bumps M. "It's more, you know, it feels kind of awkward to start sticking things places before you even know each other."

M thinks he's choking, but after a couple of seconds he realizes it's a laugh. "Your view on sex is interesting," he says.

"I know." Dick grins. "But I'm super flexible, so I make up for it."

"Right," M says. He kind of knew about the flexible thing. He kind of - doesn't like to think about it too often. Dick is his roommate. Dick is - well, M gets more of a bi vibe than anything, but M's not sure anyone's ever told Dick as much.

"Your team won, by the way," Dick says, getting off the couch and dusting off his hands.

"Oh," M says. "Good." He watches Dick go, because anyone who doesn't watch that ass move any chance they get has to be fucking blind. It's not a thing, or whatever.

 

*

 

"What is that?" Dick asks the next evening when he comes out of his room. He's been sleeping all day after helping out with inventory at his job, and M was just about to make sure he was still alive. There's just too much motive for him to kill Dick for him to get blamed for his death. Dick came home at five in the morning today, singing Les Mis at the top of his lungs.

"It's called salmon," M says. "People eat it for sustenance sometimes."

"Ugh," Dick says. He makes a face, scoots past M to grab a juicebox out of the fridge. M's been finding the little wrappers for the straws all over the floor ever since Dick moved in with him. It's worse than when M worked at that bar that mainly specialized in glitter.

"Yeah, I know," M says. "If you can't pour milk over it, you're not interested."

"Hey, I eat other things!" Dick says. He peeks into the oven to look at the fish. "It's just," Dick whispers, glancing over at the fishtank, "what's Goldie going to think when he smells that?"

"He's a carnivore," M says. He's given up on rolling his eyes at Dick for fear of them getting stuck up there. "He'll probably think mm, smells like dinner."

"Weirdo," Dick says. He grabs one of his Spiderman cereal bowls from the cabinet and takes the Lucky Charms and Fruit Loops off the top of the fridge. M's never seen anyone do anything as carefully as Dick measures out exactly half a bowl of Lucky Charms and half a bowl of Fruit Loops. "Fish don't speak our language."

"You don't speak our language," M points out.

"Then how come you can understand me?" Dick teases. He stands at the counter to eat his cereal, scooping up whole spoonfuls of marshmallows while he lets the rest of the cereal get soggy.

"I've got Babelfish on speed dial," M says.

"Again with the fish," Dick says.

"You're the one who brought a gigantic fish tank into my apartment," M says.

"Goldie needs room to roam free."

"So let him back in the ocean," M says. The oven beeps, and he takes the fish out, gives the vegetables a couple of minutes to finish simmering on the stove.

"Are you kidding?" Dick asks. "He'd get eaten alive."

"Most fish do," M points out.

"You'd better hope Goldie didn't hear that," Dick says, flicking a fruit loop at M's ear. It lands right on top of the salmon.

"Or what?" M asks. "He'll stare at me some more? Why don't you put him in your room, anyway?"

Dick mumbles something M doesn't catch while they take their food and move over to their rickety kitchen table. Dick brought it home one day from a yard sale. It's bright purple and missing paint in some places, but M guesses it's sort of better than nothing. Or it will be, until it collapses on them.

"What was that?" M asks.

"I said," Dick says, "He can't be in my room, because he creeps me out when I'm trying to sleep."

M chokes on his vegetables.

"Hey," Dick says a little while later, when M's cleaning up his dinner and Dick's eating a creamsicle for dessert. M tries not to look at him, because Dick's mouth is all red and he keeps fellating the damn thing. "What are you doing tonight?"

"No plans," M says. "Why?"

"Because," Dick says. "I'm going out with some friends, and I thought you might like to come."

"Oh," M says. He's met a few of Dick's friends by now. There's Roy of course, who keeps sticking his gum underneath the kitchen counter. There's Donna, who came over one day with almost fifty dollars worth of fruits and vegetables to try to get Dick to eat healthier. There's Wally, who made Dick look like a calm, centered person. So far, the only one he really likes okay is Jason, who shook M's hand when they met and said, "Sorry you're on babysitting duty now."

M dries his hands on a dish towel and looks over at Dick. There's popsicle juice dripping down his fingers and M almost forgets what they were talking about. "I think I'll take a pass on that."

"Come on," Dick says. He fucking pouts. "What else are you gonna do, sit at home and watch ESPN?"

"Thought I might," M says. "You know, after spending all week working behind the bar, the last thing I really want to do is go to one."

"But this is a different one," Dick says. "Doesn't count."

"Dick…" M starts, rubbing his face. This guy makes his head hurt.

"Nope," Dick says. He swallows the last of his popsicle, and M starts to thank somebody, but then he starts licking his fingers clean, too. "You're coming out, or I'm moving Goldie into your room."

M doesn't argue nearly as hard as he wants to.

 

*

 

"How's the living situation?" Donna asks him a few hours later. She and M are leaning back against the bar, watching Roy and Dick on the dancefloor. Wally's nearby, talking some girl's ear off about the difference between French press and aeropress. M's just glad Wally's not talking to him about microbrew anymore.

"Had worse," M says. He tips his beer back and glances over at Donna. Dick's always dropping vague hints about how Donna's had some tragedies in her life, but from what M can tell she's the most put together out of all Dick's friends. Not that (Wally gets turned down and starts heading back over toward them) that's saying much.

"He's a good guy," Donna assures him. "Attention span of a fruit fly, but…"

"Yeah," M says. Yesterday, he was walking down the hall to their apartment when he nearly tripped over Dick helping some toddler learn to jump rope. "He's a good guy."

"Donna," Wally says, sounding as miserable as a kid who got kicked off his softball team.

"Oh, sweetie," Donna says. She pats him on the shoulder. "Remember how we talked about discussing her interests, too?"

"Yeah, but," Wally says. "Her interests were papier-mache fruit and Deadwood. What am I supposed to do with that?"

Donna sighs. "If you weren't interested in her, why did you keep talking?"

"Um, hello?" Wally asks. "Did you see the way she looked in that -" Donna does something to Wally's neck that causes him to yelp in pain. M laughs, and Wally turns to him. "Is it easier hooking up with guys? You don't seem miserable."

M's saved from having to answer when Dick walks back over to them from the dancefloor, sweaty and flushed. His shirt is sticking to him and M catches a glimpse of his ass in those jeans again when he leans past him to steal a gulp of Donna's water.

"Get your own," Donna says, shoving him back.

"At least he's hydrating," Wally points out.

Dick flips them both off, then looks at M. "Roy abandoned me for some girl with a sequin for a top. Come dance with me?" M looks over at the others, but Dick shakes his head. "Wally's hopeless, and Donna's designated driver tonight and I can't get her out there without at least two shots of tequila. Besides," Dick says. He grins, moves in a little closer. "I've seen the way your hips move when you've got music on in the kitchen. You're not hopeless."

"Guess you're right," M says. It's hardly yes, but Dick takes it that way anyway, drags him past dozens of sweaty bodies before they reach the center of the dancefloor.

It's too loud to talk. It's too loud to do anything but move, but let Dick put M's hands on his hips, let the music move through his veins the same way those two shots of whiskey are doing. M's not sure how much Dick has had to drink at this point, but it's enough that he starts grinding his hips back against M, starts writhing on him like -

"Dick," M says. He leans down close enough to Dick's ear that he can hear him. "What are you doing?"

Dick looks back at him like he's an idiot. "Duh," he says. He bats his lashes. "Dancing."

And, well, last M checked the moves Dick's using are all but fucking on the dancefloor, but. M can play this game.

The next time Dick grinds back against him, he gets his hands on Dick's hips and squeezes him there, gets his fingers under Dick's shirt so he can feel perfect, sweaty abs and hipbones. He feels Dick hum against him and he leans further back so his head rests on M's shoulder. He swivels his ass, brushing M's dick, and M -

Turns him around, until Dick's grinding against his thigh instead, and he's just as hard as M. Dick looks up at him, licks his lips and touches M's chest. "You know," Dick says, right in his ear. "Roy was telling me he's never seen you look so hot."

M shivers. Dick's hand is on his neck, his mouth against his skin. "Tell him to come my bar sometime," he says. "How d'you think I get such good tips?"

Dick giggles. "I'd get such good tips. They'd have to come up with a new name for tips. I -" That's Dick's mouth on his throat, tasting him. They're hardly even moving anymore, and the song changed without their noticing.

"Grayson," M says. "This is a bad idea."

Those are Dick's teeth, but Dick pulls back. "Sorry," he says. Everything about the color of Dick's mouth makes M want to kiss him. "Slutty drunk alert."

M glances around. "Looks like Roy's free again. Why don't you go grind on him a bit? I'm going to go keep Donna company."

"'kay," Dick says, hesitant.

M doesn't go back to the bar, though. Instead, he wanders through the dance floor until he sees the first pretty, promising thing, until his tongue tastes like someone elses's drink and his hands grip someone else's hips in a filthy men's bathroom.

"I'm Kyle," the guy says, when M's zipping his pants back up and checking his reflection in the mirror.

"Don't care," M assures him, walking out. He stays at the bar just until he's sober enough to drive home.

 

*

 

Dick's already awake when M gets up the next morning. Really, it's already afternoon. All of the blinds are open in the living room, and Dick's laid out on his yoga mat in front of the fish tank, doing one of his breathing exercises.

"Morning, sunshine." Dick opens one eye to look at M. "Sorry if I woke you. I was trying to let you sleep."

"That's okay," M says. He rubs his eyes. He didn't think he was hungover or anything, but the sun is fucking blinding. "I've got some errands to run before work, anyway."

Dick does a couple of stretches, then looks up at M again. "Where'd you get off to last night?" he asks. "Did you hook up?"

"Did you?" M counters. He doesn't know why he says it like that. It's not like they're - they're not even working the same field, most of the time. Except for last night, when he walked out of the bathroom and saw Roy with his tongue down Dick's throat, his hand grabbing Dick's ass, and it made him -

Dick laughs, but he changes the subject. "Anyway, if you want company, I'm off all day. They cut my hours."

"That sucks," M says. He rubs at his neck, then stops as soon as he realizes he's rubbing the bruise Dick left their last night.

"Sorry about that," Dick says. He licks his lips. "I think I mentioned I get a little slutty when I drink."

"You might've, yeah." M clears his throat. "I'm gonna make breakfast," he says. "You want?"

"I already had cereal, but I'll have seconds, sure. Can I help?"

M sighs, but he lets Dick be in charge of the bacon while he makes eggs and hashbrowns. They eat breakfast on the couch while they watch cartoons, and their food is long gone before M realizes he needs to get going if he's going to get anything done today.

He makes them lunch instead, and Dick puts on another pot of coffee.

 

*

 

When M gets home from his shift at the bar, he finds Dick lying face-up on the floor, staring up at the fishtank.

He almost walks right past him, but. "Everything all right?"

"Yeah," Dick says. By the tone of his voice, he's either drunk, stoned, or exhausted. "I've just been thinking."

"Yeah?" M asks. He sets his keys on the kitchen counter, then takes a seat next to Dick on the floor. "I'll play."

Dick glances over at him. "You know," he says. "Goldie is a product of a loveless marriage."

M thinks about getting back up and going to his room. He looks at the fish, then back at Dick. "You're gonna have to explain that one, Grayson."

"I mean," Dick says. "I got him when I was on a date with a girl. Only date we went on."

"I always take my dates to exotic pet shops," M says.

"You don't date." Dick sticks his tongue out. "Actually, the date was at Wendy's."

"No wonder it was only the one date," M says.

"Fucker," Dick says. "It was one date because I kept pretending to be someone else. I wanted to impress her by doing something weird and expensive, so I bought Goldie." Dick turns on his side, his shirt lifting up a little as he does. "Goldie's my reminder that I should never try to be anyone else but myself."

"You know," M says. "In a weird, Grayson way, that's kind of deep."

"Oh," Dick says, grinning. "I'm deep. Really deep. Like, there are depths to me no one's even seen yet."

"That I believe," M agrees, grinning back at him.

Dick sits up and does one of those crazy leg stretches that would dislocate M's hips. M looks away, then back and says, "I would've thought Goldie was the product of you, Roy, and too much Jagermeister."

Dick grins, and it's all teeth. "No," he laughs. "That's what this is from." He lifts his shirt, revealing a tattoo of two arrows running through each other right above his pec. "Roy picked it out," he explains.

M stares, speechless for a minute. He knew Dick's body was ridiculous, and he has plenty of tattoos himself, but it's taking a hell of a lot of effort not to put his fingers (or his mouth) over that ink.

"And what'd Roy get?" M asks.

Dick laughs again. "Well, I tried to make him get my name with my heart around it, but we compromised. He has a robin instead, like my mom used to call me."

"You guys," M says. "You're pretty close, huh?"

"Sure," Dick says. He shrugs. "I mean, I spend half my life wanting to murder him, but we're brothers, y'know?"

M doesn't know, not really. He's always had friends, but never the kind of closeness Dick describes. The last time he let himself get close, it blew up in his face, and ever since then -

"Find us a movie to watch," M says. "I'm gonna make us some popcorn."

"'kay," Dick says. They both get up, and as M starts toward the kitchen Dick reminds him, "Nothing too scary, though. It's past Goldie's bedtime."

 

*

M wakes up on the couch in the middle of the night with Dick wrapped around him like some kind of ten-limbed monkey. The TV's still blaring with some terrible C-list movie that Dick's definitely made him watch before, and there's popcorn all over the carpet because Dick's incapable of eating anything gracefully.

He knows he should get up, get them both to their respective beds. Dick's never going to hear his alarm this way, and then he'll be late for work, and when he's late getting ready he sings -

M knows all the words to Les Mis now, or at least the ones to the songs Dick's made him hear.

"Grayson," M says. Dick murmurs something, but doesn't open his eyes. "Dick," he says. He pushes Dick's hair back from his face. It's getting too long, and Dick makes a soft, contented sound and shifts in M's lap.

"You have to move," M says. Dick starts humming some Madonna song. "I mean it. You're cutting off my circulation."

"Boring," Dick says. "You don't need circulation."

M sighs, tilts his head down toward Dick and says, "I could carry you."

Dick goes completely still like he's considering it. Then he says, "Maybe another time," and crawls out of M's lap, crushing popcorn into the carpet as he does.

M watches him go before he heads to his own room and rubs one out.

Dick's late for work anyway. The soundtrack today is Grease.

 

*

 

When M comes home from work, Dick and Roy are on the couch watching Fight Club.

"Hey," M says. It's two in the morning, and he tries to slip past them to his room even though they're at his favorite part of the movie (Brad Pitt in a big fur coat telling Edward Norton he's crazy), but then Dick says, "Holy shit."

"What?" M asks, like he doesn't know. He got in the middle of a fight tonight, and he has the bruises on his face to show for it.

"You okay, man?" Dick asks.

Roy snorts. "Of course he's not okay." He turns off the movie, yawns and gets up. "I'm gonna go home," he says. He pats M on the shoulder as he passes by, his stupid shell bracelet catching on M's sleeve. "Have fun playing doctor," he says to Dick. He winks, and lets himself out.

"Idiot," Dick says. He gets up. "Let me take a look at you."

"I'm fine," M says. "This isn't the first drunk that's beaten me up."

Dick stares him down. "Can you even see out of your left eye?"

"Not really," M admits.

"Come on," Dick says. He drags M into the kitchen where there's better lighting, grabs a chair from the table and sits M down. Then he opens the cabinet under the sink and digs around until he pulls out a bottle of jaeger.

"What's that for?" M asks.

"You work at a bar," Dick says. "Figure it out."

"It's hard to call someone a dick when that's their name," M says, uncapping the bottle.

"Not really," Dick says. He fills a plastic bag with some ice from the freezer. "Jason's come up with a very particular tone so I always know that's what he means. Drink up," he says.

M sniffs the bottle. "Why was that down there?"

"To keep Roy from staying too long," Dick says. "It's his favorite drink, but he gets really mopey and sad after a couple, and then he makes us watch Legends of the Fall until we're both crying."

"Huh," M says. He chugs down some of the jaeger.

"It's an experience," Dick assures him. "Here." He puts the makeshift icepack up to the bruising on M's cheek, and M hisses. "Sorry," Dick says.

"'s okay," M says. He takes a couple pulls from the bottle while Dick goes to get something to clean up the cuts on his hands.

"What were you doing getting in fights, anyway?" Dick asks. He's knelt down on the kitchen floor in front of him, rubbing antiseptic on M's knuckles.

"Dick," M says. He thinks he does a pretty good job at the right inflection. "This asshole was getting into it with another guy. He called him a fag, and they both started fighting, so I got in the middle of it."

"Jeez," Dick says. He wraps some gauze around M's knuckles.

"Trust me," M says. "The jackass who started it didn't look much better."

"I bet," Dick says.

"You're actually pretty good at this," M says. "How come?"

Dick shrugs. "I used to get hurt a lot as a kid, when I was in the circus. My mom or dad would always patch me up, but eventually they started teaching me how to do things myself. And then, once they died…"

M takes a breath. "Sorry," he says. "I didn't mean to bring up anything bad."

Dick shakes his head, smiles up at him like too much blinding sunshine. "They were good people, and now they're gone. I'm sad about it, but I'm not angry anymore. Nothing I can do."

"You know," M says. He takes another drink, "For a freak of nature, you're surprisingly well-adjusted."

"Duh," Dick says. "Why do you think I have so many friends?"

"Figured most of them were just trying to fuck the walking wet dream, to be honest," M says, and Dick blushes.

"Um," Dick says, getting to his feet. "I'm gonna make cereal," he says. "You want any?"

Most of the time, M would point out that you don't make cereal, you pour it in a bowl - but he's a little tipsy, so he says, "Sure," and watches Dick shuffle around measuring out his cereal like a fucking weirdo.

"Wanna finish watching the movie?" Dick asks then.

"Nah, I missed most of it," M says.

"We can start it over," Dick offers.

"You just saw it."

"So?" Dick asks. He restarts the movie, and the two of them eat their 3AM dinner of Cap'n' Crunch mixed with Count Chocula while Edward Norton's narration starts all over. Dick falls asleep in his lap again, but this time M doesn't both trying to move him.

 

*

 

"Excuse me, bartender."

M looks up from where he's chopping lemons, then right back down again. "Go away, we're closed."

"Excuse me," Dick says again. He all but leans across the counter, and M wonders if he could get away with squirting lemon juice in his eye. He could say it was an accident.

M sighs. "What are you doing here, Dick?"

"Obviously," Dick says, sitting back and crossing his arms. He has some pretty decent muscle build-up there, which he tested a couple of nights ago when he walked on his hands from the hallway in their apartment building all the way to his bedroom. "I'm your bodyguard for tonight."

"Oh, jesus," M says, and a little ways away, he hears Angie snort. It's his first shift since his face got pulverized, and it's bad enough that Jenny keeps making cooing noises at him every time he passes by.

"What?" Dick asks. "You think I can't handle myself?"

"I'm sure you can," M says. He shoots a beer down to one of his regulars and nods hello before turning back to Dick. "But I wouldn't want anyone damaging your pretty face."

Dick bats his lashes. "You think my face is pretty?"

"Yeah," M says. He covers Dick's face with his whole hand and pushes. "And I think if you don't get out of here soon, it's gonna be pretty covered in booze."

"Hm," Dick says. "I've had worse." He winks.

"I mean it, Grayson," M says. "I'm fine. Go home."

"Fine," Dick says, but he doesn't actually leave. M ignores him for a while, and when he looks up from serving a rush and Dick is still in the same spot, M gives him a beer and then, when Dick complains about that, he fixes him something fruity with an umbrella.

"For my vicious bodyguard," M tells him.

"You can be vicious and still like a little class in your drinks," Dick says. His lips are curaco-blue and dusted with sugar from his glass.

"Uh-huh," M agrees.

Dick slurps up the last of his drink. "Will you make me something else? I've had blue, figure out the next color of the rainbow."

M snorts, and goes to make Dick a strawberry daquiri. Dick stays for the rest of M's shift - midway through, he's too drunk to go anywhere anyway - and M helps him to his feet, throwing Dick's arm around his shoulder and leading him out of the bar.

"I can walk by myself," Dick argues, his voice too loud as soon as they get outside. "Wanna see me walk on my hands?"

"Nah," M says. "Too much broken glass. Maybe another time, though."

"You've never even seen me do the triple somersault," Dick says, trying to twist away from M. He is not about to have to fill out some incident report for the bar about idiot customers getting glass in their hands while doing gymnastics.

"I'm not even sure I know what that means," M says. He unlocks his car and helps Dick into the passenger seat.

"Do you think my car will be okay here?" Dick asks when M gets in on the other side.

"You mean, will someone steal it?" M asks. "Definitely not. No one's going to steal something that trashed."

"How dare you," Dick says. "That car is my pride and joy."

"It looks like you rescued it from a trash compactor."

Dick scowls at him. "We can't all have muscle cars, you know."

"This," M says, "is not a muscle car." He starts the car, and Dick says, "See! Listen to that. Vroom, vroom."

"That was you, you drunk idiot."

Dick sings the Wheels on the Bus for the entire ten minute drive home. Once they get to the apartment, M has to half-carry him up the stairs, which Dick takes as an invitation for a piggyback ride. M goes with it, because he figures it's easier than trying to get free on the steps; the only thing is, Dick refuses to untangle himself when they get to the apartment.

"Grayson," M says. "Off."

"'s nice up here," Dick says, yawning. "I like being taller. I should've been a giraffe."

"Yeah," M says. "You could mix all the different kind of leaves into one bowl and cover them with milk."

"Giraffes don't have bowls, silly," Dick says. He ruffles M's hair, then breathes on him and says, "You should cut my hair."

"Huh?"

"You do yours all the time, right?" Dick asks. "And I need mine cut. Roy used to do mine, but he says I cry too much."

"You and Roy," M starts, and then decides better of it. He's not sure he wants to have that conversation while Dick is, for lack of better word, riding him. "Tell you what," M says. "You stop holding onto me like an overgrown monkey, and I'll cut your hair."

He can feel Dick's grin on his back. "Deal."

Dick shimmies down his back and heads for the fish tank to say hi to Goldie. M stopped thinking that shit was weird weeks ago. He goes to get his shears, a comb, and a towel, but by the time he comes back Dick's passed out on the floor, right underneath the tank. He covers Dick with a blanket from the couch and gets to bed. He leaves his bedroom door open in case Dick needs anything.

 

*

 

They both sleep until late in the morning. Dick wakes him up like a kid on Christmas, bouncing on the end of the bed and landing on his feet. "Fucking jesus," M mutters into his pillow. "I didn't adopt you, Grayson."

"Ew," Dick says, oblivious. "That would be weird."

M squints over at him. It's like hangovers are as genetically impossible for Dick as pimples and bad hair days. M sort of aggressively hates him sometimes. He didn't even drink last night, and he still feels like hell.

"What is it?" M asks him. "The house doesn't smell like it's burning." Dick tried to kill them not too long ago, because apparently no one ever told him not to stick a fork in a toaster. Dick's argument was that he'd heard that about knives, but he didn't know other utensils applied as well.

"It's not," Dick says. He bounces on the bed again. "You've been sleeping too long though and I'm bored."

M snorts. "Why don't you see if one of your other friends can come out and play?"

Dick grins. "You said other friends."

"I didn't."

"You did. Meaning we're friends."

"I'd rather be friends with the fish," M says. "At least he lets me sleep."

Dick laughs, crawls up M's legs until he's straddling him and - jesus christ.

The thing is, M is never sure if Dick knows what he's doing. Not when Dick comes out of the bathroom wearing nothing but a towel the size of a napkin around his waist and asks M if his eyes look puffy today. Not when Dick does yoga in front of the TV wearing nothing but shorts that might as well be panties with how short and tight they are, while M's trying to watch the game. Not when he drags M to places with his friends and spends half the night with his hand wrapped around M's wrist like -

"You're totally glad that we're roomies," Dick assures him now. "You never want me to leave."

M shoves him off, not so much in a panic as - Dick's got no fucking clue what he's asking for. "Come on," M says. "Let's cut your hair before you turn into an elven prince."

"Fuck you," Dick says, following M as he grabs the scissors, comb, shearer and a chair and heads out onto the balcony. "I'm definitely Aragorn. Roy' the archer. Did you know he can shoot a beer bottle from almost a mile away?"

"That's terrifying," M says. "He's not invited over anymore. Who does that make me? Shit, hold on, I forgot a towel."

"No worries," Dick says. He strips off his shirt and plops down in the chair. "I was gonna shower soon, anyway."

"Right," M says, swallowing.

"Hm," Dick says. "You could be the dwarf. You know, you pretend to be all tough and gruff, but you're a big softie." M pokes him with the scissors. "Ow."

"Whoops," M says.

"Asshole," Dick says.

"But I thought I was so nice," M teases.

"I lied," Dick says. "Probably you're an Orc." He makes a face as M starts cutting.

"Relax," M says. "It grew back last time, didn't it?"

"Yeah," Dick says. If he's this mopey about his hair, M hopes that fish stays alive for a long fucking time. "But what if it doesn't this time?"

"Anyone ever tell you you're ridiculous?"

"Jason," Dick says. "All the time. But he doesn't get to talk."

"He seems normal to me," M says.

"Exactly."

Dick chatters on while M works, talking about the guy Jason's dating, and the movie he watched while M was still sleeping, and whether Goldie might be lonely.

"He's fine," M assures him. Dick can barely afford rent, let alone another exotic fucking fish.

"Yeah, but look at you. You were lonely before you got a roommate."

"Grayson, I'm begging you to stop comparing our lives with that of a fish."

"Fish have feelings, too!" Dick says.

"No, they don't," M says. He brushes some of the hair off the back of Dick's neck. "That's why Kurt says you can eat them."

"Would you please stop threatening to eat our fish?"

M studiously ignores the "our." "Settle down," he says. "I'm done, by the way. You wanna go make sure it's okay?"

Dick nods, goes to look in the bathroom mirror while M brings everything inside. He meets Dick in the bathroom, where he's tilting his head from side to side.

"It looks good," Dick says, combing his fingers through his hair.

"You won't be able to fit it in a ponytail anymore," M says. "But if you still need to look like a Disney prince, it'll grow back."

Dick grins at him from the mirror. "I like it," he says. "Thanks."

"Sure," M says. "I'll let you take your shower."

"Or," Dick says. He turns, wraps his hand around M's wrist and looks him in the eye. "You could join me."

M looks down, at the arrow tattooed over Dick's chest, at Dick's fingers circling his wrist. "You really don't want to do this," he says.

"Do what?" Dick asks. He's quiet for once, and it just makes the blood in M's head seem to pound louder.

"You know," M says.

"No," Dick says. "Tell me."

M breaks his grip, grabs both of Dick's wrists and pushes him back against the sink, shoves his leg between Dick's thighs and looks at him. Dick's mouth is open, eyes wide, and it'd be so easy -

Dick pushes against him, and M starts to let him go but Dick lifts his leg and curls it around M, shoves them both forward until his mouth is hot against M's, wet and open and tasting like strawberry Poptarts.

M grips Dick harder, pushes in, and then both of Dick's legs are off the floor and wrapped around him and it's the reality of Dick's head thumping softly against the bathroom mirror that breaks M out of it.

He straightens up and lets Dick go. "Bad idea," he says.

"Why?" Dick asks. "We're already friends. Why can't we -"

"Because it could be messy," M says. "And anyway, I don't do relationships anymore."

"You're not gonna break my heart," Dick says, holding his head up. "I'm made of steel."

"You're an idiot," M says. He knows it comes out more affectionate than anything else. "Let's just call this before we do something stupid."

Dick thinks it over, then makes a face and says, "Fine. But Roy would be so disappointed in me."

"That'd be an interesting turnaround," M says.

"Right?"

"You mind uncurling your legs from me, Grayson?" M asks.

"Oh," Dick giggles. "Right." He lets M go, but he winks. "Sure you don't want those wrapped around you some other way?"

M doesn't respond. Of course he wants that.

 

*

 

The sound of laughter greets M when he gets home that night. The source is someone he doesn't recognize - red hair, female, gorgeous. She's sitting in a wheelchair at the kitchen table across from Dick, but she looks up at M and smiles brightly at him.

"Hey M," Dick says. "This is Babs."

"Hi," M says.

"Barbara Gordon," she says. She holds out her hand and M shakes it. "It's nice to put a face to the stories."

M doesn't mention that he's never heard of her. Dick has a lot of friends, and most of them tend to run in the same circles to the point where M's not sure there are any of them who haven't fucked each other.

"What kind of stories?" M asks. Babs has this sort of knowing look, like she knows his search history, what he keeps in his bedside drawer, and how he likes his eggs. It's unsettling.

He takes the chair next to her. "Nothing too incriminating," Barbara promises. "That's quite a shiner you've got there, by the way."

"Yeah," M agrees. "Healing up nicely, though. Dick helped," he adds, like it's an admission that Dick can do something like a normal person.

"Mm," Barbara says. "He dropped out of nursing school, you know. He should've gone back, but -"

"Babs," Dick says. "You're not my girlfriend anymore. Career pressure officially off-limits, remember?"

"You dated?" M asks.

"Yes," Barbara says.

"A long time ago," Dick says quickly. He looks - guilty.

"Oh," M says. He clears his throat and stands back up. "I'm gonna grab something to eat. You guys want anything?"

"Cereal," Dick says. "Half Lucky Charms, half -"

"Fruit Loops, I know," M says. "Barbara?"

"No," she says. "That's okay. I should get going, anyway. I have a meeting tomorrow with the CEO of some company or whatever."

"Barbara's loaded," Dick says, grinning.

"Hush," Barbara says, reaching over to flick Dick's forehead. She wheels herself back from the table and looks up at M. "It was nice meeting you," Barbara says.

"Yeah," M says. "You, too."

"Thanks for putting up with him. His last roommate -"

"Babs," Dick whines.

Barbara rolls her eyes. "Fine," she says. "Walk me to the elevator like the gentlemen you pretend to be?"

Dick follows her out. M fixes himself a sandwich and gets Dick his cereal, and by the time Dick gets back M's just setting everything on the table.

"Thanks," Dick says, sitting down and digging into his cereal.

"Sure," M says. "So, Babs seems pretty intense."

"Oh, she is," Dick says. "She used to be a cop, you know? She got shot, though, so she got into intelligence, and now she's making gazillions helping companies figure out how easy it is for someone to hack them."

"Wow," M says. "And you used to go out?"

"Years ago," Dick says. His expression softens. "It was one of those things, you know? We met in middle school and I think we were both in love with each other even then, but the timing was always shitty. And then she got hurt…" Dick pushes his hair back. "I remember sitting in the hospital, thinking how I'd been an idiot, thinking she was going to die." He shrugs, looks down. "Still screwed it up, though. I do that."

"Yeah," M says. "I know the feeling there."

Dick looks up at him. "You never talk about it."

"Nothing to say," M says. "I loved him. I hurt him. He left."

"M…" Dick says. He nudges M with his foot. "You know that won't always happen, right?"

"Sure," M says. "Next time they might leave instead."

Dick glares at him. "If Babs was still here, she'd punch you."

"'s okay," M says. "I've got you here to patch me up. Were you really gonna be a nurse?"

"Yeah," Dick says. He blushes. "But I chickened out. I was afraid of being around death like that, and… I know," he says. "I'm dumb, right?"

"No," M says. "You did what felt right."

"Thanks," Dick says.

"You'd be good at it, though," M says. "People really like you."

Dick blinks, smiles at him and leans forward. "People?"

M rolls his eyes. "Look," he says. "You know you're great, even if I wanna kick you in the teeth half the time."

"Gosh, you're romantic," Dick says.

"Like you wouldn't believe," M agrees.

"I DVR'd Ocean's Eleven," Dick says, picking up their empty dishes. "Watch it with me before you go to bed?"

"Okay," M says.

They watch maybe the first ten minutes. Then Dick's yawning and sprawling all over him and he's warm and smells amazing, and M knows he probably still smells like the bar but Dick doesn't seem to mind, just nuzzles against M's neck and sighs.

"M?" he asks.

"Yeah," M says.

"What if it wasn't like a relationship thing?"

M stalls. "You mean us?"

"Yeah," Dick says. He moves until he's sitting on M's legs. "What if we just… you know…"

"Messed around?" M supplies. He doesn't know how his hands got on Dick's ass, but it's too late now to subtly move them back. Dick's ass feels as good as it looks.

"Exactly," Dick says.

"I thought you didn't do casual sex," M says.

"I don't," Dick says. M raises an eyebrow. "It's not casual because we know each other. But it doesn't have to be a relationship either."

"So what is it?" M asks.

Dick pauses. He licks his lips, squirms on M's lap. "Right now?" he asks. "I guess you could just call it me really, really needing to suck your dick."

"Okay," M says.

Dick's eyes widen like he wasn't expecting that answer. "Okay?"

"Yeah," M says.

"Huh," Dick says. "I was thinking I was gonna have to beg."

"You could," M says.

Dick slides down to the floor. "I'm not much of a begger," he admits, looking up at M. "But I will tell you -" he unbuttons M's jeans and pulls his half-hard dick out of his boxers - "that I've kind of been wanting to choke on this since you first interviewed me for the apartment."

"Christ," M says.

"I mean," Dick tells him, thumbing the head of his dick. "I thought about just dropping to my knees, but I didn't want you to think I was just doing it because I wanted the apartment."

M laughs, chokes. "What if I'd hit on you?"

Dick seems to think about that while he takes just the head of M's Dick in his mouth and sucks. "Dunno," Dick says. "I guess at the time I was a little disappointed you didn't, but I figured you were just too classy or whatever. And then I got the apartment, and Jason made me swear I wouldn't fuck it up by trying to fuck you."

"So - ah -" Dick's slurping at his balls and English has become M's second language. "What are you going to tell him now?"

"Nothing yet," Dick says, winking. "Blowjobs don't count."

M snorts. "What are you, a Catholic schoolgirl?" he asks, but Dick doesn't answer, because he chooses that exact second to swallow M down, and M's not terribly upset to lose the conversation portion of this because jesus christ.

"Fuck," M says, and Dick hums around him like he couldn't be happier, getting spit and precome all over his mouth as he starts a filthy, honey-paced rhythm, holding M in his throat for what feels like minutes at a time just to move back up and suck on the head. It's not long before M can feel the sweat soaking through his t-shirt, and he's glad he left enough of Dick's hair to be able to fist his hands in it.

"Fuck," M says again. "Grayson - Dick. Need it faster, need -"

Dick pulls off completely, and M does not whine like a teenager getting blown for the first time. "Do it," he says, right before he takes him in again. "Fuck me."

M sits up, grabs Dick's face with both hands and fucks in; Dick's rhythm has to be hurting his jaw and his face is pink from it but he doesn't seem to mind, and each time he feels Dick swallow he groans for it, wants to throw Dick down on the floor and get on top of him.

Maybe next time, when he's not coming down Dick's throat, on his tongue when Dick leans back enough to taste him. M lets him go, but Dick stays where he is, lapping at M through the aftershocks and then sitting back on his heels and licking his mouth clean.

"Holy shit," M says. He settles back against the couch. The movie's still going, not that either of them noticed.

Dick beams up at him, his voice scratchy when he asks, "See what you've been missing?"

"Uh-huh," M says. "You gonna get up and let me return the favor?"

Dick hops to his feet, shoving his jeans and boxer-briefs down. His dick drips precome and M leans forward and laps it up. "Your shirt off, too, gorgeous," M says, and Dick blushes for him, but does it. It took M a while to figure out Dick actually doesn't think of himself as stupidly hot.

"I almost told you no when you interviewed, y'know," M tells him. He licks along Dick's abs, squeezes Dick's ass and nudges him even closer to his face.

"Why?" Dick asks. He keeps licking his lips and he's breathing hard, and M wants to fuck him, wanted to fuck him ages ago, wants to know what kind of noises he'll make.

"Because," M says. He slips his finger over Dick's hole, just to tease. "I didn't want you to think I only said yes because you were pretty."

Dick bats his lashes. "You thought I was pretty?"

M decides he'd much rather suck Dick off than answer him. He swallows him down, giving him the kind of suction that takes practice and has Dick scrabbling for something to hold onto all too quickly. Dick tries to push in faster, further, but M holds him still, winking up at him when he does.

"Bastard," Dick whines, and M slurps his way up to stab his tongue into Dick's slit, pulls off and says, "That's for the 5AM renditions of Master of the House."

"Interesting," Dick pants when M swallows him back down. "What do I get for - fuck me," he says when M scrapes his teeth, just a little.

"Fucking bastard," Dick says, but he's laughing too, clawing M's shoulders. His whole body starts to shake when he gets close, and M takes one hand off Dick's ass and works his balls, slides his finger back and teases. Dick comes with a few more frantic jerks of his hips.

M swallows and then lets him go. Dick pulls up his jeans and briefs and turns around to grab his shirt, then makes a horrified sound. "What?" M asks, and Dick turns back to him.

"I can't believe we did that in front of Goldie!"

"He'll forget it in thirty seconds," M says.

"How do you know?" Dick asks. "He's not a goldfish. He's the king of the sea! He might have a better memory."

M can't believe he's having this conversation with someone whose dick he just had in his mouth, except for the part where he guesses he can. "Grayson," he says. "I promise you can explain the facts of life to Goldie tomorrow, but please can we just watch the rest of the movie now?"

"Fine," Dick says. He sits down, and it takes M a second to figure out Dick's grinning about something not in the movie.

"What is it?" M asks.

Dick looks at him, eyes bright like he won something. "You called him Goldie." Just because his mouth tastes like Dick's come doesn't mean he doesn't sort of want to punch him.

"Maybe I believe in getting to know my food before I eat it."

Dick doesn't talk to him for at least five minutes. It's sort of nice.

 

*

 

At seven o'clock the next morning, Dick wakes him up singing Part of Your World while he gets ready for work. Because he's a mature adult, M gets back at him by moving the fishtank into the walk-in closet in his room, which is all fun and games until Dick all but has a breakdown thinking he actually got rid of his fish.

M seriously needs to find out how long these fucking things are supposed to live.

That night, Dick shows up at the bar again, but instead of making M get him liquored up, he barges in on M's smoke break and blows him in his car. M guesses it's at least a way to relax that probably supports the longevity of his life - except for how Dick follows him back inside and spends the next twenty minutes talking to Kendra about the benefits of fruit in a man's diet.

"Out," M orders finally. Dick blows him a kiss and scampers off. Kendra keeps putting him in charge of making pina coladas the rest of the night.

When he gets home, he finds Dick in the kitchen, attempting and clearly failing to make something other than cereal. One counter is covered with sauce, the other with poorly chopped vegetables, and on the stove, Dick's managed to blacken the only good pot they had.

"What," M says.

"Shit," Dick says. "You weren't supposed to be home yet."

"Sorry," M says. "My psychic alarm must have gone off that I was about to lose my apartment to a kitchen fire."

Dick laughs shakily, pulling at his hair. "Sorry," he says. "I thought - you always cook, and that's not fair, and I used to watch Babs do this all the time, but -"

M starts laughing, and Dick shuts up. "You're not mad?" Dick asks. He's looking at M like he's crazy, and maybe he is."

"Oh, no," M assures him. "I'm totally pissed." He sets his keys down, then backs Dick up against the counter. "I liked my security deposit. I was really excited to get it back." He pushes Dick's shirt up and off and doesn't pay attention to where it lands; everything's covered in food, anyway. "But," M says, tweaking Dick's nipples, "I bet you'll make it up to me."

Dick arches against him, and M sucks on his neck, his shoulder, the spot just above his tattoo. He gets his hands on Dick's sweatpants and shoves them down, then turns Dick around. "M?" Dick asks softly.

"Ssh," M tells him. He licks the back of Dick's neck, drags his teeth down the bump on his spine. "Tell me what you want."

"God, you know," Dick says. He spreads his legs a little, whines when M squeezes his ass. "I want you to fuck me."

"I will," M says.

"Yeah?" Dick looks back at him, but M grabs him and makes him face forward.

"Uh-huh," M says. "But first," he drops to his knees, and Dick shivers when M licks a wet, hungry stripe up to his hole.

"Oh, god," Dick says. He grabs onto the counter, and M circles his hole with his tongue, grabs Dick's ass cheeks to hold him open.

"You ever had anyone do this for you?" M asks.

"N - god," Dick says, when M stabs his tongue in. "Not in - a long time. I - fuck, M, I -" he bites his knuckles, but M pinches him.

"Not that," M says. "This noise I like." He sucks Dick's hole, getting him all wet with spit. "Makes me wanna bend you over every surface in this place and fuck you."

"Do it," Dick bites out. "Need to feel you, M, need -"

"Yeah," M says. "Think I will." He stands up, and when Dick turns around he's flushed right down to his chest, his eyes huge and his pupils dilated. "Don't go far," M says. "I'm gonna go get the lube."

When he comes back, Dick's standing just a few steps from where he was, looking glassy-eyed and hungry. He drags M in, pushes his jeans and boxers down before he turns around and leans over the kitchen table. "Do it," he says.

M uncaps the lube and slicks up a couple of fingers. He doesn't know how long it's been since Dick's done this, but as soon as M slides a finger in Dick pushes back against him, making all kinds of greedy noises.

"Hurry," Dick urges, and M laughs, sucks another bruise into his shoulder. "I mean it, M. I don't - need much - fuck," he says, because M just gave him a third finger, and Dick's wriggling for it, trying to get him deeper, and M needs to be in him.

"You ready?" M asks, and he laughs again when Dick turns back and glares at him. "Yeah, I know," he says. He slides on a condom and lubes himself up, and neither of them kid themselves into thinking they'll take this part slow.

"God," Dick says when M bottoms out. "God, you feel -"

"So tight," M says at about the same time. "Christ, I gotta -"

"Move," Dick says, and M does, pounds into him as he holds onto Dick's hips like a fucking lifeline, as Dick throws his head back and thrusts back against him. The table wobbles with every forward thrust and they're both sweating and moaning and M can't stop, can't do anything but fuck into him again and again until he all but blacks out.

"Touch me," Dick says and M lets go of one of his hips to wrap his hand around Dick, strokes him as hard and fast as their thrusts until he feels himself coming and he can't hold on, can't do anything but shout into Dick's skin.

"Fuck, fuck, fuck," Dick says, and when he comes his weight shifts to the table - and the fucking thing collapses right under them, taking them with it.

"Oh my god," Dick says after a minute, when M's managed to pull out and roll off of him. "I'm so glad Goldie didn't witness that."

"Oh, really?" M asks, helping Dick to his feet. "You mean he's not all-seeing, all-knowing?"

"Uh, no," Dick says. "He's a fish."

M tosses the condom in the trash. "Looks like we need a new table," he says.

"I was thinking maybe we could just get a new kitchen?" Dick asks.

"Sure," M grins at him. "Just sell Goldie, and we'll be able to afford that."

Dick gets back at him by making him watch the Little Mermaid. At least it's not Finding Nemo, he guesses.