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It’s half past three on a Tuesday and Ricky is probably making one of the dumbest moves of his life. Which is saying something.

He’s sitting in a Starbucks, tucked into a corner, with a latte he hasn’t touched yet. Ricky is not the kind of person who does things like this. Any of this, really. He never even stays in the Starbucks to write or edit. He’s picking at the frayed hem on the thumb of his fingerless gloves when Ryan walks in.

Ricky hasn’t met Ryan before. They’ve only spoken on the phone, and Ricky has reread his website so many times he’s nearly committed it to memory by now. Ryan looks up from his phone, spots Ricky in the corner, and Ricky lifts a hand. Ryan walks over and drops his bag in the chair across from Ricky.

“Hey,” Ryan says, extending a hand. Ricky shakes it. It’s decidedly weird meeting someone for the first time when you are well aware of what you’re meeting up with them to discuss and then do.

“Hi,” Ricky says. His voice comes out a little shaky. “I’m Ricky.”

“Ryan,” Ryan says. “Mind if I grab a drink before we chat?”

“Yeah, sure, just a sec,” Ricky says quickly, grabbing for his own bag. “Here.” He produces an envelope labeled with a capital R and offers it to Ryan. This probably looks like some kinda weird drug deal. He takes it, peeks inside.

“Thanks,” Ryan says, pulling a twenty out. “You sure this is your first time?” he remarks.

“Positive,” Ricky says, feeling his face burn. It has to be obvious. He must look like an idiot. He is an idiot. Ryan nods, tucks the envelope and the rest of its contents into his bag.

“Be right back,” Ryan says, and he palms the twenty and heads for the register.

Ricky sighs. He wishes the weather were better so they could sit outside, where there’s nobody to hear them, but such is late fall in Pennsylvania. He rests his chin in his hand, watches Ryan. He’s pocketing change, moving to go lean against the wall and wait. Ricky knows that Ryan is his real name, but the last name he knows is fake. He knows that Ryan is five foot nine, and that he’s lived here in Scranton his whole life. He knows he accepts cash and Gift Rocket cards but not Amazon cards. He knows that Ryan has a rather impressive collection of kink gear and that he’s seven inches and cut.

And what does Ryan know about Ricky. Whatever Chris told him and whatever he could scrape up from his rarely updated Instagram. So probably that he plays guitar, has a vagina, and got raped as a teenager. Cool. Great. Off to a wonderful start.

Ricky starts a little when Ryan sits down. He’s got the lid off his coffee, stirring it with one of those little wooden sticks.

“So, I know what Chris told me,” Ryan says, “but I wanted to hear it from you too.”

“Well.” Ricky pauses. “What did Chris tell you?”

“That you guys met in IOP, and he thought you’d be interested in doing some trauma reenactment.” Ryan shrugs. “That’s about it.”

“Did he mention the, uh,” Ricky says, rephrasing it in his head a dozen times and gesturing vaguely in a mildly distressed manner before he settles on “the gender?”

“He mentioned it,” Ryan says. “I see people of all genders, so.” Ryan sips his coffee.

“Okay,” Ricky says. “Just wanted to like. Confirm. Cuz that’s important to the whole. Situation.”

“Right,” Ryan says.

“Right,” Ricky says.

It’s quiet for a moment except for the sound of the blender going. Ricky’s brain is giving him nothing but printer jam noises.

“So,” Ricky says.

“We don’t need to discuss details here,” Ryan says. “I usually have folks write it out in email form. Y’know. Then I can reference it when I’m planning.” Ricky nods.

“Yeah, okay,” he says. “Cool.”

“So, I generally do stop light safe words,” Ryan’s saying, as he’s pulling a notebook out of his bag. Is he going to… take notes? Longhand? What kinda serial killer ass John Doe from Se7en bullshit. “But if there’s a system you’d rather use or a specific word we can do that.”

“That’s fine,” Ricky says. Ryan opens the notebook to a page that’s already half written in. He pulls the pen out from the wire spiral that binds the pages together and clicks it. Writes.

“Is there anything super important that we can discuss now?” Ryan asks.

“Well, I just got out of the psych hospital,” Ricky says, because that’s definitely what you should lead with when meeting a sex worker for the first time when you’re hiring them to fake rape you. “So. That’s why I was in outpatient. Cuz they make you do two weeks of that when you get off the psych ward.”

“Yeah,” Ryan says, his face soft. It’s not an expression Ricky saw on his website or his Twitter, for that matter. Feels genuine.

“Stuck around Chris cuz y’know, queers find other queers,” Ricky remarks, and Ryan laughs once. “Turns out, same trauma. Kinda. Mostly. I had my laptop with me one day cuz I needed to work on some film stuff with my friend who was picking me up after and I have this stupid fucking sticker on it.” Ricky pinches the bridge of his nose. “It has some hands in a double column wrist tie and it says ‘I’m a little tied up right now’--”

“Oh my god,” Ryan says, laughing in earnest. “I’m gonna need to know where you got that.”

“I’ll send it to you when I email you,” Ricky says. “Anyway. Chris saw that sticker and he also asked where I got it and he also asked me if I had ever. Like.” Ricky considers how to phrase it. “Used that in a? Therapeutic manner?”

“I got you,” Ryan says. “So he gave you my contacts.”

“Right,” Ricky says.

“Are we doing this at a hotel?”

“Yeah,” Ricky says. “It happened in a hotel room, so.” Ricky glances around. Nobody’s looking at them, but he can feel all their ears listening. Judging him for being a moron.

“Okay,” Ryan says. Ricky is quiet while he writes. “You got your test paperwork?”

“Oh,” Ricky says. “Yeah.” He goes back into his bag. “I’m basically an Olympian when it comes to getting blood drawn and peeing in cups. So.” Ryan laughs at that as Ricky finally pulls out his test results. “They’re from a couple days ago but. Still be well within the fourteen days this weekend.”

“You’re like an old hand at this already,” Ryan says, unfolding the paper. His eyes scan it. “Word. Cool. So. Homework.” Ricky huffs at him. God. This is so fucking absurd.

“Don’t call it homework,” he remarks.

“Fine,” Ryan says, “whatever you call it. Email me everything. Just. What you need me to do. Any words you do or don’t want me to use. Hard limits. Shit like that.” He folds Ricky’s STI test back up, bookmarks his notebook with it. “And then we can schedule our time. We good?”

“Yeah,” Ricky says. “Yeah. Sure.” They’re both standing up now and Ryan’s sort of looking down at him and Ricky sighs. Might as well breach the subject. We’re pretty far past small talk, he figures. “Before you ask, I’m five foot two.”

“Wasn’t gonna,” Ryan says, putting his hand on Ricky’s back. Ricky scoffs at him.

“You were thinking it,” he says, gathering his drink. It’s still warm.

“Maybe,” Ryan says. Ricky smiles. He throws his bag over his shoulder and starts the walk back to his apartment.

//

It’s November, but Ricky turns the AC on as soon as he walks into the hotel room.

It’s important. Part of the memory. The hotel room doesn’t look right -- it’s not the right layout, and there’s a definite lack of Mickey Mouse branding, but it’s not like that’ll matter much when it gets down to it. Ricky’s there early to clean up. Set everything up straight. Ryan had insisted on an overnight since Ricky’s going to need the aftercare, so he’s got the other half of his pay in his bag, another R envelope.

Ricky showers. Doesn’t wash his hair. Stews in his own anxiety while staring at the ceiling, wondering how the hell all the wires crossed to land him here.

Ricky’s watching Food Network reruns when Ryan turns up. He’s got a backpack with him and nothing else.

“Do you wanna talk through it?” Ryan asks, but Ricky shakes his head. Doesn’t want to talk. Doesn’t know if he really can talk. “Okay,” Ryan says. “You feeling alright?”

“Nervous,” Ricky says, knowing how uncomfortable he must sound. “But. Yeah.” Ricky scoots over on the bed so Ryan can sit next to him. It’s quiet for a long moment, just the sound of Ted Allen explaining the rules to the new round of Chopped contestants.

“Are you ready to just go ahead and get going then?” Ryan asks. The anxiety is churning in Ricky’s gut but he knows it’ll be fine. Knows he’ll be fine. Just isn’t so sure about all the fucked up shit that’s gonna happen between now and the cathartic end of it.

Maybe this is a bad idea. Maybe he should back out now, count Ryan’s deposit and the hotel bill as a learning experience or whatever.

“Yeah,” Ricky says. “Yeah. Okay.”

Ryan nods. Turns back to the TV. Lifts his arm to put it around Ricky’s shoulders. Ricky tenses a little, but leans into Ryan’s body. Ricky isn’t so used to being this physically intimate with other men. Sure, he’s attracted to men, but. Y’know. It’s difficult. They never seem to understand as much as other genders.

“Yknow, I haven’t seen you since you were in middle school,” Ryan says, over the TV. “How’d your first year of high school treat you?” Ricky swallows dryly. Okay. Here it goes.

“Fine,” he says. “Didn’t get shoved in any lockers.” Ryan laughs once.

“Any boys giving you a hard time?” he asks. Ricky huffs. The question sounds as stupid now as it did then.

“No,” he says.

“Really?” Ryan asks. “I’m sure they will be soon. You’re filling out nicely, if I do say so myself.” Ricky doesn’t say anything, even though his stomach turns. “Sorry, is that creepy to say?”

“No,” Ricky says, only he’s being honest this time. “It’s okay.” Ryan nods.

“Have you kissed any boys yet?” he asks. Ricky’s hand shakes a little when he goes to push his hair back off his face.

“Yeah, of course,” Ricky says.

“Have you gone any further?” Ryan asks. Ricky stares forward at the TV but feels Ryan look down at him. Ricky doesn’t answer. “It’s okay if you haven’t,” Ryan adds. Ricky sighs. He’s never said this exact sentence since then, but he still remembers it word for word.

“I guess I just don’t know how to do all that kind of stuff,” Ricky says tightly, his throat dry. Ryan pauses, brings his hand up to Ricky’s hair, brushes his fingers through it.

“I could show you if you wanted,” Ryan says. “I mean. Only if you want.” Ricky’s heart is knocking against his ribs. His memory seems to fold. He thinks he was disgusted, that he tried to deny him -- at least, that’s what he’s told himself all these years, his therapists, his friends -- but now he remembers it differently. Wanting to be an adult. Pretend to do what adults do. What people assigned the category of women are supposed to do. The surge of disgust with himself floods up into his gut. “Hey.” Ryan’s voice cuts through it. “Color.”

“Yellow,” Ricky says. “Just a second.” Ryan nods. Ricky looks down at his lap, then up at Ryan, then the TV, then the rattling AC. For a moment, he’s fifteen and they’re in the Disneyland hotel and Ryan isn’t Ryan and Ricky’s still a girl, but then he looks down at his arms, which are covered in tattoos. Confirms it is in fact the year that it is. “Okay,” Ricky says. He takes a breath.

“I could show you if you wanted,” Ryan says again. It doesn’t feel so big this time.

“Right now?” Ricky asks.

“Yeah,” Ryan says. Ricky swallows dryly as Ryan takes the TV remote, turns it off.

Here we go then. He’s at the top of the first drop of a roller coaster. Hanging out the open door of an airplane. Suspended in the split second after you inhale and before the piercer shoves the needle through.

“Do you want me to kiss you first,” Ryan asks, “or do you want to see me? Or if you want to take your clothes off first you can. Or we can take turns.” Okay. Yep. It’s happening.

“You first,” Ricky says, shifting away a little. Ryan sits up, pulls his t-shirt off. Ricky’s a little surprised to see so few tattoos under it.

“Your turn?” Ryan asks. Ricky nods, inhales, reaches down to grab the bottom hem of his shirt. He doesn’t exhale till it’s off. He’d been wearing a bra, then, but. Well. Nothing to put in one anymore. “Wow. Have to say, you’ve become quite the attractive young lady.” Ricky snorts reflexively. It was part of the plan to have Ryan purposefully misgender him, to say the exact words, but it feels stupid now.

“Actually, ditch the girl words,” Ricky says, and Ryan nods.

“Got it. Handsome young man then,” he corrects, and Ricky scoff laughs at that too. Better.

“Thanks,” Ricky says. Ryan starts undoing his belt, and Ricky’s pulse picks up in his throat a little. He slides out of his jeans, halfway hard in his underwear. Ricky supposes it’s the best he can do so far. He had been all the way hard by then, but he figures Ryan’s not into manipulating teenage girls into sex as he was. Or at least pretending to.

“Have you ever seen one before?” Ryan asks. Ricky shakes his head.

“Only on the internet,” he says. At the time, it was true. It feels silly to lie about it, but he reminds himself to just go with it. Believe it for at least just right now.

“Give me your hand,” Ryan says, pulling Ricky over with an arm around his waist. This was where he’d gotten more pushy -- figured it was safe to now. That Ricky wouldn’t be scared off. Ryan’s hand closes around Ricky’s wrist, brings his hand down, places it on his cock over his underwear. Ricky’s breath catches a little as he lets Ryan’s hand cover his own, guiding it. “Do you see what you do to me, Ricky?” Ryan murmurs, close to Ricky’s ear, close enough the hair on his neck stands up. He feels Ryan stiffen a little under his touch. “That’s because of you. It’s been like fuckin’ torture, seeing you in that swimsuit like that, in those shorts--”

“Yeah?” Ricky asks softly. What had felt like a compliment then churns his stomach now. “Really?”

“Yeah,” Ryan says. His hand slides down Ricky’s bare side, down to his hip. “I have to touch you, Rick. I can’t fuckin’ stand it anymore.”

“Okay,” Ricky says. “You can. Okay.”

Ryan’s immediately pushing Ricky onto his back then, his hand square in the center of his chest. That was when the bra had come off, but it’s sort of a non-issue now. They’d agreed to skip it.

“Do you touch yourself?” Ryan asks, his hand going between Ricky’s legs, palm against the heat there, and Ricky jumps a little. He didn’t expect to be so… eager to be touched.

“Sometimes,” Ricky says. Ryan presses a little and Ricky whimpers, which he should be embarrassed by, but he’s not. He doesn’t feel stupid now -- he feels small. He feels fifteen again like he had when they were just talking, but this time it’s not so bad. At least he doesn’t think so.

“Have you ever come?” Ryan asks. Ricky shakes his head and Ryan grins. “Good. Then that’s one thing I can show you for sure.” His hand pops the button of Ricky’s jeans, snakes into them, and Ricky gasps hard at the contact. “Fuck, you’re so wet--

“Ryan,” Ricky says, his hips jerking up into his touch reflexively.

“I got you,” Ryan says, rubbing his fingers into him, and Ricky shudders. Fuck. He looks down at where Ryan’s hand is in his pants, huffs out a breath. “C’mon, let me hear you. I know it feels good.”

“Fuck,” Ricky whines, his head falling back into the pillows. Ryan’s mouth latches to his exposed throat, surely sucking up marks under the tattoos there. At least they’ll be easier to hide this time around.

“Yeah, good boy,” Ryan whispers, his teeth raking along his collarbone. “Do you want my fingers inside you?” Ricky blinks at him, meets his eyes, nods. Ryan shifts his angle a little and Ricky’s mouth falls open as he sinks in, and Ricky’s hand reaches up to hold the back of Ryan’s neck, the other fisted in the duvet. Ryan pulls his finger right back out and brings it to his mouth, hums. Oh. That’s new. But then he’s pushing Ricky’s jeans a little lower and right back in, able to reach a little better, slides in two fingers, and Ricky moans. Ryan’s palm is against his dick, held there by the lack of room in his jeans. “God, I wanna suck your cock so bad,” Ryan murmurs, and Ricky shudders a little.

“Really?” Ricky asks. Of course, that’s not what had been said, but Ricky had said ixnay on the girl words. So he figures Ryan’s including anatomical terms with that. Cool. “I thought guys didn’t like to do that.”

“Some don’t,” Ryan says, “but I enjoy it. Any guy who expects head but won’t give it in return is pretty selfish if you ask me.” He’s still rocking his fingers into him. “Would you let me do the honors?”

“It feels good?” Ricky asks.

“So I’ve heard,” Ryan remarks.

“Okay,” Ricky says. Ryan slips his fingers out, drags them up Ricky’s stomach, streaking slick across it. He kneels between Ricky’s legs -- okay, yeah, he’s definitely hard now -- and grabs his jeans and underwear, pulls them off together. Ricky had been mortified to let anyone see him unshaved, since he’d figured none of the girls in the porn he’d seen had hair down there. Ryan pulls his fingers through it once, then reaches under Ricky’s thighs to grab his hips and yank him closer. Ryan laves his tongue over him and Ricky gasps, his hand covering his mouth.

“I want to hear you,” Ryan says, licking again, and Ricky shudders, bringing his hand to the pillow next to his head. Ryan pulls him in against his mouth, and Ricky keens, rutting into the contact. He hums into Ricky’s heat, mouth closed around his cock, tattooed hands clamped around his thighs, digging into where they meet his hips, and Ricky looks down at Ryan through half-lidded eyes. It’d been so hard for him to enjoy before; he’d only moaned because that’s what the porn girls did, but now it’s in earnest. Ricky arches a little as Ryan licks into him, brings a hand around to push his fingers back in--

“Fuck,” Ricky grits out, grinding down onto Ryan’s fingers, jerking up into the wet heat of his mouth, Ryan’s other hand splaying out across his stomach, his thumb rubbing at the base of his cock, and it’s just. A lot. Ricky’s tearing up already, shaking in Ryan’s grip. Clenching around his fingers. Ricky sobs and shakes as Ryan moves to lock Ricky’s hips down with his forearm, pinning him there, unable to jerk away from his mouth, which is fucking devouring him like he’s trying to eat Ricky whole, and--

“Hey,” Ryan says, his arm still barred across Ricky’s stomach, looking over it. Ricky whines at the loss of his mouth around his dick, tries to push up at it. “Ricky.” Ryan’s voice seems to cut through the fog. Ricky lifts his head to look back down at him, meets his eyes through the haze. “You’re dissociating. Are you okay?”

“Huh?” Ricky asks. He hadn’t even noticed. He apparently didn’t even feel when Ryan took his fingers out because his hand is now gently stroking Ricky’s thigh where it rests on his shoulder.

“That’s what I thought,” Ryan remarks. “Are you okay?”

Ricky shivers. The air conditioner has made the room freezing, the same bite of cold air as there had been that day.

“I have a question,” Ricky says. He wipes his hand across his cheek, smears tears away.

“Shoot,” Ryan says.

“What do you get out of this?” Ricky asks. “Other than money.” Ryan shrugs.

“I could explain it but I’d rather wait till we’re finished,” he says. “But. I have my reasons.” It’s quiet for a moment except the buzz of the air conditioning. “Are you okay?” Ryan asks, for the third time.

“Yeah,” Ricky says. “I’m okay.”

“You started crying,” Ryan says, “and I know you said that was something that happens for you, but do you want to continue?” Just listening to Ryan speak is grounding. Ricky pants, reaches down to touch Ryan’s hand on his leg.

“What if I wanted to stop?” Ricky asks.

“Then I would stop, and we could take a break, or stop entirely,” Ryan says.

“And what if I did want to quit?”

“Then we would stop and I would leave when you asked me to.”

“What if I never wanted to see you again?” Ricky asks.

“Then you wouldn’t,” Ryan says. “It’s up to you. Is that what you want?”

“No,” Ricky says. “It’s just nice to know the option is there.”

“Always,” Ryan says. “Just say your color if it’s ever not green. Or if it is. Either way.”

“Yeah,” Ricky says again. “I’m good to go. Green. Still with you.” Ryan nods.

“Okay,” he says. He turns his hand around and intertwines his fingers with Ricky’s, closes his mouth over his cock again, and Ricky lets out a shaky sigh, squeezing Ryan’s hand without really realizing it. Ryan’s easing back into it this time, slower, still watching Ricky. It’d taken forever for him to come before; whether because of his lack of skill or his own nerves he’s never really figured out. But Ryan’s going to get him there quick. Ricky’s arching up into the contact as much as he can with Ryan’s forearm barring him to the bed.

“Shit,” Ricky hisses, squeezing Ryan’s fingers, falling back into the pillows. He’s sweating, shuddering, can’t bear to look down and see Ryan there. It’s too much. He couldn’t look then either, didn’t want the mental image stuck in his mind, but now it’s that Ryan’s way too fucking hot and also if he makes eye contact he might come undone on the spot. Ryan inches up a little, lifts Ricky’s ass clear up off the bed, and Ricky looks at him, his hair in his eyes, and Ricky brushes it back off his forehead. Ryan hums and Ricky keens, tightens his fingers in Ryan’s hair, swears under his breath. Feels it tightening in his guts.

“Come for me,” Ryan says, his mouth still mashed against his cock, and it hits Ricky like Ryan’s just flicked a switch, floods through him like his blood’s made of lava, coming hard and his voice breaks loud when he moans. Ryan sucks harder, pulls him through it as Ricky squirms and whines and his whole body is shaking in his grip. Ricky doesn’t feel Ryan let go of his hand, only feels it when he grabs onto Ricky’s shoulder, turns him over into his stomach, yanks his ass up back into his body.

“Fuck,” Ricky squeaks, his head still spinning from his orgasm, dizzy from being flipped over so fast—

“C’mere,” Ryan says, his voice low, changed. “I have to fuck you right fucking now.” It’s a threat.

“Right now?” Ricky asks, breathless.

“You have to let me, Rick—“ Ryan’s voice is darker now, harder. “If you don’t let me it’s gonna hurt me real bad, Ricky. You feel that?” Ryan’s rutting against Ricky’s ass.

“Yeah,” Ricky says. He really does.

“You gotta let me fuck you,” Ryan says. “You don’t want me to hurt, right?”

“No,” Ricky says. He can feel Ryan taking his underwear off, feels his cock fall against his ass, the stick of precome.

“You‘re gonna let me, right? You’re gonna let me come inside you?” Fuck. Ricky’s really into how Ryan’s grinding into him.

“Okay,” Ricky says, “whatever you want—“

Ryan’s quick then, reaches a hand to guide himself in, forces himself all the way down and Ricky hisses at the sting of his dry cock but it pulls him further down, reaching to grab onto the headboard. Ryan starts slamming into him, pulling him back into it, bracing a hand on Ricky’s back. Ricky keens, pants, and Ryan practically growls under his breath, flattening himself down into Ricky’s back. His weight forces the air out of his lungs. Ricky sobs. Ryan seems to crush him into the bed, pounding into him, his hand reaching around under him to grab onto Ricky’s throat.

“Good boy,” Ryan groans, his mouth against Ricky’s shoulder blade, and Ricky feels himself crying, slipping. He’s already gonna fucking come again, shuddering as Ryan fucks into him.

“Fuck, harder, please,” Ricky chokes out — he’s off script but he doesn’t care anymore, so far in his own head it’s horseshoed around till it feels real again. Ryan hitches Ricky’s hips up and he squeezes Ricky’s throat and Ricky comes again, crying out as it rips through him, sobbing into the pillow, knuckles surely going white where he’s clenching his fist around the headboard rungs.

“Did you just come again?” Ryan asks, breathless, fucking him slow through it, and Ricky nods, pushes himself back down on Ryan’s cock.

“Yeah, don’t fuckin’ stop,” Ricky sobs, still shaking, and Ryan doesn’t, just wrangles him over onto his back again, pushes right back in. The script is all but thrown out the window at this point as Ricky grabs at Ryan’s shoulders, pulls him down against him, and Ryan hooks his hand behind Ricky’s knee to keep him wide open. Ricky keens hard, his fingers knotting up in Ryan’s hair. He’s so far past being present, thrown somewhere off the timeline between being fifteen and now, just Ryan slamming him into the bed and his nails biting into the side of Ricky’s thigh. The scrape of Ryan’s facial hair as he buries his face into Ricky’s shoulder.

“Still with me?” Ryan asks, his voice wavering. He’s close. It had been this quick before, too.

“Green,” Ricky says, nodding, his eyes stinging from the eyeshadow running into them. “Never been greener.”

“Good,” Ryan murmurs, barely enough for Ricky to hear over the sound of Ryan’s hips hitting his, and he ruts up against him, stills with their bodies jammed together. Ryan practically growls somewhere from the back of his throat and Ricky’s vaguely aware of the fact that he’s coming. Ricky sighs out a laugh at the thought, and Ryan grins against his neck. “Fuck,” Ryan hisses.

“Yeah,” Ricky agrees, breathless, panting. He can practically feel the whole room do a 180, and instantly he’s back in his own head. Ricky rolls his head to the side and looks down at the filigree on his arm. Yep. He’s back. Ryan’s hand goes between them, slots Ricky’s dick between his fingers, and Ricky jerks reflexively. “Don’t,” he says. “Hurts.”

“Sorry,” Ryan whispers, still buried inside him, brings his hand back to Ricky’s waist. “Thought you might want one more.” Ricky laughs once, still in orbit despite being back in his own body.

“M’good,” he mumbles. Ryan sits up, back onto his legs, pulls out. Ricky can feel himself leaking. He sniffs.

“Let’s get you cleaned up,” Ryan says, and he hauls Ricky off to the hotel bathroom.

//

Ricky’s whole body is jello, sunk all the way down to his neck in the bathtub. The water’s still hot and Ryan is sat on the bathroom floor next to the tub, resting his arms on his knees. Keeping an eye on Ricky. Ricky turns over in the water, pushes his upper half up and arches enough to crack his back. Ryan scoffs at him.

“Is your spine made of bubble wrap?” he remarks.

“Not sure at this point,” Ricky says, smiling over at him. His eyes don’t sting anymore after Ryan washed his makeup off. Ryan just grins.

“Want me to order room service?” he asks. “Or I think Uber Eats delivers to hotels; you just gotta go down to the front desk to grab it. You should eat something after all that.”

“You said you’d tell me why you do this stuff,” Ricky says, turning back over and resting his head on the side of the tub. Ryan sighs, looks away.

“I guess I did, huh,” he says. “You’re not gonna let me feed you till I fess up, are you?”

“I’m officially on a hunger strike,” Ricky remarks. Ryan laughs at that.

“Alright, fine.” He sighs again. “Let me put it this way. Me too.”

Ricky looks at him. Squints.

“You too what?” he asks.

“Y’know,” Ryan says. “Me too.”

Which. Oh.

“Really?” Ricky asks.

“Yeah,” Ryan says. “Had an ex girlfriend. More trouble to recount than it’s worth.”

“Oh.” Ricky pauses. “Sorry to bring it up.”

“Nah,” Ryan says. “No apologies needed. You bared your guts to me. It’s the least I can do to be honest with you back.”

Ricky nods. He reaches a wet hand out to rest on Ryan’s arm.

“So you help people like me because you are a people like me,” Ricky says. Ryan nods.

“More or less,” he says. “If you count pro domming and escorting as helping. It was a little late for me to go to school to become a therapist, y’know.” Ricky honks a laugh at the mere thought of Ryan as a therapist.

“I think you’re pretty good at this anyway,” Ricky says. He squeezes Ryan’s arm and Ryan puts his hand on top of Ricky’s.

“You gonna let me get us food now?” Ryan asks.

“You’re here all night, right?” Ricky asks.

“Technically, yes, you have me till checkout in the morning.”

“Good,” Ricky says. “I want another round but like. Normal.” Ryan looks at him pointedly.

“Define normal,” he says.

“Y’know,” Ricky says, “where I’m not pretending to be fifteen and you’re not pretending to be a pedophile.” Ryan laughs at that, drops his head back against the wall.

“Okay, good,” he says. “Gotta admit sometimes it’s hard to pretend to be such a creep. Easier to just. Y’know. Be me.”

“You is pretty cool,” Ricky says. Ryan leans over, plants a kiss on his wet head.

“Thanks,” Ryan says. “Can I feed you something now?”

“Fine,” Ricky says. They have till eleven tomorrow anyway.