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New Battlefields

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Tom looks at Riley's hands as if he's unsure if he's just concerned or if he thinks they are the great betrayers who are keeping Riley from competing against him at the World Championships. Or maybe wondering if Riley's just wussing out because Tom's competing with a nagging injury too.

"It's healing," says Riley. "Don't look at me like that."

"Invalid," says Tom, and he doesn't reach out but Riley holds out both hands, turns them over and back again so Tom can make out the faint surgical scars.

"I'll be back on the platform next season," says Riley defensively. "I'm still competing."

"Yeah, on springboard," says Tom, and Riley wants to give him a smack to show him just how fine his thumb is working, thank you very much.

But there's an understanding there, too, underneath it all. Tom might be his country's golden boy (still, even now that Olympic fever has all but been forgotten) but he knows what it's like to fight your way up, and have to keep fighting your way back up every time there's a setback. That's what being an athlete is, at their level. They're always pushing too hard, and then pushing even harder to make up for it.

"Don't take it out on me just because you know I'd beat you on it," says Riley

It's true, too, if only because Tom decided to specialise and springboard is a different skillset. He'd probably still qualify, if he wanted to and put a little time into it, but his odds of finishing in the top ten there are slim to none these days.

"So what are we supposed to do now?"

Riley snorts, but he crosses his arms over his chest, too, and he doesn't really have an answer for him. What do they do now? He's been thinking about it since he knew they'd both be coming to Barcelona (their competing at the Worlds not really a question of desire or qualifying, per se, but of injury and recovery).

"We can only fuck when the scoreboard tells us so?"

It's not a sore point, it's really not. Honestly, if not for that excuse they might never have let themselves do it in the first place—it's easier to let yourself do something you're scared of if you pretend there's some kind of compelling outside force. But it still seems ridiculous that they can't just say, "Hey, it was fun last time, wanna do it again?"

"Maybe not a scoreboard," says Tom, grinning at him, and there's something mischievous in that grin. There's something that tells Riley that they're not just going to be saying, "Hey, let's screw," this time either, no matter how much easier that would be.

Neither one of them ever did anything the easy way.

"If you're suggesting we get someone to hold up scores for us after every round," says Riley, "then I'm going to have to stop you right there. I have a strict no spectators policy."

"That's a shame," says Tom. "We'll have to negotiate that for next time."

"We'll have to what?"

"But that wasn't what I had in mind. Come on, the practice pool isn't far from here."

"Yeah, no, that won't be packed full of people at all."

"Come on," says Tom. "Would it really be us if there wasn't water involved?"

Riley thinks they've never really had a chance to find out, but Tom probably has a point. He spends nearly every day of his life in the water at some point. If he and Tom weren't hurling themselves off things into the water, then they probably wouldn't even be able to figure out who they were anymore. God knows Riley'd had trouble when he was benched; it was weird just being a student for a while. He discovered he kind of wasn't very good at that.

"Plenty of water in my shower," he murmurs, but he knows it's a lost cause. Tom Daley gets what he wants, when he wants it, but then he's so damn happy about it you feel like an asshole for begrudging him anything in the first place. "What are you thinking?"

"Something...different," says Tom, because he is mischievous and no one ever suspects it of their national angel of the dive centre. "You cross-train, of course."

"What, are we going to have a dance-off?" says Riley. "I don't think I brought the right shoes for that."

Tom pauses and holds up a finger for a moment. "Okay, one day we're actually going to do that," he says, before starting off again, "but not today. I was thinking more like swimming."

"You're going to race me?"

"I'm going to race you hard," says Tom, and Riley is suddenly thinking of something else entirely. "Winner gets...the usual privileges."

"So the winner wins and the loser wins and basically everyone wins," says Riley. "Why are we racing again?"

"I'd tell you what I'm going to do when I win," says Tom, "but I'd like to keep some surprises for the bedroom."

At least that means they're probably going to make it to the bedroom, and much as he grumbles about it Riley actually has no complaint about hitting the pool with Tom. He's a fairly strong swimmer, but he already knows he's probably not going to go all out against him, not because he's worried about the fatigue—his competition is days off yet—but he's still pampering his hand. He knows he's not quite back up to a hundred percent yet, and competing here is probably no more than going through the motions.

(Which doesn't mean he's not here to win. He's just trying to keep his expectations realistic. Top twenty is the new top ten this year, but watch out for him next year when he's back on the platform.)

"You just want to see me wet," says Riley, and Tom just shrugs and grins at him and there are few things as compelling as Tom Daley's grin.

"I never denied that," he says.

The truth is, Riley never minds getting in the water. He dives right in from the lip of the pool, cutting into the water in the first dive he ever learnt and gliding out a few metres before swimming back to the wall again, flipping his hair back and watching Tom dive in. It's as effortless as his own, comfortably easy because they don't even have to think about form and position anymore when it's something as simple as that.

"Two lengths?" says Tom, slicking his own hair back. The pool isn't empty, but certainly empty enough that they can take up two unmarked lanes at the end and hope they can swim in relatively straight lines as long as they're close enough to the wall to gauge distance.

"Hey, your funeral," says Riley with an easy shrug, diving underneath the water again just to acclimate. It's cooler than he was expecting, or maybe it was just hot outside in the sun. He should be used to that in Arizona, but somehow it always takes him a little time to adjust. Canadian blood will out, or something. "I'll even let you count it out."

"Cocky," says Tom.

"I thought that's what you liked about me," says Riley.

He looks at the way Tom is dripping with water, bright smile on his face, perfectly muscled torso, and suddenly he wants to lose. He wants to have an excuse to let Tom do whatever he wants to him. He also wants to put up a good fight, because he knows that nothing turns Tom on more than winning. Or even losing, as long as it's hard fought. As much as he protests, as much as he tries to say they should go straight to the bedroom, it's better this way.

Though maybe next time they should try a footrace on the sidewalk so they'd already be done and up in his room by now. Tom would probably win that one too, but Riley's fine with that.

Neither one of them goes hard enough to aggravate any injuries, in the end, and their speed and strength is nothing compared to the actual competitive swimmers, but they still cut through the water at a respectable pace, and if Tom beats him by half a body length, that's nothing to be embarrassed about. Even when Tom celebrates by splashing water at him.

They don't jump out of the pool right away, goofing off in the corner away from the people actually using the pool to warm up and practice. Tom gropes him in the guise of dunking him, and goes out of his way to gloat about his victory.

"Come on," says Riley, laughing as Tom splashes yet more water on him, earning them more than a few glares. "Enough is enough."

"Enough is never enough," says Tom, but he hoists himself out of the pool anyway and Riley is quick to notice that his speedos are a little more snug than the usually are, and speedos aren't designed to hold the extra. He should know. He suffers a similar problem when he gets out and grabs his sammy, which would just look more conspicuous if he hung it in front of himself.

Tom may have got what he wanted, but this was not well thought through.

There's a secondary pool area, closed for cleaning right now it looks like but not barricaded or anything, and that's the change room that Tom leads him to. It's open, but still deserted. With a hint, but not a promise, that it'll remain that way for them.

Not if anyone follows their wet footprints to it, though.

"So much for bed," says Riley, and Tom just presses him to the tile wall and kisses him, and sometimes Riley forgets just how much strength is bound up in that body. He's not often with anyone who's his rival in that area.

"Remember that I won," says Tom when Riley tries to match him. "You should be used to that by now."

"Don't get too comfortable," says Riley, but right now, right here, Tom's won the right to get as comfortable as he likes. When Tom moves closer to the center of the room, between the shower and the mirrors, Riley just follows.

"Stay right there," says Tom, and Riley isn't technically obligated to do what he says, they haven't negotiated that (yet), but the way Tom says it he he just freezes in place as Tom pulls his arms over his head. Positioning him like his coach would have once when he was just starting out, hands together, arms positioned just so, arched.

He's pretty sure he's not going to be diving anywhere except onto a bed, later, and even that's not a sure thing.

"You just want to put your hands on me."

"I don't need an excuse to do that," says Tom. Riley closes his eyes and feels Tom run his hands over his muscles, tapping them, rubbing them, warming him up. "I'm thinking."

"If this is what you're like when you're being smart, I'm even more sorry you're not coming to Arizona State."

"Really?" says Tom. "You want to look like this in front of everyone you go to school with? You want them all to see you like this? No, wait, you're not quite ready yet." He drops to his knees, pulls Riley's suit down to his ankles, and forces him to step out before tossing them away. "Now you're ready."

He gets that look on his face again as he rubs the muscles of Riley's legs, and now Riley is thinking about being posed like this in front of everybody he knows and it just, embarrassingly, gets him hotter.

"I can't tell if you're solving quadratic equations in your head or thinking about what you want to do to me now that you have me," says Riley, looking away and up at the ceiling, anywhere but at Tom's face.

"I'm thinking," says Tom, "that if you make enough noise, people will come in to see. Of course, you're not in that compromising a position right now, other than your cock. Maybe they'll just think that you really like diving."

"I do really like diving," says Riley, but if he did it with a dick that hard he'd probably be risking damage to himself every time he went in the water. Not to mention the fact that his suit wouldn't nearly cover it. It just barely keeps everything contained as it is, nevermind Tom's that sometimes doesn't.

"Let's see how quiet you can be, then," says Tom, massaging his thighs. "Unless you want some uninvited guests."

Riley gets harder, but he shakes his head. "I can be quiet," he says. "I can be quieter if you put something in my mouth."

"I'd rather watch you exhibit some self control," says Tom, standing up and circling, occasionally laying a hand on his body, usually over the broad expanse of a muscle. "Unless, of course, you don't think you can."

"Of course I can," says Riley. "You just want to see me shake."

"I do," says Tom, "because I know exactly how good you look when you're shaking for me."

"The mouth on you," says Riley. "We'll see who's the one who can't keep quiet here."

"You're on," says Tom, and then puts his mouth to better use on Riley's body. Having issued the challenge, enough though it hadn't been intended as an actual challenge at the time, Riley does stay quiet. Almost perfectly quiet, a skill born of more time spent in shared living quarters than he cares to remember.

He doesn't move, not when Tom's teeth close lightly against his nipples, not when Toms fingers explore down his ass, not even when Tom steps away and strips out of his own Speedo, putting on a show for Riley when he does. And if he makes any sounds, they faint and strangled as he fights to keep everything in.

Tom isn't fighting nearly as hard, but with his mouth almost constantly busy on Riley's body he doesn't have to. Still, they're not so silent together that they can't be heard, and it's constantly on Riley's mind that they are alone here only by the slimmest of margins and could be interrupted any time. The very idea makes his breath catch and his arms tremble.

"Keep them up," says Tom, running his hands from Riley's wrists down to his waist, and Riley does even though they're beginning to ache, even though he wants to reach out and grab him.

When Tom presses their cocks together he almost does, but he bites his lip and keeps his cool. Tom sees him, though. Tom sees him and laughs and leans in to bite his lip for him. Riley moans into it, he can't help that, but it's muffled by Tom's mouth and then Tom is moving his hand over both their cocks and Riley realises how close he really is.

"Shhhh," says Tom, and bends his head forward to press his mouth against Riley's shoulder and Riley has to silence himself again.

Tom's hand is stroking them relentlessly, and Riley stretches his arms to the ceiling, tilts his head back so he can't see Tom's unfairly hot sex face, and something about his position or his headspace changes his orgasm when he comes, not just focused on his cock but stretching out along the muscles leading out from his groin too.

"Oh God, oh God," says Tom aloud, and yes, that means Riley won that competition at least. He looks back down just as Tom lets go of Riley's cock and jerks himself off hard for just a few seconds, Riley's come as lubrication, coming with a gasp that actually echoes. If Riley hadn't just come he might've done it just at the sight of that.

For a couple minutes after that they're extra quiet, listening to each other and for any signs of anyone else. Then Tom turns the shower on and moments later all the evidence is washed away.

Like he always does in the moments after having been with Tom, Riley feels like everyone can tell just by looking at him. Of course, this time maybe they can—other than putting his swimsuit back on he doesn't have anything on hand to cover himself up with and they've been in a suspicious place for an awfully long time now.

In fact, as Tom catches himself in the mirror and tries to fix his hair, Riley hears this distinct sound of wet footprints on tile and scrambles to make sure that, at the very least, his swimsuit is on straight and nothing's showing.

Tom looks completely unruffled, giving the intruder a wide grin as he comes around the corner; he's clearly just looking for a private spot to change, and Riley tries not to give him any reason to wonder what Tom and Riley are doing there, since they haven't brought anything with them but their own selves. No one says anything, he just nods at them and Tom nods back and then they're leaving without a backward glance.

Riley thinks everyone is looking at him, and no one is. Not any more than usual, anyway. He changes quickly and grabs his bag and ends up following Tom out of the facility. They don't say anything until just before they exit the front door.

"Race you back to the hotel," says Tom, and it's on.