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Foolish Games

Chapter Text

Desmond would say, if he was asked, that he was pretty happy with his life; he had fun taking classes to pursue his passion in brewing and tasting all sorts of beers; he loved being fit and active with parkour and his pick-up soccer team; he enjoyed his job bartending, even, though of course the degree varied depending on the night. He knew it couldn't stay that way forever - he was nineteen, not an idiot - but there was no way he could have guessed just how much one little fall would change his life.

It had started as a joke, really, when Desmond broke his leg attempting to scale a building his friends were certain he couldn't. He'd succeeded, technically; he'd gotten up to the roof just fine, but he'd slipped on his way back down. Just one little mistake and now his leg was in a brace for at least 8 weeks!

His friends had purchased him a copy of a new-ish MMO, Ascendant Online, a silly prank gift at the time. Apparently, though, a broken leg was as socially limiting as it was physically, and Desmond caved after less than a week of increasing frustration and boredom. He didn't have classes, and he couldn't work at all on crutches or in a wheelchair, so he had nothing to do but sit at home all day. He installed the game and set up an account - he even paid the subscription fee, which was ridiculous. How could anyone justify that cost for any longer than one month?

He didn't take it seriously at first; it was just some big fantasy world, full of elves and monsters and factions. Most players on the server, however, seemed to be out for blood. The game was new enough that Desmond wasn't the only newbie, but had been out long enough that there were already premiere, well-known players with established, well-known guilds.

Desmond played solo, though, mostly trying out the classes he could, completing small quests until the monsters were either too weak or too strong, and it was time to start joining parties.

That was when he found out how addicting it could be. When parties worked, when everyone knew their role and what they needed to do, it felt amazing! Pulling and killing chains of successive monsters, racking up experience bonuses and loot... Well. It was a little like playing a sport, in a way. A different kind of skill, sure, but still undeniably teamwork.

Unfortunately, parties could also go wrong, very wrong, and that just led to hours of frustration. Just when the bad parties felt like they were outnumbering the good, and Desmond was on the verge of quitting, that's when he met Juno_Regina, who taught him all about guilds.

Of course, Desmond 'knew' about guilds. It was impossible not to - there were recruitment shouts in just about every zone, at all hours of the day. He'd known at some point he'd probably need to join one for the big, end-game stuff; the kind of fights you don't want to trust to a bunch of people who were all strangers to each other. But as a concept, it was still an abstract thing, far away; he wasn't even in the mid-game, and nowhere near the high-level stuff. Honestly, he hadn't expected he'd reach that level before he ended up quitting for one reason or another.

There were also crafting guilds, but Desmond had no interest in that - it took time and money to even level a craft; he'd rather farm drops to sell instead.

So there he was, idling in one of the starter cities as Corvus the Rogue, no little guild icon next to his name, when an human healer named Juno_Regina approached his character. Seconds later, he received a private whisper asking if he had a guild or if he was willing to join hers.

Since he had a willing resource, Desmond asked her questions about all sorts of things, and found out there was more to the game than just fighting monsters and crafting. Lucy, Juno_Regina's player, patiently explained about instanced raids, faction raids, PvP - or Player versus Player events, seasonal events and summoned boss fights. Her guild took part in all of those things and her static party had just lost a long-time member and was looking to replace him. Desmond pointed out that his rogue was his highest-leveled character - only 22 to her level 90 - and that he hadn't even unlocked any of the advanced classes. Lucy promised that her group was willing to not only level him up, but help him unlock whatever advanced classes he was interested in playing. She seemed nice, and had patiently answered all of his questions, so it only seemed fair to give her guild a chance.

And that was how Corvus joined the Assassins.

Lucy's team, the one that would become his 'static', or long-term group, consisted of two other people: Beatchick, a tough orc tank with almost too much energy, and Lord_Fawkes, an elven magister whose snark was almost worse than his magical bite. Lucy was the healer of the group, and as close to a leader as the team had.

His group sped him through the lower levels of the game, helped out with quests and raids for better gear, and gave him tips on how to best utilize his skills. He started to spend even more time in-game than ever, with the goal of catching up to their level - partially so he could really help out, but also because he genuinely looked forward to doing all these events and raids with them. They'd become his friends, somehow, when he hadn't even been looking.

The rest of the guild was an amazing resource, full of good, knowledgeable people, but he didn't keep playing the game out of any loyalty towards the guild. He kept playing because of his new friends.

--------

Now, obviously, not every night was a perfect night. Not every night was even a fun night, but try explaining that to friends who nag you about how rarely you go out with them anymore (even though every time you do, they nag you about how hard it is getting you and all your shit lugged around when you've got a brace and crutches).

In the game, though, even with his awesome, experienced group, sometimes things still went south. Very south.

Lord_Fawkes: How hard is it to target the mob's elemental weakness, Des? You only have the one job!
Corvus: Oh, the one that changes every time YOU debuff or cast a spell?!
Lord_Fawkes: I'm calling them out, you know the cycle!
Beatchick: res otw
Corvus: Yeah, AFTER I've already started my attacks! You're either going too soon or calling too late! >:(
Juno_Regina: C'mon guys, we were close that time. We've almost got it.
Lord_Fawkes: We didn't even get it halfway down, Lucy. And phase 2 is even worse!
Beatchick: sure, but it's mostly more of the same, and we've got the aggro figured out, at least
Corvus: Until we wipe.
Lord_Fawkes: Well, what do you want, Des? It's not hard, you just need to pay attention or work harder on your timing.
Corvus: So you're saying it's my fault we keep failing?
Lord_Fawkes: Technically, you said it.
Beatchick: you know
Beatchick: we've done really good so far. maybe it's time we took a step forward, take this more seriously
Juno_Regina: What do you mean?
Lord_Fawkes: MOST of us ARE serious
Beatchick: if we wanna play in hte big leagues, we need to play like the big league-ers do
Corvus: Hey!
Corvus: I joined the Assassins to get away from that shit, Becca
Lord_Fawkes: We're not begging for help from the guild!
Beatchick: no! no!
Beatchick: headsets, guys. voice chat. ventrilo, teamspeak, whatever
Juno_Regina: Actually, a lot of the statics do that! It's a good idea.
Lord_Fawkes: Oh, great, so now I can HEAR him whine, too.
Corvus: Bite me, Shaun

So, of course they all bought headsets, Rebecca set up a private Ventrilo server, and they all started using both regularly.

Looking back, this had really been the start of his problems.

Chapter Text

The problem with voice chat wasn't teamwork, since they were doing better than ever. The problem wasn't even his teammates - at least, not exactly.

Lucy was an excellent leader, if a tad bossy. She was even-tempered and diplomatic, and with just enough of a sense of humor to keep things from getting too boring.

Rebecca, who played Beatchick (or Becca, Becs, B, anything, really) was upbeat, funny, wacky in the most enjoyable way, with the exact amount of bite he could appreciate.

No, the problem was Shaun, Lord_Fawkes the magister, who was sarcastic, critical and impatient - but also hilarious, loyal and smart as hell. Worst of all (and Desmond couldn't believe this was affecting him so badly) was that once they'd all started actually using voice chat, he found out that Shaun was British. All the other things would have caught Desmond's interest, sure, but somehow that last factor became something that haunted Desmond, made thoughts of Shaun follow him out of the game long after he'd logged out.

So okay, it wasn't Shaun who was the problem, it was Desmond. After all, he didn't really know the others all that well - he never talked to them outside of the game, after all - and there was literally no way Shaun knew how he was affecting Desmond.

That didn't stop Desmond's overactive imagination, however, or his stupid, opportunistic dick. See, the real problem wasn't Shaun, or Desmond's completely non-existent crush, it was his reactions to Shaun's rants (on anything; game mechanics, cheats and those who use them, stories about students in his classes), or to Shaun's insults (to other players, factions, guilds, and often enough, Desmond himself). Or his banter when he was feeling playful. Or, well, anytime he talked, really. It just did things to Desmond; to his insides some, but definitely to his dick. He couldn't help it if sometimes he got off in the shower to thoughts of how Shaun would sound when he got off. Or imagining Shaun telling him what to do in contexts that include his bedroom, but not the game.

It was basically a pavlovian response at this point. If Shaun's talking, Desmond's at least half-hard.

Soon enough, though, he wasn't only jerking it in the shower or in bed, but right after logging off, before he'd even bothered removing his headset. Eventually, that became normal; as soon as they finished the last raid for the night, he started getting hard, anticipating the orgasm that was soon to follow.

And that was fine, everything was fine, really. He had a handle on it, could absolutely stop whenever he wanted. Sure, he felt a little guilty, but it wasn't like anyone would ever know.

========

Desmond's original plan, if it could be called that, was to play the game while he was healing up - soon after, he'd have to train again, build up muscle so he could get back to his 'regular' life; work and going out and soccer, all the stuff he knew he would miss out on. It wasn't like that wasn't still his goal, but he hadn't anticipated enjoying the game that much. Hadn't thought he'd still even be playing two months later, but he was - and he couldn't imagine giving it up.

The brace was coming off in two weeks, and Desmond was getting more antsy, messing up fights so routine, they hadn't struggled with for a while now. So routine, in fact, that they hadn't even bothered to log into Ventrilo.

Corvus: Sorry, sorry.
Corvus: I was distracted.
Lord_Fawkes: By what? You should know better!
Corvus: Hey!
Juno_Regina: Knock it off, Shaun. Des, what's up? You've been off the last couple of days.
Corvus: I don't..
Corvus: I'm sorry, I didn't meant to.
Beatchick: it's alright, des, happens to us all
Lord_Fawkes: Speak for yourself.
Lord_Fawkes: Go on then, let's fix your problem so we can finish farming my upgrade mats.
Corvus: Fuck you, Shaun.
Corvus: it's just.. I don't think I'll be able to get on as much soon
Juno_Regina: Why not?
Corvus: So you know how I told you I only started playing 'cuz I broke my leg?
Juno_Regina: Yeah
Corvus: Well, the cast is coming off in a little over a week
Corvus: I'll have exercises and training.. And once that's done, I'll be able to get back to work again
Beatchick: oh shit!
Beatchick: I'd forgotten about your leg!
Lord_Fawkes: What do you even do?
Corvus:Bartender, man. Evening shifts, late nights. :( Pays well enough I can afford housing and classes, but I'll be working four nights a week
Corvus: Maybe you guys should start looking for a replacement
Beatchick: what?! no!
Juno_Regina: Becca's right. We can figure something out.
Juno_Regina: I mean, we can start earlier in the afternoons
Corvus: I'll be starting classes again in like, three weeks after that
Corvus: I mean, I'd be missing out on like, four days a week at our current schedule
Juno_Regina: That is a lot, but...
Beatchick: yeah, we can still do pvp or dungeon crawls
Lord_Fawkes: But why should we have to?
Corvus: What?
Lord_Fawkes: Why shouldn't we just replace you?
Lord_Fawkes: You have your priorities, and maybe I don't want to slow our progress just because you've decided we're no longer one of them.
Beatchick: Shaun!
Juno_Regina: We'd still have to train someone, or at least there would be an adjustment period...
Corvus: What the hell, Shaun, it's not like that!
Lord_Fawkes: Sure it's not. But I noticed you're the one that suggested a replacement
Lord_Fawkes: Not a compromise or even a suggestion of a solution where you stick around.
Lord_Fawkes: So bugger off, then.
Beatchick: wtf, shaun!
Lord_Fawkes has logged off.
Corvus: What the fuck. I didn't mean to imply I didn't want to keep playing with you guys!
Beatchick: i know
Juno_Regina: I know.
Beatchick: Shaun's just being a dick. I'll talk sense into him
Juno_Regina: seriously, we'll work something out. You're one of us.

Desmond could see where he'd gone wrong, where Shaun had gotten that impression, but he hadn't truly meant it like that. He did want to keep playing with his group, he just didn't want to be the one holding them back.

Shaun's words did make him pause, because he had just told them to replace him. So he talked it out with the girls, came up with a good, reasonable schedule that could work out pretty good for them all. If Shaun would even listen, at that point.

Hopefully, Shaun would give him the chance to explain.

Chapter Text

It had taken a couple of weeks for things to really settle down into a solid routine - once he had his exercise, work and class schedules, he found he could still devote at least three afternoons and one night a week to the game. It wasn't as much as he'd hoped, but it was pretty fair - and though Shaun was still pissy about it, at least he was talking to Desmond again.

Tonight was his first time fighting a summoned boss; his main duty in this fight was crowd control, and he had to learn the phases of the fight, so all four of them had the pop items necessary to start the event, in case of (expected) failure in the first or second attempts. Shaun was their main strategist for most fights, though he usually let Lucy lay out the tactics instead - mostly because she had tact and he didn't. She relayed the mob patterns and reminded everyone of their duties (Rebecca chirped in the affirmative, but Shaun just sighed at her), and double-checked that Desmond knew what he was to do. He didn't mind the reminder - it's not like this was extremely high stakes, but the pop items could only be farmed, not bought, so he'd feel pretty dumb if he made them waste all four tries just because he couldn't get it. He listened, repeated his instructions back to her, and then Lucy used her item and the cutscene started.

The first phase was easy enough - there were no added mobs yet, so he took a potshot or two from a distance while Rebecca built up aggro and Lucy buffed the party. Shaun was supposed to be drinking his enhancement potions, but Desmond didn't see the animation or the status text indicating he had - that was a little annoying, but he couldn't blame the guy; potions weren't free, after all, and it was expected they'd fail this first run.

Everything seemed calm enough, and at 90%, as predicted, the boss summoned a small number of weak mobs that Rebecca ignored. They all wailed on her at first, but Desmond popped off his AoE and they all followed him around the arena as he picked them off slowly. His DPS was good, Shaun would cast a spell or two his way, and Lucy kept their HP in the green. They didn't talk much for this, mostly because they didn't need to - or maybe they didn't want to distract Desmond.

At 60%, however, it all went to shit. He'd gone back to potshots after the last follower was defeated, but then they got another cutscene - immediately following which was ten new mobs at their level, and he was supposed to corral them into a designated area for Shaun to fry with his high-level AoE spells. That part started well enough, but he hadn't managed the aggro well enough, and after just one spell, Shaun was overwhelmed as the mobs all turned on him immediately.

"Sorry, Shaun," he said, chuckling, as the mobs all turned on him now that Shaun was down. It was pretty much finished after that, both Lucy and Rebecca dying in less than two minutes after Shaun had fallen.

Shaun sighed at him, but there wasn't much heat in it. "It was to be expected. Now you understand why you have to manage your skills, yes? You can't just use them the instant the timer's up, you need to pay attention," he said.

"Yeah, I uh, didn't think they'd turn like that," Desmond replied. "I don't usually have to use any hate-management skills."

"That's why we're doing this - you're headed for the big leagues, Des, gotta start using all of your abilities," Rebecca chimed in. "Up until now, the tank really manages all the hate in the fight. Now that the fights get more complex, you really gotta work for it, too. You need to wait for just the split second after they start to move towards Shaun, then use Ambush and Wind Slash - you'll deal double damage since you lost aggro, and then you'll immediately get it all back because of the critical damage for back attacks. Then activate Dastardly Speed to increase evasion and movement speed, and lead them away from Shaun again to the second point, and repeat. It's a little tricky, but you'll get it."

"Yeah, okay, I got it," he said. They'd gone over that exact pattern just before the fight; he just had to get the timing right, is all. It couldn't actually be that hard.

They failed the next fight at 40% or thereabouts, because Desmond died first, and Shaun huffed at him because he had actually quaffed his potions on the second attempt.

"I'm not made of gold, you know," he pointed out, and Desmond laughed.

"Please, you craft them yourself - you don't even spend any gold on them, probably not even silver," he retorted.

"Not the point, Desmond," he sniped back and Desmond shivered - there was something about the way his name sounded when Shaun said it like that. He liked it.

"Yeah, well, I'll reimburse you 50% of the auction house price, how's that?" he asked, and Shaun only grumbled back, but didn't refuse the offer.

He didn't outright accept it, either, so Desmond might not actually have to do it, anyway.

The third attempt started well, but they lost at just under 50%, again because Desmond wasn't managing his crowd of mobs very well. Rebecca and Lucy were understanding, but Shaun wasn't happy.

"Are you just wasting our time?" he began, before his mic went silent. Desmond frowned and waited a heartbeat.

"Shaun?" he asked, and Rebecca laughed.

"Lucy muted him," she said. "She's probably sending him a PM now telling him to chill. He didn't get it on his first try, either," she assured him.

"Did he need three?" Desmond asked, and Rebecca hummed at him.

"I don't know," she said, and Desmond had a feeling that while she might not know for sure, she probably didn't think he had needed three attempts to get this fight. The magister had the easy part, he thought - he hadn't ever tried any of the mage classes for long - so maybe Shaun should be a little more patient.

"I got it on the second," Shaun said after a moment, snippy but no longer angry.

"Well, I got it this time," Desmond replied. "Promise."

He didn't get it that time. They got down to 50% again before Desmond died.

"What is your problem?" Shaun demanded. "Are you even using your defensive abilities? Where's your evasion, what do you have equipped?"

"Shaun!" Rebecca scolded.

"Shut it. He's wasting our time - four pops and not a single win! It's pathetic!" he snapped, and Desmond sucked in a breath. Shaun was critical, yes, and in the events where they had to cooperate with the server as a whole (faction raids came to mind), Shaun could be scathing in his fury - but it had never been directed at Desmond himself before. Not like this.

"H-hey!" Desmond protested, and it came out weaker than he wanted it to; he didn't want Shaun thinking he was affected by what he was saying. He definitely didn't want Shaun knowing just how he was affected by what he was saying.

"What are you even doing?" Shaun continued. "Useless! Can't even handle mob aggro in the easiest pop fight there is! We've spent a ton of time on you, and you're not even taking it seriously!"

"I am! I'm trying!" he said, because he had been, and he was. But even that didn't distract from the fact that he was getting hard, Shaun's critical voice telling him he was useless. He'd never let himself get fully hard while he played the game, but he couldn't stop himself now. His hand snuck down to squeeze his dick briefly - just a little, just to relieve the pressure.

"Shaun-" Lucy tried.

"You're not trying hard enough!" Shaun spat. "Are you so thick you can't understand the directions we're giving? Are we not using small enough words for you? You have one job, Desmond, and you've not even managed to do it! Lucy, so help me, if you mute me again, I'm logging out for a month!"

There was silence on the channel, and Lucy sighed. "Shaun," she tried.

"No," he snapped. "I just want him to listen," he said, and Desmond shivered again, squeezed his aching cock one more time. God, it was wrong, it was so wrong, but he was going to listen, at least.

"I'm- I'm listening," he said, hoping he didn't sound as hoarse as he felt. He muted his own microphone - the switch on the hardware, not in Ventrilo, so they wouldn't know he'd muted himself. It was... It was just this one time, no one would know, he'd just listen to Shaun and get off, and that would be it. He'd get the strategy down next time, but all he could think of right now was getting off to the sound of Shaun's angry voice. He pushed his shorts down enough to free his dick, stroking it slowly.

"Good," Shaun said. "Look, I get that this is all new for you, but it's honestly not that hard! It's five skills, used at the appropriate times! Now either you're stupid or you're lazy, and I don't know what it is, but..." Desmond actually stopped paying close attention to his words at that point; he just listened to the cadence, but every now and then, Shaun would bite out words that just made his dick throb harder in his grasp: useless, worthless, stupid, lazy, idiot. He wasn't thinking about what it meant that Shaun said them, wasn't questioning whether Shaun meant them, all he knew is that he was riding the edge of orgasm just because Shaun was being mean to him - and he really, really liked it.

He didn't even know how long Shaun was talking - the girls never interjected, their silence never entered Desmond's mind, but Shaun wound down.

"Desmond?" he asked, and Desmond fumbled for the mic control, one hand still stroking his dick, but before he could turn the mic back on, Shaun huffed. "Of course. Fucking idiot," and Desmond gasped Shaun's name and came all over his hand and stomach and chest, ruining his t-shirt.

It took him a few moments to catch his breath and come down from that incredibly powerful orgasm, and he wiped off his hand on a clean part of his shirt before he noticed that Shaun had logged off from both Ventrilo and the game. He cleaned himself up a little bit more before he turned his microphone back on.

"I uh, sorry about that," he said quietly, and was relieved to hear the girls reassure him that it was okay - Shaun would calm down and they'd try again next week.

He did end up sending Shaun the full market price for the potions he'd used in the fights - along with a note containing both an apology for wasting his time, and that he had been listening, he just hadn't known what to say - he didn't know Shaun would get so worked up about it.

Something about acknowledging what Shaun said felt good - not quite agreeing with what he'd said, but not quite disagreeing, either. He didn't want to make Shaun angry, not really, but he already wanted to do that again. He just had to figure out a way to make it happen.

========

Luckily, Shaun forgave him the next time he logged on (two days later, due to his schedule), and instead of still being angry (as Desmond expected), he wanted to focus on why Desmond had kept failing. It didn't take Shaun long to figure out the problem - since the group had focused on raising his level quickly, Desmond hadn't gotten the fine-tuning of his own abilities down. Without being forced to grind through parties through the lower levels where everyone was supposed to learn the basics, and the importance of aggro management, he hadn't even used a few of his abilities before then.

So he and Shaun spent a couple of hours that night duoing out in the Tellerand Caverns, learning about aggro and timing. It was genuinely fun; Shaun was pretty good at explaining things, once he'd sussed out the issue, and Desmond actually gained a lot of respect for him - Shaun knew the mechanics of the game quite intimately, and had been rather patient about showing him the deeper combat concepts and techniques that Desmond had missed out on by being artificially leveled through the bulk of it.

They ended up farming for two more of the pop items for the summoned boss fight, and just idling in the jungle afterwards, chatting. When he logged off, a little later than usual, he was pleased that he'd managed to get on Shaun's good side again - but he got himself off that night remembering what it felt like (had sounded like) when he hadn't been.

After he'd caught his breath and cleaned up, he started to form a plan.

Chapter Text

Desmond ended up with two main strategies for when he wanted Shaun to go off on something so Desmond could get off to it. The first, and best, was only possible when they were showing him a new fight or a new zone - or, occasionally, a new job. He'd fail at it a little harder than he normally would fail at new things (a very fine line, to be sure), just enough for Shaun to lose his composure, and then he'd mute his microphone and get off to the ensuing rant about his many failures and how disappointed Shaun was. This particular strategy had a few flaws; he couldn't employ it too often as he didn't want to actually impede his own progress too much (and of course, the guilt that came from knowing he was deliberately slowing down the group's progress for his own sexual whims); he wasn't actually that good an actor (pretending to be bad at something was harder than he'd have thought and he hated having to pretend to be an idiot); and Shaun would definitely get suspicious if he failed too often nowadays. The benefit to that tactic, though, is that later that week, Desmond would often get one-on-one time with Shaun to fix what he'd been failing at. Shaun's gruff approval did things to him, too - it was harder to deal with than the name-calling, however, so he ignored it for now.

The second strategy was one he could employ more often, but usually required an element that lay out of his control: other players. See, Shaun had high standards - his tolerance for idiocy and incompetence was low, but he didn't often have to interact with players outside of their guild except in a few main events that Desmond was only just now high-enough level to participate in; faction raids and the guild arena battles. There was no real way to communicate during these events - the chatlogs flew by so fast they were almost impossible to read, with so many people in the area that not all of them even appeared on screen unless you were close enough to them. It was difficult to employ any strategies that other players wouldn't somehow interrupt or fuck up, so most times, Shaun just kept up a blistering rant the entire time. Desmond would mute his mic, set Corvus into position and fire off his skills in the correct order - all with one hand on his dick, because even though Shaun wasn't talking to him, he was saying all the right things, and it didn't take much to imagine he was speaking about Desmond, if not to him. Also, he could blame any misfires on lag.

Now, the first strategy almost always resulted in the girls logging off early once Shaun got started - they didn't understand the dynamic between the two boys, and had stopped interfering; because even if they didn't get it, there was never any rancor between Shaun and Desmond afterwards. Occasionally Rebecca or Lucy would give him the one-on-one tutorial instead, and he always made sure not to waste their time any more than he had to to keep up his ruse. He did at least make sure they knew he was grateful for their time, but it wasn't what he was after. Rebecca talked to him once to make sure he wasn't feeling abused by Shaun or anything, and Desmond assured her he wasn't, though he quickly invented a reason to log off before she could start asking any probing questions.

This routine worked quite well; Corvus was fully leveled in three jobs now, all DD jobs, and there was a lot of end-game content to the game, so Desmond still had a reasonable number of his 'failing' strategy to employ before it wouldn't be feasible any longer. The raids and arena battles were weekly events, so those were a stable source of orgasms, as well. Things were going well; he was successfully balancing school, work, and the game without flagging in any area.

Desmond knew his routine couldn't last forever; he hadn't yet planned an exit strategy or anything like that, but he hadn't really planned very much of this at all - he hadn't expected to get into the game this much, to form such strong friendships with people he'd only originally met through text. He hadn't expected Shaun at all, nor the way he affected him, nor the fact that he would be in a position to have such a stupid, stupid 'plan' at all. He knew it was going to fall apart; he just hadn't really anticipated how.

It was a day like any other, and Desmond had just failed their third attempt at the first sky-god they were attempting to kill for one of his epic weapons for Corvus' thief class. He was playing it up a little more than he had to - sure the fights were hard, but if he'd actually been trying, they'd definitely have gotten it on the second attempt. It had been weeks since he'd last gotten off to Shaun telling him how worthless he was, though, and he'd had a rough shift at work last night, and... He just needed it. He needed to hear it, needed to get off to it, so he was wasting their time just for his own selfish desires. He felt bad about it, he really did, but he also didn't feel like he could stop at this point.

"What the hell is your problem?" Shaun snapped. "I know you can do this, so why are you wasting our time now?" He sounded truly offended, more bite to his voice than usual.

Rebecca sighed. "Here we go again. Shaun, cool it or whatever. Des? Maybe get some rest, you sound stressed," she offered, and Desmond huffed at her, but she logged off immediately.

"Yeah, sorry, I... I've had a rough night, I'm sorry," he added, and Shaun scoffed.

"Yeah, you're sorry alright," he agreed, and Desmond gave a shiver, felt his cock stiffen a little. "I honestly can't understand what your problem is-," he began, and another gusty sigh interrupted him - Lucy this time.

"Ugh, get it out of your system, then," she said. "Des, if you can't keep up with our schedule, let's talk about adjusting it," she offered, and Shaun immediately protested.

"Reschedule again? Does he not realize we all have jobs and responsibilities of our own?" he asked, and Lucy sighed again.

"Later, Shaun. Just... You don't have to stay and listen to him, Desmond," she said, and Desmond almost laughed, because he really, really did.

He huffed out a breath. "I know," he said. "I just... I hate wasting your time," he said, and that was honest, it was, because he did hate it. He just didn't know how to get this without doing it, though. His hand fumbled to his mic control and he flicked it, muting himself.

Shaun only snorted, and Lucy laughed a little. "Alright boys," she murmured, "Goodnight, and Shaun? Go easy on him," she added before she logged off as well.

"Easy on you, pfft," Shaun spat. "You always do this, Desmond - it happens so often that either you're a bigger idiot than I thought, or you're somehow smarter than I thought, and wasting our time for reasons I can't comprehend!"

Desmond only sighed at that, hand slipping downward to squeeze his stiff cock through his jeans. God, he was going to nut so fast tonight - he really needed this.

Shaun didn't miss a beat, too used to Desmond's silence throughout his rants. "These are basic concepts Desmond, you've put them into practice dozens of times by now, how could you fuck up this badly?"

Desmond moaned softly at that, squeezing himself harder, stroking roughly over his pants - he didn't think he'd even get a hand down them tonight, and the idea of coming in his pants was so dirty, so filthy - if Shaun knew, he'd get in trouble, he'd be told how bad he was...

Shaun was quiet for a moment, and Desmond blinked a few times, but didn't dare flick on his mic to say anything - he didn't want Shaun to get off track. Usually, Shaun worked himself up more and more into his rant, and then logged off at the end - he didn't usually stop to collect his thoughts.

"We can't keep doing this, Desmond," Shaun said, and his voice was more intense somehow, more direct than he usually was. "Something has got to give, because right now you're not worth all this trouble. You're constantly causing setbacks, costing me time and money that I shouldn't have to waste on you!"

Desmond was breathing faster, arching his back a bit, eyes closed. He wondered what Shaun looked like - he couldn't even picture him, not really, but he wasn't as young as Desmond was, he knew that. He wondered what Shaun would think if he knew what Desmond was doing, what his face would show if he could see Desmond as he was right now.

"So things are going to change, Desmond, I can guarantee it. As things stand right now, you're no longer worth my time -," Desmond gasped loudly at that, a thick blurt of precome soaking into his boxers and he squeezed his dick harder, bit his lip - "Not worth the time I spend, the money I waste," he paused there, and Desmond waited, breathless. "You're selfish, aren't you, Desmond?," he asked, and Desmond answered softly.

"Yeah," he breathed, groaning softly. Even though Shaun couldn't hear him, and he was alone, he never got very vocal - still too used to living with his family with barely any privacy at all.

"Greedy, selfish little thing. You think you're so special, but you're not really, are you?," Shaun continued. "You want our attention - or is it mine?," he asked. ("Yes!," Desmond breathed, hand moving faster over his cock, rough against his jeans. He almost always answered when Shaun asked him a question.) "It shouldn't have to be my job to do this every goddamn time, but here we are again - and you know why. But I'm not doing this anymore. I think I've figured out what I need to do, and things are going to change, Desmond. Because you're a selfish, greedy little shit, and you're not worth the time I've invested in you." His voice was hard and cold, and Desmond gasped out his name softly as he came in his pants, soaking through his boxers immediately and staining his jeans. He sat there panting, dazed - it was exactly what he needed, and Shaun, true to form, had logged out after he decided he was finished.

Once he'd caught his breath, he logged out and stripped and headed for a shower. He always felt somewhat hollow afterwards, but it didn't matter; the high of the shattering orgasms he had was worth it. But this time it was worse - Shaun said he wasn't going to do it anymore, and Desmond was too tired to work himself up into a panic, so all he could do was fall asleep with a heavy sense of dread hanging over him.

Chapter Text

The next morning, Desmond woke up to an e-mail alert from the forum the Assassins maintained for guild events and general chat. Shaun had PM'd him last night, and Desmond read the message before he even got out of bed. It wasn't long; Shaun said that it was obvious there was a pattern to Desmond's failures, and he was going to break it. He demanded Desmond's e-mail address, and said that he was going to send further instructions once he had it. That was it. Desmond lay there for a minute, but he was too curious not to agree. Besides, if Shaun had figured out his pattern and wasn't willing to rant at Desmond like that anymore, what did he have to lose? It felt too good to give up entirely, and if there was any way to preserve Shaun's scathing presence in his life, he'd do it.

So he sent a reply containing his e-mail address, and waited ten minutes. When he hadn't gotten either an acknowledgment in the forum or in his e-mail, he got up to start his day. He only had one class today, but he had a study group before work that was pretty important. He was too busy that day to obsess, thankfully. He didn't even get to check his e-mail until he'd gotten home, and there hadn't been a response yet. Disappointed, he went to bed again, but at least he didn't have the dread anymore. He had one class the next day, but it was his day off work, and he had an event with the guild that evening, a faction raid. He genuinely enjoyed those, but Shaun didn't always show up - Desmond wondered if he would tonight.

On his way home after class, however, he found he'd received an e-mail from Shaun - or at least, the e-mail address was the same as Shaun's screenname, so it was a reasonable assumption to make. The message was brief, with terse instructions telling Desmond to play the audio file he'd attached, that it would explain everything that Desmond needed to know. Desmond shivered a bit on the bus, because he wanted more than anything to listen to it then (and he could, he had headphones), but Shaun's voice provoked powerful responses in him and he didn't want to risk getting a stiffy on public transit. So he simply downloaded the file and waited.

Once he was home, however, he stripped down to boxers and a t-shirt. He had no idea what to expect, but it was Shaun, right? It was Shaun who was upset and disappointed with him, and... Hell, why hadn't Desmond ever considered recording his rants before? Especially that last one!

Desmond grabbed his headphones and lay on the bed, settling the buds into his ears and plugging them into the phone. He found the file in question, made sure he had a towel nearby, and pressed 'play'.

"Hello, Desmond," Shaun's voice started, cool and even. "I hope you're comfortable - you're probably going to want to be sitting down for this, at least." Desmond chuckled slightly, lips stretching into a smile. He was definitely comfortable. "Desmond, first off, I have to say, you're an idiot. A proper idiot. Did you think I wouldn't catch on? I knew for a little while that something was strange, but I didn't know exactly what - but I know now," he breathed, and Desmond stilled, heart speeding up. It sounded like - "I know, Desmond, what you've been doing. Why you've been fucking up so much and wasting all our time. You filthy little thing, you've been getting yourself off to my voice," he sneered, and Desmond stopped breathing even as his cock started filling out, reacting to the words he normally loved to hear in that scathing voice, that familiar accent. "I'd been suspicious, but I want you to know that you are the reason I found out. You got complacent, perhaps, or lazy, but it is your fault. I wonder, did you forget the switch on your microphone, or was it the option in the program? It hardly matters. I heard everything, Desmond, every dirty little moan, every time you caught your breath - I heard you call my name, Desmond, when you came," he said, and he still sounded unaffected, as calm as if he were talking about the weather. Desmond was panicking, but he couldn't stop listening. His hand was already squeezing his prick somehow, and he arched his back into the touch, into those words. For all that Shaun's tone sounded superior, he didn't really sound upset about the development.

"So we're going to have a conversation, soon. You've been extremely selfish and childish, wasting everyone's time because you're basically a slave to your baser instincts, but I understand you're young. You need a firm hand to show you the proper way of things, and lucky for you, I am entirely qualified to teach you. So we're going to play a different game, Desmond, and you're going to stop fucking up in AO. I'll outline the terms later, but to show you I'm quite serious about this, I'm going to give you a taste of what it is you seem to want."

Desmond was back to panting again; Shaun wasn't angry, he was offering something different! Desmond hadn't thought about Shaun's age in quite some time - it didn't come up often - but something about the way he spoke of this arrangement, a firm hand teaching him; it made him heat up, had him aching for touch.

"As I said, I listened to you. You gave away so much, in every wanton little sound, every gasp and answer you gave - and you always answered me, didn't you Desmond?" he asked, and Desmond actually gasped out an answer to that, yes, because he did, he'd always answered when Shaun talked to him. "You're going to answer me again, later. You've got a lot to answer for, haven't you?" Yes. "Months of our time wasted on fights you had no intention of learning, just so I would abuse you again, tell you what you needed to hear. And what was it you needed to hear?" he asked, and Desmond moaned. Tell me what I am. "You need to be told what you are: pathetic," he spat, and Desmond shuddered, dragging a hand over his nipple, eyes closed and pretending it wasn't his own. Yes! "Selfish and greedy, chasing after only your own pleasure in spite of how you've wasted our time. My time! I'm not going to let you get away with that, you know. I expect you to make it up to me. We'll have to talk about that later, though. You're too busy touching yourself right now, aren't you?" he asked, and Desmond moaned out his answer, because he was, he had been. "I know you are, you greedy little slut. But I'm giving this to you because I'm so kind, and I know you're too pathetic to focus on anything once your dick is in your hand. Once I have your full attention, then we'll talk - but you need to come first, don't you? You have no self control, just a slave to your worthless cock," he sneered, and Desmond stroked himself faster, bucked up into his hand. He should have lube, or spit, or anything - the rough drag of his palm against his dick wasn't entirely pleasant, but it was perfect all the same, because Shaun was talking about him, about his cock.

"Make noise for me, Desmond. Don't keep it in. I could tell you were being quiet - do you live with roommates? Family? Next time, I want to hear all of it, every pathetic little noise you wring from yourself to my voice - they're my sounds, aren't they? Because of me. So give them to me, Desmond, don't hold back. I don't care who hears you - if you're listening to this, it's because you couldn't wait to do this, to get off to me simply telling you the truth. If others hear you masturbating, then it's your own fault, isn't it? You brought this on yourself, and I want you to own it. Moan for me, Desmond," he ordered, and Desmond did, Desmond was. He didn't have roommates, but he'd lived with his family until just this year - old habits die hard and all that. "Unfortunately, this is a recording, and I won't be able to hear you this time. But you'll perform for me, won't you? You owe me, Desmond, and I am going to collect. For now, however, I bet you're quite hard, aren't you? You want to come? I have half a mind to tell you to stop, right now," and Desmond's hand actually stilled before he could even think about it, "but I won't. This isn't the time to teach you a lesson. This is a gift. So I want you to come. I want you to come because I told you to, Desmond, and because you know that you want to do as I say. You want to please me, don't you, Desmond?"

Desmond gasped out another shaky yes, because he did, he wanted that. He wanted Shaun to call him dirty and then clean him up afterwards - he'd never dared even complete that thought to himself before, but he wanted it fiercely.

"You can, Desmond, I think. If you try. I will give you that chance, to prove yourself to me. I know what you are, Desmond, a desperate, pathetic, selfish little slut - but it's okay. I like you like that. So go on. Come for me. Right now," he ordered, and Desmond did, with a wordless shout, come streaking up his chest all the way to his chin. He felt boneless after, weary and sated in a way that was new to him. He thought the recording had ended, actually, but as he caught his breath, he heard Shaun's voice again.

"Was that what you wanted?" he asked, and Desmond nodded - because he couldn't quite speak yet, but he always answered when Shaun asked a question. "I hope so. Now that you can hopefully reason again, here is my offer: If you can get through the next three fights with a win in four attempts or less, then I will call you, and we will have a discussion about setting up a permanent reward system. If you can't... Well, I don't think I'll even have to come up with something. I think, with the proper motivation, you can do this. For now, clean yourself up. Good evening, Desmond," he said, the file ended, and Desmond shivered. Shaun had said his name more often in that one recording than Desmond had ever heard before - and the way he'd said it made Desmond feel things he'd never felt before. He wasn't a virgin, but he'd never experienced anything as powerful as what he'd just felt - and it was only a recording!

He did as he'd been told, and pulled the earbuds from his ears and finally removed his shirt entirely and wiped himself down with it. He grinned his way through the shower - he could definitely make the fights in less than four attempts with that kind of incentive on the line! Unfortunately, that was 3 weeks worth of waiting, and likely no chance to get off to Shaun's voice in the meantime.

Well, he did have this recording...

Chapter Text

Now that he no longer had any need for pretense, Desmond applied himself eagerly to his time in Ascendant Online. He actually read up on the strategies beforehand, read the forums and talked to other players via the app on his phone when he had time. Shaun never once slipped, never let on that there's something else going on. Desmond actually doubted for a moment, the first time he talked to Shaun in Ventrilo again, because there wasn't even a hint of anything there when Shaun spoke to him. If it weren't for that recording (which Desmond listened to the instant they all logged off), he might have thought he'd imagined it. But the recording was real, and it was Shaun, so he just kept his thoughts to himself and tried not to give anything away.

Those three weeks were rough, and that was another clue that he couldn't be imagining things, because Shaun never missed an opportunity to be judgy and mean on the internet and in that time, he hadn't so much as even whispered an insult anywhere Desmond could hear him.

However, Desmond fulfilled the terms of their agreement - they had, every week, attempted a new (to him) boss fight of some kind (not always on Desmond's behalf - they all had needs in terms of drops for materials or pop items or quest items), and every week he secured the win in 3 tries or less, even better than Shaun's proposed limit. He always brushed off their praise, because he didn't need it - what he needed was to see if Shaun would hold up his end of the bargain. Shaun signed off as normal on that last day, with an odd new compliment to Desmond before he logged off - but he did log off, and there was no mention of a call or a follow-up or anything. Desmond was a little confused, but realized it was probably best to take such things off the team chat server.

Not even twenty minutes after Desmond logged, he received an e-mail from Shaun, demanding his phone number. Desmond sent the reply immediately; he'd made up his mind about this a long time ago, and he wasn't going to waste any time!

He waited ten minutes, growing increasingly agitated before he received a text from an unknown number. This is Shaun. I'm going to call you now. He barely had time to add the number to his contacts list before his phone rang with a call from his new contact. He answered immediately. "Hello?" he asked, with a little more caution than necessary.

"Desmond," Shaun replied, and Desmond relaxed, moving to sit on his bed. "So glad you could answer. We need to talk, don't we?" he asked, and Desmond nodded.

"Yeah," he agreed aloud, because of course Shaun couldn't see his nod.

"Good. I want to talk about what exactly it is you want from me," Shaun said, and Desmond took in a shaky breath, because he'd never actually said anything like this out loud before. "I can make some educated guesses, based on what I'd overheard. Did you like the recording?" he asked, and Desmond smiled.

"Y-yeah," he said. "A lot."

Shaun huffed a small laugh, smug somehow. "I thought you might. Did you touch yourself? Get off to it?"

"Yeah," Desmond repeated. "A lot."

Shaun laughed again, but it sounded more genuine. "Good. But I need to be clear on what you want and expect from this. I want to make sure that when I reward you, it is with what you deserve," he murmured. "You did very good these three weeks. I wasn't completely certain you could."

Desmond shivered a little at the praise - it was nice, and it felt good, but it wasn't what he wanted right now. "I had good incentive," he said. "I um... I like it when you, when you call me things," he said slowly.

"What things, exactly?" Shaun pressed.

Desmond swallowed. "Worthless. Stupid. Selfish. F-filthy. I liked that. ...Slut," he breathed. "Boy, too," he added after a moment.

"I wondered why you kept listening - I was half certain you muted me, and then just let me think you'd been listening," Shaun said, smirk obvious in his voice. "I hadn't expected this at all. And this is what you want?" he asked. "When you do good, you want me to tell you that you haven't? That you can't, because you're terrible and worthless?"

Desmond shivered and nodded again. "Yes," he breathed. "I... I liked when you told me what to do, too. Like I had to obey. I..." he began, but stopped, because it was all too real now, and Shaun still sounded unaffected - what if he laughed at this?

"Go on, Desmond," Shaun said; not quite soft, but not harsh, either.

"I do want to be good for you, but...I want you to be disappointed," he said. "I want... I don't know. I didn't know I wanted to be good for you until the recording, but... I still want you to say bad things to me," he murmured.

Shaun was silent for only a moment. "I think I understand," he said. "You do understand, however, we need to set up a safeword. This is not negotiable," he added sternly. "Mine will be 'antiquarian'."

"I understand," Desmond replied, and thought for a moment. "Um, mine will be 'terminal'."

"Perfect," Shaun replied, sounding pleased, and something inside Desmond perked up. "Now, do you want your reward now?" he asked. "This isn't going to be quite like the recording. I will want you to answer me, and do as I say. Do you understand?" he asked.

Desmond smiled. "Yeah."

"Did you answer me before? In the recording?" he pressed, and Desmond nodded again.

"I did, yeah," he replied.

"Good. That's a good habit to have. Now, are you alone?"

"I'm alone."

"You know it doesn't actually matter if you weren't," Shaun said. "You would have wanted your reward even if you were hiding in a corner just outside of class, wouldn't you, Desmond?" he asked in that tone, and Desmond's stomach tightened, his cock started to firm up.

"Yes," he breathed, eyes closing briefly as he pictured it. He would, he'd turn away and tuck the phone in his shoulder, and...

"Of course you would," Shaun sneered at him. "No self control, have you? A slave to your baser desires, aren't you?" he asked. Desmond shuddered again.

"Yes!" he agreed, instead, because he was. He wanted to protest, but he really couldn't.

"Take off your clothing, Desmond. Right now. You may put the phone down to do so, but you are to pick it up again immediately, do you understand?"

"Yes, Shaun," he said, and he did as he was told, setting the phone on the pillow before he pulled off his shirt, then tugged down his jeans and boxers, settling back on the bed and cradling the phone with his shoulder as his hands rubbed down his stomach towards his dick.

"I didn't say you could touch yourself!" Shaun snapped, and Desmond gasped, hands flying to the sheet beneath him instead. "I heard that, you fucking slut," he pressed, and Desmond squeezed his eyes shut, felt his blood rush through his veins. "You can't control yourself at all, can you?" Shaun murmured, sounding truly disappointed, and although Desmond felt his stomach drop slightly with the knowledge, his cock only grew harder. "You know, I know you can do well, Desmond, the fact that I'm talking to you at all is testament to that. But on your own? You can't be trusted. You have to be told, because you're a worthless idiot who thinks with his dick, isn't that right?" he asked, and Desmond couldn't stop the moan that left his mouth.

"Yes," he breathed softly, hands clenching into the sheets.

"Say it, Desmond," Shaun ordered.

"I'm... I'm a worthless idiot who thinks with my dick," he repeated, said dick now as hard as it could be, dribbling precome slowly onto his stomach.

"See? You can follow orders, if they're simple enough. Now, Desmond, if you can, I want you to play with your nipples," Shaun murmured. "Just pinch them a little, flick if you like."

Desmond did as he was told, panting a little. "Shaun," he breathed, and Shaun laughed, a cruel little thing.

"You're hard already, aren't you?" he asked.

"Yes," Desmond answered.

"Pathetic! We've barely started!" Shaun laughed again, and Desmond's stomach soon received another sticky blurt of precome. "Tell me, Desmond, is your little cock wet?" he asked, and Desmond arched his back at that, seeking any kind of friction.

"Yes!" he keened. "Yes, please, Shaun!"

"Oh, you poor thing. You're already begging, but you're not really good at that, either," he said. "I don't think you deserve to touch yourself just yet. Let's play a little game, Desmond, I want you to answer some questions for me, can you do that?"

"Yeah... yeah, I can!"

"How many times have you gotten off to my voice?"

"I don't know," he breathed, and it was the truth.

"You don't even know? My god, you little deviant. You filthy slut! How many times since I sent you that recording?"

"I, uh... I'm not sure," Desmond's hips were moving constantly now, but he obeyed Shaun's previous order, his hands stayed clenched in the bedding.

"Guess for me, try your best."

"I... t-ten or twelve," he panted.

"My, that would be impressive if it wasn't so pathetic," Shaun laughed at him again, and Desmond whimpered. He hadn't imagined it would be like this, that this could feel so good, and all Shaun was doing was talking to him!

"Do you imagine me touching you, Desmond?" he asked.

"Sometimes," he answered.

"I don't know if I would," he murmured. "You'd have to be very, very good to earn that, and I'm not sure you could. You have such trouble with everything. Then again... Have you touched yourself yet?" he asked.

"No, you haven't said I could," he breathed. "Please, Shaun."

"I like how you sound like that. Breathless. Eager. Pathetic. You're on the edge already, aren't you? Balls tight with the need to come, isn't that right?"

"Yes! Shaun, I'm so close! Please let me touch my dick!"

"I'm not sure that's even necessary. I bet you could come just from my voice - and... Well, maybe if you can't, you don't get to come at all. I think that's fair. Don't you?"

"Shaun, please let me come!"

"Answer the question, Desmond. Do you think that's fair?"

"I don't know!" he whined. He was so close, he couldn't think about anything but coming now, hips moving frantically, but still with no friction. His cock bobbed even as it was spitting out more precome, striping and pooling on his stomach, in his bellybutton.

"Oh, look at you, so desperate to come you can't even think straight," Shaun teased. "What a worthless little whore you are, no good for anything until your pathetic little prick is satisfied. It can't take much, I bet. This is only your first reward, so I'm going to be generous with you, Desmond, even though you don't deserve it. You may turn over onto your stomach and you may frot against your bed. I want to hear you, so make it a good show for me, alright?"

Desmond breathed out a fervent thank you as he turned over, made sure to keep the phone at his ear as he thrust against the sheets. "Fuck, oh god, Shaun," he breathed.

"That's it, keep going like the mindless little fuckslave that you are. I want to hear you come for me, Desmond. I want you to call my name again like you did when I first caught you at your dirty little game," he ordered, but he had only barely finished the statement before Desmond was crying out Shaun's name and finally coming all over his sheets, hips rutting frantically until he finally stilled, panting.

It took him a little while to come back to himself, actually. Shaun was silent, and Desmond actually pulled the phone away to check that the call was still connected. "Shaun?" he asked quietly.

"Desmond," Shaun answered, and though his voice was softer, he sounded just as unaffected as he had been when he'd been ordering Desmond to come on his bed. "How are you feeling?" he asked, and Desmond smiled.

"Good," he breathed. "Really good. That was... That was good." He felt lame, but he also felt hollow; emptied and cleaned out, like that orgasm had just taken everything out of him.

"Good. You did very well, Desmond. I want you to rest a little bit longer, alright? I should have made you get a glass of water first and set it nearby, but we'll do that next time, won't we?" he asked.

Desmond smiled. "Next time?" he asked perking up a little.

"Presuming you perform well, of course," Shaun answered.

"Did uh... do you..." Desmond began, not sure how to ask if Shaun was into this as well, if he'd come.

"We can talk about that next time," Shaun said, and that was enough for the moment. His voice remained gentle, almost soothing. It made Desmond feel warm somehow. "For now, I want you to go get some water, and take a shower. Change your sheets. I'll see you on Wednesday for our turn in the arena battle. I'll e-mail you further details about our schedule, alright?"

Desmond smiled. "Yeah, that'll work," he murmured, and Shaun laughed quietly.

"I'll talk to you later, then."

"Bye, Shaun."

"Goodnight, Desmond."

========

Very quickly, Desmond had settled into a new routine. Every Sunday night, after a successful event, or fight, or whatever was on that day's agenda, Desmond would get a call from Shaun, and a very intense reward. They texted occasionally, but while they spoke on Ventrilo with the team often, their phone calls were reserved for Desmond's 'rewards'.

Only once had they failed to complete a fight (and it was one that was new to the girls, as well - only Shaun had completed it successfully with a different group), and Desmond did receive a call that night that went a little different: he hadn't been allowed to come. Shaun had brought him to the very edge of orgasm, then made him take his hands off his aching cock and breathe until he'd relaxed away from orgasm, and then had bid him a good night, with stern orders not to touch himself any further, that he wasn't allowed to come.

It had been hell, honestly, but Shaun had made it clear that Desmond didn't have to obey him outside of the phone calls. But Desmond had; he hadn't touched himself at all that night. He'd gotten himself off in the shower the next morning, of course, but he'd obeyed Shaun all the same. He'd texted Shaun to that effect, and Shaun had only sent back a smirking emoji in return.

Things followed that pattern for a few months, and as Desmond's semester ended, he had a lot more free time than before - much of which was spent in-game, levelling new jobs or playing in the free events. Shaun didn't join him often in either the free events or grinding levels on jobs, but he'd sometime drop in Ventrilo, and they'd chat there for a bit. It was strange how different Shaun was like this - in the game, he complained like he always had, but in their phone calls, he was definitely in control, wielding authority over Desmond like he was used to being obeyed. Desmond still didn't know if Shaun got off to this - he had had the courage to ask only once after that first call, and Shaun had avoided answering quite expertly. Desmond hadn't asked again.

He couldn't decide which answer he'd prefer, anyway. He liked the idea of Shaun jerking off to him, making himself come to the sounds he pulled from Desmond while he said the nastiest things to him. On the other hand, though, the idea that the whole situation was just a business transaction to Shaun, that he reveled in the power he had over Desmond without an ounce of actual, physical interest... That made him tingle a bit, too.

Desmond constantly wondered what Shaun looked like, how old he really was, what subject he taught (he only knew that Shaun was a professor of some kind) - he thought about the man a lot more than he probably should, considering they'd never actually met in person. But Shaun had directly given him more orgasms than anyone else ever had - and they weren't even in a relationship! Desmond wasn't unhappy with the situation, but he wasn't quite satisfied, either (except in the thoroughly physical sense).

Still, despite his preoccupation with thoughts of Shaun, it was Shaun who asked for more first. One night after Desmond was panting softly, phone resting on his shoulder and come striping his torso, Shaun hummed thoughtfully, a sound he rarely made.

"What is it?" Desmond asked, rousing himself a bit. That orgasm had been very spectacular.

"I'm not certain I should ask," Shaun answered. "But, I wonder - would you consider sending a picture of yourself right now? Whatever you're comfortable with is fine - if you don't want to show your face, perhaps just a picture of the mess you've made?" he asked.

Desmond laughed softly. "So you do get off on it, then?" he asked, and Shaun sighed a bit, though he didn't sound truly annoyed.

"Do you honestly think I'd keep doing it if I weren't getting something out of this, Desmond? Use your brain, honestly."

"Well, you have gotten your latest cowl, hadn't you?" Desmond replied, smirking. He knew he'd do it, though. He wanted Shaun to see the mess he'd made, so he picked the phone up and snapped a quick picture of his chest and belly - streaked with come, his spent cock laying along his thigh - and sent it to Shaun. He heard Shaun's notification (not a default tone, though he couldn't quite place what it was), and he listened closer, wondered if Shaun would make a noise at all, if he'd try to stifle it.

He heard the strange static-y noise that indicated the phone was moving - and just after, only because he'd been listening for it, a sharp indrawn breath, followed by the softest little 'fuck'. Desmond grinned, let out the breath he hadn't quite realized he'd been holding; Shaun wasn't as unaffected by this as he liked to appear.

"Very good, Desmond," Shaun finally said, though it was a little shakier than he'd ever sounded before. "You can rest assured I'll keep your photo private - anything you care to share with me will always be kept private," he added.

"I trust you," he said, and he could have sworn he'd heard Shaun suck in a quick breath at that admission.

"Thank you," Shaun said, after a moment. "Clean yourself up, Desmond. I will talk to you again soon," he promised, before he hung up. Desmond hummed quietly to himself as he set the phone down. He couldn't wait to see what would happen next.

Chapter Text

Soon, pictures became part of their new routine - almost always afterwards, Shaun would request a picture be sent to him, but sometimes he'd make Desmond stop and send him a photo of himself, hard and aching for release. Desmond loved it - Shaun always told him how much he enjoyed the photos, and it made Desmond hot to think of Shaun looking at them later, getting himself off to the sight and memory of Desmond's pleasure.

As far as Desmond was aware, Shaun had yet to come while on the phone with him - he was very good at disguising his arousal, even, but Desmond had gotten pretty good at listening for the signs; an in-drawn breath here, a soft groan there, the warmth in his voice when he told Desmond he was a good boy. There were small signs to indicate Shaun's pleasure, but it was never obvious - Desmond had to wait for them, hoard them.

Desmond couldn't help but want more, but he didn't push for it. He wasn't even sure if he even had time for more - finals were coming up, and he had a lot of studying to do. He'd maintained his grades and his job and the game without issue so far, but he didn't want anything to upset the balance. Because they talked in-game about things in their lives, Shaun knew that he was stressed, and their little sessions soon became twice a week instead of only once, after a successful new victory (and 'new' had sort of fallen out of use as a requirement - they sometimes had to repeat fights to farm materials, and Shaun rewarded him then, too, anyway).

After he finished his finals, Shaun suggested something new. He wanted to reward Desmond, but it would involve an escalation of their little game. He wanted to use Skype, so he could watch Desmond - but Desmond wouldn't be able to see him.

"But why not?" Desmond asked.

"Those are my terms, Desmond," Shaun answered, calm but firm. "If you don't wish to do it, just say so."

Desmond was silent, though, because the idea intrigued him. He wasn't ashamed of himself - he knew he was good-looking, and although he hadn't slept with anyone since he and Shaun had started their 'game', it wasn't for lack of offers. He just couldn't imagine anyone else leaving him nearly as satisfied. He'd never asked Shaun if he was seeing or sleeping with anyone else, and he couldn't quite dare to - it wasn't like he was interested in a relationship or anything, he just wasn't, okay, he was just curious. If Shaun was seeing someone, or sleeping with them, it was with the most permissive person in the world, since Shaun played the game nearly every night, and was ordering Desmond into orgasms twice a week.

"That's not a no," Shaun prompted, and Desmond sighed.

"I just... I want to see you, too," he said, trying not to sound petulant.

"That is my 'no'." Shaun's voice was firm - he wasn't going to budge on this, and Desmond had known it from his tone the first moment Shaun had suggested it, but... He couldn't help at least trying!

"Then... If you could see me... I'd want you to tell me what you'd do to me, if you were here," he said, finally, because he was going to get something from this new arrangement! Well, besides a spectacular orgasm; Shaun hadn't failed to deliver one yet.

Shaun was silent a moment, then hummed thoughtfully. "I think that can be arranged," he said. "You want me to tell you how pretty you are, Desmond? I should have known; you are a needy little thing," he murmured, and Desmond shivered.

"Fuck, okay," he said. "Okay. I'll text you my Skype name, just one second," he growled, booting up his laptop. Despite all the pictures he'd sent, none of them had been of his face at all - this would be a huge step in their not-relationship, and an incredibly unbalanced one. Shaun had never sent a picture back, and Desmond had only ever asked once.

"Good boy," Shaun praised, and Desmond growled, annoyed that he could already feel himself respond to the words, the tone of Shaun's voice.

As he updated Skype (he never used the damn program), he pulled the phone away from his ear to text his screenname to Shaun. "Alright, done," he said. He checked his camera after he logged in, made sure the angle showed him in his computer chair (and glanced at the room behind him on his screen to make sure his room wasn't too messy), then nodded to himself. He was as ready as he'd ever be.

"Got it. I want you to stay on the line," he said. "I'll tell you when you can hang up. I'm going to call you on Skype now," he added, just before the call appeared on his screen, from Lord_Fawkes. Shaun was certainly consistent.

Desmond accepted the call, phone still held to his ear. "Hello?" he asked, just to test the connected.

"Perfect," Shaun said. "I can hear you just fine - but you should hook headphones into your computer - I wouldn't want you to miss anything," he murmured, and Desmond grumbled. He found a pair in a desk drawer and plugged them in. He stuck an earbud in his free ear.

"Got it," he said.

"Good. You may hang up the phone now, and you may turn your camera on," Shaun ordered, and Desmond did. He set his phone on the desk, and enabled his camera - as he expected, Shaun didn't enable his, but Desmond could see himself in the corner of his own screen, exactly what Shaun would be seeing.

Desmond wasn't sure he was supposed to hear the soft 'Holy shit' that Shaun breathed out, but he had, and it made him smile. Which, of course, was a mistake, because Shaun could see him - Desmond had just enabled Shaun to see him - and Shaun laughed. "Someone thinks highly of themselves," he said, not as sharp as he could have.

"C'mon, you do, too," Desmond murmured, smiling again.

"I'm glad you agreed," Shaun said, which wasn't an agreement to Desmond's statement, except that it was. "I won't have any trouble keeping up my end of the bargain," he murmured, and Desmond groaned, closing his eyes. "Yes, just like that," Shaun added. "You want me to tell you what I'd do with you if I were there, inside your room with you."

"Yes," Desmond breathed, smile still stretching across his face.

"First, I'd want to see you," he said, then tutted as Desmond moved, intending to take off his shirt. "Keep your hands at your sides for now, just listen to me. You're very fit, Desmond. Athletic," he noted. "Could you strip for me? Make it sexy?"

"I.. yes," Desmond answered. "I could strip to any music you wanted."

Shaun laughed at that, husky and warm. "Have experience at that, do you?" he asked, and Desmond only grinned wider, though he kept his eyes closed.

"Actually, yeah," he said.

"Interesting," Shaun murmured. "I might take you up on that sometime. For now, go ahead and remove your shirt."

Desmond didn't hesitate, didn't remove it slowly or teasingly, he just ripped it off and returned to his previous position, hoping his stupid fumbling with the earbuds didn't look too stupid.

"Good boy. Look at you, all tense. I want to touch you, Desmond. I want to run my hands down your neck, across your shoulders, down your chest and stomach," he breathed. "Down your back - I'd love to have you laying beneath me, all that skin at my fingertips." Desmond's heart sped up, along with his breathing, and he felt a flush creep up his chest.

"Do it for me, Desmond. Touch yourself. Start at your neck and work downwards. Pinch your nipples for me when you get to them," he ordered, and Desmond obeyed, hands going a little slower than he'd personally like, but how he imagined Shaun would touch him - it was strange to think that, though, so unless Shaun told him to do it differently, that's just what he'd do. "Good, good," Shaun murmured. "You look good like that. I want to kiss you," he added. "God I bet you'd taste good. You'd open so easily for me, wouldn't you, Desmond?" he asked, and Desmond opened his mouth to answer, and moaned instead.

"Yes," he breathed, a second later. "Yes!"

"I knew you would," Shaun said approvingly. "I'd have you on your back first, I think, just so I could touch and taste to my heart's content. I'd love to tie you up, keep you helpless - you're so eager, and I appreciate that, but I'd want you to focus on me entirely, to be unable to give in to your own body's desires. I'd probably blindfold you as well, if only so you don't know where my next touch will be," he added, and Desmond nodded, eyes still closed as he tried to picture it. All he could picture were disembodied hands, because he had no idea what Shaun looked like - even the hands weren't distinctive, but they were touching him, at least. "Go on, remove your pants," Shaun ordered, and Desmond lifted his hips enough to pull both his shorts and his underwear down, cock springing free and slapping against his stomach, every bit as eager as Shaun had said he was.

"Look at you," Shaun murmured. "So hard for me, aren't you Desmond?"

"Yes!"

Shaun chuckled again. "Don't touch yourself there, just let me look a moment at you. You're so gorgeous like this, flushed and ready. I'd want to taste you, Desmond, all of you." Desmond groaned at that hand inching towards his cock before he remembered and put it back on the armrest - his dick twitched visibly, he could feel it, and Shaun laughed. "Yes, even your eager little prick. I'd love to have it in my mouth, sliding over my tongue - how fast could I make you come like that, I wonder?" Desmond didn't have an answer, but his cock drooled a bit of precome in response. "It wouldn't be your only orgasm, though - if I were there, Desmond, and you were at my mercy, I'd make you come until I was finished. I'd swallow it all, and let you taste it when I kissed you after." Desmond was panting now, hips moving slowly, cock bobbing with the movements.

"I said all over, though, didn't I? I'd want to eat you out, too. Spread your legs and lick along your pretty little hole.... can you show it to me, Desmond?" he asked, and Desmond tried - the armrests in the chair made it hard, but he managed well enough, he thought. Shaun certainly seemed appreciative, letting out one of his rare, heartfelt groans. "Fuck, Desmond, you're beautiful like that, all spread out for me. Look at you, god, you need to be filled, don't you?"

"Yes, please, Shaun!" Desmond panted.

"Very well. Get your lube, then, and your favorite dildo. If I were there, I'd stretch you, slowly, but I'll settle for watching you do it for me."

Desmond took a deep, shaky breath before he got up to do as he was told. It didn't take long, and in a few moments, he was seated in his chair again, dildo resting on the desk beside his laptop and earbuds back in his ears. He spread some lube along his fingers and leaned back, spread his legs again and slid a finger along his hole; Shaun's loud groan was gratifying.

"You look so good like that, Desmond," he said, and Desmond could hear how interested Shaun really was in this, in him. "Go on, push your finger inside, slowly," he ordered, and Desmond obeyed. Shaun made him work himself open much more slowly than Desmond usually managed - it was as frustrating as it was arousing.

"Please, Shaun!" he panted, fingers sliding in and out of himself in an achingly slow rhythm.

"Please, what?" Shaun asked, back to his infuriating calm. "What do you want permission for?"

"God, fuck, let me come!" he begged, almost having forgotten Shaun could even see him right now.

"And how do you want to come? Right now on your fingers? Or fucking yourself with your toy?"

Desmond groaned. "I... I want to fuck myself. I want to pretend it's your cock," he breathed. He couldn't help his slight smirk when he heard Shaun's desperate groan. "I wish I could see it, I bet it's perfect," he added. "I want to feel the stretch, imagine it's you inside me, filling me up."

"You filthy fucking boy," Shaun hissed. "Very well, get your toy. You can pretend it's me if you like - I know you've done it before, haven't you?" he asked, though they both knew the answer.

"Yes!" Desmond panted, slicking the toy up eagerly and leaning back so he could ease it in as quickly as he dared. The stretch was amazing, and Shaun's breathing grew heavy and fast in his ear. "God, yes, I imagine you all the time. I wish I knew what your hands looked like, so I could picture them holding me down," he continued, since Shaun hadn't said anything. "Or your legs, so I could picture what you want me to rub against - what I'd like to rub off on as I suck your dick."

"Shut up, Desmond!" Shaun growled. "Stop talking! If you must speak, you may only say my name!" He sounded almost genuinely angry, which confused Desmond, but he could also barely hear the sounds of Shaun fisting his own cock in time with Desmond's desperate thrusting of the toy into his own ass, so that was something he'd have to think about later.

"Fuck, yes!" Desmond agreed, not quite able to stick to Shaun's instructions. "Shaun, fuck." He was always grateful, afterwards, that he lived on his own, and that he could be as loud as he wanted - and he was loud today, because it was so good, knowing that Shaun was watching, knowing that Shaun was getting off to him. "Fuck, I'm gonna come, Shaun, can I come?" he begged - he was so close he didn't think he'd be able to stop himself, however, if Shaun should tell him no.

"Yes, Desmond, come. Come for me, now!" he urged, breathing harder than ever, the sounds of his masturbation much more clear now. "Fuck, Des," he breathed, so quiet Desmond wasn't sure he was supposed to hear it.

"Shaun!" Desmond cried out, arching his back as he thrust the toy in a few last, urgent motions - he tensed, and then his cock, thus far untouched, twitched hard and began spurting all over his chest and stomach, until Desmond finally collapsed back in the computer chair and pulled the toy out of himself gingerly. "Fuck," he panted, a lazy smile making it's way across his face.

It was silent on the line for a few moments - too silent. He was about to mention it, when he heard the soft click that indicated that a muted line had been reverted. "Good boy," Shaun said, warm and firm like he always was - no longer breathing hard, no strain at all in his voice. Desmond couldn't help but frown at that, because he'd been certain of what he'd heard earlier, but Shaun sounded like he always had, calm and even. His next words, however, came out almost hesitant. "That was very, very good, Desmond. If I were there, I'd lick you clean, then take you to bathe," he said quietly, then took a deep breath. "You should clean yourself up, take a nice long shower, and then relax for a bit," he murmured. "I hope you enjoyed your reward. Good night," he said, and he ended the call. Seconds later, he logged off.

Desmond couldn't help but feel a little hollow, and a little sad. As he cleaned himself up, he thought about the next time, because he was always thinking about the next time. But things couldn't go on like they have, not anymore. Desmond wanted more, and if Shaun couldn't or wouldn't give it to him, then he'd have to break it off.

He was very quickly getting in too deep.

Chapter Text

Desmond didn't want to miss their in-game appointments, but neither was he ready to talk to Shaun yet, even if they never spoke of their own private games when they were playing Ascendant Online. So he showed up to their next scheduled event (a faction raid), but even the girls noticed he wasn't into it. He just claimed he wasn't feeling great, and they broke a little earlier than usual. Before he went to bed, Shaun texted him.

Get some rest. Take care of yourself.

Desmond grunted and backed out of the message - he didn't want to be reminded of Shaun right now. But he had to figure out what he was going to do! He'd barely thought of anything else since their Skype session, but he had no concrete plan of attack, hadn't even come to a full decision. He wasn't even one hundred percent sure what the question even was.

He wanted a little more balance in their 'relationship', he knew that much. He couldn't really ask for exclusivity, since they weren't even in a romantic relationship. He did want something, however, something to prove that Shaun was as invested in this as he was - and a picture was at least a great start. So the next two nights (not game nights), he thought about how he was going to ask for that, and if he could present it as an ultimatum and then follow through - and worse, if Shaun refused and Desmond did follow through and break off their bargain... Could he continue playing AO? Desmond knew he couldn't. He'd miss the girls, and the game, but he'd have a lot more free time. Time he could use to find someone who would give him what he wanted. He'd found Shaun, hadn't he? There had to be others!

The thing was, he didn't want to lose this thing with Shaun, not at all. But... he also knew he couldn't continue like he had been. He had some of the recordings, and some great memories, but he deserved to be getting what he wanted, too. And if Shaun couldn't or wouldn't compromise...

It was hard to think about, but he'd have to move on.

Now that he had a plan, he logged in to their normal Thursday night session with the focus that he'd been lacking the previous night he'd played. It wasn't a static night, just a hang-out night, but it had been one of his and Shaun's regular phone call nights. Shaun, for his part, acted as he always had when the girls were around - a little judgy, a little snarky, and a lot funny. Desmond was reminded again of just how much he liked Shaun; he liked their banter over all sorts of topics, liked listening to Shaun's stories about his and Rebecca's antics when they were younger, and just... He just liked him! That was dangerous, he knew, but it was also impossible to avoid.

After logging for the night, he stripped down to his boxers and lay in bed, waiting for Shaun's phone call. Typically, it came between ten and twenty minutes after they logged off, and tonight the call was almost precisely ten minutes after he'd turned off his computer.

"Hey Shaun," Desmond murmured, relaxing back into his pillows.

"Desmond," Shaun said. "How are you feeling?"

"I'm doing good. Really good, actually. You?"

"Very well," Shaun replied. "What are you in the mood for tonight? You seemed a bit keyed up earlier."

"Well, about that. I want something different," he murmured. "I want... Shaun, I want more," he said flatly. It had kind of rushed out of him, but he couldn't take it back now.

There was a beat of silence, then Shaun responded. "More in what way?" he asked, his voice cautious. Desmond had a feeling he was treading on very thin ice.

"It depends on what you're comfortable giving me," he said. "I... I want to see you, Shaun. I already think about you a lot - I imagine you a lot, and I'd like to actually have something to visualize when I do," he said quietly. "Not just like what I'd talked about before," he added, then bit his lip so he wouldn't babble.

"Not just like that?" Shaun asked, so carefully.

"No, not just like that," Desmond agreed. "I know you don't want me to see your face, so... I won't ask for that. I just... things aren't even right now. I know they haven't ever really been, but... I can't... Shaun," he said, breathing a little faster, because he was losing the thread. He'd practiced this in his head, but it wasn't coming out right!

"Hey, hey, Desmond, breathe," Shaun tried, keeping his voice calm and steady. "Breathe for me, Desmond," he repeated. "Good. Good. Now, you're right. That was... That was intense, Desmond, and I apologize. I hadn't really been prepared for it, either," he said quietly. "But I enjoyed it very much. Did you?"

"Yes! You know I did! I just... I want to know you enjoy it, too," he said quietly. "I want to know if I've made you come." It wasn't just that, but it was a start, at least.

Shaun, for his part, chuckled softly at him. Desmond couldn't help but smile at the sound, because it was so warm, and it always made him feel good when he managed it, as rare as it was. "Oh, Desmond," Shaun said. "You have, you absolutely have. But... If you're serious about that request... Then I can compromise," he murmured. "I will send you pictures - at my discretion - and," he hesitated a moment, "You have to let me have a turn taking care of you," he said, and if Desmond didn't know better, he'd have thought Shaun was the one that sounded uncertain and rushed there, like he was suggesting something wild.

"What do you mean?" he asked.

"I mean that I don't... I don't always want to be cruel to you, Desmond. I love it, believe me I do, but sometimes... Sometimes I just want to take care of you. I want to tease you, gently and slowly, until you're begging for more. I want to bring you to the point of tears without ever having raised my hand or voice, without harshness or pain." His voice, as he spoke, was so gentle, and Desmond shivered in response to all of it. He'd wanted that, too, but hadn't ever thought Shaun did, or could, or would.

"Yes," he breathed, too quickly. "Yes, Shaun, please, I want that too!"

"You do," Shaun replied, too flatly to be a question.

"Yes! I just... I thought... sometimes, after I've come and I'm breathing hard, you tell me... You say 'good boy', and I like that. I want to please you too, Shaun. I like it when you tell me to take care of myself, to clean myself, and stay hydrated, and wish me a good night. Sometimes," he began, and took a deep breath, "Sometimes I wished you'd stay on the line and just talk to me until I fell asleep."

Shaun laughed again, louder this time, but no less warm. "Oh Desmond, you idiot. We're both idiots. We can do that."

"Can I hear you come?" Desmond asked, and he heard Shaun's soft groan.

"Yes, Desmond," he breathed. "Yes."

"Tonight?" Desmond asked, eager again now that the heavy weight of doubt had been lifted.

Shaun chuckled. "Not like usual, I should think," he replied. "Instead," he began, then hesitated so long Desmond almost spoke aloud to prompt him, "Instead, why don't we do something else?," he finished after a moment. "Hold a sec, Des," he said, and Desmond did, frowning softly as he heard rustling on the line - it sounded like Shaun might be getting more comfortable, perhaps. He was still concentrating on making out the sounds on the line when his phone notification sounded, loud against his ear. He pulled back the phone, curious, and saw that he'd received a media message from Shaun.

"No way," he breathed, and scrambled to unlock his phone and view the image. It was exactly as he'd hoped, an honest-to-god dick pick from Shaun. Part of him doubted, given Shaun's extreme avoidance of any photographic evidence before, but the majority of him devoted itself to memorizing the details of the photo. The cock in the picture was pleasantly thick, and judging by the hand curled around the base, of slightly longer than average length. "Fuck," he breathed softly, turned on beyond measure. The treasure trail that led under the wrist was dark and thick, with what was possibly a reddish tint. "Oh god," he couldn't help but murmur. He wanted that dick in his mouth, had to swallow against the rush of saliva that followed that realization.

He could hear, suddenly, Shaun's voice coming from his phone - it sounded like he'd been trying to get Desmond's attention for a moment or two.

"Uh, yeah?" he asked, once he had the phone at his ear. "Sorry, I uh, kinda zoned out for a moment."

Shaun laughed again, softly. "I figured it really is only fair, and... maybe we can turn it around - maybe you can tell me what you'd like to do to me, if I were there," he said.

"God, I'd be on my knees so fast," he panted softly, already palming at his dick.

"You don't have to-"

Desmond laughed. "I don't think you understand how much I love sucking dick, man," he breathed. "I wish I could somehow be staring at it while I talk to you, because you've got a glorious cock." He groaned as he shoved his boxers down, hand curling around his cock and stroking slowly.

"Oh, well then. Please continue."

"Yeah, I'd be on my knees," he repeated. "I'd run my hands over it, first, feel it trapped by your clothing, but I'd never manage to savor it. I'd have you in the open as soon as I could, and I'd try to pace myself, stroke it a few times, but I'd probably have your dick in my mouth in less than a minute after you arrived," he murmured. "Fuck, I wanna taste it, Shaun," he panted.

Shaun groaned. "You can, it's all for you," he breathed. "God, I'm so hard for you."

"Fuck. I'm - I'm good at sucking dick. I don't know if I could describe what I do, because I kind of zone out - it's just the weight of it, the taste of it, the hot, hard feel of it on my tongue, stretching my lips and jaw," he panted, jacking his cock faster now. "I can come from just giving head, you know," he added, and Shaun made a desperate, choking noise.

"Really?" he asked.

"Oh yeah. Sometimes I gotta touch myself, but I've nutted in my pants before just from sucking someone off. I really love it," he murmured. "I'd like to be naked, I think, and you in your clothes in front of me. You could put your hands in my hair, fuck my mouth," he added. "I love that, being used like that. Fuck!" he gasped again, bucking into his own touch now. "Would you like that, Shaun? Me on my knees for you, desperate for your cock?"

"Yes, god, yes I would," Shaun answered. "I'd want to see all of you, I'd love to have you naked for me, so desperate you can't even wait for me to strip anything at all off."

"I am, fuck, I wanna taste you so bad," Desmond moaned. "Just the idea has me so close. Would you come in my mouth? Let me taste it, make me take it? Or would you come all over my face?" he asked, and Shaun groaned like he was dying.

"I can't say," he panted after a moment. "Perhaps both, start in your mouth and pull out and finish on your face," he breathed. "You can come now, Desmond, fuck!" he gasped, desperate and breathless. "God, Desmond," he breathed before moaning again, loudly at first, then gentling into soft little sighs.

Desmond realized he'd just heard Shaun come, and that was all he needed. With a shout of Shaun's name, he was coming all over his hand and stomach and chest. "Mmmm," he breathed, so satisfied he almost felt boneless.

Shaun chuckled. "Good boy," he breathed, and Desmond sighed softly, somehow relaxing even further.

"Yeah?" he asked.

"Yeah. C'mon, gorgeous, send me my picture. I'll even send one in return," he said, and Desmond's heart sped up a bit. He grabbed his phone and snapped his pic, splaying one hand on his come-streaked stomach, and sent it to Shaun.

Not a moment later, he got one in return - the room was dark, so it wasn't a good shot, but it wasn't of Shaun's spent dick, like Desmond sent. Oh, no, it was a shot of what had to be Shaun's face - the lower portion of it, anyways, with stubble on his chin and a wicked mouth licking come-covered fingers. Desmond shuddered at the sight of it, arousal washing through him with nowhere to go; he was too sated.

"Oh my god," he gasped. "Fuck, Shaun." He couldn't say anything else, though, struck speechless. Everything about the picture was amazing: the stubble had a reddish tinge in the flash, and a few stray grey hairs; the hand well-formed and attractive; the mouth positively sinful, tongue curling slightly over the first digit. "Thank you," he breathed, and Shaun laughed again, warm and slow.

"You're quite welcome, pet. A reward for both of us, I should think. Now, I want you to clean yourself off - just wipe, no shower just yet. Just stay and listen for a little while, alright?" he asked, and Desmond smiled and nodded, before he realized Shaun couldn't hear him.

"Alright," he agreed aloud after only a moment.

He wasn't sure what he was expecting, but it wasn't for Shaun to be almost silent and only hear the clicking of a keyboard. It was oddly calming, though, and with closed eyes, he could almost pretend Shaun was there, in the same room, just out of reach. Shaun would hum or sip at something occasionally, and Desmond fell asleep just like that, between one keystroke and the next.

When he woke up, the call had been disconnected, but the call time was over an hour and a half.

Chapter Text

Once again, their game took a shift. Desmond still didn't dare call it a relationship, because no promises of exclusivity had been exchanged, and no feelings admitted to. Desmond knew how he felt, though, and he had a feeling Shaun was holding himself back. The situation was something he could deal with, at least, because they were communicating a little better, he thought.

Not just literally, although that was also true. Shaun had taken to sending Desmond pictures, and not always around their sessions. Sometimes he sent them even on a day they hadn't had one. Sometimes, they were accompanied by something he called 'giving Desmond something to think about,' and boy, was he.

The first was just a picture of a tie, just a plain blue tie. It had a muted pattern Desmond couldn't make out, but it was clutched in a loosely clenched fist. It had come with just a single line detailing that such a tie had many uses - to bind eyes or hands, or to gag a too-eager mouth. It had come two days after their hour and a half long phone call, in the morning just as Desmond was finishing breakfast. He went and jerked off, imagining those hands securing him with just silk ties. He texted Shaun a thank you, though, and hoped desperately it would happen again.

It did.

There wasn't a pattern he could discern in the pictures - not all of them were overtly sexual, and not all of them included a caption. He couldn't choose a favorite, but there were a few that he returned to often: one shot of Shaun's hands, affixing a watch to his wrist; one of Shaun's trouser-clad crotch, erection straining the fabric; one of his leg, neatly pressed pants lifted slightly, revealing a patterned sock in dull colors and sensible loafers. Desmond found the last one unbearably erotic, because he knew why Shaun had sent it; Desmond was to imagine rutting against that leg, to think of that shoe pressing against his desperate erection - and he did so, eagerly and often. Shaun had a knack for sending innocent pictures that evoked powerful responses in Desmond, sometimes to Desmond's own surprise, like the watch picture. (He often imagined the watch was being removed in that picture, because Shaun was about to spank him with those. Hands.)

Desmond sometimes sent pictures in return, but he usually settled for sending a description of the fantasy that picture inspired. Sometimes they spoke of it in their calls. It just became a new routine for him. Or, for both of them, he supposed.

It was strange, though, because he was actually content with things as they were. Sure, he wanted to maybe talk about more at some point in the future. But for right now, he was doing well in his summer classes, he loved his job, and he found fulfillment in the game and with Shaun - it all balanced so easy now, and it was hard not to think of Shaun as a fixture in his life.

He knew that that wasn't really the case, though - he did, because of that almost disastrous conversation following their Skype session. He still felt that Shaun held all the power here, mostly because Desmond knew how he felt, knew what he wanted, but he had no idea what Shaun wanted. At any point, Shaun could get tired of playing with a kid, and go find someone to really settle down with.

Desmond knew Shaun felt a little guilty about the difference in their ages - but Desmond honestly didn't care about it. He couldn't really talk about something like that with any of his friends, and certainly not his parents. His father would kill him for even thinking about something like that!

And that was even considering that Shaun was who he said he was! Desmond wasn't an idiot, he knew how easy it was to fake being someone else online. He didn't know that much about Shaun anyway - not his last name, not where he worked, not even what country he lived in! He had a British accent, but he was often awake during the same time as Desmond, so if he was a teacher as he claimed, he could be within a few time zones of him.

Desmond even considered googling it, but that felt too pathetic. He decided he'd be better off just talking to Shaun about it - he'd have to eventually, anyway.

He just needed to figure out what he was going to say.

========

Desmond was really good at leaving important decisions for the last moment. Things were going so good that he was content to let that one lie, especially because he was going home to visit his parents for a week or so before his full class schedule began in earnest. He'd finished his (short) summer course, more an internship than anything else, though it was graded.

His job was forewarned since the beginning of summer, and he'd mentioned it to the guild a month out from his trip. He wouldn't have access to his gaming computer while he was at home; his father wouldn't abide Desmond 'wasting' his time at home with them on playing games on the computer. It was just a week, after all, it wasn't that bad, he could totally do it.

What worried him was that without the excuse of the game, Shaun might not call him at all. Their second weekly session wasn't following any game event, true, but still, the fear lingered. Desmond decided to ask about it - no sense beating around the bush.

"So, I know I won't be able to play the game at all next week, but are you going to call me anyway?" he asked, after they'd both come down, but before he fell asleep. This had been one of what he'd termed their 'nice' sessions, which he'd come to find were intense in their own way, and just as satisfying.

"Mmmm, I don't know. Perhaps..." he trailed off, then remained silent, obviously prompting Desmond to speak up.

"Perhaps what?"

"Perhaps a challenge. I shall call to see how you are managing," he murmured.

"What kind of challenge?"

"Fairly simple, actually," Shaun said, but the tone was too smug to trust.

"Simple, but challenging?" he asked, trying to follow the script Shaun was laying out for him.

"Well, the rule is simple, the challenge is obeying it. The challenge is that you may not come," he explained, and Desmond felt his breath whoosh from his lungs.

"Fuck," he murmured. "That... That will be a challenge," he said. "What will I get if I complete it?" he asked.

"You think more highly of yourself than I thought," Shaun laughed. "I'll humor you; what would you like?"

"I... I want a video of you. Coming. Just your dick, if you want, but I want to hear you, see you come," he said instantly - he'd wanted it for a while.

Shaun hummed thoughtfully. "Hmmm, I would agree to that," he said after a moment. "Yes, and if you lose, what do I get?" he asked.

"We can... we can do the Skype thing again. However you want," he said, because he felt they had a good handle on it now, the rules between them.

"Now that is a good bargain," he said. "I'll know if you lie, you know," he said, and Desmond shivered, because he absolutely believed Shaun would.

"I know," he said. "Starting when? I need to wear my dick out somehow before then."

"Starting the morning of the day you leave for home," Shaun answered. That was four days away, now.

"Fair enough," he said. "Now, I can touch myself, I just can't come, correct?" he asked.

"Correct. You are to inform me the instant you lose the game," he added.

"Hey!"

"And, if you think you can handle it, I might try to test your resolve," he murmured. "After all, you've put up a very tempting prize."

"Sure, I can handle it," he said, though he wasn't as sure as he knew he sounded - hell, Shaun could make him come with words alone, it would be hard! And difficult!

"We'll see, Desmond. We'll see."

Chapter Text

The first two days of his trip home were exactly what Desmond expected; time spent catching up with old friends followed by awkward family dinners. They weren't as bad as the last time, though - his dad still clearly disapproved of his choices (all of them, including his newest tattoo), but also still wanted to make sure Desmond was making the best of the opportunities those choices allowed him. It was a little stifling sometimes, but hey, Desmond couldn't help but feel lucky that he had a family so invested in him. Even if it was overwhelming, it was better than the apathy or abuse some of his friends endured.

The second evening, he'd left after dinner to moonlight at the bar for old times' sake, serving drinks and talking trash and remembering just how he'd gotten interested in brewing enough to actually go to college for it in the first place. It was good to see familiar faces in familiar places, and when he got home in the wee hours of the morning, he resolved to do it again at least once more before he left.

He woke late to two texts on his phone. One was from his father, asking him to meet him at the campus in the evening, they were going to go out and see some 'family friends' for dinner. The second was from Shaun.

It was one of his picture-story texts. The picture was of his hand splayed on his bare stomach, revealing his trim belly and treasure trail. He was wearing slacks, though, with a nice belt, all of which was covering a telling bulge. Desmond felt his mouth water, and his hand went to his dick automatically. The 'story' such as it was, outlined an encounter where Desmond would have to use his mouth only to please Shaun - whether his hands were tied wasn't mentioned, but Desmond wasn't sure which idea he liked better anyway. (Tied because he wanted to be used how Shaun wanted, or untied so he could prove he was good for Shaun. Choices, choices.)

He groaned softly and scrolled back up to the picture, imagining it. He didn't forget the bet, though, never took his dick out of his boxers, just stroked nice and slow, without any urgency. He didn't want to take chances, though, so he stopped before he had more than a small spot of precome on his boxers, before he'd need to come too much to stop himself. He did snap a picture for Shaun before he got up.

Stopped right here. Touched myself, but didn't come.

Good boy, Shaun responded.

Desmond shivered a little at that, but grinned. He could absolutely do this. He already had two days down; another five wouldn't be too hard! He got up and showered - warm because he wasn't some baby who needed a cold shower to maintain control over himself - and dressed.

He spent most of the afternoon in his favorite cafe, browsing the internet and texting his college friends. He left a little early, but it was a nice day - he could wait in the quad instead of in his father's office.

It was almost exactly like the cafe - scrolling through the internet, swapping ridiculous snapchats with people, until he heard a very, very unmistakable voice coming towards him.

He sat up and snapped his head towards the sound - there was a man coming from one of the nearby buildings, head down and reading some paper he was holding in his hand, phone held to his ear. Desmond noticed three things in quick succession: the man had reddish hair, he was carrying a large messenger bag stuffed so full that papers were sticking out of the top, and he was wearing the exact same slacks and belt that Desmond had so carefully not gotten himself off to that morning. That last one made sense, given that the voice he was still hearing was Shaun's voice.

He stood without having thought about it, but didn't know what he'd say. He never would have thought he'd see Shaun like this - he almost turned around, because Shaun hadn't wanted Desmond to see him - but as Shaun glanced back up again, their eyes met, and Shaun stopped. Stopped walking, stopped talking, just... Stopped.

"I... I have to go. I'll call you back," he said to whoever he was talking to, then glanced down only long enough to end the call. "Desmond?" he asked.

"I... yeah. Uh... What are you doing here?" he asked. He couldn't look away, couldn't even fathom the idea of trying now, because Shaun was far better looking than he'd expected, given the man's camera-shy nature. He looked good, really good; no grey in the hair on his head, and he'd freshly shaved that morning, obviously.

Shaun frowned immediately, though. "I... I work here. Are you stalking me?" he asked, in a guarded tone that Desmond hadn't heard from him very often. And yet, his eyes were roaming over Desmond the same way he knew his own still were.

"What? No!" he answered, almost jerking back from the very implication of it. He'd done nothing but respect Shaun's boundaries for privacy!

"Then what are you doing here?" Shaun demanded, though his voice and expression had softened somewhat.

"I'm waiting for my dad," Desmond murmured quietly. "He um, he works here, too."

Shaun frowned for a moment. "Your father works here?" he asked slowly.

"Yeah. He asked me to meet him here," he explained. "I usually wait inside, but... Y'know, the weather's nice." He knew he was kind of babbling, but he couldn't stop himself. He couldn't stop staring at Shaun, either. It wasn't actually all that hard to match the voice he'd spent so much time with on the phone with the very attractive man in front of him. He'd never have imagined - why was Shaun so camera shy if he looked so damn good?

Shaun eyed him critically, then relaxed a bit. "Well," he began, then glanced up as someone else approached. Desmond turned and saw his father, and then it hit him - Shaun worked here. Shaun worked for his father.

Oh, shit.

William walked toward them with a surprised smile. "Shaun!" he greeted, then nodded at his son. "I see you've met my son, Desmond," he began, and Shaun's eyes went wide, darting between the two.

"Your son?" he asked, only on the verge of polite, but Desmond could hear how far he was from true calm - he'd spent a lot of time with that voice, after all.

"Yes. I know I mentioned he'd be coming down for the week. We were supposed to have dinner, but unfortunately, something's come up. However, you can do me a favor," he continued, with the tone of a man who wasn't asking, for a favor he knew couldn't be refused, "If you could, give Desmond a ride? It's not really out of your way."

Shaun stiffened, only slightly so. Desmond only caught it because he hadn't taken his eyes off of Shaun since his father oh so helpfully introduced them. "Of course," he said, after a beat too long. "Yes, I can... do that," he finished, then cleared his throat.

William smiled at that. "Splendid," he said, then turned to Desmond, who of course had to face him for the moment, though he tried to keep Shaun in the corner of his eye - he wasn't entirely sure the man wouldn't bolt. "Desmond, I've already talked to your mother, we've rescheduled the dinner for tomorrow night. I do apologize, but you know how these things are," he said.

Desmond did indeed - not the specifics of whatever called William away, only the general existence of a mostly absent father. "Yeah, no problem, dad," he said, trying for an easy grin. He knew he didn't make it when he saw his father's expression fall a little bit.

"I really am sorry, son. I'll make it up to you, I promise," he said, and turned to Shaun. Fatherly duty done, it seemed. "Shaun, thanks again. I'll see you at the meeting next week, right?" he asked.

"Of course," Shaun said, much more normal than a few moments ago. "I'll have everything ready."

"Good man. See you then. Desmond, I'll see you at home tonight," he said, and then he walked off, back towards his building.

Desmond sighed.

Shaun echoed it, and Desmond glanced over at him, smile starting to stretch across his mouth, but Shaun didn't return that.

Desmond knew, he knew exactly what Shaun was thinking, but he had to do something to halt the process somehow. "Hey, have you eaten?" he asked, and judging by Shaun's expression, it wasn't what he'd expected Desmond to open with.

"Not yet," he said, then frowned.

"Well, my dinner plans have been canceled, let's get something to eat," he suggested, nice and casual. "I know that shitty diner's still just a couple of blocks from my house," he offered, and Shaun smirked, briefly.

"Sure," he said, still guarded.

Desmond only sighed internally this time.

Shaun had a sensible car in boring, forgettable tan color. He also drove like a grandfather, obeying every speed limit and sign he saw. Desmond wasn't even annoyed. He tried not to stare at Shaun during the drive, and mostly failed. Shaun, for his part, sat tense as he drove, and didn't glance over even once.

It wasn't a particularly long drive - Desmond had walked the distance from his house to the coffee shop, and from there to the campus. He could have walked it back, honestly. But he couldn't let Shaun just run away, because if he did, he had a feeling he'd never actually see the man ever again.

Not that Shaun's concerns weren't valid (what Desmond could imagine of them, anyway), but Desmond wanted at the very least a chance. A chance to outline his argument, to really put forth what he had to offer, what he wanted, and what he thought they could be. True, he hadn't foreseen this complication, but it still felt like it was worth a chance!

They didn't speak until they were seated, and had placed their order - neither of them had needed a menu.

"So," Shaun opened, toying with the straw in his water. "Your father. You understand this changes things, right?" he asked.

"I get that it's not what either of us anticipated," Desmond began. "Yes, it changes some things, but it doesn't have to change everything."

Shaun laughed at that, a kind of bitter sound, and looked down.

"It does," he said. "It was one thing that you were in some other school somewhere else, halfway across the country. But this..." he trailed off, and signed. "This changes everything." He didn't look happy at the words he was saying, but that didn't mean they weren't true for him, and Desmond tried to keep that in mind.

"Look, I get that it's weird, alright? Never in a million years could I have even dreamed something like this, dude, but," Shaun scoffed and Desmond knew he was going to object to the term 'dude', so Desmond just kept going, "but it's not... It doesn't have to change everything." He would have said more, but their food arrived, and there seemed to be a silent agreement that this awkward conversation would only be worse if they tried to have it out before they finished their food.

Desmond finished first (he hadn't had lunch), but he didn't have too long to wait.

"It changes enough," Shaun said, as if they hadn't been interrupted by a meal.

"You know, I'd already resolved to talk to you after this week was over," he said. "I don't... I like you, Shaun, a lot, and I wanted to see where this could go. And I know that this new thing, you know, is a big deal. I know you're freaked out about it. But I'd still like to see you, go on an actual date, and see if this could be more than what it has been so far."

"You were going to talk to me about this when you got back?" Shaun asked.

"Yeah, I was. The timing worked out best that way, I felt."

"How on earth did you plan to make that work? We'd never have met, we don't live in the same city!"

"Well, travel isn't entirely out of the question, I mean, I knew what time zone you were in, you know! And... There's Skype dates, and all kinds of things. I wanted to try that, if you were interested."

Shaun sighed, and Desmond almost thought it sounded wistful. Before he could turn Desmond down though (because he knew Shaun was going to turn him down), Desmond spoke again. "Look. I'd like to ask you to not decide anything right now. I'm not pressuring you or anything, and if you tell me no right now, then I'll just have to accept that. But I'm asking you, please think it over first. Really think it over. Take everything into account, yes, but please give me a fair chance."

"You're really serious, aren't you?" Shaun asked, looking at Desmond with something akin to wonder.

"I really am," he answered, smiling shyly, hopefully at Shaun. "I, um, I can see myself home from here, though, so it's not any more awkward than it is right now." He dug for his wallet and threw a ten and a five on the table, enough to cover his meal and a decent tip. "If I don't hear from you, I guess I'll have my answer," he said softly, before standing.

"Desmond?" Shaun called, before he'd gone two feet, and Desmond turned back. "You'll hear from me either way," he promised, and Desmond nodded, gave him a salute he hoped seemed casual and relaxed, and made his way out of the diner, and then home.

Chapter Text

Desmond tried not to obsess over Shaun's decision the next day, he really did. But he kept thumbing over to their text messages, looked at the picture Shaun had sent him only yesterday, before their disastrous meeting. Fuck, he could never have foreseen this! How could anyone have foreseen this? If only he'd waited for his father inside that day! If only he'd had that conversation with Shaun before he left!

But 'if only's were not only impossible, they were useless to dwell on. Honestly, Desmond felt he already knew how this had to go, but he couldn't help hoping that maybe, maybe it would go the way he desperately wanted it to, instead. He wasn't stupid. He was just naïve, probably, because no matter how much he told himself that it was impossible, he kept checking his phone all the same. He didn't hear from Shaun at all that day, and all throughout the dinner they'd rescheduled, he was quieter than he usually was at these dinners with his father's 'friends'.

William commented, but not exactly disapprovingly.

The next morning, however, Shaun texted him, asking if his evening was free, and maybe they should have dinner again. Desmond couldn't help but be hopeful - Dinner wasn't a no! Dinner would probably be a really awkward place to tell him no, too, right? Unless it was also the safest way, like he thought maybe Desmond would make a scene or something. Still, he responded that he was free, that he could meet Shaun anywhere he liked.

Shaun suggested Applebee's of all things. Hardly romantic, but it was a step up from the diner. Desmond was anxious all day, despite himself. He showered and dressed, and took the bus - he didn't want to have to depend on Shaun for a ride if things went south. True, he probably wouldn't want to have to take the bus home, but it wasn't like he'd accept a ride from Shaun if things went south, after all.

He was there first, because he waited as long as he could before he left, and he had his phone on him anyway. Shaun was exactly on time, and offered a wary smile as he sat down. He looked good; freshly shaved, hair styled, even. Nice shirt and slacks, no tie or sweater-vest. Another probably good sign, he hoped.

"Hello, Desmond," he said, a little awkward.

"Hi, Shaun," Desmond replied, offering an honest, nervous smile back.

Things were silent, and Shaun could barely hold his eye. Desmond barely held back a sigh.

"How was your day?" he tried, and Shaun chuckled a bit at that.

"Boring, even by my standards," he answered. "Yours?"

"I honestly couldn't say," Desmond answered. It was like he couldn't even remember most of it, just a buzz where time should have been, where things should have happened. He only remembered a state of anxiety that stretched from the text until now - everything else was extraneous. "But, I'm glad to be here," he answered honestly, and Shaun relaxed slightly.

"Alright, shall we order?" he asked.

Dinner was, well, awkward, but it got better from the rough beginning, at least. He even got a few genuine laughs from Shaun, though he always looked thoughtful afterward. Desmond hadn't ever actually been to one, but this felt almost like an audition, and he probably tried way too hard to make it seem like he wasn't trying way too hard. He just really wanted this to work out.

Shaun even ordered dessert, and that was a good sign, wasn't it? Desmond did too, but only because not doing so seemed like it would create a weird tension or something. He didn't want to add sugar to the restless energy already filling him, so he poked at it slowly.

They watched each other while they ate. Shaun, measuringly, and Desmond, well, he honestly had no idea what he looked like at this point.

When Shaun set his spoon down, though, he looked thoughtful. Desmond held his breath, and met Shaun's eyes when he looked up again. Shaun's lips turned down, though, and he took a deep breath and looked away, and Desmond knew. He knew what Shaun's answer was, right then.

"Desmond, I can't do this," Shaun said. "I... I just can't. It's too complicated."

Desmond took his own deep breath. "Okay," he said, quiet, eyes on the table. He couldn't do anything about the flush he felt racing up his neck, but he could at least control his breathing. He wanted to cry, but he wouldn't. Not in public, not in front of Shaun. He wouldn't make a scene. "I get it. I do." Once he fell back from that edge, though, he glanced up at Shaun again, and Shaun genuinely did look torn.

Suddenly, Desmond could see the signs of tiredness he'd overlooked before; the exhaustion in Shaun's eyes, his frame.

"You gave me a fair shake, that was all I asked," he said softly. That was all he'd planned on saying (because of course he'd planned for this, he'd wanted to make a graceful exit, he didn't want to make this harder on Shaun, or himself), but then he licked his lips and kept talking. "You know, I'm here for a few more days - do you want to try, at least once, any of the things we talked about?"

He bit his lips the moment the words were out. He hadn't meant to say that. But he refused to take it back, because hell, there was still a fucking chance that maybe he could have something of Shaun after this. He knew what they both liked, knew what he'd described doing, but as good as his imagination was, it wasn't the same as knowing; knowing what Shaun smelled like, tasted like, how his hands felt, or his mouth... If he could have that, even once... "Just once, and you'll still never hear from me again," He promised.

Shaun stared at him, eyes wide, and Desmond knew he was thinking about it. Those eyes darted to his lips, then back up to meet Desmond's gaze. Shaun's tongue slid out to wet his own lips, and Desmond watched it all, greedy, because Shaun was actually considering it!

Then he blinked, and his eyes shuttered, and he sat back. "I... I can't, Desmond," he said, and it was all Desmond could do not to flinch back at that. Shaun genuinely sounded distressed, and Desmond didn't want to hear any more. He'd offered everything he had, everything he was, and it wasn't enough. Not even for a night.

He couldn't sit here any longer. "Alright," he said, hoping it came out even - he wasn't even hearing himself anymore. He grabbed the two twenties he'd shoved into his pocket before he left, and slipped them under his plate - he'd let Shaun ask for the check. "It's been..." he began, but how could he fucking end that sentence? He couldn't; shook his head. "Take care, Shaun," he said, then slid out of the booth and left the restaurant. Shaun didn't call out to him. Shaun let him go, and Desmond didn't look back.

Fuck, he'd known it would end like this, he'd known it, and his stupid, hopeful heart had made him come out anyway. How could it really have ended any other way?

Desmond didn't cry on the bus, but it was a near thing. He did once he got home, though, because no amount of preparing himself for the worst could actually minimize the hurt. He was quiet the rest of the week, but he didn't shut himself up inside of his room, though he really, really wanted to. For one, his parents would ask questions; questions he couldn't answer.

He didn't call Shaun. He didn't text. He often looked over their messages, but he never considered sending anything. What would he even say?

He honestly never expected to hear from Shaun again - it wasn't like Shaun had been ambiguous. But he got a text from Shaun the afternoon before he was going to leave.

Is that offer still open? Just one night?

Desmond froze - he'd been cleaning up the kitchen from his late lunch, hadn't expected to hear from Shaun at all.

Was the offer still open? He shouldn't, he knew he fucking shouldn't, but he wanted. God, he still wanted it, so much! He wasn't going in blind, though; he knew it was stupid, he knew he would probably regret it, but he wasn't going to miss the only chance he'd ever have at this!

Tonight only, he sent, before he could obsess over it. He'd be leaving tomorrow, returning to New York.

Shaun sent back a time, and an address.

========

Desmond wasn't sure what he was expecting from the address, but even without something definite in mind, he was still somehow surprised. It was a house, for one, with a driveway and a yard, in a real neighborhood with other houses and yards and everything. He'd known the address had to be residential, but he'd half-expected Shaun to want to meet at a motel. Instead, it was at what had to be his actual residence. His home. Desmond recognized Shaun's car, which reassured him, and made his way up to the front door. He knocked, still half expecting this to be a trick of some kind, or maybe even a dream.

It was Shaun who opened the door, however - and even though he looked like shit (bags under his eyes, hair and stubble untamed), he still made Desmond's mouth water and his hands itch to touch. There was an awkward beat before Shaun stepped aside to let Desmond in. Desmond glanced around; the entryway opened straight into the living room, which was tidy aside from a small mess of papers on the coffee table. The couch looked more like it had been purchased for necessity than comfort. There was no television in the living room at all.

"I should have asked," Shaun began, "but have you eaten?"

Desmond laughed softly. "Not what I came here for, remember?" he asked, and it surprised him that it didn't come out bitter at all.

Shaun didn't flinch, but his lips turned down a little. "I suppose," he said quietly, but his eyes were on Desmond's face, his lips.

Desmond wasn't sure who moved first, but they both moved. There was only a slight hesitation when they came together, and then Shaun's hands were on him, in his hair, on the back of his neck, pulling him close. Desmond went eagerly, meeting Shaun's mouth with his own, opening up under him like he'd fantasized about so many times before. His own hands were on Shaun, too; on his shoulders, his hips, he even dared to grope his ass once.

Desmond was aware of the noises he was making; soft little whines and grunts - he'd never been quiet during sex - but he was also aware of the noises Shaun was making; quiet groans and panted breaths. It was gratifying, and he tried to commit it all to memory - he wanted to remember every detail he could, every element he didn't or couldn't have imagined when he pictured this. Shaun's hands were restless, roaming down his back, his sides, back to his neck and down his chest, like he couldn't get enough. His body was pressing Desmond's into the wall at the shoulders, joined at the mouth, and soon he pressed all his weight against him, rocking their hips together; Shaun was hard.

Desmond broke the kiss to moan loudly, rocking back into Shaun's motion. "Shaun," he panted. "I wanna - I wanna taste you, lemme have you in my mouth, please," he begged, because more than anything else, he wanted that.

"Yes, Christ, yes," Shaun agreed, fervently, but he pulled Desmond into another kiss. He didn't try to break it at all when he started pushing Desmond backwards into the room. It was awkward, but Desmond didn't want to stop, either, so he just stumbled backwards until Shaun broke the kiss and sat down on his ugly, utilitarian couch, legs spread wide. He looked a bit stunned, honestly, sitting there with glassy eyes and slick lips. "Go on then," he said, and Desmond wasted no time dropping to his knees.

Shaun was hard, so hard, pressing against his slacks, and Desmond just rubbed his cheek against the prominent bulge, hands spreading Shaun's thighs even further. He groaned softly, let his hands run up Shaun's thighs until he was unzipping his pants slowly, one hand slipping deftly in to pull Shaun's dick out. God, it was a gorgeous dick, exactly as he'd seen before in Shaun's pictures; uncut, which Desmond liked, and slightly curved upward. Desmond leaned in, let his lips trail over it as he inhaled deeply. Shaun smelt more of soap than of musk, indicating he'd showered before he even texted Desmond. It was a good smell all the same, and Desmond moaned open-mouthed against the hot flesh in his hand.

He didn't close his eyes, but it was a near thing; he purposefully kept them open as he licked around the head of Shaun's dick, focused on Shaun's face. Shaun looked rapt, breathing fast and shallow, hands clenching and unclenching at his sides. Desmond grabbed one, pulled it to his short hair - he hadn't come all this way for Shaun to not touch him, after all.

Shaun groaned, closed his eyes briefly, but wrenched them open like he couldn't bear not to watch, either. He didn't meet Desmond's gaze often, though, kept his eyes mostly glued to where his cock disappeared into Desmond's slick mouth.

Desmond groaned again - he loved that poleaxed expression, loved knowing he was at the center of every single ounce of attention when he did this. He moved, bobbed his head and licked and swallowed, slurped and sucked, hands moving over Shaun's thighs, over his cock, over his balls.

Shaun wasn't quiet, either; he knew Desmond wanted - craved - his sounds, and he gave them willingly now. Soft gasps, grunts, and curses spilled from his lips, along with Desmond's name. God, it was addicting, to have Shaun undone like this, with barely more than his mouth! Desmond's own cock was throbbing, trapped inside his jeans. He shifted towards one of Shaun's legs - they'd talked about this so many times, after all; he could rub off just like that, come inside his own jeans.

Instead, Shaun yanked on Desmond's hair, pulled him off his cock. "No," he said, sharply, and Desmond whined before he could even think about it. His dick throbbed even harder at that. "You're not going to come like that. You're going to swallow me down, Desmond, and then we're going to the bedroom. You're going to wait."

Desmond gasped, and opened his mouth, tried to lean forward to take Shaun in his mouth, because he wanted that, he wanted all of that, but Shaun held firm.

"Say it," he said, and Desmond moaned.

"I'm going to wait," he repeated, panting. "Please, Shaun, I'll be good, let me have you," he begged.

Shaun groaned, and Desmond saw his cock twitch, but Shaun held him a moment more, Desmond knew, just because he could. "Alright then, Desmond. Make me come," he ordered, and Desmond surged forward, slurping down Shaun's prick like he'd wanted to for ages. God, there were so many ways he'd wanted to do this, and this was going to be the only chance he had? He worked to make it the best fucking blowjob he'd ever given - and judging by Shaun's noises, he was succeeding.

It seemed the floodgates were open, though, because Shaun wasn't only making noises; he was talking. "Fuck, take it, Desmond, take it," he breathed. Or, "Christ, look at you, made for sucking cock." Or, as he thrust himself into Desmond's mouth, using him in just the right way, "Desmond, Desmond, oh, fuck, Desmond!" God, if Desmond could only have one thing recorded from tonight, it would be that moment, when Shaun was chanting his name fervently, holding himself back from coming so fiercely that Desmond could feel the tension in his thighs.

He couldn't keep it up forever, though; soon, Shaun thrust forward, gripped his fist in Desmond's hair and held him in place as his cock throbbed and jerked in Desmond's mouth, spilling its bitter load straight down his throat. Shaun pulled back slightly after a few moments, allowed Desmond to actually taste him as he'd been so desperate to.

Desmond didn't swallow until Shaun was finished coming. Even then, he held it in his mouth a moment; he didn't know what Shaun's plans were for the rest of the evening, but he doubted he'd get another of his loads in his mouth, so he wanted to savor it. It wasn't just that he loved the taste of come, though (he often did, and that he loved Shaun's was a relief), but the connotations of it; the feeling of being used, of having completed being used - it was complicated, but he loved it.

He finally swallowed and watched as Shaun caught his breath, prick softening outside of his slacks. There was a silence for a few moments; Shaun held his gaze for a few seconds, only to drop it and stare at his mouth. His hand shifted, releasing Desmond's hair to curve around his chin, his thumb brushing over his swollen lower lip.

Desmond's breath caught, despite himself. He'd never been looked at so intently before, never by someone he'd wanted this much. He closed his eyes, and Shaun sighed softly. "Good boy," he murmured. Desmond couldn't help the shudder that ran through him at the soft words.

Shaun tucked himself back into his pants, and stood. He beckoned Desmond to follow him to his bedroom, and Desmond did. Shaun took him exactly where he'd wanted to go, and shut the door behind them, even though they were the only two people in the house.

"Strip for me," Shaun said. His words were an order, but his tone was different from before, when they'd only done this on the phone. There was no steel underneath the softness, and it felt more like a simple request instead.

Desmond had no intention of refusing, of course. He smiled, because for all that he knew he'd hurt later, he was happy to be here now. He pulled his shirt off, eyes on Shaun's face as the other man watched him, avidly staring at every new inch of skin bared for him.

Desmond didn't linger, though - Shaun didn't ask for a performance, and Desmond didn't give him one, not really. He pulled off his clothes, piece by piece, until he stood nakedly before Shaun, chest heaving, heart racing, cock throbbing.

"Good," Shaun murmured, licking his lips. He cleared his throat, and met Desmond's eyes again, lips curving in a smirk that was nowhere near as sharp as Desmond had imagined, before they'd met, that it would be. "Good boy. Now, lay on the bed," he ordered, much more decisively than before, but not as harsh as Desmond knew he could. "On your back."

Desmond obeyed, and Shaun followed him to stand beside the bed. His eyes roamed over Desmond's body, lingering on places Desmond hadn't expected; his shoulders, his hands, his thighs. Desmond let out a soft sound, not quite a whine; he hadn't gotten to come yet, after all.

Shaun laughed softly, and for a moment, the tension was gone from his face, the distance gone from his eyes when they met Desmond's. "Impatience will get you nowhere," he said, almost fondly. "And you were doing so well, too. I suppose this means I'll have to punish you, now," he said, and Desmond's cock twitched visibly at the suggestion, betraying how much he really, really wanted that to happen.

There was no way Shaun hadn't seen it, but he said nothing. "Go on, then. Stand up, bend over and brace your hands on the bed. I think fifteen will do," he murmured. Desmond scrambled to comply, eager to finally feel Shaun's hand on him, especially like this. "Count them," Shaun said, just when he'd gotten into position, and Desmond had no more warning than that before Shaun's hand came down against his ass, the slap startlingly loud in the quiet room.

Desmond gasped and tensed, fighting the quiver of his legs. "O-one," he managed, wishing for just a moment that he was bent over Shaun's lap, instead. He waited, but Shaun didn't deliver the next blow immediately. Just as Desmond was about to look back, the second blow landed, hard enough to make Desmond sway with it. "Two," he panted. His cock was hard, so hard it bordered on painful, but it felt so good.

The blows weren't spaced evenly apart; sometimes they'd come right after another, before Desmond could properly count the first out loud. Others, so slow that Desmond started to move before he could help himself, earning him another blow. All of them, though, had the best amount of power behind them; the pain sharp but so, so sweet. He was on the edge of coming just from being spanked - to him, it was obvious Shaun had done this before.

At fifteen, Desmond was a shivery, weak-kneed mess, held up only by the fact that Shaun expected him to keep doing so. "Good boy," Shaun said, finally, and then, "Go on, lay down on your stomach, deep breaths. Don't come!"

Desmond nodded, and lay down gingerly on the bed, breathing heavily even though all he'd done was stand there and get spanked. "Shaun," he breathed, watching the older man with lidded eyes.

Shaun retrieved a bottle of something from his desk, and then he moved out of Desmond's line of sight, sitting on the edge of the bed. He heard the cap snap open, the slick sounds of Shaun spreading the substance over his hands. Desmond expected Shaun to start opening him up, to slide slick fingers along his crack and into his waiting hole; but instead, Shaun's hands landed at his shoulders, working their way towards his neck, and then back out.

Desmond expelled his breath in a rush, tension leeching out of him immediately. "Ungh," he ground out, as Shaun repeated the motion, but lower. Shaun's hands were firm and briskly worked down his back, and massaged his burning cheeks for a little bit, spreading the oil - or lotion - across the reddened skin before working up his back much more slowly than he'd gone down. Desmond was no longer on the edge of coming, but neither had his erection subsided at all. He felt so good, almost weightless, with Shaun's hands holding him down and soothing him all at the same time.

He never wanted it to end.

Shaun's hands worked their way down again, and this time, when his hands pulled off of Desmond's body to add slickness again, they did focus on Desmond's ass; playing with his cheeks, spreading and kneading them. Desmond couldn't help but moan - it was erotic, but it also just felt good in a way Desmond hadn't experienced before.

"Christ," he heard from Shaun, so softly he knew Shaun hadn't intended to say it out loud at all. Shaun's thumbs wandered closer and closer to his hole, pulling and squeezing, and then one pushed in, slowly.

"Fuck!" Desmond gasped. "Shaun, please, please," he begged, wriggling a little beneath the other man.

"Please what?" Shaun said, voice so much more composed than his soft exhalation earlier.

"Please, fuck me!" Desmond was desperate; the slight burn of just a single thumb pressing into him wasn't nearly enough.

There was a quiet chuckle from behind him, and the thumb pressed in even further, driving Desmond's breath out with its progress.

"Oh god," he moaned softly. "Shaun, fuck, please!"

Shaun pulled his thumb out of Desmond, and leaned away. Desmond was aware of things around him; like the sound of Shaun moving behind him, of time passing, but he wasn't paying attention to anything other than the want coursing through him.

Soon enough, one of Shaun's fingers was pressing into him with urgency and purpose, and Desmond relaxed into it, moaning without any sense of shame. Shaun stretched him at a measured pace, despite Desmond's begging. He was quiet, though, one hand running down Desmond's flank, almost as if he were petting him.

It felt good - Desmond's whole body felt warm and eager, and by the time Shaun pulled his hand away after four fingers, Desmond let out a quiet whine at the loss.

He turned to look when he felt Shaun's weight leave the bed. Shaun finally began pulling off his clothes, and Desmond actually shifted so he could get a better look. Shaun noticed, meeting his eyes briefly before Desmond's were drawn back down when Shaun pulled off his shirt, but Shaun didn't say anything. He wasn't as fit as Desmond was, but his body was more than pleasing to Desmond as it was - he was lean, with a little less hair than Desmond had expected. He still wanted to have his hands and mouth all over Shaun, with an intensity that he was growing used to.

Shaun, once he was done pulling off his clothes, moved back onto the bed, settling on his knees beside Desmond. "On your knees, now," he said, and Desmond actually struggled to get into position. His cock felt so heavy below him, leaking a steady stream of precome onto Shaun's bedding. "Good," Shaun breathed, shifting behind him. "You're gorgeous like this," he added, brushing his fingers over Desmond's hole again, making him shiver.

"Please, Shaun," Desmond whimpered.

"Patience," Shaun replied, but it wasn't as sharp as Desmond might have expected. Despite that, though, Shaun was moving behind him and it wasn't long before the blunt heat of him was pushing into Desmond, slow and steady.

"Oh god, yes," Desmond breathed, trying to push back into it, but Shaun gripped his hips and forced him to take it at his pace. "Fuck!" he added, because it was good, it was so good! He leaned forward, resting his head on the bed, shoulders down and ass up. He wasn't going to last long at all, and he felt like he'd been on edge forever at this point! "Shaun, please, give it to me!"

Shaun tutted at him, then smacked his ass sharply, making Desmond yelp. "You'll take it the way I want you to," he reprimanded, and Desmond shivered, spread his knees just a little wider.

"Yeah," he agreed. "Yeah, make me take it."

Shaun grunted at him, but his grip on Desmond's hips tightened, and he pushed in harder - it seemed like no time at all before he was flush against Desmond's body, cock hot and thick in Desmond's ass.

There wasn't much talking after that; Shaun began fucking him with purpose; hard, but not fast, not yet. Desmond whined and wriggled, but Shaun held him down, and as he'd promised, made Desmond take it exactly as he wanted to give it. Desmond babbled and begged, he was sure - he felt so good, but also disconnected from his body. Shaun only groaned and cursed, hands roaming where they pleased, but always firm, always tethering Desmond to himself, to the bed, to Shaun.

It felt like no time at all before Desmond was shouting, finally hurtling over the edge of orgasm, spilling forcefully onto the sheets below him; all without anyone touching his dick at all.

Shaun groaned loudly. "Fuck, Desmond," he breathed, "Fuck, fuck!" His space sped up, and this was it, Desmond was going to make Shaun come! He almost wished he could see it, wanted desperately to watch it, but it was good enough to just feel it, feel Shaun pull him back into a few desperate thrusts before he held himself there, fingers digging into Desmond's hips. Shaun collapsed over him after a few tense moments, and he pressed the barest kiss to Desmond's shoulder before he shifted and pulled out.

Desmond was disappointed when he realized that Shaun had worn a condom - they hadn't even talked about it, Desmond hadn't even asked (and he wasn't stupid, he hadn't ever forgotten before), but Shaun had taken care of him anyway. He was still disappointed, though - he'd never once had anyone come inside of him without one, but if he were ever going to, he wanted it desperately to have been Shaun.

He lay there a few moments, and Shaun let him, sitting beside him on the bed, hand running up and down his back gently. Shaun then turned him over, made him drink some water.

"Would you like to shower now?" he asked, and Desmond groaned. God, he had to leave, he was leaving town tomorrow, and he realized just then that Shaun had no intention of letting him stay the night. He wanted to take Shaun up on the offer of a shower, at least - because he wanted to know what it would be like, what products Shaun used, what his bathroom smelled like, but it would only make things worse if he did.

"Nah," he said, aiming for casual and missing by a mile. Shaun didn't call him on it, though, he just nodded.

"Very well," he murmured, and stood up and left the room. Desmond didn't quite have it in him to dress, couldn't even sit up just yet, but Shaun returned with a washcloth. He cleaned Desmond gently, and Desmond cursed himself, because it felt so good just to be cared for like this. He had to remind himself that he couldn't have this, not really.

Like a flash of cold water, reality hit him all at once, and he realized he had to leave right then. He didn't regret coming (he wasn't sure he wouldn't later on), but he couldn't stay and listen to whatever Shaun would have to say to dismiss him from his home. From his life.

"Thanks," he said, instead, choking out the word as best he could through a suddenly-thick throat. He wasn't ready to move, not yet, but he had to, he had to get out of there, because they didn't have a relationship - they didn't have anything - and he had no right to even want to ask anything from Shaun because they'd had an agreement beforehand. He did move, forced himself to move; to turn over and sit up and really look at Shaun.

Shaun, who was wearing soft pants and no shirt, and wasn't looking back at him at all. It was awkward again, and Desmond sighed.

"Thanks," he said again. It came out easier this time, and he scooted off the bed, grabbed his clothes off the floor and started dressing. Shaun still said nothing, watched him in the vague way where he didn't let his eyes linger on Desmond's figure for very long.

Desmond paused when he'd finished, and Shaun finally met his eyes. His expression was almost confused, though his eyes were shuttered. Desmond nodded, mostly to himself.

"Alright, then," he said, because even though Shaun hadn't uttered a word; he didn't have to, his message was coming through loud and clear. Desmond turned on his heel and left, then, made his way through the hallway and the living room, and out the door. He hadn't said goodbye on purpose, and Shaun hadn't said anything at all.

There were still a few buses running this late, and although Desmond didn't want to face humanity just yet, he couldn't walk home like this at all. He felt even worse than he'd imagined (and he'd imagined it feeling plenty bad), because the skin of his ass was still warm from Shaun's blows, his body still loose from his orgasm. His throat was tight from the words he'd held back, and his eyes stung from tears he refused to shed.

He made it home, and then collapsed into his bed, still fully dressed. He didn't fall asleep immediately, but he did eventually fall asleep.

He didn't cry that night at all.

Chapter Text

When Desmond got back to his apartment, he uninstalled the game. He didn't even log on to announce to the guild that he was quitting, but he sent a PM in the guild forums to Lucy with his login information. He only told her he couldn't play anymore, said he was paid through the month, and she could distribute his gear and items however she wished. After that month was up, Corvus would disappear, like he'd never existed at all.

If she ever responded, he never found out. He removed notifications from the forum before he logged out, and never logged back in. It wasn't something he could think about anymore, wasn't something he would devote his time to.

His friends noticed the change, because it would have been impossible not to. He was quieter, more withdrawn. Still, he signed up for his classes, and went out with them to movies and other things he'd had less time for when he was playing the game three or four nights a week. Life moved on, and he wasn't going to let this one failure define him, or ruin his plans for his future. It hurt, God, it hurt, but he wasn't going to dwell on it. He threw himself into the things he'd been missing, reconnected with friends he hadn't seen in a while, and took on extra shifts at the bar now that his evenings were free.

By the time classes started a few weeks later, Desmond's life was settled into a new routine. He went out a lot. He started reading more about the things he'd discovered with Shaun; what had worked and what hadn't, what else he might like. He'd made a promise to himself, and he was going to keep it. He deserved someone who could give him what he wanted, who wanted everything he had to give. He'd hoped that person would have been Shaun, but it hadn't been, and he was going to find whoever it was.

So, he went out. He went to clubs and sporting events and fun extra one-off classes, and he met people. He wasn't ready to start dating, wasn't even ready to start looking, but it felt like the right next step. He made new friends, found new interests, and soon, trying to forget became simple acceptance. It wasn't easy, but it hadn't been a conscious thing, either.

There just came a day when the thought of Shaun (because of course he still thought of him) didn't hurt as much; in fact, it hurt less and less as more time passed. He never called, never messaged Shaun at all - but he hadn't deleted his contact information, couldn't bring himself to delete the texts or pictures.

Then one day, he met someone at a bar. At first, when the guy, Clay, wrote his number on Desmond's palm, Desmond had laughed it off. He'd made no promises. The morning after, though, he'd actually considered calling. He felt ready.

So he did. He called Clay, and they met up after his classes, and had dinner and some drinks, and talked. One dinner turned into another, and another, and a few more, and then Desmond went home with Clay because he felt ready for that, too.

They talked before falling into bed - assurances of casualness, no promises or demands made. It had been nice. Vanilla. Clay wasn't into the things that made Desmond's mind melt, and Desmond had been honest about what that meant for a long-term relationship. Clay understood. So they had a great evening, and eventually exchanged a promise in the morning to remain friends. Desmond actually felt really good about it.

He realized, then, that he was ready for more. Ready for what he'd promised himself. He started dating, then, started looking. It was kind of fun, because he met all kinds of people. Some of them he saw more than once. Some he went home with. However, there was always something missing, always something that held him back. He didn't know what it was he was searching for, what he was waiting for; he only knew that he hadn't found it yet.

That was when Shaun called him.

========

Desmond was frozen - he actually stared at his phone, with Shaun's profile picture (of his hands) on the screen long enough that he was saved from actually having to choose whether or not to answer by the call redirecting to voicemail. Desmond still hadn't moved by the time the notification that he'd received a voicemail had popped up on his notification bar.

What was Shaun doing calling him? Why now, after more than seven months? Desmond moved to sit on his couch, phone dark again in his hand. Part of him wanted to delete the voicemail, pretend he'd never seen that Shaun had called and continue on. Part of him desperately wanted to know what Shaun had to say - a traitorous part of him that still, still hoped, still wanted Shaun above all else. That was almost infuriating enough to delete the voicemail unheard, but... He couldn't.

He didn't listen to it that night, determined to make Shaun wait. Despite his best efforts, however, Desmond only managed to last until the next morning, after a fitful sleep, to listen to the damn message and get it over with.

"Desmond," Shaun began, and as hesitant as he sounded, it was good to hear his voice again. Desmond hadn't ever gotten around to deleting his recordings (he hadn't ever planned to), but he hadn't listened to them again, either. "I, ah, hadn't actually prepared very well for this call. I know I had no right to expect you to answer, but I hadn't thought about leaving a message. Hm," he murmured, and Desmond caught himself in a laugh, chest and lips tight.

"I... God, there's so much to say I'm not sure a simple voicemail can contain it, but I'm going to try. Desmond, I'm going to try," he said, an intensity to his voice that compelled Desmond to listen further. "I'm sorry, Desmond. I'm sorry. I cannot stress how much. I never wanted nor meant things to turn out as they have, and I've been... Miserable. A mess. I miss you, Desmond."

Then, a deep inhale, and a pause. "I've talked with your father. About... you. About us. I... I had to know if he'd approve, if he'd let me... He said it was your decision, in the end. I understand if you'll never speak to me again, Desmond. I understand if you never even listen to this message. But if you have, then please. Call me. Even if only to tell me no, to tell me to shove it, just... Please. Call me."

Desmond stayed in that position, silent phone pressed to his ear for a few long moments, heart racing. Of all the times he might have (absolutely had) imagined Shaun saying to him should they ever come into contact again, it hadn't been like this. Shaun had talked to his father? That was... That was both kind of creepy and incredibly endearing. Shaun had already confronted what he saw as the biggest roadblock to being with Desmond, all with absolutely no confidence or even reason to think that Desmond might actually ever speak to him again.

He listened to the message a few more times, soaked up Shaun's uncertainty, his begging.

What was he going to do? He still wanted the man, desperately so, but Shaun had a power over him that no one else had - Desmond didn't know if he could trust Shaun again like that. Yes, Shaun had taken those steps, to talk to his dad, and actually reach out to him, but what if he actually faced some repercussions? Would he just cut Desmond out again?

And yet...Shaun did hold a power over him that no one else had, one that Desmond had been trying so urgently to find someone to claim. Apparently, no one else could meet up to that standard - at least, so far. He hadn't been looking long, he could keep trying.

What was he going to do?

Chapter Text

Thing is, Desmond knew he was going to call Shaun. He tried not to know it, like it wasn't an inevitability, but he did, and it was. The moment he knew Shaun had reached out, Desmond knew he was going to eventually reach back. That hadn't really been the question, anyway.

The question was whether he was willing to open up to Shaun again. To, yes, let Shaun have the chance to ruin him in all the ways he's discovered he likes - or to ruin him all over again in the way he's discovered only Shaun can, the worst way he'd ever felt.

He spent the next few days in a sort of haze - he knew he went to classes, because he had notes. He knew he turned in homework, because he had grades. He knew he did his usual routine, because he was clean, he had food. He didn't really remember these things, though. Instead, he imagined more of that one night he'd had with Shaun, what it would have been like if he'd stayed. Instead, he imagined what a life with Shaun would even look like; would it have to be long distance at first, and would Shaun even be into PDA, and would their fights be explosive or stony. Instead, he imagined saying no, going on as he had been and never, ever knowing what could have been.

Somehow, the last one felt the worst. He didn't want to not know their potential. He didn't want to miss out on what he was still so sure could be the best partnership he could conceive of.

So he waited, almost a full week from Shaun's voicemail, before he called Shaun back. In the evening, but early, just in case.

Shaun picked upon before the second ring.

"Desmond?" he asked, not quite breathless.

"Yeah," he answered. "Hey, Shaun."

"Desmond," Shaun breathed, relief almost palpable. "I wasn't sure I'd hear back from you."

"I needed time. I wasn't sure... I'm still not sure," he said quietly, because he wasn't. The idea of what Shaun had proposed, what he'd asked; it was terrifying. He knew the devastation Shaun could wreak on his life, how deeply he could cut - and he knew that if this was to go forward, he only had trust that Shaun wouldn't do it again. He just didn't know if he could.

Shaun let out a breath; not a sigh, but not relief, either. Like he'd been holding it somehow, even though he'd been speaking. "I understand," he said quietly. "Perhaps you don't even need to answer, right away," he offered. "Perhaps, you could give us both time?"

"What do you mean?"

"Time to really talk," Shaun answered. "To get to know each other. No commitment yet, just... Spending time together." He sounded like he felt awkward, which surprised Desmond, since he was used to Shaun being so put-together all the time.

"Did you really talk to my dad?" he asked.

Shaun made a noise that could have been a laugh of some kind. "I did," he said. "It was terrible; but I had to know if I needed to seek employment elsewhere before I reached out to you," he said, and Desmond just sort of froze for a moment.

"What?" he asked.

"What?" Shaun echoed.

"Wait, if my father said you couldn't date me or whatever because he's your boss, you would have quit?" he asked. "Before you ever talked to me? What if I'd said no after that?"

"I might have," Shaun answered. "I can't know, because that didn't happen. I just wanted to know, in case." He didn't sound defensive, but only just. "I needed to know," he said. "These months without even talking to you... I never expected to miss you so much. I knew I'd miss you, yes, of course, but I thought I'd move on, as well. I won't lie to you, Desmond, I tried. But," he murmured, letting out a soft sigh. "They weren't you. All of them, they weren't what I wanted. I knew I'd made a mistake - I know I've made several, in fact - but all along, I compared each of them with you, and found them wanting. I can't realistically promise you anything here, either. I don't... I've never been in a situation like this before, but I want to try, with you. Even if it's awkward with your father, even if it's a bit awkward with us. I want to try."

Desmond was silent a moment, because all of those words struck a chord with him. He'd tried too, he had, but no one ever felt 'right', and he'd refused to admit that it was just because he'd been comparing them all to Shaun, and not one had withstood the comparison. "Shaun," he breathed quietly. He felt like he was on the edge of tears for some reason.

"Please, Desmond," Shaun replied. "Please. Give me another chance. I know I don't deserve it, I know I've treated you abominably, but... Please."

Desmond laughed a little. "Fuck you," he said, but there wasn't any venom in it. "You ruined me, you know."

"I know, Desmond, and I'm sorry. I never meant to let things go like that, but you just left so fast, and-"

"Not like that, asshole! For anyone el-- wait. I left? You basically pushed me out!"

"What? No I didn't! I wanted you to stay the night, I was going to cook you breakfast!"

"You never said any of that! You just asked if I wanted to shower before I left!"

"I..." Shaun began, then took a deep breath. "No, Desmond, I never said that. I asked if you wanted to shower, yes, but I never said anything about you leaving. I would have changed the sheets, given you something to sleep in. I wanted to spend the night with you, Desmond, the entire night."

Desmond's breath caught in his throat, because if that were true... If that were true, then he'd been the one to ruin things, not Shaun! "How..." he began, breath coming faster now, cheeks wet despite himself. "Then why didn't you say anything?" he asked, a little angry at how meek it came out.

"I thought you didn't want to stay. I thought... I thought you'd thought I was pathetic," he admitted quietly. "I can't lay the blame entirely at your feet, though - I did let you walk out without speaking up."

"You can lay some of it," Desmond said. "Shaun, I'm - I'm sorry, too. I thought you were kicking me out, and I didn't wanna hear whatever excuse you were going to make up to get me out after we'd gotten off. That was all we agreed to, after all."

"That's true," he said. "Listen, I just... Thank you for calling me, Desmond. I don't want to pressure you. I feel I've laid out my case clearly this time; whatever it takes, however it happens, I want you, and I want to see you, date you properly. So if you need time to think about it, take it. You don't have to answer me right now."

Desmond actually laughed a little, wiping at his face. "I, I can't, not right now," he said, honestly. "I need to think about it. But... You said we can talk, right? Just... can we do that? Talk? Text?"

Shaun laughed a little as well, and Desmond could already hear the difference from before, the tension relieved. "Absolutely," he said, "Anytime - within reason."

"Sure, within reason," Desmond agreed, already feeling lighter himself. "What are you doing right now?," he asked.

"Nothing at all," Shaun answered.

Desmond smiled. "So let's talk."