Virginity is a culturally constructed concept, and no form of sex is more or less valid than any other, and no amount of repeating these facts in his head can stop his whole body from thrumming like a mandolin when Jon flinches away from his probing fingers and says, "Stephen, are we gonna...because you should know, I've never, uh...."
The word deflowering skates across Stephen's consciousness. Is Jon's hesitation sincere, or has he just sensed another of those tantalizing-awful fantasies Stephen barely realized were there? "Green?"
"Green," confirms Jon. "Just...be gentle, okay?"
Stephen kisses his temple. "Shhh. Relax and let me show you how good it can be."
Assured that Jon is firmly in the role of nervous student, he lets himself indulge in the egotistical thrill of taking the lead. Of course Jon knows how to bottom; why would Stephen assume such a basic position was outside his repertoire? He'll safeword if something goes really wrong, which means Stephen can relax enough to enjoy playing shepherd, to reassure him through the pain and delight in the way he moans and flinches and chews on his lip before he makes it out to starry-eyed pleasure.
When they're both spent and put to rights, Stephen smooths back Jon's hair for the umpteenth time and stammers, "Can we do that again some time?"
Jon's eyes fall closed. "Don't see why not," he murmurs.
"I don't just mean me fucking you." Stephen's thumb brushes over Jon's lips. He's up on his elbow, leaning over Jon's side, hoping that Jon being flat on his back isn't a too-subtle signal for Stephen to shut up and let him sleep. "I mean you pretending you've never been...and how you're not sure you're going to like it...."
Jon's eyes pop open. The look in them unnerves Stephen, which is silly, right? He shouldn't go trusting his own gut over another person's words. At least, until Jon laughs, "Oh my god, you thought that was a scene."
Stephen's heart flutters feebly. "You...you gave me the green light!"
"Well, yeah...Stephen, it's okay! I said green because I consented, and I never went back on that. But the whole kinda-nervous first-time bit, that wasn't faked."
"Which means it doesn't count," moans Stephen, withdrawing his touch from Jon's skin and landing on his pillow with a thump. "Because it wasn't enthusiastic consent."
"Stephen...." Rolling over, Jon plucks at Stephen's pajama shirt, offering one of the warm, subtle smiles he almost never wears in public. "It was hot. You got me through the bad parts and I'm looking forward to going back for the good parts. My ass is happily conquered territory and there's no one I would rather have had lead the charge. Does this count as enthusiasm yet?"
"Imperialistic language," warns Stephen gruffly. But he lets himself wrap his arm around Jon's shoulders, and Jon's head rests comfortably against his chest.
Jon studies his sensible pantsuit in the full-length mirror. It's a nice slate-blue over a white blouse that manages to make him look less pale than usual, and it fits surprisingly well except for the pinch in the crotch. (There are plain white panties under that; he can't move too fast without his junk falling out of them.)
He tugs at the neckline of the blouse, a modest V that dips below his collarbones, and says, "You're sure you don't want me to shave my chest or anything?"
"Don't be so problematic, Jon," chides Stephen from the bureau, where he's rummaging through one of the lower drawers. "The expectation for women to shave their body hair is a degrading tool of the patriarchy."
The eyebrows in the mirror go up. "And forced feminization without shaving isn't degrading?"
"Not unless you think there's something inherently lesser about being female!"
"But isn't that sort of the point?" Jon sifts through Stephen's favorite buzzwords, trying to phrase this in a way that won't trip any of his vocabulary-based sensors. "To, uh...to reclaim the trappings of oppression, in the form of stereotypical markers associated with femininity, by recontextualizing them in a kink-positive setting?"
Stephen jumps to his feet and kicks the drawer closed. "As male-identified people, we aren't in a position to reclaim them in the first place. Face forward and hold up your hair."
Jon obeys, gathering the long blonde wig into a loose ponytail and holding it away from his neck. To his surprise, he recognizes the necklace: five turquoise ovals in silver settings, strung on a silver chain. Stephen bought it from a Navajo seller years ago, and gifted it to Lorraine on the condition that she never take it out of the house, because to actually wear it in public would be cultural appropriation.
"Mmmm. Okay, hands down," urges Stephen. He loops his arms around Jon's well-tailored waistline and rests his head on Jon's shoulder, breathing in the sweet scent of...whatever box this wig has been stored in. "How do you feel?"
"Precarious," admits Jon, with a worried glance at his badly-wrapped package. "Uh, Stephen? If we're doing this from the premise that women can wear whatever the hell they want anyway, why not extend that to T-shirts, boxers, and men's khakis? I mean, isn't my normal wardrobe just as much of a legitimate non-male-gaze-based female outfit choice as this one?"
Stephen goes white. Well, whiter than usual. "You're right. You're absolutely right. Thank you for calling me out on my unexamined sexism...."
"Oh, for the love of — Stephen, I didn't mean — green, okay? It feels good. Not that I'm going to wear it out on the street, but it's comfortable and sensual and feels silky-smooth against my skin, even the furry parts. And this necklace really brings out my eyes."
His boyfriend relaxes a little, cuddling against him. "I thought it would look good on you when I bought it," he confesses. "In retrospect, maybe I shouldn't have mentioned that to Lorraine."
Jon has tried to endure without complaint. He really has. But everyone has limits, and sometimes there's only so much a man can take.
"Yellow," he pants.
Stephen drops both the half-tied knot around Jon's ankle and the heavy bondage manual he had been consulting while tying it. "What's wrong? Is it unexpectedly triggering? Am I cutting off your circulation?"
Jon grimaces. "My nose itches."
"...Is that it?"
"I wouldn't have bothered you with it, but, you know...." Jon tugs meaningfully at the ties lashing his wrists to the bedposts. "Unless you have a kink for unscratched itching? In which case I could maybe put up with it a little longer."
"No, it's fine!" Stephen's crooked finger hovers at the near side of his nose. "Here—?"
"Other side — no, up a little — there." A sigh of relief flows up from his chest. "Thanks, babe. You're a lifesaver...Green."
Stephen pulls a frustrated pout. "Was that 'green, scratching is good, keep doing it' or 'green, you can go back to tying me up now'? Or 'you are the green kind of Life Saver'?"
"Uh, the second one. What would 'you are a green Life Saver' even mean?"
"No idea," said Stephen, hopping off the bed to retrieve the fallen book. "I don't think I do anything analogous to giving off sparks when chewed in the dark. Although, to be fair, I have no scientific evidence to back that up."
When Stephen came back into the den with two mugs of berry tea, Jon was still on the couch, a soccer game on mute on the flatscreen and his own voice echoing in his ears.
He wasn't sore. Wasn't so much as rug-burned. Stephen had been almost comically gentle, a far cry from the biting he was starting to allow himself, the scratches so faint Jon hardly realized they were there until Stephen started tracing them like fine calligraphy. Maybe there would be bruises to mark Stephen's grip, but it didn't feel like it.
The scene had been all in their voices. Stephen's don't move and Jon's no, please—
Was it weird to talk about a comfortable rape fantasy?
The aftermath was sure comfortable. Stephen had helped him up from the floor, tucked him into an off-brand snuggie (locally produced, hand-knit from natural fabrics), and was now pressing a steaming mug (the one with the rainbow peace sign) into his hands. They shook as he accepted it.
"Too hot?" said Stephen, barely above a whisper. He'd found clothes somewhere along the way, boxers and a long loose shirt in a faded tie-dye pattern.
Jon shook his head. "'S fine," he croaked.
Stephen swallowed. "Jon...if you have reconsidered your personal boundaries in light of new experiences...what I mean is, if you never want to do that again, you would be perfectly within your rights to say so."
"Isn't that." Jon forced himself to take a gulp of tea, to soothe a throat worn down by moaning it hurts and green in the same (begging) tone. "Surprised, that's all. Didn't know I could act that well."
The couch sagged as Stephen joined Jon, putting them hip-to-hip, and smoothed his palm up the fluffiness wrapping Jon's shoulder. "You always act that well," he said loyally.
Of course Stephen would think that. To the rest of the world, Jon was only convincing when he was exaggerating his real emotions or acting for an audience whose average age was three. Give him a thick shelf of irony and he could skate through affectations with ease. Sincerity would require smashing through that, and he was pretty sure there weren't enough hidden depths underneath to be worth the trouble.
(And yet — turned on and gratified and comfortable, with only the barest pretense of restraint, knowing all the while that Stephen would halt the instant he said their one coded syllable — he'd played vulnerable so well that —)
"But I think you're acting now," blurted Stephen.
Jon caught himself in the middle of staring into space. "Hm?"
"Evidence suggests that there's something bothering you," continued Stephen, picking up steam. "And based on previous conversations it would be logical to assume that you're reluctant to say so, because you don't want me to regress to my previous state of feeling guilty for even having this kink, let alone acting it out in a consensual environment. Or it could just be a natural outgrowth of your reticent personality type. But I know because of extensive googling that being a sub can be very difficult and emotionally draining process, and I will feel even guiltier if I don't provide the requisite support, although I would not want to impose search results on your lived experience because that would be oppressive, and maybe this whole thing is just an inappropriate projection of my related fantasies of holding and soothing you while you go through a difficult time, in which case I apologize and withdraw the whole idea."
He broke off, winded by the speech, warm round eyes fixed earnestly on Jon.
Half-dazed, Jon said, "I think you should cuddle me now."
They ended up curled together like puzzle blocks, Jon on his side with his back against the couch and one arm across Stephen's stomach, Stephen sitting up with his knees hooked over Jon's thighs. A pillow tucked under Stephen's elbow supported Jon's head, while Stephen went on stroking his arm, rubbing his shoulders, carding through his hair, and loving him with a million little touches.
Whatever detached, floaty place Jon had gone to began relinquishing its grip.
"I believe all people are of equal value, and should be praised and celebrated no matter what," began Stephen. "But, Jon...even if I didn't...I would still say that you are really, really precious to me."
Eyes comfortably closed, Jon replied, "Green."
The door is locked.
Jon turns around in the tiny storeroom, desperate for another exit. The only light is from the way he came in, and the third time he looks that way most of it is blocked by Stephen's silhouette.
"Stephen, it doesn't have to be like this," babbles Jon. "We can share the SuperPAC!"
"Huh." Stephen strokes his beard. "That sounds like a good and reasonable compromise."
Jon's heart leaps. Is this it? Was that really all he had to say to pull this off?
"...but then, the two sides being compromised between are 'you keep your original promise' and 'you break your promise and take advantage of my good will'."
"Of course, I would be willing to renegotiate in light of changing circumstances," continues Stephen, taking a step forward. "For example, if you were in desperate need of money. But you're a multimillionaire! And — and that means — it means that your position is not as valid as mine!"
From Stephen, that's the rough equivalent of sit the fuck down. Jon finds himself reduced to incoherent babbling.
A hand clamped over his mouth shuts him up. "Jon. Please respect my right to speak. You don't have to give the SuperPAC back."
"Really?" pants Jon. It comes out "Wuwah?"
"No," coos Stephen. "Because I'm going to politely but firmly requisition it from you."
He cups the back of Jon's head and crushes him into a kiss.
The air crackles with electricity. Stephen's tongue pushes its way into Jon's mouth, and Jon trembles as he finds all the vitality draining out of him, or at least all of it which was derived from unregulated and untraceable cash. And with it goes something else: the head-spinning recklessness, the intoxicating disregard for all logical spending practices, whatever impulse had made him think it was a good idea to buy a zeppelin — seriously, a zeppelin? What was he even planning to do with that?
Their lips part; green energy streams from Jon's mouth to Stephen's. Somehow, he trusts Stephen not to let the power go to his head. If only because Stephen will first tie it down with committees and regulations and long impassioned hearings from every possible voice until the effort of trying to move so much as a dollar is too great to be worth the hassle.
Swallowing the last of it, eyes lit up like a jack-o'-lantern's, Stephen murmurs against Jon's ear, "You've been a very bad boy."
Jon hangs his head. "I know."
"You're going to give all the frivolous things back." The rush of power glows from Stephen's very pores. "Or, if they're nonreturnable, sell them and give the money to worthy causes."
"And then," breathes Stephen, "I am going to spank you for every last one."
Jon shivers with a low groan. Maybe the notion of unlimited cash going to Stephen's head isn't such a bad idea.