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Rhys stares at himself in the bathroom mirror, adjusts his mortarboard, and wonders when this will start to feel real.

Maybe it’ll happen once the ceremony starts. Maybe it’ll happen when he crosses the stage. Maybe after he’s shaken hands with the dean and the president he’ll feel like he’s actually graduating.

Maybe if he could stop thinking about Jack for two fucking seconds -

Rhys scowls at the mirror. Jack wasn’t even supposed to be here - he had said as much, that last time in the car, that he was heading out of the country. Six months at least. Could be a year. Like it didn’t matter, like it was nothing. And it is nothing, it doesn’t matter; at least, it hadn’t until Rhys had spotted the last face he expected to see - the last face he wanted to see - dropping Angel at the student check-in station Rhys had been heading toward.

Angel hadn’t seen him. Jack had. He had shifted his sunglasses an inch or two, meeting Rhys’ eyes over the frames. He’d grinned, and Rhys’ stomach had imploded.

Rhys is 100% sure that Vaughn hadn’t bought whatever excuse Rhys had stammered out, but he had let Rhys go when Rhys had stumbled for the exit.

Rhys closes his eyes and leans on the sink, suddenly unable to look at himself. He just needs a moment, that’s all. Just another moment to collect himself and he’ll go back out there, he’ll find Vaughn and he’ll graduate and this will all be behind him.

Which makes it really fucking bad timing when the door opens and familiar voice says, “You lost, kiddo?”

“Are you ?” Rhys snaps. It comes out harsher than he intends - or maybe it doesn’t, maybe he does mean to sound like that, angry and upset and although he hates this about himself, the tiniest bit hopeful.

Jack hums. “Nah. I found what I was looking for.” Rhys has to open his eyes at that, has to see what Jack looks like. He looks just like he did the day he kicked Rhys to the curb, still the same thrown back shoulders, the grin that says he knows something the rest of the world doesn’t and it is freaking hilarious . He still seems to suck up all of the oxygen in the room, and Rhys is a little ashamed that he still turns toward it, like there’s a hook in his gut and Jack’s holding the line.

“What do you want?” Rhys folds his arms and Jack just grins, sliding his sunglasses into an inside pocket as he steps forward. When he moves into Rhys’ space Rhys steps back, because the alternative is throwing himself at Jack and Rhys isn’t that desperate. He isn’t .

“Nah kid, that’s not the question.” Rhys’ shoulder blades hit the wall and Jack is too close, way too close. “The question is: what do you want, Rhys?” Rhys closes his eyes again because there are too many answers to that, and maybe if he doesn’t have to look at Jack he won’t accidentally say any of them.

There’s a firm pressure on his jaw, and then his lips, and Rhys’ eyes fly open because holy shit - Jack’s kissing him, Jack’s never kissed him before; Rhys has a mental catalog of all the ways Jack’s touched him and it’s never been like this. Jack’s hand on Rhys’ jaw tilts his head back, and Rhys’ eyelids flutter as he groans into Jack’s mouth.

“Mmm. Thought so,” Jack says when he pulls away, and Rhys just blinks because that’s definitely more conversation than he can handle at this point.

“According to the very helpful ushers, we’ve got about half an hour, and it’s your big day, kid.” Jack’s grin should come with some kind of warning, because Rhys feels drunk on it, buoyed up and untouchable. “Wanna celebrate?”

The twinkle in Jack’s eyes must short-circuit something in Rhys’ brain, because the next thing he remembers is slamming the door to the largest stall shut with one hand, the other one fisted in Jack’s vest as Jack laughs and lets Rhys manhandle him. As soon as the lock snicks shut, however, Jack takes Rhys by the wrist and backs him up against the stall door.

“I’ll take that as a yes ,” he says, amused, and then his mouth is on Rhys’ again, and Rhys doesn’t even mind that his arm is pinned to the door, Jack can have that, Jack can have whatever he wants as long as he doesn’t stop . Jack’s other hand is on his hip, turning him; Rhys goes willingly, and when Jack presses warm and solid against his back Rhys swallows back something that’s uncomfortably like a sob. Jack noses along his hairline, breathing in, and Rhys shudders. He scrambles to unzip his robe and undo his belt, and the faint jingle behind him tells him Jack is doing the same.

Jack doesn’t even bother pulling the robe off of him, just hikes it up Rhys’ back and runs a hand over Rhys’ ass. His grip is firm, proprietary almost, and Rhys pushes back into it. They don’t have any lube, and spit’s not enough, not nearly enough, but Rhys is almost tempted -

There’s a small pop behind him and then there’s a finger, warm and slick at his entrance, and Rhys turns again to to see Jack tossing a travel packet of lube on the ground.

“You - nng ,” Jack presses in and Rhys almost loses the thought. “You planned this,” he gasps out, and it comes out a lot less accusatory and a lot more needy than he had intended.

“Sure did, pumpkin.” Jack doesn’t look up, concentrating on opening Rhys up, and Rhys clenches his teeth on a moan as Jack adds a second finger. “And aren’t you glad I did?”

There’s no good answer to that - especially with the way Rhys is spreading his legs as far as he can and rocking back into Jack’s fingers. Jack’s careful but quick, and before Rhys knows it Jack is pulling out a condom and rolling it on. Jack presses the head of his dick against Rhys’ entrance and Rhys hears himself moaning before he know he’s done it. Jack chuckles.

“Did you miss daddy’s cock, baby?” He rubs his dick teasingly between Rhys’ cheeks and Rhys swears. He squirms against the door, trying to push back, but Jack’s got him pinned. Jack draws back, letting the head of his dick rest at the top of Rhys’ ass and Rhys’ whole body shudders with want.

“I can’t hear you,” Jack purrs behind him. “Did you miss me?”

Rhys knows what Jack wants and the words come spilling out because the truth is - the truth is that Rhys wants it too.

Yes , goddamnit, I missed your dick, I missed you - oh shit ohshit .” Rhys loses control of his words as Jack finally, finally pushes into him, and the stretch of Jack’s cock steals any chance Rhys had at coherence.

He did miss this. He’s had a couple one-night stands in the last few months and one disastrous, failed attempt at a relationship, but nothing and no one seems to compare with the way Jack makes him feel just by being in the same room. And definitely nothing compares with the way Jack seems to know just how to get him worked up, to the sensation of Jack’s cock dragging over sensitive skin and pressing insistently into him. Jack groans as he sinks in, stretching Rhys open with his dick and it’s so much better than fingers, so much better than anything Rhys has had that he bites his lip against the prickling in his eyes.

“You know what the worst part is?” Jack says as he draws back. “I did too.”

The next thrust rocks Rhys up on his toes, hands scrabbling against the stall door. Jack sets a steady pace that has Rhys bracing against the door to meet it, biting his lip against the sounds escaping his throat.

“I just can't seem to get you out of my head, kid.” Jack sounds conversational, like he’s not driving Rhys out of his mind with every thrust. “What do you think we should do about that?”

Rhys doesn’t have an answer to that, doesn’t know how he’s supposed to answer that, not when he can practically taste Jack’s dick in the back of his throat - but he doesn’t have to, not for now, at least, because right then the creak of untended hinges breaks through the sound of flesh on flesh and hallway conversation filters in and Rhys can’t believe it, can’t believe his fucking luck, why does this keep happening to him -

Jack laughs and snaps his hips forward and Rhys whimpers, the sound echoing damningly on the tile.

“Try again later, we’re busy.” Jack calls. “Unless listening’s your thing.” Rhys can hardly hear the backpedaling footsteps and the slamming of the door over the blood rushing in his ears, and he’s blushing so hard it hurts , but it’s possible he’s never been more turned on and Jack’s still going .

“I think we know what your thing is, don’t we, Rhysie,” Jack purrs behind him, and Rhys would really take exception to that if he wasn’t on the verge of coming harder than he has in months, tension coiling warm and electric in his gut. It’s not enough though, not yet -

“Please, I - Jack, please .” Jack seems to hear what he’s asking for and reaches around to get a firm hand on Rhys’ dick. Jack strokes once, twice, three times and Rhys is biting down on his left hand to muffle the scream as his vision whites out and his body pulls taut. Jack fucks him through it, grinding his hips against Rhys’ ass and Rhys can distantly feel Jack jerk against him and grow still.

Slowly the sound of heavy breathing filters back in through the ringing in Rhys’ ears, and he shifts as Jack slips out of him. Jack keeps him from turning for a moment, running his fingers between Rhys’ cheeks and Rhys shudders at the drag of calluses over sensitive skin.

“You know,” Jack says conversationally as his fingers trace Rhys’ stretched rim, “if you came home with me I bet I could find you a pretty little plug that would keep my come in you for hours. Would you like that? Keeping yourself stretched and ready for me?”

Rhys’ dick definitely likes the sound of that, but something in his chest has gotten hung up on an earlier phrase.

“If I - if I came home with you?” Rhys pulls up his pants and turns around, putting his clothing back in order automatically while his brain tries to catch up.

“Mm.” Jack peels off the condom and drops it on the floor, raising an eyebrow at the face Rhys makes. “I think you’re looking for something, Rhys; I think you like being on your knees, although you don’t know why. I can help with that. If you want.” He should look ridiculous, shuffling his dick back in his pants, but Rhys is struck by how serious Jack looks. There’s no hint of teasing; just a calm conviction that he’s right.

Rhys is a little dizzy to think that he might be, of what Jack might be offering here.

“What about Angel?” Rhys holds his breath, because this is the sticking point, isn’t it? If there’s anything that will make Jack change his mind it’s his daughter.

Jack waves a hand. “Angel will come around. And she’ll be across the country, anyway.” Rhys is not sure that distance is going to cool Angel’s wrath in any way, but if he’s not going to get yelled at in person…

Rhys jumps as the intercom blares to life. “ Last call for graduates to report to check-in station. All graduates, please report to your check-in station now.”

Jack looks up. “Looks like that’s your cue, kiddo.” He draws out a card from his back pocket; plain white, with simple black script. “This is me. If you find the answer is yes, that you want someone to show you the ropes -” Jack grins “- you give me a call.” Jack leans close and brushes his lips over Rhys’ as he tucks the card into Rhys’ pocket, a burning touch there and gone again just as fast. Rhys feels frozen in place, unable to blink or even breathe as Jack pulls back.

Jack winks, and slips his sunglasses back on. “See you around, kiddo. Congratulations.” He reaches past Rhys to unlock the stall door and it’s like Rhys is moving in slow motion, able to turn but not reach out as Jack moves past him, across the bathroom, and out the door. It’s only when the door bangs shut behind him that Rhys feels like he can breathe again.

Then he checks his watch, swears, and breaks into a run.

He makes it, but barely - he catches Vaughn waving to him and slides into line with him, whispering sorry ’s and thank you ’s to the others in line who grumble but make room for him. This still doesn’t feel real - nothing feels real - but then the music starts and the line starts moving and after that it’s just follow the person in front of you.

He doesn’t remember the speeches. He barely remembers crossing the stage. He comes back to himself a little in the reception afterward, smiling and shaking hands and trading hugs with friends and family and faculty. He doesn’t see Jack at all, and he doesn’t know if that’s a good or bad thing.

He thinks about it as he’s hugging Vaughn and Yvette and making promises to see them tomorrow. Calling Jack is a dumb idea; these two would tell him so if he could bring himself to say anything. If they notice that he’s distracted, he hopes that they write it off to the stress of the celebrations.

During dinner he shifts a little, feeling the soreness in his ass, and although this is the last thing he wants to be thinking about while sitting across from his parents he can’t help the little shiver of excitement at the thought that Jack had sought him out . That he might do it again. If Rhys asks him to.

Rhys’ father proposes a toast - “to new beginnings” - and although it’s just a piece of cardstock Jack’s card feels like it’s burning its way through Rhys’ pocket.

Later, much later, after the goodbyes have been said and he’s finally back in the little apartment he shares with Vaughn, Rhys sits alone in his bedroom and pulls out the card. It’s still as crisp as when Jack tucked it in his pocket. Rhys skims his fingers over it, and he imagines he can still feel the heat of Jack’s body.

He pulls out his phone. It’s late, but if he doesn’t do this now he might never do it at all.

The line rings once, twice, and just as Rhys is frantically trying to decide what kind of voicemail he could possibly leave it picks up.

“Hello?” It’s stupid how just the sound of Jack’s voice can make Rhys’ heart beat faster, but there’s no turning away from that. Not anymore.

“Hi, um - it’s Rhys.” Rhys hadn’t really thought much past dialing - now that he’s here, he’s not sure how to put into words what he wants.

“Heya, kiddo.” Jack’s voice immediately slides into something warmer. Something darker . “You got an answer for me?”

“Yes.” And suddenly, Rhys finds that he does have the words. “My answer is yes. I do want this.” I want you . “Whatever that means, however this works out - I want to give it a shot.” This might crash and burn on him, but Rhys has to take this chance, has to find out. He’s going to regret it for the rest of his life if he doesn’t.

Rhys clears his throat. “So - what happens next?”