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Excellent Benefits

Chapter Text

Dex isn’t sure who says it. Shitty, maybe? Or someone else with a similar voice. But somebody says it, and the words ring in Dex’s ears and sink into his alcohol-heavy brain with force. It comes just after Nursey admits, “Fuck, drunk enough I’d make out with anything.”

Someone says, “Even Dex?”

And Nursey says, “Hell, yeah, even Dex.”

And someone– damn it, is it Shitty? – says, “Good thing Dex’d never make out with you, no matter how drunk he got.”

Dex starts. Somehow it’s an insult, somehow he can’t ignore it. He jumps up and storms across the room. “Bullshit,” he says, “bullshit, what kind of a fucking prude do you think I am?”

Shitty and Nursey and Wicks all stare at him. A couple of others there, faces blurred by alcohol and dimness. Dex still isn’t sure who said it.

The corner of Nursey’s mouth turns up. “Dude, I don’t even want to think about how drunk you’d have to be. That’s, like, alcohol poisoning level.”

Dex bristles. He has no idea why this is something he wants to challenge. There’s a piece of him that’s WTFing even as he puffs himself up, jabbing a thumb toward his chest. “Bullshit,” he repeats. “I’d do it now. I’m fucking drunk enough.”

Nursey’s staring at him, goggling. “The fuck, Poindexter?”

“Seriously.” Dex is frowning, He opens his arms wide. “Go for it, Nurse. Bet you won’t.”

“You fucker,” Nursey breathes, and in another moment he’s up on his feet, meeting Dex halfway across the room, and taking Dex’s face in two warm hands, guiding their mouths together.

Nursey’s lips are warm on his, warm and beer-sweet, and he kisses like he means it, soft and fluid and wonderful. Dex moans and opens his mouth to the kiss, licking at Nursey’s lips, at his tongue. Nursey slides his hands across Dex’s jaw, down to his neck, a more intimate touch. Dex loses his breath. Sucking in air desperately through his nostrils, he grabs Nursey and brings their bodies crashing together.

Oh, oh, it’s good, it’s so good. Nursey’s breath is warm as it slips into and against his mouth. Nursey’s fingers slide into his hair. Nursey’s everywhere, all up against him, and Dex can’t stop. He purses his lips, chasing after more kisses. When their tongues curl together, bright lightning sears him from chest down to cock. He presses against Nursey, tugs him in again so their bodies are touching every possible place. Hips and thighs and chests and yes. Nursey’s hard. They both are. It’s far and away the best kiss Dex has ever experienced. He’s flying.

They break apart. Pant. Nursey sticks out his tongue to lick the seam of Dex’s lips. Dex hauls him in for more kisses. He can’t leave it alone. He can’t let it end.

This time they’re sinking onto the couch, Nurse straddling him, kissing again. Nurse’s hands play at his shoulders, stroke the soft skin of his neck. Dex shivers. Nurse’s thumbs brush against his jawline, the patch of softness beneath his ears. It’s extraordinary. He’s shivering all over.  He lets go of Nurse’s mouth long enough to kiss at his jaw, his neck. Nurse moans above him, the most wonderful sound, a soft tenor. Dex chases the sound, trying to draw out more moans. But Nurse is insistent too, craning his neck, pulling Dex’s mouth up to meet his again. They kiss for minutes. Hours, it feels like. Infinities, universes are born, just of the two of them kissing.

“Holy,” Nursey breathes, pulling back. “We should– we should stop.”

“Yeah,” Dex agrees. They don’t stop.

Someone’s breathing “hottt,” next to them. Someone else is whooping, an obnoxious noise . Dex doesn’t pay it any mind. His whole world right now is Nursey’s mouth on his, Nursey’s arms wrapped around his shoulders, He’s endlessly warm, sweating, intoxicated by more than just tub juice. God, it is so fucking good, all of it is, the whole world. He doesn’t want it to ever end. Because once it does, reality will come rushing back in and he will remember that this is nothing but a drunken dare.

And that thought – it makes him sad enough to stop.

“All right, all right, Nurse, enough. Fuck. Get off me.” He shoves Nursey off him unceremoniously. Nurse looks dizzy and confused  Someone in the crowd around them lets out a disappointed “awww.”

Dex turns and snaps. “Show’s over, you pervs.” He spits on the floor, like he’s trying to get the bad taste out of his mouth. Nothing could be further from the truth. The taste of Nurse remains on his tongue, warm and sweet and everything he’s ever wanted without knowing it. He tries to swallow it down, turning away from a dazed-looking Nursey, making his way to the front porch for another drink.

Shit. How could he not realize how badly he wanted Nurse? All it took was a dare, and then Nursey was in his arms and it was… God, it was everything. Dex is still trembling from the feeling of it all. The warmth of his skin, the smell of him, the sweet rasps of his shallow breaths in Dex’s ears. It all plays out in his mind again, like every erotic fantasy he’s ever hard, recent and real and tearing him apart.

This is bullshit. He doesn’t need this in his life. Maybe … maybe it will all be over tomorrow. When he sobers up. Maybe it was all just induced by the alcohol, and he’ll wake up, and the feeling of Nurse’s hands on him will have evaporated into nothing. Hell, A guy can dream.

And oh, he dreams.

That night, despite the sedating pull of the alcohol, he dreams about Nurse on him. And beneath him, and behind him… rocking a sweet, gentle rhythm into him… breath warm on the shell of Dex’s ear, whispering “God, you feel so good” … fingers playing on his upper arm, tight around his cock, nails dragging at his thighs …

Dex wakes up with soaked sheets and a messy stomach. He groans, grumbles, gets up to clean off.

His head is pounding. It’s a hell of a hangover and it isn’t even loud enough to drown out the  root problem. Dex heads for breakfast knowing that he’s got it bad for Derek Nurse, that he would probably kill someone to feel Nurse’s skin against his again, and that even killing someone, as cathartic as it might be, wouldn’t persuade Nurse to feel the same.

Thank God Nurse isn’t at breakfast. If Dex knows one thing about the guy, it’s that he gets hangovers that are even worse than Dex’s.

It’s Lardo who finds him around noontime, sliding into the seat next to him at the computer lab and booting up some graphics program in which she starts to play with circles and lines. Dex watches for a few minutes, amazed by her ability to pull a curve into the perfect place. She constructs a wave, a hillside, a face out of nothing as he blinks, disbelieving, at the screen.

“So, you guys a thing now?” she asks, out of nowhere, voice as flat and disaffected as usual.

“What? Wait, what?”

“You and Nurse.”

“A thing?” Dex screws up his face. “No. God, it was a fucking dare.”

“It was your fucking dare,” she says, and all at once there’s a beautiful green eye staring at him from the middle of the face. The things she does with that software are sorcery.


“So,” she says with a shrug, “people could take that to mean something.”

“That, what? That I’m hot for him or some shit?” Dex shudders as he says the word out loud.

“I don’t know.” She draws another gorgeous eye, and starts on a bulbous nose. Is she drawing Nursey? Because that’s not cool. “I’m just saying, people could take it the wrong way. And by people, I mean Nursey.”

“Oh.” Dex shudders. He hadn’t even really thought about what Nursey might have taken his dare to mean.  He’d just taken it for granted that Nurse would have either forgotten the whole thing or written it off as the meaningless drunken shenanigan it was always supposed to be. It’s Dex’s own failing that he had to come out of it with a thirst for Nursey that’s gonna drive him crazy. But maybe he’s fucked with Nursey’s head a little bit too. Nurse ought to know, at least, that Dex won’t try that shit again.

“You should probably go talk to him, is all I’m saying,” Lardo says, drawing a pair of red lips that definitely aren’t Nursey’s. Fuck, Dex has got him on the mind.

He starts packing up his stuff.

He shows up at Nursey’s brownstone with his bag slung over his shoulder, knocks, leans against the doorframe. His heart’s racing, and he’s gonna pretend it’s from the walk and the crisp air.

Nursey opens the door. “Hey.” He looks – fuck, he looks so good. His shirt’s hanging low on his chest, uneven, showing a glimpse of muscle. Dex wants to reach out, tug on that thin cotton until it’s stretched or even ripped beyond recognition, and slide his hand along the line of Nurse’s pec. He tries not to drool as he offers a simple hey back.

“Come in,” Nursey says, and Dex follows him into the room. The size of Nurse’s room never ceases to amaze him. All this hardwood and all these windows and this wide open space. It’s obscene, especially for an underclassman. Normally Dex’d get a little cranky about it, but today he’s got more then enough to fill his outrage-o-meter, and it’s all because of the guy walking just ahead of him. All soft lines and hard planes, so damn touchable, so out of reach. Nursey crashes down onto the couch, hands folded behind his head, and Dex follows, separating them with a respectable distance.

“So that shit was embarrassing, huh,” Nursey says.

Odd way to start the conversation, but okay. “Yeah, no shit. People are weird.” Okay, maybe Dex is the weirdest, considering he basically dared it to happen.

But Nursey doesn’t call him on it. “I don’t get why everyone was so eager to watch,” he says. “Like, go watch a fucking porno if you want to see people get it on, that’s what they’re there for.”


“Like.” Nursey is frowning. “I’m not doing it for your amusement, right?”

“Right, right, exactly.” Dex wants to ask, then what are you doing it for? But he bites his lip. Eyes on the prize, Poindexter. “Anyway. I just came by to make sure we’re – we’re cool.”

“Oh. Oh, yeah.” Nursey’s laugh is a little shaky. “Yeah, yeah, of course we’re cool.”

“I mean.” Dex frowns, looks at his hands. His palms are always so pink. It annoys him. “I didn’t want anybody getting any wrong ideas.”

“Pff.” Nursey blows air through his lips. “No, no, I get it, dude. We were drunk, it was a pissing contest. No big deal.”

Dex eyes him. Not a slightest hint of perturbation on that face. Which is annoying. Couldn’t he look a little confused? “OK. Cause I didn’t want you to think…”

“Naw, man. Naw.” Nursey slumps down on the couch, butt easing forward toward the edge of the cushion. He looks kind of like he’s melting. “‘S all good.”

“All right. Cool.”


“Yeah, good.” Dex should get up and go home now. Somehow he’s not, and it’s annoying him.

“Good, man.” Nursey oozes off the couch entirely, planting his ass on the floor. He slings his arms over the couch cushions behind him, one hand landing on Dex’s knee.

Dex frowns and shakes him off, getting to his feet. “All right. I just wanted to make sure.” He heads for the exit.

“Hey, yo, Dex?” Nursey calls from the floor.

Dex’s at the door already. “What?”

“You wanna do it again?”


It takes real effort to turn, but Dex manages it. Nursey’s sitting there on the floor, his arms widespread on the couch beneath him, smiling that weird content smile. His legs stretch in a gangly pair toward the TV, one ankle folded over his other. He cocks his head. “Well?”

Dex puts his bag down with a sigh. “Say that one more time.”

“Wanna do it again?” Now Nursey’s getting to his feet. “No audience this time. And. You know.” He takes a step toward Dex. “Sober.”

“Why– why would I–” Dex looks from one corner of the room to the other. He’s half expecting a hidden camera. “Why are you asking me that?”

Nursey shrugs. Takes another step. A bloom of heat starts in Dex’s gut that quickly spreads to his chest and fingers. “Because it was hot,” Nursey says. “I mean, come on, it was hot, wasn’t it?”

“It – uh–” Oh hell, Nursey’s too close too quickly, shoulders square with Dex’s own, face impeccably beautiful before Dex’s helpless eyes. The curve of Nursey’s eyelashes. The pink whisper of his lips. “Yeah,” Dex agrees before he can help himself.

“So?” Nursey reaches out. His hand slides, a warm circle, around Dex’s wrist. “Why not?”

Because we’re not boyfriends. Because it’d be torture. Because I’d only want you more. “I– I dunno.”

Nursey’s forehead touches his. Soft breath caresses his face. Dex knows he’s red all over, but he can’t help it, can’t stop it. “Then–?”

Dex licks his lips. Nursey’s gaze snaps down to capture it. Those eyes, like a tiger’s, on Dex’s mouth. Dex feels like he’s been devoured.

“Okay,” he breathes. “Okay.”

Nursey’s mouth slides against his. His tongue, a lick of flame, sears the seam of Dex’s mouth.

In another moment Dex is walking him backward, kissing him like he’s starving for it. He grabs at Nursey’s shoulders, shoves him back down onto the couch and climbs over him. Fuck, Nursey’s underneath him like he’d imagined, so much warm muscle and soft lips, and Nursey’s making little noises into the kiss, whimpers in a voice softer and gentler than Dex has ever heard from him. Nursey’s fingers are at his waist, gripping, grabbing at his shirt, and they’re like touches of fire. Dex catches Nursey’s tongue between his lips, sucks. Nursey gives a glorious groan.

“Yeah,” Dex murmurs into the kiss, and he doesn’t recognize his own voice. Has he ever sounded this low and rough, this utterly wrecked? Nursey’s done this to him – no, Nursey’s doing this to him, still, with sneaky fingers raking up under his shirt and insistent hips cresting against Dex’s, and fuck, that’s his cock grinding against Dex’s stomach. It feels amazing. A flash of an image sears Dex’s mind – his fingers wrapped around Nursey, Nursey arching and groaning and coming all over Dex’s hand – and he bites at Nursey’s lips to keep from exploding with it.

Nursey’s hands jump, from Dex’s back to his ass, and he squeezes sudden and hard. Dex goes rigid, sucking in a breath.

“No good?” Nursey murmurs underneath him. How does he even have control of his brain right now? Dex’s so far gone he doesn’t know if he can answer.

He pants, pressing his forehead to Nursey’s. “No. Good. I mean. Yeah, it’s good.” Nursey’s lips curve into a smile, and he gives Dex another squeeze for good measure. Dex groans, the sound tumbling from his lips, and presses down against Nursey. His erection is riding against Nursey’s thigh, the muscle hot and hard and perfect against him. Nursey sighs at the feel of it, opens his legs a crack so Dex can rock into the space between.  

It’s too good. Dex grits his teeth and lets out a noise he should be ashamed of. Fuck, where did Nursey learn to do that? He must have made out with guys before. Not surprising. Dex must seem like a rank amateur. Awkward, sloppy, inexperienced – but then Nursey makes a noise and mutters, “Fuck, Dex, do that again.” Dex doesn’t even know what he’s done. He drops an open-mouthed kiss on Nursey’s neck, and yeah, yeah, that seems to do it. Nursey grabs at his thighs, nails raking along the fabric of his slacks,  and tips his head back with a groan.

It’s heady, having Nursey here, drawing these noises out of him. Dex is dizzy with it all. He licks and nibbles at Nursey’s throat, reveling in the feel and taste of him – warm and smoky and sweet. Oh, he’s so gone. Nursey is so hot, and he feels even better today than he did last night. Dex’s whole mind is here now. He’s able to think and appreciate. And there’s so damn much of Nursey worth appreciating.

“Shit,” he breathes, returning his focus to Nursey’s lips, licking and sucking at them by turns. “Shit, Nurse, what are we even doing?”

Nursey laughs at him, even through pursing, pressing lips. “Getting it on,” he says, kissing down to Dex’s chin, up his jaw to his ear. “We’re getting it on, Poindexter.”

“No, but–” but then Nursey has his lips around Dex’s earlobe, and a “yes” tumbles out of his mouth before he can find his words again. “–we– oh, fuck – are we– what?”

Nursey sucks on his earlobe. Dex gives a wail. Nursey’s hands are down into his slacks now, holding fast to his hips. “Does it matter?”

No, it really doesn’t, so long as Nursey never stops, as long as Nursey slides his hand just a bit to the left and grips Dex’s aching cock –

But he doesn’t. Nursey never goes there. And Dex finds enough brainpower to pull back. He’s still on top of Nursey, with Nursey’s hands in his pants and Nursey smiling at him, his lips a deep kiss-drenched pink. But they’ve stopped. And now Dex needs to know.

“I don’t,” he starts, and shakes his head. The things Nursey makes him feel are too confusing. “I’m not ready – I don’t think I can be, like, a boyfriend–”

“It’s chill,” Nursey says. He pulls one hand upward, tucks a strand of hair behind Dex’s ears. “We can just be friends. With really excellent benefits.”

Dex doesn’t know how he feels about that. A piece of him is disappointed. But another piece is relieved. He’s not ready to plan dates, and devote time, and buy gifts and flowers or whatever you get a boyfriend. He wants in Nursey’s pants, that’s for damn sure, and he likes hanging with him, so… “Yeah,” he says. “Yeah. Excellent benefits. Cool.”

“‘Swawesome,” Nursey says. He leans up, plants a kiss on Dex’s mouth, and then pushes him up to his feet. “I just got a killer poem idea.”

“You– what?” Dex is fighting a wave of dizziness.

“Poem. Idea. Killer.” Nursey has leaped to his feet and is now searching for something – a notebook and pen, apparently, given his triumphant cry  when he finds them. “OK, shoo, you’re in my creative zone.”

“Shoo?” Dex echoes dumbly.

“Yeah, man. Or at least go sit down and be quiet for a bit. I gotta get this out.” Nursey shoots a look at him. “C’mon, man. No being jealous, since we’re not a thing.”

“We– I’m not jealous!” Dex huffs. He crosses the room, grabs his bag. “Have fun with your poem. I have homework.”

“Yeah, good luck with that.” Nursey’s already scratching down words. He doesn’t even look up as Dex crosses to the door. But he does add, as Dex turns the knob and pushes the door ajar, “Hey, dude?”

Dex turns, scowling. “What?”

Nursey glances up at him and offers a wink and a shit-eating grin. “Come by anytime.”

And fuck if he isn’t the cutest damn thing in the world.

Dex offers him a crooked smile in return. “You better believe it.” And with an answering wink, he’s out the door.


Chapter Text

We can just be friends. With really excellent benefits.

Dex is only a few feet in front of Nursey’s brownstone, heading home, when it hits him like a bucket of pucks: This is the worst idea in the world.

He should really turn back. March right up to Nursey’s door and say you know what, Nurse, forget it. Forget this. I know you, and you’re gonna make my life miserable about this whether you mean to or not. Let’s just pretend the whole thing never happened. Go back to being D-men and pals, and forget the rest. Done. Finito.

But the heat swimming in his gut is still so fierce. The feeling of Nursey’s mouth on his lingers, like a searing brand in the chill of the fall air. The sureness and firmness of Nursey’s fingers on his skin, the way their bodies had fit together, like they’d been made just for that. The warmth radiating from Nursey’s skin, the scent of him. Dex’s hard again, craving a million things he shouldn’t crave. Dreaming about what might happen next time.

He can’t do it. He can’t cut off the chance to feel that again. He’d do just about anything, endure anything, to get Derek Nurse’s hands on him one more time.

The next day he heads to team breakfast and ends up across from Nursey at the long table. It’s a usual breakfast – the team’s chattering, and Bitty’s showing Ransom another one of those Falconers videos, and Nursey’s calmly buttering his toast looking like God’s gift to Dexkind. Dex’s gaze lands on him and will not be torn away, no matter how hard Dex tries to dislodge it.

The line of Nursey’s throat is strangely graceful, and Dex thinks, yesterday I had my mouth all over that. A thrill comes over him, and he holds himself stiff, trying not to shudder. I had my mouth on him, and I can have it again, anytime I want. All I have to do is go over there.

“Poindexter.” Oh, shit. Nursey’s seen him looking. He’s smiling. That easy, lopsided smile. Dex simultaneously wants to run, punch him, and crawl over the table into his lap. “Something on my face?”

Dex scrambles for words. “Nah. You’re just looking handsome this morning.” He offers Nurse a grin.

Nurse lobs an easy smile back, and it hits Dex right in the chest. His heart speeds up. “Well, thanks,” he says. “You’re not so bad yourself.”

“Oh, God, you guys,” Lardo says. “You are not helping the rumor mill.”

“The what?” they say in unison. Nursey sounds a little more shocked than Dex does, but other than that, they’re in sync.

“Truth, truth,” Holster says, his mouth around a boiled egg. “So what’s up, you two? Something going on?”

“What? No,” Dex says.

“Gross,” Nursey says. And ow, that hurts. Dex tries not to wince. Did he have to say that much?

“Yeah, can’t a D-man compliment a fellow D-man on his stunning good looks?” Ransom says. “Come on, Holtzy. I could name a few examples.”

“Thank you!” Nursey says. “Thank you, Rans. I knew you’d understand.”

“Yeah, thanks, man,” Dex echoes. “I knew someone’d get it.”

“Say no more, boys,” Ransom says with a laugh. “Shit happens at kegsters. I got your back.”

“So, hang on, about all these examples,” Holster says. “These’d be when you told me how handsome I am, right?”

The whole table laughs. Ransom fires back with “Other way ‘round, bro!” and just like that, everyone’s fixating on a different pair of D-men. Dex sits back in his chair, relaxing. Maybe they can pull this off after all.

But when they pack up to leave after breakfast, Nursey rounds the table before Dex can get up and draws fingertips across the back of Dex’s neck. Dex visibly shivers, hairs standing straight up on his arms. He glances over at Nursey, who winks over his shoulder as he walks away.

Afternoon practice. Dex and Nursey are lined up doing passing drills, the puck shooting between them sure and straight as a beam of light. Dex meets Nursey’s eyes and feels invincible. They’re getting so good at this, working together on the ice. They’re not yet Ransom-and-Holster levels of synchronized, but they’re not bickering like they were last year at this time. There are even moments when Dex really feels like they’re two halves of the same whole.

(Like he did when Nursey was under him, like when his cock was grinding against Nursey’s stomach and Nursey was groaning–)

Dex misses a pass. “Damn it,” he mutters, and tries to banish the thoughts from his mind. He concentrates on the cool air around him, the slide of the ice under his skates. It’s simple, he tells himself. Skating and passing. The movement of the stick, the direction of the puck. Down the rink and back again.

But even as he gets his groove back, Nursey’s presence simmers underneath his skin, hot-blooded and intense. The puck comes driving at him, and Dex gets a flash of an image – Nursey pressing him into the boards, pulling off their helmets and crushing him with a kiss –

The puck connects. Dex slams it forward. Chowder can’t even get a piece of it.

In the locker room, Coach Murray tells him he did a good job today. The boys echo the sentiment. Chowder keeps re-enacting the goal, like he’s weirdly proud of missing it. Dex hides in his stall, embarrassed to be the center of attention. He looks down at his knees. A dark-skinned hand reaches out and pats him there, and Dex looks up to see Nursey.

“Good drills today, man,” he says. There’s a softness in his eyes that feels new somehow.

“Yeah.” Dex shrugs. “Thanks.”

“C’mon by tonight if you’ve got nothing going on,” Nursey says.

Dex’s heart leaps, and he prays he’s not flushing. “S-sure.”

After a hasty dinner, Dex packs up his backpack and heads to the west edge of campus toward Nursey’s place. His head is spinning with possibilities as he goes. Nursey could meet him at the door. Could grab him by the shirt and haul him in, push him against the back of the door, kiss him like crazy. Or Nursey could be waiting for him shirtless, lounging on that ultra-comfortable couch of his, just waiting for Dex to cross the room to him. Or, God, what if Nursey’s on his bed

His whole body humming, Dex jogs up the steps of the brownstone, opens the door into the foyer, then knocks on Nursey’s first-floor apartment door.

“‘S’open,” comes a faint voice. Oh, God, he’s totally on the couch or the bed, waiting…

Dex cracks the door open and steps inside. His heart sinks a little.

No figure awaits him draped over the couch; Nursey’s at the table, studying, his back to Dex. He waves a hand without turning. “Make yourself comfortable,” he says. “There’s beer in the fridge.”

Well, okay. That’s not what Dex was expecting. But okay, maybe Nursey wants to ease into it. He stops at the refrigerator in the little kitchenette, grabs a can, then comes to stand behind Nursey. Boldly, he lifts his free hand and touches Nursey’s shoulder. Just an ambiguous touch, one that could be read as friendly. “What you working on?” he says.

“Paper,” Nursey says, still not looking up. He highlights a line in a poem. “Gender coding in Sexton vs. Plath. These confessional poets are the bomb.” Stretching his arms above his head, he yawns and finally lifts his head. His eyes connect with Dex’s. There’s nothing there. No intent, no wickedness… just Nursey’s usual benign, friendly stare. Dex doesn’t know what to do with that look. “You can feel free to sit, or if you want the couch, that’s cool too.”

“I– uh, yeah,” Dex says. He pulls out the chair across the small table from Nursey and sits. Stares. Doesn’t move.

It takes a minute for Nursey to notice. “Didn’t you bring something to do?” he says. “I mean, if not, feel free to grab Mario Kart or something.” He nods toward the TV.

“No. I, uh. I did.” Dex pulls out his notebook for his history seminar and busies himself with the comings and goings of French kings.

It’s quiet in the apartment. Every turn of a page, every scratch of Nursey’s pencil, sounds like a din in Dex’s head. The tick of the clock above the counter seeps into his skin, aligns with his heartbeat. He taps his own pencil to the beat.

Nursey’s breaths are even. His shoulders hunch forward. Dex’s gaze lingers on the bulge of his triceps through the loose gray T-shirt he’s wearing. It wouldn’t take much to scoot his chair over a bit, to align himself next to Nursey instead of across from him. He could run a hand up Nursey’s arm under his shirt, feel the familiar bunching of his shoulders. Squeeze. Feel Nursey melt beneath him.

He tries to force his brain back to the kings of France. Louises XIV and XVI are all mixing up in his head. Dex puts a hand to his forehead. He rubs his temple with his index finger and frowns. What is he doing?

“Hey,” he says, throat stumbling over the sound.

Nursey looks up. God, his eyes are huge, like smooth stones. “What?”

“Are we – am I just here to do homework?” Dex says tersely.

“What?” Nursey repeats, innocent as anything.

You fucker, Dex thinks. He scowls. “Aren’t we supposed to–”  He lifts a palm, shakes it a little, a you know what I mean! gesture.

“Supposed to what?”

Dex sighs and crosses his arms over his chest. All right, if Nurse won’t catch a clue, Dex has got no reason to be subtle. “I thought we were going to make out,” he says, blunt as anything.

Nursey sits up straight, his shoulders going back. His hand falls to his lap, and the book ruffles to the wrong page in its absence. “Ohhh,” he says, like it’s just now occurring to him. “Oh, sure. We can do that.” He smiles.

Seriously, fuck him and his smiles. Dex stays stock still. He doesn’t know what to do next.

Nursey scoots his chair over, just like Dex had thought about doing before. Gets them situated next to each other. He lifts one hand and places it on Dex’s face. A sea of warmth. Dex’s eyes fall to half-mast, and he exhales, pursing his lips into a soft O. His heart goes crazy, fluttering and thumping by turns. Tightening one hand into a fist, he lifts the other and makes contact with the swell of Nursey’s arm, pulling him in.

The first touch of Nursey’s lips is softer than powder, barely there. Nursey breathes against him, hums a little bit, and pulls back. His gaze finds Dex’s, asking for feedback or permission, Dex isn’t sure which. He answers with a nod.

Nursey leans in again, and oh, this is a kiss Dex can feel to his toes. Gentle, warm, Nursey’s lips softly opening. He licks at Dex’s lips, then withdraws, ending the kiss closed and chaste.

Another kiss, another taste. This time Nursey touches the tip of Dex’s tongue with his own. Just that, but it’s enough to send Dex’s blood zinging through him. He presses his forehead to Nursey’s and pants.

“Getting excited?” Nursey observes lazily. His eyes are half-lidded, too close to Dex, blurring into three, then one.

“Just getting started,” Dex breathes, and leans in to seal his mouth over Nursey’s.

Nursey thrills against him, stiffening, and a flood of excitement answers at the base of Dex’s spine. He runs his hand up Nursey’s arm, under that shirt, over the muscled knob of his shoulder. Nursey’s tongue is tart against his. He growls. Nursey lets out a groan.

He made Nursey make that noise. The knowledge settles into Dex’s gut like a hot coal, searing everything around it. Reaching out with his other hand, he grabs Nursey by the nape, hauling him in for hotter and deeper kisses. He swipes his tongue over Nursey’s again and again, groaning, hearing Nursey groan too, reveling in the music of the two of them revving up in sync. He tugs, and Nursey follows, knocking his own chair over with a clatter as he lands heavily in Dex’s lap.

Nursey’s fingers card through his hair, scratch at his scalp. Dex arches and hisses at the feel of them. God, Nursey feels good, but he smells glorious, aftershave and beer and something Dex can’t name. Dex inhales deeply, gets lungfuls of him. His whole body is heating up inside with Nursey’s presence and scent.

There’s no way Nursey can’t feel Dex hard beneath him. No way he doesn’t feel Dex’s cock twitch through his jeans when Nursey pulls on Dex’s lower lip with smooth hard teeth. Dex doesn’t hide it. He arches up, makes sure Nursey notices. His answer is a gasp.

A gasp, and a grind forward, Nursey making sure Dex can feel him, too.

“Shit.” The word’s out before Dex can stop it, hissed between his teeth. Nursey gives a little sound, like a growl, and lowers his head to Dex’s neck. He grinds again and licks, sensation below and above, together, too much, too soon. Dex swears again, louder this time. He grabs Nursey’s hips, fingers digging beneath the jut of the bone, hard enough to bruise.

Nursey groans against his neck. “Fuck, yeah,” he murmurs. “That’s it.”

“Yeah?” Dex digs his fingers in harder. Nursey keens and latches onto Dex’s neck, sucking hard.  Shit, shit, he’ll leave a mark, but Dex doesn’t care. He throws his head back and hisses.

“Poindexter.” Nursey drags his teeth across the welt he’s sucked. Dex can’t breathe. “Down.”

It must be the lack of oxygen, because Dex doesn’t have a fucking clue what he means. He fights for breath. “Down?”

“Down.” And then Nursey’s leaning back, grabbing Dex by the arms, falling — no – throwing himself backward off the chair and pulling Dex with him.

“Shit!”  Dex scrambles in midair for a panicked half a second. His head’s on a collision course with the table. He ducks, barely missing it. A moment later, Nursey lands with a heavy thud on the floor. Dex comes down on top of him. The chair goes rolling onto its side away from them.

Dex takes in a breath to scream his head off at Nursey for pulling that fucking ridiculous stunt, but he never gets around to it. Nursey’s too quick to pull him down, lock him into a kiss and slot his leg between Dex’s, arching up underneath him so Dex can feel the whole lanky length of his body.

He savages Nursey’s mouth, sucking on his tongue and growling. Beneath him, Nursey is miles of warmth, the twitch of his hips a tease that Dex feels  like electricity in his blood.  Unable to stop himself, not caring that they’re on the floor or that Nursey’s probably bruised from that stupid fall, Dex breaks the kiss, catches Nursey’s gaze, and rocks against him, his cock hard and straining against Nursey’s thigh.

Nursey cries out. Not a groan, not a sigh – a full-throated cry. His brows knit, and he grabs Dex’s ass, pulling him in harder. The sensation of Nursey’s erection against his leg, sliding and pressing, is so achingly specific and intense that Dex has to spit out a fuck. Nursey surges up to kiss the curse off his mouth, hands on his ass pulling him down in quick, sharp tugs. Dex bites at Nursey’s lips.

He shouldn’t feel this good. None of this should feel this good. They’re basically humping under Nursey’s kitchen table, fully clothed – fuck, Dex is still wearing shoes – but as stupid as the situation is, Dex has never felt so electric all over, never been so fascinated by the feel and look of a body beneath his. He’s braced himself against the floor with both elbows, but now he rests his weight on his right side, lifting his left hand and sliding it under Nursey’s jaw. At the touch, Nursey lets out another quavering cry.

They’re still grinding, filthy and raw, but Nursey’s skin is smooth and soft beneath Dex’s palm. Somehow the gentleness works Dex up even more. He kisses Nurse hard, dimly aware of the increasingly frenzied rock of their hips together. He’s underwater. Underwater, but he’s close to breaking through to the surface. So close. He inhales quickly, summoning enough brainpower to spit out a warning. “Nurse, fuck, I’m gonna–”

The rocking stops. Nursey stills beneath him. Dex grinds down again, desperate, but Nursey’s legs have gone slack, and there’s no answering friction in the quiet cradle of his hips. The feeling that’s been welling up in Dex recedes, leaving behind an ache and a question. “What the–”

“Sorry,” Nursey says. He pushes at Dex’s shoulders gently.

Dex rolls to the side, then rises to his knees. His body is a rush of confusion and excitement and disappointment. .”The– why— why’d you stop? What did I–”

Nursey’s still lying there. The table casts a shadow over his head and shoulders, and his eyes look dark, the lines of his face stark. He blinks up at Dex. “You said you were gonna–”

Dex waits for him to finish the sentence. He never does. God damn it, Nurse makes no fucking sense. “Yeah,” he says. “And?”

“And… “ Nursey pushes himself up onto his elbows, then sits up. “I didn’t want things to get weird.”

What the ever-loving fuck. “It’s already weird,” Dex informs him pointedly. “But now it’s weird and frustrating.”

Nursey shrugs. “Yeah. Well. I didn’t know if it’d be crossing a line.”

“What line? What are you–” What is he doing, arguing this? it’s a line Nursey doesn’t wanna cross. That’s his right. Dex steps on his frustration firmly, forces his higher brain function back online. “Okay, man. If you don’t want to, it’s okay.”

Nursey lobs a half-smile at him. “Thanks, dude.”

And here they are, sitting on the kitchen floor between two overturned chairs, staring at each other. Nursey’s hair is ruffled, and his shoulders rise and fall rapidly as he takes in still-shallow breaths. Dex wants more than anything to crawl over him again, keep on kissing him until they both pass out. But goddamn it, now it’s weird. “So,” he says, looking around the room for some way to continue the conversation. “Um. Mario Kart?”

They play a little Mario Kart, and then Nursey works on his paper a little as Dex watches TV, and that’s it. They don’t really talk much. They don’t touch again. But Dex keeps looking back at Nursey, at the line of his neck and the earnest purse of his lips as he writes. He brushes his fingers over the mark Nursey’s left on his neck. And he wants more fiercely than he ever remembers wanting anything. It aches.

His body’s all wound up, too. When he gets back to his (thankfully empty) dorm room later that night, the door has barely closed behind him before he’s on the bed, unzipping his slacks and reaching down. He comes quickly, Nursey’s face in mid-cry etched behind his eyelids. His whole body throbs and aches for minutes afterward.

He made it home without exploding this time. But just barely. If they are going to keep this up, Dex may have to start excusing himself to the bathroom to finish. He can’t see the level of frustration going down anytime soon.

But he also can’t see himself calling things off. This whole thing is so unexpected and bizarre to begin with, surely he can deal with Nursey’s idiosyncrasies and find a way to enjoy without getting too frustrated. Because as badly as he’d wanted to come – and he’d wanted it pretty badly – he also wanted to feel Nursey’s weight against his, to taste Nursey’s lips and tongue. He still wants it. He wishes it were Nursey he were leaning against now, not his pillow. Even though he’s sated, he still yearns for that touch.

And he still can’t fucking wait until next time.

Chapter Text

Looking back, Nursey isn’t sure who to blame.

His first instinct is to pin it on Shitty. After all, Shitty was the one who started the conversation. And what he’s doing at a Samwell kegster instead of one of his Harvard parties is anybody’s guess. (Well, that’s not entirely true. Nursey remembers Andover. Harvard’s got to be even worse.) But once the subject of drunk makeouts was brought up, Shitty was the one who dragged Dex’s name into it. And he’s the one who spurred Dex to get up and dare Nursey to put his mouth where his mouth was, so to speak.

But Dex was the one who did it. So maybe it’s not Shitty’s fault. Maybe it’s Dex’s fault.

Nobody forced Dex to insert himself into the conversation. He was the one who kept insisting he was good for it, that he’d be happy to make out with Nursey. What motivated that, Nursey will never know. Can’t have been actual desire to get Nursey’s mouth on him. No,knowing Dex it was some stupid kind of pride, and Nursey answered it because Dex gets to him, every single time.

But in the end, Nursey knows there’s only one person to blame. And that’s the guy who got up and crossed the room and finally kissed the boy he’d been dreaming about for a year and change. The guy who made out with him until neither of them could breathe. The absolute rank idiot who then asked if Dex wanted to do it again. The guy who had Dex close to coming in his pants on a kitchen floor in his brownstone, and who only then realized how far things had spiraled out of control.

Yeah. Nursey knows it’s all his own fault. What he doesn’t know is what to do about it.

He’s been texting Sarah for the past 48 hours, but she hasn’t been texting back. Nursey isn’t surprised. She’s in her residency year, which means long-as-fuck shifts and sometimes very little sleep between them. Still, he hopes she’ll get a second to call soon. She’s the only one who knows the whole tortured history of Nursey’s ill-fated crush on Dex, and she’s the only one he trusts to give him advice on what to do next.  

When she finally texts him back, a day after Nursey and Dex had their kitchen-floor encounter, Nursey is so fucking relieved he nearly turns to jelly. He Skypes her that evening, relaxing on his bed, brain still working out the details of exactly what to say to her.

“Oh boy,” Sarah says upon answering the call. “You look awful, Derek. Have you been getting enough sleep?”

“Hey, look, now, I don’t wanna hear that from you,” he says with an easy smile. “How’s the ER?”

“Oh, you know.” She rolls her eyes. “A rolling dumpster fire. I’ve forgotten what any food that’s not coffee tastes like.”

“And that’s why I’m an English major,” Nursey says. Sara gives him a dirty look. “Hey, don’t look at me like that. You made your bed.”

“You’re a little snot and I’m going to tell your sister on you.”

“Nah, no, you’re not. I have too much incriminating information on you.” Nursey grins.

“It’s mutually assured destruction,” Sarah says. “Nikki doesn’t need to know that much about either of us.”

“Sad, but true.” Nursey laughs. “So, um… did you get my texts?”

“Yes!” Sarah leans forward, resting her chin on one upturned palm. “So something finally happened with Redhead?”

“Oh, yeah. Something definitely happened.” And Nursey launches into the tale. He tries to spare Sarah as much of the graphic detail as he can, because even family-friends-and-practically-sisters don’t need to know everything. But he can’t resist dropping the little nugget that they basically ended up making out on the kitchen floor. And Sarah’s face – flushing as she gives a little fist pump and murmurs “Get it, Derek!” – is totally worth it.

“And?” she says at the end.

“And?” he echoes. “And, that’s it. Now we’re making out on the regular.”

Sarah twists her lips to the side and scowls at him. “Nah,” she says. “Nah, you didn’t call me just to brag. You’ve got a problem.” Nursey hems and haws a bit. “No, come on, Derek. We’ve been doing this for too many years for you to fool me. What happened?”

Nursey sighs. She’s got him dead to rights. Sarah’s been his unofficial love guru for years – ever since Nursey’s first kiss, and that late-summer night in the Catskills when he discovered that talking to his sister’s friends was easier than talking to his own. She’s talked him through first girlfriends, first boyfriends, coming out to his family, and even the aftermath of his frankly disastrous first time. There’s no one else he’d rather trust with the gory details of this thing between him and Dex. Still, saying it feels really weird.

“So let me get this straight,” she says after he explains the situation. “You’re deep into it with this guy, basically doing it on the floor, and the minute he says he’s going to come, you freeze up?”

“More or less.” It sounds dumb to hear it repeated. “I dunno. It felt, like, the point of no return or something. Like, it’s one thing to make out a lot, just casual, but once we start getting orgasms out of it, it’s more than that?” He shrugs, spreads his fingers wide and sighs. “Like, I’ve made out with people at parties and shit, but I’ve never had actual all-the-way-there sex with someone outside a relationship. It just feels like, I dunno. A bridge too far.”

Sarah listens, and nods. “So you’ve never been fuckbuddies with someone before.”

“Not really.”

“Fair enough.” She crosses her arms and leans back in her chair. “Well, I guess I have two thoughts about this. You wanna hear them?”

“I called you, didn’t I?”

She shrugs. “True. Thought number one: It’s really not like you to draw lines and slap labels on things. You didn’t even want to pick how you identified. Remember that?” And Nursey does – he’d kicked up holy hell as to why he had to choose a group to fit into, and couldn’t he just like people without meaning he fell into one box or the next? “So I don’t know why all of a sudden you’re so concerned you’re going to cross some line and suddenly be in too deep. I mean, whatever you guys do is your business, right?”

“I–” He wants to fight this, to stand his ground somehow. But it’s hard to do around Sarah – she makes too much sense. “Okay, I hear you.”

“And thought number two.” Her voice softens. “You’re in love with this guy, aren’t you?”

Nursey takes in a breath, but he doesn’t have the stones to answer.

She doesn’t need the response. “In that case, don’t you want this to be more than just makeouts? Why wouldn’t you just go for it?”

“He’s–” Nursey starts, then stops, tapping a finger against the desk. “He doesn’t know about that.”

“And I’m not saying you have to tell him. But Derek. You want to be around him, right? You want to be close to him in any way you can.” She leans forward. “Take the opportunity. Get what you want. It sounds like he wants it too. You don’t have to define it as one thing or another. Just… go be happy.”

And damn, when she puts it like that, it sounds so simple.

The trio of frogs have gotten used to hanging at the Haus most nights, studying and/or goofing off, depending on who’s there and what’s going on. Tonight it’s a mix of studying and watching the Sharks game on TV; Nursey and Dex are doing more of the former as Chowder shouts and tries mightily to distract them with the latter. Nursey’s muttering about fucking diction and fucking rhetorical coding vis a vis this and that; Dex is also dealing with fucking coding, but of a different sort. Nobody gets much done.

The Sharks lose. Chowder mopes his way back up to his room, and Dex and Nursey leave the Haus to head toward their respective homes. The path home takes them both north for a couple of blocks. They walk side by side, hands in pockets and bookbags slung over their shoulders.

“Poor C.,” Nursey says. “He takes those games so damn seriously.”

“His head is gonna explode one of these days.” Dex gives a short laugh. “We’re gonna be stuck on cleanup duty.”

“Truth. Exploding goalie, film at 11.”

“Heh.” Dex’s smile shines staggeringly bright in the darkness. Nursey’s heart skips.

They chat lightly as they continue up the street. The air is autumn-cool around them, and the feel of it is invigorating against Nursey’s cheeks and in his lungs. He like this, being outside at night with Dex. The two of them, cool and comfortable, with the world turning around them. It’s moments like this when Nursey becomes acutely aware of how deep his feelings run. He lets himself stare, just for a minute. He loves the soft upturn of Dex’s nose. The long sweep of his limbs. He wants to feel them tangled up with his again, wants to taste the thin spread of his lips.

Dex glances at him, then gives him a more serious look. “What?”

“You wanna come over?” Nursey says with a toothy grin.

“What? It’s like midnight, and I didn’t even finish my homework.”


“So, if I come over there now, I’m gonna be there ‘til morning, and I don’t have my fucking toothbrush or a change of clothes.” Dex scowls. “And I definitely won’t finish the assignment.”

“Yeah, but if you’re gonna be up all night working anyway, wouldn’t you rather have some fun while you’re doing it?”

“You’ve got a funny definition of fun,” Dex says.

“Meaning what?”

“Meaning, based on last time, I’d call it torture first. Torture and frustration.” Dex’s eyes flash dark.

Nursey gets the picture. “Oh. Oh. About that.”

“Go home and write your paper, Nurse.” Along with the ire, there’s something like hunger in Dex’s gaze. Nursey thinks about reaching out right now, pulling him into a kiss. God, it would be so nice to just feel the heat of his body in contrast to the cold of the night. The urge is almost unbearable. He curls his hands into fists.

“Dex,” he starts, not sure what he wants to say.

“What?” Dex tilts his head.

The turnoff’s right up ahead. Dex will head left on the next cross street, and they’ll be separated. If Nursey doesn’t figure out what’s itching on his tongue in the next fifteen seconds, the moment will be gone.

Maybe – maybe if he just reaches for Dex’s hand –

“What?” Dex repeats, the edge of impatience in his voice.

“Um,” Nursey says, and the turning wheel of his brain lands on the easy words. “You sure you don’t want to come over?”

Dex rolls his eyes.

“Right,” Nursey says. “Sorry.” He looks down at his feet. There’s a beat of silence.

“Nurse,” Dex’s voice is low, not quite soft, but muted at the edges.

But then the turnoff’s there, and Nursey’s heart is hammering. “Night,” he murmurs, and heads off without giving Dex a chance to say goodbye. He has no idea what just happened, but it’s left him all muddled, jumbled up inside. Sighing, he turns back. No sign of Dex. Whatever could have happened in that instant, it didn’t happen. Another opportunity wasted.

Nothing for it now but to write a paper.

At two a.m., the paper’s finally typed up, in need of a proofread but at least saved and ready. Nursey leans back, his eyes burning with the brightness of the pixels, and sighs. He chugged a Red Bull when he got home, and between the caffeine and the nervous energy from earlier, he’s still awake. Jittery, even. He picks up his phone, turns it over in his hands, and then taps the messages icon.

Did you finish your project? he rifles off to Dex.

For a moment he thinks Dex has already gone to bed. But then his phone lights up. Yeah, says the answer. Your paper?

All typed up and ready, Nursey types out.


What to answer? To answer at all? Nursey is caught in a limbo of uncertainty. He can feel it again – that pregnant moment of opportunity. Like there’s something he ought to say now, but the gods aren’t letting him know what it is. He holds the phone in his hand like a precious object, fingers curled carefully around the sides. Staring, like the screen will provide him the answer if he just hopes hard enough.

A small ellipsis appears at the bottom of the message screen. Dex is typing.

Nursey holds his breath.

So, Dex texts him.

So? So, what?

Nursey’s about to ask when another text comes in.

Can I come over now?

Nursey’s at the door when Dex knocks. He hauls Dex in and slams the door shut; they fall into each other, kissing. Dex’s hands cinch tight at the nape of Nursey’s neck and at the waistband of his sweats. Nursey’s caught, trapped in Dex’s arms like a fish in a net, but he’s soaring. The sound of his own moan echoes in his ears. So does Dex’s answering growl-groan, a wild noise that sends sensation spiraling down to Nursey’s core. They part, breathe heavily, stare at each other a moment, then kiss again.

“Fuck,” Dex breathes. Nursey sucks the curse off his lips. Dex’s chest is warm against his. They can’t stop for more than a moment at a time.

Dex walks him backward through the apartment. Nursey has no idea where they’re going. He’d go anywhere Dex wants, as long as it’s like this – Dex’s mouth warm and hungry on his, Dex’s hands inching under his shirt, Dex’s erection insistent against his. Nursey wants to touch it. Wants to watch Dex go to pieces under him. He’s ecstatic, higher than he’s ever been on any drug. Dex is a fire beneath his lips and hands, and Nursey wants to go up in flame.

“I’ve–” he manages between kisses. “I’ve been thinking–”

“Now’s not the time for thinking,” Dex grumbles, lowering his mouth to Nursey’s neck. For a long moment, Nursey’s incoherent, unable to do anything but gasp and clutch at Dex’s shoulders as his skin erupts into gooseflesh and shudders.

“Hey,” he manages when he can think again. “Hey. Dex. Will.”

The name gets Dex’s attention, and he lifts his head. Nursey fights the urge to grab him by the hair, haul him in again. They pant, staring at each other.

Nursey swallows. “I just– I– About last time.”

“What about last time?” Dex’s voice is deep, thick with want. Just the sound of it is enough to weaken Nursey’s resolve.

He keeps hold of himself somehow. “I want you to know…  I’m not going to stop like that again.”

“You’re–” and Dex makes a low noise, something that could be confusion or arousal. “You’re not… you’re not?”

Nursey shakes his head. “We’re– we’re just a couple of dudes having fun, right? So… so I figure we can have as much fun as we want and it’s nobody’s business.” He wishes the words weren’t painful. He wishes he meant them all. But Sarah’s advice rings in his head. Go be happy. If this is the way he gets to do that– if this is how he gets Dex– he’ll take it.

Dex shakes his head, and Nursey thinks for an instant that he’s going to refuse, to leave. The thought scares him half to death. But then Dex’s mouth slips into a smile, and he says, “Well, shit, Nurse. Thanks for catching up.”

Nursey has half a mind to hit him for the chirp. He settles for pulling Dex’s mouth back to his neck.

He’s been bitten and kissed and licked within an inch of his life when Nursey finally finds his voice again. Dex’s hands are on his ass now, tugging and squeezing. Their hips are moving together in a slow, sinuous grind that’s driving Nursey half out of his mind. His knees are buckling, and he’s worked up enough to seriously worry about coming in his pants. “Fu– fuck,” he manages through a dry throat. “You want … to do this on the floor again… or… I have a bed…”

“Bed’s good,” Dex whispers from the hollow of Nursey’s throat.

“Then— then stop that so we can—” Nursey swats ineffectually at the back of Dex’s head. God, he just needs him to let up for just a moment so they can walk to– but now Dex is moving him backward again and it’s like they’re dancing, kissing and groping and dancing their way through Nursey’s bedroom door. Nursey trips as he goes, falling heavily onto the bed. Dex comes down on top of him, and at the first touch of their bodies, pulled together by gravity, they both make long, wrecked noises.

The sounds ring in Nursey’s ears. He’s never been this hot in his life. ”Don’t stop,” he hears himself say. Dex doesn’t. They grind themselves into a frenzy, still clothed. Nursey’s teetering on the edge, pulling Dex onto him with clinging hands, when Dex slows, then pauses.

“I want to get naked,” he says. Then, “I want to get you naked.”

“Yeah,” Nursey breathes. “Yeah, good.”

His throat is dry and his dick is throbbing as he lies there, watching Dex rise up onto his knees and pull off his shirt. They’ve been reaching under each other’s shirts, even hiking them up to get at skin, but it’s different to have it off entirely, to see Dex  bare-chested and know that the flush of his arousal extends down below his collarbones and across his pecs. Nursey’s hands itch to touch them, feel that heat against his fingertips.

“You,” Dex prods him. Nursey scrambles to sit up. He’s pulling off his shirt as Dex undoes his jeans and deposits them on the floor. Boxers next, and … oh, fuck, yes, good, this is a good view– Dex’s cock hard and long, the curve of his ass tight. Nursey’s never had the chance to really ogle his naked body. He ogles his heart out now, staring and memorizing and appreciating until Dex scowls at him and reaches down to tug impatiently at his sweatpants. Lying down again, Nursey lifts his hips and savors the feeling of Dex pulling his pants down and off. He swallows hard, anticipating the crash of all that bare skin onto his.

It never comes. Instead, Dex kneels above him, looking. His face is red, his expression slack. When he does reach out, it’s only with one hand – hot fingers sweep from Nursey’s collarbone to his hip, then down his thigh and back up to cup  his cock and balls gently. Nursey can’t breathe. His whole body is invested in the movement of that one gentle, warm hand. When Dex’s fingers slide up the length of Nursey’s shaft, Nursey somehow finds the breath to moan.

“Fuck, Nurse,” Dex mumbles, scowling. “That fucking noise.”

Nursey wants to say, “Kiss me.” He wants to reach for Dex, force him down. Instead, he just moans again, bucking his hips up into the warmth of Dex’s hand.

Shit,” Dex hisses, and he lifts his hand from Nursey’s cock to run a hand over himself. Time and air stand still in the small, dim room as Nursey watches hungrily. Dex squeezes the base of his shaft, runs fingers over the head, wipes away a bead of clear liquid there. It’s almost more erotic than being touched, seeing Dex stroke himself.

“I’m…” Dex looks down at him. “I’m not gonna last long.”

“We’ve got time,” Nursey hears himself say, a cool and composed voice that he’s not sure is is own. “We can take our time tomorrow. The next day.” He takes in a breath. “Right now I just want–”

I just want you. He doesn’t say it. It’s too dangerous.

But Dex murmurs a “yeah,” and then he’s leaning down and oh, God, yes, there’s all that warm skin and all that weight. Nursey reaches out, drags Dex’s mouth down to his. They kiss long and hot and sloppy, licking and biting wherever they can. Dex’s erection slots in next to Nursey’s, and they move together like they’ve practiced it a dozen times. The friction – cock against cock against hip and stomach – is so good Nursey’s shuddering with each stroke-rub. He’s moaning. Dex is growling. The sounds echo around them. The bed creaks.

“Derek,” Nursey thinks he hears Dex murmur into his neck.

The sensation’s still ballooning inside him when Nursey feels Dex start to stiffen and arch. Nursey holds him fast, running hands up the curve of his spine as Dex muffles a groan into his neck. He comes in one hot splash against Nursey’s belly, then another. The feel of him – him, Dex, coming against Nursey’s body, beause of what Nursey’s doing to him and with him! – pushes Nursey past the last barrier. He falls off the edge of the world, coming with a desperate, low groan. Suns swim before his eyes. He’s shivering and burning, clutching Dex with needy, tight fingers. He pushes his hips into Dex’s once, again, again, one last time, and falls limp beneath him.

They breathe. It’s hot. Nursey can feel sweat starting to pool beneath his shoulder blades. He wriggles, and Dex takes the hint, rolling off of him onto the scant spare space on the bed. Together, they gulp in lungfuls of air, fighting to find the wherewithal to speak.

“So I guess we’re just having sex now, huh?” Dex says.

They’re not the words Nursey expected him to lead with. But that’s Dex – blunt, plain, and always provocative. Nursey loves that about him. “Yeah,” he answers, laughing briefly. “We graduated from friends-with-benefits to fuckbuddies. Go us.”

Dex laughs. “Cool. So long as it’s okay with you.”

“Yeah.” Nursey tilts his head to glance at Dex – his cheeks are still pink, and he’s grinning. Nursey’s heart makes a noisy clatter against his ribs. “It’s chill, man.”

Dex cocks his own head to the side and catches Nursey’s gaze. “Cool,” he says.

For the second time tonight, Nursey wants to reach for his hand. Hell, he wants to curl his body into Dex’s and cuddle the hell out of him. But for now, this will work – just lying side by side on his bed. He reaches for a towel on the floor and brushes it over both their stomachs, cleaning them up. “You staying tonight?” he asks as he finishes and tosses it back down.

“Kinda stupid to go home,” Dex says. “I, uh, I brought my toothbrush and shit.” He flushes a little deeper as he says it. And oh, God, now Nursey wants to kiss him – wants to lean over and pour all his feelings into a kiss so Dex knows, so he understands what this is for Nursey– knows that it’s not just–

But no. No, he can’t know. If he did, he might go running. And Nursey can’t risk that.

He curls onto his side, facing away from Dex, and pulls the comforter over their naked bodies. “Chill,” he says. “Night.”

“Night, Nurse,” Dex murmurs. Silence falls over the dark room.

As he drifts off, Nursey feels something that might be Dex’s lips soft on the back of his neck. Or it might just be the breeze. He isn’t sure.

Chapter Text

Nursey wakes up, groans his way out of bed, goes to the bathroom, and is halfway through brushing his teeth before he remembers he’s not alone. Oh, his mind muddles, that’s why I was so warm. Okay, back to bed.

The self-consciousness doesn’t kick in until he’s collapsed onto the mattress again and Dex turns to tuck his head into Nursey’s shoulder.

Oh. Wow. With a faceful of Dex cuddled into him, with wide calloused hands curling against his chest, Nursey isn’t sure if he’s dropped into some kind of dreamland, or won the lottery, or what. Dex is here, basically snuggling him, but Nursey doesn’t know if he’s awake or asleep, or maybe somewhere in between. Or, for that matter, what Nursey should do about it.

“Dex,” he half-whispers. It sounds more like a croak.

Dex stirs against him. His eyelashes flutter, and he murmurs something that might or might not be the beginning of a word.

Nursey shifts on the bed, trying to ease Dex to wakefulness. He puts some distance between them, or tries, despite Dex worming forward to press his head against Nursey’s shoulder and chest. Groaning, Nursey settles his hands onto Dex’s hips, rolls him onto his back. Dex fits so well beneath his hands that Nursey has to stifle a curse. Goddamn, but Dex feels good. Goddamn, but he looks good – short-cropped hair sleep-mussed, lashes fluttering against freckled cheeks.

Without thinking, even without realizing he’s doing it, Nursey leans in to touch his forehead to Dex’s temple. Skin warm on skin.

Dex mumbles something, lips pursing. He turns his head, angling toward Nursey. He exhales, and his breath falls sleep-sour but warm onto Nursey’s lips.

“Dex, wake up, man,” Nursey says, because it’s really hard not to kiss him right now, and Nursey’s not kissing anyone while they’re asleep like some kind of creeper.

“Mnm,” Dex says. But the fringe of his eyelashes lifts, and he stares, bleary, blinking, into Nursey’s eyes.

“Hey, man,” Nursey says. He’s not sure when his hand ended up on Dex’s shoulder, but he moves it up now, tucks his fingertips under Dex’s jaw.

“S’morning?” Dex’s brows knit slightly.

“Yeah.” God, he’s so close. So close and so vulnerable. Nursey’s thrilling, little prickles running under his skin. “Yeah, it’s morning. I’m gonna kiss you now.”

“Oh.” Dex’s lips twitch. “‘Kay.” He purses his mouth, welcoming.

Nursey has to laugh a little, because he didn’t expect it to be that easy, but he’s not about to turn that invitation down. He presses forward, touches his mouth to Dex’s, light. Hm. Not enough. Nursey angles in, catches Dex’s mouth again. Slower, firmer, sweeter. Even with morning breath he’s perfect, he tastes and feels perfect. A little moan rises up into the air surrounding them and Nursey’s not sure who it is.

He could kiss Dex forever, just trapped in this sweet short pocket of time, if only they didn’t need to move or breathe. But they do, and when Dex breathes again Nursey has to cough. He’s got a high tolerance for morning breath, but he’s not immune.

“Oh, sorry.” Dex turns away. Nursey immediately wants to kiss his ear, the curve of his neck, but he’s already pushed his luck too much this morning.

In lieu of that, he offers, “You can use my toothbrush.”

Ah, and there’s the dirty look he expected from Dex thirty seconds ago.

Dex takes a long time in the bathroom. Nursey appreciates it. He could use the time to sit back and reassess. So Dex came over last night, and they’d — well, they’d fucked, basically – and Dex had stayed over and this morning Dex let him kiss him and what in the hell does that mean?

Kissing in the service of making out or getting off is one thing, but just kissing Dex good morning – is that a sign that things are getting deeper than just Friends With Excellent Benefits? Or is it just Dex being a little slow in the morning, not as quick to judgments and derisive looks/comments as usual? Nursey doesn’t know, and not knowing is making his head spin and his heart tell him all kinds of stories that Nursey is sure it’s dangerous to believe in.

Oh, what the hell. He’s got Dex. For whatever reason, he’s got him, and Dex isn’t pulling away when Nursey kisses him. Why is he overthinking this when it’s the best of all possible situations? No games, no romantic bullshit. Just Dex, in his arms and above him or beneath him, whenever Nursey wants. It’s ideal.

“Can I take a shower?” Dex calls from the bathroom. “You got–”

“Towels, yeah, let me grab you one.” Nursey opens the drawer and pulls out a towel, then pauses. “You gonna be lonely in there?” he calls, teasingly. “Cause I can come in and keep you company.”

“Yeah, sure,” comes the response, without even a beat of hesitation.

Nursey almost passes out.

Frantically, trying to keep all his blood from rushing to his dick, he pulls out a second towel and takes a moment to compose himself. Cool. Cool. Stay cool. He breathes in slowly, lets the air out in a rush, and saunters toward the bathroom, towel in hand.

Dex is already behind the curtain, and the water’s hissing from the showerhead. Nursey hangs up the two towels and places a hand on the curtain. “Um,” he says, suddenly anxious.

“Get in,” Dex says, “or I’m gonna use up all the hot water.”

“I– fuck,” Nursey mumbles. In a rush, he pulls the curtain aside to step into the shower.

God. God. What the hell did Nursey do in a past life to be greeted by this sight? Dex’s skin is flushed pink everywhere, freckles little pepper dots against the rose glow. His arms and legs go on forever; his chin is tipped upward as he shampoos his hair. The lather drips down the side of his face and onto his shoulder. Nursey watches, dumbfounded, as an improbably large soap bubble moves slowly down his chest and pops at the peak of one nipple. Fuck, he wants to be that soap. He wants to run down Dex’s body just as slowly, touch him just as completely.

“Want some hot water?” Dex steps back from the spray, allowing Nursey a spot beneath. Nursey steps forward. As the water sluices over his head and mats down his hair, he meets Dex’s gaze. There are flecks of green and gold in Dex’s eyes, like little slivers of gems. They glint, but never waver. Dex holds his gaze sure and strong, and after a moment his lips turn up, just slightly.

Nursey thinks about kissing him then, but he can’t get past thinking. He’s frozen in the confidence of Dex’s gaze.

“You gonna get washed?” Dex says, voice flat.

“Uh.” Nursey looks around. “Yeah. Or, you know, I – I could wash you. If you haven’t…”

“I haven’t,” Dex says. He scoops up the soap and hands it to Nursey.

Nursey’s heart is running a mad race. He lathers up his hands, keeps the soap curled in one, and presses his palms  to Dex’s chest. Warmth assails him, and he barely holds back a little noise in the back of his throat. Slowly, with patience he didn’t think he had, he runs his hands down Dex’s chest to his stomach. Back up to his shoulders. Down the slim, built columns of his arms. His soapless hand clasps Dex’s for a moment, fingers threading together.

Dex raises an eyebrow at him, lips quirking. Nursey pulls back.

“How about my legs, Nurse?” Dex says. His little almost-smile is doing Nursey in.

“Your legs. Right. Okay.” What else is there to do? Nursey drops to his knees.

Those powerful long legs stretch out in front of him. Dex’s cock is starting to fill out, and Nursey’s mouth waters with a sudden urge. But they haven’t yet, and he doesn’t have permission. Biting his lip, he looks up at Dex.

Dex is staring down at him, mouth parted, pupils wide. “Fuck,” he murmurs. His chest rises and falls with a shallow breath.

Nursey imagines what he must look like to Dex – on his knees, ready to serve – and his own cock jumps. He licks his lips – above him, Dex makes a soft sound – and re-soaps his hands, then presses them to Dex’s thighs. His own body is starting to sing, a hum of pleasure like a low fire burning in his gut as he strokes down Dex’s legs, then back up along the sides of them. Dex is fully hard now, straining and ready, and Nursey can’t resist just breathing on him a little, a tease, before sliding his hands down again.

“Fuck,” Dex breathes again above him. There’s undisguised want in his voice. The sound of it gives Nursey energy – and ideas.

“Turn around,” he orders from his spot below. “I’ll get your back.”

“*Nurse,” Dex groans, but he obeys the order. Nursey soaps up the back of his legs, then holds his thighs as leverage as he gets to his feet. He can’t help a slow, torturous drag of his palms against Dex’s ass before he gets to work on that gorgeous freckled back. From the groan Dex gives him, it’s apparently torturous for both of them.

Nursey strokes the lean muscle of Dex’s back. It’s too much, to have Dex under his fingers like this. He can hardly stand the little air that’s still between them. Pressing in close, he extinguishes it. Chest pressed against back, he lets Dex feel how hard he is, exhaling with a shudder against Dex’s ear.

Dex gasps, whole body going stiff, then relaxing. “God, Derek,”he mutters.

“You gonna soap me up too?” Nursey presses a grin against his ear.

“I– yeah, sure.” There’s a wobble in Dex’s voice now, and it’s so goddamn gratifying to hear. Nursey steps back, letting Dex rinse off under the spray, waiting.

Dex looks at him for a long moment. He takes the soap in his hand. He pauses.

The soap goes wheeling across the shower floor and toward the drain.

Dex pushes him against the back wall of the shower, body pinning him, cock pressing insistently into his stomach. His kiss is desperate, his tongue stroking Nursey’s again and again. Nursey moans with each taste, helpless, undone. Dex has got his hands cuffed up against the wall, on either side of his head, and Nursey’s never felt so fucking free. He grinds against Dex with abandon, delighting in the lurching heat in his belly every time his cock drags against Dex’s skin. Where their cocks touch, it’s electric, flame. Dex’s groans echo against the tile, and God, so do Nursey’s, soft needy noises he didn’t think he could make. Wresting one hand free, he tangles his fingers in the base of Dex’s hairline, guiding their mouths together even more perfectly. The steam rises around them, the water pooling warm around their ankles.

Dex kisses him for at least another minute before pulling back. There’s fire and metal in his eyes. “We need to get out,” he starts.

Nursey nods. “Yeah, yeah. I know.”

But they can’t resist – or at least, Nursey can’t resist, and Dex doesn’t stop him – surging together one final time, mouths hot and cocks sliding between wet hands and stomachs. Dex’s groan is sweet in Nursey’s mouth, warm against his tongue. It pings against the tile.

“Could get the soap,” Dex mutters, making a blind grab for it without stepping back.

“I got something better,” Nursey says with a grin.

The hardwood floor of Nursey’s bedroom is probably going to be ruined, but Nursey doesn’t care as he pushes Dex step by step across the floor, leaving a trail of droplets. Dex is chasing his kisses, mouth eager and warm, and Nursey opens to him, gives him everything he wants. Dex’s skin burns under Nursey’s fingers, flushed from shower and steam. He tastes clean and sweet. Nursey pushes him down onto the bed half-mad with want. He’s going to grab the lube and slick them up. Then he’s going to grind down into Dex’s stomach until they’re both coming. He can’t wait. He can’t hold back.

No. Wait. Yes. Yes, he can.

Nursey lifts his head and looks down at Dex. Shower-flushed and naked, he’s beautiful, vulnerable in a way Nursey rarely ever sees – his chest rising and falling with short breaths, his lips parted. The flash of a pink tongue as he licks at his lip briefly. Nursey loses his breath. He has Dex underneath him, waiting, willing. What an idiot Nursey would be to waste that.

He leans down, kisses Dex’s mouth as softly as he can get away with. Dex tries to deepen the kiss. Nursey won’t let him.

“Nurse.” Dex surges up underneath him. His hips are staggeringly warm, his cock a tantalizing, hard drag against Nursey’s stomach.

Nursey bites back a curse. He lowers his head to Dex’s neck, finds a spot tucked just below his skin and fastens his lips there. God, he wants to bite, bruise, mark Dex as his. Wants to hear Dex cry out and feel him surge up as Nursey sucks on his skin. It’s so tempting. But he holds back. He breathes against Dex’s neck, kisses in soft presses of lip down the line of his neck, licks at his collarbone. Dex stills beneath him, sighing a little, then falling silent. His shallow breaths ring out in the small room.

He tastes water-fresh, smells of soap. Nursey inhales it deeply. He runs a hand over Dex’s chest, fingers fluttering at his shoulder, his ribs. Dex shifts, subtly, letting Nursey in just that much closer. Willing his own breath to slow, Nursey lowers his head and kisses Dex’s chest, soft lick-kisses downward across his pectoral muscle. When he licks softly just north of Dex’s nipple, the sound that rises up in the room fills his ears. God, yes, yes, He wants to make Dex make those noises forever. He fastens his mouth around the nub, flicks his tongue over it, sucks. Dex gasps, letting out a soft guttural sound.

Smiling, Nursey crosses over, tastes the other. “Nurse,” Dex breathes. He draws out the syllable.

Nursey ventures farther down, across his stomach, counting each rib with his fingers. Dex is all sinew and muscle and bone, not a scrap of fat anywhere. His abs are tightly bunched, tensing as Nursey licks at them, relaxing when Nursey presses soft kisses there instead. His hips are grinding up, seeking friction Nursey’s not giving him.

“God damn,” Nursey breathes as he rises to his knees again, looks Dex over. Same Dex as before, only now he’s been kissed and bitten and licked everywhere. Nursey’s mouth has been there. His fingers have molded the curve of that muscle. Dex is his. Just for this moment, he’s been conquered. Nuursey’s desire flares so sharp and sweet in his gut that he moans, untouched, just looking.

“Derek,” Dex mutters, tugging on Nursey’s thigh. “Before I come just lying here.”

The edge of impatience in his voice makes Nursey smile. He inches up on the bed, reaches over Dex’s head to the dresser. The bottle of lube he keeps there is slightly slick in his hands, and his fingers slide over the cap. A moment of concentration, and he’s opened it, placing the cap on the windowsill. He pools some of the liquid into his hand.

Dex watches him through bleary, half-lidded eyes. “What are you gonna,” he starts.

Nursey smiles and shakes his head. “It’s all good,” he says. “Just stay right there.” He reaches down, slicks up his own cock, the coolness of the liquid a pleasant tingle against his hot skin. Then he reaches for Dex.

Dex jerks up and moans at the first touch. Nursey’s the one who wants to moan – Dex feels perfect in his hand, just the right mix of weighty and hard and hot. He enjoys the first stroke, the feeling of the lube slicking Dex’s cock up against his fingers. The second is even better, if only because Dex surges up and grabs Nursey by the arm, growling as he goes. “Damn it,” Dex breathes, looking at Nursey with dark eyes and furrowed eyebrows. “Get down here.”

Nursey can’t help the noise that flies from his mouth, so he hurries to bury it – leaning over Dex and pressing him down into the pillow with the full weight of his body and mouth. Dex’s mouth is open and willing. His cock rubs slick against Nursey’s stomach. When their cocks touch, it jolts Nursey’s whole body. He licks deep into Dex’s mouth, moaning openly, high on the smell and the feel and the taste, and oh yes, the heat that’s roiling up between them.

It’s Dex who reaches between them, cups their cocks together in a broad hand. The sustained, intense heat sweeps through Nursey’s body like a spreading wildfire. He moans, grinds down, breaks the kiss only to pant desperately into Dex’s shoulder. It’s better than last night, better than it’s ever been, with himself or with anyone else. Electric touch and intense scent – and the weight and depth of Nursey’s feelings – combine to take him so far past the limits of his control, he forgets everything but this moment, this sensation. It’s only the very last vestiges of sanity that keep him from murmuring I love you, I love you into the perfect, sweet cradle of Dex’s mouth.

He barely lasts five minutes. It’s so perfect – every moment is so perfect – that he couldn’t hold back even if he tried. The earthquake rumbles through him, he shudders and stiffens and comes with a shout that should embarrass him, and when Dex follows a minute later with a growl, it’s as though Nursey can feel it along with him. He shakes as Dex shakes, kisses the moans out of his mouth, and clings to him as the world slowly stops spinning around them.

He doesn’t know how long he and Dex just lie there and kiss, off and on, their bodies sticky and slick. At some point they separate, Nursey coming to lie next to Dex on the narrow bed. They keep on kissing – kisses that are the ashes of passion, leftover sparks of feeling that have to be extinguished through the press of mouths together. The feelings fly through them, meet at their lips, and die there.

“Fuck,” Dex murmurs. He presses their foreheads together. The kissing comes to a stop, and they just breathe into each other’s space.

Nursey grins. “S’good,” he murmurs. Dex nods. His fingers find Nursey’s between them. They fall into quiet.

An hour later they come to life again, stomachs growling.  “We should get some breakfast,” Nursey says with a laugh after Dex’s stomach makes an articulate little gurgle.

“Yeah, yeah. Fuck, I’m a mess,” Dex says, sitting up. He stretches, then wanders back into the bathroom to grab the towels that they forgot to use earlier. He throws one onto Nursey’s face unceremoniously, tries to wipe himself off with the other. “Shit, it’s all tacky. I’m gonna have to take another shower when I get home.”

“We could go back in,” Nursey suggests. Dex gives him a dirty look and the middle finger. Nursey laughs.

They get dressed. Dex brought a change of clothes last night – a tight green sweater and a pair of jeans. Nursey watches with interest as he pulls the sweater over his head, enjoying the bunch of his muscles, the stretch of his arms. He wonders if Dex has any idea how much fun he is to look at. How just being close to him gives Nursey a visceral thrill.

Dex catches him looking and frowns. “Put your damn shirt on.”

Nursey rolls his eyes. “You’re not the boss of me, Poindexter.”

Dex pauses, then a little smile comes to his face. Fuck that smile and the things it does to Nursey’s insides. “I could be, if you’re into that,” he says.

“You wish,” Nursey almost says. But then he thinks better of it. He saunters up to Dex, looks into his eyes, and smirks. “I wouldn’t rule it out.”

Dex kisses him.

Short, hard and sound – a kiss Nursey didn’t see coming, and one that leaves him near-breathless. Is this really his life now? Is Dex just going to kiss him for no reason? Not as part of sex or a makeout, but just because they’re close and because he can? What the hell does it mean?

Shy all of a sudden, Nursey steps back. “You don’t have to kiss me,” he says. “We’re not doing anything, so… “

“You got a problem with it?”  Dex’s voice is sharp.

Nursey didn’t expect him to react this way.  Hell, he thought Dex would say “thank God” and back off. “A problem– no,” he says hurriedly, “no problem, dude. Just didn’t want you to think you had to or some shit.”

Dex looks at him like he’s been speaking in Bulgarian. Then he leans in and kisses Nursey again. A little deeper this time, with a little growl, a flicker of tongue.

“The way I figure it,” Dex says, his lips still a breath away, “we’re doing whatever the hell we feel like, right? So if I feel like kissing you, that’s what I’m gonna do. Doesn’t matter, right? You’re the one who said it. It’s nobody’s business what we do.”

Nursey has to fight for the breath to speak. “Yeah,” he manages to say through lips that feel slow and heavy and kiss-bitten. “Yeah, that’s– that’s chill.”

“Good,” Dex says, and leaves it there.

It takes until halfway through breakfast for Nursey to muddle through the implications. But when he gets it, he gets it all at once. Holy fuck, he realizes as Dex munches away at an Annie’s scone and frowns at his compsci textbook. Holy fuck, I’m in trouble.

Because if Dex can kiss him, just for no reason, and then turn around and act like he is right now – like they’re nothing to each other – then Dex must be a fucking expert at separating love and sex. Nursey figured makeouts and sex were one thing, but other kinds of physicality – casual kissing, for example – were a sign of an emotional connection and thus off-limits. But Dex seems perfectly fine with kissing just for the hell of it, without it meaning anything.

And now Nursey’s been pushed into a game of chicken he can’t afford to lose. Because if he says anything about kissing meaning something else – well, he kissed Dex first, didn’t he? This morning, when Dex was sleepy. He couldn’t help himself.

If Nursey says anything, or if he shows any hesitation whatsoever, Dex will know how he feels. And that will bring the whole house of cards tumbling down.

Chapter Text

Dex is screwed.

This is not a new thing. He’s been screwed from the beginning, really. Since he first called Nursey’s bluff at that damn kegster. Since the first kiss, since the first time his body revved up at the feel of Nursey’s mouth on his. He was screwed when he first went to Nursey’s brownstone and Nursey convinced him to try a private performance. He was screwed when they finally fell into bed together. But never has he been more screwed than he is right now.

Not because they’re having sex.

Because they’re kissing.

Not just perfunctory kissing. Not just kissing-in-the-service-of-makeouts-and-sex. Actual kissing, for the sake of kissing. Because they can, because it feels good, regardless of where things go or don’t go.

It isn’t even Nursey who started it. Okay, maybe Nursey had kissed him while Dex was still waking up, but Dex can blame that one on the early hour and the closeness. But later, Nursey had been sniping back and forth with him, the way they do, and Dex had abruptly and severely wanted to kiss him. So he did. And then he justified it with some bullshit he only half-meant about doing whatever the hell they wanted.

And the next time Dex came over, they actually managed to study for a while before ending up in bed. Study … and kiss. Just every so often. They were side by side on the couch, Nursey’s head tucked down as he read, and when he lifted his chin with a “Hmm,” Dex slid his hand under Nursey’s jaw and leaned in and kissed him. It just felt like the natural thing to do. Nursey hummed into the kiss, licked his lips after it was over, and went back to studying.

It happened a few more times before Nursey finally growled, “Fuck this,” threw down his book, and pushed Dex back onto the couch.

The other day, it almost happened in public. They were out by the Pond, and Nursey was going on about some sort of societal dynamics and structural inequities, as Dex relaxed against a tree and scowled at him skeptically. Nursey leaned in as he made a point, eyes full of fire as they caught Dex’s, and the urge to kiss him came on so suddenly and overwhelmingly that Dex rocked forward onto the balls of his feet and nearly brought their foreheads together. Right there, in front of any number of students, heedless of who might see. It took Nursey’s sudden silence to make Dex stop, re-evaluate, and carefully lean back again.

The urge to kiss Nursey is so strong, and so constant, that is scares the hell out of Dex. It’s one thing to have sex. It’s one thing to just get off with a guy you trust. But realizing that it’s not just an orgasm you want, but the feel and smell and taste of a guy, the warmth of his arms and the sweetness of his lips – that’s not what Dex signed up for.

But goddamn it, that’s what he wants, lately. Just the feel of Nursey next to him. Just his closeness.

He really is so screwed.

That doesn’t mean it isn’t fun.

After practice and they’re in the showers. Dex is minding his own business, but as Bitty steps out from between them and heads back to the locker room, Dex gets a sudden eyeful of Nursey’s legs and ass – brown, toned, smooth. He didn’t mean to look, but now he can’t stop looking. Not that he hasn’t seen it before – or recently – but something about the way the water beads on his legs, or something in the steam that’s softening the whole scene – and Dex is riveted.

His gaze inches up. Nursey’s cock is half-hard as he stands there, innocently letting the water roll off his body, not even looking in Dex’s direction. What’s he thinking of, to be halfway to turned on already? Is he, like Dex, just aware of their aloneness and their nakedness? Is that enough for Nursey – cool, untouchable Nursey, who treats sex like just another easy, effortless pastime? Maybe he can just turn it on at will. Maybe he’s doing this just to drive Dex crazy.

And crazy he must be, because at this moment Dex is possessed with an urge he’s never had before.

He wants to drop to his knees.

All of a sudden all he can think about is the weight of Nursey’s cock on his tongue, the stretch of his lips around Nursey’s shaft. He hasn’t before – ever, to anyone – but Dex wants now, with fierceness and hunger he didn’t know he could feel. He clears his throat, turning away, knowing that if Nursey glances over at this moment he’ll know immediately that Dex was looking and that Dex is turned on.

That’s exactly what Nursey does. He turns. He looks. His gaze sweeps downward, back up. He catches Dex’s gaze. And he smiles. Just a bare, crooked slip of a smile, one that says enough.

“Are you two boys gonna spend forever in there or are you comin’ to breakfast?” Bitty’s voice fills the room as he pokes his head back in.

“Sorry, Bitty,” Nursey says in his low drawl. He never looks away from Dex.

“Yeah,” Dex chimes in. “We’ve got something to do.”

The walk to Nursey’s place used to be a frustrating exercise in silence, as they both motored down the sidewalk with only one thing on the brain. Now, they’re starting to slow down and enjoy it more.

“In a hurry, huh?” Nursey says with a grin and a tilt of the head after Dex races across a street before the light turns red.

“Shut up. That’s how you cross a street in New England,” Dex informs him.

“Good to hear it, man,” says Nursey. “Wouldn’t want to be keeping you from something urgent, ya know.”

Dex catches his gaze. “What something urgent?”

“You know.” Nursey shrugs, his shoulders loose and nonchalant, his face all ease. “Anywhere you wanted to be. Anybody you wanted to do.”

“Anything, you mean,” Dex corrects him, smirking.

“Of course.” Nursey’s grin is a million miles wide. “Anything.”

They walk along in silence for another half-block.

“But, yeah,” Dex says. “I’m in no hurry.”

“Yeah,” Nursey says. “Me neither.”

Dex starts to walk a little slower. He drags his heels along the pavement, shoving his hands in his pocket.

Nursey snorts out a laugh and matches his steps to Dex’s.

Dex slows down further. Takes long strides, but at a molasses pace. Nursey tries again to match up the rhythm of their strides. Dex tries to step out of rhythm, throw him off. Nursey adapts; Dex takes an uneven step again, picks up the pace. Shooting him a dirty look, Nursey speeds up to overtake him.

And then they’re speeding up together. Dex’s feet fall faster on the pavement. Nursey jogs to keep up. Soon they’re running, tearing up the sidewalk on the last block, collapsing against the railing on the front steps to Nursey’s brownstone, panting. When Nursey can breathe again, he shoots Dex a dirty look, but his eyes are sparkling with mirth. “Thought you were in no hurry.”

“There was a creep following me,” Dex shoots back.

Nursey throws his head back and laughs.

There’s a moment of indecision as they step inside, a vague sense of unease, like maybe the moment has passed. They take their time dropping their bags, and there’s cool air between them – humor, and warmth, sure, but not that heat that had risen up like steam in the showers, not the hunger that had yawned at the base of Dex’s spine and made his mouth water. Maybe they just should have gone to team breakfast after all.

Then Nursey turns to him, and says, “Sooooo.” He stretches the word out low and throaty, and as he speaks he wanders closer. His fingers twitch by his side, then reach out to brush – just so – against Dex’s thigh.

All the fire comes back in a second.

Dex grabs Nursey by the back of the neck and hauls him in, kisses him deep and wet and filthy. He doesn’t stop, doesn’t breathe or pull back, until he’s savaged Nursey’s mouth with his tongue, pulled a helpless little moan from Nursey’s throat. When they do part, Nursey’s staring at him, his lips parted, the expression on his face like none Dex has seen from him before. He looks.. overwhelmed. He looks like a boy who’s been kissed within an inch of his life. Dex didn’t think Nursey knew how to look like that.

“Nurse,” Dex growls, pressing his forehead aginst Nursey’s, hand still a clamp on the back of his neck.

“Yeah.” The word is a breath.

“I want to–” Dex glances down. Can he say it? His tongue skirts the back of his teeth, an “s” unexpressed. He places a hand on Nursey’s hip instead, looking at Nursey as though he might be able to pluck the words from Nursey’s lips instead. He can’t. He falters.

Nursey’s face relaxes into a smile. “Okay,” Nursey says, lifting a hand to Dex’s face and caressing his cheek. “Whatever you want, Will. We can do it.”

Nursey’s other hand is fisted in Dex’s shirt. Dex looks down at it. Nursey’s clinging to him. That’s helpful, somehow. It gives him confidence.

He nods in the direction of the bedroom, and they go.


Nursey’s shirtless, and Dex’s hands are everywhere at once, sliding along Nursey’s ribcage, exploring the small of his back. They’re still standng, and kissing, although right now Dex has his mouth deep in Nursey’s neck and is reveling in the sounds that Nursey’s making against his ear with each press and suck of lips. Nursey’s hand are caught in Dex’s hair, tugging and teasing and smoothing by turns. It’s a perfect moment. Perfect enough that Dex is able to raise his head and find his voice.

“Nurse,” he murmurs against  Nursey’s ear. He’s distracted for a moment sucking at the lobe and listening to Nursey moan. “Nurse, I want to suck you off.”

Nurse takes in a small, hitching breath.

And then he bursts out laughing.

Dex steps away, moment killed. “The fuck?”

“Sorry, sorry.” Nurse bites down his smile in a second. He pulls Dex close again. “No, sorry, Dex.”

Dex’s ego is still stinging. “You said whatever it was, it was okay. Jesus fuck, Derek, you didn’t have to laugh.”

Nursey presses ardent kisses to his mouth. “I just– sorry– Will– I–” He’s still giggling.

Dex scowls, but he doesn’t pull away. “What’s so goddamn funny?”

“It’s just–” Nursey muffles his smile against Dex’s shoulder. “Did you just really ask if you could blow me?”

“Something wrong with that?”

“I just never thought it’d be you who…” Nursey stops, shakes his head against Dex’s neck, and straightens up. He trails his fingers through Dex’s short-cropped hair, scratches a little, which makes Dex purr. “William Poindexter,” Nursey says with the sobriety of a judge, “I would be honored to have your mouth on my cock.”

This time, when his lips curl upward, Dex mirrors him with his own smirk. “Good. Take off your fucking pants, then.”

“Yes, sir.” Nursey smiles at him again, impishly, and the urge to kiss him again rises up in Dex like an itch in his heart. What the fuck. He doesn’t want to kiss Nursey because it’s hot, or because it’s part of a makeout session. He wants it just because Nursey’s Nursey. And that freaks Dex out. Not enough to make the burning urge at the pit of his stomach go away. Just enough to make his breath catch and his heart thump unevenly in his chest.

He shoves his hands into the pockets of Nursey’s sweats and forces them down.

Falling to his knees feels natural – no, it feels amazing. His shins hit the floor and he looks up at Nursey – Nursey in tented boxers and nothing else, undeniably gorgeous, his eyes trained on Dex and half-lidded and dark. Heat unspools in Dex’s belly. His pulse is rocketing in his throat. He’s so close to Nursey – close enough to breathe him in. His fingers itch as he lifts them to Nursey’s boxers.

“Oh my God,” Nursey breathes above him. “Will, if you could see–”

He trails off. Dex bites back a curse of his own. He’s so hard he’s aching, but the ache is sublimated into hunger. He yanks at Nursey’s boxers until they come down.

Fuck. Just… fuck.

Dex has seen Nursey’s cock plenty of times, but never at this angle. The thickness of it strikes him now, the heft of it even as it curves upward. Nursey wants, and this is proof of his want, right here, for Dex to take in, to taste. Dex is all flame inside at the thought of it.

He starts with a hand – touching Nursey’s cock, at least, is familiar – running his palm up the shaft, curling his fingers around the head.

Nursey shifts in place and sighs. “Mm. Will.”

Dex gets prickles whenever Nursey uses his first name like that. He leans in. Nursey’s cock bobs against his lips. Dex wets them with a quick flicker of tongue, then presses close, dropping a half-kiss to the head of Nursey’s cock.

“Fuck.” It’s a complaint, as Nursey shifts forward, impatient.

The needy little ache in his voice does Dex in. He wraps his hand around the base of Nursey’s cock, guides Nursey in and slips his mouth around the crown. A wash of sensation flies through him, and he doesn’t know whose groan he’s hearing. Nursey’s so … smooth, and soft and thick, and … God, Dex likes this. It’s not even that he likes sucking cock, because he can’t know that yet, but he likes having his mouth around Nursey. He likes inhaling Nursey’s scent. And already he desperately wants more.

Nursey must, too. He gives a long, throaty growl. “Dex…”

Dex responds, washing his tongue over the head of Nursey’s dick and sucking a little. Nursey’s noise then is wordless and so pornographic Dex feels it in his groin. Hurriedly he shifts on his knees, undoing his own pants. He grips the back of Nursey’s knee for balance as he wraps his other hand around his own cock and takes Nursey in deep.

Nursey nearly shouts. Dex grunts in response. Maybe he does like sucking cock, because he likes this sensation – the stretch of his lips, the openness of his throat. He likes – no, loves – the feel of Nursey, all thick and wanting and weighty inside his mouth. He strokes himself, thrills to the sensation and to the feeling of Nursey tensing above him, and washes his tongue down along Nursey’s shaft.

He finds a rhythm, after a while – a way of stroking himself and opening up for Nursey at the same time, so the shockwaves hit just as Nursey’s deep inside his mouth. Everything’s heightened, then – all the stimulation coming at the same time. Pleasure sinks in deep to his bones, and he’s moaning around Nursey’s cock, Nursey echoing him above. Dex has learned to love the sound of his moans interspersed with Nursey’s, to find it hot when they gasp and grunt together. It’s just one way being close to Nursey has steadily become one of his favorite things. A piece of him is frightened by that. But it’s so exciting. Doing all this – feeling all this – is so goddamn exciting.

Nursey’s hand is tangled in his hair again, like before when they were kissing, but there’s an anxious tug to his movements now, and the soft pumping rhythm of his his hips is starting to go ragged and insistent. Dex feels the end coming. He takes a deep breath through his nose and lets Nursey in just as deep as he can stand, so his soft palate spasms with the contact. He lifts his hand from his own cock and reaches up to cradle Nursey’s balls, feathering his fingers over them the way he knows Nursey likes. Nursey’s breathing goes high and shallow – a moment later he’s tugging – no – yanking at Dex’s hair and moaning out a loud “fuck, fuck, Will, I can’t–”

Don’t, Dex wants to tell him. Just do it. Just come. Let me feel it. Let me taste it. I’m so, so hungry for it.

The words startle him, and he realizes he’s more aroused than he thought. He reaches back down and grips himself, jerks hard and quick – and fuck if the feel of Nursey hardening and lengthening in his mouth isn’t what knocks him over the edge. He comes with the taste of Nursey on his tongue, feeling like he’s been flattened by a steamroller, overwhelmed by the completeness of the sensation. Nursey’s above him and in him, Nursey’s voice in the air and Nursey’s taste in his mouth, and Dex loves it so goddamn much he doesn’t even register whether it’s easy or hard to swallow Nursey’s come. He’s bowled over, utterly saturated by Nursey, and he never wants the feeling to end.

When he slides off Nursey, collapsing back onto his ass with a sigh, there’s a distinct feeling of loss.

Nursey’s wobbling, limbs shaking, and he settles down onto the bed. “Can’t believe I stood through that whole thing,” he mumbles, then looks down at Dex and chuckles.

“Oh, great.” Dex glowers up at him. “More fucking laughing.”

“Naw,” Nursey replies, shaking his head. “I just – I didn’t realize you – made yourself a mess down there.”

“It was hot.” Dex’s words are darts. “Sue me.”

Nursey slides off the bed and drops to his knees. At Dex’s eye level, he fixes Dex with a look that Dex doesn’t even begn to know how to parse. There’s tenderness there, that particular brand of Nursey nice that Dex never really knows what to do with, becuase it feels more like being blessed by a deity than treated well by a friend. And a spark of something else, something Dex doesn’t much want to define.

“So sue me,” Nursey echoes him. “I thought it was gonna be my turn after.”

Even as sated as Dex is, an ember glows red in his stomach at the thought.

“Yeah, well,” he says with a wan smile, “next time.”

“Yeah.” Nursey leans on the word, draws it out breathy and long. “Next time.”

“And now,” Nursey announces as he ventures past the bedroom door a few minutes later, “I am fucking hungry. Oh, Christ, Dex, your bag was undone. Your gear’s all over my fucking floor.”

Dex fastens the button on his slacks and smooths down the wrinkles, then motors past Nursey in the bedroom doorway. Nursey’s right. Dex’s duffel has come undone, and there’s underarmor pieces and rancid compression shorts spilling out over the top of it and onto the floor of the hall. He goes to his knees and stuffs the gear back into his bag with a muttered apology.

“S'chill, man,” Nursey murmurs, and before Dex can get up Nursey’s on his knees behind him, kneading out the kinks in his shoulders with strong hands. There’s only much a man can do against an assault like that, and Dex groans, relaxing under Nursey’s palms. He sits there, lets Nursey massage him, eyes fluttering closed as the warmth spreads through his back.

It happens again, then – the magnet-strong pull, that disappearing of the space between them. Nursey’s pressing closer, and Dex is easing back. He turns. Nursey turns with him. The clock on the wall ticks. And then they’re kissing – soft, sweet, gentle, as natural and right as the passing of time. Dex slides his palm under Nursey’s jaw, holding him close. When their lips part, with that small, sweet sound, Dex’s heart throbs painfully.

“I… sorry,” he mutters. “Was that, like, too gay?”

Nursey screws up his face. “What the hell does that mean? I’m sure I don’t have to be the guy to tell you that’s not an insult.”

“No,” Dex protests weakly. He’s aching still from the kiss, and his mind feels fuzzy and muddled. “I just mean. Wait.” He blinks. “Are you gay?”

Nursey’s mouth quirks. “Pff. I like people. I don’t care what gender they are.”

“Oh.” Something strikes Dex funny then, and he smirks. “Kind of like me.”

“Really?” Nursey’s eyes widen.

Dex fights back a snort of laughter. “Yeah,” he says. “I hate people. I don’t care what gender they are.”

Nursey laughs loudly. “Yeah. We’re just the same.”

There’s a gorgeous, dizzying moment where they crouch there in the hallway, grinning at each other, and Dex thinks his heart is going to fly out the window and take to the sky.

“So.” Nursey bumps his shoulder against Dex’s. “Breakfast?”

Dex gathers himself. “Yeah. Fuck, yeah. Breakfast.”

He is really and truly so screwed.

Chapter Text

“So you look happy,” Sarah says. She’s got a styrofoam cup of coffee that looks to be bigger than Nursey’s head, and behind her Nursey can see a tattered piece of paper tacked to the wall. “Break Room Rules,” it reads, and the actual rules are obscured by what looks like an unfortunate coffee stain.

Nursey squints, trying to read them. “Mm.”

“Are you? Happy?” She presses.

“Mmmm,” Nursey replies. He knows he’s not being helpful. He also is aware that he’s the one who’s been bugging Sarah to call him, and that she’s taking time out of her crazy residency hours to do so. But getting the words out isn’t easy. Not to mention that whenever she calls him from the hospital, he feels a pang of guilt knowing that she’s surrounded by people in real pain and distress, and he’s just torn up about having feelings for a fuckbuddy.

But goddamn, is he ever torn up. Nursey isn’t used to feeling this out of his depth about anything. He’s happy, but it’s the kind of happiness that hurts the longer it goes on. What do you do when you have everything you want, but it still isn’t yours?

“Derek.” Sarah’s voice is flat, and her face on the screen sours, lips curling into a frown. “You’ve been vaguetexting me for days. What is going on?”

“I’m…” Nursey sighs. “I’m so fucked up over Poindexter I don’t know which end is up.”

“Are you guys still hooking up?”

Nursey nods. “More than hooking up, TBH. We’re… basically secretly dating, except we’re not dating.”


“Meaning, I don’t know.” Nursey sighs. “Sometimes we just kind of kiss?”

“Oh. Oh, that is interesting.” Sarah cocks her head, stares up at something far above the camera. “Like, kisses goodbye?”

“Or hello, or… or no reason.” Nursey spins a pencil on the desk. “Just because it feels good. Or….” Or because it’s Dex, and Nursey can’t help himself, and Dex’s lips feel just right against his own, Dex’s body feels perfect next to his. Because they fit.

“Is it you kissing him all the time?” Sarah asks. “Or does he initiate sometimes?”

“Um, yeah. It’s both of us.” But it’s different, when Dex does it, Nursey thinks. It’s different because Dex already said why he does it. He made it painfully clear that it’s all physical.

“I don’t know, Derek.” Sarah draws out the words. “Maybe you should just ask him out.”

Nursey’s heart stutters painfully. “I– you think? But…. you’re the one who told me I shouldn’t think about labels.”

“No, I told you that you don’t tend to like labels,” Sarah corrects him sternly. “But if you’re not happy with the way things are, maybe you ought to see about changing it. I want you to be happy, you know. That’s the whole point.”

“I am happy,” Nursey protests. “I  just… I could be happier.”

“If you were dating him?”

“No,” Nursey says gloomily. “If he gave a damn about me.”

“Hey,” Dex says mid-makeout, “do you ever think…”

“Not when I don’t have to,” Nursey interrupts, curling his tongue against the hollow of Dex’s throat as punctuation. Dex keens, a noise Nursey could hear again and again without tiring of it. The way Dex’s voice catches when he’s turned on, the frayed edges of his moans… Nursey’s addicted to them, could spend days drawing them out.

But Dex is determined to get his thoughts out instead. “Seriously, Nurse. Seriously.” His fingers scrabble at the base of Nursey’s scalp, trying to draw him away.

Nursey finally obeys, straightening up. “Seriously what?”

“Do you–” Dex is already flushed from what they’ve been doing, and he flushes further now, brown freckles fading in the rush of red. “Do you ever think we should have sex?”

Nursey frowns. “That’s what we’re doing.”

“I mean real sex.”

“It is real sex, Poindexter.” Nursey lifts one of Dex’s hands to his lips, sucks on his index finger.

Dex closes his eyes, groans, then withdraws his hand. “You know what I mean.”

“Look, for the record, I reject that premise.” Nursey is talking through a cloud of want now. He pushes Dex back on the bed, grabs his hips, swings a leg between Dex’s and presses their groins together. “But yeah, I know what you’re trying to say.”

“I’m trying– fuck, Nurse–” Dex hisses and arches up; they both groan at the heat and friction. “I’m trying to say– you could if you want to.”

Fire swells in Nursey’s gut. Dex offering is so different from Dex just positing it as a possibility. Dex isn’t just saying maybe we should, he’s saying I want, and that makes everything throb with want and pain. Nursey’s been into the sex, but now he’s a raw nerve, exposed and trembling. He looks down, and Dex is staring back at him, eyes begging. Nursey rocks against him with a bitten-back cry that comes out a soft noise of want.

“You– uh.” He hides his lack of words in a kiss, dragging his teeth against Dex’s bottom lip. “You like that?”

“I like it,” Dex confirms, hooking his legs around Nursey’s. He lifts his whole lower body, pulls Nursey’s hand along and around. “Sometimes I like something in there, A finger or something.”

“Shit. Shit.”  Nursey palms the flesh of Dex’s ass – so strong, well shaped, sometimes Nursey stares at it when he’s sure no one can tell. Poindexter’s posterior is a very fine example of that part of the anatomy.

And god damn, Dex’s reaction as Nursey cops a feel is something else. Dex is moaning, shifting under him. Bucking up into the cradle of Nursey’s hips, back down against the touch of Nursey’s fingertips. Nursey may feel a hell of a lot more than lust for William Poindexter, but the lust part will not take a back seat to anything. He wants this man more than he even has words for.

“You want it now?” he whispers, half-awed. “Like, a finger?”

“Fuck, fuck, Nurse, yes.”

Nursey would do just about anything to hear that “yes” again.

“Okay,” he pants, “okay.” He settles down onto his knees, pulls Dex’s legs apart. Dex rolls up, giving Nursey access, like he’s done this a million times. And fuck, maybe he has. Maybe Dex has had a thousand partners, maybe he’s so practiced at this that he doesn’t feel a thing aside of lust. Jealousy prickles in Nursey’s veins. Calm down, he tells himself, chill out. You freak now, it’s just gonna make things worse.

He reaches over Dex’s shoulder to the dresser, grabs a bit of lube. “Just my fingers,” he tells Dex. Setting expectations.

“Yeah,” Dex says, and takes in a small, shallow breath. “Yeah, Nurse. That’s good.”

As Nursey slicks up his hand, Dex gives a sigh and runs his hand down over his body, shoulder to nipple to flank to hip, and Nursey trembles a little. Strong hand over pale skin, fingertips dotting against freckles, and Nursey’s body hurts with how much he wants, and his heart hurts with how damn much he loves. Does Dex have a single clue how gorgeous he is?

Dex wraps his hand around his cock, tugs. “Fuck. Go ahead and take your sweet time there, Derek.”

By which he means hurry the fuck up, and Nursey gets it. He nods and leans forward.

Dex hisses at the first touch, chest rising as he sucks in air through his teeth. Nursey dabs, tests out the flesh, the tightness of Dex’s ass against his finger. It feels funny, but Nursey isn’t concentrating on the feel; he’s attuned to Dex’s reactions, the shifts of body and breath as Nursey works on him, opens him up, teases with a slicked index finger along the edges. And the reactions are golden, they’re incredible. Dex breathes shallowly. He makes a soft slow sound. Tension flickers across his face – a furrowed brow, a twitch of the lips. And his hand on his cock moves in a careful rhythm, speeding up between thrusts of Nursey’s finger, slowing and tightening on the head of his cock when Nursey’s deep inside him. It’s like dancing, beat matching to beat, and Dex is such a good dancer it’s mesmerizing. Painfully hard, breathing only shallow breaths himself, Nursey pushes and teases and circles, absorbed in everything he sees and hears and feels.

“You want two?” he asks. Dex nods. Nursey swears under his breath.

There’s a change, as he pushes in the second finger. Dex looks almost like he’s in pain for a second and then he lets out a puff of air through  rounded lips. his eyes roll upward, and the corners of his mouth twitch, as though – well, as though it feels really good. “Derek,” he mutters, and looks up at Nursey with unfocused eyes, as though his vision is hazy. He grabs his free hand and pulls at Nursey’s  shoulder.

Nursey follows, leaning in, letting Dex guide him down for a kiss. Dex’s mouth is hungry beneath his, wanting, tongue breaking the seam of Nursey’s lips and licking in like a demand. The heat of Dex’s mouth, the heat of his ass around Nursey’s fingers, is breathtaking; Nursey’s shuddering, waves of lust pouring over him so fast and so intense that he fears he’ll come untouched just from feeling and tasting Dex like this. Dex’s hips are pistoning down on his fingers. He’s grunting, pumping at his own dick, whispering “fuck” and “Derek” beneath  Nursey’s mouth, and it’s unbearable. Nursey pumps his own hips against air, in agony, trying not to think of being buried in that heat, feeling Dex squeeze and push against his cock like that – oh, oh shit–

Nursey gasps – he pulls off Dex’s mouth and buries his head in Dex’s shoulder – his fingers inside of Dex go rigid and hard – as he pumps once against Dex’s hips and comes, helpless to stop it.  

Nursey shudders hard, feeling like he’s come apart at the seams, like his whole body is bursting from beneath his skin. Vaguely, beneath him, he feels Dex still, neither moving nor breathing as Nursey’s last shudder passes through him.

“Fuck, Nurse,” Dex breaths. “Did you just–”

Nursey just pants against his shoulder.

“Fuck.” Dex squeezes around his fingers “Fuck, that’s hot. I’m gonna–”

And in another instant he’s moving again, hot body working beneath Nursey, hand on his cock.

And something moves Nursey to lift his head, to crook and scissor his fingers inside Dex. To whisper, against Dex’s jaw, “You made me do that. You. Watching you, feeling you around me. You–”

–but then Dex is shouting and spilling into his hand and against his stomach, and nobody says anything for a good few minutes after that.

“Maybe we really should have sex, though.” Dex is naked and fucked out and grinning like an idiot. Nursey should really take pictures and then use them for blackmail.

“I dunno, maybe.” Nursey reaches for his socks.

“You’re acting weird,” Dex complains.

“Am I?”


“Do you not want to fuck me? Is that it?”

What the fuck? Nursey turns. “I didn’t say that, I just–” But there’s no way for him to explain it. That somehow that’d be a bridge too far. That he doesn’t think he could mold his body to Dex’s, have him there and open and inviting, without doing something, saying something that will reveal everything. It’s too much, it’s too intimate, he wouldn’t be able to hold back. He’s barely holding back now, just staring down at Dex lying on his bed like he belongs there.

“You’re the one who said there’s no difference,” Dex points out crankily. God damn it, is he really going to keep harping on this? “Sex is sex, right? Why not? We do everything else.”

“Look, Poindexter,” Nursey says, “if you’re dying to get fucked that badly I’m pretty sure you can find someone around here to do the job. It’s fucking Samwell, for Christ’s sake.”

It comes out meaner than he’d meant, and the implications only strike him after he’s said it; he falls silent and pays aggressive attention to turning his pants the right-side out.

“You want me to go have sex with someone else?” Dex says quietly after a long moment.

Nursey bites down the no that rises in his throat. He frowns and pulls on his pants.

“Are you fucking other people?” Dex asks. His voice stays low and flat and emotionless.

It’s tempting as hell to turn to him and say, what if I was? To say, would you even give a damn? But Nursey’s afraid of the answer.

“I mean, that’s cool if you are. Just, you know. Stay safe.” Dex rolls over onto his side. His back is to Nursey now, his face out of Nursey’s line of sight.

I’m not, Nursey doesn’t say. He doesn’t put his hand on Dex’s shoulder. He doesn’t lean down and kiss Dex’s ear, or tell him, I hope you’re not, either. He doesn’t have the right to say that, even if there were something more between them than sex. They haven’t set any parameters on this, and he has no right to expect anything of Dex, when they’ve made it painfully clear that what happens here between them has no effect on the rest of their lives.

He pulls on a T-shirt and goes out to the kitchen to get a drink. After a few minutes, he hears the low buzz of Dex’s snores.

“So do you think he is?” Sarah asks.

“Screwing around? Dunno.” Nursey runs his hand up into his hair – it’s too long now, too tangled. He needs to get it cut. “I mean, he sounded surprised, so I think no? But. Who knows. It’s so fucking hard to tell with him.”

“Hmm. It’s so telling, the two of you. You can talk about anything when it comes to sex, but when it’s your actual feelings, you can’t seem to put two words together.”

“Well. I can’t. He doesn’t have any problem telling me there’s no feelings to have.”

“Is that really what he said?”

“Chyeah, I was there.”

“Hm. Let me ask you this. You guys were friends before this whole thing started, right?”

“Yeah. I guess.” Kind of. Some definition of friend.

“Are you still friends?”


“Can you still hang out? Without the sex.”

“I… we have practice together.”

“I mean just the two of you. Do you ever hang out without making out?”

“Not. Hunh. Not a lot. Why?”

“Because it might be a clue. If you guys can’t hang out, maybe it’s a sign that it really is totally physical.”

“Oh.” Nursey’s heart sinks.

“Or it could be the opposite. He might not want to hang out with you because then he’d feel things he doesn’t want to feel. You play with that a bit, you might find out which it is.”

“So what, like, experiment with not having sex?”

Sarah shrugs. “It’s just a thought.”

It might be a clue, Sarah said. And a clue would be really fucking nice right about now, since Nursey’s been operating without one this whole damn time.

When he texts Dex to say wanna come over and watch a movie, he has no idea from Dex’s sure answer whether he thinks it will be watching or “watching.”

Nursey leaves the door open; when Dex knocks, he just hollers “come in” from the couch. They’re doing a run of creature feature movies on one of the cable channels, and Nursey watches, fascinated, as bad special effects rain down terror on a hapless ‘80s town.

Dex slumps down onto the couch next to him. “Hey.”

“Yo,” Nursey says, without looking at him.

“The fuck is this.” It’s flat, but it’s a question. Nursey shrugs. Dex surveys the screen for a second. “Whata are they supposed to be?”

“Giant mosquitoes? I think?” Nursey pauses, tilts his head. “Or wasps.”

“You don’t know the difference?”

“Sorry, Poindexter, I didn’t grow up in the back woods like you did.”

Dex sniffs. “No bugs in your ivory tower, then. Hm.”

It’s a good comeback, and Nursey’s got nothing. He lets the conversation lapse. Except for the screaming on the screen, it’s quiet in the little apartment. Nursey sneaks a look at Dex; he’s watching the screen with a look of mild interest. Maybe this’ll work after all.  Maybe they can do this. Just be friends, when they’re not fucking. Kiss and touch and get naked together, when they feel like it, and when they don’t, just be.

Nursey wishes the concept didn’t turn his stomach.

Why is he so hung up on this? It’s stupid. Nursey considers himself an enlightened sort. To be all maudlin about the hand-holding he’s not getting, to be unable to have a little fun without getting in over his head emotionally … it’s amateur. Nursey’s a poet. He should have a degree in complicated relationships and progressive values. He should sure as hell know the difference between a fuckbuddy and someone you take home to meet your parents.

But when Dex settles against him, a minute later, head bobbing against Nursey’s – when Dex stretches out an arm over the back of the couch and then curls his fingers over Nursey’s shoulder – when Dex doesn’t complain as Nursey lays a hand over his thigh – all Nursey can think of is how damn much he wants to be like this with Dex every day for as long as he can. He’s so stupidly, hopelessly, irrevocably in love. And it’s a recipe for disaster.

Nursey tilts his head; Dex answers. Their lips catch. It’s a perfect kiss, soft and lazy and slow. Dex’s tongue flickers against Nursey’s bottom lip, and a soft sound makes its way up from Nursey’s throat before he can stop it. Encouraged, Dex takes Nursey’s lip between his and sucks. Hot lightning shoots down Nursey’s spine.

Dex grunts and shifts on the couch, pulls Nursey in with both hands. He trails his lips down along Nursey’s jaw to his neck. Nursey clutches at his shoulders. It’s good, it’s so good, but–

He takes a deep breath and shoves Dex away. “Not tonight.”

“Wha–?” Dex’s voice is rough with want.

Nursey does his level best to sound firm. “I don’t wanna do that tonight.”

“Then why-” Dex glances downward. “Looks like you want it.”

“I– fuck.” Nursey looks away. Fuck his stupid telltale body. “Look. I just – it’s important to me that we don’t end up in bed tonight. I need to know we can do that.”

“I thought the whole point was we do what we want,” Dex says. His voice is flat. He doesn’t sound hurt, or upset, or anything but… but Dex. A flare of anger goes through Nursey. Doesn’t Dex feel anything? Anything but lust and mild annoyance?

Maybe not. Maybe this is just a fool’s errand, trying to drag emotions out of Dex that aren’t there. Nursey sighs. “I know,” he says. “I know. Just tonight, I want –” He looks Dex in the eyes. “I need us not to do that tonight.”

Dex holds his gaze for long seconds. On the TV, someone shouts for help.

“Okay,” Dex says, finally. “Okay, Nurse. Whatever you need.”

He lets go of Nursey then,  settling back on the couch. Nursey braces for the moment he withdraws completely, steeling himself for the empty space on his shoulder where Dex’s fingers used to be. It’s gonna hurt when Dex lets go, when Nursey has to feel just how far apart they are when they’re not pressed together.  Any minute now that’ll be it, and they’ll be two islands on the couch, untouching for the rest of the night.

Any minute now never arrives.

Dex’s fingers tighten on Nursey’s shoulder, squeeze. “Is this okay?” Dex asks.  "Just like this, nothing else.“

"Will.” The name tumbles from Nursey’s mouth, a rush of air and surprise. “I– yeah. Yeah, this is chill.”

“'Kay.” Dex relaxes. He draws Nursey in close enough that Nursey could comfortably rest against Dex’s chest and shoulder. And he just keeps on watching the movie.

Nursey keeps watching too, a small beacon of hope glimmering to life in his chest despite his attempts to quash it. This means nothing. He means nothing to Dex. It’s sex. Sex and kissing and … and apparently some cuddling, too. Hoping for anything more is fooling himself.

But the way Dex’s fingers move against his upper arm, the way Dex presses his mouth against Nursey’s hair, keep igniting that beacon again. And when Nursey leans in for a kiss goodnight, Dex kisses him as gentle and soft as rain, then smirks and turns to go, and the words come right to the tip of Nursey’s tongue.

He bites them back. It’s not the right time. It may never be the right time.

Chapter Text

Nursey starts the next day with a bubble of hope in his chest. He can't think about last night without smiling. Dex held him. Dex kissed him. It was all so... so fucking gentle, and .... and romantic ... and ... maybe Sarah was right, maybe there is something there, maybe Nursey can have everything he ever wanted after all.

What he gets instead is a text from Bitty.

An hour later, he and Dex and Chowder are pressed together on the couch, staring in confusion/acceptance/wonder (respectively) as Bitty reveals that he has been dating Jack this whole entire time.

"You and Jack??" Chowder bursts out, and Bitty laughs and nods. He's glowing, and Nursey watches with this foggy sense of unreality as Bitty explains how it happened, how they've kept it a secret this whole time. Two people on this team were dating on the down-low. Two people had feelings for each other but didn't admit it until the very last minute. Two people, and they're not Nursey and Dex.

It feels like a suckerpunch. Nursey's winded. After Chowder's gone, he looks at Dex, and Dex looks back at him, and what isn't said could fill volumes. All the oxygen is gone from the room. Anything that could have started, any words that Nursey could have uttered, they're gone. Bitty stole them.

He leaves the room without a word. His heart feels like a shriveled, shrunken thing in his chest. There's always some reason he can't have what he wants. There's always something.

He makes his way out to the porch and pulls out his phone.  Maybe Sarah can talk him down. God knows he doesn't have anyone else to talk to. Somehow even here on this tight-knit team, with friends all around him, Nursey feels as though he's in a glass box. Everyone can see him, but nobody can touch him.

The screen door swings shut next to him. "You're not supposed to tell anyone."

Nursey pulls his phone away from Dex's prying eyes. "I'm not."

"Bullshit you're not."

"I'm not naming any names," Nursey says. "I just want to--" He falters. He can't exactly tell Dex why he's texting Sarah. And without a reason, it just looks like he's gossiping.

And Nursey doesn't usually give a damn how he looks. Whether he seems like a decent guy or not. But it's Dex. And Dex's opinion matters.

"Never mind," he says, and slides his phone back into his pocket.

Dex leans against the siding of the house next to him. "So," he says. "That was ... something."

"Yeah." Nursey says.

Dex scuffs the toes of his shoes against the porch. "Kinda feel bad for Bitty."

Oh. Now, this is interesting. Nursey's withered heart bobs to life. "How do you figure?"

"Must suck," Dex answers with a shrug. "Caring about someone that much, not being able to say it. Not being able to tell anybody about it after."

"That's a little empathy, Poindexter. I'm impressed." The words come out with the thoughtless ease of a year's worth of chirps and bickering. Nursey inwardly reels. He starts the process of convincing himself to apologize, but Dex just gives a soft heh and doesn't snipe back. Two seconds go by, three, and now it'd be awkward, so he lets it go.

Dex remains next to him, quiet. Nursey eyes him carefully, feeling the heaviness of his phone in his pocket like it's trying to weigh him down, bring him to his knees. He's all lopsided somehow.

"Figure," Dex says softly, "figure we got it good. You know. In comparison."

It throws Nursey off-kilter in the opposite direction. Dex is leaning in toward him, and now Nursey's wobbling, feeling the magnetic pull of Dex's skin too close, latching on to the confidential tone of his voice. "You think?"

"Sure. I mean, we don't really have anything to hide, right? It's... it's all chill, like you said. Just doing our thing. Nothing deep. Having fun."

And this is where Nursey could say stop. He could say, not anymore. Something has to change, he could say. I need more than that from you, he could say.

Instead, he heaves a long breath and looks out at the street. "Yeah," he murmurs. "Chill. Whatever."

He shoves his hands in his pockets and heads for the street. Dex doesn't follow him.

He does eventually text Sarah, when he gets back to his room. She doesn't answer immediately. Which is normal, she's a busy resident with a crazy schedule, but Nursey keeps staring at his phone willing her to notice and answer.

He collapses on his bed and stares at the ceiling. What the fuck is wrong with him? How on earth did he let it get this far? And, for that matter, what the fuck is wrong with Dex? How can he look at Bitty and Jack and never think, maybe I want that? How can he be as kind as he was last night, as accepting and giving, and not feel even a shred of romantic potential?

Maybe he's just aromantic, Nursey figures. Maybe he just doesn't want to be in a relationship at all, ever. But that doesn't track with what he knows about Dex. There was at least one girl last year that Dex was thinking about asking out. He never got around to it, but the interest was there.

It's just not there for Nursey.

And fuck if that doesn't make him feel like the ugliest, most worthless creature on the whole goddamn earth.

The next few days are kind of awful. Bitty is suddenly, enthusiastically, free to say anything and everything, and the rest of the boys are no better, peppering Bitty with questions and demanding "deets" that Bitty's all too happy to give. He looks happier than he's ever been, and it makes Nursey burn inside. He wants that. He wants to casually sling his arm around Dex's shoulder, pull him in and kiss him on the ear, and he wants the guys to look and wolf-whistle and feign gagging. It's not that he begrudges Bitty his happiness, exactly, but it still aches to see how much fun he could be having if he'd just had the stones to say something earlier.

And if Dex felt the same way.

Occasionally, when Bitty's talking about outfitting Jack's kitchen, or the surprise he has planned for Christmas, Nursey's eyes meet Dex's. They look at each other, and Nursey searches for something to say that won't be eleven kinds of awkward.

He never finds it. The conversation never starts.

And Dex hasn't come over since that night with the movie and the cuddling. It's only been a couple of days, but it still feels like something's gone awry. There are a few nights when Nursey starts to text him, but he can never bring himself to hit "send." The timing isn't right. The emotion isn't right.

He keeps texting Sarah, too. She still hasn't responded.

It's not fair. Bitty's out there telling everyone everything about the guy he's crazy about. And meanwhile, here's Nursey, stuck in an endless fishbowl world where all he can do is go in circles alone. Bitty has the whole team, and Nursey doesn't have a single person he can talk to.

If it were anyone else, Nursey would talk to Dex and Chowder. But it's not. And he can't.

Chowder picks up on it anyway. "Are you guys fighting?" he asks Nursey in a low voice after practice one day.

"Hm? Who?" Even though it's clear who Chowder is talking about.

"You and Dex.  You guys keep looking at each other and not talking. It's weird." Chowder's brows knot. "It's like last year all over again. If you guys are fighting, can I help?"

"We're not fighting," Nursey says, going for nonchalant, going for chill.

In response, Chowder looks at him like a goddamned puppy.

Nursey sighs. "We're having a ... disagreement. Nothing big."

"About what?"

"Ask Dex," Nursey snaps. Chowder visibly flinches. "No. You know what? He doesn't get it. Neither do I. I don't even fucking know."

He hates snapping at Chowder. Guy doesn't deserve it. He's only ever trying to help. Nursey has to hand it to Chowder, he cares about his friends. You can't fault a guy for that, you know?

Nursey heaves a sigh and shoves his hands in his pockets. "Sorry, C. But it's ... it's not something you can fix. Wish it were, dude."

"Oh." Chowder sobers. "I see." For a few moments he looks defeated, and wehen Chowder looks defeated, he looks about ten years older somehow. It's like his inner maturity only shows up when there's nothing else left. Nursey doesn't blame him. Being mature is a fucking bummer. Being mature is the reason Nursey hasn't beaten down Dex's door and told him everything he's feeling, and look at how well that's working out for him.

"Maybe you should ask Bitty?" Chowder offers, after a moment of thought. "He's really good at advice."

"I-- huh." Nursey hadn't thought about that. Bitty is pretty much the team mom. And it looks like he's got a jump on the rest of them when it comes to figuring out love. Maybe he'd have some words of wisdom to share. "Maybe. Thanks, man."

Chowder's ensuing expression of delight is maybe the best thing Nursey's seen all day. He heads for the Haus feeling, if not chipper, at least hopeful. If Chowder's smiling, all can't be lost.

And Nursey means to follow Chowder's advice, he really does. But when he finally gets up the gumption to head to the Haus, he makes the mistake -- or maybe it's not a mistake -- of peeking through the kitchen window, expecting to wave hi to Bitty at the counter.

Only Bitty isn't at the counter. He's sitting at the table, looking concernedly at Dex. Dex, who is in a chair next to him, shoulders hunched over, face serious. Whatever discussion they're having is a heavy one.

And fucking poorly timed. Nursey can't burst in there and blab about Dex while Dex is right there, clearly working through whatever's stressing him out this week. He watches for another minute -- sees Bitty pat Dex's shoulder, sees Dex give a weak smile and then sigh --  then turns on his heel and stomps away from the Haus, the stormclouds gathering in his mind.

Stupid timing. And a stupid idea to begin with.  Not only has Bitty just lived the romance of his dreams, but knowledge of what Nursey and Dex are up to would probably scar the poor guy for life. Knowing Bitty, after he finished blushing and stammering, he'd probably advise Nursey to just come clean about the whole thing and ask Dex on a proper date. As though it would be as simple as that. Bitty would probably advise Nursey to bring flowers. And wear a bowtie. He'd miss the point entirely.

Come to think of it, Bitty wasn't at that kegster where it all started, was he? Nursey can't remember seeing him around that night.

Oh, God. He was probably down in Providence with Jack.

Life sucks.

Nursey kicks a trash can on the sidewalk on his way home. He's pretty sure the can still has a raccoon in it. Whatever.

Nursey is reading poetry when Sarah finally texts back. The poet is Frank O'Hara, and the poem is Meditations in an Emergency. It's formatted more like a series of paragraphs than a proper poem, and it reads like the scrawls of a madman undone by an unfair love.

When his phone dings, Nursey doesn't answer it right away. He's too busy reading one line over and over and feeling it deep into his bones.

Even trees understand me! Good heavens, I lie under them, too, don’t I? I’m just like a pile of leaves.

He turns away from the phrase with regret and fumbles for his phone. The text lights up.

Sarah: Skype with me now please

It's startlingly direct from her, not so much as a period after the end of the sentence. Worry flares to life in Nursey's chest. He pivots to his laptop, pulls up Skype, and calls.

Sarah answers after just a single ring. And oh, God, she looks like hell. Her cheeks are red, tear-streaked, and her eyes are bloodshot. "Derek," she says. "Thank God."

"What happened?" His thoughts fly to Sarah's family, her boyfriend. "Is everyone okay?"

"Yes," she says, then shakes her head. "No. Not everybody, not okay, Derek, I just..." She sighs, wipes her eyes, and takes a deep breath. "Sorry. Sorry."

He's never seen her this disheveled. Not put-together, level-headed Sarah, his confidante, who's always taken his ridiculous questions and stories in stride. Nursey wishes he could reach through the screen, give her the hug she obviously desperately needs. "Tell me what happened," he says.

"It's just... God, this job. Sometimes it's awful." She takes in another measured breath, and Nursey can see in the minute movements of her muscles how hard she's battling for control. "All week I've been working with this one patient, and just now I had to... I didn't even have to say it, I was just in the room. A young guy, Derek, not that much older than me. And his fiance there with him, and we had to tell him ..."

A tear spills from her eye. Nursey's heart thuds.

"We had to tell him he hasn't got long, that there's nothing more we can do. And his fiance -- God, the look on her face -- and his parents --"

She bows her head. Her shoulders shake.

"Sarah," Derek starts, but he doesn't know what to say next. How to comfort her. He could never do what she just did and hold it together.

She's silent a few more minutes, but when she lifts her head again, there's fire in her eyes. "Derek, don't wait."


"Don't wait. Whatever it is you're waiting for, stop it. You never know. You never, ever know. You might not have tomorrow." Tears stream down her cheeks. "The... the whole time, I kept thinking of you, and this boy you love, and you might never have the chance to tell him. Tell him. Be with him. Okay?"

Nursey's reflex is to battle back, to say it's not so simple, but he can't. Not with Sarah like this. "Okay," he tells her. "Okay."

"You promise?"

"Sarah." Nursey sighs. "I promise."

He promises, but what's he really supposed to do? Show up at Dex's door with flowers and a hastily penned sonnet? What would something like that accomplish, except for maybe embarrassing Dex in front of his roommate and make Nursey look pathetic?

What can he do? How can he make good on that promise?

The long hours of the night drag on, and Nursey's lying on his bed in the dark, staring at a ceiling he can't see. Sarah's face keeps reappearing in his mind, wild eyes and tear-streaked cheeks, and her words keep echoing. You might not have tomorrow.

He tries to picture the scene she described. A hospital room, air thick with tension. Flowers sitting lamely on the windowsill, too weak a gesture and too late. Parents by the bed. Fiance clutching the hand of the man she wanted to be her husband, eyes wide and jaw slack as she hears the news. An entire future, stolen in one horrific moment. Tomorrows taken away.

It's unfair. Worse than unfair. It's cruel. And here he is, lucky and alive, with love just a text away, still unable to reach out and grab it.

Nursey breathes a curse into the small room. He wants to turn and hide his face in Dex's shoulder, breathe in his warmth and his solid presence until the uncertainty and the dread go away. But Dex isn't there. He isn't there, and that fact is a stone in Nursey's chest, because it's Dex he'd want to go to, Dex he'd want to talk to about all of it. Dex who'd listen, who'd offer a few sober words and probably an arm slung around Nursey, comfort and warmth. Dex who, if he knew how Nursey was feeling, would be here in a heartbeat. Dex, who Nursey can count on before anyone else. Dex, who Nursey loves more with each day, each shared smile. Each whisper of their skin against each other.

Dex, who Nursey suddenly can't live without. Not for another second.

He grabs his phone and texts two words: come over

No clever words, no flirtation, no innuendo. Just a raw plea. Maybe it won't be enough.

But a minute later, an answer appears on his phone screen.

On my way.


Nursey's place is a five-minute walk from Dex's, and Nursey spends those five minutes panicking. What is he supposed to say? What will he tell Dex, when he shows up? He can't lead with I'm in love with you, as deliciously dramatic as that would be. He can't launch into a story about Sarah, have to explain who she is and why what she said matters. And even if he could theoretically do those things, he doesn't trust his own tongue to behave itself once he takes a breath to speak.

He's still in a panic when the knock on his door sounds. When he turns the knob, he has no idea what's going to happen once they come face to face.

They do. Dex's gaze catches his. Fire burns bright in his eyes.

And all at once it's simple.

Nursey slides both his hands around Dex's jaw and surges forward to kiss him.

Yes, it's always been this simple with them, Nursey realizes as Dex's arms come around him, as Dex's body presses firm and hard against his. The communication's always been wordless. Here, in the late night, their mouths and hips locked together, they understand each other completely. Nursey kisses Dex long and deep, like he could pour every ounce of what he's feeling into it. All the love, all the fear, everything he's been holding back for so long. His fingers rake up into Dex's hair. Dex's tongue is sweet-soft against his. Dex's moans slip into his ears like velvet. Nursey answers with his own.

They don't stop kissing. Not as Nursey walks Dex backward into the bedroom, not as Dex kicks the door closed behind him.

Dex's fingertips tease beneath Nursey's shirt. Nursey hisses, grazes his teeth against Dex's lips. He craves Dex's skin beneath his like air, like he's suffocating for want of it. At his hip, Dex is hard, wanting as fiercely as Nursey wants him. Nursey knows the sensation well by now. Their bodies know each other so well.

The kiss has to end when Dex drags Nursey's T-shirt up and over his head. It flutters to the floor, and, separated for the moment, the two of them stare at each other, both breathing in shallow rasps that echo against the walls.

"What ..." Dex starts.

Nursey doesn't need to hear the rest of the question anyway. He struggles for an answer.

I love you, he doesn't say.

I need you with me right now, he doesn't say either.

What he comes up with is, "I want you."

Dex blinks. Color rises in his cheeks. "Okay."

"All of you," Nursey says. "I want ... everything."

He sweeps his gaze over Dex's body, and Dex flinches, hisses a soft "fuck."

Nursey's fingers itch to peel off Dex's clothes, lead him to the bed. He fights for breath. "Will," he manages. And then "Say something," but he doesn't know which of the two of them he's talking to.

Dex reaches out. His hands slip around Nursey's wrists, then drop to his hands. "Fuck, Nurse," he mutters again. "Yes. Yes."

The heat that rises up through Nursey's body then is full and deep, an eruption of flame. Dex's "yes" echoes in his ears. He pulls his hands from Dex's, steps forward, captures his mouth in a hot kiss.

"Took you long enough," Dex growls into the kiss.

For the first time that night, Nursey smiles.

It's like a dream, everything that happens then. Pulling Dex onto the bed. Stripping him down, sweatshirt and slacks and boxers. When Nursey finds himself again, they're sitting at arm's length on the bed, naked, wordless. His want throbs through him like a raw nerve.

"Do you have...?" Dex asks. And Nursey does, but he's not ready. He has so much going on in his mind right now. The sensation, the touch, the connection. And the resolve that had spurred Nursey to send the text that brought Dex to his door.

He could say it now, he realizes. In this moment between wanting and getting, this would be the perfect time for words.

And the perfect time to be heartbroken?

No. He needs to touch more first. More, before it's all ripped away.

He slides a hand up Dex's thigh. Dex hisses, arching into the touch. When Nursey cups his balls in one hand, then slides up to give him a single, gentle stroke, Dex makes a low noise in his throat, and his hips twitch beneath Nursey's hand. Nursey leans into his neck, fastening his other hand at Dex's hipbones, fingers digging into the skin. Dex likes it this way, he's learned. He likes to be teased, he likes to be held with firm hands and to growl in frustration. And Nursey likes it, too. He loves it, loves Dex's little groans of impatience and the crooked smile he pairs them with to let Nursey know he really wants more. They've learned to read each other this well. Warm bodies and racing hearts and perfect, perfect communication.

It should be all they need. It should be enough.

But it's not enough. Not tonight. Tonight needs words.

"Will," Nursey whispers into his shoulder. "I'm gonna make you lose your fucking mind."
He expects a "Hmph," or maybe another wordless noise of frustration. But Dex tips his head back and whispers, "Fuck, Nurse, that's all I want. Come on, please."

Nursey's heart thuds. The want is zinging through his veins. He's dizzy with the desire to tease, to pull out more words. He slides his fingers around the head of Dex's cock, flutters fingertips along the head -- enough to titillate, not nearly enough to drive the sensation to the next level. "You like that?" he whispers.  "Should I just do this to you all night?"

Dex's breaths beat a rapid rhythm in the quiet room. "I thought you wanted everything," he taunts.

"Everything," Nursey says. "Not yet. I wanna hear you make more noise first."

"Nurse," falls from Dex's lips. "Jesus." It's good, but not enough. Nurse lowers his head, nips with lips and tongue at one of Dex's nipples. Still teasing.

"Let me hear you," Nursey murmurs, desperation touching the edge of his words.

And it all comes out then, a torrent -- Dex's head is tipped back, his chest rising and falling, his cock leaking under Nursey's fingers, and the words.

"Nurse, Derek, fuck, that's ... so good," he whispers as Nursey watches in half-shock, half-delight. He doesn't stop there. "I'm ..." he says, and "God, yeah, just like that ... holy shit, Derek ... holy shit, you're so ... you're so good, more ..."

It's more than Nursey's ever heard him talk. So this is what it takes to get Will Poindexter to really express himself, he thinks with no small amount of wicked joy. And it's gorgeous, Will is gorgeous hissing all these delicious words into the air around them. Nursey wants to keep them going. He whispers back, encouraging him. "Yeah, Will," he breathes, "come on. You're so beautiful -- so gorgeous like this--"

All at once the room is alight with whispers, and Nursey closes his eyes tight, feeling everything happening around him. Dex's skin is still so sweet, his legs warm, his cock rock-hard beneath Nursey's fingers, and the words, the incredible words just saturating the whole room, like the most pornographic of poetry. All whispered, all overlapping so it's impossible to tell who's said what. The words fall into the air, unclaimed, orphans of shared want and desire. There's "hot, so hot," and "want you," and "don't stop--" and "need it so bad--"

--and here, here Nursey can say it. Here he can fulfill the letter of his promise to Sarah, even if it's just one whisper in an avalanche, even if Dex doesn't hear. The words are fire behind his lips, and he wants to -- has to -- get them out now. His heart pounds viciously against his ribcage and he prays to every god in the world to grant him strength.

Nursey squeezes his eyes shut tight so he doesn't have to see Dex's reaction. He leans in, kisses Dex lightly on the mouth, and opens his lips.

"I love you."

The room falls silent. Even the bed stops creaking. Everything goes still.

The words were a whisper.

And Nursey's not sure they came from him.

Chapter Text

"I love you," Dex just said.

At least, he thinks he said it. It was a whisper. They were both talking a lot. He doesn't know.

It could have been Nursey. It would be awesome if it were Nursey. Beyond awesome. But Dex doesn't think so. He thinks it was him.

Because he does. God damn it. He does.

When did it turn into love? Dex isn't sure. It couldn't have been that first night, that harrowing and thrilling realization that Nursey fit in his arms perfectly, that Nursey's mouth was like silk and fire against his own. That night he realized that all the fire in his belly whenever he thought of Nurse wasn't just from annoyance, but that didn't mean love. Not yet.

It could have been that first night they spent together, the first time Nursey allowed them to come. When Nursey stepped into the shower with him the next morning, sleep-damp with sweat but gorgeous and, for that moment, completely Dex's. That was the day they started kissing just to kiss. It just felt natural that they should be close, that they should kiss. It felt right.

By the last time Nursey asked him to come over -- the night they didn't end up in bed -- Dex was already gone. Nursey didn't want to have sex that night, and Dex was one hundred percent okay with that. He was happy to be there, happy just to be in proximity to Nursey. So damn happy that Nursey wanted him there. When he kissed Nursey goodnight that last time, Dex was so painfully aware of his feelings that his heart was a raw, throbbing nerve. He didn't want to leave. He couldn't wait for the next time.

He loved Nursey then. He loves Nursey now. And the proof of it, the phrase still hanging in the air between them, is out there now for Nursey to see. They've scrambled to their knees in the wake of it, putting quick space between them. Dex flushes fiercely and clenches a fist in the sheets. He doesn't need a mirror to know that his look of shock matches Nursey's.

"Did you ...?" Nursey whispers. "Did I...?"

"I thought I did," Dex says, reflexively. His face is hot.

Nursey's eyes widen, and Dex doesn't know if it's surprise or horror or something else. "You did?" he asks. And then, more carefully, "You do?"

Dex is sure the chirping is coming soon. Hell, he's surprised it's not there now. He gets up a head of steam. The words come out angrier than he wants them to. But out they come, and Dex can no more keep them back than he can keep the blood from coursing through his body.

"Yeah, you know what?" he says. "I do. I fucking do. And I'm sick of this. I'm sick of being scared to say it. You can laugh at me if you want, but ...  it's true."

"But--" Nursey blinks. "But you said. You just said, the other day. You were glad we weren't like Bitty and Jack."

It stings, to be told he doesn't feel what he feels. "What was I supposed to say? That I wish that was us? That I wanted to go back in there and tell the whole Haus that we have something going on, too?"

"But you said," Nursey says. Why is he arguing with Dex on this? Dex's stomach sours at the answer: because Nursey doesn't want it to be true. He thinks he can worm his way out of Dex loving him, so they can go on doing this no-strings, no-frills farce without having to think of it. "You said at the beginning. You didn't want to do the boyfriend thing with me."

"Because I didn't," Dex retorts. "I didn't, back then. Things changed." He can feel his blush deepening. He wants to hide his head. Instead, he just repeats himself. "Things changed."

Nursey stares at him, silent, for several seconds. He still has that blank expression on his face. Finally, his lips part again. "You love me?" he asks. "You're ... in love with me?"

"YES," Dex is irritated enough now that he just shouts it. "Damn it, Nurse, YES. I love you." He pauses. "Should I just go?"

And for one moment, he thinks maybe he should. That this is the end of everything. The dam's finally broken. Nursey finally knows he's taken this whole thing too seriously. It's time to beat a retreat and lick his wounds until somehow, someday, he can finally get over it.

Then something strikes him funny.

"Wait a second," he says, squinting. "You said you thought you ... wait. Nurse. Do you?"

Nursey kisses him.

They've kissed a thousand and one times since this whole thing started. But it's never been like this, with Nursey's lips melting against his soft as rain. Nursey's fingers are trembling as they touch Dex's jaw. It's dreamlike, and Dex closes his eyes to drift deeper. But less than an instant later, the touch of Nursey's lips is gone.

Dex blinks. Nursey pulls back to face him. Smiles.

"Dumbass," Nursey taunts, but there's no acid in his tone. "I've been in love with you this whole time."

There's not much more to say after that.

Dex pulls him in, kisses him firmly. He has to make sure this isn't a dream, and the only way he knows to do that is through the touch of his hands, his lips. So he kisses Nursey, and pulls him in close, and prays it doesn't all disapear.

"I love you," he murmurs, half-believing it won't be heard. The words come out so easily, he's startled to hear them.

"I love you too, Will," Nursey breathes against his lips. Dex shudders. It's real. It's all real, and Nursey loves him. Nursey loves him, and it's not even that much of a surprise.

Because they've been saying it this whole time. Not with words. But everything they've done, everything they've been to each other. The talk, the touching, the running off to a brownstone at 2 a.m. on a Tuesday night just to be together. It's all been out of love. It's just that the words came last.

It's not a very Dex-like observation. But Nursey's been rubbing off on him, little by little. Dex may just have some poetry in his soul now.

Warmth fills him, and he smiles. "So," he says, "you still want everything?"

Dex didn't know he could be this gentle. But Nursey is shaking a little, like he needs it, so Dex helps him step by step. "You've got what we need?" he says. He waits on the bed, languid and relaxed, for Nursey to retrieve it. And when Nursey returns to the bed, bottle of lube and condom pressed into his left hand, Dex leans forward and kisses him soft and wet and full of emotion.

It feels almost like it felt that one night, when they did nothing but sit and be together. There was an honesty to that night, and it's here, too -- though they've been naked together countless times, tonight it's like Dex's heart is lying exposed for Nursey to touch. He wants to feel that touch, around him, inside him. He walks Nursey through opening him up, step by step. When Nursey's fingers move inside him, Dex relaxes, easier than he's ever done it before. It's so simple. It's Nursey. And Nursey loves him.

And then Nursey crooks his fingers just so, and Dex's nerves come all alight. Gasping, he arches up, burning all at once for the touch of Nursey's skin. In return, Nursey lowers his mouth to bite at Dex's hipbone. Shudders of pleasure wrack Dex, and he groans with unabashed want.

He pulls Nursey in close, mouth catching his. "Now," he begs.

"Yeah," Nursey agrees. "Now."

A moment or two of waiting -- fumbles with a condom, a short laugh shared when the wrapper tries to stick to Dex's stomach -- and then Dex is on his back with knees bent up to his chest and Nursey is sinking into him with a sigh.

Heat, excruciating heat and fullness, and Dex is lost in the sensation as he groans helplessly into the air. Nursey's hands still shake as he settles down, leaning over Dex's bent knees. Dex sighs and tips his head back onto the bed as Nursey holds Dex's hips tight, tries a tentative stroke out and then in again.

It's beyond overwhelming. Dex nearly blacks out. "Fuck," he mutters.

Nursey looks like he might panic. "Okay?"

Dex offers him a smile. "Yeah," he says. "More."

Nursey sucks in a quick breath. "Okay." He tries it again. This time, Dex is prepared. He relaxes into the stroke, lets the stars come and go before his eyes, sucking in air when he can breathe again. Nursey feels huge inside him, but every stroke feels better, every time Dex's nerves lighting up that much more. He gasps, fingers clutching the bedsheets, and cants his hips up to catch Nursey at an angle that makes him cry out. His cock lies hard against his stomach.

"Wait," he says, and Nursey pulls back. Dex stretches his legs, spreads his knees wide. "I want you closer."

Nursey leans over him, and Dex wraps his legs around Nurse's back, bringing him close. They kiss. "You love me," Nursey says, his voice dazed and breathy.

"Yeah," Dex says. "I love you."

Nursey looks like he might melt.

"Come on," Dex urges him with a short laugh. And when Nursey slides back into him, it feels richer and deeper and more amazing than it did before. Maybe it's the positioning. But maybe it's the "love you" Nursey presses against his skin as he goes.

So Dex tries one of his own. "Love you," he whispers, as he rakes his fingers through Nursey's hair.

"Love you," comes the answer as Nursey thrusts in deep and stays, and sparks fly before Dex's eyes.

And now it's a chain, the words falling as easy as rain against their bodies and the sheets and the bed. "Love you," as Nursey kisses Dex's neck, soft and wet, and then "Derek, Jesus," because it feels like something beyond heaven.

"Love you" as Dex arches up, his cock dragging against Nursey's stomach. And "fuck," as he shudders with the shock of sweet sensation when Nursey lowers his hand to stroke him.

"Love you" buried against Dex's lips, the movement of Nursey's mouth so soft and so real. And "Will, oh my God" as Dex surges up to meet him, graze his teeth against Nursey's jaw.

But nothing but "love you" as the heat builds between them. Just "love you" as everything distills down to a single warm star inside him.

"Love you," almost choked out, as that star of sensation expands, brightens, and bursts.

"Love you," just before Nursey follows after, panting, eyes shut tight and muscles trembling with agony and pleasure.

"Love you" as they kiss, soft and sweet, and fall side by side onto the bed.

"So why tonight?" Nursey says. It's ten minutes later, and they've washed up and settled into bed, side by side. But they're still staring at each other and grinning, and Nursey's skin is still unbearably, wonderfully warm against Dex's. "Why'd you decide this was the right time to tell me how you feel? Like, in the middle of making out?"

"I meant to say it when I showed up," Dex tells him pointedly. "Someone decided to grab me and force their tongue down my throat instead."

"Oh yeah, that was totally not mutual at all." Nursey rolls his eyes.

Dex smirks. "But yeah. I meant to show up and ask if we could talk. Bitty talked me into it, actually."

"You told Bitty about us?" Nursey's eyes widen.

"Relax, Nurse. I didn't name any names. But I told him what was going on and he said to me, 'y'all owe it to each other to be honest about what it means for you.'" The y'all sounds ridiculous in Dex's voice, but somehow it's impossible to quote Bitty without using it. "Were you ever gonna tell me? If I didn't say anything?"

"Hey, look, I thought I'd said it too, you know." Nursey squeezes Dex's shoulder. "To be honest, I'd meant to talk to you too, tonight. When you showed up, though, it just seemed way easier to do what we always do. But yeah. I... I have this friend, Sarah. My sister's friend, actually, but she's kind of been giving me advice."

Dex can't resist needling him. "Oh, so it's okay if you tell your friend, but not okay if I tell Bitty?"

"Bitty knows who I am!"     

"Like I told you, I didn't name names!" Even arguing feels better now. It was fun before, in its own way, but now -- now they're two animals at play, nipping at each other's tails because they can, because they trust each other. Dex is breathless with how good it feels. "Anyway, you gonna report back to your friend?"

"Chyeah." Nursey gives Dex a shrug, then a kiss on the ear. Dex tries not to go to pieces about it. It's just a kiss, the same sort of thing they did before, but it all feels so different. "You gonna tell Bitty?"

"Figure Bitty'll figure it out," Dex says. "Ya know, when we show up holding hands or whatever."

Nursey blinks. "Are we ... you want us to show up holding hands?"

What's with the look on his face? "Duh, right? Friends with benefits seems pretty dumb if we're. You know."

"In love?"

Dex flushes. "Yeah."

"I wanna hear you say it." Okay, now Nursey's just giving him shit.

"Fuck off." Dex shoves him. "I said it twenty times just now."

Nursey laughs as he rolls onto his back. He reaches out, takes one of Dex's hands between his palms, and lifts it to his mouth. Kisses it softly. Dex out-and-out shivers. Is this what it's going to be like? Because Dex might explode if Nursey's going to be this kind, this warm from now on.

"I dunno, Poindexter," Nursey murmurs into the skin of Dex's hand. "We could just keep it under wraps, if you want."

Dex frowns. "I don't want."

"You don't?"

"No." Dex glares at him. "Fuck that. I want to hold your hand."

"Like, in public?"

"That's what I said. Yeah." Dex's heart is hammering, but he holds Nursey's gaze, keeps his jaw steady.

Nursey looks at him as though he were a particularly confusing poem in an English textbook. "I thought you didn't want to do the boyfriend thing."

Dex grimaces. "I just don't wanna have to buy you flowers and shit. You're good without flowers, right?"

Nursey laughs. "Yeah, fuck flowers. But we could go on a date, like, once in a while. Can you swing that?"

"A date?" Dex mulls it over. "Maybe once in a while. But what I really want is..." He swallows. "We go the same places we always go as friends. We just... do it as boyfriends."

This brings Nursey to a halt. He looks at Dex for a minute, quiet. When he speaks, his voice wavers a little. "Will... For real?"

Dex nods.

And what is that look on Nursey's face? He looks like he's just been faced with a stable of baby animals. Like he's just opened up a Christmas gift and it's every poem ever written on earth. "You want to be boyfriends? Seriously?"

"Yeah." Is Nursey fucking with him, with that look? How can he look at Dex like that. "Yeah, Nurse. I want to be your boyfriend."

For an instant, Nursey just grins at him, eyes sparkling. Joy and relief spill off him in waves.

Then he takes in a deep breath and sobers. "Well. Hmm. In that case. Lemme think about it." He's playing coy, but his voice still shakes. "Yeah, okay, Will. Okay."

"Good," Dex says, trying not to enjoy the quaver in Nursey's voice too much. But oh, man, it feels pretty good to see Nursey this taken apart. Hell, that's one of the reasons he took the dare that led them down this road.

Funny that it's only after he let his own guard down that he feels he's finally won.

He loops an arm around Nursey, pulls them together, chest against chest and thigh against thigh. "So Nurse," he murmurs against Nursey's jaw.

"Poindexter." Amusement in Nursey's voice.

"About this boyfriend thing."


"Does it ... come with any benefits?"

Nursey shoves him.

Dex just laughs. It's so, so worth it.

And the benefits do turn out to be excellent.

It's a joy to see the shocked/delighted smile on Chowder's face when they tell him what's going on. When Nursey pulls up a chair for Dex so they can Skype his friend Sarah, she lights up and declares "You're him!" And Dex can still hear the exclamations from the other denizens of the Haus when he and Nursey first come through that door hand in hand.

Best of all, at the next kegster they attend, nobody has to dare them to make out.