If real life had been a story, they would have all been friends forever. The Experiments would have been an unbreakable glue between them. Their future would have been one of backyard barbeques, of knowing looks and chuckles over cold beer as their children chased each other around.
Sometimes stories don't end with a happily ever after.
It was inevitable, really. Dave had still had the rest of his suspension to deal with, which meant he’d had no real reason to see his friends, with his part-time work and their school work occupying their time. Then had come playing catch up, through remedial classes over the summer. He'd been on a couple of dates with Rachel because he'd felt like he should, but they'd been mutually awkward. He'd been relieved when she'd finally made her excuses to break it off before leaving for some summer charity program in Mogadishu. The others were clearly busy with school.
Dave could have done more. Made more effort. Reached out to...
It was too easy to think back to that fall, pieces of their interactions burned into his memories in vivid brightness. Nelson, roping him into his hairbrained scheme. Gazing up at Dave, a mixture of intensity and vulnerability in his blue eyes that had disarmed Dave completely.
"I need you. I need you to bring me back."
Dave pushed away the memory with a surge of bitterness and grabbed his school bag. Whatever Nelson had said back then... it certainly wasn't the case anymore.
In August, the school smelled worse than normal; the air stagnant and humid from the sun outside, the scents of stress and perspiration mixing with those of chemicals and cleaning solution. Dave had learned to arrive precisely five minutes early - early enough to set him apart from the apathetic half of the remedials, but not so early that the desperate non-performers would try to pull him into another sad study group. All he needed to do was get through the summer and he'd be back with his year. For better or worse.
That morning, his seat of choice (third row, outside seat) was occupied by Allison, who normally fell into the apathetic half of the class. She had kicked off her sneakers and folded herself into the chair cross-legged, a coffee cup in one hand, a shiny new paperback in the other. Dave fought to keep from frowning at having to move, setting his bag down two seats away. Then he glanced back at the cover of her book and stared.
FLATLINERS, read the title in bold, ice blue letters, the jagged stripe of a heart monitor running through them. They went looking for Death. It's found them. Based on a True Story.
The author's name was the least surprising thing. Randall Steckle.
Underneath the title was an illustration of a long-haired doctor with muscles almost bulging out of his scrubs. A buxom blonde girl in a lab coat and glasses clung to his arm, looking up at him with a vapid, simpering expression on her face. Was that supposed to be Rachel? God, was that supposed to be him?
"Jesus Christ," Dave muttered under his breath. "What the hell is that?"
Allison looked up at him with a smirk, dog-earing a page and passing the book over. "What, don't you pay attention to the New York Times? Apparently med students are the hot new thing to write about. The author's clearly never been to this shit hole."
Dave held back a biting response, flipping the book over to read the back page.
"Four medical students, obsessed by what lies beyond the confines of life, embark on a daring experiment: by stopping their hearts for short periods, each triggers a near-death experience - giving them a firsthand account of the afterlife. But what happens when Death follows them back from the other side?"
Below, reviewers were hailing it as an "original and intelligent thriller" and "stylish and eerie," but Dave had seen enough. He handed it back to Allison. "What the actual fuck?"
"Right? I mean, the science is absolute bullshit. But the story's pretty racy. Wanna borrow it when I'm done?"
"Uh - no. No, I'm good. Thanks." As soon as class was out, Dave slipped into a phone alcove and dialed Randy's number. The phone went to answering machine almost immediately.
"You have reached the offices of Randall Steckle," said Randy's voice, talking about himself in third person. "Randall's next signing is on August 16th at 7pm at Kroch's and Brentano's in Chicago. For booking inquiries, please leave your name, number and..."
"Jesus Christ," Dave muttered again and hung up, staring at the receiver. Did the others know about this? God, did Rachel? They hardly had the Times bestseller list in Mogadishu. He could call Hurley, but he'd gone back to New England for the summer. Which left....
Nelson's gonna be pissed he's not on the cover, Dave thought, feeling his mouth twitch into a smile. Did Nelson know about this? Maybe he should pick up a six pack and head over to his place, they could both have a good laugh...
Except thinking about the last time he'd been at Nelson's made his stomach twist, and in the end Dave just bought a six pack for himself, getting steadily drunker over his homework until he had to give up on it altogether.
Nelson didn't need him anymore. He had to accept that. After everything that had happened, everything that had gone wrong, Nelson was well within his rights to avoid him. What would he even say to Nelson at this point, anyway? It had been months since the incident, months since...
Months since he'd started avoiding Nelson. Since he'd left Nelson's apartment, terrified about what would happen if he stayed. Since Nelson had died for over twelve minutes. Since he'd taken Nelson home afterwards, battered but alive. Since he'd looked at the vulnerability in his friend's eyes and cracked lips and been unable to stop himself from pulling Nelson against him, holding him tight. Feeling like letting go would mean losing him again, failing, seeing Nelson lying dead on the table again. Since the sound of his name on Nelson's lips, throaty and pleading, had left Dave wanting to claim those lips, to touch and taste and take until there was nothing between them but life -
"Fuck," he whispered, half hard at the remembrance, and crushed another beer to try and forget. It was just psychosomatic, wanting Nelson. His libido's response to their survival. Something that would have ruined them if he hadn't pulled back, hidden it, left...
But he hadn't seen Nelson since then.
Some friendship he'd thought he needed to save.
Somehow Dave found himself parking around the corner from Kroch's and Brentano's on Friday evening. For a long while he sat in the front of his truck, staring down the street. What the hell was he supposed to say to Randy, anyway? And what good would it do?
But where the hell did Randy get off thinking he could do something like this without even asking?
Dave slammed the driver's side door behind him hard enough to make the truck shake, striding down the sidewalk towards the bookstore. Inside, the bookstore was so large that he was slightly overwhelmed, but he soon found Steckle. He was set up at a table piled high with copies of the Abomination, a handful of young women clustered around him. Dave ran a hand through his hair self-consciously, wishing he'd pulled it back, or worn a hat. But it wasn't like the guy on the front of the book actually looked like him, right?
"I love how you write Nell," one of them was saying breathlessly as Dave approached. "She's so strong. I feel like you really get women."
Dave leaned over the table. "Steckle. We need to talk."
"Hey, buddy." Randy's smile looked like it belonged on a talk show. "Just a minute. Now, is that Jennifer with two Ns, sweetheart?"
Making his apologies, Randy stood, following him around a book rack. "Look," he started, simply and quietly, as if he'd rehearsed it, "you all knew I was writing a book, you all signed off on it. It bears no resemblance to any person living or dead. So there's no problems. Right?"
For a moment Dave was so stunned that he couldn't think of how to respond. "Of course there's fucking problems," he hissed. "This isn't a memoir, it's fucking pulp fiction! That you wrote about the experiments - you wrote about us! After things went sideways!"
"Only loosely!" Randy shot back.
"That doesn't matter! And you didn't even tell us?"
"I told you in the beginning!"
"And so did the book!"
"You turned me into fucking Fabio!"
Randy held out his hands helplessly, fingers spread. "What do you want me to do, recall it? The book sold ten thousand copies in the first week alone. Nobody could get those back. Even if I wanted to."
"Ten thou..." Dave stared at him, once again at a loss for what to say.
Randy sighed. "Look. Have you even read it?"
"I barely managed to get through the back cover."
"I'll give you a copy, then."
"Steckle, I don't want a copy of your fucking book."
"Well I'm giving you a copy anyway." He grabbed a copy off the table, scrawling something inside the front cover and thrusting it at him. "There. Go home and read it and then we'll talk. I'm at Waldenbooks tomorrow night. Excuse me."
Then his attention was back on the next girl, leaving Dave with nothing to do but retreat, taking the ridiculous thing with him. He stepped back out onto the street, glaring down at the novel in his hand, half tempted to chuck it in the nearest trash bin.
"He's not going to listen to you either, is he?"
Nelson. Dave tried to ignore the way his heart skipped a beat at the familiar voice. He turned to find his friend a few feet away from the door, angrily smoking a cigarette. "Where the hell does he get off?" he exploded, letting his anger take full reign and push away the unwelcome feelings of uncertainty. "He was there, he saw what you - what we went through! And now he's turned it into some shitty cheap airport novel - "
Nelson's eyebrows rose slightly. "You read it?"
Dave snorted. "No."
"Hm." Nelson took one last drag of his cigarette, then flicked it away, watching the cherry bounce across the rough black asphalt of the parking lot. "Probably for the best. At least you're not the one who got a sex change."
"What?" Dave stared at the book cover again. "Wait, that's - that's you?"
"That," Nelson started, tapping his pack to knock another cigarette free from the rest and pulling it out with his lips, "is ballsy med student Nellie Smith, and her bad-boy best friend Don Leonetti." He lit the cigarette and took a long drag. "Judson Hawthorne and Roxy Andrews round out the cast. It's the secret to a good thriller, Steckle says. Make the women think you're being all progressive when you're really just giving the men eye candy. Says nobody wants to read about a sausage fest. Probably would have done it to Hurley if he hadn't had so many girlfriends to write about."
Dave regarded his friend suspiciously. "You don't seem as angry about it as I thought you'd be."
"I'm livid," Nelson replied dryly, though the corners of his lips quirked into a smile. "I don't know. There's so much to be angry about that maybe I've come out the other side. Not much we can do about it at this point anyway. Just try and forget about it. You can get your revenge by beating the pants off him next semester."
Dave tucked the book under his arm with a frown. "I guess," he muttered, not wanting to let go of his anger but disarmed by Nelson's surprising lack of it. Nelson had been so volatile back then, especially during the experiments. Except for those few rare times when they'd been alone...
"You... doing okay?" The words were careful, hesitant on Nelson's lips. "Haven't seen you around, so..."
Dave tried and failed to ignore the surge of guilt that brought. "Yeah, it's just been... summer courses, you know. It sucks, but... sorry." The excuse sounded lame even to himself, but Nelson just nodded, taking another drag of his cigarette.
"If Rachel hasn't seen it yet, you should probably ease her into it. He doesn't have you end up together."
Dave shook his head. "No, she's in Mogadishu. And we're... not. Uh, together."
"No? I assumed that was why you hadn't been around." Nelson's expression was unreadable. "... Sorry to hear it."
He sounded almost genuine, which was puzzling when everything to do with Rachel had made him seem so angry before... Dave shrugged. "It was for the best. Shit like that - acting in heat of the moment and everything - it's not exactly the basis for a strong relationship. The feelings aren't real."
Nelson made a low sound of agreement, lips pursing around his cigarette. "Guess so."
It was strange to see Nelson so amiable, and yet at the same time it wasn't. In the beginning it had been like this, before they'd gotten caught up in the stress of school, then with the experiments. Why had he been so afraid to see him? "Hey... you need a ride home?"
Nelson regarded him for a moment, taking another drag of his cigarette. Then his lips quirked into a smile. "Sure."
Dave couldn't quite say what made him pick up the Abomination from where he'd flung it onto the bench seat of his truck. From where it had sat between him and Nelson during the drive to his friend's apartment; a long, comfortable silence that Dave hadn't realized he'd missed.
"Let's go for a drink sometime," Nelson had said before closing the door behind him, and Dave had smiled.
"I'd like that."
It would be irresponsible not to read the book, he told himself as he climbed the stairs to his apartment. He ought to make sure, for himself, that there was nothing in there that could incriminate them. He flicked on the lights and cracked open the book to a random page, scanning the words absently while he kicked off his shoes.
"Get me the paddles!" Don ripped open Nell's tshirt, causing her full breasts to bounce in the delicate lace bounds of her bra - "
"You gotta be fucking kidding me." Dave tossed the book towards his bed, rubbing his fingers across his forehead to try and soothe the throb of annoyance that was forming. Then he put on the tea kettle. For strength. And started from the beginning.
Halloween morning. Rotting pumpkins, burning leaves. Black cats mating like rats in the alley. It was as if they felt no fear. As if they were already dead... and had nothing to lose by dying.
Or perhaps it was because they lived life so well, and loved life so much that they imagined ourselves immortal, overwhelming the powers that be with the force of their passion for science.
Or maybe they were just fucked in the head.
"You pretentious jerkwad," Dave muttered, but kept reading.
It was strange, reading about himself. About them. But strangely not terrible, once he got over Randy's pseudo-romantic stylings. The pacing was good, the science terrible - probably for the best, with all the impressionable young women he'd seen swarming the signing table - and before Dave knew it he was four chapters deep.
It wasn't terrible, and more than that... he'd always thought Randy a bit of a buffon, more bluster than substance, despite his solid skills in school. He hadn't expected to find the book so... intuitive. It was disarming, to see himself reflected on the page with such accuracy. More discomforting to see Nelson, Nell, Nellie. Despite Randy's need to continually comment on the state and roundness of her breasts, the girl on the pages was overwhelmingly Nelson, her brashness and bravado covering the delicate vulnerability Dave knew so well. The real Nelson, that he'd thought himself alone privy to.
He read until the words swam in front of his face, somewhere around Nellie and Don leaving to track down the boy he'd bullied in school, Nell's thoughts on the page hinting at her own ghosts. He wanted to stay awake, guilty at the realization of what his crusade to Winnie Hicks must have made Nelson feel, but finally had to give up and sleep.
In the light of late morning the book was no less disconcerting, though it was easy to become absorbed in it again, caught up in the story despite knowing how things would end. Reading about Nell's decision to flatline on her own to face her demons made him feel raw, made him want to scream at the pages the way he would have screamed at Nelson if he'd been there. Watching his own attempts to bring her back, his railings at God, at a world that would take Nelson from him; it was too much like reliving it. For a time he had to put the book down and calm his nerves with a cup of coffee, wondering all the time how Nelson could bear to read it.
Then he found himself staring numbly at words he'd never said outside his own head.
"I shouldn't have left you," Don declared desperately, catching hold of Nell's arm and drawing her close."You opened up to me, and I left. I shouldn't have gone with Roxy, I should have stayed with you. I didn't know - "
"I didn't want you to know," Nell whispered, resting a hand on his chest as she looked at him, and it was as if she could feel the thud of his pulse under her fingers. "I couldn't stand the thought of... I didn't want it to change the way you looked at me."
"It wouldn't have. It won't. Nell, you're the most important thing in the world to me. Nothing will change that."
I won't be forever, Nell wanted to say. We'll finish med school, we'll find jobs. There'll be other Roxys. But Don's expression was so earnest, adoration and truth radiating from his gaze, and it felt as though the heavens themselves had opened to shine down on her with the light of the divine.
"I love you, Nell," he professed, and everything in the world that Nell had ever thought important became nothing compared to those four words.
"Don," she tried to whisper, but then he was kissing her, kissing her with all the fervent passion of the sun, filling her with light and hope for the future. Desire pulsed hot through her veins, urging her closer, and she pressed her full breasts up against his chest as she -
Steckle's preoccupation with his heroine's bosoms broke the spell Dave had been under as he read and he shook his head, setting the book aside. It was obvious what the last few pages would contain, anyway, and there was no way in hell he was reading that.
... Though part of him was quietly afraid that he'd like it.
He caught Randy coming down the walk from his house. "What the fuck did you write, Steckle?"
"Last I checked, a bestseller. Did you actually read it?"
"Of course I fucking read it." Dave stepped closer, lowering his voice to a hiss. "You wrote me and Nelson having - having - "
Dave gaped at him in astonishment. "What the fuck, Steckle. No!"
Randy shrugged. "Pity. Maybe you should."
Dave grabbed the front of his jacket, yanking him close. "I don't know what you're playing at, but these are our lives! Where the hell do you get off thinking that you can just - "
"I just wrote what was there, okay?" Randy yanked from his grasp, straightening his shirt. "You want to know the real reason Nell's a girl? Because if I'd written about what's really going on between you two there's no way I would have ever been published!"
"Steckle, I don't know what the fuck you think you're talking about, but - "
"I'm talking about the thing that everybody can see except you. The ending that should have happened, and could still happen if either of you could pull your heads out of your asses sometime when you're not fucking dying."
His words cut deep, leaving Dave reeling, the protective shield of his armor dissolved. "He doesn't want that," he hissed, and Randy sighed, stepping into him.
"Listen," he started, "I didn't say this to you, and you're not going to repeat it to him, or anyone, okay? My first ending sucked. I thought it was amazing, of course, this tragic and bittersweet separation where everybody goes their own way nursing the scars of the past. But it was pretentious bullshit, there was no emotional payoff. And then Nelson suggested this."
Dave found himself unable to move his lips, pulse thundering in his ears as he stared at Randy. "He... read it?" he managed finally, "Before you published?"
"Nelson spent a lot of time with me after the rest of you all fucked off," Randy replied, then patted his shoulder. "I gotta go. We'll catch up over drinks sometime, yeah? I'll buy."
Dave nodded mutely, watching Randy start down the sidewalk towards the waiting cab. Then he turned. "Hey, Dave?"
"You haven't gone to print yet, you know. So it's not too late to change the ending." He winked, then got into the cab and disappeared from sight.
For a long moment Dave stared after him, the turmoil of emotion inside leaving him nearly paralyzed. Then, almost without thinking about it, he found himself getting back into his truck, driving the familiar streets.
At least he could go apologize for avoiding Nelson for so long, he told himself. That's all it needed to be.
And then, when he found himself staring at Nelson at his front door, he found he hardly knew what to say.
Nelson's brows furrowed over the top of his glasses, quiet concern in his eyes. "...Everything okay, Dave?"
"Yeah," Dave forced out. "Yeah. I, uh. I read the book."
The mask that went up over Nelson's features was practically visible. His friend gave a dismissive laugh. "Shouldn't have wasted your time. It's shit."
Nelson's lips thinned, regarding him for a long moment. Then he sighed, taking a step back. "You'd better come in."
Dave let himself be led, sat down at Nelson's kitchen table. Watched as Nelson knocked the grounds out of the basket of his coffee machine and refilled it, setting it to brew. Lit a cigarette, crossing to open the kitchen windows.
"I used to hate that my parents smoked in the house when I was a kid," he said, pulling an ashtray off the windowsill. "Made everything yellow. Cleaners had to scrub everything down with baking soda once a week. I guess sometimes it just feels necessary."
It was strange, hearing Nelson talk about home so casually. "Don't think I've ever heard you talk about your parents."
Nelson gave a soft, mirthless laugh. "Guess I've gotten used to talking."
"Steckle said he'd - you'd been spending time together."
"It was fucking annoying." Nelson pulled out a chair to join him, leaning on the table on one elbow. "Always trying to get me to open up about my feelings so he could 'get the character right.' Guess I must have gotten used to it in the end."
"I'm sorry I wasn't here," Dave said quietly, and when Nelson looked over at him there was a sudden weariness in his eyes.
"It's... fine, Dave. Probably for the best, anyway. It's like you said... the kind of stuff we went through, people just get attached in the heat of the moment. It's not real."
Dave's heart sank. "You really mean that?"
"Look, Dave..." Nelson stopped, then shook his head. He stared at the ashtray as he took another drag of his cigarette, drawing until the cherry reached the filter. Then he stabbed it out, lips pursed in displeasure. "I've told a lot of lies," he said, voice low and suddenly rough. "Put up a face around everybody. I felt like if I wasn't being confident then people would... find out, somehow. What happened. Who I really was. I don't want to be like that anymore. I didn't mind Randy, 'cause he knew. He knew and he still showed up. But you...."
"I'm sorry," Dave murmured, heart aching. "It's not because I didn't want to, I - "
"I don't know how to act around you, Dave. I'm not used to not being Nelson. I wanna pretend that nothing's changed and we can just be how we were, but I can't..."
"You don't have to," Dave said softly, pulling his chair closer, laying a hand on Nelson's shoulder and feeling him tense under his touch. "Look... this is my fault, okay? I shouldn't have left you. You opened up to me, and I left. I shouldn't have gone with Rachel, I should have stayed with you. I didn't know... "
Nelson closed his eyes, lips pressed tight. "...Did you mean to just quote that damn book at me?"
"What? No. God, I only read it once."
A soft, helpless laugh escaped his friend's lips. "I've read it far too many times." He turned to look at Dave, a sudden fierceness in his eyes. "I didn't want you to know. I couldn't stand the thought of it changing the way you looked at me. So what are you going to do about it, Dave?"
There was really only one thing to do in that moment, which was to listen to the damn book. So Dave kissed him. Leaned in and claimed his lips, tasting the chemical sweetness of his cigarettes as Nelson's lips parted with a soft gasp. He didn't pull away, though, and Dave felt Nelson's hand come up to touch his hair, just resting lightly, trembling as if convinced Dave would pull away.
Whatever Dave had expected to happen, whatever he thought he'd feel, it was nothing compared to actually kissing Nelson. Part of him never wanted to stop, drinking in the warmth of his lips, his little hitches of breath as his lips parted obediently to the press of Dave's tongue. The other part of him was still convinced that Nelson couldn't want this, and he cupped the back of Nelson's neck to try and convince himself that he wouldn't pull away, stroking his fingers over his skin, encouraged by the soft moan that escaped Nelson's lips.
"What are you doing?" Nelson whispered, and Dave pulled back enough to look at him, drawing his fingers through his hair.
"Changing the ending," he said softly. "Steckle's first ending sucks. I love you, Nelson. You're the most important thing in the world to me. I want your ending. If... if you do."
He felt Nelson draw a soft, shaky gasp, then breathe out again, his eyes closing for a moment. "Well," he said softly, then offered him a small smile, "it was my idea, after all."
"Completely," Dave agreed, and kissed him again.
The rest of the summer, which had once seemed an unending drag of stuffy classrooms and homework, had gone by far too fast. On the last Saturday before start of term Dave woke up to rain against the windows of Nelson's apartment, to the huff of Nelson's breath against his bare chest, the feel of his lover's shoulders quivering.
He smiled, not trying to keep his eyes open yet, stroking his fingers through Nelson's hair. "What are you laughing at?"
"My boobs," Nelson replied, and Dave cracked one eye to discover that he was already wearing his glasses, a copy of The Book in his hands, dog-eared and well read. He couldn't tell from looking which copy was his and which was Nelson's anymore, except that Nelson's inscription read "May you one day have everything you've ever wanted," while Dave's read "May you one day pull your head out of your ass and get the hell over yourself."
"Still?" Dave chuckled, running his fingers down his spine.
"Of course." Nelson leaned over him to drop the book onto the other side of the mattress, then arched up to kiss him, smiling against his lips. "It's not every day one gets to see oneself as a caricature of male desire."
"I'll show you a caricature of male desire," Dave muttered. Nelson was still fantastically, gloriously naked from the night before, and Dave couldn't help but touch him, turning into him and filling his hands with the warmth of Nelson's body. He gave an appreciative groan into his mouth, stroking down his back, over his wonderfully muscular ass.
Even after the weeks they'd been together, part of him still half-expected Nelson to pull back. The way that Nelson melted against him, lips parting to his kisses, welcoming his touch, it still didn't quite seem real. So he reveled in it, as if his fingers could commit Nelson to memory by touch alone, mapping his body, thumbs pressing into the divots at the small of his back before letting his palms smooth over his ass again. It made Nelson squirm closer, like it always did, his kisses hungrier, stroking Dave's chest and shoulders and back, arching against him, desperate and needy.
Desire had never felt so effortless, or so uncontrollable. "God, Nelson," he breathed, and Nelson wrapped one thigh over his hips, arching closer, the hard length of his cock rubbing against Dave's as he squirmed against him. Dave caught hold of his hips, rolling his own against him, groaning into his mouth at the surge of pleasure it brought. "Can't get enough of you."
"Good," Nelson replied, smiling against his mouth. "Because neither can I." He shifted over him, and Dave found himself pushed down into the bed with Nelson straddling his hips, stroking his fingers up into Dave's hair as they kissed. Then he sat up, grabbing the abandoned book and smirking down at him. "Wanna act it out?"
"Considering there's like, five pages dedicated to your tits, I think we might have a hard - oh - a hard time," Dave managed to answer, breath catching as Nelson circled his hips against him. "Jesus."
"Nell's breasts, so often admired and hidden from view like two untouchable treasures, spilled free from her lab coat as Don undid the top button. Full and round in the white lace bra, he could just see her nipples darkening the thin fabric, hard and peaked in their prison," Nelson read aloud, voice quivering with barely controlled humor.
"A lab coat, but no shirt," Dave pointed out, stroking his hands up his thighs, and Nelson laughed.
"Of course not, you ripped it off me heroically when you were saving my life." His lips curled in amusement as he continued to scan the page. "Don knew they were far too large and magnificent for any one man to hold, but he couldn't help but worship them, running his hands up Nell's sides and over the delicate lace, cupping and stroking her glorious tits. He watched Nell draw a gasp of pleasure, breasts heaving under his touch." Nelson's fingers trailed down Dave's midline as he read, finally curling around both their cocks together, stroking slowly.
"Those definitely aren't tits," Dave pointed out breathlessly, trying to squirm up into his caress despite being pinned by the weight of his body..
Nelson grinned, fingers still stroking slowly, teasing the head of Dave's cock with his thumb. "Sucking one perfect, peaked nipple into his mouth like a lollipop - "
"Has Steckle ever actually touched a real pair of breasts?"
"Quiet, I'm getting to the best part." Without moving his hand from Dave's cock, Nelson managed to nose aside the next page to turn it one handed. "Nell's magnificent mammaries trembled in the restraints of their lacy lingerie, straining, aching to be liberated. So Don tore apart the delicate fabric to let them spring free into his waiting hands and mouth, lush and full like the sweetest ambrosia.' I told him that you can't rip a bra open, you know. I've tried."
"Kinky - oh, fuck..." Dave's vision unfocused briefly as Nelson's thumb rubbed pleasure into just the right spot under the head of his cock, slick with arousal against his skin. He squirmed, breathing harder. "You gonna keep reading that trash, or come up here and let me suck your cock?"
He watched Nelson's eyes darken, biting his bottom lip on a smile. "That's not how the story goes."
"Yeah, well in the story I fuck your tits and give you a pearl necklace."
"Mmm." Nelson shifted back, leaning down to lick up the underside of his cock with a pleased moan. "And then I ride your cock like a cowgirl."
Dave bit his lip on a groan, stroking his fingers through the silky golden locks of Nelson's hair as he sucked at the head of his cock. "We could skip straight to that bit," he suggested, and Nelson gave a pleased groan around his cock.
"You like that, Davey?" His breath teased hot against his cock, hard and slick with his saliva, and he pressed an open-mouthed kiss to the tip, lips teasing his sensitive skin. "You like to watch me fuck myself on your cock?"
"Oh, Jesus..." Dave bit his lip, feeling his cock pulse with want, more arousal seeping from the tip. "Not gonna last long enough for that if you keep talking like that."
Nelson chuckled as he licked it up, low and pleased. "You sure you don't want me to keep reading? 'Don's cock was enveloped by Nell's breasts, like two perfectly round satin pleasure pillows - "
"Christ, stop!" Dave managed to pluck the book from his fingers, tossing it safely out of reach on the floor. "Now get up here or I'm going to pin you to the bed and have my way with you."
"Ooh, you tease. I'll make a bodice ripper of you yet." Grinning, Nelson crawled up to claim his mouth with his own, rocking his hips slowly against him, the hardness of his cock grinding into Dave's pelvis. It always sent a particular thrill through him, feeling proof of how hard he'd made Nelson. Dave worked a hand between them to stroke him, curling his fingers around the shaft of his very nice cock, smiling at the moan it pulled from Nelson's lips.
"Let's skip to the riding," Nelson agreed breathlessly, fumbling blindly in the bedside table for the lube. Dave took it from him, slicking his fingers to press them up inside him, carefully stretching and slicking him. He knew well by now how Nelson liked it, just how to tease up inside him until he was whimpering and breathless, grinding his cock into Dave's stomach helplessly, streaks of arousal painting his skin.
"God, Dave - enough, fuck, I - " Nelson bit his lip on a needy whine, then sat up as Dave pulled his fingers away. He smoothed more lube down the length of Dave's cock, and in moments was guiding it up into him.
Dave's fingers dug into his thighs, trying to focus on staying still and not the tight heat of Nelson's body. Not the shiver that ran through him as he slowly sank down onto him, body clenching and fluttering as he stretched around the head of his cock. "So good," Dave breathed, fingers kneading his thighs. "Fuck, Nelson..."
Nelson flashed him a shaky smile, then let his eyes fall closed, rocking down slowly until he was grinding his ass against Dave's pelvis, body tight and slick and perfect around the length of his cock. "So good," Nelson echoed in a murmur, bracing his hands on his chest as he started to rock on him. "I - oh! Oh fuck, Dave..."
As nice as it was to pin Nelson under him on the bed and do his best to drive his lover out of his mind with want, there was an intense satisfaction to watching Nelson like this. To watching him arch and grind, breath catching as he fucked himself on Dave's cock, chasing his own pleasure. Dave ran his hands up his hips, encouraging him to move, enjoying the bunch of his thighs and the bob of his flushed-hard cock.
"You look so fucking good like this. Feel so fucking good, Nelson," he managed to gasp, and Nelson laughed, eyes glittering darkly as he started to move harder on him.
"Better than - oh! Oh... better than fucking my tits?" he managed to ask, grinning breathlessly.
Dave let out a barked laugh. "You're fucking incorrigible, you know that?" He shifted until he could push up to meet the rock of his hips, grinning breathlessly at the whine of pleasure it pushed from Nelson's lips. "Would you rather I be fucking your tits?"
"I - ah, fuck!" Nelson started to move harder on him, fingers digging into his shoulders. "Fuck no. Oh god, yeah, Dave, fuck me - "
Dave felt a brief moment of temptation to try and tease Nelson about his undeniably unclear answer, even if the answer was clear enough from the way Nelson was grinding down onto him, breath catching every time they came together. In any case, his own brain was dangerously close to being just as unable to form full sentences. Nothing was better than the perfect pleasure of Nelson's body caressing his cock, and Dave fell into rhythm with him until Nelson was half-wailing with each thrust, breathless and trembling as he rode him.
Dave worked a hand between them again to curl around the satisfying hardness of Nelson's cock, letting the rock of their hips push him into his grasp. Nelson whined, surging forward to kiss him, hard and breathless and desperate. "Fuck, I'm so close!"
Nothing could ever be sexier than Nelson in these moments, and before Dave could think to hold back his pleasure was rushing to its crest, hot and bright and perfect as he spilled deep in the perfection of his lover's ass. It was amazing, but still not quite enough, and he ground his cock up deep into Nelson even as ecstacy still sparked behind his eyes, jerking him quick and rough.
"Come on - fuck, Nel - " he gasped, and felt the tension in Nelson's body break, pleasure shuddering through him as Dave stroked him through climax. There was an intense satisfaction to feeling the warm slick of Nelson's seed as he jerked him onto his own stomach and chest, and Dave continued until he'd worked every drop from him, until Nelson half-collapsed over him, barely holding himself up on trembling arms, whimpering and breathless.
"Enough, enough, oh fuck, Dave..."
"Good?" Dave murmured, stroking his free hand through his hair as he kissed him. He felt Nelson tighten briefly around his cock and sucked in a soft hiss at the overstimulation.
"So good," Nelson breathed, drinking in his kisses. Then he pushed himself up, looking down over Dave's torso with a smirk. "I guess I gave you the pearl necklace."
Dave gave a barked laugh, smacking Nelson's ass as his lover eased away, stretching out against his side. "You ass. Well, it's easier to clean than the sheets."
"Mmm. Pragmatic and sexy." Nelson arched up to claim his lips, wriggling closer. "And we can have sex in the shower."
"Now who's being pragmatic and sexy?" Dave nipped at his bottom lip gently, adoring and in good humor in the aftermath of sex. He thought he might love Nelson most of all like this - relaxed and sated and cuddly... and happy.
"I suppose being turned into Nellie might not have been such a bad thing after all," Nelson mused, wrapping one arm around Dave's hips and cuddling closer.
"Is that what I should call you now, then? My Nellie?" Dave chuckled, nuzzling his hair, an old tune from the radio coming to mind. "Wait 'till the sun shines, Nellie, when the clouds go drifting by..."
Nelson raised his head to look at him, eyebrows knitting. "What the hell are you singing?"
"The Nellie song. Haven't you ever heard it? It's old, like... barber shop quartet thing." He laughed as Nelson's look grew more dubious. "It is! 'We will be happy, Nellie, don't you cry. Down Lover's Lane we'll wander, sweethearts you and I.... Wait till the sun shines, Nellie, bye and bye."
Nelson's expression softened into a grin, and he leaned forward to press a kiss to his mouth. "I think that might be even sappier than Steckle's book, Dave."
"Well... I don't care." Dave kissed him longer, lacing his fingers through his hair. "I love you."
"Now you're making me sappy," Nelson muttered, and kissed him back. "I love you, too."