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Silver Tongue

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Professor Mako Rutledge trudges past to the red streamers and tacky hearts adorning the hallways of the Languages building. He ignores students, more clingy and publicly affectionate than usual. He also resists the urge to smack the plate of heart-shaped cookies off the German Club’s bake sale table. By the time he makes it to his lecture room, he figures he’s earned himself sainthood for not decking the five students who all thought it would be cute to say “will you be my Valentine, Professor Rutledge?”

Today’s the most commercialized, pointless holiday, back once again to make couples spend and single people drink. He tries not to embody the grumpy, middle-aged, single professor cliche, and for the most part he’s successful. He looks more like a bouncer than an English professor with his massive size, equal parts fat and muscle, and his permanent scowl. He negates most of the built-in intimidation factor by dressing in range of sweater vests and sweaters, from polka dots to stripes. Today his vest is blue paisley in defiance of the holiday’s forced color scheme.

“Proudly standing up against the year’s most commercial holiday?” A sly voice says, way too close to his ear.

Mako can’t conceal his jump of surprise as Dr. Moira O’Deorain virtually appears out of nowhere to lean against the doorframe. He shoots her a scowl as he unlocks the door and pushes his way in.

“What topic are you using to put your students to sleep today?” She persists, following him in.

“You don’t even teach in this building,” he reminds her as he drops his briefcase on the table and shuffles out stacks of papers.

“Yes and thank God for that.” She flicks her fingers out, picking at her nails. “You can really tell where the funding isn't going when you set foot in this building. Just looking at these poor students.” She shakes her head solemnly. “They'll never find gainful employment and that’s just tragic.”

“Is Angela out sick today? That why you've stopped by to harass me?”

“On the contrary, I'm meeting her after her meeting here. We’ve been getting on recently, I’ll have you know.”

“Good to know,” he scrawls the day’s reading on the board, hoping she’ll take the hint.

“I have a couple flyers for my upcoming symposium on the future of harnessing beneficial genetic mutations. If any of your students seem like they’re more learned-” She glances at the stream of students coming into class and cocks an eyebrow. “Is this remedial English? These are some sad-looking souls.”

Mako snatches the flyers out of her hand and gives her his patented scowl with a side of silent treatment.

“There’s Angela,” Moira says, catching sight of an exasperated Dr. Ziegler. “Stay out of trouble, Mako. I’m always watching.”

And just like that she’s had her fill of torturing him, disappearing out the door like a spectre in the night.

It’s going to be one of those days , he thinks as it takes him a whole minute and a half of glowering to get the students to calm down. They’re hyped up on sugar and hormones and half of them are probably drunk.

He’s discussing the different depictions of hell in literature today, classics to modern. He swears he doesn’t time it like this on purpose, but this lecture tends to land on Valentine’s Day every year.

A tattered sliver of red construction paper sticks out from under his stack of graded papers. It catches Mako’s eye halfway through his lecture on the Dante’s descent through Hell. He forces himself to ignore it, but it keeps nagging at his subconscious, even through the discussion of his favorite topic. Do they fire professors with red slips? Construction paper red slips? No, that’s fucking ridiculous. Even if they do, he’s had tenure for 5 years. Perhaps a derisive note from Dr. O’Deorain? She’d been kind enough to stop by and bother him this morning. Maybe she slipped it into his papers? Maybe this is her next step in the psychological warfare she is waging on him. Threatening notes to derail his lectures. Well, so far it’s doing a great job.

He pushes through until he gets to the portion of the lesson where the students to work on a brief set of questions together. When their chipper voices fill the classroom with on and off topic chatter, Mako takes a drink from his coffee mug (emblazoned with George Orwell’s words: “Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.”) and plucks the sheet of paper out from the stack.

The scrawl looks like the writer had someone smack his fingers one too many times in grade school and decided to rebel with the most abysmal handwriting he could muster. Mako knows immediately whose it is.

Roses are Red

Violets are Blue

Out of all the professors

I’d choose to fuck you

Heat rises to Mako’s cheeks and he glances up at the classroom to see if he’s been caught flustered. The eyes of Jamison Fawkes pierce through the crowd of co-eds to meet Mako’s, his combat-booted foot and bright orange prosthetic foot propped up on the desk, hands folded behind his head. He sticks his tongue out at his professor when their eyes meet, the metal ball at the tip gleaming under the fluorescent lights. He gives a nod with his chin, gesturing for him to “go on.” Mako flips the sheet over in his hands.

Grass is Green

Sunflowers are Yellow

How hard would it be

To fuck this poor fellow?

Mako gives a loud exhale that he’s sure Jamison can hear. The punk rattles with laughter and Mako hears his various chains jangle along with him.

So not a threatening message from Dr. O’Deorain. This is good news. Good news he doesn't know how to process. Jamison Fawkes is some kind of art major (sculpture? That doesn’t seem quite right but Mako can’t remember) on his second time through Mako’s class. Everything about him is chaos to the eyes. Mismatched prosthetics with clothes that seem too trashy and ripped to be inauthentically punk. An unmanageable blond mohawk that’s lost some of its product during the day and is now looking a little droopy. He’s got more piercings than he does days in attendance at Mako’s lectures. The most striking feature about him is his dozens of tattoos. They don’t work together in the slightest, and the ones Mako’s glimpsed seem like they were thrown on his body for comedic effect--he’s seen Jamie showing off a tattoo cuff around his thigh made of interlocking blunts. Still, despite all this, Mako knows there’s an intelligent core beneath all this flash and disorder, if only he can be made to focus.

He’s glad he has a minute to process this. Jamison Fawkes gave him a Valentine’s Day card . Why? He starts with the obvious reasons. Could be a prank, a joke to force a blush out of Mako, get him a little flustered. If that’s what Jamie wants from this, he can check it off his list. Job well done. Or maybe he’s hoping Mako will take the bait, ask him out, and then as soon as they’re alone, he reveals he’s been livestreaming the whole thing and proceeds to ruin Mako’s career. Seems unlikely that they’re living in a bad PSA documentary about the importance of maintaining professional relationships. But it seems like an unlikely long con. Jamie’s always been friendly with him. He takes him up on office hours, hangs around after class to chat even when he isn’t interested in the subject, shows up to study groups- shit…

What if the punk likes him? What if he is genuinely asking him out?

There’s something about Jamie that takes Mako back to an earlier time in his life. He remembers the punk movement in its infancy, remembers being attracted to its thin and wild men. Mako dabbled in it, dressing in the style, getting himself a few tattoos, but he never quite felt comfortable enough with himself to fully commit. Attractive punks like Jamie were the first ones to call him a poser. As much as Mako at nearly fifty years old scoffs at himself, there’s a part of him that wants to make his younger self proud. Mako would be lying if he said he hasn’t thought about Jamie this way. He’s tried to ignore the way his shirt slides up to reveal that stupidly ripped belly, or his back when he bends over to pick up his pencil that he always seems to drop.

The squirminess and increased chatter of his class snatches his attention back. Mako has been so lost in his thoughts about Jamie that he almost forgot to dismiss the class. He quickly scrawls next weeks’ reading on the board and lets them go a few minutes early.

Fuck. Is he going to say something to Jamie? He has to say something, right? Jamie knows he read it. He’s trotting down the stairs right now with that wicked grin on his lips and his jacket hanging off his shoulder. It churns something in Mako’s stomach.

“What’s up, Professor Rutledge?” He asks, leaning over to prop his arm up against the desk in a faux-casual fashion. “You were lookin’ a little tongue-tied up here.”

Mako’s holding the valentine in his hand; it’s too late for him to subtly drop it in the trash and act like he hasn’t seen it.

“You’re very clever,” Mako says, flipping the piece of paper over in his hands. “And wildly inappropriate.”

“Aww, but something tells me yer the type of professor who goes for wildly inappropriate?” There’s a touch of hopefulness in his voice.

“What on earth would give you that impression?” The room’s empty now as Jamie pulls himself up to his full height. He shifts his jacket back up onto his shoulder. The thing seems like it’s three sizes too big for him.

“Just a guess. Certainly wasn’t your reputation, ‘course,” Jamie takes a step closer and Mako finds his eyes darting for the exits to make sure Dr. O’Deorain isn’t about to pop out of the ether.

Jamie bites his lip, toying with his lip ring. His eyes are warm and expectant as they bear into Mako’s self-restraint.

“Drinks.” The word is out of Mako’s mouth before he can stop it.

“Drinks? Like a date?” Surprise is apparent in his lightly colored eyes and it makes Mako’s heart stop.

Oh shit. Oh fuck. What made him think Jamie would say yes to this? A hot punk like Jamie going on a date with an old, crunchy English professor? Probably his loneliness-addled brain on an overdose of Valentine’s Day misery. In what alternative universe did he think he was-

“Sure!” Jamie says suddenly, bouncing back and forth from his toes to his peg with a wide grin. “Didn’t think you’d actually go for it! Not many smart fellows like yerself go for less learned blokes like me, but I see my ever powerful charm and wit has won you over!” His thin fingers paw at Mako’s wrist and he finds himself numbly turning his hand over as the punk scribbles in pen on his palm.

“8:00? Meet downtown at the carousel and we can find a bar from there? Should be a lovely night.”

Mako finds himself nodding along. Jamie folds Mako’s fingers back up, protecting the sacred information on his palm. He gives it a squeeze and then trots to the door.

“See ya then, professor!”

It takes him a moment to center himself. He just asked a student on a date.

Mako’s brain is buzzing as he cleans around his classroom, picking up the pencils, pens, and cell phones left behind by his forgetful students. A red scrap of paper catches his eye, left behind under the chair of Olivia, a foreign student from Mexico. It appears almost identical to the one Jamie left him. He picks it up and feels his stomach fall out.

Roses are red

Violets are Blue

I don’t hablo Espanol

But I would learn for you

Beside it lay a similar piece of paper for Gabe Reyes. He picks it up with slow-building horror.

Grass is green

Tulips are pink

I’m into butt stuff

What do think?

Mako scans the classroom and other red scraps of paper catch his eye. Other Valentine’s. That punk-ass fucking prick wrote these obscene pieces of trash for everyone in the fucking class. Everyone. And Mako just asked him out because of it? The uncontrollable urge to bring the building down around him grips him. He wants to sink into the ground, stop existing. The digits running across his palm burn him like a brand.

His first instinct is to take out his phone and to dial the numbers. He stops as he realizes the next class will be arriving and he’s not about to have this conversation in front of them. Then he mulls through how that conversation would go. “Hey, Jamie, date’s off, despite me being a teacher whose job it is to analyse subtext, I couldn’t glean the fact that your Valentine was a joke.”

And Jamie had said yes. He can’t discount that. The way those eyes stared into him, sized him up. He felt wanted . From what he knows about Jamie, he’s not a good actor. When Mako assigns a lot of reading, Jamie’s face is the first one to show his disappointment, to sigh exasperatedly. Jamie can’t be pulling one over on him; the kid just doesn’t have the acting skills.

No matter how many times his brain loops around the problem, it always lands back on go on the date . All of this Valentine’s Day bullshit aside, they have a friendly relationship. He likes Jamie, Jamie seems to like him. The more he thinks about it, the more irrational his fears of “secret punk prank show” seem.

Mako’s mind always tends to think worst case scenario. But for just a moment, he lets himself think best case. His mind is full of visions of skin and metal and tattoos, sweaty and panting-

His next class is here. He tells them to discuss the day’s reading in groups as he takes a quick bathroom break.

 

Two minutes till 8:00pm, Mako paces in front of the park carousel, Jamie’s instructed meeting place. The incessant repeating chorus from the ride irritates him and as the minutes tick by, he wonders if this has all been a setup. He’d had a small amount of time to go home and freshen up, putting on a seasonally appropriate red button down. It doesn’t fit as well as he remembered, the buttons complaining as he closed them over his belly. He hides their strain with a tan sweater vest that surely says “teacher hoping to get laid.”

“There ya are!” Jamie’s voice rings out.

At first, Mako looks around him, unable to spot the young man. Then he sees him, the only rider on the carousel, much to the joy of the underpaid attendant who has to run the thing. Jamie’s mounted up on the most fearsome wooden horse of them all, black lacquered with terrifying red eyes. Jamie’s the complete opposite, not imposing in the slightest as he hangs halfway off it with his tongue lolling out. The attendant shouts at him to sit upright as the ride comes to an early end.

“Come on and ride with me!” He shouts, hopping off the horse and landing with wobbly legs.

“I’m sorry, sir,” the ride operator steps in, eyeing Mako’s girth with no small amount of uncertainty. “There’s a weight limit on the horses-”

“Oh come on, ya pisser!” Jamie shouts at the attendant as he lands in front of Mako. “That’s why you have these boring benches, right?”

Neither Mako or the operator seem to have a choice as he’s dragged up and seated on one of the more stable benches rooted to the ground. A family of four starts walking in the direction of the carousel and Jamie throws $5 at the attendant to get him to start the ride without them. Jamie picks a horse in front of Mako and he hangs off the pole to look back at him. It’s the most sexual anyone has ever looked riding a goddamn merry-go-round.

“Yer lookin’ fine tonight!” He shouts over the music and the muffled voice telling him to stop hanging off the pole.

“Thanks,” Mako tugs the sweater down over his gut. “You too.”

Jamie really doesn’t look too different than he did earlier, maybe he changed his pants? It doesn’t matter too much, Mako can’t get enough of that too-large leather jacket.

Jamie is not a good amusement park rider. He breaks every rule written and unwritten about safety and Mako’s happy to watch him. He’s bending and twisting like he’s trying to prove something.

“You’ve got a lot of ink,” Mako says to him when he spots a two-headed dog tattoo he hasn’t seen before.

“Thanks!” Jamie reads it as a compliment, as if just a statement about the number of tattoos is inherently praise. “I wanna show you my favorite.”

Jamie’s back is already facing him from his place on his horse as he hikes up the back of his jacket. His tank top has ridden up to show a tramp stamp of a lounging skeleton, its head propped up with its arm, looking casual and enticing, as much as a skeleton can. Mako lets out a loud snort and Jamie sticks his tongue out at him. Mako can’t deny how bizarre and attractive he looks, terrible tramp stamp, ass practically hanging out of his pants, all of it. He doesn’t need a picture- this image will be burned on his mind for a long time. He’s pretty sure he’ll be jerking it to this on his way to the grave.

The carousel comes to a stop and Jamie doesn’t even get up this time. He waves his dollar at the attendant and the man dutifully comes over to take it. This time around, Jamie drops off the horse and slides onto the bench beside Mako. He nestles up against his arm and Mako stretches it across the back of the bench, not quite around his shoulders, but the sentiment is there. Jamie seems genuine so far, he’s a little wired, but that’s typical behavior for him. It doesn’t seem like he’s about to pull one over on Mako, but it’s hard for him to push his doubts aside.

“Gorgeous weather, mate,” Jamie says, his hands in his pockets. “Almost as gorgeous as-”

“Jamie-” Mako says suddenly, jerking his attention to him. He needs to get this off his chest now, or else it will eat him up for the rest of the night. “I… I didn’t realize you wrote those notes for everyone in the class.” He can’t make eye contact. “Why did you agree to go on a date with me?”

“Mate…” Jamie chuckles, slowly at first, then building. “Sure I wrote those notes for everyone. Doesn’t mean I meant it for everyone. It’s just nice to give people a little pick-me-up.”

“And write them explicit messages?” Mako hazards a glance over at him and he hates how dusk allows the carousel lights to touch his piercings and halo his slicked hair, making him shine like a gleaming god.

“Yeah! It worked for you, didn’t it?”

Mako grumbles and presses his fingers to his forehead,  attempting to block Jamie from his vision.

“So basically,” Mako tries to piece this together. “You were looking for a Valentine’s Day hook-up and just carpet bombed the entire student-teacher body in hopes that someone would take you up on it.”

“Mate, no!” Mako still doesn’t look at him which means he can’t read if there’s a hint of a lie in his face. “I did this throughout my innocent high school years. Gave up the tradition in uni, but seeing as this is my fifth year, I figured I could bring it back. Spread some holiday cheer!”

Mako gives a snort, highly doubting Jamie’s teenage years could be characterized as “innocent.” Tattoos like that stupid and unnervingly sexy skeleton don’t just pop up overnight.

“Everyone knows I gave ‘em out everyone, so people don’t think much into it,” Jamie continues. “Everyone ‘cept you though.”

“That’s what makes this feel like a cruel joke,” Mako can’t hold back the tide of uncertainty. “I’ve been the butt of jokes before. Jokes by people like you.”

“People like me?” Jamie stops him with a metal hand on his arm. “Wha’s that supposed to mean?”

Mako shoots a scowl at the attendant who’s coming back to collect his money. He scampers away and presses the button to let them go around again.

“People in the punk culture were harsh to me growing up,” Mako hates himself for spilling these intimate feelings, opening himself up, but he has to do it now or bail on this date entirely. “I tried to fit in with that group but wasn’t met with much acceptance.” He shrugs, but fails to make it look entirely casual. “I had different interests and a strange look, but I was so attracted to that lifestyle. I was into anarchist philosophy, most of them were just interested in shouting the word while they played with their garage bands.”

“Mate, those must have been some shitty fuckin’ punks to not accept ya because you were different.”

Jamie’s hand brushes against Mako’s, his mechanical pinkie cold in the warm February air. The incessant jingle starts up for the 40th time and Mako forgets to question why they’re still riding this thing.

He’s still here. They’re both still here. The shoe hasn’t dropped. Mako breaths out a sigh of relief that quickly quells into shame.

“I’m so…” Mako sighs. “Embarrassed doesn’t begin to cover it. You didn’t have to do this for your pathetic professor. You probably think I’m a letch, lusting after my students.”

“You weren’t though?” Jamie’s eyes hold onto a shred of hopefulness. “Now I’m the embarrassed one, I came down to ask my teacher out cuz I thought he was givin’ me the ‘do me’ eyes, but in fact he was jus’ reliving his past luggage with a couplea asshole punks.”

“Well… I… no. Uh… of course I want to… want you to... fuck.” He’s a fucking English teacher! How can words be so difficult?

Thankfully Jamie doesn’t let him flounder. He throws his leg across Mako’s and climbs onto his lap. Whizzing past a couple patrons in line for the ride, Jamie wraps his thin arms around Mako’s neck and presses his pierced lips to his. Mako’s putty in his hands, letting that pierced tongue slide against his, pulling him in like a creature created from his most lustful fantasies. His mouth tastes like breath mints and coffee and weed. It’s a bizarre mix but it’s not altogether terrible. He’s lost in the warmth and the wetness and the dull pressure of Jamie’s leg between his, pushing up against his tightening bulge. He knows he shouldn’t be here, shouldn’t be making out on a fucking ride like a horny teenager, let alone with a student, let alone with Jamison Fawkes the sexiest, weirdest punk to enter his classroom. But he doesn’t stop it. The pressure of the ball on Jamie’s tongue works like an aphrodisiac, and Mako drops his hands down to rest on Jamie’s hips. One of Jamie’s arms leaves Mako’s neck and it trails down to squeezing all the ass meat he can grab. Mako’s mind floods with images- Jamie over top of him, arching his back as he buries his cock in him, rolling his hips into Mako’s plump ass, barely steadying himself with his hands on Mako’s legs as waves of pleasure threaten to-

“Hey!”

An alarmingly familiar voice jolts them back to reality as the ride slows to a stop.

“Oi! It’s Dr. Ziegler!” Jamie says breathlessly and waves as they pass. “And Dr. O’Deorain! They must be on a date- I knew those two were fuckin’.”

Shitfuckfuckcuntshitfuck. English teacher or not, only the basest of expletives cycle through Mako’s head as he turns his head to unwillingly make eye contact with his colleagues. Dr. Ziegler stares at him with raised eyebrows, jerking her head to the side to say “Mako, you are a complete and utter idiot, move on before you manage to dig yourself into a bigger hole.” He can’t help but drag his eyes over to her date, sharp-suited Moira wearing a equally sharp grin. She shakes her head at him, nothing but devilish glee on her face.

“Fuck, Jamie, let’s-”

Jamie’s already stumbling off the ride, dragging Mako by the wrist behind him. His heart pounds in his chest and somehow the adrenaline and arousal bate off the dread he knows he’ll feel after his erection stops running his brain. The practically trip over a family waiting in line and almost kick a stroller with a dog in it in their escape. Jamie’s breathlessly laughing as they reach the far end of the park.

“Come back to my place. It’s just ‘round the corner. Forget the bar. We can have drinks there. You know ya want to, big guy.” He clicks his tongue ring against his teeth and then runs it along his lips. It’s like he just knows how much that turns him on. God, does he have a gold tooth too? What part of him isn’t blinged out? Oh god...

“Jamie,” Mako holds him at arms length. He needs to snap out of this before more fantasies about his student’s potentially pierced cock flood his mind. “This started as a misunderstanding, let’s end it as that. Moira O’Deorain of all godforsaken people just saw us, so my career’s probably over with.”

“Dr. O’Deorain? She loves me, don’t cha even worry ‘bout it.”

Mako cocks his head in disbelief. “She likes you?”

“Yeah! I’m great in her class. Teacher’s start likin’ ya the third time ya take their class.”

Right as Mako’s about to say he doesn’t think that’s true, he remembers Jamie’s taken his class twice and he does like him considerably more this time.

The punk sees hesitation in his eyes and seizes on it, tugging him closer by the front of his vest.

“Ya see those two over there?” A nod of his head points towards a short man with bouncing dreads and a giggling Asian woman glued to his arm. “They’re about to get their fuck on.”

“What does that-”

“Ya see that man? Over there with the cowboy hat?”

Mako sees the man strutting along in the most ridiculous American cowboy getup, complete with serape and spurs.

“Yes....”

“C’mon, look at him. He’s walkin’ like he’s a man ‘bout to get his dick sucked.”

“Jamie,” Mako fights with the desire to touch him as Jamie leans closer into his personal space. “What is your point?”

“Point is, it’s Valentine’s Day! Everyone deserves to have their dicks wet, their pussies pounded and their assholes stretched!”

Mako hates how his cock disagrees with his brain, the former saying, “fuck yes!” and the latter screaming, “God no!”

“Besides...” Jamie leans in, brushing his lips against Mako’s jawline. “If Drs. Lesbians have already seen you, ya might as well be just as bad as they think you’ve been.”

“Sounds like sunk cost fallacy,” Mako says. He brings his hand up to rub his temples but instead rests it against Jamie’s thin throat. He feels Jamie’s pulse dance against his fingertips. It’s intoxicating and tenuous and arousing all at once.

“The first time I ever saw you, you were carrying like 30 textbooks for one of your lectures.” Jamie runs his hand up Mako's arm to stroke his bicep. “First I thought: how and why would an English teacher be so jacked? Then I saw ya up close and personal and I knew I would die if I didn't get to bend you over and pound your ass until my balls fell off.”

“Jesus, Jamie-”

“Sorry sorry, I was on the right track and I blew it.” He straightens up and smooths his coat, refocusing. Mako suppresses a laugh. “Lemme take another run at it. I thought to myself, if I graduate without sticking my-” he stops himself, “making sweet love to that ass-- I mean, man- then I shouldn't even bother.”

“You have a way with words, don't you?” Mako says, not hiding the fondness on his voice.

“But it's working?”

“Yeah... a little.”

“Fuck yeah!” Jamie takes a moment to play a celebratory air guitar before straightening up. “Follow me to del caso el Jamison?”

Mako sighs and dutifully follows.

 

Mako thanks any deity listening that Jamie doesn’t live in one of the dorms. Though, Jamie’s apartment complex is about one step removed from being one. It’s close to campus, so upperclassmen looking for a taste of independence flock to it. It buzzes and rocks with the liveliness of hundreds of loud, obnoxious college students forced to live in close proximity.

“Home sweet home!” Jamie chirps as a beer bottle falls from a second story window and smashes 100 meters away from them.

Mako swallows, trying to urge away the lump in his throat. His date hoists the door open for him, tossing out a hand to invite him in. Mako feels that hand land not so subtly on his ass as they traverse the hallway to 1G. No one sees them and Mako is thankful for that. Jamie fumbles with his keys in front of his apartment.

“Now, mate, I know yer a hoity-toity professor and all, but try not to judge? Didn’t exactly have any time to clean up.”

“You had four hours before our date,” Mako corrects him, leaning against the door frame.

The key clicks the lock open. “Four hours that I had allotted for masturbatin’ and smokin’.”

For what feels like the 700th time that evening, Mako shakes his head in disbelief, walking through the open door.

“Gotta do somethin’ to help keep the nerves down for goin’ on a date with campus’s sexist professor!” The obnoxious voice follows him into the apartment. “Do you know how many hot chili peppers ya have on Rate My Professor? Like a lot and it’s not just from me.”

Mako ignores Jamie’s assertion he’s rated as hot on that dreaded website.

The place is a textbook college apartment. Nothing Mako sees surprises him in the slightest. Overflowing trash can, week old dishes, empty pizza boxes, bulging trash bag filled with beer cans. The TV is the only nice piece of furniture in the room, perched up on a storage bin in front of a futon that looks like it spent some time on the side of the road.

“Hey check out my art!” Jamie says, gesturing over to the far wall in a transparent attempt to distract Mako while he shuffles away a bong and bag of weed left on the kitchen table.

Mako lets him think he's sneaky as he turns his attention to the creations taking up half the space in the living room. Jamie's medium is scrap and he has more than enough here to build a car with the pieces. At first, Mako can't tell the art from the junk but stepping closer he notices hewn slivers, welded and twisted together. They're sharp and brutal, yet the final product creates the illusion of smooth lines and gentle waves.

“Wow,” Mako resists touching one. They seem akin to cacti, best to be looked at, dangerous to touch. “These are beautiful.”

“Aww thanks, love. Ya get good after 5 years in the program.”

“You could sell these, you know.”

Jamie turns Mako’s chin away from the sculptures (now that he’s hidden his weed) and links his fingers behind his neck.

“I could sit here and have you stroke my artistic ego all night, but I don’t think either of us came here for that.”

Mako grunts in agreement and Jamie pushes him down to sit on the futon. He lets the patchy leather jacket sliding off his shoulder, like it seems to do a lot. He’s got a moronic tattoo below his collarbones that boldly reads “my eyes are up here” with arrows pointing up. Even though he rolls his eyes at the dumbest thing someone could ever permanently stick on their body, Mako gets caught admiring the dip of his clavicle and the lean muscles that descend below his ratty tanktop.

The jacket slides all the way off, hitting the floor. Mako’s hands are on him before he can shed any more of his cumbersome clothing. He presses his fingers beneath Jamie’s shirt, feeling his impossibly toned stomach and pressing his thumbs against Jamie’s nipples. Jamie’s tongue is in his mouth and his arms wrap around Mako’s neck. Again, that tongue ring clangs something deep and needy down in Mako’s gut as it traces his teeth.

“Hold on,” Jamie says, stepping back. He grasps the bottom of his tank top. “My favorite part is watching people’s reactions.”

It’s difficult to process Jamie’s tattoos, each one is more ill-advised than the last, more attention-grabbing, more questionable. The one he’s trying to draw Mako’s attention to is emblazoned across his chest: a long, rickety bridge connects his nipples with fancy script below it that reads: “It’s the journey, not the destination.” Mako opens and closes his mouth several times as he tries to process this in the context this man’s body.

“I… don’t know why you did this to yourself.”

“Got tired of the skulls,” he says motioning down to the rest of his torso: rainbow skull, skull smoking a joint, skull with boobs for eyes, two skeletons fucking. “Wanted something different.”

“You know those last forever, right?”

“Course I do. And from the way yer judgin’, I guarantee I’m gonna uncover some embarrassing old tattoo under all that fluff, aren’t I, Professor Rutledge?”

“Call me Mako. Please.” He smiles, though, thinking about Jamie discovering his own tattoos.

“Aww,” Jamie pouts, unbuckling his belt and shaking his hips. “What if I get off to fuckin’ teach? You gonna deny me that?”

“Yes,” Mako says blankly.

His brain shorts out as Jamie’s tight pants are shuffled down, revealing his dangerously cut hip v. It would be perfect if he hadn’t decided to tattoo it with another fucking skeleton, this one with its arms up in a shrug emoji that traces the cut of his hips.

“This says something about you,” Mako snorts, pushing his index finger into the taut skin. “The skulls across your body. Perhaps it’s your way of dealing with your mortality?”

“If ya don’t want me to call ya professor, then don’t psychoanalyse me.” Jamie snarks. With all the grace of a $2/hour stripper, Jamie drops his pants with a thud. He’s not wearing underwear because of course he’s not. His cock is still soft but it’s long like Jamie’s body and Mako swallows as his imagination runs away with him.

“I call her Martha,” Jamie says, pointing down. Mako had been too distracted by Jamie’s entire body to notice one more boner-killing skull, its mouth open with Jamie’s cock coming out of it. “So if I ever ask you to go mouth to Martha, ya know what I’m talkin’ about.”

“My back’s going to be towards you,” Mako says with a dismissive wave. “So I won’t have to look at any of this mess.”

“Fuck yes it will,” Jamie drops his naked ass down on the futon beside Mako. The difference in level of dress is suddenly more apparent. “Yer turn. Take off those stuffy clothes.”

In any other situation, Mako might have felt self-conscious being asked to strip like this in a dingy living room, in front of a much younger man. But the way Jamie stares up at him, eyes fixated on him like he’s a piece of meat, biting his lip, it lights up Mako’s stomach, gives him confidence he didn’t know he had.

The vest is the first thing to go, he tosses it onto the back of the futon. His red shirt beneath it bulges at its buttons and he’s careful to undo one at a time, tits popping out first, then his belly.

“Oh!”

It’s Jamie’s turn to be speechless as the cute piggy face on Mako’s belly is now joining the sex party between Jamie, Mako and a dozen skeletons. Jamie’s hands are on it in an instant, the cold metal one sending shivers up Mako’s body. He plants kisses on the belly button nose but Mako stops him as the kissing threatens to turn into an all out man-pig makeout session. He pushes Jamie back to his place on the futon.

“You aren’t a patient man, are you?” Mako asks, unbuckling his pants. “I can always tell by the way you start shaking at the end of a lecture. So much pent-up energy.”

“Or,” Jamie says, licking his lips, “maybe it’s just because I’m so hot for my professor that I’m tryin’ ta keep myself from jizzing my pants.”

Mako rolls his eyes and shimmies his pants down. His bulge is held snug by a pair of small pink briefs and he knows how good his ass looks in them. Jamie must agree as he springs to his feet and circles Mako like a predator. His hands find the soft flesh of his ass and he gives it a good squeeze.

“I’m serious. Yer voice really does a number on me. It can get hard to focus on the fuckin’ dull subject matter with you rumblin’ on all gravelly and delicious.”

“Backhanded compliment if I’ve ever heard one.” Mako says but he can only pout for a moment before Jamie slides his fingers under the band and pushes between his cheeks. His fingers find his warm hole and he pushes in. Mako’s hips buck back against his fingers and he lets loose a moan that startles Jamie.

“Hooley dooley…” He nuzzles into the flesh. “Didn’t expect you to be such a moaner.”

Mako wipes sweat from his forehead, willing the red on his cheeks to go away.

“Can’t help it,” he says, sheepishly.

“Please don’t help it. Hottest thing I’ve heard all week… and I hear my neighbors fuckin’ on the reg!”

Mako turns and steadies himself with a hand on Jamie’s shoulder. “Should we be heading to the bedroom?”

“Bloody rude of me not to offer.” Jamie grins. He plants his foot on the back of the stained futon and kicks. Once, twice, three times and it unfolds into the world’s most uncomfortable bed. Mako should have put the context clues together. The pillow without a pillowcase sitting crumpled on the floor, the discarded comforter halfway into the kitchen. This is where the kid sleeps every night.

“Are you kidding me?”

“Sorry, mate,” Jamie shrugs, sitting down on the uncomfortable surface. “The capitalist system and academia work together to entrench social structures.”

“What?”

“I’m fuckin’ poor.”

Mako cocks his head. “If you want to have a conversation about capitalism and academia, I’m more than willing to-”

“Later,” Jamie says, hands squeezing the back of Mako’s thighs as he urges him forward. “Pillowtalk.”

They take their time with foreplay, despite the strain the futon puts on Mako’s body. He knows he’ll pay for it tomorrow. If Jamie could get a degree in prepping his partner, he’d be a tenured professor now. It’s such a contrast with how Jamie normally does his work. By the time he’s done with him, Mako is so warm and wide and lubed up. He comes once just because of the sheer amounts of pleasure inflicted on him by this punk’s experienced hands and tongue. Jamie loves it, adores pushing him beyond the edge. He doesn’t seem to care that he hasn’t come yet.

Mako’s lying spread eagle on his belly when he feels two mismatched hands pull up on his hips. He obeys the order, rocking himself up to his knees with his ass presented. A few seconds pass as a foil wrapper crinkles and the rubber rolls onto Jamie’s cock. Jamie slides his way in and it’s the most complete Mako’s ever felt in his life. Jamie’s cock is like a missing piece of him finally coming home. He wills himself to tighten around it, sending shockwaves through his partner’s body.

“Fuck ya know how to work that ass, dontcha?” He squeezes Mako’s thighs affectionately. Mako can only moan in response.

Jamie takes a little bit of warming up, a few sporadic thrusts before he balances his weight on the futon properly and then he’s pounding him with a rhythm that melts Mako down. Mako drops down to prop himself up with his elbows, ass up in the air. The noises out of his mouth are embarrassingly pornographic, but with the way Jamie’s moving inside him, he can’t help it. The groans are deep and low at first, where his voice is normally pitched. But they pitch up in need when Jamie’s fingers venture around to pinch one of his nipples.

“Anyone ever tell ya how nice these are?” Jamie lets his other steadying hand leave Mako’s hip to cup his breasts. He gives them a squeeze, finding his nipples and twisting them.

“All the time,” Mako breathes out. “How else… ahhhnn.. do you think I got tenure?”

Jamie giggles in delight, rubbing Mako’s nipples with his thumbs. “Slutty professor pulling out his tits for the administration. I love it.”

Kisses decorated with cold beads of metal run up and down Mako’s back as Jamie’s hips pump in and out of him. Mako digs his fingers into the cushion, rocking back to meet each of Jamie’s thrusts. As Mako stares down at a splotch on the mattress that is undoubtedly an old cum stain, he regrets telling Jamie he wanted his back to him. Those gawking skeletons aren’t so bad, right? It'd be worth it to see how his muscles move and strain as he pushes into him.

As if he read his mind, Jamie slides out and taps Mako on the hip. “Give those old knees a rest,” Jamie coos as Mako positions himself on his back. Jamie props Mako’s legs up, his eyes lighting up as he sees Mako pull his hole open for him with his big fingers.

It doesn’t take long for Jamie to come after pushing back into Mako, all stretched and open for him, moaning and jiggling with every thrust. Jamie gives himself no time to bask in the glow before he sinks down and wraps his lips around as much of Mako’s cock as he can. The shock of the new sensation, the bump of the studded tongue, and how fucking deep he can go pull Mako over the edge. With a breathless roar, he comes into Jamie’s mouth. It seems that moment is also the last straw for his neighbors, as a fist delivers several pounds against the kitchen wall, accompanied with “shut up, fag slut!”

Mako turns a shade of crimson and sputters out an apology. Jamie’s face as it pops up from the other side of his belly looks anything but upset by this. A mischievous grin stretches across his lips and it’s clear from the leakage that he’s still holding cum in his mouth. He motions in something that seems to read “watch this” and he trots out the door, ass and dick and skeletons all hanging free. Five seconds later he scampers back in, slamming the door behind him.

“Left ‘em a little present.”

“Fuck.” That takes a bit of wind out of Mako’s high. He just fucked a college kid. He throws his arm over his eyes, focusing on his breathing and not the inevitable waves of regret.

“Damn, shoulda left ‘em this too,” he hears Jamie say as he carefully tugs the spent condom off his length. There’s a snapping sound and a wet splurt from the kitchen.

“Whoops.” He hears Jamie giggle. “Thought I could get it in the trash from here.”

Something cold presses against Mako’s belly and he winces, peeking out from behind his arm. It’s a cold beer and Jamie holds it against Mako’s warm skin with no small amount of pleasure.

“Promised ya a drink, didn’t I?”

“Yeah...” Mako takes a deep swig and then drops his head back against the lumpy futon. “You also promised me a discussion of capitalist systems entrenching poverty. You gonna deliver on that too?”

Jamie’s eyes light up as he chugs his beer before rolling it into the kitchen in the direction of his recycling pile. Jamie stays on his feet, his naked, awfully tatted body on display as he rants about income inequality.

Mako sips his beer, taking in the sight of the naked man in front of him. He finds him inexplicably much easier to look at. The tattoos no longer shock him or fight for his attention. They’re all a part of a whole; a whole mess of a man. For just a little while, he forgets about his 8:00 am class tomorrow and Valentine’s Day and whatever Dr. O’Deorain has in store for him and his inevitable walk of shame past a door that’s emblazoned with his own cum. He’s caught up in the messy, grinning, man with the silver-flicked tongue. As much as his brain is telling him he should be ashamed and he should leave, he can’t stop himself from wrapping a hand around Jamie's thigh and tugging the punk back into his arms.