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Reverse Psychology

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“Seriously?” ET laughed, “what man wouldn’t want to kiss you? You’re smoking hot, all you’d have to do is look at him and he’d be all over you.”

Nav grinned at him as she clasped her bra. “I’ve looked at him plenty.”

He pulled a t-shirt over his head, then poked her in the ribs. “You know I what mean. It’s not a challenge. Now, getting Spider to kiss me, that would be a challenge.”

She tilted her head to the side, looking at him thoughtfully. “Indeed it would.”

“You saying I’m not as irresistible as you are?” he shot back with a theatrical gasp, but his mind was working overtime. He had been wondering what it would be like to kiss another man, just to see how it was different. There had never been anyone he’d felt particularly attracted to, so he’d never really considered it - but Spider was pretty cute.

She bent over to slide her jeans on, derailing his train of thought. “I’m saying you don’t have what it takes to turn a straight guy.”

“Why do you make it sound like I’m not straight?” He stared pointedly at her boobs, all thoughts of getting himself dressed forgotten.

“You’re as straight as I am, Josh,” she replied, moving closer to pat him on the cheek.

He stared at her in confusion. “You’re pansexual.”

“Exactly.” Smirking, she handed him his boardies. “So you’re betting you can get Spider to kiss you? Never going to happen, he is way too straight-laced.”

The curiosity in his gut was rapidly uncurling, the more he thought about it. On autopilot, he stepped into his shorts, thinking about the last time he’d seen Spider shirtless. He’d noticed the definition in Spider’s abs, the muscles on his arms, the slim hips. Yes, he could definitely be attracted to Spider.

“Okay, deal.” Nav said, and he blinked; apparently he’d said that last part out loud. “And to stop you from cheating again, I have specifics this time: firstly, it has to be a real kiss, with tongue.”

He nodded, that was obvious, couldn’t really be called a kiss if it was just a brush of lips.

She held up a second finger. “And two, you have to have a witness, no hiding in a dark room and pretending something happened.”

“What, you want to watch?”

She shrugged nonchalantly. “Doesn’t have to be me, could be Bomber. Someone I can trust not to lie for you.”

Grabbing her hand, he placed it over his heart. “I wouldn’t lie to you!” It was intended as a joke, but he allowed the emotion to show in his eyes, gratified when she returned a sincere smile.

“I know.”

***

The whole evolution, he racked his brain trying to figure out how to broach the topic with Spider. While also trying his best not to pay any extra attention to his friend, lest Spider become suspicious. He was so distracted he almost electrocuted himself while trying to fix the blender for Bomber.

“You okay?” Bomber asked, pulling him away from the counter.

He nodded, sliding down to sit on the floor of the galley. “Yeah, fine, thanks.”

“Did you and Nikki have a fight or something? You’re completely spaced out.”

ET marvelled at how quickly Bomber had become comfortable around he and Nav. Somehow, there was zero awkwardness after the events of the previous bet - if anything if had made the three of them better friends. For a second, he considered whether Nav would allow him to get help with the bet - then decided it didn’t really count, since Nav had brought up Bomber in the first place.

He tugged her down to sit beside him, so they could speak more quietly. “No fight, Nikki and I are good. Really good.” Unbidden, a smile came to his face.

“Oi, lover boy.” Bomber elbowed him in the ribs. “Then why did I need to save you from frying your brain?”

“It’s a bet,” he admitted.

Another one? What, are you two bored of one another already?”

“No, of course not! It’s just… I don’t know, it’s fun. They’re not all about sex, either.” He reached up to lift down the unplugged blender, just so he had something to do with his hands.

“So this one is a totally innocent bet, then?” He could hear the skepticism in her tone.

“Well, uh, not exactly. I bet her I could get Spider to kiss me.”

“What?!” She yelled, then looked around in alarm. Thankfully, it was the middle of a gorgeous day, and those not on watch were outside enjoying the sunshine.

He shrugged, fitting a screwdriver into a screwhead. “It was her or me.”

Bomber chuckled. “And it might actually be a challenge for you.”

“Exactly,” he agreed, then looked up at her. “Hey, why do neither of you believe I can do it?”

“You remember when you tried to seduce me?” She waited until he nodded sheepishly before continuing. “Nikki did it way better.”

“Yeah, well Nikki’s not in the competition this time.” He twisted two wires together, then fitted them back into the plastic housing.

“But you don’t know how to bring it up?” Bomber asked, once again hitting the nail right on the head. She was eerily similar to Nav in that way - maybe it was a woman thing. He’d never had such a close friendship with a woman before; and he did only think of Bomber as a friend, despite having seen her naked.

“Not a clue.” He finished screwing the blender back together, then tested that it worked. “There you go, all fixed.”

“Thanks ET,” Bomber said, getting to her feet and taking the blender from him.

He packed away his tools, then jumped to his feet and made to leave.

“Hey,” came the voice behind him. “Maybe a game would help?”

He considered, and nodded.

“Just don’t get him drunk, or it doesn’t count.” Bomber’s voice followed him through the door.

***

ET still wasn’t quite sure how he’d managed to convince Spider to come back to his house on shore leave. Actually, he wasn’t sure if he had convinced Spider of anything, Bomber’s agreement had definitely swung things in his favour.

But now, sitting on the couch in his living room, pizza on the coffee table in front of him, a beer in his hand and Nav by his side, he had to marvel about how well things had worked out. Bomber sat on the other side of Nav, Spider in an armchair next to him.

They all laughed as Nav finished telling a story about a childhood adventure with her brother’s car. She finished her beer and pushed against his thigh to lever herself to her feet.

“Another round?” she asked, moving towards the kitchen without waiting for an answer.

ET reached for another piece of pizza, sharing a glance with Bomber. When Nav came back with their third round, he cleared his throat.

“Why don’t we liven up this party, let’s play I Never,” he said, opening his beer and passing the bottle opener to Nav.

Spider looked at Bomber, who nodded. He then shrugged, “sure, why not.”

“Never have I ever been pulled over by a cop while driving,” Nav said, in lieu of a response.

All four of them drank.

“Do we really need to hear all the stories, or can we just agree to trust the responses?” Bomber asked.

“I trust all of you,” ET replied. “Well, maybe not you Spide, but you’ll deal,” he added with a wink. “Never have I ever been so drunk I forgot.”

“Forgot who you took home the previous night?” Bomber snarked as she took a sip.

“Just forgotten anything,” he replied quickly, glaring at her and taking a drink. Nav squeezed his thigh reassuringly as she sipped her own beer.

Spider swallowed his sip, then tapped his beer on his bottom lip. “Never have I been scuba diving.”

ET rolled his eyes, and took a drink. Nav smiled, doing the same.

“Not me,” Bomber answered. “But it is on my bucket list. Maybe you’ll have to teach me, ET.”

He shot her a grin. “Of course I can teach you, just say the word.”

“You gotta teach me, too,” Spider broke in, missing the glance ET and Bomber shared.

“Never have I ever stepped barefoot in dog poop,” Bomber said, looking pointedly at Spider.

He sighed and drank. “You suck.” He looked around to see that none of the others were drinking. “You all suck.”

“Oh Spider, you have no idea,” Nav smirked. “Never have I ever been scared of a domestic animal.”

ET gasped, and poked Nav in the side. “Not fair!”

“All’s fair in love and war.” She grinned widely at him, eyes sparkling in a way that made his stomach flop. “Drink, fish boy.”

He could tell that the others were hanging out for the story, despite their previous agreement. So he took a sip of beer then said, “horses.” Before they could ask him to go on, he posed a new question. “Never have I ever had trouble sleeping after a scary movie.”

Now it was his turn to smirk as Nav glared. He loved watching scary movies, but Nav hated them. Usually, he went with other friends, but on occasion it was fun to stay up all night with her and not sleep.

Unsurprisingly, Spider also drank. “Never have I ever… done a shot with no hands.”

“Ooh, you mean like a body shot? Totally done that.” Bomber pounced on the option to steer the game in a new direction. ET was grateful that she had; it saved him from having to do it.

All four of them drank, Spider hesitantly, like he wasn’t sure if he should.

Grinning wickedly, Bomber said, “Never have I ever kissed a girl.”

ET watched Spider carefully, knowing what would happen next. As expected, Spider’s eyes almost popped out of his head when Nav and Bomber both drank. His mouth dropped open when they clinked their bottles together after. When Spider’s astonished gaze turned back to him, ET raised an eyebrow, tilted his beer towards his friend, and took his own drink.

“You gonna drink, Spide?” Nav asked, the smirk evident in her voice.

Spider fumbled with his beer, almost dropped the bottle, then raised it to his lips to drink.

“I see we’re getting to the fun stuff,” Nav commented, holding up her beer to the light. “Only a couple swallows left, better get some good ones in. Never have I ever gone commando.”

This time Bomber was the only one not to take a drink, and she did not look happy about it. She turned her gaze on ET, tilting her head towards Spider.

He took a breath, knew this was the right time. “Never have I ever kissed a man.”

Eyes locked with Spider’s, he watched the play of emotions across the other man’s face. First shock, then confusion, then… curiosity. Beside him, he felt Nav raise her arm to drain her beer, but he couldn’t take his eyes off Spider. The brown eyes grew liquid, and he thought he could see anticipation, or maybe it was arousal.

“Do you want to?” He whispered, gazes still locked.

Spider blinked, breaking the connection.

“Hey Spide, I dare you to kiss ET,” Bomber chimed in.

Still silent, Spider looked at Nav, as if seeking her permission. ET smiled; so perhaps Spider was more observant than most gave him credit for. While they hadn’t exactly been hiding their relationship, they did their best to be discreet; even tonight, in his own home, there had been few touches that might have been misinterpreted.

With a slight nod of her head, Nav answered the silent question, and Spider’s gaze turned back to ET. He was definitely considering it, eyes running up and down ET’s singlet-clad chest.

While Spider checked him out, ET allowed himself to do likewise. Spider’s tee was tight across his shoulders, and his biceps were practically straining against the cotton. Oh yeah, he was definitely attracted to Spider.

Meeting Spider’s eyes once more, ET raised an eyebrow in invitation. “Well? You taking the dare?” A beat. “Or are you chicken?”

It was usually the right thing to say to Nav, but Spider’s expression didn’t change. ET suddenly realised his hands were clenched into anxious fists, so took a breath and forced himself to relax.

Apparently the exhalation was the trigger Spider needed, for he took a stride forward to kneel on the floor in front of the sofa and pressed his lips against ET’s in the same moment.

ET had barely registered the press of lips, was just starting to kiss back, when Spider pulled away. Automatically, ET’s hand went to the back of Spider’s neck, and pulled him back down, for a proper kiss this time. He traced the seam of Spider’s mouth with his tongue until it opened for him, then deepened the kiss.

The same, but different. The phrase resonated through ET’s mind, as his hands moved to Spider’s waist to pull his friend closer. Spider’s lips didn’t taste like anything but beer and pizza, but they were just as soft as any woman’s.

He moved forward on the couch, bracketing Spider’s hips with his knees and pressing their chests together. Spider returned the kiss warmly, arms looping around ET so fingers could skim the bottom of his singlet.

After what felt like an eternity, he pulled back to breathe. And just like that, the spell was broken.

“Holy shit,” Bomber’s voice said from the other end of the couch, her voice husky.

“That was seriously hot,” Nav finished, her voice cracking on the last word. ET looked over to find her on the other side of Bomber - he hadn’t even realised she’d moved - and was surprised to find her eyes dark with arousal, as dark as he’d ever seen them.

He looked back at Spider, and grinned. Spider beamed back, and ET’s grin widened when he realised there was no awkwardness between them. The attraction was still there, but it had been sated, they didn’t need to do anything further.

“Never realised girls could get so het up over a little guy-on-guy action,” he commented, extending a hand to Nav.

She took it and returned to his side, tracing circles on his palm in a way that she knew drove him crazy. Bomber moved to perch on the arm of Spider’s chair, patting his shoulder affectionately.

“Reckon I won the bet,” ET said, nudging Nav’s shoulder.

She smirked at him. “Technically yes. But you know I never make a bet I don’t think I can win… unless I’m planning to lose.”