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Tangential

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i.

Getting hard at inopportune times was an inevitable part of puberty, Ford assumed. His solution to dealing with this predicament was to ride it out. In his experience, the problem would go away eventually. That kind of restraint, however, took a certain amount of willpower and Ford was not surprised that most boys his age didn't even think of denying themselves.

Of course, his brother had no patience or appreciation for self-discipline and the all the more intense reward of delayed gratification.

Stan sometimes spent a telling amount of time in the boys' bathroom between classes - but what was even more conspicuous, he'd even excuse himself in the middle of class when he knew he'd get away with it and not return for a suspiciously long time. 

Ford never felt the need to find immediate release like that. In fact, he liked the state of slight arousal, to feel the seams of the confining fabric each time he shifted in his chair, breathing evenly and carefully to keep himself from making any noises in class.

At home, he had to pay less heed to being quiet, though he often barely realized he was turned on while studying until he was already hard. In this state, solving mathematical equations became exhilarating, intoxicating even as arousal and success not only superposed, but amplified each other. Ford did not put down the pen, yet he moved slowly in his chair to feel the friction, moaning softly as the solution took form in his mind - a satisfying, perfectly curved parabola.

 

ii.

Stan probably thought he was being casual when he stretched himself, threw the trashy comic book he had been reading aside and mumbled “gonna take a quick shower” in the vague direction of the desk where Ford was still sitting, books stacked around him and various sheets of graph paper scattered before him. Stan didn’t wait for an answer before he shuffled out of the room.

A quick glance at the bed was all Ford needed to know that Stan’s reading material was just the cover of a comic book wrapped around one of these magazines Stan somehow managed to acquire and smuggle home from school. Ford had declined Stan’s offers to share, but he knew the exact nature of the content regardless. He’d been looking at them when Stan had left them carelessly lying on his bed like this.

It had remained a mystery to Ford how this was all it took for Stan to be aroused without fail. Not that the pin-up pictures had left Ford entirely unbothered – he had initially blushed at their lewdness, but when he had stared at the scantily dressed, voluptuous women, trying his best to let them fuel his erotic fantasies, his mind had drawn a blank. He had tried imitating Stan’s reclined posture on the bed while skimming through the pages, his cheeks still hot, yet he felt more embarrassed than aroused. Then he had heard steps coming up the stairs and had hastily put the magazine aside before he’d gotten up so quickly, he had hit his head on the bed frame.

After that incident, Ford had been less interested in the contents of Stan’s magazines than in Stan’s reaction to them.

Stan’s ears would inevitably turn red when he pretended to casually read his “comics”, which was always the most obvious tell. He’d shift around but do little else, unless Ford was preoccupied with his own studies on the upper bunk bed or hunched over the desk, seemingly paying no attention to him. Then Ford could usually hear it just moments later, if he listened for it - the soft unmistakable sound of Stan opening his fly to push his hand down his pants. The breathing, just a little deeper than usual, in a way that Ford could not help but be constantly aware of, no matter how much he tried to concentrate on the intricacies of quantum physics instead. Then - and that was when Ford would realize he’d been holding his breath, anticipating it - the first half-muffled groan.

Each time, that had been the moment when Stan decided to take it to the bathroom, maybe because the audience made him too self-conscious, maybe because he didn’t want to distract Ford from his studies.

Ford never asked.

In fact, Ford never indicated he even had noticed and continued to sit quietly on his bed with his eyes set on the book before him. Yet while he was reading, a part of him remained acutely aware of how long Stan had been gone. His conclusion was that Stan usually finished off remarkably fast.

 

iii.

This time, Stan returned after 351 seconds, clumsily trying to adjust the loose bandage on his right hand with his left.

“This damn thing keeps coming off”, he muttered and let himself slump on the carpet right in the middle of the various belongings Stan always accumulated in front of and under his bed.

After a moment of impatient fumbling, Ford decided to take pity on him. He got up from his desk and without any preamble, he sat down right beside Stan, batting his hand away.

“Let me do that, you never dress your wounds properly.”

Stan was looking at him with slight surprise, but he readily let Ford take his injured hand. Ford sidled closer to him until their shoulders brushed to get a better angle and carefully tore the bandage off the reddened, weeping skin of Stan’s knuckles. Stan flinched, sucking air in at the pain, but remained where he was, his hand in Ford’s. He was warm and smelled of sweat, tangy and a little biting, and as Ford inspected the bruised knuckles, he found himself wondering whether Stan had washed his hands.

Ford had barely tugged the bandage in place when Stan already pulled his hand from Ford’s grasp, closing it to a fist and opening it to test if the binding wasn’t too tight. It had to be to his satisfaction, because he shot Ford a wide grin.

“Thanks, Sixer. Nice to have you doting over me once in a while.”

Ford did not know what to respond and nodded, curtly. There was a bit of blood on his fingers, he noticed – he had to have torn the wound open when he’d taken the bandage off. Without thinking, he put his hand up to his mouth and licked the faint smear of blood off his thumb.

It tasted a little salty - of sweat, of course, but Ford couldn’t help but think that there had to be traces of other bodily fluids on Stan’s fingers, too, no matter how cleanly Stan might have been. Barely detectable traces, probably, which were now undeniably on his tongue.

Thankfully, Ford’s cheeks didn’t heat up at that thought, but a more abstract kind of warmth pooled low in Ford’s stomach as he swallowed.

 

iv.

Later this evening, when Stan was masturbating after they had turned the lights off, Ford pretended to be sleeping. Not that Stan would care, necessarily, whether Ford knew. After all, it was a natural urge and Stan had always been a creature of indulgence, now mostly governed by hormones.

They both were, Ford supposed while he was lying on his stomach and listened closely to the soft squeaking noises of the springs in the mattress as the wooden structure of the bed trembled rhythmically, the movement faint but noticeable. His face hidden in the pillow to smother his own breathing, Ford moved with the rhythm, slowly grinding his hips into the mattress with carefully measured, shallow movements to prevent the slatted frame from creaking.

There was something about this unison, about the way Stan’s voice was breaking when he tried to stifle a moan, that had Ford captivated.

In the dark, he listened intently to the low grunts below him, his hips jerking almost on their own. Not for the first time, Ford wondered whether Stan knew, and if he did, whether Stan would be equally spurred on by the notion of this shared arousal.

Stan came with a few fast, arrhythmic strokes and Ford lay as still as he possibly could, pressing his face into the pillow to muffle a soft groan when a shiver ran through him – a muted echo of Stan’s climax.

 

i.

Boxing was starting to pose a problem. Ford had never been particularly gifted at it, nor did he care all too much. He saw the necessity in being able to deal a few punches, but he was little good without his glasses - it gave him a headache.

Yet that he could have lived with. What was starting to get to him was the atmosphere, the thick air of the boxing hall mingled with the stench of sweat, the grunts and groans of pain, the noise of glove hitting skin, that would get Ford hard and flustered even when he tried his best not to be all too aware of his surroundings.

This was already inconvenient when he was sitting in the back rows, hiding his flushed face behind a book, waiting for his turn and trying to drown out the noises. But it was getting decidedly awkward and distracting during sparring.

Eventually, inevitably, his wandering attention earned him a well-placed punch to the face and a bloody nose.

“No time for daydreaming, Pines!”, the coach yelled, and Ford was sent to the dressing room, followed by the jeering laughter of the other boys. Stan was busy giving the one who’d landed the hit and the rest of them a piece of his mind. Hopefully, that would preoccupy him for a moment without getting him into too much trouble with the coach. Ford was only grateful that his brother didn’t insist on accompanying him.

Carefully, Ford sat on one of the benches at the far end of the empty room and took his gloves off to press a handkerchief to his nose. The initial pain made him wince, but he hardly payed attention to it. His free hand was resting his lap, his fingers brushing against the outline of his half-hard erection in weird fascination. Ford bit his lip, his pulse pounding in his ears. Had someone noticed? He’d rather not consider the possibility, but the underlying anxiety refused to be as easily banished from his mind.

Taking a deep breath, Ford tried focusing on his body instead. As he closed his eyes, the hand in his lap, pressing against his erection, promised just the right kind of distraction. His entire face was numb and aching, and it felt even more swollen and hot when he started to palm himself through his shorts, but that did little to deter him. He licked his lips, tasting blood, and moaned softly.

Freak.

With a suppressed groan, Ford rolled his hips against his hand and thought of nosebleeds, of the taste of snot and tears. Of Crampelter holding him in a choke hold, despite his scratching and flailing, until his blood had been pounding in his ears and his head had been spinning.

He’d been scared back then. Right now, the thought made him moan so unsuspectedly, he had to press his hand with the handkerchief over his mouth to stifle it.

Trying in vain to breathe through his still clogged nose, Ford tongued at the blood-soaked piece of cloth and frantically jerked his hips against his hand until he curled into himself and came with a shudder, staining his underwear.

He skipped the rest of the boxing class, claiming that the bleeding just hadn’t stopped.

 

v.

Some days, Stan trained with him after lessons, if the boxing hall was still open. When it was just the two of them fooling around, even boxing could be fun – though it was not an entirely fair competition.

Not because Stan was a natural, but because Stan was always too careful with him, even though Ford insisted that there was no point in holding back. As if it wasn’t already humiliating enough that Stan excelled at this sport while Ford had to scramble to keep up with him. It felt like Stan was belittling him and that hurt Ford’s already wounded pride.

“You’re not even trying right now.”

“What? No, I am, I swear!”, Stan raised his gloved fists to gesticulate defensively, trying to deflect Ford’s accusation with a playful attitude. “Why wouldn’t I be trying? Maybe you’re not trying!”

Not even bothering to debate, Ford took the opening to hit him square in the right side of his lower ribs. The force of the impact was deeply satisfying, just like the way Stan doubled over with a pained “oof”.

“No- fair-!”, he gasped, pressing his hand to his side.

“Don’t let your guard down, Stanley”, Ford said, mockingly echoing Stan’s favorite piece of advice. And finally, that was an open challenge Stan could not resist.

“Alright, serious it is”, Stan announced, straightening himself and rolling his shoulders. There was something in his grin that made Ford quickly raise his arms in defense. His eyes, however, followed the curve of Stan’s arm to the reddened skin on his ribs. It didn’t look like much now, but it would probably leave a dark bruise, blossoming splotches of violet and blue spreading over Stan’s side - a dull ache whenever he’d bend, and sore to the touch. Stan groaning softly in the back of his throat if Ford were to press his fingertips, just slightly, on the bruised ribs

“Eyes up here, Sixer.”

Ford’s eyes darted up, his blood rushing to his head and jumbled words rising in his throat before he even knew what he wanted to deny. It was too late when he realized that he had lowered his defenses and Stan’s left hook was about to catch him entirely off guard.

Stan’s fist caught the side of Ford’s head as Ford attempted to duck, and Ford stumbled, the world losing focus.

“Oh shit, Ford, I didn’t mean to-”

Strong hands caught him before he could fall over his own feet and pulled him closer to steady him.

“Stanford?”, Stan asked again, his voice full of worry. As if he ever hit hard enough to seriously harm his brother. It was almost comical.

Ford felt a little dizzy and his head was throbbing, but he was almost certain that no real damage had been done. He was fine. At least as long as he was leaning against Stan, his arms around him unwavering and secure and his skin is fiery hot against Ford’s own heated chest. Pretending to falter, Ford let his head fall against Stan’s shoulder, breathing in the distinct smell, and he couldn’t tell if he was actually experiencing vertigo or if this was all just a little too much, too overwhelming.

Stan shifted to accommodate him and by accident, his knee brushed Ford’s legs. Without thinking, Ford pressed closer. Stan’s thigh brushing against his surprisingly hard cock was enough to make Ford gasp - softly, but he was close enough to Stan's ear that he was certain Stan had heard him.

Stan remained suspiciously still. “Are you okay?”, he asked quietly.

Ford almost snorted as he suppressed a short laugh - no, Stanley, but I could be, if you just pushed me into the ring ropes and-

God, his head was spinning and his blood pulsing thick in his ears and he was so hard, he barely knew what to do with himself. It was so tempting to just keep pushing against Stan’s leg, his forehead still resting on Stan's shoulder and Stan's arms about him, their embrace warm and tight.

But then Stan pushed him away at arm’s length.

“I mean it, Sixer - you’re not looking so hot.”

Ford was sure his face had to be flushed, and he found it difficult to meet Stan’s gaze now that there was a distance between them, enough that he couldn’t feel the heat of Stan’s body.

“Wouldn’t want you to pass out or anything. Let’s get someone to take a look at ya-”

Stanley was apparently insisting on acting as if Ford wasn’t obviously rock hard, as if he hadn't all but moaned at their close contact, and Ford felt dread creep up on him. What if Stan was uncomfortable, maybe even weirded out? Who knew what he was thinking - what a freak his brother was, and hadn’t the others been right all along?

Ford clenched his fists and took a deep breath. His mind was a flurry of thoughts, but the damage was done and he didn’t want them to leave like this. And he certainly did not want this distance.

“Stan, wait.”

And Stan did. To Ford's relief, he even looked at him without hesitation. Ford cleared his throat. He could salvage this.

“Can we- sit down for a moment?”

Ford didn’t even have to fake the wobbly steps. The room was shifting, the floor moving, and suddenly Ford felt utterly sick.

Stan was by his side in a blink, putting his arm around him to keep him from falling. “Sure.”

And the next thing he knew, Ford was sitting with Stan in the dressing room, on the same bench where he’d jerked off the other day. None of them talked at first, but Stan kept shooting him concerned glances while Ford was keenly aware of Stan’s fingers brushing his upper thigh, approximately five inches away from Ford’s cock. Although Stan was apparently adamant about not addressing it, the thought that Stan had to have noticed and had to know even now made something hot pool low in Ford’s stomach. It didn’t feel much like shame.

Ford leaned against Stan’s shoulder, his eyes wandering over to Stan’s lap, trying to find an outline, a hint, but the folds of Stan’s shorts betrayed nothing.

After a long moment of awkwardly stretched silence, Stan’s hand moved away from where it has been resting on the bench, away from Ford’s thigh, to ruffle the hair on the back of Ford’s neck.

“You have to keep your guard up - be in the moment, y’know? It’s more of a gut feeling, like if someone threw a rock at your face!”

Ford was barely listening, content to have Stan blabbering on about remarkably unhelpful boxing metaphors while Stan’s hand was warm and heavy on his neck, idly playing with the curls of Ford’s hair in a way he probably thought was soothing. It made Ford’s nerves fire like crazy. He was probably no longer used to it – not that Stan wasn’t affectionate with him, but they were not this gentle with each other, nor this physically intimate. Right here and now, his skin seemed to be keenly aware Stan had not stroked his hair like this since grade school, when Ford had still cried with helpless anger after the other boys had thrown his sketchbook into the muddy puddles on the school yard or called him names in front of the class.

A shiver ran through him that left goosebumps in its wake and Ford shifted his legs to press them together, closing his eyes at the teasing spike of pleasure. This was agonizing, both too much and at the same time way too little. Ford nuzzled against Stan’s shoulder and breathed in, his pulse racing and his head still filled with cotton wool. Still, he was savoring it, this closeness, this state of intimate arousal.

“Don’t worry, you’re gonna figure it out - we just gotta get you out of your own head a little.”

“Mhm”, Ford responded noncommittally, his mind fully preoccupied with predicting and anticipating the circular movements of Stan’s fingers on his neck, monitoring every little spot of bare skin brushing his own with each even extension of Stan’s rib cage as he breathed. 

He hoped that if he remained mostly quiet now, Stan would feel guilty enough to let him stay like this until his arousal was ebbing off.