Rogue looks up from where he’s editing photos. Sting’s foot has stopped bouncing since he first hooked it around Rogue’s ankle. Sting’s thumbs hover over the keyboard of his phone as he stares into the living room. Rogue follows his gaze.
“You're done,” Gray taunts, whipping around a corner on Toad’s Turnpike. “I've been kicking your ass all day.”
Natsu snorts. “You beat me twice.”
“Eight times,” Gray corrects.
Natsu elbows him in the ribs. “Whatever, I'm gonna beat you this time!”
Gray rolls his eyes.
A smile breaks over Sting’s face.
Sting’s always had a thing for Natsu. Rogue gets it. He's got that big, contagious grin and that magnetic, captivating presence. Sting has only admitted it a few times. Not that he needs to admit it at all, it's written on his face when Natsu walks into the room.
“C’mon, Gray,” Sting calls. “Kick his ass!”
Natsu gasps and shouts something dramatic.
But lately, Sting’s eyes don't linger on Natsu as long as they normally do. Over the past few weeks, they’ve been landing on Gray. Rogue gets that, too. He's always gotten along with Gray and his companionable silence and quick witted remarks a little easier. But as fast as Sting’s stare finds Gray, he realizes what he’s doing and snaps out of it.
That part Rogue doesn't quite understand. The shyness about his feelings for Natsu is one thing, but the confusion that flashes over his face when he catches himself looking at Gray is another.
Maybe it's that any crush Sting has is fleeting. He falls fast and hard, but aside from Rogue, it never lasts. Rogue reaches over and squeezes Sting’s hand.
Sting tears his eyes away from the couch and gives Rogue a brilliant smile and goes back to his phone, foot bouncing again.
Rogue wants to tell him he can keep watching them. He isn't jealous, Sting knows that. And he gets it.
“No!” Gray yells. Natsu lets out a triumphant whoop as he crosses the finish line and Rogue’s stomach flips.
Maybe gets it a little too well.
Natsu tosses his controller aside. “I win.”
Gray huffs. “Careful with the ‘64 controllers.” He sets his on the coffee table gently. “They're old. Antiques.”
Natsu laughs. “You're an antique.” Rogue stifles a chuckle against his palm.
“Get out.” Gray flops back against the armrest and digs his foot into Natsu's side.
“Mm, not yet,” Natsu says. “Not ‘til you reward me for winning.”
Gray scoffs, but lets Natsu push his leg against the back of the couch. “What, I don't get anything for beating you? I’ve been at it since we started.”
Natsu shakes his head. “Doesn't count when you use cheats.”
“You're just saying that ‘cause you can never remember where they are.” Gray smirks when Natsu swats at him, but he relents. Rogue smiles as the fondness settles over Gray’s face, warm, soft, and more pronounced than usual. “All right, all right. What do you want?”
From the way Gray’s cheeks go pink and Natsu's hand slides up his leg and over his knee, Rogue can picture the exact expression Natsu is wearing. That teasing, playful smirk that even catches Rogue off guard when he catches a glimpse of it. He can't imagine being the one it's aimed at. As much as he wants to laugh at how flustered Gray is, he knows he'd be in the same boat if Natsu ever looked at him like that.
“I can think of something.” Natsu crawls between Gray’s legs and brings their lips together.
Rogue can barely tear his eyes away, but the fluttering feeling in his stomach and the tightness in his chest that he’s only ever felt with Sting startles him enough that he turns back to his laptop. He fumbles with the touchpad for a moment. The sound of Natsu and Gray making out on the couch is distracting, all the hums and giggles steal Rogue’s focus until he doesn't even know what he’s doing to the photo on the screen anymore.
He peeks over his laptop and finds Sting staring intently at his phone. Looks like he's having as much trouble as Rogue ignoring Gray and Natsu.
Rogue considers taking his work to his room, or at least hunting down his headphones when Gray yelps and Natsu hits the floor with a thump.
Rogue and Sting’s heads snap up and they find Gray glaring with a hand slapped over his nipple and Natsu laughing as he pushes himself up from the floor.
“I thought you liked that,” Natsu teases.
Gray looks scandalized, cheeks burning hot. “We’re in the living room, idiot. Have some self control!”
“Self control,” Natsu mocks. “You just shoved your tongue down my throat.”
Gray kicks out at him and Natsu jumps out of the way with a cackle. Gray swings again, missing narrowly. “Get. Out.”
Natsu raises his hands in surrender. “Fine. I'll get myself a snack.”
“No touching the toaster!” Gray calls after him.
Natsu sticks his tongue out at him. “Now I'm having pop tarts to spite you.”
Gray’s head falls back against the armrest.
Rogue decides he should make sure Natsu doesn't set the kitchen on fire to save his roommate a little stress.
Natsu's just about to push the lever on the toaster when Rogue walks up behind him. “You shouldn't have it turned up to five for pop tarts.”
Natsu starts, dark eyes wide when he whips around. “Keep it down!” He looks into the living room where Gray is squinting at him suspiciously.
Rogue barely bites back a grin. He reaches around Natsu and turns the dial down to two. He wonders if he’s imagining the hitch in Natsu's breath when their arms brush together.
Natsu blinks at him when he pulls back. Rogue’s about to tell him he can go ahead when Natsu reaches for him.
The fire that ignites under Rogue’s skin when Natsu grabs onto his arm is overwhelming, but it's nothing compared to the intensity in Natsu's eyes. Natsu says something, but Rogue can't hear him over the rush of his own blood and the thundering of his heart.
Rogue can't even keep looking at Natsu, so he turns. Sting’s peeking at him over the kitchen island. Where Rogue doesn't feel jealousy, Sting often does. He knows Sting tries not to, it's just a product of his anxiety. His first instinct is to yank his arm from Natsu's grip. But what he sees in Sting isn't anger, or even annoyance. It's understanding. This is how Sting feels when Natsu walks into the room.
Rogue feels another set of eyes on him, and looks to Gray. Panic nearly sets in at first glance. He’s visibly melting under Natsu's touch. But when he looks closer, Gray isn't upset either. There’s curiosity in his gaze. Fondness, even. And Rogue is so confused he wants to ask all three of them what’s going on.
But then Natsu squeezes his arm and giggles, and Rogue’s attention snaps back to him. “Did you hear me?” Natsu asks. Rogue shakes his head slowly, and from the smirk Natsu's giving him, he looks as astounded as he feels.
Then it hits him, hard enough to knock the air from his lungs. It's the same playful smirk he gives Gray when he wants Gray to kiss him, the same one that has Gray wrapped around his finger, obedient to his every desire.
Rogue’s breath falls from his lips, shallow and shaky. “What do you need?” he asks. He already knows the answer, they all do. Yes. Anything.
Natsu's grin gets bigger, his eyes get softer. And Rogue almost says it. Anything.
“C’mere,” Natsu repeats.
Rogue freezes. He's sure if he kissed Natsu, Sting would be okay with it. Gray would be okay with it. But the idea has a knot in his stomach and tremble in his chest.
Natsu raises his brows and Rogue nods stiffly. He leans in, breath coming fast.
Natsu reaches for Rogue’s face with his other hand, and tugs on a lock of his hair. He draws back, still close enough for Rogue to count every fleck of amber in his eyes. He looks between his pinched fingers. “You had a piece of lint in your hair.”
Rogue looks at it. “Oh.” He nods, moving to step back, but Natsu still has a warm, firm grip on his arm. “Yeah. That's… yeah. Thanks.”
Natsu flicks it onto the floor and looks back up. His thumb strokes over Rogue’s bicep, drawing gentle, slow circles. He tucks the same lock of hair behind Rogue’s ear. “Anytime.”
Natsu turns and pushes the lever on the toaster.
“I'm in trouble,” Rogue whispers.
Natsu looks at him over his shoulder. “Hmm?”
Rogue flushes and shakes his head, turning and leaving the kitchen without another word.
He sits back down at the table, staring blankly at his laptop.
Sting looks over at him and Rogue’s stomach drops. He should probably apologize. For whatever just happened.
Sting takes his hand and holds it tight. “You too, huh?” he asks softly.
That understanding is back on his face, equal parts sympathy and relief. Rogue sighs.
Natsu plops back on the couch with his pop tarts, shoveling them into his mouth. Gray's nose wrinkles. “Those are gross,” Gray says. Natsu opens his mouth, half chewed pastry all over his tongue. Gray kicks at his thigh. “You're gross.”
Natsu puts his plate on the coffee table and washes the pop tart down with a swig of water. “Nuh uh to both.”
Gray wipes crumbs from the corner of Natsu's mouth. “Yuh huh to bo-” Natsu cuts him off, leaning in and kissing him hard. Gray weakly protests before giving in with a contented hum.
Rogue only realizes he's staring when Sting whispers, oh, just as transfixed on Gray and Natsu as he is.
Rogue tries to give them some privacy, but he can still feel Natsu's warmth on his skin, can still picture that smirk perfectly.
Suddenly, the hand fisted in the back of Natsu's shirt is darker. The hair Natsu has his fingers wound in is longer. And just as easily as Rogue can picture being the one Natsu's kissing, he finds himself wishing he was in Natsu's place, too.
Gray shoves Natsu off of him. “Seriously, stop pinching my nipple!”
Rogue and Sting hastily turn their attention elsewhere.
Rogue collects himself and squeezes Sting’s hand. “Yeah. Me, too.”