“This isn’t porn.”
“Uhh, duh Dave. When I was like, eleven, it was.”
“John, when you were eleven you didn’t even know what sex was. If you did, you would not have clicked on that link for two girls one cup. Twice.”
“You tricked me, though! It was in tinyurl the second time. Geeeze, not like I actually wanted to see that kind of thing!” John slumps forward on the bed, chin in palms as he watches Dave sit on the floor and dismally flip through his collection of Victoria’s Secret magazines circa 2007.
“Uh huh. I think what actually happened is that I ruined you for normal shit. I awakened a hunger in you, Egbert, that not even Liv Tyler can satisfy. Come on dude, where’s your real stash?”
John swoops down and snatches the magazine from Dave’s hands with all the agility of an elephant, nearly toppling off the bed into his friend’s lap. Instead, he ends up in a heap of Ghostbusters t-shirt and gangly boy-limbs, flapping the slippery pages in Dave’s face tauntingly, “There is no real stash!” he announces with the gravitas of a children’s cartoon villain, “I’m a pristine dewdrop, y’know!” and he rolls onto his back and laughing wildly, hugging dear, sweet Adriana Lima’s half-clothed bosom to his chest.
“Shit how is it possible that you are even more of an unbelievable douche in real life? It’s like I forget every time.”
John is too busy showily caressing Adriana Lima’s face with his dewdrop lips to defend himself, so Dave takes another magazine from the pile. An eyebrow quirks behind his shades, “... Cosmo? Come on.”
“Hn?” John side-eyes him curiously but Dave is already checking to make sure that all the quizzes actually are filled in.
“I like quizzes. Oh my god, cool it okay? Sheesh.”
“During a hookup with a cute guy you like, you glimpse his gorilla-like hairy back.” Dave intones, “What is your reaction?”
“Oh man, what did I circle?”
“‘You focus on what you do like about him. His gorgeous eyes, how good his touch feels..’ this would be genius comedy right here if I didn’t know you were so serious.”
John’s lip twists lightly, just the edges of a consternated frown, “What kind of an asshole would tell someone that their back was gross in the middle of making love?” he resists adding ‘and gorillas are so cool’ because Dave is already giving him a look. Dave’s looks are actually all the same look, but there are varying and subtle degrees to it depending on the context and the position of his chin and the time of year and the position of venus in the sky.
“ ‘Making Love’.” Dave repeats flatly, complete with air quotes, “First of all I’d be making out with a chick okay and second of all a chick with a hairy back is a bad situation dude.”
“Uh yeah, because you’re an asshole. Give that to me!” Dave sighs and casually tosses the magazine at John’s face. Oh man, yes. It had been so long since John had looked through this thing and he loved re-reading old quizzes years after the fact! Eagerly, he flips to page 192 for How Do You Know If Your Man Is Cheating On You and is getting really into trying to pick out all his old answers when Dave makes a kinda, sorta uncool choking noise in the back of his throat.
“No. Fucking. Way.”
John blinks over the top of Lauren Conrad’s flawless, glossy smile to witness Dave Strider emoting. Just barely, but it’s happening. A mortified- and mildly intrigued- lip twitch is going down and after about two seconds to process what the fuck could possibly be in his stack of Victoria Secret catalogues that would make Dave fucking Strider blanche, John feels the cold hands of dread clench around his heart. John Egbert is not a creature naturally inclined to dread- he is a dreamer, a leader, the Heir of Breath and he does not look back nor does he regret nor does he want Dave looking through that thick volume of German Horse porn laying between them, creased slightly at the edges from years sandwiched betwixt the statuesque torso of Carol Trentini and John’s boxspring mattress.
“Shit,” he leaps to action- a whirlwind of movement even after all these years- but Dave’s grip is vise-like and backed by both superior height and the fact that Bro is a maniac and has trained him for scenarios like this his entire life.
“No way, dude, no way. This is too good. Hand it the fuck over.”
“I bought it by accident!” John explains frantically, “I thought it was going to be like... like a fantasy movie porn or something! Like with Arwen in Lord of the Rings or like in Rob Roy when Liam Neeson comes home and makes love to Jessica Lange in the field!”
“I don’t care if you thought it was a special episode of Squiddles funtime hour and you were buying it for Jade‘s tenth birthday, you are handing that shit over post-haste Egbert.” with a way-too-graceful yank, Dave wins the tug of war. John does topple awkwardly into his lap this time but is quickly removed in favour of the May issue of Stahl Hengst.
“Oh man, Dave. Dave. Don’t actually open it.” John is pleading now, knees up to his chest and shoulder to shoulder with his best friend, pawing uselessly at Dave’s impossibly long arm.
“Why the hell is this still here if you’ve never even looked at it?”
“Because!” John’s voice might have cracked a little there, “What if I threw it in the garbage and the garbage man saw it and then he thought I was a total pervert?” Dave scoffs, his fingers hovering dangerously over the edge of the cover, “And then what if they took it to the dump and they found my finger prints on it!?”
“Okay first of all that’s impossible,” Dave throws open the first page, all cavalier and fearless. John bites his lip, “And if you’re that worried we’ll take it out back and shoot it and leave it in the woods when we’re done here.”
“No, Dave, You don’t understand,” John hisses, “They can figure this stuff out. Forensicly.”
“Uh huh. Oh man, look at this.”
John does not “look at this”. John covers his glasses with his hands, “Augh. Geeze. Don’t show me that!”
“What? It’s just a woman getting double teamed by some burly guys with powerstaches while she licks a horse’s dick like its a jolly rancher. I saw worse on /b/ when I was six.”
“Gosh, that’s sure nice for you Dave, but some of us here didn’t know what sex was until we were eleven.”
“Come on its not like this is even real. This shit it totally staged.”
John inches two of his fingers apart to peek. He instantly regrets this decision and snas them back together, “How can you even tell?”
“‘Cause it’s different when it’s real.” Dave replies like duuuuh, “No one else is even here and you’re still embarrassing me somehow.”
“When what’s real?” John wonders, “The horse?”
“No, you idiot. The orgasm.” Dave specifies, exasperation fraying the edge of his monotone. John goes straight backed and shocked; realization shoots through him like a bolt of lightning and he turns to stare wide eyed at Dave, no longer concerned with the face-open horse porn in the other guy’s lap.
“Dave,” he whispers, almost reverently, “Wait, Dave... have you... have you... done it?” the last two words are uttered in quivering near-silence.
Dave runs a pale hand through his hair, “Jesus, John. You’re sixteen years old just say sex.”
“Fine,” so he repeats his question, leaning over so that his nose is close to Dave’s cheek, eyebrows knit seriously, “Have you had sex?” the word is all wrong and kind of sticky in his mouth. Dave snorts as a crooked, tricky smile worms across his jaw and John draws back muttering, fuck. oh man. shit.
“Chill, Egbert. It’s not a big deal.”
“Hello? I’m in High School, Dave. It’s like the biggest deal ever and even Jade’s been kissed and I don’t want to be never been kissed like Drew Berrymoore.”
“Wow, when did you start caring so much about this?” Dave mercifully shuts Stahl Hengst and reunites it with its ages old comrade, the Quarter 4 2008 Victoria’s Secret.
“Um, two minutes ago.” John answers resolutely because it’s true.
“Yeah, so don’t sweat it and hey, this is an awkward conversation so let’s change the subject woo.”
John does. With his lips. Which probably isn’t at all what Dave meant but prankster’s gambit is about going with the flow and doing what feels right for the moment and holy shit, does mashing their lips together messily kind of feel totally awesome. It takes five whole seconds before Dave manages to pull away but he only gets out a rushed what the fu- before John hooks one leg over his hips and kisses him again. Dave has a harder time getting out of this one because John is in his lap and yeah, this is kind of okay. He stops to catch his breath and Dave’s hands are between them instantly, forming a horribly affronted blockade.
“Okay first of all you suck at kissing and second of all what the fuck do you think you’re doing and third of all, what the fuck do you think you’re doing?”
John rolls his eyes, “Practice! Duurrr, don’t friends do this all the time?”
“Egbert what would have ever given you to idea that this is a thing that friends do.”
“Um, well, doesn’t Rose kiss her girlfriends all the time? She’s told me that before I think?
“Yeah, dumbass, because Rose is a lesbian.”
“How did you not know that.”
“Hey! Stop changing the subject!” and John pokes him in the chest, “I just think you’re chicken.”
“Not even close.”
“Totally close! Just like, three minutes ago you were all ‘oh hey John I’m using the word orgasm ha ha stop being such a big v word pussy baby’ and now you’re all ‘oh no I am scared of kissing.’!”
“I am not fucking scared of kissing.”
“Then come on, let’s-”
“I’m not gay.”
“Uh durrrr,” and John rolls his eyes again, “Neither am I.”
“Shit, you don’t say. Coulda fooled me with the way you are currently up in my grill playing Tiny Dancer on my teeth.”
“This isn’t gay, Dave, this is mutually exploratory lesson time. Don’t you want to take me to school or whatever?”
Dave tips his head to one side, lips already bruising from John’s inept smooching, “... what?”
“I’m asking you to give me a lesson in smooth motherfuckology or something like that.”
“What?” Dave asks again, just as incredulous. But John has not been friends with him this long without learning how to push a few buttons.
“Are you afraid to teach me,” he teases lowly, “Because you think I’ll be better at it than you?”
Oh there it is- the crinkle on his brow that betrays his eyebrow furrow. John relishes that for the one, two, three moments he has before Dave grabs his face and pulls him down. Their glasses knock together and Dave breaks it off again to hiss:
“Jesus, Egbert, you kiss with you lips not your teeth.”
“Sheesh! It’s not like I’m trying to! My teeth are just really big!”
“Just stop it.”
They kiss with lips geeze okay this time and John can attest to the fact that, yes, it actually kind of is better. Their mouths fold together wetly and John can’t completely get his teeth to behave so he nibbles at Dave’s bottom lip playfully. This was apparently also the right thing to do because Dave whimpers softly in the back of his throat, hands falling limply from around John’s cheeks to rest in the hollow of his hipbones.
“Dave are you... shaking?”
“N-no dude, that’s you,” Dave breathes quietly, “You’re vibrating like I put quarters in it.”
“Oh, ha ha. W-well, this is my first time, um-” he rests his forehead against Dave’s and laughs again, “- yeah, but where are all your smooth moves? Come on, Professor Strider!”
“Shit I have no idea what you want,” there is something strained in his voice that John can’t quite define, “Gotta be honest here, Egbert, I never put serious thought into you as a sexual creature. I assumed you were like a Ken doll and got nothing down there.”
“Now you’re breaking my heart, Dave.”
Dave inhales sharply, fingers digging into John’s legs, “I mean- what the fuck even gets a weirdo like you off? Please don’t tell me the horse porn.”
John shakes his head, no no no no, “Ahaha, no nothing like that! Um, well there is this one... there is this one scene-”
“Please also don’t tell me anything involving Nicholas Cage. Theoretically we’re looking for me to get a boner here.”
Oh man, check out all this eyerolling. Fine, he won’t talk about City of Angels, “No. It’s in Pretty Woman-”
“And Richard Geare is playing the piano-”
“I am John Egbert and I am not a homosexual-”
“And then Julia Roberts comes in and she gets in the way and they’re all staring at each other with smouldering, sexy looks and he lifts her up and-” John puts his hands under Dave’s arms and goes to lift him. Dave might be strong, but John is broader than Mr. Noodle Arms Strider and he manages to heft his friend onto the bed, “and he lays her down on the piano,” gently, he lays Dave down on the bed just like it’s the piano in Pretty Woman! Dave goes willingly, but it looks kind of just like he’s playing along, not really like he totally gets the reference and also thinks it’s the most romantic thing ever. John just grins and glides his hands up Dave’s torso, under his shirt.
“Woah, woah. Wait a-”
“And then,” John cuts him off, “He kisses her stomach and she’s like.. in ecstasy and it’s so romantic.” and just like it Pretty Woman, he bends down elegantly like Richard Geare and places light kisses across Dave’s stomach, swirling his tongue a little because it tastes funny and he’s trying to figure it out.
“Fuck,” Dave’s hips buck under his chin and he laughs, dragging his teeth lightly up the skin towards his ribcage, thumbs tracing lines over the bones until he hears a pained, “Stop.” he bolts up immediately, regarding Dave’s prone figure. He’s tensed like a livewire, his lips trembling and his hands fisted in the bedsheets. All in all complimentary- John Egbert is having his first makeout and he’s awesome at it.
“Oh, sorry heh heh- moving a bit fast I guess!”
Dave swallows thickly and John traces the trajectory of the gulp with his eyes. It takes him a moment to collect himself, but Dave struggles into a sitting position- John still between his knees- and readjusts his shades. He was definitely the one shaking.
“... um, you okay Dave?”
“Fuck.” Dave says again.
“I mean, I guess I’m a really quick learner, but I thought-”
“God, John, would you just-” and with a warrior’s precision and skill, he sweeps John’s legs out from underneath him, sets him off-balance; he grabs his wrists as they fall together, hitting the floor with a rancorous thump he hopes his Dad doesn’t come to investigate and all at once, Dave is kissing him hard and fast and not really that pleasantly but oh, there’s some nice friction in the way their hips slide together and their legs lock, John’s calf twisted over the concave side of Dave’s knee. He gasps at the sudden sensations, head tilted back so that Dave can bite his neck and he’s giggling madly as he hooks his knobby, pianist fingers into his friend’s belt loops.
Shit, he thinks he says, This is awesome but it’s over as abruptly as it began, Dave tearing away, shoving John’s back into the floor as he flails backwards.
“John,” he rasps, “John, I can’t... I just fucking can’t.” he sits himself down like three goddamn feet away (Dave, what is it, come on. I won’t bite anymore! Teeth away!), “John, you’re not even fucking taking this seriously. Jesus, just stop.”
John fixes his glasses, fixes his rumpled clothes and then he fiddles with them both. Awkward.
“D-don’t,” and is Dave’s voice shaky? “D-don’t say anymore dumbshit things, John. You are such a dumb shit. You are the dumbest motherfucker in the universe.” and is Dave... speaking with a Texan twang?
John asks that aloud, “Oh man... Dave, do you only get southern when you’re upset?”
“See, that’s exactly what I meant.”
“Oh, um. Sorry.” John scratches the back of his head anxiously before gathering up the gumption to crawl across the floor and sit with Dave. Back to back so that they don’t have to look at each other. Yeah- the kissing was fun but probably not a great idea because now things are weird, “Hey, so you’re still a virgin too I guess. That’s what this means, right?”
“The thing is I never said I wasn’t.”
“Uh, nooo, but you obviously wanted me to think that you weren’t. Durr. So manly of you, Dave. I’m really impressed.”
“That’s what guys do, Egbert. Never show weakness.”
“Really?” John glances back over his shoulder. Dave is sitting cross-legged staring forlornly at his hands. From this angle, John catches just the slightest glimpse of his eyes, “Dave- after everything we’ve been through together, you can show weakness to me, you know. I’m not gonna judge you.”
“Hn.” Dave answers.
“No, I’m serious here!”
“Mm.” says Dave.
John pauses a moment, then asks, “... have you at least been kissed?”
“Heh,” Dave sets his hands on his knees and finally relaxes, tentatively resting his back against John, “Before... before it all ended, Terezi kissed me. But it was godawful and I don’t think she meant it like that.” his tone of voice implies that it might not have been that awful. John tries hard not to be too scandalized because right now he’s being a Good Friend and Dave obviously needs to talk about his Mangrit Feelings.
“So did you like her?”
“What?” Dave shakes his head slowly, “I was thirteen. And fucked up on the sweet narcotic known as wibbly wobbly timey-wimey bullshit. I have no idea. And it doesn’t really matter, does it?”
“Yeah, guess not. So um,” and here is the harder question, “... I mean do you like me?”
Dave doesn’t answer that one at all, he just goes rigid again which is probably... John can’t really decide if its a good sign or a bad but it’s a sign. Like a giant, neon highway one.
“Ha ha ha, hey- forget I asked that one! Let’s just-”
“I don’t really... want anyone to get close.” Dave whispers helplessly, “I don’t know how- I don’t know. Not that I give a shit about anyone beside... besides uh, you and Lalonde and... and Jade. But sometimes it’s too close, you know dude?”
John does know. If his entire world was composed of no one but Jade Harley, Rose Lalonde and Dave Strider he could probably still be happy. Hell, once upon a time for a few brief hours it was.
“Yeah, Dave, we’re always gonna be too close. Sorry but we were born in ectoplasm together and I’m your lab daddy.”
That one actually earns him a stifled snicker. They sit there quietly for nearly half an hour, the reverb of Dave’s heart audible through his thoracic vertebrae. Finally, Dave stands up. He goes to the magazines and picks up the german horse porn and for a single, terrible moment John is horrified all over again.
“Geeze, if you really need a boner killer that badly why aren’t we still making out?”
“Shit, Egbert, any boner I might have had left over was the dead the moment we got our platonic bro-ho-ho reverse hug on and you unironically confessed to being my daddy. Anyways, you got any lighter fluid around here?”
John raises an inquisitive eyebrow, “... yes?”
“Right. Let’s give Stahl Hengst a viking funeral and remove this skeleton from your closet. We’ll play it out like a fucking sweet necromantic xylophone. That similar enough to a piano for you?”
John didn’t miss a beat, “Can Adriana Lima come too?”
Later, as the magazine burns, Dave grabs his hand and they watch the embers dance their erratic pattern towards the darkening sky.