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J’red had really thought that this would be easier. It wasn’t as if he just expected everything in life to just drop into his lap; it was more that he hadn’t expected ‘wooing’ J’sen to be this difficult. J’red had never had such a hard time trying to start a relationship in his life. He’d spent the past year trying to catch the prickly Greenrider’s attention with each try seemingly only getting J’sen to hate him more and more. J’sen, J’red had decided, was just a disagreeable little prick. But yet, for some reason, J’red was caught as surely as a fish on a hook.

It was quite possibly because of the fact that whenever J’red thought that he’d had enough of J’sen’s attitude, that he was going to look for someone easier to love, J’sen would turn around do something just so stunning that J’red couldn’t help but fall a little deeper. Such as the way that J’sen had with children, quietly patient, or the way he doted over Carinth, giving her weekly baths in the hot springs. Such as the way he’d calmly saved J’red’s life one day and thought nothing of it: Carinth springing out of between to blast a quick burst of fire at the Thread that had been heading straight towards J’red’s head and then J'sen reaching out to steady J’red on Peroth before flittering away again.

How was a man supposed to resist such a feat? How was J’red not supposed to be head over heels for J’sen?

If only that attraction would go both ways. J’red lamented frequently. Peroth was starting to groan each time J’red brought J’sen up which, unfortunately for the large Bronze, was just about every day. He couldn’t help it. J’sen was sitting there in his thoughts almost as surely as Peroth. If J’red didn’t know better, he’d say that he’d Impressed with J’sen. Though, if J’sen were a dragon, J’red thought, at least then things between them wouldn’t be nearly so complicated. All he’d have to do would be to out-fly the rest of the Weyr, have the wildest fuck of his life while plummeting to the ground and then he could happily start engaging in lovey-dovey grooming with his mate. Peroth was right. Humans were needlessly complicated.

J’sen, on the other hand, just really seemed to want J’red to go away already. He glared at J’red whenever J’red got near, even if it was just to try and wish J’sen a good day (which J’red tried to do every day). Even J’sen’s glares, though, got J’red’s blood pumping. He loved the way that J’sen’s eyes narrowed and how he’d straighten himself out to his full height—taller than nearly everyone else in the Weyr but still shorter than J’red. He really wished that J’sen would gift him with one of his fond smiles, the kind that J’sen shared with other Greenriders but J’red would take what he could get.

The first time that J’red had ever had the guts to approach J’sen—the cool, slick, gorgeous Greenrider that headed up his own wing and whom J’red had been admiring from afar for months ever since he’d Impressed with Peroth—it had been right after J’sen had come in from a training session, looking wind-ruffled and positively bedable for it. The sunlight had been streaming in from outside, catching in J’sen’s hair to turn it a burnished gold and caressing the side of his face, loving his freckle-dusted skin. The light had danced along his riding leathers, drawing J’red eye along every lovingly highlighted line of J’sen’s tall body from the broad shoulders to the slight flare of hip to the arch of his bow legs, accentuated by the way the leather clung. J’red had been writing entire epic poems in his head that would have made a Harper weep in envy and he’d been convinced that he could hear a sweet refrain ringing throughout the Weyr as he watched J’sen shake out his short hair and favor his wingmen with brilliant smiles. As far as J’red had been concerned, as blasphemous as it sounded, J’sen had been a deity that day, walking among the mortals. Star-struck, J’red had tottered up to him and stuttered out what he’d thought would be a compliment because J’sen was, quite simply, the most beautiful person J’red had ever seen.

Little had J’red known, however, that J’sen didn’t think that ‘pretty’ was a compliment. In fact, he’d rather taken exception with it. As soon as the word was out of J’red’s mouth, J’sen’s glowing smile, previously aimed at a fellow Greenrider and briefly turned on J’red himself, had disappeared. His green eyes had narrowed as he hissed, “Go try out your lines on some ninny-headed village girl, Bronze; just because I ride a Green doesn’t mean I’ll roll over for you.” Then he’d turned on a heel and left J’red standing there, wondering what he’d done wrong. J’sen had stalked right back over to Carinth and remounted her, the both of them soaring off into the sky and leaving the entire Weyr staring at Jared. J’sen’s fellow Greenrider had glared at J’red and called him an eggdusted deadglow before stalking off too and J’red had wanted to sink through the floor. He’d never felt so embarrassed in his life.

It hadn’t exactly helped J’red’s reputation among his new Weyrmates: the newly impressed Bronzerider being told off and rejected by a Greenie. R’bom had catcalled across the platform because he was such wher like that.

From there, the relationship between J’sen and him had steadily gotten worse. J’red knew that he was partially to blame. His embarrassment about being so soundly crushed during their first real conversation since Impressing their respective dragons had carried over into their second run in that had ended with J’red insulting J’sen outright, convinced that he needed to win some of his own back. The quick flash of hurt in J’sen’s eyes, though, hastily covered up by the vilest insults J’sen’s mouth had to offer, disabused him of that. J’red had realized right there and then that not only did he not have it in him to be mean to the Greenrider in front of him—haze him a little like some of his fellow Bronzes said he should—but he didn’t even want to. From there, J’red had realized that he was well and truly caught and had dedicated his life to trying to pull at least one smile out of J’sen.

If only their sense of humors weren’t so seemingly different. Whenever J’red tried to compliment him, J’sen was convinced that J’red was insulting him. When he’d said that J’sen was a great flyer, J’sen had taken it as sarcasm and brushed him off. When he said that he liked the way J’sen’s legs looked in leather, J’sen had kicked him in the shin. It never ended. And whenever J’red tried to crack a joke, J’sen either stared at him blankly or balled a fist and looked like he was just barely stopping himself from letting J’red have it. J’red didn’t remember it being this difficult back when he had been just Jared and J’sen had been just Jensen. True, there’d been a couple of years between them but J’red didn’t remember J’sen being such a…well.

There was only one day that J’red could recall actually having a proper conversation with J’sen and that had been the day that J’sen had saved his life. After finally landing, having served his duty, J’red had searched J’sen out and stuttered out a thank you, praying that J’sen wouldn’t take exception to it like he did everything else. Miracle of miracles, J’sen had just nodded shortly and said that J’red might want to grip more firmly with his knees—that it would give him better control. He’d given J’red a few more tips, ones that had J’red nodding fervently and J’red had just been so happy that J’sen was talking to him. Talking, not screaming, not growling but talking. Then K’nan had called J’sen away and J’red had had to content himself with getting an unobstructed view of J’sen’s ass in the tight riding leathers. That day had given J’red hope.

When Carith had been preparing to rise for her second mating flight, J’red had finally learned just exactly why J’sen had taken such offense to being called ‘pretty.’ He’d felt lower than pond slime when he’d found out because no wonder J’sen was convinced that J’red was just another arrogant Bronzerider.

J’red hadn’t been around for Carinth’s first flight—he’d not yet been considered of age—but when Carinth’s second came around, he got to hear the entire story from multiple sources as the entire Weyr was buzzing with excitement. Apparently, Carinth’s first flight had been one to remember. Not only had Carinth flown farther than any Green in half a century but J’sen, as far as anyone knew, had been a virgin just like his dragon and not only had he been unsure what to do with the feelings of lust rising in him, but Carinth’s effect on him had nearly overwhelmed him. J’sen, normally so calm, cool and collected, had been pawing at just about every man in sight before Carinth had even gotten into the air. It had taken some of the Weyr women to hold him back—the only ones who could have safely touched him at the moment. According to one of the Blueriders that J’red had talked to, the rumor was that, if there would have been time, there probably would have been an orgy before the flight, each of the assembled Riders sharing J’sen until he finally managed to calm down. When he’d heard of the possibility of J’sen being passed around like that, it had brought out an irrational jealousy in J’red while arousing him at the same time. He’d barely been able to focus on the rest of the story after that—like how Weyrleader J’frey had made all of the Riders step back at least twenty feet to try and calm J’sen down. Like how Carinth had been won by Bereth and so J’sen’s first had been K’nan. K’nan of the slow smile and the gentle, patient hands. He’d undoubtedly been better for the scared but proud virgin that J’sen had been than J’red would have as J’red tended to get rough, overeager, and too passionate. That didn’t stop him from experiencing a flash of jealousy over K’nan having had J’sen while J’red had not.

After everything was all said and done, though, when K’nan and J’sen had parted ways, J’sen had been forced to endure what the Weyr considered some good natured ribbing about his behavior. Knowing J’sen as he did, J’red knew what it must have seemed like to J’sen: the constant invitations for him to drop to his knees, the couple of stolen kisses, the lewder suggestions… The endless comments about J’sen’s ‘pretty’ face. It had been no wonder that J’sen had all but chewed J’red up like firestone when J’red had approached him out of the blue like that. J’red must have seemed to be just another one of the late arrivals jumping on the band wagon.

During Carinth’s second flight, as well, J’red had gotten to hear all the lewd innuendos and how the other Riders wanted to be the one to take J’sen this time—beautiful, proud J’sen who had not been bedded since Carinth’s last flight. J’sen who had never taken a lover at the Weyr, save for the mating flight. A classic loner, time spent with J'sen was considered all the more desirable for its rarity. “It’s a good thing he doesn’t have a choice about Carinth’s flights,” one Brownrider had told J’red. “Or he’d never get any relief. Too stubborn to bend over enough to let someone help him pull that stick out of his ass.”

Whether or not there was indeed a stick up J’sen’s ass, it certainly wasn’t removed by the man who bedded him during Carinth’s second flight. It had been loud-mouthed C’ray, the man who had shared his hopeful suspicions of an orgy with J’red, who’d gotten J’sen then and while the entire Weyr got to hear all about C’ray’s supposed prowess for weeks afterwards, J’sen didn’t look as if he’d enjoyed any of it. In fact, the entire Weyr was well aware of what a hunk of firestone C’ray was from the way J’sen emerged from the room the day after the flight, looking strung-out and needy, obviously unsatisfied despite C’ray’s claims to the contrary. It hadn’t been until K’nan had ushered J’sen into his own private quarters a few hours later that that need etched across J’sen’s face finally abated.

Mysteriously, C’ray’s bragging about the flight cut off completely after two weeks and the man had yet to participate in any of the mating flights since. J’red liked to think that J’sen had finally gotten his revenge which was good because J’red himself had been one step away from planting a fist in the man’s face.

After Carinth’s second flight was over and done with, J’red had continued on his steady campaign to try and win J’sen over. It was just too bad that one of J’sen’s defining traits was stubbornness. He’d refused to even give J’red the time of day and each one of J’red’s attempts had been thrown back in J’red’s face. Again, this was partially J’red’s fault. He was just so damn tongue-tied around J’sen. Like that time that J’red had wanted to invite J’sen out for a leisurely flight to try and get to know each other better and somehow it had ended up with J’sen hurling insults at J’red, again convinced that J’red had been saying that he didn’t know how to fly.

Or the time the time that J’red had attempted to ask J’sen to eat with him and J’sen had thought that J’red was making a mean-spirited joke about his weight. It was all rather disheartening and there was nothing that J’red could do about it because J’sen simply refused to hear him out whenever J’red tried to speak and J’red could never get it right on the first try.

Carinth’s third mating flight came and went with the usual fanfare and buzzing rumors about who would get to take J’sen this time and J’red had watched it all tight-lipped. It wasn’t that he begrudged J’sen sleeping with others (voluntarily or not) but it was more that he just couldn’t stand the fact that all of these other men had a chance with the Greenrider and he didn’t. J’red was a Bronzerider. He rode Peroth, one of the largest in the Weyr, commanded his own wing, and he was supposed to be somebody. Somebody to be proud of. But yet he couldn’t even get the guy he wanted to look his way.

It wasn’t that J’red was unattractive. He knew that he was. He had plenty of offers and never lacked for company. It was just that, for some reason, he wasn’t good enough for J’sen. So, J’red had spent Carinth’s entire flight and the subsequent two days after in the company of no less that three women and two of the more discreet Riders in the Weyr—one an attractive Greenrider who had J’sen's exact shade of eyes and the other a very flexible Blue named M’sha. He’d been reprimanded, of course, for missing his drills but J’red hadn’t cared. He was too busy feeling sorry for himself.

It was from that point on that he’d earned a bit of a reputation for being arrogant, something that, again, he undoubtedly rightfully deserved. The entire month after that he’d spent making cow eyes at J’sen didn’t help, either, because J’red could barely be bothered to pay attention to anyone who wasn’t J’sen. It had taken J’frey having a private talk with him to get him to snap out of it. “Mope all you want,” J’frey had said, “but don’t let it interfere with your duties.” J’red had wondered if J’frey was psychic because he’d never even told the Weyrleader what was troubling him but somehow, J’frey had already known.

It wasn’t until Carinth’s fourth mating flight—and nearly a year of unsuccessfully trying to woo J’sen—that J’red was suddenly hit with the idea. He’d been staring at all the joking Blue and Brown Riders as they playfully boasted about their chances with J’sen, about how their dragons were going to catch Carinth, and he’d possibly been hating them all when he realized that there was nothing stopping him from being in that crowd as well. There was nothing stopping Peroth from being perched on the ledge, flexing his wings and waiting for the moment that the chase was on.

Sure, there was tradition: Bronzes were supposed to fly after Golds, after all, not Greens, but it wasn’t as if Peroth had a prayer of ever beating J’frey’s Nemerth and J’red certainly didn’t have any interest in Hilarie. He wanted J’sen. And while Peroth might not be able to out-fly Nemerth, he’d certainly be able to out-fly the assembled Browns and Blues that were waiting to chase after Carinth. The only real problem that J’red could feasibly see was figuring out how Peroth would actually be able to catch quick and lithe Carinth. The small Green was a master at all the acrobatic maneuvers that usually vexed the bigger dragons like Peroth who was one of the largest Bronzes in the Weyr. It would take some strategy.

J’red had watched the entire mating flight from start to finish—from when J’sen first appeared, looking flushed and irresistible, biting down on his lip in an effort to control himself to when J’sen’s mouth was being claimed by A’dis, a Brownrider, and the two were being rushed inside one of the private rooms—and he’d imagined himself down there, in the crowd. He’d imagined himself instead of A’dis, his hands on J’sen’s skin, his lips on J’sen’s.

He was going to make that happen.

The first thing that he’d had to do, of course, was ask Peroth’s opinion on the matter. Over the past year, despite his occasional grumbling about J’red obsessions, Peroth had patiently put up with all of J’red’s rambling monologues about the perfection of J’sen’s face and how skillful and talented J’red considered the Greenrider. Peroth was a bit skeptical about J’sen’s beauty himself. Too fragile, he’d told J’red when J’red had made the mistake of asking for Peroth’s opinion. J’red had been about to launch into an entire speech about the sheer manliness of J’sen’s physique, offended on J’sen’s behalf, when Peroth had laughed at him and added, And his snout is not long enough. Nor are his wings. His tail is also quite short. J’red had closed his mouth with a snap, only adding, “His ‘tail’ is not short,” even as he winced at the bad pun. Luckily, Peroth had let it go. J’sen’s apparent sad lack of being a dragon aside, however, Peroth had agreed that he seemed suitable for J’red. And that while J’sen was not Peroth’s type, Carinth was certainly a fine flyer.

After securing Peroth’s cooperation in the matter, the next part of J’red’s plans was to study the moves of the Green—the better for Peroth to anticipate her during flight and maybe fore J’red and him to come up with a suitable strategy for catching her. Bronzes rarely caught the Greens during mating flights simply because the Greens were too quick and flexible in the air. They flew in literal circles around the heavier Bronzes unlike the smaller Browns and the Blues who had better chances. J’red and Peroth had spent long hours out on the hilltops surrounding the Weyr, analyzing every swoop and dive that J’sen led his wing through. Carinth tended to favor swooping to her left—if only because her opponents expected her to go right—and J’red made a note of that.

He kept trying to approach J’sen only to be shot down by J’sen’s general disagreeableness and dislike of J’red as surely as Thread by fiery dragonbreath. He didn’t take it as hard anymore, though, because he had a plan.

After spending hours studying the Greens—so much so that they were starting to get suspicious, a couple asking him outright what he was up to—J’red and Peroth started to train, trying to get Peroth’s body to maneuver well enough to hopefully be able to catch Carinth.

It had taken months of waking up Peroth well before dawn and spending long hours in the sky but by the time that Carinth was once again irritable and ready to rise, he was confident that they were ready. Peroth had agreed, confidently boasting to J’red that he would outfly all the other males and mate with Carinth for sure and that J’red should just make sure that he upheld his end. J’red had stifled a laugh at being given ‘mating advice’ from his Bronze but had assured Peroth that as long as Peroth caught Carinth, J’red would have no problems ‘mating’ with J’sen. You hold up your end of the bargain, he’d thought, and I’ll hold up mine.

Oh how little did he know.

The moment that J’sen had emerged from his self-imposed seclusion, J’red had been warring with his own anxiety. He’d made the mistake of letting his giddiness about the whole situation go to his head earlier and he’d told J’sen that he was sure that J’sen was going to enjoy himself. It had been a very stupid thing to say and not even just in hindsight. J’sen had snarled something about how he didn’t submit willingly and J’red could go get fucked by a watchwher if he thought otherwise. J’red had also been sure that J’sen was going to punch him for sure this time but then Carinth had bitten a Blue and J’sen took off running to calm her down. J’red had taken a deep breath and tried to remind himself to be smoother. It wouldn’t help but it was a good thought.

Peroth didn’t join the other assembled males and J’red thought that this was because Peroth was experiencing some lingering nervousness, too. The Bronze tried to deny it but J’red knew him better than that. He’d waited on the rooftop of the platform for Carinth and the others, taking to the sky once they all shot past him.

J’red heard the whispers as he made his way down to where J’sen was waiting but he tried to ignore them, holding his head up high and wading through the crowd. Peroth was going to win—he was—and J’red was finally going to win J’sen.

“What are you doing here?” J’sen had hissed and J’red forced himself to keep a smile on his face because it was either that or try to kiss J’sen right then and there. Peroth was starting to overwhelm him with lust and J’red didn’t have much experience fighting it. He and Peroth had only flown in one flight before and it was all J’red could do not to drop to his knees and try to suck J’sen’s cock right then and there but oh did he want to. He wanted to do anything and everything to J’sen—suck him, fuck him, flip it around and have J’sen do the same—and when J’sen had his eyes closed, linking into Carinth, and his plush mouth opened to pant, J’red couldn’t stop himself from reaching out to touch even though he knew that it was wrong.

J’sen slapped him away but J’red didn’t care. A few minutes later it was all over, anyway, J’sen collapsing forward as Carinth’s psyche overwhelmed his, his hands clawing at J’red’s shirt. The other Riders were moaning in disappointment but J’red only had eyes for the man that he had in his arms, wanting him, needing him. Peroth’s desires were pushing through his mind, dictating his every move and J’red wanted to strip J’sen right then and there and taste his freckled skin. The only reason he didn’t was because of the helpful hands that were shoving him towards a room, coaxing J’red into stumbling towards it.

J’sen, of course—stubborn, stubborn J’sen—caught himself on the door and refused to go in but J’red knew that J’sen wouldn’t want to be fucked out in the open and that was what was going to happen if he didn’t get inside! Peroth was already mating with Carinth, the two of them free-falling towards the ground and J’red’s dick was throbbing in response. His entire body felt as if it was on fire, like he was about to spontaneously self-combust and how did other Riders even live through this? J’red gasped, grinding himself against J’sen’s thigh because he didn’t know if they’d be able to get their clothes off for this or not. If they would just end up rutting against each other until their brains dribbled out their ears.

But J’sen. J’sen, J’sen, J’sen. The man was maddenly irresistible and all J’red wanted to do was just bury himself into J’sen’s body and never come out but J’sen had to be himself. “Let go of me!” he growled and when J’red tried to soothe him, to get him to cooperate just this once—Great Faranth, just this once—J’red would put up with a lifetime of abuse if only J’sen would let him have him just this once!—J’sen decked him.

J’red’s head spun to the side and J’sen plummeted to the floor like a wounded dragon pitching out of the sky. Instinct, brought on by the dragon emotions swirling through him and the pain of the hit, took over and J’red was on top of J’sen in an instant, every fiber of his being focused on coupling with the man, regardless of agreement on the matter. J’red pinned J’sen so he couldn’t hit him again and spread J’sen’s legs because that was where J’red needed to be. J’sen’s bow legs fit perfectly around J’red’s hips, looking like they had been made just for this, their curve seemingly matching his waist. He sealed his lips to J’sen’s licking once just for the taste and then forcing J’sen’s mouth open, ravenous for more. He wanted to devour him.

It was everything that he’d dreamed that it would be. J’sen was writhing underneath him, finally his for the taking, and months of planning and training were paying off. Finally, after years of pining, he was getting a chance to have the proud, talented man who had stayed just beyond his reach. He couldn’t decide where he wanted to touch first, there was just so much of J’sen to explore, so his hands roamed over J’sen’s body, trying to touch everywhere at once. J’red was going to bring J’sen so much pleasure that he’d never be able to forget him. J’red would erase every other lover from J’sen’s mind, replace every memory with a new one featuring him.

“No!” J’sen shouted, breaking through the haze of J’red dragon-fueled passion and, shocked at the refusal—in the middle of a mating flight no less—J’red froze and stared down at J’sen in disbelief, unable to believe his ears. But J’sen was fighting back against him, pushing and shoving and trying to get away and this wasn’t happening! This wasn’t happening!

J’red was watching all of his careful planning and his closely held dreams crumbling into dust because despite the fact that this was a mating flight, that it was ingrained in J’sen to want him, J’sen was still turning him down. How was that even fair?

Trust J’sen to be the only one in the Weyr to be able to resist what his dragon-backed lust-addled mind was screaming at him to do. J’red could have cried he felt so frustrated. If he didn’t get a chance to go through with this, he was, quite simply, going to die. He was going to curl up into a dejected ball of want and need and die.

“For the Egg’s sake, J’sen,” he choked out, blatantly begging, “could you be agreeable just this once?” His entire body was trembling with the effort it took not to move, not to act. He’d come this far. He couldn’t turn back now. His hips rocked instinctively against J’sen’s and he sunk his teeth into his bottom lip, using the pain to try and find some measure of control. “Please?” he begged, throwing every last big of dignity to the wind. Dignity was so vastly overrated and J’red had already said goodbye to his the first time that he’d ever talked to J’sen anyway.

Underneath him, J’sen looked just as wrecked as J’red felt but he must have had the determination of a rock because somehow, someway, he was fighting back against the emotions that had to be flooding his body. The same emotions that moved J’red’s body for him, making him helpless to fight and J’sen was resisting them. If it were any other time, that amount of willpower might have impressed J’red but, at the moment, all it did was make him want to beat his own brains out in sheer frustration.

J’sen’s grudging, “Just get it over with,” wasn’t the yes that J’red had been naively hoping for, either. Whenever J’red had pictured this moment, he’d never imagined that J’sen would refuse him even now. He’d always thought that J’sen would be welcoming, inviting. That he’d finally want J’red.

Instead, here he was, basically telling J’red that J’red would have to rape him if he wanted to go any further. J’red didn’t know whether to laugh, cry, or put his fist through a wall. This wasn’t how any of it was supposed to go. He’d put in so much work, had finally achieved his goals and nothing was working out the way it should have. All because J’sen was a—a—a disagreeable egg sucker.

What hurt the most was the fact that J’sen was obviously expecting J’red to just go ahead and force J’sen into having sex. The fact that J’sen even thought that J’red would be capable of something like that, would be accepting of it, showed just how little J’sen thought of him. That cut straight to the bone. “No,” J’red snarled, his anger burning through the lust he’d previously been welcoming.

“What do you mean ‘no’?” J’sen demanded, glaring up at him and being irrationally angry for a man who was refusing to have sex with J’red. “Fuck me already!”

J’red rolled his hips again because he couldn’t help it, grinding his cock against J’sen’s for the sweet, delicious friction, but that didn’t change the fact that J’sen thought that he… “I mean, you dimglow,” J’red snapped, “that Peroth and I did not spend months training for this so I could get the opportunity of a lifetime just for me to have to force you! Scorch it, J’sen, I thought you’d be into this!” His naïve little dreams shattering and his body in physical pain from the fact that he was not continuing on with the mating, J’red groaned as he rolled off of J’sen and flopped onto his back beside the maddening man. “Forget it,” J’red whined, feeling absurdly like he should possibly cry but yet not managing to find the ambition when he was too busy fighting off dragon-induced lust. “I don’t even want it now.” That was a straight-up lie but J’sen didn’t need to know that. In fact, J’sen didn’t need to know anything from now on because this, if nothing else, proved that J’red didn’t have a chance with the Greenrider. J’sen simply wouldn’t give him one.

J’sen, though, seemed actually offended that J’red didn’t want to rape him. He shot upward, hissing, “What do you mean you don’t want it?”

And that clinched it, right there. J’sen was the most confusing man that J’red had ever had the misfortune of falling in love with and J’red was a moron for ever having wanted him. But for some stupid, asinine reason—most likely Peroth still scrambling his brain—J’red was still half a second away from snatching up J’sen and giving him what he now seemed to want. Scorch it, J’red had wanted a lover, not a man who would drop him as soon as J’red rolled off of him. “I mean, I’ll just jerk off,” J’red snapped. He doubted very much if that would help but it was the thought that counted. “Go get bent.”

J’sen leaned over him, his beautiful face tightening up with rage. His upper lip was curling. It was a familiar look. “You can’t just jerk off!” he shouted. “It’s an egg-blasted mating flight!”

“I know that!” J’red yelled back. He wasn’t exactly weak-minded! He knew what these things meant! But like Hell was he going to fuck J’sen when J’sen would just see it as another reason to hate him. J’red would rather bed the watchwher.

J’sen’s eyes narrowed. “Fucking inexperienced—”

Oh. Oh, there was no blasted way that J’sen was accusing J’red of being inexperienced! J’sen who had had sex maybe five times had absolutely no wings to fly on. Before he even knew quite what he was doing, J’red rolled them both, putting J’sen on his back on the furs and climbing on top of him. “I’ll show you inexperienced,” he growled and started yanking on J’sen’s clothes.

And J’red must have gotten lucky because J’sen was finally not protesting. In fact, he was even helping. It might have been the dragon-lust getting to him or it might have been J’red finally getting through to him, but J’red didn’t care at that point which one it was. He wasn’t going to analyze it because he had a wild and willing J’sen underneath him and he’d had more important things to worry about. Like how he was going to make sure that J’sen couldn’t sit for a week.


J’red liked to think that he proved himself to J’sen. He at least had the scratches and the bit marks to prove it. He’d made J’sen gasp and writhe underneath of him; he’d made J’sen beg for more. He would have worried about being too rough, overcome as he was by Peroth’s instincts, but J’sen had loved it…and had savaged J’red right back. He’d loved it enough to invite J’red for a second round. And a third—that one with J’sen pushing him down and riding him until he screamed.

J’sen was currently lying beside him, his naked body curled against J’red’s side, his eyes closed and his breathing deep and even. Resting after the wild rutting they had just done. J’red trailed his hand down J’sen’s arm, the one that rested above the furs that covered them, making him sigh and stir in his sleep, curling closer. J’red’s chest felt as if it were shrinking inside—or maybe that his heart was growing to the size of a dragon’s. He studied J’sen’s face, loved how sleep softened every line, made him look even younger than he normally did. J’sen’s lips were parted, slow wisps of breath escaping every time that his chest fell, and they looked so inviting that J’red was tempted to press his own against them. If he thought that it wouldn’t have woken J’sen, he probably would have but, at the moment, all he wanted to do was stare, drink in his fill.

He hadn’t seen J’sen so unguarded since they were kids. And J’sen had definitely grown from the moment that he had left their childhood world and the time that J’red had finally been able to join him. He’d matured and that only made him more handsome, more beautiful.

J’red took a deep breath and prayed that, after all of this, J’sen wouldn’t go back to the way that they were. That he’d give J’red a chance to make him happy. That he’d favor J’red with that smile that he used on the few people who had the pleasure of actually knowing him. That he’d allow J’red in.

The very thought made J’red chest hurt more and he rubbed at it, trying to soothe the ache. The movement was enough to wake J’sen, his lashes fluttering upward and his green eyes slowly focusing on J’red’s face. J’red didn’t dare breathe as he waited for a reaction, wanting to know where he stood, wanting to know if J’sen was okay, still, with him being this close or if, now that the lust of the mating flight had abated and there was only a mere residual thrum, J’red was supposed to maintain a polite distance. J’red thought that that distance might kill him more than an outright dismissal.

When J’sen didn’t immediately push him away, J’red let his hope grow, just a little, and, when J’sen’s lips curled upward in a small smile, that hope expanded. “Hi,” he whispered, daring to speak since J’sen hadn’t kicked him off the bed.

“Hi,” J’sen echoed, still smiling, and then he leaned closer, crossing the few crucial inches that separated them and pressed his lips to J’red. It was dry and soft and ironically chaste after how carnal they had already been with each other. J’red’s insides tied up into knots and he choked back a quiet moan as he leaned into the gentle kiss. After a few moments, J’sen pulled back and J’red licked his lips, still feeling the phantom press against them.

With J’sen still smiling at him, J’red felt bold. He kept his eyes locked with J’sen’s but he slipped his hand down underneath the covers to place his palm on J’sen’s chest, feeling the steady thump of his heart. J’sen’s smile grew hesitantly bigger, the corners of his mouth twitching as if they were unsure before they finally accepted the happy expression. J’red breath hitched in relief and he leaned closer to kiss J’sen again. Either this was really happening and J’sen was accepting him or sometime during the night, J’sen had killed him and J’red had met his maker. Either way, J’red was going to enjoy it.

J’sen opened his mouth sweetly under J’red’s coaxing, letting J’red slowly push his tongue inside and meeting it with soft licks of his own. Daring for more, J’red let his hand slide down from the relatively safe area of J’sen’s upper chest to the lower part of his stomach, resting his fingertips there and feeling J’sen’s muscles contract in response. Something soft and unyielding was brushing against J’red’s thigh and he swallowed hard when he realized that it was J’sen’s cock, swelling for him. J’sen hands tangled in J’red’s hair and J’sen pushed his advantage, moving forward and coaxing J’red back until J’red was flat on the bed and J’sen was sliding over him.

J’red moaned, soft and weak, and dropped his hand down to cup J’sen’s growing erection. J’sen echoed J’red moan and pressed deeper into the kiss as his hips began to roll, leisurely rocking himself into J’red’s touch. J’sen’s own hands moved downward to trail over J’red chest, his palms resting against the rounded muscle of J’red pectorals, squeezing gently before moving southward.

Content to let J’sen do as he pleased, elated that J’sen wanted him, J’red laid back to enjoy J’sen’s explorations, his only movement the slow glide of his hand on J’sen’s cock and the instinctual pump of his hips. J’sen sighed as he wrapped his hand around J’red's cock, his fingers closing tight while his thumb teased at the head. Giving himself over to the touch, J’red spread his legs, allowing J’sen more room and J’sen gladly took advantage of it, his fingers moving down to caress J’red's balls, rolling them gently as J’red hummed in pleasure.

One of J’sen’s fingers slid even further downward, brushing against J’red’s hole before he jerked back as if he’d been stung, pausing for a moment before throwing himself into kissing J’red harder. Knowing a distraction when he saw one, J’red broke away from J’sen’s lips and caught the hand that J’sen had wrapped back around his cock. “Did you want to?” J’red asked quietly, moving J’sen’s hand back down, pressing J’sen’s fingers against his opening himself. It felt rather nice.

J’sen stared down in amazement, taking in where his hand was placed before dragging his eyes back up to meet J’red’s. “You would…You would let me?” he asked, disbelieving. Instead of answering with a yes or a no, J’red brought J’sen’s hand upward and sucked J’sen’s fingers into his mouth as J’sen watched, dumbstruck. When J’red moved J’sen’s hand back down, lining one of J’sen’s fingers up with his hole and pressing it inside, wonder bloomed across J’sen’s face, followed swiftly by arousal. Given such blatant permission, J’sen wasted no time in taking control, crooking his finger upward and rubbing it against a spot inside of J’red that had him seeing stars, his eyes rolling into the back of his head. J’red fell back against the bed and drew his legs up in an invitation for J'sen to do more.

J’red knew why J’sen was so shocked that J’red would allow him this. Why the mere idea seemed so foreign and exotic to him. For all of the Dragonriders’ supposed sexual openness, this just wasn’t done. Greens were not supposed to top Bronzes. Tradition said that it violated the natural order, that Greens were meant to be submissive in bed. But this was J’sen and not only could J’red not deny him anything but J’sen was hardly submissive anywhere let alone in bed. J’sen was J’sen.

The dragons might Impress based on some kind of perceived sexual preference—J’sen undoubtedly preferred to bottom, thus why he was selected by a Green and not a Blue—but J’sen was still a man. And as for J'red, the thought of having J’sen inside of him was too arousing to pass up even if this would technically be the first time that he had ever allowed himself to be penetrated.

It was just lucky that at least one of them knew what they were doing. As his finger slowly explored the inside of J’red’s body, pressing teasingly against that one area that made J’red’s toes curl and his body want to orgasm, J’sen grabbed the oil that had been provided for them a day ago. When he pulled out to coat his fingers with it, J’red groaned in disappointment, having grown used to the feeling of J’sen inside of him. Having liked it. “More?” J’sen asked and J’red nodded. J’sen’s smile in response was brighter than the sun.

Instead of immediately penetrating him again, though, J’sen leaned forward and gripped J’red’s dick, sliding his mouth down over it. “Great Faranth…” J’red breathed, sitting up on his elbows to watch his cock disappear and reappear between J’sen’s plush lips, feeling the wet heat of J’sen’s mouth surrounding him. He could have died happy with the sight seared into his brain. J’sen hummed around J’red’s length and J’red was collapsing backward, unable to hold himself up anymore. The pleasure of J’sen’s hot mouth on him was distracting enough that J’red nearly missed J’sen pushing inside of him again.

J’sen breached him with two fingers, stretching him, and the feel of it was nearly as good as J’sen’s lips around his cock. He didn’t know whether to push down on to the fingers or to push up into J’sen’s mouth so he tried to do both, a small rocking of his hips and he was going to come far too soon if J’sen kept this up. J’red reached down to grip J’sen’s hair, tugging on it. “Stop,” he pleaded. “Stop, stop, stop…”

J’sen pulled off of J’red immediately, J’red wet cock flopping against his stomach and his fingers stilled inside of J’red. “Stop?” he asked. In the breathlessness of his tone, there was also a note of something else that J’red couldn’t quite make out—fear, maybe—but J’red didn’t have the wherewithal to analyze it. When J’sen started to pull his fingers out, though, J’red knew enough to stop him, grabbing a hold of his wrist and keeping him still. Keeping him inside.

“I’ll…” J’red tried to suck in enough air to get out the words, “I’ll come if you…keep…” He pushed Jensen’s fingers as deep inside of himself as he could, closing his eyes. “Just. Now, J’sen.”

Oh,” J’sen replied as he deciphered what J’red was attempting to tell him. “Oh,” he repeated, pulling his fingers out and leaving J’red empty. “Oh…” It seemed to be the only word that he was able to say but as long as he got inside of J’red quickly, filled him up again, J’red didn’t care.

J’red’s wish was granted when within a few moments, J’sen was moving over top of him, one hand pressing into the bed beside J’red’s chest with the other lining himself up with J’red's hole. As the blunt tip pressed against J’red, he shuddered and spread his legs as wide as he could get them, trying to accommodate J’sen. J’sen bowed over him as he slid in enough to have J’red open around the shaft of his cock, his head dropping to rest against J’red’s chest as he panted. “It’s tight…” he whispered.

J’red swallowed hard, realizing that not only was this the first time that he’d ever been penetrated but it was also most likely the first time that J’sen had ever penetrated another man. It was new to both of them. Virgins in their own way. They both moaned as J’sen pushed in deeper.

Wanting to see J’sen’s face, to see his expressions as he thrust inside of J’red, J’red reached down and cupped his hand around J’sen’s cheek, his fingers sliding underneath J’sen’s jaw and tilting his head up. J’sen’s eyes flickered open but they were glazed over, hazy. J’red wondered if he was seeing anything more than blurs. And then J’sen’s face scrunched up in pained pleasure as he finally settled in all the way inside of J’red, his his hips pressed flat against J'red's body. “Oh, by the Void…” he muttered and J’red nodded in agreement.

Having J’sen inside of him was blowing J’red’s mind. He felt as if he were free-falling, pushed off out of the sky. He ran his hands over J’sen’s shoulders and down the front of his torso, moving them all the way down to where he could feel where they were connected. J’sen whimpered as J’red’s fingers brushed the base of his cock and his hips rolled, starting to thrust. “Uhh…” J’red gasped, feeling J'sen pull out of him only to rock back in. “Oh…mmm. Go…”

It felt strange to have something pushing in and out of his ass, something fucking him and out of his control. Something that he could do nothing but lie back and accept. And he knew that he didn’t have a prayer of lasting because J’sen just felt too good sliding out of him, leaving him feeling open and hollow, and then pushing back in, stretching him. Filling him. Judging by J’sen’s soft, whimpering noises, J’red wasn’t the only one, either.

J’red tried to lift his hips up with each thrust, meeting it instinctively and biting his lip to try and not to come. It was a losing battle but one that he was determined to fight. When J’sen spit in his palm, though, and wrapped it around J’red’s throbbing cock, all bets were off and he came with just a few tight pulls, shouting to the rooftops and not caring who heard.

His orgasm tightened him almost painfully around J’sen’s cock and J’sen shuddered as he started to thrust harder. Faster. He’d long lost the rhythm and was just moving towards completion. J’red was just beginning to come down off of his climax, relaxing against the bed, when J’sen came inside of him, pulsing and filling him with warmth. It made J’red’s toes curl and his dick try to twitch again as if pretending that it still had the ability to get hard. J’sen rocked against him hard and then collapsed on top of him, sprawling out bonelessly. J’red accepted the weight, his arms wrapping around J’sen’s shoulders as he nuzzled at J’sen’s hair.

They stayed that way for a few long minutes, just breathing steadily against one another in comfortable silence until J’sen finally spoke. “Thank you,” he said quietly, rubbing the tips of his fingers against J’red’s skin.

J’red smiled down at him. “My pleasure,” he replied honestly. He squirmed slightly, just to feel J’sen still inside of him and to make J’sen gasp. J’sen’s come was still inside of him as well, something that made J’red happy on a very basic, primitive level. He knew it was silly, but it felt as if J’sen had claimed him in some way.

Now if only he could be sure that it was permanent.

Much to J’red disappointment, J’sen finally let himself slip out. He couldn’t feel too bad, however, because J’sen didn’t go far; he flopped himself back down onto J’red’s chest and resumed tracing random patterns onto J’red chest. “What did you mean earlier?” he asked, deceptively casual. “About the training?”

J’red groaned. That was right. He had let that slip, hadn’t he? He supposed that he had been hoping that if he forgot about saying it then maybe J’sen would forget that he had said it as well. It had been hours since then—hours spent trying to orgasm in every position imaginable (if that was what mating flights were like, then J’red couldn’t wait for Carinth to be ready to fly again). “Ask me something else,” J’red said, shaking his head. “Anything else.” He’d talk about anything else under the double moons. He was flushing slightly in embarrassment just from thinking about it.

J’sen looked up at J’red. “Why?”

Ah, yes. J’sen would just not be J’sen without that stubborn to a fault demeanor of his. J’red smiled helplessly before it. “Because if I tell you about that, you’ll find me creepy and obsessive and you won’t want to be with me.” Definitely true. J’red found himself to be creepy and obsessive. “And I most certainly want to be with you.”

J’sen blinked and pushed himself onto all fours, looming over J’red. “Be with me?” he asked, staring hard at J’red. J’red stomach flipped over as he became convinced that he’d said something wrong again. No. No, he was just starting to get used to this!

“Be with you,” J’red repeated weakly, his mind spinning madly trying to find another way to phrase it.

“But you are with me,” J’sen said, sounding quietly puzzled as he stared down at their naked bodies. “So you can tell me.”

J’red groaned again. “No, I want to be with you, J’sen. Your lover. I want to be your lover.” J’sen bit his lip, still staring down at J’red. Great Faranth, he was going to make him say it, wasn’t he? He was going to make J’red toss every shred of possible dignity clean out of the Weyr. Then again, J’red should have been used to this by now. J’red sighed and glanced up at the ceiling for strength. “I want to be yours. Possibly forever if you’ll have me.”

J’sen’s heat left J’red’s body and J’red hurriedly looked back towards where J’sen had been to see J’sen sitting completely upright, a glare half-formed on his face. “If this is some kind of Bronze joke…”

“Shards!” J’red said, moving to sit up as well. His hand latched on to J’sen’s hip, trying to keep him in place if J’sen was thinking about leaving. “No, J’sen! I swear. I swear it’s not.” He tried to project sincerity and honesty before deciding to play the card that J’sen had wanted in the first place. “Peroth and I trained for months just so that I could win you during Carinth’s mating flight,” he confessed, dropping his eyes in embarrassment. “I’d been trying to…to get you to notice me for an entire year before and—and—and I thought that it was my only chance.”

“But you’ve been a jerk,” J’sen said in amazement. “Every time we’ve met since you came to the Weyr, you’ve just insulted me.”

J’red’s stomach dropped. Here they went again. He could already see this conversation plummeting out of the sky before it even managed to take off. Oh, Faranth, help him to find the right words this time… “No,” he denied. “No, really, I haven’t meant to!”

For being naked and straddling J’red’s equally naked body, J’sen managed to look quite self-contained and almost wrathful. “You said I was a bad flyer. You made fun of my legs. You called me fat.”

J’red swallowed and took it as a good sign that J’sen had yet to remove the hand on his hip. “I didn’t say you were a bad flyer. I was trying to compliment you. I think you’re the best flyer in the Weyr!” J’sen didn’t have a response for that and J’red could just about visibly see him trying to play back the conversations that they’d had in the past. “And I know that I didn’t make fun of your legs because, shells, J’sen, I like your legs.” He took a quick moment to appreciate the legs in question because he liked them probably a lot more than he should: They made him think dirty thoughts in inappropriate places and riding leathers hid absolutely nothing. When he skated his gaze back up to J’sen’s face, he could see a slight blush staining J’sen’s cheeks. “And the time that you thought that I was calling you fat, I really just wanted to have dinner with you.”

He could tell that J’sen was thinking about all of what he’d said, turning it over in his incredibly quick mind, and J’red dared to hope that maybe, just maybe, he was actually getting somewhere. Then J’sen looked away and his voice turned quiet. “You also said some things about my orientation. What you thought I was good for.” A large kernel of guilt lodged in J’red’s chest because that was true. He didn’t even have a defense against that. He’d been responsible for hurting J’sen like that.

But yet J’sen was still here. J’sen was still giving him a chance to try and explain his behavior and J’red hoped fervently not to mess it up this time around. “I’m also a big stupid wherry who can’t handle when the most gorgeous guy he’s ever seen rejects him,” he confessed.

J’sen tilted his head, looking more curious now than angry or hurt, and J’red prayed that this was indeed the right path to be on. “Reject?” he asked.

J’red nodded sheepishly. “That day on the platform. I’d walked up to you and called you pretty.”

“I—”

“I didn’t know what that word meant to you, J’sen,” J’red said, cutting him off before he had a chance to get started. “I’m sorry. I didn’t know what it meant until a lot later. I just…you were beautiful.” He glanced away, unable to believe that he was confessing all of this. “Ever since I’d Impressed with Peroth and got the chance to see you again, I’d been wandering around and just thinking about how much you had changed. How much I had changed. I mean, you were no longer just the older kid that taught me how to fish one day.” He paused with a small smile, remembering the day before he added wryly, “When, you know, you weren’t thrashing me within an inch of my life for being shorter than you.” Only J’red had eventually won that match, hadn’t he? “You were this gorgeous wing leader who could out fly anybody on your Green. I had stars in my eyes.”

When he finally dared to look back at J’sen, J’sen was staring at him, flummoxed. J’red wondered if he should say more, just push out every thought that he’d ever had out into the open seeing as how J’sen was actually listening to him but he knew better. His mouth would run away with him if he let it and sometimes, it was really just better to shut up. He’d learned that from J’frey.

J’sen sat in silence for a long enough time that J’red thought that he would go crazy if he had to wait another second. The only thing stopping him from doing so was the fact that J’sen was still sitting on top of J’red and that could never be a bad thing as far as J’red was concerned. He pushed away the inappropriate thought of reaching out and fondling J’sen’s soft, still oil-slicked cock just because it was there and forced himself to focus on J’sen’s contemplative face.

“I—” J’sen stopped himself and then continued. “I think I’m going to kiss you now.” J’red blinked, dumbfounded for half a moment before J’sen’s words caught up with him.

He grinned. “Really—?” J’sen silenced him effectively with a kiss and J’red was all too happy to give into it as J’sen cradled his face and kissed him until they were both breathless. When they broke apart again, J’red’s grin reappeared. “Does this mean that you’ll move in with me?” he asked hopefully. It was a question he'd been dying to ask ever since he'd been granted his own quarters and no longer had to share.

J’sen wrinkled his nose. “No,” he said flatly and just like that, J’red felt his dreams crystallize and shatter, dashed to pieces by one simple word.

“What? But—”

J’sen raised his eyebrows, a quiet smile playing around at his mouth. “Have you seen my quarters? They’re some of the best in the Weyr. I'd have to be insane to give them up. You can move in with me instead.” It took a few seconds for J’sen’s words to penetrate through the cloud of disappointment that J’red had been floating through but, when they did, it was as if the weight of the world had suddenly dropped off of his chest. He felt light enough to fly even without Peroth beneath him.

And then he knocked J'sen over backward, starting a laugh out of him as J'red set about trying his very hardest to let J’sen that he had made the absolutely right decision. Wooing stubborn, proud, gorgeous J’sen was most certainly not easy, J’red knew. But it was definitely worth it.


Four months later…

J’red stood impatiently in the crowd of assembled Riders, waiting for Carinth to decide to fly once again. The effect that she’d been having on J’sen all week was, in J’red’s mind, the best thing to ever happen because J’sen had been simply insatiable every day, barely managing to find the ambition to leave their bed and J’red's cock alone in order to do drills. J’red didn’t think that he’d been sucked, fucked, or just plain played with so much in his entire life because every time he turned around, J’sen was bending himself over, already slicked up or dropping to his knees, or just reaching out to fondle J’red’s cock—that last one quite often in public which J’red would then have to regrettably either put a stop to or find someplace more private to continue on because with Carinth coming into her cycle, J’sen had an excuse for his behavior but J’red did not. J’red had never felt so scandalized yet aroused at the same time.

The couple of rounds that J’sen had convinced J’red to go before J’red had to rush off for a meeting hadn’t seemed to put a dent in J’sen’s libido, either. He’d spent the whole day teasing the ever loving crackdust out of J’red, just because they weren’t allowed to touch anymore (tradition maintained that they refrain from sexual contact at least twelve hours before a mating flight and judging by J’sen’s current overall mood, that just wouldn’t be feasible if J’red so much as brushed up against J’sen’s side).

As if that wasn’t bad enough, Peroth was scenting Carinth’s pheromones now and pumping J’red full of lust from that side. He was going to explode before the mating flight even got the chance to make it off the ground.

J’red stared hard at J’sen who was staring right back at him, his tongue tracing his upper lip like he was starving and J’red was a juicy steak all laid out for him, and J'red sent one last furious thought at Peroth. You’d better catch her, you overgrown lizard. Or I'm skinning you.

Peroth merely laughed back at him. You hold up your end of the bargain, he said, repeating J’red’s words from months ago, and I’ll hold up mine.