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“... man, you really shoulda told him.”

“I know,” Dave said, more anger in his voice than he'd ever reveal in front of anyone but his brother. He batted a smuppet off the table, trying to pass the obvious rage off as a casual motion. He knew Bro was not fooled, and it made him more pissed off.

Bro stood up, coming over and catching Dave by the wrists. “Hey, hey lil man. That ain't gonna help. Stop that, okay? You're just gonna have to tell him. Right away, when he gets here.”

Dave shook his head. “... no. He'll never want to talk to me again, man,” his voice almost tremored, and he hated himself for it. He wrenched his wrists out of Bro's grip, still angry as hell.

“He strikes me as the kinda kid who'd love you for you, not your equipment, lil bro.” The older Strider ruffled his hair. “And y'know y'gotta tell him. He's here for a month, and you're two teenage fuckin boys who're nuts for each other. He's gonna find out soon enough y'don't got what he's expectin down there.”

Dave also hated that he was going a little red in the face. Fucking once-a-month girly horomone fiasco. He knew Bro knew he was on the rag, too. That little extra protectiveness and gentleness were really fucking telling. Why'd the fucking thing have to come now, when it was extra important to bury all the horrible girl shit deep? Why'd he have to get all emotional and bullshit like that now, when he was going to meet his boyfriend of almost a year for the first time outside of the crazy game they'd played as kids?

It wasn't fair.

Bro shoved a glass of apple juice into his hand. “Jus calm your shit, lil man. You're gonna have t'tell him. You know it. I know it. He won't hate you.”


Soon John arrived, greeting Dave with a kiss that was all John Egbert – very shy and overwhelmingly eager all at once. Dave granted him the treat of a rare smile of his own, and held him tight. Bro obviously intimidated him, and with how protective the guy was Dave couldn't blame him. It was pissing him off, it always had – Bro guarding him constantly like he was some shitty ass damsel or something – but with John here it was more than just an annoyance and an unintentional dig at his masculinity.

It was fucking embarrassing.

He could not tell John. He just couldn't. The little derp was so trusting he felt bad for lying, but he loved the way John treated him too much to risk it stopping. He made him feel like the big strong Knight.

Because of the way he curled up against his chest, head nestled under his chin.

Because he let him take the lead in every kiss and embrace.

Because he just so clearly believed it to be true.

It was too good to last. He lived that first week in constant fear of leaking, of his carefully wrapped and tucked away in the trash gross girly shit being found. It was obvious too that John, shy as he was, was a little weirded out by how insistent Dave was at being alone to even change his shirt. Without a rest from his binder, his breasts were starting to get sore, and Bro fucking knew that, too. Fuck him. He pulled Dave aside, “Hey lil man, you gotta take that thing off for a bit. Even a night. It ain't healthy wearin it so long.”

Most of all, they were teenage boys, and even bashful, innocent John kept hesitantly going for more than deep kisses.

Dave was totally fucked.

He staved John off yet again with a hand to the chest, lightly pushing him away before his hand could sneak under the hem of the red tshirt. He wasn't quite quick enough, however, and his blood ran cold when he felt John's fingers bump up against the thick fabric of his binder.

John immediately looked worried, his eyebrows coming together and making a crease in his forehead. “Dave... are you hurt? Is that some kind of bandage?”

His genuine concern made it hurt more. Dave knew there was no more staving him off, and he gave a deep sigh. “... I gotta tell y'somethin, man. Y'probably ain't gonna like it, but...” he couldn't stop the anger and worry from twisting his mouth, if only slightly. “I jus want you t'know I never lied, okay?”

Even John was not used to seeing him so serious, so free of his flippant sarcasm and irony. Hell, even Bro didn't get the privilege of him without all those little emotional guards all that often. Seeing straight through them and seeing them gone were totally different things.

John looked so, so worried, and it hurt. It hurt a lot. His big blue eyes were wide, and when he reached out and touched Dave's shoulder his voice was so soft and scared-sounding...

“Dave... what's the matter? You've been acting weird all w-” suddenly his hand drew back, and he looked fucking stricken, and Dave's heart was just breaking. “You don't love me any more, do you?” his voice was barely audible, his eyes welling already with tears. “O-oh god...”

Grabbing him by the shoulders, forcing him to look up, Dave gave him a hard, raw kiss. “It ain't that,” he said, resting his forehead against John's. “I didn' tell y'before because I didn' wanna...” he damn near choked on his words. Fuck, he never said shit like this, he was awful at emotional bullshit. “I didn' wanna lose you, okay? I can't make y'promise not to treat me different. I jus wish I could.”

Now John was somewhere in between, lost in the land between stricken and worried and if he had a map it was drawn in crayon on a napkin. “... what is it, man?” hesitant, soft fingers brushed Dave's cheek, and the redhead closed his eyes, taking a strengthening breath.

“... close your eyes, okay? I'm not gonna run off or anythin, I jus... jus close 'em.”

John did without asking questions, ever trusting and open and oh god he'd get hurt like that some day. Dave stepped back, quickly shucking his tshirt then wrestling off his binder before he could reconsider. He looked down at his hateful tits, the fucking things being as impudent and perky as ever, despite a solid week of binding. Fuck.

He couldn't stand the thought of total nudity, but he shoved his pants and boxers down, leaving him in just the panties he had to wear because of his recent bloody female fail. Even with John's eyes closed, Dave still trembled. No one saw him like this. He had to be in a pretty bad state to let even Bro anywhere near him when he was naked.

“I. Someone upstairs fucked something up with me, man. I was born in the wrong body,” he was unable to keep the tremble totally out of his voice. He had to pause a long moment before he was confidant he could continue without much of a stutter. “... y'can look.”

When John blinked his eyes open, Dave felt like he was dying. He carefully watched John's face from behind his shades, tense as hell. The little derp tilted his head a little, visibly trying to wrap his mind around this, his eyes a bit wide and his buckteeth chewing gently on his lip. Dave forced himself to stand straight and tall and confidant and Strider, but he wanted to curl ashamedly into himself more with each passing second.

“... you're a girl?” John sounded baffled.

Dave couldn't help buckling a little. No matter who they came from or for what reason, those words still stung. “No,” he said, his voice cold, “I'm a dude. For some reason I got stuck with tits and a gaping wound between my legs, okay?”

John blinked at him a few more times. “You mean, um... you are a transexual, Dave?”

Honestly, Dave couldn't help but be a little surprised he knew that word. “Well... yeah.” He crossed his arms over his tits, trying to make it as casual as possible. Ouch. Damn, they were sore.

“We learned about that in health class,” John said, standing up. He didn't look angry or freaked out, just a little... curious. And worried. Really worried. “Why didn't you tell me before?” now slight hurt added itself to the mix.

Dave's voice dropped to a soft mumble, “you think that's an easy fuckin thing to do?”

John bit his lip – distress. “Of course not! Just... oh my god, I'm so sorry, Dave... I just wish I could have been there for you...” he went to hug him, but then seemed to realize what he was doing and stopped, surprisingly respecting Dave's space.

Slowly, Dave unfolded his arms and slid them around John's waist. It took all of his courage to press his naked body up against John, but he did it, and rested his chin on his boyfriend's shoulder. “... y'were. You always thinkin of me as y'boyfriend, no drama... that's what I really fuckin needed.”

John's arms went around his shoulders, soft and comforting. There was more surprise and confusion, Dave could hear it in his voice. “... you think that's going to change? You're still Dave... that's all that matters.”

Dave let out a slow sigh, forcing himself to relax. “... thanks, John.”