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"mom!” zach screeches, subconsciously pressing his foot down against the floor board to brake even though he’s in the passenger seat. sometimes he wonders how he’s survived sixteen years of his mother’s driving.

she dismisses him, shooing a hand at him, and rolling her eyes.

"so, i’ve decided we need a handy man. what with your father being away on business so much lately, the house is falling apart," she tells him, taking a curve in the road too fast and bumping the curb before she continues, "and you’re too lazy to do anything."

"handy man?" zach snorts, looking up from his phone and wrinkling his nose, "like luke on gilmore girls?"

"yeah," she nods. "you’re the rory to my lorelai."

"gross. i don’t want to be incest with you," zach shudders.

"you’re not such a catch yourself." 

a mini van almost pulls out in front of them and jill never even puts her foot on the brake. 

"you did tell cody you’re coming, right?" she asks him, acting like they didn’t just almost die for the fifth time today. he doesn’t even know why she’s asking - they’re already on cody’s street.

"i just texted h-" zach stops talking abruptly as his mother turns into cody’s driveway. there’s a bunch of sweaty, tanned men in yellow and orange vests in cody’s yard and zach is taken aback.

"why didn’t you tell me cody’s parents are having work done?" jill scolds, nodding towards the men, "i’m sure one of those boys could use some extra work."

zach barely hears her, already zeroed in on the best looking of the three workers; a thin brunette with scruff who’s wearing unimaginably tight jeans. he’s young, but definitely older than zach. he’s hot.

"i didn’t know," zach shrugs, "but we should definitely hire them.”

zach realizes he sounds a little too eager and his eyes dart up to see if jill noticed, but luckily she seems to be ignoring him in favor of staring at the workers as thirstily as he had been.

they both get out of the car, jill locking it like she thinks someone in this neighborhood is going to steal her car, like people who can afford half million dollar homes can’t afford their own santa fe.

zach spots cody in the garage, rummaging through all his sports shit, and zach makes his way over while jill goes to talk to the construction crew.

"brooo," cody greets, too busy fumbling with jockstraps and knee guards to give zach a hug. that’s okay with zach. he hates bro-hugs.

"what’re you looking for?" zach asks, leaning against some boxes and glancing back over his shoulder. oh god, his mom is talking to the hot one.

"my trophy for ‘most popular’ when i was in elementary school. paul thinks he won it, but i know i did," cody tells him, rolling his eyes.

zach doesn’t even bother to respond. he feels embarrassed that he’s friends with people who fight with their brother over who was more liked in elementary school. cody is lucky he has a pool.

the next time zach looks over at his mom, after watching cody go through three more boxes of junk and sports garb, his mom is talking to the other workers and the hot one (creative nickname, zach knows) is walking towards him and cody.

the hot one stands beside zach, smiling at him while he waits for cody to notice he’s there.

"oh," cody starts, looking up from the mess he’s made of his garage, "hey, what’s up frankie?"

"i was wondering if you know what color your mom decided she wants the shutters? last time we discussed it she was still debating between off-white and eggshell," the hot one, or as zach now knows, frankie, laughs.

zach cracks up, laughing so hard he can feel tears in the corners of his eyes.

"you’re so funny, bro," zach compliments. frankie smiles at him. cody side-eyes him and chuckles awkwardly. zach likes frankie more than he likes cody already.

"she wants eggshell, i think, but as long as it’s white she won’t be able to tell the fucking difference," cody snickers.

"okay, well, eggshell it is. maybe you boys can make me a omelette with the whites?" zach starts giggling again and frankie seems delighted.  "alright, well i better be getting back to work," he tells them, smiling at zach while he talks.

"cool," cody nods, going back to his search and zach wonders how long he’s going to look for that stupid trophy before he gives up.

frankie starts to back away, but keeps eye contact with zach.

zach can feel himself smiling like a idiot, and now he’s just as embarrassed of himself as he is cody. god, frankie must think they’re morons. 

"you’re gross, bruh," cody announces once he’s sure frankie’s out of earshot.

snapping out of his frankie-induced trance, zach turns back towards cody and leans against the boxes again, letting out a dramatic sigh.

"why am i gross, exactly?"

"you’re, like, in love with that dude."

"i am not!" zach argues, getting much more defensive than necessary. okay, so, zach knows he likes guys, but that doesn’t mean he wants cody talking about how much he likes them. especially when cody thinks liking guys is gross.

"uh huh, whatever you sa- i found it! i found it!" cody shouts, holding up the trophy with ‘most popular’ engraved on the base in triumph. "paul’s totally gonna kill himself."

 


 

"wanna go play video games?" cody suggests, twirling around in his desk chair.

zach’s laying on cody’s bed, throwing a basketball as close to the ceiling as he can get it without it breaking the ugly stucco. he’s bored, not suicidal, and cody’s mom is uptight.

"go where?" the ball hits zach in the chest, knocking the breath out of him. he pretends like he meant to do that, setting the ball on the bed beside him and sitting up. cody rolls his eyes.

"my mom moved my games downstairs," cody explains, "i kept playing them at night and the noise pissed her off."

zach snorts, shaking his head at how strict cody’s mom is. it’s not that zach’s mom doesn’t discipline him, it’s just that she’s more likely to curse him out than go to the trouble of moving an entire gaming system if he keeps her up at night. 

when they get to the bottom of the stairs, shoving each other the whole way down, zach freezes. frankie and the other construction workers are all sitting around cody’s table bullshitting and eating what look like leftovers.

while zach’s just enthralled by the way frankie eats cold lo mein, cody gets pissed.

"is that my feta panini?" he shrieks, pointing an accusing finger at the one with long hair who has a string of melted feta hanging between his mouth and the sandwich in question.

honestly, sometimes zach can’t believe he’s the gay one.

eventually, after some arguing and a promise from mrs. calafiore to buy cody another feta panini, they make it to the living room. zach isn’t all too happy about this, even if it puts a stop to cody’s bitching.

he can’t concentrate on the game. all he can think about is how frankie’s hair was all messy and how he had sweat stains around his armpits and stomach. there’s a very attractive, very dirty construction worker in the kitchen and zach is in the living room playing some cheap call of duty ripoff with cody. his life sucks.

zach figures by the third time cody kills him and shouts in triumph, enough time has passed that he can return to the kitchen for a drink without looking suspicious. 

he tries not to stare, he really does, but he just can’t help it. frankie has dirt smeared on his jaw, and his hands look rough and callused as they twirl a fork through the lo mein. zach feels warm all over. 

once he’s got a soda from the fridge, zach leans up against the kitchen counter. he has no excuse to not go back to the living room, so he just stares at the tile flooring and sips his soda. he can hear cody’s mom down the hall, opening and closing the dryer lid and moving laundry baskets around.

the sound of chair legs screeching across tile makes zach look up. frankie stands up, tossing his takeout container into the trash can zach’s standing beside. ”what’s your name?” 

it takes zach a second to even realize the question’s directed towards him and another to realize frankie’s the one who asked it. he guesses it’s probably a solid minute before he stops staring with his jaw wide open like an idiot and goes, “zach.” 

"that’s a really nice name, zach," frankie compliments. he bats his lashes, which are just as dark and thick as his hair.

behind frankie, the other guys snicker and zach can see them giving each other what look like knowing looks. feeling kind of subconscious, zach pulls at the collar of his polo and looks down towards the floor again.

frankie must notice zach’s discomfort, because he turns around and gives them a look that shuts them up. it makes zach feel a little better, but he can still sweat trickling down the back of his neck. he’s not normally this nervous around new people, but for some reason frankie intimidates him. 

"i should be getting back to cody," zach tells him dumbly, feeling stupid for being too shy to even have a proper conversation.

"maybe try to win so his ego doesn’t get any bigger, okay?" frankie jokes lightly, and zach giggles his way out of the kitchen with cheeks that resemble tomatoes. 

 


 

"i need you to clean your room and help me tidy up the living room before you go anywhere today," jill tells zach the next morning when he sits down for breakfast. zach groans, pouring himself some cereal and silently wondering why his mother puts the milk in a pitcher instead of just setting the carton on the table. it seems like a lot of work with the only reward being another dish to wash.

"but mom, it’s summer break. i’m supposed to relax," he complains. the milk pitcher and his bowl clank together and make a horrible high-pitched sound, and he winces. 

"believe me, you relax enough during the school year. those nice boys from cody’s are starting here next week and i don’t want them thinking i let my house go to shit just because my husband’s out of town."

"you hired them? all of them?" zach asks, snapping up from his cereal so fast milk dribbles from his bottom lip. jill nods as she stands to put her plate in the sink.

"yes, i did. cody’s mother says they do good work," she explains. "cute, too," she adds as she leaves the kitchen.

suddenly, zach’s not so hungry. maybe they are lorelai and rory.

 


 

"did you like having them around? did they, like, get in the way and stuff?" zach asks, poking at his taco. he asked for chicken, but cody’s mom bought him beef anyways.

"who?" cody asks through a mouth full of burrito.

"the construction workers," zach exasperates, "who else would i be talking about, cody?"

"chill, bro," cody shrugs. "they’re cool, i guess. your mom hired them, right?"

"yeah, they start on monday," zach confirms. he’s been nervous about seeing frankie again since his mom told him she hired the crew. after three days of constant biting, his fingernails are practically nonexistent.

"bet you’re excited."

”what’s that supposed to mean?” 

cody scarfs the rest of his burrito, bean mush falling onto his shirt. zach thinks it’s no wonder it took him so long to figure out he likes boys when cody is his best friend.

"just that you acted like a stupid school girl when frankie talked to us the other day," cody shrugs, smirking. he uses his middle and pointer fingers to scoop the bean mush off his shirt and eat it.

"i did not!" zach denies, getting defensive. 

"mhm. so, did your mom buy you any cute skirts lately?"

zach hates cody. zach liking skirts has nothing to do with him liking boys.

 


 

monday morning, frankie and his crew catch zach watching cartoons in nothing but his underwear. 

apparently, zach’s mother hates him and doesn’t care if the three strangers she met less than a week ago want to kill him, because she left them a key under the mat. zach can’t really be mad though, because frankie compliments the homer simpson pattern on his undies. 

after putting on pajama pants and a t-shirt, zach offers the workers some coffee. only frankie takes him up on his offer. 

"so, what did my mom hire you guys to do?" zach asks, making conversation while the coffee percolates. 

"she didn’t tell you?" frankie waits for zach to shake his head before continuing, "we’re doing some cosmetic work - painting, new shutters, stuff like that - but mostly, we’re putting on a new roof." 

surprised, zach nods with furrowed brows. you would think getting a new roof is something his mom would mention. 

"so you’ll be around for a while?" zach inquires, attempting, and probably failing, to sound casual. 

"yep. probably the rest of the summer, if your mom keeps coming up with things she needs done. not that i’m complaining. any work is good work," frankie’s kind of rambling, but zach finds it nice. frankie has a really nice voice and, at the risk of being cheesy, zach compares it to music in his head. "you know, we usually charge more for roofing, but i like to give discounts to cute boys."

if zach didn’t feel like he was living a chick flick before, he does now. 

 


 

it only takes zach until noon to learn the other guys’ names. 

caleb, who speaks in a thick southern accent, is a meat head with tattoos that look like they were done in prison. he flirts with frankie a lot, but zach suspects he’s got ‘god hates fags’ stickers and confederate flags littered around his bedroom back home. 

hayden has long stringy hair that bothers zach when it flops around all limp, but he’s much better than caleb. 

at noon they take a break and zach overhears them talking about where to get takeout, so he invites them in for sandwiches.

"do you want peanut butter or ham and cheese?" zach calls from the kitchen. he pulls out the mayonnaise and mustard and sets them on the counter before peaking into the living room.

"peanut butter, dude," hayden answers.

"i’d like ham, but no cheese, please," frankie tells him, smiling.

frankie has this little gap between his front teeth and zach thinks it’s really cute. zach had braces for two years, so all his are straight and pressed together. he kind of wishes he had a gap. it probably wouldn’t be as endearing as frankie’s, though.

before caleb has a chance to pull himself away from the football game, which is playing on the tv he didn’t ask if he could turn on, zach retreats back into the kitchen.

he makes their sandwiches (paying special attention to frankie’s) and one for himself. when he hands hayden and frankie their’s and then sits down, caleb looks at him funny.

"you didn’t make me one?" he asks, looking genuinely offended.

"you never told me if you wanted peanut butter or ham, so i assumed neither. the stuff’s still out on the counter," zach shrugs, motioning towards the kitchen.

the wet hacking sound caleb makes in the back of his throat is repulsive. he gets up and heads to the kitchen anyways, and frankie smirks at zach.

"you’re a little asshole," frankie comments. he sounds proud.

just like the first time he met frankie, zach’s brain and mouth won’t cooperate, and all he can do is giggle. he really doesn’t want frankie to think of him as a child, or worse yet, a school girl.

he spits out the first thing that comes to mind, which is, “do you want another sandwich?” 

it’s abrupt and out of place in the conversation, but frankie just laughs and smiles at him. 

"i still have half of this one left," he says, holding up the half sandwich for zach to see. even his teeth marks are adorable, zach thinks.

 


 

"fuck, frankie," zach whines, writhing naked on his bed, "please."

frankie smirks, kneeling on the bed. he runs a hand up zach’s side and over his stomach. zach watches him intently as he leans down, pressing his face into zach’s neck. leaving little kisses as he goes, he trails his lips up to zach’s ear and sucks gently on the lobe.

"beg, baby," he whispers. his voice is deeper than usual, scratchy and harsh. he bites down on zach’s earlobe.

"please, i need it," zach breathes, "i need it so bad, frankie."

"i know you do, i know," frankie soothes.

there’s the tip of a finger, then two scissoring. by the third, zach’s begging again.

frankie removes his fingers, turning away and leaning over the edge of the bed. he rummages around until he finds his tool belt.

he sets it on the bed beside zach, removing the hammer and letting his fingertips ghost over the handle.

"c’mon," zach urges, wanting to feel frankie’s hammer inside him.

"think you’re ready for it?" frankie asks, gripping a fist around the joint where the handle and head meet. three fingers wrap around the pointed, forked side of the head and his pointer and thumb balance the other side.

zach tries to back away when he feels the cold metal against his hole. frankie uses his spare hand to grip zach’s hip, holding him in place.

as the hammer penetrates zach deeper, he can’t help the tears that start stinging his eyes. he can feel them roll down the sides of his face, and he can feel frankie staring at him.

when the hammer bottoms out and he can feel frankie’s knuckles pressing to his rim, he lets out the breath he’s been holding and feels his body relax.

"good boy, baby. you take it so good," frankie praises.

zach wakes up with a start, sitting straight up and panting. the cold sweat he’s broke out in has soaked through his t-shirt.

"fuck," he groans.

while he changes his pajama pants and underwear, he silently thanks god it’s too dark in his room to make out the wetness seeping through the fabric around his crotch. it allows him to keep at least a little bit of his pride intact.

he can’t believe he just had a dream about frankie fucking him with a hammer. he is the embodiment of a desperate virgin and he’s never felt like such a grubby teenage boy.

 


 

"you’re straight, right?"

zach’s head snaps up and he gulps. “um, what?” 

"like, all you ever talk about is that frankie dude, or whatever, and every time i come to your house you spend more time making him a sandwich than you do hanging out with me."

cody almost sounds jealous and zach has to hold in a laugh. he’s still freaked out, because he’s never really discussed his attraction to guys with anyone before, but cody being jealous of frankie makes the conversation a little lighter. to be mildly homophobic, cody sure is a faggot. 

"they do a lot of work for us. the least i can do is make them sandwiches," zach shrugs, hoping to drop the subject. 

"yeah, bro. except you don’t make the other guys sandwiches. is it the orange vest and hard hat thing? like some kind of fetish? there are female construction workers, y’know." 

and yes, zach is aware that there are construction workers who are women, he just doesn’t have wet dreams about them shoving hammers up his ass. 

"i don’t know, cody. why the fuck do you care anyways?" zach grunts. 

"i’m just lookin’ out, dude." 

zach rolls his eyes and wishes his mom would hustle and pick him up soon. 

 


 

the next couple months go by in a blur. it’s all a jumble of flirting with frankie, getting teased about flirting with frankie by cody, and wet dreams that thankfully no longer include hammers.

by mid to late july the roof is finished, but jill decides the hardwood floors need to be re-stained, the kitchen counter tops would look better if they were granite, and maybe the front porch could use a coat of paint because it looks a bit tacky against the freshly painted house and shutters. it’s obnoxious and zach doesn’t even know how they can afford to keep a three-person construction crew on payroll for three months, unless his father has joined the mob during one of his business trips, but he doesn’t complain. if it takes his mom blowing his entire college savings to keep frankie around, it’s worth it.

on the third of august they have their first hurricane of the season, which would be lucky if it didn’t come with such an intensity that it seems like all the ones they’d avoiding so far had waited so they could ban together and all blow in at once. 

"why don’t you boys just stay the night? i don’t want you driving in the rain, it’s dangerous," jill tells the crew when they start packing up their tools. they’ve been working on counter tops since eleven o’clock and zach grimaces at the thin layer of dust that covers all of them and the entire kitchen, or rather, the thin plastic sheets that are duct taped everywhere. 

caleb is the first to speak up. “we wouldn’t want to intrude, ma’am.”

"it wouldn’t be intruding," zach objects, rolling his eyes. an entire summer and caleb still hasn’t grown on him.

"really, you wouldn’t," his mom assures, "two of you can fit on the pull-out couch, and..."

zach cuts his mom off, telling frankie he can sleep in his room before he can even think about it. he can tell frankie’s trying not to laugh, which hayden and caleb both do, and zach’s cheeks flush. 

"where would you sleep?" frankie asks, raising an eyebrow. 

"i can sleep on the floor," zach turns towards jill, trying to get the attention off him. "right, mom?"

she looks hesitant, but agrees nonetheless. 

 


 

"zach, you really don’t have to sleep on the floor. you can take the bed. i’m just grateful i don’t have to bunk with hayden or caleb."

"no! i mean, no, it’s fine. i sleep on the floor at cody’s all the time," zach explains, patting the pillow he has pressed against the feet of the bedside table. frankie gives him a sour look at the mention of cody, but sits down on the bed. 

"we could always share," frankie suggests after a few minutes. "your mom won’t think i’m, like, a pedophile, will she?" 

zach tries not to show how excited he is, but he can’t keep the huge, goofy grin off his face. he climbs up on the bed beside frankie, tugging his pillow up with him. he crawls past frankie and to the other side of the bed, shoving the pillow behind his head and stretching out. “you’re only, like, a few years older than me.”

"nine, to be exact," frankie sighs, laying down beside zach. zach takes note of how frankie’s feet almost reach the foot of the bed, while his reach to the end of frankie’s calf muscle. 

he’d noticed their height difference before. frankie didn’t exactly tower over him, but it was enough to make zach feel small and almost fragile in comparison.

for the most part, zach likes to consider himself well-muscled. his arms are pretty big and his shoulders are broad, but he still has baby fat around his stomach and hips. frankie, on the other hand, has an amazing body. when it’s especially hot out, he takes his shirt off to work, and zach has a hard time not staring. 

zach has known he likes boys for a while, and it’s not like he’s never found any other guys attractive (he’s even had a couple crushes), but frankie is, like, the real deal. it sounds childish, as if he’s just romanticizing some older authority figure like girls do with maybe a hot history teacher. and maybe he is. he has this nagging fear that any perceived requited fondness is just a figment of his imagination.  

"you’re gay, right?" zach blurts. as soon as it’s out of his mouth, he feels like an idiot. he's not sure he meant to say it out loud, or his mouth just vocalized his thoughts all on its own. his he knows it’s invasive and awkward and he still feels kind of rude for asking.

he immediately prepares himself for frankie’s reaction, but when zach looks up frankie’s holding in laughter.

"what’s funny?" he asks, suddenly feeling defensive. nothing’s funny about being gay. 

"you’re so cute, zach." frankie tells him. his eyes are twinkling from laughter and zach starts to relax again. "i like men, yes. i usually go by queer, but it’s all the same."

not really knowing what to say to that, zach goes silent. he stares down at his hands that are folded in his lap and wishes his palms didn’t sweat during every conversation he has with frankie. for some reason, his mind zeros in on frankie’s use of the word “men”. it didn’t sound planned or deliberate, or anything, but it made zach acutely aware that he was a boy, not a man. 

his eyes start to wander from his hands over to frankie’s, and he’s fascinated by the little strip of skin that’s visible between the waistband of frankie’s pajama pants and too-tight t-shirt, right under where his hand is resting on his chest. 

when he looks up at frankie’s face again, frankie is already looking at him. ”what do you like, zach?” 

that’s the second time frankie has said zach’s name since they got on the bed and it makes zach feel all warm and fuzzy inside. the feeling reminds him of vacations in vermont with his family, drinking hot chocolate in a lodge that’s decorated with mounted deer heads. 

knowing it’s risky, and probably a little bit tacky, zach peeks up at frankie and gulps out “you?” like it’s a question. and maybe it wasn’t so risky or tacky, because frankie smiles at him and turns over on his side, snaking a hand up to zach’s neck. 

it may most likely be because it’s only his second time kissing someone, but zach’s overwhelmed by how good it is. at first it’s all languid presses of lips, mostly frankie’s moving against zach’s while zach just offers up pathetic little whines.

zach thinks it’s a minute, two minutes tops, before frankie moves the hand on his neck up to his cheek and bites his bottom lip, pushing a knee between zach’s leg for leverage to climb on top of zach. frankie’s not in his lap, but he’s kind of half pressed up against zach’s side. frankie’s not hard yet, which, like, of course he isn’t. he’s grown and experienced and has stamina. zach, on the other hand, can feel his own semi in his thin flannel pants and hopes to god frankie can’t. 

before zach can even get the balls to start kissing back, frankie’s pulling away. if frankie is short of breath, panting softly against zach’s cheeks, then zach is having a full-on asthma attack. he can feel his whole face get hot as frankie stares down at him, studying his fluttery lashes and soft skin and puffy lips. he hopes frankie thinks he’s pretty. 

"goodnight, zach," frankie whispers, leaning back down and pressing a kiss to the corner of zach’s mouth. he rolls over, facing away from zach and not bothering to pull down the covers. 

that’s the third time frankie has said zach’s name since they got on the bed. zach’s toes are cold, but his cheeks are feverish and his chest feels like it’s on fire. 

 


 

"yeah," caleb nods, "there’s like, all these stereotypes about construction workers. everyone thinks we get paid under the table, but that only happens when you’re sending the money back to mexico, y’know."

and ah, there it is, the stench of caleb’s racism in the crisp morning air. it’s a familiar scent at this point.

"nice, caleb," hayden sighs, standing up from where he’d been resting against a saw horse.

caleb just shrugs, following hayden over to some planks of plywood that apparently need measuring.

the air is still humid from the storm and zach hates the cold sweat that breaks out on his lower back because it makes his sticky. he’d helped the crew clean up some debris that had been blown around by the wind. it was mostly turned over lawn chairs, scattered dog toys, and broken branches with soggy leaves. 

"sorry about him. i guess you could say he’s backwoods," frankie apologizes.

"backwoods as in stupid?" zach counters, raising an eyebrow.

leaning against his own saw horse, frankie laughs and zach rocks back on his heels. he doesn’t know what else to say, but he wants to keep talking to frankie.

"so, what’s a construction workers stereotype you hate?" 

frankie looks up at him, his lips pulling into a smirk like he knows zach’s just making small talk to keep his attention.

"well, probably the whole thing where we all try to seduce housewives while their husbands are at work."

"you just seduce the sons, right?"

zach expects them to share flirty smiles like they usually do, but instead frankie groans. 

"don’t tease me, zach. you know nothing can happen," he’s smiling, but zach feels nauseous. 

he doesn’t know nothing can happen, because something already has. he’s not even sure how to react. 

frankie goes back to work, casually discussing trim measurements and pane thickness with hayden as if he hadn’t just pretended that he’d never kissed zach the night before. zach doesn’t know if it’s denial or rejection, but it definitely feels like rejection. 

rejection isn’t exactly new to zach. he’s used to it and it usually doesn’t bother him. he hadn’t cared in middle school when he always got picked dead last in gym class and he didn’t care now, in high school, when people befriended him just to get to cody. he didn’t get hurt or upset when girls blew him off at parties or even when they rolled their eyes at his vulgar pickup lines. but with frankie, rejection seemed like the very worst fate.

zach texts cody and makes up some bullshit about spending the last week of summer together as a last hurrah, and convinces him they should do it at the calafiore house.

he’s no more looking forward to an entire week with cody than you would a colonoscopy, but if frankie still considers him a child, then he’ll run away like a child. 

 


 

frankie doesn’t know what he’s doing here. the rance job had been finished up weeks ago, leaving them with a new roof, new counter-tops, and a dozen cosmetic updates. he hadn’t been to the rance house in two weeks and he hadn’t seen zach in three. 

when frankie decided to pretend the kiss didn’t happen, he hadn’t expected zach to completely avoid him. he hadn’t expected to miss zach so much either. he feels like a complete ass. 

"frankie?"

"please, mrs. rance. isn’t there anything i can help out with?" frankie pleads, sounding desperate already. "is the sink in the upstairs bathroom still acting up? or i could clean windows. put in a doggy door?"

zach smiles from behinnd jill. ”uh, well... frankie, we really don’t need any more work done. i have your number, so i can call you if anyt-” jill starts, getting cut off by frankie.

"no," he barks. he takes a few deep breaths before continuing, "i mean, sorry. i just mean, please. i really need the work. it’d just be me, not hayden and caleb, and i will literally take tiger on walks for you.”

"zach already takes tiger on walks."

"please, jill." 

"are you in some kind of trouble? why do you need the money so bad?" 

feeling hopeless, frankie sighs. he doesn’t know why jill’s making this so difficult. she hung herself over him and caleb the entire summer and he’s fairly sure zach wouldn’t have outed him to her. 

"i’m just struggling a bit right now, is all." it’s not a lie, he is struggling; just not with money. 

 


 

there’s a chopping sound coming from outside and zach uses it as an excuse to take a break from studying. how can he memorize formulas when it sounds like there’s a lumberjack in his yard?

zach gets up and looks out his window, pressing his cheek against the glass so he can see down to the shrubs that line the front of their house.

he would like to say frankie is the last person he had expected to see there, but the truth is that he’s been willing frankie to show up for days. after having frankie around for his entire summer break, not even the loads of homework his teachers are piling on can distract zach from frankie’s absence.

when zach’s tired of reviewing properties and postulates, he daydreams about the way frankie had kissed him. frankie’s rough hand caressing his cheek is a far more interesting subject than equal quantities.  

frankie looks as good as ever, his thin white t-shirt soaked through with sweat while he trims the shrubbery. zach can’t remember the last time their shrubs got trimmed.

if he’s being honest, he didn’t even know they had shrubs. 

he considers calling his mom, asking her if she hired frankie, or if frankie has gone mad and decided to trim his way back into their house. he realizes it’s half past six and she’s not home yet. time must have got away from him. it’s a saturday and that means she should be home around two. the last time he remembers looking at the clock it was noon and he was reading over a chemistry study guide for the third time.

"hey, mom?" 

"yes, honey? are you okay?"

zach watches frankie walk across the yard to his truck (which zach’s surprised he’s never seen before) that’s parked in the driveway to get more tools before answering his mom. 

"i’m fine, smothering in textbooks, but fine. did you, um... did you hire frankie? to trim the hedges, or something?" 

"oh, yes," his mother confirms, "i did. he came over a few days ago while you were at school and asked for more work. sorry, i forgot to mention it." 

"so where are caleb and hayden?" zach questions, a little muddled on the details. 

"not them, just him. look zach, i have to go. we’re all working overtime to get this deadline done. i called frankie earlier and he agreed to stay the night in case i don’t get home."

this is the thing he really hates about his mom - she never tells him anything, even when it pertains to him. then, she acts like it’s no big deal when he brings it up, and she gets dismissive about it.

"zach? i said i have to go. there’s leftover lasagna in the fridge," she presses when he doesn’t reply, too busy watching frankie and getting lost in his thoughts. 

"yeah, okay. see you tomorrow," he sighs, barely getting the words out before she hangs up on him.

 


 

there’s a knock at the door and zach takes a minute to calm himself before he says, “come in.”

the door creaks open, sticking on the carpet where it’s not sanded down enough. zach keeps his eyes on his laptop and tries not to think about how frankie will probably have to fix that soon.

"hey, zach," frankie says softly. he hangs back near the door, not knowing where their boundaries are anymore.

zach tries to act like he doesn’t care that frankie’s in his house again, or in his room again, or standing a few feet from his bed.

"hey."

pretending like he’s legitimately interested in something on the screen, zach keeps his attention on his laptop. he types some nonsense into google’s search field for added effect.  

"so, my mom told me you needed extra work," zach announces passively. 

"yeah. caleb’s brother got him a job at a construction site in miami, so..." it’s not exactly a lie, frankie thinks. caleb is in miami right now, visiting his brother, but with no job at a construction site, and a ticket home for next month. 

all the explanation he gets in return from zach is a hum. frankie feels like he wants to puke. he can tell zach is purposely making him feel unwanted, but it’s still awful. he’s not sure when he became so dependent on the attention of a boy fresh out of puberty, but he is, and it’s not very fun. 

"i didn’t mean to hurt you, zach," frankie sighs. "i thought i was hurting you by leading you on and everything." 

finally shutting his laptop and pushing it aside, zach throws his legs over the side of his bed and sits up. he makes eye contact with frankie and silently curses him for wearing jeans. frankie looks so good in jeans.

"you thought you were hurting me by flirting with me? yeah, calling me cute really hurt. ouch.” before frankie can respond, zach continues, “and your lips? practically barbed wire.” 

the last part makes frankie feel impossibly sicker, for all the wrong reasons. he should feel bad for allowing this thing between him and zach to develop into something more. he should feel bad because he kissed a sixteen year old boy.

instead, frankie feels like a jackass for hurting zach. he was selfish and didn’t stop things until after they’d already hit a climax. after the kiss, frankie had kind of freaked out. he’d spent an hour the next night googling things like the age of consent in flordia, which turned out to be eighteen. he’d researched all the loop-holes and provisions, but none allowed for him and zach’s relationship. 

"the age of consent is eighteen in flordia."

zach thinks it sounds like he’s reading straight from an article about the dangers of underage relationships and it makes him want to gag. "i don’t think the age of consent was on your mind last time you were in my bedroom," he counters, "but hey, congrats on your new found morality. i’m glad you found it before you stole my innocence away, ‘cause that would have sucked.” 

being so childish about it isn’t helping his case any, he knows, but he can’t deal with getting some pre-rehearsed breakup speech, especially when it sounds like a paraphrasing of the ‘age of consent’ wikipedia page. 

"i wasn’t. god, zach, listen to me. i’m just trying to explain why i pretended the kiss didn’t happen. i didn’t know how to deal, i felt all dirty and gross about it." 

"i make you feel dirty and gross?"

"zach!" frankie barks, getting annoyed with this back-and-forth. "you’re sixteen. i’m twenty-five." 

"and?" 

frankie can tell zach’s arguing for the sake of infuriating him at this point, and he wants to kill zach when he sees his mouth quirk up into a smirk. 

"and you’re a brat."

 


 

zach makes grabby hands as frankie walks towards the bed and it’s the cutest thing frankie has ever seen. frankie has decided that morals aside, zach being so young is less taboo; more enticing.

it makes frankie want to fuck zach even more - knowing that he’ll be the first one to do it. knowing that zach’s never been with a woman, much less a man, and yet is quite literally gagging for it, makes frankie’s dick strain against the zipper of his jeans.

as soon as frankie moves to the bed to climb on top of zach, zach is trying to get kisses. he’s leaning up, arching his back, and furrowing his brows in frustration. frankie can feel zach’s hands tugging at his shirt and gripping his shoulders to try and pull him closer. he obliges, pulling his knees up on either side of zach’s thighs, and straddling his waist.

zach is needy. he can’t get enough of frankie and frankie can’t get enough of how zach seems to vibrate from the smallest touch. when frankie finally gives zach the kisses he wants, zach immediately falls back against his pillows and wraps his arms around frankie’s neck.

pliant under frankie’s affections, zach lets his mouth get worked open. it’s wet, sloppy, and zach whimpers when frankie takes his bottom lip between his teeth.

zach’s already hard, which he tells himself is because frankie is a really good kisser, and not because zach is that easy.

after a few minutes of making out (which makes frankie feel like he’s back in high school), frankie pulls away to let zach catch his breath. staying in his personal space, leaving little kisses on his neck and chest, frankie waits until zach’s breathing evens out to speak.

"what do you want, baby?" frankie asks, dropping a kiss on zach’s shoulder. he sits up, leaning back on his heels and zach’s thighs. he can feel zach’s semi against his ass.

zach seems to be too mesmerized to answer, staring at frankie’s hands as they run over zach’s torso and chest. frankie tweaks his nipple and zach gasps. he breaks out in a smile and starts giggling, which only makes frankie smile down at him. it amazes him how responsive zach is.

"i want," zach starts, making ridiculous heart eyes at frankie, "i don’t know. what do you usually do?" 

"you’re too cute," frankie laughs, cupping zach’s cheek and giving him a peck on the lips. zach remembers him saying something similar the night of their first kiss, and thinks he must look really cute when he’s waiting to be kissed. "we could just keep kissing, or i could finger you, or blow you. i could even eat you out, if you want. docking’s always nice, thigh fucking too... i could ride you?"

zach stares with his mouth hanging open. he thinks he might be drooling, but he’s not even embarrassed. he’s not sure what half the things frankie just listed entail, but he wants to try them all. 

"what’s docking?" zach asks, picking the most obscure word from the list. at least, obscure to him. 

"you’ve never heard of docking?" frankie hisses, putting a hand over his heart in mock shock. "it’s where you wrap your foreskin around the head of another guy’s dick."

considering this, zach pokes out his bottom lip in a pout. ”i’m jewish.”

"i’m not," frankie leers.

zach’s cheeks heat up, thinking about frankie’s dick. he’s not sure he’s ready to see it. it’s not that he doesn’t want to, he just wouldn’t know what to do with it and that would be embarrassing. he wants to make frankie feel good, to impress him. 

"i, um..." zach tries, feeling shy now, "i really like to, like, rub myself. instead of jerking off, i like to rub myself. like... over my pants. is that weird?"

"oh my god," frankie groans, leaning back down and shoving his face into zach’s neck. zach lets him press kisses there, even though he’s a little confused. 

"zach, honestly, you’re the cutest thing ever," frankie tells him. and, yeah, frankie thinks he’s really cute.

zach can feel even more blood rushing to his cheeks and he kind of wants to hide his face in a pillow, but he can’t, because frankie’s kissing him again. he does his best to kiss back, fingers clumsily gripping at frankie’s hair while he whines into frankie’s mouth.

one of frankie’s hands starts working at zach’s zipper, the other still supporting his weight.

zach feels like he might pass out, or have an asthma attack, or both. he hopes he doesn’t, though, because frankie’s got his pants unbuttoned and his zipper down in no time, and then there’s a hand palming him. 

it only takes a few minutes of light petting and lazy kisses for zach to be all but wheezing. he gasps every time frankie uses his thumb to press against zach’s slit, making the precum there ooze out and make a damp spot in his underwear. 

when frankie can tell zach’s starting to get close, he backs off. he slowly withdrawls his hand from zach’s pants, rubbing little circles into his hip and then his tummy. 

"hmm," frankie hums. "you’re so soft." 

the contrast between them is obvious, frankie hard and tan while zach’s pudgy and sensitive with milky white skin. frankie finds it ridiculous; that even zach’s skin is pure and untainted. 

if someone at school, or his parents, or anyone else called him soft, zach would be offended. normally, he’d associate being soft with being fat or weak, but when it’s coming out of frankie’s mouth, it sounds like a compliment. it makes him feel precious and darling. 

"i’m gonna let you rub against my leg, okay?" frankie mumbles against zach’s neck. he presses feather light kisses there and zach nods even if he doesn’t fully understand.

he’s glad he agreed when frankie gets his pants off and sticks a thigh between zach’s own legs. like he told frankie, he rubs himself off a lot. he prefers this to jerking off already. rubbing off on frankie’s jean-clad leg is ten times better than either rubbing himself or jerking off. 

"you’re doing so good," frankie praises, leaning down to kiss zach’s neck. it should be gross, zach thinks, because he’s all sweaty by now and probably tastes salty, but it feels so good.

zach has never had anyone kiss his neck before today, except maybe his dog. tiger licking his neck doesn’t feel as good as frankie doing it, for sure.

"frankieee," he whines, scratching his nails down frankie’s back through his shirt. frankie’s still fully clothed, zach in just his underwear. it makes zach feels vulnerable and he likes it. 

he can feel himself getting wetter and he wonders if his precum will make a spot on frankie’s pant leg. the denim of frankie’s jeans feels good, so good that zach’s eyes roll back in his head.

"are you gonna cum for me?" frankie asks. he can feel zach’s thighs shaking around his and he ruts against him harder. "gonna cum in your undies for me? can you do that, baby?"

and god, that sounds so dirty, making his underwear all sticky for frankie. it makes him feel so virginal, which he guesses is appropriate. he can feel his balls drawing up and he whimpers out an mhm

"good boy. my good boy," frankie praises, and that’s all it takes for zach to cry out as he makes a mess in his underwear just like frankie asked him to. 

oversensitive as he is, zach continues rocking against frankie’s thigh while he comes down from his high. 

"so pretty when you cum," frankie admires, running his lips up zach’s jaw to his sweaty hairline and pressing a kiss to his temple. 

guilty for getting off before frankie, zach tries to reach his hand down to frankie’s clothed crotch. 

"no, sweetie. let me take care of you. we won’t be able to do this again for a while," frankie persuades, not that zach needs much convincing. 

he watches as frankie crawls down his body, pulling his soiled underwear down and running his hands under zach’s thighs and to his hips, so that his forearms support zach’s legs. he brings zach’s bottom off the bed a bit. 

zach’s soft dick twitches when frankie starts to lick it, cleaning all the cum away and swallowing it. whimpering above him, zach closes his eyes and lets his own hands find their way to frankie’s hair.

as frankie’s tongue makes its way lower, down past zach’s balls and taint, zach is really starting to be glad they had a falling out because he’s not sure any of this would be happening if they hadn’t. he thinks this is what people refer to as makeup sex.

 


 

"i don’t want you to feel like you, i don’t know, like, have to bottom. or be submissive. like i said, i could ride you. or let you do things to me, like how i blew you. you could do that to me. not that you have to," frankie rambles with no apparent end in sight. 

"um, frankie," zach interrupts. "i kind of really like being... submissive? like, i like when i feel vulnerable or, like, helpless. i know it’s freaky, but it makes me feel special." 

frankie smiles at him, kissing his cheek with obnoxious smooching sound effects. zach giggles under the attention and wraps an arm around frankie’s neck. 

"it’s not freaky, zach. i like taking care of you. that’s what you mean, right? you like when i take care of you?” and wow, frankie should really not be this happy when zach looks up at him with wide eyes and nods. 

frankie wonders why he doesn’t feel shame or guilt or anything in that spectrum. as he looks down at zach, he concludes it must be because he’s too busy feeling love.