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Take me if you need me
But never hold me down
You're asking me to trust you
Well there's little of that around
I'm trying to believe you
And I'm learning all the time
Two-part personality
The flower and the vine
Flower and the vine

'Sleeping Angel'
~Stevie Nicks

MARSHALL

“Somebody got some!”

“Who’d you tap Marsh?”

“It the mystery girl.”

“Not unless that’s what he named his hand, yo!” A sea of guffawing and laughter washed over Marshall but he just grinned and turned the combination on his locker, opening it to block the teasing. He didn’t even bother to pull up his collar over the small rash of hickies that went from the back of his ear to his clavicle, little rosebud nips from Tay’s satin soft lips. He didn’t care if his hickies showed and he definitely felt too happy to care what the guys made up to explain them.

He shut his locker and his eyes locked with Proof’s. He felt his smile fade a little at the way Proof’s eyes kind of slid away.

Proof hadn’t called him out, not once. Marshall knew he wouldn’t and Proof hadn’t disappointed him. Except it was out there now. It always seemed to be between them now: when they hung out, talked on the phone, made plans for shit. Hell, if he knew how to fix it without telling Proof he would and even with the bigass pink elephant that sat it’s butt in the middle when they tried to talk, Marshall still wasn’t sure if he was ready for that.

“Got a show at the Shelter tonight, dog.” Proof leaned against the locker as Marshall stuffed his Math book in his backpack and zipped up. “You in?”

“Maybe later.” Marshall said slowly, averting his eyes. “I got tutoring tonight.”

Proof nodded eyes lowered then turned away with a shrug, “I hear ya.”

“I can’t be there until ten, a’aight?” Marshall said quickly, “After I take Tay home.”

Proof turned back and Marshall watched the ink black of his eyes crinkle with a smile, felt the nervous tightening in his stomach loosen as he smiled back. “Fuck, dog. You know the joint just gettin’ tipsy at ten. That’s chill.”

“Dope.” They knocked knuckles and Marshall started to ask him who was battling when all the trash talking around them stopped cold and he saw Proof’s eyebrows go up so high they disappeared under his dreads.

“Hey Marshall.” Said a low, shy voice and he turned to crash head on into the light brown eyes of Latrella Thibodaux.

Marshall saw why the guys had shut up. Von looked like he might pass out from the shock and Marshall could sense the eyes of everyone in the hall on them, sneaking glances and starting whispers. Latrella Thibodaux kinda had that affect on people.

She was one of only two Black cheerleaders on the drill team and one of the finest looking girls Marshall had ever seen up close. She had skin the color of Beyonce’s, that light bright color that looked like the coffee in his aunt Betty’s cup after she added milk. She had light brown eyes, too, like honey, and long, soft, black hair that fell in a shining sweep to the middle of her back. Her full lips smiled at him and when she stepped up holding her books in front of her chest, the faint, delicate scent of her perfume washed over all of them. Not heavy like other girls used but nice and flowery.

“’Sup?” Marshall said trying to keep the blush that wanted to take over his face from happening. It felt like the amount of people in the hall had tripled in the last ten seconds and if Rufus didn’t stop making faces behind Latrella’s back Marshall was gonna go upside his head.

“You have Lang for Math, right?” Her long lashes lifted at him.

“Yeah. I got him.” He admitted, unable to keep from dropping his eyes to the floor at the frank interest in her stare.

“I was just wondering. Did you understand the whole distributive property and associative property? Because I do not know what that man is talking about at all. You got a good grade on the quiz, right?” Then he looked up and her face showed nothing but questioning exasperation and Marshall found himself nodding before he’d even thought about it, already digging in his backpack for his book.

“Yeah, I got it. Hold up.” He went right to the page since Tay had marked it with a funny little plastic sticky flag, and opened the book balancing it between them.

“The distributive property is like distributing the number outside the parenthesis to the numbers inside, that’s all.” Marshall used his finger to draw an arc between the 6 to the 3 and the 2x in the brackets. “You can do it with negative signs too and sh-stuff.”

“Is that all?” Latrella sighed in relief. “I was so confused! What about the other one? The associative one?”

“A’aight, that’s like the same thing but different.” Marshall said and knew he didn’t explain it as good as Tay when he saw the doubtful look on Latrella’s face.

“Look, uh.” Marshall flipped a few pages to find the other part of the chapter. Latrella leaned closer a little bit and Marshall felt the soft press of her shoulder against his and the curve of her chest, covered in a pink sparkly sweater was inches from his hand. He shifted back a little and came up against his locker, his face flaming under her steady, expectant stare.

“Uh, right here,” he pointed to another example. “That just means that you can put these bracket things around any combo and it’ll come out to the same thing. The answer, I mean.” He pointed to the series of numbers: 2x+5+7x, then the following examples: (2x+5)+7x and 2x+(5+7x).

“Oooooh, I see.” Latrella nodded and Marshall gave her a half smile and shut his book because the bell had to be about to ring any minute now…

“You’re real smart about all that, huh?” She tilted her head at him and Marshall shuffled glancing at her strong legs under the black skirt that didn’t ride up her ass but left plenty of smooth, dark thigh visible.

“Naw. I got a tutor helps me out. Without him I don’t know shit.”

“Maybe, since you still know more than me, we could study together or something? If you want to.” She smiled and Marshall knew, just from the way she waited, holding her book lower now against the flat of her stomach with her shiny oval nails delicately curved out so they wouldn’t get caught on the book cover, that she knew he wanted to.

Except he didn’t.

“Uh, it’s just that—I really don’t know this shit until my tutor explains it to me, a’aight? And I kinda got hockey practice, too.”

“Oh.” Latrella’s light brown eyes looked at him so puzzled for so long Marshall started to pray for the bell. Von kept giving him the most fucked up exasperated look behind Latrella’s back. Marshall had a hard time focusing on her face so she wouldn’t look over her shoulder and see Von making curving motions on front of his chest and biting his knuckle. “Alright, then. Maybe some other time.”

“Yeah, yeah. Thanks, tho.” He remembered to add and the cheerleader smile came back full force, blinding white, and whoah, she really was one fly looking girl. If this had happened three months ago, hell, two, he’d have been all over that action before she got the question out.

But even under the inviting stare of those light brown eyes it was no contest. It wasn’t even close.

“I’ll see you later.” Latrella turned casually then looked over at Proof who had stood there with his mouth open the entire time.

“Bye Deshaun.”

“Buh-bye.” Proof breathed and Marshall ducked his head to hide his grin.

The bell finally fucking rang and the guys exploded all over him with talk at the same time.

“The fuck you doing Marsh???”

“Tell me he didn’t turn down ‘Trella Thibodaux, dog. Tell me he didn’t do that!”

“Have you lost your damn mind, yo??”

Everybody except Proof got right up in his face demanding an explanation and he just laughed at them. “Got class.”

“That shit’s wrong, Marsh!” Von called out and Marshall turned, still grinning.

“She’s just going through me to get to you, dog. Didn’t you see that?”

“For real?” Von said hopefully and Proof pushed the back of his head with smirk.

“Shut up, yo.”

He’d almost do it again just for the look on Von’s face.

At lunch he changed his mind.

*~*~*~**~

They’d just gotten settled on the bleachers and hadn’t even twisted open their pops yet when ripple went through the crowds around them and a bunch of people started running in the direction of the parking lot.

“The fuck?” Marshall muttered peering through the slats of the seats to see everyone on the blacktop long squeezed between the cars and the open spaces.

“Yo!” Proof called to the nearest person as they ran past. “What up?”

“Girl fight, man!” the kid panted, out of breath, then caught sight of Marshall and grinned. “Your ex and Latrella Thibodaux are throwing down for you, dog!”

Marshall almost dropped his burrito. “Fuck did you say?”

“For real, yo!” The kid insisted before taking off and they all looked at each other before pounding down the steps clutching their food.

The crowd had gotten huge and Marshall figured they had maybe five minutes, if they were lucky, before someone showed up and started taking names. He elbowed his way closer but as soon as people saw him they seemed to back off, eyes shiny with anticipation. All of them got to front of the action pretty easy, though Marshall wished way before he saw the two girls in the center, that he’d just stayed at the bleachers with his lunch.

“—back the fuck off him ‘cause he’s mine.” Jeanine spat at Latrella, the bangs of her fine brown hair falling in the black-rimmed eyes. One arm had a scratch and part of her hoodie had been torn.

“We were just talking you crazy cracker.” Latrella shot back, hands on her hips and the smooth line of her hair all messed up into a tangle.

A whole posse of big black girls stood behind her smaller, slimmer form and Marshall knew who they were. Everybody knew them since they followed Latrella around like bodyguards: thug girls, all of them tough and street, and most were big like his Aunt Betty was big, with broad shoulders and huge chests and feet the made his look small. They all came from the projects, just like ‘Trella, and Marshall understood being drawn to someone that looked like everything you wanted to be. That looked all shiny and perfect and that had a future. ‘Trella didn’t even really hang with the cheerleaders; she was down with that crowd but this was her posse and they’d kill for her.

That’s when Marshall about decided Jeanine really had lost her mind, because some of those bitches could take him on and not break a sweat and Jeanine had to know they did whatever Latrella said. “We have a class together. I don’t see how it’s any of your damn business since he laid. You. Off.” Latrella stretched out each word, leaning forward and Marshall stared at the cold flat brown of her eyes, no longer like honey but like some empty, shiny wood.

“I say it’s my business and you ain’t his type. He don’t like black coffee.” Jeanine’s eyes flicked up and down at her and the quiet of the crowd erupted in ‘ooooos’ and exclamation of, ‘Oh no she didn’t!’ ‘Daaaaaaaaaaamn!’

A buzz went through the crowd, almost like at a game when the action got fast and ugly; it rose up like a live thing so Marshall could almost see it and it seemed to carry over to the rink getting under their skin to feed the intensity. He felt it now, thick and dangerous in the air, spiking up when the group of huge girls behind Latrella moved forward like a defensive line.

She stopped them with a flick of one manicured hand. None of her nails had even been broken. Her pretty oval face had a calm, cold look to it and she looked nothing like the shy girl that asked him about Algebra.

“Step back. I can take this bitch.”

“Bring it.” Jeanine bared her small, even teeth reminding Marshall of a small, quick animal that liked to bite, and suddenly they swung on each other out of nowhere. The crowd cheered and the electricity in the air got higher and Marshall stepped back, shocked at the flying hair and cursing and sickening punches.

‘Cause he’d seen girls fight, yeah. This wasn’t some prissy little private school like Crandall. If people had beef they settled it with their fists, girls or boys, but some people just didn’t need to and he thought Latrella Thibodaux was one of them.

“Damn.” Proof whispered next to him. His voice sounded almost admiring, though, and fuck if Marshall could see why.

Latrella got in a good clock to Jeanine’s jaw and Jeanine’s wiry body threw her off with a growl.

“Give up.” Latrella panted and Jeanine glared at her so hard Marshall thought if looks really could kill Latrella would have gone up in smoke.

“Fuck you. Back off him and I’ll give up.”

“He don’t even want you, you dumb ho.” He already got someone. Ask him.”

“No he don’t!” Jeanine shouted as they both looked at him.

A hundred pairs of eyes turned towards him with a murmur of eagerness and Marshall blinked at Latrella’s calm confidence then glanced around at everyone’s faces, curious, wondering, downright hungry for more drama and his breath started to come in little stitches under the weight of all those eyes.

“Yeah he do!” Von suddenly piped up, pointing at Marshall with his finger and Marshall elbowed him; got a flash of Jeanine’s hurt, angry face before Proof whacked Von on the head.

“Shut the fuck up, dog!”

“Well, he do!” Von defended himself against their hitting before a piercing whistle cut off whatever he said next and the crowd scattered at the sight of the security guards running at them through the parking lot.

“Let’s go!” Proof dragged him through the thick soup of people trying to dodge getting busted and they booked it to the left behind the special ed temporary buildings, running until the whistles and shouting sounded faint and distant. They finally ended up back at the bleachers panting and sweaty and Marshall had lost his burrito somewhere a long time ago.

“Fuck.” Marshall breathed when he could talk, leaning against the stands to wipe his face and Proof lifted his dreads off the sticky stretch of his neck.

“That was messed up.” Proof said, with his eyes closed.

“Fuck.” Marshall whispered again to himself as he realized the whole damn school thought he’d hooked up with someone that wasn’t Jeanine or Latrella and he had no idea how long that was gonna fly since he kept spending all his free time with Tay.

“You didn’t tell ‘Trella you was hooked up, did you?” Proof asked, face puzzled and Marshall could see him replaying Latrella’s visit in his head.

“Did you hear me tell her I was hooked up?” Marshall demanded. “She was bluffing.”

Their eyes met then for long seconds before each looked away, unspoken questions flying in the air between them and neither saying a word. They didn’t say anything when the bell rang or when they walked back to the lockers or when they took out their books, neither. Not until Marshall turned to go then Proof caught his arm and studied his face.

“You a’aight, man?”

“Yeah,” Marshall nodded, even though he’d had a strange knot in his stomach ever since the fight, ever since all those stares fixed on him and he realized he had no fucking clue what he would have said if the rent-a-cops hadn’t shown up.

“A’aight,” Proof said, even though he didn’t look like he believed it. “Catch you at The Shelter, yo.”

Marshall nodded before walking to class. He told himself all the stares and whispers he heard were just his imagination.

*~*~*~*~*

He pulled up in front of Tay’s house so ready to see him that just watching Tay step out the front door and walk down the steps to the car seemed like it took too long. The wind blew Tay’s dark and gold hair all around and Tay flicked it out of his face and Marshall loved it when he did that. He wanted to put his hands all over him and they hadn’t even studied yet.

“’Sup.” Marshall put the car in drive then glanced back at him.

“So.” Tay’s smile looked too wide and something in his eyes looked way too knowing. “Girls fight over you.”

“Aw, shit.” He closed his eyes as he hit his head on the seat rest.

 

*~*~*~*

They had driven for a few minutes in silence before Marshall risked looking over again. Tay studied him with the same look he got when he looked at a hard math problem. The sky blue eyes fixed on his face like Tay could see in him.

“Where’d you hear that?” Marshall finally asked and Tay shrugged, glancing out the window.

“Zac. The guys on the team were talking about it.”

“Whatever.” Marshall muttered, shifting uncomfortably.

“They said she was pretty, too.”

“She’s a’aight.” He really didn’t want to talk about this and he wasn’t even sure why.

“And a cheerleader.”

“So?” He snapped, more rude than he meant to and but Tay just kept looking at him.

A’aight. He knew why. Because, yeah, sometimes it paid off to have school and Tay divided down the middle. In one way it frustrated the hell out of him because he couldn’t see Tay during the day like he had Jeanine. They couldn’t eat lunch together or hang during classes and he still didn’t see Tay enough as it was. He didn’t think he’d ever see Tay enough. Still, when he really thought about it he realized he didn’t know what the hell he’d do if Tay really went to his school. He couldn’t be around Tay for more than a half hour without wanting him in the dark somewhere pressed all over him. What the hell did he think they were gonna do? Hold hands and walk to class? Make out in the hall? And he could just see trying to hang with the guys AND Tay. Been there, done that. Fucked that up.

“Do you like her?”

“What?” He said, too loud, glaring at Tay at a red light. Tay looked at him calmly but a little line had formed between the silky dark brows that said the calm didn’t go all the way through. “I said she was a’aight. Damn.”

“Because it’s normal for you to be still attracted to girls.” Tay bit his lip as his eyes lowered. “I mean, since this is really new…”

“I ain’t attracted to her.”

“It’s okay if you are.”

“I fuckin’ AIN’T, a’aight?” he shouted and Tay started a little. “The hell do you want me to say, Taylor? Why the fuck are we talkin’ about this?”

“I just…. it’s ….” Tay hesitated then looked out the window, lips tight. “Sorry.”

“C’mere.” Tay looked over at him and Marshall reached for Tay’s hand keeping one eye on the road. He entwined their fingers and tugged until Tay shifted over and sat next to him, curled up close so Marshall could feel his warmth and smell soap and faint detergent. Tay felt kind of tense at first but Marshall rubbed his hand. Tay’s body relaxed and Marshall felt the soft, warm pads of Tay’s fingers as he stroked the veins at the top of Marshall’s hand. Marshall didn’t release Tay until he had to shift to go into the parking lot on Putnam Street.

Then he parked the car and held Tay there when Tay moved to get out.

They looked at each other in the dusk of the evening and Marshall reached over to brush Tay’s hair out of his face, letting the strands fall between his fingers as he cupped the clean curve of Tay’s jaw.

Tay’s eyes got soft and he rubbed into Marshall’s palm a little. He loved when Tay did that, like a kitten searching for contact. The skin felt so soft and Marshall watched Tay’s beautiful face look at him and his heart did the skipping thing it did when he had Tay alone, near him and touching him when he could hardly believe Tay was his. “I ain’t gettin’ with anyone,” he held Tay’s stare and spoke slow and clear, “that ain’t you. A’aight? I ain’t even interested.” Tay’s blue eyes held his, searching, finding, and Tay ducked his head as their hands played around each other weaving and separating, fingers brushing in little electric slides of touch.

“I’m sorry. That was stupid.”

“Yeah.” Marshall admitted connecting their hands flat like they were praying then shifting over to rub his thumb over the tender skin on Tay’s inner wrist. He could just see a faint blue vein in the dying light of the evening. He traced it with a finger. Tay’s lids slipped closed, pink lips parted a little. Marshall leaned closer, close enough to catch the light scent of shampoo from Tay’s hair. God, he loved Tay’s scent: clean and good with a hint of skin. “I got what I want,” he whispered.

When the silky lashes lifted the look in Tay’s eyes burned him. “Me, too.”
Marshall realized he couldn’t breathe so good, just from how Tay looked at him, just from the deep want in his eyes.

Shit, he was getting hard no matter what and they hadn’t even walked in the building.

“Where’d you hear this shit, yo?” he asked, trying to distract himself and his dick from what it couldn’t have right now, in the library parking lot in the middle of downtown Detroit.

“Overheard.” Tay sighed, looking away while blooms of blush sprouted on his cheeks. “Zac was on the phone with one of his friends; he’s not really talking to me right now, and I heard your name and. …stuff.”

“Stuff?” Marshall imitated and Tay rolled his eyes, dimples deepening when he smirked like that.

“Yeah, stuff. Like how cute and popular she was and how your ex wanted you back and how you and the cute girl were making out in the hall…”

“We weren’t making out! I never fucking touched her!” Marshall exclaimed and Tay lifted an eyebrow at him. “She had a question about the Math chapter; wanted to study together. I told her ‘no.’ I don’t fuck around when I’m with someone, a’aight?”

“Oh.” Tay said in a small voice, eyes lowered. Marshall squeezed his hand tight until Tay looked up, embarrassment in his eyes and Marshall grinned.

“Your ass was jealous.”

“Shut up.” Tay mumbled, still flushed pink and Marshall would have given anything to kiss him right then, all embarrassed and red-cheeked and pretty.

“You were!”

“Well, duh!” Tay started to get move across the seat to get out of the car but Marshall pulled him back and stared at him until they both were both smiling.

“We need to go in.” Tay said in his responsible voice and Marshall gave one more press to the soft flesh of Tay’s wrist before letting go.

“Yeah, yeah.” But they were both grinning like idiots by the time they shut the car doors.

He’d even managed to keep his hard-on under control.

*~*~*~*~*

It lasted twenty minutes.

*~*~*~*~*

“Remember we talked about what monomial was?” Tay asked, writing the number seven on the paper between them.

“Yeah,” Marshall nodded, rubbing Tay’s back with his hand. Tay smiled a little and didn’t move away. “That’s like regular number with no extra shit.”

“Right. A number with just one term. Okay.” Tay nodded, accepting the definition after a second. “So if a monomial is a number with one term than a binomial is a number with two terms. Like this.” He wrote a y next to the 7: 7y.

“Yeah. I got that. It’s got two different kinda numbers. Like bisexual.”

Tay gave an amused laugh. “Kind of. Close enough.”

Marshall nodded, satisfied.

“We’ve already seen these in other chapters, remember?” Marshall nodded again. “This chapter tells us how to multiply them using the FOIL method and the Distributive Property.” Like Marshall could forget THAT fuckin’ property.

Tay wrote (3+7x )(6+2x) on the paper between them then wrote the word FOIL in a column. “FOIL is easy to remember because it stands for First, Outer, Inner, Last.” He wrote each word next to its letter so Marshall could see the four letters were like a shortcut.

Tay drew arcs over the equations using different colored markers and linked the first numbers in the brackets, the first and last numbers in both brackets, and the two inner numbers. “This is simple multiplying. What’s 3 times 6?”

“18.” Marshall answered, edging closer to Tay on his chair so his chin was almost resting on Tay’s shoulder. Tay continued but he felt the little lilt of Tay’s body closer to his. “Three times two x?”

Marshall scrunched up his face as he tried to remember the rules for multiplying different numbers like that. “Uh...6…6? 6x?”

“Yeah! Good!” Tay beamed at him and Marshall watched the excited gleam in his eyes and felt kind of embarrassed like he always did when Tay made a big deal out a right answer.

7x times 6 was 42x and the last one almost got him because he forgot to square the x in 7x times 2x.
The equation now read:

18+6x+42x+14x2.

“Do you see anything we can combine?” Tay asked and Marshall squinted at the numbers, blinking a few times, which sometimes helped things come together, like it cleared his mind for it.

“The 6x and the 42x?” He laid his index and forefingers under each number.

“Why?” Tay asked back.

“Why what?”

“Why combine those?”

“’Cause they both got an x?”

“Do you square the x?”

“Yeah…” Tay lowered his chin and Marshall corrected himself. “No….”

“We only square the x, or the y or whatever, if we’re multiplying, remember? That’s why we squared it in the first place. But here we’re…”

“Adding.” Marshall ran a hand over his hair. He knew that.

“It’s okay. Now you can remember.” Tay encouraged, rubbing his back beneath his shoulder blades and it was like that connected right to his dick because suddenly his boxers felt tight and he wiggled around on the chair.

“So now…?” Tay said after a few seconds and Marshall pulled his mind out of his pants and back to the numbers in front of him.

“It’s 40…48…x?”

“Perfect!” Tay wrote it down, smiling. “And we’re done!”

“That’s it?” Marshall peered at the equation.

18+48x+14x2.

There still seemed to be too many numbers floating around.

“That ain’t an answer.”

“There’s no equal sign so this is the answer.”

“A’aight.” Marshall allowed, even if it didn’t seem right not to have one combined number for the whole thing.

“Let’s try another one.”

They did three more and Marshall was practically out of his mind by then. They were melded together from hip to knee. He sat so close one tilt of his neck could have his mouth right there, on that muscle that made Tay gasp and close his eyes, body arching into Marshall’s hands as they….

“You aren’t concentrating.” Tay murmured. Marshall shifted lower on the seat, his cock heavy and uncomfortable.

“You got no idea how hard I’m concentrating.” He mumbled, trying not to sound grumpy, and glared when Tay laughed softly.

“Yo, fuck you.”

“After five more problems.” Marshall blinked and, whoah, that wasn’t helping his concentration. He looked at Tay, wanting him, and saw Tay’s stare drop to his mouth. He peeked out his tongue and bit the flesh of his bottom lip. He watched Tay’s stare get a little lost.

“That’s not fair.” Tay muttered, pulling his eyes away.

“Let’s go somewhere.” Marshall whispered into Tay’s shoulder, inhaling Tay like the cocaine he’d never tried.

“We are somewhere.” Tay seemed to be staring very hard at the paper between them.

“Let’s go somewhere private.”

“We’ve barely been here an hour….”

“I got this.”

“Oh, you do.” Tay gave him a sideways stare.

“Yeah.”

“Five more problems.” Tay wrote another one on the paper between them.

“Three.”

“Four.”

“Three.”

“Okay, that’s not how you negotiate.” Tay said, exasperated and Marshall ran his middle finger down the line Tay’s spine through the thin light-blue button down he wore. A faint puff of breath left Tay’s lips and his neck rolled back a little, just a small movement until he remembered where they were and what they were doing.

Marshall caught Tay’s eyes when Tay turned to him and they stared at each other in the quiet, muffled sounds of library: staff at the desk and the squeak of someone’s book truck in the background, and the pull, the pull reached out. Mugged him. Grabbed his gut, his breath so he started to pant. It made him feel all—dizzy kinda—like when he rode the roller coaster too many times in a row. Tay’s eyes drifted down to Marshall’s mouth again and if he kept doing that Marshall was gonna kiss him no matter where they were.

It was eight o’clock on a Friday, anyways. The damn place was dead.

“Three.” Said Tay. He wrote down three problems and had to erase one and start over because his fingers shook, a little.

“A’aight.” Marshall pulled the paper to him and bent his head over the paper.

It took him ten minutes.

They were perfect.

As they gathered their things, Marshall focusing on being alone with Tay, making deals with his hands when they wanted to grab Tay’s ass in the middle of book aisle, Tay mumbled, voice low, “I don’t even know where to go.”

“I know.” Marshall said.

The sky blue eyes burned him again with their look and Marshall concentrated on walking to the car without getting a hard on or bursting into flames.

*~*~*~*~*

RONNIE’S

He eased the Impala into the dark space under the corrugated metal that passed for Ronnie’s garage and turned off the car. The engine clicked into the night but aside from a dog barking somewhere and a siren passing by, the neighborhood was pretty peaceful. A lot of old people and families lived here and even though the hood snuck closer every day, for now, the peace of the neighborhood held.

“Who lives here?” Tay’s asked, voice low, like he didn’t want to break the spell, either.

“It was my Uncle Ronnie’s place,” Marshall said glancing out at the small brick house, dark and closed up. “No one’s bothering us.” The place was private property and Marshall had his key if anyone tried to give him any static.

He and Tay stared at each other in the dark, then, and Marshall reached out to tuck Tay’s hair behind his ear, the contact sparking along his fingers. He felt Tay shiver; felt him nudge against his touch, the brush of Tay’s lips along a knuckle that spiked up his heartbeat, stole his breath and made him clench the other hand just so he wouldn’t touch himself. His breath sounded real loud in the quiet of the car, but so did Tay’s and Marshall swallowed, tried to breathe, tried to hold on for just a few more seconds.

“Wanna get in the back?” his voice sounded rough, low. It didn’t shake and just that was something.

“Yeah.” Tay whispered, eyes dark in the shadows of the car. They sat there in their cocoon for a few seconds more then Marshall opened the door to the cold from outside, already around the back and in before Tay could shuffle across the Impala’s long seat and get out.

Then it was almost like they had to start over, moving and freezing and nervous laughter after Tay shut his door. But there Tay was looking over at him, blond hair around his face, long legs spread out in front and a look in his eyes that made Marshall hard in seconds. Tay sat with his hands in his pockets; long, delicate stretch of neck, glowing pale in the dark over the folds of Tay’s gray scarf. Marshall’s cock twitched at that stretch because he loved kissing there. Biting there and licking there and feeling Tay react in his arms. He had to be sitting like that on purpose.

Because they hadn’t done this, been alone this way, since Tay showed up on his doorstep and he’d been thinking of it, wanting it bad, ever since. He’d replayed Tay’s hand on his cock a thousand times, the feel of Tay under him, strong and slim, and Marshall wondered, for a minute, if being here was using up all his luck in the universe at one time. Not that he gave a damn.

Not when the air got heavy and alive across the seat and his hands ached to touch Tay.

“I’ve never made out in a car.” Tay’s voice sounded quiet but he heard the smile.

He brought his eyes back up to Tay’s face, the pretty, clean lines of it. “Never?”

Tay shook his head.

“Then get over here.” He commanded, voice going hoarse all of a sudden just from the want, Jesus, the need crashing all over him.

Tay shuffled over twice, all it took with the lanky-ass legs, and Marshall’s arms closed around him, gathered him in, and crushed him close. They stared at each other and Marshall wondered if he looked surprised because it still blew him the fuck away all the time, this. Every time he had Tay this close, every time he sank his hand into Tay’s silk blond hair and ran his hand over the heated skin of Tay’s back he had to remind himself /mine/. God, all his.

“Mmmm,” Tay sighed into his mouth, just melting into him, lips brushing, tugging, little nips that made Marshall hold him tighter, hitch him up close so he could feel more of his back, fist his hand in the cool strands of Tay’s blond silk hair before feeling over to the gray scarf and tugging until it came undone, shoving it aside, leaving Tay’s neck bare for him. Tay curled into his mouth, tongue and teeth, and Marshall moaned, hand moving over Tay’s waist to the round seat of his pants without even thinking. Tay gave a little gasp and they pulled apart just a little, wet lips and panting into each other in the dark. Tay’s eyes glittered as Marshall rubbed handfuls of ass, his other hand unable to stay away, needing to feel, to cup the curves he’d been staring at forever, round and perfect on Tay’s skinny boy hips. Suddenly Tay crawled up on him, all long legs, hard knot against Marshall’s thigh, then in his lap, and a look on his face that made Marshall’s cock twitch.

“Damn,” he whispered faintly, staring up as Tay’s face got clearer in the dark, shifting lower to fit them closer on his lap, his hands on Tay’s hips, and they both made a sound when the bulges behind their zippers met, both hard, both moving into the other.

“God,” Tay mumbled against his lips and Marshall bit at them, pulled them in, drowned in the satin wet and they were pressed into each other feeling, touching, Tay’s hands on his face, careful and slow like he was glass, then on his chest, pressing against the strong beat of his heart. Marshall left Tay’s mouth to taste his neck, that muscle that Marshall had already claimed, that he thought of as his; he bit.

“Ah!” Tay gasped, twisting, clutching handfuls of Marshall’s t-shirt, and his hips, his hips moved, rocked down sending flashes of heat all through him, sizzling along all his nerves, his skin, up his back.

“Fucking beautiful, so fucking beautiful,” he didn’t even know what he’d whispered into the hollow of Tay’s neck until Tay pulled back in surprise, eyes startled, lips still shiny from their kisses. He maybe would have blushed but he didn’t care now, Tay locked on his lap and them both hard for each other.

“No,” Tay sounded like he was blushing, though, ducking his head back into Marshall’s shoulder, but Marshall made him come back up, hands lifting his jaw until Tay looked at him. Marshall brushed his thumb over the hot skin of his cheeks and Tay was blushing.

“Yeah.” He said, looking steadily into Tay’s eyes until Tay glanced away with a little smile, then looked back, smoothing his hand over the short hair on Marshall’s scalp.

“You, too.”

“Naw,” Marshall said, tilting his head as he looked at Tay. He could stare at him all damn day and not get bored. “I’m an ugly punk.”

“You are not!” Tay laughed and Marshall shrugged, his hands moving under Tay’s button-down to the warm, soft skin of Tay’s back.

“I got a pointy ass nose.” Tay smiled and leaned in, the gentle, powder soft lips closing around the tip of Marshall’s nose in a kiss, and Marshall shut his eyes as something in his chest ached. “Nice nose,” Tay whispered in his ear. Marshall held him tighter, the moist heat of the words making him shake.

“My ears stick out.”

Already near, Tay licked at his lobe, rubbed his nose all along the curve then bit really gently with his teeth and Marshall closed his eyes, breath struggling because, Jesus fuck, that was hot. More moist heat in his ear: “Do not.”

“My chin looks like a butt.” Tay snuffled laughter into his neck and he could feel the smile all along his jaw as Tay traced it with his lips, little tiny kisses before reaching his chin and he lay his head back as Tay nibbled on it, kissed it and brushed it with the tip of his tongue. “I like your chin.” Tay said into his jaw and Marshall swallowed, tried to stop shaking like he’d never made out before. Except this didn’t feel like anything he’d had before, not just the slow, teasing, laughing part; he’d always felt like it was a race with Jeanine, to see how much they could do before time ran out or she changed her mind. He felt all shaky and strange inside, like his heart was gonna break apart. He couldn’t really breathe.

“My eyes….” His voice did shake then, couldn’t help it, and he caught a glimpse of Tay’s face, the perfect lips curving into a smile, the long lashes half shut before Marshall closed his eyes and felt butterfly touches on his lids, first one then the other, flutter flutter.

“Marshall,” Tay murmured near his eyebrow and then Tay’s mouth covered his, open and so wet, burning satin and he strained up into him, bracing his legs on the floor of the car and pushing Tay down with his hands, pushing him on. Tay moaned into his lips, arms around Marshall’s neck as Marshall left a damp trail to Tay’s neck, sucking kisses there, all over there and the sliding thing happened. He felt it start, that thing where things went from laid back to hard, fast, now, and he needed to grind into Tay, he needed to crush him close and touch all under his shirt over bumps of spine and flat stomach and delicate ribs, he needed to.

His fingers pulled at Tay’ shirt blind because he couldn’t stop kissing him. A couple of buttons popped off and Tay laughed into their kiss, his hands sliding all up Marshall’s arms to where his hands struggled with the tiny fucking buttons. He could undo a girl’s bra with one hand but he couldn’t figure out how to unbutton one goddamn shirt right now.

“Let me. I’ll do it.” Tay whispered and Marshall let him, made himself let go, made himself happy with touching foreheads. Tay’s fingers worked their way through each button hole until the shirt flapped loose and Tay’s arms dropped down, his head bowed hiding behind the blond hair, and Marshall realized this was the most naked either of them had been since this whole thing started. Tay’s breath came in little pants too and Marshall was so fucking hard, pushed up there next to Tay’s dick, but he didn’t think of that. His eyes couldn’t stop staring at the open shirt and, damn, Tay’s bare chest was under there, all for him.

Moving slowly Marshall pushed the shirt open and stared at the creamy skin, slanted clavicles and small pink nipples in front of him. He had to touch and he put his hand flat in the middle of Tay’s chest, warmth sparking along his fingers, the strong, fast beat of Tay’s heart pushing up into his palm. Trying to see Tay’s face under the blond hair Marshall leaned forward, placed his other hand on Tay’s side sliding over the ribs like bird’s bones, and kissed over the pound of Tay’s heartbeat, open-mouthed, slow.

Tay’s breath got shallow, both hands finding the ruffle of Marshall’s buzz cut but not demanding, not pushing. Just resting there lightly, careful, as if Tay was scared Marshall would stop. No fucking way. Not when he had Tay bare from neck to waist and the soft but firm skin tasted unbelievable in his mouth.

He smoothed his hands over Tay’s chest, searching, exploring, thumbs outlining Tay’s ribcage, each arc of bone, back to the blades of Tay’s shoulders, and he knew Tay was strong, but he felt so fucking light in his hands, skin silk smooth, muscles sweet and long, not like his bulky ones from playing hockey. A protectiveness came through him out of nowhere, fierce, and he knew he’d take on anyone who hurt this, anyone.

Marshall kissed everywhere he touched: touch, kiss, touch, and each one brought another slow, ragged breath from Tay, a fisting of his hands on Marshall’s skull but still no pushing. Marshall’s lips found the pliable skin of Tay’s nipple, different from his chest, and brushed over it, eyes closed, letting the tip scrape long his lips. The change in Tay happened fast, breath stuttering, body tensing where it had been relaxed, bouncing softly on his lap.

Deep, thick desire started in his gut and Marshall plucked at the pointy tip with his lips, kissing and nipping around it.

“Oh,” Tay said weakly against his forehead, sounding lost. “Yes.” And the lust that washed over him felt like fire.

Splaying his hands on Tay’s back Marshall pulled him into his mouth, sucking deep, tongue teasing and Tay jerked in his arms, hands finally crushing his face to his chest, moans ragged, hips grinding down, grinding in and Marshall growled back in his throat at the blistering heat that unrolled like string all through his body.

“Ohgodplease,” Tay breathed, moving Marshall to the other nipple, face concentrated, almost painful when Marshall glanced up at him through the strands of Tay's hair.

The air in the car had disappeared, all gone, and Marshall panted around the velvety point in his mouth, pulling and worrying and thrusting his hips in time with Tay, licking, until Tay pulled up his head and stared at him, lips parted, gasping, eyes wild and Marshall pulled him into a rough kiss, bruising and burning and fucking perfect.

Tay’s hands were fumbling at his t-shirt trying to pull it up and Marshall yanked it out from where it had caught on under Tay’s hips and then it was bunched at his throat and Tay pressed to him with an eager sound and… “Fuck, fuck, Tay,” Marshall gasped at the unreal slide of Tay’s chest against his, heated contact and fine, fine skin on his, and they were humping each other in a short, controlled rhythm and he couldn’t, it was all too much, he couldn’t….

“Oh, god. Marshall, I, oh,” Tay whimpered, eyes squeezed shut, hands smoothing his skull, around his face before Tay’s arms went around his neck, holding tight.

Marshall tangled his hand in Tay’s hair and pulled his neck taut; sank his teeth into the tendons and sucked hard where Tay’s pulse pounded and Tay shouted, spasming and clinging and he felt the rush of warmth against his crotch and Tay had come on him, because of him, he’d made him….

“Fuck, fuck,” Marshall gasped, felt it start, sparks and tingles on the soles of his feet moving up, up, and he had to see him, had to see his face. “Look at me!”

Tay lifted his head from Marshall’s shoulder as Marshall pumped, almost, god, almost, and saw the sweaty hair on his forehead and puffy lips from kissing and his eyes, his eyes glazed and sleepy and fucked….it blindsided Marshall like a freight train, scalding through him, in him as he moaned, crushing Tay close as he broke apart in his arms.

They sat there for a little while, breathing hard, warm and safe in the damp cocoon they made.

“We,” Tay panted finally, “Made a mess.”

“Uh-huh.” Marshall agreed, still trying to remember how to breathe. “You care?”

“Uh-uh.” Tay shook his head. They turned to each other and Tay looked so good resting on him, all drowsy and relaxed that he smoothed the damp hair back from his face and kissed him, lazy, light kiss, just to feel his mouth. Tay ‘mmm’ed into it anyway and Marshall loved that, snuggled into his arms as Marshall held his back tight, and Marshall loved that too.
“We need to go.” Tay mumbled even as he was hooking one arm around Marshall’s neck and tucking under Marshall’s chin, warm puffs of air against Marshall’s skin.

“Yeah. Soon.” He whispered into the silky hair.

But they sat there for a little while anyways. At least until the car started getting cold and Tay started to shiver a little. He didn’t want Tay to be cold.

No one had even bothered them at all.