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Tomb Raiders

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When you finally meet him in person you think, goddamn, but he's dashing. You keep it to yourself, though, keep the words trapped tight behind your teeth; you want to be sure that you haven't misread his inscrutable handsome face or his impenetrable brilliant mind. Together you fight your way through imps and liches and baddies of various brightly-colored sorts, and that's already a thrilling experience: Dirk is a stand-up chap in a brawl, as you rather knew he would be. Somewhat less frustrating than his damnable robot, by virtue of being your companion rather than your opponent, but the fighting style is familiar all the same.

You reach the summit of the temple you've been exploring in a rainbow shower of grist and the pling-pling victory chime of boondollars filling your ceramic porkhollow—that final ogre never stood a chance, between your blazing pistols and Dirk's flashing blade. You take the steps up to the summit three at a time, so you can strike a victory pose.

Then, because it's inevitable, you slip on a bit of cleverly disguised moss and land hard on your backside.

You burst out laughing after an instant of dismay, because you can't help yourself; here was your chance to look dashing and heroic in front of Strider, and of course you wind up tripping over yourself instead. Story of your life, really.

But then he sheathes his sword and offers you a hand up, and you think you can see the faint trace of a smile on his lips. He knows you. He isn't expecting you to be anyone but you.

"Much obliged," you tell him, taking his hand. The flex in his forearm as he helps you rise must come from all that sword practice. You might have expected to feel envious; instead you mostly feel dry-mouthed in an admiring sort of way.

"My pleasure," he says, the consonants just slightly softened by his accent. It's an accent you associate with rogues in one sort of movie and gentlemen in another, and the combination seems apt. You find yourself looking at his mouth. He hasn't let go of your hand.

Faint heart never won fair lady, you think. Or fair gentleman either. "If you're going to kiss me," you say, "now would be an excellent time."

For a moment you see him actually start in surprise—it's a tiny motion, the sort of thing you wouldn't have noticed at all if you hadn't spent all those hours trying to read the blasted robot's body language in fights. Then his smile crooks up one side of his mouth, slow and smooth and damnably handsome. "You could always kiss me, if you're sick of waiting," he says.

"The ball's in my court, is it?" you ask.

Dirk swallows visibly, then nods once. Knowing him, this reticence itself is an act designed to goad you into making the first move. You find that doesn't stop it from working.

You take a step closer and tilt your head slightly, the way you see it done in the movies, leaning in slowly. You're almost the same height. Dirk licks his lips. You kiss him.

His lips are soft. From this close up you can see the shadow of his eyes through his omnipresent sunglasses, just enough detail that you can see his eyes flutter closed. He is nothing like the blue-skinned alien beauties you've idly fantasized about. He is everything like your best friend. You examine your feelings on the matter, and decide you are okay with this change of plans. His lips part for your tongue and he moans softly into your mouth. You decide "okay" is an understatement.

You take a fraction of a step, intending only to better balance yourself, but he takes a corresponding step back, holding onto your belt loops to pull you with him. He backs up against the carved obelisk at the ruin's peak. (If you had done it, you're sure you would have elbowed a hidden button and dropped you both into a pit full of snakes. This is another thing you would envy him for if you weren't busy enjoying it instead.)

With stone at his back there's plenty of support, so you can lean into the kiss properly. You have your best friend Dirk Strider pinned to a wall and you are kissing each other senseless. There had been a part of you that wasn't entirely certain about this whole prospect, but all of your parts are now rapidly coming around to consensus, and the decision you're reaching is that this is brilliant.

You cup his face in one hand and run your thumb along the sharp line of his jaw, feeling the rasp of stubble. He's practically melting into you, and you might be a little lost in the sheer delight of physical affection. (Would you feel the same way about anyone right now? You'll never know. It isn't "anyone," it's Dirk, and he feels wonderful, solid and warm.)

"I'm a little surprised," you tell him eventually, murmuring the words like you're confessing a secret. "After you waged such an aggressive campaign to get here, I would have expected you to be more forceful."

He smiles. You begin to think his smile is always crooked. It's the sort of imperfection that only makes him more charming. "Maybe I'm a little overwhelmed to finally catch the great adventurer's attention," he says.

You shake your head. "Mister Strider, I don't believe you've been truly overwhelmed a day in your life," you say.

He takes off his sunglasses, and that's how you know this is serious. His eyes are the color of fresh lava flow. "Maybe that's the trouble, then." Your heart is going a thousand miles an hour. "Maybe I wouldn't mind it if somebody made me lose my cool every once in a while."

"Maybe," you say carefully, "we should be talking about actualities instead of hypotheticals."

Dirk's shoulders relax minutely. All of your experience in reading people comes from movies, and that seems like garish fingerpainting compared with the minimalist charcoal of Dirk's body language. You wish you had a manual or a series of instructional videos or something to help you translate. "Okay, fair enough," he says. "I guess there's not much left to be gained by obfuscation, is there?"

You nod your agreement, and then wait patiently while Dirk's face does nothing in several different extremely handsome ways. "Well?" you say eventually, when he seems to be stuck at that point.

"When I picture us getting anywhere hot and heavy," he says, and you could listen to the minutes of a stamp collectors' meeting if they were read aloud in that voice—don't let yourself get distracted, Jake, this is important, "the best part is when you decide you're just going to go for it. When you throw yourself into it like an adventure, like a challenge you want to conquer."

"You want to be swept off your feet," you say, smiling just a bit in disbelief, because that's something you don't think you'd ever have expected from him, of all people.

The corner of his mouth quirks. "Or pinned to a wall," he suggests, pulling you snug up against him by your belt loops. He bows his head so you can feel his breath against the side of your neck. "Or brought to my knees."

You wouldn't have thought a few simple words could take the breath out of you as effectively as the robot's fiercest punch, but there you are: struck dumb and gasping at that image. Strider's a man of verbal precision—there's no doubt he chose that phrasing deliberately. Quite likely this tightness in your shorts is exactly the effect he was hoping for.

You have always picked up the challenges he throws down for you.

"I trust you'll let me know if I overstep my bounds at any point," you say, because you want to believe you'll be impeccably brilliant but experience has a way of dashing your hopes there.

Dirk looks at you as though you've just lassoed the moon and presented it to him for his very own. "Sure thnnnmmph," he says, because you kiss him again before he's done answering you. You decide that kissing has your wholehearted approval. You put a little more oomph into it: less soft-focus and violins, more red lighting and saxophone. You're worried for an instant when your teeth catch his lip as you press forward, but he moans rather than complaining, which bolsters your courage and other things as well.

You press him more firmly against the wall, putting your whole body into it, planting one foot between his for leverage, and when you apply pressure around hip level several wonderful things happen at once: Dirk moans in a way that's borderline obscene, his hands catch in the back of your shirt as though he's gone weak in the knees, and a burst of pleasure south of your personal equator makes you see stars. You are a hero. You rut against him as if there will be medals awarded for enthusiasm—instead of medals you get Dirk's shudders and moans, which are quite a reward in themselves.

If you aren't careful you're going to go off in your shorts, and judging by the way his equipment strains to fence with yours through your clothes, he's in a similar state. You break the kiss and pull back to look him in the eyes. His pale cheeks are flushed, his lips swollen and pink from kissing you. The look he is giving you, if you're translating correctly, says please please more. You hope to god you're translating correctly.

You put a hand on his shoulder—firm, as confident as you can—and take a decent grip. You wish you knew more about pressure points. You're sure Strider would know how to execute this grip so that it made a man's legs turn to jelly and forced him to his knees. You simply push him down, hoping you project confidence, trusting that he doesn't want to fight you.

And he breathes, "Yes," quiet and fierce and sincere in a way that awes you, as he sinks to his knees. He's at eye level with your belt. This is moving rather fast. You add that to the list of things that you are, it turns out, okay with.

Your hands are still shaking as you unbuckle your belt, as you unzip your shorts. Dirk's tongue darts out to wet his bottom lip and you scarcely manage to contain a whimper. He's watching your hands like he can't look away. "This what you're looking for?" you ask him as you free the goods from confinement.

"God, yes," he says. You have to admit, this sort of avid attention could go to a fellow's head if he weren't careful. "Give it to me, Jake, I want it so bad."

"Wouldn't dream of disappointing you, sir," you say, because a gentleman always conducts himself with panache. Even—perhaps especially—if he's shaking a bit as he acquaints his intimate anatomy with his best friend's mouth. "Oh," you say at the wetness of Dirk's tongue, and "Oh," again at the softness of his lips, and "Oh, Dirk," when he appears to be unable to hold back from demonstrating the depth of his, ah, enthusiasm immediately.

And dear god, you had always rather assumed that this sort of thing was faked with clever camera angles in pornography, and that a real person couldn't—but then, there are sword-swallowers, after all, and—well, Dirk is certainly doing an admirable sword-swallower impression right now and you think you might in fact die. Or at the very least swoon a bit.

You clutch at his shoulder to steady yourself against the onslaught of glorious sensation. He hums, giving you an amazing demonstration of how much you can feel the vibration of his throat. Then he reaches up to move your hand, coaxing you to work your fingers into his hair. You shudder as you realize what he's suggesting, and he makes another low sound—more demanding, you think, and you roll your hips in response to his urging.

"Mmn," he encourages you, as though you needed more encouragement than the sensation itself. He reaches down to fumble with his jeans, and your first thought is gosh, because he's apparently aroused enough by fellating you to lose his self-control, and that's damned flattering.

Your second thought is, "You don't have to—I mean, stop that," your other hand on his shoulder, where you feel the flex of muscle go still. He whines—Dirk Strider, king of cool, whining around you, good god—and you tell him, "Hardly sporting for you to keep all the fun to yourself, is it?"

He stares up at you, lips stretched wide and cheeks hollowed, his eyes bright enough to burn. When he's satisfied that he has your attention, or whatever inscrutable signal he was waiting for, he leans into you, letting his whole body rock with the next stroke as he swallows you down. It's the most outrageously sexy thing you've ever seen, much less felt. You rock your hips, doing your best to keep up with him, and he moans, curling both hands around your calves and holding onto you.

There's honestly no way you could last. You try to stammer out a warning, to let him know how desperately close you are, and you tell yourself that if he gives any show of reluctance at all you'll let go—but if anything he redoubles his efforts, so you can feel the clutch of his throat closing around you and then you're losing it, in his mouth, dear god, and you don't think you can be held responsible for the sound you make as you find release.

You look down as he gives you one last teasing lick and pulls back, and he looks so insufferably smug you almost laugh. But no, you had plans for him, didn't you? You reach down and haul him up by his shirtfront—because he cooperates with you, and you know that, but it turns out that it's nice to pretend you're really overwhelming him, isn't it?—and shove him up against the wall again.

"Yes," he says as you take him in hand, "oh fuck yes."

You lean in and press your lips to the pulse hammering in his throat. "Keep talking, Strider," you tell him. "God, I love the sound of your voice."

"Well, hey, something we have in common," he says, and then you bite the soft skin of his throat and his moan cuts right through you. You can taste faint traces of that awful cream he slathers on to protect himself from the sun, but mostly what you taste is the raw rugged salt of his skin, and it's wonderful. And he does keep talking, drawling pleas and curses and repeating your name, as you hold him against the wall and dot his neck with love bites and discover that handling his goods is not so different from taking care of business yourself. Though, you will admit, more thrilling, as you hear his voice grow more breathy and feel his body grow tense against yours—and then you've brought him to the brink, and then past it, and he's clinging to you, shaking, pulsing in your hand.

"Jake," he says, "oh god, Jake," and you never thought to see him so undone—and now you've caused it, gotten past (been invited past) the impenetrable wall of Dirk Strider's cool, and the feelings he keeps hidden behind that wall are breathtaking.

You might be just a little bit smitten.

You lean in and kiss his wonderful still-flushed mouth. He tastes bitter, and you know that's you that you're tasting on his lips, and you wonder if he'll taste the same. You'll find out soon.

"Well!" you say as you pull back from that kiss, and you give him what you're nearly sure is your best smile. "Ready for the next adventure?"

Dirk glances down at your shorts, and you cough hurriedly, fumbling to do up your fly. He's a little more leisurely in putting himself back in order, making a show of being casual, pulling out his shades at last and slipping them back on. "Ready when you are, bro."

"All right then, Mister Strider," you say. You take his hand. You're giddy. "Adventure awaits!"