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A Decent Boldness

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Raven stepped in the kitchen and let out a scream.

It was a scream of surprise, rather than fear, and it was justified, she thought, by the circumstances. Walking into a room and finding a strange man there would catch anyone off guard, at least for a second or two. A strange, half-naked man. A strange, half-naked, gorgeous man who appeared to be ... making tea.

As soon as she caught herself, though, she did feel a little foolish. It wasn't like she hadn't known Charles had brought someone home last night. Charles didn't bring people home very often (most of his hook-ups took place at the other person's place, leaving him to cheerfully make his way home in the wee hours of the night or morning) but Raven was always aware of it when he did bring them back here.

If Charles had a superpower, it was being really, really loud in bed. The walls in their apartment weren't even particularly thin, and yet. Raven had been flipping through a magazine in her room last night when he got home, and she'd immediately gotten out her iPod and stuck in her earbuds, which took care of most of it - though even that couldn't completely tune out the rhythmic thumps shaking through the wall from the movements of Charles's bed.

The thing was, though, Charles had brought people home before. But not once ever had Raven woken up to find one of them still here. Let alone hanging out in her kitchen.

The man had turned toward her when she screamed, the surprise on his face quickly followed by amusement. "Hello," he said, nodding at her. "You would be Charles's roommate, I suppose?"

"Sister, actually," Raven said.

"Ah," the man said, nodding again. He turned back to the mugs on the counter. "I was making tea - would you like a cup as well?"

He had a slight accent that Raven couldn't place. "No, thank you," she said. "I was just getting some OJ."

She had to squeeze around him to get to the cabinet with the glasses, and then back to the fridge. They were close enough for her to notice how good he smelled.

She poured herself a glass of juice and sat down at the table. Since he was turned away, she took her time appreciating the view of his back. He was really pretty hot - but then, Charles always had good taste. His shoulders were wide, contrasting with the way his body tapered down to the smallness of his waist. He was wearing jeans, and they hung a little low on the swell of his ass.

He stretched up to the top shelf, the one she and Charles couldn't reach without a stepstool, and the way it made all the muscles in his back move was almost obscene.

Raven felt her face start to flush a little bit. She sipped thoughtfully at her juice and wondered whether he went for girls as well as dudes. Charles had given her carte blanche ages ago to hit on his ex-trysts. "It makes it so awkward, once they've slept with my sister, they'll never come near me again," he'd told her, rather cheerfully. "Imagine how much easier it would be if I didn't have to talk to them! No confrontations at all," he said. He'd even looked a bit blissed at the prospect.

It was really a shame she was still in her nightgown and bunny slippers. She hadn't even brushed her hair yet. Still.

"I'm Raven," she announced. "What's your name?"


"Nice to meet you, Erik," Raven said, smiling at him.

He turned around, a steaming mug in each hand. "I should bring this to your brother," he said, gesturing towards the doorway.

"I'm sure he can entertain himself for a little while," Raven said. "Come sit down and talk with me for a bit."

Erik raised his eyebrows, and for a second Raven wasn't sure if that was too much - but then he walked forward, setting the mugs on the table and settling in the seat across from Raven.

"So why don't you tell me about yourself," Raven said. She rested her arms on the table, leaning forward in a way she thought would emphasize her cleavage.

Erik was giving her a look she couldn't read. It wasn't that he was expressionless, just ... inscrutable. "Oh, I'm not so interesting," he said slowly.

"I doubt that very much," Raven said, flashing him another smile.

"You-" Erik started to say something, but he stopped, glancing at the doorway. Raven turned her head to look, too, and there was Charles.

He was more or less dressed, a t-shirt and boxer shorts. His hair looked ridiculous, sticking up all over his head at strange angles. He was wearing his old, thick, dorky glasses instead of his contacts, which had no right looking good on anyone, but somehow gave off sort of a charm on Charles. As he walked across the kitchen, Raven could make out the bruises forming all up and down his arms, and the trail of hickeys disappearing down his neck and under his collar.

Really, if there was an illustration for the word "well-fucked" in the dictionary, Raven thought, it would be a portrait of her brother right now. She tried, suddenly, to remember exactly what things she heard Charles yelling last night, but came up blank.

Charles wrapped himself around Erik, nuzzling his cheek against Erik's hair before slipping into the chair with him, arranging himself comfortably on Erik's lap. "Mmm," Charles said, picking up one of the cups of tea with both hands, "wonderful," and he closed his eyes and took a long swallow, a rapturous look on his face. He leaned back against Erik's chest.

"Good morning, Charles," Raven said drily.

He beamed at her. "Good morning, my darling. Sleep well?"

"Tolerably," she said. She pushed her chair away from the table and stood up. "If you'll excuse me, I'm gonna go shower. Later." She gave Erik another thoughtful look as she left, and he met her eyes with a cool gaze.

"Later," Charles called after her.

By the time she had showered, dressed, and made herself up for the day, Erik was gone. She found Charles sprawled across the couch, still looking ridiculous but now half-covered by a blanket, watching a DVRed episode of the Daily Show. He paused it when she sat down next to him.

"Okay," Raven said, "now, spill." She waited.

"What do you mean?" Charles kept the innocent china-doll expression on his face for a long couple of moments before he broke into giggles.

Raven punched him lightly in the arm. "Come on, Charles. Give me the details."

"Oh, god, Raven, where do I even start?" Charles said. "Okay, so the first thing is - he has the largest penis I have ever seen on any human being in my life. I'm not even kidding."

"You're such a fucking size queen," Raven said, rolling her eyes.

"Even if I hadn't been before, I would be now. I'm telling you, it was glorious. And I mean, he knew what to do with it. I think I saw the face of God last night," Charles mused. "Twice."

"Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord," Raven sang lightly, thinking of Young Frankenstein.

"You're not going to believe this part, but we actually talked a lot, too," Charles said.

"You're right," Raven said. "I don't believe you."

"We did, though. For hours. He's brilliant in his own way. Very smart."

"Yeah," said Raven, "he looks smart."

Charles laughed, aiming a kick at her and missing.

"So are you, like, serious about this guy?" Raven said.

"What?" Charles suddenly sat up straight. "I don't - you know me, Raven."

"He was in our kitchen, Charles. You kept him here for breakfast."

Charles frowned down at the blanket, smoothing the wrinkles out against his thighs.

"Okay," Raven said, "easier question, then. Are you going to see him again?"

"Maybe," Charles said. A second later: "Yes. But that doesn't mean anything."

"Yeah, right."

Charles glared at her.

"Charles, there's nothing wrong with having a boyfriend. People do it every day." She reached out and patted his arm comfortingly.

He flipped her the bird. "Don't condescend to me, Raven."

Raven shrugged. "Fine. So if it's so not serious, you wouldn't care if I slept with him, then?"

Charles's mouth fell open in shock. "What? Of - of course not."

"That was very convincing," she informed him. "Face it, you're going to get married to him and have a million babies and live in monogamous bliss forever."

Charles sighed. He looked down at his lap, his eyelashes fluttering. "Raven," he said seriously, "if you really are interested in him, then I wouldn't have you stop on my account. I do like him, quite a bit, and - I know I'm not very good at relationships, but I might. I might be able to try, for him. But that doesn't mean anything about the two of you. Actually, you know, I think you'd have a lot in common."

Raven paused a moment, and then said, "Ugh. I hate it when you're such a martyr." She stood up from the couch, and walked away in a huff towards her bedroom.

"What the fuck is martyrous about that? Fuck off, Raven," Charles yelled, and she slammed her bedroom door behind her.

She flopped down on her bed, crossing her arms against her chest and glaring at the ceiling. She wasn't even really sure why she was so angry, but it was there, bubbling up inside her.

Fucking Charles's boyfriend, she thought, teasing at the idea like a loose tooth. Charles having a boyfriend, having somebody special, somebody lasting, not just one in a long string of bodies. Sharing somebody with Charles - like the two of them sharing a doll, passing a comic book back and forth. She pictured herself, fucking him in this bed - and then afterwards, Erik getting up and going to Charles's room, and fucking him.

She didn't dislike the idea.

She pictured him fucking both of them in the same bed, and it made her gasp aloud.

Erik wasn't a doll, though, or a comic book, something for them to trade. He was a person. He'd have his own thoughts and feelings and wants and needs. Probably he wouldn't even be interested in something like that anyway. Most people wouldn't.

And, too, she had barely met the guy. Maybe he was a jerk. Maybe they wouldn't get along, or they would just be somehow incompatible. Maybe he smoked, or liked the Red Sox, or was pro-life. You never knew.

But after all: there was only one way to find out, and that was to ask. To try. To see.

She reached to the nightstand for her phone to send Charles a text. Gimme his number, then.

It was less than a minute later that he responded, a series of ten digits and then a note: Fine, but don't do anything I wouldn't do followed by a winking emoticon.

"What a goober," Raven said out loud to herself, and she set the phone back down and stood up to go and join him again on the couch.