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Dave sighs. “I love Deryck, but I swear to God.”

Steve smirks. “We all love Deryck, we all swear to God. This time you’re rebound, a month from now it’ll be Cone, a month after that it’ll be me. Buck up and be a good friend.”

Dave sighs again. That timeline is probably actually very accurate. Unlike him or Steve, who basically decide at the beginning of an encounter which role they want, or Cone, who seems to care so little about what he does that Dave half thinks in college he’ll come out as non-active, Deryck has cycles. Unfortunately for him, so does Avril. It tends to boil down to two weeks they’re happy having sex, for a few days they don’t fit and they fight about it before breaking up, for a week they prowl for partners fitting the role they want, and then they miss each other and start wooing each other back.

“So where you meeting him?”

“Fuck that. Told him to meet us here. If he really wants me to dom him he can consider that his first order.”

Steve laughs. At him, because he’s a dick and doesn’t know to laugh with people, only against them. “Right, that’s a great idea. Tell him to leave his house and come meet you in the middle of a parking lot for a scene. You’re gonna get the cops called. I realise that’s not really a big thing for us, but sooner or later we’re gonna get arrested, and better for graffiti than public flagrance, right? Don’t want our future employers to think we can’t keep it in our damn pants.”

“I’m not paddling him against a car-”

“Good. You aim wrong and one of the skateboard wheels could really fuck him up.”

“I’m just telling him to meet me here. He’s the one that desperately needs to submit, but couldn’t tell me that before we left school. I’m, like, in skateboarding mode. Unless he actually shows up-”

“And we all know the likelihood of that-”

“I’m staying in skateboarding mode.” Dave finishes. He emphasises the point by running up the steps and attempting to slide down the railing. It’s not especially smooth, but he doesn’t faceplant and break his nose, and that’s what counts.

Twenty minutes later Steve smacks his ass as he’s skating past. It makes Dave look up from the cracked part of lot he’s on. He wobbles as the movement throws off his balance for a second, but a quickly stomped down foot stops him from toppling.

“You actually came. Dave thought you wouldn’t.” Stevo smirks, and Dave has no choice but to flip him off.

“Why? Because she dumped me? I’m supposed to be curled on the couch, crying? She can’t provide what I need, so I’m getting it elsewhere.”

It’s nothing Dave hasn’t heard a hundred times over the last four years. Sometimes he wishes they would just break up permanently. It would hurt Deryck more at first, but in the end it would be less bullshit. But Deryck isn’t his sub, Dave can’t tell him what to do. There is a difference between Deryck submitting for him, and Deryck being his sub, and he’s well aware that it’ll never be more than the first. Nor does he want more than the first, really.

Dave pulls on his wallet chain until it’s out of his pocket, and crams his fingers in the tightly cut space he keeps bills in. He really needs to get a new wallet, all the compartments are impossible to get into. Having your favourite band’s merch doesn’t mean shit when it’s not actually functional. “Here’s ten bucks. I want you to match it. Then go in one of the stores, find something you want me to use on you and buy it. Think hard about what it could mean, because I’m not taking suggestions. Once it’s in my hand I’m using it and you how I want.”

Nodding, Deryck takes the bill. Steve waits until he’s in through one of four doors of the strip mall to ask “what do you think he’s gonna get?”

“Dunno. Knowing him, bungee cords.”

“Really? He likes to struggle with you? He doesn’t with me. But then, I think I sub for him more than I dom.” Steve kicks his skateboard then runs to jump on it while it’s still moving.

“No, it’s really just availability. The last time I went inside it was a second hand gaming store, a specialty kitchen and a dollar store, with a gym in the basement. He’ll have to makeshift something to wrap himself in and I’m guessing it won’t be three boxes of aluminum foil.”

Deryck must be pretty certain of what he wants. Just a few minutes after walking in he comes out. Stevo is at the top of the stairs when one of the doors swings open. He grabs the Dollar Store bag at the same time that he says “ohhh, whatcha got?”

Dave could shout thanks for undermining my scene dickwad but he won’t. Even if he did Stevo wouldn’t apologise, he’d just laugh. Hell, he might even be too stoned to understand the word undermining. Besides, right now he is a dom. Admitting failure due to an asshole’s interference is not going to happen.

“If you wanted to be hairless you should have called Cone, not Dave. You know he’d be all over hot wax.”

Deryck doesn’t answer. It takes Dave a second to realise he’s quiet because of his earlier command to not give any suggestions. It adds the first whiff of sexuality into his afternoon. He’s not about to take Stevo’s suggestions either. “Give me the bag Steve.”

Stevo ties a knot with the handles then throws it at him. Dave catches it easily. Picking out the knot is harder, bags wrinkle in ways rope doesn’t. Inside the bag is duct tape, a six pack of it. Dave’s got thirty seconds to figure out how to either turn Deryck on with it, or comfort him with it. Red Green never covered this. Thankfully he gets an idea before he has to brainstorm with Steve, or with Cone by text. “Come on, we’re going to my dad’s.”

“Don’t suppose I can go?”

Deryck continues his silence, looking at the part of the railing where he paint has chipped off.

“Fuck off.”

“Fine then. I’m gonna go have awesome sex with Cone.”

“Great. You enjoy your cold shower.”

His parents have been divorced five years. Sometimes he questions the reasoning, as even separate they seem to make a lot of the same decisions. Maybe they were just too similar. Apart from the ‘it’s not your fault’ and ‘we still love you’ bullshit -like his self esteem is low enough that he really thinks he caused it- the most oft repeated thing was ‘it got boring’. If there’s anything Dave’s internalized it’s that; that monogamy leads to boredom. Thankfully he’s a switch in a group of switches. Four years isn’t fifteen, but he’s not bored yet.

One of the many things Mom and Dad have in common is sandwiching life with career by living in lofts over their businesses. Waking up at Mom’s is nice. Breakfast comes in many forms in the bakery below. Seeing as even walking down a flight of stairs and unlocking two doors seems taxing some mornings, pre-made doughnuts can be very helpful. On days like these though, Dad’s car repair place has its perks.

“You need to change into something with long sleeves. Grubby’s preferable.” He’s never actually tried this before. If he has to cut the shirt away it won’t be his autographed KISS shirt. Deryck nods and opens his closet. It’s a lot emptier than the one at Mom’s. Dad doesn’t do his laundry for him, so most of his clothes stay at his mom’s.

“Deryck. I want you to take the comforter off my bed.” The blanket is flung off the bed in a matter of seconds, and he waits patiently for the next request.“Take the sheet off.” Deryck does. “Now help me carry the mattress downstairs.” It would be silly to tell Deryck to do it himself. Demanding things a sub can’t do only makes the dom look bad.

Even with the help, it takes at least ten minutes to get it through the house, down the stairs, and into a clear space on the shop floor. Semi clear, at least. The bottom is probably going to be pretty grimy by the time it goes back upstairs. Dave’s next step is to set up the plywood rig. Deryck doesn’t try to help, but he doesn’t interfere either, just grabs a loose wrench and slowly tilts it back and forth like a pendulum.

Because life is like that, it’s only when Dave has everything figured out and has ordered Deryck to lie flat on the board that someone starts knocking on the door. Dave sighs, and tries to figure out what he should do. The door is locked, and most regulars know not to come by. Wednesdays are the sole days Dad takes off, so he can have one night a week with the sub he still hasn’t let Dave meet. The only thing Dave knows about her is that it is a her, Dad let pronouns slip a few times. On the other hand, because of him the shop lights are on. If they’re too stupid to read the hours printed on the door, they’re probably stupid enough to complain to family and friends that Baksh Repairs has a bad attitude. He’ll have to open the door and tell them politely to fuck off, come back tomorrow.

It’s not a customer. It’s Stevo. Dave’s got strength, decent bulk, but Steve always manages to catch him off guard and this time is no different. Before he has the chance to block the door with his body, Steve is slipping in. “Cone didn’t feel like fucking. While we were using the last bits of autumn to get our skate on, our lovely boy was getting fisted.”

“How is that my problem?” It’s undercut with a tone of go the fuck away, not that Stevo will care.

“Entertain me.”

Dave sighs. Steve’s pretty much asking for a punch in the face right now, which is a problem because if Dave does, Steve will ask for another. Dave doesn’t have a problem paddling Steve, but Deryck asked first and the scenes are incompatible. “Can’t. I need to do this for Deryck.”

“Let me help.”

“Jesus Christ. Fine. Get a roll of tape and help me tape him down. No two in any one direction. If this is gonna work it needs to be a ton of points of contact for weight distribution.” Stevo takes a few steps towards Deryck and the plywood before something occurs to Dave. He grabs Steve’s arm and pulls him back. “I think you already know this, but I’m gonna remind you. If we do this wrong it won’t make him mad enough to hit you. It’ll make him sad and scared that he can’t trust us.”

“I already know that.” In fact, he looks offended that Dave said anything. Well, good. Better offended than hurting Deryck.

Dave doesn’t time how long it takes to get Deryck completely covered. It doesn’t matter, all that matters is that this is safe for him. It’s a bit of a surprise that Steve doesn’t get bored and wander off, but he’s not doing this for Steve, so he doesn’t much care. It quickly becomes obvious the shirt will be a lost cause, but it’s just an aggressively manly Ed Hardy shirt one of the doms Mom was testing with gave him.

“You’re going up now.” It’s a statement, and he doesn’t ask if he’s ready. It would just ruin things.

Dave keeps a tight grip on the pulley. That doesn’t stop him from mentally crossing his fingers. For a second it looks like Steve is just watching, then he realises he’s actually spotting. If the tape starts peeling off when there’s more weight on it, Steve will stop Deryck from cracking himself on the floor if he doesn’t fall directly onto the mattress.

In the end it’s unnecessary. The plywood makes it to horizontal without snapping. The lengths of tape have peeled in the middle, between Deryck and the edges of the wood, but they’re stuck to both Deryck and the edge well enough that it holds. Deryck is now about six feet in the air, looking directly down at Dave's bed. Or he would be, if his eyes were open.

“How are you doing?”

“Perfect.” It’s hard to argue with that tone. It’s not sarcasm or gritted teeth. It’s bliss.

“I’m going to leave you up for a while.”

“Please.”

Dave smiles. When he looks over to ask Steve if he can watch him for a second while he runs upstairs to get his bass, Steve is smiling too. They’ve been on both sides of this feeling. Deryck might only need them a week a month, but it’s always a good week.