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the day you move (i'm probably gonna explode)

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i.

“I can’t believe you’re going to college tomorrow, bro,” Mac says for what feels like the hundredth time that evening.

Dennis can’t really believe it either, here in the familiar setting of Charlie’s basement with that nice, floaty feeling in his head from the weed that Mac had brought. It could be any other night, but it feels like the end of an era, or maybe the beginning of one.

It was supposed to be the whole gang here to commemorate his departure, the world’s saddest fucking leaving party, but Schmitty had begged off at the last minute claiming to have bagged a date, and Charlie passed out several hours ago after huffing half a can of spray paint. Dee had been hanging around earlier, but she’d flounced off home after Dennis pointed out that she wasn’t any more likely to be popular in college than she had been in high school, back brace or no.

So now it’s just him and Mac, save for Charlie’s unconscious body on the other side of the room, and Dennis is secretly glad for it.

“You gonna miss me?” he asks with a smirk, playing it off as a joke even though the answer actually matters to him in a way he can’t quite articulate. He’s moving on to something bigger and better, but of all the things he’s leaving behind in the process, it’s Mac that he’ll miss the most.

Ridiculous, really. It’s not like he’s moving a million miles away – they’ll still be in the same state, for Christ’s sake. Still, Dennis can’t shake the feeling that things just won’t be the same. He’s never met anybody quite like Mac, with his constant, restless energy and directionless rage, who rarely needs convincing to go along with Dennis’s schemes, no matter how reckless or potentially dangerous. On a surface level at least, they’re opposites in almost every conceivable way, but they’re both looking for an escape from their equally fucked-up lives, and in Dennis’s mind that levels the playing field some.

Mac snorts, exhaling a cloud of sweet-smelling smoke. “In your dreams, asshole.”

He passes the joint to Dennis; it’s almost down to the roach, probably just a single hit left, and Dennis looks at him questioningly. He isn’t a paying customer tonight, and Mac is usually a lot stingier with his own stash.

“You don’t want to finish it?”

Mac waves him off. “Nah, I’ve got plenty more at home. Call it a going away present. And you better not find a new dealer in that frat house, you hear?”

Their fingers brush as Dennis takes what’s left of the joint from him, and the fuzzy bits and pieces of an idea begin to coalesce and come together in his mind. He darts a quick glance over at Charlie to make sure the kid really is as out for the count as he seems, and takes a long, deep drag, letting the smoke fill his mouth. Then, before he can lose his nerve, he leans in to Mac, close, closer, until their lips are touching, and exhales, pushing the smoke past Mac’s teeth and down his throat, forcing him to either breathe it in or choke on it.

It isn’t really a kiss, and it only lasts a few a seconds before Dennis pulls back an inch or so to make sure Mac isn’t going to freak out on him. Mac is staring at him, pupils blown wide, looking more than a little poleaxed, and Dennis notes absently that he’s finally figured out a way to render him speechless.

God, but it’s almost unfair, how cute he can be sometimes.

“Um. What was that?” Mac says, and Dennis has to smile, just a little, because he isn’t moving away, the drugs doing their job and mellowing him out, dampening his inhibitions just enough for Dennis’s gamble to pay off.

“Call it a going away present,” Dennis shrugs, parroting Mac’s words back at him. “Something to remember me by.”

Mac nods distractedly, licking his lips, and Dennis thinks fuck it, he’s leaving tomorrow. He moves in again, for a proper kiss this time, and Mac responds with enthusiasm, sighing contentedly and winding his fingers through Dennis’s hair.

It’s something Dennis has always wondered – suspected, really – about Mac. It’s nothing overt, nothing that other people would pick up on – Mac is good at hiding when he wants to be – but observing people is what Dennis does, and over the past few years he’s noticed the way Mac’s eyes sometimes wander in the locker room, the way he shifts and fidgets when they’re watching a movie together and the male lead gets a shirtless scene.

Mostly he’s noticed the way Mac watches him when he thinks no-one is looking, and he’d be lying if he said it wasn’t an ego boost. It’s always nice to be desired.

They make out for a while, slow and lazy, neither of them particularly inclined to take things further with Charlie drooling in the corner and the dank smell of his mom’s basement surrounding them. Mac tastes pretty much exactly the way Dennis had expected him to, like marijuana and warm beer, and he’s a decent kisser – though not technically the best Dennis has ever had, a little sloppy and inexperienced. Still, Dennis is riding a pretty sweet high, and it feels good, better than good. He could maybe get addicted to this, if he let himself.

This isn’t goodbye, Dennis thinks; not really. It’s more you better not forget about me.

 

ii.

The turn of the millennium also happens to be their second New Years as the official proprietors of their very own bar, and the first one didn’t technically count because they were still finding their feet. They’re not exactly packed to rafters, but it’s still busier than a typical night, busy enough that Dennis starts to feel flustered and claustrophobic with the crush of people crowding around the bar, demanding drinks faster than he can keep up with.

He thinks of the stupid emergency bunker that Dee and Charlie had insisted on setting up, yapping on about Y2K all week. Dennis had made fun of them, and he still thinks they’re idiots for believing the world might end just because the date changes tomorrow, but he has to admit that the bunker is looking more and more tempting, with its stash of beer and promise of solitude and quiet.

By five to midnight, he’s finally had enough, ignoring Dee’s screeching after him as he leaves the bar and heads downstairs. He only realizes when he finds Mac already holed up in the bunker that he hasn’t seen the other man in at least an hour, even though he doesn’t actually remember Mac leaving.

“Still packed up there?” Mac asks, not looking the least bit bothered at having been caught slacking off. Asshole.

“Yeah,” Dennis says pointedly, “which leads me to wonder just how long you’ve been hiding out down here for. The one night we actually need a bouncer and you disappear, what the fuck is that about?”

“You’re down here,” Mac replies – which, okay, is admittedly true, but maybe if Mac had been upstairs actually doing his job Dennis wouldn’t have gotten so stressed out that he needed a break in the first place.

Still, Mac passes him a beer, which goes some way towards making up for it. Dennis isn’t really in the mood for a fight, anyway. He sinks down onto the floor next to Mac, and they both nurse their beers in comfortable silence. Mac is a warm, familiar presence beside him, and when the countdown starts upstairs Dennis finds himself drifting into Mac’s space almost unconsciously, his hand landing on Mac’s thigh without him ever giving it permission to do so. Mac turns to him with a question written on his face and beneath that, something that looks an awful lot like lust in his eyes, and Dennis knows what’s about to happen in the second before it does.

They end up kissing to the backing track of drunks singing auld lang syne, and somehow it’s both the same and not the same as it was five years ago. Mac still tastes like beer, but he kisses more confidently now, pushing back against Dennis rather than passively letting him take the lead. The rough stubble scraping against his face is new too; Mac had been babyfaced all through high school, and Dennis briefly wonders whether it’ll leave a mark, a telltale sign to give them away, but he can’t bring himself to care all that much.

He knows they’ll never talk about this, just like they’ve never talked about the last time it happened, but for now he’s content to just go with it, enjoy the moment. He’s not really a fan of too much kissing anymore, prefers to get right into things, but it’s different with Mac. With Mac, it still feels the way it had when they were eighteen, back when this was still new and exciting and dangerous.

Still, when Mac slips a hand into Dennis’s back pocket and uses the grip on his ass to haul him closer, Dennis starts to wonder whether he might end up getting lucky tonight anyway. He slides his own hand higher up Mac’s leg, still kissing him deep and dirty the entire time, and realizes with a thrill that Mac is getting hard already; Dennis can feel the heat of him through the thin material of his pants, and he isn’t quite at that point himself yet but he’ll definitely be getting there soon if they keep this up for much longer.

Feeling bold, he grinds the heel of his hand against the growing bulge at Mac’s crotch, gets rewarded with Mac groaning and thrusting against him before he seems to remember himself and pulls away, flushed and guilty.

Dennis is disappointed, but if he’s being honest, he’s also a little bit relieved. He generally likes his sex as anonymous and string-free as possible, and Mac wouldn’t just be some lay. Things have the potential to get messy and complicated, two things that Dennis hates and tries to avoid whenever he can.

“We should probably get back up there,” Mac says without meeting Dennis’s eyes, adjusting himself in the most un-fucking-subtle way Dennis has ever seen. “Make sure Dee and Charlie haven’t managed to completely destroy the place.”

He still looks thoroughly disheveled, and despite all of the reasons he just told himself why it would be a bad idea, Dennis kind of wants to kiss him again. He’s pretty sure he could persuade Mac to stay, if he really tried.

“You go ahead, man,” he says instead, listening to his brain for once instead of his dick. “I’ll be up in a minute.”

Mac looks at him, finally, opens his mouth like he wants to say something before he seems to think better of it, and suddenly Dennis just wants to be alone again.

“Go. Don’t want the others getting suspicious.”

It’s the one thing that’s pretty much guaranteed to make Mac leave, and he nods slowly as he clambers to his feet, still staring at Dennis.

“Okay. I… okay,” he says uselessly, before turning tail and practically running from the bunker like the coward he is.

“Happy New Year, dick,” Dennis says to the empty room once he’s gone, letting his head fall back against the wall with a soft thunk.

 

iii.

The Honey and Vinegar thing is supposed to be a simple scam, a convenient way to make some easy cash, and Dennis is surprised by how much he ends up getting into it. He’s even more surprised by the commitment that Mac brings to the bit, because everybody knows he can’t act for shit – but yelling at people is definitely something he can do and he seems to enjoy playing the bad cop to Dennis’s good, and after a few hours Dennis has to admit it’s the most fun he’s had in ages.

When flipping houses doesn’t work out, he suggests that they get in on Dee’s baby thing, pose as a couple and see if they can start a bidding war, drive the price of her uterus up. If he’s being honest, he’s trying to push Mac’s limits, see just how far he’s willing to take this before he breaks character.

Dennis’s sexuality is something he’s never really felt the need to question too much or try and define. He likes sex, and he likes attractive people, and other than that he’s really not picky. He mostly fucks women, partly because it’s just easier, but he’s… dabbled with men too. And not just the thing with Mac; there have been other guys, mostly in college, and it’s gone a lot further than just making out.

Mac, though – Mac is almost definitely gay, Dennis is pretty sure of that by now, and unlike Dennis he has some weird chip on his shoulder about it. It’s all tied up with his masculinity thing and his religion thing and probably his dad thing too, a tangled Gordian knot of issues that Dennis doesn’t have the patience to try and unravel.

Mac doesn’t flinch though, not even when Dennis starts rifling through his wardrobe for the campiest clothes he owns, because nobody is going to buy Mac as a wealthy homosexual in his regular street trash attire. He just changes into the pink polo shirt that Dennis picks out for him with an expression of mild distaste, bitching about how ridiculous he looks.

He does look kind of ridiculous, but he also looks pretty damn good, as Dennis had known he would. More importantly for their little scheme, he actually looks halfway presentable, with his stupid tattoos covered up and not an “ironic” slogan in sight.

Dennis performs his own quick change, and they’re almost ready to leave the apartment when Mac grabs his arm and tells him to wait.

“What’s up?”

Mac responds by shoving him up against the wall and kissing him hard and hungry, nipping at Dennis’s lips and licking into his mouth like a starving man. Dennis is too stunned to respond for a second or two, because it’s been years since they last did this; both of those times Dennis had been the one to initiate it, and there had been the possibility of blaming it on the drugs or the alcohol, but now they’re both stone-cold sober, and Dennis has no idea where it’s coming from.

Still, it’s not like he’s about to complain, and once the surprise wears off he gets with the program enough to give back a little, opening his mouth wide and angling his head to deepen the kiss, pushing his thigh between Mac’s and grinding against him.

Eventually they have to break apart for air, but even then Mac doesn’t go far, dropping his head to rest on Dennis’s shoulder, effectively leaving Dennis caged against the wall. Not that he minds so much.

“What was that about?” he asks, which maybe isn’t a good idea, but he’s honestly curious.

“Getting into character,” Mac says, without raising his head. “Gotta make it convincing.”

Dennis seriously doubts that the yuppie couple Dee is scamming will ask for visual proof that they’re fucking, but what the hell; he’s used to Mac’s warped logic by now, and he’s not about to question it, not when it’s giving him exactly what he wants. He is curious, though, about how far he might be able to take things before Mac puts on the brakes this time.

He gets his answer when he sinks to his knees and blows Mac right there against the wall, something that Mac not only allows but actively encourages, petting Dennis’s head and thrusting shallowly into his mouth. It’s been a while since the last time Dennis sucked a dude off, and he has to remind himself how to relax his jaw, how to breathe through his nose so he doesn’t gag. Still, he thinks he does a pretty good job, if he does say so himself, and it doesn’t take long at all before Mac is tugging urgently at his hair and warning him that he’s about to come.

Dennis ignores him, other than to re-double his efforts and take him even deeper. Mac whines Dennis’s name as he finishes, which kind of defeats the purpose of this whole roleplay charade, but whatever. Dennis isn’t going to call him out on it.

He swallows what he can, wipes his mouth on the back of his hand as he rises to his feet. Mac is still breathing heavily, staring at Dennis with a slack-jawed look of awe before he seems to come back to himself and re-buttons his slacks with shaking hands.

“That was, um… thanks,” he says weakly. “You want me to…?”

He gestures vaguely at Dennis’s crotch. Dennis is actually a bit surprised that he would even offer, despite the fact that even somebody as clueless as Mac must know it’s only polite to reciprocate.

“Nah, I’m good.” Dennis wills his erection away with minimal effort. He’s already gotten what he wanted. He can’t quite resist leaning in and kissing the stunned expression off Mac’s face, though. He hopes that Mac can taste himself on Dennis’s tongue, incontrovertible proof of what he just let Dennis do to him.

Dennis smirks as he pulls away, runs a hand down the front of Mac’s shirt to smooth out the creases.

“C’mon, Vic. Let’s go make some money.”

 

iv.

He doesn’t notice Mac’s weight gain at first. It creeps up on him bit by bit over a matter of weeks, until he looks around one day and realizes that his roommate has been replaced with a fat, disgusting slob who carries around literal trash bags full of junk food and apparently doesn’t know how to operate a razor.

The most infuriating part is that Mac doesn’t even seem to see it, despite the fact that they don’t exactly hold back in mocking him at every available opportunity. No, he insists he’s just packing on mass, like it’s something to be proud of. And it’s not just the change in his physical appearance, though God knows that would be bad enough on its own. Seemingly overnight, Mac turns into somebody who’ll happily abandon Dennis in pursuit of food, and to make matters worse he starts hanging out with Frank, who only encourages his newfound grossness. In retaliation, Dennis finds himself spending more and more time with Dee, her freakish boniness oddly reassuring as the two of them tag-team to make fun of Mac with gleeful relish.

It’s worse when the rest of the gang isn’t around, when it’s just the two of them in the apartment. Dennis watches Mac cramming donuts into his face and shooting up with insulin – sometimes both at the same time – and it feels like a betrayal. They’ve officially entered their second chapter, as Dee had put it, and he’s pretty sure there was a time not all that long ago when Mac was at least as committed to preserving their youth as Dennis. But now it looks as though he’s embraced the physical decline of middle age as inevitable, and he’s dragging Dennis down with him.

On some level, Dennis knows he’s being irrational – he’s pretty sure that fatness isn’t actually contagious – but he feels bloated and unhealthy just looking at Mac, like if he so much as breathes too much around him he’ll put on fifty pounds overnight. The bigger Mac gets, the more Dennis restricts his own diet in response, ignoring Mac’s entreaties for him to take better care of himself because he’s hardly going to take health advice from someone who looks like such shit. He spends hours counting crow’s feet and gray hairs in the bathroom mirror, cakes on as much foundation as he can get away with while contemplating whether or not the time has come for him to try another chemical peel.

It takes him back to when he was a kid and his mom would constantly make comments about Dee’s weight, despite the fact that they were always more or less the same size. Dennis would be even conscious of what he ate, determined to be the good twin; would rub his sister’s face in it on the rare occasions when Barbara would take notice and tell him how handsome he was getting.

Sometimes he thinks about Mac dying, and then he can’t stop thinking about it. One night he freaks himself out so badly that he finds himself standing in Mac’s doorway in the middle of the night, just to make sure his heart hasn’t actually given out on him in his sleep. But no – Mac is still snoring away, rasping breaths punctuated by his sleep apnea, far from being the picture of health but most definitely alive.

Now that he’s got the proof he came for, he knows he should just leave, go back to his own room before Mac wakes up and Dennis has to come up with some explanation for why he’s lurking in his doorway like a creeper in the middle of the night. He still feels too keyed-up and unsettled, though, not in the mood for his own company, and he silently moves further into the room, climbs into Mac’s bed with him like it’s something he does every night. He scoots over until he’s half on top of Mac, his head pillowed on Mac’s chest, and the extra padding is actually pretty comfortable if he doesn’t let himself think about it too much.

He knows the exact moment that Mac wakes up, because he gives a particularly loud snort and then tenses all over as he realizes he’s not alone.

“Dennis? What the fuck, bro?”

“If you die for real, I’m not burning the duster,” Dennis says into the blackness of the room. He can’t see Mac’s face, but he can practically hear him frowning in confusion. “I mean, it doesn’t even fit you anymore, so really you should just give it to me anyway.”

“Uh, I’m not dying, dude. What the hell are you talking about?”

Dennis wants to tell him that he shouldn’t make promises he can’t keep, that there’s no possible way he can know that for sure. Sometimes he feels like Mac has already died, been taken over by this overweight impostor who says vaguely the right things but isn’t quite the same person Dennis has come to rely on over the last twenty years.

His thoughts must somehow get through to Mac even though he doesn’t voice a single one of them out loud, because Mac sighs and wraps an around Dennis’s shoulders to accommodate him, drawing him closer. It feels safe, safer than he’s felt around Mac for a while now. Then there’s a bristly roughness against his skin that it takes him a second to identify as Mac’s beard as Mac brushes his lips against Dennis’s forehead.

Funny, really, that Dennis has had Mac’s cock in his mouth before now, and yet somehow this feels like too much intimacy for him to handle.

“Go to sleep, asshole,” Mac says. “I’m too tired to deal with this right now.”

Dennis does end up drifting off after a while, lulled into an uneasy rest by the sound of Mac’s wheezing and his own sheer exhaustion. When he wakes sometime later, Mac is wrapped around him, suffocating, his bulk threatening to engulf Dennis completely. He can feel Mac’s morning wood pressed against his thigh, a contrast to the repulsive softness of his gut; swallowing his rising disgust, Dennis extricates himself carefully and retreats to the bathroom, taking care not to wake Mac so that this becomes a Thing they have to talk about.

In the shower, he resolves to start researching how to drug somebody into losing weight without them knowing it as soon as he gets some time alone. If Mac isn’t going to take care of himself, Dennis is just going to have to do it for him.

 

v.

Losing their apartment and having to move in with Dee is less than fucking ideal for a number of reasons, but the one that gets under Dennis’s skin the most is the lack of privacy. He can’t even jerk off without first coming up with some elaborate scheme to get Dee out of the way, and he hasn’t gotten laid in months, the whole sorry situation throwing him off his game so that he’s operating at less than half of his full capacity. It’s even worse after he destroys all his sex tapes in a fit of rage and has to resort to watching regular porn like some common schmuck. There’s no artistry to it, no authenticity, all fake tits and implausible positions and terrible acting.

It’s better when he can get Mac to watch it with him, which takes surprisingly little convincing when Dennis first floats the idea. They settle into a routine, searching up videos on Dee’s laptop whenever she’s out for more than an hour; always straight porn, naturally, and always vanilla enough that they can both get off to it without learning too much about each other’s weird kinks. Dennis doesn’t know how Mac justifies it to himself, doesn’t much care, at least not to begin with. Mac had said once that he’ll never change his mind on anything, and that’s pretty much true, but he’s more than willing to warp the rest of the world to fit his outlook, no matter how bizarre or illogical the consequences. It normally pisses Dennis off, but he’s not above using it to his advantage when it suits him. He has needs, after all.

The porn doesn’t really do much for Dennis, but it’s a convenient excuse to indulge in what really gets him off: Mac sat next to him on the sofa with his knees spread wide, tugging artlessly at his cock. The soft sounds he tries and fails to hold in, the way he sneaks glances at Dennis out of the corner of his eye every now and then, like he actually thinks he’s being subtle.

Sometimes their eyes will catch while they’re both pretending not to watch each other, and neither of them will look away. The whole charade is ludicrous, Dennis knows it is, but he’s wary of pushing Mac too far and sending him running. Over the last few years he’s watched Mac sink deeper and deeper into his knee-jerk religious fundamentalism as his sexuality has become increasingly obvious to everybody, including himself. They haven’t so much as kissed since the real estate scam five years ago, and it’s fine, it’s not like it was ever a regular thing, but Mac is so goddamn transparent about what he wants, always making passes at Dennis at the worst possible times, like when he’s covered in trash or they’re trying to get a rat out of the wall, like he’s relying on Dennis rejecting him so they can never upset the status quo. His stubborn denial and self-delusion is a source of endless frustration for Dennis, but he’s willing to take what he can get.

Mac always finishes first during their joint masturbatory sessions, and after he’s done Dennis usually holds his own orgasm off as long as he can, making a performance out of it, reveling in the knowledge that Mac is watching him. Tonight, though, he’s not feeling it; Mac finished five minutes ago, and Dennis is still going through the motions, stroking himself robotically but not really feeling it, staring blankly at the laptop screen without taking in any of the action.

Mac obviously notices, because he asks if Dennis is feeling okay, and Dennis muses idly that it must be fucking serious if Mac is willing to break the silence that normally rules whenever they do this.

“I don’t know,” Dennis admits. He closes the laptop, tucks his flagging erection back into his boxers and turns to face Mac fully on the sofa. Mac is watching him warily, but he looks at least a little bit disappointed, which is vaguely gratifying.

“What’s up?”

Dennis isn’t honestly sure. He feels weird, off-kilter, has done for a while now; at least since the thing with the group dating, if not before then. All he can say for sure is that, for whatever reason, this is no longer enough for him.

“Hey, Mac, if you had to give me a rating –“

“Seriously?” Mac interrupts, “You’re still on that? I’m not doing this with you, dude.”

“I’m just curious. I mean, I let you watch me jerk off. I sucked your dick, or do you not remember that?” And now Mac’s expression is shifting from wary to outright alarmed, because this is moving into the territory of things they definitely Don’t Talk About, but Dennis can’t stop himself, all of his bottled rage spilling out of him like so much vomit. “It was a long time ago; I can do it again if you need a refresher.”

“No!” Mac practically yelps. Then, slightly calmer: “That, uh – that won’t be necessary. Dennis, where the hell is this coming from?”

“Just forget it,” Dennis sighs, because if Mac really is this clueless then he’s certainly not going to waste any more time or breath explaining it to him. “I’m not sure we should do this anymore, that’s all.”

“Wait, why?”

“Don’t you think it’s all a bit… gay?” Dennis says, going right for the throat. He wants to see Mac squirm.

“No way, it’s just – just making do with our circumstances, right?” Mac stammers. “Just two bros helping each other out. I mean, it’s not like we have our own rooms anymore, so it’s either this or one of us waits outside while the other… you know.”

“Christ,” Dennis mutters. He can’t find a trace of irony anywhere on Mac’s face, which is maybe the most disturbing aspect of this whole thing. “You really are unbelievable, you know that?”

Mac just keeps frowning at him in confusion, and Dennis stands, fully intent on storming out of the apartment because he knows a lost cause when he sees one.

“I’d give you five stars,” Mac says when he’s halfway to the door, so quietly Dennis almost doesn’t hear him. Dennis doesn’t turn around or acknowledge him in any way, but he smiles to himself where Mac can’t see.

He’s counting this as a victory.

 

vi.

They end up coming to blows in spectacular fashion not long after they get back from the suburbs. Dennis can’t remember, afterwards, exactly what it is that finally pushes them over the edge; it’s death by a thousand cuts, the straw that broke the camel’s back and every other tired cliché in the book, and by the time it’s over Mac has a split lip and Dennis’s cheekbone is throbbing in a way that tells of the spectacular bruise he’s going to have tomorrow.

He finds it oddly satisfying, in a perverse sort of way. They’ve both left their marks on each other, there for all the world to see. They match.

“You know, sometimes I can’t even stand the sight of you,” he says. It’s unduly harsh, below the belt, and somehow he means every word even as he doesn’t mean any of it. Mac is a pathetic, cowardly shell of a man in complete denial about every single aspect of his life, and all of that should make Dennis want to kick him to the curb like so much garbage, but.

But his relationship with Mac is the longest he’s ever had, outside of Dee and Frank, and it means something, even if he can’t quite articulate exactly what that something is. It’s gratifying to know that Mac will always be there, to be on the receiving end of that kind of adulation. Dennis isn’t blind; he’s well aware that Mac loves him, and he’d be lying if he said it was entirely one-sided. He isn’t even sure if he’s capable of that kind of love, but he knows that the way he feels about Mac isn’t the same as the way he feels about Charlie or Dee or any of the nameless women he strings along and sleeps with. His Mac-feelings are in a class of their own, undefinable.

He’s just so fucking tired of everything, of this whole charade, and he doesn’t have the energy to keep it up anymore. He wishes that Mac would have the balls to be honest for once in his goddamn life and admit the truth about who he is, about what they are to each other.

Mac laughs, hollow and bitter. “Yeah? Too bad, asshole, ‘cause you’re stuck with me. Nobody else is ever going to put up with your shit.”

“I’m sorry, my shit? What about your shit? Or do you honestly think there’s anybody else in the world who could stand to listen to you going on and on about karate and creatine and whatever the hell else without strangling the everloving shit out of you? I have the patience of a goddamn saint to have put up with you for this long.”

“I’m sorry, I didn’t realize I was such an irritation to you,” Mac snaps. “Maybe I should just find my own apartment and get out of your hair for good.”

Dennis knows it’s an empty threat – Mac never has any money, for one thing – but he still gets that tight, panicky feeling in his chest at the thought of Mac leaving him for real, like all the oxygen is being sucked from the room, and it makes him lash out again.

“Please. You wouldn’t last five minutes on your own before you came crawling back, and we both know it. Face it, you’re obsessed with me.”

“Don’t flatter yourself,” Mac says, but it’s lacking conviction and he won’t meet Dennis’s eyes, and suddenly Dennis knows exactly how to win this argument. Mac has always responded better to actions than to words, and Dennis learned in a dank basement over twenty years ago that there’s one thing that’s pretty much guaranteed to stop him in his tracks.

He crosses the distance between them until he’s right up in Mac’s personal space, tips Mac’s chin up and kisses him hard and bruising. It’s more a continuation of their fight than anything else; he can taste the metallic tang of blood from Mac’s busted lip, and there’s an instant where Mac resists, stubborn and unyielding, before he eventually gives in to Dennis’s coaxing and fairly melts against him.

Even when Dennis pulls away, he doesn’t let Mac go far, keeping him in place with one hand against the back of his neck and the other twisted in the collar of his ugly printed shirt.

“Tell me you want this,” he says. “I need to hear you say it. Just once, and I’ll never ask you again.”

Fine!” Mac explodes, and it’s like surrender, goddamn finally. “I want this, I want you. Okay? I want to do a hell of a lot more than just kiss you. But then you already knew all that, so what, are you happy now? Does that satisfy your goddamn ego?”

He’s getting worked up again, so Dennis silences him with another kiss, softer this time. He soothes the cut in Mac’s lip with his tongue, kneads at Mac’s shoulders until he feels the tension start to leach out of him again.

“All this time,” Dennis says when they break apart again, “did it honestly never occur to you that all you ever had to do was ask?”

After that, everything moves in kind of a blur. They go from kissing to making out to full-on grinding right there on Dee’s couch, zero to sixty in record time, and it strikes Dennis as faintly ridiculous that they should be doing this out here when there’s a perfectly good king-size bed in the other room, when Dee could get back at any minute – but fuck it, this is happening, fucking finally, and he doesn’t have the patience to put on the brakes for even the few seconds it would take them to relocate.

Mac seems to feel the same, judging from the way he’s kissing Dennis like he can’t get close enough, like he’s trying to crawl inside, tugging at Dennis’s curls in a manner that’s just shy of painful. Dennis shifts, swinging a leg over Mac to straddle his lap fully; from this position, he can feel Mac’s cock hard and straining against his own, and they both groan out loud at the contact even through the multiple layers of clothing still between them.

Mac is fumbling at his belt and Dennis thinks, smart, because he doesn’t actually want to come in his jeans like a fucking teenager. Between them they manage to get both pairs of pants and underwear shoved down just far enough to make this workable, and then Dennis wraps his hand around both of their dicks to jerk them off in tandem. The angle is awkward as all hell, his wrist starts cramping after the first thirty seconds, and if this was someone he’d seduced with the D.E.N.N.I.S. system he’d consider it one of his shoddiest performances ever, but somehow none of that seems to matter because this is Mac and it’s real and it’s perfect in its imperfection.

“Oh shit, Dennis,” Mac says, followed by a whole stream of garbled nonsense that Dennis mostly tunes out, concentrating on working them up to the edge. It gets immeasurably more difficult to focus when Mac starts doing distracting things to his neck, biting and sucking at the tendon like he’s trying to leave a bruise. It’s always been something of a sensitive spot for Dennis – which Mac probably knows from watching all his sex tapes, the fucker – and he can’t help the moan that escapes him. Mac squeezes his ass in response, and God, how have they not been doing this for years.

Usually Dennis has much better self-control than this, but he finds that he’s already close, years of sexual tension finally catching up to him. He changes his grip so that he’s only touching Mac, determined that he should get Mac off first. It doesn’t take long; Mac thrusts up into his hand a few more times, mouth falling open, and then he’s spilling over Dennis’s fingers with nothing more than a quiet gasp, sinking his nails into Dennis’s thigh with a white-knuckled grip.

Dennis feels a liquid heat pooling in his belly as he watches Mac sink back against the sofa cushions with a blissed-out expression on his face, and he’s about to finish himself off when Mac grabs his wrist to stop him, says, “wait, I want to.”

Dennis finds himself surprisingly content to hand over the reins, and Mac moves his hand up and down Dennis’s shaft in slow, even strokes, a little tentative at first but growing bolder the more Dennis responds positively.

“Is this okay?”

“Mm, a bit faster,” Dennis manages. “Yeah, that’s it. God, you’re so good.”

He takes note of the way Mac’s pupils dilate and his breathing quickens with the praise, files it away for later. Someday, he thinks, they’ll rent a nice hotel room, somewhere real classy, and he’ll ride Mac properly on pure cotton sheets. Or they’ll do it the other way around, and he’ll open Mac up nice and slow, until he’s begging for Dennis to fuck him. Or both. Dennis is open to experimentation.

For now though, this is enough – it’s more than enough, it’s everything, and he gives himself over to it, twining his arms around Mac’s neck and burying his face against his shoulder as Mac jerks him off. It’s only a goddamn handjob, and it isn’t even the best Dennis has ever had, isn’t even in the top ten; it shouldn’t be making him feel like his skin is on fire, like he’s about to spontaneously combust, but there it is.

His orgasm takes him by surprise when it hits, knocking the breath out of him. He groans and shudders his way through it, clinging to Mac like a lifeline, and even after his vision clears he keeps his face hidden a few moments longer, making sure to compose himself before he draws back to look Mac in the eye.

Mac is beaming up at him, his biggest, dopiest smile that he seems to reserve purely for Dennis, and he pulls Dennis down for a kiss, his hand still sticky against the side of Dennis’s face. Dennis wrinkles his nose in mock-disgust, but he doesn’t really care; he feels light, lighter than he has in months, like the stars have aligned and all is right with the world. He rakes his fingers through Mac’s hair, deliberately messing it up just because he likes it better that way, and gently sucks Mac’s lower lip between his own. It’s still bleeding, just a little bit, and Mac hisses when Dennis catches the soft swell of flesh with his teeth.

“Sorry,” Dennis says when he pulls back.

Mac shrugs. “Don’t worry about it.” He rubs his thumb along Dennis’s cheek, and Dennis has no idea why until the dull ache blooms there a second later, a lingering reminder of their fight. “We’re even.”

“Yeah. I guess we are.”

He climbs off Mac’s lap to flop down beside him on the couch instead, their sides pressed together. Neither of them says anything for a while, but it’s comfortable, not like the weird, tense silence of the last few months. Dennis finds himself craving a post-coital cigarette, even though he rarely smokes these days.

“So, what now?” Mac asks eventually.

“Well, I don’t know about you, but I could use a shower,” Dennis says. Then he notices the way Mac is watching him, guarded and hopeful all at once, and he has to restrain himself from rolling his eyes, because seriously, Mac is so needy it’s almost untrue sometimes. He can’t find it in himself to be genuinely irritated, though, not right now.

“Shit, Mac, I don’t know. What do you want, a proposal? We’re already practically married, for Chrissakes. Like you said, we’re stuck with each other. As far as I’m concerned, nothing else has to change, except maybe this could be a regular thing from now on.”

He gestures to indicate their general state of dishevelment, and Mac nods enthusiastically. “Bro, I was thinking the exact same thing.”

“Good. Just so long as we’re on the same page… We could use our own apartment, though,” Dennis muses, glancing around Dee’s living room with distaste. He pictures what they’d look like if she were to walk in right now and has to smother a laugh as he imagines her reaction. Yeah, they definitely need their own place again. Nothing like the last time; just a nice, reasonably-sized two bedroom apartment in the city, preferably close to the bar. He can probably get the money out of Frank somehow; maybe he could even convince Dee to chip in if it’ll get them out of her apartment quicker, especially now that they’re going to be having sex on the regular.

Acting on impulse, he searches Mac’s hand out with his own, skin sliding over skin, laces their fingers together once he’s found it. It’s a gesture, the sort of thing he knows Mac appreciates, and Dennis thinks it’s important that they get this thing off to a good start. He feels kind of weird and embarrassed about it, but in a good way, like when he was fourteen and dating Maureen Ponderosa for the first time and it was all new and strange and exciting.

Mac glances down in surprise before turning away and ducking his head, and Dennis can tell without even looking at him that he’s grinning again, sappy and ridiculous.

“Cut that out,” he says, but there’s no heat to the words. He doesn’t really mind; it’s actually, God help him, kind of cute, and he leans further into Mac’s space until his head is on Mac’s shoulder, their linked hands resting between them. He thinks absently that they really should get up soon, make themselves presentable before Dee does walk in on them, but as it is he’s just too goddamn comfortable to move. He doesn’t usually like this much closeness after sex, finds it suffocating and claustrophobic, but as with most things it seems that Mac is the exception that proves the rule. Where everybody else makes him feel itchy and restless in his skin, Mac grounds him, an anchor to keep him from spinning off into orbit.

He’s not sure he’ll ever be able to admit any of that out loud, but he figures it doesn’t matter. From the way that Mac is looking at him, he’s pretty sure that Mac knows it already.