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Next Level Bromanship

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If Tyler hadn’t wanted to get a new paint job on his car, he probably would have never found out. They were drinking, and because they’d lost that night, it wasn’t celebratory drinking. Jamie rolled out with them and had exactly three shots, sitting at the bar, looking like a sad sack, before he said he was leaving.

“Next time,” Tyler said, giving Jamie an encouraging nipple rub.

Jamie just twitched and went on his way. Tyler was also feeling pretty sad sack, but being out always cheered him up. Or at least it didn’t depress the fuck out of him the way being home alone did. Tyler considered the dance floor, but then he remembered that he needed to ask Jamie to give him a ride tomorrow, and hurried after him. Sharpy had left with Jamie, and when Tyler finally tracked them down, they were having what looked like an intense conversation just outside of the queue for cabs.

Tyler walked up carefully; they hadn’t noticed him, and he didn’t want to interrupt, but also he wanted to know what was going on.

“Because he told me,” Sharpy was saying insistently when Tyler got close enough to hear.

“He didn’t tell you anything.”

“He did! All about your epic fucking boner for Segs.”

Sharpy was lying through his ass. Even from over the shoulder of some random dude standing between them, Tyler could tell that. He would have thought Jamie would be able to tell too, but there was a moment, just this half a second, where Jamie looked nervous, and jesus fucking christ. Tyler needed to get out of here.

But of course Jamie noticed Tyler staring at him almost immediately after that. If the previous flash over his face before hadn’t been enough to convince Tyler, the expression he got when they made eye contact sealed it.

Tyler pushed his mouth into something like a smile and waved brightly.

“Hi, boys,” he said, stepping forward.

Sharpy looked at Tyler, then back at Jamie. It seemed like he was going to say something, but then he just paused with his mouth open. Did he even realize what was happening? Fucking Sharpy, who only managed to pull off funny pranks about half the time.

“So,” Tyler said, flushing so hard that it brought a roaring to his ears. There was at least a ten percent chance he was going to have a heart attack and die, he was so unbearably embarrassed for Jamie. Tyler remembered that he had come to ask for a ride, but actually he could just hitchhike if he had to, it would be fine, probably he could leave now.

“Yup,” Tyler said, for lack of anything better, and turned around.

He could hear Jamie calling his name, but like hell no to that. Tyler walked back into the club. It was really loud, humid from the crowd. Tyler needed to hide somewhere in case Jamie came after him, so he pushed his way to the middle of the dance floor.

There were a bunch of girls dancing, because it was a good place and they always let in more girls than guys. If Jamie followed Tyler into the club and found him surrounded by girls, it would seem like Tyler was trying to send a message. Which was maybe a bit douchey. But like. Jamie knew. He had seen Tyler surrounded by girls more times than either of them could count. That was -- that wasn’t what was weird about tonight. What was weird was that apparently Jamie had forgotten about all that, or it didn’t matter to him, or did he actually think that Tyler would be interested in his dick?

Tyler wanted to be a good friend about all of this, but he was literally surrounded by more girls than he could touch. Jamie couldn’t actually think -- Tyler didn’t know what Jamie was thinking. Some stuff about Tyler’s dick, apparently. Probably some stuff about Tyler’s ass. Maybe things about Tyler’s mouth, or -- who knew. Jamie had a whole secret life in his brain that, before this, Tyler really hadn’t worried that much about. Jamie usually seemed like the kind of guy who was just looking for shapes in the clouds. That was fine, but Tyler didn’t want to lie in a field with him. But then apparently Jamie was actually thinking some Brokeback Mountain shit. Not even just because of the homo, but those dudes fucked in a field. Jamie probably wanted to fuck him in a field.

“Are you having a seizure?” someone asked him, like really loud, right in his ear.

“Fuck off,” Tyler said automatically. It was a cute girl who had said it, giving him a mean look, like it was Tyler’s fault that the dj had transitioned the songs badly and Tyler had momentarily been too distracted to dance properly.

“Show me how it’s supposed to be done then,” Tyler said, because cute girls looking at him scornfully was basically his jam, and he wasn’t going to let Jamie ruin this evening for him. It had been a little while since Tyler had come inside; apparently Jamie hadn’t actually followed after him.

That was good. It meant that he wouldn’t see the way Tyler’s hands fit around the girl’s hips. It was a good fit. Tyler’s body fit well with girls’ bodies. He thought the girl probably agreed, even though what she actually said was, “Watch my fucking toes, you’re going to ruin my shoes.”

She was everything Tyler could have hoped for.

--

So the next morning, Tyler didn’t have a ride to the arena, and he didn’t know the name of the girl in his bed, and he tried to fix both of those things by asking the girl to call them a cab. He thought she would have to give her name, but actually she just used the app for Uber, and that solved nothing.

He also really wanted to fuck her again, but it didn’t seem like she was super into it, so instead he asked, “You want breakfast?”

“Yes, but not with you,” she said, and like, fuck, she was hot. It was kind of crazy that Tyler had been able to pick up a girl this hot without even trying.

“When’s the car going to get here?”

“Call your own ride,” she said. “I don’t want you to know where I live so I’m not sharing a car with you.”

“We could drop me off first,” Tyler said.

“I’ve got to get to work,” the girl said.

“I have to get to work, too,” Tyler said, even though he actually had like two hours before he had to be at the arena. “I’ll let you sit on my face until the car gets here.”

The girl turned her head, but he still caught her smile. The uber came really fast, like faster than she did. She rode his tongue, one hand in his hair and the other on her phone, and when the car got there, she said, “Ugh, fine, you’re coming with me to finish that.” His face was still covered in her pussy, so he wiped it on the corner of his t-shirt, just remembering to grab his wallet and his gym bag as he followed her out the door.

When they got back to her place, she pushed him down on her bed and said, “Hurry up, hurry up, I’m going to be late.” Her thighs were wet when he got his head between them, like she’d gotten even more turned on during the car ride over. She came pretty fast, and got out of bed right away.

“You can shower with me, but you have to jerk yourself off. I need to wash my hair.”

So Tyler jerked off in her shower while she systematically combed conditioning oil through her hair. He didn’t push for anything else, but while she waited for the conditioner to soak in, she eyed him and said, “Maybe just one more time.”

He sat on the edge of her tub while she rode him, which was basically the most intense core workout of his life because there was nothing to support his back and she went really hard.

So in the end, he got to fuck her, but also it seemed like it was her idea, which made it even better. She said, “You’d better fucking be clean,” and he said, “I am, I swear,” before he came inside of her. And then he figured out her name by super casually looking at the address label on one of the issues of Vanity Fair that she had piled behind the toilet -- Gillian -- and then he asked for her number and she gave it to him, so all in all it was a fantastic morning.

He didn’t mean to think about Jamie, except that when he was finally on his way to the arena, in a new Uber, he remembered that he had pussy juice smeared all around the collar of his shirt, and then he remembered Jamie’s stupid joke about bunching mox, and then he started wondering if Jamie’s huge hard-on for him was the reason why he didn’t like eating pussy. Did he like sucking dick? If he didn’t like eating pussy or sucking dick he was basically a useless human being.

For a minute, Tyler was actually more concerned about that than about the fact that Jamie was apparently into Tyler’s dick specifically, but nope, actually that part was the main concern. Anything involving Tyler was the main concern.

Tyler showered at the arena, and then changed into a spare set of clothes, putting his dirty shirt in his bag instead of in with the laundry because it wasn’t fair for anyone but him to have to deal with that. He was pretty early, and he got on the elliptical, because it was no impact so he could kind of cruise for an hour without interfering with his training plan.

Some of the other guys started filtering in, and yeah, hey, how’s it going, good morning, good morning. The team had been so fucked with injuries that season -- fucked on the ice as well -- and there was now this underlying tension that usually seemed friendly. Like they were all on the same side of the firing squad.

By the time Jamie got in, Tyler had taken off his shirt. Just because the elliptical was no impact, it didn’t mean he wasn’t feeling it after an hour. He looked over at Jamie. Last night had been weird, and Tyler had let his mind get away with him a little bit, but now that he was in the same room with Jamie, it was easier to remember that the dude was just a guy. Like it was Jamie, he was one of Tyler’s boys. Probably the whole thing had been a freak misunderstanding.

Tyler smiled, and Jamie, who had been taking an embarrassingly long time to tie his shoelace, looked up, met Tyler’s eye, and went so deeply red that for a second Tyler actually thought he might be asphyxiating.

He wasn’t asphyxiating, but also Tyler hadn’t been wrong about last night, and motherfucker, why couldn’t Jamie have just been choking on his tongue like a normal friend. Someone would give CPR, like maybe one of the trainers, or, like, Spezza or someone, and then they could all just go about their days and nothing would change.

Instead, Tyler scowled at Jamie and put his sweaty shirt back on. Tyler hated wearing clothes.

Jamie was making everything the worst.

--

Normally, Tyler would grab the dogs and head over to Jamie’s and be like, bro, I met this girl, because Tyler liked talking things through but obviously the locker room was not the place to do that. Now it seemed like that would be awkward, so not only did Tyler have this whole fucked-up crush thing to deal with, he also had no one to help him figure out how long to wait before texting Gillian. Well, he obviously had Brownie and like a ton of other buddies, but specifically he didn’t have Jamie.

Like Tyler had a ton of other buddies, and that was the problem. He was friends with guys. Guys were his friends. Jamie was his friend. Friends didn’t look at each other and they didn’t think about that kind of stuff -- like none of that weird sex stuff that Jamie was probably thinking. Tyler didn’t know, but it wasn’t chill thoughts that would make Jamie go red like that in the gym. For a minute Tyler was blindingly furious at Jamie for sullying their awesome brohood, and then he thought, Well, fuck it anyway.

Being a buddy to someone who had a crush on you was like next level bromanship.

Tyler was just going to lock down that weird nervous feeling. He didn’t know what it was beyond a persistent urge to drive to the airport and take the first available flight to anywhere, absolutely anywhere that wasn’t here. But he wasn’t going to. He wasn’t going to do anything but be an awesome friend to Jamie.

--

Tyler was an awesome friend when he didn’t tell Jamie about Gillian, not even before their next date when Tyler didn’t know which shirt to wear and Brownie wasn’t responding to his snaps for some stupid reason like having his own life or whatever nonsense he was always claiming. But Tyler left Jamie alone, and instead texted Johns and Cracknell and both of his sisters, and finally his mom before he got the answer he was looking for (I really don’t care what you wear / Mom i need to know / You look fine in either).

He ended up going with an entirely different shirt, one that had these big yellow splotches that kind of looked like pineapples. The thing about first dates was confidence. Gillian took one look at him and snorted. “Nice shirt.”

“You look nice, too,” Tyler said, but with very different intonation.

His ugly shirt was very easy to find on the floor of her bedroom the next morning.

--

Tyler was an awesome friend during their next away game when they lost, and he slapped Jamie’s ass and said, “That’s okay, bud,” while Jamie stood frozen in front of his locker, looking like -- well, pretty bad, to be honest. He didn’t respond, even when Tyler also gave him a shoulder grab, so that part was good, sort of. Apparently they were beyond the blushing phase.

--

Tyler tried again after the last game of their road trip, stripping off his pads even before he was sure that all the media was gone. Didn’t really matter; everyone had already seen his everything. They had lost again. If someone gave Tyler a time machine, he would go back to the start of this miserable season and do -- what, he didn’t know, but he would do something.

“It was a bad call,” Tyler said, bumping his shoulder up against Jamie’s. It wasn’t actually a bad call, but of course they’d gotten scored on while Jamie was in the box, so now Jamie was looking Eeyore as fuck.

Jamie gave Tyler a look, like, No lies will rouse me from the pit of my despair, and it wasn’t until after Tyler was showered and dressed again that he realized that Jamie hadn’t responded at all to his nudity.

It was probably good, he thought, once he was back home, lying on the floor while Cash and Marshall tried to edge each other out for space on his chest. He was getting crushed. It was nice. Imagine if Tyler had to come home alone. He would crawl out of his skin.

So Jamie wasn’t being weird around him anymore. That was obviously the objective. Tyler was relieved.

Did that mean that Jamie didn’t like him anymore? If he didn’t, it would be kind of weird, because Tyler hadn’t done anything especially unlikable lately.

Tyler went through periods where he was exceptionally unlikeable, so he knew when he was being that way. Lately he’d been just kind of nice or whatever. He had his whole plan of being a good friend to Jamie, which was going well. Sure he had the occasional moments where he thought about Jamie lusting after his dick and freaked out, but just like privately. He hadn’t even told Gillian about Jamie, that’s how good a friend he was.

It was funny that Jamie would like him and then just stop, for no reason at all.

--

Tyler remained a good friend when they were back home and Jamie came over with Jordie to swim in Tyler’s pool. Tyler wore his swim trunks, which he realized now were cut maybe a little shorter in the leg than normal swim trunks, but whatever. He was totally chill about this entire thing. Even after they finished swimming, he didn’t put a shirt on right away.

Jamie didn’t seem to be paying any attention to Tyler’s body, which was annoying. He probably was looking, but Tyler couldn’t catch him. Tyler wanted that moment where he caught Jamie and Jamie caught himself being caught, and then everyone would acknowledge how cool Tyler was being about this whole thing. But instead Jamie just acted like it was nothing to hang around Tyler when he was mostly naked.

Tyler lay on the chair until his skin was sun warm and then jumped back in the pool again, just him this time while Jamie and Jordie chatted on the loungers. He climbed out of the water and walked, still dripping wet, past Jamie on the way for a beer. Jamie didn’t pause his conversation.

--

The thing that Jamie probably didn’t realize was that even if he wasn’t a guy, he still wouldn’t be Tyler’s type. Tyler liked women who were older and who ragged on him constantly and caused so much trouble that it almost wasn’t worth spending time with them, except for all the times when it was so worth it. If Jamie woke up tomorrow with boobs -- like even if he woke up with really big boobs, boobs that were way more than a handful -- Tyler still wouldn’t be into him. Jamie was nice. He laughed at Tyler’s jokes. He liked to hang around and play video games and eat dinner and they could spend like twenty four hours straight together and not get into a fight about anything bigger than whose turn it was to go to the fridge for more beer.

That was fine for a friend, but Tyler wouldn’t date a girl who had Jamie’s personality. It would be fucking boring.

--

They lost again. Tyler facetimed with Brownie on the way to this party he’d heard about from some third-hand buds who were pretty chill.

“At least you scored,” Brownie said.

Tyler made a sad, puppy face.

“I know, bro,” Brownie said.

“Would you still love me even if I never scored again and I got traded to the Antarctica?”

“I guess, kinda,” Brownie said. “Not if you went broke though.”

Tyler laughed in spite of himself.

“Stop drinking if it’s making you emo,” Brownie said.

“You should see me when I’m sober,” Tyler said. “Anyway, I miss you. I’m lonely.”

“Are you not literally on your way to a party as we speak?”

“You know,” Tyler said.

“Yeah, I know,” Brownie said, and then he chatted with Tyler about some boring shit, keeping him company for the whole rest of the drive to the party.

--

Gillian had an ex-boyfriend who still came to her house sometimes, and one of those times, Tyler was there. He pounded at her door for a really long time.

“I told him I was fucking a hockey player,” Gillian said after she had looked through the peephole for a really long time wearing only a bra and no underwear.

“I’m not fighting him,” Tyler said. He put on his pants, just in case.

“Obviously not,” Gillian said. She looked Tyler up and down and said, “He’s way bigger than you.”

“You’re such a fucking -- “ Tyler grabbed her. She pulled against him, then let her body go soft.

She whispered, “Push me up against the wall.”

“I’m not fucking you when he’s right out there,” Tyler said, even as he shoved her against the wall, trying to avoid any of the picture frames.

“I didn’t say you could fucking fuck me,” she said, and then she pushed at his shoulder.

He scowled at her. Bit at her tits through the thin fabric of her bra on his way down to his knees. Got two fingers inside of her, and said, “You’re sucking me off after this,” before he put his mouth on her pussy.

“If you do a good job,” she said, grabbing a handful of his hair.

Her ex banged on the door again. Tyler wondered if he could see through the peephole or if that was a one way thing. It was hot either way.

--

They finally won a game, thank fuck. The club they went to had a massive chandelier that glowed neon. There were mirrors everywhere, and Tyler couldn’t actually tell how large the room was because it seemed like it was endless. He wanted to dance, and he said, “Come on, come on,” but Jamie didn’t want to move.

Tyler said, “Fine, shots first,” and went over to the bar.

“You know the shots that have like little pieces of shaved ice in them?” he asked the bartender.

“That’s not a type of shot.”

“It makes it really cold. I like that.”

“I’m just going to make you something,” she said.

Tyler leaned against the bar and watched her shake some really brightly coloured alcohols together. “My friend won’t dance,” he said. “Would you dance with me? If you weren’t working.”

“Are you a good dancer?” the bartender asked, filling a line of shots in one quick pour.

“No,” Tyler said. She laughed, so he left an extra forty dollars on the bar.

When he brought the shots back to the table, Jamie swallowed one immediately, then paused before he took the next one. “What the hell are we drinking?”

“I don’t know!” Tyler said. He suddenly couldn’t stop laughing. “I just have no idea.” He leaned against Jamie. “I really want you to come dance after this.”

“You’re such a fucking lightweight,” Jamie said. “Jordie’s not going to carry you to the cab again.”

“I never asked him to do that,” Tyler said with great dignity.

“How about you go find someone else to dance with?”

“I’ve already got this girl I’m fucking,” Tyler said, and then remembered that he hadn’t meant to tell Jamie that. “I mean. Not in a mean way.”

“I’m -- glad you’re not fucking her in a mean way?” Jamie asked, making a lot of question marks with his eyebrows.

“No, I mean, I wasn’t trying to tell you in a mean way. I wasn’t trying to make a point.”

“What kind of point would that make?” Jamie asked.

“Like about how I won’t let you on my dick or whatever.” There was probably a better way of putting that, but while Tyler pondered it, he thought of another question. “Do you like my dick?” Tyler asked. He thought gay guys were usually all about the monster cocks and his was just normal sized. Girls liked his dick. Maybe his dick was sized for girls. Jamie might actually not like his dick. But he must like something about Tyler. Tyler wanted to know.

“Wow,” Jamie said. “You seriously need to stop drinking.”

“I’m not drunk,” Tyler said automatically, although he might have been drunk, who knew.

“You’ve just got to let it go, okay? I’m not the one making this a thing, you are.”

“It’s just weird, because you were my friend,” Tyler said. He would have rather had this as a private conversation, but it’s loud in the club so he had to yell it.

“I’m still your friend,” Jamie said.

“Okay, well, good.” Tyler wrapped his arms around Jamie’s shoulders and rested his head on his own bicep. “That’s all I’m saying.”

Jamie tilted his head to give Tyler’s a little bonk, and let him stay like that for a pretty long time, considering.

He even went dancing with Tyler after, stupid dancing where neither of them touched each other or anyone else, just flailed around, miming the lyrics to the music, laughing.

--

They lost, and Jamie looked sad. They had the next day off, but Tyler couldn’t convince Jamie to go out.

“Sorry, I’ve just gotta --” Jamie waved his hand in a way that meant, take a sadness bath, or something equally depressing.

So Tyler let him go home, and then he stopped at the liquor store, picked up two cases of beer, went to his own home to take the dogs on a walk, got back in the car, and drove himself to Jamie’s house.

When Jamie answered the door, Tyler said, “Come on loser, we’re going to the mall,” which managed to surprise an actual smile out of Jamie.

They drove around for a long time after that, dusty roads illuminated only by the headlights of his car. Eventually they found a log fallen by the side of the road that looked nice, got out of the car, and started drinking.

“I did not think this through,” Tyler said after the sixth or seventh beer. “We’re definitely too far to walk home.”

“We’ll stay here until you’re sober,” Jamie said, sounding very much like he wouldn’t mind saying here forever. He passed Tyler another beer.

They had turned off the car to save the battery, and the only light was coming from the flashlight function on Tyler’s phone, sitting face down on the ground. He hadn’t checked, but the battery was probably going to die soon, and they should save Jamie’s phone in case they actually had to make a call. With the last of the light, Tyler found a stick for him and a stick for Jamie and then they used them to hit rocks into the black sky.

“Don’t hit it straight up,” Tyler said, laughing and shoving at Jamie’s shoulder. “We’re going to get beaned.

It was too dark to tell who was the better hitter, but it was probably Jamie. Tyler liked not having to be competitive about something for once in his life. He kept throwing the stones in the air and swinging, and the only way to tell if it was a good hit was by the reverb on the stick. Jamie kept breaking his sticks, and by the end he was just throwing stones, and then Tyler started throwing stones, and then they were both throwing stones and screaming and laughing.

Tyler’s phone went black and Jamie tripped over the log, ended up on the ground, groaning.

“Help me find my phone,” Tyler said, dropping down to his knees and feeling around. Rock, rock, rock, either a stick or a rattlesnake, rock, empty bottle, rock. He bumped into Jamie, the solid, warm mass of his body. It was funny to touch skin after holding so many rocks. Tyler slid his hands up Jamie’s arm. He’d obviously been doing a lot of lifting. Tyler rubbed his thumb over the cut of his deltoid.

“Don’t,” Jamie said, his voice soft in the dark. “Your hands are dirty.”

Tyler let him go.

They found Tyler’s phone. They were going to sleep outside but it was fucking cold once they stopped moving, so they got into Tyler’s car, turned on the engine, blasted the heat on the highest setting until the inside was warm, and slept in the front seats. Even pushed all the way back, there wasn’t enough fucking room. Tyler’s body ached in that scratchy, all-over way that came before a hangover, like it hurt to burn through the last of the alcohol.

He could kind of see Jamie’s shape in the dark. Tyler didn’t know if he was sleeping. They were both very quiet, except when one of them flopped around to try to find a more comfortable position. Tyler thought he was never going to fall asleep, and then he thought that was fine, because, ache and all, he felt sort of happy in that moment.

He woke up before he even realized he’d slept. The sun was screaming bright; the car sweltering. Tyler had sweated through his shirt, and he probably stunk.

“Jesus,” he said, trying to pull his seat upright. He looked over at Jamie, who was already awake, propped up against the side of the car. One of his cheeks was red from being slept on.

“Can we please just go to McDonalds?” Jamie asked. Tyler only ever ate lean proteins, but he didn’t want to go home yet, so he said yes.

--

They lost, they won, they lost, they lost.

Jamie came over before their game for lunch. After they finished the salmon, they just sat there, not really doing anything, and it was probably because Tyler was right on the cusp of getting bored that he thought, I bet I could get him to suck my dick.

That wasn’t a very nice thing to think. Tyler didn’t think that maybe Jamie would like to suck his dick, which, like, yeah, Jamie probably would because he was like gay for Tyler and that’s what gay dudes were into. It probably would have been fine to think about that. Jamie could like whatever he wanted to like, and that was a-okay with Tyler. He actually wished that someone would make a joke about Jamie being a cocksucker just so he could show to other people how cool he was about all this, instead of just having to think it to himself all the time.

But what Tyler was actually thinking about, in that moment, was that maybe he could get Jamie to suck his dick. Not because Jamie liked it, and not even because Tyler liked it, because Jamie knew that Tyler wasn’t into him. Tyler was thinking that maybe Jamie would suck his dick just because that’s how much he liked Tyler. Like he would do anything that Tyler asked.

Tyler didn’t like it when people did the things he asked. He liked pushing boundaries; it was comforting to be told no. But he didn’t think Jamie would tell him no, and that gave him this mean, kind of aggressive feeling. Like maybe he should push Jamie. Jamie deserved it for wanting Tyler. What a stupid fucking thing for Jamie to want.

--

They lost, and even Tyler didn’t feel like going out somewhere fun, just to a chill place for the old guys.

“Wow,” Sharpy had said at that. It was probably Tyler’s fault for inciting him, and later that evening Sharpy said, “So are you going to fuck Benn or what?”

“I like brunettes,” Tyler said.

“Jamie’s a brunet.”

“I meant the girl kind.”

“Hmm,” Sharpy said and wiggled his eyebrows in a way that didn’t actually communicate anything.

“You cause, just, so much trouble,” Tyler said. They were the last two guys still drinking in this generic, Anywhere America pub that had five beers on tap and TVs mounted to every single wall.

“Just trying to keep things interesting. Do you know how many Stanley Cups I won with my last team?” Sharpy swirled the last of his beer around in the bottom of his glass.

Tyler laughed. “You’re preaching to the choir, buddy.”

“Dallas: where good players who are too much of a liability to play on good teams go to die.”

“Well that’s fucking dark,” Tyler said. “When we win the cup this year, I’m going to tell everyone you said that.”

Sharpy raised his eyebrows, downed the rest of his beer. He got a concussion like a week later, which almost would have been funny, except, of course, it wasn’t.

--

Gillian was dating her ex again, which Tyler had sort of seen coming. He never found out how old she was, but probably like thirty, which was that beautifully frustrating age when women were really good at sex but also really motivated to find someone to have a baby with. It was the best of ages, it was the worst of ages. The last time they fucked, she rode him until both of their legs were shaking, her hand on his wrist, keeping his fingers pressed tight to her clit. He didn’t know how many times she came, because she got quieter and quieter the better it was, until at the end she was barely even breathing. Even after he came, she held his hand on her the whole time his dick was softening inside of her. After that, she told him about her ex.

Tyler said, “Yeah, that seems right,” and got dressed without showering first. They’d started using condoms again.

He went home and let the dogs sit on the couch, one on either side of him.

“Daddy’s not alone,” he said, one hand on Cash’s head, the other curled around Marshall’s shoulder. “You’re my little babies.”

Marshall twisted around to lick his hand. Tyler closed his eyes. “That’s right, buddy. You’re my nice, sweet babies.”

--

They finished an away game and went from the airport to Tyler’s house. They walked the dogs and then sat on the couch. Tyler had let Jamie hold the remote, but he was starting to regret that, because Jamie kept methodically clicking through all the channels and it was making it blatantly obvious that nothing was on TV. Tyler was getting bored; he didn’t like where his mind went when he was bored.

He reached out and grabbed the remote from Jamie’s hands. Jamie didn’t struggle. Tyler turned off the TV and said, “Did I make you realize you were gay?”

Jamie took so long to blink that Tyler thought he might be having one of those weird mini strokes that he saw some headline about, like the person looks fine but actually they’re losing blood flow or something. Tyler poked him between the eyes, and Jamie finally blinked. He also punched Tyler in the arm, like really hard in the bicep.

“I’m not gay, you douchemuffin.”

“Whatever,” Tyler said.

“You’ve met my girlfriends before.”

“I don’t mean gay like gay, I just mean, you know, like, kind of gay.”

Jamie rolled his eyes, and then it looked like he was going to stand up and go or something, so Tyler grabbed his forearm.

“You know what I mean,” Tyler said.

“Like only so, so rarely,” Jamie said. He looked down at Tyler’s hand, so while Jamie watched, Tyler slide his hand down and around Jamie’s wrist to clasp their palms together. He didn’t thread their fingers, because that wasn’t bros, but other than that, he held on to Jamie’s hand pretty tight.

“You didn’t make me realize anything,” Jamie said.

“Because you already knew?”

“Um, yeah. I guess.” Jamie was still looking down at their hands, but now it seemed like that was more because he wanted to avoid making eye contact with Tyler.

“What do you like about me?” Tyler asked.

Jamie breathed out loudly. He opened his mouth, and the parting of his lips made a wet sound.

It didn’t seem like he was going to answer, but then he said, “You’re just hot, okay, Segs? You already know that.”

It was exactly what Tyler expected him to say, and, in a certain way, it was the best case scenario. It was just that he was hot; he already knew that. But abruptly Tyler’s stomach went hot with anger. He let go of Jamie’s hand.

“That’s bullshit,” Tyler said.

“Oh my god, what?” Jamie asked. “You talk about being hot more than anyone else I’ve ever met.”

“Yeah,” Tyler said. “Exactly. Because you know me and shit. There are a million hot dudes. You don’t like me because of that. You like me because you like me.”

“I’ve seriously never said that I like you,” Jamie said.

“Look, I’m going to suck your dick, but it’s just to prove a point,” Tyler said. He slipped off the couch and onto the floor.

“What the fuck?” Jamie said, recoiling towards the back of the couch.

“It’s okay,” Tyler said, putting his hands on Jamie’s thighs, just above his knees. “It’s hot, right? You want me to do it?”

Jamie made a wordless sound. Tyler let his hands slide up a little further.

“It’s hot because it’s me. Not because it’s some random good-looking dude.” He rubbed his palms up Jamie’s thighs. “You want it because it’s me.”

“Okay, well you don’t actually want it at all,” Jamie said. He caught Tyler by the wrists and lifted his hands so that he could step off the couch.

“Sure I do,” Tyler said, because he wasn’t going to let Jamie call his bluff. He was still on his knees. “Come back here and let me show you.”

“That’s a terrible idea.”

“Then what’s a better idea?”

Jamie sighed.

“No, tell me,” Tyler said, rising to his feet. “What’s a better idea? What should we do instead?” He walked towards Jamie.

“Tyler,” Jamie said when Tyler got close enough to touch. His voice was too quiet for Tyler to understand what he meant. Tyler pressed their lips together. He put one hand on each of Jamie’s shoulders and felt the breadth of them. He tugged at Jamie’s lower lip with his teeth until Jamie opened his mouth and gave him his tongue.

Jamie didn’t move his hands.

Tyler pulled back long enough to give him a shake. “Kiss me properly, you fucker. You’re the one who wants this.”

Jamie looked like he was going to pull away, but then his face changed, intense enough that Tyler suddenly was reminded of all the times he’d fought guys and won. He didn’t look like a fighter, but he kind of felt like one. All the held-back strength in his body. He grabbed Tyler by the hips and kissed him so hard that Tyler’s jaw ached with it.

His thigh was right there, so Tyler rubbed his cock against it. Jamie pulled back to gasp and Tyler followed after him, nipping at his jaw. He caught Jamie’s earlobe between his teeth and flicked his tongue against it. Jamie’s hands slid around to grab his ass.

“Do you want to suck my dick?” Tyler asked, rocking his hips.

“Okay,” Jamie said. He pulled back a little and started walking them to the couch.

“No, like. Do you want to though?”

“Are you going to be a douche about it?”

“I won’t try to be,” Tyler said honestly.

Jamie laughed, once, shoved him until he landing on the couch. He undid Tyler’s pants and then yanked at him, hard enough that it kind of hurt, but it was good once Tyler’s cock was free. Jamie crawled in between Tyler’s legs, his feet hanging off the edge of the sectional.

Tyler had kissed other guys before -- for a laugh or because a girl had wanted them to -- but he’d never gone further. Jamie’s mouth on his cock felt like any other blowjob. It wasn’t different, it was just good. He touched Jamie’s head, and it was weird because his hair was short, but there was plenty there to grab onto.

The only thing that was different, maybe, is that Jamie didn’t try any fancy swirly stuff with his tongue. He wasn’t doing much at all except keeping up this wicked suction, working the rest with his hand. Was that because he was a guy and he knew or was that just because he was Jamie? Tyler rocked up, and Jamie didn’t try to stop him, just lifted his head so that there was enough room for Tyler to rock into the tunnel of Jamie’s hand without pushing deep enough to bump up against the back of his throat.

It was so good that Tyler had to say something. “I’ll suck you after, okay?” His voice sounded stupid and high. “Don’t stop, fuck, Jamie.”

Tyler couldn’t catch his breath. His head was going light, but he couldn’t breathe, and Jamie kept sucking, and he was going to come. It felt like it stretched out for such a long time -- the certainty that he was going to come, this edge that he could just ride and ride until something finally tipped him over. His thigh jerked while Jamie jerked him through it, his hand strong. Tyler curled forward, curled into it, coming so hard that it fucked up his whole body, like he didn’t have control of himself at all.

Jamie finally let go of his dick, looking around the room. It took him a minute, but Tyler finally realized he was searching for something to wipe his hand off with. Tyler took of his shirt and passed it to Jamie, who said, “Thanks,” like they were just polite buds, hanging out on the couch, everything that was happening here was totally normal.

“I shouldn’t have gone first,” Tyler said. He lifted his hands to rub at his face and his arms felt weak. “My stuff’s all --” he flapped his hands, “jello.”

Jamie gave a half smile, like he knew he should respond but he didn’t know what to say. He rolled Tyler’s shirt over in his hands to find a clean patch and then used it to rub his face. He balled it up again and threw it on the floor.

“I’m going to go,” he said, standing.

“What? No.” Tyler stood up as well. Jamie was facing away from him, so he wrapped his arms around Jamie’s waist. It was something he would do with a girl, but Jamie was so wide. It was weird to do girl things to someone who didn’t have a girl’s body. He pressed his head between Jamie’s shoulder blades, stooping forward.

“It’s stupid to do this on a couch anyway. Both your dogs are watching us.”

“No, they’re not,” Tyler mumbled into Jamie’s clothed back. “They’re my sweet children.”

“It’s creepy to say that when your dick is still hanging out,” Jamie said.

Tyler humphed. He started walking Jamie forward, his arm still wrapped around him. One leg, the other leg. They had to move in sync or Tyler would kick Jamie in the ankles. He marched Jamie into his bedroom and lay him down on the bed. Tyler kicked his pants the rest of the way off and climbed up onto the bed.

Jamie’s eyes were really big. He looked sort of…pretty, in the face area, Tyler supposed, but also nervous. Tyler undid his pants, and pulled his dick out. It seemed like something should have happened to stop him, like Tyler didn’t do this, surely there was some failsafe in the universe that would kick in before he sucked another guy’s dick. But nothing happened. Jamie’s cock was really thick, it was hard to get in Tyler’s mouth. While it was still dry, it seemed impossible not to catch Jamie’s dick with his teeth, but then Tyler used his tongue and everything got wetter, and that made it easier.

It didn’t smell like what Tyler typically associated with sex, but the longer he sucked Jamie for, the more it felt familiar. That focus on another person’s body. The intimacy of bringing someone off with his mouth. Jamie didn’t try to touch him at all. Tyler’s attention kept growing and shrinking -- Jamie’s whole body; nothing but Jamie’s cock. Jamie was a real person; there was no one else in the room but Tyler and the dick in his mouth. Back and forth. Jamie’s dick got even bigger the longer he did this for. It would fill up Tyler’s entire throat. He wouldn’t be able to breathe.

Tyler used his hand more. He had no gauge of how close or far Jamie was from coming. He touched Jamie’s balls with his other hand. Cupped them in his palm, lifted them up carefully. Jamie’s thighs clenched around Tyler’s shoulders. He hadn’t realized Jamie’s legs were open that wide.

Jamie arched, and then he was coming, but Tyler didn’t realize what was happening at first, so he was slow to pull away. He could taste Jamie’s come all along his tongue. It coated the back of his hand. Tyler looked down at the white streaks across his skin, his brain gone dumb. Jamie touched him, finally, cupping his palm to the back of Tyler’s neck.

“I have to wash my hands,” Tyler said, but he waited until Jamie let go before he pulled away.

Tyler stumbled into the bathroom, turned on the tap, and opened his hand under the water. His body was being stupid and the water sliding over his skin felt insane. He should take a shower, but it actually might have been too much for him. Even the stream of water from the tap was overstimulating. Tyler’s lips and face and neck and thighs felt raw because Jamie hadn’t shaved in two days. The water was really starting to heat up now that Tyler had been running it for so long. Tyler noticed as being hot in the second before it flipped over to too hot, and he pulled his hand away. He wished he had brought his underwear with him. His cock was hard again. He wanted to go another round. He wanted Jamie to come in here and suck his dick again, but when he actually heard Jamie padding down the hall, he still felt a wave of panic.

Tyler turned off the water, but he didn’t move away from the sink. He’d left the door open. Jamie’s footsteps were getting closer, and even though there was still time to close the door, Tyler stood still. He didn’t look up when Jamie walked into the bathroom, just let Jamie’s mass register in his peripheral vision. Tyler swished around some mouthwash, spit.

“Can we just go to bed?” Jamie asked, his voice incongruently soft compared to his stupid, hulking male body.

“No,” Tyler said. He planted his hands on the countertop and dropped his head.

“Why not?” Jamie asked.

Tyler closed his eyes. If he looked in the mirror, he thought it might be obvious that his dick was hard again. He waited, imagined what would happen when Jamie noticed. You want a hand? he’d ask, or something dumber than that, because Jamie was awkward. Maybe he could just touch Tyler without saying anything at all. Tyler didn’t want to say anything; he didn’t want them to talk.

“I want to do it again,” Tyler said. His voice sounded mournful. He finally looked over at Jamie.

“Um, okay?” Jamie said, looking stunned. “You know that’s … fine, right?”

“I just want you to still be my friend,” Tyler said. He took a step towards Jamie. His hands were still wet, but Jamie didn’t pull away when Tyler wrapped his arms around Jamie’s waist.

“I am your friend,” Jamie said, rubbing Tyler’s back.

“Okay,” Tyler said. He lifted his head to see if Jamie would kiss him, but Jamie didn’t. “I guess we can go to bed now.”

Tyler went to let the dogs out first, and when he came back, his dick had gotten soft, but it started stiffening again when he saw the shape that Jamie’s body made under the sheets. He closed his door and crawled under the covers. Jamie waited until Tyler had rolled in close before he used his fingertips to trace a line between Tyler’s ribcage and his hipbones.

Tyler watched Jamie as Jamie looked at him, and thought, You like me, and then he touched his fingertip to each of Jamie’s eyelids in turn until he closed his eyes. Don’t stop.