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“Hey, Josh?”

Grunting drowsily, Josh rolled over in the direction of the sound, and found himself face to face with a pair of bright brown eyes.

“What’s up?” he replied sleepily. He’d just been on the brink of falling asleep before Tyler’s voice had snapped him back to consciousness.

Tyler blinked once, and then swiftly turned over, pulling the blanket along with him.

“Nothing,” he mumbled. “Sorry. Go back to sleep.”

Josh sat up slowly, rubbing at his eyes and letting them adjust to the dark.

“No, I’m up, I’m up,” he protested, reaching a hand out to pull Tyler back to face him. “S’okay. What did you need?”

This wasn’t necessarily unusual. Tyler had been sleeping over at Josh’s house since they were twelve, long enough that Josh had had gotten used to being woken up in the middle of the night once in awhile for existential crises, or general anxieties, or just because Tyler wanted company. He didn’t mind. He never minded.

Tyler sat up, drawing his legs into his chest, and wrapping his arms around them.

“I’m going to prom with Jenna Black,” he said quietly, and Josh frowned.

“Yeah,” he said. “Yeah, Ty, I know that. Everyone knows that.”

Tyler nodded slowly, tilting his head to the side and staring at him.

“But like… Josh. I’m going to prom, with Jenna Black. She’s like… she’s had boyfriends and stuff. She’s gonna… want to do stuff, you know? With me. Probably.”

Josh blinked a few times.

“Oh.”

“Yeah.”

“Right,” Josh mumbled, trying to keep hold on what Tyler was saying through his sleep-muddled mind. “Okay. And that’s… a bad thing?”

“No,” Tyler said immediately. “I mean, I want… yeah. I just don’t…”

He was biting his lip now, and Josh had a feeling that he was skirting around something.

“Hmm?” he encouraged, nudging Tyler with his foot. The contact seemed to act as a catalyst for Tyler, making him throw his hands over his face and quickly let out a string of words, strained and fast, as if he had to get them out all at once.

“I don’t know what to do, okay? I’ve never - done - I’ve never done anything, ever, with a girl, and. And she’s going to think I’m stupid and pathetic and she’s going to realize what a loser I am and ditch me after prom.”

At the end of his sentence, Tyler buried his face in his knees, reaching both hands up to clutch at the hair towards the back of his head. From what little of his face Josh could see, he could tell that he was bright red.

Josh blinked, letting this information settle in. It occurred to him that he’d never heard Tyler mention having sex with anyone, but Josh had just assumed that this wasn’t the kind of thing you shared with your best guy friend. Josh certainly never had. The only person who had known when Josh lost his virginity was the girl he was with, and the couple who had burst into the bedroom after them at the party where it happened.

He scooted a little closer to Tyler, whose face was still planted firmly against his knees.

“So, uh…” he started, unsure of what to say. “You’ve never… anything?”

Tyler shook his head, his bangs brushing his legs.

“Not even with, you know, with Brooke?”

“We wanted to wait,” came Tyler’s muffled voice, barely discernable. “So… yeah.”

Josh nodded, biting his lip, and tentatively reached out to rub Tyler’s back a little bit. They’d always been like this, since they were kids - close, and touchy-feely - never blinking an eye at being physically affectionate, or sleeping in the same bed. Even now that they were technically adults, and now that it drew a marginal amount of affectionate teasing from their friends, it never stopped them from being close.

“Hey, Ty,” Josh reassured him softly. “It’s okay. I’m sure that Jenna will be understanding, and help you figure things out -”

“Yeahbutlike -” Tyler said hurriedly, raising his face from his legs. “It’s like - I barely know Jenna, you know? Like she’s great and all, but how am I supposed to… like… do something so intimate with someone I don’t trust yet?”

Josh pondered this for a moment. Trust had never really been a consideration for him when getting laid. But then again, getting laid itself had never really been something he did to feel intimate or fulfilled - it was just something he did. Something you were supposed to do.

“Josh?”

“Hm?”

His reply was automatic, and for no reason, they both blushed.

“I was, uh.” Tyler fumbled with his words, looking pointedly at the bedspread and picking at a hangnail. “I mean… you have experience, right? With girls?”

“Yeah,” Josh hummed. “Yeah, I - yeah. A few.”

Tyler nodded. “Right, so like. You know what to do.”

He looked to Josh, who shrugged one shoulder. “I suppose, I mean… it’s gone fine, I think, you know?”

“Yeah,” Tyler nodded, seeming more flustered. “Right, so like… being my best friend and all, do you think… maybe…”

“I can show you,” Josh blurted, heart suddenly beating in his throat. Tyler paused, mouth open, and Josh watched his eyes grow wide. The room suddenly seemed much bigger, and much quieter, and Josh could hear a car turn the corner at the end of his street.

“Not like, you know - not have sex,” he backtracked quickly. “Not - I mean, I’m - you know. But just...“

He swallowed hard, and Tyler did the same.

“I can give you an idea of like… what to do, you know. What you sort of have to do.”

Tyler’s eyes were impossibly wide, his lips slightly parted.

“Yeah?” he said breathlessly.

Josh’s heart was hammering, but he did his best to ignore it.

“Yeah, for sure,” he said, trying to keep his voice level. “What are friends for?”

In the back of his mind, Josh was well aware that his offer fell far outside the boundaries of friendship. But that was something that he was very practiced in the art of ignoring. Besides, this might be his only chance to do this. To stare without consequence. To get close.

Tyler fiddled with his fingers for a few moments.

“You’d do that?” he half whispered, reaching a hand up to tug and twist in his hair, and flicking his eyes briefly up to meet Josh’s.

Josh nodded slowly.

“If you want,” he said. “We can keep our clothes on and everything, uh. Obviously. I just thought it might help to -”

“Yes, yeah,” Tyler interrupted him, unfolding himself and looking resolute. “Yeah, I - that’s good. Let’s do that.”

“Oh - right,” Josh said, caught off guard. He hadn’t been planning to offer himself up as a tutor in the first place, but he’d been even less prepared for Tyler to say yes.

He sat up to face Tyler, who had extracted himself from the covers and was sitting in front of him in just a t-shirt and underwear. Josh realized with a jolt that he himself was only wearing boxer-briefs - no shirt. This process might not be as clothed as he had originally intended.

“We should probably turn the lights on,” Josh mumbled. “So you can like - see what you’re doing, you know?”

Tyler nodded in agreement, swiveling around to tug at the chain on Josh’s bedside lamp. His bedroom was washed in a dull orange glow, and Tyler along with it, the lamp making the tanned skin of his face and arms shine.

“What?” Tyler whispered, and Josh realized he’d been staring.

“Nothing,” he said quickly. “No, I just… did you want to be - you know, like, is it helpful for you to be like… you? Or do you want to be her?”

They avoided each other’s gaze, and Tyler reached out absently for the edge of Josh’s boxer leg, rolling the fabric between his thumb and forefinger.

“Her, I guess,” he said under his breath. “So that I can see, right? So I can see what to do?”

He looked at Josh for confirmation, eyes bright and serious.

“Sounds about right,” Josh said, trying to sound objective while his stomach was doing somersaults at the prospect of Tyler beneath him - even with clothes on, even if this was just a demonstration.

Josh cleared his throat.

“What specifically are you worried about?” he asked. “Just so I can like - so I know where to start?”

Tyler shifted for a minute, thinking. He was wearing striped boxers. Josh wondered what kind of boxers he’d be wearing on prom night.

“I guess it’s the part after we get in bed, like…” Tyler began, his fidgeting more agitated now, rolling the fabric of Josh’s boxers around in his fingers. “Like once we’re in the bed, basically, and clothes come off, and I’m expected to like… do stuff. That’s the part where I’m gonna like… I’ll…”

“Freeze up?” Josh offered, and Tyler nodded, staring at his fingers.

“Yeah.”

Hesitantly, Josh reached down to arrange some pillows at the head of the bed.

“Why don’t you lie down,” he offered softly, surprising himself with how calm his voice sounded. “I can sort of show you what I would do, you know, once we’re in the bed. And you can ask questions, if you have them.”

Tyler nodded pensively, maneuvering himself around and extending his legs, slowly lowering himself onto the pillows. He let out a long uneven breath, and Josh let out no breath at all.

Moving slowly, Josh came to hover over Tyler’s body, arms bracketing his shoulders. He pretended that this was new to him, and that he hadn’t imagined the same thing happening when he’d allowed his mind to wander in the moments before sleep.

“So,” Josh began, barely producing any noise for fear of sounding too loud in this unfamiliar proximity.

“So,” Tyler repeated in a whisper. His breath smelled like cinnamon toothpaste.

“I think it’s best to start slow,” Josh went on. “I mean, I usually go slow. You can kiss her, and, uh… touch her sides and stuff while you’re at it.”

He brushed a delicate hand down Tyler’s t-shirt, over his ribs, to demonstrate his point.

Tyler nodded rapidly, inhaling.

“Okay.”

“Mhm,” Josh nodded. “And like, her thighs, if you can reach. And on your way back up…”

He traced his hand upwards, making quick eye contact with Tyler before tentatively brushing his fingers underneath his t-shirt, grazing soft warm skin.

Tyler inched up the bed, and Josh felt his heart constrict, sure that he’d gone too far. But then Tyler was reaching down for the hem of his shirt, tugging at it hesitantly.

“I can - uh, if it’s easier?” he said, and Josh let out a breath.

“Oh. Yeah, yeah - “ he agreed, reaching to help Tyler pull the shirt over his head.

Tyler settled back into the mattress, shirtless now, and Josh lost his train of thought for a moment, distracted by the way the glow of his lamp made the swell of Tyler’s ribs and hips seem more pronounced.

“Right,” Josh continued, reorienting himself. “Uh. If she’s the kind of person who likes her… like, her breasts touched,” he choked out, “you can - you can definitely do that.”

Tyler squirmed. “How do I know if she’s that kind - like… if she likes that?” he huffed, and Josh paused.

“You can just ask, really,” he murmured. “Like… you know, just sort of gently ask if you can touch her there, and then if she wants you to, just…” he broke off, quickly swiping his thumb over Tyler’s nipple, making him shiver slightly.

“Sorry - sensitive,” Tyler breathed.

“Right, sorry -”

“No, it’s - sorry.”

Tyler cracked a smile, and the tension passed.

“So,” Josh went on, fumbling to gather his thoughts. “It’s sort of up to you how much before-stuff you want to do. I mean sometimes the… like the foreplay, or whatever, can be really good. It’s not all about putting it in, you know?”

He watched Tyler’s face flush.

“Like it’s nice to take your time, especially because like…”

He stared at a spot somewhere to the right of Tyler’s ear on the pillow.

“Like it can help, because it - “

“Helps her get wet?” Tyler offered, and Josh balked.

“I,” he started. “Well.”

Tyler grinned, nudging his arm. “I’m not completely clueless.”

Josh tried to smile back, but found that his lips were shaking, as if he’d been trying too long to smile for a picture.

“It should,” he went on. “Yeah, like, you should be slow and make her feel good so that… yeah.”

Tyler nodded, shifting under him.

“How can you tell if you’ve done enough though?” he whispered, looking Josh in the eye. “Like how do you know if she’s…” he trailed off, swallowing.

Biting his lip, Josh carefully drew back to a kneeling position, gently pulling Tyler so that his legs bracketed his hips. Tyler blushed, gulping in a breath of air, and Josh ran a soothing hand along his thigh, as a lifeline, or a point of connection at the very least.

“You can sort of see,” he murmured. “If you’re like this. Can I -”

He nudged Tyler’s legs with his forearms just the tiniest bit, and Tyler complied immediately, letting his knees fall open while his heels still dug into Josh’s hips.

“This is what it’s like if you’re on top,” he went on, heart hammering. “But uh… sometimes the girl is on top, and that’s cool too. But I’ll… show you this one, because if you’re topping, you sort of have to do more,” he finished, and Tyler nodded, gaze locked with his.

“Which do you prefer?” Tyler asked quietly.

It took a minute for his question to register. When it did, Josh thought for a moment about the answer. He didn’t think about girls.

“Both, I guess,” he said softly. “But I… I guess I like being on top, because… I like making someone feel good, and… and taking care of them.”

Once again, they both blushed at the same time.

“I bet you’d be good at that,” Tyler mused under his breath, as if it were nothing.

Josh thought he might actually die. His limbs were shaking, and he might die. He tried to thank Tyler, but only the consonants really made it out of his mouth. Actually making sound happen was getting more difficult.

“So um, you’ll be like this,” he forced himself to say, redoubling his grip on Tyler’s outer thighs. “And it’s good to sometimes finger her first, you know? Especially if she’s not used to… yeah, if she’s also new to… stuff. And you don’t want to hurt her, or like… surprise her. It’s really best to -”

“...go slow,” Tyler finished for him, lips turning up slightly and eyes twinkling. He squeezed Josh’s wrist. “Yeah.”

“Yeah,” Josh agreed, finding it harder to think, harder to stay rational, harder to stay soft.

He pushed on.

“And also, don’t be afraid to use lube. Even if you’ve done everything right, and she’s wet and stuff, you can still use lube. Don’t be afraid of lube. It like - it makes things better, you know?” he babbled. “And obviously a condom, like, always -”

“Josh?” Tyler interrupted, voice high and quiet.

“Sorry, I - sorry,” Josh finished, reddening.

Tyler shook his head minutely, as if to tell him it was fine.

“What about the thrusting part?” he asked quietly, tilting his head and drawing his lower lip into his mouth. “How does that… like what if I hurt her? I really don’t want to hurt her. What if I don’t know what to do?”

He sounded slightly frantic, and Josh breathed out a hushing sound, pulling his hips a little closer.

“I’ll show you,” Josh whispered. “It’s easy, once you get a rhythm going. It’s just…” he moved closer again, and in a single moment of suspended electricity, their crotches grazed each other. Josh did everything in his power not to shudder. He needed to show Tyler - he needed to help his friend.

Trying his absolute best to keep their crotches from touching again, Josh slowly began a thrusting motion, holding tightly onto one of Tyler’s thighs, and letting his eyelids fall shut.

It felt familiar, but novel at the same time, like nothing else he’d ever done. He tried very hard to ignore the feeling of blood rushing downward, making the front of his underwear tighten. If he didn’t acknowledge it, maybe Tyler wouldn’t notice.

But it didn’t matter. When his resolve finally broke, and he glanced down, Josh found a noticeable bulge in Tyler’s boxers, too. He cast his eyes up quickly, and saw that Tyler had his eyes squeezed shut, his face flushed, trembling with the effort of staying still.

Resolutely, Josh bit his tongue, trying to keep himself from saying anything. If he did, he was sure he’d damage his front of helpful experienced best friend that he was trying so hard to uphold - that he’d upheld so well until now.

He couldn’t stand it.

He opened his mouth to tell Tyler something, anything, but Tyler beat him too it.

“Josh,” he whimpered, head turned to the side. He squeezed his eyes tighter and wrapped an arm around Josh’s wrist. “You’re so far away.

He wondered if Tyler could feel his heart racing through his wrist. He wondered if Tyler’s heart was racing too. It looked like it was. If he blurred his eyes, Josh could almost imagine the skin on the left side of Tyler’s chest heaving up and down.

At any rate, his stomach was heaving, and his shoulders were heaving. Tyler couldn’t catch his breath.

Josh rolled off of his body, realigning himself on the bed beside Tyler, their legs interlocking, and their crotches inches apart once again.

“Sometimes this is nice too,” Josh breathed, overwhelmed. “If you just…”

He wrapped a leg around Tyler’s, guiding his hips closer with his knee.

“Sometimes I… like it like this, if it’s someone you really - if it’s someone you trust,” he stumbled. “Or really love.”

“Yeah,” Tyler agreed, breath warm. “Close.”

Josh inhaled on his exhale. They were breathing the same air.

“So you can just…” Josh began again, placing delicate fingers on the soft skin above Tyler’s hip, and resuming his gentle movements. This time he was much less careful. “You can… like this…”

Tyler shuddered out a breath, fingernails digging into Josh’s bicep, and Josh realized just how worked up he was getting. Tyler shifted even closer, tilting his head into Josh’s space, his face into his neck, letting out strangled sounds and huffs and clutching at as much of him as he could reach.

He could feel wet breath on his skin, and a hard-on resting on his hip.

“Do you need to stop?” he whispered, measuring his breath.

Tyler shook his head quickly, huffing out a forceful sigh that was muffled in Josh’s neck. He gave one or two short, shallow, overwhelmed breaths, squirming shyly, and Josh stopped his movements.

“Ty?” he said quietly, and Tyler raised his head slightly from the crook of his neck. He didn't open his eyes, but let his head fall forward slightly, resting his forehead against Josh’s.

They were inches apart, and then millimeters. Josh felt him shiver violently, before bucking his hips once, almost automatically.

“Josh,” he echoed, strangled, and it was enough.

He couldn’t tell you how it had happened, couldn’t even register that he had leaned forward - or that Tyler had - all Josh knew is that suddenly, there was a hot, open mouth pressing against his own, and he couldn’t breathe.

He wasn’t sure when they’d made the transition from hypothetical to very very real, but somehow, they had gone past the point of no return, prom night and platonic feelings forgotten. It wasn’t a tutorial anymore, wasn’t a game; it was everything Tyler had said - closeness, and trust, and all of it. Josh was feeling all of it.

Tyler let out a soft groan against his mouth, and Josh forgot about holding back. He sucked in a breath, wrapping a tight hand around the back of Tyler’s head and pulling him closer, pressing them together, trying to eliminate any remaining space that could possibly exist between them. The shift only made Tyler huff louder, whimpering and catching his breath as their dicks made contact again, over and over, and Josh couldn’t get enough.

He felt Tyler desperately and shyly wrap a leg around his, searching for friction. It was white hot to the point of being overwhelming, and it only got worse as Tyler bucked into him rhythmically, and Josh realized with a tortured groan that he was doing exactly what he had been taught.

And he wasn’t stopping. Josh felt a hand pressing between their bodies, and realized that despite the awkward angle, Tyler was doing his best to run a flat and shaking palm up his stomach and onto his chest, brushing over his nipples, making him shiver as Tyler had, and press his face into Tyler’s neck, stifling curses.

“Ok?” he heard Tyler whisper, and Josh gasped an affirmative into his shoulder. He wondered when Tyler had started to take care of him, instead of the other way around. He’d missed the transition. He didn’t mind.

And yet, in the next moment, Tyler was shuddering and whining again at the feeling of Josh’s hips snapping against his, and he considered the comforting possibility that they were equally shy and overwhelmed; equally desperate.

There wasn’t time to give it much more thought, especially now that Tyler’s hand was changing directions, grazing over his stomach again, before inching its way into the waistband of Josh’s boxers. He pulled back enough to catch Tyler’s eye, and found that his face was as flushed as his own felt.

“Josh,” Tyler whispered, voice catching in his throat, swallowing. He flicked his gaze back and forth between each of Josh’s eyes - too close to make contact with both.

Josh responded with a high sound in the back of his throat.

“I want… can I…” he inched his fingers a little ways further, hand trembling, before quietly breathing out the exact request that Josh had instructed him to make not five minutes ago. “Josh,” he repeated. “Can I touch you there?”

God,” Josh choked, losing track of his breath again. “Tyler. Please.

He didn’t need any more encouragement, nor did he need to do much. By the time Tyler had a warm hand wrapped around Josh’s shaft, he was close to coming, having slowly been approaching the edge since the minute they’d lain down. And Tyler was good, from what must have either been instinct, or, Josh realized - biting his lip at the thought - from extensive practice on himself.

At any rate, it wasn’t from experience. Even now that he was in control, Tyler was still trembling with nervous and overwhelmed energy, watery eyes meeting Josh’s for affirmation.

“Am I… am I…” he breathed, his voice trailing off into a frustrated and bashful huff just as Josh realized what he was asking.

“You’re doing so good Tyler,” he praised immediately. “God, Tyler, it’s good.”

He heard Tyler sigh, eyelashes fluttering and breath hitching, latching on tighter. Josh reciprocated, curling a tight arm around Tyler’s neck and twisting fingers in his hair. He was so close.

“Ty,” he huffed, the only warning he could manage before he was tensing and spilling over onto Tyler’s hand, and his own stomach. Tyler’s gasps matched his, both of them bucking and rocking through Josh’s high, flicking their eyes up to meet in a shocked and ecstatic stare.

Even in the midst of his overwhelmed bliss, Josh’s mind was shifting quickly and entirely to Tyler - making Tyler feel good, and feel safe, and feel.

He allowed himself a moment to watch the boy beside him - legs splayed, back arching - squirming and whining, his eyes fluttered shut and lip bitten, looking desperate for something that he couldn’t make himself ask for.

Josh was happy to oblige. Ignoring his own oversensitivity, Josh tucked himself back into his boxers and swung a leg over Tyler’s hips, gently grinding his thigh down against Tyler’s erection.

“Oh - God,” Tyler rasped, eyes flying open and then squeezing shut again as he bucked up into Josh’s thigh, looking for friction. “This is… this is… we’re…”

“Yeah,” Josh soothed, diving down swiftly to kiss Tyler full on the lips. He was met with little resistance, Tyler parting his lips to give him access, letting his jaw fall open to breathe Josh in, panting against his mouth. “Yeah, Ty.

It felt shameful and primal, but neither of them cared; they couldn’t think or breathe, could only kiss and gasp for air, Josh humping down on Tyler over and over, and Tyler rocking up to grind against his hip. As Tyler became more desperate and overwhelmed, something in Josh’s psyche seemed to kick in, screaming soft protectiveness, making him bend over and whisper into Tyler’s ear.

“Doing good, Ty.”

He was met with a high, long groan.

“C’mon,” Josh coaxed him, voice soft, punctuating his words with a carefully placed thrust. “C’mon, it’s okay, Ty.”

Even as he did his best to push Tyler to his edge, Josh was starting to marvel at how much he’d been missing. That regardless of experience, Tyler had clearly known something that he didn’t - that sex was utterly different and entirely overwhelmingly more with someone you trusted. This was a level of intimacy and closeness that made his other encounters pale in comparison.

When Tyler’s orgasm did come, it was almost silent; it was tensed and trembling limbs clamped around Josh’s neck and thighs, his own hips bucking involuntarily against Josh’s, in tiny movements, over and over. Josh just held him as he came apart, slowing his own movements, and pressing long, hot kisses into the crook of Tyler’s neck as he felt wetness spread out on both of their boxers.

“I came - in -” Tyler panted, stating the obvious, and Josh kissed him harder.

“Shh, I know,” he soothed. “It’s okay.”

Tyler huffed in acknowledgement, and Josh repeated himself.

“It’s okay.”

“You’re good at that,” Tyler mumbled suddenly, surprising him.

Josh blinked. “At what?”

He watched Tyler smile slightly, and then nuzzle into his neck shyly. “You know,” he hummed softly. ‘Being… taking care of… yeah.”

Tyler initiated this kiss this time, and he smiled into it.

Minutes later - or ten minutes, or a hundred, when Josh finally got the energy to find a washcloth and fresh boxers to clean them up, he took care to kiss Tyler as he went - along his hips, and stomach, and nipples, all the way up to his lips.

“Josh,” Tyler said between kisses, eyes closed and cheeks still red, the blush never having left. He didn’t follow it up, didn’t have anything else to say, didn’t have to. “Josh.

Josh understood.

The others understood, too. Apparently they had all along. Days later, when Tyler shyly asked Jenna Black whether it would be alright if he took Josh Dun to prom instead, neither of them had ever seen her look more excited - or less surprised.