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Lucidity

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“Do you like that?” 

Cooed sweet and languid, precise complementary to the pressure on his wrists. 

“Do you like that?” the voice repeats, each syllable perfectly the same in its patience.

He does. When he opens his mouth to say it, no sound comes out. Neck hurts. 

No, not hurts —throat won’t work. Tongue is in the way. Too swollen to do its job. 

Work, dammit.

“Yeah. I figured you might. It’s okay. Just let me do this.”

Hands, warm but not moist. Thumbs rub along jut of bone, test and slip along tendons ticklish. Bizarre, what we’re made of. Tissue and blood and nerves, all centrally located. Can’t exist outside his head. All right there, right inside. Tight little package of human.

Then, steadiness—a surety flesh never holds, even at its bravest, and his eyes dart in the darkness, mounds under eyelids push against restraining fabric. He can’t see. 

Blindfold?

His wrists are blindfolded, too.

That’s not what that’s called, is it? There’s another word, and it tickles and laughs along his spine, teasing his unworking tongue’s tip. 

Corded. Nylon? Cables…?

He arches into the bed, sheets sliding beneath bared skin. Hears a gasp. If the sound had come from him, it’s one of want. If it had come from the other—the one watching, the one in charge—it’s one of appreciation. 

“It doesn’t hurt, does it? Too tight…? Let me know you’re not in pain. Let me know you’re enjoying this as much as I am.”

Doesn’t hurt. It’s nice. 

Smooth but tight and also rough. Rough-smooth. Processed, twined, could burn if grabbed too harsh by fingers crying out for more, yes, I beg of you. But the fingers on him aren’t desperate. Grazing, fluttering, abandoning his locked wrists to dance over his ribs and navel.

Again, he arches, not-body bowed tight. Feels his mouth open, a phantom moan betraying his warmth and leaving him cold. It’s good, though. He hopes the other knows, hopes it doesn’t look painful when his vocal cords defy their command. 

“Rhett.”

The other knows his name.

Does that make this better? Worse, perhaps. 

Good, that he can’t see. Doesn’t want to know who it is. 

Bad, that he can’t speak. Words would be nice, give back to the nameless entity handling him. Palms braced on his hips. Are they going to push? To stabilize? Hands steadied on him would allow for leverage, with him on his back. The other is sitting on his lap now, heavy, pinning him.

He rolls his head, feels the tug and pull of elastic snag at his hair. It is a blindfold.

If the person on him shifted, they could sink down onto his cock.

That’s what he wants. Doesn’t know it ‘til the thought hits him, but he wants it. He wants that, he wants it, could die for it if he doesn’t get it. That’s what the twinge is, that’s the current running under everything, ripping off its own blindfold and tearing through his body: arousal. He’s hard—roiling in his gut, in the forefront of his mind. Body needs release as a natural conclusion like any other function. Hands on him feel nice, the hungry eat, the thirsty drink, the tired sleep. 

He needs to fuck.

Wants to be inside another and buck up into them, unable to catch sight of whose hole he’s allowed to lose himself in. Regardless of who they are, they’re going to enjoy it. 

Abuse that outlet, fuck, that’s what he wants, he deserves it! To be loud with it and forget how the shapes of his soundless lips might look as he uses the faceless figure to get off. They seem willing, after all. Inviting and kind and far too patient with him. A body he can unload into, just needs to make that happen—

“Don’t be afraid.”

Why would he be afraid? He’s not afraid.

Cold. 

One spot, tiny, ice cold and—that’s what that is, too. Ice. Beneath the flare of his rib cage, a stray drop of cool water rolling towards his navel. Why ice?

“I’m not gonna hurt you.”

He hadn’t been afraid, but those are some nice words. 

The ice travels, pressed tight to his burning skin with perhaps a single finger, sliding over his body like a game piece, tracing up across the board of his chest to read words through a lens. Nestles at the dip of his throat, coaxes his pulse out, begs him to swallow a noise he can’t make to begin with.

So cold. Is it melting? It shouldn’t be getting colder . Not how ice works.

“You feel that, Rhett? Right on your heartbeat? We’re gonna explore. Wanna see where you’re most sensitive.”

“That’s silly,” he says back, words mute and lost to his own head, “you know where I’m most sensitive.”

Ignored, the ice spins a small circle, lapping waves of miniature shock. Clavicle. Widening, to his pec, and then a sharp swathe over his nipple—intense and refreshing, the bud far too sensitive to handle in its hyper state—and his mouth falls open. It’s a moan, but the other doesn’t get to hear it. 

It must be obvious, anyway.

“Yeah, I knew you’d like this part. So big and strong, but what are you when you’re robbed of everything? When you can’t move your hands? Can’t make a sound? Can’t see?”

They know, then. Know he’s trying.

“Helpless. Laid out bare and waiting for me, so pretty. I could do anything right now. You have no way of knowing what’s next.”

The ice slides and lingers on his nipple—sitting on it, burning the cold into white heat and prickling his flesh wary as beads of water slide down his pec. He ruts up in whining protest, but the weight in his lap is too strict for such wishes. 

There’s a laugh. “Want me to move it, Rhett? Don’t like it there, gettin’ you raw and hard?”

He nods, shakes his head, thrusts, random outputs to get the ice cube to venture elsewhere. Answers are given like darts thrown in the dark, any of them should hit the target. Please.

“Alright. How ‘bout this?”

And the ice trails down, the imaginary warmth of air caressing his tortured nipple. The guided cube slides farther, farther—stops. Abruptly, there, right at the base of his arousal where his body is at its warmest. There’s too much blood there. A piece of ice won’t last.

“You want me to stop here?” 

If you can make it good.

Just let me fuck you already.

Why can’t these words leave his head? 

Back and forth, back and forth—drooling around his cock, producing a moat of chill. Tingling, impossibly sharp. Over and over reminding of the difference in sensations, in temperature. The blindfold is sweltering. He doesn’t want it anymore.

Wants the blindfold gone, wants the ties on his wrist gone. Hands up over his head. He’ll be good, he’ll keep them there if that’s what it takes.

Wants to see it when the ice sneaks in and is collected, never leaving his skin, flush between the other’s fingers and his own cock as the hand takes him into a slow up-drag. He gasps—it’s too much, wants to gasp—again: no sound.

“You feel that, Rhett? Exactly where my hand is on you? Inch by inch? You’re so sensitive. Torture, isn’t it?”

“Yes,” he swears by it, this is torture. Wants to buck. Hips are broken too, s’no good. Everything’s broken except the pinch of cold when it slips over the ridge of his head and is held, locked to the spot surely just above the slit of his cock, held and held and held. Another hand, gentle pressure right at the base, and then it isn’t gentle. Fingers wrap around his thick length,  bruising, a natural cockring.

He arches again, jaw locked open, wailing invisible moans. Wants to hear himself—needs to know it’s his body being toyed with, crushed mercilessly against the edge. The cold, all his yet half his tormentor’s, is too much where it is now. Flattened against the sensation of almost there, the nerves wracked with the precipice of pressure and I’m about to come, but he isn’t. It’s a trick of temperature, too precise and long-drawn to be a real promise of relief.

“If I touch you now, Rhett, can you come for me? Been so good.”

Yes, yes, I have been good. Let that reach them, at least. He deserves this.

“Rhett.”

Yes—fuck, please, stroke me.

“Rhett.”

Suck me, sit on this cock, let me come in you.

“Rhett. Say my name. I’ll do it.”

“Link.” The word comes out pristine, audible.

“Rhett!”

“Link,” he gives it again, half-moan, and then he’s shaking.

“Rhett! Get up! We’re gonna be late.”

The shaking—it isn’t him, isn’t his own body—it’s Link’s hands on his shoulders, and to say Rhett is “disoriented” upon rejoining the waking world would be the understatement of his life. 

He jolts, eyes burning with sudden light as Link tears the blanket away, irritated and looming over his bed. He’s speaking, and Rhett misses all of the words about class’s starting time, doesn’t see the carefully-chosen button-up Link’s wearing like every other morning or the backpack straps on his shoulders. He isn’t even able to register where he is, because moments ago he’d been elsewhere, with close breaths and an existence that hadn’t gone past his own mind and body.

Rhett lies on his back, stunned, feels the sweat on his brow breathe cool when Link asks him another question and whisks away to the other side of their dorm room without waiting for an answer.

“You don’t even have time to shower now,” Link continues, biting, opening a drawer and throwing some of Rhett’s clothes at him. They land in a rough heap on his chest, startling him further into consciousness. “Get up and get ready already! What’re you gawking for?”

Dazed, but finally lucid, Rhett pushes himself to sit, slapped back into reality. 

He’s overslept.

Did he have a dream...?

He’s… oh, Jesus . He can’t get up without Link knowing what kind of dream it was; he’s so stiff between his legs that it’s unbearable.

Either way, he’s not going to be on time today. Groaning, Rhett runs his hands over his face, collecting sweat and traces of the near-emission as he fights to re-obtain them from his subconscious. What the hell, where had a wet dream that intense come from…? Who’d been with him? He’d… had he been blindfolded? …he’d said a name, too, hadn’t he?

Shit.

He’s ridiculously hard.

“Go on without me,” he croaks.

“What? You don’t wanna walk together?” Link asks from the door. “We always walk together.” His hands fall from his backpack straps to his sides. “It’s nice out. C’mon, man.”

Rhett stretches, pulling his knees to his chest and picking the shirt Link had chosen for him from the covers. Can he just get up and go right now? Not in this state, which—it’s been a while since he’s gotten any action, but he didn’t think his ego was that desperate for it yet. Concocting bizarre… kinky scenarios, just for him to dream about fucking?

Something about ice… why ice?

Speaking of, Rhett could use a cold shower.

He groans again, attempts to will his stubborn erection away, and Link huffs, crossing his arms. For the first time, Rhett considers him through one cracked eye. He looks as nice as he always does for class. Dark feathered hair styled with mousse, pink polo shirt, fitted jeans cuffed at the ankle. Also looks like he’s been ready to hit the trail for a while now. No wonder he’s pissed.

“I don’t wanna be late, Rhett.”

“I… I’m sick,” Rhett decides, burying his sights in the blankets around him. 

“What...? You wanna… hang back today, then?” Gentle concern replacing his impatience, Link wanders closer, and the very real fear that he might reach out to touch an oddly-horny Rhett—test the warmth of his brow with the back of his hand—clears Rhett’s throat for him.

“Yeah, you go on ahead. I’m sure I’ll feel better after I get more sleep.”

Link halts and squints at him just so, but the expression Rhett’s wearing must be reassuring for illness. “Oh… kay. I’ll get the notes for ya.” He turns, looks once over his shoulder, opens the door to the hall where other students float past, starting their mornings. “Try and drink some water, yeah? Ice would bring down a fever.”

“I—” Rhett turns his attention to the floor. “I will. Go on now, don’t be late on account o’ me.”

“Alright. Later, brother.”

Then Link is gone.

After a few minutes that feel like half a lifetime, Rhett is left alone, and it’s barely a decision he gets to make when he falls back to the bed and tugs his shirt up, shoving his hands down into his boxers and discovering just how wet his head is. Jesus, he’s sloppy with it.

Normally he would look at stuff online, but when he takes himself in hand and starts stroking—fast; worn memories of blindfolds and a nebulous other who’d been about to handle his cock with a warm voice and cold hands clinging to the edges of his mind—he knows he won’t last long enough to find porn.

Chapter Text

“Did ya see the new patch on Tyler’s backpack?”

Double-taking over his shoulder from their desk, Link turns down the chillhop pouring out of his laptop. He twists ‘round in his seat and folds his arms on the back of his chair. “The one that said ‘Area 51 Raider’?”

“Yeah.”

“What about it?”

“I dunno. Thought it was funny. Thought you might like it.” Rhett shrugs; conversation topics are gleaned wherever available when you spend every waking second with someone. After a listless punch to his pillow, he stuffs it under his chin and spares the Project Evaluation textbook before him the ire it deserves. 

Link hums and drums his fingers on the stained wood of his seat. “Kinda stupid, if you ask me. I like jokes about current events, but when people start spendin’ money on it? To immortalize it?” He huffs quick out his nose. “He, like, mummified a joke without its context, man. In two years that patch’ll make ‘im cringe. Like if I started quoting some old-ass TV show, it wouldn’t be funny. It’d be awkward.”

“Wow,” mumbles Rhett, having once again underestimated Link’s ability to poop on parties. Go figure a simple conversation starter would open a can of worms. “Nevermind then.”

“What, man? You know I’m right.”

Best not to argue moot points. Not with Link, anyhow. “Yeah. Prolly. Turn the music back up. Gotta get this done.”

Link falters like he wants to fight for the sake of fighting, but then eases back around and raps a key on his computer with his middle finger, more forceful than necessary. The smooth-jazzy electro-hop fills the space for them so that words won’t be needed again; it’s homework time, after all. Rhett knows that’s why Link is so eager for them to get at each other’s throats: he’s just as bored as Rhett is. Projects and essays are fine, but even the most interesting lines in a textbook are still just lines in a textbook.

Words trail past Rhett’s eyes, missed out and re-visited more than once. When he latches onto a name he vaguely recalls from the syllabus— Helmholtz —he leans off the side of the bed and bats his way into his backpack for his folder. This is what he’d missed yesterday, pretty sure.

When he’d hung back to take care of himself.

But Link had taken notes for him. Even swung by the library and had ‘em photocopied. Rhett had thanked him, right? Pulling the paper with its stark toner free from the folder, he smooths it out and finds himself far more interested in the lilt of Link’s careful handwriting, immediately more attentive to the text than when he’d tried reading it printed and blocky. It’s comforting in comparison. 

He’s halfway down the page when it occurs to him that even Link’s penmanship can only do so much; half the words still aren’t piercing his skull. A yawn hugs him, and he nestles his chin into the pillow, trying again from the top. 

He has to finish this damn chapter, no matter how mind-numbing it is to read about thermodynamic potentials and volumes. After this, he can relax and do whatever he wants. Maybe even take a nap.

The room is warm from the sunbeam working its lengthy drag across the tiled floor. A bit stuffy, too, complete with dust particles defying gravity as if suspended in stagnant water. How many times am I gonna have to remind myself to buy a box fan before I actually do it…?

“You’re an asshole sometimes, Rhett. You know that?”

Rhett frowns, lifting his head to gape at Link with knit eyebrows. The guy’s turned in his seat again, face set in distaste as he stares Rhett down.

“What?”

“You wanna bring up a topic, but the second I voice my opinion—the moment I dare to disagree with you, instead of opening a dialogue about it, you quite literally tune me out,” he waves at the laptop. 

Rhett blinks sluggishly, lost.

“The patch.” Link snorts, lifting a hand to say seriously? You forgot already?

Is he serious? Totally asinine. “Link, I just wanna get this homework done. We can talk about meme culture afterwards, if you’re still that riled up about it.”

“It’s not about the—” Grunting, Link lets his leg jitter, thigh shaking as he starts again. “See, now you’re trying to make me look stupid. I’m talkin’ about in general, man, you do this crap all the time. If I wanna speak my mind, you just… shut it down, and make me feel dumb for having said anything in the first place.”

“Link,” Rhett reiterates, giving his best scowl and letting his paper fall from his fingers. “I dunno how many times I have to tell you that I just want to finish this. I’m already behind for having missed yesterday. I swear up and down that once I’m caught up—”

“And whose fault was that? You weren’t sick yesterday.” The assertion falls heavy from Link’s teeth, sharp at the edges. “You think I can’t tell when you’re sick? That I haven’t spent three-quarters of my life knowin’ how you look when you’re in a certain way? You just didn’t wanna be bossed around ‘cause you were grumpy you overslept. I was tryin’ to help you out, and you were an asshole. Again.

“Where is all this comin’ from?” Incensed, Rhett pushes himself to sit on the bed’s lip, wanting to remind Link of his size in an (admittedly shitty) bid for dominance. Doesn’t work as well as he’d envisioned, ‘cause he has to lean forward to prevent bumping his head on the top bunk. “You’re not my mom, man. You’re not even really my brother— I got one of those, and he don’t hassle me like I’m some gradeschooler!”

“Sure. Puff your chest out some more, Rhett.” Link swivels his gaze back to his laptop, frowning at it hard. “Like me watchin’ out for you is such a damn curse. Like you don’t immediately step all over everything I say and do for you.”

“I—” Balking, Rhett sets his jaw and grasps at air with hands quickly resembling fists. “I don’t do that. I’m accommodating of you—and—and given how freaking picky and fickle you are half the time, you should be grateful!”

“Oh, I should be grateful?”

Without warning, Link stands. His chair wobbles back from the force of it, smart to get out of his way. But Rhett’s not new to the game—Link being able to quite literally look down his nose at Rhett is just one of the many ways he tries to gain higher ground. He knows every one of Link’s moves in a fight, even if fights are few and far between. He meets Link’s gaze, unyielding. Feels his nostrils flare despite himself.

“Yeah, Rhett, I’m so glad that it ain’t enough for you to be bigger than me physically, but that you also need to make feel me as small as possible in every other way, too.”

“I don’t do that,” Rhett warns, because he doesn’t. He’s sure of it.

“Well, gosh,” Link chuckles, feigning a carefree smile and putting his hands on his hips. “God forbid you ever try, then, if this is you bein’ oblivious to it.”

“You know I would never—”

“Fuck off, Rhett. Finish your damn homework—which I gave you notes for, by the way,” Link reminds him, throwing his chair under the desk in a harsh clatter, spinning for the door.

Nope. Absolutely not.

Rhett’s on his feet in an instant, catching Link’s elbow and wrenching him to a stop.

“Rhett, I swear to God—”

Rhett doesn’t hesitate: he wraps his arms around Link, bears the weight of his chest over his shoulders, slumping and letting physics drag them towards the ground as Link spits swears and struggles against the hold.

“I’m dead.”

“Rhett! Rhett, get off of me, this shit ain’t fair!” 

“Can’t. I’m dead.” 

They’re crumbling towards the floor in slow motion. It’s futile for Link, who grimaces, near snarling. “This is exactly what I mean! I need space, you asshole! I—I’m going for a walk—”

“Carry me with you, then. ‘Cause I’m dead.”

Their collective weight at last hits the warm tile, and Link lets out another string of obscenities as he tries to untangle himself through thrashing and elbows, but none of it matters; Rhett’s got him covered with practice he’s had forever to perfect. Arms over arms, head limp over Link’s shoulder, chest and abs pressed flush to Link’s back and butt, knees holding his calves to the floor. Relaxing, taking deep breaths, trying to let that energy soak down—out of himself and into the frayed nerves beneath his own.

“Gonna kill ya once I’m up,” promises Link through clenched teeth. He’s not surrendering as quickly as he usually does. Still just as pissed when detained, and… dang. Maybe dead-moving wasn’t the right course of action this time. He’s real upset.

Link’s hand shoots out from its prison and flails up, finding Rhett’s head and twisting into his hair to give it a rough, elongated pull.

“Heyheyhey— ow!” Rhett finds the fist full of his locks and pries it open, pushing it back to the floor—but with his attention split, Link takes the opportunity to twist his hips. The bony fulcrum works; Rhett finds himself sliding as Link jimmies, flipping enough that he can thud his head back against the floor and sneer up at Rhett victoriously.

“Now you really are dead!”

“Link—calm down, the hell’s gotten into you?!” Genuinely fearful for once, Rhett scrambles to get Link pinned again, straining to cover his limbs now that they’re a serious threat. If Rhett doesn’t stay on top of them, Link very well could punch or kick; he demonstrates this with an attempted jab at Rhett’s sternum, which Rhett catches and redirects to the floor. “Stop!”

“Make me!” 

“I am!”

Link’s putting everything into trying to break free, forcing Rhett to meet him pound for pound: his biceps bulge as he tries to resist Rhett’s hold; his legs bend and snake upwards to attempt hoisting Rhett off of him with a knee to the gut. Rhett presses his chest down harder in response and Link grunts and writhes, a mass of muscles doing their damnedest. Shit, if it isn’t kinda working, too? The dead move has quickly evolved into a wrestling match, with Link red-faced, veins swell in his neck.

“Link—Link, just relax, man, okay?! I’ll let you up, but you’ve gotta calm down, you’re gonna end up hurtin’ yourself!”

“End up hurtin’ you, more like!”

“Alright. You keep talkin’ like that and I’m never lettin’ you up.”

“Why’re you so dang heavy?!” Link snarls, and the fight leaves him at once, panting and breathless.

“There ya go.” Finally. Goodness gracious. “Link, we really need to talk about this. Forget homework.”

“Don’t wanna talk.”

“No?” Rhett shifts, relenting a bit of his heft from Link now that he’s settled. Link’s eyes flick down—and Rhett can read it on his face—he’s thinking about revving back up again. “Well, we’re gonna. Never seen you this upset before.”

That seems to do the trick. Link ticks his pupils back up to Rhett’s. They’re heated wide from the fire behind them, and he blows some hair out of his face since his hands are too busy being smooshed. The thin film of sweat on his brow glistens when he clears his throat. Licks his lips. “You never listen to me anyway. Tried talkin’ earlier.”

Bullcrap, I ‘don’t listen to you’. Rhett shoves the instinctive response aside and closes his eyes to find better words. “What’s really bothering you? Start at the beginning.”

Deflating further, chest still tick-tocking up from the floor in rapid breaths, Link's anger slips down a few notches into clear hurt. He chews the inside of his cheek. Lets his knuckles go limp on the tile. “Sometimes… I dunno, man. I hate feelin' like this.”

“Like what?” Rhett sounds soft to his own ears. Not like it’s pleasant, seein’ Link lose his fight, even if it’s necessary. “What’s wrong?”

“Just… I don’t wanna be a burden.” Jesus. Forget the elbows and knees, this is gonna be what hurts Rhett, isn’t it? “I want you to enjoy our friendship. I don’t want you to keep hangin’ around me out of some weird obligation we made when we were kids.”

“Link.” Rhett eases off further, can feel how wide his eyes are. “Izzat what you think…? You really think I’m just here out of some unspoken contract I can’t breach?”

“Kinda assumed that’s all the blood oath was t'you, these days,” Link murmurs, glancing up at the ceiling, and Rhett wants to collect his attention again like precious stones in his palms.

“The blood oath only means what we put into it, Link. If I weren’t serious about you, I wouldn’t let some promise we made keep me from bein' happy—”

Link jolts, thwacking against Rhett’s inner thigh and throwing him off balance. In the split second following, Rhett barks a swear, falls his weight back onto Link to still his attempted escape, and Link grunts and hisses profanity, foiled. When they’re both still, it’s chest-to-chest, Link’s venomous irises glinting inches from Rhett’s own like razors whet and ready. 

Fine. Let him be mad. Rhett’s a patient person, but he’s nearing the end of his goddamn rope, being manipulated into letting his guard down like that. “I’m tryin’ to talk this through with you, ya jerk! I’m bein’ honest—be honest with me, too, Link.”

Link presses his lips thin, gaze jumping between Rhett’s eyes.

There’s a very real second where Rhett envisions Link headbutting him and the blinding white stun that would follow. 

Instead, Link holds their gaze, flexes his fingers to remind Rhett through muscle alone that his wrists are still in his care. Then—slowly, as though the movement might break one of them—Link arches up into Rhett’s stomach, bringing their bodies together in a hitching roll.

Rhett’s face hardens, side-effect of hiccuping confusion he doesn’t want to reveal. He feels his eyebrow quirk—not enough to accuse. He takes an unsteady breath to fuel a question when Link bites his lower lip and does it again, thrusting up for friction against him. The bundle of fabric that roughs between is hard, and that truth crushes the air from Rhett’s lungs in a teetering exhale when he connects the dots.

“Link?” The face of the man in question is stoic—challenging, and Rhett’s neck heats, suddenly all too aware of their position, thrown back into it: in the floor together, Link restrained by his weight alone, legs spread to make room for him. Rhett’s lying between his thighs, belly at the receiving end of Link’s frustration, and if his suspicions aren’t tricking him, Link is… 

Swallowing an undignified noise, Rhett searches Link’s face, because surely what he thinks is happening isn’t really happening. He’s misunderstanding. When he speaks again, it’s barely there. “What’re you doin’...?”

“Bein’ honest with you,” Link whispers, lids falling low, and the third time extinguishes any doubt: he grinds up into Rhett, deliberately, those eyes slipping shut as an overheated moan dribbles from his throat, deep enough to drown in. 

Rhett seizes up, arms tight on Link’s, breathless as Link seeks purchase on him for his cock. This— this isn’t—is this a mind game? Scare the hell out of Rhett so he’ll get up, gross him out and make him feel weird for getting Link so worked up, just from having their bodies on one another? 

It’s physical. Link’s hormones are responding to being underneath someone, it has nothing to do with Rhett. It’s all physical circumstance. 

He should move. Should let Link have this win, if it means that much to him.

Splaying his hands on either side of Link’s chest, Rhett flushes and pushes himself up, but before he can go far, Link acts. His fingers fly up to Rhett’s sides and hold him in place for another dry thrust, heels dug against the floor to practically buck Rhett into the air. A yelped whimper is his reward, and Rhett comes back down hard, clamping a hand over his own mouth as his cheeks burn.

“You’re hard too, aren’t you, bo?”

Heart forgetting every other beat, Rhett stares into Link’s neck, face flecked with heat.

Are they really doing this? This bizarre stress relief version of—shit, is this hate fucking? How the hell had Rhett’s pacifism, his determination not to let Link leave angry at him—how had it ended up like this?

“L-Link,” Rhett tries to warn, but it comes out weak, and in an instant Link’s arms are over his shoulders, keeping him.

“I won’t tell anyone.”

“If we…?”

“Yeah. You wanna rut against me like this? Bet we’d both come, if you did.” Low and daring, Rhett hears Link lick his lips. “Can you imagine? Gosh, Rhett. We don’t have to talk about it ever again. But the thought of you finally putting that size of yours to use, to make me feel small in a good way… both so pent up… c’mon, man.”

Testing the waters feels more like flirting with acid. “...You serious?”

There’s a knowing chuckle, dangerous and level. “Depends. You wanna try to come at the same time? Only thing we haven’t done together, and we’ve enjoyed everything else. What’s one more memory?”

Rhett’s mind turns over, seriously considering it. Link has a point, even if it’s a wild and filthy way to get out their aggression for one another. Maybe the fact that he’s even considering it in the first place is telling enough, but he’s not sure he should actually...

If they do this, it’s not a line over which they can backtrack.

“You’re the only person who makes me feel helpless, Rhett,” Link drawls, squirming under him, with Rhett acutely aware of each curve and dip of his best friend’s body. That their erections are pressed flush together, separated by denim that would burn their hands should they touch it simply ‘cause that’s not a territory meant to be touched with palms. “Don’t you wanna show me you’re the dominant one between us…?”

Fuck. Yeah, I do. 

Snaking his reach under Link’s back to clamp down on his shoulders, Rhett grunts in assent and grinds their pelvises together, dragging their bodies, fucking Link through their clothes. A throaty groan of relief from Link effectively destroys any second guesses lingering in Rhett’s brain; he adjusts, bearing down on him and gathering him up all at once, hides his face in Link’s neck as he sets into a rhythm.

God, the friction. Link is open for him, locking his ankles behind Rhett’s thighs, accepting their reckless new secret as reality. The mewls and rolling breaths Link can’t seem to dam up break Rhett into a sweat—everything about this is broiling: the heat of the sunlight at his back, the warmth radiating from the front of Link’s jeans, the arms clutching at him, the thrum of Link’s larynx against his temple. Rhett growls and screws his eyes shut to drink in the unsure tandem of frustrated bodies using one another for the first time.

“Rhett,” Link gasps when he’s pushed down harder. He’s begging for bruises to be left on his hip bones, but shit, even that is nothing but reason to keep going. Leave him with a reminder of what they do to one another when they invade each other’s space, teeth bared in what now seems like pretense. “Lemme have it, unload on me. We both know that’s all you’re really thinkin’ about anyway, pullin’ that ‘pacifist’ shit all the time. Lover, not a fighter?” Rhett’s eyes are closed, but he can envision Link’s canines flashing when he laughs, “Show me, then, you prick.”

Warmth flaring out and driving his actions, Rhett locks himself onto Link, humming and rocking his hips hard. This time—courtesy of exactly what Link’d asked for—Link’s loud moan hits the shell of Rhett’s ear, shaking him to his core. 

Absolutely forbidden, perfectly so. Link in heat is something he’d never been meant to experience, yet here they are like angry rabbits in the most fucked up conflict resolution they’ve ever entertained. The friction of denim on denim is unbearable—can fabric melt? But Link’s enjoying it too much for Rhett to fly the notion of quitting to cool off, trembling and letting growling swears drip into Rhett’s ear at the same pace as dirty encouragements: “That’s it, Rhett, fuck. Ohh, God, you’re hitting the head—little bit harder—aahhh.”

Rhett hasn’t said anything in some time, happy to bask in the theorem that Link is the verbal one, the one okay with this. It’s greed that shoves him to speak, voice cracking deep against Link’s collarbone, “You gon’ be able to come like this?”

“Y-Yeah,” Link’s nodding on him, hands harsh on Rhett’s back and neck, switching between them as Rhett continues, roughing them both, breaths growing heavy.

“Want you to. C’mon, baby, come in your pants. Give me that over you.”

He isn’t sure which word does it—whether it’s the mention of power, the pet name that had slipped out, or the begging for him to shiver with release under Rhett’s weight—but Link lets out a lewd moan, long and low, and he nods again. “Don’t stop then, fuck—fuck, almost…!”

Rhett chases it—hunts it to his death, needs to feel Link orgasm, wants to experience that first-hand—gives him his everything, his all, he loves him, even if they fight, could never find him insufferable or any synonym of the word, just wants him to know how much he owns Rhett in every sense of the word, that Rhett would end the world for him should he simply ask.

“Rhett—c’mon, we gotta finish this!”

Rhett groans, ready for it, just a few more—

“Rhett! Wake up, dumbnut!”

Eyes suddenly open, Rhett’s back in his bed, on his stomach, drenched in sweat, clamped onto the pillow under his head for dear life.

Link is watching him from the desk, turned about in his chair again, eyebrows raised high in anticipation as Rhett zips their gazes together. Link seems… annoyed, but the pinch swiftly falls away to gentle amusement. “My handwriting so hard to decipher that you fall asleep?”

“...What?” Rhett winces, lifting his head, shifting his hips down and— Jesus, he’s hard again? What the fuck’s he been dreaming about lately?! And why can’t he remember the dreams, if they’re that damn good? Fuck’s sake.

“You fell asleep,” Link observes once again, shaking his head in feigned pity. “You want me to make coffee?”

Rhett draws a deep breath, blinking away the mist of fatigue and arousal and eyeing the forgotten sheet of notes before him. Had… had they fought? Before he’d fallen asleep?

“That sounds nice. Thanks.”

“Sure.” Link stands and stretches, his shirt riding up and exposing a sliver of his belly, and Rhett eyes it unabashedly. Those jeans… had he been wearing those when Rhett had fallen asleep? Link strides across the room to their coffee maker, humming a sigh.

“Hey, Link?”

“What’s up?”

Rhett lolls his head to the side, letting his abused eyes close again. “I’m real glad you’re my best friend.”

Link doesn’t respond, and that’s fine. Rhett had needed to say it is all. No matter the stupid arguments they get into, it’s true: Link’s his other half, and should an argument too heated arise where they can’t talk it out? Well, they’ll just find another way to resolve it. Maybe even coming to blows, if that would make them both feel better. Just… let off that steam. Whatever it takes to make Link feel heard.

Link’s definitely heard despite his whispering, finding Rhett’s ears clean across the room.

“Thanks, Rhett. Me, too.”

Chapter Text

Ticking. That of a clock, a metronome’s chore. It’s easier to fall asleep this way, Rhett has heard, when there’s monotony to rock bodies like cradled babes. Back-forth, to-fro. But his eyes twitch—face twitches—at the sound. Normally a light sleeper (though not lately; shut-eye has brought anything but rest) he acknowledges that the drone of the clock is doing more harm than good.

Can’t afford to miss sleep. Take out the batteries, he addles—half here, half gone. If he doesn’t, he won’t be released to the numb nothing of rest. Blinking sleep-crusted eyes, Rhett runs his hands over his face and noiselessly checks the time on his phone.

It’s 1:44am. That’s the first thing his iPhone reminds him. The second is that this is his clock. There isn’t anything in their dorm that ticks, what with how particular Link can be; sure, he can sleep anyhow, but he won’t suffer through anything he doesn’t have to.

So what’s ticking?

Face tight, Rhett sets his phone on his chest and lets it sleep. Straining ears homed in, eyes lost in the fuzzy darkness of Link’s bunk above his own. A car engine revs in the parking lot outside. Someone’s door slams shut down the hall, heavy metal falling to its hinges. Only when all is perfectly still can he hear it again, ever-rhythmic, and the single thing that breaks the cadence is an airy breath.

Blinking like that might return light to his world, Rhett squints hard at the wooden railing of Link’s bunk. It jostles once, twice—keeps going just like that, in time with the tight noises. It’s shaking, just so, in the dim.

There’s breathing, too. Soft gasping.

Jesus Christ, is Link...?

Face hot, Rhett stirs in the shameful knowledge that he’s supposed to be asleep—as if he’s the one breaching etiquette, by daring to be conscious in the vicinity. Not that this is the first time it’s happened; growing up with someone means being near them when they’re most flushed with hormones, so horny they can’t think straight. It had admittedly led to the occasional awkward sleepover. Hell, it had never been Rhett who’d lost their judgment at those sleepovers, but. Still.

Link’s gonna pull this now? He can’t wait?

A thick swallow airdrops Rhett’s mind back to his body. How to handle this? He could… let Link know he’s awake, maybe. Knock on the wall. Clear his throat. But he’s just woken up—what if Link thinks he’s been awake this entire time, listening to him work himself up?

No, better to stay quiet. Let him… let him finish, good Lord, can Rhett do that? Just subject himself to this?

Closing his eyes is an attempt to block everything out and think about things he’d done yesterday and things he needs to do today. What it does instead is hone his hearing, fine-tune his ears to the exact sounds he’s desperate to blot out.

Link’s breaths are rocking and shallow in a way unique to self-care. Restrained, tempered gasps—though Rhett has to wonder just how tempered; Link’s still pretty loud, easily audible over the squeak of his mattress. In each begging exhale, Rhett can envision too well Link’s dumb Barbie doll cupid’s bow arching away from his bottom lip. Face probably illuminated by his phone screen, looking at porn under his blanket and—

That must be it. He’s got earbuds in and doesn’t know he’s being so loud.

Rhett should be able to shift onto his side and go back to sleep without being heard, then. So why is he too scared to move?

Link’s practically shaking their bed he’s so lost in it, for God’s sake. Couldn’t he have gone to the bathroom for this? Not like anyone would be awake right now.

Huh. Actually—insane as it sounds—Rhett would prefer he take care of himself here. Better for Link to put him through this than some groggy floormate just trying to take a midnight piss. Link’s… safer in here. Less risk of humiliation.

Lids heavy, Rhett doesn’t have much choice but to listen to Link masturbate. He can be still and do his best to pretend like this isn’t happening. Surely the guy won’t last long, if he’d needed it this bad. 

Then Link’s breath catches, pausing just long enough to reveal the fast slap of skin on skin. Apparently that’s all Rhett’s dick needs to assume it’s been invited to play. It piques to life—barely—and in horror, Rhett slides a hand to his crotch, pressing his palm down harsh. 

Nope. What the fuck.

Evidence of any horny body nearby is good enough, it seems.

C’mon, Link, go back to the loud breathing. At least that was bearable.

Obeying him through telepathy alone, Link sucks in a lungful of air. Upon its release, Rhett’s neck erupts into tingling heat as a soft moan escapes Link: “Fuuuck.”

Jesus—go back to being quiet, then!!

Rhett licks his lips and swallows again, throat now irritable and prone to coughing. What to do? Clamping his eyes shut, he focuses on absolutely every other sensation: his cover is too hot and oddly scratchy on his knees and feet, colors dance behind his eyelids, his mouth tastes like sleep and toothpaste, Link’s oblivious stuttering breaths as he—fuck. What about smell? 

Oh, my god.

I can… I can smell him.

Sweat. Musk. Sex. 

Link’s sex. 

Rhett’s prick twitches from its finger cage and it isn’t until then that he realizes he’s at full attention. 

God dammit. That makes two of them, then. 

Undeniably, the worst part of having an erection at an inopportune time is how it affects every other part of one’s judgment. The second Rhett acknowledges his own arousal, the rest of his body is begging him to do something about it, and his brain isn’t helpful in fighting that impulse:

Link’s doing it. Right now. He doesn’t care that I’m here, or if he does, it’s not enough to stop him. Doesn’t that mean that I should be allowed to do it, too? Think about that girl we saw gettin’ felt up by her boyfriend at the drive-in and just… go? Besides, guys do this together sometimes. Not that we ever have, but others do. Hell, they do it where they can see each other, don’t they? Watch porn together? Not like that would even be the case. Link wouldn’t know. Does… does that make it better, or—

Link huffs from his heat, and Rhett’s fingers wrap around himself by instinct, grip tight to counteract the fabric between. He isn’t sure whether it’s the naughty idea of someone falling to pieces overtop of him or that it sounds like Link’s having such a damn good time up there, but why the hell shouldn’t Rhett join him? Not like Link could point fingers if he catches him.

Rhett furrows his brow and snakes under his blanket, tugging the hem of it up to his shoulders with his free hand. In for a penny, in for a pound—he doesn’t stop to think better, slides his palm over his pecs and down his abs with a pang of appreciation for his own muscles. Nice to remember he’s not a bad looking guy. He’s fit. 

Link is, too.

That’s not—think about that blonde you saw the other day. Those hazel eyes.

When he pries his waistband up with a single finger and slips beneath, his arousal meets him eagerly. Thick, hard, and almost too hot for comfort. If he were alone he would toss the sheets from his bed and sprawl out, but as is, he’ll have to settle for being cocooned. 

Is Link covered? Yeah. Yeah, he’s gotta be, otherwise Rhett would be able to see the light from his phone. 

“Oh, gosh,” Link whimpers less than five feet away, burning Rhett into action. With a shaky touch he takes himself and rubs a careful thumb over the taut, dry skin of his head. He could spit into his hand. Maybe even reach Link’s hand lotion on the bedside table, if he’s quiet enough.

Glancing at the shaking frame once, he eases himself onto a silent elbow and twists to reach for the pump bottle.

Link’s phone is charging beside it.

His laptop's there, too.

Rhett stares at the devices, heart skipping beats and hiccuping along.

He’s… he could hear me. He’s just up there getting off to his own imagination, being this loud and not caring whether I wake up. No earbuds. He knows how loud he’s being. Knows I’m a light sleeper.

Rhett can’t use that lotion. Scared to set off a trap-like chain of events, he lowers himself back to his bed. 

This isn’t like him. Why is he… 

Wait.

Of course. Oh, God, why didn’t Rhett put two and two together sooner?

This is a dream. Another one of those fuckin’ sex dreams. 

“Ah, ah, ahh...”

Yeah. This ain’t really happening. 

Jesus, the first one I’m gonna be aware for involves Link? Why do I gotta drag him into this shit?

Well. Whatever; maybe Rhett can just get himself off and wake up to a mess that he’ll have made (hopefully) noiselessly in his sleep. He spits into his cupped fingers and cradles the wet down his body, nudging under his underwear and spreading it mercifully over his cock. 

It ain’t the same as lotion, but it still feels good when he gives himself a timid stroke, eyes falling closed. 

Link’s movements have slowed, as have his vocal contributions, and rather than focus on clinging to those sounds to get off, Rhett wonders what he’s thinking about. Which girl from their classes he’s with and what kind of lips he’s fucking behind those lids. The fact that he’d slowed down at all… what, is he romancing his fantasy succubus? He would. Link would definitely be the kinda guy who would need to be romanced to get off. Make it feel special, somehow. S’probably why he fucked his mattress in high school, to pretend there was someone he could dote on beneath him.

Shit, why isn’t he doing that now? That’d be way more preferable to the sound of his fist bottoming out over and over again. But then… Link would be thrusting down towards him if he did that, wouldn’t he? Almost like he’d be trying to fuck Rhett, so stupid with it that he’d gladly rut in his general direction if that was the best he could get.

Rhett exhales, shoulders tight. His own pace has hiked up a little, not that he’d been paying attention. After those other wet dreams where he couldn’t do anything, even just being able to jack off with some spit is blissful heaven. He’s finally got some goddamn agency over what he’s doing—will probably be able to remember it when he wakes up, for once. Sad story that his brain’s given him Link to work with, but it ain’t about Link. It’s about relief.

Go back to the blonde. 

She’d look so good spread out on a bed, maybe down on her knees, gettin’ ‘em all rough on carpet… that bright red lipstick she wears. I’d love to see that color smudged on my dick.

Wouldn’t let her suck me off though. It’s just to tease her, get her nice and wet then lead her to bed, lay her back. Get my tongue on those tits—God, I bet she’s got nice nipples—feel how wet she is with one teasin’ finger. Rub that pretty little clit.

Rhett bends his legs to prop his knees in the air, hitting his groove. Had always been good at fantasizing even if he’s lazy and normally goes for porn. Now, he gets a chance to luxuriate in it.

Tease her awhile. Get her nice and ready for it, teeth on her neck until she’s grinding her pussy down onto my fingers, wanting to be filled up, begging for me to do something about it for her.

His breathing falters—but that’s okay, since Link’s has kicked back up. Shit, maybe he’s about to fuck her as well. Those shoulders? His abs? God, he’d fuck her right, too.

Grab those hips and just get my cock up in there, push into her—fuck, the look on her face, like she’s been dyin’ for it. Tight and hot and slippery— 

Rhett’s next tug breaks a bead of precum, and the renewed slick is perfect , curls that much-needed tension— 

Make those tits bounce just from fuckin’ her, those little gasps—Link’s got ‘em right, sound just like that—that panting, her lips in an ‘o’ when I grind against her clit, just melt her from the inside out, fuck! Wouldn’t be long ‘til she’s beggin’ for it, forgetting that pretty girls ain’t supposed to be filthy when she moans—

“H-Harder, more,” Link whimpers—not a plea someone makes unless they’re the one being fucked.

Rhett’s brain jumps tracks, too far gone to say ‘no’.

Always had such a nice body, that jawline, that tongue, that wink he’s so good at. Seen that ass a few times too many, s’got no right lookin’ that way, all perky and tight. Those lips , God almighty, they’d be so good to suck on or to work on a cock. 

And he ain’t small, neither, don’t gotta worry ‘bout breakin’ him, could take him from behind and put all my weight on his back, just like when we wrestle. Fuck ‘im with my face in his hair, smell that cologne he wears—shit, he's always been there for me, would be willing if I needed it like I do—wanna be there for him, too, make him feel good with me. Fuck him from behind while reachin’ around, that big cock in my lubed up hand. I’d jerk him off so fast he’d scream, he’d cry my name when he—

Link grunts into a choked gasp above him, the entire bed frame shivering, and Rhett’s there too, cock pulsing as he spills over his tight fingers. He’s shaking, hips rolling up into his fist to milk himself—free palm clamped over his mouth lest the name on the tip of his tongue try anything funny.

He doesn’t let his mouth free, even after all is still and luminous spots dance in his vision. Belying his pounding heart, he takes careful, long breaths through his nose. Listens to Link’s much less meticulous breathing as he comes down, winded. 

Jesus.

That… hadn’t happened.

None of this had. It’s a dream. And Rhett’s going to wake up in the morning with cum dried in his underwear and he’ll have to clean himself off. He won’t have to wonder why Link had been begging to get pegged, or who he was begging to peg him, or what any of this means. He won’t remember it, probably. 

Wiping his hand clean in his boxers, Rhett slowly shifts to a position that could pass for sleeping and goes still. He doesn’t move when Link adjusts, hard, shaking the bed, and when Link’s foot appears at the top rung of the bunk ladder, Rhett crushes his eyes shut and listens to his heart kicking around in his ribs. Good thing they'd finished at the same time.

Good thing he’s supposed to be sleeping, too; no way he could make eye contact right now.

He hears Link pad softly about the room, gathering things, and the door to the hall opens and shuts with a burst of light. When Rhett looks up again, he’s alone, and Link’s robe is gone from its door hook. 

That’s a weird… wait.

Rhett pinches his arm, hard, and the pain there is very real and likely to leave a bruise.

This isn’t a dream. He’d really just—oh, Jesus Christ .

He turns over and stares at the dark wall in wide-eyed horror, thoughts of Link wracked with pleasure still fresh in his mind and cooling on his pelvis. He’s alone—could get up and clean himself off, now that Link is in the shower—but still, Rhett doesn’t dare move.

Chapter Text

“Welcome home,” Link sings from his desk, hardly giving Rhett a chance to unload his book bag from his shoulders before greeting him. 

“Home? Looks a bit different than what I remember. Smaller,” states Rhett, letting the dorm door shut behind him and sauntering to his bed. He sweeps a wary glance at Link, stationed at the desk as usual, but Link is obliviously chipper: he hums along to a song that isn’t playing, pen twiddling between those slender fingers as he tries to work something out on a sheet. 

“How was your meeting with Professor Jones?”

“What?” The approximate second before Rhett realizes the slip up is enough to shatter his exhaustion into thinly veiled panic. “Oh! It was fine.”

“What do you mean ‘oh’? You just got done with the meeting, right? How’d you forget between there and here?”

Link spins in his seat, and Rhett gets a good gauge on his outfit for the first time today: green zip-up hoodie, red shirt beneath, and black jeans. Looks as nice as he always does. Could run a Lookbook if he wanted.

“I stopped by the student center on the way back,” Rhett lies readily.

“What for?” Sharp one, ain’t he? Why’s Link gotta be that familiar, anyway? It’s not like Rhett enjoys lying to his face. Oh well; what’s the difference if he piles on now?

“The store. Was lookin’ for some new pens.” Rhett flings himself down onto his bunk and groans at the relief it brings his back. “Any other questions relevant to your investigation?”

Snorting, Link turns to his work and shrugs into a hunch. “Geeze. Just curious. I’m your emergency contact, I’m supposed to know where you are in case your folks call.”

“At all hours of the day like that?” Rhett wonders softly, no trace of vitriol. Link doesn’t mean any harm, and the way he stays quiet for a while after that makes guilt nip at Rhett’s neck. When he does speak, it’s allowing.

“You’re right. Sorry.”

“No—Link, it’s fine. I’m just tired.”

“I’ve noticed. Not just today, either,” Link notes as his pen clacks between his fingers in thought. He’s still looking at his textbook even though he’s clearly not paying attention to it. “You’ve been exhausted lately. Class finally gettin’ to ya?”

“Must be.”

Yeah. Class, definitely not a depraved obsession with fucking that follows me into my dreams every time I go to sleep… 

Or think I’m asleep, anyway.

That’s why Rhett had lied to begin with; last night’s “incident” rendered him unable to look at Link all throughout the morning, with cheeks burning and glances swept over him and instead thrown to the shrubs and buildings of campus. After classes, Rhett had blurted some nonsense excuse about a meeting with a professor, and Link had offered to come along—to wait outside the office door like some obedient puppy, needless company which Rhett would’ve turned down even if he hadn’t been lying.

In reality, Rhett had gone to the library to do homework. A small nook out of the way offered him some sort of sanctuary, and he’d taken it greedily. Headphones blocking out the world and nose in his textbook, he’d scribbled away notes to try and plug his brain in right again. Only after he’d paid the pious penance of reading twenty pages had he un-cricked his back and packed up. 

Had it worked? Sure, until the dorm hall was in sight again. Better than nothing, he supposes.

Now back in their room, Rhett’s as goddamned exhausted as he usually is whenever he gets home, and he sees no reason not to cave to that fatigue. Even if it fucks up his sleep schedule, a nap sounds amazing—assuming, of course, that he can keep his betraying body under control. Should be simple enough; a pillow hugged to his torso should do the trick. God forbid he thrusts up into it. Ugh.

Rhett listens to the swish and scritch of Link’s pen in a composition book, lets his head swim to the depths of here-and-not, room spinning. 

This is nice. Nice of Link to let me relax.

He must know how much I need this.

“Oh.” 

The word hangs between them precariously, anticipatory. Rhett can feel Link’s eyes and anxiety on him, unsure of whether he’s asleep—or failing that, okay to be bothered. 

Biting back grumpiness, Rhett heaves a deep breath. “What’s up?”

“You got a package,” Link murmurs, and when Rhett cracks an eye at him, Link’s pointing the butt of his pen towards the door. 

Sitting up, Rhett sees it: there on the floor, tucked away by the mini-fridge, is a large brown box with clear tape across the top. Kinda weird seeing boxes that aren’t shipped by Amazon. 

“What?” Craning up onto his elbows, Rhett runs a hand over his face and tugs at the bags under his eyes. “Who’s it from?”

“Mama Di,” answers Link simply, and just like that he’s back to his homework. 

Amazing that he still calls her that. I wonder if he’d do that around our friends...?

It takes monumental effort for Rhett to sit up and stagger onto his feet, and he pads over to the delivery like his socks are laden with lead. Now that Rhett’s up, Link doesn’t second guess his permission to speak.

“Were you expecting a care package or anything?”

Rhett shakes his head, knowing Link can’t see it, and kneels to pick up the box. When he hefts its weight it nearly flies up and smacks him in the jaw; it’s way lighter than he’d assumed it’d be, for its size. “The heck?”

“I’ll take that as a ‘no’.”

The address on the label is in his mom’s elegant script. Makes him homesick in an extra-painful sort of way. 

He carries it back to his bed and plops down, spinning the cardboard to find a free tendril of packing tape he can get a fingernail under. By the time he’s tearing it off, Link has become an audience of one, rapt as if the box is a top hat about to produce a rabbit.

Tape peels away in a roar, gets crumpled, and falls to the floor (Link scoffs). And when Rhett unfolds the first flaps of the box, there’s a neat letter with pink candy cane stripes up either side of the paper, which Rhett smooths out and reads silently.

Rhett,

Was cleaning out your room the other day. Found this girl and thought you might enjoy having her at college… it’s okay to keep pieces of your childhood, sugar. Give her a big hug—I think she misses sleeping with you.

Love,
Mom

“No,” Rhett whispers, and before Link can voice the question on his cocked eyebrow, Rhett digs into the package and reveals a large swathe of silky black and white fabric.

“Oh, gracious,” breathes Link. He recognizes it instantly, too—and Rhett’s too humiliated to stop him when he leans over and snatches the paper from the bed, reading over it quickly. “Ha! ‘Misses sleeping with you’! If only she knew.”

“Hush,” Rhett warns, peering at Link with hot cheeks. 

Shamu’s smiling up at Rhett from inside the box. Because of course it’s Shamu. 

Rhett pulls her out of the box and sets her by his hip, not wasting any time sinking his face into his hands, his elbows on his knees. “Lord.”

“Hey, it’s kinda sweet, at least. If you don’t think about all the, uhh… fucked up history.” 

Why’s Link gotta sound so excited about it? This isn’t some new game, it’s embarrassing and weirdly personal to Rhett. Shit, he shouldn’t have even told Link about it in the first place, but the topic had come up senior year—and at the time, admitting that he’d humped a happy little stuffed whale to completion over and over again in the throes of puberty had seemed like a great way to one-up Link’s vanilla mattress stories.

Now, of course, he regrets ever opening his stupid, competitive mouth, ‘cause right on cue, Link has conveniently forgotten his homework in favor of dragging Rhett through the mud. 

“Want me to leave? Y’all could have a proper reunion that way, y’know.”

“Link.”

“I’m just sayin’. S’like a conjugal visit. Reunited at last,” Link drawls, leaning back in his chair with a shit-eating grin, totally unaffected by the glare Rhett’s trying to fix him with. “Gosh, looks like she missed you, too. Look at those bedroom eyes.”

Rhett glowers, but ticks his attention down to Shamu anyway. Some part of him manages to wriggle through the disdain and find the humor in Link’s statement—damn if those glassy, happy eyes aren’t the exact opposite of sultry. Rhett snorts into a laugh, resting his chin on a fist to maintain his gaze with the whale. “Good God.”

“Is she as sexy as you remember’?” laughs Link, now careless with it. He only gets this way when he’s okay with the idea of being challenged to a wrestling match… when the teasing is worth the potential punishment.

“Yeah, yeah. Should really just take her straight down to the garbage room,” muses Rhett, and Link glottals an indignant noise.

“Hey—you can’t do that! Mama Di cared enough to send her to you, you gotta keep her!”

“Will you stop calling her a ‘she’?”

“You just called her a ‘she’!”

“It’s weird when you do it!”

“So you do still have feelings for her! Been Pavlov’d, huh? The sight of ‘er just get you goin’?” 

Christ. 

Link snatches Shamu from the bed, and Rhett lets him, because what’s the point? “You wanna touch her, after cracking all those jokes? Now who’s the weirdo?”

“Never said you were a weirdo,” Link points out, holding Shamu in his lap and running hands over the polyester fabric of her short “fur”. He goes against the grain and turns the black fibers to a tame gray, staring down into those beady eyes with a crooked smile that fades the longer he holds her. “Can’t believe you were able to get off on this,” he observes in a mumble. “How’d you do it?”

“Uh.” The utterance comes out as a blunt statement, Rhett’s eyes jumping back and forth between Shamu and the suddenly-entranced Link. “I already told you. Just… humped it.”

“I know, but I mean, like—” Link turns the plushie over in his large hands thoughtfully, and the fearful notion flickers through Rhett’s head that he’s looking for some kind of evidence of depravity. There’s… well, Rhett’s fairly certain there isn’t any. He’d taken good care of that whale. “I meant like… is there a part that felt best? Did you like… keep your underwear on, or bare skin?”

“Dude,” Rhett begs, reaching out an expectant hand for his cotton-filled fuckbuddy of yore, but Link retracts, hugging Shamu to his chest.

“I’m curious! It’s just hard to imagine, is all.”

“Why you tryna imagine it at all?!”

“I said I’m curious!” Link insists, timbre hitching up. When he tests Rhett with a look, his eyes are fragile and tickled at the same time: just go with me on this. I won’t tell anyone. “I told you, man, the only thing I was ever brave enough to use was my bed, so I’m wonderin’ about the mechanics. I never got to have a fling with a whale.”

Pressing his lips thin, Rhett waits for him to crumble and back down under the judgmental scrutiny—to shame him for asking such things in the first place—but Link doesn’t budge. Instead, he runs a thumb over Shamu’s hard plastic eyes and watches Rhett carefully, his own lips pressed thin to match.

“Fine,” Rhett spits, face already burning. He scratches his nose and motions to the stuffed thing’s white tummy. “There. If… if you like, get her between your legs so that her tail’s kinda… near your butt,” Rhett struggles, a bystander as Link holds the whale up and tries to envision the position he’s describing, “you can just kinda… rock into the space between her flippers.”

Link blinks, eyes roaming the belly in his hands. “And what, hands on her head?”

Grimacing, Rhett nods. “One… one around her nose, the other on her dorsal fin.”

“Dorsal fin,” Link grunts, ‘cause apparently the only part of this that’s funny to him is Rhett’s inclination towards proper terms of aquatic anatomy. For a moment he doesn’t say anything, and Rhett can practically see Link imagining that position—trying to put himself in younger (albeit perhaps-not-hornier) Rhett’s shoes, fucking Shamu in his mind’s eye. Seems Rhett’s right on the money, cause Link shakes his shaggy head and quirks that same eyebrow at him again. “I really just don’t see how that felt good.”

“Any port in a storm, right?” Rhett sighs. He reaches for the whale again, but just like before, Link recoils with it, holding it to his stomach. And what the hell for? This ain’t exactly fun anymore; enough is enough. “How ‘bout you give her back now?”

“Are you gonna trash her?” Link asks, and Rhett drops his hands to his lap.

“Yeah, man. I don’t want her anymore, and actually I think you think I’m more attached to her than I really am. She’s just an unfortunate detail from a dark time.” 

Another spell of quiet passes where Link stares down at the plushie in his arms, cradling it like it’s some lost goddamn relic and not a toy that’s bared witness to acts of wanton desperation. Like he needs to say goodbye to it, or make a bizarre “I have an idea” ritual out of its disposal. Which—knowing him—that’s a real possibility.

When Link opens his mouth again, Rhett half expects it to be to voice some cheesy, over-the-top joke of a goodbye, or to suggest a day drive to host a viking funeral at the Cape Fear river. But it’s nothing so definitive.

“If you’re going to throw her out anyway…”

He doesn’t finish the thought, and Rhett stares, lips parting. “...What?”

“I’m curious, is all,” Link breathes, and the implication is complemented with a new rosy pink in his cheeks.

There isn’t a lot that Rhett would consider “crossing a line” with Link—the guy could do almost anything and Rhett wouldn’t judge him, would forgive him instantly, would never consider it a dealbreaker for their relationship. And it’s with that truth knocking around in his skull that Rhett opens and closes his mouth several times, needing to know whether this is a joke or not. “What?” he asks again.

“I—” Link falters, letting his head cock to the side limply and picking at one of Shamu’s seams. “I never got to do anything like that. I wasn’t ever… adventurous. With where I… you know.”

Oh, hell.

“And… you think a good place to start is with the stuffed whale I used to use?” Rhett reiterates, wanting him to hear how absurd it sounds out loud. 

Ironically, the statement has the opposite effect on himself. 

Especially when Link drags those wide, timid eyes up to him and shrugs like a dejected child. “I mean… that would feel more right to me than any other thing. You’ve done it,” he mumbles, and Rhett doesn’t know whether it’s Link’s words or his own hiccuping pulse that cracks his heart a little.

“Oh, gosh, Link,” Rhett whispers, running a hand through his hair and trailing it down along his thin beard. “Seriously?”

“You can say ‘no’. Just don’t… don’t make fun of me, if you don’t want me to.”

Staring at the floor—at nothing and everything all at once—Rhett sets his jaw and swallows. Shit, he has done it before, so it’s not like he has room to poke fun. And the thing’s going in the dang trash either way; is there really any harm in letting Link have a moment alone with it? 

In a way that he isn’t sure he wants to address, Rhett maybe even enjoys the thought of Link doing it. Another shared experience between them. Another tally they’d have in common, no matter how taboo—both having climaxed by the same sensation, using the exact same tool, Rhett’s toy of choice. Link would be getting off on something that belongs to him. 

Why do I like that?

Closing his eyes into one long blink, then several more, Rhett shrugs. Nods. “Sure. Go for it.”

“Really…?” Link asks, eyes too wondrous and grateful to be talking about fucking a Shamu doll. 

“Really. I’ll, uh. I can… go crash on a study room couch. Just text me when you’re… when you’re done.” Rhett stands and shakes his head free of its filthy haze, heading for the door.

“Wait—you’re not gonna stay?” Rhett nearly trips over his own feet, and Link’s tongue acts much the same way when he scrambles to elaborate, “I don’t know if I’m gonna be doin’ it right! I—you—if you were here, you could talk me through how to do it!”

“I thought you understood?! With th-the… the flippers?” Rhett gawks over his shoulder, and Link straps the plushie to his chest in a hug meant to protect himself more than Shamu. 

“I think I do. But… I’m worried I don’t,” he admits, fingers brushing over Shamu’s soft fuzz. “And I don’t wanna get it wrong. Wanna be sure I do it the way you do.”

Rhett lets his chin fall to his chest, rendered helpless again by Link’s barren sincerity. Does he always have to be so candid? It’s fucking embarrassing most of the time, and the other ten percent of the time, Rhett really doesn’t have the guts to admit that it’s so goddamn endearing. Nothing about this should be worth sympathy, and yet. 

“So how’s this gonna work, then?” Rhett murmurs at the floor. 

The sound of Link standing and moving to their bunk bed almost chases him to the door through nerve alone—after last night, he really ain’t ready to handle something like this, and he’s tempted to throw that in Link’s face: what, your 2am fist-fucking wasn’t enough? That would be too revealing though, and so much more humiliating for Link than this. Yeah, Rhett might hate this, but Link’s vulnerable right now. 

“Can you just… sit at the desk, and face away?” Link suggests softly. 

Why not.

Rhett doesn’t mean to move his eyes from the floor when he treks over to the wooden chair, blush encroaching on his neck, but in his periphery he sees that Link is sitting on the bottom bunk. Rhett’s bunk.

Rhett hesitates, glancing at Link’s down-turned head, but what fucking difference does it make where Link masturbates? Either way Rhett’s gonna be in the room, and Link’s already made it pretty clear this is about connecting them in some weird, ritualistic way. Spinning the chair towards the closet, Rhett lowers into it carefully and rubs his hands on his thighs. 

“If you jizz on my sheets, you’re washing them.”

“Probably not gonna come at all, dude. I just wanna see how it feels.”

Right. Perfectly innocuous.

“So… um. I think you know how to get started,” nods Rhett. He crosses his legs and worries the hair on his ankle with a fascination similar to the newfound one for the grain of the closet door.

“Actually…”

“Oh, gosh. What?”

“Should I—” It’s a bit of a relief, honestly, that Link’s having a hard time with this too. At least Rhett’s not insane. “You mentioned the tail between the thighs, right? Is that like… a tactile thing? Is that part of it?”

Rhett squints, not processing the question, but Link helps him out more.

“I’m asking if I should take off my pants, Rhett.”

The alternative is… Link just unbuttoning his jeans and tugging them down a bit?

Rhett’s toes curl against his will, tingle finding the crest of his cheeks. “S’up to you.”

“How did you use to do it?” hushes Link, and Rhett casts his sight up to where the wall meets the ceiling. Swallows.

“Usually I was, uh… down to my boxers, I guess.”

There’s rustling and then unzipping, and every muscle in Rhett’s body clenches up. They’re really doing this. Okay. Feels too soon, too close, too much, but okay. Jeans hit the floor, and Rhett’s pupils click hard to his right to see if he can clock them in his field of vision without moving. Nope.

“Alright,” Link confirms with a grunt, likely adjusting. “It’s between my legs. Tail’s near my butt, like you said. One hand on the snout, one on the dorsal fin,” he chuckles. But Rhett can’t seem to find the humor in it anymore, shoulders pinched high. 

“Rhett?”

“Yeah?”

“You sure you’re okay with this? I told you it was alright to say ‘no’.”

“It’s—it’s fine. S’just weird, man. Surely you understand that.”

“I do. That’s why I wanna try it, it’s your weird thing. Wanna be in on it.”

Not talkin’ about humping a stuffed animal, you dummy.

“Sure.”

“So,” Link clears his throat just in time for Rhett to sink his teeth into his inner cheek, sharp. “Do I like… stay inside my boxers, or get full contact?”

“F-Full,” Rhett’s voice cracks, and he spits a string of swears internally, trying again. “Full contact.” Whether Link’s resounding silence is due to Rhett’s pubescent warble or because he’s focusing on getting his dick out, Rhett doesn’t know, and he isn’t sure he wants to know.

“And you don’t, like, use lube or anything. Right? Just thrust into the fur?”

“Lube would’ve ruined her real fast, man.”

“I figured. Just makin’ sure. On my back, or my side…?”

Fully flustered— why’s he need details that specific from me about this?!— Rhett throws his hands up in a huff. “Whatever feels best! We’re fucking a stuffed animal here, not taking a test.”

“‘We’?” Link laughs, a bemused sound that Rhett wants to plug his ears from. “It’s just me, right now. You wanna join me?”

“No!” barks Rhett, tenting his fingers over his temples and glaring wide-eyed at the closet once more. “I already had my glory days with that thing!”

“Geeze—just kiddin’, brother. Want you to be able to relax.”

“Ugh. Don’t talk like that with your dick out, man.”

“Actually… can you look at me, real quick?”

Rhett’s mind crashes into chaos at the request, freezing him entirely. “Why.”

“You won’t be able to see nothin’. Just wanna make sure I’m doin’ this right.”

Fuck’s sake. He’s really gotta make this way, way harder than it already is.

With all the bravery of a ditzy blonde in a B horror movie, Rhett inches sideways in his seat until Link’s visible on his bed. When he finally lays eyes on him, it’s a death sentence for this situation’s normalcy. 

‘Cause yeah, Link’s in his bed, half-naked, staring up at him with those unjustly pretty blues. He’s on his side, facing Rhett, still wearing his shirt and green hoodie—but his lower half is censored by the whale at his crotch, only the hill of his pelvis peeking over his waistband and pale stretches of his thighs visible. 

“Well?” Link asks expectantly. 

Rhett gulps, forcing himself to meet Link’s attention and pray that he hasn’t spent too long ogling his body. “Well what?”

“Is this right?” Link chuckles, wiggling his hands where he’s gripping Shamu.

“Uhh… yeah. That’s right.”

“Okay, so I just…?” 

And rather than finish his question or even give Rhett a chance to turn back around, he rolls his hips forward into the plushie, mashing the thing’s head down onto—Jesus Christ, onto his cock. Is he already hard?

“I—” Rhett startles, putting a hand up between them and looking away. “God’s sake, dude. Yeah, that’s the gist of it.”

“Rhett, don’t be dumb. You’re not gonna see my dick at this angle. This is as explicit as it’s gonna get,” Link points out, but holy shit, is he wrong about that. 

As if all these puzzles pieces won’t make a picture—the gleaned glances at his cock over the years, hearing his moans last night, smelling his sweat and cum, and now the promise of being able to see his expression when he gets off? As if those things added up could leave anything to the imagination about what Link is like when he fucks.

Their friendship is one thing. Where the hell does that line get blurred? When does it become more…? And fuck, why is Rhett hard, too?

“Okay,” grins Link, puffing another airy laugh—this one lined in definitely something more. “Okay, yeah. I was wrong. I get why this, uhh…” He swallows, lets his head slump to the mattress and flutters his eyes shut. Another thrust, and his lips curl up into a smile Rhett’s only seen from men getting head in pornos, the sight of it worn on Link burning his gut. “I can see how this would do the trick.”

Rhett’s teeth are clenched hard. He doesn’t move, doesn’t dare speak.

“I’m sorry I ever made fun of you for this.” Link’s words are breathy at once, husky and blushing on their own. He’s still thrusting, body rolling down into the plushie, hips stuttering forward into long drags. “Oh, gosh… it, uh. It feels real good.”

Don’t talk. Just let him do this, if he wants.

But Link doesn’t need anything from Rhett, apparently; he continues on his own, hair falling in his eyes when he picks up a bit of speed, either lost or careless to the fact that Rhett’s watching him like a hawk, soaking in every curve and angle and breath of Link like he might starve without them, hunched forward on his knees to observe him with a now-alarmingly calm air.

And shit, Link’s been okay with this so far, hasn’t he? He doesn’t seem uncomfortable. A greedy thought nibbles at Rhett’s ego, one he’s been finding himself thinking a lot lately.

“Gosh,” Link laughs, stopping. With a bashful smile he opens his sparkling eyes to Rhett, cheeks red and chest dipping in silent pants. “Oh, man. I really, uh, I really could come like this.”

“So do it,” Rhett commands in a rumble. 

Link’s facade shatters with a perverse throaty moan, eyebrows tenting up as he grinds down into Rhett’s plushie, eyes not leaving his best friend’s while he fucks himself in earnest. Feet tucking together, hands careful yet strong on their reins, lids low and plump lips noiselessly screaming to be sucked and licked ‘cause shit, that’s just how Link is. Always.

Blush rails up and down Rhett’s limbs, begging him to straighten up in his seat, to palm himself in his shorts, to let Link know he’s not alone in his heat—but the way Link squirms and refuses to look anywhere but at Rhett? It goes without speaking that he wants it this way. Wants Rhett to watch him be his pretty little self, putting on a show.

Rhett’s aching for some form of attention, but he doesn’t have any to spare. Link’s getting all of it, and he’s letting it ruin him.

A small choking noise when Link ruts down into the plushie again, clearly struggling to keep his eyes open for Rhett, trying to prove something, show him something. Whatever it is, Rhett’s ready for it. It’s terrifying and new, but in the same breed, is a natural conclusion; taking what already belongs to him, every single part of it. What’s always belonged to him, the picking of a flower he’s been guarding his entire life.

“Bo,” Link keens, arms tensing to fuck harder—ears and neck a lovely deep shade of pink. Surely Rhett matches him on that.

“You can do it,” encourages Rhett, low, lacing his fingers in the space between his knees. His throat feels husky and full, and Link whines again, no longer caring for the integrity of the stuffed animal, lost in using it for need rather than preserving it for posterity. Jesus, he’s wild with it, shaking the bed, knuckles white in the black fabric, one foot braced back against the wall. 

Those eyes, blissed out and owned. 

Bet he’d look that way sucking my cock, too.

“Fuck,” groans Link, losing steam, and Rhett nearly scolds him before he explains, “Not—s’not enough pressure, but I’m so close—need to come, Rhett—”

Rhett stands and strides the single pace to the bed, spitting in his hand and eyes burning into Link’s when he leans in and reaches blindly for Link’s arousal, finding his rock-hard cock—burning hot from tortuous friction—and pressing his wet palm against it, pinning Link to the whale.

“Go.”

Link doesn’t need to be told twice. 

He fucks up into the tight space between Rhett’s hand and Rhett’s past means of relief, surrounded by him, hands scrambling away from Shamu to clutch at Rhett’s free arm braced on the bed by his head.

The sloppy, makeshift hand job is the most sinful thing Rhett’s ever been exposed to. He trains his eyes on Link’s sex face, memorizing the wreck and ruin, those pink pouty lips parted round to draw in ragged gasps as his cock slides over Rhett’s palm. Unable to resist, Rhett lets his fingers dance, slip and slick around Link's head, and he’s rewarded with Link’s eyes popping open, pupils blown.

“Fuck—keep doin’ that,” Link pleads, voice already on the edge with himself, and Rhett obeys, stroking and teasing light licks of hand along the ridge of his head, eager for Link to return to his care in the split fractions of time where he’s at the back end of his thrust.

Trembling all over, Link crushes his forehead to Rhett’s arm, babbles things Rhett’s not ever supposed to hear: “Right there—oh, God, oh, fuck, Rhett!”

It would be so easy to kiss him through it.

“You’re gonna make me come, please don’t stop—ah, ah, fuck, I’m—”

“...now closing. Please exit through the main doors.”

Rhett’s eyes open to wood grain and paper.

A voice? Who… what…

He pulls his head up and his neck cries out in complaint. Palming the sleep-cricked parts of himself, Rhett slumps back in his seat and looks around in a fog.

Right. The library.

He must have fallen asleep.

Wait a second, had that announcement said “now closing”?

Blinking hard, Rhett finds his phone beside his notebook and textbook, waking the screen. 9:56pm, good lord, and—

“Oh, fuck,” Rhett frowns hard, unlocking the device and scrolling through a barrage of missed calls and texts from Link:

Rhett? Where you at, man

You okay?

Rhett seriously I’m getting worried

Where are you

At least let me know you’re okay

Please

Rhett this is scary where are you, I’m worried

Without thinking twice of it, Rhett hits the “call” button and begins packing up his things, sleepily pressing the phone to his face.

Link answers after two rings.

“Rhett! Where are you?! I’ve been worried sick!”

“I know. M’sorry, man. Went to the library after the meeting with Professor Jones. Fell asleep.”

There’s a long moment of dead air time where Rhett can perfectly envision Link: tight scowl, but otherwise melting into his bed with relief. It’s sweet that he cares so much.

“Well… come home, man. I’m real freaked out. Not like you to vanish on me like that.”

“I am. On my way,” Rhett nods, and after a quick goodbye, hangs up. He stands and stretches and—well. Wouldn’t you know it.

He’s hard again, for some reason.

Chapter Text

Rest is supposed to be… well. Rest. Reprieve for the body and mind where one can go dead-weight for hours on end and not be bothered by anything in the waking world. Sanctuary.

That’s not what Rhett’s been getting from sleep over the past few nights. Seems like every time he closes his damn eyes, or even prolongs a blink, he’s thrown into a lewd fantasy that his brain’s concocted out of some trashy snowballing need to bed a girl.

Why now? Why college...? Even when he’d been younger, assaulted with hormones and boners at the worst possible times, his brain had never been as ruthless in its dreams. Sure, he’d had a wet one here and there, but never four days in a row. Or… five days? He isn’t sure anymore. It’s all one big throbbing haze, and that haze is beginning to seep into other parts of Rhett’s life; he’s struggling to stay focused in class, conking out in any place quiet enough to do homework, and— let’s face it —his mood’s been in the trash lately, snapping at Link left and right over insignificant crap like who used the last of their milk.

‘How to stop having wet dreams’ ain’t something I’m puttin’ in my search history… but there’s gotta be a way to stop this.

That’s the thought that had occurred to Rhett—and still bounces around with him in the passenger seat of Link’s car. “Thanks for driving,” he says, leaden, blinking down into the Spotify playlist currently doling Post Malone through the dashboard.

“Yeah, brother. I would’ve suggested it if you hadn’t. Worried you’d fall asleep on the walk back and crumble into the sidewalk,” jests Link, glancing over at him. “You never wanna come to the gym with me, though. Kinda surprised you’re feelin’ good enough to work out.”

How much can Rhett say without telling the whole truth? He debates through a slow nod. “S'why I wanna go. Figure if I can just… totally exhaust myself, I’ll finally get some decent sleep for once.”

Link pulls into the activity center’s parking lot, not paying the road as much attention as he should when he glimpses at Rhett again. “Been meanin’ to ask about that. Is something goin’ on?” It’s an unspoken pity when he finds a parking space close to the entrance. “You’ve been, uh, rough lately.”

That’s putting it politely.

Rhett shrugs and climbs out of the car, Link hopping out after him and handing him their drawstring bag of belongings with more care than is warranted. “I’m just worried about ya, Rhett.”

“I’m fine. I dunno. Maybe I’m gettin’ sick,” Rhett offers with a limp smile that Link doesn’t pretend to return.

“Normally I’d say ‘then you need to rest’, but…”

“Yeah. That ain’t workin’.”

“Right.” Leading the way, Link opens the door to the center for them and holds it open for Rhett, bangs falling in his face when he asks, “You let me know if you don’t feel well, okay? We’ll head home. I mean it—don’t worry ‘bout what I’m doin’ or how long we’ve been here—”

“Link,” Rhett warns, lilting his head to the side to look down at him with an empty laugh. “You’re acting like I’m walkin’ around with a limp from one foot in the grave. I’m fine. Been tired before, s’not the end of the world.”

“Just don’t want nothin’ to happen to you, ya jerk,” Link mutters, striking into the cool, air-conditioned building. 

The high-vaulted ceiling lets daylight pour in unfiltered, aching the white of Rhett’s eyes, and the tile that he’s only seen once or twice before—with the checkered pattern that looks kinda dirty to begin with—smells like bleach and boasts a Caution: Wet Floor sign. Used to these surroundings a long time ago, Link is eyes ahead, shoulders squared as he leads the way. Rhett watches the back of his head bob with each step, hair floofing out in bounces.

NC State’s student-only exercise room isn’t empty, but it isn’t crowded either. Black state-of-the-art equipment that can’t be more than a year old fills the mirror-walled space, quickly abandoned from their glory days of use by university athletes and re-homed like misfit toys. Link’s talked about this stuff before, of course: the treadmills with internet access so one can watch Netflix, the stationary bikes that emulate terrain, the ellipticals loaded up with audio books where one can plug in their headphones.

“Seems wasteful,” Rhett notes quietly as Link strides past it.

“What’s wasteful is that more students don’t take advantage of it. C’mon, no bags allowed. Gotta get a locker.”

Rhett toddles along obediently, shoving his hands in his shorts pockets. Link takes them into the locker and shower area, digging a padlock and headband out of their bag. He extends the open bag to Rhett. “Here. Get your phone out, or whatever you want while you work out.”

“No thanks.” This ain’t a run-of-the-mill session: Rhett’s not here to pick up a routine and get fit. He’s here to turn himself to lead. “I’m just gonna run. Don’t need a distraction.” 

Link blinks at him before shrugging and tossing their bag into an out-of-the-way cubby and locking it. “Then I won’t, either.”

“You should just do what you normally do when you come here. Don’t change for my sake,” argues Rhett, but Link acts like he doesn’t hear it. 

When they finally step into the work-out lounge, the only sound is a dull television humming along to the swish, click, and slide of machines in use. Rhett steals a long glance at himself and Link in one of the mirrored walls: both in tank tops, shorts, sneakers, and Link’s slipped on the headband to keep his hair out of his face.  Looks natural on him. Guess it should, since he comes here almost every day.

“I’m gonna run.” Rhett starts for a treadmill on the end of a row, beside a girl jogging, and Link bats his arm with the back of his fist and points to a different one down the line where it’s mostly empty. 

“Get that one. I’ll run with ya.”

Fine. Whatever.

Hope he knows we ain’t attached at the hip.

Or maybe he thinks I’d make that girl uncomfortable.

In a slow fog, Rhett steps onto the treadmill and activates it with a beep. Link follows suit. When the belt croaks into motion, Rhett feels like he’s tiptoeing at 1mph, eyes lost on the lit-up dashboard. Pulling a face, he punches the speed up button several times, kicking it to 3mph before Link sputters and taps the hand rail of Rhett’s machine.

“Put on your safety clip, man!”

“Never used those things once in my life.”

“Rhett,” Link presses, and Rhett looks over at him, finding fear clear on his features.

Ah. He’s scared I’m gonna pass out.

That’s why he wants to run next to me.

“Fine,” bites Rhett, glaring down at the dumb little stringed thing that lassos Link to his own machine before snatching his own and clipping it to his shirt. 

“Thank you, Rhett.”

“Mmhm.”

Really shouldn’t skip warm-up, but this ain’t about health, Rhett reminds himself as he continues his blunt thumbing of the speed up key. Soon he’s at 6mph—a jog he lets himself get used to only long enough to ensure he’s got a decent pace figured out. Then he cranks it up again, pushing it up another mile per hour, and Link hums next to him in disapproval.

“Rhett, I know you’re eager, but—”

“How ‘bout you just let me do it, then?” says Rhett in a low voice, hoping it’s clear that this being fussed over isn’t gonna fly. He’s not a freakin’ child or a hospital patient. Heck, he ain’t even breathing hard yet. 

He should remedy that.

When he knocks it up again, the beep echoes, and Rhett glances over to find Link’s finger resting on his own button. Both machines whir at just over seven miles, and Rhett squints down at Link as they match speed side by side. The guy doesn’t seem bothered though—in fact, Rhett recognizes that expression. It’s Link’s go-to for fuck it, if you’re gonna be difficult, I can be difficult, too.

It’s a contest then.

Hiking a deep breath, Rhett keeps increasing his pace and knows Link is right there with him when he settles at 10 miles per hour, mostly because Link’s strides are a fair bit shorter than his own, and that’s the point; he might not have endurance over his roommate, but Rhett sure as hell as longer legs, and that’s what’s going to put Link to shame.  Fixing his attention across the room, Rhett settles in to the run, pulling air in deep through his nose and letting it out in long sighs through his mouth. He lets his arms relax—gives momentum to his hips and legs, occasionally braces himself on the handrails to ensure he stays steady (and doesn’t accidentally yank his safety clip out of its holster). 

In his periphery, Link seems to be doing fine, too. His gait isn’t the same as Rhett’s, but his legs are trained for sessions like this thanks to soccer and daily conditioning. When Rhett sneaks his gaze over and catches Link's reflection, he almost looks serene, with his perfect posture and sleepy expression.

Bullcrap. If Link’s gonna baby him all damn day, he doesn’t also get to enjoy this. 

“Faster?” Rhett asks, not waiting for an answer before notching it up yet again, and Link actually fucking shrugs, copying him and bringing them both to a solid 11mph. 

Barely two minutes have passed before Rhett acknowledges the burning in his calves and thighs.

Okay—I’m gonna be feeling this tomorrow.

Not only that, but they’ve sorta started drawing attention from other gym-goers…? No one is standing around and gawking, but two large men in a near-sprint on neighboring machines makes a hell of a lot of noise, each thunderous footfall screaming a whine in the drone of belts operating. So yeah, folks are passing them glances, either pissed off at what surely looks like a dick-swinging contest or concerned for the sanity of the dudes who seem to be fighting yet are very much together.

“Your shoe’s untied,” Link’s voice comes— crap, he doesn’t even sound out of breath— and he laughs, “better stop and get it.”

“No laces. Tryna make me quit?” Rhett asks the air in front of him, smirking. “It’s okay if you need to stop. Don’t needa trick me. I won’t judge.”

Link hums, huffing an airless chuckle, and Rhett centers himself again.

Get exhausted. All the filth, all the weird thoughts and excess energy…

Get it out.

He runs.

Sweat beads and rolls down his forehead, slicking bits of hair here and there, and he begins to appreciate small comforts in the heat of the run: the breeze made by someone bustling by, the flush of fresh air whenever the door to the room opens, how there’s the tiniest upswing of breathability every time his arms leave his body and the sweat there cools.

“D’you remember your deodorant?” Link asks, and when Rhett’s broken from his reverie—having nearly forgotten their competition—Link’s waving a hand over his nose in feigned offense. His entire face is pink and wet with effort, lips slick when he licks them and mutters, “Yeesh.”

“Nah. Must’ve sweated it all off. Either that, or you’re smellin’ yourself, brother.”

“Possible,” Link admits with an eyebrow lift, smiling, and Rhett scoffs.

“Alright. I’m done playin’,” he announces. Rhett hopes Link thinks he’s throwing in the towel, just to give him a bit of false hope before he cranks the machine up to 12 and hits an all-out sprint, accessing new muscles in his back and abs.

“Oh, wow,” Link blurts, but when Rhett tries to pass a victorious sneer at him, Link shrugs and matches Rhett’s new speed with nonchalance. “Finally lettin’ me break a sweat,” he says, voice trembling with the effort of talking and breathing in motion. Otherwise? He still seems fine. 

Rhett grimaces.

So cocky. 

Guess it’s a good way to ensure I’m done for, after this.

Their feet hammer the treadmill, occasionally syncing up, and Rhett maintains the sprint until everything’s on fire. His lungs, calves, thighs—hell, even his nose is starting to hurt from how chilled his breaths are compared to the rest of his body. Parts of him threaten to cramp, as if this run is a mad childhood sprint through the trees behind Link’s house and not a thing orchestrated and stationary in public. 

Am I really gonna call it quits first?

Rhett’s chest heaves for oxygen, legs scream for mercy. They’re going to feel like boiled jelly tonight. But Link isn’t going to back down—he’s not the type to, not if there’s a shred of a chance that he can show Rhett up—so against his better judgment, Rhett reaches for the speed up button and Link clears his throat.

“I’m done,” he announces suddenly, easing his own treadmill back down a few ticks until he’s at an amble, and then further to a quiet stillness. “I can’t,” he pants, waving a hand at Rhett. “You win, man, c’mon. Gracious.”

Smiling, Rhett does the same, dunking the room into deafening silence as he turns his own machine off and steps down from it. Everything spins in its refreshed coolness, head a tilt-a-whirl as he blinks the sweat from his eyes and wipes their machines down on woozy feet.

“Didn’t know you could run that fast,” Link notes, contrapposto and eyeing him. 

“Honestly? Neither did I,” Rhett gasps, rolling his shoulders and popping his neck. Would’ve been better to do that before working out, but oh well. He’d done what he came here to do. “You ready to go?”

“Yeah. Gonna sleep like a rock tonight.”

Rhett’s the one leading the way when they head back to the locker room, and courtesy of being in his wake, Link laughs. “I can smell you from back here, dude. You really need to buy better deodorant.”

“Yeah?” Rhett lifts his arm and gives himself a half-hearted whiff. Yeah. Oh, gosh. “To be fair, I don’t usually work out like that.”

“Or at all,” Link notes, pushing past Rhett to get to their locker. His fingers twirl on the padlock combination, and Rhett can’t help noticing something as he watches, heart still pounding.

Link isn’t out of breath.

He seems fine.

“Wait a second,” Rhett urges, pulling Link’s arms away from their work and spinning him. Those blue eyes blink up at him innocently.

“What?”

“You liar.” Just like that, Rhett’s good mood slips away and he fixes his fists to his hips, snorting. “You ain’t tired at all. You could’ve kept goin’ easily, couldn’t you?”

“No, I—I really am exhausted, Rhett.” Link tries turning back, his gaze skittering over the rest of the locker room, but Rhett catches his shoulder and wrenches him to attention again.

“No, you're not. You let me win?” he seethes, wiping his brow dry with his forearm. God dammit. “Why?”

The facade crumbles; Link sighs through his nostrils and chews the inside of his cheek, avoiding eye contact still. “Rhett, you would’ve done the same thing, if our roles were reversed.”

“You think so?”

“...Okay, maybe not, but I was worried about you!” Coming from injury, Rhett doesn’t really want to hear any part of this, nor does he want to endure the hurt on Link’s face as he lets his guard down in favor of raw honesty. “I kept imagining you—you—tripping and hitting your head, or your foot landing wrong, or you just freakin’ passing out ‘cause you won’t listen to me when I tell you you’re pushin’ yourself too hard to begin with!”

“Link, I wouldn’t—”

“That’s not up to your brain, it’s up to your body,” Link spits, moving in close, sparks raining from that sky blue, “and we both know you’ve been ignoring your body lately.”

Rhett’s eyebrows knit, head cocking back to stare down at Link in bemusement. “What…? What d’you mean?”

“I know, Rhett. I know about the dreams.”

Rhett tries to take a step back—to prevent those oddly-terrifying words from burning him at point blank—but Link follows closely, pushing them both into the shower area. Apparently no one uses the showers in the evening, opting instead to wait until they get home; Rhett and Link are alone, and Link demonstrates this by grabbing the front of Rhett’s shirt and easily wrestling him over to wall, just beside the entrance where anyone else could walk in and see this bizarre stand-off.

“Y-You know?” Rhett whispers, searching Link’s dire grimace, and Link nods, easing his grip.

“Of course I know. You fuckin’ moan my name in your sleep, hump anything even remotely close to your crotch. It’s shameful, man. You’ve…” He hesitates, inhaling with a shiver. “You’ve gotta stop,” he drawls, lids falling low. Why does it sound like a plea on his lips?

It had been Link…? In the dreams?

But the second Rhett questions it, he knows it to be true: the blindfold, the wrestling, the masturbation, the Shamu doll— 

Oh, fuck.

Swallowing, Rhett brings up an arm and tries gently pushing Link away—to put some distance between them, ‘cause if what Link’s saying is true, he shouldn’t want to be this close. Hell, Rhett’s not even sure if his fragile psyche’s ready to be this close, so soon on the heels of such a realization. 

“Link, listen—”

“Why do you smell so damn good?” Link whispers, staring into Rhett’s shirt with cheeks red from exertion. He pulls his sweatband down around his neck, letting his messy, damp hair fall out of place… and for some reason, the sight causes a pleasantly unpleasant tizzy in Rhett’s stomach.

Wonder if he’d be wild enough with a girl for his hair to look like this.

Banishing the thought with a horrified gape, Rhett ahems and gives the hand on Link’s shoulder another stern push, bidding for space, but Link shrugs it off. In one fluid motion, he grabs Rhett’s wrists and pins them to the wall by his head. His grip is tight, but not so much that Rhett couldn’t easily overpower him and stop this.

So why doesn’t he?

“Just… stay like that for me,” Link requests in a scratchy voice. “Just for a second.” Hell, with the command as needy as it is, Rhett isn’t sure he could move if he tried. 

“Why?” he manages to ask, and Link closes his eyes and takes a deep breath.

At first Rhett thinks Link’s hugging him, the way their bodies come together—but Link angles his head so that he’s nestled near Rhett’s armpit, breathing him in deep, humming appreciatively for that specific brand of sweat, and the fire in Rhett’s groin spreads down to his aching knees. 

“Always loved the way you smell, Rhett. It’s so… unique, to you. Don’t care if it is body odor,” he explains with a restrained smile, “for some reason I just… you smell like home. Like everything I like.”

And there’s no way to respond to that, either, so Rhett simply lets his neck burn against the cool wall and keeps his arms up, staring over Link’s head and praying that he looks more confident than he feels. He—he wants to reach down and stroke Link’s hair, if that’ll help the guy feel at home, or whatever. 

No need to let him know about the unfortunate side effects of Link enjoying the smell of him. Specifically, that the idea of Link getting drunk from his scent like some freaking pheromone is far more thrilling than it should be.

“You know what you’ve gotta do to make those dreams stop, right?”

Link’s no sooner done talking than his palm cups Rhett’s dick through his mesh shorts—encouraging half-problem into full-problem with his familiar hand—and Rhett breaths out a shaky noise, his crown hitting the wall. 

“Link… oh, gosh, you don’t have to—”

“I know I don’t. I want to. You need this, Rhett. If it helps you sleep easier, I wanna give that to you. Just one time and done, yeah? We don’t have to talk about it again,” Link explains calmly, resting his temple on Rhett’s chest as the hand on Rhett’s cock fondles him carefully. Stroking, rubbing. “But you can’t have me listen to you constantly moan my name in your sleep, and then expect me not to wanna hear how it would sound when you're awake.”

“Link,” Rhett gives him, guilt and arousal meeting and curling down hot, and Link moves—cranes up to press his lips against Rhett’s throat.

“Again.”

Link, ” Rhett obeys, and Link pulls up the hem of Rhett’s shorts' leg, up past his boxers. 

Link takes him into his hand and teases him through too-light touches, small shakes of the wrist to test how hard he is. Being able to feel his own cock guided against the inside of his clothes by someone else’s hand— Link’s hand—isn’t something Rhett would have ever counted on cinching his thighs with need, but he’s putty in Link’s care as Link directs and controls him from such an unusual angle, skin hot with dried sweat and the tack of effort.

“Just gonna get you off real quick. Okay?” Link asks, removing his touch only long enough to spit into his palm before finding Rhett again, sliding his wet fist over his length and eking a moan from his lips that dare not come out louder.

“Yeah,” Rhett nods, breathless, “okay. I need it, need the dreams to stop. Please?”

“I’ve got you,” Link promises, and it’s for the best that Rhett can’t see his face for this—he doesn’t think he can handle the obvious ruin there when Link swallows and asks, “Do you mind if I… can I smell you, while we’re doing this?”

Hard not to respond as eagerly as he feels. Rhett nods, damming up a throaty whine when Link takes that given slack without hesitating, pressing his nose into Rhett’s armpit and letting out a hot breath. 

When he starts jacking Rhett off in earnest—free hand braced to Rhett’s ribs—he shakes all over and nestles harder into his side.

“S’you,” Link mumbles low, wrist flicking, and blurring out Rhett’s mind into a pool of white-hot tingling at the thought of Link drunk on his scent. “Fuck, this is you, ain’t it, Rhett? I’m really givin' you a hand job? We’re doin’ this?”

“It’s me,” Rhett confirms, feeling stupid—but the words clearly feed fuel to Link when delivered in Rhett’s timbre; Link’s grip on him tightens, pace quickens blissfully, and Rhett presses his mouth into Link’s hair, careful to keep his voice down when he gives him more. “Yeah, Link, you’re jackin’ me off. Just you, bo. You’re gonna make me come for you, and I need that real bad, brother.”

A low rumble rolls through Link’s chest and he picks up his pace—forces the hand on Rhett’s ribs behind his back to hug their chests together, latched onto him like they might not be able to breathe otherwise. Link’s fist stutters on his cock, pauses here and there to torture and heighten the flashes of pleasure. 

Feels like a thing deserving of coy punishment in turn, but Link’s doing him this favor to begin with—so instead, Rhett wraps his arms over Link’s shoulders to give him easier access to his pits. Link nearly growls, breaking the feral noise into a self-derisive chuckle that rides the coattails of another deep inhale.

“You smell so good, Rhett—really messes me up. Watching you run, get all sweaty like that? Don’t ever let me near you again after you work out, unless you want a repeat of this.”

“Who says I don’t?” Rhett challenges, voice tight. He’s beginning to lose himself in it, mind blanking out, body acting of its own accord when he whines weakly and thrusts into Link’s care, despite Link doing a more-than-fine job on his own. It’s during a hiccup in judgment and appearances that he reaches down and grabs the arm around his back, earning a testy, brief glare from Link that almost sends Rhett over the edge from eye contact alone.

“What’re you doin’?”

“Wanna see if I feel the same way,” Rhett admits, redirecting Link’s arm over his neck and circumstantially bringing their faces together.

That hadn’t been intentional, but the way Link’s watching him now—alight with warmth and eyes wide, pupils shuttered and deep, pulling in his lower lip to bite it still as he searches Rhett’s face. God, Rhett hopes he’s enjoying the show. Enjoying what he’s doing to him.

With Link’s armpit exposed and near, Rhett clamps his mouth shut and breathes deep.

And…

Yeah—oh, shit, that’s… that’s Link.

Musky. A bit pungent from sweat, that spicy deodorant he wears.

Like home and sleepovers and camping and—that’s him.

He’s—he’s on me and around me, surrounding me.

Every single sense is just—

“Fuck,” Rhett groans, blushing, sinking his head to Link’s shoulder as Link lets out an infectious, tinkling laugh, easing off on the strokes just a little.

“You feel it too?” he asks, pressing his cheek against Rhett’s, and Rhett nods, head swimming.

“I—it’s you,” he strains, and in praise, Link’s pace skips back up to desperation as Rhett groans into his skin. “Know what you smell like, Link, and that’s—that’s you, no one else is doin’ this to me, holy shit…”

“You gonna come for me, Rhett? Come for your best friend?” 

The beginning tides of release lap over Rhett as Link gives him his all, arm pumping, muscles working hard enough to forget the restraints of fabric holding them apart, fist tight and perfect and everywhere on Rhett’s cock, as strong and inescapable as his scent.

Fuck, yes, Link, fuck, fuck, fuck…!”

“Come on, Rhett.”

Heat. Unbearable heat, and Link all around him, enveloping his existence—teetering, right there—

“I could leave you here, y’know.”

No… no, what?! No! 

Fuck, not again! Just let me—

“Actually, nah. I’d feel too bad.”

Tapping on his arm, and Rhett’s eyes pop open, lost in a field of white. He blinks against the harsh light of the setting sun, as lost and disoriented as he’s ever been upon waking. It takes a long time to realize he’s in the passenger seat of Link’s car. Head up against the window, cushioned by something thin and white.

He blinks, looking around the cabin slowly, and when his eyes find Link in the driver’s seat, Link gives him a sad smile.

“You fell asleep again.”

“Whuh,” Rhett croaks, sitting up straight and groaning at the shot of pain in his neck. “Where are we?”

“Back at the dorm. The second we got in the car, you passed out. I told you you ran too hard.”

Rhett straightens. Licks his dry lips and stares at their dorm hall at the end of the parking lot, eyes aching and raw. “...we just came from working out?”

“Yeah,” Link hedges, and when he speaks again, he’s never sounded more concerned. “Rhett, are you okay? You’ve been acting… really weird, lately. I think you might need to go to the doctor.”

Rhett slumps into the seat.

He’s hard in his gym shorts.

I had another dream?

That means the plan didn’t work. 

Now I’m existentially exhausted and horny. Great.

“Nah… I promise I’m fine.” Rhett thumbs the soft fabric in his hands. He fluffs it out and stares at it. “What’s this?” he asks, giving it a sniff, and Link leans over and rips it out of his hands.

“Dude, it’s my tank top. I changed before we left, don’t smell it,” he warbles, stuffing it into their bag. “You wanted something to protect your head from the window.”

Truth be told, Rhett hadn’t heard a single word Link had just said.

Because the smell on Link’s shirt? That smell had been in his dream.

And it had built a bridge of synapses—of pieces put together, fragments recollected and re-aligned, a story suddenly far too legible to be mistaken as anything else.

It’s Link.

All of these wet dreams are about Link. 

Blindfold. Wrestling. That fucking Shamu dream?

Each and every one of them.

Oh, 

Jesus

Christ.

“Rhett?” Link asks, and Rhett drags his abused red eyes over to stare at his best friend. He could very well either melt into the floorboard in self-disgusted defeat, or open the door and bolt, never to be seen again. Both of those would be fine.

Because he cannot keep having sex dreams. About Link.

But Link just tents his eyebrows in unease, searching Rhett’s face.

“You really okay, man?”

“Let’s… let’s go inside,” Rhett whispers, unbuckling his seat belt. “I think I should lie down.”

But maybe not sleep, ever again.

Chapter Text

“You’ll text me once you’re there, right?”

Rhett had said yes. It was about the only truthful thing he’d given Link yesterday as he’d packed his bags, dodging offers of “I can drive you” every other minute—and those had been hard enough to turn down on their own. 

“Link, I’ll be fine,” he’d insisted, zipping up his duffel bag and massaging his eyes. “No point in you comin’ with. It’s an hour drive, and they only reserved rooms for people who’ve signed up. You’d have to drive back alone.”

“Cheapest room,” Rhett now requests to the old fellow at the motel’s front desk, knowing he looks like a too-young trucker who’s crawled out of a roadkill ditch. He feels the part, anyway—hair a mess, posture all wrong, bags under his bloodshot eyes. He hadn’t slept at all last night, even after the rigorous running session, too scared of what would happen in his head between himself and his best friend lest he shut his eyes.

Paying for the room, Rhett checks the time on his phone and starts down one of the under-kept halls with his key card in hand.

I said this study was an hour away… so I’ve gotta wait at least 45 minutes before texting him.

Lucky break that he’d managed to formulate a lie Link was eager to swallow: “The psychology department is offering extra credit to anyone who volunteers for an overnight sleep study. Maybe they can find out what’s wrong with me.” Heck, on some level, Rhett kinda wishes that was the truth. It’d be nice to get some answers.

On another level, he just wants to get to his room and go comatose until check-out tomorrow morning. At least here he’s not at risk of gasping a name in his sleep where the owner of said name might hear it and end their fifteen-year friendship. 

Actually... Rhett’s not sure what Link would do, but he’s not going to wait around for the opportunity to find out.

He finds his room easily and slips the card into the door, unlocking it with a beep, and lets himself into his shoddy amenities for the night. Honestly, all that matters is that he’ll have a bed and he’ll be alone. It could be a cot in an abandoned asylum, for all he cares. That would fit the circumstances a bit better, anyway. He drops his bag to the floor and shuffles to the bed, falling face-first on it. Hurts. Tougher than he thought it would be. 

He's gotta stay awake until he can text Link with another lie—that he’d arrived safely and been welcomed by the psych students for overnight examination. Thank God Link had been so desperate to believe that Rhett’s getting help, that he hadn’t questioned why the hell the department would conduct a study an hour away and not on campus. Thank God again that they aren’t at the point where they track one another’s locations on their phones.

Rhett’s barely been on his stomach for two minutes when his body begins shutting down, and he hoists himself up to grab the TV remote and postpone the inevitable. He turns the set on with a metallic click—fuzzing static hissing as the ancient thing awakens—and doesn’t bother to change the channel from touristy shit available around Raleigh.

Restaurants. He hasn’t eaten since yesterday, either. A body that only wants to do fucked up shit against his will doesn’t exactly deserve sustenance, he reckons.

Hiking trails. Just the thought of doing more physical activity pinches the muscles in his arms and legs, reminds him of the lactic acid build-up for which he still hasn’t rested. Normally he enjoys hiking. Or… he enjoys being outdoors with Link, is more accurate. Link makes everything fun.

I really miss him already? Stupid.

Just don’t think about him.

Rhett closes his eyes and they burn, sear shut with tears that are almost too painful to remain closed against, but he can’t find it within himself to keep them open, either. Both options are uncomfortable.

He’s fighting for consciousness as the voices drone from their broadcast, telling him all about the exciting activities he’s never heard of in the city he’s currently living in. Dipping in and out. Bolting awake, blinking hard, then bolting awake again on a tortuous loop. The habit of checking the time on his phone is cruel—he ignores it long enough to swear fifteen, twenty minutes have passed, only to find it’s usually only been four or five.

Grueling, to stay awake this way when his body is screaming for sleep. By the time it’s reasonable to text Link, he’s squinting through one teary eye when he navigates to their chat window.

Just got here. Drive was fine, he writes, and lets his head hit the mattress again, disregarding pillows and covers and throwing himself headlong into exhaustion’s embrace.

 


 

He doesn’t dream.

The sleep is deep and all-encompassing, a black void of time travel where—when Rhett awakens to buzzing some hours later—his head pounds and throbs with each beat of his heart. Must be dehydrated, he figures, blinding groping for his phone and peeling his eyes open to check the screen.

Twelve unread texts from Link.

Humming, Rhett curls onto his side and opens their chat, ignoring the warm familiarity of friendship. It’s nice that Link worries about him. Not even his parents dote the way Link does, and if they did, Rhett’s sure he wouldn’t enjoy it… which, with distance between them, it’s nice to be able to, again.

Oh thank goodness. Was worried
about you driving that long lol

Hope they can help you, man

Someone protesting on campus
gave me a free shirt. It says
“giant meteor 2020, just
end this already” lmao

Reminded me of you

I bet it would fit you if you want it

So quiet without you here

Not used to being able to do my homework :P

Nah jk. You never interrupt me

Just can’t resist talking to
you if you’re here, y’know?

Hey what’s your schedule like
for tonight? I know you’re
probably busy but can you
respond when you get a chance?

I know I’m not supposed to
be bothering you but

Rhett?

Rhett closes his eyes—forcing them back open after just a second and gauging the time. It’s 9pm. He hadn’t given Link any phony specifics over the “study” he’s participating in. Besides, he’s not nearly as decimated as he’d felt a few hours ago. Should be fine to text for a bit.

Hey. Sorry. Been busy
with data collection for
the test. They took my
pulse and junk lol

Hey!

You’re probably about
to go to sleep then, huh?

Soon. I’ve got an
hour of free time
beforehand

Oh, cool.

Would you mind if
we texted, then?

Course not

Everything okay on
your end?

Rhett sends that as a means to start a conversation, but Link takes long enough to respond that he rearranges on the bed, back to the headboard, digging into his bag for his charger and plugging his phone in.

I guess, yeah.

Rhett frowns. Maybe Link has an ulterior motive.

Did something happen??

Nah.

It’s just

It’s really weird without
you here.

With a small smile he can’t help, Rhett responds.

Thought you were enjoying
the quiet. Make some good
progress on homework

Yeah. I thought I
would like it, too.

Guess I’m just used
to you being with me.

Hell, Rhett gets it. Honestly if he weren’t in a strange new location and were just lolling about the dorm room all night, alone, he’d feel pretty freakin’ weird about that, too.

I’m sorry. I’ll be back
tomorrow and you can
go back to talking during
study hours lol

Yeah.

Hey, Rhett?

Why’s he re-addressing him like that? Unusual. Feels… honest. And Rhett’s not sure he’s prepared for anything so barren; not after he’s been lying left and right to wedge distance between them. He glances up at the TV, steeling himself and not hearing the commercial for a Hibachi grill.

What’s up, buddy?

I miss you.

Why does that make Rhett’s neck warm? He chews his cheek, searching for a reassuring response that isn’t too encouraging, but Link texts again.

I know that’s silly
since you’ve only been
gone a few hours

But I like it when
you’re near me at night

It’s comforting, dumb
as that sounds. I get to
know you’re safe

Rhett remembers to breathe, a long, flushed exhale finding his arms.

That’s not so dumb

I mean… it is, but
thanks for saying so. Lmao

What’s dumb about it?

Because it’s not like
I could protect you,
if something were to
happen while you were
here. You’re bigger
than me. It’d be the
other way around.

That doesn’t matter

It’s like how families
worry about one another.
Makes sense you’d worry

If I was there and you
were here, I’d be thinking
about you, too

Maybe not in the way Link thinks—or even a way Rhett’s comfortable admitting—but it’s the truth.

Yeah?

Of course, man

You really think I don’t
worry about you?

...Are you worried about
me right now?

Rhett stares at the message, fingers hovering and twitching. But the longer he waffles, the more telling it probably is. Link just needs reassurance, and Rhett can still give him that— the dreams don't change the fact that Link's the most important person in his life.

Should I be worried?

I dunno.

Sorry. No, don’t
worry about me.

Link, what’s wrong?

You’re freaking me out
a little

Are you okay?

Yeah! I am.

Sorry, it’s nothing.

If you have to say
‘it’s nothing’, that means
it’s something

What’s wrong?

For good measure, Rhett draws his knees in close and adds,

I wanna know. Maybe
I can help

Gosh, Rhett.

Okay, but you’re not
allowed to laugh.

I won’t

Rhett isn’t sure he has the heart to laugh, no matter what Link says. This all feels so serious.

Uhh…

I dunno if I’m gonna
be able to fall asleep
without hearing your
voice.

We usually say ‘goodnight’
to each other. Y’know?

Oh. Is that all? Rhett smirks, glancing over at the message log fondly.

You want me to call, bo?

I’ll call

What about your sleep
stuff? Won’t it interrupt?

Nah. I’m alone right now

...Okay

That’s it then. He’s gonna call. 

Rhett taps Link’s contact info, pausing over the phone icon. All he has to do is say goodnight, and Link will feel better. Such a small thing for the good it’ll do. Muting the TV, he pushes the call button and brings the phone to his ear, closing his eyes. It’s already warm from charging.

Link picks up before the first ring's over. “Hey,” he murmurs, and he sounds so… tame. Like he’s beneath his blankets, hidden away from the world—and Rhett can’t help imagining that they’re side by side, under the covers together in their own little world, talking late into the night like they used to in middle school.

“Hey,” Rhett says back, smiling softly—and Link must hear it, ‘cause he chuckles.

“Told you not to laugh at me, man. I know how stupid this is.”

“S’not stupid. And I wasn’t laughing.”

“No?”

“Nah. It’s just… nice to hear your voice, is all.”

This time Link laughs, warm and genuine. “Been a while since we’ve talked on the phone, huh?”

“For more than just a quick check-in, yeah,” Rhett says, but isn’t that what this is? Why does he suddenly feel like he’s settling in for a long chat?

“Right. Sorry. I won’t keep you long.”

“That’s not—didn’t mean it like that. We can talk as long as you like.”

Link’s quiet for a few breaths, then hums. “Don’t leave it up to me. If it were up to me, I’d put you on speakerphone and just fall asleep. Knowin' I could talk to ya if I wanted.”

We can do that, Rhett almost says, nearly forgetting his alibi for running off in the first place and kicking himself. ‘Cause geeze, if that’s what it would take for Link to feel better? He’d do it. Doesn’t want him fretting all night or feeling… abandoned, or anything like that.

“I wish we could,” is all Rhett can offer in response, knowing that if he were to say fuck this sleep study, I’ll do that with ya, Link would lose his mind with worry. Always worrying about Rhett when he shouldn’t be.

“No, it’s okay, man. We don’t even have to stay on.” He says that, but then makes no move to hang up or give a goodbye—instead he lingers on the thought, letting Rhett anticipate the weight of his next words before they’re out. “You calm me down so much, Rhett. Hearin' you. Knowing you’re okay.”

“Yeah?” Rhett asks, unsure of what else he could possibly say. Not that he needs to hear Link reiterate that sincerity.

“Yeah. You know how—you ever heard of ASMR?” Link asks, and Rhett can imagine him settling into his bed, throwing an arm behind his head and staring up at the ceiling as he opens a new topic. “Like, those videos people listen to to help them relax?”

“Yeah, man. People call that the ‘weird corner of the internet’,” Rhett snickers, cocking an eyebrow at his knees. “You listen to ASMR...?”

“Tried it, once. Thought maybe it would do something for me. It didn’t—but I imagine…” Link swallows. “I imagine that the ‘tingles’ people talk about, from watchin’ those? I reckon it must be pretty similar to how I feel when I hear your voice, Rhett. I text you, tell you I need that—need to hear you. And you call me and talk to me, just like that.”

Crossing his arms and sinking his chin to rest on one, Rhett disregards the warmth in his cheeks as symptom of the motel’s cruddy air conditioners. “Well, dang, man. You make it sound like I’m doin’ you some huge service. S’just a phone call. Ain’t no big deal.”

“It is to me,” laughs Link, and Rhett wishes very suddenly that he could hug him.

“Hey. Link?”

“Hmm?”

And it probably isn’t in Rhett’s best interest to admit this, so close to bedtime—right to Link’s… well, not face, but to his ears. “I miss you, too.”

Dead air time fills the line, and Rhett thumbs at the phone’s charging cable. The device itself burns on his cheek, slick with sweat and oil.

“I like that,” Link admits quietly, and Rhett presses the speaker tight to his ear.

“What?”

“I… I like it, when you tell me you miss me.”

Fluttering warmth pours throughout Rhett’s limbs—like his skin has butterflies. It curls him tighter against his legs, and he closes his eyes again to bask in the sensation. “Do you, now?”

“Yeah,” breathes Link. Gosh, he sounds close. Like he’s got his lips pressed to the mic, overriding all of Rhett’s sensibilities—specifically, the ones screaming at him to say “okay, goodnight,” and hang up the phone. This can’t be helping everything.

The unmistakable noise of Link licking his lips, moist, comes over the line, and Rhett’s common sense tries to skip a gear; tries to tell him that the wetness is from something else in Link’s bed, and he squashes out the intrusive thought with a harsh bite of his own lip.

“Would you, uh… keep talkin’ to me, Rhett?”

“Mm? We are talkin’. Or d’you mean some, like… white noise chatter, to help you relax? Just rambling?”

“Kinda. More like… y’know,” Link falters, mouth evidently less brave than his mind. “More stuff about… how you miss me, and stuff.”

Once the words are out, Link rushes to cover them up with more—

“Remember how you were talkin’ 'bout families? I just like hearin’ that you’re, like, there for me. The way I am for you, especially when I’m not feelin’ great... that makes it better—"

But Rhett’s heart is pounding, immune to the babble and instead racing with truths he could give, but might do more harm than good.

Damn these circumstances.

“Link,” he cuts in, and Link hushes with a stilled exhale, seemingly grateful to have more blathers crammed back down his throat.

“Yeah.”

“Link…” Rhett tries again, and knits his eyebrows. Finding the right thing is difficult; it’s more difficult to hear Link flounder into panic. “You remember when I punched John Carson for you in third grade?”

A hush of laughter on Link’s part. “What? Of course.”

“You know why I did that, Link?”

“Yeah. He was pickin’ on me.”

“That, too. But also... I was scared, man.”

“Scared?”

“Mmhm. He was makin’ fun of you, ‘cause you had the audacity to be yourself in front of everyone. To just exist the way you are, no matter what anyone else thought. And I figured that if he got to bully you for that… if you learned through punishment that bein’ yourself was bad—that you should change the way you act, ‘cause someone’s gonna beat up on you for it? I was so scared, Link, that if you changed for someone else, that I was gonna lose what made you my other half.”

Link doesn’t respond.

He doesn’t need to—Rhett can envision that try-not-to-smile perfectly, his eyes closed and content. Soaking in the rare admission. Rhett doesn’t give him those enough. Hopefully that makes them hit harder, when he does. “Of course I miss you. Don’t matter how long we’ve been apart—could be a week, could be an hour—I’m always gonna miss you. You're my other half, and halves ain't supposed to be apart. It’s… it’s lonely, you know?”

“I do,” Link agrees, barely a whisper, and Rhett lets that embolden him. This is an experience they share, and that’s knowledge worth holding close as he lets his heart take over his tongue. 

“You’re the most important part of me, Link. I hope you know that. I don’t tell you often as I should. Being apart don’t feel right to me, neither. Not when we’ve been there every step of the way with each other.” He tries to chuckle—tries to let out something to lighten the tone he’s set, but the attempt comes out as a rumble, and he bears with it. “Hell, we can’t even make out with girls at parties without checkin’ in with one another during the kiss. Like makin’ sure our life raft is still there, in case the storm gets too bad to handle…” 

Rhett pauses, just to give Link the opportunity to say something. He knows he won’t, though, and that’s okay, too. 

Hopefully he’s blushing.

And fuck it, Rhett won’t retract that wish.

“I’m so glad that you’re always within reach, Link Neal.”

Link… 

Link moans.

Heat erupts over Rhett’s ears, neck, chest, rushes over his lips as he darts his wide, bewildered eyes down to the phone on his cheek. Surely he’d misheard. It’s interference from another call, or Link is stretching and groaning, or—

“Oh gosh,” Link mumbles, familiar and warm, and Rhett’s lids fall low. He listens, spaced out, head fuzzy. “I… I love you, Rhett McLaughlin. You really have no idea.”

“I—I love you too, Link.” The shaky breath Rhett lets out hits his phone’s mic spot-on, rushing hot through the receiver, but Link doesn’t laugh at the evidence—instead, there’s a small mewling in response, deep in the throat and barely restrained.

“Say my full name again…? Please?”

“Charles Lincoln Neal the Third?”

Link’s titters melt Rhett’s jitters, and God, Rhett  can’t help swooning at the sound of happy Link, even if he is doing something lewd. He’s happy.

“You know that’s not what I meant.”

“I know. I love you, Link Neal. I really do.”

The airiness—the flighty lilt and roll of Link’s breathing is too unstable to be anything else. So why shouldn’t Rhett participate, too? If they’re going to hide behind distance and do this over the phone, if Link’s going to do that? Then Rhett should be allowed to as well. Digging his heels into the bed, he lowers himself until his head hits the pillow and pets himself through his shorts, eyes slipping closed with permission and honing in on Link’s unsteady existence in his ear.

“Can I tell you somethin’?” Rhett wonders, deep, and Link pants once—in all likelihood, nodding at the ceiling. 

“Do it.”

“Been havin’ dreams about you, Neal.”

A crushing, shaking sigh, followed by an equally-crushed voice. “What do you mean...?”

“Dreams where we get carried away with one another. Where there ain’t any space left between us,” admits Rhett, burning as he lets his hand explore farther to his balls, feathering touches over the tightened skin there, sensitive even through clothing.

“No kidding?”

“Yeah. Dreams where one of us ends up beggin’. Usually me." Rhett smiles, closing his eyes. "Hell, it’s always me.”

“Oh, gosh, Rhett,” Link quakes, and there it is—the faint background sound of skin on skin, rhythmic and damp. It’s proof; should be proof enough, honestly, but Rhett is greedy and wants to drink deep from that well. Doesn’t mean to when he lifts his hips up off the bed, now at full attention between his legs.

“I know—I know, Link, it’s a lot. That’s why I can’t sleep. Been dreaming ‘bout us gettin’ so close that it’s more like a nightmare when I wake up and you’re not actually between my hands.”

“D-Do we,” Link starts, grunting, and Rhett can’t keep his hands from bare skin anymore. He fumbles with his short’s waistband, pushing past the barriers keeping his hot-to-the-touch arousal from his hand and giving it a careful, restrained pump as Link struggles to ask about how brave they are in Rhett’s fantasies. “Do we, uh… do we ever—ever kiss, in your dreams?”

Fuck no, but fuck! The fact that Link thinks of that first?! Rhett rolls his eyes back, lets out a groan just so that Link will know—despite the answer, God, he loves that that’s what Link needs to know before anything else, because of course it is.

“You wanna kiss me, Link?” he dares, husky, and Link gasps a few times.

“Oh—only if you want to,” he whines.

Both of them are lost to it now, not caring the noises they make for one another, and Rhett drowns himself in it—pictures Link laid out on the top bunk, exploring his bare chest with one hand and fucking himself with the other, eyes shut tight to imagine it’s Rhett’s fist on him and not his own.

“I do it—I’d kiss you right now if I was there,” growls Rhett, and Link dissolves into a furtive moan, surely loud enough to be heard through their dorm door. It’s all the encouragement Rhett needs to begin jerking himself, not minding the lack of lube or spit—purely grateful that Link’s just here for this, this one time. “Wanna see what you taste like.”

“Rhett,” Link says, gulping again before tattering, “I’m jacking off in your bed right now.”

“What?” hisses Rhett, mashing the phone to his cheek with his free hand, “You’re in my bunk?”

“Y-Yeah. It smells like you. I missed you too much.”

Fuck, Link—you’d better make yourself come, I swear to God. Sweat into the covers, get it on the sheets, Link, I don’t care if you’re messy—just wanna be able to tell when I get back.”

“Oh,” Link gasps once, and then again. And the sound of his fist meeting his body is clear and wonderful, pearling precum at Rhett’s slit that he takes gratefully and wets his head with. “Rhett—it’s not just this, is it?”

“What d’you mean?”

“It’s not just the—our bodies, right? Shit, please tell me it’s more, tell me I’m not just some convenient outlet for some secret attraction to men—that I’m not replaceable, that it’s not just—”

“Link,” Rhett warns, angry . Fuck’s sake, if Link was here right now he’d get his mouth everywhere on his skin, mark him up until there wasn’t a piece of clothing in the world large enough to hide all the hickeys. He’d bruise those lips with a kiss, force Link to paint his stomach with lotion-slick hands.

“No?” Link begs, breathing fast, the touch on himself audibly slower, and Rhett hikes up his own to compensate, hoping his session is loud enough for Link to hear how serious he is. 

“No, baby. It’s just you, I promise.”

In retrospect, it’s the most “Link Neal” thing ever that those few words would be the ones to tip him into whimpering release. The moan starts low and crescendos in both pitch and volume—and Link’s spilling over his fingers, in Rhett’s bed, and Rhett’s spilling on his fingers, in a bed a measly six miles away that’s supposed to be 75 miles away. He lets his relief coat his rumpled shirt in sticky pulses he’s too careless to try and stop.

Link’s loud when he comes down, panting, sounding very much like he’s on the verge of tears when he keeps whispering, “I love you, Rhett. Oh, goodness, I love you. I miss you and I love you.”

And Rhett returns those words back to him, easily—freely—only stopping when he realizes it’s the cusp of the next hour and his “sleep study” is about to begin.

“Link? I gotta go. You should clean up and go to bed.”

“Rush home tomorrow, will you?” requests Link with a smile in his tone, quickly following it with, “I mean—don’t speed. But I want you in our room as soon as possible.”

“I promise.”

Once they’ve hung up, Rhett sets his phone on the bedside table and pulls off his shirt, only wishing a lot that they could have stayed on the phone and fallen asleep that way.

 


 

 

When Rhett’s alarm goes off the next morning, it’s thirty minutes to check out, and he nearly throws the phone against the far wall of the seedy room. Turns out, even getting off and getting a full night’s sleep still isn’t enough to make him feel well-rested. 

He knows he should get up and get ready to head out. Instead, he instantly grabs his phone and opens the text log, looking to the place where he’d promised to call Link.

Small smile on his lips, he sends off another text, running his hands over his face.

Hey. About to come home

Cool. Drive safe.

“Cool”? A bit… icier, than he’d been expecting. A quick shot of fear ices Rhett’s spine, and he texts again, wary.

Uhh. Do you… are
you okay? About last
night?

That’s a funny-lookin’ apology.

You know, I was mad
at first, actually. But
that was just me being
selfish, I realize.

The sinking in Rhett’s chest anchors him to the bed. So that’s it, then? They’ve fucked this up beyond repair? Shit, should Rhett apologize…? He’d only done what Link had been begging him to do—giving in and trying to help him feel better. Crap, trying to help them both feel better.

I’m… I’m sorry.

It’s really okay, Rhett.

I’d rather you fall asleep
in the middle of talking to
me than not sleep at all.

I just hope they were
still able to monitor you,
afterwards.

Wait...

What?

Rhett’s face pinches, and he navigates to his phone log to check the call time of his and Link’s chat: 2:34. Less than three minutes.

Holy shit.

Rhett had fallen asleep, and—

He bolts upright, splitting headache finding him like a nail banged into a stud, and he glances around, hand tapping his chest and feeling his very-much clean shirt still on his body. 

His boxers and shorts, on the other hand…

Oh, fuck.

No. No, no, no, no, God dammit, fuck!

Rhett squeezes his phone so tight, he’s sure the screen is about to fracture in his hold. It’s only with a steady breath that he’s able to look back over his texts with Link. Thank the heavens he hadn’t sent anything damning, at least.

But he’d thought this overnight trip might change things.

So much for that theory.

I’m really sorry

If it’s any consolation,
I slept like shit

It’s not. But… me too.

Fuck.

Chapter Text

This ends now.

I can’t ignore Link forever.

Shit, haven’t even made eye contact with him since I got back.

That won’t fly.

The second he’s alone, Rhett throws his laptop on their desk in the spot usually reserved for Link’s. It’s borderline-shameful how careless he is: how he doesn't bother opening an incognito tab; how his fingers slam out the letters "pornh" vengefully before the browser can auto-suggest a website; how he doesn't spare a glance at any of the clips promoted on the front page, 'cause he knows what he needs won't be there.

It's not about him.

I just haven't jacked off in a while—or… fuck, haven't jacked off alone.

He sheds clothes completely, flinging his shirt to his bunk and dropping his shorts and underwear, stepping out of the pooled heap on the floor. Bare ass on the shared wooden chair? If Link knew, he'd have a fit… but this isn't about Link. Fuck that guy.

Not like—not like that, just—

Jesus Christ, what's wrong with me?

He sits. Glances down at his nakedness, leaned back in the chair and following the slope of his body. The dip of his sternum between his pecs, the smooth rolls of his abs where he runs a hand to rest near his groin and the thatch of dark hair that starts there. It's weird, seeing his thighs naked in a seat, lanky and too long  to fit comfortably in the given leg space. Not that this is about comfort.

Rhett glances at the clock in the top right of the screen. Should be alone for an hour, at least. That's more than enough time.

He's not horny—not physically, he admits with a grimace—but that doesn't stop him from pumping some of Link's lotion into his fingers and giving his dick a few lazy strokes to wake it up. 

Rhett wouldn't count himself "familiar" with most porn sites, but the videos showcased on the homepage are pretty standard from what he knows: petite teen with huge tits gets creamed, fucking the hotel maid, cumming on cute asian girl in club bathroom.

Yeesh. Of course this isn't gonna be a wealth of sanctity, but still.

Brushing them aside, he clicks around in the categories, bee-lining to the one he knows will get him off best and clicking on a preview of one with two guys and one girl. 

Nothing to read into, he assures himself, eyes locked on a tangle of limbs climbing onto a bed together in a dim room. A sliver of light lines their torsos: the middle curve of the girl's belly leading to her navel; the glint in her eyes as the men settle on their knees on either side of her shoulders, faces off-cam; the highlight on their thighs when they crowd in, already hard and needing a kind hand. I liked this stuff way before the dreams started. 

When they start, it's lackluster; the blonde keeps smiling at the camera while she jerks them off in fake nails, too slow and too focused on the viewer. It ain't genuine. Rhett gives them all of forty seconds before he scrolls to the "related" clips below, picking one with a promising thumbnail which isn't too grainy: taking it for my stepbrothers. Not that the title matters—it's normal to explore in the heat of things—but he does console himself with the fact that these are never real. Just two guys and a girl again.

This time it seems more candid. They're paying attention to one another. One of the guys spends a long time making out with the chick—whose tits have a nice bounce to 'em that makes her seem older than the title suggests—while the other man dips his fingers past her lips and rubs her clit with generous, open-palmed strokes. 

This is better. 

Rhett lets his head fall back, watching down his nose and thumbing the ridge of his cock. His body catches on fast, eyes drinking in the way the girl rocks her hips down into the touch, her own head falling back while the guy kissing her stops and gives himself a few half-hearted jerks over her belly, nipping at her neck. Both men, actually, seem fixated on the girl between them, and that's… not necessarily bad, but… 

Dammit.

Acknowledge each other. 

If you're not gonna all three participate, what's the point? Isn't this just a gangbang?  

Is it too much to ask for the guys to at least look at each other? Frowning through the next three minutes of the video, Rhett eventually furrows his brow and scans the other related links, frustrated. He shouldn't have to go to the gay category for that kinda shit. 

And it's not lost on him, that he's having a bad time. Angrily masturbating in a bizarre bid for some control over his own unconscious libido. Ridiculous, how he'd look right now from a fly-on-the-wall's perspective; buck-ass naked, scowling at a laptop playing porn a bit louder than warranted, fondling himself through it like bearing some painful inconvenience. 

The next threesome video he clicks on previews two guys giving each other hand jobs from the neck down, standing in front of the camera side by side. At least he knows they'll all be touching in this one.

And yeah, it's the best one yet; they're all getting into it as a group, focusing on one another, bodies caught hot between bodies as hips roll and hands grasp everywhere. Rhett jerks himself, venom easing from his features as his muscles tighten pleasantly. He taps forward to speed things up, skip ten minutes ahead (it's a long video)—and the dudes have her between them on their cocks, one in her ass and one in her pussy, one grabbing her breasts and the other tweaking her nipples while she moans and snaps her hips, and… fuck, they're making out over her shoulder. 

Rhett blushes. 

Something about that is ridiculously hot. They're so open about it. No one's left out. The voluptuous brunette in the middle wraps her arms around the guy before her, and he fucks up into her happily, still licking his way into the other man's mouth. Their rocking as a unit hedges on frantic (much like Rhett's speed on himself, pausing only to delay the enjoyable), and when the men's kiss finally breaks, it's only so the one inside her pussy can warn in a tortured whisper, "I'm gonna come."

Something greedy and terrible forces Rhett to scroll away—drunk on the precipice, cock leaking wet onto his abs when he abandons it for fear he might accidentally follow suit—and he skims through the next few related videos, mostly paying attention to their like percentages. 

There's a short one, barely a minute long, simply entitled Surprise. And it's got a 100%. The preview is just a guy jacking off, recording himself with his phone.

Rhett's at the point where it's risky to click on random things this far in. There's always the chance it won't be as hot as the current video—or worse yet, that he'll want to return to the current video and find that it doesn't burn as good on the second time around—but 100%?

Rhett clicks.

As predicted, it's a guy sitting in a chair, pleasuring himself with tight wet strokes on his red cock, huffing and breathing obscenities as he chases his release, thighs flexing. Rhett watches. Waits. Slips his hand to his balls and cups them with a gentle squeeze, begging them for patience. This better not be a joke clip of some kind. 

Just a little over halfway through the video, a door opens in the background, and another guy walks in. 

In an embarrassed flush, the guy recording whimpers. "Fuck—oh, god, I'm sorry—you said you'd be gone for—oh, fuck, I'm coming!"

And the guy at the door strides over, falls to his knees, and with a smile says,  "Let me." He dips down and takes the cock into his mouth, bobbing his head enthusiastically, batting the guy's hands away as an absolutely devastated moan erupts from the speakers, the cock pulsing, emptying into— 

What if Link finished me like that?

That's the only thought that survives as Rhett unravels. It's 0 to 100, burning alive—body threatening to come before he can even get his hand on his cock. His other hand clenches white on the chair while he pumps ropes up onto his stomach, chest fluttering, everything pure reckoning for an unfairly long time. 

"Oh gosh, Link!" he gasps, lost to the want of it.

Even more unfairly, the orgasm doesn't end all at once; it tapers out in shivering waves, over-sensitive, blind lust gradually supplemented with a deep, heavy sobriety as thick as concrete while Rhett's cum cools on his chest. 

I… I really just did that. 

Didn't I? 

Busted harder than I have in my entire life to the thought of— 

He deflates, staring up at the ceiling in dead-eyed guilt, heart and limbs throbbing.

He's too in my head. 

There isn't an attraction causing dreams.

It's dreams causing attraction.

I've had it backwards this whole time.

Chapter Text

There are things stronger than a broken constitution, and these things are called “leases”. 

If Rhett doesn’t want his life to derail entirely, he has to keep taking classes—and that means he can’t keep acting like a lunatic around Link: spending every waking second in the library or milling around the student center; sitting beside him in class with all the enthusiasm of a blackmailed convict; excusing himself to more “meetings” with professors, lingering in bathroom mirrors to prod at bags under his eyes, giving monosyllabic cues to his best friend of more than 5,000 days.

It’s not Link’s fault he’s like this, after all.

Which means the punishing proximity is Rhett’s to bear. No matter how awkward and horrible it is. No matter how his cheeks and stomach boil.

So when the door to their room opens and Link lets himself in—stopping short, no doubt uneasy to see Rhett cross-legged in bed with a textbook in his lap—Rhett puts on a smile not as unnatural as he’d assumed it would feel. Makes eye contact.

“Welcome home."

“Hey, man.” Link recovers quickly, making himself comfortable, kicking off his flip-flops, taking off his backpack, and moseying over to the desk to have a seat. “Didn’t think you’d be here.”

“No?” Hanging his head back to his book, he asks, “Why not?”

“I dunno. Feels like you’ve been… weirdly busy lately, I guess.”

He’s getting ready to start his own homework.

Good… this is good.

This is normal, and I can work with normal.

“Yeah, sorry about that. Bein' in the dorm's been torture these past few days.”

“What? Why?”

“The sleep issues,” Rhett glances up at Link with a twitchy grin, going for you forget already? “Just bein’ near my bed, I get so sleepy I can hardly think straight.”

“Ohh. Right.” Nodding, Link swipes his tongue over his bottom teeth. “So what changed? Why you here now?”

“Eh. Figured if I can train to be near my bed and not fall asleep, maybe I can stop ghostin' you.”

Another glimpse at Link, and Rhett catches the tickled smile he quickly turns to his textbooks. 

Happy. Good.

Gosh, I’ve been a terrible friend.

“Did the study find anything?” Link asks his book, and Rhett darts his gaze across the room once.

“What?”

“The study you participated in.” Link bobs his fluffy hair, goading. “The sleep one? With the psych students…?”

“Oh! Right. No, actually it was for research. Didn’t know beforehand that the results were logged anonymously. Confidential, for academic papers and all that jazz.” 

“Oh… well, that really sucks.” With a heart heavier than it should be, Link wears a casual pout and begins flipping through his notebook. “Was hopin’ you’d get some answers.”

Why’s he gotta look so sad about it?

No… no, that’s the price for my lies. Deal with it.

“Yeah. Me too,” mumbles Rhett, running his hand along his slight beard. 

Silence settles the same as they do into their homework, and when Link eventually rustles out his copy of the book with which Rhett’s playing catching up, Rhett stares at it and clears his throat.

“You wanna quiz each other?”

“What?” Link cocks his head over his shoulder, finger in between pages. “We’ve never done that before.”

“No, but we’ve got that test coming up next week. Right?” Rhett eyes the corner of his syllabus, poking out of a folder in his backpack. He’d just checked it; he’s sure. “Figure we can make studying more fun, is all.”

Link examines him for a moment, blinking to process and turn over the new request—but ultimately nods, smirking. “Sure. Hope you’ve been studying though, McLaughlin, ‘cause I think we need to add some stakes to the game if we want it to be any fun.”

“Fine by me,” bluffs Rhett with a shrug. He’s… definitely not ready, but like hell he’s gonna turn down one of Link’s ideas while trying to make amends. “Whoever gets more correct buys dinner for the other?”

“Nah, man. We buy each other food all the time, that ain’t special,” gripes Link with an eye roll. “How ‘bout this: you remember the movie Billy Madison? We’ll do like that, but backwards. Every time you get an answer wrong, you have to take off a piece of clothing.”

Fuck no  nearly jumps off Rhett’s tongue, but he reins it back. Honestly, that… sounds like a freakin' nightmare. Maybe he can make Link see that without exposing himself—literally. “And why on earth would we do that?”

“‘Cause of the shame. And at the end, we take a tasteful selfie of whatever state of undress we’re in. Maybe send it to our moms to show off the college shenanigans. Y’know? They’d eat that up.”

“To our moms? God forbid our dads see it,” snorts Rhett, gripping his knees.

“Or whatever! Just keep it so we can look back on it and laugh,” Link goads with a limp shrug. “It’ll only be embarrassing if you suck at it. Which, you seem pretty cocky, so.”

He really knows how to push my buttons, don't he?

Guess that’s why he’s my best friend.

“Fine.” Rhett closes his book and pulls his knees to his chest, taking in their outfits: Link’s wearing a black pullover, probably a shirt underneath that, and jeans. At most, that’s, what… four items? Meanwhile, Rhett’s got socks on. Counting his undershirt, that gives him got two notches on Link. “Bring it on.”

“Alright. Prepare to be chilly,” Link grins, propping open his book in his lap.

“Whatever. I ain’t a moron.”

“We’ll see.” Link’s eyes jump over the page, searching for something, and when he turns the next page, Rhett balks.

“You’re supposed to use the questions at the end of the chapter! The review questions!”

“We never agreed on that,” Link keens, still grinning, and an unstable film of panic bubbles in Rhett’s core—a thing he forces down with an exaggerated groan. “First question: to whom is shear strain energy theory credited?”

Eyes wide, Rhett stares at him, jaw slack. “You’re not gonna give me choices?!”

“We never agreed on that, either.” Mischief worn all over those flashing canines, Link beams. “You gon’ be nakeeed.”

“N-No, I’m not. Uhh,” Rhett falters, “shear strain energy theory is… Rankine?”

“Rrrrnt! Von Mise, sucker.”

“Link—that’s dumb, no one cares about who formulated the theory, it’s about—”

“Rhett.” Link sets him with a look. “You really gon start fighting this early on? Just take the L, man.”

Pressing his lips thin, Rhett tries to glare as he reveals his white under tank—but finds it too embarrassing, casting his sight to the floor along with his newly-discarded shirt. “Fine.”

“There ya go,” laughs Link, giving the book his focus. “Next question—”

“Hey! No, now I get to ask you a question!”

“Nope. I’ll ask eight questions. Or, uhh… six, ” Link teases with a judicious look over Rhett’s remaining get-up as Rhett’s cheeks burn. “But no more than eight. Then we can switch.”

He’s really trying to end me right here, right now, ain’t he?

“Fine, jerk. But you can’t complain if I end up asking you questions in my freakin’ boxers,” Rhett bites back, and—and he actually laughs. It may be half nerves, but it’s good to have Link back. He hadn’t realized how much he’d missed him.

“Like I’ve never seen you in your undies,” mutters Link, but before Rhett can blush, he's moving on. “Principal planes are subject to which kind of stress?”

Rhett squints at the bottom of the top bunk in thought. “That’s a trick question. Both… right? Normal and tangential?”

“Rrrrnt! Wrong again!”

“What?!”

“It’s only normal stress, dude. Which I imagine you must be feelin’ a lot of, havin’ to choose whether you wanna lose a sock or your shirt.”

A sock gets tossed to the tile with a scowl. “I think you’re cheating.”

“Nope. When it's your turn to ask questions, you can double check, if you want.” 

And the truth of it is, Rhett hasn’t been on top of his studies as well as he’d not only claimed, but also would’ve liked to think; over the course of the next few minutes, their bickering escalates and he showcases more and more of his skin to the air of the room, earning giggles and ribbing from Link. Only once does he get the answer correct, but time and again he bites down the urge to bolt from the room.

If he starts acting weird, everything will collapse in a big, irreparable heap. Best endure this than have to handle that.

Rhett’s soon down to his underwear, and the odd thrill of embarrassment paired with Link’s undivided attention—the glances that aren’t as candid as Link probably thinks they are, roaming over Rhett’s thighs and stomach and shoulders, trying not to outright smile—it’s… it’s a lot to ask of Rhett. But he manages.

Kinda.

‘Cause when Link starts asking another question, Rhett has to focus twice as hard to ignore the fact that should he get this wrong, he’ll be totally naked in front of a fully-clothed Link.

That’s a prospect that thrills him so much, he viscerally hates it.

“Alright, man,” Link prefaces, smirking at Rhett once before shaking his head into the book in his hands. “Last one. What are the three properties that the torsional resistance of a shaft are directly proportional to?”

Three? Link, that’s—you know I can’t get all three. Look at me!” Rhett’s straining plea is embarrassing enough as he gestures down at himself. “You’re not even givin' me a fighting chance!”

“But see, I am.” Link shuts the book on his thumb and leans forward. “You can either try and fail… or you can just admit you’re gonna fail anyway and lose the boxers. S’up to you.”

“Asshole.”

“Which path to defeat is it, then?” 

“Why’d you wanna strip for this in the first place?” Shifting, Rhett does his best to break Link’s line of sight to his junk, bracing his arms on the edge of the mattress and jiggling his leg—but the jiggling must cause movement elsewhere, since it draws Link’s eye anyway. Rhett stills himself with a swear. “Pretty weird, if you ask me.”

“Sore loser, if you ask me.”

“Fine!” 

The sooner he gets this over with, the less time he’ll have to spend nude, right?  Like ripping off a bandage, Rhett hoists up and pulls his boxers off, kicking them to the floor as Link bursts into laughter and puts a palm between them with a “Whoa!”

“There! Totally fuckin’ naked, you happy? That what you wanted?” Rhett seethes, covering his dick with his hands and practically growling as Link falls into cackles. “Congratulations!”

“Don’t congratulate me, apologize to yourself!” At least Link seems to be giving Rhett some semblance of dignity; he holds up the book between them. But when Rhett fails to move, Link shakes it. “Here!”

“Great,” growls Rhett, snatching it and blockading the show from Link’s eyes. “How generous of you.”

“Nah, man—it’s further punishment. Should be ashamed o' yourself, Rhett, getting one answer right! If you can’t handle a basic review between us, how the hell are you gonna pass the test next week?”

Further punishment…?

“The test doesn't ask shit like that. I know the formulas,” states Rhett with a shrug—I’m naked, I’m naked, I’m naked. "I won't fail it."

“I know you won’t—’cause you’re gonna read the chapter to me. Right now.” 

Jesus, he has to be kidding. Does his gloating ever end?

“No.”

“Yeah, brother,” chides Link, practically wiggling in his seat at the new game. “Just take your medicine. Bet you’ll remember more this way.”

Frowning hard, Rhett does his best to shrivel Link into a dried up old mushroom with the squinting scrutiny he passes over the top of the text. “I will read… one page.”

“I’ll believe it when you do it,” grins Link.

So Rhett props the book open on his lap, feeling the heat blossoming in his shoulders, and opens his mouth to read the first line of some random section when Link tuts.

“Get my book off your dick, dude. No coverin’ up.”

Biting his cheek so hard it could bleed, Rhett slowly lifts the book into his palms, face set in a tight frown. And Link clearly has a… well, clear view of the show, ‘cause he snickers and drawls, “ There’s little Rhett.”

What are the signs of a heart attack?

“Gonna piss in your cereal tomorrow,” hushes Rhett, low, and starts to read. “The angle of twist in radians should be calculated as such: if a solid shaft with a diameter of twenty centimeters, a length of four-hundred…”

“Bein’ kinda generous with the numbers there,” Link snorts, and Rhett sighs loudly.

“Link, I swear to God—”

“Sorry! Keep goin’, this is great.”

Rhett does.

But Link’s in his periphery, watching him. His head resting on the heel of his palm, that arm resting on the back of the same desk chair Rhett had defiled with full skin contact yesterday.

Link’s watching me. 

And it doesn’t really matter which part of his body Link’s looking at—the idea of Link staring at his lips as he reads is hardly more comforting than the thought of Link staring at his dick— both are terrible, when Rhett’s not allowed any humility. 

Link’s watching me.

And it doesn’t really matter that he begins to stammer; at this point, the lines and lines of engineering jargon are far more like a scripture for salvation than they are study material. If he can just keep going and get through this, he’ll be okay. Nothing exists outside of this chapter and his head. 

Except that Link is watching me.

“Rhett,” he cuts in, right on cue, and Rhett freezes. Knows the issue before he can screw his eyes shut to avoid seeing the look on Link’s face. “You’re, uhh… are you really gettin' hard from this...?”

There isn’t anything Rhett can say to that. So he doesn’t try, just brings the book to his face and buries his nose between the open pages, pressing his hot cheeks there. There’s the sound of Link laughing— trying to laugh, but it comes out in a strange crushed breath, disgusted and upset—and Rhett cinches his knees together. Blushing, burning. 

“Just… keep goin’, man. You’re doin’ fine.”

No? 

Whether his skin’s hot from sweat or from his own exhales condensing on his brow, he doesn't know.

“Can’t,” muffles Rhett.

“Yeah, you can.”

“Link. Please.”

“No, Rhett—listen, I didn’t mean to… you really don’t have to be embarrassed. It’s my fault, I—I pushed you into this situation.”

Don’t—don’t fuckin’ coddle me, holy shit.

“...Can’t,” Rhett decides again, and it’s so much worse now that he can feel it; like acknowledgment is encouragement, his cock twitches up into his stomach, asking for attention it can’t have. Amazing that there’s enough blood left over from the burst capillaries in his face.

Link’s quiet. Then, the chair scoots on the floor, and Rhett braces himself for his clothes to be thrown at him and for Link to march to the door, showing himself out.

Instead, hands find his thighs, and Rhett freezes, eyes popping open to stare into the white of the textbook’s pages.

“It’s okay,” Link whispers—and lowers himself to the floor between Rhett's knees. One of his hands slides up Rhett's thigh to his member, taking him with dexterous fingers. It’s a careful touch, one Rhett’s not sure he isn’t imagining before Link requests, “Keep going,” and sinks his lips and tongue down onto Rhett’s cock.

Every last restraint Rhett has snaps with a long, deep moan of relief, clutching the textbook, unable to resist rocking his hips forward into Link’s mouth. But that earns an instant slap on the thigh; Rhett’s certain that—were he brave enough—he would look under the book to find Link pulling a disappointed face at him.

“You want this? You gotta keep readin’. What am I s’posed to do with myself if you fail outta college, Rhett?”

Shivering all over, Rhett hoists the weight of the book and finds a spot— any spot. There’s no way Link’d been paying attention to begin with.

“...while flat spiral springs—”

Link begins sucking again, swirls his tongue on the underside of Rhett’s head hard enough to add a stammering breath to his words.

“—a-always consist of thin, uniform st-strips. They’re supported at the outer ends— ahhh, fuck,” he interrupts himself, because Jesus, Link’s not making this easy when he suddenly pushes down as far as he can go, dragging Rhett along the roof of his mouth with the back of his tongue.

But he stops short again, swallowing spit in an obscene noise. “Pretty sure the book doesn’t say ‘fuck’ innit, Rhett.”

“Sorry. I’ll—I’ll keep reading, just don’t st—”

“You’re still not reading,” Link scolds him, heat on the words, and Rhett bites his bottom lip—grateful for the book separating them. “I promise I’ll keep going. But you gotta study.”

Like any of these details are going to pierce Rhett’s brain.

“C-Can be wound by applying torque to the e-ends—”

It’s mercy incarnate when Link takes him down again, and Rhett whines through the next line, reedy and shivering, ego demanding he forget the book and instead get his fingers through Link’s hair and push himself deeper into his throat; use him while he’s into it, before he comes to his senses and gets apologetic and flustered and abandons Rhett like a man left for death.

Thankfully, some smarter part of him knows better.

Knows that if he's obedient—continues doing as he’s told and makes nice sighs of appreciation the entire time—that Link will suck him off until he busts. 

And with low lids, that single thought possesses Rhett and drives him to drone out the least sexy information in existence, lost to it as Link’s head bobs in his lap, tongue lapping over the ridge of his head. 

“S-Such springs can be found in most c-clockwork mechanisms, where their purpose isn’t only— ohh, God, Link —isn’t only necessaaary, but e-evident…”

When Link pulls off again, Rhett assumes it’s for more chastising—but his hand picks up the slack and tugs Rhett mercifully. 

God, does Rhett wants to lay back and enjoy this. Watch Link look up at him. See how nice those lips are on his arousal, if they’re anything like he’s been imagining when he lets his desire wander.

“Doin’ great, bo,” husks Link, and his free hand squeezes Rhett’s thigh reassuringly, not slowing the flick of his wrist as Rhett bucks and groans. If it’s too much, Link doesn’t let on. Instead he simply offers, “Don’t stop. Just pretend you happen to be getting off while reading—don’t think about anyone, don’t fantasize—just lemme make your body come.”

“All—All three m-methods for analyzing f-forces—”

Rhett locks up again, now panting as Link takes him down—lips sealed around him, tongue eager to reach everywhere it wants, someone doing their damnedest to bring Rhett to the edge.

“—of simple… oh no, oh fuck—s-simple trusses… include graphical—”

Link hums high, one arm reaching around Rhett’s lower back and strapping them together, a union where the bottom line is to milk Rhett.

“—the—the m-method of joints of sec—”

Hips rolling, Rhett’s arms grow feeble, words spilling out of his mouth as he slumps the book to the side and glances down at Link servicing him, his face surprisingly flushed, pupils blown when they lock eyes.

Oh, fuck! Link, I’m—!”

Link smiles on him and nods, closing his eyes and curling in towards Rhett’s cock, and the lights go out.

Wait… no. Something’s over his eyes. Another blindfold, or…?

Wrong. It’s a blanket.

Blinking into nothing, Rhett groans hard—coils into himself and feels the familiar sleepy prod at his own abs, grunting at the realization that he isn’t soft. 

He’s stupid hard.

“What—where,” he mumbles, smacking his dry lips, and Link hums from the desk. A familiar noise.

“Sorry. You fell asleep. I thought you should get some rest while you can. Y’know?” Link explains, and Rhett blinks tears of fatigue away, dares to poke his head out of the covers and peer over at him. “Big test coming up next week, and all.”

It had been about Link again. Hadn’t it?

It’s still kinda fuzzy, but… they’d been studying together, some weird game of stakes, and… 

Well. Link certainly doesn’t look like he was just giving anyone a blow job.

And when Rhett sneakily reaches down and grazes a finger along his cock, he confirms what he already knows to be true. His head hits the mattress and he lets his eyes close again, wincing.

God, I hope I don’t fail this test.

And I really hope I didn’t moan his name.

Chapter Text

One hand on his waist, the other snaked under his shoulders. Fingers splayed tenderly on his throat to hold his head like a fine glass of wine, necks equally elegant. His pulse racing into the pads of fingers. 

Nose pressing into forgiving cheek, downs air and shivers, words meant for the shell of his ear spilling somewhere near the corner of his lips.

“You okay, baby?”

“Y-Yeah.” Nodding, breathless, the hand on his hip digging in a thumb because he’s so good. Deserves to feel it, down to his bones.

“You hot?” Not waiting for an answer—kicking down the covers, flushing cool air over their sweat, and the one embraced trembles.

“Oh, gosh—that’s—s’embarrassing.”

“What? Knowin’ I sweet-talked you into pullin’ your boxers down for me? How else was I s’posed to get a look at you, gorgeous?”

I can feel his smile when we kiss. The closest I’ll ever get to heaven.

Brings their hips together again, sinking in, toying with him—and his next breath is contented and humming, a patient thing born of building, yet tinged in the exact right level of smolder. 

No hurry. Not this time.

“How’s it feel?”

“You could be rougher,” he giggles, melodic and Sunday morning.

“What, and waste this?” 

Testy chuckling, another kiss flecked with stubble.

“Ain’t a waste if it ain’t a one time thing, bo.”

“Not gonna take any chances with that. You don’t know tomorrow.”

Despite kind-hearted teasing, lips drag on temple and the next thrust is harder—brings their bodies together with less care than before, and his head slides back across the pillow, nestling into shoulder with a grateful drawled moan like being dipped into warm water.

“Yeah? You startin’ to feel it?”

“Been feelin’ it this whole time… but… yeah,” he chuckles, hand over hand on his hip, squeezing. “Never understood how this could feel good, but gosh, I—it’s like this one spot, and when you hit it, I just…”

Help him get those words out.

Reach extending, arms wrapping to encircle him in a possessive hug that doubles over his chest. Thrusts hard again, and again is rewarded with that devastatingly precious whine and tightened thighs pressing back into his own, quaking.

“Yeah,” he scratches, all of him tensing perfectly when the confirmation leaves his lips. “Just like that, that’s so good.”

It’s clearing up. Solidifying.

“What about if I do this, then?” 

The flirting slow in and out isn’t tortuous enough to show how he cares—but hard and fast won’t work either; it’s a steady fuck he builds them into, a tediously natural rhythm. Tempered, yet a sheer show of will not to claw for more. 

This isn’t a time to be selfish. 

“Oh! Oh, gosh.” More self-degrading chuckles, a sharp breath sucked in as the vein at his neck pulses in perfect in time with the thrusts, and that in itself couldn’t make more sense, he thinks with a gratified smile. “That’s… oh!”

“Right there with ya, baby.”

“S'like my body’s trying to melt,” he whispers, “never felt anything like this before. Never felt anything like you. ” 

And why shouldn’t his lips be claimed for such sweet nothings?

Another hum, keening and happy, and licking into his mouth only makes more of the same.

That happiness. 

It’s gonna kill me.

“Faster?” he asks, clear eyes searching like he’ll find assent on this plane of reality.

Hugging tighter, lids low, obedient. Anything to keep him here, give him precisely what he wants and nothing less or more. And the hiking breaths, the way he begins to unravel—hands seeking purchase on the one behind him, cradling their bodies flush as if the notion of going elsewhere isn’t hell itself.

It still isn’t fast —that’s not what he’d requested—but there’s a rough snap at the end of each hit that teases him apart, his fingers reaching back and curling around nape, forcing forehead to temple with rolling gasps. And his eyes might be closed—might be scrunched in the most gorgeously obscene silent prayer ever uttered—but it’s impossible to look elsewhere. 

He’s flawless like this.

Oh, God, he’s always flawless.

Why is that—that’s gonna—

Faltering rhythm, gripping even tighter, crushing an exhale from him along with a questioning eyebrow. His fingers fetter through hair, tugging gentle and coaxing.

“Y’alright?”

“I’m—I might—”

“Already…? Jesus, that’s hot… Let it happen if that’s how you feel.”

Crushing nose into his hair, steadying and breathing deep. Smells like him. Not the best way to stave it off.

“I won’t be mad if you do. If I drive you crazy, show me.”

He needs to get there first.

 “Please don’t stop. Let go for me.”

No. Have to wait until things progress, until he’s ready, too, until—

But he rocks back, and Rhett’s mind rejoins his body at the shock of the sensation, blinking awake.

He’s… 

They’re… 

“Hey—it’s okay,” Link whispers, far too close and too hot and—

What the fuck is happening?!

Rhett startles in his sheets, but Link catches his wrist and stills him, leaving only confused gasps for air to ruckus. Why are they so close to each other? How the fuck had he let himself fall asleep with Link next to him in his bed?!

“What—how—”

“We were watching Hot Fuzz, remember? On my laptop?”

“Wh-Where’s your laptop?” Rhett croaks, gaze darting along the slope of Link’s shoulder, up to his head. They’re chest to back.

They’re fucking spooning.

“I put it on the floor once the movie ended. You fell asleep about twenty minutes in and I didn’t wanna wake you,” Link explains, and his tone is the sort of calm that begs Rhett to join him in being okay. Must be obvious how close Rhett is to panicking—but in his defense, he remembers this time.

We’d been—I dreamed we were just… 

Jesus, that wasn’t even just “fucking”, it was… 

“Everything’s okay,” Link says, stroking down Rhett’s arm—

My hand. Is on. His hip.   

—and smoothing over the goosebumps there, encouraging them to go back down. “I know you can’t keep your eyes open lately. I’m not mad that you fell asleep.”

Rhett swallows, feels much like a cornered rabbit with how fast his chest is fluttering.

Mirroring him, Link swallows as well, his next words fragile like he’s scared to let them free.

“And… I’m not mad about… about the other thing, either.”

Rhett can’t move. He’s pretty sure his heart’s not beating.

What other thing.

What did I do.

He needs to ask, is in very real danger of dying by some sort of bodily attack if Link doesn’t clarify. He’s done something in his sleep—and there’s zero chance of innocence, of it having been innocuous. Mouth gaping, he stares into Link’s hair, trying to locate words or apologies or excuses or anything.

But before Rhett can find any of those things, Link moves his hand from Rhett’s arm and shivers, clearing his throat. “And I… wouldn’t be mad if you, uhh… if you finished, either.”

Finished?

...What?!

Rhett isn’t even sure what he’d been doing, and now Link’s talking about—unless Rhett’s mistaken, of course, it sounds like he’s encouraging him to—

“Rhett,” Link begs, that careful facade of bravery beginning to crack, and guilt surges through Rhett’s limbs. “Please say something. If you want me to get up you can just say so, and we don’t have to talk about this again. Just—God, please don’t—don’t shove me out of bed or call me sick or anything. Don’t be mad.”

Link shifts—barely—and it’s ice-met-fire in his lungs when Rhett realizes just what he’d been doing.

His cock is… it’s fully erect in his pajama bottoms.

And it’s also perfectly caught between the upper half of Link’s thighs, held tight in place below his briefs. The tip’s surely soaked enough to dampen fleece; there’s no way Link can’t feel that wetness.

And he’d just… given permission.

Lips trembling, Rhett closes his eyes and doesn’t bother moving his hand from Link’s hip. It’s numb anyway. “W-Was I… um. What was I…?”

“You were like… doin' my thighs,” Link breathes, also having difficulty with this, and Rhett bobs his head in tiny breakable nods. 

“Yeah. Okay. Link, I’m—”

“Don’t apologize. You were asleep,” Link recounts rather stupidly, lifting the shoulder not smashed into the mattress.

Time stands still. This should be the moment where the decisions are easy: tell Link to get up, put as much distance between them as possible and chalk this up in the column of things they’ll never, ever talk about again. There’s a handful of such incidents, and this is bound to be one of them. It’ll get buried so fucking deep and fast that it could be mistaken for a dream in ten years, like they’d imagined it together; hold it inside for so long individually that it'll turn into an unspoken “had that really happened?” Yet neither will ask.

But Rhett still can’t move.

And he can’t justify that past the tiny, minuscule spark in his chest that’s breathing on its own, made of forbidden excitement and dizzying arousal. This is all of his dreams manifesting. 

And Link seems to be okay with it.

“Link.” The silence can’t keep stretching. Something has to happen. “You’re—you’re… you don’t… I mean,” he hesitates, and Link cocks his head back so Rhett can see his profile for the first time. Blushing. 

“I meant what I said, man,” Link sighs, exposed embarrassment lending to annoyance, and Rhett sets his jaw. Sucks his tongue.

I won't get another chance.

“Wanna do it better than this, then,” Rhett admits, reaching down and freeing himself from his clothes, pulling the waistband down and out of the way to cinch his thighs together. When he presses his bare cock to the back of Link’s thighs, his head is slick enough from precum to slide between them easily.

Having a wet, warm, hard cock inches from his own dick must be something Link’s never been prepared for—he lets out half a shrill gasp before his hand clamps over his mouth and he bows his head to his chest. 

Face burning, Rhett doesn’t move. Acclimates to being caught between Link’s bare thighs, the way Link’s shoulders heave as he comes to terms with the permission he’s given. And when Link shifts again, Rhett lets go of him, is sure it’s to backpedal and jump out of this situation and into a shower cold enough to freeze his brain or hot enough to burn Rhett from his skin. But Link stretches hard and collects the hand lotion from the desk.

The sound of it pumping flushes Rhett’s chest. “What are you…?”

“Here—p-pull ‘out’ for a second.” 

Rhett does as he’s told and watches as Link spreads his legs, rubbing lotion all over his inner thighs. He’s doing that for Rhett. 

So Rhett can—

Shit, c’mon then,” Rhett growls, all but batting Link’s hands away and sinking down to get better leverage. He hoists himself forward, holds his cock between his thumb and forefinger to rest it against Link’s lower thigh. “Close ‘em.”

Link’s shivering when he does, legs resting and surrounding Rhett’s length.

And Rhett had been unsure of this until Link had gone for lotion. Now, he remembers the dream—remembers where his hands had gone and replicates that: one digging under his neck to hold his throat, ginger, the other fixing to his hip, not ginger.

Link’s entire body turns into a livewire, thrumming and energized, not at all like the calm Link in Rhett’s dream, and that’s perfectly okay for this purpose. Shaking, shivering, Link sighs and swallows again.  “Will you just—”

“You offered,” Rhett warns, and reaches around to place his arm down in front of Link’s pelvis, forming a makeshift bar to keep him from being bucked away. “You want me to get off on you?”

In response, Link flexes his thighs tight, Jesus Christ.

Unable to wait, Rhett tries out an experimental thrust—and it’s not that he’s never felt skin envelop his cock before, in different ways and positions with different people—but this is Link’s skin, and it’s unbearably soft and comes with his scent and a railing whimper.

“Oh, gosh,” Link mutters, and Rhett knows those words; they’re confirmation that his dreams are accurate in their details, even when he isn’t dreaming from experience. 

“Right there with ya, baby,” he recites his line, falling into a steady fuck—Link gasps sharp again, lets it out in a guttural moan, and all bets are off. Rhett positions his mouth at Link’s ear, huffing hot breaths just for him. Imagining how close his cock is to Link’s, moving his hand to grope Link through his underwear and give him an encouraging heavy pet.

Rhett’s not the only one following the script: Link reaches back, finds Rhett’s hips and guides them together, harder, ankles locking and crushing into the bed. 

“You like it when I call you ‘baby’?” Rhett drawls, taking Link’s earlobe into his mouth and suckling it with tiny nibbles, mining moans from his throat—watching his eyes roll back in his head as Rhett strokes him through his underwear. A wet spot forms, and Rhett slips over it, hushing a rumble to Link’s neck and kissing the skin there instead.

“Oh, Christ, Rhett...”

They’re forgetting their lines, but that’s okay—there’s nothing wrong with fast and dirty, not when the slow and loving is evident in other ways every single day. 

“You know I’m gonna make a mess on you when I come, right?” Rhett asks, fighting for breath as their bodies meet. He glances down to where his cock is sinking into Link’s thighs, instantly drunk off the way Link’s ass cushions each thrust at his abs. “Gonna get my cum all over those thick thighs, Link. Get it on those stupid tighty whities—why the fuck you wearin’ those when we lay down to watch movies together, anyway? You cocktease.”

“I—I was wearing pants, at first,” Link admits, shameful, and Rhett groans hard against his shoulder blades, eyes closed to swim in the illusion that he’s finally, blessedly fucking Link.

“You cocktease!”

“T-Took ‘em off when you started—”

“You wanted this! Want me to get off on you!” Rhett fights to get under Link’s underwear, gripping his cock with lust-bordering-anger and jacking him hard, dissolving Link back against him with writhing moans and hands shooting back to hold Rhett’s head over his shoulder. 

Ahh! Rhett, I’m—holy shit!!”

“Gonna pump you full,” Rhett promises, lost, letting his mouth wander away from him as everything is replaced with how good Link is for taking him, sweaty and hot and truly the closest to heaven he’ll ever get. “Hope you wanted to know what it’s like to have your best friend lose his mind over how fuckin’ hot you are, Link. I’m obsessed. Been dickin’ you six ways from Sunday every time I close my eyes—”

Link wails deep, Rhett’s hand slicking over the head of his cock fast and unforgiving—

“Pisses me off, you know? Could’ve have a crisis over any hot guy out there, would’ve been fine if it were anyone else, but it had to be you, didn’t it? ‘Cause no one else comes close to—” Faltering, Rhett grunts, doing his best to stave off what’s wracking his muscles and burning up his spine.

“Do it, Rhett—please, fuck, come on, wanna feel you come inside me,” whines Link, so filthy he shouldn’t be allowed to open his mouth. But it doesn't matter; Rhett can't stop if he’d wanted to.

He hitches into hard moans, hips snapping up into Link as he spills between his thighs, still stroking Link fervently—and the combined sensation slams into Link as well. He cries out before convulsing hard, hot and sticky warmth coating Rhett’s fingers.

Rhett sees stars.

Lets his breaths out in growling rolls, feels at once how much heat they’ve been producing, that they should open the window and let their session breathe as well. Link’s still shaking in his arms, his release cooling on Rhett’s knuckles and Rhett’s tacky between his thighs.

When Rhett sighs and hums, Link swallows and starts—leans out of bed, and the weight of himself next to Rhett is gone.

“Where you goin’,” Rhett asks, already half-asleep, and Link stops and stands by the desk. His hand grips white on the back of the chair and he stares at the desktop, trembling. Those shivers aren’t going to stop, are they?

“Rhett.”

“Hmm?”

“...Are you awake?” Link asks, glancing over his shoulder, and…

Rhett lifts his head and squints hard, glancing at their surroundings as item after item doesn’t fit. The laptop is by their feet. The covers are pulled up over Rhett. And—perhaps most telling—there’s definitely no way there’s a mess anywhere near Link’s thighs. He's fully clothed.

The mess is all inside Rhett’s boxers. 

For the second time, Rhett bolts awake, hugging the covers to himself this time and jerking the laptop towards his knees. 

“I’m—I’m awake,” he says, breathless.

Link hesitates, shifts his weight from foot to foot and rubs his arm. “Like… just now, you woke up?”

Oh holy shit God no, Jesus Fucking Christ.

“Yes. I—yeah, just now,” blurts Rhett, grip bruising on the covers.

“Okay,” Link nods, voice cracking, and he clears his throat like that'll make the tightness better. “I’m… I’m gonna go take a shower.”

Barely fifteen seconds pass before Link’s gathered his things and slipped out of the room, and Rhett crushes his pillow to his face and stares into the white of it, eyes wide and every inch of him hot with shame.

I don’t know exactly what happened…

But Link hates me now.

Chapter Text

It finally happened. I crossed a line.

What the hell is he doing here? No ventures out into town are going to erase last night; a sweet dream turned into a spicy dream turned into a waking nightmare. The image of Link’s silhouette, back-lit by the hall lights outside their room, is burned into Rhett’s mind.

How the fuck am I supposed to face him now? He knows.

I dunno how much he knows, and if there’s a bright side it’s that he doesn’t know that I know—but I do.

And I have to live with this.

Rhett trudges past an overpriced “local” boutique, sneakers quiet on the sidewalk. Silver sculptures meant to hold jewelry are too pretty in the spotless windows—too happy—and that glint of metal sours his stomach before he can avert his gaze.

What did I put him through?

Did he just… lay there next to me while I had a wet dream?

No. No, he was more upset than that. 

I’d… God, my dream was probably closer to reality than I wanna think.

Hanging signs sweep overhead in a slow crawl. Rhett's past most of the upscale shops and is now approaching ones that get half their business from shock value alone, where tourist-y bougies come during the safety of daylight for a laugh and to feel alive via riskless souvenirs: tattoo parlors, a place to buy skateboards, weed paraphernalia, a run-down comic store, and one outlet that just sells “exotic” musical instruments. It’s a bizarre collection of businesses—and it’s oddly comforting, too. Nothing here fits together, and so seems like a good place to get lost.

Another swelling urge to check for texts gets beaten back down into Rhett’s stomach; Link hasn’t messaged him all day, despite his sudden disappearance. They both need the space.

‘Need’ is different from ‘want’, he tells himself.

When a shop with tinted windows and a red neon sign crosses his path, he glances up at it, half-expecting a small laser tag arena or blacklight gallery. But the humming display is a circle with a scandalous  XXX in the middle, and it stills Rhett’s footsteps while he blinks up at it, listless.

A sex shop...?

Scratching his beard, he looks farther to the front door.

Never been in one before.

Always thought if I did, that it'd be with Link. Another memory to make together.

I wonder if…

I mean, why not? 

This shit’s been controlling my life for almost two weeks now, anyway.

Under any other circumstances it would take a hell of a lot more convincing for Rhett to reach a decision. Today, he heads to the entrance and lets himself in with an electronic chime, stepping through into a cozily-lit shop that’s… pretty much what he’d been expecting.

Wall to wall are toys, dolls, leather, DVDs, lotions, and more than a few things Rhett’s never laid eyes on before and wouldn’t know what to call them without their labels. The entire space is dimly excitable colors met flesh tones. Not many people about.  As the door swings shut behind him, the guy manning the check-out counter coughs.

“Welcome. Lemme know if you need any help.”

“Thanks,” Rhett nods.

None of the product shelves go above waist-height. Guess they need to be able to keep an eye out for perverts.

Am I a pervert...?

Fighting back the invasive thought, he strolls over to the nearest wall and begins his leisurely trawl through the items in the store. Gags. Cock rings. Dildos in an alarming range of sizes and materials. Blow-up dolls. Turn the corner and there are enough raunchy porn parodies to make humankind regret the invention of parody.

Rhett loops around the shop with a dissociated disinterest, much to his own surprise; there ain't really anything here that intrigues him. Sure, he can see the appeal of flavored lube and edible underwear, but in spite of his sleepy roustabouting, more than anything this place makes him feel… sad. Kinda scummy.

Only when his path passes near the front counter again does he see a red curtain obscuring a doorway. There’s no sign to indicate that it’s for employees only. Maybe it's an area for hardcore videos? A members-only thing? With a cocked eyebrow, Rhett waves at the lone worker guarding his wares and points at the curtain. The question on his tongue is cut off by the clerk's own question.

“You wanna go into the back?”

Rhett stares, so the man continues.

“You can even purchase something and take it back there, if you want,” he shrugs. “New policy. Pretty nice. All the booths were just cleaned 'bout ten minutes ago.”

Rhett stares some more, and the man stares back. 

“Maybe,” Rhett responds.

‘Cause while he isn’t totally sure what a “booth” is or exactly what’s going to happen if he takes a toy back there (he can speculate well enough), he’s suddenly presented with an opportunity to get it out the hell out of his system nowhere near Link.

Not in their dorm. Not in their bed. Link would be totally removed from the picture.

And he won’t fucking fall asleep here, either, which is another unfathomable plus.

Fingers grazing the bump of his wallet in his back pocket, Rhett heads to the counter so their conversation won’t be a yelled one.

“What kinda toy’s popular? To take into the back?”

The guy shrugs, looks up to the ceiling in thought. “Whatever floats your boat. So long as you don’t make a huge mess.” He throws a thumb at a wall Rhett’s yet to inspect, past the draped threshold to their right. “I’m a fan of the Fleshlight.”

I recognize that word.

No point in trying to be coy when he walks over and checks out the products, Rhett guesses. Everyone there is there for the same reason. 

The display wall in question holds a carefully curated rack of what appear to be—yeah, flashlights. But the puffy pink mound where a bulb would go definitely isn’t for emergency situations. (Or, hell, maybe it is.) They appear to be made of some sort of soft rubber which kinda looks like smooth chewing gum. 

Each one is a different shape—there are ones with cut-in diagrams reminiscent of “special” condoms with ridges and designs, showcasing what the inside of the toy looks like so one can see what’s in store. Others are supposedly replica pussies of porn stars; Rhett doesn’t recognize any of the women posing half-nude.

There’s another one that doesn’t seem too gaudy. The hole for insertion on it is small, tight, relatively nondescript. 

Oh.

It’s an asshole.

Rhett examines it for a long while, considering the others on the wall like his mind isn’t already made up. After a pitiful attempt at pomp and pretense, he selects the anal Fleshlight and takes it to the counter.

“How much to take this,” he wiggles the toy, “back there?”

“Total’d be about $70.”

“'Kay,” mumbles Rhett. He pays wordlessly, not minding the sizable hit to his expenses. Strange, that the employee doesn’t seem to mind one way or another that Rhett’s carelessly new to this, or that he’s clearly not in the best headspace. But maybe that’s standard for a sex shop.

Once paid, the clerk escorts him past the curtain and down a long hallway that dead-ends in a row of doors.  Then he turns to Rhett.

“What kinda room you want?”

“...What kinds are there?”

“The standard stuff,” the man sighs, crossing his arms. Rhett makes a point not to look at his name tag. “Got some window displays, gloryholes, solo booths—”

“Solo,” Rhett blurts, straightening and gripping the brown paper sack with his purchase in it. “Please.”

“Sure.”

And as soon as he’s bid farewell to and warned that his time ends when the video ends, the reality of what Rhett is doing sinks in. Standing in a small red room he’d paid a decent amount of money for. With a toy he has no real interest in, which he’d definitely over paid for. Porn is playing on a TV set into the wall, where a girl with long acrylic nails is rubbing herself eagerly while she’s railed by a faceless man off-screen.

Shit.

Why did I do this?

Feel like Holden Caulfield.

There’s a bench that smells like bleach positioned across from the show, and Rhett sinks down and opens his purchase, pulling the small sample bottle of lube and the fucksleeve out of their plastic. Using two fingers he pokes and prods the forgiving pink of the toy, over the tight opening meant to be an ass. Gives it a rub and finds it malleable yet firm.

Actually pretty nice, he decides, and a twinge of interest below the proverbial belt agrees with him. When he shoves a fingertip inside, the tightness of it—this thing’s reason for existing droops his lids low, spreads a stippling blush over his face.

I paid for this thing. Paid to be back here, alone.

Wasn’t cheap.

Rhett isn’t sure how much time he’d purchased, so he makes quick work of unzipping and fishing himself out, holding his half-hard dick with a light touch. 

Feels like I’m about to jack off in a dressing room.

The Fleshlight lubes up easily, taking down a good amount of the liquid down—and when Rhett positions it over himself and his cock’s head prods the entrance promising a good time, his mind and body reactivate, selfish and secluded.

This is Link.

You’re gonna fantasize about fucking Link while you do this—you’re gonna willingly, knowingly beat off to the thought of him. Sexually. From start to finish.

And you’re gonna fucking enjoy it, ‘cause this is the only time it’s gonna happen, in this tiny private room miles from campus.

He won’t ever know.

And with that, Rhett presses his cock into the fleshlight, grip tight on the black barrel. He sinks in easy, the slippery yet plush material enveloping him, and he nearly forgets the very purpose he’d just talked himself into at the feel of the toy itself.

“Oh.”

Leaning back, grip tight, Rhett lets his head hit the wall and eyes the spot where his cock disappears into the sleeve—only for a moment. Then he blots out the world and wriggles his hips in his jeans, exhaling long and steady.

When he starts jerking, the reason for the Fleshlight’s popularity is  evident. It feels like skin,  everywhere on him at once, designed for men to achieve orgasm. The bumps and skin-like pressure play awful nice, slipping hard on his cock, stretching and pulling in exactly the right ways. Bottoming out, his head pushes through an exceptionally wonderful ring somewhere inside, coaxing a surprised, soft moan from his lips.

Is this really what anal feels like?

Jesus, if not that’s a way to potentially set people up for a surprise later.

I'm  doin'  this. Definitely gonna come in this thing.

As he fucks himself and experiments with speed and angles—tilted juuust to the right and steady-but-not-fast feels goddamned phenomenal —he realizes it doesn’t take a lot of energy to get off with this thing. It’s not too heavy, so even a weak wrist flick sucks him down beautifully.

“Oh, gosh,” Rhett breathes, blushing when he re-opens his eyes to watch his cock slip into the sleeve again and again, only feeding into the tense desire to buck up into the thing even though he’s in control of it.

Are all sex toys this great?

Why—why haven’t I tried one sooner? God, I almost wanna share this with—

Link.

The second those blue eyes and slight hips and doofy laugh are back in his head, Rhett moans hard and braces his free hand behind him on the wall, letting every explicit, filthy mental image crash through him as he abandons shame.

Link sitting on my cock in the desk chair, bouncing in my lap, got ‘is thighs in my arms, fuckin’ up into him—

Rhett stills the Fleshlight with a rigid hold, following his fantasy and thrusting from the hips instead—

Head thrown back and gasping, moaning, sayin’ my fucking name—oh, shit, I wanna eat him alive. Not—not from behind, turn him around, chest to chest—

He sits up, perky and straight at the edge of the bench, barely free of his jeans, free hand pressing down into his thigh ‘cause in his mind it’s not his hand, it’s Link’s thigh over his.

I’d make him look at me. Make those goddamn eyes stay open while I wreck him, spit on his cock and jack him off between us and watch him lose his mind. Grabbin’ for anything that can anchor him, and if he touches anything beside me, I’d fix that right away.

Free hand moves from thigh, across chest to the opposite shoulder and clamps there. It’s Link’s hand, ‘cause Link’s riding him hard and desperate.

We’re—God, we’re all of the things I never admitted I want —we’re naked, kissing heavy and wet with tongue, and Link’s not thinking of anyone else, it’s my name he’s moaning. It wouldn’t be as good with anyone else ‘cause it’s—

Stuttering—pushing through that final ring over and over as his legs begin to shake—

It’s us—both of us always wanted it this way, not just me—

“Link,” Rhett gasps loud, pulling his own hair in a tight fist and shivering up into the sleeve as he pumps it full, convulsive shocks startling his body in waves along with a pleading whine. It’s shattering. Feels never-ending, blinding heat and lapse after lapse of pleasure.

It’s the longest orgasm Rhett’s ever experienced, a nd it leaves him utterly drained.

Breathless, blinking heavily, and suddenly feeling dehydrated, Rhett pulls the Fleshlight off of himself with a wet sucking sound and takes a moment of respite. No need to jump out of the booth right away, right? Let the shame air out a little before making an exit.

‘Cept now he’s got a toy filled with his cum in his hand. And… well. 

Realistically, there’s not any way he can get this thing back to the dorm and cleaned. Not without other people seeing. “Where would I hide you?” he asks the sloppy toy. It doesn’t answer. He stuffs it back into the brown paper bag he’d retrieved it from—mess and all. It’s a huge waste of money, but he’ll ditch it in a garbage can somewhere on his walk back.

He puts himself back in his jeans, flushes his shirt about his waist.

Other precautions: look presentable. He’s pretty sure his hair’s a wreck.  Fixing the curls in his phone’s camera, Rhett’s still dazed and dream-headed—and that’s what he’ll later tell himself when he accidentally accepts a video call from Link at that very moment.

Link’s face fills the screen—staring up at Rhett from his top bunk, arm folded under his head, and Rhett fumbles the phone to the floor of the booth.

Shit, the TV… it’s still moaning softly. Rhett slaps it silent and wrings his hands, bending to collect the phone and front-facing it shakily.

“Rhett?” Link laughs, and Rhett tries to level his voice.

“Yeah.”

“D’you drop your phone?”

“Yeah. Ha.”

“Looked funny on my end.” The wall behind Rhett in his captured image is a vibrant red, and he stares at it in his own window. “Where are you?” Link asks like he only now's realized the bizarre surroundings.

“In a bathroom,” Rhett lies instantly.

“...You’re not taking a dump right now, are you?”

“No.”

Dammit. Should’ve said yes, he’d’ve hung up immediately.

“Okay,” Link squints, smirking. “Where are you, though?”

“Uhh. There’s this… coffee shop, down on the strip? Stopped in there ‘cause I had to go.” Don’t let this snowball.

“Oh. You went to the strip,” nods Link, like that’s a perfectly normal thing Rhett’s been known to do. “Okay, well, I was gonna order pizza. Think you’ll be back in time for dinner, or should I just get one?”

Wait.

He’s… he’s not acting weird.

Swallowing, Rhett peeks down at the doggy bag of shame on the floor. “Yeah, I’m—I ain’t bringin’ anything home. If you don’t mind, can you add me to the order?”

Link snorts a laugh. “‘Course I don’t mind. Just come on home, 'kay?”

“Yeah,” Rhett nods, and damn, if he isn’t smiling for real, static warmth rolling across his neck. “I’ll come home.”

He hangs up and loses himself in his thoughts, eyes locked on the call screen. 

I’m…

I’m weirdly happy.

We're both happy.

Link forgave me.  Or he’s over it, at least.

And if he can be okay with it once, then maybe there’s nothing… wrong with the dreams?

So long as we don’t sleep in the same bed again, maybe he’ll just see my unfortunate night problem as a mild nuisance. Like snoring.

Maybe…

Maybe if I enjoy the dreams and stop trying to escape them, they’ll stop.

Chapter Text

Yawning, Rhett curls onto his side and burrows into his bedstuffs, blinking sleepy at his phone. All the dashboards and homepages and feeds on social media are stagnant in late hour: Twitter’s at a standstill, Reddit shows the same posts over and over, and Facebook… well. He’s not that desperate for “entertainment”.

Wouldn’t be the worst idea to just roll over and go to sleep, but the desk lamp is still on—the rampart torch lit to await Link’s return. Once he’s back from the showers, he’ll turn it off, and they’ll say goodnight like they do every night.

And for the first time in far, far too long, Rhett won’t let paranoia ruin bedtime.

Weird for Link to shower so late. S’almost 1am.

What he gets for studyin' too hard. Guy doesn’t know when to stop.

Rhett yawns again, patting his pillow and opting for other apps he hasn’t opened in a long time. Imgur. Email. Hell, maybe there’s something nearby to catch on Pokémon Go.

Actually, Link’s been gone a while.

Hope he didn’t slip and fall or nothin’.

The image of Link sprawled out naked on his back on the floor of the communal bathroom is one he lets himself have ‘cause he suspects it’ll bring a schadenfreude smile. Instead, his brow furrows in disdain.

I'm sure he's fine.

With timing that snakes goosebumps down Rhett’s shoulders, a text pops down from the top of his screen, interrupting his attempt to catch a Lillipup. It’s from Link:

Help

Rhett can’t open it fast enough, hammering out a response.

What’s wrong?

Please come here

Bathroom

Fatigue forgotten, Rhett throws off his covers and springs out of bed, crashing into the doorframe and throwing it open. No matter he’s only wearing his boxers—if anyone laughs, he’ll punch them on the way back from helping Link… assuming he’s not escorting a Link with a head wound down the hall.

This is ridiculous— Rhett jogs past other dorm rooms, all quiet and asleep save for the occasional chatter of TV— he’s probably just out of toilet paper or something else stupid. Regardless, Rhett opens the door to the men’s bathroom with unintentional trepidation, revealing the white tile slowly, bracing for Link’s sprawled bleeding form.

No such sight greets him, but there is the dull hush of water coming from one of the shower stalls. There doesn’t appear to be anyone else here, so that’s gotta be Link. He’d texted from inside the shower? Walking over to the shower curtain, Rhett pauses. He reaches up to brush it aside, but thinks better of it and hums.

“Link?” he asks, barely loud enough to be heard over the water.

“Get in here,” Link’s unmistakable voice demands—and it does sound like he’s coming from the floor. 

Shit.

Heart pounding, Rhett throws back the curtain and finds Link beside the drain.

And the other details of his appearance… they take a second to register.

Sopping wet from head to toe, hair clinging to his forehead, rivulets running glistening and steady over his bowed shoulders and chest. Knees spread harsh on the floor, more than shoulder’s width apart. Cock at attention, sticking out from the dark nest of hair where his thighs meet, pointing up at Rhett accusingly. Below that, a suction cup on the floor at the base of a blue, veiny dildo—on which he sits, immobile. 

Face unabashed, pink but flustered-drunk on whatever session he’s invited Rhett to when he tilts his head back. Holding his arms up and beckoning with urgency.

“G-Get in, c’mere,” he orders.

Rhett steps into the intimate space, yanking the shower curtain closed behind. Link keeps encouraging him closer, reaching and grasping like Rhett’s a life preserver with which Link won’t drown under the stream.

“Gimme your cock.”

Rhett shifts from foot to foot, standing just out of reach to fold his arms over his chest. The water stream’s hitting his stomach, soaking down into his boxers and making his swiftly growing hard-on glaringly obvious. From the sound of Link's plea, though, that's exactly what he's looking for.

“What was that?” Rhett asks, cocking his head down at the other skewered on a large play-dick.

God, Rhett—c’mere, would ya?” Link growls, pouting up at him and shielding his eyes from water with a palm. “Need you in my mouth. Need it to come.”

Chuckling, Rhett tuts his tongue and bows to inspect the dildo currently inside Link’s hole. It's in to the large balls at its base. Link twitches under inspection, rocking on it just so and steadying his hands on his knees. 

“You dirty boy,” Rhett murmurs, sticking out his bottom lip in pity. “Filthy, even though you’re in a shower. Doin’ this kinda stuff in a public space. No self-control. What if someone walked in on you, hmm?”

“I’d invite them in,” Link seethes, smirking venomously up through his wet bangs and heating Rhett’s palms itchy.

Really? So you don’t care who comes to your rescue, I was just convenient? You’d blow any random dude who caught you like this and decided they wanted to fuck your face?” It’s meant to be scolding—teasing, playful—but Rhett throws an odd disquiet on the words, and Link nods.

“Y-Yeah. Hundred percent. ‘Til my lips are bruised and my voice doesn't work.” When he flexes his thighs, it’s to raise up out of the floor just so—and right when Rhett thinks Link’s trying to close the distance between them, he sinks back down onto the dildo, eyes rolling back in his head, cock twitching heavy between his legs. “I’d swallow, too,” he promises in a tattered groan, licking his lips, and Rhett cocks an eyebrow at his flagrant depravity.

“I bet you would, buddyroll. You’re beggin’ for it, down on your knees like that.”

“I am.”

“How’s that ride? That a nice cock you’re sittin’ on? Y’feel good, pretty baby?”

Link squirms at the praise and attention, smirk sharp and flirtatious from the floor. “It’s perfect. Problem is, my hands and mouth are free. So unless you wanna go knock on some doors for me, help me solicit—”

“Fuck no,” Rhett spits, brow knitting with a look. “You texted me.”

“You’re right. My mistake.” Link grins and begins slowly raising and lowering himself on the toy, lids falling shut. His hands begin exploring his soaked body, fingers caressing, palms pressing and stroking flat swathes everywhere but where he clearly needs it most—across his stomach, his inner thighs, up over his collarbone to clasp behind his nape, body sinking onto the rubber cock in a slow, self-gratifying loop. His face pinches in silent ecstasy, lips quirk up from how much he’s enjoying himself. Huffing, he bites his lower lip hard once, eyes still closed. “Oh, fuuuck, Rhett… you’re so big.”

Mouth instantly dry, Rhett crowds in over Link, knees bent. His heart hammers in his chest when he yanks down his boxers—angry arousal springing free—and wrests fingers through Link’s damp hair. Those startlingly blue eyes pop open, following the bob of the member in front of him before Rhett steadies it and presses the tip to Link’s lips. Link opens up quickly, mouth enveloping Rhett and sucking him greedily, head ducking and dipping at once, tongue swirling against swelling heat. 

Rhett’s knees nearly give out, and he hisses a sigh.

“This what you wanted?” he gruffs, fingertips curling on Link’s crown. He won’t push him down further—not under a stream of water, where breathing is restricted—but he can sure as hell keep him from pulling off. “Yeah, suck that cock, dirty boy.”

Link puts his hands to use as well, one cupping Rhett’s sac and massaging his balls with warm water, priming him, the other holding his base steady so both of Rhett’s hands can re-home on top of Link’s head. In shallow, greedy thrusts, Link gets face-fucked. 

A small whine keens from Link’s blushing throat, high and scratched—he’s still riding as well, his own full-bodied bobs adding an extra layer to how he’s handling Rhett: he takes him down whenever he raises up, sucking hard enough to cave in his cheeks; and whenever he sits back on the cock—whimpering—that’s when his tongue and lips pay that pleasure forward and make out sloppily with Rhett’s head.

Rhett groans loud and low, a sound that would be embarrassing in any other situation, but he’s too far gone now to care if any hallmates hear. He’s getting a blow job from Link while Link’s enjoying himself, awkward half-squat to fuck his mouth be damned.

“You're a filthy liar, man. Both know you wouldn’t want just anyone comin’ in here, ain’t that right?” Rhett grins, and Link can only respond with another whine, choking on Rhett, drool mixing with water. “Even if you did get someone else in here, you’d be thinkin’ of me the entire time, bo.” Rhett brushes his hands through Link’s hair, over and over, getting those bangs away from his face. “No one else even comes close, do they?”

Link splays his mouth wide, gasping for air around Rhett's member and shaking his head with a negatory moan before continuing his work. Body moving faster, possessed with riding the cock between his ankles and with servicing Rhett. He’s shivering from exertion, barely held together at the seams, and Rhett licks his lips, breath faltering.

“Want you to say it,” growls Rhett, fisting Link’s hair and pulling him off—dropping him back onto the dildo in a hard hit to his prostate.

“Ahhh! They d-don’t,” Link confirms, sputtering, hands finding Rhett’s hips and squeezing hard into his flesh, “no one else is y-you, Rhett, fuck me!”

Forcing Link back onto him with an iron grip, Rhett rocks into his throat. Talks them both off, mouth running faster than logic, slipping into fantasy with him through heavy breaths:

Already fuckin’ you, Link. Doin’ both—I'm in your throat, gonna bust all over that bratty tongue and let you taste me—and you’re also ridin’ me, Link. Gonna come inside if you aren’t careful.”

Like magic words.

Link teases apart, body rolling, crashing over the edge with a shredded cry and swirling his hips on the dildo as he spurts powerful ropes across the shower drain, narrowly missing Rhett’s calves. He pants and swears, eyes wide and pleading on Rhett above him as he’s wracked with it.

Rhett exhales, thick—honestly, the sight’s worth Link losing his ability to suck him off ten times over—but Link doesn’t let that stop him. He reaches up quickly as Rhett straightens to his normal height, fist flying in punishingly fast over the head of his cock, and Rhett has to brace himself on the wall as he’s met with his own release. He rides through it with a low rumble, looks down just in time for the first thick pulse shoot over Link’s flushed cheeks and into his damp hair.

That sight almost has him coming twice in a row.

But the moment ends, and both he and Link are left fighting for air and acutely aware of how loud the shower is and how long it’s been needlessly running. Link’s still on the toy, shivering all over, met with occasional aftershocks. 

And Rhett knows what happens next, now that it's over.

He’s prepared for it, and he isn’t sure how much time he has left. 

Kneeling, he cups Link’s exhausted head in between his hands and strokes along his jaw, smiling at the blissed out expression on his face when their gazes meet. He’s still covered in Rhett’s release. For some reason, that’s… pretty goddamn endearing, given how happy he looks.

“Hey,” Rhett says.

“Hey,” grins Link.

“Thank you. I care about you.”

“I know,” Link hums happily, and when he closes his eyes, Rhett kisses him, soft and present. Link doesn’t startle. Almost like he’d been expecting it. 

When everything fades black, the only reminiscent tendrils are a sense of wetness and a buzzing cellphone.

And then a door shuts and Rhett's eyes reopen. Link’s near their dorm door, shaking out his shaggy, damp hair in a towel.

“Hey,” Link says.

“Hey,” grins Rhett.

“Sorry my shower took so long.”

“That’s okay.”

“You ready for bed?”

“Yeah. Let me run to the restroom first,” Rhett murmurs, sitting up and feeling the sticky warmth in his underwear. 

“Sure,” nods Link, digging out clean clothes in nothing but a robe. And Rhett doesn't have any ill or lewd thoughts about his near-nudity, here in the waking world.

Embracing the dreams is going to work.

Chapter Text

Last night had been perfect.

An indulgent dream without repercussions. Sure, there might’ve been a bit more… uhh, intimacy at the end than Rhett had anticipated in conscious hours, but whatever, right? That’s kinda the point; the dreams don’t count. They’re just an outlet for whatever’s clawing up the walls of his brain… which might involve a little kissing, it seems.

And hell, even if he accidentally moans Link’s name in bed, it’s now clear that Link wouldn’t feel okay bringing that up. (If he ever does, Rhett will lie and say he can’t recall what the dream was about; that’d been the truth up until recently, anyway.)

Either way, it’s a good system. He gets to keep living with Link, and neither of them have to be uncomfortable about it.

Basking in the glow of it all, Rhett sits on the floor of their room and munches away on a bag of Cheetos, enamored with a Netflix show about magic tricks. Been a while since he’s felt this carefree, licking cheesy dust from his fingers like he’s never heard of pant legs. 

Even Link’s return doesn’t dampen the mood, despite him standing in the doorway with an impossibly judgmental scrunch. 

“Welcome home,” Rhett chirps.

“Are you sitting in the floor eating Cheetos?” asks Link, and Rhett examines himself in his crisscross position.

“Is that a trick question?”

“While I was at the gym working out, you sat here and ate chips?” 

“It’s Saturday morning.” 

Yeah. That’s kinda the point. Should get up and do somethin’, man.”

“Okay, Mom.” Rhett rolls his eyes.

Link hunches where he stands, shaking out his damp hair. Warm flecks of moisture hit Rhett’s knees and he hisses in disdain, “Watch the sweat!”

“S’water. Showered before walking back.”

“Uh-huh.” Rhett goes back to watching his show, though chastised juuust enough to set his snack aside. Link gets changed in his periphery, pulling on sweatpants and a loose tee. Rhett doesn’t try to look; why would he? He knows what Link looks like in undress, has for years now. And the glimpses he gets when he closes his eyes are far more lewd than the real thing.

This plan is good for both of us.

Link lets out a long sigh before creaks and bumps announce his ascent to the top bunk. He settles onto his bed and ends the transition with a second sigh.

“Work out too hard?”

“Kinda. I dunno,” Link says quietly, and Rhett leans back on the bed to stare up at the ceiling in lieu of eye contact.

“Somethin’ wrong?”

“Just… umm. I’ve been tryna think of this… word for a specific thing, and I can’t think of it. It’s kinda drivin’ me crazy. On the tip of my tongue.”

“Did you Google it?” Rhett asks, and Link’s silence speaks volumes—enough that Rhett bobs his head back into the mattress in tickled amusement. “Not somethin’ you’d know how to word?”

“It’s… I’m, uh…”

Rhett wrinkles his nose. “It ain’t like… a medical thing, is it? You find a lump?”

“No!” Link cries, chuckling, and the top half of his head pokes over the rail of his bunk to stare down at Rhett. “It is embarrassing, though.”

“Is it a lady-parts question?” Rhett grins, and Link grabs his pillow, threatening wrath from the heavens. “Spill it, man. I bet I'll know.”

Link presses his lips thin. “Okay, so like… you know when you go into a stall? Like… in a bathroom? And—I’m not sayin’ I’ve seen this in person before, but like—in movies and stuff, sometimes there’s… like... a hole in the wall…?”

Rhett’s entire face furrows, and Link bursts into laughter, slinking away from view.

“Are you talkin’ about a fuckin’ gloryhole?”

“Gloryhole!!” Link wails, groaning with relief. “Oh, gosh, thank you. That was gonna bug me all day.”

“No no no.” Shaking his head hard, Rhett rubs his temples and gawks at the TV. “No, you’re gonna tell me what the hell had you thinkin’ about somethin' like that in the first place!”

“Oh.” Link’s chuckling tapers out, and after a deep breath, he mmms. “Bein’ in the gym showers… I dunno, it popped into my head. Y’know, those showers have stalls, and—well, tangents of thought and all.” Rhett’s suddenly glad Link can’t see him anymore. He draws his knees to his chin. 

While his dreams may cross lines with no thought of repercussions—unabashed and raunchy—he would be wise to darken that line with a marker in his waking hours. Best not to get too carefree when discussing this shit. 

“Was… was there a gloryhole in your shower stall…?” Rhett asks, hoping that sounds normal enough.

“No! Of course not, you think they’d let that kinda property damage happen on campus?!”

“I dunno! Why else would you think about it?!”

“Just—bein’ in stalls, I said that part already!”

“Uh-huh.” 

Grip tight on his legs, Rhett’s ready to let the conversation die—until Link pipes up, lilting and playful. “How’d you have that word ready to go anyway...?”

Definitely not because I just visited a sex shop with gloryhole booths.

Shit, what’s most believable?

“Porn,” Rhett states with a shrug, and Link huffs from the ceiling and shuffles. He’s probably staring down at Rhett again, but Rhett ain’t gonna take that bait and meet his gaze.

“Bullshit. You don’t watch porn.”

“You been checkin’ my internet history?”

“...You really watch porn?”

“Everyone watches porn, Link.”

I don’t.”

“Now I’m calling bullshit.”

“...You watch gloryhole porn?” Link presses, and Rhett’s neck heats unpleasantly.

“No! I mean… I don’t think so?”

‘I don’t think so’?

“Well, yeah! Once you’re so far gone, you don’t—you don’t keep track, you just kinda… follow whichever video your dick’s pointin’ to,” Rhett grumbles and cools his palms on the floor while Link ingests this information. He isn’t sure he wants to give him an opportunity to continue this line of questioning, so he turns it around. “You really don’t watch porn?"

“Nah, man.”

“What about that magazine we found in the woods?”

“You were way more excited about that thing than I was,” Link snarks, smile in his voice.

“Then how do you, like… get off?”

There’s a beat of silence where Rhett thinks he’s asked too much of the moment, but Link makes an I dunno noise in his throat. “I use my imagination.”

Well, I know that. The last time he jacked off, he didn’t even have his phone on him.

That was the last time he jacked off… right? 

Oh, gosh, what if he’s been doing it every time I’ve left him alone?

Rhett doesn’t like that thought, but doesn’t want to address why that might be. Clearing his throat to shush away mental images, Rhett says, “So what, you’re just… real basic in your fantasies? Your mattress stories make way too much sense, man.”

“H-Hey!” Something soft bounces off Rhett’s head—one of Link’s socks. Eugh. “There’s nothing wrong with basics. They get the job done.”

“Sure, man,” Rhett shakes his head, kicking away the projectile. 

“Well… okay, then. Say I did want to fantasize about something a little more wild,” Link prefaces, and Rhett checks in with himself: this is dangerous territory. He’s pretty sure he’s awake, and he’s pretty sure this is some thin-ass ice he’s walking on. “What would you recommend?”

“I’d recommend you watch porn, dude,” gruffs Rhett. But Link snorts derisively. 

“Someone’s embarrassed,” Link sings. “Fine, how ‘bout this: since we were talkin’ about it already, could you explain to me, like… how a gloryhole works?”

How a gloryhole “works?”

“What’s there to get?” Rhett scoffs and pulls himself up from the floor to fall back onto his bed, jostling Link on the top bunk with a surprised noise. He lays back and cushions his head with his arms, staring at the underside of Link’s mattress. “It’s a hole in a wall. Dude puts their dick through it, and someone… you know. Gets ‘im off.”

More quiet while Link processes. Rhett laces his fingers over his chest, the accidental tutor to Link’s—and Rhett's still not really buying it—innocence. “And like… it’s usually a girl, right?”

“I mean. There’s no set, like…” Struggling, Rhett runs a hand over his face. “That’s not the point, I think.”

“Whaddya mean?”

“It’s the anonymity of it that people like so much, man. It’s just a hole with some person on the other side. Could be anyone. That's why it's hot.”

“So you’ve thought about it before.”

“I’m just tryin’ to explain it to you!”

“Thought about it enough to decide which side of the hole you’d like to be on.”

Is he—Christ!

Rhett nearly reaches to grab the rail of Link’s bed and do a pull-up just so Link can see the bewilderment on his face. “Dude,” Rhett starts, voice nearly cracking. “If I were on the other side of the hole, I’d be… you know?!”

“Oh,” Link blurts, and god dammit if humiliation from the blunder isn’t clear in his tone. “Right, I—yeah. Right.”

Link… Link doesn’t see a problem with being on the other side of the hole.

Rhett might actually combust. Every part of him rails with blush and heat, threatening to burn a man-shaped hole down through his bed as he twiddles his fingers and stews on the revelation. When a sliver of a memory—barely there, living on the fringes of his mind—swoops in and nicks him, it burns so much hotter than it had the first time Rhett had heard it all those nights ago:

“H-Harder, more.”

If there’s a benevolent God out there in the universe, Link won’t look down right now; Rhett’s pretty sure he’s going to pass out from flush, red enough to blend in at an orchard.

Is… 

Is Link into guys…?

Down on his knees, some—some stranger’s cock poking through for him, already hard and waiting for lips around it.

...What kind of blow job would Link give? I experienced it last night, but in reality...?

The dreams had been close to truth, in the past; and Link never half-asses anything. 

Coaxing a cock to come down his throat, not knowing or caring whose body it belongs to.

Could even be someone he knows.

He’s okay with the prospect of that.

“Rhett? You, uhh... still with me?”

And then Rhett’s blinking, trying not to imagine those words coming to him from the other side of a thin wall. “Ye—” his voice gives out, and he nods, coughing a bit too hard. “Yeah. Was lookin’ at my phone.”

“...You lookin’ at porn?” Link ribs, and Rhett shoos him off with an airy groan.

“Won’t be lookin’ at it for a long while, thanks to you. Mister Curious.”

If only Link knew how truthful that was; already, Rhett knows what he wants to dream about tonight, and he’s going to smother his every thought with the obsessive idea to try to steer his brain in the right direction.

 


 

Sure enough, when Rhett re-joins consciousness in the dead of night, he remembers it. 

He remembers stalls and an inviting little hole. 

He remembers being alone except for a presence waiting for him on the other side. 

He remembers hesitating—because even though anonymity is the point and Link might have let slip that he was okay with whomever fucking his throat, Rhett doesn’t share that promiscuity. 

He remembers trying to steal a peek through the hole and seeing nothing, and the wall being too tall to peer over, connecting to the floor as well.

He remembers opening the door to his stall, desperate, and trying to open the one next to his. He just wanted to be sure.

He remembers strong-arming the feeble lock separating them, and the darkness of the stall within, like his brain had forgotten to color in that page.

What he doesn’t remember in the dream is Link .

And with that, a crushing sense of sadness washes over him as he lays in their dark room in the middle of the night. Like Rhett had bullied Link out of the never-ending cycle he’d only now come to appreciate simply by trying too hard to will his emissions one way or another. 

Do I only dream of him when I don’t force it…?

So I have no real say in what I want to happen when I’m asleep.

Scenarios just kinda happen to me.

Rhett sucks his teeth, listens to Link’s light snores in the dark. Turns on his side and grabs his phone, pulling it free of his charger and snuggling into the covers with it.

When the Chrome app loads, he opens a new incognito tab and types in the search bar: controlling your dreams.

And one phrase appears in multiple results, jumping out at him from the lines of text: 

“Lucid dreaming."

Chapter Text

Nothing like being able to pursue the study of personal interests using lightning-fast WiFi. 

Rhett takes a sip of late-night coffee while his eyes rake over the websites and notes about lucid dreaming on his laptop (where there should probably be homework). But the fascinating dive into a sleeping brain’s activity and how to catalog it is leagues more interesting than everything else he'd been working on all evening. Plus, there are like… tips people swear by, to speed up the process of being able to control your dreams? And he’s excited to try some of them out.

Just as Rhett’s setting his thermos down, his phone begins a sustained buzzing in his pocket—decidedly not a text. Glancing around at the other patrons of the library, he pulls out the device and answers the call in a hush.

“Hey, Link.”

“Rh-Rhett,” the choked name comes in Link’s scratched voice, and instantly there’s a hard shard of chill in Rhett’s ribs that prevents his lungs from expanding. 

Something is wrong.

“Link...? Link, what’s goin’ on?”

A sob so hard it wrings breathless cracks across the line, and every possible scenario assaults Rhett at once, all of them involving family members and none of them good. Standing and shoveling everything into his backpack, he crushes the phone between his ear and shoulder and crams the sealed thermos into the bag’s side pocket.

“You in the room?” he asks, stern, and Link snivels and does his best to answer through a wheeze.

“Yeah.”

“I’m comin’. Be there in two.” And Rhett keeps the phone to his cheek as he throws his chair in with an inconsiderate bang , jogging to the nearest stairwell and straining to hear Link give an affirmative. As he suspected it might, though, the line goes dead with two beeps, and Rhett breaks into a run, nearly falling down steps and sending doors from their hinges on his warpath.

By the time Rhett reaches their hall, three minutes have passed in mockery of his sprint. He flies down the corridor—keys already in hand—and upon reaching their room, unlocks it with wobbly hands.

Inside… Link’s not there. Rhett drops his bag to the floor, heedless for the safety of the computer within, and rips his phone back out, chest heaving and fingers shaking when he goes to re-dial Link.

Link’s phone rings, buzzing nearby.

Striding to the other side of the room and letting his own cell clatter to the desk, Rhett steps to the closet and opens it. And sure enough—like a nightmare he’s never had—Link is sitting on the floor, curled into a ball. Hugging his legs to himself, phone pressed against his knee. Shoulders stuttering quietly. Dark bangs covering his face.

“Hey.” Rhett kneels. He’s winded, heart pounding, hoodie sweated through. When he reaches out and gently runs his hands along Link’s upper arms, Link drops his phone and shields his head in his elbows.

“Link—”

What the fuck happened to him?

“C’mon,” coaxes Rhett, grabbing him by the shoulders and tugging, unraveling the shell he’s coiled into. Link’s defenses drop. He doesn’t come any closer, but Rhett finally gets a good look at his face: his cheeks are stained wet with weep; his eyes are ringed aching-red, bloodshot; his nose spouts a snot bubble. Rhett grimaces and wipes the mess away with his sleeve with careful thumbs under fabric, and where Link would usually bat his hand away, he instead cries harder. Silent sobs crease his face.

“Let’s get out of the closet, yeah?” In gentle tone and arms, Rhett manages to guide Link to a feeble stand and then farther to his bed, sitting them down together. He doesn’t let go of Link once they’re settled; if he does, he might not be brave enough to touch him again.

Hard to tell which of them is less secure.

“I’m here,” Rhett tries reassuring with a squeeze. Link’s tears ease, replaced with more sniffling and lips that pout genuine, unflattering and uncontrollable. He sets his raw gaze into his lap and worries his hands. Rhett swallows. “Everything’s gonna be okay, no matter what. Yeah? Just tell me what happened.”  Link rolls his eyes, self-deprecating, and when he sighs a shaky sound, the smell of booze hits Rhett square in the jaw. He blinks hard and states, ”You’ve been drinking.”

“Yeah,” Link nods, somber.

“Are you drunk?”

“Yeah. ‘M drunk,” Link confirms, and approximately a third of Rhett’s worry dissolves.

Takes a lot to rile him up this bad, but booze would do the trick—explains him freakin’ out and hiding, too.

“So what happened?” Rhett’s hands are still on him—but Link doesn’t seem to mind. He’s almost leaning in closer, perhaps dizzy from drink and flippant to the boundaries they normally share. It takes a moment for him to find his gumption, and when he does, he’s cross with himself. 

“Went to a party.”

“A party?” echoes Rhett, brow furrowing. They don’t go to parties. Well… they don’t go to parties without each other, and they especially don’t go to parties and not tell the other in advance. That accusation won’t be helpful though, so Rhett dams it up for a gentle morning reminder: please let me know when you go out like that. “Whose party was it?”

“K-Kappa Phi,” Link answers in a whisper, and it takes Rhett several seconds longer than it should for him to register that that’s a fraternity .

Link went to a frat party and came back in this state.

A flare of something, hot yet otherwise ineffable, surges from Rhett’s sides and up into his shoulders. Too many disgusting article headlines beg too many terrified questions at once. He lets the silence between them stretch, unable to pick a thread to follow, and the prolonged quiet must feel like punishment and judgment in and of itself; Link starts crying again, noiseless, eyes screwed tight and head bowing slowly.

“Hey, it’s okay.” Cursing himself, Rhett gives his head a brisk shake and rubs Link’s arm. “I’m just surprised, is all. We don't do frat stuff.”

Link collects his thoughts in a fugue, glazed stare not leaving the floor. “Invited last minute on Facebook. Figured you’re busy anyway. Was fine, at first. Drank. Had fun.” The next time Link’s eyes well up with tears, it isn’t accompanied by pained features; they simply pool and fall, quiet, and he adds in a tight voice, “Then, uhh… someone… y’know.”

Rhett stops breathing, attention snared on Link’s face. “Someone what?”

“Got—I dunno,” Link crumbles further, knuckles white as he picks at his fingernails in his lap. “Got handsy.”

Someone—

Someone touched him…?

Then Rhett can’t—he can’t, lets his numb hands withdraw from Link’s shoulders in shock. But the second they’re off of him, Link shakes his head hard and collects Rhett’s wrists, puts them back where they’d been and leans in, hugging him.

Asking to be held.

So soon after a confession like that, Rhett isn’t sure he’s totally comfortable with that. He swallows, touch light over Link’s shivering shoulders.

“Link,” he says, low, and hell if his own tone doesn’t scare him a bit, “what do you mean they got ‘handsy’? Where did they...?”

“No! Wudn’t like that,” Link insists into Rhett’s chest, sniffing hard. Doesn’t prevent the damp from spotting his shirt. “He just—he was drunk, too. Kept grabbin’ my arms and my back… pullin’ me ‘round with ‘im. He was strong. I panicked. Hated how okay with handlin’ me he was.”

There are too many things begging to be unwrapped in such a small story, but ultimately, none of those matter while Link’s like this. Any selfish curiosities will have to wait. Right now, Link needs him.  No matter how Rhett’s palms are beginning to itch and shake.

Decisive, he embraces Link, tight and surrounding—crushing out any doubt that he might need to be held this way—and in response, Link bursts into more tears. It’s instant and caving, born of relief and safety this time; Rhett knows the difference by the way Link claws at his shirt and lets himself be small, scooting close so his thighs slip over Rhett’s.

Now—after the fact—this is the most Rhett can do. Hold Link, and let him feel cared for.  Because God, he is.

He's irrefutably precious.

It’s in times like these, once every three to five years or so Rhett would estimate, that they allow themselves this level of closeness. Typically it’s following an incident of damage: a devastating fight with parents, after a particularly nasty break-up, or a general sense of fragility when the expectations of a boy to be strong were too much for the real world.

To say there’s anything inherently romantic or sexual about these moments' closeness would be an egregious misconception. It’s intimate, sure; but Rhett’s come to recognize that intimacy for what it is: one of them finding solace in the other when they’ve been chipped down to less-than-half, needing shelter and reparation from the one place they know they can get it free of judgment.

It’s okay to relish how requited his dependency is, Rhett decides.

Slipping into the role, he gives Link a squeeze and lets his arms fall to pat the spot on his bed beside the wall. 

“Lay down, buddy.”

And Link is his partner in this dance—knows just as well as Rhett does that this is necessary once in a blue moon. He crawls with a vertigo-dipped head, wobbling over to the spot indicated and barely giving Rhett time to lift the covers before collapsing into the sheets.

When Rhett stands, Link lets out an injured moan of complaint. 

“I ain’t goin’ nowhere,” Rhett says softly. He treads to the light switch and flips it off, plunging the room into darkness only pierced by streetlight stripes from the blinds. He keeps his hoodie on but takes off his jeans, kicking them to the corner of the room. “You comfortable enough?” he asks Link, and Link grunts and makes quick work of following suit; he pulls off both his Polo shirt and shorts, flinging them to the floor and curling back into Rhett’s sheets.

It’s easy and natural when Rhett sinks back down, covering himself with the too-thin comforter and scooting to face Link. Opening his arms and murmuring, “C’mere.”

Link does. Slides in close, lets himself be wrapped in Rhett, presses his forehead into Rhett’s chest. Whether he’s done crying, Rhett isn’t sure—but he lets out a long, warm breath against skin that smells like beer. Honestly, beer’s probably to blame for most of this; Rhett can’t imagine that a sober Link would put up with being tossed around all evening. Too short a fuse.

Laying in bed together, with Link down to his briefs… under any other circumstances, it would be nigh impossible for Rhett to fight back inappropriate thoughts. But even his libido knows there’s a time and place. And this isn’t it—for a number of reasons.  Closing his eyes, he pulls Link as close to him as he can while ensuring their lower halves don’t touch, and Link hums and stills in his care, letting out the occasional sniffle.

Hadn’t planned on going to bed so early, but this is fine. 

I can get up after he falls asleep.

“Rhett?”

Rhett strokes a thumb down Link’s bare shoulder, to let him know he’s listening.

“M’sorry.”

“Nope,” Rhett states, swallowing, head swimming. “ I’m sorry I wasn’t here when you came home.”

But it's not just that, either, is it? 

"And I'm... I'm sorry I've been so distant lately," he adds, ashamed, hoping Link hears him—really hears him through the booze. "I should've known you had plans. I should've been there with you. Why were you alone...?"

“S'okay. I'm not a baby, Rhett. 'M just stupid,” huffs Link, his fingers grazing at Rhett’s sides as if wondering whether they’re welcome there. They are, but Rhett doesn’t say as much, and they vanish.

“You’re not stupid. Whoever kept tryin’ to strong-arm you tonight, on the other hand…”

“Wasn’t a bad guy, I think. Just didn’t wanna hear ‘no’.”

“That makes him a bad guy, Link.”

“...Maybe.”

“Definitely,” determines Rhett, planting his teeth into the flesh of his cheek. “God, I wish I’d been there.”

Link’s mouth opens and closes, a muted nasal sound, congested from tears. “What would you’ve done…?”

“Beaten him black and blue.”

It’s not an exaggeration, as made evident by the stoic throw over the words, and the sentiment does… well, something for Link. He quivers in the slightest, pressing his drunken existence into Rhett’s hold. 

Good. Want him to feel safe with me.

“Don’t hurt people for me.”

“Well, people shouldn’t fuckin’ touch you when you don’t wanna be touched.”

“Are you mad…?”

“At you?" Unthinkable. "Never, Link. At that guy? Absolutely , I’m mad. Wouldn’t happen to remember his name, would you? Should report that asshole to someone.”

“Rhett,” Link breathes. It’s either humor or airy exasperation on his lips, but either way Link shakes his head. “He didn’t do nothin’ to report. M’really okay. Jus’ panicked ‘n’ wanted to come home.”

But what if he hadn’t let Link leave?

What if he’d been—

Not helpful, for anything other than making Rhett’s stomach churn violently. He swallows the spit in his mouth and sets his chin on Link’s head. “You’re safe, bo. I’ve got you. Go to sleep.”

“Mm. Mmkay.” Link’s too tired to fight. But he apparently has enough energy to be mysterious when he yawns and says, “Know why you want me ‘gainst the wall.”

Rhett glances down at Link’s hair in the dark, ears hot. 

He’s drunk. Doesn’t know what he’s sayin’.

“Why’s that?”

“Further away from door. Protec' me.”

It’s tanked logic. Doesn’t stop Rhett from gathering Link up tighter, and Link laughs like it’s some kind of game he’s won, to get a reaction like that.

“Yep. You got me,” relents Rhett with a deep breath, resting his cheek on Link’s forehead. “Time for sleep. You're safe.”

“...'Kay. Thank you, Rhett.”

"Don't thank me."

Not when I could have prevented this.

It’s easy, listening to Link’s breathing slip from labored and shallow to deep and steady. The way he continually loosens, laxer and laxer, until he’s a soft bundle of limbs and warm skin in Rhett’s too-tight care. And only when the first tiny snores begin does Rhett swallow hard and plant a tentative, familial kiss in Link’s hair, praying that the small action banishes bad figures from his dreams and instead only lets him have those he wants.

If I’d been there tonight, things would have gone differently.

If I'd been the one guiding Link around... tall and imposing? People would've stayed away. It would've been clear that Link is with me.

And if that hadn't worked...

God, I don’t even know what the guy looked like—so why can I picture him so perfectly? Baseball cap, wearin’ a jersey for a team whose games he drinks too heavily at to know anything about. 

Consistently too comfortable with how drunk he is.

Hanging around Link. Hanging on Link. 

The first time Link said no, I would’ve forgiven him for not moving his hand as fast as I’d’ve liked.

The second time Link said no, I would’ve broken his wrist.

Taken him outside and beaten him to the ground, pinned him. Wouldn’t have stopped ‘til there was blood on my knuckles and I’d made it a point that no one— no one touches Link if he doesn’t wanna be touched. Don’t care if it’s “innocent” or not.

Rhett’s holding Link so tightly that he’s surprised either of them can breathe. It's not intentional; he eases his grip.

No one gets to damage this guy.

Not emotionally, not physically.

I ain’t gonna stand by and let that kinda shit happen. 

Not ever.

Link’s snoring gently when his arms finally betray his judgment-at-rest and snake up around Rhett’s sides, pulling their hips together. Rhett steels himself—prepares to fight off the unfortunate grinding of their bodies and what it will undoubtedly do to him—but then realizes he’s already hard.

Had likely gotten hard somewhere around the whole I’d knock teeth out and break noses for the guy in my arms part. Testosterone’s a hell of a thing.

Thank God Link’s asleep and sloshed.

Rhett doesn’t dare move to give himself relief… but it would be okay to think about how Link might’ve thanked him at the party, had Rhett been there to defend him. Right?

Wouldn’t wanna be touched—not like that, not when that’s what’s been making him so uncomfortable all evening. If he ever desired that, I would want it to be because he wants to share his body with me and me alone, not ‘cause he felt he owed it to me as thanks.

No.

But I hope he’d maybe... maybe he would've kissed me.

Rhett rubs a thumb down Link’s nape, and Link’s snoring falters… until he nestles hard into Rhett’s arms, moaning lightly and dozing back off. 

The small amount of friction from that movement feels like a warning siren; if Rhett doesn’t turn around, he’s going to end up rutting against Link once he falls asleep—chest-to-chest, oh, God, their crotches would be—

Carefully, face hot, Rhett shifts onto his back. Link’s right there with him, nearly rolling over onto Rhett’s stomach. And while that sounds decadent on a number of levels—being able to home his sleepy existence, feel all his weight, freedom to stare down at his peaceful, safe face recovering from trial while he slumbers—Rhett grabs him and places him under his arm, guiding his head to still on his shoulder. 

Link adjusts sleepily, drunkenly—and it’s right when Rhett’s coming to terms with the fact that the idea of punching men in the face to keep Link safe is a large part of what’s arousing him, that he feels Link grind against his hip, just barely.

Link is hard, too.

Head spinning—all too aware of the can’t s in this situation—Rhett holds Link tight to his side and banishes thoughts of wearing bruises for him, of getting bloodied for him to ensure he stays unharmed.

He especially dismisses that tiny part of his brain screaming, maybe tonight, Link will have a dream against me .

Chapter Text

“Text me if you need me.”

“Rhett, I’ll be fine.” 

The more-sour-than-usual hangover is courtesy of Link waking up in Rhett’s bed and hating himself for seeking out comfort last night. He’d hopped over the normal stepping stones of regret and bellyflopped right into self-loathing, waking with a string of obscenities to top off his evidently-splitting headache. 

Rhett had tried to tell him it was okay—that needing a night like that, even drunk, is a total non-issue and that he really doesn't care—but Link had simply grumbled and headed for the showers, proclaiming that he had a lot of work to do and would prefer to tackle it in one of the engineering building’s many study rooms. 

It had stung a bit to see him so grumpy after they’d slept together. 

But on the flip side, they’d slept together, pants-less, and Rhett’s kinda dying for some alone time so he can work through that information. He tries not to look too eager, pupils tight on Link as the guy darts to and fro and grabs the last few things he needs to nurse a hangover elsewhere in private. He stops in the doorway.

“Seriously, can we pretend like last night didn’t happen?” he asks, weight on one leg.

“Sure,” shrugs Rhett from his bed, scrolling through Twitter.

“Thank you,” Link says, and with that, he’s gone.

Instantly Rhett’s closing the apps on his phone and opening his Drive, fetching a document: the notes he’d taken on lucid dreaming yesterday, before the party aftermath debacle. This is it— this is Rhett’s new hobby.

He’s finally found a way to handle his nightly “situation”, and the plan he’s thusly hatched is brilliant in its simplicity:

Learn to lucid dream, and any sex dreams involving Link? He can end them before they start.

Sure, the initial reason for wanting to control his dreams had come from a less-than-wholesome place, but once he’d read about how limitless lucid dreaming was, he’d put two and two together: if he’s dreaming of a situation with Link, he can simply think, “no, I’m on a beach watching Jimmy Buffet wrestle a sea turtle”, and that’ll be what happens instead. 

No more guilt and questioning his feelings. No more freakin'  dried jizz in his boxers every morning. Everything can go back to the way it was, with a little practice and guidance from the internet.

The notes he has on lucidity thus far basically summarize down to "keep a dream journal" That’s it, that’s the most important point. It had been repeated across websites, every single one mentioning that progress is nigh impossible without a dream log. And Rhett’s already got his handy; he can’t very well buy an actual journal and keep it in the dorm room—Link would find it in a heartbeat. But he does have a document in his drive just waiting to be filled, and Rhett’s eager for the pages to lose their blankness.

He scrolls through the rest of the notes, lingering on the parts that talk about how to invoke specific dreams. He’s not sure he can handle that kind of thing yet, since it had gone so poorly with the gloryhole idea, so he lets the phone sleep and plugs it in beside the bed. 

For now, he’s just going to take a nap, and he’ll record whatever happened on his phone once he wakes up.

The sounds of dorm life on a Saturday lull him into a meditative state: doors closing, the far-off word or two of people yelling in the stairwell, someone playing Sublime down the hall. It’s a good din for fatigue. 

...So after twenty minutes turns into thirty turns into forty, Rhett has to wonder why he isn’t tired. 

Slept with Link last night. 

Wait a second…

I didn’t dream last night.

Or… if I did, I don’t remember it. But I didn’t wake up with any mess.

Literally impossible, not to stew on that. He’d slept with Link recently before, and it had ended poorly: the time they’d been watching Hot Fuzz and Rhett had dozed off. So what was different this time?

Goddamn brain. Nothing’s ever simple, is it?

Rhett heaves a sigh, sitting up. His phone vibrates with a notification, but checking it simply shows a new e-mail—coupons for pizza. Not a text from whom he’s been hoping to hear.

...Fuck it. I wanna be near him.

Standing and changing into sweatpants, Rhett grabs his backpack and keys and heads out. Might as well play catch-up with Link; grades are already gonna be in the gutter. He needs all the help he can get.

Hopefully Link doesn’t mind company.

The engineering building is cold (hence the sweatpants), but it’s always cold; the equipment and machinery in the labs are the professors’ charge, and they take it seriously by keeping the thermostat set way down. 

Rubbing his arms warm and stalking through the yellow-lit halls, Rhett checks the study areas closest to the classrooms he and Link attend. One by one they’re revealed to be empty—a bit strange, even though it is the weekend. Usually there are at least one or two peers here, nose to the grindstone and stinking of panic and Red Bull. But Rhett only passes one other person on his trudge through the building before he elects to check a different floor and climbs the thin metal-grate stair well that’s renowned for pissing off people who like to wear skirts. 

Maybe he went to the library.

There are only so many corridors Rhett would consider himself “familiar with” in this building, and he’s running out of them. 

It’s on what he deems to be his last attempt that he peers through the door window of a small, couched lounge and spots Link: earbuds in, leaned back on the couch, staring at his laptop on the table before him with his arms crossed. Hardly looks like he’s doing homework. Whatever he’s watching, he almost looks… pissed.

Rhett opens the door and Link startles, ripped of his concentration and smacking the keyboard. Rhett watches the recognition slide across his face—fleeting ease, followed by more of the same grumpiness.

“Rhett, what the hell,” Link breaths, pulling out his earbuds.

“Thought I’d come study with you,” Rhett offers, doing his best not to appear as dejected as he feels. S’like he’s mad at me for last night. “But it don’t look like you’re studyin’.”

“I’m not, okay?” Groaning, Link closes his laptop and crosses his legs, leaning back on the couch. He doesn’t make space for Rhett to sit beside him. “I tried. Don’t feel like it.”

Chewing his cheek, Rhett glances out the large windows over campus. It’s basically deserted. Understandable; it’s nice out, and not in a let’s spend the day on the quad kinda way. Surely people are at parks or out shopping. When he looks back at his roommate, Link’s lips are pursed hard and he’s glaring at his computer. “What were you watchin'?”

“Nothin’. YouTube,” Link shrugs, and Rhett screws up his mouth.

“Alright. Nevermind. Sorry I came lookin’ for ya,” he mumbles, spinning. “I’ll leave you be.”

“Rhett—wait.”

Like he’d deny him of that request when he knows an apology is on its heels. Stopping, Rhett turns to regard him, eyebrows raised.

“I’m sorry,” Link grumbles, running his hands over his face and then further, through his hair. “You should stay.”

“Why're you so riled up, man?” Rhett removes his pack and lowers it to the floor. He does take a seat—one couch over from Link, and Link eyes him in slight injury at evidence of the distance he’s created.

“Just… last night. You know?” 

“No, I’m not sure I do,” says Rhett. ‘Cause last night had been fine . Link’s the one freaking out about it. “I told you it’s okay. You don’t need to let the fact that you fell asleep next to me while drunk ruin your—”

“It’s not that,” Link hisses, clicking his tongue and cocking his head back to stare out the window. “Rhett… I’m old enough to fight my own battles. Not everyone who antagonizes me is your John Carson. You know that, right?”

“What? ‘Course I do.” Rhett wants to snort, to brush him aside—but his tone lacks oomph and comes out soft in all the wrong places. “I know that, Link.”

“We’re the same age. You aren’t older than me. Not by much.”

“I know.”

“I don’t—I don’t need you, like, lookin’ out for me, or whatever.” Link picks at his fingernails, hair falling over his hard eyes. “I had a few drinks and turned into a freakin’ damsel in distress . I ain’t normally like that, and even if you know that, it still pisses me off that I let it happen in the first place. I should’ve punched that jerk in the face.”

Yeah. I suspected as much.

“I know you aren’t normally like that, Link. And I especially don’t think you need me to come save you all the time.” 

Though I kinda wish you did.

“Well… good,” decides Link with a nod. “I’m just… I’m not powerless.”

“Never thought you were,” mutters Rhett, blinking. 

There’s a beat of silence before Link sinks his head to his hands, groaning. “So why do I feel powerless…?”

Rhett doesn’t have an answer for that, so he doesn’t try to supply one. 

Link continues. “Dang, man. You know how you, like… how you imagine the perfect comeback hours after an argument? I’m stewin’ over every single thing I should’ve done when I had the chance.”

“Well… if you see ‘im around campus again, you have my blessing to punch him,” Rhett shrugs, much to Link’s non-amusement. 

Link looks like he’s going to say more, but must decide better of it. “Come on. Let’s go back,” he grumbles, pulling his earbuds from the computer.

And audio very much not appropriate for an academic building begins playing from the closed laptop’s speakers.

It’s groaning—a guy groaning, to be specific, and Rhett’s eyes widen impossibly as he watches the blood drain from Link’s face, watches Link open the computer and tap around fervently. However long it takes for the sound clip to stop is exactly as many seconds too long it plays.

“Oh, God,” Link mumbles, burying his face in his arms on the table, defeated.

Rhett licks his lips. Glances at the door. “Hey, everyone needs a break to watch UFC once in a while.” It’s meant to give Link an out (and hell, give himself an out so he doesn't fixate on this right here, right now)—but apparently that’s not how this is gonna go.

Link snaps a second time.

“No, Rhett—I was watching porn, okay?!” he cries, straightening and splaying his palms at the laptop. “I can own up to that! I got curious ‘cause the other day you said you watched it, and it’s not like I’m gonna watch porn in the dorm room with you there, and I felt like maybe if I could watch some and go on some kinda power trip ' cause of it, then I would feel better about being such a freaking coward last night!”

When Link finishes, he’s panting. Rhett doesn’t know what to say, and Link punctuates the confessions by slamming the laptop shut again and dropping it sideways into his backpack.

God,” he sighs, and Rhett swallows.

With a nervous chuckle, Rhett tries to lighten the mood. “Never seen this side of you before. Not used to you… gettin’ all aggressive with me. Y’know?” Link eyes him icily from the other couch. “S’uhh… kinda scary.”

“Is it?” Link asks, head lolling to the side. When he smiles it’s sharp and condescending at its ends, especially when paired with the mock-pity in his eyes. “You sure? ‘Cause if you encourage this, you might not get to beat up men for me the way you wanna.”

Rhett squints. Whichever part of their late night conversation Link is referencing—and by extension, what he’s implying—seems too dangerous a bait to take. “I’m sure. I think, uhh… I think you found that power trip you were lookin’ for,” Rhett comments, and Link doesn’t respond.

Instead, he studies Rhett with a level gaze. He’s thinking—clearly deliberating something Rhett shouldn’t speculate on… but Lord, he wants to know what Link’s thinking. “You okay…?” he eventually asks, smiling the smallest of smiles that’s more for himself than it is for him.

But Link rests his head in his hand, leaning against the arm of the couch. He gives his chin a few thoughtful strokes between his pointer finger and thumb, observing Rhett. 

“You know what? I think you’re right. I think I found a power trip, Rhett,” he says, tone deep and astute. The shift in his mood is palpable, and Rhett barely his time to lift an eyebrow at him before he nods to his own crotch. “Give me head.”

Rhett stares at him, mouth dry as sand and parchment, voice sounding about the same when he leans forward marginally. He'd obviously misheard. “What?”

“Did I stutter?” Link hunches onto his knees, punctuating each word with severe eyes. “Give. Me. Head, Rhett.” 

Christ, the expression on Link’s face—like Rhett’s a troublesome student scolded by his teacher, wasting seconds by not following instructions. 

“And by ‘head’, you mean—”

“I was watching porn,” Link reiterates testily, uncrossing his ankles. “You interrupted me. I’m still hard. And now I’m telling you to suck my dick. Why are you still just sittin’ there?” Link blinks, raises a hand at the wrist, palm turned up, and when Rhett still doesn’t move, he barks a disbelieving laugh. “If I have to get up —”

“No,” Rhett startles, standing and wringing his fingers. “No, I’ll—sorry.”

“Don’t be sorry. C ’mere and do it.”

Well… if Link’s joking, Rhett’s going to look like an ass. If he’s not? It’s true they could be caught, but at this point, Rhett’s willing to risk that. Link, domineering? No-nonsense? About to use Rhett like a toy to get off? 

Jesus, Rhett will risk it all.

On unsteady legs, he paces over and takes a guarded crouch between Link’s feet, glancing up at his face only once and regretting it when Link gives him a disappointed grimace. He's done assisting him and throwing him metaphorical bones; Rhett gets no help unbuttoning his jeans—simply an overseer, noiselessly examining fingers that shake because the bulge behind the zipper is obvious and warm.

Link hadn’t been kidding. He’s hard, straining against his briefs, close enough to send Rhett’s heart kicking and skipping. There’s barely any distance between himself and the outline of Link’s stiff cock in his underwear, and suddenly Rhett very much feels like he’s filled with red coals, burning him from the inside out. 

He wants to stop and ask more—ask if Link is sure about this, if there are things he should or shouldn’t do. But Link clasps his hands behind his head leisurely and surveys over his best friend hovering above his lap, silent and convinced.

Okay.

Rhett tugs down Link’s waistband, freeing his erection with a twitching bob, and he takes a second to admire him. God, he’s… Link’s got a nice cock. Proud and blushing, head wet from a popped bead of rogue precum, rigid yet skin velvety to the touch. Rhett’s about to fight back his searing blush so he can compliment him when Link scoffs.

“Any day now.”

“Sorry, sir,” Rhett answers with a low-lidded flush, and he swears Link sucks in a sharp gasp at the title as Rhett parts his lips to take him. 

Rhett’s patient with himself, learning the ropes. He’s never given a blow job before, but he feels like he should understand the basics pretty well from all the videos he’s watched, and thankfully, Link is patient enough with him, too. 

That’s not to say Link is appreciative, vocally or otherwise—both times Rhett sneaks a glimpse at him, Link seems totally unaffected, head cocked to the side to watch Rhett work. While that shouldn’t be a turn-on, it one hundred percent is.  There’s something undeniably obscene about Link being on a high horse for this, considering the weepy mess he’d been last night… and that’s probably the thick of it, too; Rhett hadn’t enjoyed the sight of Link in distress, had only gotten hard at the prospect of protecting him.

This Link doesn’t need protection. What would he do if someone walked in and caught them? He wouldn’t be embarrassed, that’s for damn sure. He’d probably tell the person to leave unless they intended on recording them. Would he defend Rhett…? Would he get in someone’s face if they tried to say nasty things about him?

Yeah. He’d haul off and hit someone if they meant me harm.

Rhett closes his eyes and a whimper slips from his throat.

“Easy. Breathe,” Link instructs, lowering one arm to shoo Rhett’s face away from his cock. Rhett pulls off of him with a deep breath and shivers, a single string of spit connecting his lips to Link’s arousal.

Rhett nods, and he begins stroking Link’s head in shallow, fast jerks—but Link motions for him to stop again. 

“Stand up.”

There’s no thinking twice about anything he's told to do. Rhett stands. Link keeps his eyes on him. Takes his length in a loose grip and shakes it just so against the denim of his pants. 

Then he hesitates, mouth opening and closing… needing something. “Rhett.”

“Yes?”

“You havin’ a good time?” Link asks, voice even, and Rhett gulps hard, nods perhaps a bit too fast to retain any dignity. 

“Yessir. And if you need proof…” Rather than try and convince him, Rhett lifts his shirt and shows Link just how tight his sweatpants are, his own cock fighting for acknowledgment. There’s no way he could’ve anticipated the wet spot on the crotch of them, though.

“Oh, gosh, Rhett,” Link breathes shakily, cheeks pinkening. But as quickly as the facade cracks, he patches it up and straightens in his seat, brow furrowed. “Alright then. Want you to sit in my lap.”

“Sit…?” Rhett echoes, imagining himself sitting longways, arms around Link’s shoulders.

“Yep. You’re gonna tug your pants down, and you’re gonna sit on my cock. Okay?”

Oh. 

Oh, holy shit.

“O-Okay. Yeah.”

“Are you okay with that?”

“Yes. Yes, sir.”

“Stop that. I’m not suddenly ‘sir’ when I want control, I’m still just me. Just… treat me the same, but do what I say. Yeah?” Link asks, brow worried high, and why is that so much hotter than being bossed around all formal?

“Y-Yeah,” nods Rhett. “Yeah, Link, I got it.”

“There ya go,” Link growls happily, and with a swift peek at the door, pats his lap. “Now lemme fuck you, Rhett.”

Slowly spinning, Rhett does as he’s told. He slips his thumbs under the back of his sweatpants and pulls down—too far, according to Link’s tastes, as his hands still Rhett’s attempt and guides the seat of his pants up until they’re just barely out of the way. “Right there. That’s plenty.”

A reedy sigh to distill nerves and Rhett backs up, eyes on the door. His legs bump Link’s knees, hands find his hips, and just like that, he’s being coaxed down to sit. 

Link’s cock prods the dip of his ass for the first time and Rhett chokes down a gasp, braces his hands on the couch cushions.

“Doin’ good.” Link takes a moment, his member brushing up and along Rhett until it comes to rest on his entrance, either held in place by fingers or by a fortuitously-placed hammock of clothing. “Come on, Rhett. I’m  pent up . You’re goin’ too slow.”

Rhett assents and pushes back—just enough for Link’s saliva-slick prick to press through his hole. The pressure isn’t as foreign as he’d expected.

What he hadn’t been expecting is that Link has plans for what happens next.

“There ya go,” he hisses, and his hands are on Rhett’s side and shoulders, pulling—letting them both slide longways on the couch with some difficulty, then pulling more to guide Rhett to lean back onto him. Graciously, Link gives him a moment to adjust to the change once they’re done moving. Spooning on the couch. Rhett's head lolled back near Link’s. He's a little worried about crushing him, even at a slant, but Link doesn't budge.

And it’s a bit uncomfortable, the feeling of tight fullness with only spit and precum to slick things up. But it’s also tantalizing and unbelievable; Link is inside of him. About to have sex with him.

They’re not moving yet, but the breaths Link huffs border on wild, barely-contained from more. “Here,” Link instructs, and he reaches around to tug on the hem of Rhett’s shirt. “Think you can hold that down for me, cover yourself?”

“Yeah,” nods Rhett—has no idea where this is going, but Link does, and shit if Rhett hasn't been leaking in his pants for relenting control. He does as he’s told, tenting his erection away from passing eyes.

“Perfect,” Link hums a greedy, happy smile, and before Rhett can ask why, his hand snakes along Rhett’s hip and under his pants, taking Rhett’s cock in hand and pumping him mercifully.

“Oh, fuck —”

Link’s free hand clamps over Rhett’s mouth. Another pleased growl boils its way to his ear. “If we get caught, we’re screwed. You gotta stay quiet. I’m going to fuck you, and you’re going to fuck my fist. And after this, we’re never gonna talk about it again. Okay?”

In lieu of forming words, Rhett nods several times too many and wills his muscles to relax.

Then, as promised, Link’s entire body rolls beneath Rhett, tapering out in long, slow thrusts in and out of his hole. In tandem, Link gives Rhett’s neglected cock a stroke—and at the promise of what’s to come, Rhett melts

“See? If anyone walks by, we’ll stop, it’ll just look like we’re spooning,” Link explains as Rhett’s skin dances with heat and blushes all over, nape to toes, drunk off Link inside of him in public. “Though… if I can’t stop fast enough—or, if I get too carried away…”

“Do it,” Rhett begs, breathless, pressing his luck with being good and obedient.

“What’s that?” Link seethes, his electric smile and piercing, teasing eyes clear in Rhett’s head, fueled by hot breaths behind him. 

“Fuck me—please, God, Link, get carried away. You’ve no idea how long I’ve wanted that, for you to just… stop carin’ about the space between us and put me in my damn place. I want you to use me, wanna feel what it’s like when you come, how hard your body shakes, how strong you are—hear whose name you cry out.”

“You’re a fucking moron sometimes, y’know that Rhett?” Link smolders, the smile half-gone and replaced with something greedier. Doesn’t matter what it is; Rhett doesn’t get to try and identify it before Link steadies his hips and thrusts into him hard, blinding out Rhett’s senses with pleasurable discomfort.

“Ahh!” Rhett cries out, but Link doesn’t stop to ask if he's okay.

Thrust after thrust gets harder and more wanton as he fucks up into Rhett, fingers tight on his waist and his cock, matching each hump with an expert tug on the nerves where Rhett’s most sensitive. Bucking them up from the couch cushions together also throws away any safety net out the window; hard to defend something this feral as innocent. But Rhett’s so surrounded by Link, so effectively taken by his roommate who’s half a foot shorter than him, that he can’t function enough to point that out, let alone care. 

Rhett knows the hands on him, knows the ragged voice in his ear, calling him dirty, keeping him close and mumbling things that aren’t quite filth yet aren’t adoration as he’s used to get off. Shit, Rhett even knows the cock fucking him in the same way that—even if he hadn’t seen Link’s face and heard his voice—he would’ve been able to tell who was getting off on him by grateful, meticulous wild alone.

Only Link would treat Rhett like he’s a dirty slut and also the person he cherishes most in the world.

Rhett closes his eyes and loses himself: in the wrecked gasps for air on his neck; in the green-eyed effort with which Link’s pounding him, teasing him apart and tensing his legs; in the strokes of his cock, lining up perfectly, fast and hard and—

Rhett,” Link moans hard, body beginning to shake at Rhett's back, and Rhett feels the sticky warmth as Link’s met with his release. It’s filthy and perfect and—even though he can’t see him—far, far dirtier than any porn Rhett’s ever watched.

Being Link, of course, his best friend has to do him one better. He jerks Rhett off at a bruising pace as he comes, using his cock as an outlet to express the intensity of his own release, and in a series of cracked, whimpered moans, it’s easily enough to tip Rhett over the edge as well, gasping hard and rolling his hips back onto Link to spill into his pants.

“Oh—oh, fuck, Rhett,” Link breathes. A series of kisses flutter at the base of Rhett’s neck, each one a careful and hungry reminder that goads him to burst into soft laughter. “That was—you’re so—”

“It was my name,” Rhett mumbles happily. Honestly, he’s doing his damnedest not to cry, and he’s not sure why that is.

“Of course it was your name,” Link scolds him, craning up to nibble his earlobe and helping him pull his pants back up. “Want  you.”

Rhett laughs, eyes warm and hot chest heaving and—

And he’s back in bed.

“Whoa,” Rhett blurts, staring up at the bottom bunk and blinking hard. He’s on the verge of tears. 

What had… huh.

The pieces begin to click together again, starting at the beginning.  

That was… that one was intricate. And even though he eventually remembers all of it— score one for the journal, he thinks as he pulls out his phone and opens the doc—he’s surprised he hadn’t realized it was a dream during. 

It’s a good starting point, he figures.

After he’s done, Rhett cleans the wet from his cheeks and his boxers and sends a message to Link. 

You wanna grab some food?

I was just about to text you. Lol

Sorry about this morning, Rhett.

It’s really okay

We don’t gotta talk about it

Okay... Thanks.

You hungry?

Yeah. I’ll pay.

Chapter Text

“You need anything from the cafe?”

“Nah. Thanks though.”

Link takes off for the stairwell, leaving the little corner of the library to Rhett alone. The table they’ve claimed for their cram session is hazardous with study material, an overflowing chaos of papers and books and charger adapters hot to the touch.  Rhett should’ve asked for a coffee, honestly. He’s having trouble keeping his eyes open on the mess of numbers and technical drawings. He’ll be fine, though. Since starting his dream journal, the prospect of sudden sleep isn’t scary, like it used to be. Just inconvenient.

Speaking of hot drinks, though—Rhett glances around to ensure Link hasn’t magically re-apparated and opens a new tab, heading to Amazon. His “dream-inducing” tea mixture should be delivered today, one recommended in enthusiast forums for remembering REM forays. Worth a shot, even if it’d been expensive.

It doesn't take long for Link to return with a scowl and a bag of pretzels, throwing them on the table as Rhett blinks up at him. “Where’s the coffee?”

“They’re out. Can you believe that? What kind of campus cafe runs out of coffee?” he snarks, falling into his seat and pursing his lips to stuff the pretzels in his backpack. “What do we pay tuition for?”

“Pretty sure tuition has nothin' to do with the cafe,” Rhett muses, tapping his mechanical pencil on his laptop. “Why’d you buy pretzels?”

“I dunno. Felt guilty visiting. You want ‘em?”

“No.”

Grumbling, Link returns to where he’d left off in his book, looking much the same as he had before the voyage but perhaps now with a pro bono headache.

“We can just… go back to the dorm for coffee, if you want,” Rhett suggests. He’s pretty much done studying anyway, and—

“If we go back, you won’t study any more,” Link finishes his thought for him and punctuates it by rapping an impatient finger on Rhett’s computer screen. “You’ve gotta study, man. I know I’m stressed, and you’re even further behind than I am! What does that tell ya?”

“Thaaat you worry too much, given how prepared you are?” Rhett smirks, and Link fixes him with a dead-eyed sigh. “Fine. Sorry. I’m just—maybe we should take a break. Yeah? After a while this all starts to look like hieroglyphs.”

Link pulls at his bottom lip with his teeth, eyes dancing over the array of crap on the table before he exaggerates a shrug. “Fine. Twenty minute break. What should we do?”

“I dunno. We could watch an episode of somethin' on Netflix.”

“I like that.” Link inhales and exhales deep, banishing thoughts of tests and theorems and formulas for both of them, and scoots his chair close to Rhett’s so they’re hip to hip. Not that they need to be attached like that, but it’s a habit they’d grown into in middle school and had never found reason to break: whenever they watch things together, Rhett is in charge of the “remote”; they use a headphone splitter (which Rhett retrieves from its designated side pocket of his backpack); and they sit near-touching.

“Kim’s Convenience?” Rhett offers, and Link nods. 

“Yeah. I need to know what happens with Jung and Appa.”

“...You know ‘Appa’ isn’t his name, right?”

“That’s what everyone calls him.”

“I know, but it’s not—yeah. Nevermind,” Rhett hushes, guiding the browser to Netflix and handing the jack splitter to Link. Link takes it and plugs it in easily, then he stops short.

“Oh, crap.”

“What?”

“I—shoot, man, I left my earbuds at the dorm.”

“Oh. We can share mine,” shrugs Rhett, and Link makes a small noise of gratitude before replacing the splitter with Rhett’s earbuds.

When the episode they’re on starts playing, Link holds up a bud to Rhett, and he grabs it, inspecting it. “Gave me the wrong one,” he says softly, poking at its partner pinched in Link’s fingers. “I need the left one.”

“No, I’ve got the left one. That way we can still hear each other, but not anyone else.” Demonstrating, Link plugs the ear furthest away from Rhett, treating their partnership like one unit—their heads as one head—and he showcases it with Vanna White-esque hands. “Yeah?” 

“Sure.” Rhett tunes out the rest of the world and hones in to a hopeful theme song, having missed the cold open entirely. In his free ear he can hear Link almost too well. The occasional sniffle as he settles in to his spot. The weird guttural ahems in the back of his throat. The way he bumps an impatient shoe on the leg of the table.

“Link,” Rhett whispers, and Link snaps his gaze over and up in surprise. “Chill? I don’t wanna listen to restless leg syndrome for half an hour.”

“Sorry.”

To Link's credit, he stops jittering, and it’s much easier to pay attention without the distraction.

About ten minutes in, Rhett chuckles at the show and elbows Link gently. “Reminds me of the ‘narrow urethra’ gag from King of the—” 

Link’s head hits Rhett’s shoulder, heavy and soft in its interruption, and Rhett cocks his neck to stare down at his hair.

What’s happening.

Why’s he… 

But Link doesn’t move, treating Rhett like a boyfriend pillow—not even slightly cautionary. 

“Link,” Rhett whispers, glancing around at the library around them. Just walls and empty rows of books. Sunlight hitting the far wall and heating the room pleasantly. 

“Hmm?”

“What’re you doing...?”

“Enjoyin’,” Link answers simply, and Rhett sucks in his lower lip and looks around again. 

What in God’s name?

Never done this before, but…

“Okay,” Rhett breathes, blinking fast.

Whatever. Not like anyone can see us, I guess.

“So pretty,” Link says with a laugh, and Rhett looks back to the show. It’s the inside of a hospital…?

“Link,” Rhett says again, wiggling his shoulder, and this time, Link doesn’t respond. When Rhett takes out his phone and opens the selfie camera, holding it at arm’s length, he’s greeted with the picture of Link asleep against him, slumped over, mouth just open and features free of strain.  That makes sense. Unfortunate, that he’d gone limp in Rhett’s general direction, but better than kissing the floor.

The camera shows details to Rhett that humble him—the way Link’s long eyelashes rest on his cheeks. How his lips curve in a barely-there smile, happy to see someone elsewhere. And how Rhett’s eyes eventually tick back to himself and his own reddened complexion, auto-caught staring for too long. 

Before he can think better of it, he snaps a photo and puts his phone back in his pocket, throat dry.

“Sleep-talker,” Rhett accuses gently, muting Netflix. Once the show’s over, he’ll wake Link up, but until then he’s fine with subtitles.

“Not sweet-talker,” Link mumbles into his shoulder, sniffing and curling towards Rhett. His hand finds the back of Rhett’s arm and pries underneath until he’s hugging the appendage to his chest like a snake stuffed animal. Link’s being clingy, and if he were to wake up, it would probably put him in one of his overly-defensive foul moods. All Rhett can do is ensure that his hand doesn’t end up somewhere unlucky. 

“I didn’t—said ‘sleep-talker’.  Who you sweet-talkin’, anyway?” Rhett says.

“Gorgeous,” Link mutters, and damn, if Rhett isn’t kinda tempted to pull his phone back out and record this, just to show it to him later when he needs the upper hand in a pissing contest.

Wooin’ a girl in his sleep. Ridiculous. 

Very him.

“Yeah? What do you like most about me?” goads Rhett with a smirk, watching Link’s perfectly kind sleeping face. He rarely looks this carefree lately.

“Make me laugh,” Link answers after a few seconds, eyelids fluttering with a smile, and gosh, dang it, it’s pretty damn endearing. Nice seeing him happy. A light blush rails up Rhett’s neck and into his cheeks, tingling.

“And what else?”

“Mm… like when ya do that,” Link responds, and Rhett has to double check that this hand is indeed nowhere near any place that could cause trouble. It isn’t, but Link tenses up anyway, curling around Rhett’s arm and letting out a hot breath like something is happening.  Rigid, Rhett’s eyes bug and he gawks close-mouthed down at the guy arching into his arm. 

This is definitely the part where I wake him up.

If our roles were reversed, I would want him to wake me up. No doubt about it.

So why doesn’t Rhett give him that courtesy?

And what kind of campus cafe runs out of coffee, anyway?! It’s not his fault that this is happening.

“What, uhh… what do you want me to do?” Rhett asks Link’s sleeping persona, both a valid question he won’t get an answer to and an overly-personal one that he absolutely will.

“Kiss me again,” Link requests without missing a beat, divinely innocent—those pink bowed lips begging for it, incomplete without someone there to fulfill that desire, traced with a faint sheen of ChapStick that smells like cherries.  Rhett steals a peek at their surroundings. Still alone. And the episode is about to end, so he reaches over with his free arm and sets it back fifteen minutes like a cinematic egg timer before he gulps his scratchy throat and looks down at Link again.

“I can’t kiss you.”

Link whines. A small noise, paired with pained eyebrows and a frown so real it looks like he might start crying. Jesus, don’t let him start crying like this—Rhett’s only so strong, if Link breaks down like that—he really doesn’t wanna see him weep in his sleep. Not when he’d been so content just a few minutes ago.

Rhett doesn’t know whose shoes he’s filling, but he’s willing to let Link down easy. Play the part for him until his dream stops.

“I can’t kiss you. But you can tell me other things you’d like to do together.”

“Mmm… ‘kay,” sleep-Link agrees, nodding into a nuzzle. “Movies.”

“You wanna go to the movies,” Rhett echoes, smiling warm. That’s fine—that’s great, actually! Perfectly doable, he can pretend he’s taking him to the movies. “What movie would you like to see, Link?”

“Dun care.” 

Well, at least that’s not typical of what he acts like when he’s awake. Rhett grins, elbowing him just so—almost forgetting he’s in a fragile state and could rejoin the world if shaken too hard. Thank goodness Link rests like the dead. “You gotta pick for us to see if we’re going to the movies.”

“Closet,” Link decides, and Rhett scrunches his face at him, trying not to laugh. 

Pretty sure there’s not a movie called ‘Closet’. 

He relays this much to Sleeping Dude-y, and Link grumbles for a long while—a string of words much more intricate than what he’s been throwing out lately. Rhett leans in ear-first. “What’s that?”

“Last time… scary movie. Clown.”

That’s true. The last thing they’d seen in theaters had been IT, and—

Wait. That means he’s dreaming about me…?

Maybe Link saw IT with someone else, too.

Rhett listens, ears burning. Somewhere along the line of this narration, wires had gotten crossed; initially Link had been dreaming about a girl, calling her pretty and gorgeous, but Rhett’s voice must have made it jump track at some point.

“Saw clown movie. Yeh?” Link mutters, waiting, eyebrows raised slightly, and Rhett nods before he remembers he can’t be seen.

“R-Right.”

“Didn’t wanna.”

He didn’t want to…? Well… well, yeah, Rhett knows that Link hates horror films. But he’d seemed pretty excited at the time to go together. Rhett had even asked him a few times leading up to the day of if he was sure he was okay with a scary movie. 

“You didn’t enjoy the clown movie?” Rhett asks, realizing he sounds like he’s talking to a memory-loss patient, but the re-bundling of words seems to be helping Link ingest the conversation, ‘cause he understands again, hums.

“Did. Whole time, thought ‘bout the closet.”

Um.

“Whuhh. What closet were you thinkin’ about, buddy?” Rhett asks in a whisper, eyes trained tight on Link’s closed lids. (If he wakes up right now, he’s in for the scare of his life.)

“Hall. Outside,” Link notes, suddenly swept up in a small series of giggles, and Rhett’s lost again. 

A literal closet. Somewhere in the theater?

“Wanted to take ya in there w’ me… kiss ya so you ferget your name. Say mine instead,” Link smiles, and for what it's worth, Rhett does forget a few things: where they are; how to breathe; that if this is true, it’s deeply private and he shouldn’t be hearing it.

“And what name would I have forgotten, if I’d forgotten my name?” Rhett asks quietly, and Link giggles like it’s the best joke he’s heard in a long time.

“Yer stupid, Rhett.”

An insult shouldn’t turn him pink from cheeks to shoulders.  “Be nice,” he responds, barely audible, eyes jumping over his sleeping form on loop, and Link nestles into his side and hums a happy noise.

“‘M nice. You think so, too.”

“I… I do,” nods Rhett, ‘cause shit, maybe if Link doesn’t get that, he’ll start crying again. Jesus, Rhett’s already getting whiplash and a swollen head from this little “chat”. “You are nice, Link.”

Link smirks, wiggling a bit, eyes darting under eyelids, hair grazing the bridge of his nose. “Woulda thought I's real nice, grindin’ back on ya,” Link offers freely, like he’s at a pornographic poetry slam, and Rhett brings a free knuckle to his mouth and bites it hard for a few seconds before blinking and swallowing.

“You wh-what?”

“Heard me. Fuckin' me, public. Y'wanna. S’obvious, man.”

Rhett stares into space, somewhere past Link and into the carpet, face and neck and ears burning as Link loses hindrance to his speech.

“Don’t care if we’re caught. Take my pants off… allll the way,” he drawls, giggling again like a drunkard, “undies too. Know you hate those undies. S’cause you wanna get under ‘em. Heh.”

“Link, y-you should probably stop—”

Non-helpful as the human brain ever is, though, Link’s seems to jump forward a few steps too many and he crushes out a ragged sigh, brow tightening, lips trembling— nibbling the lower one for just a second as Rhett watches, humbled and mesmerized. 

Fuck . Seen y'a few times… dick, I mean. Wan’ it,” Link promises, blushing in his sleep. The arm he’s hugging ends in a fist balled tighter than… well, Rhett's pants   at the moment. Same as with a drunk Link, Rhett isn’t going to try messing around with a sleeping Link, either. 

But the tented bulge in Link’s jeans, mere inches away from his touch, is haunting and mocking in the worst way.  He may not be able to participate, but… 

Cock twitching in his pants, Rhett swallows and spares one last look out over the library. Still alone. More to stave off want than to encourage it, Rhett insists his free palm down over his own arousal, holding it tight to his body.

“Will you tell me what you’d do to me, Link?” he asks, closing his eyes and resting his temple on Link’s forehead. Link’s breath finds his ear when he speaks, rumbling and groggy, but somehow present.

“Always wanted t'see yer ‘oh’ face,” Link recounts, smile on the words, and Rhett swallows and listens. “Be alone with you… want… wanna be s’close as possible. Be okay with mouth stuff. Hand stuff, even. But… fuck, want you to fuck me, Rhett. Wan’ you to ride me, get off on me, dun care if you’re thinkin’ ‘bout me or not…”

Rhett shivers, not daring move either of his hands from lockdown. “I’d definitely be thinking about you, Link.”

“Yeah…?”

“Yeah.”

“Ohh, Rhett,” Link groans, sounding near-morose, “Love you. God, just take me. Fill me up. Leave me walkin’ funny, mark up my neck so I can’t see myself naked without thinkin' 'bout you for at least a week after. If you’re horny, come to me, and don’t you dare think about doin’ anything elsewhere, not even with your own hand—”

What—

He sounds a lot more—

Rhett’s eyes pop open and Link’s are low-lidded in his periphery, staring up at him, very much awake, mouth gone as he drenches the tight space between them in filth that widens Rhett’s pupils and forces him to clamp the hand on his arousal down tight.

“Why the hell haven’t you just fucked me yet , Rhett? God, I go to bed hard ‘cause I gotta watch you walk around in your boxers almost every night, and it’s pathetic, just sittin’ up there and thinkin’ about what it would be like if you climbed up into my bunk with me and pulled out that thick cock like you were too horny to care ‘bout boundaries anymore. Or, hell, if you invited me down into your bunk, I’d do that, too. Y’know? Just need the go ahead from you,” Link scolds him, throat husky, huffing a laugh.  “You really think this whole time I’ve not been interested? Look at you, Rhett,” he whispers, his cyan eyes flashing down to the hand caging Rhett’s erection, and Rhett breathes out a long exhale from his nostrils, pressing that hand down harder to defend its charge.

Rhett's throat isn’t working.

“You really’ve no idea the kinda things I’d do to you if I got my hands on you,” Link promises, silky and low, nuzzling into Rhett’s ear. When he speaks, his deep timbre rumbles Rhett’s ear drum, draws his breath out in a shiver. “So I guess it’s for the best that you won’t let that happen. They say if you don’t know what you’re missing out on, you can’t miss it.”

Tell me what you'd do to me, Rhett tries to say. Wants to say, but he can’t.

Thank mercy above that Link understands regardless, always picking up Rhett’s slack.

“I’d suck you off every single chance I got. I’d start your days with it, Rhett. Make sure you’re nice and serviced before you head out into the world. At night, I’d do it so you could relax. I’d swallow. And if you wanted it in the middle of the day, I’d just need to know the time and place, brother. Never thought about whether I could deep-throat, did you?”

“And that’s not even starting on all of the shit I’d do to you if you wanted me to come too— fuck,” swears Link, the stress of the word going straight to Rhett’s cock. “Bet you never thought about how small my hips would be in your hands. How easily you could throw me to the bed, or pin me up against a wall. I’d be totally helpless if you wanted me that way. You could do… literally anything… with me—make me ride you in the back seat of a car, bend me over our desk. Shoot, carry me bridal-style into one of our bedrooms back home before folding me in half and railing me so hard my voice gives out. I’d write you a thank you note.”

Unable to even offer a tattered groan of encouragement, Rhett tries to level out his breathing. Ruts up into his palm without meaning to—just once. Just enough friction to tell himself he’s leaking and might pass out if Link doesn’t stop.

“Then there’s other things I know you wanna think about, but haven’t yet, ‘cause you consider yourself too ‘nice’ a guy to even entertain thoughts that filthy.” 

When Link thrusts and his hard-on presses into the back of Rhett’s fist, Rhett is already halfway to shattering and taking him in hand. Wants to kiss him hard enough to clack teeth so they can both get some relief. 

He doesn’t.

“I think you’d like the taste of my cum, Rhett,” Link whispers, and the smack of him licking his lips after is sin in heaven. “Never thought about that before, but we both know you’d be a slut for it. Warm, just a bit salty, maybe a little sweet? Wouldn’t really matter what it tastes like, though, would it? ‘Cause it’d be mine. It would’ve come from me—been your other half’s brand—and that’s why you’d lick all of it off my stomach and chest without me asking.”

Rhett’s breathing heavy, lips parted to take in more air.

“Ever thought about me in women’s clothes?” Link dares, and Rhett clamps his eyes shut, every part of him shaking as the question sears through him, lighting him up. “Panties? Heels? Short skirts and tube tops? Never seen a Victoria’s Secret ad and had me pop into your head, just a fly-away thought that didn’t mean anything, but it messed you up real good for a moment ‘cause why would I think about Link in a thong? And I think you’d probably label yourself the kinda guy who goes hard. Likes to think he snaps straps and fucks by just…” Link inhales deep, re-fueling. “Movin’ the panties to the side. But I don’t think you’d want it that way with me, y'know? You’d wanna pretend you’d taken me out beforehand. You’d prefer somethin' elegant, a floor-length dress that you can bunch up in your fingers before you bend me over an’ fuck me.” 

Link leans in closer, voice barely a whisper in the shell of Rhett’s ear. “If I asked you to get down under that dress, would you suck my cock?”

Rhett grunts, leaning his head on Link, unmoving, and Link lets his mouth run.

“Ever thought about how it would feel if I came in your throat? Or would you just jerk me onto your chest and then throw me down on a bed, fuck me into the mattress without breaking eye contact once, chasing yours ‘cause I already got mine, and I’m moanin' for you, begging for it—wherever you wanna cum. Would you fill me up, Rhett?”

Rhett clenches his jaw—

Can’t speak—

“Or would you pull out and come on my cock? Maybe my cheeks, my lips?”

With a heavy growl, Rhett thrusts once—up into his palm—that single slide doing the trick, pulsing into his pants as Link murmurs praises and soft laughter in his ear.

“Oh, that’s it, isn’t it? Want me to just be coated in you, right, Rhett?”

“Hahh,” Rhett finally chokes, pressing his forehead into Link’s neck and shivering all over as he rides out the waves. Link simply hums and strokes his arms. 

Kisses him once, on his neck, giving him a moment to collect himself.

 


 

 

When Rhett awakens in his bed in the morning light, he’s both frustrated and pleased with last night’s dream. He remembers a good deal of it—a weird study session in the library, Link's sleep-talking graduating into dirty-talking—and the contents of the dream itself had been… well, enjoyable.  But he specifically remembers not being able to talk, and he’d been trying . He’d wanted to contribute to the filth Link had been rambling on about… but that’s just another reason to achieve lucid dreaming, he reckons, as he groggily reaches for his phone and starts to log the dream, sleep-weary fingers hammering out the story to the best of his recollection. 

“You awake?” Link asks from the top bunk, sounding just as groggy.

“Yeah,” Rhett drones back, and Link’s head pops over the top railing. Where once Rhett would’ve panicked and tried to hide, now he gazes up at him with disinterest.

“It’s Sunday. You wanna do somethin’?”

“Maybe,” Rhett answers with a yawn. “We’re goin’ to the library to study after your approval meeting with Cook, right?”

“I mean we could do somethin’ else instead. Just for fun.” Link hovers for a moment, deliberating, and when he speaks again, it’s quieter. “Just feels like it’s been a while since we’ve hung out, man.”

Rhett squints at him, thinking back over the past few days’ waking hours.

Is that right…? Shit, I see him so much in my dreams, I don’t… 

There was that talk about porn the other day.

And then he’d come back from the party…

We ate dinner together last night, but I was on my phone the entire time.

Jesus, I've been distant lately.

“Yeah,” blurts Rhett, running a hand over his face. “Yeah, buddyroll. Lemme finish e-mailing and then let’s hang out today. What you wanna do?” he asks, and Link breaks into a smile.

Chapter Text

When you come back,
could you check for a
package at the front
desk?

The tracker says
'delivered’ but I don’t
wanna get up lol

Sure.

What’d you order?

Don’t laugh

Tea

Tea…? Like teabags?

Yeah

Read online that this
blend is supposed to
help with sleep

Oh, cool! Yeah, I’ll
check.

Be back in about an hour.

 


 

A heavy thud shakes the dorm door, startling Rhett’s attention from a Comedy Central Roast. He turns it off and hops up—knows that bump is the telltale greeting of Link with full arms requesting entry. The delivery should’ve just been a padded envelope. Rhett opens up for him, and the envelope isn’t even in Link’s hands: it’s clamped in his teeth, his arms laden with groceries. Rhett gapes at him as he waddles into the room and unloads, lowering the haul to the floor in a careful avalanche of gray plastic.

“Dude,” Rhett says, and while Link’s untangling his limbs from the thickets of bags, he swivels his head up and barks at Rhett from his clenched jaw, requesting freedom from his chew toy. Rhett takes the envelope from him, wincing at the spitty bite mark at the top. “Did you just ask the person at the front desk to put it in your mouth? Nasty, man.”

“You got a better idea?”

“You could’ve asked them to put it in one of the bags.”

“Oh. Didn’t think o’ that.” Link shakes out his arms and frees himself, grinning to gloat over the haul he’s dragged in. “Only took one trip. I knew I could do it.”

Considering the mess in the floor, Rhett eyes him. “You know we’re good on food, right?”

“I know. But I had an idea.”

Something impulsive, no doubt.

“Okay...”

“This is how we’re gonna hang out today, since neither of us could think of anything.”

“We’re gonna eat...?”

“Better. We’re gonna have—” Link hunches down and fights to retrieve a clear plastic container, holding it aloft and showing off the quaint pastries within. “A tea party!”

“Oh, gosh,” Rhett groans. “I tell you I bought some tea and you really go all out, huh?”

“C’mon, it’s just a joke. But it’ll be fun, also! Half-joke, half-fun.” Beaming, Link kneels and ravages through the bags like a pirate sorting booty, tearing away sack after sack and piling boxes on boxes on boxes.

“Did you clear out Kroger’s bakery?!” Rhett cries, watching helplessly as the small hill of sweets turns into a peak of regret. “ And your bank account?”

Link glares at him, testy, and gathers up all of the plastic to shove into the foot of their closet. “Gotta spend money to have fun. C’mon, brother, get into the spirit of it! What’s done is done, we’re havin’ a tea party!”

“And are we inviting the entire floor to join us?” Rhett tears open the envelope in his hands and dumps the box of special blend into his palm, holding it up to say This. This little thing caused this.

“Heck naw. This is a me-an'-you thing,” Link declares with a laugh. “And I promise there’s some reason to it—all the stuff I bought is s’posed to promote good sleep.”

Rhett reaches down and snatches a box from the top of one of the stacks. “Macarons?” he reads, frowning and glancing at Link.

“Made of almonds, which are good for sleep,” Link recites with a smile.

Rhett checks the label of the one beneath it. “Cherry puff pastries.”

“Cherries! Also good for sleep. Somethin’ about circadian rhythms, I read,” Link trails off in thought, and Rhett pulls a face.

“And so instead of just buyin’ cherries, or almonds, you loaded up on desserts made with ‘em?”

“Hey—desserts make ya sleepy, too.”

...Hard to argue with that.

“Link, this is absurd.” Rhett steps over the pile on the way to their coffee maker atop the mini-fridge. He nudges his mug beneath and hits the brew button, pops open the tea and dumps one little bag down into the cup. “I know I like food, but if Sue saw how much you just spent on what’s essentially an adult play-date, she’d be pissed.”

Link’s done being scolded, though. He grabs their paper towels and takes a seat next to Mount Carbohydrate, lording over his loot. “What sounds good? We’ve got doughnuts, doughnut holes, beignets, petits-fours, bear claws, cupcakes, crepes—”

“You sound like a speed run of the Great British Baking Show.”

“Muffins, strudels, baklava, cinnamon rolls—”

“I’ll just have my tea, thanks,” Rhett sighs, watching steaming water fill the mug and carrying it over to sit on the edge of his bed.

“Don’t be such a freakin’ buzzkill, man. Look at all this!” Link picks up a box and tosses it to Rhett’s feet, the pastries inside bouncing. “Walnut rolls!”

Rhett stares at it and blows on his steeping tea. “Lemme guess. Walnuts promote good sleep, too?”

“Yeah! I wanted to help,” Link says, now near a mocking pout. “Please just humor me and eat some of it.”

“If I eat one, then I’m endorsing this,” Rhett spirals a hand over the rest of Link’s bad decision.

“What about… a coconut macaroon?” The box lifts into the air on a steady hand and floats over to Rhett in a crawl, Link wiggling his eyebrows. “I know you like coconut.”

“Link, you don’t even like coconut, why’d you buy a whole box?”

Ignoring him, Link tears through the tape and pops it open, selecting one in delicate fingers and raising it to Rhett’s chin. “Smells good. Looks pretty tasty.”

“No,” Rhett leans away, careful not to spill his tea. “Git outta here, man.”

“Ooooh, looks so good,” Link grins. “Open wide!”

Why’s—god dammit, he’s at my feet tryna feed me?

“Link, st—” The confection gets shoved into Rhett’s mouth with a triumphant cackle. Rhett very nearly spits it out onto Link’s face.

Then, he tastes it, the soft crunch of shredded coconut unfurling on his tongue.

It is pretty yummy.

When he bites down, glaring at Link, he wishes the guy didn’t look so damn pleased with himself. “See? Actin’ like I’m torturin’ you, man. It’s good! I’m excited to try some of this stuff. Don’t think I’ve ever had a…” He turns and inspects a container. “ Kringle before.”

“Look like pretzels,” Rhett observes around his mouthful before swallowing. 

“Right? Welcome to international culinary class, fools,” Link warbles, setting about popping open the rest of their haul. “C’mon, bring some pillows and blankets down here. Ain’t a tea party unless we’re fancy in the floor.”

Sighing, Rhett sets his tea a safe distance from everything and does as he’s told, mumbling about crumbs in his sheets. When all is spread out and available, he takes his first sip of the blend and hums. It’s actually a nice pairing for dessert flavors. That’s lucky.

“Alright,” he clears his throat, “Let’s see… gosh. There’s so much of it. I dunno what to try.”

“Don’t think about it,” Link instructs, passing off another treat to him and stuffing one in his own mouth. “Jus’ eat.”

So, Rhett does. This one is a soft cream-filled roll tasting of lemons and decadence. That one is clove all over and a bit spicy, flaky to the touch, leaving their fingers sticky with honey that they both suck clean while Link peers over at Rhett and laughs. It's all a baseline of bread and crystallized sugar finding its way down their throats, and the ones with wet fillings or baked extra-moist are a welcome bit of relief in the expedition. Link's right there with Rhett, in everything they try; even the cherry cordials—which, by all accounts are a candy and shouldn’t be sold at a bakery—Link digs into, sinking the fruit onto his cupped tongue and wrapping his lips around it to pop off the stem. 

“You don’t like cherries,” Rhett reminds him, watching the small bulge in his cheek, and Link shrugs.

“Chocolate helps. How’s the tea?”

“Pretty good. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but…” Chuckling, Rhett wipes his hand on a paper towel, staining it with cocoa. “This is pretty nice.”

“Well, you’re welcome.” It’s worth the shot to his pride to see Link grin from ear to ear. He gazes back out over their feast, in which they’ve hardly made a dent, trying to select one like a present on Christmas morning. “What’s next, you think?”

“I dunno. Gettin’ pretty full,” Rhett says into his mug, and Link balks.

“Bull crap. You’re Rhett McLaughlin, I know for a fact you could eat half of this and still accept an invitation for drive-thru.”

That might be true. Still.

“I’m full on sweets,” he specifies.

“I’ve never heard you say that once in your life.”

“Link, if I keep eating, you’re gonna keep eating. And you go to the gym every day.” Sounds stupid, but it’s the truth; concern about Link’s normally-spotless diet is likely the reason he’d been hesitant in the first place, he admits to himself. “I don’t want you givin’ grief to your body.”

"Huh." Thankfully common sense can still pierce Link’s determination. “Well… I bought this for you,” he says, surveying all of it. “I can just… watch you enjoy it.”

Rhett grimaces at him.

“I’m serious! I’d love to see how much damage you could actually do, if you weren’t worried about me keepin’ up.” Link fishes out a cookie and holds it out to him. “Here. Keep goin’.”

“You really don’t wanna watch me gorge, buddy.”

“I kinda do?” Like a laugh will make that confession less bizarre, Link giggles and waves the cookie around like a carrot in front of a horse. “I don’t think you’ve ever had the opportunity to like, sate yourself. Completely. Always gotta worry ‘bout payin’ for it, or leavin’ enough for other people, or not lookin’ like a bottomless pit in polite company. But this? It’s already paid for, it’s just us in here, and I want to see you eat it.” With a mischievous smirk, Link bobs his head. “I know you, man. Can’t tell me you’ve never thought about what it would be like to really put it away."

Mug held to his lips, Rhett considers the immense fare left, some deeper part of him actually resonating with Link’s reasoning. There’s… something there that he finds thrilling, if he’s being honest. Probably how oddly indulgent and sensual Link’s making the whole thing sound—like there’s inherent naughtiness in letting go. But he’s also making it sound like a challenge, and damn, if Rhett doesn’t always fall for that.

“Fine.” Rhett drains his mug as Link claps, far too excited. The moment he’s done with his tea, he opens his mouth wide for the cookie. Link hesitates, eyes wide, before pushing it into Rhett’s mouth, thumb grazing his bottom lip.

“You can at least choose what I have to eat,” Rhett suggests, chewing. “That way it’s not totally boring for you.”

Even though Link looks like he wants to say something, he doesn’t, and selects a beignet to hold up to Rhett’s mouth.

Why are his eyes brimming like that?

“Don’t gotta feed me,” chuckles Rhett, and Link huffs a laugh to match. 

“These are my favorite. Chocolate-filled.”

Glowering from the corner of his eye at being dismissed, Rhett parts his lips and Link gently shoves the pastry in as far as it will comfortably go. The eye contact is… weird. Weird and intense, so Rhett sets his gaze to the floor and chews, pushing the rest of the dough into his mouth. It is good. The chocolate is soft and mousse-like, bursting out from the middle and coating his tongue.

Link smiles. “You’ve, uh… got some powdered sugar,” he says quietly, pointing at his own cupid’s bow, but when Rhett moves to wipe his face, Link catches his arm. “Leave it. No point cleanin’ up when you’re in the middle of eating.” Then he spins and judiciously selects another morsel, missing the way Rhett watches him, curious and near-blushing ‘cause he’s being messy and Link—ever the neat freak—for once, doesn’t care.

If this is part of some fun game for him, that’s fine. It’s a small price of dignity to pay to make him happy.

An apple strudel is next, and this time when Link proffers it to Rhett like he’s paying dues, Rhett lets go of his qualms and bites clean it in half, right out of Link's hand. The apple filling spills out, more syrupy than fruity, running warm down his chin, coating Link’s fingers. They both give a little “oop” of surprise, followed by snickering. And Link might have said no paper towels, but that doesn’t mean Rhett can’t reach up and collect the sticky mess with his fingers before it reaches his beard, pushing it up into his mouth. He licks it down—can feel Link’s eyes on him, hopefully not judging—before beckoning the other half of the little pie. 

Link stays quiet when he brings it to Rhett’s lips. In an impulsive bid to be funny Rhett sticks his tongue into the opening, flicking it up to toss it back.

With a breathy huff Link picks out more things, gets a conveyor belt smorgasbord ready; rolls and cupcakes and cookies, one by one he smiles and pushes them up into Rhett’s space, barely giving him time to finish chewing the last one before starting the next. Rhett’s trying not to laugh, and the pure glee on Link’s features says much the same—but after a cinnamon-y snickerdoodle, he holds up a hand for them to stop, and Link’s smile fades fast.

“What's wrong?”

“Gonna—s’dry,” Rhett complains, and Link is up in an instant to fix him a glass of water. “Link, I didn’t—”

“You’re not full yet, man, I can tell. Just be sure to take little sips so ya don’t fill up on water.” He hands the drink off and Rhett finds himself obeying—though why, he can’t explain.

“Eugh. Sugar and water.”

“Sorry. I’d’ve gotten you milk if we had any. Aren’t you having fun, though?”

“Are you?” Rhett shoots back, staring up at him from the floor. Link blinks, lips pressing thin, then nods a bit faster than necessary.

“Yeah. I dunno, it’s like… I dunno,” he flounders, focusing on the food again. “You’re enjoyin’ yourself. I like that.”

Ears tingling warm, Rhett takes another long sip and sets it aside with an exaggerated ahh. “What now?”

And the process continues. Link picks and chooses what Rhett eats—often re-visiting desserts he’s had two or three times already—and if Rhett didn’t know better, he’d guess Link was selecting things he knows he'll enjoy, but he himself wouldn’t: muffins with banana and chia seeds, orange Milano-style cookies, cream puffs filled with pomegranate seeds. Almost like this is the only way he could possibly render enjoyment from these foods, by watching Rhett down them in big, greedy bites.

When a peanut-butter-icing cupcake finds its way into the rotation, Link holds it up in near impatience, his own mouth hanging open, attention hawklike on Rhett’s sugar-stained lips. 

Rhett crosses his eyes to look down at it. “You should eat this one. You love peanut butter.”

“I’ll eat one of the other ones,” Link compromises, unflinching.

“Link, c’mon, man. It’s—”

“I wanna see you eat it,” he interrupts, stern, and when Rhett draws his head back to gauge his reaction, Link still doesn’t budge. “Wanna see you pretend to like it as much as I actually do.”

At this, Rhett reaches up to pluck the cupcake from Link’s grasp. He holds their gaze and shoves the entire thing in his mouth, pushing in the crumbling treat with two fingers as Link’s eyes snap from Rhett’s to watch the confection disappear. Like he's showing Rhett what to do next, he closes his mouth and swallows.

Enjoy it as much as he does. Hah.

“Mmmm,” Rhett groans in his throat, and Link sits up straighter, sight flicking between his mouth and his eyes.

“Yeah...?”

Jesus Christ, I was kidding.

“S’pretty good,” garbles Rhett, and Link gives him that stupid, doofy grin again.

Once Rhett’s managed to gulp it down (it’s not as dry as he’d thought it would be—that icing was fluffy and light), he sighs and licks his fingers clean, leaning back on his hands. There’s a tightness in his stomach, strange and pretty unfamiliar, and he lets out a small belch that tastes like sugar, laughing. “Okay… I think I’m full.”

“You think?” Link echoes, not derisive or sarcastic. Genuinely curious. “Can’t fit any more?”

“‘Fit’ is a weird way to think about it. I’m sure I could, but…”

“Just a few more. Yeah?” Link nods to the array left. A sizable amount of it has gone past Rhett’s lips—

Did I really do all of that?

—but Link clicks his tongue. “Tell you what—if you can do an eclair, I’ll let you stop.”

“Let” me stop?

Fine.

“‘Kay. Waistband kinda hurts,” Rhett admits, toying with it a bit, and Link tilts his head to stare at the spot curiously. 

“Now those are words I never thought I’d hear you say. Think you can keep goin’ if you take off your pants?”

“Link, Jesus Christ—”

“Kidding! I’m joking,” he insists, already opening the chocolate eclairs and pulling one out. “Here.”

He presents it, patient, and it takes all of Rhett’s self-control not to nab the phallic dessert from him so he can be in control. Would that make Link feel robbed of the big finale? Instead, Rhett closes his eyes and opens wide, taking it back, biting soft and letting the cream inside swim on his tongue. God, the inside is chocolate mousse, and it's drizzled in chocolate? It’s—

“That’s so rich,” Rhett smiles, letting his eyes flutter back open, shaking his head. 

“You like it?” asks Link. His hand’s having trouble holding it steady. Arm must be tired.

“Mmhm. C’mon, last bite.”

And then it’s over, and Rhett lets himself rest against the side of his bed, running his hands over his stomach and exhaling a long, tempered breath.

“Wow,” Link remarks, and when Rhett blinks up at him, he’s gazing out over the leftovers. “You ate like… two thirds of it, Rhett. So much food. How ya feel?”

“Full,” Rhett says definitively. “Never been so full. I might need more tea before bed, I think all this bread might’ve soaked it up in my stomach.”

“Lemme see,” Link jerks his head back in reference to Rhett’s shirt. Cocking an amused eyebrow at him, Rhett lifts up his hem, and… yep.

His stomach is round,  pressing hard against his pants and begging to be done. “Oh.” Rhett slips a thumb under his waistband and pushes it down, sliding it to his pelvic line, and his tummy takes that space gratefully, the red line from strain left over.

“Holy crap,” Link murmurs, mesmerized. “You’re… you’re huge. I didn’t know you could put away that much. I mean, I did, obviously,” he motions at their messy surroundings, “but to see it like that? God, all that food is just right here?” He iterates with fingers spread in a light touch on Rhett’s tight stomach, and Rhett shies away from it, trying not to giggle.

“Oh, gosh, don’t—I’ll pop.”

“You look like you’re pregnant, Rhett,” Link hushes with a small smile, breathless.

“With a food baby, yes. I am definitely gonna give birth.”

The smile falls from Link’s face and he puts distance between them again, licking his lips. Rhett nudges his water towards him, but Link waves it off. “I just… can you imagine how big you’d be if you always ate like that?” he laughs, and Rhett lets himself imagine it, drunk off food.

“I’d be enormous, dude.”

“Tall and big.”

“Thick. With two c’s.”

Link goes quiet. When Rhett cracks an eye to judge his reaction, he’s not smiling anymore. He’s got his head bowed the other way, chewing on a nail and probably debating how the hell they're gonna store the rest of this bounty.

For a while, neither say anything. Rhett pulls his shirt back down with a groan, and Link tugs his knees to his chest.

“Why don’t you go take a shower? You’re a messy eater when you let go, I think you need one.”

“Yeah?” It’s not a bad idea. Rhett could definitely use some cold water over his sated stomach to delay passing the fuck out. “What're you gonna do?”

“I’ll clean up here. Don’t worry ‘bout all this,” he says, clearing his throat. “Go shower. Take your time.”

“Sure. Thanks.” With some difficulty, Rhett stands—shit, if he doesn’t actually feel kinda like he's pregnant, too. He gathers his things for the bathroom, glances at Link, who hasn’t moved. Maybe he wants to pig out too, once Rhett isn’t watching. 

Smiling, Rhett heads to the door, stopping halfway out and poking his head back in. “Link.”

Link’s head whips up. "Hm?"

“Thanks for… this. Thanks for throwing me a tea party,” Rhett says, wiping his chin clear of debris. “This was fun.”

“My pleasure, man,” Link smiles back.

And Rhett lets himself out.

Chapter Text

10/17

Still not used to this but it’s getting less awkward to write about

Tea might be helping? Hard to tell.

Me and L were in class.

We were sitting across the room from each other, both with our backs to walls. There was a real strict atmosphere over the lecture, like if Professor Jones had noticed, he would’ve punished us like a nun does Catholic school kids. It was full attendance and everyone was typing notes on their computers.

L kept moving like he was trying to get my attention even though he knew we’d be trouble if we got caught. Raising his eyebrows. Waving when no one was looking. But if I looked at him, it wasn’t for long. I didn’t want him to get us in trouble.

Soon it started to look like he was about to fall out of his seat if I didn’t pay attention to him, so I caved and glared at him, but he just hovered his hands over his keyboard like he was typing and then pointed to mine. F igured he wanted me to message with him. Again, didn’t really want to, but it’s L. Not like I’m gonna say no.

So I opened our texts and sent him one.

Me: You wanna be asked to leave?

L: What? Of course not.

L: Just wondering what you’re waiting for?

L: Do it already, man. Class is halfway over.

I looked up at him and he was watching me, waiting for me to do something. Hell if I knew what he was talking about. He rolled his eyes and started typing again.

L: In your pocket.

I reached down and felt my jeans, and there was a hard bump along my outer thigh. Something long and plastic. It was a remote. Black, pretty nondescript. Just an on/off switch, buttons with up and down arrows, and a little screen. When I looked at L again, his eyes were huge and excited like he was trying not to laugh. 

For a second, I thought we’d planned some sort of prank, and I just couldn’t remember. I was about to ask L what I should do with the remote when he messaged me again, turning his eyes to Jones’s yammering. It really did seem like he was paying attention, even though his typing bubble was on screen.

His message told me to go ahead and turn on the remote. So I did.  The switch flipped with a little clicking sound and the screen lit up, showing the number 1. 

Nothing happened. Thought maybe it controlled the powerpoint presentation, or the sprinklers were gonna go off, or music would start playing from somewhere. But yeah, nothing.

‘Til I looked at L.

He was sitting up straight as a rod. Knees tight together, ankles crossed under his chair. And he had his hand pressed to his mouth with his eyes closed.

I thought he was sick lol.

Me: You okay?

It took him a while to see the message, but when he did, he smiled at me around his fingers and typed with one hand, slow.

L: Yeah.

L: More.

More? That could only mean the up arrow, right? I hit it, and the number on the screen changed to 2. And again, I didn’t realize what was going on yet.

But another glance at L told me HE could tell I’d pressed a button.

He was smiling again, eyes shut tighter this time. The way he kept trying to sit up straighter, like he was fixing a constant hunch even though his posture was already perfect. The moment I got an inkling of what was going on was when he moved his hands to his knees and visibly squeezed, turning his knuckles white under the desk.

We locked eyes. Did you know the color blue can burn? ‘Cause it can.

Smiling. Staring at me. And then the smaller things I noticed, like his stomach tensing and relaxing under his tight shirt. How his shoulders twitched and jerked. Something was going on, something he could feel.

I know what L looks like when he… enjoys himself. Guess that made me brave.

Me: You having fun?

He saw me typing this time and anticipated it. When he went to respond it looked difficult, but I enjoyed the show: his arms shivered, opened his mouth in a sigh I couldn’t hear, and bit his lip after. To his credit, that time he typed faster.

L: It’s a lot

L: What level is it on

Me: 2

L: Omg

He took a second and snuck peeks at the girl and guy sitting on either side of him, then another quick look at Jones before smirking at me.

L: Surprised no one can hear it

I blushed. Hard. Why was that so fucking hot??

I remembered the sex shop. I remembered the butt plugs, and ones that had remotes and chargers. I hadn’t really put two and two together about EXACTLY what L was talking about til that second. Felt like the wind was knocked out of me.

He wanted me to have control over that.  In public.  Like he didn’t care if we got caught.

And I know, I know this is ridiculous and counterproductive to the point of this whole journal… but I’m hard right now, just thinking about it. Jesus Christ. It would be hot if it was anyone, you know? Having that kind of control. It’s not my fault it’s L in that room with me.

Anyway.  I messaged him again.

Me: Keep it together. If anyone figures out, we’re screwed

He read it and nodded at the screen even though he could’ve nodded at me. 

L: Doing my best

L: It’s so intense

L: I wish you could feel this, Rhett

I got greedy.

Me: You should tell me what it feels like

He shot me a death glare. Too tall an order to fill I guess, lol. 

This is my favorite part.

L: How do you think it feels?

That was his way of asking me to be his audience.

And he put on a damn good show. Scooted back in his seat and let his head fall against the wall, passing one look over the rest of the people in the room before meeting my eyes. I don’t know how to describe ‘bedroom eyes’ in a way that’s poetic, but that’s what he gave me. He shook all over. When he crossed his arms I almost messaged him to tell him he should grip his thighs again (I liked that), but then he fucking

Like. Let a thumb brush up over his chest. Once, and then again.

I was painfully hard once I realized he was tweaking his nipple through his shirt.

Like it wasn’t enough to be sitting on a buzzing toy and tempting fate in a crowded room. He had the gall to be cocky about it, too. To want more.

If it wouldn’t have ended the display, I would have torn across that room then and there.

Luckily, I had the next best thing. I turned up the control’s intensity again.

L’s eyes bolted open and that face he made… mouth a perfect circle of surprised pleasure where his next breath escaped, and his shoulders rose and fell faster. He put a palm down hard on the front center of his chair and scooted up into it slowly. Looked like he was pressing his cock into his wrist.  Poor thing.

I like the way L blushes. It’s pink sometimes, red others. But it’s always sexy.

I thought he’d be mad when he adjusted to the change and looked at me again, angry for forcing him to go through it. But he seemed to be past that point. He was too far gone to care about consequences, and I guess I was too, ‘cause I slid my hand into my pocket and found my dick through the denim. Thumbed along the head. Just wanted to enjoy it a little, be there with him, you know?

There were other ways to do that, of course.

Me: You’re so fucking hot, L. Wish I could sneak a video of you right now

He was done with being able to respond. Understandably. Hell, he was having trouble even keeping his dang mouth closed and not moaning like a porn star in front of everyone, by the looks of it. But he did read it. And he did do that little tongue-cheek thing he does sometimes, when he's feelin' playful. 

Couldn’t help imagining sticking my fingers in his mouth.

I wish I could say I feel a little guilty about what happened next… but I don’t. At all.

I let him sit there.

I ignored him, went back to “paying attention” to the lecture. Let him squander away the entire time. I knew he was begging for my attention, wanted me to watch HIM more than he’d ever wanted anything. Pretty little thing putting on a show. But it was too much fun to string him along. I’d do it again if I could. 

I let him suffer for ten minutes. 

There was a point where a buzzing sound amplified, and Jones asked everyone to make sure their phones were turned off. That was amazing. L fixed his ass's position in the chair right fast, and I couldn’t resist looking at him.  Red all over. I swear he was sweating, about to meet his maker.  At that rate, he was going to need me to carry him out of the room bridal style once class was over lol. So I took pity.

The look of outright hopeful pleading on his face when I messaged him again. Gosh

Me: Think you can finish?

He barely read it before nodding, passing it off as understanding for the lecture.

He was close.

Me: Here goes, baby

I turned up the intensity twice. 

L nearly fell out of his seat with how hard he squirmed, crossing his legs like that could make a damn difference to stop how good he felt elsewhere. His arms fell across the length of the desk, fingers clutched the edge of it hard. For a few seconds he kept his eyes closed tight.  When he opened them, he looked directly at me. Just for a second.

And then he bit his lower lip and those pretty blues rolled back, up, disappearing behind lids.

He trembled so hard it was obscene to watch. Felt like I was the one coming, being subject to him like that. 

Kinda wish I had. But that’s okay. Not participating's fucking hot  in its own way.

I remembered to turn off the toy before it got painful. Gave him a minute to recuperate (how no one had noticed our session was beyond me), and then checked in with him.

Me: Did you make a mess?

This time he was able to respond, even though I could tell he was exhausted from across the room.

L: A huge mess.

L: I’ll be ready for you by the time we get back to the dorm.

And the way he smiled at me after sending that...

Jesus fucking Christ, what a thought.

Anyway.

That’s it, I guess.

Honestly, more than anything I wanted L to get caught. Wanted him to moan like a virgin when he came, all eyes on him. Does that make me a bad person? Sleazy…?

Oh well. It didn’t happen.

But I think this journal is helping.

Chapter Text

“Congrats, man.”

“Thanks. You really didn’t have to do this.”

“I know. You said it twice in the car. Keep tellin’ you I want to.”

When the waitress comes by, Link asks for their wine menu —like the dim lights, crimson decor, and white tablecloth aren’t enough. Kinda embarrassing, actually, to be seated at a booth with him in such a nice place. It’s a frisbee’s throw from the sort of places they normally frequent for a bite, where seating is optional and students can eat standing like livestock if they want.

“Seriously, wine? First the pastries, now this—I hope to God Sue doesn’t see how much money you spend. She’d tan your hide with all the unnecessary crap you’ve been blowin’ dough on.”

“Stop bein’ a stick in the mud,” Link smiles coy, folding his arms on the table. The fact that his well-kept green plaid button-up looks under-dressed for this place… yeesh. “Just wanna have a good time tonight, man. D is for Degree!”

“And I wish you’d stop saying that,” Rhett mumbles into his ice water, gazing out at the fountain near the host station. Not like he’s proud of a grade just above failing. 

“I’m just happy, Rhett. You weren’t the only one worried ‘bout that exam. And now you’ve been sleeping better, been focusing and studyin’ more,” Link recounts like Rhett doesn’t know these things already. “You’re not gonna slip up again.”

“Yeah. Probably.”

“I’m happy for ya. Happy for us. Felt like you were at a cross-roads and you went down the right path. Could’ve gone a lot worse. Don’t really wanna go lookin’ for another roommate.”

Rhett could barely stomach the thought of calling home to tell his folks he’s failing. Thank goodness that won’t be a thing.  But still.  “So a hefty bill and wine is how we’re gonna celebrate?” Rhett reiterates, and Link lifts one shoulder and nods, ever amicable.

“Yep.”

“Silly.”

When their waitress drops off the wine menu, Link glances over it and orders a Merlot for them like he knows what he’s doing. And maybe it’s just that everything since they’d first walked in has felt like another notch on some kind of belt, but the second they’re alone, Rhett scoffs.  “You ordered us a red wine?”

“What? Prefer white?” Link asks with a naive blink. “Should’ve said somethin’, brother! I can probably flag her down—”

“No, just… don’t you think that’s kinda…”

Waiting, Rhett hopes Link will connect the dots on his own. Because really—the atmosphere, the alcohol, their cozy little booth? Yet Link waits too, a bit of the good humor leaving his features as his eyebrows draw together.  “What?”

Rhett purses his lips and sighs through his nose. “This feels so much like a date, man. People are gonna think we’re a couple.”

“Oh. So?”

“What d’you mean ‘so’?! We’re not a couple.”

“No duh. So what if other people think that, I mean? Let ‘em. We don’t know anyone here. Doesn’t matter.”

He’s missing the point.

“What, you want a giant neon sign above our table that says ‘By the way, we’re just friends’?” With a gently-mocking smile, Link settles back onto his side of their shared couch. “Paranoid.”

“I meant it—it feels like a date to me.” 

...Maybe that wasn’t the best way to word that.

“Oh, really?” Link grins and rubs his hands along his thighs in a way he does only when he sees the fun in something, and definitely not in a good way.

“Not like—” God dammit. “You know you couldn’t pay me enough—”

“Wow. Rude.”

“But you’ve gotta realize this place is weirdly romantic. And you just added red wine to the mix.”

“If you wanted a date, Rhett, you could’ve just asked,” Link bats his lashes, each dumb flutter another successful button-push on nerves, and Rhett scoffs.

“That’s my line, apparently!”

Their bicker is cut short by the waitress returning and pouring them bellied glasses of deep red, libations to an evening for which Rhett hadn’t prayed. Great. Now all that’s missing from the table are some candles and flowers. 

Whatever. I need to let this go.

Link’s being kind enough to pay, so.

Yet Link waits until their waitress is out of earshot and clinks his glass to Rhett’s, swirling it—once again, like he knows what he’s doing. “Let’s enjoy our date, then, hmm?”

“Don’t make it weirder than it already is,” says Rhett, not moving to join the cheers. 

“What? I got all dressed up for you—”

No.

“And I’m so proud of you, Rhett—”

No.

“And we both know who you’ll be going home with at the end of the night, anyways.” Link winks at him.

“No, dude, stop. Jesus, I’m sorry I said anything.” Rhett fidgets, and for lack of a better outlet he grabs his cloth napkin and unfurls it to brush it out in his lap.  Link derives too much pleasure from this sort of thing, and Rhett's trying not to be so susceptible, but that would be a lot easier if his recent life hadn’t revolved around making sure he keeps Link properly compartmentalized. No one would blame him for getting irate, if they knew.

Picking up one of the slick black folder menus, Link clears his throat and opens it considerately. “Have you decided what you’re in the mood for tonight, sweetheart?”

Okay.

He’s not gonna let this go.

Rhett tries to wither him with a scowl, but Link simply sits there, smiling, and pushes the menu across the tabletop.

You know what? Fine.

Two people can play at this.

“I dunno.” Rhett grasps it and reads over it (not really), picking out a dish at random and decidedly not balking at the $19 price tag. “The shrimp scampi sounds pretty good, don’t ya think, baby?”

He glances up in time to catch Link’s triumphant smirk vanish, supplemented with a rough squint. 

Ha. Can dish it out but he can’t take it.

Picking up the other menu at the table wordlessly, Link opens it and reads. And just when Rhett is settling in to the sweet taste of victory and preparing for things to go back to normal, Link raps his fingers on his stubbled chin and hums.  “It does sound good. And 19 bucks is a steal.”

“It… it is?”

Link nods, watches over the top of the booklet. “Well, yeah, since after I pay and take you home, you’re gonna put out for me.”

Rhett doesn’t mean to hold his eye contact. He means to frown or punch his arm or joke or something, but he simply stares.

“All things considered, that makes you pretty cheap, Rhett.” Link sets down the menu and crosses his arms on the table again, wearing that dang shit-eating smile he seems to find every time he assumes he has the upper hand.

Rhett just needs to take the upper hand away from him, then.  Gnawing the inside of his lip, he clocks back over the list of entrees. There are a few that break $25 (for something that’ll be gone minutes after serving, that’s absurd) and his eyes linger on the steak selection.  “Well then. If that’s how it’s going to be, maybe I’ll just switch to the fillet mignon, then.” Summoning every ounce of courage he harbors for this asinine game of chicken, he inches his palm over to Link and collects his hand from the tablecloth. Too stunned to resist, Link gawks down at their pioneered point of contact as Rhett strokes a thumb along his knuckles.

“Uhh… you really think a few more bucks means you aren't cheap?” he asks, blinking heavily, and Rhett lowers his voice.

“Oh, it's not that. You said it yourself: I’m putting out, I should get protein. So I can really—” With his free fist, Rhett exaggerates a quick punch in the air, “just give it to ya tonight. Leave ya walkin’ funny. Yeah?”

“Oh my gosh, Rhett,” Link breathes, scandalized, but his nerves bubble into laughter as he pulls their hands apart and wipes his dry on his jeans. “Too far, man. Dear Lord.”

“You were fine with it until you were suddenly the one getting fucked. Hypocrite.”

“I’m not a hypocrite! I just don’t want to imagine— that .”

“That makes you exactly a hypocrite. And that also makes you, I gotta point out,” Rhett opens his palms over the table, laying out the facts, “a chicken. I win.”  With a happy smirk, Rhett folds his hands in his lap and lets his leg bounce, grateful that he’s finally made Link see the goddamn light based on the sour frown the guy’s pointing at his glass of Merlot. Now the elephant in the room has been addressed, and they can continue their awkward friend date, and later Rhett can tease him about choosing a place like this for a dinner alone together.

“You don’t win,” Link eventually grumbles—and after passing a quick look around the restaurant, he scoots close and sneaks a hand under the napkin in Rhett’s lap and settles on his thigh, killing its jiggle.

Slowly, Rhett lowers his gaze to stare at it, and Link remains interested in everything but their touching. He’s doing it, but he’s not happy about doing it.  “Uh-huh,” Rhett tuts, regarding him. “And now I suppose you want me to escalate things again?”

“I didn’t say that,” shrugs Link. “I’m just enjoying our date, Rhett.”

God fuckin’ dammit, he’s stubborn as all get out.

“I ain’t doin’ nothing.”

“So I do win.”

“Nope. ‘Cause I’m also fine with your hand on my leg. Not pullin’ away,” Rhett decides, finally giving the menu genuine interest. Kinda wants something with scallops in it. “So the second you stop touching my thigh, you lose by default.”

There’s a beat of pause where he can practically hear the gears turning in Link’s brain. “That—that’s not how chicken works! It’s about one-upping each other.”

“Sounds like someone wants a kiss,” Rhett observes calmly. Wait… scallops, or tenderloin? Damn. Everything sounds good, actually.

“No!”

“Mmhm. Can you at least wait for a kiss until we’ve ordered, babydoll?” he rumbles. “Would hate to be interrupted.”  A glimpse at Link reveals an absolute cesspool of emotions worn openly, and Rhett has to bite back a laugh: disgust, shock, fear, amusement. All that and he’s flushed, no doubt struggling to keep his hand where it is after such a joke.

“Dude, screw you,” Link whispers, and Rhett breaks into laughter. 

“I keep tellin’ you, once we get home.”

Rhett.”

“I bet we can get our food to go, if you’re that eager to say my name.” 

As if prompted, Link looks over to the host station.

I was clearly kidding, good God—

And he hums in interest. “Look. Chelsea’s here. With uhh, what’s her name.”

Rhett’s attention snaps up, and sure enough, two of their peers are standing and waiting for a table, surveying the other patrons in a slow sweep… which is definitely going to end on Rhett and Link in a cramped booth with wine.

Shit,” Rhett panics—brings his menu up over his face—and Link snorts.

“What, dude? Oh, now you’re chicken?!” He squeezes Rhett’s thigh in mocking reminder.

“Just—we know them, man. I don’t want any weird conversations or—”

And before Rhett can really think about what he’s doing, he reaches up and splays a hand on top of Link’s head, pushing. 

“Get down!”

“What?! No, I don’t—”

“Just until they’re gone!”

“You’re such an asshole, you know that, Rhett?” Link hisses from under the table, sufficiently forced into the floor.

“Shh. Just ‘til they’re gone, man.”

Link’s hand still hasn’t left Rhett’s thigh.

“Move, dude.”

“No. Asshole.”

“Look, you win, okay? Just… please, c’mon.” 

This got too real too fast. If rumors spread in class, everything is gonna get much more unpleasant to navigate.

But Link only squeezes his thigh in a defiant reminder of the situation—probably grinning like a demon under there—and Rhett’s about to lean in and snap at him when Chelsea and her friend begin to walk over.  Shit, shit, shit.

“Rhett?” she asks, and Rhett leans on the table and smiles up at them.

“Oh, hey Chelsea. How are ya?”

“Good! Weird seein’ you here,” she comments, flipping her lovely soft-curled hair over her shoulder, and Rhett doesn’t have time to parse out what she means by that before she plows along. “How’d you do on the test?”

“Oh—uhh, better than I thought I would,” he answers truthfully.

Link’s moving.  He’s— this isn’t fuckin’ funny, holy shit —he’s reaching under the tablecloth and pulling Rhett’s napkin away slowly, letting it drag down off his knees. Chelsea’s saying something about how she needs to find extra credit opportunities while Rhett reaches down and grabs the hem of the cloth, but Link rips it away like a gremlin. Rhett smiles and re-settles on the table.

“I know, me too. Maybe we can ask him if there are any options for that,” Rhett tosses off, not really sure what he’s even saying, and Chelsea calls herself rude and motions to the girl who’s been patiently smiling and standing by.

“You remember Lindsay? We had class with her last fall.”

“Right, of course—how are you, Lindsay?”

This is Hell.

I can’t—this is—

And Link’s hands are on Rhett’s inner thighs, snaking up. Gradually, inching, pushing the bunched tablecloth to rest atop Rhett’s hips and Rhett’s heart stops beating and he would lean back except then his impromptu guests might see the hands in his lap and that would be so, so, so much worse, and what the fuck is Link doing?!  This game of chicken has officially gone way too far. 

“Good! Yeah, Chelsea was the closest friend I made in that class—two of the few girls in there, so.” Lindsay cocks her head in a way Rhett’s surely meant to empathize with, but he can’t do much past grunt.

Link is on the button of my jeans.

Link is undoing my pants.

Rhett leans hard on the table and supplies Link with a swift but not-as-hard-as-it- should -be kick, which Link responds to by crushing a knee on top of Rhett’s foot to still it.

I am going to tear him to pieces once they leave.

Which, speaking of.  “Well, don’t let me keep you,” Rhett laughs, and Chelsea shakes her head, revealing a dazzling grin from behind lipstick.

“Oh, no! You’re fine, they said there’d be a bit of a wait.” I t feels like slow motion when she looks over at Link’s glass of wine on the table and umms with a limp point.  “Are we… keeping you from someone?”

Link fucking chuckles from his hiding spot, working Rhett’s zipper down, and Rhett crushes his waist up tight to the table, trying to keep from passing out with how the room starts to spin.

I’m on a date but she’s in the bathroom no that glass of wine was poured but they aren’t here yet no both of these are mine I really like wine I was stood up I 

“Nah,” is the only word that makes it out, with Rhett sticking out his lower lip and shaking his head. 

They’re saying things to him, he’s sure. Still talking and expecting him to be able to continue conversation, because there’s not a guy under the table grabbing the waistband of his boxers and pulling them aside. Rhett flexes his thighs hard, tries to get Link to ease off of him—but it acts more like a natural vice and clamps his shoulders in place, and Link… Link shivers.

Rhett’s cock is out under the table, and Link’s holding it carefully, warm breaths telling just how close he is.

“Oh. Well, if we’re not bothering you…?” Chelsea begins, and Rhett’s next exhale is shaky and pleading. He clenches his hands together and strains a pleasant smile.

“Not at all.”

“Then… I dunno, maybe Lindsay and I could pick your brain about an idea we had for a new organization for engineering students?”

No, no, no, no—

“Sure,” is what falls from Rhett’s goddamned stupid mouth instead. 

“Great! I promise it won’t take long, but basically we were thinking about—” 

And that’s when Link’s mouth sinks down onto Rhett’s cock.

Unable to help it, Rhett groans a low sigh and presses a hand over his mouth, closing his eyes. Christ, he hopes like it looks like he’s listening to their proposal. In actuality he has no idea what they’re saying, ‘cause Link is sucking him slow and carefully; he’s got the angle so that his crown isn’t bumping the underside of the table, and something about the secrecy and deliberation of that spirals heat through Rhett’s entire body.

Link is Rhett’s little secret.  Thank God for the tablecloth draped to the floor, holy shit.

“And so we were thinking it would be a support group for engineering students,” Chelsea explains, and Lindsay nods excitedly, and it’s not lost on Rhett that two pretty girls are watching him get head from his best friend.

“Yep.”

“And it would be a way for those in higher-up courses to tutor and help out those just starting out, and a good networking opportunity for everyone going into the industry!” Lindsay adds, and Rhett keeps nodding.

“That’s—sounds great.”

Link is eager, hidden away from eyes. He’s stroking, tightening his lips and his tongue’s just right, like he’s done this to Rhett a million times before—sucking hard and then letting up, lapping around his head, right on the ridge where he’s most sensitive, and… 

Fuck, I don’t want him to stop?

Sinking a hand to his lap, Rhett finds his way to the side of Link’s head, only going for a gentle cup of his face—but Link pulls off of him and kisses his palm, intimate and knowing, and Rhett’s cheeks erupt in heat. Link’s back on him like nothing had happened, though, and Rhett clears his throat and lets his fingertips graze through Link’s hair.

“So you think it’s got some merit?” Chelsea asks, hopeful and bright-eyed, and Rhett runs his free hand up along to the nape of his neck and squeezes. 

“Y-Yeah. Definitely,” he husks.

Lindsay worries her eyebrows. “Are you okay? You’re awful red.”

“Mmhm,” Rhett nods too fast. His touch in Link’s hair has seemingly lit a fire of need under the table—he’s really going for it down there, and Rhett spreads his legs in encouragement, shifting his hips forward for better access.  Link very nearly swallows him down to his base, and Rhett brings his fist down on the table, startling his visitors.  “Just a little tipsy!” he claims with a warbling laugh, collecting his wine and sipping it, closing his eyes to melt into the feeling of Link doing his damnedest to taste Rhett's release.

Fuck, if Rhett isn’t gonna give it to him.

Chelsea giggles, adjusting her purse strap and giving Lindsay a conspiratorial smirk. “This might not be my place to say, but maybe you should switch to ice water for a bit? You do look a little hot.”

“Good idea.” Rhett instantly trades glasses, sucking some down to busy his mouth.  He knows he’s acting weird—everything’s happening in snapshots and jumping forward, hard to keep track of because the only thing his mind’s really holding onto is how present and perfect Link is on his cock. Pulling off only occasionally to breathe the air hot under the table, Link’s soft panting hitting Rhett’s head. But doesn’t stop his just-tight, blissful fingers.

Holy shit, I’m close.

Rhett bucks forward again. Doesn’t mean to.

Oh God, what if I come on him…?

Chelsea and Lindsay are talking to each other quietly, giving Rhett precious few seconds of non-scrutiny.

Should let him know—

Rhett taps Link’s cheek in warning— either stop or get ready— and Link hums on him after another hungry dive down his length, tongue swirling.

“If you’ve been drinking, maybe we should drive you back to campus? We can all eat together, if you want,” Lindsay offers, and it’s right then that Rhett’s hit with it.  Hand pressed hard to his mouth, pulsing cock spilling into Link’s mouth, hoping and praying that they can’t tell what’s going on—that his body isn’t shivering and betraying him when he demands stillness of it.

“Yeah,” Rhett grunts, a low guttural noise following it in his throat, but just as quickly he shakes his head. “No, I mean—I-I’ll call an Uber. Or a friend. Don’t, uhh... Don't worry ‘bout me.”

Link is swallowing him, and Rhett’s brain turns fuzzy in the white-hot aftershocks.

“Oh. Okay. We’ll see you around, yeah?” Chelsea asks, and with some flippant parting words, she finally, finally escorts Lindsay away from the table, leaving Rhett to go limp against the booth the second he’s “alone.”

“Link, what the fuck," he growls, lifting up the wrinkled tablecloth and peering down past his now-soft dick.  He’s greeted with Link’s face, cheek pressed against his knee, eyes low-lidded and pupils wide, lips parted in gasps. Link ticks his gaze up to meet Rhett’s and a smile flickers over his mouth.

“One sec.”

“Are you—?!” Rhett looks around the restaurant again, a tremor rolling up his spine when he hisses down at him. “Seriously?!”

“Gon’ come on the floor,” Link laughs, biting his lower lip, and just like that—while Rhett watches—he dissolves into a soft moan and leans heavy into Rhett’s thigh, eyes cinched shut, shaking and growling through it.

Holy shit, holy shit.

“Link—” Rhett’s voice cracks as he puts himself away, and he nudges Link the second the guy looks totally drained. “You can’t—you gotta get up, right now.

In stifling, slow movements, Link forces his way back up into the booth, running a hand through his hair and announcing to no one, “Found my fork.” Half-hearted, he picks it up and sets it back down from its spot on the table.

Rhett hunches towards him, trying not to smile. “You can’t just fuckin’ nut on the floor , are you insane? We’ve gotta clean that up, like, right now.”

“Rhett, relax,” Link admonishes, taking his wine and having a drink. “Hmm. This pairs well.”

Link.

“Rhett. This is just a dream. Yeah?” Link's face is suddenly stoic and humorless. He shrugs, breathing out a false laugh through his nose. “It doesn’t matter.”

For a long while—jaw slack—Rhett stares at him. 

“Don’t say that,” he commands, and Link laughs, throwing his head back just so.

“You’re dreaming,”  Link punctuates again, this time with a very real lining of vitriol, and Rhett swallows, brow furrowed. “Get over it, man. You want this to be real? Tough crap. You know it’s a dream.”

Stop telling me it’s a dream,” Rhett begs—is trying to order him, willing everything to hush, and Link just shrugs at him, pitying.

“But it is a dream. I’m sorry, Rhett.”

An alarm goes off, and the image is sucked away, replaced with Link groaning in real time, crowding over to the corner of his bunk to hiss through the railing.  “Rhett. Alarm. Phone. Turn it off. Wake up.”

“Got it,” Rhett confirms, rolling over and unlocking the thing to stop it.  8am, a nd he’s completely exhausted.  Link grumbles back into a snoozing sleep, and Rhett’s left to open his dream journal and stare at the document through a fierce glower.

That’s never happened before.

He… he told me it wasn’t real.

I wanted him to stop doing that, and he didn’t. Which means I’m still not lucid.

And now I’ve gotta write all that shit down, he thinks, rubbing his eyes and very much feeling like he might need to cry. Why had dream-Link been so insistent? Rhett had known it wasn’t real—he’d known the second Link had called him “sweetheart”. He’s not an idiot.

He’d just wanted to enjoy the fantasy.

Chapter Text

The crisp autumn air is a welcome change, cutting through the angry humidity for once and blessing campus with winds that skitter dried leaves across pathways. They crunch under Rhett’s feet on the walk back to the dorm, and he flexes and relieves his fingers of some strain; turns out a gallon of milk and a box of Frosted Mini Wheats aren’t the easiest thing to carry in a single plastic bag. Heavy and awkward.

Maybe I should’ve waited until I was home to eat the Slim Jims. Now it just looks like I went by the corner store to grab a treat for Link.

Not that that’s a bad thing, I guess.

He didn't respond fast enough, but he’d definitely be sore if I didn’t bring back a consolation prize.

Shouldering his jacket tighter, Rhett jogs the last few paces to their building. Usually he takes the stairs, but exhaustion nags at him to use the elevator. Sequestered in the tight space, Rhett digs out his phone and checks the time as he’s carried up. 

Crap. Link had responded, just a few minutes ago.

I don’t need anything.

We should talk when
you get back to the dorm.

Rhett reads the second text thrice. Instant nausea.

“We should talk”—what happened? Why’s he sound so… stern ? Something must have happened, Rhett decides, and as a mind is wont to do in situations like this, his goes into overdrive seeking out culprits and explanations: I said something that pissed him off; I left something messy in the room; or, worst, I did something in my sleep again and this time he… he wants to put it out into the open.

Too soon the metal doors ping open, and Rhett steps out in a daze, no longer minding the burn of his fingers now that his stomach is sharp and acrid. 

He could run away. He could head to the library or something and make up some bullshit about being held up by an acquaintance once he feels okay enough to handle… whatever Link is springing on him. Who cares if the milk spoils? Oh, geeze, now the cereal is going to seem like a gift to try to guilt him into a better mood.

Frozen in the hallway, Rhett is numb. Avoiding this would only make things worse, wouldn’t it? They always read texts from one another right away, and having been expecting an answer back from Link, he can’t hide behind benefit of doubt.

I gotta go in there.

Heart racing, Rhett pockets his phone in movements too sluggish to feel like his own and starts for their room, flighty mind doings it best to keep pace with his pulse. 

There’s no way he knows. My dream journal is in my Drive, which he doesn’t have access to, and we already—I already essentially dry-humped him once. It’s gotta be something else. Something smaller and insignificant, and I’m blowing it way out of proportion.

When he gets to their door, he pauses. Inside Rhett can hear the TV droning away, and that melts some of his anxiety.

I’m overreacting. He just said he wants to talk.

Probably spent more money than he meant to over the past few days and is panicking.

Rhett dives into his pocket for his keys and unlocks the door. What bravery he’d felt upon hearing some show playing is quashed when he’s greeted with the sight of Link sitting in the desk chair—flipped around to face the door.  He's wearing all dark colors ( Why is that unnerving?) and has his hands folded in his lap. He’s decidedly not looking at the TV, and instead his eyes are trained closely on Rhett. Biding. Restrained.

“Uhh… hey,” Rhett says, letting himself in and shutting the door behind him gently.

“Hey. Welcome home.” The usual happy tweak to the words isn’t there; today, it’s a platitude. For a moment he simply watches, and Rhett feels the burning intensity of a gaze on his profile as he sets the grocery bag next to the mini-fridge and takes off his backpack. 

“Did you get my text?” asks Link, and Rhett’s innards somersault.  Fighting down the urge to lie, he considers it and then nods, looking at Link from the corner of his eye.

“Mm… yeah.”

“I think you should sit down.”

Fuck, fuck, fuck.

This is definitely a worst-case scenario.

“I’ll… I’ll stand, thanks,” Rhett responds. His voice is quiet. He straightens and slips his hands into his pockets, worrying the sharp edge of his key with his thumb. “Something wrong?”

Link doesn’t look happy about having his suggestion brushed aside like that. After nabbing the remote just long enough to turn off the television, he leans forward on his knees and laces his hands together. The unflinching way he stares up at Rhett from under stoic eyebrows. ..

“Do you know what this is about?”

Rhett swallows and tries to look innocent, can feel every minute twitch of his facial muscles as he fails to do so: not maintaining eye contact, frowning, brow creasing. “Nah. What’s goin’ on?”

“Don’t give me that crap, Rhett,” Link sighs, shaking his head and offsetting his jaw to sigh at the closet door. “I’ll give you one guess.”

Anything. Pick anything that isn’t damning.

“You’re mad I haven’t finished the pastries yet?” he guesses, feigning, feigning, feigning, and Link’s gaze turns absolutely venomous at what must sound like a flippant joke.

“You—I can’t—” He gives himself a second, chuckling into his lap before pushing to a stand. “You’re really gonna play dumb? Right now? How long is that gonna work for you, huh? You’re gonna make me say it, ‘cause you’re too big a coward?”

Tongue dry, Rhett swallows harsh and draws his shoulders back. His heart is going to break his ribs, he’s sure of it. The thin veil of sweat that’s conveniently snapped over his forehead isn’t helping, either.  “Link, I don’t know what you’re—”

“You really think you can just freakin’...” Link throws his hands up, gaping at the floor in exasperation. “Freakin’ moan my name in your sleep every fuckin’ night without it eating away at me? You think I don’t hear that shit, that I can’t see when you rut into your mattress and beg for me?!”

Blood shocked to ice, Rhett turns his sights to the bed. Goes catatonic. Can’t move. Can’t breathe, as Link starts a tirade, pulling down glass bottles holding secrets and smashing them on the tiles that separate their bodies.

“How long has it been now, three weeks? I’m so goddamned exhausted, Rhett. At first it scared me, terrified me more than anything when I realized somethin’ was wrong with you,” he admits, shrill, the laugh at the edge of his tone dreadful and cold. “D’you know I talked to someone in the psych department recently and found out through them that there was never any ‘sleep study’? You just fuckin’— slinked off to go fantasize about me in private somewhere? How fucked up is that?!”

Rhett wants to respond. Wishes he had something— anything to offer at his shame being brought to light, but Link isn’t going to be interrupted.

“And then, that night we—you fell asleep next to me, and I felt sorry for you… shit, you were in such a rough state, Rhett. I let you sleep,” he recounts, looking at his palms like the scripture is there. “D’you have any idea what it’s like for your best friend to get off on you like that?! Just laying there next to you in bed, and—shit, Rhett, you know I love you, but what the fuck?!”

Rhett’s shoulders are drawn tight and high. He still can’t respond, has forgotten he has a throat or a mind or a body. 

“So what is it, huh?” Link takes a few steps to close the distance between them, and that stuns Rhett back to reality; his back meets the door, not willing to surrender his personal space in the midst of this. “What—are you... are you gay?” Link asks, halting a foot away and glaring up at him with those injured sky eyes, waiting.

Rhett opens his mouth. Blinks, can’t seem to find it within him to shake his head.

“‘Cause the other options are way too fuckin’ real for you to not open up to me about,” presses Link, flailing his hands, bewildered. “Is it just me? Do you just—d’you think I’m sexy or something? And how long have you felt that way? Have you always looked at me like that, or is it a recent thing?”

Too blindsided to participate, Rhett simply stares at the face of consequence. Notices the wet of Link's eyes and the vein in his reddened neck, the impatient flick of his eyes as they dart between Rhett’s. Waiting. Wanting an explanation he can’t possibly give.

It takes too long, and Link balls his hands into fists in front of his own mouth, a seethe rolling down his body. “Rhett, fuckin'  say something!

Rhett’s palms are tingling. Their eye contact is brimming, a lit fuse, and he can’t help waiting as he watches it burn down under Link’s attention.

“Are you in love with me?” Link asks, and it’s soft—but not in the way of forgiveness. It’s lined hard and terrible, the last few seconds before impact.

“Yeah. I’m in love with you,” Rhett whispers, and Link’s face falls.

First neutral, then resolute.

Then he punches Rhett in the jaw.

It’s fast, with a staggering amount of frustration behind it—knocks Rhett’s head back into the door and slumps him to the floor in a jolt, eyelids fluttering, room spinning, breaths coming in quicker.  Link squats in front of him, angles of his sweet face now whet sharp. His next words are a hissing command.

“Then tell me.”

Eyes sliding up to him, Rhett cups his jaw and feels the already-forming bruise there, checking his hand for blood out of expectation alone. There isn’t any. “I—Link—”

“Tell me you love me,” Link repeats, the tears gone, elbows on his knees.

“Didn’t I…?” Rhett might've just had his lights rattled, but he’s sure of it, “I did, just now. I a-admitted it.”

“Not me me, you idiot,” Link spits, and he grabs Rhett by the collar and wrests them chest to chest, leaving him scrambling for support. “Tell him.”

Rhett blinks, keeps blinking. 

And when the realization hits him, it’s paired with things that perhaps it shouldn’t be—but Link had just fuckin’ hauled off and punched him, and Rhett’s getting pretty goddamn sick of this kind of shit happening when he's supposed to be safe.

“You’re not real,” Rhett concludes aloud, tone stronger than before, and Link rolls his eyes, dropping him back to the floor. 

“Such a freakin’ coward, Rhett. The second you realize this is a dream, suddenly it’s okay? Just ‘cause the consequences haven’t seeped out and ruined your life like they’re inevitably gonna, you now feel safe enough to continue waltzing around like a dishonest piece of shit.” Getting in his face, Link pokes him with a hard finger as Rhett’s face morphs into a scowl. “How’s it feel, safe in your little bubble? Letting it ruin your life and your friendship just so you’re not uncomfortable?”

Fuck this.

Rhett presses his lips together and glances down at Link’s stomach long enough to ensure that’s where his kick will land . Link’s eyes go wide as he’s knocked halfway across the room, and Rhett takes the opportunity to stand up, no longer cornered. 

“Is that what you think I’m doing?” he fires back, chest swelling while Link gawks up at him in shitless surprise—hand held to the point of contact on his sternum, grimacing. “You really think I’m doing this for my benefit alone?”

“Yes!” cries Link—and he scrambles to stand as well, not to be talked down to. “Don’t you dare go paradin’ around under some idea that you’re fucking protecting me by not letting me know how you feel, you asshole!”

Nostrils flaring, there’s a rumble deep in Rhett’s throat when he strides to close the distance between them. But as soon as he’s within distance, Link shoves him back—once, twice. On the third, Rhett ducks and rushes his shoulder into Link’s stomach, hoisting him into the air. Link shrieks, furious.

“Rhett, put me down!” 

The words are barely out of Link’s mouth before he kicks viciously, narrowly missing Rhett’s crotch—but the pain that shoots through his groin is still enough to crumple Rhett with a strained cry, sending them both toppling to the floor. In the ensuing flurry of limbs struggling to come out on top, it’s Link who wins, crawling on top of Rhett’s middle to straddle him.

It doesn’t matter that Rhett snarls and puts a hand on his chest to push him off—Link swings again, and this time his fist connects with Rhett’s nose.

There’s a snapping noise followed by a blinding flash of pain, and Rhett roars and clasps both hands on the stinging, feeling the break of skin on the bridge and the wet warmth dribbling down his cheek.

“Y-You—” Shaking, he frowns hard at Link, staring weepy daggers—wills him to feel bad for the transgression, but Link is set in disdain, sneering down at him, chest heaving. “You fuckin’ broke my nose!”

“No shit!”

Seeing red, Rhett snarls and retaliates—unable to get a full wind-up from his spot on the floor—and he misses his target, on top of that. But he still feels Link's mouth connect with his knuckles, and Link lets out a sputtering gasp. Once  everything stills again, there’s blood running down both their faces. Link’s lip spouts a trickle. He opens his mouth to pant for air, shocked, and red paints his teeth and tongue as well. He spits, flecking metallic saliva over Rhett’s neck, and Rhett growls under him. 

“I don’t wanna lose you, you fuckin’ asshole!” he rumbles, nasal from his injury. “If I tell you I love you, what if you don’t wanna hear it? What if this happens, in real life? I can’t—I can’t lose you, Link. You’re the only thing in my life that really matters. I don’t care where I am or what I’m doing with my life—so long as you’re there with me, it’s enough!”

Link’s not having it; he glowers in distaste of another wrong answer and rips up Rhett’s shirt to rake nails down his stomach in fast-burning rows.

With a pissed cry, Rhett snatches his wrists and tosses him to the floor, sending both into a mad dash to assume dominance. Thankfully this time it ends with Rhett on top, pinning Link down like usual with the dead move, and Link yells ire and obscenities and kicks, specks of blood spattering from his lips as he fights.

“Rhett, I swear to God—”

“Listen to me!!” Rhett bellows, loud enough to still him into silence.

Rhett draws back to look down at him. The loathing is still clear on Link’s beaten face, he's still drawing ragged air between bloody teeth. He tilts his head to the side just enough to spit another mouthful on the floor, not once breaking eye contact. Meanwhile, Rhett feels the warmth trickling down a new path, away from his cheeks—over his lips and into his beard. Sees it fall in thick droplets onto Link’s shirt, soaking into the dark fabric like it doesn’t exist.

Swallowing, Rhett feels the burn of his combined wounds: his aching jaw, throbbing groin, stinging stomach, and gushing face. His throat still works.

“I love you, you prick ,” he presses, arms shaking. “But I’m not stupid. Me and you?” he laughs, hollow, and Link’s eyes lose a bit of their bite. “It’s never gonna happen. I know it’s one-sided, and I’m okay with that. I’d been fine with it until you came along—so why the fuck would I tell him when that would risk everything?!”

Link is still. He doesn’t struggle, just eyes Rhett, coming down from his boiling upset.

“You’d really rather just do this, then?” he asks in a murmur, swallowing. It's a last ditch effort to make Rhett see the absurdity of it all, like he doesn’t already know how pathetic he is. “You just wanna have control over your dreams ‘cause you’re too scared to try and control the real thing?”

“I don’t want to control the real thing. Link, you’re—you’re not a prize to keep. You’re a person. You're my best friend, and we’ve both envisioned how our lives were gonna go for a long time now,” says Rhett in a hush. His head feels light on his shoulders, woozy and oddly euphoric. “I’m in your plan. We’re both in each other’s plans… but not like that.”

Link doesn’t respond. For the first time, his focus falls away, following the small stream running through Rhett’s beard. Morose.

“I would love it, if that were the case,” chuckles Rhett, trying not to cry at the idea itself. Being with Link. Like a sunspot in his heart too bright to look at. “But it’s not. So… if I can at least control my dreams, I can stop this. I don’t—” He falters, reaching down and wiping Link’s split lip, but the blood simply spouts fresh. “Don’t wanna dream about you anymore. About him.

“Asshole,” Link says, and when Rhett meets his gaze, the anger is back. He swirls his tongue inside his cheeks, swallowing again, and Rhett can imagine the copper he must be taking down. “The least you could do is keep me here. Where it’s safe.”

“S’torture,” Rhett whispers with a small smile, listless. “It ain’t right. Ain’t fair to him.”

“Please?”

Blinking hard, Rhett considers Link with renewed eyes. Brow furrowed. “What...?”

“You think being able to control your dreams will keep me outta them?” Link asks, smirking in pity, and he laughs once, curt. “You can’t fight it, Rhett. It’ll only make it worse. If you’re too spineless to talk to him, you’ve gotta take care of me here. I wish you’d tell him—but if you absolutely can’t… then you have to keep me here. As an outlet. For both our sakes’.”

Rhett hesitates, easing his weight off of Link entirely. Link doesn't try to fight anymore.

Isn’t this just my brain fighting with me? Telling me what I want to hear?

Excusing me from consequences? Rationalizing?

“You might go mad without it,” Link promises, and he eases up onto his elbows to kiss Rhett, ignoring any discomfort from his split lip. 

Rhett’s nerves and soreness melt with a timid groan, and he’s debating whether tongue would hurt when Link breaches that gap for them—he licks into Rhett’s mouth, tasting of warm metal and understanding.  Rhett caves, one hand finding its way to the back of Link’s head and drawing them close, stroking through his hair. When Link responds in kind, wrapping his arms up around Rhett’s shoulders, he breaks to ask low, “Will you touch me? Please?”

“Yeah,” nods Rhett, bracing his knees on either side of Link’s hips, still holding his head up and undoing Link’s jeans with his free hand. Link trembles out an anticipatory breath as Rhett grazes against his arousal and takes him in hand, enjoying the hard shift to care. Only pausing to spit into his hand—once and wiped off, twice and wiped off, and the third time it runs clear—Rhett wets Link’s length, pumping him shallow and soft.

It’s a drastic change in the air, but Link gasps grateful against it and lets his lids fall, watching Rhett’s lips. His body tenses, curls closer, and Rhett lowers his head and holds him. Focuses on making him feel cherished after such a horrible mess. 

“I really banged you up, huh?” Link asks, and Rhett moves to press their foreheads together. Link is looking cross-eyed at his nose, smiling, features twitching every time Rhett strokes over his head.

“Is it bad?” Rhett mumbles with his own smile, hearing the clotted congestion of his septum, and Link smiles.

“I dunno… kinda like the way you look when you’re a little roughed up. S’hot.”

Blushing, Rhett leans in for another kiss, wrist now flicking in quick tugs between them. Link hums, bucking up just barely.  “You look like an action hero,” he observes with another chuckle, and Rhett huffs a laugh.

“Wish I could say the same for you. Can’t believe I punched you in the face.”

“I did it first,” Link reminds him, breathy, thighs clenching under Rhett’s. “I’d say I got the better shot, too.”

“I can still bust up that pretty face, if you want,” Rhett jokes—but Link moans, settling his head into the crook of Rhett’s neck. His arms tighten pleasantly before he comes over Rhett’s fingers, dribbling and warm, and Rhett’s hit with a furious blush at the thought that Link likes their hands on one another in any context.

“Shit, Link.”

“Ahh,” Link breaths, kissing his throat—no doubt leaving a lipstick stain of his own wound—and then he’s batting Rhett’s hand away from his over-sensitive length, apologetic. “Oh, gosh—too much, I’m done.”

Rhett pulls away and wipes his hand on his pants. "You like it rough.”

“You're good at bein' rough with me,” Link admits, suddenly-sleepy looking and content despite his state of being. 

For a while, Link stares at him. Rhett stares back, unabashed, face-to-face with this arrangement. Acknowledging it, and not looking away. 

This is best for everyone.

“You really want control over your dreams that badly?” Link asks in a whisper, tilting his head to the side. 

Reaching up, Rhett drags a thumb along Link’s lip and stops short of the torn skin. Looking at it. There's so much blood. On both of them.

I don’t wanna see him hurt. Not even in a dream.

“Yeah,” he admits, eyes ticking back up to Link’s.

Link smiles, genuine, and nods. “Alright then. If you think that’s best.”

When Rhett finishes the run of his thumb along Link’s lip, there’s no cut.

There’s not even any blood.

They’re left huddled on the floor together, unscathed and clean, no more aches or pains, and Rhett lets his lids fall shut and takes a deep breath through his nose, clear of damage, fluid.

Lucidity.

“Thank you,” he murmurs, voice thick, and Link smiles.

Chapter Text

Finally.

Finally, after nearly three weeks that have felt a lifetime, Rhett can control his dreams. Healing Link in last night’s had been his doing, and thanks to that, he and Link had had a wonderful day together after waking up.  They’d gone to get breakfast, hung out and cracked jokes on the quad before class, written notes to one another during class, and even when Link had gone to the gym alone, he’d texted Rhett through his work out session. Pizza in the dorm together while playing a show they hadn’t paid attention to, instead reminiscing about high school? That had been the cherry on top.

Link is happy. 

And Rhett’s happy too; things are back to normal during the day thanks to the security blanket of lucidity. And hell, that security blanket even turns into a safety net at night—which makes bedtime a lot more bearable as well. Rhett’s looking forward to sleep, knowing a restful episode where he’s in complete control awaits him.

No paranoia. No fear. No guilt.

Tucked in snug and sound, Rhett scrolls through Instagram. The only thing keeping him from stretching his new brain muscle is Link’s return from the shower. As usual, the guy’s taking his sweet time. Bad news for someone so antsy.

I need to calm down or I might not be able to fall asleep.

Smirking at the photos whirling up his screen, Rhett snuggles into his comforter. The metallic click of their door unlocking sends his heart soaring, so he lets his phone sleep on its charger and peers out of the covers while Link sidles into the room in a towel.

The first thing he does is look at Rhett, and he smiles. “Look at you, all bundled up. You comfy?”

“Yep.”

“Someone’s eager to get some sleep.”

“I’m beat, man,” Rhett hums, though when he blinks fast it doesn’t suggest so. 

“Yeah?” Link asks, excusing himself to their closet. Funny, that he doesn’t change in the bathroom. Rhett averts his gaze to the foot of the bed, eyeing the rungs on Link’s ladder when Link cracks, “You just finish a little self-romance?”

“What?!” Bursting into laughter, Rhett shakes his head. “No! I was gonna ask you the same thing, with how long you take to get clean. You’re either fallin’ asleep or beatin’ off in there, I swear.”

“Wrong on both accounts.” The light turns off and Link reappears in his periphery, wearing flannel pants and giving his just-damp hair another hard shake. “I’m enjoyin' myself, usually.”

Yeah, that’s what I’m sayin'.”

“No, I mean—jerk,” Link smiles, taking a moment to play-glare at Rhett from the foot of the bed before his ascent. “I’m just washin'.”

“Uh-huh. If you don’t do it in the shower, when d'you do it?” dares Rhett, feeling brave. This isn’t that unusual a conversation. They’ve discussed their… habits before, with one another, and Link confirms this with an “eh.”

“Wherever I find time. I don’t do it regularly,” he says. Rhett doesn’t believe that for a second.

“Bullcrap.”

“What? That so hard to believe?” Link asks with a hint of mockery, and sure enough he presses it. “Must mean you work on a schedule. When do you do it, then?”

In my sleep, the thought nearly squashes Rhett into laughter on its own, but he crams that down fast enough to think of a plausible substitute. “Usually when you go to the gym.”

“Aww, dude, seriously?!”

“Yep.”

“I freakin’ texted you—”

“Well I didn’t do it today!”

“Oh, gracious…”

Bundling the blankets near his chin, Rhett grins into the darkness. “Now you gotta share. It’s only fair.”

There’s a sigh before Link speaks. “I haven’t recently. No joke.”

“Liar.”

“F’real, dude. It’s been a while. I’m actually… kinda tryin’ not to,” he admits, and Rhett can envision the self-degrading smile and head shake that goes with that. Like Link can’t believe it himself. 

“Tryin’ not to?” Rhett echoes, and Link hums.

“Yeah.”

“Why?”

“I dunno. Wasn’t really a choice I made, I just… haven’t, in a while. And I’m okay with it.”

How long is ‘a while’? 

Is it since I heard him that one night? ‘Cause that definitely resulted in him getting off. No doubt about it.

“How long’s it been?”

“I—if I answer, will you stop buggin’ me about it? Ya weirdo?”

“Sure.”

“...It’s been a few weeks.”

A few weeks?!  

“Good gosh! Aren’t you frustrated?” 

“No! We ain’t animals, Rhett. I’m fine.” Then a yawn. “Tired, more than anything. Tired and ready for this… weird, weird conversation to end. You ready for bed?”

Rhett stares up into nothingness, twiddles his thumbs together. “Yeah. Night, Link.”

“Night, brother.”

And not five minutes later Link is snoring gently, leaving Rhett alone with his thoughts. He closes his eyes, stewing, letting questions run rampant in the comfort of his mind.

He hasn’t jacked off in weeks?

That’s—is that even healthy?! 

Rhett’s pretty sure he’d read somewhere that regular ejaculation is good for prostate health. Not that he needs to hide behind the notion that his curiosity’s entirely innocent; he likes knowing Link is taking care of himself and feeling good, no matter what dirty mental images that serves up, and he knows Link well enough to know that anything more than a few days is a long time for the guy to go without. 

Is he punishing himself for something? Did he see some really fucked-up porn?

What the hell would keep him from it?

What if it’s me?  What if living with me freaks him out?

But we've lived together for two years now, why all of a sudden...?

Forcing himself to quit picking at his cuticles, Rhett re-opens his eyes to the bottom of the mattress above him and clears his throat.

Link snores.

“Link,” Rhett says.

Link snores again.

“Link. Hey. Link, wake up.”

The snoring stops and is supplemented with a sleepy groan.

“Link!”

When the response comes, it cracks at the edges. “What, Rhett?”

“Come down here.”

“What?” A whine starts and sinks into a whimper. “I just fell asleep, can’t it wait 'til morning?”

“Please?”

Fully aggravated, Link lets out a growl and the bed starts shaking as he shuffles to the ladder, a foot appearing on the top step in the dim. “If you just want me to see a meme on your phone again, I swear to God…”  Rhett keeps quiet until Link is hovering at the side of his bunk, looking around for the source of what possibly could’ve warranted rousing him. There isn’t anything—just Rhett bundled in his bedstuffs, peeking up at him. Link shrugs. “What?”

“Is… is it weird if I wanna cuddle?” Rhett asks, quiet, and Link’s arms fall to his sides. 

“You’re joking.”

“I’m not.”

“Rhett—we can’t—we aren’t little kids anymore,” Link gripes, but he’s already shooing Rhett towards the wall and grabbing the edge of the blanket. Rhett bounces back with a smile, making room on the already-tiny twin and knowing he has an ace up his sleeve called that night you came back drunk if Link tries to make this sound weird. “Tell me you aren’t naked.”

“I’m not naked,” Rhett promises. That’s true. He’s wearing boxers, at least. 

But Link’s already crawling into bed heedless of the answer, twisting and punching his side of Rhett’s pillow ‘cause he knows it’s too hard for his liking. He settles with a drawn-out exhale, shoulder pressed into Rhett’s chest, their hips separated by the mere inch available for that purpose. In the dark, Rhett can see Link blinking, the silhouette of his long eyelashes evident against the streetlight illuminating the rest of their room.

“Happy?” Link wonders.

Almost.

Rhett snuggles into him, pressing his nose to Link’s cheek and letting one of his thighs go over Link’s—

“Oh, gosh.”

—and even hazarding an arm around him, hugging him tight.

“Seriously, Rhett?”

“Mhm.”

“Ugh.”  He can scoff and roll his eyes all he wants. He’s not getting up or shoving Rhett away, which is what he would do, if he really had a problem with this.

“Just wanted to talk to you,” Rhett starts, and Link hadn’t been moving to begin with, but he stills in Rhett’s arms.

“...’bout what?”

Rhett takes a deep breath, not exactly meaning to smell Link’s shampoo and spicy body wash, but it’s a nice tint he gets anyway, so he can’t help his fuzzy-drunk smile—just for a moment. “You’re happy livin’ with me. Right?”

“Yeah,” Link answers quickly. A little too quickly, like he doesn’t wanna talk about this, and Rhett tuts.

“You’re comfortable around me?”

There’s nowhere to hide when Link swallows, the sound finding Rhett’s ears easily. “Of—of course, Rhett. You’re my best friend. I wouldn’t wanna live with anyone else.”

“And you know I wouldn’t judge you, if I happened to catch you… messin’ around with yourself. You know?”

Link sucks in a sharp breath—either indignation or something wilder—and cocks his head barely to try to scrutinize Rhett out of his periphery. “Is this really what you wanted to talk about? Holy crap, Rhett, I—I was already asleep, I don’t need to jack off to relax!”

Rhett runs his tongue over his teeth. “Forget that, then. I’m just lettin’ you know that you can pretend you’re alone, even if I’m in the room with you. I won’t make fun. You shouldn't deny yourself of stuff.”

Hesitating, Link blinks a few times, eyes darting on his own bunk overhead. “It’s really not like... a need or anything, Rhett. I don’t have to touch myself to be okay.”

“What about just ‘cause it feels good?” 

This time, Link doesn’t have an answer. 

“You wanna?” Rhett asks in a low husk, and Link’s nodding on the heels of it, facade cracked to reveal the desperation beneath that Rhett had known was lying in wait.

“Yeah. Oh, gosh, I do. It really wouldn’t bother you?”

“Never. Bet you’re hard already,” mumbles Rhett, and when his exploratory hand slides along under the cover, his fingertips meet Link’s knuckles at his goal. Rhett chuckles, brief and soft, and Link seems to melt at the warmth of it so close to his ear. Nods again, voice shaking since Rhett had tried to prove it himself.

“I—I am.”

“Lotion’s on the desk,” Rhett tilts his head at it, and Link throws caution to the wind in a heartbeat, leaning out of the embrace to strain to the little bottle and pump it into his hand. He’s already shaking at the promise of being able to get himself off, and Rhett stills him again by catching his wrist once he’s back down.

“What?” Link asks, frozen in the dark. “Did you—shit, did you mean in my own bed? I-I didn’t… I'll go—”

“Shh,” Rhett hushes, trailing up along the heel of Link’s hand and finding the dollop of cool slick, scooping it from Link’s palm. At this, a full-body shiver rails Link, and his next breath comes out a whimpered “ Oh.”

“Can you move your pants for me?” rumbles Rhett. With a titillated gasp, Link acquiesces, every inch of him alive and thrumming, all raw excitement that Rhett’s going to be the one taking care of him.

“Oh, gosh.”

“It’s okay. I’ve got you. Sorry if it’s a bit cool,” Rhett warns. He finds his way to Link’s hips under the blanket, grazing bare skin and shuddering the body beside his own. When he bumps into Link’s arousal, it twitches up against him in welcome greeting, skin hot and smooth. “ There you are,” Rhett smiles, and opens his fingers to stroke lotion down Link’s waiting cock.

“Ahh, fuck,” sighs Link, a sound of pure relief that swells Rhett’s chest on its way to his own dick. As Rhett spreads the wetness on him, he allows himself a moment to adjust—free arm snaking beneath Link’s shoulders to hug him close, putting his lips in the shell of Link’s ear, again pinning his thighs to the bed with one of his own.

“This okay?”

“Y-Yeah. God, Rhett.”

Perfect. He’s perfect, even when he’s acting like a ridiculous little virgin.

The urge to kiss him comes and goes, and instead, Rhett begins stroking him in slow, calculated encouragement: letting his fingers loosen just a bit when they roll over the ridge of his cock, tightening along the length, thumbing his head occasionally, and showing his base far more attention than Link probably gives it when he solos. That’s the point, though; Rhett’s grooming him. Coaxing him to be as hard as he can, lavish him in his own arousal without shame.

Since Link’s already breathing heavy, it must be working.

“Will you tell me what feels good? What you want me to do?” asks Rhett, and Link trembles in his hold, nothing left to hide.

“The fact that you’re touchin’ me at all, Rhett…”

“Nah. I’ll be touchin’ you no matter what. You should tell me what you like.”

Another sharp inhale thanks to Rhett sliding his slippery hand to Link’s balls and massaging them gently, wetting them with rolling care.  Ohhh.”

Rhett doesn’t push him—lets him enjoy the sensation of being primed, how large just one of Rhett’s hands is on his quickly-tightening sac. “S’that good, bud?”

“Yeah, Rhett. I—” With the arm closest to the edge of the bed, Link lets a palm roam: it follows up Rhett’s arm and rests on his shoulder, creating a space where it’s just their heads pressed together, separate from their lower bodies. “W-When I do this, I usually, um… I stroke mostly below my head, but let m-my first finger an’ thumb go up over it,” he explains shakily. 

Rhett takes a moment to visualize what he means before trawling flat, away from his balls and back up to his member. He wraps him up and jerks him in shallow, smooth flicks of the wrist. The lip of Link’s head gets fucked on the grip of his thumb and pointer—just barely—and no sooner does Rhett ask, “Like this?” than Link tatters into a deep, grateful moan that sets Rhett’s veins ablaze.

“Y-Yes! Just like that—Rhett, that’s perfect! You’re—”

“Makin’ you feel good,” Rhett finishes for him with a happy hum, letting the words vibrate right down into Link’s ear drum. He’s rewarded with a whine and buck of Link’s hips that seemingly can’t be helped. Evidently, neither can the ridiculous words that pour out of Link’s mouth like a faucet.

“Thank you—holy shit, this feels incredible… You r-really didn’t have to, coulda taken care of myself—ohh, fuck, why should you have to take care of me? You really don’t have to—”

“Hush, man. I wanna. You want it faster?” Rhett asks. He absolutely won’t change a thing about his method unless Link gives him the go-ahead—which he does, nodding and letting small pleas die on his lips. 

Rhett kicks up his pace, strokes now little more than a short, insistent shake right on Link’s nerves, just the way he wants it, and Link moans hard for him and digs his fingers into his shoulder, passing along what he’s feeling. They’re creating a lot of body heat together under the blanket, and when Rhett re-settles his head on Link’s, he can feel a thin veil of sweat over them both.

Link can’t seem to speak anymore. He’s doing everything but: choking, gasping, letting high little whines sing praise instead. Every once in a while his body jumps from getting exactly what it likes, and Rhett smiles whenever that happens.  Hasn’t stopped smiling, actually.

Link’s back arches, head pressing hard into the pillow as he tilts his chin back and admits, “Don’t want it to be over, b-but—ahh,   I’m close, Rhett!”

If only he knew.

Rhett stops, and Link falls from a height so great it knocks the wind out of him, leaves him panting deep lungfuls and blinking wildly, wondering what happened. 

“You—why d'you stop?”

“You said you didn’t want it to be over,” Rhett hums, doing his best to sound innocent. Link whimpers and fucks up into his fist, hot for it and irritated.

“C’mon, I was just… dang .”

“You want me to keep goin’?”

“Please!”

And Rhett does, kicking them right back into the thick of it. Link groans heavy, pleasure returning with a vengeance, and Rhett shuts his eyes to focus and ruts against Link’s hip—it might be a bit too far, honestly, but when Link is racked with it like this, totally at Rhett’s mercy? He definitely won’t say anything to discourage it.

The second time he’s nearing orgasm, Link doesn’t say anything—but Rhett knows the signs to look for, finds that rolling wave in his body just in time and throws his own stubbornness in front of it to break it early-on, hand abandoning Link again. 

It works; Link lets out a different type of groan, frustrated, the palm on Rhett’s shoulder moving higher to his face and cupping his cheek fervently. “No— no, why?! Fuck, Rhett, I need it! You’re the one who thought of it, it was your idea! You just offered so you could see me squirm? You know how long it’s been!”

“We’ll get there,” Rhett consoles him, imagining what it would be like to kiss the sweat from his cheek. “Just wanna make sure that when you come, you come hard.”

“Fuck!” Link bucks up into him pitifully, begging, “It’ll be hard, I promise. Please just touch me, get me there, I don’t wanna do it myself—”

“You’re not ,” Rhett growls, hand jumping back to life, and Link shatters into wailing cry, body rigid as Rhett sweeps him along.

The effects of his work have Link curling towards him in a gravity he can’t resist: angling onto his side, clawing at Rhett’s bare chest with both hands, scooting their hips together like some deeper part of him knows that shooting up onto Rhett’s stomach is what he really wants to do. And Rhett’s fine with that; the arm around Link’s shoulders draws him closer, pressing their foreheads together. 

Link’s eyes are screwed shut when he begins unraveling a third time, gasping right in Rhett’s face. And since Rhett doesn’t think he would mind so much anymore, he keeps his hawklike gaze on those closed lids and rumbles, “I really wanna kiss you, Link.”

Two slivers of tortured black-and-blue open before Link crashes their lips together. Rhett doesn’t think twice—shivering, he bears down on him by pressing an elbow into the bed for leverage and slips his tongue into Link’s mouth, making out with him while jacking him off in the precise way he likes, and there's something so innocently unthinkable about that.

Weak hiccuping sounds rattle in Link’s throat before he pulls away, warning “Gonna come,” but Rhett presses back down into the kiss, keeps his hand fast over Link’s cock.

Not yet.

Link tries to kiss him back—tries to return that fervor—but he can’t stop moaning enough to focus on it, speaking around Rhett licking at his lips,  “Oh, fuck, oh fuck, I’m—I’m right there!”

Little bit longer.

Rhett dives for his neck, kisses him there, open and wet, harshing his beard on Link’s throat as Link begs and pleads, wracked with it and voice tattered—

“Don’t stop! Fuck, what’s—I want it, don’t stop, I’m—”

Almost.

Hunched over Link, Rhett doesn’t slow his punishing fist when he pulls back to look down at what his efforts are doing: Link is ruined, a mess on the perpetual precipice of release. Arms shaking hard, hands seeking purchase anywhere, wet with sweat, swearing, writhing into the covers below him, forcing his eyes open in the most obscenely gorgeous plea for mercy. He can’t even form words anymore.

Too bad he’ll have to, if he wants it that bad.

“You wanna come now, baby?”

Link chokes, sputters on air, doesn’t understand why it isn’t already happening, held and pressed hard against the brink of it by Rhett's will alone. 

“P-Please,” he keens, and Rhett smiles gently and shifts down on him. 

“Good boy,” Rhett murmurs, leaning down and taking Link into his mouth, flicking his tongue and sucking hard over that same ridge as he bobs his head.

Now.

Link spills with a full-throated yell, torn at its edges, bucking and thrusting so hard that Rhett has to pin him down to prevent him from fucking too deep into his throat. He fixes Link’s wrists to the bed as he gasps and convulses through it, Rhett’s name popping out between every other filthy swear and vocalization as he rides his release.  He’s so good, been so patient that Rhett lets him experience the bliss of climax again and again—keeps the euphoric shock waves going for him, even after he’s been milked dry.

That's just one of the perks of lucidity; Rhett controls everything .

When it’s finally over, Link loses all strength and deflates into the sheets, limp and catatonic, lids low from drain. It’s sweet that he cares enough to grunt and beckon Rhett towards him, requesting cuddles, and Rhett does just that, gathering Link up into his arms and providing a base of steady warmth for him to twitch and shake against in the afterglow.

“Was that good?” Rhett asks, and Link nods, enfeebled. 

“Mhm.”

“Are you sleepy now?” chuckles Rhett, kissing him at the corner of his lips, but Link’s too tired to even smile back.

“Yeah.”

“Okay. Let’s go to bed.”

“Wha’boutchu…?”

“I don’t need anything. Go to sleep, bo.”

“Mmm… mkay,” Link relents, snuggling into Rhett’s embrace and letting out a long, drained sigh.

It doesn’t always have to be about me, Rhett tells himself, justifying why he holds Link in a dream without wanting more.

Chapter Text

How’d we end up here?

If not for the very real taste of stale Pabst in his throat, Rhett could swear this is a dream—but his dreams are never this raucous, and trying to make it calm down by wishful internal commands does nothing. 

It’s been a while since he and Link have accepted an invitation to a party together. After the frat mishap, the group text they'd received had sent a chill up his spine. Link had insisted it was fine and convinced Rhett to join him (“I’m still goin’ even if you don’t, so you should come with”), but the whole thing had felt like Link was doin’ it ‘cause he felt guilty.

Stupid. It’s true that I wouldn’t come without him, but I wouldn’t wanna come without him. He’s not doing me any favors.

I don’t need a break this badly. Not one this crazy.

Tail-ending the thought, a glass shatters somewhere in the house’s kitchen, and several people cry “Party foul!”

Rhett sits on the couch and nurses his can of beer, not paying mind to any of the strangers he could turn into acquaintances. He's not really in the mood to make new friends tonight. The living room thumps with music and smells vaguely of sweat and pizza gone uneaten, and across the brown coffee table littered with tan scratches at his shins sits Link on the opposite couch.

He’s lounging next to a pretty girl and has a few drinks in ‘im too, brave enough that his arm’s draped over the back of the couch and he’s talking to her like she’s the only person here. And she’s eating it up, ‘cause of course she is—anyone would be if Link were smooth-talkin’ ‘em. Their bodies are angled towards each other and they’re lost in one another’s drink-hazed eyes, both giggly, Link wearing that denim jacket that hugs his shoulders real nice and jeans that cuff above his ankles and—

“Hey.”

Someone plops down beside Rhett, nearly sloshing their bottle in the process, and slaps a hand on his thigh all friendly-like.

“Hey, Gregg. How’s it goin’?” Rhett smiles, patting him on the back, and Gregg bobs his head to and fro, comme ci, comme ça.

“Can’t complain. You havin’ a good time?”

“For sure. Thanks for the invite. I think Link needed to get out of the dorm,” Rhett nods across the U of couches at him, and Gregg glances over and blows a raspberry at the unabashed flirting.

“No kiddin’. Don’t tell him, but Abbi is way more than he can handle. She’s broken more hearts on campus than Kpop and Turner combined.”

“Turner?”

“That one really hot professor. You never heard o’ Turner? Like a legend. Logic 201 has been lovingly renamed ‘Crises in Sexuality’ thanks to her.”

Rhett chuckles, taking a drink and watching as Link wins another bout of giggles from Abbi. She’s cute. Sparkling eyes and warm amber skin, a smile that could melt ice if she needed it to. Appears to be working on Link, anyway. “She seems nice,” Rhett muses, and Gregg hums into the neck of his beer.

“She is, dude. She just knows what she wants and doesn’t fuck around. Most guys can’t keep up.”

“Well, maybe Link can,” shrugs Rhett, and Gregg laughs.

“Maybe, yeah. Always liked a challenge.”

Rhett takes another swig and lets his attention wander over the bodies standing around in huddles, some dancing, others laughing and pushing one another amicably. “Whose house is this anyway?” he wonders. All he’d gotten from Gregg was the address, and being within walking distance had sealed the deal.

“Ben’s. He lives here with ‘is girlfriend. They’re cool. I’ll introduce you if you like.”

“Maybe some other time.”

“Sure. You wan’ another beer?”

“I’m good, thanks.”

“Abbi! Link! Y’all need new drinks?” Gregg barks at them, and they whip their heads up.

“Sure! Thanks, Gregg.” Link’s eyes flick to Rhett’s, that down-turned smile conveying so much in the half-second that follows: I’m doin’ it, man, check me out! Rhett smiles back at him, wrinkling his nose playfully.  Gregg bows and excuses himself, wingman of the entire fucking party that he is, and Rhett goes back to people-watching as swiftly as the new couple across from him starts flirting again.

It’s getting kinda late, and honestly Rhett’s surprised that Link’s open to getting sloshed since he’d been drunk not too long ago—but he deserves to cut loose if that’s what he wants; Rhett’s not keen on amping up tonight, so he can walk Link home after. He can be a shoulder to lean on for that.

Assuming Link comes home with him, that is.

Smirking, Rhett ticks his gaze back over to the pair long enough to watch Abbi touch Link’s shoulder and laugh.

“Here ya go, y’all.” Gregg returns and sets two fresh drinks in front of them on the banged-up coffee table, and they sing a thanks together and pick them up simultaneously. “Too bad Ben doesn’t have any ping pong balls,” Gregg says to Rhett, who swivels his head to look up at him. Gregg’s grinning. “Been a while since I’ve played beer pong.”

“You wanna play a drinkin' game? All we need’s a deck of cards.”

Without waiting, Gregg turns and yells at the rest of the party, “Hey! Anyone got any playing cards?!”

A few people laugh, but no one answers his cry for help, and he turns to give Rhett a disappointed grimace that says these fuckin’ people.

“If you wanna play a game, we don’t need cards,” comes a voice, and it takes a moment for Rhett to connect Abbi’s voice with her face. Gregg, Link, and Rhett all blink at her before she waggles her eyebrows and cups her hands around her mouth, shouting, “Who wants to play ‘Truth or Dare’?!”

Where Gregg’s cry had gone sadly unanswered, Abbi’s call is answered by people whooping and crawling over the backs of the couches, plopping down into a makeshift circle, and Rhett’s suddenly surrounded by people. The promise of playing a grade school game shouldn’t entice college kids this much, but nostalgia’s a hell of a thing. Overwhelmed just a bit, Rhett locks eyes with Link in the flurry of company—and reading his anxiety, Link winks at him, giving him a nod with tickled lips. Its meaning is clear: you’re okay.

Like I’d leave Link here like this anyway. Not before I know where he’s gonna end up tonight.

Since Abbi had suggested it, she sets out the rules: there are too many people to pick and choose truths and dares, so folks have to ask the person to their left, and it’ll go around the circle that way. And without missing a beat, she turns to Link and clasps her hands on her knees.

“Truth or dare, Link?”

“Truth,” Link chooses, smiling and taking a drink. He’s already halfway through the beer Gregg had fetched for him.

“Are you into anyone here tonight?” she teases, perfectly coy, and Link makes a show of pretending to nearly spit his drink back out at her bluntness. He's good; it earns a rolling giggle from her. 

“Well, hell yeah I am,” he answers easily, not taking his eyes off her, and the circle cheers and provides a perfectly cinematic chorus of oooh s before Link turns to the girl sitting on his left.

She’s cute, too. And apparently Link knows her name.

“Min-young,” he addresses her, and she sits up straight, at attention. “Truth or dare?”

Gregg leans over and mumbles into Rhett’s ear, “That’s Ben’s girlfriend.”

So Link knows the hosts. Huh.

“Dare.”

“I dare you to tweet, ‘Who are all these losers in my house? So sick of this!’” Link giggles, and everyone bursts into laughter with goads, “Do it!” “Oh my god.” “Yesss!”

Min-young laughs, a sharp noise that pairs well with her tinkling gold earrings, and pulls out her phone. “Fine! ...Y’all know I love you, right?” she asks the group, met with another round of laughter.

“No tagging it, either, don’t tell anyone it’s a dare,” Link instructs, leaning over and watching her tweet.

It’s nice to see him having fun.

Link’s in his element in big groups.

In some ways, we're really different. Incompatible.

The circle goes around pretty quickly, drinks flowing and refreshed by those standing nearest to coolers, and after Gregg honestly answers that his sexual awakening was caused by none other than Velma from Scooby-Doo, he turns to Rhett and clears his throat theatrically.  “Truth or dare, my man?”

I don’t really wanna pick either.

But since I really don’t wanna talk about anything…

“Dare.”

“I dare you to give a hickey to someone here,” Gregg drawls, letting his eyebrows do the wave, and Rhett rolls his eyes hard as people hoot and wolf whistle.

Jesus Christ.

Rhett scans everyone in a quick slide, and it’s bizarre, knowing that they’re wondering who he’s going to choose. A few of the girls standing behind Link’s couch are even giggling and seem like they might kinda be into it, but—gosh, the thought of giving one of them a hickey feels… gross, in a violating-for-them sort of way. Everyone's drinking.

He lowers his gaze to Link, who cocks an eyebrow up at him, smile growing, daring , and Rhett pulls a face with a belabored sigh. 

“Fine,” he states, and reaches up to grab the far side of Gregg’s head and pull him in.

“Oh! Okay then,” Gregg blurts, smile in his easygoing voice, and Rhett closes his eyes and lets his lips close on his neck as cries of joy and scandal explode throughout the room. Guess no one was expecting Gregg to get comeuppance for his suggestion.

Rhett is purposeful. He sucks hard on Gregg’s skin, thankfully tasting only a little salt in the process, and he lets five full seconds pass before pulling off of him and inspecting the spot. Yep. There’s a little red seam there.

“Is it cute?” Gregg asks, twisting to consult the people sitting behind them. “How does it look? Am I cute?”

Rhett takes the liberty of wiping spit from his lips and then Gregg’s neck as Gregg elbows him, alight with good humor. “Your beard tickles, man. That was kinda hot.”

“You coulda just asked,” smiles Rhett, shaking his head in disbelief of himself.

When he finally gauges Link’s reaction, the guy is taking a long pull from his beer—finishing the last of it—and staring down his nose at Rhett in the process while Abbi laughs and says something in his ear.

The game continues around, people getting more comfortable and more wild with one another as it progresses: one guy is asked to spend the rest of the night in his underwear, another is asked to tell his most embarrassing story (which happens to involve a severe case of flatulence in a very long elevator ride), Link dares Min-young to shotgun a fresh beer, a shy girl is asked to reveal the craziest place she’s had sex and when she admits “A sky tram in Switzerland,” everyone loses their minds.

Drinks are goin’ fast, with bottles and cans cluttering surfaces and only one or two folks conscientious enough to care about the state of the house (the guy might be Ben, actually). Rhett’s lost counts of the rounds despite not being drunk, but eventually the circle comes back to Abbi, and she leans back on the couch and eyes Link with a mischievous air, brave with booze.

“Truth or dare, Link?”

Without missing a beat—face red from drink—he jerks his head up. “Dare.”

“I dare you to raid Min-young’s closet and put on the skimpiest outfit you can find,” she starts, and Min-young howls into laughter on Link’s other side well before Abbi adds, “And then dance for us.”

No.

Link, no. Don’t do that.

Link’s grin grows, eyes locked with Abbi. His tongue pokes his cheek.

That’s how people end up on Facebook.

Rhett’s emanating it— please, please, please don’t —but he knows Link is going to shrug and hop to a wobbly stand, which he does.

“Awright. Min-young, wanna escort me to your boudoir?”

Fuck.

Rubbing his temples, Rhett lowers his head to his lap so he doesn’t have to watch them leave together, and he hears Gregg chuckle. “Eager to please, ain’t he?”

“Jesus, dude.”

“I know. Least it’ll be funny.”

That’s what I’m worried about.

Link is drunk.

Minutes pass and it seems like everyone nearly forgets about the game; they might as well have, with how folks pair off and break into groups to talk loudly, far drunker than they had been before summons. Rhett’s considering doing something—maybe standing and asking no one to record it, or even going to try and stop Link before he comes out here, since everyone is distracted, but when Min-young appears at the mouth of the hall holding her phone on a portable dock speaker, he knows it’s too late.

Without a word, she hits a button on her phone, and a song starts blaring, drawing everyone’s attention.

“Oh baby, baby, have you seen Amy tonight?
Is she in the bathroom, is she smokin’ up outside?”

Everyone freezes long enough to recognize the song, and people immediately start hollering and cat-calling.

No, no, no.

And there appears Link beside Min-young, hand on his hip, cheeks pink but confident with drink, eyes come-hither.

He’s in a short corset that presses the mounds of his pecs into cleavage, the lower half revealing his abs. Black stilettos. Thigh-high black stockings clip onto a belt just above frilly panties that…

They do very little to hide his assets.

Many people let out thrilled screams of delight, and one of them is probably Abbi, but Rhett can’t confirm that; he can’t stop staring at Link in lingerie, half-naked, strutting into the room as if he’s fucking performed like this before, one leg striking out in front of the other, hips swaying to the music.  He’s feeling himself , and that much is obvious as Rhett watches in horrified fascination, eyes raking over a version of Link that belongs in a burlesque club.

Or perhaps in a dream that only Rhett should see.

“Oh, oh.
Tell me, have you seen her? 

‘Cause I’m so—oh,
I can’t get her off of my brain.”

He knows he’s blushing. Hopes to God it just looks like he’s drunk when Link squats and pulls up from the floor, caressing his legs along the way, body rolling. Link throws his head back at a full stand—and where he should definitely look at Abbi, giving her the show she’d requested, he instead winks at Rhett for the second time that night.

Rhett can’t breathe.

“Love me, hate me, say what you want about me,
But all of the boys and all of the girls  are begging to F-U-C-K me.”

When Link steps up onto the table, he kicks empty bottles and cans out of the way with his heels, sets his feet firmly and starts pumping his hips, hands running all over himself—neck, up into his hair, fingers finding their way into his mouth on their way back down, like he’s lost in ecstasy with himself, and Rhett still can’t seem to find oxygen. 

“Holy fuckin’ shit!” cries Gregg, roaring with laughter, and Rhett knows he should respond—should say something, anything. 

But he can’t.

Abbi is having the time of her life across from Rhett, lost somewhere between hilarity and bachelorette party with “Ow- oww!” s every few seconds, clapping for Link’s show.

It’s the fact that no one else here notices how natural Link feels doing this, that’s what's bothering Rhett so much. ‘Cause Rhett knows him—lifetimes more than anyone else here—and he’s never seen this side of Link before.  Rhett’s lifelong best friend is up there with his eyes closed, sinking down to the table to shake his ass, spread eagle, slapping it before cartwheeling his legs off the side and sashaying behind the couches. He blows kisses to everyone making way for him.

His panties are basically a thong in the back. 

“I can’t watch this,” Rhett says aloud, only acknowledged by a laugh from Gregg, and he stands and excuses himself.

Down the hall, leaning heavy on the wall, breathing fast. He finds the bathroom, blessedly unoccupied, and nearly slams the sliding door behind him and throws the lock.

“Fuck, fuck, fuck.”

Fighting his button and zipper, Rhett digs into his pants and frees his cock, spitting in his palm and stroking himself fast as he stands over the toilet, free arm braced against the wall above.

The music is still blaring out there, Link’s still dancing, and the image of his legs and tits in that obscene get-up are far too much and too fresh in Rhett’s mind. No one else understood, but Rhett understood what Link was feeling, getting that kind of rise out of people—riding that power-high, willing to be objectified like that in front of a group of people. Shameless and okay with it, with that fuckin' body, holy shit!

Rhett sucks in hard breaths, grunting, screwing his eyes shut, fist a blur on himself, wishing he weren’t this fucked up but he is, needing relief now, ‘cause if he has to watch Link like that for another second he’ll bust in his pants in the middle of a crowd—

Titfucking him.

Rhett’s knees threaten to buckle as he comes, panting, crushing his forehead into his braced arm. He peers down at himself enough to see that he’s missing his target, shooting ropes all over the back and seat of the toilet in a fucking stranger’s house.  He can feel that he isn’t done, though, and hikes a deep breath, keeping it going, squeezing his cock tighter and stroking as fast as he can. 

Don’t stop, Link,” he husks, lost in it, blushing into his shoulder, “Got some more for ya, baby—oh, fuck!”

This time, Rhett catches himself on the commode, groaning as he’s sent into a second climax. His spurts are weaker the second time, cum dribbling out over his fingers and dripping to the water below, but Rhett nearly passes out from the intensity of it.

He’s never done that before.

Lungs rolling, seeing spots, he eases to a shaky stand again and blinks hard, looking down at the mess. 

“What is wrong with me,” he murmurs, snatching a handful of toilet paper and cleaning up his stray release, expedited by shame. He makes sure he’s gotten all of it before flushing the evidence and tucking himself away. His pants luckily hadn’t been in the line of fire.

He turns and inspects his disheveled reflection in the mirror—notes that music is still blasting in the living room, though it’s Lady Gaga now. 

You’ve gotta go back out there.

You’ve gotta look at Link wearing that stuff again, and—

God. I don’t want anyone to have taken a video of that… but at the same time, I really hope someone did.

He steps up to the sink and begins washing his hands of his deed, head swimming and fuzzy, when there’s a knock at the door.

“One sec,” he calls, drying himself off.

The door slides away to reveal Link, who looks up at him and smiles—still very much adorned in lingerie, though missing his heels—and steps into the bathroom with him. “Rhett—thank God, I was hopin’ it was you in here.” He slides the door shut behind him and locks it again, and Rhett backs up until he’s against the wall.  This bathroom isn’t very big. 

“H-Hey, Link.”

“Rhett, I need your help,” Link says, trying not to laugh, spinning in place and showing him the back of— fuck’s sake! “I wan’ outta this, can you get the clasps? Min-young put it on me but she’s busy now. Don't wanna bother 'er.”

Crisis fresh on his face, Rhett swallows and begins working the back of Link’s corset open with shaking fingers, latch by latch. Less than two minutes ago he’d been masturbating with these same hands and now he’s undressing the body of his fixations, skin revealed with red lacerations where the fabric had hugged Link tightest.

“Oh—oh, fuck, thank you,” Link sighs, chuckling, and Rhett sets his jaw. “Couldn’t breathe.”

Say something. Say anything, you’re being weird.

“Did Abbi enjoy the show?”

“I dunno. Hope so,” Link laughs, and Rhett hums. 

“I’m sure she did. You, uhh… you want me to try an’ crash with Gregg tonight?”

“What? Why?” asks Link, spinning to try and make eye contact, but Rhett scolds him in a hiss and turns him back around to finish his work. Bare-chested Link will be a hell of a lot easier to handle than corseted Link... so long as Rhett doesn't look down at the panties and thigh-highs.

“If you wanna invite Abbi back, I mean.”

“Oh.” There’s a definitive pause before Link shakes his head. “Nah. I'd rather just go home.”

“What? You’re really hitting it off with Abbi, are you nuts?”

“Dude… ‘m drunk. And so’s she, probably. Don’t wanna do that. Y’know?” he laughs softly.

Even after all that effort.

“Yeah,” Rhett hushes him, warmth swelling in his ribs. “Maybe get her number, though.”

“Maybe,” whispers Link, lolling his head back to relax as Rhett undoes the last few clasps. He refuses to look at Link’s ass, which is essentially bare; he'd had a good enough look earlier.

“All done.” Pulling the corset off, Rhett folds it and hands it to Link once he’s turned back around, and Link takes it with a grateful smile. 

“Thanks, man. You think I’ll go viral?”

“Probably,” chuckles Rhett, rubbing the back of his head. “I didn’t know you could dance like that.”

“Was I any good?” goads Link with a crooked grin, and Rhett can’t help nodding, feeding his ego.

“Weirdly good. I think you missed a calling.”

“Welp. Never too late, right?” Link looks down at himself for a moment, inspecting his partial nudity. “My clothes’re in Min-young’s room. I’d… I'm 'unna go get dressed.”

“Yeah. Good plan.”

“Will you… could you help walk me home, Rhett? I’m pretty drunk,” Link requests, looking up at him that way that he always does—dependent yet affectionate—and Rhett would never say no to that face.

“‘Course, bo. Go get your clothes,” Rhett instructs, opening the door for him, and Link slinks out with a bashful smirk. 

He’s gonna be the end of me.

Chapter Text

With how much beer Link drank last night, Rhett’s really not surprised he’s the first to wake up.

He cracks his eyes open, fogged and crusty, before sliding out of bed and nabbing their shower caddy. He hadn’t gotten drunk at the party, but he’s still feeling the effects of dehydration—his piss is darker than it should be when he relieves himself, brushing his teeth is unpleasant and dry, and once he’s in the shower, he gets under the nozzle and opens his mouth to catch water, gulping down mouthfuls every few minutes while he scrubs up and rinses off. Probably not sanitary, but whatever.

Thankfully painkillers won’t be necessary; by the time he gets back to their room, he’s recovered a fair amount. Would be nice for Link to wake up to a glass of water and some Advil, though, so Rhett prepares that for him and sets it on the desk. Up on his bunk, Link is a vague idea of a snoozing blob in the morning light, covered by blankets. 

I didn’t dream last night.

Guess with the, uh… show, my brain didn’t even wanna try to fantasize.

What to do before Link wakes up? Rhett could scour social media and see if anyone had posted videos of him dancing, and ask any posters to take them down via DMs. No doubt about it—Link is going to be remorseful about that when he wakes up, so the longer he sleeps, the—

A door slams across the hall, hard enough to startle Rhett and make the mound of sheets in the top bunk wince and then break into a long groan.

“Uggghhhhh.”

Too late.

“Mornin’,” Rhett says quietly, and Link writhes inside his cocoon. His feet burst out of the bottom and kick viciously, like he can punish the person who’d been foolish enough to wake him.

“Fuuuck.”

“I’ve got water and pills for ya.” Rhett picks them up from the desk and steps close to his railing, gazing at lump-Link. The blanket shifts, pulling, and one little hole is made so Link can peek out in irritation. His hair is wild and he's got puffy bags under his eyes. Rhett holds up the glass for him to see.

“S’it cold.”

“Yeah.”

“Mmgh.” Forcing himself to sit up, Link wears his comforter over his shoulders and accepts the water, and some of the grouchiness slips from his severe features when Rhett passes off the pills, as well. “Thanks,” he mumbles, not waiting to take them. Sighing in relief at the first sip of liquid, he drains half the glass in one go and sits back against the wall.

“Heck of a party,” Rhett smiles—and against all odds, a tiny, exhausted smirk finds Link’s lips to match. 

“Glad we went.”

“Are you?” Hard to believe that. Rhett settles back on his bed with a silent chuckle, grabbing his backpack from the floor so he can pretend to entertain the idea of studying. “Well… good, then.”

Link doesn’t say anything as he makes his way to the floor, settling on the desk chair with a groan and lounging back in it. He’s wearing his blanket, still not awake enough for a trip to the bathroom. Must be driving him crazy, to feel that dirty.  “How long you been up?” he asks, head rolling on his neck to look at Rhett.

“Not too long.”

“Mm,” he nods, and he pauses in a way that lets Rhett know he’s got something specific on his mind. Sure enough, Link smiles, eyes traveling to the floor. “Any videos of me, online?”

“Haven’t looked,” Rhett answers truthfully. 

He does regret it.

“Welp. I’m sure they’re there.” 

“Yeah,” Rhett nods, not really wanting to give Link anything to bounce off of this early, instead pulling out a folder to check a syllabus.

He forgets how little a target Link can bounce off of. “Oh, 'yeah'?”

Looking up at him, Rhett blinks. “Huh?”

“You got somethin’ to say ‘bout my dancin’ last night?” 

God dammit— sure enough, Link’s got his head cocked, testing out the waters. Ready to fight for the sake of fighting ‘cause he made a poor decision and needs Rhett to be the parachute on his back for coming to terms with it. Fight through it with someone else so he doesn’t have to fight through it with himself.

“Nope.” Rhett slinks his gaze back to the syllabus. He’s trying his best not to smile at how ridiculous the guy is, but it must not be working, ‘cause Link latches onto it.

“What’s so funny, then?”

Don’t let him get to you. Don’t cave.

It’s fun, but don’t get him all riled up about this.

Otherwise it’ll turn into a Thing.

“Nothin’. Nothin’s funny,” says Rhett innocently. He’s full-on smiling now, though, and Link squints at him and shifts his jaw.

“Alright. Whatever you say, Mister Hickey.”

Rhett stares into space, still smiling.

Is he seriously…? He thinks giving someone a hickey is as embarrassing as what he did?

I mean—fuck, I enjoyed what he did way more than what I did, but that’s not…

Trying to let it go, Rhett drops his head back to his syllabus, and Link snorts. “Really? Ain’t even gonna try to defend yourself? You gave Gregg a freakin'  hickey last night, dude. You could’ve chosen anyone in that circle! I saw the way some of the girls were lookin’ at you, they’d’ve been happy to be the recipient. But naw. You sucked on  Gregg’s neck.”

“I know,” Rhett says calmly.

Don’t do it.

Don’t do it, it’s not worth it.

“Thanks for your report on it, Spearmint Rhino.”

Dammit.

“Hey! All I did was dress up and dance, and I don’t—”

“Dress down and dance, y’mean.”

“—and I dunno if you noticed or not, but I killed it! Everyone loved my little number.”

“Really? Didja get Abbi’s number, then?”

“I—no, but… I didn’t friggin’ touch anyone, is my point!”

And Rhett knows this isn’t the truth of the matter—he’s simply lashing out, trying to turn his guilt around on Rhett—but it kinda sounds like Link is… jealous? He’s not, obviously, but there’s a little part of Rhett’s brain that lets him pretend for a moment that he is, and would it be so bad if Rhett were to enjoy the idea that Link didn’t like it when he’d chosen Gregg?

There’s something appealing about it, anyway. And when Rhett doesn’t respond, mulling this over, Link takes the opportunity to plow ahead, laughing coldly.

“Right there in front of everyone, you just leaned over and necked him, man. Didn’t care what any of the girls thought. Doin’ it hard so you can leave a mark, and out of all the people you coulda picked, you chose Gregg.”

“Mhm.”

“You know how long it takes for a hickey to go away? That ain’t somethin’ Gregg can explain away,” Link presses, and Rhett’s about to point out that it would only take four words to say “I dared someone to” when he continues, “If anyone asks, he’s gonna say it was you, Rhett. And everyone on campus who meets you is gonna think, ‘oh, this is the guy who likes to leave hickeys on guys at parties’.”

“As opposed to being recorded dancing to Britney Spears in a skimpy outfit, where your face is visible, and that getting plastered all over Facebook, you mean?” Rhett asks coolly, and Link makes that expression—the one of amusement-met-embarrassment, lips thin.

“Nothing you wouldn’t see at a talent show.”

“What kinda talent shows are you watchin’, man? So what, I gave someone a hickey? It’s not a big deal. Just a tiny, physical action. Didn’t mean anything.”

“Didn’t mean anything ‘cept that you’re easy ,” Link drawls.

And he’s never spoken that way to Rhett before. 

Sure, there’ve been plenty of arguments where Link does his best to make Rhett feel bad about slip-ups and little nothings just for the hell of it. He never really means any harm—if he did, they wouldn’t be having this conversation at all, in actuality. But not once has the subject of torment been Rhett’s… uh, promiscuity . Probably 'cause Rhett's never done anything like it before.

The decisions he makes with his mouth, his lips, his body?  It’s… strangely thrilling, to get this kind of scolding from Link.

“I mean—geeze, how far would you have gone if Gregg had dared you for more on the next round? What if he’d been into it and asked for a kiss?”

“Then I would’ve kissed him,” Rhett answers easily, locking eyes with him, and Link is so taken aback he literally leans away in his chair.

“Rhett!”

“What?”

“What if he’d wanted to play seven minutes in heaven with you?”

“What, was it a middle school party?” Rhett shakes his head, finally tearing his attention from Link, but shit if this isn’t fun, getting him all venomous and judgmental. Means he cares. “You know me, man.”

“What the hell does that mean?!”

“I’m competitive. I’d’ve done it. Seven minutes in a closet with Gregg don’t sound like the worst thing. Hell, I’d do more than that with ‘im, if I was dared to.”

Link is rendered speechless, mouth slack open. 

Rhett’s relishing his stun, fighting back the urge not to burst into laughter and also decidedly ignoring the fact that he’s half-hard from this stupid game of puritanical cat and mouse. He peers up at him, catching a glimpse of him licking his lips before Link huffs, “You’re a slut, Rhett McLaughlin.”

That’s—

Cheeks suddenly hot, Rhett’s brow furrows and he knows he’s blushing, but just—the way Link had said it, with his full name and everything. “Hey now!”

“Didn’t realize you were that open to messin’ around with folks. Shit, Gregg? He’s just a friend, and he’s a guy! Thought you’d at least have one single standard with who you’d put out for.”

Link,” Rhett mutters, scandalized at the shift in his tone. There’s very little playfulness left in it, instead mostly scorn, and there’s a new interest kicking to life below the belt that Rhett’s never experienced before. He ignores it, trying to make Link rein himself in. “You shouldn’t say that kinda stuff, man.”

Grinning—clearly victorious now that he’s shifted the guilt up to ten in Rhett’s direction—Link shrugs. “Apparently that’s the truth though, ain’t it? Didn’t know you were so eager to get your dick wet, Rhett. Ya pervert. Guess I should count myself lucky you haven’t begged me to fuck you yet.”

Reality check: this isn’t a dream, and Link is talking about fucking me.

I’m—I can’t—

Rhett stares at him for a long time, unable to form the right words, and Link laughs, triumphant. He finishes his water and unwraps himself from his blanket, tossing it to the top bunk. Strolling to the door in his sleep pants, he manages to grab their still-wet shower caddy before Rhett clears his throat.

“That makes a lot of sense, actually, Link,” Rhett admits, swallowing down the strange arousal and maintaining an air of nonchalance.

Link pauses, spinning to regard him. “What’s that?” His tone is a warning—his lazy posture a warning, too.

“Just… y’know,” Rhett shrugs. “Makes sense you were able to fit inside those panties last night when all of your dick is in your personality.”

Link goes speechless a second time, and Rhett almost breaks into laughter from that alone. But then he sets the caddy back down and rests his hands on his hips, tilting his head. “You callin’ my dick small?”

“I mean… we can watch the playbacks of it, I’m sure,” Rhett suggests, ever the innocent, and Link barks a humorless laugh.

“You know I  ain’t small, brother.”

“Do I? You just said I’ve never asked you to fuck me.” Rhett purses his lips into a duckface and returns his sight to the syllabus in his lap. “I dunno anything, man. I’m not a very good campus slut.”

“Alright,” Link blurts, and Rhett’s heart skips a beat when he drops his pants in his periphery, exposing his briefs. “C’mon, then.”

...What?!

Rhett’s head snaps up, eyes bugged and face searing with blush, but Link is beckoning him up from the bed. “Get up.”

“Whuhh… wh—”

“We’re gonna see whose dick is bigger. I know mine is, but we’re gonna prove it.”

Oh. That’s not what Rhett had assumed was—wait.

No, this is still really, really bad.

“Link, I believe you. I’m not gonna measure my dick to yours.”

“Look, this is gonna go one of two ways: either I’m gonna call you a coward since you aren’t even willing to back up your insult—and I will rub it in your face forever,"  Link stresses the word hard, " or we’re gonna compare right now. And I’ll still rub your face in it, but mostly I just don’t ever want you to be able to insult my size ever again,” he explains rather patiently, shrugging. “‘Cause I know you’re bigger than me in almost every way, but this ain’t one of ‘em, baby.”

Rhett’s brain slates out, and suddenly it just kinda feels like he’s holding a tray with a few different ideas on it, staring up at him: I have an excuse to see Link’s dick; I’m still hard from him fuckin’ berating me; this isn’t a dream; I might have actually kinda hurt his feelings; and…

“We’d, uh. We’d need to be… like… y’know,” Rhett mumbles, and when Link quirks a brow at him, he ahems. “We’d need to be turned on. Right?”

“Oh. Uhh.” 

Had he really not thought that far ahead?

“Prolly, yeah. That ain’t a big deal though, just turn away and touch yourself a little.”

And as much as Rhett knows this to be the worst idea Link’s ever had, he can’t crush out that little ember burning in his gut that keeps screaming Link is offering to show you his cock, and you’re not dreaming. Get in there. 

Ultimately, he’s gonna listen to that ember. Duh.

Rhett slowly stands as Link shakes out his arms, turning to face the door. Pretending like he isn’t already stiff down there is kinda weird, but Rhett goes over to him and faces the other way, unzips his jeans.

“Fine. Let’s get this over with.”

“Alright. Lemme know when you’re ready.”

Ready, Rhett’s brain supplies sarcastically, but he shakes his head and looks down at his freed erection. They’re really doin’ this. 

It’s fine. Not like I don’t know what he looks like. See him all the time when I’m sleeping.

Rhett waits a respectful amount of time before lulling his head back, asking the ceiling, “You ready?”

“Yeah,” Link answers, and he doesn’t sound nearly as confident as he had before when he says, “Alright, let’s—turn around.”

They do, both avoiding eye contact and instead inspecting their erections, flushed and pointing at one another.  The weight of exactly what they’re doing doesn’t hit Rhett until his cock nearly swings into Link’s, and he’s not dreaming, this isn’t a dream.  

“Oh,” Link blurts, grabbing his prick and steering back a bit while Rhett mutters a quick “Sorry." 

Then they’re just staring at one another’s cocks. 

Rhett takes in a shaky breath—can’t rip his eyes off of Link’s length, ‘cause even though he might be familiar with it, being able to look at it like this, and that’s what he’s supposed to be doing? It’s a lot. Link’s cock is long and just-pink, twitching for attention even when held still between his thumb and forefinger. Jesus, he’d—he’d really worked himself up that much in such a small amount of time?

“So,” Link says, shattering Rhett’s reverie.

“Uhh. We don’t have a ruler,” Rhett points out, trying to level his head and remember what might be a normal thing to say for this not-so-normal situation.

“Well, no, but you can tell mine’s longer.” To demonstrate, Link steps closer, facing him, holding his cock out next to Rhett’s, inching towards him with it—and Rhett instinctively takes a breathless step back at that vanishing distance, grabbing himself consciously. 

“Wh-Whoa,” Rhett whispers, and Link laughs.

“See? Mine woulda touched your body before yours woulda touched mine. I’m longer than you.”

Fine. Yeah, good, whatever—Jesus Christ, get him out of here!

“Yep. You’re right. You win.” Wasting no time and only a little worried that he might pass out, Rhett turns and starts to put himself away. The sound of clothes rustling announce that Link’s doing the same, but he speaks over his shoulder anyway.

“So tell me again, who’s got the small dick?”

No, no, not more of this.

“I mean… plenty of guys have small dicks—”

“Nuh-uh, Rhett. I mean between us. Who’s got the small dick? Wanna hear you say it.”

Swallowing, Rhett doesn’t have the heart to bite back. If Link keeps talking to him like that, there’s a real chance he might mess   himself. Better to just speed this up. “Me.”

“What? What about you, I’m sorry…?”

“I’ve—I’ve got a small dick,” Rhett mutters, every inch of his skin hot as he walks back to his bed.

“That’s right. See, I know you weren’t tryna say anything bad about my cock, buddy,” Link sneers, and Rhett can’t look at him. “‘Cause it’s bigger than yours.”

Go away go away go away go away.

“Yep. You win, man.”

“Aww. Don’t feel bad. I’m sure you’ll find someone who loves you, despite not bein’ able to please ‘em in bed. S’okay, Rhett.”  Rhett sits and crosses his legs, not acknowledging him. Link kneels in his periphery, grabbing the shower caddy again. He’s an unending source of hot air, and that’s always been true, but for fuck’s sake, why is it messing with Rhett so badly today?   I don’t mind that you’ve got a small cock, Rhett. I’ll always be your friend. Your well-endowed friend who feels kinda bad about what you’re workin’ with,” Link rambles, and Rhett snaps and grabs his pillow, throwing it at him. It bounces off a protective shoulder.

“Will you go shower ?!”

Finally having gotten the rise he’d been looking for, Link laughs giddily and excuses himself, pausing when the door is barely cracked open to add, “Don’t touch your little buddy while I’m gone. He looks like he scares easily.”

“Git!!”

By the time he’s finally, blessedly alone, Rhett’s breathing hard and railed with goosebumps, flustered rosy.

Okay, so there’s… definitely something I need to unwrap, about Link, uhh… putting me down. Holy shit.

And he’s not gonna touch himself right now, no matter how badly he needs to. What if Link came back and saw? It would be a nightmare, trying to explain that shitfest.

But Rhett has control of his dreams.

So he calms himself down, steadies out his nerves and hormones, and promises himself that tonight, he’ll have a dream where Link mocks, berates, and spits on him... before taking pity on his “little” dick.

Chapter Text

You in the dorm?

Yeah

Good. Don’t go anywhere.

I got a little surprise
for ya.

Okay?

I thought you were
at the gym?

Just don’t leave, ok?

Sure

 


 

 

Twenty minutes later their door unlocks and Link is home, shouldering his little mesh work-out bag that does indeed seem bulkier than usual. Rhett is on his bed, sprawled on his stomach with his laptop and textbook laid out in front of him, and he peers over the top of the screen in curious greeting.  “Welcome home.”

“Thanks.”

“How was the gym?”

“Good. I need a shower. Check it out, though,” Link slings off his bag and uncinches it, digging around inside. “I stopped by the campus store on the way home. Wanted a notebook to jot ideas in. Look.” He pulls out a bundle of little journals, all leather-bound and identical save for the colors of the covers. “I found a three-pack.”

This is the surprise? He was awful excited about it.

A journal. Ironic.

“Oh. Cool.”

“Which color ya want?” Link grins, peeling off the cling wrap and showcasing the options: crimson, tan, and navy.

“Uhh. Whichever you don’t want?”

This all feels familiar.

Déjà vu.

“I dunno. Kinda like the red, I guess,” Link says as he files through the options. “If I get red, you should have blue.” And that’s that; he tosses the navy one at Rhett’s bed, and Rhett catches it with a startled grimace, envisioning it hitting his computer and damaging it all too well.

“Careful!”

“My bad.” After throwing the remaining booklets to the top bunk, Link fetches his water bottle from the bag and tips it back, draining it in large, thirsty gulps. When it’s empty, and he sets it on the fridge as a reminder for himself tomorrow. “Yeah, feel free to use that for whatever you want, man. It’s handy. Not too big.”

“Sure. Thanks.”

He’s being weird.

But I feel like we’ve done this before. This exact conversation.

“Gym was… kinda crowded today,” Link muses, and this, out of all things, nabs and holds Rhett’s attention. Namely because Link’s just standing there near the door, rapping his fingers on his hips, and his hair’s not wet—he always beelines for the showers after a work-out session. Not today.

“Yeah?” coaxes Rhett, lifting an eyebrow at him.

“Mhm. There were a lotta people there.” Link meanders towards his point, rocking on his heels and looking at everything besides Rhett. The ceiling, the floor, the desk, all of which isn’t nearly as fascinating and newfound as he’s trying to play. “So many fit bodies, y’know?”

“I can imagine,” Rhett nods slowly, waiting for him to get there.

“You know when girls work out in just sports bras? Gosh ,” chuckles Link, testing out shitty material. To be fair, Rhett’s not a very receptive audience. He waits until Link shrugs, “Or guys just working out shirtless? That’s a lot to have to deal with, too, 'specially when they’ve got the kinda muscles you’re goin’ for.”

“You’re bribing me,” Rhett breaks out the statement, holding up his new journal in disinterested fingers. “This is a bribe.”

Link deflates at being called out, arms falling to his sides.  “I’m so freakin’ worked up, Rhett, I dunno what it is.” Without waiting for a response, he paces over to the bed and drops his running shorts to kick them aside, the as-promised bulge in the front of his briefs drawing Rhett’s eye—but he returns his attention to his laptop swiftly, trying to find his spot in his notes as Link talks.

“Somethin’ about bein' in a room with that many people, and everyone’s so physical with what they’re doin’? I feel like a perv.” The sound of underwear sliding off is confirmed when they’re tossed to the tile as well, and Link’s weight joins the mattress, shifting Rhett with a grumble and messing up his study materials.

“Easy—watch it.”

“Sorry.” Large hands find Rhett’s thighs and bat them apart. Link’s knees settle hard in the space that appears there, and he runs his palms up Rhett’s sides and under his shirt, fingers curling around the waistband of his shorts. “Lift up a second.”

Rhett does, bringing his pelvis away from the bed, and Link pulls down his shorts in one sure yank, exposing his ass. With a sigh, Rhett digs his elbows into the bed and fixes his belongings, doing his best to pay attention to his coursework.

“You ready for me?” Link asks, and as if Rhett won’t give a satisfactory answer, he takes a cheek in each hand and gently separates them, the unmistakable heft of his weight’s placement letting Rhett know he’s being inspected. 

“Am I ever not?” mumbles Rhett, and Link shifts again, sinking down between his legs.

Then Link’s face presses against him, a warm exhale heating his skin before Link drags his tongue over his hole, slow. The hands on Rhett’s ass adjust and re-adjust, gathering his cheeks and keeping them out of the way so his nerves wake up to the slick teasing. 

Rhett’s eyebrows draw tight and he sighs—not a sound entirely of exasperation, but he is trying to study. Link doesn’t pay it any mind; his attention is entirely on Rhett, flicking the tip of his tongue over sensitive ridges and humming in happy relief of being able to do so, like he’d been thinking about it all day.

It’s not long before he comes up for air, specifically to manhandle Rhett’s position and force his leg to rest on the bed. Link’s cock presses into the back of his calf, rutting to get friction he’s apparently desperate for, and that must be good enough—after an appeased breath, Rhett’s cheeks are parted again, hard and insistent in Link’s grip. He returns to swathing licks over Rhett’s entrance eagerly, the sensation now paired with occasional greedy thrusts against his leg since Link’s hands are full.

Rhett’s doing his best to ignore it, but he’s not immune: after less than a minute of the new position, his body’s officially ready to play, arousal hard against the fitted sheet despite his valiant efforts.  If Link wasn’t so single-minded in his pursuit, it would be easier to shrug him off—but he’s flattening his tongue on Rhett’s hole, lapping and breathing hard, bobbing his entire head to make sure he’s hitting every spot there is to hit each time his mouth dips. Rhett has to bite his lip against the technique; it borders on overwhelming, like Link wants him to forget about classes.

Rhett’s calf is wet with little trails of precum by the time Link pulls back again. 

“When’s this test, again?” Link asks, tapping his shoulder and pointing at the screen in his periphery.

“Next Thursday.”

“Ah. Feelin’ okay ‘bout it?”

“Better than the last one, at least.”

Then comes the sound of Link pumping lotion into his palm. He pulls Rhett’s shorts down a little farther while he lubes himself up, and Rhett only knows by the sweeping sound of skin being slicked.

“Well I’d hope so. Glad you’re studyin’.” A fist lands heavy by Rhett’s side, holding up all of Link’s weight. When Link angles the head of his cock between Rhett’s cheeks, he does so blindly, and has to fish around awkwardly for his goal. Upon finding it and giving it a curious rub, he presses forward and slides inside, slipping Rhett’s eyes closed for a moment. There’s no waiting, however; Link keeps coming forward until he bottoms out, warm pelvis meeting Rhett’s ass, chest falling heavy on Rhett’s back. “Fuck.”

Suddenly full, Rhett gives himself time to adjust to the sensation. Link’s arms snake up and under his propped elbows to hug his chest, lying on top of him gratefully and taking that support since he knows Rhett won’t mind.

Still pretty distracting.

Each breath an excited tremble by Rhett’s ear, Link begins fucking him in shallow thrusts, and Rhett can’t help but wonder if this is how Link used to fuck his mattress when he had to resort to that kind of thing. Not that Link could comfortably wrap his arms around a mattress for better leverage.

“You thought ‘bout food yet?” Link wonders, voice unstable, and Rhett shakes his head. 

“Nah. Just tryna finish this chapter.”

“Right. I’ll take care of dinner tonight,” Link promises, and his hands clutch into a lock at Rhett’s sternum so he can rock into him easier. Forehead pressed against the nape of his neck, each thrust bumping them inconveniently forward, feet digging into the bed to keep from sliding off of him.

Just as Rhett’s nerves had awakened earlier from Link’s tongue, Link’s cock is doing a fine job of reminding Rhett that he has a body with needs as well. Every selfish hump teases his prostate a bit more, opens him up to this a bit more—and while he’s overall ambivalent about joining Link in the throes of need, there’s a small part of him that’s still kinda bitter about the weird journal offering.

If this makes him come, Rhett won't have begged for it.

Link is settled into his rhythm, enjoying being able to get off like this and not in any real hurry yet. He’s leisuring in it, letting sweaty, soft swears drip in between Rhett’s shoulder blades, simply happy that his cock gets to feel good after a stressful day: “Oh, fuck yeah. God, just like that, that’s so good, baby, fuck...”

Rhett does blush a little. Those words are for him and him alone, whether he wants them or not. All that bullcrap about the other people in the gym getting Link worked up had been courtesy of embarrassment.

He’s been thinking about me all day.

‘Bout comin’ home to this.

“Sorry if I smell,” Link laughs, stopping for a second, and affectionate warmth tingles down Rhett’s arms.

“S’okay. You know I like the way you smell.”

That elicits a gentle whine and for a moment, Link bucks into him carelessly—but he wants it harder, harder and faster than their current position will allow. He pulls out and there’s more maneuvering: Rhett’s bottoms being taken all the way off (at this point he really doesn’t mind), Link’s hands fixing to his hips to hoist him up off of the bed (“Sorry, just…” “S’fine.”), getting their knees positioned properly so Link can fuck him with ease.

Once he pushes back inside of him, Link groans and lets loose. He pounds into Rhett, greedy—keeps one hand as a rein on his waist and lets the other feel over the smooth plane of his back, ventures a slap on the ass that peels a little cry of surprise from Rhett’s throat. Once again, Link’s mouth goes on autopilot, need to talk himself off at odds with his need for oxygen.

“That’s better, Rhett... fuck, you feel good. Love takin’ me, don't ya? You my good boy?”

Rhett doesn’t try to respond; sometimes it’s nice just to let Link drench him in praise, to show him how much he’s enjoying this in other ways. Messier ways. ‘Cause Link’s hitting the exact right spot with every thrust, chasing his own release with abandon and dragging Rhett right along with him by happenstance.  Rhett can’t even pretend to be looking at his notes anymore, and he does admit a small defeat by burying his face in the covers, announcing it without saying it. Link latches onto that.

“M’I distractin’ you? Sorry, bo,” a gasp and a shiver, fucking Rhett senseless, “Almost done, I promise.”

Rhett groans into the bedding—can feel Link’s balls slapping his ass, can smell his musky sweat renewed from what's now two work-out sessions, yet still Link is this dogged for him, is still using him and gonna fill him up ‘cause he can’t keep his hands to himself for even a day.

Rhett’s hit first, each thrust stoking the white-hot pitch as he moans into release, spurting down onto his sheets as his thighs and arms quake, and Link nearly loses his mind, as if he had no idea Rhett was enjoying himself until the proof was spilled on the bed.

“Oh shit, yeah? God—okay, Rhett—me too, baby.” Link growls at the end of the warning, hips stuttering into shallow thrusts as he follows his partner’s lead. Loud groans carry him through it, his hands clutching at Rhett’s waist, shoulders, throat, rough-turned-apologetic while warmth fills Rhett up and leaves him owned and shivering with a hot blush.

It takes a lot of motivation for Rhett to crawl off the bed instead of collapsing into his own mess. He does so on feet that can’t seem to remember gravity correctly, but in an instant Link is at his side to steady him, making sure he’s got a hand on the bed before fetching him a towel.

“Easy. I didn’t damage your laptop or textbook, did I?” Link asks, double-checking that Rhett’s belongings are okay. 

They’re fine, Rhett thinks, hazyI t’s silly that he cares about that.

“C’mon,” Link instructs him, flitting about the room to gather things—Rhett’s bathrobe finds his shoulders and wraps around him, and Link pulls on his clothes, “You go take a shower, I’ll run your sheets through the wash.”

“Come shower with me?” Rhett requests softly, looming closer and halting Link’s attempt to continue their evening as planned. “We can do laundry after. Yeah?”

Link does still, and Rhett cherishes the appling of his cheeks and those brilliant, clear eyes when he smiles up at him. “If you want.”

“Always wanted to kiss you in a shower,” Rhett admits. It doesn’t stop him from kissing him now—just for good measure, to feel how plush and perfect his lips are when they smile under his own.

He tastes like the color crimson, like wine and blood oaths and passion.

So when Rhett’s eyes open to navy blue, he blinks sluggishly, vision coming into focus on the journal resting atop the desk near his bed.

Right. The journals.

That was the only part that had actually happened before his nap.

That was the d éjà vu.

...did Link ever say why he needed a journal?

Chapter Text

It’s about 1am by the time Rhett officially worries about Link.

Six texts, a missed phone call, and numerous trips to peek out the dorm window to the parking lot below where he hopes he’ll see Link’s car pulling in has only succeeded in knotting his insides. 

This ain’t like him, to say he’s goin’ out and then just ghost his phone. 

Rhett had started to regret turning down the invitation nearly three hours ago.

Pacing the room is a poor outlet for anxiety, wearing a dizzying circle into the tile with shuffling socked feet while his mind’s running. He should head out and find him. Link said he was gonna go grab a drink with Gregg, but drinks don’t take that long. Psyching himself up, Rhett breaks away from his rut and heads for the closet to grab a coat, and it’s then that his phone finally, blessedly buzzes. He yanks it free of his pocket and confirms the text is from Link, like ointment on a mental burn he didn’t realize he had.

Hey! Sorry man.
I’m okay, I promise.

That’s it? Rhett thought he might’ve gotten into a wreck, or gotten snatched up off the sidewalk, and he doesn’t even get an explanation when he’s been chewing his nails all night? Throwing his coat over his shoulder, Rhett hammers out a response.

Where are you??

I’m with Gregg still.

Sorry to make you worry.

We’re back at his place.

Huh. Pretty nonchalant about hanging out with Gregg so late, considering the crap he’d given Rhett over one tipsy hickey. Rhett tries to imagine them sitting together, talking and laughing, Link maybe with a few more beers in him than he’d like to admit… Shit.

Are you drunk?

Nah. We’re watching videos. Lol

Sober. That’s a plus, at least.

Yeah.

Okay—Rhett’s jealous. It’s good, obviously, that Link isn’t drunk—but the seeds planted with that idea are already sprouting and vining throughout his imagination: Link and Gregg huddled up on on a couch, getting closer as the night progresses; Gregg slipping his arm around Link; Link smiling to himself, knowing, before throwing caution to the wind and kicking up to straddle him, grinding down on Gregg while they kiss...

‘Cause Link’s into guys, right? At least to an extent? Rhett feels confident enough to guess that, in some capacity, given the evidence. And Gregg would be a convenient partner to experiment with. He’d seemed alright with the hickey...

But none of that is happening. Rhett’s just jealous that Link isn’t home when he said he’d be. At the end of the night, everything will be right in the world: Link will come back—

Actually, don’t wait up for me, yeah?

I’m probably gonna crash here.

Disproportionate, that a little line of words can punch the gut. Dragging his coat from his shoulder, Rhett hangs it up slowly and shuts their closet, reeling his feelings in before replying, but the lulling silence Link must read loud and clear.

I’m sorry. I miss you.

I just don’t think I should drive.

What? 

So you ARE drunk

No, I only had one beer.

We uhh

We smoked. Lol

You’re high?

Yeah.

Please don’t be mad.

Well. That’s a first. They’ve never smoked, and… well. Rhett had assumed that if they were going to try it, it would’ve been together, so they could share that memory. 

It’s fine. It would be silly to get upset over something like that—would be silly for Rhett’s eyes to burn a little ‘cause he’s missing out, silly that he might’ve expected Link to see that opportunity the same way as him. If they’re drifting apart, that’s Rhett’s fault, and so it would be silly to be sad.

I’m not mad, he answers truthfully, sinking back down to his bed and setting his phone down reverently to watch the chat screen.

I really do miss you.

This would be way more fun
with you here. Gregg’s  all quiet
and in his own head. Lol

I could come pick you up?

Nah, it’s already late and
we’d have to come back
for my car in the morning.

Rhett wants to go pick him up, but he doesn’t offer that information.

Kay

Would you mind if we talked?

Kinda lonely, actually.

“That makes two of us,” Rhett mumbles, smirking despite himself. It is sweet that even in the midst of a new experience, Link can’t stop thinking about him. That alone is worth something good.

Sure

How’s being high?

It’s nice. Feels funny.

Gregg said next time you
can join us. You should, bo.

Odd, seeing the term of endearment written out like that.

I’d like that. Surprised you
smoked without me

I know. I’m sorry. I really am.

Honestly it wasn’t a big decision.

Gregg invited me back to his place
and kinda sprung it on me out of
nowhere and I was like… why not?

Well

Try to enjoy it, yeah?

No point in having a bad first
high just ‘cause I ain’t there lol

:)

Okay.

Guess what we’re watching.

Oh gosh

Tiktok compilations lol

LOL I wish.

Gregg wanted to show me porn.

WHAT

Why??? Oh gosh

LOL

He wanted me to watch this
porn with a lemon tree in the
beginning? I dunno.

That’s where it started, but
he hasn’t turned it off, so
now it’s just cycling through
different videos.

What, like he has a
playlist?

No, I think it’s following
some kind of algorithm
for like… porn that people
watch just to laugh at? Lol

It’s all been pretty
ridiculous so far.

Oh gosh lol

Rhett isn’t sure why he’s willing to entertain this conversation—seems like dangerous territory. But talking to Link is undeniably nice, and filling the strange missing in his chest with an awkward topic is better than no topic at all. Not like it’s damning on its own, anyway.

Anything funny?

This one girl farted on a cake.

Oh my god

You watched cake farts

You’ve seen it?!

Link, EVERYONE has seen that

It’s ridiculous

LOL

And then like

There was another video that
was animated where a human-y
fox fucked a cat?

Oh, sweet Jesus, Gregg showed Link furry porn.

Oh my god

What? Have you seen that
one too? Lmao

No!

I can’t believe you’re
watching furry stuff oh my god

So you know what it’s called!

Again, EVERYONE knows what
it’s called

I swear, sometimes it feels like
you never go online

How are you 21 and have never
heard of furry porn? It’s like a meme
in itself

So what, it's just like

Animals doin’ it?

I’m not gonna pretend like I know
what people like about it dude, lol

I mean… I kinda get it.

… what

LOL

Yeah, like… it’s not about them
being animals… I think?

Wait maybe it is

No, keep going

You sound like you know
what you’re talkin about

Okay wait

For ME, I think the appeal is
in the idea that you’re watching
an animalistic version of sex

Like not worrying about appearances
or human shit like societal expectations,
because it’s just sex. It’s normal. 

You know?

Shit

You really ARE high

Rhett LOL

I’m being serious! Does that
make sense, what I said?

I mean

I guess??

Also gonna point out that
you said “for me” 

You like furry porn

No, I was just

Gosh dang it

I don’t!

The ears and tails are kinda
cute, though. I’ll admit that.

He’s joking.

He’s gotta be, that’s gotta be a joke, right? Yeah. It is. 

So why the fuck does the thought of Link naked with a fox tail and big fluffy ears pop into Rhett’s head and lodge there? Shaking the mental image away swiftly, Rhett searches for something to say to that— anything —but once again, Link has sensed a disturbance in the time between and takes it upon himself to fix it.

Oh, like you’ve never
thought about it before.

Okay—okay, that’s a little terrifyingly close to home, so Rhett starts typing, trying to deflect, and Link pings him again.

We’ve all thought about
what kind of animal we’d
be, if we had to pick.

Like some people would
say “a bird” since they wanna
be able to fly, or say “a monkey”
so they can pick stuff up with their
tail. Lol

It’s not too different from that!

I think you’re comparing
apples and oranges

Why can’t fruit be compared?!

(Hahaha Lil Dicky)

Yep, I got the reference lol

So what, you’re sayin’
whatever animal you wish
you had the powers of is
your friggin fursona??

For someone who accuses me
of liking this furry junk, you know an
awful lot about it…

Again, try going online sometime lol

I’m just saying it would be easy
to pick an animal for aesthetic instead
of their abilities, you know?

Like a wolf.

Wolves are powerful, and power is sexy.

Rhett cannot believe he’s having this conversation with Link. The guy must be stoned out of his mind to want to uphold this narrative, fuckin’ Hell.

I guess

This is weird, dude lol

It would be fun if you’d stop
suckin’ the fun out of it! Lol

C’mon, it’s like a personality test.

What kind of tail and ears
would you want?

Oh, gosh. Just pick something. Anything.

Uhh

Wolf?

You’re only saying that ‘cause
I said it was a good choice LOL

Try again.

I don’t know!

Coyote?

Oooh okay.

Kinda close and unoriginal still, but

I can see you being a coyote.
Kinda gruff but super clever and
into the whole scavenger-survivor
thing... yeah, that fits you.

And really, Rhett knows better than to ask. He knows where it’s going to lead, the images it’s going to conjure up, and considering that his hand is currently feeling down his abs from the spiral of their conversation alone? Yeah, he’s just pouring gas on a fire when he types back, body and mind both at the ready to perfectly envision whatever bizarre bone Link throws his guzzling libido.

What about you?

Hmm

I think I’d be a canine too,
but I’d probably be domesticated. Lol

I’d just be a dog, probably.

Okay. That’s a bit of a relief, actually—Rhett’s pretty sure there are no “sexy dog” Halloween costumes out there the way there are “sex kittens”. And yeah, picturing Link with floppy brown puppy ears poking out of his fluffy hair and a curly tail that wags every time he’s happy… 

Shit. O kay, that’s pretty cute.  Rhett would be able to watch that tail wag every time Link was excited to see him. But that’s simply association—Rhett just likes that idea because he likes evidence of Link happy and relaxed. There’s nothing sexual about it, he can deal with that. Pulling his hand free of his waistband, he gives his half-hard dick a consolatory pat and heaves a deep breath, responding.

Yeah, I can see that 

There, I played your fursona
creation game. Happy?

Yes, thank you.

It’s fun to imagine!

Maybe stop watching porn now?
Maybe go to sleep? lol

I dunno, it’s kinda fascinating? LOL

I’m learning a lot tonight.

Oh gosh

Maybe I AM a dog.

Rhett squints at the screen, ‘cause there’s no way Link’s implying that dogs enjoy watching porn. Or that they… like learning stuff? Who knows, this game of connect the dots is exhausting. 

Whaddya mean?

I mean like… I can’t look away from it

Dogs go into heat, right?

Rhett’s breath catches in his throat. He’s already fishing back down into his shorts, a shameful blush bursting over his cheeks. Taking himself in hand, he gives a few lazy strokes and does his best to keep this going.

I mean

Male dogs don’t

Oh. LOL

Guess I’m a female dog then.

There shouldn’t be anything sexy about Link literally calling himself a bitch in heat, but Rhett’s done trying to excuse himself with logic—’cause the only thing that really matters is the idea behind it: Link so wrecked with a desperate need to mate that he can’t think of anything else, and that’s how he feels right now; Link begging to be fucked because his blood is singing for it, dropping his pants and pressing his ass back into Rhett’s crotch; Link’s ears perking up when Rhett calls him a good boy, Rhett stroking them between his fingers as he pushes inside— aw fuck. I’m a furry.

He’s gotta say something—silence is so, so much worse the deeper this goes.

You really want to identify as a bitch? lol

Whoa LOL

I didn’t think about that.

You can’t tell me you don’t think
that’s fitting, though.

Uhh

How would that be fitting??

Rhett’s never called him that before. Even using the term in its defined sense is off-putting.

I mean, if you were a coyote
I’m sure your “fursona” or whatever
would just think of me as a little bitch
anyway. LOL

Little trained house pet.

“Trained”? “Pet”...? Good Lord. There’s a lot to unwrap there!

Why the hell are their fursonas together, for instance? This is all hypothetical and just for kicks, and it’s in the context of sex, so why is coyote-Rhett anywhere near dog-Link? Link is too stoned, doesn’t realize what he’s implying. 

Rhett can’t defend why this is working him up, so he doesn’t try—just accepts the fact that he’s into it, letting the ideas behind the words soak into him. There’s no denying, after all, that Link would be a good boy. Down on his knees, begging for treats and attention whenever he wasn’t whining to be have his most primal of itches scratched, not satisfied until he knows Rhett’s come inside of him—twice or more, as many times as Rhett’s body will allow before they both succumb to exhaustion.

Stroking himself quick and trying to formulate a response with his free hand, Rhett fishes for anything he can contribute.

I think uhh

I think coyotes eat dogs, man

Oh yeaaah.

You’d eat me up, huh?

God. Pinning Link down and just— yeah, going feral on him, ravaging him until each rough thrust is met with a slobbering whine, yanking his tail to hear him yelp—raking claws up his back to get to his throat—turning his head so he can claim his mouth, too.  Rhett’s heels dig into the bed, and the invasive thought that Link could walk in at any moment and catch him masturbating to this surges a burn through him.

Yep. I would lol

Wait a second.

If they don’t go into heat,
when is a male dog ready to mate?

And Rhett knows the answer. That doesn’t make typing it any easier, doesn’t prepare him for the avalanche of dirty thoughts that nearly break him into writing other things, filthy things, right there into their chat window so that Link will see 'cause if he’s stoned and this far gone, maybe he’d fool around with me anyway? Maybe he’d play along, too.

Male dogs are always
ready to mate, Link.

I’d be in heat constantly…?

Yeah.

Huh.

I guess that’s also close enough
to the truth. LOL

He really has no idea what he’s doing, does he? Rhett sets the phone down on his chest and chases these thoughts—hunts them to their death and indulges in fantasies so he can hurry up and regret them: buying a collar for Link and using it as a rein to fuck him; licking him all over, getting every last stretch of him wet; biting each other’s shoulders and leaving marks; Jesus Christ, if he’s so desperate for it, letting him drape over me and lock onto me from behind and just taking what he wants, rough and instinctive.

When his phone buzzes again, Rhett delays himself enough to check it, postponed in a limbo of hesitant release.

...Are coyotes like that, too?

Link—Link wants him, he wants to be torn up and put in his place—

And Rhett’s coming, stroking through the waves as his thighs shiver, bucking up into his own hand and imagining Link eagerly lapping up the warmth splashing onto his stomach, telling Rhett he’s a good boy and that he’s allowed to come in the house if he’s always this pretty.

There’s a tinnitus that wails in the following silence, and Rhett stares into space and exists only in his mind. Reality slips in and knocks politely on his eyes, reminding him of his surroundings: he’s laying on his bed, surrounded by books and forgotten folders, he’s fully clothed save for his shame and mess, and the lights are still on. Having been so swept up in the idea of mating with Link like some kind of seedy 1999 pop song, he’d just… went for it.

And he’s ghosted Link, to boot. Fuck.

I bet they are, is all he sends back, hoping Link won’t think twice about the sudden six minute gap between texts.

Lol. Yeah, they're still just canines

Alright… Gregg has officially fallen
asleep. Now I’m just sitting here
while porn plays on his TV. LOL

Are you sleepy?

Not really, no

Truthfully, Rhett just needs time to clean up and get ready for bed. He can keep texting with Link until then, though.

Then uhh... 

Shoot

What?

I know I said not to worry
about it, but

You want me to come pick you up?

I’m gettin’ kinda homesick and

Please, if you don’t mind?
Sorry.

Why’s he apologizing? Grinning, Rhett pulls off a sock and wipes the mess from his stomach, then stands and tosses it into the hamper. Link admitting that he misses him enough to want to come home makes the afterglow a hell of a lot more powerful.

Of course

Be there in fifteen

You’re the best. :)

Rhett almost sends a smiley face back.

Chapter Text

Where are they?

They’re pulled over on the side of the road due to a blown engine that billows smoke, the smell of hay and exhaust, and while Link complains about how few and far between passersby are out in the middle of the countryside, Rhett can only think of the privacy that comes with that. Link sneaks not-so-hidden glances at him that suggest he’s secretly thinking the same.

No. That’s not right. 

They’re in a department store, one of the big-name ones where the aisles are so tall that Rhett has to look up at the top shelf of products and that feels weird. Link is picking out deodorant and wants to try a new brand, is rifling through the options and smelling the different options. He’ll hold one to Rhett’s face wordlessly, requesting a second opinion, and Rhett will tell him that he likes it best when he doesn’t wear deodorant, just to see the look on his face.  They’ll be the only people in the world when Rhett pushes Link against a rack of loofahs and runs fingers from his throat to the front of his jeans, eating up the way Link dodges glances at either end of the aisle, like that’s the only problem he sees with the development—

Except that’s not where they are either. It’s closer, but still not right. What if they're not the only people there?

They’re outside. 

Yeah. They’re outside, and it’s sunny and warm.

It’s summertime again, and they’re… they’re at a pool. It’s the old neighborhood pool, with the cracking steps and the leaves floating on top—

No. No, why should it have to be? This is a nice pool. A very nice pool, scenic and overflowing with tropical plants lining it. That’s how everything else looks, too, 'cause they’re on vacation. They’re on vacation in a place close to the equator, and they’re at a five star resort exclusively for couples. Exclusively for honeymooners.

Everything is warm. The sun is so, so warm. They’re in side by side lounge chairs that are comfortable enough to lull one to sleep, and Rhett might have dozed off if Link hadn’t trailed a touch up his arm. 

“Hmm?” Rhett flops his head to the side to stare at Link through chrome sunglasses.  Tan, light-kissed skin, feathered espresso hair that suggests mahogany only in a sunbeam, and he hasn’t shaved in a while because Rhett had told him he looked good with a little scruff.

“I’ve gotta re-apply,” Link explains, and he says it in a way that’s meant only for Rhett’s ears—even words that aren’t intimate belong to their bubble.

“Here, lemme.” Rhett sits up and beckons the bottle of sunscreen from his husband, because this is a honeymooners' resort and that’s fine and normal, for them to be married, and Link smiles when he hands it over. Not because he needs the help, but because he would prefer to feel Rhett’s hands on his body, given the chance.

No one pays them any mind as sunblock turns into massage oil. Rhett works him over lovingly, slowly, slips an inch or so down past the waistband of Link’s blue swim trunks just to make sure he’s safe.

It’s funny how temperatures pushing triple digits don’t melt Link the way Rhett’s touch does. That’s on purpose, and it’s good.

“You should put more on, too,” Link smiles softly, and Rhett lays back and shakes his head, even though he’s not immune to that sort of implication. 

“I’m 'bout to hop in the pool. I’ll do once I'm out.”

“You should do it before you get in.”

Rhett can tell by his tone alone that he’s read something on the internet about water and sunscreen that may or may not be true.  “I don’t wanna feel all slimey.” 

“Well then hurry up and go for a dip. I don’t want you gettin’ burned.”  Link’s crystal eyes have never been this clear and beautiful, like they learned to be that way from watching the sky out their plane window, or from kissing in the lagoon after a giggling game of chase—but maybe that’s Rhett’s imagination. They say it's inevitable to experience firsts all over again, the longer you’re in love.

Without argument, Rhett takes off his sunglasses and stands to drift over to the edge of the pool, toes clinging to the fresco tile before dipping into the water. Cool, but not cold. Refreshing. He sinks to a sit and slips in, feels sweat and heat lift from his skin in a blessed plunge, all the way down to his scalp, and when he comes up and flings his wet hair back, he half-expects to hear Link’s laughter.

Resting his fingertips on the edge and nestling his chin atop them (his beard is longer these days, he feels), he gazes up and is met with Link’s brimming smile, all for him. 

“Feel better?” 

“It’s awesome,” Rhett nods, wiping his face down as someone's wandering ankles briefly break their eye contact. “You should get in, too.”

“I don’t feel like swimmin’,” Link says, but the way he smirks through the soft rejection is code for I want you to convince me, and so Rhett tries.

“What about just floatin’, then?”

“I can’t leave our stuff. Our phones are just layin’ out.”

“We won’t go nowhere. Just right here, bo,” Rhett showcases this corner of the pool nearest to their things. And he doesn’t know whether it’s common practice or common courtesy, but the other nearest swimmers aren’t really near at all. Almost like each couple has claimed a part of the pool as their territory. “If anyone touches our stuff, I’ll jump out and beat ‘em up. I’m fast enough.”

Link runs a hand over his chest to test how soaked in his sunscreen is, and then he’s grinning and standing, and Rhett lets out a quiet  “Yay” of triumph. 

“If I jump, will you catch me?”

“Sure.”

“I was joking.”

“That sounds fun, though. Do it.”

Laughing and unwilling to risk injury, Link lowers himself to the lip of the water. Rhett grabs his calves in a hug and pulls, yanking him down with a surprised yelp. He catches Link’s plummet easily at his armpits, holding him above the surface, and Link purses his lips in false sour, trying not to smile.

“Jerk.”

“I know.”

Rhett kisses him.

And kisses him again, and doesn’t care who sees, because this is a resort for honeymooners and it’s expected, and Link expects things that come with love—like kisses.

There are plenty of explanations for why Link bursting into elated giggles in Rhett’s arms is exciting, but Rhett doesn’t need to justify any of them, and he doesn’t shy away when his interest accidentally nudges Link’s inner thigh. Face an endearingly perfect mixture of shock and intrigue, Link’s eyebrows shoot up and he shines that lovely lopsided grin at Rhett.

“Seriously?”

“I ain’t gonna apologize. You’re hot,” Rhett shrugs.

Link’s open-mouthed grin closes until a canine is embedded in his lower lip. With a wary look around at the other visitors, he speaks to no one in particular. “Dirty thang.”

Rhett slides down a foot or so into the water until his nose is just above the surface, eyes locked on Link, mischievous.

“What?” Link asks, tilting his head to stare down at him. “Whatchu doin’, baby?”  Rhett’s expecting his caress through Link’s swim trunks to be met with an embarrassed gasp or a playful shove backwards. Instead, Link presses his lips thin and his shoulders swell while he passes another survey over the rest of the pool. “Oh, gosh.”

Rhett’s lids lower, focus blurring as he feels around Link’s floating garment. He’s half-hard. Both of them seem up for a little fun, at least. 

Link should scold Rhett’s languid exploration, should get bashful and scold him, but he doesn’t. He slumps his chin to his chest just a little, rocks his hips forward in encouragement, and Rhett’s cheeks burn against the lapping cool water. He lifts his lips above the surface.

“Marco.”

“Polo,” laughs Link, breathy. He ducks down and plants a kiss on Rhett’s nose, effectively putting distance between those grabby hands and his own manhood. “You wanna get thrown out?”

“Who would notice?” Rhett asks sincerely, peeping around. Sure, there are plenty of people sitting around the pool, but they’re all either asleep or reading or caught up in talking to their significant others. Rhett and Link have a solid fifteen-foot berth of some sort of solitude, b ut Link lets the question hang as hypothetical. When Rhett looks at him again, he’s blushing. 

Standing tall, Rhett tilts his head back with two fingers under his chin and kisses him quickly. “Go stand at the edge of the pool.”

Link looks like he wants to fight—wants to say a whole slew of things that Rhett already knows, like this is a terrible idea, we could get arrested, let’s just go back to the room —but arousal is a hell of a thing. He obeys, floating backwards in the water until his shoulders bump the stone lip.

Rhett trails along after him, the hush of trickle of water pushing around his shoulders, smirking at the way Link’s trying not to smile. Once their chests meet, Rhett leans to his ear and whispers, “Turn around.”

Again, Link obeys, this time with a knowing shiver. He lounges against the lip, arms up and folded on the side, atop which he rests his head and lets it rock to the side. Rhett hums appreciatively and kisses his neck, allows them both a moment where he’s simply hugging and luxuriating in him—sure, lovebirds to those watching, but innocent enough for two lost in paradise together.

It’s when his thumbs glide down Link’s love handles and phantom his swim trunks down over his ass that Rhett whispers into the crook of his neck, “Let’s talk about somethin’. The plants here are beautiful, don’t you think?”

Link nods lazily, shifts his hips back under the water so that he meets Rhett’s hard length. He agrees with a trembling voice and points out a gorgeous bush with pink blooms on it as Rhett lowers his own trunks out of the way, peering sidelong to the rest of the pool to ensure they’re still ‘alone’.  “I wonder what those are called. They’re pretty.”

“You're prettier,” Rhett drawls, not even really trying, just pouring nothings over Link’s shoulder blades so he can feel him shiver between his palms. Rhett pushes forward, rutting against him in a graze, and Link’s skin is slick and slippery from sunscreen spread low. Pleasant and promising.

“C’mon,” Link nods, bowing his head to speak into his shoulder, and Rhett nuzzles into his neck.

“You really wanna?”

“I at least wanna feel it for a second… even if we stop, we can say we technically did it,” Link laughs, and Rhett laughs with him and kisses his cheek.

“‘Kay.”

That’s all the encouragement Rhett needs: he reaches under the water blindly, following the dip of Link’s ass to his entrance and marking that spot in his mind. Link shifts back—a silent plea and Rhett takes himself with careful fingers and presses his cock against that spot. The tack of water is a bit uncomfortable at first, as he begins to slide in, but Link lets out a deceptively well-masked humming moan as enjoyment for the sunshine, and Rhett plants his feet steady on the floor of the pool and pushes up into Link.

He doesn’t go all the way in—only about halfway, and that’s more than enough for their purposes. Draping his arms over Link’s off the side and resting his chin on Link’s shoulder, Rhett relaxes and swallows thick. Absorbs the fact that he’s inside of Link while there are people milling about, talking to one another, and they’re having sex right there in front of them.

“You got enough room in front?” Rhett asks quietly, and Link nods.

“Yeah.”

“I can’t go very fast.”

“That’s okay. This is… this is hot, Rhett.”

“Yeah?” Smiling, Rhett lowers his voice, just to be sure. “You like the idea that you’re stuck on me and any one of these people could strike up a conversation with you right now?”

“Oh, gosh,” Link warbles— please no —and Rhett’s belly-laugh sends water rippling out from them.

“I’d do the talkin’. You just float here and take this for me, baby.” And the “this” is a slow, shallow thrust, one aided by a thin film of sun lotion and Rhett’s honeyed voice pouring over Link’s ear, down onto his clavicle. The movement doesn't stop once it starts—a slow and cautious in-and-out—and Link anchors back into his care, elbows tight against the tile.

It’s unlikely that either of them will come like this—Rhett knows that it’s a dangerous game to be playing, fucking in broad daylight with dozens of potential spectators. Hell, maybe some of them already know, just from their position. But it’s worth it to make Link feel as irresistible and cherished as he is.

(And it’s true, that there would be no consequences for getting caught. They wouldn’t get arrested, they wouldn’t have that shame to carry around; everything would be absolutely fine if Rhett just willed it to be fine. But he’s not going to interfere. Whatever happens, happens, and if this dream turns into a humiliating nightmare then his singular remaining obligation will be to make sure dream-Link is happy. Past that, Rhett will wake up, and he doesn’t care what happens to himself until then.)

“You feel good,” Link mumbles happily, his arm muscles tensing beneath Rhett’s, and Rhett drops one hand into the water with a plunk .

“Want you to feel better than good.” Seamlessly, he reaches around and swiftly removes the fabric hiding Link’s cock from the open water. Link draws a hard breath, bucking back onto Rhett unintentionally at the promise of being handled, and on the rebound Rhett sinks his tight fist down onto him.

Link goes rigid, caught between Rhett on both sides, suspended in water, fingers clenched to fists on the clay of the walk, and it’s an overwhelming sensation—for Link to lock up that way because of him. On him.

Lids falling, Rhett pumps him, eager, stroking over his member that’s as tight as the rest of him is, enjoying the way Link’s lips part for breaths at the sudden balk of pleasure on his nerve endings.

“You like that, Link?”

“Your arm—you’re splashing, I can feel it,” Link says, and it’s half-desire and half-warning, right on the brink of breaking their moment due to fear.

Rhett doesn’t want that. So, he stills the ripples—orders the water to be calm no matter how fast he moves on Link. It’s impossible and defies laws of physics, but here it works just fine, and the hushed quiet hiding their indecent behavior soothes Link.  Without worrying about waves, Rhett finds that he can hug Link’s torso with his free arm and fuck up into him. So long as he keeps his upper half stable, he can thrust underwater, risen on the balls of his feet, and the new hungrier pace to match the strokes of his hand must be bliss to Link; he sets his forehead in his arms and his shoulders shiver and bump in time with each buck.

“Rhett… oh, crap.”

“You’re good, baby. No one’s lookin’ at you.”

“Is it… is it kinda weird if I wish they were?” he mumbles, humor hot on the words, and Rhett can’t help hitting harder at the admission, paired with a grunt of acknowledgment.

“Not at all. They should be watching you,” Rhett growls quietly, and he returns his mouth to the shell of Link’s ear. “You’re too gorgeous to be taken in full view without an audience. They have no idea what they're missing.”

The words are too much, apparently—just the idea of someone seeing them and watching them enjoy each other, and it’s not about anyone else but their selfish selves, like two performers careless to the audience. Link picks his head up and presses his cheek back into Rhett’s nose, lets his arm come up from the ground to hold the back of Rhett’s head. 

“Jerk me faster,” he whispers, and Rhett groans just for him before kissing his neck, stilling his thrusts and focusing on pushing his beloved over the edge.

It doesn’t take a lot of focus, turns out.

Link’s legs part. His feet float back and up behind Rhett’s thighs, dragging their point of contact together and sinking Rhett deeper into him as he starts rolling his hips.

“Rhett.” 

It’s not more than a hushed breath, but Rhett can feel the new warmth dancing around his fingers in the pool water.

With a final shiver, Link’s legs go limp, and Rhett pulls out of him before fixing their swim trunks to decency. He doesn’t wait to gather him up in his arms and kiss him, lowering them into the water, away from Link's mess so they can float in feigned innocence. Link is smiling and soft. 

Another recurring “first” comes in the way Rhett assumes Link can’t get more kissable. He’s always proven wrong.

“You wanna turn?” Link asks sleepily, and Rhett shakes his head.

“I’m not in the dorm right now. Don’t wanna mess myself in public.”

Link laughs, loud and freely, then shakes his head. “Hypocrite! We just—

“I know,” Rhett grins back, and he manages to get one last kiss in before he wakes himself from a dream where he calls his best friend “husband”.

Blinking hard, Rhett rejoins the real world.

Right. On campus. Not a resort.

Don’t get sad about it, he chastises himself, checking his phone. Four minutes until his alarm goes off; he’s getting pretty good at monitoring his sleep. 

It takes a while for him to log his dream, and it’s getting more and more difficult to ignore the… shift in tone, of his dreams. But they’re still just dreams, and they’re still just an outlet. Hell, he’d tried out two other scenarios before landing on the weird fuckin’ Hawaiian vacation one, anyway. He's just testing out scenarios.

Class is in twenty minutes, and that had been part of the plan for snoozing in one of the engineering building’s study rooms: they’re always quiet enough to doze off, and he’s within stumbling distance of…

Wait.

More blinks as Rhett sluggishly stows his phone in his pocket. His backpack is open on the table in front of him, but he’d—

I fell asleep with it out. 

Where is it?

Lurching to a stand, Rhett looks under the table. Checks the seat beside his own. Scans the tabletop and nearly throws his backpack to the floor in a search-turned-frenzy.

My laptop is gone.

Fuck, my laptop is gone!

He snatches his backpack and overturns it, met with only a textbook and papers crashing to the couch.

I’m sure I had it out.

Ripping his phone out, Rhett opens his texts and shoots one off to Link:

Someone stole my laptop

Shit shit SHIT

Whoa, what?!

Someone stole my laptop!!

I fell asleep in the study
room and it’s gone

Rhett, calm down!
I’m sure no one stole it.

Did you check your bag?

Yes! It’s gone

Shit I can’t go to
class without it

What do I do??

Take it easy.

We’ll skip and try to
figure this out together.

Can you meet me in the
student center?

Yeah

Yeah, I’m omw

Deep breaths. See you soon

And aside from the fact that losing a $800 laptop is not something Rhett can call home about (he really, really can't), that computer has everything on it. Rhett’s entire academic career, his accounts and login information ticked as “remember me” for every website. 

If someone were to figure out his user account’s password, they would have free reign of everything…

Including a Drive with a particularly sensitive document in it.

Chapter Text

“I can’t believe someone stole my laptop.”

“It’s gonna be okay, brother. It’ll turn up.”

The cold-blind light out the car window flickers slivers of countryside between gnarled trees. When driving, it’s easy to forget how narrow the roads are in the countryside; if Rhett rolled down the passenger window and stuck his arm out, he’d likely lose his hand to a branch. Cresting each hill tosses his stomach into his chest and certainly doesn’t help the existential dread that burgeons there as the miles to home tick down.

“If you mention it to my folks,” Rhett starts, head swiveling to glare at Link’s profile, “I’ll get in so much trouble.”

“I wouldn’t do that!” Link looks pretty injured that such a thought would even cross his mind, eyebrows high and indignant. “Everything’s gonna be okay, man. We’ll keep an eye on Craigslist once we’re back on campus, see if we can’t find any laptops for sale that sound like yours.”

I know he wouldn’t rat me out.

I’m more worried about me ratting myself out on accident.

“Lookin’ forward to Di sendin’ us back with a bunch of Halloween candy,” Link says softly.

“S’too early for that,” Rhett reminds him, frowning. “That’s after Halloween.”

“Oh yeah. Dang.”

The blinker clicks on and the car starts braking, and Rhett redirects his grimace to the dashboard. Jeff’s Mart is the only thing out here. They’ve frequented it plenty of times on their drives home, but Rhett had made it clear that he didn’t want any pit-stops today. When his mouth opens, Link cuts off his complaint.  “I just wanna stop and get a drink real quick, man. In and out.”

Hmm. If Link is that eager to explain himself, Rhett needs to ease up. None of this is his fault, anyway.

They park in the gravel lot and Rhett doesn’t move to unbuckle. Reiterating, “Two minutes,” Link fumbles out of the driver’s seat and jogs inside.

Crossing his arms tight, Rhett turns his scowl to his backpack on the floorboard, where his very expensive property is supposed to be held. Who the fuck just sneaks into a study room and steals a laptop, anyway? Not anyone he knows, that’s for sure. He’d considered making a post on Facebook asking if anyone had any leads, but word travels fast online. That would probably have unfortunate consequences.

Besides. So long as he keeps being bitter towards the crook who slighted him, he won’t have to be bitter at himself for being a dumbass and falling asleep with his belongings unguarded. Ugh.

Movement of the little mart’s front door draws Rhett’s eye, and Link stumbles out, fighting the metal handle with a massive drink in each hand. It’s almost enough to startle Rhett out of his bad mood and straight into laughter, and when Link nears the car, Rhett leans over the middle console and pops his door open for him.

“Thanks.”

“What in God’s name,” Rhett breathes as Link settles back in and passes one of the Styrofoam monsters to him. “32 ounces? What, are we ‘bout to drive out into the desert?”

“I’m thirsty. Figured if I got a big one, I gotta get you a big one, too,” Link smirks. He nestles his drink into his cup holder even though only the bottom fourth of the thing is tapered to fit, and they pull out of Jeff’s to get back on the road. 

The plastic lid with the little beveled indicators don’t show any specific choice of drink on Rhett's up, but the liquid inside isn’t clear. “What is this?"

“Mine’s iced coffee, yours's iced tea.”

“You got 32 ounces of coffee? That’s not what ya drink when you’re thirsty! You’re gonna have a headache and crash.”

“Not gonna drink it all right now. Little sips,” Link explains, checking a mirror. “It’ll last me all evening. Be waitin’ for me on the drive back.”

Rhett considers his giant drink and shakes it a little, the brown tea inside sloshing against the lid. He pulls the straw into his mouth and tries it. It’s good; a little sweet—obviously someone had added sugar (maybe Link)—but not enough to dry his tongue. Thoughtlessly, Rhett props the cup on his chest and keeps drinking, letting his eyes linger at the scenery flashing by.

It’s a nice day, for being late October. And Link’s being nice too, for how foul a mood Rhett’s trying to pull himself out of. Maybe as long as he keeps his mouth occupied, he won’t be such an asshole for the remainder of the drive.

Reading his thoughts, Link clears his throat. “All you needed was a pacifier, huh?”

“Hush,” Rhett smiles around his straw, and Link laughs, drumming his fingers on the steering wheel.

The music gets turned up and Rhett is deejay, thumbing through songs on Spotify and settling on All Time Low by Jon Bellion to fill the ensuing silence.  This is gonna be the same as any other trip back to Buies Creek. They’ll keep company in the kitchen, be asked about school and share any funny stories (decidedly not ones involving parties, hickeys, or alcohol), and then after a filling meal and clean laundry, they’ll head back to campus. This month is Rhett’s house—November will be Link’s.

Dang. That Halloween candy will be two months old by the time they get their paws on it. Now Rhett kinda wishes they were getting chocolate tonight.

Barely ten minutes have passed before Rhett realizes he’s mindlessly sipped more than half of his tea away, and he pulls it from its resting place on his chest with a little shake. Jesus. Link hasn’t even taken a drink of his coffee, either.

Worse yet—Rhett shifts in his seat and suddenly realizes he needs to pee.

“‘Bout twenty minutes left?” Rhett asks, and Link gauges him quickly.

“Yeah. Why?”

“Nothin’.” Rhett shies his cup away from Link’s line of sight, but he sees the distinct lack of liquid near the wide lid anyway and bursts into laughter.

“Oh my goodness, Rhett!”

“I wasn’t thinkin’ about it!”

“Well, you’ve gotta hold it.”

“I can make it twenty minutes.”

“You gotta. I ain’t pullin’ over again,” Link says, but just as quickly he thwacks a hand on the wheel. “Aw— dang.”

“What?”

“Di asked us to grab cream o' mushroom on the way in.” 

Shoot. That’s right.

“We already told ‘er we would,” Link mumbles, frowning hard. “Crap. We’re gonna be late.”

“We can just swing by Lion real quick,” Rhett mutters back, consulting his phone. “We can grab a can and I’ll take a leak.”

“Sure. Still gon’ be late, though. Shoot, man, that makes me feel bad.”

“Yeah. I'll text her.”

Wordlessly, Link reroutes them, turning down the first available side road he knows by heart. Rhett shoots off a message: Gonna be a little late, but we’re on the road. Sorry.  She doesn’t respond—is probably already cooking for them, and Rhett’s stomach twists. It doesn’t help that the seat belt is pressing hard on his bladder. The tightness is uncomfortable and pleading, but he can make it another twenty-five minutes or so. He’ll have to.

“Rhett!”

“What?”

“Quit drinking!”

“Aw—crap.” He hadn’t even noticed. Bending down (and groaning at the pressure that produces), Rhett sets his drink between his feet and clamps it in place so his wandering mind won’t betray his body again.

Songs pass that Link sings along to, blissfully unaware of Rhett’s occasional squirming on his right, and by the time Food Lion peeks out from its spot in the strip, Rhett is already unbuckling his seat belt. “Easy!” Link laughs, pulling them in and parking. “I’ll get the cream of mushroom, you go—”

“Yeah yeah yeah,” Rhett is already out and throwing his door shut in a brisk walk. He hears Link laughing on his heels, following a few dozen feet behind, and Rhett bee-lines through the grocer, hugging the walls until he finds the restroom…

Which is barricaded off with yellow tape and a giant “Out of Order” sign on the men’s side.

“No,” Rhett whines, staring at it in disbelief. He stands there in defeat, feeling a lot like he might wet himself if he tries walking again. Any movement is tight and aching, and he must stand there in a terrible internal debate for far longer than he’d like to admit, ‘cause Link comes and finds him a few minutes later, holding a bag with a single can of food inside.

“Rhett, what’re you…” He steps up beside him and follows his line of sight to the women’s very-much-not-out-of-order restroom. “Oh, gosh, Rhett— no. You are not barging into a women’s restroom just ‘cause you can’t control yourself. This sucks but we gotta go, c’mon—”

He tugs at Rhett’s arm, and Rhett lets slip a whimper as he’s coaxed from the store, a gentle hand anchored on his side to console his discomfort. “I’m gonna piss  myself,” he warns, looking around at the other stores in desperation. Surely one of them would let him use the restroom—but Link is still pulling on his arm, dragging him back to the confines of the car.

“You gotta make it another fifteen minutes.”

“Link, I can’t.”

“You have to! We’re almost home, just hold it.”

And Rhett really, really can’t.

The second he’s back in the car and buckling up again, he knows it’s a lost cause. He’s breathing heavily, lifting his waistband for some strange bid of relief, and Link—goddamn Link, he keeps smiling and finding joy in this unexpected bout of misery.  Each bump in the road is torture, each splash of tea and coffee a mocking reminder of liquid that isn’t causing Rhett’s body grief.

“I’m gonna pee in the cup,” Rhett decides, reaching weakly for his near-empty drink, and that’s when the amusement finally leaves Link’s expression. 

“You are not —not in my freakin’ car! Just wait, we’ll be there soon. You can do it.”

“Link, please,” Rhett crumbles.  I’ll beg, I’ll plead, I don’t care, just—sweet Jesus, I’ve never needed to piss this bad.  “Please, please, oh my God… it’s painful. Link, please. Let me pee in the cup, or find a place with restrooms, or—”

“Maybe you shouldn’t have chugged 32 ounces of tea, man. Diuretics.” Writhing down in his seat, Rhett lets out a pitiful moan that draws Link’s eye, and just like that, the smile is back. “If you piss in my car, you’re cleaning it up.”

“Deal.”

Rhett, you do not!”

Pouting, Rhett refuses to join in on the laughter at himself. Normally, yeah—he’d be cracking up at what an idiot he’d been, mindlessly sucking down that much drink and causing the bizarre scenario that this is, but if he laughs, he will urinate. The pain is a good deterrent, thankfully.

“I’ll do your laundry if you just find a place for me to pee.”

“I can do my own laundry.”

“I’ll do your homework.”

“I get better grades than you.”

“I’ll— shit, ” Rhett moans, trying to pull himself to a full sit. He manages, but he feels like a cord about to snap, and keeps his weight on his hands in the seat to take some pressure off his bladder. “What d’you want, then?”

Link hums and turns onto a small side road, and Rhett doesn’t care where they are and where they’re going anymore. So long as there’s a toilet or urinal there, Link could be driving them in the complete wrong direction.

“You don’t have anything I want,” Link eventually shrugs. Another quick glance over at Rhett and he smirks, eyes on the road when he says, “I kinda like havin’ you at my mercy.”

“Oh my God, no,” huffs Rhett, screwing his eyes shut. “I’m—you’re gonna have to take me to the hospital if you don’t want me peein’ in here.”

“If you pee in my car, I’m telling your folks about your missing laptop,” Link promises.

It’s meant to be a joke, but Rhett's lungs constrict at the cruelty of it. It’s enough that he’s being strung along without the reminder that his idiocy isn’t a one-time thing. When Rhett doesn’t respond, Link steals a peek at him and blanches—it must be evident that Rhett’s truly on his last leg.  “Rhett, I’m just jokin’. You know I wouldn’t.”

“Mmm... I know.”

“Here—I’ll pull over.”

“Where? Oh gosh,” Rhett exhales long, gazing out the window. There’s nothing but fields of tall grass all around. “Link, I can’t just piss on the side of the road!”

“You gotta. We used to do it as kids. No one’s here. No one will see.” That isn’t as consoling as it should be, and Rhett nearly does cry when the car rolls to a stop, ‘cause it's now or never. Or now or emergency room , more like.

“There ain’t even trees for coverage,” Rhett groans, unlatching his seat belt and opening the door. Link thinks for a moment. Taps Rhett’s shoulder before he stands.

“Just… can you like, unzip and go from the door?”

Yes. Yes, yes, yes.

“You sure?” Rhett asks, but he’s already working on his jeans and inching to sit at the edge of his seat, facing out when Link lets out an airy, “Yeah. Do it, buddy.”

They’re parked mostly on the grass, and that’s where Rhett finally, blessedly relieves himself, body shivering from the need being realized. He watches his stream long enough to ensure it’s landing safely between his shoes, then breathes out a sigh and lets his head fall back against the car’s door frame. “Oh, fuck.”

“Gosh,” Link says, chasing the word with a bashful chuckle. He shifts behind Rhett. “Yeah, you’re still good. No cars comin’. No one'll see.”

“No one ‘cept you,” laughs Rhett with a shake of his head. It’s a little embarrassing, the wet fizzle of pee hitting the ground loud and clear, but that’s circumstance and it’s already happening. Besides, a little blush is well-worth the dizzying pleasure from being able to let go.

“Wow. Still goin’.” Link’s quiet observation is tinged with both awe and guilt, and before Rhett can stop him, he says, “I kinda thought you were playin’ it up. My bad.”

“S’okay. Oh gosh, I could cry, this feels so good. If I pass out you gotta lug my body back into the car.”

Link barks a laugh and snorts on the end of it. “Yeah, I’ll just somehow manage to pick up your pee-soaked body and put you in the trunk for the last five miles.”

“Five miles… Izzat all?” Rhett mumbles. That’s nothing, yet it had sounded like a death sentence minutes ago. His stream peters out, his body grateful and flooded with endorphins, and he gives his dick a few shakes and tucks himself away. “Ahhh.”

“All better?” 

Rhett slumps back in his seat, warm all over, and he trawls his gaze over to meet Link’s. The guy’s eyebrows are pinned high, and he’s wearing the smallest of smiles. 

“Yes. Thank you,” Rhett hums, head fuzzy, and that smile grows.

“Sure. Buckle up,” Link instructs, reaching across Rhett to close his door. “We’re late and I don’t wanna have to tell your mama that you partook in some public urination on the way here.”

“So no laptop talk, and no pee talk,” Rhett echoes thoughtfully, and Link picks up his coffee and takes a sip around a smirk. “How’ll we manage?”

Chapter Text

Bzzzt.

Bzzzt.

Bzz—

Rhett barely catches the last vibration before it cuts off, lids peeling open. He shuts them again and lowers a hand to his pocket, feeling around in half-sleep, and when he retrieves his phone, his suspicions are confirmed: the alarm had asked too much of the remaining battery. It’s dead.

His cheek is sticky on the library table, a not-unpleasant warmth that begs him to think about the cleanliness of the surface, but it’s not like sitting up any faster after a power nap will keep his health safe now.

Had a dream. Needa record.

Tapping his phone, neurons connect blearily and he remembers that it had just died—and he’d known it would die, had left the charger in their room on accident.

Link is with him. Rhett had fallen asleep with him studying to his left, so he pivots his forehead on the slick surface to hazard asking him for his phone charger, but the words dam up in his throat: Link is asleep as well, tuckered out with his own face down, inches from Rhett’s.

For some reason, the closeness isn’t as scary as it would’ve once been. Rhett blinks sleepily and examines Link’s features at rest: eyelashes down easy, hair perfectly framing his face, lips parted enough that he should be drooling on the table. 

S’fine. I’ll just use my lapto—

Crap. If only I had it.

Grimacing, Rhett spins to look at their study things on the table. His drifting mind finds his little gifted journal, and he grabs it and drags it to his shoulder, turning away from Link again to hunch over it with a temple still pressed to the table. It’ll be a pain to physically write, but better do it than forget entirely; he’ll just have to transcribe it once his phone is charged. He reaches blindly for a pen and draws that close too, briefly letting his eyelids sink to recall the first details of the dream. Opening the journal to a random page in the middle, he hums gently and starts to write, too lazy to capitalize and too sleepy to mind how he wanders as he recounts.

10/27:  we were camping, but i didn’t wanna go camping. so i changed it to a farm. thought it would be fun.

in a field… but i didn’t want to be in a field either. the fun thing about control is that if something happens that you don’t like, you just change the story. you don’t have to interrupt it in harsh jumps, you don’t have to say ‘no, it was a tropical resort.’ i made it rain, instead.

smelled like mud and ozone.

L ran ahead of me, pulling me along and laughing. if you’ve ever seen a cheesy romance movie, you know what it looked like. it didn’t feel like hallmark, though. you get to feel it in your cheeks and bones, and it gives that little space around your heart wings that beat real fast, ‘cause you’re living it.

well. not ‘living’. but kinda close.

the thrill, the giddiness. willing to follow no matter where you end up, since you know it’ll be worth it.

Rhett blinks sleepily and listens. Link is breathing long and steady, fast asleep.

we found a barn. i guess that was my doing, too, but it didn’t feel like it was. we just needed to get out of the rain. it was starting to pour.

Shoot. What had happened next? Pausing to let his vision blur across the room lets the scenes unravel easier, coming back like tea steeped.

there weren’t any animals in the barn. just old wooden boards and lotsa farming equipment. horseshoes hung from a wall. and i know it sounds just as stereotypical as the rest, but L kept pulling me, grabbed me by my hoodie and dragged us down to lay in a pile of hay soft from the passage of time. 

he kissed me. 

there’s been more kissing lately.  i’m not going to try to defend it. i’m in love with him, and that’s what i want to do in my dreams. he always wants it, too, and that’s how i know it’s a dream. 

he said stuff i wanted him to say. silly things, like “this hay tickles” and “an old man with a pitchfork is gonna find us and chase us out.” he kept laughing into the kisses, like it was funny that i didn’t wanna stop even when he was trying to appreciate where we were. i really hope he felt like he was the center of my world, ‘cause he was. is.

he couldn't stop giggling and the rain in our hair warmed. between kisses he told me he was worried about spiders in the hay, and i reassured him that there weren’t any. that was true. any life in those walls would never bring harm. there might have been a white-faced owl up in the rafters, watching the two curious mammals tangled in each other down below before vanishing out the window.

sometimes it’s hard to tell apart details i made true in the moment, and the stuff i simply would have liked to think happened once i’m awake. like even my dreams need ornamentation, ‘cause they’re still not good enough. ridiculous.

L wasn’t taking me seriously until i dropped a hand to the front of his pants and rubbed his hardness with a familiar palm, like i’d done it countless times before. feels like i have. his chuckles dissolved in a last breathy, open-mouthed laugh, and he did that smile he always does when he’s excited. eyes low on our bodies, ready for whatever’s next ‘cause it’ll be me and him.

i got right to the point. let him out to play and sank down onto his hips, with my elbows on his thighs. 

i gave him head. no need for something outlandish every single dream, not when i’m just trying to make him feel good. that’s not to say that there wasn’t something fiercely forbidden about being able to look up his loosely-clothed body and meet his eyes while i sucked him off. there was something unfairly hot about how his shirt kinda pooled at his bare stomach. the way he relaxed and lorded over me, like he was content to let me worship him like that, completely at ease and resting his head to one side… 

Rhett’s legs flex under the table, and he allows himself a moment of reprieve from remembering. The inside of his boxers are dry, so he’s not as immune to journaling as he usually is upon waking.

“you havin’ fun?”

i remember those words vividly, ‘cause i nodded on him and sucked harder, held his gaze, and i guess that was a lot for him—me just casually servicing him, like there wasn’t anything else i’d rather do. for the record, there wasn’t, lol. he moaned some words, innocent-turned-filthy, and put his hands above his hand to lay out.

i’m... i think that’s when he bumped into it.

Sometimes, Rhett doesn't particularly enjoy recording the truth of his dreams. They're humiliating and telling, and doing it in Link’s company seems dangerous. But he’ll finish this up and hide it. Real quick.  Smoothing out the journal’s page, Rhett glances over the paragraphs there before turning it over and writing on the back.

L stopped me and twisted at the waist to point at something large and silver poking out of the hay. looked like it was on a dolly of some kind. “what is that?”

“i dunno,” i said, ‘cause i really didn’t. honestly i just wanted to get back to making him feel good, but he immediately started brushing it free from the mess.  a large metal pot, hooked up to some wires—one of them, connected to a battery. but the more i looked at it, the more it dawned on me that the other “wires” weren’t wires at all.

Rhett blushes and lets the pen sit on the page long enough to produce a small pool of black ink, which births the next words.

it was a milking machine for cattle.

L figured it out faster than me, and i didn’t even have time to cut in before he squirmed onto his side next to it, reaching around the mechanism and feeling about. he must’ve found what he was looking for, though, ‘cause it turned on and a mechanical rhythmic hissing competed with the rain hitting the roof.

“no way,” L said, laughing and grabbing one of the tubes designed to hold a giant teat. 

i’m not gonna pretend i’m innocent. okay? that stupid basting tube was the perfect size and length for other things, and when L put the rubber-lined opening flat on his palm and felt the suction, the humor left his face real fast... so he’s not innocent, either.

if i’ve got any dignity remaining here, it’s that he was the one who swallowed and looked at me with the obvious conclusion clear in his eyes.  “rhett.”

“oh, gosh.”

i remember blushing. hard.

“these things aren’t dangerous, are they?” L asked. i nearly griped at him when he stuck two fingers in to test it… but i guess finger damage would be preferential to damage elsewhere, for a test run. 

“i don’t think they’d do that to the cows,” i pointed out, and L stared at the pulsating thing on his hand, mesmerized. through the clear exterior was a black sleeve that bobbed up and down on his fingers, sucking them and tightening around them. desperately trying to collect a liquid that wouldn’t come. 

there isn’t a person alive who would’ve looked at it without getting dirty thoughts, okay? it looked like an industrial sex toy for fuck’s sake.

after some seconds passed and L's cheeks had darkened, he pulled the thing off of him and held the tube in his fist, still staring at it.

“L?” i knew without asking that he wanted to use it, and if it made him happy, and excited him? then of course i’m gonna drag that out into the open. “you wanna try it…?”

L’s eyes flicked up to me before he gulped again and smiled, a nervous thing. “are we that horny?”

“are you?” i pressed, and his gaze fell. not to his own cock—still hard and peeking out of his pants—but to mine, still confined. straining against the front of my jeans.

“would you…” he stopped and took a deep breath, holding up the sucker. it pumped away, ignorant of whether it was full or empty. “would you put it on while you blow me…?”

fuck.

i didn’t know what i’d been expecting, but it wasn’t THAT. 

“yeah?” i asked, and he nodded.

“if you’re okay with that.”

“...you can’t make fun of me,” i warned him, but he seemed eager to set the record straight.

“no! no, i… i think it’ll be hot. gosh.” 

he was patient with me as i undid my jeans. he even spit into the sleeve, just to get it a bit wet for me, but most of his spit was just sucked right down the tube connected to the pot in an obscene squelching sound. 

i had to move closer for it to reach. and yeah, the decision to stick my dick in it wasn’t nearly as difficult as it should’ve been.

it felt… weird. good-weird, definitely not the kind of overwhelming sensation i was expecting. just like, a constant suction and light pumping up and down, and i fell onto my knuckles.

L full-on moaned. the machine's whir lowered in pitch, and the fact that it stayed sealed on me even when i didn’t touch it anymore... it got to him. he whispered, “oh, gosh. look at it, man.”  i did. the black sleeve on the inside didn’t move, but the clear tube around it bobbed up and down with purpose, locked on yet seeming to dangle, and i felt so ridiculous that i laughed. L laughed too, but his sounded different.  “god, rhett. come on, then,” he encouraged, shimmying down for me.

the milking machine felt ten times better once i had my mouth on link. sometimes your brain does funny stuff and short-circuits logic, like someone was down there giving me attention while i was on L, and like that someone could’ve somehow been L despite the impossibility of it in our current position.

and i will admit… there’s something hot about how a toy doesn’t tire, and doesn’t slow down. 

“you gettin’ milked, rhett...?

everything was fine until L started talking to me, loving and teasing all at once. and i’d asked him not to laugh at me, but it was a good kind of laugh and not a cruel one. he was into it. 

god. i was, too. 

he leaned back at one point and fiddled with the controls (i think he was paying more attention to me than he was to himself) and the tempo picked up on me. the suction increased, too, and i moaned, 'cause it felt hungry for me. had to stop sucking L so i could adjust to it, just working him with a hand.

“dang, rhett. you make it look like a good time.” he paused, obviously trying not to make me feel bad with his choice of words. “i kinda feel like i’m missing out…?”

crawling up beside him on the hay (having trouble controlling my muscles), i grabbed one of the vacant tubes and spit into it for him, pressing it into L’s hands. “do it. dunno when we’ll get another chance.” a

ny dream i want, actually, but he doesn’t need to know that.

and jesus, he was eager for it. 

he slid it down onto his dick and immediately his head fell back, and i got to see exactly what was so enticing about watching someone else use the machine. L was just… hooked up to something that was stimulating him. absolutely perverse. getting off without a body or any effort of his own, and the second his eyes closed and he started moaning, shifting his hips back into the hay, i wanted to remind him that i was still there. that i was feeling it, too.

i’m selfish, lol.

since i couldn’t get on top of him, i scooted close to his side and pulled him into a kiss. he was trembling—absolutely gorgeous—and the way his tongue dove into my mouth, like that was the only thing that was missing for him to get off... and to know he was experiencing the same pulses, the same suction, synced up to mine? making out's never gotten me that worked up.

jesus christ, it didn’t take long for him to

“Why you writin’ in my journal...?”

Rhett jolts so hard his knee bangs the underside of the table, and about three things happen in the span of a second:

He turns and finds a sleepy Link leaned forward on the table, squinting to try and read what’s being recorded.

Rhett looks down and notices, for the first time, that the cover of the thing he’s writing in is indeed dark red, not dark blue.

And then he grabs the two pages he’s filled and rips them clean out of the spine without thinking, slamming it shut and standing to cram the pages into his pocket.

“Whoa, what the crap?!” Link blurts, blinking hard and waking up. “What were you writing?! Gimme that!” Link makes a snatch for his pocket, but Rhett springs away from their huddle, eyes bugged and heart wracked, striding fast for the nearest door to a stairwell.

I’d die first. 

Shit, that was his journal—shit, shit, shit!

I should’ve just gone through his things for my charger—

“Rhett! Come back, I can’t just leave our—what the hell’s gotten into you?!”

But Rhett doesn’t stop. His brisk pace carries him in a weightless, adrenaline-fueled panic through the library, meandering and shell-shocked, and by the time his mind comes back online, he’s standing in front of a toilet and tearing the pieces of paper to tiny shreds, dumping them into the bowl. He flushes, catatonic, and watches them get sucked down into the pipes. 

That’s not enough to calm his panic, though.

I gotta come up with a good lie.

I’ll… I’ll tell him I thought it was my journal. That’s not damning alone.

I’ll tell him that I thought it was mine, and that I was writing down Christmas gift ideas for him. In October. 

Oh, fucking hell.

And truth be told, Rhett knows he won’t want to remember that dream to record it later. So... it’s fine that it’s lost.

Chapter Text

After a rapping knock on the beaten wood door, Link crams his hands into his sweatpants pockets and and bounces in place like it’s colder out than it is. They can’t see their breath in the air quite yet, but the changing season grows more evident as the days pass, and it’s beginning to feel a bit like the entire month of October has slipped away.

Maybe that’s just me, Rhett thinks, blinking slow. Can’t believe it hasn't been a month since the dreams started. 

“He’s expecting us,” Link mumbles, impatient, shooting an incredulous look through their host’s curtained window like he might be able to peek inside. “You knock.”

“Maybe he’s just in the bathroom.” If that’s true, it’s gonna make Rhett’s knock a lot more frustrating—louder and more insistent than Link’s.

“Police,” Link jokes in a whisper. “Open up.”

“Potty police.” It’s not even a joke Rhett tries for, but Link snickers anyway, so it’s worth it.

The locks begin clicking and Gregg’s face fills the cracked doorway, cheery and laid back as ever. “Hey, guys. Come on in.” 

They do, stepping into the house that always smells vaguely like lemon cleaner and dog even though there’s no dog. Just beyond the threshold is the kitchen, lit with three out of four working bulbs on the ceiling fixture and floored with linoleum that would use a quick sweeping. Link unbundles himself, not waiting to drape his jacket over a kitchen chair and kick off his shoes. Rhett follows suit to be polite; Link’s been here more times than him.

“Glad you decided to join us tonight, Rhett,” Gregg cajoles, giving him an affable pat on the back.

Rhett smiles. “Thanks, man. Link enjoyed partaking the other night, so I figured I’d see what all the hubbub was about.”

“Gonna be fun. Love bein’ people’s first times.” With a beckoning wave over his shoulder, he leads them to the living room and plops down on the far side of his turquoise couch. The fabric there is worn and dirty from frequent use, and the low table in front of it holds the reason for the evening… two of them, in fact. Both appear ready to go.

“The bong and the pipe?” Link asks through a laugh, shuffling over to take the sofa's middle seat. “How hard you expectin’ us to go tonight?”

“Nah, that’s just so you two’ve got options. I’m gonna smoke the bong, but I figured you might wanna stick to a pipe for your first time, Rhett.”

Ambling to join their arrangement, Rhett plops down beside Link and eyes the paraphernalia on the table. “Huh. I thought we’d smoke a joint or somethin’.”

“Glass is easier,” Gregg says like it’s common sense. Where Rhett expects him to pick one of the pieces and explain further, he simply snatches the remote for the TV and turns it on, flipping through streaming apps. “Y’all wanna watch anything? I’ve been enjoying Spongebob lately. It’s a riot, even if you’re not stoned.”

“Whatever you want,” Link answers, and Rhett nods. “You’re the one willin' to put up with us.”

“Aww, I love you two,” grins Gregg without taking his eyes off the screen. “Happy to chill with ya.” He does end up on Spongebob, but thankfully sinks the volume low for the theme song before clearing his throat and sitting up straight. “Alright, Link—you know the drill.”

“Make me sound like a veteran,” Link chuckles nervously, shaking his head at Rhett to say please don’t expect that of me. “I did it once.”

“Once is all the practice you need. Then it’s easy-peasy.” Gregg produces a lighter from his pocket and passes it off, and Link takes it in careful fingers like it too is made of glass. “Get us started.”

“Oh, gosh. Okay.”

“Bong or pipe?”

“Pipe. I’m scared of the bong.” 

The humble black glass is bestowed upon Link. It’s kinda pretty, in a weird way: it has a stretched skull comprised of bubbles, each one a different color so it forms a rainbow of sorts along its length. The nose looks a bit like a heart, Rhett notices. It’s a little tacky in a way only Gregg could pull off.

Hazarding a shy glance at Rhett (who’s watching him closely, ready to learn), Link fires up the lighter and takes a hit, holding the flame to the greens briefly—for much less time than Rhett had assumed, as it quickly burns black. Link inhales and makes a quiet choking sound. Lets the pipe lay in his lap.

Gregg’s apparently over all this pomp, idly watching Patrick on screen, but Rhett can’t tear his eyes off Link. “Y’okay?” 

Link nods, and after a few moments, releases a small cloud of smoke between them. It’s pungent and smells like a mixture of cut grass and skunk… not a stink Rhett would describe as "pleasant."

“Ohhhh, gosh,” Link growls through the discomfort, blinking down at his thighs. It’s simultaneously thrilling and bizarre, to watch him smoke weed.

Like a shopped video.

They aren't supposed to be doing this, after all—this ain't a version of themselves they'd foreseen, even as recently as high school. All it took was other folks normalizing it for the topic to go from we would never to well... maybe together?

“Onwards,” Gregg instructs at the television, blind captain of their ship, and Link bows his head and offers the pipe and lighter to Rhett with a timid smile.

That’s when Gregg’s phone goes off.

Rhett and Link defer to him, polite and patient (on the surface, at least), and Gregg pulls the ringing thing out to grimace at the call screen.  “It’s Andy—dang it.” He gives his guests an apologetic eye roll and stands. “I gotta take this. One sec.” Excusing himself to his bedroom, the roommates are left in a bizarre space that feels like a power vacuum, where neither of them are authoritative enough to continue things.

“Feel like we should wait on ‘im,” Rhett mumbles, eyes flicking between the pipe and the bedroom door.

“Yeah… yeah.” Setting them on the table, Link raps his fingers on his knees. Sighs in the limbo.

For some reason, words aren’t coming easy to either of them. The silence that settles is awkward and only dented by Gregg’s low voice in the other room. 

“Are you feelin’ it yet?” ventures Rhett, figuring it’s better to say something than to flounder in quiet, but Link smiles at him from a place of unperturbed relaxation. 

“Yeah, a little. It hits you real fast.”

“Wow.” Maybe I’m the only one who’s a little uncomfortable at being left alone.

Gregg doesn’t take long. When he returns, he’s frowning hard at his phone and tapping around. “Bad news,” he announces. “Andy needs a ride to his folks’ place. Somethin’ happened, I guess? Dunno. Kept tellin’ him he needed to go get his license renewed.” Gregg sets about collecting things to cram into his pockets, and only stops when he sees the bewildered expressions on his guests. “Oh! You guys can totally hang here until I get back.”

I—I don’t want to be alone with Link.

The thought is sudden and intrusive, and Rhett swallows as Link furrows his brow. “Are you sure?"

“Yeah! It’ll be an hour at most, just chill and make yourselves at home. Smoke it up.” Without waiting, Gregg strides to the door and snatches his keys from a glass bowl. “Mind if I lock y’all in? You don’t need to go nowhere, do ya?”

And Link doesn’t even consult Rhett before he’s shaking his head, bottom lip pouted to answer for them both. “Naw. Our evening’s all yours, bud. Stay warm.”

“Thanks!”

“Drive safe,” Rhett manages to croak, and the locking of the deadbolt at Gregg’s back feels like prison bars slamming to. 

Without Gregg, Gregg’s apartment feels… weirdly cozy, yet empty all at once? The TV’s still playing, the bong and pipe are still awaiting use on the table, and Rhett and Link might as well be fixtures in the living room for how much they move.

“Well… that sucks,” Link says after a bout of acceptance. Rhett swallows again and bobs his head.

“Yeah. Hope his friend’s okay.”

“You don’t know Andy?” That dang tone—it’s the only people use for all sorts of condescension, and Rhett glowers and side-eyes Link. “What?! I thought everyone knew Andy!” Link teases him with a gentle elbow. “Do you ever talk to people at parties?”

“Not if I can help it,” Rhett admits to chuckles. He sighs and looks over the weed, which now it kinda seems like they’re stealing, using it up without its owner. “Feel bad smoking Gregg’s pot when he ain’t here.”

“Ah, you know he don’t care.” Breaking the ice again, Link snatches the pipe and holds it out to him. “Besides… this is kinda how it was s’posed to be. Right?”

Rhett’s eyes tick up to Link’s giddy blue ones. “What d’you mean...?”

“Just the two of us. Alone. My first time might’ve been an asshole impulse on my part, but at least your first time will be the way it was meant to be,” Link laughs. It’s a light sound for such a heavy sentiment, and Rhett’s cheeks warm. He prays Link doesn’t notice.

“I guess. You don’t gotta feel bad about it, y’know.”

“Well… I do,” snaps Link softly, cocking his head. “So can we just pretend this’s our first time? Both of us?”

I swear, he never listens to the words that fall out of his mouth.

Taking the pipe, Rhett turns it over a few times and is about to absently ask what the little hole is for before Link explains, pointing to what scarce parts there are to understand about a pipe. Rhett’s mind wanders against his will—’cause this existence, of being locked in a vacant house with Link and a drug that’s going to alter Rhett’s mind and affect his filter?  Gregg was supposed to be the fail-safe against that. And Gregg’s gone.

I don't wanna be alone with Link. 

Got lucky as is that he let yesterday's journal incident go without a fight.

It's not just that, though.  The dreams are too much lately.

They’ve gotten too real, too much of the shit I want runnin’ unchecked.

S'gettin’ harder to separate dream from reality, and if we get comfy, and I get lazy, I’m scared I might…

I might...

“You get it?” Link asks after his recap, gorgeous starburst cyans finding Rhett. Rhett’s at a loss. He’s not doing anything out of the usual—neither of them are. This is how they’ve always been; they aren’t sitting closer than normal, they aren’t speaking in low, seductive tones, they aren’t doing anything atypical. So w hy the fuck is Rhett about to panic?

This is real.

I’m so obsessed with him when I'm asleep that I can’t act normal around him anymore when I'm awake? 

Is that it...?

“Yeah,” Rhett mutters, then does his best to copy the way Link had taken a hit earlier. Thank God it works. The burn fills Rhett’s lungs so quickly that he stops inhaling in shock and bursts into a coughing fit. Link ferries the pipe and lighter from his hands swiftly, patting him on the back.

“Easy! Gosh. You want some water?”

“N-No… no, I’m good,” Rhett decides, straightening. He forces his eyes open—feels how wet they are, close to overflowing. 

“What’re you tryna prove?” mumbles Link in good humor, leaning back on the couch and eyeing Rhett from his gray socks to his baggy jacket strings. He must not think twice of it—must not hear Rhett’s heart already pounding when he reaches over and straightens one of them casually, like picking a stray hair off a cozy girlfriend. “Take it easy, man. We’re here to relax, not have a smoke-blowing contest.”

“Right.” Running his fingers through his beard, Rhett blinks the tears away and hums. “Sorry.”

“Y’know,” Link starts—but just as quickly he abandons the thought, jiggling a leg on the floor and shoving his hands in his hoodie pouch. “Nah.”

Rhett's... lightheaded? Like he hadn't coughed up all of the smoke and some is swirling around in his skull, dizzy and light. He leans back to mirror Link, eyebrows knitted tight. “What?”

“S’just… I dunno. Feel like it’s been a really long time since we’ve talked, is all.” The way he says it isn’t sad, but it isn’t happy, either. Just a casual observation, and it squeezes Rhett’s heart unpleasantly, because he knows it’s true.

This is real.

He wouldn’t say that in a dream.

“Yeah?” Rhett can’t give more than that—if he puts passion behind it, it’ll come out defensive, and if he defaults to guilty, he’ll become vulnerable.

“A little. I mean, visiting home was nice,” Link recalls with a distant smirk. “But it's always nice, goin’ home with you. Feels right. Aside from that and the dumb tea party—”

“That wasn’t dumb,” Rhett cuts in, 'cause it’s hurtful that Link would label that night that way. Especially when Rhett's grown to look back on it so fondly. He kinda cherishes it, in a weird way.

“Well, fine. But… I dunno. I miss you, Rhett.” There’s an unbearable softness on the words, and that same vulnerability Rhett is trying so hard to steer away from has swerved and crashed into Link, begging Rhett’s attention and quickening his pulse. Souring his stomach. “And I’m… I’m sorry for the way I’ve been acting because of it.”

Stilling, Rhett glances him over suspiciously. “...What do you mean?”

“You know what I’m talkin’ about,” Link goads him with an exasperated, weak smile, but Rhett simply stares, so he purses his lips and looks at the coffee table. “Lots of little things. Rubbing Abbi in your face at the party. Teasing you 'bout needin' to go to the bathroom on the way to Buies. Makin’ fun of your… y’know.” He really doesn’t need to nod at Rhett’s crotch for Rhett to understand—but he does, and even adds, “You’re not small. I was just… ticked off. I dunno.”

He did all those things maliciously…?

Rhett isn’t sure how to respond.

Link tops off the confession, “Guess I’ve been bitter that you’ve been drifting outta reach, and even more bitter that I can’t tell why.”

Throat dry, Rhett rubs his hands along his thighs and lets his mouth open and close. “You… you don’t need to apologize,” he decides, and this much, he can bear. “I know I’ve been… weird for a while now. I’m sorry.” There are so many more words he dams up after: it’s not because of you, but it kinda is, but it’s not your fault, it's just 'cause I’m a coward.

“Is it the sleep, still?” hazards Link with curious eyes, and Rhett finds it within himself confirm it with a nod. “I thought that was gettin' better. What’s bothering you 'bout it so much? I mean, I know you’re a light sleeper—am I doin’ somethin’ in my sleep that’s keepin’ you up?”

In a way, yeah.

“No. I’ve just been… I dunno. S’been hard to get a good night’s rest, lately. For some reason,” Rhett asserts. Guilt piles heavy between his ribs, weighing him down. There are more small things he can give Link: a smile, a nudge, a quick shake of the head. “It’s not you, buddy.”

Link’s spirits lift, along with his shoulders and eyebrows. “I didn’t do anything to piss you off…?”

“You didn’t do anything, Link. I promise.”

“That’s… that’s such a relief, holy crap.”

Rhett chuckles, and for the first time acknowledges how warm and fuzzy his brain is—how it lights up at Link’s levity and trickles endorphins down through his body. 

This is what it’s like being high.

Huh. It’s nice.

“Link, if I were mad at you, I’d tell you. I wouldn’t cold shoulder you to oblivion. You’re my best friend, and I’ve been… real shitty. In my own head for a while now. But that’s not on you.”

Link’s quiet. He chews his lip for a moment, focus on the pipe as he mulls something over. And when they tick back up, Rhett isn’t prepared for how brazen they are. “I like the way it sounds when you say my name.”

This is real, Rhett assures himself as his ears tingle into heat and his lips curve up in a smirk. That—that sounds like something he’d say in a dream, but this is real.

“Link, Link, Link,” Rhett can’t help but tease, fueled by weed and having his best friend back, and Link melts into chagrined chuckles, all but punching him in the arm. Sitting up and retrieving the pipe, he hands it to Rhett along with the lighter. 

“Here. Round two.”

“Why me first?” Rhett asks, glancing between his face and the pipe.

“‘Cause it’s your first time. Gotta keep it goin’.”

Enough time has passed that the pipe has cooled, and Rhett brings it to his lips, pausing at the last second to appreciate the sight of Link. Flesh and blood. The touch of their knees. Link  happy. 

God, it has been a while, hasn’t it? Just the two of us not doing anything.

It'd be easy to tell him. It'd be so easyI can feel it under my tongue.

“I miss you,” Rhett states instead, a smaller simplicity, and thank goodness his mouth is preoccupied when Link’s face falls to surprise—jaw slack so those pointy bottom teeth poke out, eyes full of something akin to wonder.

“You do?”

“Mhm.” Rhett winces with lungs full of smoke, and he lets it out in a steady puff, barely avoiding a cough. “Yeah. I do, I miss you, Link.”

“I—I miss you too, Rhett,” Link muses, quiet, and he takes the pipe from him. “Umm… sorry to go back to this, but... is itis it anything specific keeping you awake at night? I mean, is it like… a girl, or…?”

And just as quickly as the marijuana had relaxed Rhett’s tongue and filter, it dumps paranoia into his brain and locks everything up tight—’cause that feels way too fuckin’ on the nose. What part of ‘“I miss you” says “hey, let’s dig deeper into my issues”?  Okay, maybe that’s not so far-fetched, but still, there’s—shit, Link’s suddenly talking like he knows. Like Rhett had just opened a door for him to walk through when he’d thought “I miss you” was a safe thing to admit.

Isn’t it…?

There’s nothing telling about just saying it, it doesn’t imply anything.

Yeah.

Yeah. I’m just high. 

Link’s just high, he’s just being weird.

“It’s not a girl,” Rhett manages to finally answer—and fuck, does his voice sound strange? Are his clothes too tight, constricting his chest as he wrings his hands into his pants, and does Link see it when he does that, does that read as clearly as the rest of his insecurities?

“It’s not a girl,” Link echoes in a whisper, considering the pipe in his hands. “Okay. Who—what is it, then...?”

I meant to say “it’s not a person.” God dammit.

“It’s—” Rhett shakes his head, laughing and waving the notion away. That look of surprise won’t seem to leave Link’s face, and Rhett tries to wave that away, too: n othing to see here. “I’m just—it's stress about school.”

“Rhett, you’ve never been stressed about school. I’ve known you for sixteen years.”

Fuck, fuck, fuck.

“I’m—it’s—just havin’ trouble sleepin’, I dunno,” mumbles Rhett in a rush, and Link watches him, eyes narrowing to a squint. It’s pure Hell to be scrutinized when he’s on the verge of excusing himself to the restroom to vomit from nerves—but even that would be damning, would break things down into further danger.

There’s mercy in the world: Link eventually shrugs and holds up the pipe. “Well... they say this stuff helps some people sleep better. Here—I read online about a thing we can do.” 

A thing “we” can do? Rhett watches, those words tripping through his ear drums along with his heartbeat.  But Link’s unbothered, whatever it is—he breathes in a deep hit, sets the pipe down, turns to Rhett, and gestures for him to…

To open his mouth.

Entranced and near shattering, Rhett does, trying not to stare at his mouth when Link whispers  “Inhale.”

Then he leans in close.  Close,  close.

Rhett’s cheeks sear and he backs up a bit—isn’t ready for it when Link braces a hand on his thigh, when Link’s eyelids go low like they have in every single dream he's had, when he parts those lips and

This is the part where you kiss him.

This is how it goes.

Rhett knows he’s supposed to be inhaling. Link’s breathing out softly , barely an inch away—but Rhett’s eyes are wide and shocked and every inch of his neck burns as Link lets out a pretty noise, and the smoke billows away from them.

Why.

Why is he doing this…?

...

Of course. That’s it.

Once the smoke clears, Link screws up his face and pulls back, trying not to laugh. “Rhett, you were s’posed to—”

“It was you,” Rhett breathes, chest hitching in stuttered shock. 

Link’s smile vanishes. “What?”

He knows, and he’s trying to make me say it out loud, and he’s pushing me into a situation where I’m not strong enough to resist so he can shove it in my face.

He wants the upper hand in this.

“You stole my laptop." Rhett shakes his head, voice tempered. " You have it. You’re the only person who knows my password.”

“Wait… what?” Link shifts farther back. “I don’t even— no! What—you think I took your—”

“It had to be you! Why else—you—” Rhett fumbles for words, made difficult by a foggy head. “You knew I was sleeping, and you came and took it!”

“Is that what all of this is about?! That’s why you can’t sleep at night, ‘cause your freakin’ laptop’s missing?” Link shrugs out his hands, palm-up, mouth agape. He trembles at the accusation, “I—and you think I took it? What the fuck, Rhett? Why would I want your laptop all of a sudden?!”

“You—” Standing, Rhett ignores the injured cry of “Where’re you going?!” and marches to the door to put on his coat. “I can’t do this, Link. If we’re done, it’s not like this—I’d rather it just be done, y’know? It’s too much.”

Link jumps to a stand, strides into the kitchen with ferocity on his features, but Rhett’s not stopping to talk more; he just listens as Link lets off, “What in God’s name are you talkin’ about?! I didn’t take your stupid laptop, Rhett, what—you can’t leave! Gregg left us here, and you're stoned—”

“Drive yourself home later." Rhett snatches his car keys from his pocket and throws them at Link’s chest, hitting his sternum. They fall to the floor in a clatter. And with that, he unlocks the door and rushes out into the brisk October wind, throwing his hood up and tuning out Link’s indignant yells from behind him.

“Rhett! Rhett, wait—what do you mean, ‘we’re done'...?”

Mind racing and heart threatening to overwork, Rhett breaks into a jog, hands in his pockets and shivering from something other than cold.

He said it, anyway: we’ve been drifting apart.

Chapter Text

Rhett.

I have no idea what just
happened. But I know you
well enough to know you
aren’t gonna respond, even
though I wish you would.

I’m so fucking angry.

I didn’t steal your laptop.

I can’t believe you’d accuse
me of that. I’ve been trying
to help you find it, you jerk.

First you wrote something
in my journal, freaked out
when I saw, and wouldn’t
tell me what it was. And
now this?

I know I said I was doing things
to piss you off lately, but seriously?
You think that lowly of me? You
think I’d steal from you?

What the hell?

And then you said “we’re done”

I don’t know what that means, but

Rhett, that’s

That’s  

I don’t want to be done

Link hadn’t taken his laptop. Rhett knows that, now. 

His high had worn off shortly after checking into the motel where his lies had begun, with nothing but the shirt on his back. Iin a mocking twist of fate, he'd been given a keycard to the very same room in which he’d stayed weeks ago. With a clear head came an idea, and he’d used his phone to log on to his Drive and check when his dream journal had last been viewed.

10/23. The last day he’d recorded in it.

And it had been then that the indignant injustice fueling his actions since Link was perfectly kissable on the couch plummeted into a wet and nauseated remorse.

Rhett had slept.

Now, the morning songbirds outside and the first rays of sun are offensive to Rhett’s mire as he reads and re-reads the texts from Link.

Why can’t I respond?

I owe him so many apologies.

He never deserved to be treated this way.

And I can try to shove off the blame, to say “It’s not me, it’s my brain. We were fine, before.”

But even if I keep that excuse to myself, it’s a flimsy one. My brain is me. 

Which means one thing. And he's admitted it before, in dreams and in recording them. It comes different in the burn of daylight, alone and awake. Hurt and shame.

I’m in love with Link.

I think… I think I have been for a long time.

Pulling down at his tired eyes, Rhett checks the time. It’s barely 7am. Considering Link had sent the last text at 4am, he’s likely at last asleep and not obsessing over this mess anymore. God forbid he’s dreaming about Rhett… or if he is, he’s hopefully dreaming about yelling at him the way he rightly should. At least one of them should find reprieve in sleep.

I don’t know what changed to where I started having lovesick nightmares, or how to qualify them, or if they’ll ever stop…

But I know I’m not strong enough to kick him out of my head when I’m sleeping. It was a pipe dream, to think I’d ever turn down a version of him that I could have. Being with him like that—physical, passionate, even sweet and reassuring? 

Of course I’m too weak. Of course I can’t resist.

He’d dreamt last night, too. Where the limits of cruelty should tighten under duress, they instead had slackened and with open arms, invited Link into the motel room.

In the dream, Rhett kissed him. That came first and foremost. He walked with him to the bed and told him everything, and had laid bare his heart and tongue while Link looked on, starry-eyed. Perhaps it was pity that dream-Link felt for Rhett, taking it seriously and letting him spill everything even after that fistfight weeks ago. Does that version of Link remember? Where that same need Rhett had punched him for, because he didn’t want to fulfill it?

In the dream, Rhett was brave. He tested out words like wet socks and big cozy sweaters, and if they didn’t fit right he would simply say scratch that and they’d never happened. With control of all came leniency, and Rhett basked in it and was forgiving with himself. Said the wrong things, moved the wrong way, got the wrong reaction to one line or another—and he hit rewind, because at least in his dream, it should be perfect.

In the dream, Link shied away, but not in rejection. It was disbelief—a coy, innocent thing of blushing cheeks and upturned smiles, and he asked Rhett for more proof. And they kissed, and kissed, and Link said kisses were easy. So—full well-knowing he would regret it when the dream was over—Rhett palmed himself and spoke low words, showed Link the outline of his feelings through denim. 

In the dream, things escalated, and it was easy because Link wanted it that way, which really meant Rhett wanted him to want it that way. Sobering, in retrospect. But Link watched, blushing, and Rhett pleasured himself to the sight of his fully-clothed best friend—each holding the other in their gaze, one with all the power and the other putty, though if either were asked they’d claim the same role. Rhett tipped easily under that undivided attention, and kept his eyes open to make sure Link saw his effect, kept his lips parted to moan Link’s name and assign himself to him.

And it’s a farewell for Rhett to recount that to himself mentally, letting it play out like a movie in his mind’s eye. ‘Cause he’s done recording dreams.

This one won’t get life on any sort of page, and neither will others in the future. He’ll lose lucidity, and dream-Link will eventually go back to being a nameless shadow whose identity is achingly, tortuously clear only to Rhett.

It’s one of a few bullets he has to bite—one of the smaller ones, actually.

Link said he didn’t want us to be over.

And I don’t want it either, but…  

I don’t see us coming back from this.

Even if I apologize, I’d still act weird around him. That’s not going to change.

I don’t even know what “back to normal” would feel like, at this point.

The tears come without hesitation. Burning wet and blurring his vision, Rhett sets the phone aside and accepts his face into his hands, and lets reality sear through him:

We really are ‘done’.  

It’s being torn in half. 

It’s acknowledging that this simply isn’t how nearly two decades of unwavering love and companionship is supposed to conclude—crammed tight between a rock and a hard place, too tight to escape. 

It’s thinking about Link’s bright blue eyes in first grade and that boyish giggle that applauded Rhett’s every effort. Punching bullies and sharing sandwiches and running through the woods ‘til both of them had skinned knees. It's that initial flutter in 8th-grade Rhett’s stomach, when he’d first thought a thought he shouldn’t have and pardoned it to his girl-crazed mind, lines crossing. It's getting their licenses and talking about college, and the too-good-to-be-true realization that they wanted to be together, at least for a little while longer. It was having a place they called "home," and it was theirs.

And now, it’s done.

“Fuck,” Rhett gasps through a sob, composing himself long enough to fetch a tissue from the restroom. He blows his nose and tosses it, grabs another and dries his eyes and doesn’t look at his reflection in the dingy mirror. 

I can’t text Link.

Hell, I can’t even go back to the dorm. 

I’ve gotta find new living arrangements. 

Wonder if Gregg would be willing to take on a roommate. Or even let me crash on his couch until I find another...

That’s… too much. It’s too fresh to think about; this moment should be for mourning and acceptance, so Rhett ambles back to the bed and grabs his phone, exiting the text window. Check-out isn’t for another four hours. For now, this motel room is where he lives.

Lowering onto the mattress, Rhett puts his phone on silent and sets it on the nightstand before turning over and resigning himself to more sleep.

He doesn’t assume he’ll dream, and for once, the universe takes pity on him.

 


 

 

There’s a knock at the door, and when housekeeping tries to come in, Rhett mumbles a half-asleep apology on loop until they leave.

He’s overslept; housekeeping means he’s missed check-out, and that means they’re going to charge his card for another night here, which—while not financially viable in the long run—is a bit of a relief. He won’t need to worry about where he’s staying tonight.

Nabbing his phone (he needs to go get his charger from the dorm, at least), Rhett glances at the clock to find that it’s nearly two in the afternoon. He skims over his notifications: some emails and app updates.

No new texts from Link. 

But there are two voicemails from a number Rhett doesn’t recognize. The first call had come in at 10am. 

With a furrowed brow, Rhett taps the alert and squishes the phone to his ear, letting his eyes close.

“Hello, this is Caroline from the front desk of Sullivan Hall. I’m trying to reach Rhett McLaughlin. A student named Chelsea just came in and turned in a laptop, saying it might belong to you? She said she found it in the engineering building, beside a couch. We’ll hold it until you can confirm.”

Fuck’s sake. One day too late, someone finds his goddamn laptop. Hell, Rhett’s not even all that excited to know it’s okay. He must’ve—

Yeah. That’s exactly what I did. 

I remember now: right before I fell asleep, I hid it between the couch and the wall. 

I was so caught up in the dream, I forgot when I woke up. I panicked.

Sighing, Rhett navigates to the next voicemail—just a few minutes later, he notes—and hits play.

“Caroline again. Sorry to call twice, Rhett, but Chelsea was able to contact your roommate, Link. He came down, confirmed it was yours, and took it up to your room, so now it’ll be waiting in your dorm. Have a nice day!”

Rhett bolts upright, nearly vomiting in the process.

Link has it...?

He double-checks. Link hasn’t sent any messages since last night. Maybe it’s not too late. 

Tripping over himself, Rhett gathers what few belongings he’d shed upon arriving last night and rushes for the door, starting for campus on foot and praying that his outburst last night hadn’t cost him the only thing he could possibly glean from this: an end to their friendship that doesn’t include Link outright hating him.

Chapter Text

I’m such a jackass. 

Gonna waltz in unannounced without respondin' to a single one of his texts all night.

Good. Maybe that’ll make this… easier.

A large part of Rhett dunks straight into nerves the second he’s near the dorm hall. He keeps checking over his shoulder, like Link could be hiding in one of the dying shrubs by the front doors, spying and ready to jump Rhett the second he reappears on campus. Link wouldn’t make a scene like that, though. Not in public.

The elevator opens and Rhett lets out a breath when it’s empty—a few seconds more to think of what to say. He huddles in and hits the button for their floor, hugging his jacket around himself and tapping his foot for the slow ascent.

Maybe it would be better to not say anything.

Maybe I can just go in, pack a bag, and that’ll be enough.

He would know what that means.

It’s a prudent thought. It also lumps hard in Rhett’s throat and begs his lip to tremble, so he bites it still and lets his vision burn on the gray-checked floor tiles. 

God dammit.

This is all so stupid. 

Maybe… Maybe I can apologize again. Or make it up to him somehow.

“You’re really all over the place, McLaughlin,” Rhett mumbles to himself, pocketing his hands. The shaft dings and the doors re-open to his floor. “Spent the night ignoring him, he ain’t gonna hear y'out.”

In solitary silence unbefitting student housing, Rhett trudges down the hall as he has hundreds of times before, pausing at their door to listen. No sound comes from within. Throat tight, fingers jittery, he pulls his dorm key from his pocket and slots it into the lock, willing his breathing to a rhythm that could pass for normal. He makes a show of it—turns it in the tumbler more than he needs to, just to give Link a chance to prepare himself—but when the door finally opens, the room is empty.

The lights are off, and even with the afternoon sunlight pouring in the window, everything is dim and gray—not at all like the “home” Rhett’s come to know. It’s missing its vibrance.

That’s ‘cause he’s not here.

Rhett steps in, shutting the door behind until it latches softly. Once upon a time he’d come back and Link had been hiding in the closet, and all at once it’s upsetting and a relief that that isn’t the case this time. Pacing to the desk, Rhett acknowledges his laptop on his bed, placed with ironic care into the mess of sheets.

Maybe he’s at the gym.

Spinning slowly, Rhett sees Link’s mesh work-out bag on the floor beside their mini-fridge.

Or not.

Giving his phone a check to ensure Link hasn’t texted him, he plugs it in on the desk and settles onto his bed, taking in the rest of the room. Link’s backpack is missing, and for some reason that’s far more reassuring than if he’d left it behind.

We don’t have class, but h e could be at the library. Or in a study room somewhere.

A deep inhale refreshes Rhett’s mind and body. If Link’s not here, he can at least relax for a minute. He’ll make quick work of gathering his things up if he comes back.

Absently, Rhett picks up his laptop and opens it—everything looks normal. Same old login screen. Battery’s not as low as he’d expect it to be, which is a nice surprise, at least. It feels weird to type on a large keyboard again (funny, how just a little distance will do that), but Rhett enters his password.

He’s greeted with the Drive screen of his documents.

Jesus. I really didn’t even bother to exit out of this.

At the very top is his “Journal”, perfectly blameless and entirely a product of Rhett’s desires. Arguably, the worst decision he’s ever made.

This fuckin’ thing.

Selecting it, Rhett right clicks and stares at the little trash can icon beside the command “remove”. His cursor hovers over it, turning the selection gray, and that little bit of impulsive effort lifts a weight off his heart.

Yeah. I should.

It’s effort wasted, but why hang onto it? This one stupid file has controlled my life. Might have cost me the person I love most in the world.

Chewing his cheek, Rhett takes a second to brace himself, and the instant he clicks “remove” is the same instant his eye catches one of the document’s details on the side bar:

Last Modified: 11:47 AM by me

But then the file is gone.

“Wait— wait,” Rhett breathes, weightless with shock. The pop-up at the bottom of the page— 1 file removed. Undo?— Rhett barely catches it in time. The document reappears, and Rhett gets to ogle over the details once again, running a hand through his hair at the close call.

Edited by me this morning?

I didn’t…

Panic burns up his spine, unannounced; it’s a fuse nearing the base of his skull, and it commands him to come to terms with horrible, terrifying realizations:

Link read this.

He read it, and changed something about it.

There’s a note in there telling me what a sick fucking creep I am, and that’s why he hasn’t texted me again—that’s why he didn’t want to be here when I got back. He’s probably in Buies, either too hurt to speak or telling our parents what a twisted sicko I turned out to be, and—

“Fuck.” A thin sweat breaks over Rhett’s forehead, ice cold and sweltering. His entire body enters a state of limbo as he double-clicks on the file.  It loads, and the same page as ever pops up. His first entry. Swallowing down wave after wave of nausea, Rhett scrolls to the bottom of the document, slowing as he nears it, petrified to see what’s waiting for him at the end.

He could click out. Vanish from campus—the knowledge alone that Link had seen this and read it, had responded is more than enough to qualify as a waking nightmare.

I have to know.

Rhett gets to the end of the last dream he’d recorded.

And there, below it, is definitely something he hadn’t written. He has to begin reading it three times before he gets enough courage to go past the first few words.

Rhett. 

This is Link—or “L”, I guess. That’s what you’ve been calling me throughout this, isn’t it?

I know I shouldn’t have looked at your computer. In your private files, specifically. But you freaked out about it last night, and then you didn’t respond to any of my texts. I was angry, and felt like you owed me an explanation for why you’ve been such an ass lately. I saw the title “Journal” and couldn’t resist peeking.

I got… way more than I bargained for.

Rhett has to stop—he has to try and control his breathing, has to place a hand over his heart to stop it from bursting out of his chest, has to get up and pace to expel some energy, but that doesn’t work either, and he sits right back down and runs his hands through his hair with tight fingers, numb all over.

But it’s like trying to look away from a car crash. He has to see the damage—has to know the extent of it before he can begin recovering.

If it’s any consolation, I didn’t read everything. It was too much. Once I realized what was going on, I skimmed over most of it.  But I read enough to understand what’s been going on.

We don’t have to talk about it. 

I understand now why you ran off and didn’t respond. I still wish you hadn’t accused me of stealing your computer, but I can see how paranoid you’d be with… THIS in your files.

I feel sick. And I don’t know if it would be better or worse if you were here. I wanna talk to someone about it, but you’re normally that “someone”. I talk to you about everything. So I don’t really know what to do.

I don’t even think talking about it would make it better. 

I think it would be best if we don’t see each other for a while.

Yeah—there it is. There’s the guillotine, there’s the executioner’s ax that’s been held in the air for far too long by tired arms, its falling aided by the weight of the world.  Stomach knotting into jagged rocks, Rhett forces himself to keep reading.

And that’s… fine. That’s a thing we can do, give each other space. Right? We clearly need it.

I do have one favor to ask.

A thousand assumptions flood Rhett’s head: don’t text me, don’t call me, don’t look for me, don’t contact me in any way, delete this file, find a new place to live. Forget my name. But the truth is far, far more jarring:

Share this doc with me.

I know it’s not okay. And you know it’s not okay either, clearly.

But if you can use this as an outlet to write down fantasies you’ve had about me, then I should be allowed to do it, too.

Wait.

These—these aren’t fantasies, they’re dreams. They all happened when Rhett was unconscious, the first few were even out of his control. They’re not—they’re not daydreams Rhett had woven in his free time just for fun. W hat the fuck does he mean, “I should be allowed to do it, too”? 

Link’s… Link’s been fantasizing about Rhett? Like, he and Rhett together? Physically? 

No. No, he just means fantasies about people in general. Rhett re-reads the last paragraph before continuing, unaware of anything else in the world.

And if you say “no” to sharing it with me, that’s… fine. Doesn’t seem fair, since we’re apparently in the same boat, but I would understand. I can always just make my own.

But… while I have yours, I’ll share one I revisit a lot. 

And considering that some of the stuff you’ve written about us so far is pretty, uh… intense… you shouldn’t judge me for it.

This has to be a misunderstanding. Rhett’s reading this wrong, or Link had written it wrong—but it’s hard to argue with words right there in front of him, and Rhett is completely captive. At the mercy of whatever Link is about to put between them. The tables had turned so quickly.

Sometimes I think about what it would be like if there were two of you.

There would still be you, as I know you. The “real” Rhett. The one who sees me strictly as a friend, and who gets so terrified by the notion of being together that you keep a journal where you can just… shut those thoughts out, ‘cause you don’t want them. 

But in the same way you have a Link you mess around with in your head, sometimes I like to fantasize that I have another Rhett, too.

The other Rhett exists at the same time as you. You both walk around as two separate people, and can talk to each other. The main difference is the only difference: he wants me.

And every time I play it in my head, the story goes the same way. The three of us are at a party, or studying in the dorm. And then the other Rhett… he gets flirty.

This is freakin’ embarrassing to write, how did you do this?

He starts kissing me. 

Holds my face in his hands, kisses down my neck. And I love the feel of his beard on my skin. It’s exactly like yours, but it’s not yours, so don’t… don’t hate me, or anything. (I thought this would be a safe place to start sharing, but now I’m not sure. You’ve probably stopped reading already.)

Not a chance in Hell.

Rhett can’t stop reading, and he can’t stop going back to double-check that his brain isn’t piecing things together wrong, ‘cause the broken record in his head is dizzy and warbling he wants me? on repeat. It’s—it feels impossible, like this is an elaborate prank of some kind—but that’s not possible either, is it?

If we aren’t alone, we find a place to be alone. Me and the other Rhett, I mean. And uh

Well. No point trying to be polite. You weren’t, in your entries.

It always ends with me shoved up against a wall.

Rhett lets out a quivering exhale and his lids fall low. A wave of warmth envelops his cheeks as he reads.

His big hands that are exactly like yours are all over me. Hard on my waist, squeezing my hips, running up through my hair. They go anywhere they want to… but they usually stop searching once they find my pants.

Sometimes it’s

Fuck, sometimes it’s my ass. Groping me and pulling our bodies together. Other times it’s my dick, rubbing me and pressing me into the wall. 

The other Rhett is real good with his hands. They’re big, and you think they’d be rough… heck, maybe they are. But they’re soft on me. (Not gentle. There’s a difference.)

And it goes a bunch of different ways depending on where we are, but the last time I had this fantasy, he turned me around and pushed my chest into the wall. Pulled my shirt up so I felt it tickle my lower back. Then he just… pulled my pants down, planted kisses on the back of my neck and told me how handsome I was.

He is. God, he is—Link is the most handsome, the most beautiful, the most attractive. He has to know he is, but to want to hear it in a fantasy, too? To need that to feel good?  Rhett would tell him that. He’d drench him in praise and compliments, ‘cause Link’s gone his entire life without hearing how drop-dead gorgeous he is, and who will do that for him? No one else deserves to have that right, do they? Rhett knows. Rhett knows better than anyone, it should come from him. 

He shouldn’t do more— at least I can recognize that —but it’s too much to be able to read this confession without some form of relief. So, Rhett palms himself just long enough to push down his arousal, overwhelming as it is.

I’ve, uh. Experimented, a few times. With my fingers. But that doesn’t feel close to the way I imagine it when the other Rhett pushes inside of me. He’s

God, I’m blushing

He’s big. 

Just like you.

Rhett blushes, too—sighs shakily and tries to ignore the pleading twitch under his fingers.

And he fucks me standing up, with his hands on my shoulders to pull me onto him. Sometimes he bends me over a sink or a bed, but he’s always needy and it drives me wild, man. Just… best friend to best friend, ignoring this tangled web of shit we’re in? It’s so fuckin’ hot.

But there’s a reason there are two of you in these stories. ‘Cause usually... this is the part where you walk in. You, you. The Rhett reading this.

Chest still, hand still, heart still, Rhett reads faster than he’s read in his entire life.

And you get jealous and don’t like that I’m having sex with the other Rhett. But instead of getting angry or breaking us apart, you… uh

You join us.

That can mean a lot of different things, but it always means the two of you get competitive, and… well… you can imagine the kinda stuff that leads to, right?  

I can’t believe I’m writing this down. But I’ve come this far, so:

It means that sometimes I’m on my knees on the floor between you, sucking off one and jacking off the other, but both of you want my mouth.

Sometimes I’m on a bed with my head over the edge, with one of you fucking my ass and the other fucking my throat.

Sometimes you both give me head at once.

Sometimes… shit, I think this is my favorite.

Sometimes I’m between you two. We’re all sitting and the other Rhett is behind me, inside of me—

The other Rhett gets to be inside of him for his favorite one…?

—but me and you are chest to chest, and I’m in your lap, and

And you’re stroking us at the same time

And we’re kissing, Rhett. You’re kissing me, and I’m kissing you, too.

“Oh, fuck,” Rhett whispers, resolve nearly torn to shreds.

And we always come together. Every single time. ‘Cause we’re in it together, fucking your hand together, and

God, I’m hard. Right now, writing this, I’m

Jesus Christ, Rhett. You get to me so much that I think about you every freakin’ time I masturbate. 

What are we going to do?

That’s where it ends.

What—

What does he mean, “what are we going to do?” This is—it’s perfect. He wants Rhett, and Rhett wants him, so they can just be together, holy fucking shit, this could really happen.  Frowning and scrolling back up, mind a muddled mess of exhilaration and confusion, he revisits the beginning and reads. It’s sobering, in contrast to how Link had unraveled upon sharing the fantasy.

“I feel sick.”

“I think it would be best if we don’t see each other for a while.”

“The one who sees me strictly as a friend, and who gets so terrified by the notion of being together that you keep a journal where you can just… shut those thoughts out, ‘cause you don’t want them.”

That’s it. That part, that’s where Link is horribly mistaken about everything: the purpose for the journal’s existence, Rhett’s behavior lately, his paranoia—all of it, Link had misunderstood.  “I do want those thoughts,” Rhett whispers, blinking and scanning over the page. “I want him. How could he ever think I…?”

He might not have mentioned where he was going, but Link had never asked Rhett not to talk to him. He’d simply said they need distance, and Rhett’s trembling as he rips his phone from its charger, ready to set that straight. 

I’ll—I’ll call him, and we can meet up somewhere and talk, and I’ll explain everything. 

Hitting the call button over Link’s text log, Rhett crushes his phone to his ear and worries back and forth across the floor. The line is silent until the first ring.

A familiar ringtone answers from the hallway, right outside the dorm door.

Rhett freezes, head whipping up to stare at the shadow of feet beneath, ears straining.

The handle unlocks—the phone’s still going off—and the door opens to Link staring at the lit device in his hand, oblivious to his roommate.

“Shoot,” Link mutters, lowering his bag to the floor and hitting the lights. It’s only when he pulls his lips thin and accepts the call that he straightens and sees Rhett, startling back against the door.

“Welcome home,” Rhett breathes, lowering his phone.

Link’s eyes dart between him and the open laptop—recognition flashing over those light blues. Once his gaze settles on Rhett, he puts his cell down on the mini-fridge and swallows.

“Hey.”

Chapter Text

Link stands opposite Rhett, blocking their doorway yet uncertain about doing so. He could bolt.

Don’t run.

A command for himself. A request for Link.

Rhett’s breath catches—tongue anchors hard against the back of his teeth as he takes him in. Nose pinkened from last tendrils of October air. Hair mussed from wind. Loose clothes somehow doing nothing to hide his limber figure, tight from chill.

Link shifts his weight between his feet and rubs his arm under the strained silence. It’s not unexpected that he searches for words in the tiles’ cracks underfoot; it’s really not him that’s supposed to be doing the talking, after all, but Rhett can practically hear the things Link wants to say: “ I should go.” “Did you read it?” “What are we gonna do?”

Sure enough, Link opens his mouth slowly to speak, so Rhett moves.

Don’t let this be a dream.

He strides over, takes Link’s face in his hands, and kisses him with force enough to pin him to the door. 

Link yelps into a surprised whimper under him, and Rhett braces to be shoved away—but Link is the one who licks into his mouth, requesting more. With a reckoning wave of fulfillment, Rhett opens, more than willing, rumbling when their lips seal for the first time. It means being alive, seared through in spite of Link’s chilled skin.

There are parts of this at which Rhett is seasoned: holding Link’s face in his hands, crowding in over him, pressing the length of their bodies together to trade heat. There are decidedly more parts that Rhett couldn’t have possibly prepared for, like he’d been experiencing Link through a rain-soaked window only now dried by sunlight: 

He tastes like coffee.

His stubble is scratchy.

He smells like sweat and spice and fallen leaves.

His hands are on my back. 

He won’t let me leave now that he has me—he really does want me as much as I want him.

I’m awake.

Reality crashes into Rhett and checks him, wracking him into a grateful shiver, and his voice brims when he pulls back and whispers, “Sorry. Had to make sure you were real.”

“You just kissed me.” Blue eyes alight with something like awe, Link can’t look at every part of Rhett’s face that he wants to, pupils darting and lips endearingly slick with spit. Then—same as Rhett—he seems to come back to the real world and blinks hard. “Wait—wait, what d’you mean, ‘real’?”

“Link… that file?” Rhett nods over his shoulder to the laptop. “That’s my dream journal.”

It’s the succinct truth, but Link simply squints and shakes his head, not getting it.

“At the beginning of the month, I started having these—these intense wet dreams,” Rhett laughs humorlessly, hands leaving Link to grasp at air. “And it took me way longer than it should’ve for me to realize… every single one of them? Was about you.”

Link’s head bobs back—just a little—and he gazes over at the evidence on the bed. “Oh... oh.”

“Yeah. I recorded them so I could lucid dream, ‘cause I thought once I had control I could make ‘em stop.” Rhett pauses to give Link a bit of space, stepping back. “That didn’t work.”

“So…” Link’s throat dips in a swallow. He rubs the back of his neck. “Those aren’t just… stories you made up?”

“No—they definitely are,” nods Rhett, and Link snaps their gazes together, holding that wire tight. “When I said it didn’t work, I meant it didn’t stop them. It worked in the sense that…” It’s Rhett’s turn to swallow, and he bites his lip for a moment before he can keep going. “I got to experience those dreams, because I made them happen.”

Link falls silent. His eyes widen—disbelieving and beautiful.

“I got so wrapped up in havin’ you when I was asleep, that I stopped bein’ able to function near you when I was awake. The lines blurred, I acted like an idiot, I stopped spending time with you. D’you have any idea—” 

Rhett falters, crushes a palm to his chest like that will press more truths out of his mouth. 

“D’you have any idea how many times I’ve almost kissed you lately...? How many times I’ve had to catch myself from saying things and doing things I wanna do more than anything? It’s fucked up that I’ve been hiding this from you, and it’s also a shitty outlet that I somehow feel like I’m both abusing and takin’ for granted, ‘cause I don’t even think twice about it in my sleep. And I should’ve told you.”

“Wait.” Link puts up a palm and shuts his eyes, cheeks tinting warm. “Sorry, kinda hung up on—you’re tellin’ me I wrote a friggin’ jack-off fantasy in your dream journal...?”

“Please don’t be embarrassed… I really liked it.” Rhett’s lids slip low and he closes in again to run a hand up the back of Link’s head, sweeping against the grain of his silky locks. He cushions Link’s head from the door, heart pounding: kiss him again. “What, you think I never got off to my dreams...? Bull crap, ‘I don’t want you.’ I’m almost angry you could ever think somethin’ like that.”

Chagrined, Link’s ears turn red, and that’s another lovely detail of life Rhett earns and tucks away. “I just… just assumed. I dunno. I honestly thought you were startin’ to hate me.”

Rhett doesn’t often bend down to collect Link’s sights from the floor, but he does it now, because he needs—unquestionably—to be heard. 

“I’m in love with you, Link.”

Link swells, shivering between Rhett’s palms, corners of his mouth downturned. “I—they’re just sex dreams, Rhett.”

Rhett straightens and tips Link’s head back with a chin under his finger. It must be difficult, forced to look at him; he’s never seen Link so bashful, never seen him this flustered, not even when he’d willed it. Rhett simply smiles. 

“The dreams were—yeah, they were freakin’ filthy. But the ones I enjoyed the most were the ones where I got to kiss you.”

Lips pressing thin for a split second of scandal, Link bounces onto his tiptoes and pulls Rhett into another kiss, arms doing their best to wrap around his shoulders. Rhett hums happily, accepting him, flooded with it. 

I tell him I’m happiest when I’m kissing him, and his reaction is to kiss me.

Between a laugh and losing himself entirely in having his dreams realized, Rhett lets his mind empty. For once, his brain isn’t working overtime to give him this. He can just exist and let it happen, and that’s how Link manages to guide him back towards their bed in synchronized, shuffling paces.

“Clear it off,” Link mumbles, and Rhett does, quick and obedient: he moves his computer and phone to the floor before deferring to Link again. “Lay down.”

My heart’s never beat so fast.

“Like, on my back, or—”

Without waiting, Link pushes Rhett down before climbing on top of him, straddling him. It’s then that they both need a moment, ‘cause this is happening: Link’s sitting on Rhett’s pelvis, gazing down at him, perhaps just as arrested at the thought that sixteen years’ worth of friendship has culminated in this moment. How to come to terms with a dynamic shift this monumental? How to properly memorialize it…?

“I’m in love with you too, Rhett,” Link asserts timidly, bracing his hands on Rhett’s chest.

That’ll do.

Holy shit.

“Then keep kissin’ me,” Rhett breathes, and Link lowers their bodies flush. He full-on shivers, and Rhett’s right there with him, nerves awakened and moaning into his mouth when their hardness drags together, terrifying and surreal in the best way.

Rhett had lied to himself; no amount of dreams could prepare him for finally, finally having Link in his bed. He’s warmed up fast and hot to the touch, moving like he’ll combust if he stops—hands running through Rhett’s hair, cupping his jaw, breaking away to trace his throat and peek of chest, and Rhett accepts those nips and nibbles that have wanted him by stretching his neck and letting his eyes fall shut.

“Was such an idiot, Link. I’m sorry.”

“Glad you were an idiot, or I never would’ve known. I wanted you, too. Just couldn’t say it. If anything, we were both idiots.”

“I heard you, y’know,” Rhett says softly, and Link pauses on his journey. Rests his cheek on Rhett’s chest, and that’s probably a blessing in disguise, ‘cause this is a lot; it’s everything Rhett’s ever wanted—is heavy and precious, and thus frightening.

“You heard me…?”

“You masturbated one night. Heard you beggin’ to be fucked harder. It… it really messed me up, ‘cause I wanted it to be me you were thinkin’ about.”

“Oh, gosh,” Link seethes with humiliation, but Rhett lays his hands on his back in a reassuring hug.

“And this’ll probably make you think I’m a creep, but I, uhh… I got off, too.”

“What?”

“Yeah. I’m pretty sure we finished at the same time. You weren’t exactly quiet.”

Link’s reaction is visceral: he exhales a long, erratic breath and hitches his hips up against Rhett’s in a twitching thrust, like it’s involuntary, and Rhett responds in kind with a shy groan.

God—he really wants me. That’s not gonna sink in.

Every time he does something, it’s new and clear and scary and perfect.

Like waking up on loop.

“Since we’re divulging secrets,” Link breathes into Rhett’s neck, and Rhett cocks his head against his crown to show he’s listening. Having Link’s weight push him into the mattress is distracting, though. “Our… our tea party?”

“Yeah?”

“Don’t make fun of me. I dunno why, but… goodness, Rhett, I was so worked up the entire time.”

He won’t make fun of him, but the information surprises Rhett to chuckles. “Wow. Like watchin’ me eat, huh?”

“I guess so.”

“That’s flattering. I’ll eat more for ya, sometime.”

Link squeezes his midsection in a hug. It’s okay that they’re still too shy to make eye contact while laying together, and it’s okay that things aren’t wild and that they aren’t tearing clothes off one another, blindly groping for more. They’ve spent their entire lives together; there will be plenty of time to take that plunge later. This is a moment they’ve both wanted, and will therefore cherish—not just the closeness and affection, but that slow slide as well. That heart-skipping actuality versus daydream or night-dream. 

“Did you have a favorite?” Link wonders softly, and Rhett encircles him and rests his chin on his head, thoughtful.

“A favorite dream?”

“Yeah.”

“I—yeah,” Rhett admits solemnly, swallowing. “But it’s… it’s really intense.”

“Rhett, all of the dreams you recorded were really intense. Fuck, ” Link mutters, airy, recalling one or another. 

Rhett smiles at the top bunk. “I’m not sure I recorded this one. We were, uhh… we fucked in a pool,” he states in a blush, and Link chuckles.

“That’s not any more embarrassing than you pushing me under a table in a restaurant. I had to read that part a few times to make sure I understood. I came on the floor? The hell.”

“No, yeah. It wasn’t dirtier than that. It was just…”

This is probably too soon to admit. 

There’s a real chance this’ll scare him.

But I’m done lying.

“W-We were married,” mumbles Rhett, and Link tenses in his arms.

Shit.

“What…?”

“Yeah. We… we were on our, um. Honeymoon.”

A fingertip finds Rhett’s pec and trawls a lazy circle, completely at odds with the pounding behind his ribs. “Wow… that’s…”

“Yep.”

“Did you have that dream before, or after?” Link’s voice cracks at the edges, and Rhett loosens his hug.

“After I could control them, you mean?”

“Yeah.”

Rhett’s not going to lie, but damn if he doesn’t wish he could. This is almost too telling, that Link knows to chase this line of questioning and that he’s going to get the answer he’s looking for. Rhett had been unable to silence this part of himself, and in sleep, it had gone unmonitored.

“After. I—I made it that way.”

“God, Rhett,” Link sighs—and right when Rhett thinks he’s about to slide out of bed, he instead shifts and grinds his arousal up into Rhett’s stomach, stealing the air from his lungs and enveloping him in tingling warmth. “I want you to write that one down. And I wanna read your journal again, knowing you enjoyed ‘em.”

“I think I’m done recording dreams, actually. From now on if I want something… I’ll just have to live it out.” 

It’s less overwhelming when he imagines doing it in his head, but Rhett steers Link by the shoulders until their eyes meet—watching him for a moment, absorbing everything about this—and he cranes down to kiss him. Link’s fingers bunch in his shirt, and the next time he thrusts lazily against Rhett’s abs, a second wall crumbles.

It starts slow, with Rhett practically purring under the not-so-chaste friction, so Link pours on more (shaking like an overstimulated teenager)—he presses their palms together, slips his tongue into Rhett’s mouth, keeps his hips rolling now that it’s been established that that’s an okay thing to do. It’s more than okay; the more Link does it, the more comfortable he is doing it, and the dawning peaks of selfishness worn on Link chases off Rhett’s hesitation.

His hands peel from Link’s and find his hips—the same as they had been in the dreams, but warm under thumbs and forgiving muscle—and having his efforts secured, Link slips a gasp and smiles against Rhett’s mouth. “Oh.”

“What?”

“Your hands… they feel better than I thought they would,” Link hushes, pecking soft, small kisses at the corner of Rhett’s upturned lips, each one white-hot and unreal. “Can you—can you do more stuff with ‘em...?”

It’s difficult with Link on top of him, but Rhett manages to slide up under Link’s hoodie and palm his chest— God, these are the same pecs that were in that corset —and he brushes a thumb against one of his nipples, coaxing it to perk. “Like this...?”

“Not what I had in mind,” says Link shakily, halfway between a laugh and a groan Rhett would love to hear. He hides his face under Rhett’s beard. “But this works. Gosh.”

For a moment, Rhett contemplates their position. His exploration and tweaking isn’t rushed, despite how riled up he is, and it’s with a deliberate slide that he gropes downward. Patient—permission asked in the slowness of it. Seeking over Link’s stomach, ducking towards his waistband, and Link shivers and nods fast into Rhett’s neck, whole body tight from that creeping want.

“Do it. Please.”

Rhett’s never blushed as hard. His knuckles trail further, hand flattening, and Link sucks his stomach for easier access. Then Rhett’s fingers wrap around Link’s warm cock, wet at the tip—and Link shakes like it’s the most relief he’s ever experienced, hissing into Rhett’s skin. “Oh, fuck.”

The sensation of holding him— actually holding him—and being expected to hold him, to be entrusted with making him feel good? Every bit of the contact practically sparks and sings in Rhett’s head, neurons misfiring because this isn’t a REM cycle. Doing his best not to let his breathing spiral out of control, Rhett licks his lips and drops his gaze to the back of Link’s head before giving him a cautious stroke.

It should be too light a touch for the reaction it earns. Link dissolves into a choked whimper, clutching at Rhett’s shoulders. And if anything’s going to light a fire under Rhett, it’s definitely that—Link, vulnerable and pleasured by him, their bodies aligned so closely that Rhett could be handling himself, but he isn’t, it’s Link at his mercy. Really.

With purpose, Rhett continues stroking, melting Link down into him but careful to give his wrist space to work.

What had he mentioned in his fantasy? There was something… oh.

“You’re so handsome, Link. The most beautiful person I’ve ever seen.” Rhett sets the words out to burn, and they do just that. At having part of his daydream realized, Link gasps again and bucks into the too-slow pace Rhett’s set, giving him a taste of what it would be like for his fist to get fucked, and Rhett’s resolve skips a beat. “I’ve always wanted you.”

“You got me,” Link manages to reply, but it doesn’t sound easy. He still can’t make eye contact—too fresh, too embarrassed—and again, that’s fine. And it’s fine if he says no, and it’s fine to take the next words as just a compliment and not a plea.

“I want you naked. In my bed,” Rhett imagines aloud, jerking him faster from the admission alone. Link stills, his over-excited breathing the only indicator that he’s processing that.

Rhett’s ready to apologize when Link taps his arm. He obeys instantly (tortuous as it is) by relinquishing control, pulling his hand free. Surely Link wants to pump the brakes, settle into some calm cuddling—but Link just sits up and passes Rhett a bashful, cursory glance before he pulls off his hoodie and tosses it aside. His chest and shoulders and stomach, now bared to the room, are things Rhett has seen hundreds of times in his life… just never perched above him in bed.

Words leave him. 

This “newness” is going to hit him in waves for as long as they let things progress.

Link flounders. He’s having trouble keeping eye contact, about to cross his arms to hide a bit of his nerves and himself when Rhett sits up—bringing their faces close—and pulls his own zip-up and shirt off. They land beside Link’s on the floor.

“Better?” Rhett asks. 

Link lets himself have this. It’s obvious by the way he sits back and roams his attention over Rhett’s stomach, nipples, and collarbone, pupils blown. “Y-Yeah… yeah.”

The next time their sights meet, Rhett pulls him into a kiss, arms wrapped around his bare waist and securing their positions for fear that either of them might vanish should he not hold on tight enough. 

Other things from Link’s fantasy—

Rhett tangles his hands into his hair, crushes their exposed chests together, breaks their tongues that are quickly defaulting sloppy and instead trails down to his breast, sucking and biting spots that dig breathy moans from Link as his head falls back.

“I can’t believe it,” Rhett mutters, not even smiling ‘cause he genuinely can’t believe it.

“This— ah!” A light swathe of tongue over Link’s nipple. “This ain’t a dream, Rhett.”

“I can tell. Dreams were nothin’ like this.” Rhett accentuates the point by grabbing Link’s love handles, massaging them as he loses himself in Link’s soft chest. “...D’you wanna see how we work together?”

Link’s hands find and brace on Rhett’s shoulders—chin bumps his head when he nods. “Yeah. Definitely.”

I know that tone.

Rhett pauses his work. “But...?”

Chuckling, Link kisses his forehead, taking his time with the action. Maybe he’s getting caught up in the little things, too. “ But… I’m really nervous. I just read about us freakin’—headin’ to pound town like porn-star adrenaline junkies.” Rhett breaks into knowing laughter, warm and light, and Link laughs with him, ‘cause that’s what they do. “On aphrodisiacs, or some crap! ‘M nervous!”

“Just ‘cause we’ve had some intense thoughts about us don’t mean we have to start there. I—I’m nervous too. I finally get to have you? Gotta do this right.” The hands on Rhett’s shoulders turn into an embrace. He clears his throat, hugging him back. “We don’t even have to do nothin’, if you don’t want.”

“I do. I want to,” Link murmurs. “But maybe we can start small? This feels too… too big a thing, to jump on.”

“Hah. Hahaha!”

“Rhett, oh my gosh.”

“Yeah, we can start small.” An idea pops into Rhett’s head and he freezes, breaking that stillness just as quickly by planting a kiss on Link’s sternum. “Can… can I call you…?”

Link rocks down onto him, shimmying his hips playfully. “Whatever you want.”

“We can start small, babe,” Rhett tries it out—strange and honestly a bit silly-sounding on his tongue, directed at Link—but Link wiggles a little more and that’s acceptance enough.

“I like that a lot, Rhett.”

“Phew.” 

“So… what should we do first? How do we start this off?” Link asks, looking over their current situation.

“So clinical,” Rhett mutters, and Link bats his back in mock-offense. Smiling, Rhett shrugs. “Well… what about what we did in your, uhh… your fantasy?”

“Um. I dunno if you’ve noticed or not. But there’s only one of you.”

“I—I meant…” Demonstrating, Rhett brushes a hand against both of their arousals, motioning up and down to nudge against them at once, and Link practically turns to putty. 

“Fuck. Can we? Yeah?”

“Yeah. Should… should probably get naked, though. If that’s okay.”

It’s not lost on Rhett (and likely not on Link, either) that they meander through the process of agreeing to this as awkwardly as possible. Rhett’s unsure, taking off his pants and underwear from the bed since Link is gracious enough to step off to strip down. Every single instinct they’ve built up to this point says don’t purposefully show him your dick, and that’s a tough engendered behavior to ignore. Link is a livewire, eager and jerky movements, looking as clumsy about this as Rhett feels while they stumble into new territory together.

But they want this, and Rhett has accepted that the dynamic shift is going to be strange to navigate. 

Once they’re both nude, Link knows it’s time to climb into Rhett’s lap again. But he’s having trouble grasping that: shifting from foot to foot, chewing his lip, one hand holding the side of his swollen cock self-consciously.

Reassure him.

“One step at a time. C’mon,” Rhett urges, patting his thigh. With a brisk nod Link’s knees find the bed and he throws one over Rhett’s legs, snorting at how bizarre it is to see their erections close together.

“We’re really doin’ this,” he whispers, then follows it up quickly with, “I want to—I love you, Rhett, it’s just—”

“I know. I know what you mean. It’s okay.” Thinking it better to divert away from the strangeness of it, Rhett draws their faces close and kisses him again. It seems to work; Link eases a little, and a hand run down his thigh not only eases more, but plunges Rhett right back into the want of what they’re doing.

Warm. Hair. Bare skin. 

This is finally happening.

“Sit,” he pulls away to instruct calmly, and Link does. He sinks down onto Rhett’s lap, pressing his ass there with dizzying brazenness, and Rhett blinks through it, ignores the twitch and bob between them. “God, Link. I’m not gonna last long.”

And just when Link seems like he’s about to break at the sensation too, he dams it up—has learned the tactic Rhett uses, and cuts off whatever embarrassing backpedaling he feels with another kiss. ‘Cause if anything’s simple and true, it’s in that: thumbs running over cheekbones and tongues languidly meeting, hands on shoulders and elbows and soft groans that ask still? and respond still.

Once effectively anchored, Rhett twists and retrieves the lotion from the desk. He pumps his palm slick wordlessly (much to the anticipatory clench of Link’s thighs over his), and when he turns back, pauses to make eye contact.

This time, Link is right there with him… albeit blushing wildly.

“Ready?” Rhett asks, sincere.

“Are you?”

Without another word, Rhett considers their cocks in the space between them and takes them both in hand, holding them together obscenely. He pumps down to wet them at once—and the way Link tatters into a deep moan, the relief and pleasure that floods Rhett’s senses, supplemented with a new type of pressure—the tightening of fingers on his shoulders as Link’s need amplifies in his hand?

This is right.

“Fuck,” grunts Rhett, wrapping his free arm around Link’s waist like it belongs there, securing him. Link drenches in eager—fumbles to collect Rhett’s face and kiss him harsh after Rhett’s restraint snaps, their pace faster than it should be. With his wrist flicking between them, Link is left gasping into his mouth and bucking into his fist, and Rhett lets the image consume him.

He ducks down and presses his forehead to Link’s chest, closing his eyes and jerking them off together, consumed in being able to do so. Link’s hands clamber against Rhett’s back, trying to hug him, knuckles surely white as he curls over him. Thighs shaking, hips doing their best to stutter and slip their cocks together, inconvenient as it may be for Rhett’s effort.

“Oh, fuck, Link,” Rhett rumbles into his skin, smelling his deodorant, smelling the lotion on them, drunk off reality for once—and Link lets out a long “Ahhh” that trills on each tug.

I’m getting him off.

We’re gonna—

Wanna be covered in him, Rhett admits to himself, then in the same second, forces it out.

“Wanna feel you come on m-me,” he husks, and Link’s posture shrivels so his forehead finds the crook of Rhett’s neck, searing.

“Holy shit, holy shit, holy shit,” he prays there, breathless.

Rhett doesn’t think about it when he tilts his head to love at Link’s nape, licking a small stripe near his hair. Almost like the feeling of tongue reminds of the possibility, Link pulls back suddenly—

Wrecked with it. Eyes more black than blue, lips swollen, hair somehow already messy. Alive .

—and demands, “Kiss me again.”

Rhett captures his mouth, open, breaths mingling by tongues paired with an occasional whimper. Link can’t seem to stop shifting; he bucks, throwing small stops in as they circle the end, almost like he wishes he was in control.

Almost like…

“Stop,” Rhett warns, and where Link thinks the command is for him and halts all movement, Rhett stops too, dumping him into appeals.

“Why? What’s wrong?” Link wavers, shaking and blinking hard against a thin sheen of sweat. The concern in his eyes is real and endearing when he pants and checks in, leveling their gaze. “Y’okay?”

“Want you to fuck me,” Rhett hushes, giving him a peck on the cheek, and Link’s features go lax in shock.

“Wh… What?”

“I want you to fuck me, Link.” Rhett pushes the invitation between them and waits, only adding more when Link can’t speak. “I’m close already—want the first time to include that, if that’s what you want. I don’t expect you to last a long time,” kiss, “or to worry ‘bout gettin’ me off,” kiss, “I just want to feel you inside of me, ‘cause I think that sounds amazing . If that’s something you’d be into, o’ course.”

Swallowing hard, Link leans away. Then he scoots back farther and bats a hand between Rhett’s thighs, still trembling. “Fuck yes—yeah. Spread for me, Rhett.”

Thought so.

Legs parting, Rhett relaxes on the bed while Link crowds in, knees digging hard into the sheets. He’s not being coy anymore, taking steps quickly to get them back into the thick of it; he lotions his hand and finds Rhett’s entrance like he’s done it a thousand times before, coordinating that with his cock when he re-wets it. And just like that—pushing the underside of Rhett’s knees for better access—Link gazes down at them and presses the head against his hole. This time, there’s no need to ask for permission. 

Link slips into him with an insistent push, past the initial tightness and filling Rhett with a small cry of surprise. He clutches at the sheets, wincing. “Oh!” Tighter than he would’ve assumed.

“Y’okay?” Steadying himself, Link pauses to wait for the go-ahead, but Rhett knows the discomfort is temporary.

“Keep comin’,” he encourages, beckoning, and Link does as his partner asks, sliding in until he’s fully sheathed. Rhett squirms, catches his breath and blinks rapidly.

“Sorry. Worst is over,” Link promises. He kisses Rhett’s thigh and his face lights up with an idea… which is apparently squashed when he can’t lean to reach past Rhett’s pecs, forced to mouth at his collarbone. “Why’re you so freakin’ tall?” he teases, chuckling.

Fuck, he wants to kiss me during this…?

We keep giving each other pieces of our fantasies, even if we don’t know what we’re doing.

“Here.” Breathless, Rhett lifts up long enough to fold his pillow under his head, lifting himself at the shoulders. “How ‘bout now?”

When Link tries again, he’s able to reach—and the second their lips connect, he assumes a position he must’ve been planning: one arm braced by Rhett’s waist to keep him aloft, free hand dropping to Rhett’s cock to work him over. 

“Like hell I’m not gonna worry ‘bout gettin’ you off,” Link mutters, grinning yet indignant as he handles him and begins jacking him off.

Then, Link’s fucking him. It’s real. And it’s selfish, and adoring, and appreciative, and Link looks to be coming apart at the seams, being in control. At first he lets Rhett get used to shallow hits, not daring to ask for more than Rhett will give him, but hardly a minute later and the discomfort is drowned out by Link’s fist, pumping him mercilessly.

Rhett is thrown right back to the edge of it, too close not to either warn Link, or goad him. 

Every muscle is tight when he chooses the latter, pleading thick, “Link—do it, baby. Come in me.”

Panting in acknowledgment, Link takes what he wants, slamming into Rhett with loud slapping of skin-on-skin. That shivering of his is fixing to snap— all of Link grows unstable and depraved: his desperate need to get himself off, obeying his body; his desire to see Rhett paint his own stomach; the kiss he refuses to break, like the only way he can breathe is through Rhett’s lips.

“Fuck, Rhett—I’m—” he tries, but Rhett knows.

Remind him.

“I love you, bo,” whispers Rhett, throat rigid through the precipice, and Link’s blues open, beautiful, paired with a shocked shake of his hips as Rhett’s words do the trick. 

“I l-love you too.” 

That maintained, searing eye contact as Link’s plump lips part into a toe-curling moan is more than enough to send Rhett after him into release. Shaking. Crying out. Warmth inside and spilling onto him. The writhe of bodies subject to sparking nerves and immense relief, sucked under waves that lap at them, rock them together.

And then, everything is still. 

Link collapses on top of him, heedless to the sticky mess between, spent and gorgeous and winded and sweaty. He’d taken care of both himself and Rhett—and Rhett kisses his forehead, his cheeks, his eyelashes, his nose.

“Holy crap, Linkster.”

“Oh, my God. I’m so beat.”

Rhett is weightless. Or maybe he’s back to his normal weight—back before any of the dreams had begun—something unquantifiable lifted from his shoulders. 

He’s himself again. 

“I, uhh… I really needed that,” Rhett whispers.

“So you enjoyed it...?” Link wonders softly, already the rabbit poised to run, and Rhett wraps him in an embrace that settles both their nerves. Together, they take a synchronized inhale, deep, and let it out steady to expel anxiety in the aftermath. Coming down from a high, and ensuring they’re lowered into a different sort of high.

“I loved it. Thanks for doin’ that, even though we were nervous.”

“...You’re welcome,” decides Link, kissing the underside of Rhett’s jaw. “It’ll get easier with time.”

He’s in this for sure, then.

He’s with me.

“But I swear to God if you don’t dick me next time,” Link warns halfheartedly, grin in his voice, and Rhett breaks into rollicking laughter, more carefree than he’s been in weeks.

“I will. Just felt right to give you control for the first time.”

“Mmm. Gotta admit—it was real satisfyin’. Got out some of that aggression.”

“You sayin' we just hate-fucked?”

“No. I love you. Was cathartic is all,” Link explains, and Rhett nuzzles down into him with a smile, holding him close. “...We should go shower.”

“Together?”

“Yeah. I’ll wash your back, if you want.”

Huh.

Amazing, that once the defenses are down, it’s this natural. 

Absolutely effortless.

“‘Kay.” 

Link peels himself up, muscles visibly quaking from exertion, and Rhett catches his waist to ensure they don’t give out. Snatching two tissues, Link passes one to Rhett before mopping up his stomach and chest. Rhett follows suit wordlessly, cleaning and wadding and tossing the tissue aside.

It had happened. This isn’t a dream, and no matter how much Rhett reminds himself of that, he’s still scared of waking up. 

The burn of wet at his eyes should be proof enough. But he needs to hear it.

“Tell me you’re real,” Rhett begs quietly from the bed, and Link spins to look at him, setting the tissue on the desk. The fearful surprise on his features upon seeing Rhett cry melts into a warm smile, sympathetic at its edges. He offers a hand, which Rhett takes and pulls himself up with. The movement is fluid and ends in a hug where Link holds him tight, tying him to this new life.

“I’m real, Rhett. I promise.” Link beams up at him, fixing a stray lock of hair and wiping his tears away. “I’ll remind you every day, if I need to.”

Rhett bows his head and picks at his nails, cheeks aching from happy. “Honestly? Might need ya to.”

“Sounds fun,” jests Link, teeth flashing when he grins. “Want me to pinch you? Pinch your butt?”

Laughing, Rhett shakes his head. “Wow. I didn’t mean it like that.”

“Oh, no? How’d you mean it?”

The sex was incredible. The dreams made me expect as much, but…

Bending down to give Link another soft kiss, Rhett smirks. “For starters, I’d like to be able to show you off around campus.”