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Chris comes out of the door to the stairway, making his way along the corridor to Ricky’s apartment. He stops, mouth dropping open before he reaches it. He stares silently for a moment at the word spray-painted in bright red across the wood and feels his stomach burn. He raises his hand to press the bell, forcing not it to shake with suppressed rage. He doesn’t want Ricky to think he’s mad at him.

Ricky answers immediately, smiling wide at Chris as he shoulders his backpack. His eyes drop, skating over the word as he hasn’t noticed it.

‘I’m glad you’re here,’ he says quickly, giving Chris that too bright smile again.

‘Ricky—’ Chris starts. Ricky huffs a laugh, scratching the back of his head.

‘I know, right,’ he says, laughing as though he’s mildly embarrassed, ‘—gonna lose my deposit for sure.’

‘Rick, that’s not—’ Chris tries again but Ricky shakes his head. ‘Have you called—’ Ricky shakes his head again. He’s not smiling now and he’s not looking at Chris.

‘I called — they can’t do anything at the moment,’ Ricky says, voice low and tight, ‘can — could we — can we just go, Chris? Please. I don’t— I don’t want to be here.’ Ricky glances up at Chris. His eyes are wet and Chris wants to hug him. But he knows grabbing him suddenly and without asking would only make the situation worse.

‘Sure,’ he says, ‘of course, let’s go.’ He steps back for Ricky to lead the way to the elevator and Chris pulls the door closed for him, glaring at the spray paint. In the elevator Ricky reaches out, hand closing around Chris’ fingers where his hand is hanging by his side. He squeezes gently before letting go. Chris smiles at him and Ricky smiles back shyly.

Ricky tenses up again as they exit the building, walking in quick, stiff strides to Chris’ car so Chris has to hurry to keep up with him. He clicks the key to open the car and Ricky gets in quickly. It’s only when Chris starts the engine and they pull off from the curb does Ricky start to relax.

‘Have you seen him?’ Chris asks when they get onto the freeway.

‘No,’ Ricky says, hands on his knees, then he swallows adding, ‘he— he called my work.’

‘Shit,’ Chris says, glancing at him.

‘They were okay about it,’ Ricky says, sighing heavily, ‘he was really shouting and asking for them to put me on, so it was obvious he wasn’t, y’know, a friend.’ Ricky sighs again, ‘I hadn’t— I didn’t want to tell them but after that—’

‘You didn’t have a choice,’ Chris says and Ricky hums in agreement. They lapse into silence and Chris tries to watch Ricky out of the corner of his eye, while also watching the road. He’s looking straight ahead, picking at the black varnish on his nails.

They’d been dating less than a month when Ricky had told him about the ex; the changing his number, the leaving his job with no reference, the packing up in the middle of the night and driving out of State. The putting his life back together.

They’d met at band practice (they were only a group of friends playing bars on the weekends for fun). Ricky had been filling in for their other guitarist while he’d been abroad for six months for work. Chris had felt drawn to Ricky immediately, quite apart from being the best looking guy Chris has seen, he was just sort of cool. Something about them had just clicked into place.

Chris had been embarrassingly flattered when Ricky had agreed to go for coffee with him. He’d already been told Ricky didn’t date. Which made much more sense, knowing what he did now, and it had made him so happy that Ricky had been willing to take a chance on him. He wanted to be deserving of that chance.

He noticed little things at first; flinching when Chris went to take his hand, always needing to sit near the door when they were out eating, never offering an opinion until Chris had given his first. It had frustrated Chris but then Ricky had mentioned something off-hand about the town where he’d lived before. Chris had asked and the whole story had come out in a flood of words, as though Ricky couldn’t have stopped talking if he tried.

‘You can stay as long as you like,’ Chris says, realising they’ve been sitting in silence, each with their own thoughts.

‘Thank you,’ Ricky says, ‘—they said they’d have the order filed by early next week, so I shouldn’t need to stay any longer than that.’

‘It’ll be fun,’ Chris says, ‘playing house.’ Ricky laughs softly.

‘You sure your roommate doesn’t mind?’ he asks and Chris assures him they don’t. They’re visiting their parents that weekend and only usually come back to the apartment to crash between shifts at the hospital anyway.

Chris pulls up and Ricky grabs his bag, following Chris into the building. He keeps glancing back. Chris smiles at him reassuringly.

‘No one followed us,’ he says gently, ‘—I was checking.’ Ricky doesn’t say anything but nods, his expression softening just slightly.

Chris had cleaned everywhere and made up the fold-out in the living room before he’d left to collect Ricky.

‘Do you wanna eat something?’ Chris asks as he toes his boots off and leads Ricky into the living room indicating he can put his stuff by the bed. ‘Sorry, you’re in here. I’ve only got a single in my room and I thought—’ here Chris stops because Ricky’s turned to look at him. He pushes his hair back where it’s fallen into his face, feeling hot.

They haven’t ever slept in the same bed. Or had sex. Sure, Chris has made a mess of his underwear when they'd been making out at a party last week (which Ricky had been much cooler about than Chris had been). Ricky sits on the edge of the bed, eyes dropping to his hands.

‘Can you sleep in here too?’ he asks, ‘even if it’s just tonight.’

‘I—’ Chris starts, flushing, then he takes a breath and nods, ‘I didn’t want to put pressure on you—’

‘You’re not,’ Ricky says, looking up at him expression focused, ‘I like you, dude, y’know that, right?’ Chris laughs softly.

‘Sure,’ he says, not quite able to keep the dumb grin slipping onto his face, ‘I like you too.’ Ricky smiles back.

‘You gonna make me vegan tacos then?’ he asks, standing and coming over to Chris. Chris nods leading him to the kitchen.

The evening is quiet. They’ve eaten and set-up on the pullout to watch trashy tv. Ricky’s in a t-shirt and his underwear, with his hair back in a loose pony and the blankets tucked around both of them. Chris has kept his sweats on — he’ll take them off when it’s time to sleep — but he didn’t trust himself not to immediately pop a tent at the sight of Ricky’s milky thighs. Not that his sweatpants conceal much more but they make him feel better.

Ricky yawns and Chris glances at him.

‘Tired?’ he asks and Ricky nods. He gets up to go to the bathroom and Chris wriggles out of his sweats and gets back under the blankets before Ricky can come back into the room. Ricky comes back, pulling his hair loose and pulling his shirt over his head. Chris turns the lights off quickly. Because he’s not staring. Ricky lies down facing him, folding his arm under his head to prop it up a little.

‘Can we talk for a bit?’ he says. His face is indistinct in the darkness as Chris rolls to face him. He can feel Ricky’s warm exhales on his lower lip and he wants to kiss him. ‘—or mm,’ Ricky says as he leans forward to close the space between their mouths. He kisses Chris slow and careful at first, sucking a little at his lower lip as he pulls back. Chris lets his fingers slide through Ricky’s hair cupping his head as Ricky’s hands grab at the t-shirt over his chest. They kiss, Chris hugging Ricky into his body as Ricky licks into his mouth. He’s moaning softly, hips ticking against Chris’. Chris groans, kissing along his jaw, as he pushes his thigh between Ricky’s. Ricky whines, grinding into him. Chris can feel his cock is hard, pressing against his thigh.

‘Do you want to—?’ he asks, breaking their kiss, hands on Ricky’s hips, thumb slipping under the hem of his underwear.

‘Yeah,’ Ricky says, kissing him hard once before wriggling up to strip the rest of the way. Chris gets up from the bed to do the same. When he’s naked he turns to see Ricky kneeling on the mattress. It’s still dark but Chris’ eyes have adjusted and he can see Ricky’s cock hanging heavy and hard between his thighs.

Jeez,’ Ricky says, taking him in appreciatively as Chris climbs on the bed. Chris huffs, a little self-conscious, as he reaches to pull Ricky between his knees to kiss again. Ricky leans up, arms looping around his neck to kiss him. Chirs can feel his cock against his stomach and every other thought is rapidly slipping away.

‘C’mon,’ Ricky says, breaking their kiss and pushing on Chris’ chest a little so he’ll lay back on the bed. Chris lets him, shivering as Ricky moves between his thighs and lowers his mouth. Chris has to bite his lip to keep in the throaty half grunt half groan sound he makes when Ricky licks down the length of his cock before fitting his mouth around him.

Rick,’ he mumbles, voice shaking, as he smooths a hand over Ricky’s hair. Ricky hums pleased. Ricky sucks him, tattooed hands spread on his thighs, until Chris has to catch his shoulder and beg for a breather. Ricky laughs softly sitting up. He moves forward, climbing over so he can sit on Chris’ legs.

Chris moans as Ricky settles into the fold of his hips, pinning him against the mattress, and taking hold of Chris’ spit-slick cock and pressing it against his. Chris groans as Ricky starts moving, fucking his hips into Chris’ as their cocks slide, barely contained in his hand. Chris pushes up, cupping a hand around Ricky’s head and covering Ricky’s hand with his. Ricky moans deep in his chest, writhing in Chris’ lap as he kisses him back hard.

‘C’mon, baby,’ Chris says against his mouth, shifting his hips a little to encourage Ricky to start moving against him again. Ricky rolls up into him, moaning, as their cocks slide together under their hands.

‘Please— fuck, please,’ Ricky mumbling against his mouth as his rhythm starts to stutter and Chris knows he’s getting close. Chris kisses him, hand on the back of his neck and on the back of his thigh pulling him tight against him as Ricky’s clamps around their cocks. He sucks in a sharp gasp and Chris can feel his cock pulsing as he comes against his stomach. Chris moans feeling where Ricky’s hot come on his skin.

Chris relaxes his grip letting Ricky sit back to drag in air, panting hot breaths across Chris’ chest where his head is lent against his shoulder. Chris smooths his hair, letting him get his breath back.

‘You okay?’ he asks gently when Ricky sits up a little blinking. Ricky nods and starts kissing him again, hand going between Chris' thighs to grab his cock. Chris grunts, sensitive and excited. The feeling of Ricky coming on him has twisted his gut up tight.

He pushes his hips up into Ricky’s hand as much as he can with Rick still sitting on him. He sinks both hands into Ricky’s hair kissing him. He has to pull back, gasping against Ricky’s collarbone, as he feels the wave of the orgasm dragging him under. He comes, overfilling Ricky’s hand and wetting both their skin. He groans, hand on the back of Ricky’s neck, forehead pressing under his jaw as Ricky hums, petting him. When Chris lets him go Ricky kisses his cheek, carefully untangling their limbs.

Ricky flops onto the mattress next, stretching out with a contented groan. Chris laughs at him, getting up to grab a towel to wipe him down. Ricky lets Chris clean him up, rolling onto an elbow when Chris folds the towel over the wet spot on the bed and lays next to him.

‘Was that—’ Chris starts, nervous now his blood pressure’s come back down and his frontal lobe rather than his dick in charge of his mouth.

‘Yes,’ Ricky says, grinning at him, before he can finish.

‘Do you want to shower?’ Chris says, eyes on Ricky’s stomach where his skin is a little pink from the towel. ‘I can put the boiler on.’ Ricky shakes his head.

‘There’s no point,’ he says lightly, stretching again. Chris frowns at him.

‘No point?’ he repeats and Ricky smirks at him, letting his eyes deliberately trial down Chris’ chest. Chris blinks, face flushing as he gets it.

‘No point,’ Ricky says again. And this time Chris smirks, bending to kiss his mouth.